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Daenerys and Drogon in Daznak's Pit - by Marc Simonetti ©

Dragons are magical creatures, which existed on the continents of Westeros and Essos, and up until recently were considered to have been extinct for over one hundred and fifty years. The only remaining traces of the dragons were skeletal remains and dragon eggs which were thought to have turned to stone, until Daenerys Targaryen managed to hatch three of these dragon eggs.

Dragon skulls in the Red Keep cellars



Daenerys and Drogon TV Series
See also: Images of Dragons

Dragons are scaled, reptilian creatures, with two legs and two wings [1]. 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 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.[2]

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.[3]


The hatchling dragons, Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion from the TV Series

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.[4] Dragons are essentially immune to fire. [5] It is said that they are fire made flesh.[6]

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.[7] Dragons bend easier to their rider's will after they have been fed and their stomach full.[3]

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 a mammoth whole, but dragons raised in captivity are thought to be smaller than their wild brethren.[8]

Dragons have no fixed gender differentiation - according to Maester Aemon dragons are “but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame” presumably meaning that they are able to change from one sex to the other for whatever reason.

The dragon Syrax is referred to as a she-dragon[9] by Tyrion Lannister and the last Targaryen dragon that died during the reign of King Aegon III, has also been referred to as female, so presumably some dragons can remain a defined or fixed sex. There appears not to be sexual dimorphism in dragons as towards the end of her life Vhagar grew to be almost as large as Balerion.

Barth, Munkun and Thomax hold markedly divergent views on the mating habits of dragons.[10] Dragons lay large, scaled eggs to reproduce.[11] Over the eons un-hatched eggs can become fossilized.

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 were told in Winterfell by Old Nan. It is undetermined if such dragons are entirely fictional.[12]


Dragon fire engulfs a soldier. © FFG

Dragons are native to the continent of Essos. Daenerys recalls hearing that the first dragons had come from the east, from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai and the islands of the Jade Sea. [13] There were dragons all over, once. [14]

Dragons were discovered some five thousand years ago by the Valyrians in the Fourteen Flames, a ring of volcanoes on the Valyrian peninsula. The Valyrians mastered the art of raising dragons and used them as weapons of war to carve out a massive empire. After the Doom of Valyria, the only dragons known to have survived were five dragons on Dragonstone. The dragons belonged Targaryens who had brought them from Valyria when they went into exile. Four of the dragons brought from Valyria eventually died on Dragonstone, leaving only Balerion. However, two ‎eggs hatched and Vhagar and Meraxes were born.

Drogon. © FFG

The Targaryens used Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes to conquer and forge the Seven Kingdoms. Over the course of one hundred and fifty years the Targaryens rode their dragons as symbol of power, King Jaehaerys I, used Jaehaerys took six dragons with him to the North to visit the Warden of the North.[15] They built the Dragonpit in King's Landing to raise and house their dragons. 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. [2]

Over the centuries, the Targaryen dragons died out, most of them were killed in the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons and in later generations did not grow as large as their parents. It has been suggested by maesters that dragons were meant to be beneath the sky rather than cooped up in cages or cells in the Dragonpit, however massive. Archmaester Marwyn, however, holds the Order of Maesters, and their secret goal to suppress magic was responsible for the extinction of dragons.

The last dragon was a stunted, sick and misshapen thing, and died young during the reign of King Aegon III, the Dragonbane.[16] She had been a green female, small, stunted with withered wings. She laid a clutch of five eggs,[17] which never hatched.[18]

After their extinction, the only remnants of dragons that remained were their skulls and a few petrified eggs. The eggs were highly valuable, both for their beauty and exotic nature as well as their potential to hatch dragons. According to Ser Arlan of Pennytree, the summers became shorter after the last dragon died, and the winters longer and crueler.[18]

Many futile attempts were made to hatch dragons from petrified eggs. The Tragedy of Summerhall resulted from Aegon V's attempt. Aegon III, known as the Dragonbane, had nine mages cross the narrow sea to use their magics in attempt to hatch eggs. The pious Baelor I attempted to hatch eggs by praying over them. The art of taming and commanding dragons enough to ride is considered lost, aside from a few exceedingly rare books.

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.


Ultimately, Daenerys Targaryen managed to hatch three dragons by sacrificing Mirri Maz Duur in her husband's funeral pyre and stepping into the flames. With Daenerys's exchange of life for life, the first three dragons in over a hundred years were born.

According to legend, a dragon may be tamed by sounding a dragon horn.[20]

Daenerys Targaryen's Dragons

Historical Dragons

During the War of Conquest

Dragons in flight – by Tomasz Jedruszek]. © Fantasy Flight Games

Post War of Conquest

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:

Known Dragon Eggs

Dragon Eggs TV Series
Main article: Dragon egg

Books and Scrolls about dragons


Daenerys Targaryen, the Unburnt - by Michael Komarck ©
Dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.[6]


The grief and glory of my house.[29]

Aemon Targaryen

Once man has seen a dragon in flight, let him stay at home and tend his garden in content, for this wide world has seen no greater wonder. [10]
Tyrion on the Shy Maid, remembering what someone had written once.

Death comes out of a dragon's mouth, but death does not go in that way.[30]
– Septon Barth

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.[31]

See Also

References and Notes

  1. Elio, Garcia (February 25, 2007). "SSM:COMIC-CON, NEW YORK CITY". http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/2267/. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 The Princess and the Queen.
  4. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys.
  5. "Interview with the Dragon" Copyright © 2003 Robert Shaw.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys.
  7. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion.
  8. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon.
  13. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23, Daenerys.
  14. Dragons in Westeros. December 11, 1999 So Spake Martin
  15. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon.
  16. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 The Mystery Knight.
  18. 18.0 18.1 The Hedge Knight.
  19. Dragons in Westeros. December 11, 1999 So Spake Martin
  20. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
  21. The World of Ice and Fire.
  22. 22.0 22.1 The Rogue Prince.
  23. Morghul is said to have been a young dragon during 130AC
  24. Shrykos is said to have been a young dragon during 130AC
  25. Sunfyre is said to have been young during 120AC
  26. It was Rhaenyra who named the dragon, and the dragon was still a young dragon upon Rhaenyra becoming her rider in 104AC
  27. Per Ran. http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/100284-spoilers-the-princess-and-the-queen-complete-spoilers-discussion/?p=5174266
  28. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
  29. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell.
  30. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 66, Tyrion.
  31. George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview

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