Dragon

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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


Contents

Appearance

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]


Characteristics

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] A dragon's scales are mostly, though not entirely, impervious to fire, protecting the more vulnerable flesh and muscles underneath. This "sort of" makes dragons immune to fire,[5] though, 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. 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 (and did) melt steel and stone.[3] It is said that dragons 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 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.[9]

Reproduction

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 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. This knowledge was later lost, with many maesters doubting that was true.

It is incredibly 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 that he personally believed a dragon to be female when having laid eggs.[12]

Female dragons, such as Syrax, are referred to as a she-dragon.[13] 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.

Vhagar, Meraxes, Syrax, Meleys, Tessarion, Dreamfyre, and Silverwing are referred to as females in historical works. Even the younger dragons, Moondancer and Shrykos, are referred to with feminine pronouns. 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, Morghul, and Shrykos are not apparent. Caraxes has been referred to as both male and female.[14][3] According to maester Aemon, dragons can change sex.

History

Ancient dragons

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.[15] The Ancient Valyrians themselves believed that the dragons originated from the Fourteen Flames. Regardless of their origin, dragons populated most of the known world in ages past, as ancient dragon bones have been found as far North as Ib and even in the jungles of Sothoryos. [16]

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.[17]

The Targaryen dragons

The Targaryens used Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes to conquer and forge the Seven Kingdoms.

The Targaryens continued to use their dragons in military conflicts. Dragons were used in the First Dornish War, which caused the death of Meraxes in 10AC.[18]

Drogon. © FFG

Dragon fought dragon in the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye, resulting in the death of the dragon Quicksilver in 43AC.[19]


Over the course of one hundred and fifty years the Targaryens rode their dragons as symbol of power. King Jaehaerys I Targaryen took six dragons with him to the North to visit the Warden of the North. These included Jaerhaerys on Vermithor, Alysanne on Silverwing, and four other, currently unknown dragons.[20]

Balerion finally died of old age in 94AC, late in the reign of Jaehaerys I. Jaehaerys's grandson and eventual successor Viserys I was Balerion's rider at the time of its death.[21][14] This left Vhagar as the largest living dragon: by 129AC, she was approaching Balerion's size.[3]

Many dragons were hatched after the Conquest. By 129AC, on the eve of the civil war between Rhaenyra and Aegon II, there were twenty living dragons.[3] 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. Not every hatchling lived to maturity, however, as seen with Rhaena of Pentos, whose hatchling only lived a matter of hours.[3]

Extinction and revival

Over the centuries, the Targaryen dragons died out. A lot of dragons were killed within a period of three years, during the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. in later generations, they did not grow as large as their ancestors. 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.

By the end of the Dance in 131AC, only four dragons remained alive, but of these, Sheepstealer and the Cannibal had disappeared. Silverwing became enraged and attacked any would-be riders. The fourth dragon only hatched late in the war itself. Morning, hatched from another egg given to Rhaena of Pentos. Many eggs were also left behind from other dragons. The dragons, already alive or newly hatched, would only survive another quarter of a century. The last dragon was a stunted, sick and misshapen thing, and died young in 153AC, during the reign of King Aegon III Targaryen, the Dragonbane.[22][23] She had been a green female, small, stunted with withered wings. She laid a clutch of five eggs,[24] which never hatched.[25]

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.[2]

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.[25]

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.

[26]

Ultimately, Daenerys Targaryen managed to hatch three dragons 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.[27]

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

Quotes

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

Quaithe


The grief and glory of my house.[34]

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.[35]
– 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.[36]

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 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 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. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell.
  12. 12.0 12.1 The World of Ice and Fire.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 8, Tyrion.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 The Rogue Prince.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23, Daenerys.
  16. Dragons in Westeros. December 11, 1999 So Spake Martin
  17. The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History.
  18. The World of Ice and Fire,Aegon I.
  19. The World of Ice and Fire,Maegor.
  20. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon.
  21. [1]
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya.
  23. The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon III.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 The Mystery Knight.
  25. 25.0 25.1 The Hedge Knight.
  26. Dragons in Westeros. December 11, 1999 So Spake Martin
  27. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
  28. Morghul is said to have been a young dragon during 130AC
  29. The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon II.
  30. Shrykos is said to have been a young dragon during 130AC
  31. Sunfyre is said to have been young during 120AC
  32. It was Rhaenyra who named the dragon, and the dragon was still a young dragon upon Rhaenyra becoming her rider in 104AC
  33. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
  34. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell.
  35. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 66, Tyrion.
  36. George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview

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