Group Discussion: Favorite Depiction of Dragons?


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Group Discussion: Favorite Depiction of Dragons?

Jun 13, 2021, 12:06 am

Hello FantasyFans,

In honor of our new group picture, I'm curious about your favorite depiction of dragons in fantasy. My first introduction to fantasy as a genre distinct from fairy tales or folk tales was probably through My Father's Dragon, although shortly afterwards I was introduced to Smaug in The Hobbit. As a teenager, particular favorites were the dragons in Pern and the comedic take on dragons abducting maidens in Dealing with Dragons. However, the depiction that I found the most creative was probably the that of The Pit Dragon Chronicles. My years as an adult fantasy reader have been, in comparison, surprisingly dragon-less. What are unusual or especially good depictions of dragons that you recommend?

Jun 13, 2021, 6:31 am

I can think of 2 off the top of my head: Temeraire, from the series of the same name by Naomi Novik, and the ones that Lady Trent studies in Marie Brennan's Lady Trent's Memoirs series.

Jun 13, 2021, 10:01 am

Temeraire was the first that came to my mind. Dragon's feature pretty prominently in Robin Hobb's The Realm of the Elderlings starting with the second trilogy. The plot of Guards! Guards! revolves around a dragon of sorts. Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers and to a certain extent the DFZ series feature dragons and their families. The Dagger and the Coin has a dragon in the later books.

Editado: Jun 13, 2021, 12:14 pm

Mary Brown's The Unexpected Dragon series is a good one.

Editado: Jun 13, 2021, 1:06 pm

>3 Narilka: eek, how could I forget the dragons in Rain Wild chronicles!

Jun 14, 2021, 8:47 am

My favorites have all been mentioned. :)

I read the Pern books at an age where those dragons became imprinted in my DNA. Just thinking of Pern brings up memories of the heat and blood and wonder of the hatching grounds, and the swoop and dive of a mating flight as if I'd lived it.

My personal version of dragons is always sort of cat-like, and I think the Temeraire books sort of capture that, with every individual dragon having its own personality and opinions, and regardless of what those opinions are, always sort of finicky in whether they connect well with people who aren't THEIR people. :)

I just finished the first Heartstrikers book, and enjoyed it a lot. Looking forward to learning more about dragon society as those go on.

Of others I've encountered, a quick honorable mention for Gleep in Robert Asprin's Myth books.

Jun 14, 2021, 12:54 pm

I still think Smaug is one of the best.
No one has mentioned the dragon in Grendel by John Gardner -- really well done (as is Grendel).

Jun 14, 2021, 1:05 pm

A lot of my favorites have been mentioned, but a few other interesting depictions I can think of include the dragons of Tooth and Claw and (aimed at a middle grade audience, but still worth a mention in my book) Dragon Slippers.

Jun 15, 2021, 4:24 am

the priory of the orange tree is a great book, the dragons aren't very well described, but influential.

the death gate cycle where the dragons of the Labyrinth are intermittently wonderful. A great parody of the 'fly you fools' line from LotR

a natural history of dragons Mostly small but well written - faux victoriana which can be annoying, manages to be delightful instead.

Song of the beast particularly good dragons in this, powerful forces of nature not to be reasoned with.

I also like a few of the urban fantasy dragons that appear as shapechangers (eg according to the old DnD gold dragon lore). Very powerful but hidden, wont to meddle a little for their own amusement. Ferrovax in Harry Dresden for example.

Jun 15, 2021, 6:40 am

I loved A-L, the "wyverary" in The girl who circumnavigated Fairyland though he is not quite a dragon ...

>9 reading_fox: I was thinking of Priory of the Orange Tree too, with its Eastern and Western influenced dragon lore.

I too loved the dragons of Pern, but really wanted a fire lizard of my own!

Jun 17, 2021, 12:26 am

Haha, it's great to see that the dragons in Pern didn't just make a big impression on me. There are also a lot of cool suggestions here -- Song of the Beast seems especially appealing, but it also sounds like I really need to go check out Robin Hobb.

>9 reading_fox: Oh, interesting, I didn't know that dragon shapeshifters were such an urban fantasy thing. I dimly remember shapeshifting in Dragon's Bait, but that's not at all urban fantasy. I gather that this might be the case for the Heartstrikers series that >3 Narilka: mentioned above. Are there other good examples?

Jun 17, 2021, 12:43 am

Some others: Robin McKinley has The Hero and the Crown and Dragonhaven, and Mercedes Lackey had her dragon jousters series, starting with Joust.

Jun 17, 2021, 4:28 am

I rather liked the dragons in Burn by Patrick Ness. Dystopian YA SF in the Pacific Northwest (US & Canada).

Jun 17, 2021, 4:52 am

Seanan McGuire's take on dragons in the Incryptid series is pretty unique. Without spoiling anything, the male and female of the species have very different physical forms ....

Jun 17, 2021, 5:49 am

>11 Kanarthi: I wouldn't say it was common, but they do appear now and then. Heart of stone has one.

Jun 17, 2021, 2:48 pm

Another interesting take on dragons was Sean Grigsby's Smoke Eaters, where firefighters' main job is to fight dragons in a post-apocalyptic USA. Cool idea, although the book was a bit rough.

Jun 17, 2021, 3:00 pm

The Ultimate Dragon Saga by Graham Edwards is another different take. Sort of followed by The Stone Trilogy.

Jun 23, 2021, 4:07 pm

FWIW, The Discovery of Dragons has always been one of my favorite Graeme Base picture books. (Yes, as an adult reader. I'm too old to have read Graeme Base as a child.)

Jun 23, 2021, 8:37 pm

Strabo of Landover was probably my favourite, growing up.

Jun 23, 2021, 9:01 pm

I like how Malazan: Book of the Fallen depicts its dragons - they are powerful but still vulnerable and not necessarily always on top of the food chain. They are but one creature of many, many creatures and humanoid races struggling for control. Plus, certain people can shape shift into dragon form and back which adds another twist.

Jun 24, 2021, 4:03 am

I have just finished the first of a new series about Dragons by E. E. Knight Novice Dragoneer

He has also written another series about Dragons - 6 books - which I have not yet read. I had also read a more usual Alien Invasion series Vampire Earth I enjoyed the 1st mentioned book. The dragons have personalities and I cared when "The Lodger" died. I am looking forward to book 2.

The Vampire Earth series (non Dragon) became a little repetitious after book 6 or so.

I had never heard of the author before BUT I suspect he is getting better with time :-)

Jun 24, 2021, 7:18 am

>20 drmamm: oh I hadn't even thought of the Malazan dragons, as they spend most of their time in human form, hehe, but you're right!

Jul 14, 2021, 10:36 pm

Thanks for everyone who left suggestions; my reading list has certainly grown. For those who want even more dragon suggestions, check out this FantasyFans thread of yore.

Jul 15, 2021, 10:46 pm

I just remembered Travel Light, a classic fantasy novel, strange but compelling -- the protagonist is a girl cast out by her father, and raised among dragons by a wise elder dragon. Very worth searching out.

Jul 16, 2021, 6:33 am

>24 rshart3: Ohhh, Travel light is wonderful! How could I not have thought of it?!

Jul 23, 2021, 9:50 am

One of my favorite Dragon series is G. A. Aiken's Dragon Kin. The series is fantasy/romance dealing with a society that combines dragon shifters and humans. It's raunchy, rude, incredibly violent, and hilarious. Earlier works are much more explicit than later ones where the world building tends to dominate. However, you definitely do not want to share it with your middle schooler.

Jul 24, 2021, 5:09 am

Dragonkeeper (series) by Carole Wilkinson, with its references to Taoism and ancient China, and Anne Mccaffery’s Dragonriders are my “must read” contributions to this discussion.
Although published almost 40 years apart, these two books speak to readers who imagine dragons as revered and majestic beasts, treasured by the people who inhabit the lands graced by dragons.

Editado: Jul 25, 2021, 3:57 pm

I have to admit to a special fondness for Ramoth, Mnemeth, and particularly Ruth on Pern as I've re-read that series so many times over the years that they're old friends.

For something a bit newer, though, I enjoyed the Dragon of White Jade Mountain in Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey. It's the first book in the third Kushiel's Legacy trilogy, but this trilogy is set several generations after the first two, so it can be picked up without needing the to have read the others first.

Jul 24, 2021, 1:21 pm

>26 Moomp: Awesome, thanks for suggesting another example of a series with dragon shape-shifters. This is a corner of fantasy that I know much less about.

>27 wallabyjlw: Ooh, Dragon Keeper might be the first book in this thread with Chinese dragons. Very cool. Although perhaps the dragon in Naamah's Kiss mentioned by >28 rokipra: also fits that description, going off its name.

And welcome, all LTers coming here from the State of the Thing. Keep the dragon recs coming, but also feel free to check out our other threads. We have a very similar discussion on music in fantasy going on now, and we're also happy to hear about your current reading in our monthly Where Are You in Fantasyland? threads.

Editado: Jul 24, 2021, 3:38 pm

For a very different take on dragons, there's also the Dominion of the fallen series by Aliette de Bodard - the eastern type

Jul 24, 2021, 6:07 pm

I haven't read a ton of books with dragons (sadly) but there's Smaug of course, the ones in The Silmarillion, and the ones in the Norton/Lackey trilogy starting w/ The Elvenbane, which I read way back in high school. A couple others I can think of that were mediocre or not prominent.

Does anyone know any books where dragons are portrayed in a really funny/silly style? I mean, adult books, not like How to Train Your Dragon - although I do love those movies! (Trying to recall if Terry Pratchett wrote dragons...) I would like to read more...aside from the book I just finished editing! :)

It's called The Merry Band by Katherine Vick and has a super funny take on a dragon - which is not a main character but plays a big enough role. It comes out August 2nd. It's a sequel that does need to be read in order. The first book (no dragons but hilarious epic fantasy) is called The Disposable. A little birdie told me the e-book will be free from July 28 to August 1! :)

Jul 24, 2021, 8:34 pm

Dragons are mostly-invisible, telepathic foster kids of trustworthy human children before they cross over into their own world: Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville.

Editado: Jul 25, 2021, 4:03 pm

I have another nomination that I was just reminded of as I was looking for a book and I'm kicking myself that I didn't think of it yesterday. That would be Ancaladar, the black dragon who first appears in To Light A Candle, the second volume of the Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. In this world, dragons are immortal until they find their bondmate, whom they can then gift with the extraordinary magical power they themselves cannot use. Having hidden to escape the Great War between the Light and the Endarkened, Ancaladar is now one of the last remaining dragons - and the Endarkened are rising once more.

It's an excellent trilogy that I highly recommend for any fantasy lover.

>29 Kanarthi: You correct about the Dragon of White Jade Mountain. Roughly the last third of the novel is set in what is styled as Ch'in.

Jul 28, 2021, 4:02 pm

>32 SarahAwa: The best one I can think of for silly/funny dragon books for adults would be Dealing with Dragons, mentioned earlier in this thread. The dragons themselves are still serious and powerful, but the story pokes fun at the idea of dragons carrying off innocent maidens to eat them. I'm not sure if that is quite what you meant, but hopefully it's close.

>33 aspirit: Well, that's unique!

Jul 29, 2021, 9:31 am

I don't believe anybody mentioned, Saphira from Chris Paolini's The Inheritance Cycle. The hero from that series has a wonderful relationship with his dragon. Eragon and Saphira form a unique bond, and go on amazing quest. I would highly recommend reading Paolini's books.

Last year a wrote a blogspot about my favorite dragons in literature. Here it is in case you are interested in checking it out.

Jul 29, 2021, 12:29 pm

>32 SarahAwa: Guards Guards has Pratchett's take on dragons in Discworld. It's generally thought to be one of the best in the series, and a good place to start if you're new to Discworld.

Editado: Jul 29, 2021, 1:24 pm

The Pernese dragons were the first ones that came to mind - I loved the idea of a telepathic bond with a dragon partner and you could actually fly on them - but recent books I've read with dragons include Seraphina, Dragonsbane, Dragonhaven and, to some extent, Blue Moon Rising.

>24 rshart3: That description reminds me of Tehanu of Earthsea.

>32 SarahAwa: The Dragon Knight might work though it's been a while since I read it so I don't know how well it fits the bill.

Jul 29, 2021, 9:57 pm

>38 humouress: "That description reminds me of Tehanu of Earthsea."
Yes, they are similar, though the tone in the Mitchison book is a bit lighter (not the message, though)

Ago 16, 2021, 11:36 pm

Christopher Rowley wrote The Dragons of Argonath series (and may still be writing it!) And I loved his depiction of Battle Dragons.
I am also a fan of the Pernese dragons and STP's swamp dragons.
There's two trilogies by Melanie Rawn about dragons, too. Dragon Star and Dragon Prince trilogies.

Ago 17, 2021, 6:36 am

>38 humouress: Dragonsbane, where the main characters battle a dragon, is only the beginning of their story. In the fourth book, Dragonstar, a character is transformed into a dragon. Hambly doesn’t paint these things only beautiful and magnificent. She examines the dirty nitty-gritty of these lives.

Ago 19, 2021, 4:27 pm

So many dragon stories to enjoy.
The Gannett trilogy were, to the best of my memory, the first dragon books I ever read. They were published in the late 1940's and early 50s, so they were less then a decade old when I read them in the 2nd or 3rd grade. Not book related but those enchanting stories of a friendly dragon and a little boy were timely also because of a wonderful song from that era - Puff, the Magic Dragon made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I saw them at Constitution Hall and heard them sing it live.
Anne McCaffrey's Pern books are/were amazing and stand the test of time. As a Children's Librarian, I got to meet her at Wheaton Library (Montgomery County, MD) when she was on her book tour and I have a signed paperback copy of The White Dragon from that event. Does anyone besides me believe there was a printing error (most likely caused by a cutting and pasting mistake) in The White Dragon? Several pages of text were inserted wrongly totally messing up the flow of the story during the hatching, if I remember correctly. I used to know where they were but I would have to reread it again to find the right location. How many of you wanted a fire lizard after reading the Harper Hall Trilogy?
McKinley's The Hero and the Crown has a really formidable and very riveting portrayal of an evil dragon. Even the kits were highly dangerous. I still believe Robin McKinley should written a trilogy about Damar and that The Blue Sword should have won the Newbery over Dicey's Song.
Quag Keep and its sequel, Return to Quag Keep by Andre Norton recreate a similar treasure hoarding dragon as portrayed by the Master, Tolkien.
Of course, Mercer Mayer's Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like reveals how dragons are viewed differently by each of us.

Editado: Ago 19, 2021, 10:54 pm

>42 mgdonutman: 'How many of you wanted a fire lizard after reading the Harper Hall Trilogy?' I'm in the middle of Dragonquest and I want to be a dragonrider of Pern.

'I still believe Robin McKinley should written a trilogy about Damar' Yup - still hoping that that inspiration is going to strike. I love Aerin and Harry.

Ago 20, 2021, 8:05 am

Kalessin from Tehanu is probably my favorite. Although you never forget your first dragon, and mine was Branstookah from Shadow Castle.

Ago 20, 2021, 6:04 pm

>42 mgdonutman: I never encountered Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like, but I love Mercer Mayer. I'll track that down. Thanks for the tip!

Ago 21, 2021, 1:29 am

>11 Kanarthi: Tea with the Black Dragon is a shape-shifting dragon in an urban fantasy setting.

But my first dragon was A Small Elderly Dragon.

Ago 22, 2021, 9:21 am

>46 merrystar: A Small Elderly Dragon looks to be delightful.

Set 26, 2021, 3:54 pm

The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard is the best dragon story ever.

Jan 2, 2022, 6:11 pm

>10 Sakerfalcon: Who didn't want a fire lizard after reading those books! One of my favorites from way back when of McCaffrey's dragon books was The White Dragon. I may have to revisit those books again.

Editado: Jan 2, 2022, 6:28 pm

Carrie Vaughn has a series of YA books with dragons starting with this title Voices of Dragons and Refuge of Dragons that was pretty good as well. I'm not sure if there are any more to the series. I will have to add a few newly discovered books with dragons to the TBR list after reading this thread.

Jan 3, 2022, 12:54 am

I know the Wings of Fire series are popular, especially with younger readers; on an extended-family international Zoom call last year, two of my cousins discovered that both their girls love the series (the kids are about 10 years old).

Jan 3, 2022, 10:30 am

My nine-year-old goddaughter enthusiastically recommends The dragon with a chocolate heart. It looks super-cute.