Dragon

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Daenerys Targaryen and Drogon in Daznak's Pit - by Marc Simonetti ©
Dragon skulls in the Red Keep cellars

Dragons are magical creatures, which existed on the continents of Westeros and Essos, but are considered to have been extinct for almost one hundred and fifty years. The only remaining traces of the dragons are skeletal remains and dragon eggs which are thought to have turned to stone.

Dragons are depicted in the sigils of Houses Blackfyre, Targaryen, Toland, Vance of Atranta, Vance of Wayfarer's Rest, and Willum.

Appearance

See also: Images of Dragons

Dragons are scaled, reptilian creatures, with two legs and two wings.[1][2] They use their wings as forelegs like bats, though some A Song of Ice and Fire artwork shows them with four legs and a detached pair of wings. They have sharp teeth and claws, leathery wings and long necks and tails, with spiny crests running down their backs. As hatchlings, they are around the size of a cat, but continue growing and can reach sizes large enough to swallow a mammoth whole. The polished skulls of the House Targaryen dragons look like glittering onyx, and their teeth like curved daggers of black diamond. Their bones are black due to their high iron content. Dragonbone is a highly sought after crafting material.[3]

A dragon's scales are largely but not entirely impervious to flame; they protect the more vulnerable flesh and musculature beneath. As a dragon ages, its scales thicken and grow harder, affording even more protection, even as its flames burn hotter. Whereas the flames of a hatchling can set straw aflame, the flames of Balerion and Vhagar at their prime melted steel and stone.[4]

Characteristics

The hatchling dragons Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion in Game of Thrones

Great heat emanates from dragons' bodies, to the point that they steam during cold nights. They breathe extremely hot flame which they use to cook their meat before eating it.[5] A dragon's scales are mostly, though not entirely, impervious to fire,[6] protecting the more vulnerable flesh and muscles underneath. Younger dragons are damaged by fire more easily than older dragons, as the scales of a dragon grow thicker and harden when the dragon ages.[4] At the same time, as the dragon grows older, its flames become hotter and fiercer. Where a hatchling's flame can set straw aflame, dragons, like Balerion and Vhagar in the fullness of their power, could melt steel and stone.[4] It is said that dragons are fire made flesh.[7]

Dragons are capable of forming strong attachments to humans who raise them. They have a reasonably high level of animal intelligence, and can be trained to serve as battlemounts and receive vocal commands. Dragons are said to be capricious in nature.[8] Dragons bend easier to their rider's will after they have been fed and their stomach full.[4] Dragons have to be trained, to keep them from laying waste to everything around them.[9]

Dragons grow throughout their lives, but it is unknown how long they can live or how large they can grow. The largest and oldest Targaryen dragon, Balerion, lived about 200 years and could swallow an aurochs whole, or even one of the hairy mammoths, but dragons raised in captivity and enclosed spaces are thought to be smaller than their wild brethren.[10] As dragons grow so do their appetites.

Dragons are believed to be intrinsically tied to magic and the seasons of the world. Since dragons became extinct from Westeros, the power of magic dwindled and winters grew colder.

Tales of ice dragons with cold breath are told in the north of Westeros. It is undetermined if such dragons are entirely fictional.[11]

Dragonriders

Aegon the Conqueror upon Balerion, the Black Dread by Jordi Gonzalez ©.

Dragons will not simply allow anyone to mount them. They seem to be very selective of who they allow become their rider. The rider having Valyrian heritage might be a factor. Once a dragon bonds with a rider, that dragon will not allow anyone else to mount it while its rider lives, though dragons will allow new riders once their previous rider is deceased. No rider though has ever ridden a different dragon while his/her current dragon was alive.[12]

There seems to be a special bond between a dragon and its rider. A dragon might to be able to sense when its current rider is in distress or has died. This is implied in the case of the dragon Dreamfyre, who, despite being locked and chained in the Dragonpit, sensed when her rider Helaena Targaryen committed suicide in Maegor's Holdfast.[4] At the moment of Helaena's death Dreamfyre rose suddenly with a roar that shook the Dragonpit and snapped two of the chains that bound her.[4]

Reproduction

Septon Barth, Grand Maester Munkun, and Maester Thomax hold markedly divergent views on the mating habits of dragons.[13] Dragons lay large, scaled eggs to reproduce.[14] Over the eons un-hatched eggs can become fossilized.

Dragons have no fixed gender differentiation - according to Barth and Maester Aemon, dragons are “but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame”,[14] presumably meaning that they are able to change from one sex to the other. This knowledge was later lost, with many maesters doubting that was true.

It is difficult to determine the sex of a dragon, because like common reptiles they have no external sex organs. There also appears to be no notable sexual dimorphism in dragons, such as that the females of some animal species tend to be bigger than males, and vice versa. Towards the end of her life, Vhagar (believed to be female) grew to be almost as large as Balerion (believed to be male).

Maester Yandel's commentary in The World of Ice and Fire indicates he believed a dragon to be female if it had laid eggs. He took the fact that Vermax was never observed laying eggs as proof that it must have been male.[15]

Female dragons, such as Syrax, are referred to as a she-dragon.[16] Meleys was also called "the Red Queen", and Tessarion "the Blue Queen", possibly indicating their sex. Syrax was noted to have laid multiple clutches of eggs.[4]

Vhagar, Meraxes, Syrax, Meleys, Tessarion, Dreamfyre, Silverwing, and the young dragons Moondancer and Shrykos are referred to as females in historical works. The last Targaryen dragon that died during the reign of King Aegon III has also been referred to as female, presumably because it left behind several eggs. Balerion, Vermithor, Sunfyre, Seasmoke, Sheepstealer, Grey Ghost, the Cannibal, and Stormcloud are all referred to as male. The assumed genders of Quicksilver and Morghul are not apparent. Caraxes has been referred to as both male and female.[4][17]

History

Ancient Dragons

Dragon fire engulfs a soldier. © FFG

Dragons are native to the continent of Essos, and it is said the first dragons came from the east, from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai and the islands of the Jade Sea.[18]

Dragons populated most of the known world in ages past,[19] and ancient dragon bones have been found as far north as Ib and as south as the jungles of Sothoryos.[20] The yellow emperor Chai Duq of Yi Ti is said to have kept a dragon at his court.[21]

In Barth's Unnatural History, the septon seems to have considered several legends regarding the origins of dragons. The Valyrians claimed that dragons sprang forth from the Fourteen Flames, a ring of volcanoes on the Valyrian peninsula Meanwhile, in Qarth, tales state dragons came from a second moon in the sky, which was scalded by the sun and cracked like an egg, and a million dragons poured forth. In Asshai, however, there are many tales - some impossibly ancient - which claim that dragons first appeared on the Shadow Lands and a people so ancient they have no name first tamed these dragons, brought them to Valyria and taught the Valyrians their arts before departing from the annals of history.[20]. Barth also put forth the theory that dragons were created by the bloodmages of the Freehold, using wyvern stock.[22]

Regardless of their origin, the Valyrians mastered the art of raising dragons and used them as weapons of war to carve out a massive empire. According to legend, a dragon may be tamed by sounding a dragon horn.[23]

After the Doom of Valyria, the only dragons known to have survived were five dragons on Dragonstone. The dragons belonged to House Targaryen, who had brought them from Valyria when they went into exile. Four of these dragons eventually died on Dragonstone, leaving only Balerion. However, the other dragons left eggs behind, and from these hatched Vhagar and Meraxes.[24]

The Targaryen Dragons

Balerion makes short work of Aegon Targaryen and Quicksilver during the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye, as depicted by Michael Komarck in The World of Ice and Fire

House Targaryen used Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes in their Wars of Conquest against the Seven Kingdoms. They were instrumental in the burning of Harrenhal and the Field of Fire, and the threat of dragons led to the submissions of Torrhen Stark and Sharra Arryn.[24] Dragons were also used in the First Dornish War, which caused the death of Meraxes at the Hellholt in 10 AC.[25] The valuable golden coin of the Iron Throne became known as a dragon.[26]

Dragon fought dragon in the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye, resulting in the death of the dragon Quicksilver in 43 AC.[27]

Over the course of one hundred and fifty years the Targaryens rode their dragons as a symbol of their power. King Jaehaerys I Targaryen took six dragons with him to the north to visit the Warden of the North. These included Jaehaerys on Vermithor, Queen Alysanne on Silverwing, and four other currently-unknown dragons.[28]

Balerion finally died of old age in 94 AC, late in the reign of Jaehaerys I.[17][29] Jaehaerys's grandson and eventual successor Viserys I was Balerion's rider at the time of its death.[17][30] This left Vhagar as the largest living dragon, and by 129 AC she was approaching Balerion's size.[4]

Many dragons were hatched after Aegon's Conquest. By 129 AC, on the eve of civil war between Rhaenyra and Aegon II, there were twenty living dragons.[4] The largest and oldest dragons were Vhagar, Vermithor, Silverwing, Dreamfyre, Meleys, Caraxes, and Syrax. Younger dragons still large enough to be ridden to war were Seasmoke, Sunfyre, Tessarion, Vermax, Arrax, Tyraxes, and Moondancer. Stormcloud, Morghul, and Shrykos were hatchlings not yet big enough to ride.

There were also three wild dragons living on Dragonstone which had never been successfully claimed by any rider: Grey Ghost, Sheepstealer, and the Cannibal. Sheepstealer hatched when Jaehaerys I was still young, and the Cannibal was even older (none knew for certain when it had hatched), and thus they were also quite large by the time of the Dance of the Dragons, while Grey Ghost was a younger and smaller beast. Not every hatchling lived to maturity, however, as seen with Rhaena of Pentos, whose hatchling only lived a matter of hours.[4]

Extinction and Revival

By the end of the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen, twenty dragons were alive. The majority of these died during the civil war called the Dance of the Dragons, which began in 129 AC and would last until mid 131 AC.[4][31] Archmaester Marwyn, however, holds that the order of maesters, with their secret goal to suppress magic, was responsible for the extinction of dragons.[32]

By the end of the Dance in 131 AC, only four dragons remained alive: Sheepstealer, the Cannibal, and Silverwing, who had been born years before the war, and the dragon Morning, which had hatched during the war.[31] There were still many dragon eggs left after the war, and at least one of those hatched. The last dragon was a stunted, sick and misshapen thing, and she died young, in 153 AC, during the reign of King Aegon III Targaryen, the Dragonbane.[33][34] She had been a green female, small with withered wings. She laid a clutch of five eggs,[35] which never hatched.[36]

The Targaryens also had a collection of nineteen dragons skulls of various sizes and ages that they displayed on the walls of the throne room in the Red Keep. Some of these were thousands of years old.[3]

After their extinction, the only remnants of dragons that remained were their skulls[3] and the eggs, some of which were petrified.[35][37][38] The eggs were highly valuable, for their beauty and exotic nature.[39] According to Ser Arlan of Pennytree, the summers became shorter after the last dragon died, and the winters longer and crueler.[36]

Many futile attempts were made to revive dragons. Aegon III Targaryen, known as the Dragonbane, had nine mages cross the narrow sea to use their magics in attempt to hatch remaining dragon eggs.[34] The pious King Baelor I Targaryen attempted to hatch his egg by praying over it.[37] Aegon IV Targaryen ordered pyromancers to build seven mechanical "dragons" that shot jets of wildfire. Hundreds of men died in a failed attempt to use them to invade Dorne.[40] The tragedy of Summerhall resulted from the attempt of King Aegon V Targaryen to hatch dragon eggs.[41] The art of taming and commanding dragons enough to ride is considered lost, aside from a few exceedingly rare books.[citation needed]

According to George R. R. Martin,

There are no more dragons known to exist... but this is a medieval period, and large parts of the world are still terra incognita, so there are always tales of dragon sightings in far off mysterious places. The maesters tend to discount those.[19]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen manages to hatch three dragons—Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion—in her husband Drogo's funeral pyre when she steps into the fire while they lay inside it. With Daenerys's exchange of life for life, the first three dragons in over a hundred years are born in the Dothraki sea.[42]

A Clash of Kings

In King's Landing Wisdom Hallyne, a pyromancer of the Alchemists' Guild, tells Tyrion Lannister that their spells are more effective than usual, and wonders if there are any dragons around, as Wisdom Pollitor had once told him that magic had begun to go out of the world the day the last dragon died.[43]

A Storm of Swords

Daenerys uses her dragons to conquer Astapor.[44]

During a small council meeting Varys reports that sailors back from the Jade Sea report that a three-headed dragon has hatched in Qarth, and is the wonder of that city. Tywin Lannister dismisses the report.[45]

A Feast for Crows

The small council of Cersei Lannister discounts rumors of dragons from Essos.[46]

Maester Aemon discusses dragons with Samwell Tarly.[14]

A Dance with Dragons

Daenerys encloses Rhaegal and Viserion within the dragon pit of Meereen's Great Pyramid after the death of Hazzea, although Drogon remains free.[47] Drogon later causes chaos at Daznak's Pit,[48] and Daenerys flies on his back to the Dothraki sea.[49]

Rhaegal and Viserion are freed from the Great Pyramid during Quentyn Martell's ill-fated attempt to tame a dragon.[50][51]

Historical Dragons

Dragons in flight – by Tomasz Jedruszek]. © Fantasy Flight Games
A House Targaryen dragon is unleashed on the battlefield – by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games
Three dragons destroy a castle. by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

Of unknown or uncertain chronology:

  • Urrax (according to legend slain by Serwyn and probably mythological, as it would have existed centuries before the arrival of the Targaryens)
  • Terrax, the dragon of Jaenara Belaerys who at some point spent three years exploring Sothoryos.

Known Dragon Eggs

Dragon eggs in Game of Thrones
Main article: Dragon egg
  • Mysaria's egg - When Prince Daemon Targaryen learned his concubine was pregnant, he presented her with a dragon egg, but King Viserys I Targaryen commanded him to return the egg and send Mysaria away.[17] Whereabouts unknown.
  • {hatched} Prince Jacaerys Velaryon's egg - placed in his cradle at his birth by royal decree, hatched into the dragon Vermax.[17][31]
  • {hatched} Prince Lucerys Velaryon's egg - placed in his cradle at his birth by royal decree, hatched into the dragon Arrax.[17][31]
  • {hatched} Prince Joffrey Velaryon's egg - placed in his cradle at his birth by royal decree, hatched into the dragon Tyraxes.[17][31]
  • King Viserys II Targaryen's egg - he possessed an egg during the civil war of the Dance of the Dragons, so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown.[4]
  • Lady Rhaena Targaryen's eggs - her first egg hatched into a broken thing that died within hours. She possessed another egg at the start of the civil war, and took three eggs to the Vale with her during the war.[4] Only one egg is known to have hatched,[54] the whereabouts of the others are unknown.
  • Prince Maelor Targaryen's egg - he was given an egg at birth,[17] which had not yet hatched by the start of the civil war.[4] It is unknown what happened to the egg after Maelor was killed at Bitterbridge.[54]
  • Five eggs - from the last dragon's clutch,[35] so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown.
  • Princess Elaena Targaryen's egg - silver and gold in unknown arrangement[58] – whereabouts unknown.
  • Prince Daeron Targaryen's egg - known to exist,[35] but so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown.
  • Prince Aerion Targaryen's egg - gold and silver, with veins of fiery colors[35] – whereabouts unknown.
  • Prince Aemon Targaryen's egg - known to exist,[35] but so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown.
  • King Aegon V Targaryen's egg - white and green swirls[35] – whereabouts unknown.
  • Lord Ambrose Butterwell's egg - red, with golden flecks and black whorls[35] – whereabouts unknown.
  • Seven eggs - used by King Aegon V Targaryen in the ceremony that caused the Tragedy at Summerhall.[41] Some of these may have been the unhatched eggs mentioned above. Whereabouts unknown, but possibly destroyed by the fire.
  • King Euron Greyjoy's egg - Euron claimed he had a dragon egg, but threw it into the sea.[59]
  • {hatched} Drogon's egg - black as the midnight sea, alive with scarlet ripples and swirls.[60]
  • {hatched} Rhaegal's egg - deep green, with burnished bronze flecks.[60]
  • {hatched} Viserion's egg - colored pale cream, streaked with gold.[60]

Depending on how one reads a statement in The Mystery Knight, it might be possible that Princesses Rhae and Daella Targaryen had been gifted dragon eggs as well.[35]

Books and Scrolls about Dragons

Quotes

Daenerys Targaryen, the Unburnt - by Michael Komarck ©
For the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.[42]
- thoughts of Daenerys Targaryen


Dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.[7]

Quaithe to Daenerys Targaryen


The last dragon in Westeros was the last dragon. That is well known.[61]
- Armen to Alleras


The grief and glory of my house.[62]

Aemon Targaryen to Samwell Tarly


Once a man has seen a dragon in flight, let him stay at home and tend his garden in content, someone had written once, for this wide world has no greater wonder.[13]
– thoughts of Tyrion Lannister


...it was said that even Aegon the Conquerer never dared mount Vhagar or Meraxes, nor did his sisters mount Balerion the Black Dread. Dragons live longer than men, some for hundreds of years, so Balerion had other riders after Aegon died... but no rider ever flew two dragons.[12]
- Daenerys Targaryen to Quentyn Martell


Death comes out of a dragon's mouth, but death does not go in that way.[63]
– writings of Barth


We shall not pretend to any understanding of the bond between dragon and dragonrider; wiser heads have pondered that mystery for centuries. We do know however, that dragons are not horses, to be ridden by any man who throws a saddle on their back.[4]
- writings of Gyldayn


Who can know the heart of a dragon?[4]
- writings of Gyldayn

Behind the Scenes

The writer Phyllis Eisenstein convinced George R. R. Martin to add dragons to A Game of Thrones. Martin dedicated A Storm of Swords to Eisenstein.[64]

References and Notes

  1. So Spake Martin: Comic-Con (NEW YORK CITY, NY) (February 25, 2007)
  2. Not A Blog: Dany and the Dragons (July 9, 2013)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 The Princess and the Queen.
  5. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  6. "Interview with the Dragon" Copyright © 2003 Robert Shaw.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
  8. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  9. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 40, Daenerys III.
  10. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys I.
  11. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon VII.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 50, Daenerys VIII.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
  15. The World of Ice and Fire, The North: Winterfell.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion III.
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 The Rogue Prince.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23, Daenerys III.
  19. 19.0 19.1 So Spake Martin: Dragons in Westeros (December 11, 1999)
  20. 20.0 20.1 The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
  21. The World of Ice and Fire, The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti.
  22. The World of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Sothoryos.
  23. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
  24. 24.0 24.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  25. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
  26. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 16, Eddard III.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  29. 29.0 29.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  30. Not A Blog: The Rogues Are Coming... (Comment March 12, 2014)
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Viserys I.
  32. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
  33. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
  34. 34.0 34.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 35.6 35.7 35.8 The Mystery Knight.
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 The Hedge Knight.
  37. 37.0 37.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Baelor I.
  38. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  39. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 46, Daenerys V.
  40. The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
  41. 41.0 41.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  42. 42.0 42.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
  43. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
  44. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27, Daenerys III.
  45. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  46. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  47. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
  48. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 52, Daenerys IX.
  49. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 71, Daenerys X.
  50. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.
  51. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 70, The Queen's Hand.
  52. The World of Ice and Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
  53. Morghul is said to have been a young dragon during 130 AC
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
  55. Shrykos is said to have been a young dragon during 130 AC
  56. Sunfyre is said to have been young during 120 AC
  57. It was Rhaenyra who named the dragon, and the dragon was still a young dragon upon Rhaenyra becoming her rider in 104AC
  58. So Spake Martin: Three Maidens in the Tower (June 27, 2006)
  59. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
  60. 60.0 60.1 60.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
  61. A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  62. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.
  63. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 66, Tyrion XII.
  64. George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview

External links

  • Dragon - Wikipedia article on the real-world mythological creature.


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