You hear people say, from time to time, that they’re overloaded on a particular thing about their favorite genre. Thriller fans get worn out on terrorists, romance enthusiasts weary of love triangles, and fantasy fanatics occasionally get tired of dragons.
The reasons vary. Sometimes there’s slew of dragon-centric titles coming out at a particular time and the great beasts become a bit monotonous for the heavy reader. Others claim that everything to be said in regards to dragons has already been said and authors need to create new creatures rather than rehash these beasts time and again. More reasons than I can list here abound.
I, however, shall never tire of these noble creatures (at least not on a permanent basis) and here’s why:
1. Villainous Dragons Shatter Our Sense of Security
Why do dragons make such fantastic villains? Aside from the obvious boons of being incredibly powerful, flying, fire-breathing opponents, there’s a more primal aspect of the dragon’s villainy that I feel speaks to us at a very deep level.
Fire, and our ability to use it at our will, is arguably one of the things that sets mankind apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. In the early days of humanity, when our tools were simple and our thoughts centered mostly on where our next meal would come from, fire gave us the advantage we needed to outlive our evolutionary competitors. Fire kept us warm. Fire cooked our food. Fire beat back the darkness and kept the predators who stalked the night at bay.
Fire is symbolic of safety and warmth. Breathing fire, therefore, is more than just a fantastic weapon. A villainous dragon’s fiery breath takes that symbol and twists it into one of death and pain. In the flaming maw of an evil dragon we see our worst nightmare. That which gives us our strength is turned against us. What once gave live, now brings death.
And what is more terrifying than that?
2. Heroic Dragons Inspire Us to New Heights
As fearsome as dragons are as our opponents, they are the greatest of all allies when turned to our side. Noble dragons are all that we aspire to be.
Their physical prowess is one part of this, certainly. You can’t help but admire a creature so physically imposing, after all.
More importantly, dragons have mastered the skies, something mankind aspired to through most of our history and only recently (in the grand scheme of things) acheived. On some deep level we’re envious of the dragon’s dominion over the sky, and hope that perhaps we might lift oursevles to the same height someday.
I don’t think that one can easily dismiss the importance of this, for as with the fiery breath there’s some symbolism at work here. A noble dragon’s power to carry his human allies with him into the sky represents our own capabilities to lift ourselves above limitations and succeed against insurmountable odds. An allied dragon in flight is the essence of hope that we can become the best versions of ourselves.
3. Dragons Are Awesome
At the end of the day, dragons are just plain cool, and it’s as simple as that.