I’ve read a lot of dragon stories. From Middle-Earth to Earth-sea, from the skies of Pern to the desert of Saphier. They’re big, bad, colorful and breathe fire. Very obvious and eye-catching. They also have a habit of collecting treasure, so like pirates, they’re members of the ‘glitterati’. If you can get the better of them, you could well be rolling in gold, jewels and mithril. Who can forget the description of Smaug sleeping on a pile of dwarven treasure, showing off his gold and diamond waistcoat?
But even more enthralling than Smaug’s hoard, was his character. His fondness for riddles – his cleverness and cunning as well as his weaknesses. He had pride, arrogance, he was subject to flattery and curiosity. All very human traits. And most important of all, he could be killed. Unlike most of our outsized problems, dragons, in almost all circumstances, have the capacity to be slain.
I’ve written a number of dragon stories. One of my favorites has the dragon trapped in the form of a princess. An extreme case of ‘you are what you eat’. Many of the stories I’ve read reveal similar linkages between dragons and humans. An interesting transformation from the rapacious monster of myth – but one I find very appealing. From the chaos of Smaug to the lawlessness of LeGuin’s Earthsea dragons to the euphoric bonds of the Pernese dragonriders. A movement from the necessity of destroying that which is too powerful to control, to finding the means to control such power. Who would not reach for that, rather than the dragon-slaying sword, if they could? Who would not *be* that, if offered the chance?