Dragons in Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is the fruit of G.R.R. Martin's overflowing imagination. You could say that he has reinvented the fantasy genre. In addition to showing a world that is as realistic and raw as possible, the world of the Iron Throne is distinguished by its mystical creatures with hints of ancient magic. We can obviously talk about the main enemies of the series, the White Walkers. Or of those who created them, the Children of the Forest.
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But it must be said that the fantastic creatures that have most fascinated and seduced the audience are the dragons. In fact, that's probably the case with you. But then, where do they come from? Who are they? And why are they under the command of the Targaryens? We'll try to answer all these questions and see a little more clearly!
1. The Origin of the Dragons
First of all, it is important to know the origin of the subject we are talking about: dragons. In Game of Thrones, they are described by the maesters (scholars of the universe) as coming from various sources.
The first theory is that they come directly... from the Moon! According to some of them, the first dragon eggs are therefore of extraterrestrial origin. However, this theory is not very credible and is more of a myth than anything else.
The second hypothesis, more realistic, gives the dragons' origin in the far eastern region of the Shadow Lands. The first fossils of dragon eggs would probably come from this part of the world.
The last theory is that, given the so different places where dragons have been heard of in all ages, dragons originally inhabited the entire planet. They were thriving, and then gradually declining.
Still, it was after all this that a small group of shepherds and peasants discovered their eggs. They begin to domesticate the creatures inside. The group will grow, evolve and later become known as the Valyrians.
2. Several types of Dragons
Species of all kinds have always been divided into several subgroups. In Game of Thrones, dragons are no exception. They are all different and exist in many forms.
The first subgroup related to dragons is the Firewyrms. They are huge, wingless lizards. They live in the underground of the Fourteen Flames, which is a volcanic mountain range.
B. Ice Dragons
The second species is the Ice Dragon. Living in the northern territories, they are creatures made of pure ice. They can eject huge amounts of icy puffs from their mouths. They're gigantic in size. They are much larger than the Valyrian dragons. However, these have never been seen before. So far, very few have heard of them.
C. Dragons of Valyria
Another species of dragon observable in Game of Thrones is of course the dragons of Valyria. These are the ones used by Daenerys Targaryen. They breathe fire and are covered with scales. They are also powerful, sturdy and are exclusively subject to the Targaryen lineage.
These dragons are very typical of the western dragon, as seen in many myths and legends of the European culture.
3. Some Famous Dragons
Throughout the history of Westeros and Essos, several dragons have made their mark by their presence, size or terrifying appearance.
The best known are:
- Balerion, the Black Terror: ridden by Aegon the Conqueror himself, the one who conquered and united the Seven Kingdoms. Testimonies about this dragon are legion, many say that he was as big as a castle and that his wings, once spread, covered the heavens. It is said that he is the one who forged the Iron Throne. How did he do it? By melting, with his burning breath, the swords of the enemies who fell in battle during the conquest.
- Urrax: This dragon is simply the oldest known dragon to this day. It is believed to have lived in the Age of Heroes on the continent of Westeros. He would have been killed by Serwyn at the Mirror Shield.
- Nagga: A near-legendary sea-dragon, Nagga lived in the waters and his death serves as the founding myth for the creation of the Ironborn people. The Grey King, first sovereign of this people, would have killed him with the help of the Drowned God. He would have used his remains to build his home.
4. Daenerys' Dragons
In Game of Thrones, we all noticed that the dragons of Daenerys, the mother of dragons, always came at the right time.
"Your dragons... Your dragons will bring only death and misfortune to the world, my dear. If I knew where they were, I would not tell you."
Those were the words of the famous Spice King to Daenerys Targaryen, when she tried to find them.
The dragon is a fascinating creature, and it is the most powerful weapon of war in the House of Targaryen and the emblem of their house. However, as the years went by, the dragons lived shorter and shorter and became smaller and smaller. Because of this they were thought to be completely extinct, until the day Daenerys Targaryen managed to hatch three beautiful dragon eggs.
When she walked into the pyre of her late husband Khal Drogo and came out unscathed, she knew she was the queen of dragons! These dragons were then considered the last representatives of their species: Daenerys nicknamed them Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion.
When she loses her husband and child, her three future dragons are born. She will consider them as her own babies. These are of particular importance in the series. Indeed, they are the first dragons to be born in more than 2 centuries.
From there to say that only the contact with a Targaryen allowed their birth, there is only one step. The dragons of Daenerys are three in number:
- Drogon, named after her late husband, the ex-Khal Drogo.
- Viserion, named after her brother, Viserys. He will eventually be killed and resurrected by the King of the Night.
- And lastly, Rhaegal, whose name evokes the brother of Daenerys, Rhaegar, who is also the father of Jon Snow. Intriguing, considering this is the dragon he'll ride in season 8 of Game of Thrones.
Dragons are huge creatures with a reptile-like appearance and are able to fly. They are covered with thick armor of impenetrable scales and possess a destructive breath of fire: in Game of Thrones this is called Dragon's Fire or as Daenerys would say, Dracarys in High Valyrian.
They also have a very long snake-like tail and a long, slender neck with a crest on it (like the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit). Their head has spiky horns and their spine is often visible and marked with a spiny ridge.
The wings of dragons are gigantic and have a thin membrane so that they can lift their own weight with one or more riders depending on the size and age of the specimen.
Since dragons are tetrapods, their wings are useful when they move on the ground or walls in combination with their powerful hind legs. This will remind some people of the spiky Magyar, appearing in an episode of Harry Potter, which moves across the rooftops of Hogwarts. In fact, they are so powerful that they act as a catapult when a dragon takes flight!
The color of the dragons varies according to their pigmentation: they can be any color. Some have deep, ominous black scales, others have golden scales. The very color of a dragon's egg corresponds to the color it will have throughout its life, interesting isn't it?
To come back to the scales, they are so resistant that it is almost impossible to pierce a dragon's armor with a knife. It is therefore an excellent shield for the dragon, but also for the rider who rides it. In some religions, they were even used as jewelry. That's why it is said that to kill one of them, you would have to hit its eye with a giant arrow to pierce its brain: in other words, you would have to be an outstanding archer!
B) Hatching and growth of an egg
A dragon's egg has incredible properties, and can remain for tens or even hundreds of years in the incubation period before hatching. Why a dragon's egg can hatch remains a mystery, although according to Daenerys Targaryen's dream, the eggs must be placed in a huge burning inferno.
During the first few months after hatching, the growth of a dragon is very slow and knows no end. For example, the skull of the famous dragon Balerion, nicknamed the Black Terror, which was the largest dragon in Game of Thrones, ridden by Aegon Targaryen himself. In fact, dragon skulls were sometimes used as moneyboxes.
However, we don't know how long they lived, there are even stories and legends that tell of the existence of thousand-year-old dragons, impressive isn't it?
When they are born, dragons are the size of a cat or a small dog, and from their 5th month they can reach the size of an adult dog! It would even be possible to ride a dragon from the age of 5 years, provided it has been trained. However, their growth can be slowed down or disturbed if a dragon is enclosed or confined in a small space, which is why it is necessary to raise them outdoors. At a certain age, dragons sometimes show signs of aggression, a bit like a "teenage crisis", but this tends to disappear over time.
C) The Dragon's Behavior
As you will have understood, dragons are carnivores and feed mainly on charred meat. Despite their being fascinating and magical creatures, the fact remains that they are animals and have a hunting instinct.
Many shepherds, especially in Game of Thrones, complain about the disappearance of their livestock (goats or sheep). Larger dragons like the famous Balerion can feed on cows or even other dragons!
When the dragons hunt and fight, they are spectacular: when they are ambushed in mid-air in the clouds, they swoop down on their target a bit like a peregrine falcon. Moreover, when the dragons fight each other, they turn in the air around each other, exchanging claws and fangs.
The relationship with Man
No one without Targaryen blood has ever been able to tame a dragon. Even the mother of dragons, Daenerys Targaryen considers it extremely difficult to tame a dragon if it is tenacious and does as it pleases. It's all about a mental game in which the master establishes a powerful bond of trust with his dragon.
Besides, dragons can't bear a separation with their master that lasts a long time. They are very intelligent creatures, they are able to understand simple words like a dog with its master. If the relationship is very powerful, a dragon can feel the presence of his master without seeing him if he is next to him!
D) Legends about dragons
According to some stories and legends, dragons appeared a long time ago in the explosion of a second moon, which was destroyed by getting too close to the sun. There was a huge explosion that took place, and thousands of dragons appeared and drank fire from the sun.
After the Doom of Valyria
Just after the Doom of Valyria, the House of Targaryens was exiled to Peyredragon, and was the only surviving Valyrian family that kept its dragons. However, four out of the five dragons perished and two were born during this period: Vhagar and Meraxes.
Together with Balerion, the House of Targaryens therefore had three dragons during the conquest of Westeros.
For about two centuries, dragons had completely disappeared from Westeros (and perhaps the world). During the 'Dance of the Dragons' many of them died in battle. Rhaenyra's son, who was traumatized by Rhaenyra's death, was suspected of having caused the dragons to disappear by poisoning them. The last two specimens that were counterfeited were born in Peyredragon, but unfortunately they died prematurely.
Season 1: Reappearance
The reappearance of the dragons was made possible thanks to Daenerys Targaryen, who hatched them during the sad pyre of her husband Khal Drogo.
Daenerys takes his dragons to Qarth in cages. Along the way, she tries to feed her little dragon Drogon with raw meat, but the latter doesn't want to eat, so she is worried. A little later in Qarth, she tries to feed him again, but this time she says "Dracarys", which for a dragon is an order to spit fire. He then cooks his meat and eats it afterwards.
Shortly after that, they are stolen and taken by force to the Hotel of the Undying, where they are chained by Pyat Pree, because thanks to their presence his powers as a Conjurer increase.
Daenerys, determined to find them, then goes to look for them and is guided by their cries. She then discovers her chained dragons and finds herself captured.
Daenerys, however, doesn't let herself get caught, and uses her own dragons to burn Pyat Pree alive, and manages to escape with them. She later leaves Qarth.
The Daenerys dragons have grown up well and can now feed themselves by cooking and fishing in the sea. In addition, they can now spit out large flames for several seconds capable of cooking a man on the spot, and fly several meters without landing on the ground. They have become very protective towards Daenerys Targaryen.
The dragons are getting bigger and bigger, and are starting to be aggressive towards Daenerys, especially Drogon. After the conquest of the town of Meereen, the dragons are completely free to move, however Drogo burns a little girl, and Daenerys gets scared. She decides to lock them up, except for Drogon, who is uncontrollable and remains free. Daenerys chains up Rheagal and Viserion in the catacombs of a pyramid.
Daenerys manages to develop a special bond with Drogon and can feel his presence, but she loses the trust of her two other chained dragons. Drogon makes the most of her freedom and flies over Ancient Valyria. Later, during the attack on Daznak's Arena with Tyrion Lannister, Drogon arrives to protect Daenerys and flies away wounded.
In Meereen, Viserion and Rhaegal let themselves starve because of the absence of Daenerys. Tyrion Lannister, however, manages to gain their trust and frees them. On the other side, Drogon joins Daenerys after she has succeeded in capturing the Dothraki army. She returns with Drogon to Meereen on the Great Pyramid.
During the second siege of Meereen, Drogon flies over the city, and his two dragon brothers manage to free themselves and join him. They then begin to attack the Meereen fleet as Daenerys has told them. Then the three dragons and Daenerys prepare to go to Westeros.
At Peyredragon, Viserion, Rhaegal and Drogon often fly over the island. Drogon is the largest of the three dragons and is easily recognized. Shortly afterwards, Daenerys attacks the convoy coming from Highgarden directly on Drogon's back: Drogon burns everything that passes by with a devastating fire. Qyburn's giant Scorpion crossbow wounds Drogon and forces him to land, Daenerys then removes the crossbow tile from him. Shortly after this battle, Drogon regains his strength, and burns Randyll and Dickon Tarly on Daenerys' orders.
Beyond the Wall, the three Daenerys' dragons come to the aid of Jon Snow's team. She rides the survivors of the White Walkers' attack on the back of Drogon, who flies away with difficulty. However, the Night King succeeds in killing Viserion with a spear, he then lets out a last scream before falling into the frozen lake. After their brother's death, Drogon and Rhaegal fly over the Wall mourning him. Daenerys then heads to King's Landing for Talks.
However, the Night King manages to revive Viserion and has him destroy the Wall with flames that have turned blue.
Upon arriving at Winterfell with their joint armies, Jon and Daenerys learn that the Army of the Dead has broken through the Wall and that the Night King commands Viserion, the undead. Jon finds Bran and Arya, and later learns to ride Rhaegal.
Later, as the Living Army meets the Army of the Dead outside Winterfell, Jon and Daenerys engage the Night King on their dragons. Jon and Rhaegal bring down the Night King from Viserion, and Daenerys burn him with dragon fire, but it has no effect. After the warriors knock Daenerys from Drogon, Jorah is mortally wounded defending her. The Night King and his White Walkers disintegrate, causing the collapse of Viserion and the warriors.
Daenerys and his fleet set sail for King's Landing, while Jon leads the army of the North. At Dragonstone, Euron's navy ambushes his fleet, killing Rhaegal with scorpions mounted on ships.
Riding Drogon, Daenerys destroys the iron fleet and most of the city's defenses, allowing his army to enter. Cersei's forces are quickly neutralized and the City signals its surrender, but a rabid Daenerys begins to raze the City, burning soldiers and civilians.
Jon confronts Daenerys. Unable to stop his destructive momentum, he eventually kills her. Drogon melts the Iron Throne, then gently carries away Daenerys' body.
5. The Dragon's Way of Life
The dragons in Game of Thrones are, unlike in other artworks, creatures without speech or special intelligence. They are wild and vicious. They are probably only trainable by Valyrians and their descendants.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to know that from the time of their discovery by these same Valyrians, it was necessary to tame them. The inhabitants of ancient Valyria then began to train them with the help of spells. They made them understand words in Upper Valyrian. Hence the fact that Daenerys had to pronounce orders and words in this language, such as the very famous: "Dracarys!".
They feed on meat. They have the advantage of being able to charcoal it with their breath of fire before eating it, which is a considerable time saver! Testimony of a powerful link between the dragon and its master: it is accepted that a dragon can only have one master at a time. Moreover, a master (called here dragon rider) can only ride one dragon at a time.
6. Anecdotes about dragons
There are many subtleties and details that G.R.R. Martin added as he wrote.
These tell us a little more about the dragons' nature and abilities. Let's take a look at some surprising and intriguing facts about dragons:
- Dragons usually keep the same color as the color of their egg,
- Their weak point are the eyes. It's the only area of their body that's unprotected. Also, it's close to the brain,
- Drogon is taller than his brothers Viserion and Rhaegal, because he lived on the outside while they were trapped under the city of Mereen,
- Dragons live at least several hundred years, the oldest ones up to 1000 years.
7. Creatures full of mystery...
Even today, there are still a lot of questions about the faculties and myths surrounding dragons. Basically, we have no idea of their true origins, their objectives, nor their links with magic or the climate as some clues may suggest.
But that's as good as it gets. The author's work will intrigue us all the more. We will be more interested in discovering every little detail about these strange creatures.
George Raymond Richard Martin has succeeded in creating a whole legend around these impressive magical beings. They will continue to fascinate us for a long time to come!
8. What's next?
The author's work is still not finished. Everything that has been discussed previously can still be adjusted, detailed or even contradicted! Although the Game of Thrones TV series has been over for a few months now, the book's universe is still making the news. Even if the dragons don't matter much at the end, we should not forget that they are not dead. A future series or work can still feature them. Moreover, as we have seen, we are far from knowing everything about the universe that Martin has built and will still build.