It's true. I've had a love/hate relationship with fictional dragons (the only kind of dragons) because of our tendency to anthropomorphize them. We either make them partners, psychic soul-mates who willingly allow humans on their backs for the greater good (Draco, Sapphira, Falkor, all the dragons of Pern, etc), or monsters, uncontrollable agents of destruction and chaos (Smaug, the Jabberwock, all dragons before 1980, etc). We ascribe human motives and characteristics to these mythical beasts, likely in order to understand ourselves better, but is it really the most honest way to portray them? As a zoologist, I wanted to explore a better way.
I was originally inspired by the model of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. Horses are very similar to dragons in the human psyche. We delight in the pegasus and the unicorn. We fear the thestral and the kelpie. Through the ages, well-trained horses have been ascribed nobility, kindness, bravery, heroism - a wide variety of human attributes that likely no horse truly has ever possessed and we ascribe it based on its willingness and ability to obey our commands. In reality, a horse is simply a horse, and they are glorious because of it.
It's the same with dragons.
What if a dragon was simply a dragon? A large, predatory animal with unique fire-breathing capabilities, that merely lived to survive, to hunt, to eat, to breed, to fly. Animals who were caught and tamed to serve, just like horses have been for thousands of years? What would a dragon, once wild now captive, think of us?
That's the premise behind DRAGON OF ASH & STARS.
Over the next few weeks, I'd like to do a series on the Zoology of Dragons (at least, MY dragons!) How do they breathe fire, why do they wear the 'silver band', why did I choose four limbs over the more traditional and heroic six, etc? Join me as we take a quick course in Fantastical Zoology. Who knows, I may even touch on the genetic theories behind cat people, or why a Mad Lord has six dogs...
Feel free to leave some science questions in the comments and I'll try to answer them over the next few weeks. Chat soon, peeps.