adventures in dysthymia

Friday, April 13, 2018

Dragons

Dragons are, to be sure, a staple of fantasy fiction. Typically able to fly and breathe fire, they are also generally fairly intelligent, tend to evil and greed, and look vaguely reptilian. None of these things are obligatory, of course, and there have been many variations.

It has also become somewhat customary for dragons — the flying ones — to be portrayed with six limbs, that is two wings and four legs. Biologically doubtful! Those with a more normal two legs and two wings are often termed wyverns. In my own fantasy stories I have (so far) gone with four limbs total for both.

This is for the dragons of my main fantasy setting, the ‘D-World’ — so named in my notes because my first fantasy novels set there were the four books of Donzalo’s Destiny. (Our own world, perhaps not surprisingly, is the ‘E-World.’) I did consider at one early point making ‘dragons’ wingless and calling those with wings ‘wyverns’ but ultimately chose to make the wyvern a different, less intelligent flying reptile sort of creature. I wanted a dragon to be a dragon, wings or not, and not muddy the water with a different name for some species of the creatures.

Every creature native to the D-World is going to be reasonably logical in its design. This is true not only of dragons but also griffins, mantichores, etc. No impossible hybrids! So, my dragons are pretty much quite large members of the weasel family. They don’t breathe fire but they do, as other weasels, spray nastiness from the other end of their bodies. And they are quite intelligent.

Now an underlying concept of all my fantasies is that there is an infiniverse beyond the various worlds (universes) my stories might visit. In that infiniverse anything can exist. Anything does exist, at least in potential. So we could have those six-limbed dragons, those half-eagle, half-lion griffins in other realms. Such realms would be illogical enough that humans might have trouble existing there, or even finding their way to them. But I do occasionally acknowledge or hint of such things (The ‘Rupa’ of Donzalo’s first book may have originated in such a place. So might fairies, sphinxes — and gods.).

The dragons of my ‘Greenmeadows’ stories exist in one of those worlds, one a tad less logical than our own or the D-World. So they do breathe fire, though I’m not quite sure how! Still four limbs, still mammals, but with a magical ability to shift-shape to human form. Those stories are just for fun and have no relation to my other fiction. Except that they are part of that same infiniverse, naturally.

There are no dragons in the WIP novel. It’s set on a large subtropical island and I think they don’t like warm weather that much. I might just throw in a wyvern, however, if developments call for it. That has not happened in any of my novels yet! I’ll find the right spot for one eventually, I hope.

Which of my novels do have dragons? One appears in the third book of Donzalo’s Destiny, ‘The Sign of the Arrow,’ there primarily to give the escaping wizard Radal a ride. They are mentioned here and there elsewhere in the four books but do not again appear. They are somewhat more visible in the second Malvern novel, ‘Valley of Visions,’ taking part in the war there — and fighting griffins. No appearances in any other Malvern/Mora books but, again, mentioned a few times.

And only mentioned in any of the other novels. Fear not, they will return!

Of course, dragons don’t exist in our own world. I laid out pretty early that the ‘E-World’ is a thoroughly nonmagical place, when Malvern and his companions blundered through a gate to the D-World. But there is an infinite reality out there beyond this world — that’s where dragons are.

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