Dragons have been a storytelling staple for ages, and it’s easy to see why we keep coming back to them. Regal yet terrifying, these mystical creatures create instant conflict, what with all their fire-breathing and treasure-hoarding. Plus, there is something compelling about having an enormous winged and scaled beast as your loyal friend and protector; I dare you to find me someone who has never dreamt of becoming besties with a dragon. Whether they are friendly or treacherous, one thing dragons all have in common is charisma in spades. So without further delay, here are our favorite dragons in literature.
Smaug (The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Tolkien’s greedy dragon has flown right back in the zeitgeist, since The Desolation of Smaug hit theaters last December. Smaug outlives most of his brethren and, bored with life, he kicks a bunch of dwarves out of their home in the Lonely Mountain. What a hothead! We won’t ruin the ending of The Hobbit for those who haven’t read it, but rest assured, it will be fiery.
The Jabberwocky (Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll)
Lewis Carroll was the master of nonsense poems, and “Jabberwocky” is one of his most insane creations (and that’s quite a cutthroat category). The poem describes a ferocious dragon with jaws that bite, claws that clutch, and great eyeballs of fire. It also coins the word “galumphing” and for that, we are eternally grateful.
Falkor (The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende)
Not all dragons are evil flamethrowers looking to slow-roast their next victims. Luckdragons like Falkor aren’t particularly magical or strong, but they do have one thing going for them: they are favored by fortune. That turns out to be the best weapon anyone could possibly hope for, and it’s essential in helping Atreyu save Fantasia. But, as Ende’s book would say, “that is another story and shall be told another time.”
Sir Isaac Newton (Between Planets, by Robert A. Heinlein)
Few things are more satisfying than going on a Heinlein novel binge read, and Between Planets is a great book to start with. Aimed at young adults, the novel follows an Earthling teenager as he goes on an interplanetary adventure with Sir Isaac Newton, a space dragon from Venus. Just read it: it’s nutballs.
Saphira Bjartskular (Inheritance Cycle series, by Christopher Paolini)
Dragons and humans are friends as often as they are enemies, and there’s no doubt that Saphira Bjartskular is Eragon’s greatest ally. The two telepathically bonded immediately after Saphira was born, and they have each other’s backs throughout Paolini’s expansive series. Though the books are a great read, you may find yourself more than a little wistful that you have never mind-melded with a dragon. (Those of you who have, please share your tips?)
Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin)
Similar to Saphira, the three dragons born to Daenerys Targaryen immediately bond with her, and become her fierce defenders as they mature. All the Houses in Martin’s brutal fantasy have their own secret weapons, but we have to admit, dragons are a pretty epic ace in the hole. All sweet Dany has to say is “Dracarys” and boom—empires topple. She and her fire-breathing offspring are a force to be reckoned with.
Who is your favorite fictional dragon?