What Traits Should Every Fantasy Dragon Have?

My answer to this question, would depend upon whether your an Eastern Dragon, or a Western Dragon:

A Fire breathing Western Dragon - and a Water aligned Eastern Dragon

A Fire breathing Western Dragon – and a Water aligned Eastern Dragon

What of a Dragon’s Primary Trait?

If you was a Western Dragon, then I’d say that your most important trait – should be the ability to breath Fire!  How else would you rampage a Castle?  Or hold a Damsel in your Tower?  Without a breath of Fire, you’d not be able to chase away those “pesky” Knights 🙂  Without a breath of Fire, you’d not be able to roast a chicken or two!  Without a breath of fire, you’d not be able to find your way – in your darkest Treasure Hoard.

If you was an Eastern Dragon, then I’d say that your most important trait – should be the ability to interact with the element of Water!  Now, I don’t mean that your Dragon should feature a powerful water jet, that you could “blast” a Knight with [as that would seem more befitting of an Ice Dragon!].  More that your Dragon, should be connected with the fluidity of Water:  perhaps the ability to bring calmness to a raging Sea, or to be Guardian of an Ocean Treasure [such as the Wisdom of Atlantis, or a sunken Pirate Ship].

What of a Dragon’s secondary Traits?

It’s here that your Dragon, can gain a personality “all of his/her own”.  If your Western Dragon is covered in Talons and Barbs, then it’s suggestive,  that their a Fighting Dragon.  If your Eastern Dragon is covered in Barnacles and See Weed, then it’s suggestive, that their a Sleeping Coral Dragon.  If your Western Dragon is adorned in Medieval Armour, then everyone shall know, their a Battle Dragon.  If your Eastern Dragon is coloured in Gold, then everyone shall know, their an Imperial Dragon; perhaps even, of a Chinese Dynasty 🙂

What of a Dragon’s Traits in Realms of Art?

No matter what level your artists skills are at, through the use of basic shapes [such as lines and circles], is it possible for you to visualise your Dragon’s traits 🙂  Here’s a Dragon I drew some time ago.  He’s not the greatest Dragon, but we know that he’s a Western, he walks on all fours, and he has the ability to fly:

Basic Western Dragon - Emerald Green of Woodland Realms

Basic Western Dragon – Emerald Green of Woodland Realms

My use of green tells us his associated with Nature, perhaps of the Woods, or the Deepest Forest.  My use of red tells us that this Dragon can breath Fire.  Thus, can I say that colour is an important Dragon’s trait.  There’s also something in my Dragon’s stance.  OK, his on four legs, but the line of his armoured chest, suggests that this Dragon is somewhat proud.  It’s as though his a Dragon, and he doesn’t care who knows it!  And in that stance, is it also not possible to say, that he is guarding the Heart of the Woods?  In any case, I can say that a Dragon’s stance is important – as it helps to refine their personality, and in doing so, can help you tell a story.

What of a Dragon’s tale/story-line?

It was upon a Path within these Springtime Woods, that lead my Steed upon a Path.  In Tangled Green, with Fires of Red, and Running Flight of Emerald Dream.  In Talons Red, with Spines in Sharp, with Muscled Stance, and Flick of Tale.  In Hardened Spine, with Wings held High.  In Scales of Green, and Shades of Red – a Western Dragon, Glint at Me.  In Look at Thee, with Balance Four.  In Thought of Me, and Elven Speak 🙂  Thy Woodland Dragon barred my way!  Thus can I say, that a Dragon’s traits, can also play directly into your story-line 🙂

What traits would your Fantasy Dragon have?

Number One Dragon – Number One Dragon’s Hoard

If there’s a Fantasy scene, that epitomises the power of a Western Dragon, and his Dragon’s Hoard, then for me – I find it  within The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug:

Of Smaug’s Western Dragon traits, there’s some that I really like.  The first is Smaug’s size.  He towers above Bilbo!  So much so, that Bilbo soon rues the phrase:  it’s best to let sleeping Dragons lie.  As when Smaug awakes, does Bilbo feel tiny and insignificant – as indeed he is!  It’s not just Smaug’s overall size that causes fear though (which here would be more than enough to level an entire Castle and it’s townspeople), but also his individual features; such as the opening of Smaug’s eye, which sends shivers down both Bilbo’s spine and mine (as it is hard for me not to draw a parallel with the Eye of Sauron).  The second is Smaug’s features/appearance.  Especially those upon his face:  rows of razor sharp teeth, together with barbs and talons, that adorn the “bony ridges” of his skull.  These may be computer-generated, but they are still capable of causing fear!  Their “jagged pattern”, makes me think both of Fire and of Rock.  Fire – as in the “licks of flame” and Smaug’s next lunch, licking his lips, as he looks at Bilbo.  Rock – as in “built to last” and weathering the elements, through out all time; which in-turn, plays right back into the size of Smaug 🙂  The third is Smaug’s “sense of self”.  He may have been asleep for a long time (or at least since he conquered the King under the Mountain), but in this time, he has lost “little sense” of himself.  For he awakens, and we immediately hear the malice in his voice.  Now, whilst I’m not saying that all Western Dragons are evil, Smaug most certainly is.  I hear it in his tongue – slow plus calculated.  I see it in his eyes – malevolent in fiery orange/red.  I know it in his language – thief!!! with a ring (aka a twist – as Smaug stole the Mountain in the first place).  In all of this, do I feel that it’s Smaug’s slowness/calmness that helps reinforce his maleficence, which in-turn, plays right back into, both his features and appearance 🙂  Of Smaug’s Western Dragon’s Hoard, do I find both irony and contrast.  The irony comes from the fact, that it was not his hoard (it belonged to the Dwarves/King of the Mountain).  Yet, Smaug used his size to take it!  The contrast (or should that be parallel?) comes from a realisation of a similarity between both Smaug and Thorin (the Dwarf King).  Smaug is evil, but I find myself asking an interesting question:  just how evil is Smaug, when contrasted with “just how far” Thorin’s character deviates from his “sense of self”.  When Thorin takes the Mountain’s Gold for himself – Thorin says:  “I will not part with a single coin.  Not one piece of it!”:

Thus, it seems to me, as though the curse on this Dragon’s Hoard, could have spread just as easily, to Smaug as well – as there was a word/line I seem to recall him muttering:  “mine!”.  For me, Smaug’s size, features/appearance, “sense of self” and ability to be swayed by a Dragon’s Hoard (as are Kings) – all combine to make Smaug, my favourite Evil Western Dragon 🙂

Fantasy – The Fires all in the Dragon!

When it comes to Fantasy Dragons, there’s two that I most associate with the Element of Fire – the Dragon from within Blue Moon Rising (a Fantasy Novel), and the Dragon from within Maleficent (a Fantasy Film):

My two favourite Fire Breathing Dragons - from within Blue Moon Rising and Maleficent

My two favourite Fire Breathing Dragons – from within Blue Moon Rising and Maleficent

Whilst these are both Western Dragons, I have found it interesting to think about the similarities (and differences) in their characters.  First:  I found it ironic that the Dragon within Maleficent, just-so-happens to display an important characteristic that is usually associated with Eastern Dragons – the ability to shape change!  Whilst there is a twist to the storyline here (the Raven/Man Diaval changes into the Dragon), I feel that the idea is somewhat similar to that of the Chinese Dragon Kings – the Dragons Ao Guang, Ao Qin, Ao Run and Ao Shun; who each have the ability to change into a Man.  Similarly, the Dragon within Blue Moon Rising also displays several traits that are more likely to be associated with an Eastern Dragon – such as the ability to befriend humans and interact with them (by talking).  Thus, I feel that both Western Dragons, are really more – Eastern Western Dragons.  Second:  Both Dragons have the ability to breath Fire – yet it is only when we consider where the “Fire is Breathed” that we appreciate the versatility of this element.  Within Blue Moon Rising, the Dragon breathes Fire within the Darkwood – it is used as a weapon to fight the Demons, it is used as a method for lighting the Woods (bringing light to the dark), and it used as a method to clean the top-level canopy of the Woods (when Prince Rupert plus company travel to meet the Demon Prince).  Within Maleficent, the Dragon breaths Fire within the confines of King Stefan’s Castle – it is used as a method to fight the Kings Knights, and it is used as a method to protect Maleficent.  Yet here do the similarities end, as the Dragon within Maleficent is easily overpowered (by the Kings Knights), and in doing so, does the Dragons Fire seem to have assumed less importance (than it did in Blue Moon Rising).  There is also an important difference with regard to how the Element of Fire is portrayed.  Within Maleficent, Fire is rendered useless by the Wall of Thorns – where as in Blue Moon Rising, Fire is especially useful within the Darkwood (where even the Old Corrupted Wood can still take a Flame).  Thus, I feel that a Dragons ability to breath Fire is highly dependant upon the capabilities of the Enemy Characters, and that the effectiveness of that Fire is highly dependant upon the confines of the Fantasy Landscape (i.e. a Dragon needs plenty of space to Breath Fire!).  Third:  As any Fantasy enthusiast shall know, Western Dragons are huge and imposing Mythical Creatures – that command the attention of the reader/viewer.  Whilst this is so, there is an important twist within both Blue Moon Rising and Maleficent – the fact that both Dragons are only present for a small part of the story lines!  Within Blue Moon Rising, the Dragon spends much of his time asleep (although not because he is being lazy).  Similarly, within Maleficent, the Dragon is only present for a small part of the film – towards the end.  Despite this, I feel that there is no diminishment in the Dragons Powers – as the parts of the storyline (where they are present), become even more entertaining (especially in the case of Blue Moon Rising – where Dragon Humour is often mixed in as well!).  Fourth:  There are some interesting questions raised when you consider the life spans of the two Dragons – especially in contrast.  Within Blue Moon Rising, the Dragon appears to be long lived – born to a time before Man (when Dragons ruled the Land).  Being so long lived, I feel that the reader gains an insight into the personality of the Dragon – what it was like when he was younger, how he interacted with other Dragons, and what Dragons hoard (in this case – butterfly’s).  Yet, in stark contrast, the Dragon within Maleficent only appears when Maleficent commands it – and as such, there’s little time to gain an insight into his personality, which left me asking questions!  Does Diaval think like a Dragon?  Does Diaval have a desire to hoard like a Dragon?  Does Diaval know how to be a Dragon?  (And if so – where did such knowledge come from?).  Does Diaval know of other Dragon Kind?  Such questions seem almost endless – and are ideal for engrossing the reader/viewer, within many a Fantasy Land!  In conclusion:  Western Dragons have been used within these two story lines to help engage the reader/viewer.  I especially enjoyed the portrayal within Blue Moon Rising – where the Dragon is akin to Prince Rupert’s friend.  I also enjoyed the portrayal within Maleficent – where it seems that Dragons are primarily the friends of Fairies (whilst being the enemies of human Kings).  As a passing thought, who wouldn’t want to walk down a Woodland Path with a Dragon friend by their side?  Especially one who lights your Camp Fire at night!

Fantasy – The Character’s all in the Hair!

When it comes to the fine details of any Fantasy Tale, I feel that it is important to consider the colour of your Fantasy Characters hair – as the choice of colour can be helpful in suggesting part of your characters personality.  I shall explain by considering Merida (from Brave) and Anna (from Frozen):

Both Anna and Merida have hair colour (and style) that complements their individual characters.

Both Anna and Merida have hair colour (and style) that complements their individual characters.

Meridas hair is a striking bright orange (aka Carrot Top), which easily stands out in even the films darkest fantasy locations – such as the Ruined Castle of Mor’du, the Stone Circle (where Merida starts her Quest by following the Will-o’-the-wisps) and the numerous Forests (that make up her Fathers Kingdom).  There’s a simple reason for this – the bright orange matches her personality!  Merida refuses to be controlled by her Mother (the Queen), and fights against her shackles – preferring instead to use a bow.  Being akin to Will-o’-the-wisps, the bright orange colour is designed to “pull your eyes”.  On the other hand, a character such as Anna, has hair, that at first glance – is much more suited to that of a “side kick”.  It’s a much lighter brown/brunette colour, that does not catch your eyes “half as much” – until you notice that white streak in her hair!  Straight away, it has you wondering …  Is this lady older than she looks?  Why did she decide to dye just that part of her hair?  What is her natural hair colour?  When these questions are combined with the fact that Anna’s hair starts to turn whiter – it only serves to fuel the imagination.  In the case of Frozen, we know that it’s because she was hit by a bolt of Elsa’s Ice.  But how about that fantasy cartoon character your creating?  Or how about that fantasy female Warrior whose just dispatched half an army in your latest fantasy read?  When the author/director introduces a “different” aspect to their characters hair – it helps to refine that characters personality.  Of course, the colour of the hair is not all that you should be considering when creating your own fantasy characters.  There’s also the hairs  length – if it’s too long, it may get caught in your fantasy characters sword/axe.  There’s also it’s style – if it’s too messy, your readers may think that your character is not too concerned about etiquette.  If it’s shaved – then perhaps your readers shall think that your Fantasy Queen is more of a Sword for Hire (or that she lives entirely on the battlefield).  Perhaps your character has her hair up in a bun, or is she more suited to a corn plat?  As a parting thought (pun intended) – how many of you have noticed that both Anna, and Merida’s Mother (the Queen), have that same/similar white stripe of hair?

Mythical Creatures Fun

One of my most favourite books to read about mythical creatures in is “The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures“:

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures

An “A to Z” of Mythical Creatures Fun!

Not only do I love the “feel” of this book, but I also love the “smell” of this book – and that’s before you even start to read it! The book is organised through A to Z, and allows you to quickly jump to whichever mythical creatures you would like to read about. Some of my favourites include: Dragons, Unicorns, Basilisks, Elves, Giants, Phoenix and Fairies. Some “Dark Fantasy” creatures are also included (such as Vampires and Werewolves).  I also like the fact that this book discusses/considers the mythical properties of many modern beasts (such as Tigers).  The book is (mostly) text-based, but this doesn’t seem to matter, as your imagination easily takes over 🙂 At 682 pages, you can easily loose many an evening!

Good Book on Fairies

I enjoy reading The Fairy Bible.

The Fairy Bible

The Fairy Bible

The fairies appearing in this book are categorised based upon both elements and locations.  For example, there are air and fire fairies, together with house and tree fairies.  There is also a lengthy consideration of the realms of the fairies, which includes such locations as Gorias, Finias, Murias and Falias.  Also considered are “every day” fairy encounters, such as fairy rings and fairy paths.  In all, this is a very pretty book, that has been lovingly illustrated.  The book also goes to lengths to describe how you can become closer with fairies, typically through meditation and/or a spell.

A Classic Fantasy Tale

Another book/film that features quite a few fantasy beings is The Chronicles of Narnia.

the-chronicles-of-narnia

An interesting twist to the creatures in this book/film is that many of the creatures are just like those found in our “human world”, except that they can talk to humans.  It is here that you shall find talking badgers, bears and foxes.  You shall also find many other mythical creatures, such as:   centaurs, dragons, dwarves, fauns and minotaur’s .  I first read the book, of this film, sitting in the back of my Dad’s car when I was a lad!