You might have guessed that we love dragons here at Dragonspace. Perhaps our name gave it away? We're fascinated by these enigmatic beasts and the stories they inspire. Guardians, protectors, sages, monsters, villains, friends and companions - dragons have appeared in lore and legend as all these things and more.
Though long associated with tales of old, dragons are still going strong in popular culture, becoming icons in some of our favourite contemporary fantasy stories. Let's take a look at a few of our favourites:
Are you already starting to sing the song? Puff was immortalised by the '60s pop-folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, though the lyrics to the famous tune are actually based on a poem by a university student named Leonard Lipton. In the song, Puff the dragon lives in a magical land called Honahlee, where he gets up to all kinds of adventures with his friend Jackie Paper. Puff is undoubtedly a docile friendly dragon, though his story isn't all sunshine and rainbows. At the end of the song, Jackie Paper stops coming to visit Puff, causing the dragon to "sadly slip into his cave." The tale is said to be about growing up and the loss of innocence - Puff represents the magic of childhood, when the imagination roamed free. Maybe that's why dragons continue to hold a mystical grip on us.
Fearsome Smaug is the antagonist in Tolkien's The Hobbit tales. Like a traditional dragon of Western lore, Smaug greedily guards the treasure in the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor and launches a fiery attack on the village of Laketown. Some scholars theorise that Tolkien was inspired by the 'old night-scather' from the epic poem Beowulf when creating Smaug, as Tolkien was a Beowulf expert. Vengeful, treasure-hungry and aggressive, Smaug embodies the villainous dragon archetype. Tolkien interestingly chose to give Smaug the ability to talk, making him a little more humanoid than monstrous.
Falkor the luckdragon is the faithful companion of heroes Bastian and Atreyu in the Germany fantasy novel The Neverending Story. In appearance, Falkor takes elements from a traditional Oriental dragon as well as a domestic dog, specifically a Golden Retriever or a Labrador...notoriously faithful animals! Falkor is optimistic, wise and friendly, and possesses extraordinary luck even in impossible circumstances. He's the type of dragon we'd definitely want as a pet, though he'd need a bigger backyard than your standard dog.
Witty firecracker Mushu often steals the scene in the 1998 Disney animated film Mulan. In many ways, Mushu is a traditional Chinese dragon, with his blue horns, gold mustache and lack of wings, more resembling a lizard or serpent than a Western dragon. Once a guardian spirit of the Fa ancestors, Mushu was demoted after failing to protect a family member and is desperate to regain his prior position throughout the film. While Mushu is comedic and sometimes buffoon-like, he is ultimately a guardian and protector to Mulan. In Chinese mythology, dragons represent luck, fortune and protection, so Mushu fits the bill.
Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion
Game of Thrones has recently catapulted dragons back into pop culture fame. Even since Daenerys Targaryen stepped out of the fire holding her babies, these dragons have created some of the television show's most stunning scenes. While Daenerys's dragons are ultimately faithful to her - their mother - they're also wild and unpredictable, causing her to have to lock them up when she realises she can't completely control them. Fierce and impressive, everyone's looking forward to seeing what role these beasts will play in books and episodes to come. But no spoilers...
Not a lot of people would use the word 'adorable' to describe a dragon, unless you're Rubeus Hagrid, of course. In the first of the Harry Potter books, we get to meet Norbert, the Norwegian Ridgeback baby dragon that animal-loving Hagrid hatches from an egg in his hut. In appearance, Norbert is a traditional Western dragon that looks like a 'crumpled black umbrella' with large spiny wings, stubby horns and orange eyes. Sadly, Hagrid has to give Norbert up to a dragon reserve in Romania after the dragon develops a reputation for biting. Norbert is just one of the dragons that feature in the series, from fierce Hungarian Horntails to Common Welsh Greens and Swedish Short-Snouts. We'd love to meet all the dragons of J.K Rowling's imagination (from a safe distance, of course).
From cuddly companions to wicked villains, dragons certainly add conflict and colour to some of our favourite stories! Who's your top dragon? Let us know in the comments below.
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