Many books in the fantasy genre feature dragons as real animals and not as mythical creatures no one has ever seen. They are serpentine beings that spew fire and have both reptilian and avian traits. Despite sharing these characteristics, the role they play in a specific story varies according to the world created by each author. In some books, dragons can speak or have riders, while in others they are the subject of scientific studies. I’ve read a few books which include dragons, all having different parts to play.
When we think about the Harry Potter series, the first word that comes to mind is wizards. But the books in this beloved series also feature dragons, although they are not one of the major elements of the world created by J.K. Rowling. They are used as an obstacle to be overcome in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for example. Dragons, in the world of the Harry Potter series, are generally considered impossible to either train or domesticate. They are seen as dangerous, since they can kill wizards. Nonetheless, there are people trained to work with them.
Dragons assume a more relevant and totally different role in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan. This is a fantasy and adventure series where the protagonist, Lady Trent, recalls how she became a famous and respected dragon naturalist. So far, I’ve only read the first two books – A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents. However, it is obvious from the very beginning that in this series dragons are not portrayed as magical or mythological creatures, but as real wild animals that roam free in various parts of the world and that are scientifically studied.
One of the most famous dragons in the literary world is Smaug, the powerful and fearsome antagonist in The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s children fantasy novel. He is an intelligent being capable of speaking and enjoys flattery. The book follows the quest of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to recover a treasure guarded by this terrifying being.
The dragons in the A Song of Ice and Fire series are also quite well know. In the fictional world created by George R.R. Martin, dragons are magical creatures that were considered to be extinct until Daenerys Targaryen managed to hatch three dragon eggs. The animals were subsequently named Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. Dragons are intelligent creatures that can be trained. They can serve as mounts, but not everyone can do it. A bond between the dragons and their riders needs to be forged. Throughout the series, it becomes clear that there is a special connection between dragons and the members of the House Targaryen.
I don’t think I’ve read any more books featuring dragons. However, I have a few more on my wish list. One of them is Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. It takes place in the kingdom of Goredd, which is inhabited both by humans and dragons that can adopt human form. Another one is The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, which I don’t know much about, but I assume it features dragons since they are pictured on the cover. Finally, in order to know more about the origins of the mythology surrounding dragons, I want to read Dragons: The Myths, Legends, and Lore by Doug Niles.
Do you like reading books featuring dragons? What is your favourite? Tell me in the comments!