What is it about dragons?

“How many books are you going to write before you die?” asked a student at one of my school sessions.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I don’t really know when I’m going to die. But I do know that I’m going to write a book about a dragon before then.”

Well, I did. In fact, that one book turned into three, my Taun Trilogy: Dragonfire, Whisperings of Magic and Dragonmaster. And there may just be a fourth lurking in the far reaches of my mind.

But why? What was my fascination with dragons? It started, of course, with Smaug, J.R.R. Tolkien’s unmatchable worm. But I am not alone. Just for fun, before I started writing this blog, I googled “Dragons, origins of myths.” Try it. It would take months to research all the sites. There are dragon myths from every corner of the world and just about every culture. Walk into a bookstore and see the shelves upon shelves of novels about dragons. What is it about dragons that intrigues us so much?

Dragons are evil incarnate. That’s a given. So, being obstinate, I created a Dragonling, Hhana, in Dragonmaster, who is only half dragon and therefore not evil incarnate. But because of her dragon inheritance, her battle against her evil side is even more intense than a normal human’s struggle. I still haven’t decided what the final outcome of this battle will be, hence the possibility of a fourth book. But it’s that idea of total, impersonal evil that captivates, I think. The utter impossibility of communicating or negotiating with a being that encapsulates evil–that has absolutely no good side to appeal to.

And the power. A dragon is all-powerful. Writers had to invent one small place on the underside of a dragon’s throat where the beast is vulnerable, but other than that, there is no conquering them. Dragons can be seen as a symbol of some of the most terrible evil walking this planet. Their one, tiny, vulnerable spot is our only hope of fighting back. Dragons are one way of facing evil so complete that there is no way of comprehending it, that struggling against it is almost hopeless.

Almost hopeless. But not entirely. We have faced this kind of evil in this world and we have defeated it.

Are there any books out there where the dragon wins? If so, what is the message?

Are dragons always evil?

For a somewhat different take on the usual dragon books, I’ll recommend two books by a friend and favourite author of mine,  Janet McNaughton: Dragon Seer and Dragon Seer’s Gift. You can find her books on her website at http://www.janetmcnaughton.ca/

About Karleen Bradford

I am an award-winning author of children's and young adult books.
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2 Responses to What is it about dragons?

  1. Dragons are not always evil, in Chinese culture, dragon is a mysterious creature symbolizing the power of emperor. It’s totally different as the word “Dragon” refers.
    So some scholars in China said we need to call it the Chinese pronunciation “Long” instead of “dragon”.
    Chinese dragon never could be killed by a hero, never broke out fire, never fly with wings—it doesn’t have wings but could fly above the clouds. There is a Chinese saying, tigers come after wind, and dragons come after clouds. The saying means everything in the world is connected and influenced by each other.
    Will you add a Chinese dragon in your book? That could be fun, what do you think?


    • Thank you so much for your comment. I love your saying “tigers come after wind, and dragons come after clouds. The saying means everything in the world is connected and influenced by each other.”

      Perhaps that is where I should go with Hhana, my dragonling, if/when I write another book about her.


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