Written by Marie Brennan
It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I’m not obsessed with dragons. Sure, I read Pern at an impressionable age, and I think fire lizards sound like awesome pets (empathy! fire-breathing! teleportation!), but dragons are just one of many awesome things in fantasy that I find interesting. Had the sources that inspired me to write the Memoirs of Lady Trent been a Unicornology calendar and the Unicorninomicon, I might be writing about very different beasts today.
Having said that, I have my favorite dragons, just like many people. In no particular order, they are:
The Wawel Dragon, from the folklore of Kraków, Poland. This is your classic dragon story…almost. The dragon hangs out in a cave at the foot of the Wawel hill, eating peasants and terrorizing everybody; knights try to kill it and fail; the King promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to whoever can save her from being the next maiden sacrificed; you know the drill. The hero of this tale is a suitably humble cobbler’s apprentice—but does he slay the dragon with a sword? Nope. He stuffs a lamb’s skin with sulfur and leaves it as bait for the dragon. Who, upon eating it, develops a terrible stomachache and goes down to the river to try and ease it, but ends up drinking so much water that he explodes.
And then the apprentice marries the princess and everybody lives happily ever after, except of course for the dragon.
Maleficent, from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I have my fingers crossed that Angelina Jolie does justice to the role, because Maleficent is one of Disney’s best villains ever. How can you not love a wicked fairy with that sense of style, especially when she turns herself into a @#$&! dragon? Sure, okay, she doesn’t start off as a dragon, but when I have a stuffed animal of her in dragon form sitting in my bedroom, I think I have to count her as one of my favorites.
Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon. (The movie; I haven’t read the book yet, though I intend to.) I feel almost as if I’m cheating here, because Toothless is basically a cat in a dragon’s body—just look at his behavior, and the way that he moves. He even looks a great deal like my friend’s cat Thrace. And given my fondness for cats, that goes a long way toward explaining why I love Toothless so much. He’s adorable, and also awesome.
Kazul, from Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles skewer a lot of the fairy tale and legend tropes; the protagonist, Cimorene, runs away and volunteers to be a dragon’s captive princess so as to escape her expected role in life. Most of the dragons think this is absurd, but Kazul takes her on, because she needs somebody to catalogue her library and organize her hoard. I have a deep fondness for pragmatic characters, so Kazul is precisely my speed.
The fire lizards, from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Because like I said: empathy! fire-breathing! teleportation! I also love a lot of her full-sized dragons—Ramoth, Ruth, Path, and so on—but it would be hard to take care of one in a San Francisco Bay Area townhouse, whereas a well-trained fire lizard would make a great pet. And I don’t think my husband is allergic to lizards; sadly, I can’t say the same for cats.
From the Tor/Forge March 3rd newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
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