Fire in the flesh: dragons in «Game of Thrones»
Daenerys Targaryen steps into the roaring blaze. She created this bonfire to immolate herself, her husband’s corpse and the healer Mirri Maz Duur – to punish the healer’s horrible treachery. Daenerys’ life has lost meaning since her husband and unborn child were killed by Mirri Maz Duur’s blood magic.
But the flames don’t hurt her. They never did.
Even now, as towering pillars of fire reach into the night sky, she feels nothing but a comforting warmth. She then notices the three dragon eggs. These eggs that the millennia had turned to stone were also added to the pyre. But now they are starting to crack. They spread across the eggs’ surfaces like lightning bolts.
The first egg hatches. Then the second. And finally the third.
For the first time in a century dragons walk the world of «Game of Thrones».
Dragons in «Game of Thrones»
Dragons are terrifying reptilian creatures that fly and spit fire. They have an elongated neck, a snake-like body, walk on two short hind legs and possess two massive wings that also serve as front legs. Their teeth are as long and sharp as swords and their fire has the strength to burn whole armies or destroy whole empires.
Dragons only eat meat which they previously roast with their fire breath. Fish. Small mammals. Humans and horses. The eggs they lay can remain dormant for hundreds of years before incubation. But the knowledge on this process is lost to the ages. Today’s consensus agrees that blood magic is probably involved.
Dragons remember the first creature they see after they are born. According to rare often incomplete Valyrian records, dragon hatchlings are no bigger than cats. In one year, they grow to be as big as a dog. After two to three years they become as large as horses. The special thing about dragons is that they never stop growing during their roughly 200-year long lifespan.
A dragon’s most notorious weapon is his fire breath. Rare notes tell of the most ancient dragons being able to turn even steel and rocks into ash with their breath. Two chemicals enable this fiery expulsion: a mighty targeted blast explodes outward when these two chemicals react. Dragons are as good as immune to their own fire, which is why many claim that fire can’t kill them.
There’s more: dragons are said to be fire made flesh. During cool nights, their bodies give off a hot vapour. Their scales are practically immune to fire and become so dense with age that they resemble unbreakable armour.
The origin of dragons
Reports on where dragons come from are contradictory at best. They are said to once have inhabited the whole world. Excavations of ancient dragon bones in North Westeros or the jungles of Sothoryos as well as rumours of dragon sightings in unknown far-off lands would confirm this.
Some sources place the origin of dragons under a ring of fourteen volcanoes on the peninsula of Valyria – the fourteen flames. Sources written by a people that in their heyday were the most advanced and powerful freehold in the world: the Valyrians.
These reports are contradicted by the archives of Asshai across the Jade Sea of Essos. Their stories tell of the Shadow Lands, a wild and strange country where things incomprehensible to normal human brains happen. Dragons, for example, were tamed by a people so ancient that it lost its name. They were reportedly the ones who brought dragon eggs to Valyria and taught Valyrians how to control the magic of brooding and taming dragons.
Rumours say that there are still untamed dragons in the Shadow Lands to this day. But no one knows what happened to its mysterious population.
The Asshai sources date back at least five-thousand years. At this time, Valyrians are nothing but sheepherders who got hold of some dragon eggs – be this by chance or from these mysterious men of the Shadow Lands. They incubate these eggs, probably through blood magic, and manage to tame dragons.
The Valyrians quickly learn to use dragons as tools of warfare. Weapons that burn down empires and castles alike. In a few years, they erect a mighty empire from these ruins that crosses the entirety of Essos. Countless fragmented texts from across Essos tell of hundreds of dragons that secure a military as well as technological superiority that is still to be equalled by the time of «Game of Thrones». A remnant of this: Valyrian steel.
Valyrian steel is light and nearly indestructible. A metal known for its unrivalled sharpness and wavy pattern it exhibits on blades. Its creation is a mystery, only known to those who control dragon fire, a necessary ingredient in its forging.
Four thousand years later a catastrophe of biblical proportions occurred: all Fourteen Flames erupted at once. The peninsula is torn apart by an explosion so massive that no Valyrian, no stored knowledge or any tamed dragon survives. A single day was enough to eliminate the most powerful and advanced civilisation of all time as well as an ancient species – nearly.
A single Valyrian family survives: the Targaeryens. A century before the Doom of Valyria they built Dragonstone, a castle on a volcanic island next to Westeros.
They brought five dragons with them.