Hey everyone! I’ve delved into Deep Dives before with zombies and sci-fi, so today I wanted to look at my all time favorite mythical beast, dragons! These gigantic reptiles are present in myth all over the world, some as horrifying fire-breathing enemies, and some as guardians. In my personal opinion, Eastern lore for dragons with them being honored like deities is far better than the western ‘terror lizard’ look. That’s because there is very little nuance with western dragons, at least in older myth, despite me loving their designs.
This is the result of connections to ‘evil’ and ‘the devil’ from folks who practiced Christianity. As someone not of that religion, I am not interested in demonizing dragons–in fact, quite the opposite. After all, How to Train your Dragon is my all time favorite franchise. We learn that the dragons are intelligent beings like humans in that universe, and I adore that so much. There will never be a time in my works were dragons are strictly evil! There will be true ‘terror reptiles’, though, but it all depends on the dragon itself.
Here is the tweet I sent out for this article:
I will discuss my thoughts on dragons more at the end of this article, but for now, I would like to highlight the thoughts of other creatives and discuss them!
Eli B, one of my favorite authors, mentioned Dragonheart (which I shamefully still need to see) and Spirited Away. The premise of Dragonheart is interesting and doesn’t make a villain out of dragons, something I enjoy quite a bit. Spirited Away I have seen, and I enjoyed how beautiful the film was. The river dragon was a gorgeous example of an eastern-style dragon, and how they were both honored and powerful. Finally, scales and fire are a great key trait of western dragons (though I’m sure there’s some fire-breathing eastern dragons) and the fire itself can be a powerful tool against enemies of the dragon.
CD Pulley has featured in my Deep Dives before, but I just couldn’t exclude this one. “Misunderstood” is a beautiful key term here. Dragons have been turned into horrible monsters throughout history due to what I mentioned above, but I like that at their core, they can be misunderstood, highly intelligent, and not always the antagonists.
Kira shared this incredibly art piece on the thread, and highlights the fact that they are ‘people’ in the book she’s built. She often shares incredible world building information about her world, and I am beyond happy to see this. I love nuance, above all, in an intelligent species, so was happy to see such variation mentioned in this reply. This is also an important thing to keep in mind–often, we’ll see dragons depicted as pretty intelligent. This means that, given their free will and lack of being a hive mind, there has to be variation in morality for this species.
Auctor Trevel brings to the table, once again, the differences between eastern and western dragons! This is an important thing to note, and if you think about it, says a lot about the cultures they come from. Where the West feared these monsters inherently connected to nature, the East embraced it and saw the beauty in nature itself within dragons. This is why I favor eastern dragon lore more than western dragon, with the exception of Nordic Dragons not explicitly being evil, but another guardian of balance (albeit the chaotic side of the spectrum).
I wanted to share Poni’s entire tweet thread! I love the art they included in their response, but they also highlighted some of the tropes we see with dragons in literature. Some of those I enjoy a lot, like dragon riders or sentient helpers, and some of them I dislike, like the ‘beastly terror monster’ trope. I never actually knew about the paranormal romance trope, though, so I learned something today! Granted, I don’t read that genre as much as I pretend to know what’s going on, because I apparently wear a mask of ‘yeah I write paranormal romance’ when in reality the canvas is pure red due to the amount of bloodshed and action…oops.
I wanted to highlight this one by Kate because dragons are also powerful entities of the fetish community and lust in general. This is likely due to implications of their sheer power! ‘Monster girl/boy/any other gender’ characters have such neat designs. One of my characters, Sam Viper(a half-dragon), is designed somewhat similar to this, so it was fun to see this design shared!
Vayne brought up the ‘protectors of innocent’ idea here, along with a medieval-times feeling. I love the bit about ‘soaring the skies without fearing humanity’. The implication that humans are the danger is so true and should not be forgotten. After all, it was humanity that demonized an entire intelligent species in so many of our stories, so I think it’s fair that dragons would have instances of not being worried about butchery just because they exist in some stories. The “wise” dragon trope is among my favorites, as I mentioned above.
This one by Leora is adorable! It also highlights dragons as guardians of hoards, like Smaug from The Hobbit. Throughout the myths, dragons guarded gold for various reasons. Some of it was acquired through genuine means, and other times it was stolen. Often we see adventurers trying to ‘slay the dragon to gain its gold’ which, you have to admit, is inherently selfish. Unless the gold is going to help others, but even then, stealing from a dragon’s hoard is a bad idea and cruel to the dragon itself. Gold might not be the only thing guarded by dragons – knowledge, something mentioned often in this thread, is a powerful thing.
Here are some more tweets I really wanted to toss in here just to emphasize general thoughts on dragons:
As for me, well, dragons warm my heart, pun intended. I think I love them even more than vampires, which is saying something for me. I think of powerful, intelligent reptiles with incredible varieties, just like reptiles in real life. I think of my original characters, and how I can’t wait to write a novel which primarily highlights dragons and their lore in my universe. I think of How to Train your Dragon, my all time favorite movie and something I watch for comfort when I’m feeling down. That movie has gotten me through so many episodes of depression and has just helped me feel better when I really need it.
I am someone who adores reptiles and sees the beauty in them. I don’t see them as stupid like many in society, for they have tons of secrets we have yet to discover. The Komodo Dragon (a dragon in real life, no one will convince me otherwise) and monitor lizards in general are actually highly intelligent, as research has shown. Snakes, to me, are really adorable, and I love how ball pythons can bond with their caretakers. Reptiles in general are so interesting to me, and dragons highlight the powerful ones in myth that I have come to truly adore.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to contribute to this deep dive. I can’t include all replies to the thread, but I encourage readers here to go take a look and see what people generally think. I hope I did this project justice!
Interested in a dystopic urban fantasy starring a half-dragon? Click here to read Red Viper!