Dragons are a magical species of animal similar to the standard mythical creature. They are extremely rare in Westeros, and by the beginning of A Game of Thrones they are believed to be extinct.
Dragons are scaled, reptilian creatures with sharp teeth and claws. They have leathery wings for 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 long necks and tails, with spiny crests running down their backs. As hatchlings, they are around the size of a cat, 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 its high iron content. Dragonbone is a highly sought after crafting material.
Great heat eminates from dragons' bodies, to the point that they steam during cold nights. They breathe extremely hot fire and cook their meat before eating it. They 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 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. They have no gender differentiation, but lay large, scaled eggs to reproduce.
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.
Dragons are native to the continent of Essos, and were discovered some five thousand years ago, by the Valyrians in the Fourteen Fires, 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 the three dragons belonging to the Targaryens, who fled with them to Westeros. Aegon I and his sisters each rode one of their dragons in the War of Conquest to consolidate six of the Seven Kingdoms under Targaryen rule. The Targaryens built the Dragonpit in King's Landing to raise and house their dragons. During the reign of Jaehaerys I, Jaehaerys took six dragons with him to the North to visit the Warden of the North. And they had at least nineteen dragons over the years.(the number of dragon skulls stored by the Targaryens in the Red Keep cellars). Over the centuries, the Targaryen dragons died in various wars, and in later generations did not grow as large as their parents. The last dragon was a stunted and misshapen thing, and died young during the reign of Aegon III.She had been a green female, small, stunted with withered wings. She laid a clutch of five eggs. None of her eggs hatched. Its 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.
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. Many futile attempts were made to hatch dragons from petrified eggs. The Tragedy of Summerhall resulted from Aegon V's attempt. Aegon III, the Dragonbane had nine mages cross the narrow sea to use their magics, Baelor I the Blessed prayed over the eggs. Also The art of taming and commanding dragons enough to ride is considered lost aside from a few exceedingly rare books.
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 her eggs. With Daenerys's exchange of life for life, the first three dragons in over a hundred years were born.
Known Dragon Eggs
- Aegon V's egg - white and green swirls
- Aerion Targaryen's egg - gold and silver
- Ambrose Butterwell's egg - red
- Euron Greyjoy's egg - thrown into sea
References and Notes
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 22, Arya II.
- The Mystery Knight
- The Hedge Knight