Favourite Dragons in Literature


I’ve read one or three fantasy books in my time and decided to give a quick roundup of my favourite dragons. I happen to have a really soft spot for these critters and am always fascinated how different authors approach them. So, in no particular order…

Tintaglia from The Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobbdragonkeeper
I love this superbly arrogant blue dragon and the whole backstory of how the dragons come back into being, starting with the Live Ship Traders trilogy and then continuing through the Rain Wilds Chronicles quartet. I’m not in the business of giving spoilers, so I won’t say too much more. But if you have a weakness for dragons and enjoy a really intelligent, nuanced world featuring them, then consider reading Hobb’s books.

TheWhiteDragon(1stEd)Ruth from the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
This clever blend of science fiction and fantasy features dragons used in the fight against Thread, a terrible alien infestation that periodically threatens to wipe out the colonists. The alliance between riders and dragons is very close and a number of dragons are featured throughout the series, but the little white, Ruth, stole my heart. This classic series has stood the test of time and is highly recommended for anyone who has not yet encountered it.

Toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowellhow to train your dragon
Yes, I know these are children’s books. Yes, I know you’ve probably seen the films. But if you have, don’t go away with the idea that Cowell’s version of Toothless is remotely like the cool, sensible creature depicted in the films. Toothless in the books is snarky and disobedient, only coming to Hiccup’s rescue when their lives depend upon it. Indeed, the relationship between the Viking youngsters and the dragons in the books is far more nuanced and chaotically funny than the rather tepid versions depicted in the films. Reading sessions of these books with grandchildren regularly descend into giggles.

TemeraireTemeraire from the series by Naomi Novik
This alternate historical series is starts off during the Napoleonic Wars, where dragons are used as men of war by both the English and French. Temeraire is a dragon that hatches prematurely so that his rider and lifelong companion is William Laurence, a Royal Navy captain. Novik has moved the story arc on, having her intrepid duo ranging all over the globe during their enjoyable, well written adventures.

The Blessed Penn from Tooth and Claw by Jo Waltontooth and claw
This marvellous gem from Walton, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2004, is set in a world not dissimilar to Anthony Trollop’s Framley Parsonage. But you don’t need to have read Trollop’s book to appreciate Tooth and Claw, which inserts dragons and their need for meat and ambition into a world bounded by Victorian sensibilities. It is wonderfully observed, full of delightfully witty touches and one of my most memorable reads.

Other strong contenders – I love Gralen from White Mountain by Sophie E. Tallis, whose strong, outspoken character provides some delightful moments in this enjoyable epic fantasy read. I also really enjoy Jack from The Future FallsBook 3 of The Enchantment Emporium series by Tanya Huff – though I am cheating a little here, because he is somewhere between a dragon and a person. The other dragon series worthy of mention is Stephen Deas’ riveting, if disturbing series The Memory of Flames, where the rather unpleasant humans have been subduing the dragons by magical means…

What about your favourite dragons in literature? Who have I left off this list that has you wincing in disgust? I’d love to hear from you!

11 responses »

  1. Great list there, Sarah! Many thanks for including, White Mountain too. I love the character of Gralen, he’s not impaired by any inner filter in what he says or does, there’s something wonderfully freeing about that. 🙂

  2. Let’s see which dragons I can remember… Smaug from The Hobbit, the dragons of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea world, the “guard dragon” in Gringotts in the last Harry Potter book, Danaerys Targaryen’s trio from Game of Thrones… Rachel Hartman also has an interesting take on dragons in her Seraphina duology. I don’t know if I have any favorites, but they’re all the first ones that come to mind.

    I need to read Robin Hobb’s work at some point. I really, really do. The same goes for Naomi Novik, though I’ve got her new book Uprooted (a non-Temeraire book) and am planning to start that soon.

    • I thought about including Smaug, but really the story doesn’t revolve around him and we only see him from the pov of those who want to see the back of him, so I decided he was more of a plot device than a true bona fide character we could bond with… I haven’t read Rachel Hartman, but I’ll gently go on nodding my head encouragingly at you when you mention reading Robin Hobb – and the Temeraire series is huge fun, especially if you enjoy military history at all:). I also STRONGLY recommend ‘Tooth and Claw’ – in fact read it first as it is a single, standalone book and I think you’ll LOVE it…

    • Oh he is, isn’t he? But also very demanding – and I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him, either! But that goes for all the dragons on my list…

  3. Temeraire ♥ Tintaglia ♥ Toothless ♥
    Other dragons I haven’t met yet, would love to though
    Hmm Saphira from Eragon by Christopher Paolini is one of my all time favorites. She’swise but also with personality haha and hmm a bit immature

    • I did try the Eragon series, but simply couldn’t get into it:(. However, if you do enjoy well-written dragonish worlds, ‘Tooth and Claw’ is an awesome read.

      • It doesn’t mean Eragon is necessarily bad – I’m slightly allergic to large, sprawling Fantasy series. I can’t handle A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance, but love other novels by Martin. Each to his own, but I do highly recommend TOOTH AND CLAW – I think Jo Walton is one of the most talented spec fic writers of her generation…

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