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The Mystique of Dragons

This post originally appeared at Borders’ Babel Clash blog.

I realized that back in my first post on Monday, I included dragons in the post title–then proceeded to ignore them completely in the text of the post. Well, there’s a reason for this. The title was suggested to me by the blog administrators as a place to start, and I liked it so I used it. But I was focused more on the humanoid races that, I feel, sometimes get overused in fantasy.

It’s odd, but for reasons I can’t quite explain, I don’t ever lump dragons in there with the other fantasy clichés. Why? I’m not sure.

I started reading fantasy when I was 14. It happened because a teacher suggested Dragonsbane to me (a delightful book by Barbara Hambly). I loved it and had never read anything like it before–so my only thought in finding more like it was to go to the card catalog at the school library and look for books with similar titles. Because of this, I ended up reading Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey.

After that, I was hooked. It was the dragons who brought me into this genre, and the first book I started writing was a book about dragons. Even still, I go back to that story and flirt with rewriting it. You’ll probably never find me writing a book with Tolkienesque races. (Unless I’m doing a kind of humorous presentation, like in the Alcatraz books.)

But dragons . . . Well, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist. What is it about dragons? Why do we love them so much, why do I—a proponent of blazing new trails in the fantasy genre—leave dragons alone like a sacred temple from people gone before, untouchable and untarnishable? Is it just my reverence for the books that brought me to fantasy, or is it something more?

There’s something about them. Something primal, perhaps. I’ve tried to devise another breed of giant, intelligent, monster-type creatures—and everything I come up with is either lame or just a dragon with a different name.

What do you guys think? Any specific thoughts on dragons? How many of you came into the genre, like me, because of them?

|   Castellano