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A dragon is a fictional fire breathing and winged animal, often featured in Fantasy fiction.

Background

In a lot of European folklore, the dragon is depicted as evil and malicious, stealing young girls and hoarding gold. Eastern dragons, however, are viewed as wise, with festivals dedicated to them.

Physical Comparison

The European dragon is large and muscular. They are usually depicted as a carnivorous dinosaur-like lizard. They stand on two or four legs in most cases, but exceptions exist. Usually, European dragons are depicted with large and powerful wings that can lift them into the sky.

Dragons in Fantasy and Science Fiction

This section briefly covers the dragons in a few famous fantasy series.

Dragonlance

Dragonlance

A typical dragon from Dragonlance

The dragonlance series of books and games is owned and run by Wizards of the Coast. As the name implies, it makes heavy usage of dragons in the books.

The dragons in the Dragonlance series by Weis and Hickman are differentiated by the 'type' of dragon. For example, a red dragon can breathe fire, a blue dragon can breathe lightning, and a white dragon can breathe ice. These types of dragons tend to spend their time with their kin. They are often portrayed as demigods, and almost infinitely wise.

Breath of Fire series

Bof 3 ryu

Ryu from Breath of Fire III

In the Breath of Fire series, dragons are not something in and of themselves. Instead, dragons are humans that turn into dragons. In fact, there is only one dragon in each Breath of Fire game. His name is always Ryu and he is the descendant of the Ryu from the previous game. He is always depicted with blue hair, and always uses a sword as his weapon of choice.

J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit

In The Hobbit, there is only a single dragon, and its name was Smaug. Smaug was a greedy and evil creature which acquired a large horde of treasure by capturing the Lonely Mountain. Smaug was very intimately familiar with each piece of treasure in his inventory. He had reddish-gold scales and resembled a large dinosaur, a typical portrayal of the European dragon. There is also a dragon named Glaurung the Deceiver in Tolkien's The Silmarillion, who seems to have been similar in appearance and personality to (but much more powerful than) Smaug.

Anne McCaffrey's Pern

Pern

Queen dragon mating flight.

Anne McCaffrey's classic novels create a world called Pern in which dragons are beautiful, sentient beings incapable of life without a human partner, with whom the individual dragon can communicate telepathically. The death of the human partner results in the immediate suicide of the dragon; the human partner may commit suicide or choose to live a half-life traumatized by the termination of the bond.

Although later books more fully explain the creation of the dragons and the origin of human life on Pern, McCaffrey's original books tell of a vivid world plagued by an organic life-consuming menace called Thread. Thread will eat through any organic matieral until killed by drowning in water, frozen by ice or charred by fire. It comes in cycles of fifty year "Passes" in which Thread "falls" and 200 year times without Threadfall. Twice in Pern history, the 200 year breaks are doubled so that 400 years pass without Threadfall. The Pernese have developed a system to fight the Thread menace, namely the creation of enclaves, called Weyrs, of "dragonriders" and their dragon-partners.

There are six main Weyrs throughout most of Pernese history: Fort Weyr (the first and most prestigious); Benden Weyr (the second Weyr); Telgar Weyr (created at the same time as Benden); High Reaches Weyr (within the High Reaches Mountains); Ista Weyr (on an island); and Igen Weyr (in the desert). Most of McCaffrey's novels focus on Benden, Fort, and High Reaches Weyrs, though Dragon's Eye is set at Telgar. The six Weyrs are far enough apart that they can adequately protect Pern.

The dragons of Pern are very special and complex characters. Not all Pernese can become dragonriders so it is a matter of pride and privilege to have a dragonrider in the family. The dragons choose their human partner at birth, through a ceremony called Impression. The dragon bursts from his or her shell and stumbles his/her way towards the ring of candidates for Impression until he/she finds his/her rider. Once a dragon has chosen his or her rider, the bond cannot be broken outside of death. The bond is so strong that it is extremely unusual for a dragon to permit another rider to ride him/her into Threadfall, should his/her rider be unable to do so, as happens when Naton, a non-rider, rides Canth into Threadfall in Dragonquest.

The dragons are divided into an inherent social stratification based seemingly only on the color of the individual dragon. There are five natural dragon colors (in order of rank): queen or gold (female); bronze (male); brown (male); blue (male); and green (female). The queen is the rarest of the dragons with each Weyr averaging, at most, three or four queens. The eldest queen dragon is the Queen of the Weyr: her rider is the Weyrwoman and indisputable female leader of the Weyr, responsible also for the Records, basic unity, and major transactions and agreements between her Weyr and the others. The younger queen dragons and their riders often change Weyrs through inter-Weyr agreements. The rider of the bronze dragon who mates with (or rather, "catches")the queen dragon when she is in heat (called a mating flight) becomes the Weyrleader, the male leader of the Weyr.

Only a bronze dragon may mate with the queen due to physiological differences between the bronze, brown and blue dragons. A brown dragon will never become larger than the average size of a bronze,with one exception being Canth. It states often that Canth is the size of most of the bronzes on Pern. likewise, a blue will never become larger than an average brown. Also, a blue would never be interested in mating with a queen dragon, only with a green.

A queen dragon mates every three years and so leadership of the Weyr can change dramatically in one day. Although queen mating flights inherently result in sexual intercourse between the riders during a queen mating flight, the Weyrleader does not necessarily become the Weyrwoman's lover. Queen dragons never learn to flame however, because chewing firestone makes a dragon infertile. This is useful because greens mate quite frequently, and if they could lay eggs the weyrs would become overrun very quickly.

Beneath the bronzes and golds are the browns. Each dragon knows at birth into which classification he or she falls, so there is no confusion between the bronzes and the browns. Bronzes may become Wingleaders, leaders of the 33 member fighting formations formed during Threadfall. Browns may become Wingseconds or Weyrlingmasters, those who help with newly Impressed dragons and their partners. There is some mention of resentment between the browns and bronzes in regards to mating rights.

Below the browns are the two most specific, populous and useful dragons: the blues and the greens. These dragons are the fastest and most manueverable dragons, though they tire faster than the larger dragons. Blue dragons may become Weyrlingmasters but rarely achieve higher rank (though in the psychology of McCaffrey, the blue riders have no desire for anything more; that is why blue dragons are attracted to them). Green dragons are the most volatile of the dragons because they are also female and have mating flights. However, over Pernese history, a lack of adequate female candidates resulted in a belief that greens could only Impress male candidates. Thus, McCaffrey provides a logical place in Pernese society for male homosexuality: green dragons Impress effeminate gay men and blue dragons Impress more masculine gay men. This does leave questions about the knowledge of homosexuality outside of the dragonriders (would a family understand that Impression of a green or blue dragon was an almost certain indication of homosexual tendencies?) and the extent of it within and without of the Weyr (How often do greens mate? answer: quite often. How would sexual partners arrange mating rights? Is there sexual interaction between green and brown riders?- remember, the dragons have individual personalities and sexual preferences; answer: sometimes, but it's not mentioned often. but they do mate with greens since they cant with queens. Would sexual frustration of a brown dragon lead to unwanted homosexual activity? answer: no. the weyr is very open to the rituals of mating, and riders have ways of venting frustrations. Must all blue riders be inherently gay? answer: not necessarily. some may riders may arrange for a female to be present during the mating flight, and the other men with the same option. What dragonrider would be forced to couple with an unpopular greenrider? What would sexual parters do if their dragons disliked each other or if the green should prefer another dragon? answer: preferences can play a good deal into which dragon catches the female, but during the flight things like this dont matter. even if the riders hated each other, during that moment they would be so caught up in their dragons passion they wouldnt notice at all).

The Sword of Truth

In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth novels, dragons are depicted as quite intelligent, and are a bit more benevolent than traditional European dragons (but still carnivorous, and viciously protective of their young). If Scarlet is any indication, Goodkind's dragons have an excellent sense of humor as well. In the Sword of Truth novels, dragon teeth have powerful magic, including the ability to summon the dragon from which the tooth was taken. They breathe fire, but don't seem to use this ability much.

Dragoncharm

The Dragoncharm series by Graham Edwards is unusual in that it is written entirely from the dragons' point of view. In this respect it has been likened to Richard Adams's Watership Down. Edwards has created a mythical prehistory in which two species of dragons - "charmed" and "natural" - initially battle, then later unite. The four-legged, winged charmed dragons use magic - or "charm" - to breathe fire and manipulate the world around them. The natural dragons are also winged, but have only two legs. Unlike their charmed cousins, they cannot use magic at all.

Star Wars

In Star Wars, a universe originally only pictured in movies by George Lucas but not also including things like novels, comics, video games and more, several reptilian species are referred to as dragons. None of them, however, are capable of breathing fire, though some can fly.

Krayt-swg1

A canyon krayt dragon on Tatooine.

The most famous of them are propably the krayt dragons. There is two subspecies of the krayt dragon, the smaller but more common one being the canyon krayt dragon. There is also the bigger, ten-legged greated krayt. The krayt dragon is a huge lizard with venomous teeth and, in the case of the canyon krayt, spines. They were fierce hunters, but had difficulties in discerning two-dimensional pictures. During their grinding of food, they created the rare and valuable dragon pearls which could be used to enhance the effect of a lightsaber.

A possibly ancestor of the krayt dragons was the sentient species Duinuogwuin, or Star Dragons. They were highly intelligent, and had an ability rare among sentient species; they could survive in the vacuum of space. They could also grow just as large as the greater krayt dragons, thus sometimes reaching a length of 100 meters. They had the ability to fly using some internal organs.

A smaller relative of the krayt was the kell dragon. Though they could not by any chance match the power of the krayts, they were still dangerous creatures.

Other dragon species in the Star Wars universe includes the Arkanian dragon, the Billinus dragon and the Ubese Thorn-Back War Dragon. While the krayt, the kell and possibly the Star Dragons are relative, it is unknown if the rest are. Thus, it is unknown if the term "dragon" in Star Wars refers to a certain line of lizards, or if it is just a term for dangerous and big reptiles.

Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Series

In Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Series, dragons have a close relationship with Elves. They can also form bonds between a group of humans called the Dragon Riders, which are warriors that battle with dragons as their pets. The dragons in this novel mature from a newborn baby to a dragon that is capable of feeding itself and flying within months. At the time of this story, dragons have almost become extinct, with the majority of the eggs being possessed by an evil king called Galbatorix.

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