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"When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who wronged me! We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground!"
Daenerys Targaryen[src]

Dragons are massive, flying reptiles which can breathe fire onto their enemies and cook their food with the same flame. They are rumored to have a strong connection to magic, which seems to be proven true when magic begins to return to the world after the birth of the first three in over two hundred years. Dragons possess awesome and devastating power, capable of laying waste to armies and burning entire cities to ashes. Men who were able to tame and ride dragons as beasts of war used them to burn their enemies and forge vast empires across the continents of Essos and Westeros.

Dany mother of her dragons

The Mother of Dragons and her three baby dragons.

The last surviving dragons in the world were possessed by House Targaryen, who used them to conquer and unify the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros three hundred years before the War of the Five Kings. Most of the Targaryen dragons died in the Dance of the Dragons about a century and a half later, and after that, the only dragons the Targaryens were the size cats. Soon after the civil war ended, the last Targaryen dragons died, and the species was considered to be extinct throughout the world.

At the same time that the War of the Five Kings began in Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen was in possession of three petrified dragons eggs. They were given to her as a wedding gift, beautiful to look upon and valuable beyond comprehension, but otherwise useless. However, in a shocking display of old magic, Daenerys miraculously made the eggs hatch, and for the first time in generations, filling the skies of the world with the music of dragons once more.

Biology

Overview

Dragons have long serpentine bodies, with proportionately long necks and tails. Their bodies have four limbs: two short back legs and two large wings as forelimbs, a body-plan similar to a bat. In later generations, after the dragons went extinct, physical descriptions of dragons became so confused in memory that artwork sometimes depicted them as having six limbs - two wings growing out of their backs in addition to four legs - but this is inaccurate. The teeth and claws of adult dragons are as long and sharp as swords.

Dragons S3E4

Daenerys marches forward with her army and her young dragons.

As reptiles, Dragons are covered in scales, as well as spiny horns which run down their backs from head to tail. Particularly large ridges of horns frame the edges of their faces, running along the back of the skull and along the jawline, which grow bigger as they mature. Adult dragons possess two sets of frills which run along the backs of their necks and spine, two along the sides of their necks and another two centered closer to the backbone, for a total of four frills. These are formed from webbing that grows between longer horny spines. When dragons are agitated (or simply excited), they raise and flare these frills - similar to how a furry animal like a cat will raise the hackles on its back when agitated (or a feathered animal such as a goose will puff up its feathers), in an attempt to appear bigger so as to intimidate its enemies.

Drogo fire with fish S3 Ep1

Dragons will roast their food before consumption.

Dragons are also shown to have a variety of calls, from shrieking roars to low growls or hisses. They can even squeal.

Dragons are obligate carnivores, with diets consisting entirely of meat. Dragons need to roast their prey with their fire-breath before consuming it - the only animals apart from humans who prefer cooked meat. Dragons can eat almost any kind of meat, anything from sheep to fish. Historical dragons ridden as beasts of war were known to eat fallen horses and even men on the battlefield. Fully grown dragons could swallow a live horse whole.

Color Variations

Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal 2x10

Dragons have different color patterns.

The scale color of dragons is highly variable, and historical dragons ranged in color from black to silver, red, gold, and even blue. Some dragons were one solid color throughout, but more often, they tend to have one primary color for most of their body, with highlights in a secondary color along their spinal crests, horns, and wing membranes. Confirmed markings observed so far include:

  • Black with red markings
  • Green with bronze markings
  • Cream with gold markings

In addition to the various scales hues observed between specimens, dragons also displayed eyes color variations. Dragons being reptiles, they had vertical slit pupils with colored irises. Drogon had red eyes while his brother, Viserion had green eyes.

Fire-breath

Dragon's fire-spitting organ

Small tubes in Drogon's mouth showing where they spit fire from.

Probably the most famous attribute of dragons is their ability to breathe fire. Dragon flame can turn flesh to ash, melt steel, and crack stone. Older dragons can produce more intense flame for longer duration. Dragons seem to produce their fire-breath by expelling chemicals out of two tubes in the back of their throats: when these volatile substances combine, they undergo an intense reaction which bursts into a directed jet of fire. The bodies of dragons are also very resistant to fire, particularly their own flames, which don't even damage their own mouths as they expel them. Some believe that in many ways dragons are fire, fire given form as flesh: it is said that "fire cannot kill a dragon".

Reproduction

Like most reptiles, dragons lay clutches of eggs. Dragon eggs are roughly the size of a human child's head, and as heavy as stone, so they need to be carried with two hands. The outer shell is covered in scales, with vastly different color patterns between eggs, usually matching the color of the dragon inside. Dragon eggs are notoriously difficult to hatch, though they can maintain the spark of life inside of them for decades if not centuries. The secret key to hatching the eggs seems to involve some form of blood magic: as the House words of the Targaryens hint, it requires "fire and blood". To hatch them, dragon eggs must be burned in roaring flames, with which another creature is simultaneously being burned alive - a life in exchange for a life. In the wild this might just be a prey animal that the parent dragon kills, but human sacrifice will do the trick quite nicely, particularly if there is more than one egg to hatch.

The exact details of dragon reproduction fell out of living memory in the nearly two centuries since they died out. Several conflicting theories and rumors have been circulated, some less grounded in fact than others. It is unclear if the mother guarded eggs she had laid, or simply left them to hatch and fend for themselves, or if the father aided the mother in caring for them. Dragons were apparently relatively solitary creatures, though it is unknown if any hierarchical relationships formed within groups of dragons.

Dragons, like birds, tend to imprint on whoever is present when they hatch, regarding that person as their parent.

Maturation

Drogon emerges S3E4

Drogon, the size of a small dog.

Newly hatched dragons are about the size of a small cat, but they grow very rapidly, reaching the size of a small dog in about one year, and the size of a small pony in only three or four years. It is unknown at what age dragons reach reproductive maturity. Dragons never stop growing as long as they live, and they can live for centuries, though many died in combat before reaching such an age. The largest Targaryen dragon, Balerion the Black Dread, lived for nearly two centuries and had a skull the size of a carriage.

However, if dragons are chained or confined into an enclosed space for long periods of time it can hinder their growth and their overall size. Rhaegal and Viserion who hatched at the same time than Drogon were considerably smaller than their sibling, around half his size after being locked under Meereen's great pyramid for almost two years at an early stage of their development.

When dragons hatch, they do have horns around their faces and along their spines, but they are still quite small and relatively rounded. Their horns grow increasingly longer and sharper as they mature, quickly making the dragon appear more dangerous and menacing to prey or other dragons. The four lines of webbed frills along a dragon's spine only grow to a prominent size after they are about a year old. The bigger the dragon is, the bigger its appetite.

When a dragon reaches the adolescence, roughly when they are the size of a pony, they tend to be rebellious to a degree, much like how human teenagers are, even snarling at their imprinted parent. However, as they mature, this trait disappears.

Training and riding

Dragons cannot be truly "tamed", but they can be bonded with and trained. The Valyrians rode dragons for millennia. Aegon I Targaryen and his sister-wives, who descended from Old Valyria, used the last three dragons in the world to conquer and unify the Seven Kingdoms.

Dragons are fairly intelligent animals, and like a horse or a dog, they can be trained by their rider to respond to basic voice commands. Tyrion Lannister claims that dragons are intelligent, much more so than most people and will quickly recognize friend from foe. If they are not trained they will quickly lay waste to anything around them. The key to training dragons is making sure they are well fed, a dragon with a full stomach is more obedient.

Since they cannot be truly tamed, dragons can be very dangerous even to their riders. However, they can form very strong bonds with their riders and will show affection and trust towards them. They will even nuzzle their riders, hoping to be petted.

Daenerys Targaryen has trained her three dragons to respond to vocal commands in her mother tongue of High Valyrian. She often uses the command "Dracarys", to which her dragons respond by instantly breathing fire and burning anything in their path.

History

Background

Five thousand years ago, men of the Valyrian Freehold learned how to master and ride dragons as beasts of war, and used them to forge an empire that stretched across most of the continent of Essos, dominating almost half of the Known World. Four hundred years before the War of the Five Kings, the entire Valyrian empire and almost all of its dragons were destroyed in a single day, during a cataclysmic volcanic eruption known as the Doom of Valyria. One Valyrian noble family, the Targaryens, survived the Doom on the distant island outpost of Dragonstone in the Narrow Sea - along with the last surviving Valyrian dragons.

One hundred years later, Aegon I Targaryen and his sisters used the last three surviving dragons in the world to conquer and unify the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. For generations, the dragon-kings ruled over much of Westeros - but the dragons eventually died out after nearly a century and a half, and the species was subsequently considered to be extinct.

Season 1

Dragon Egg

A dragon egg, used as an heirloom or item of value.

In the series the dragon species is established as having been extinct for many years. The only thing left of the race are petrified dragon eggs, which are used as decoration, and the bones which are used for weapon crafting. According to one legend, dragons originated from a second moon that hatched when it drifted too close to the sun. This is mostly dismissed as a simple myth.

They remain the sigil of House Targaryen, who were known to have a special affinity with the creatures. Even Daenerys Targaryen who knows nothing of her true heritage feels a connection with the relics of the ancient animals. She appears to feel a connection with the eggs; causing her to develop a curiosity about the race and the possibility that there may still be living dragons.

Dragon Eggs

Daenerys' dragon eggs, gifted to her by Illyrio Mopatis.

Daenerys is given three petrified dragon eggs as a gift for her wedding to Khal Drogo. The three eggs are black, green, and gold.[1]

Daenerys begins caring for the eggs as they become richer in color. She keeps them in a chest surrounded by candles, day and night as is drawn to them.[2]

Arya stumbles upon the massive skull of one of the Targaryen dragons while chasing a cat in the vaults. She hides in the mouth of the skull and overhears the plotting of Illyrio and Varys.[3]

Dragon Skull

The skull of a dragon, kept in the vaults below the Red Keep of King's Landing.

Daenerys continues to experiment with her eggs. She briefly places one of the eggs into a fire pit in an attempt to hatch it, but the egg remains unhatched. She removes the egg from the fire with her bare hands, but remains unhurt.[4]

Daenerys Targaryen places the eggs on the funeral pyre of her husband after smothering him with a pillow. She also straps the witch Mirri Maz Duur to the pyre. She then lights the pyre, and walks into it, with all her followers believing her to be dead. In the morning however, she is found with three dragons, a green dragon in her arms, a black dragon clinging on her shoulder and a white-peach colored dragon clinging on her leg. A little moment later, the black dragon screeches and flaps his wings.[5]

Season 2

Daenerys & Drogon 2x01

Daenerys tries to feed Drogon raw meat.

Daenerys tries unsuccessfully to feed her dragons raw meat, unsure of what she is doing wrong.[6] Later, in Qarth, she realizes that they will only eat cooked meat. She coaxes them into recognizing the Valyrian command, "Dracarys," to breathe fire, so they can cook their own food.[7]

During her stay in Qarth, word of the dragons' return begins to travel to other parts of Essos; the rumors are eventually picked up by Varys, who mentions them to Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion is more concerned with the impending Battle of the Blackwater than with newly hatched dragons on the other side of the world.[8]

The dragons are later stolen by the warlocks of Qarth and hidden in the House of the Undying.[9] The warlocks and Xaro Xhoan Daxos carry out a coup to seize control of the city in the wake of the theft. Pyat Pree invites Daenerys to come to the House of the Undying and be reunited with her 'babies'.[10]

Daenerys and dragons 2x10

Dany's dragons breathe fire in "Valar Morghulis."

Once Daenerys is inside the citadel she is enthralled by two specific illusions; the Iron Throne room with a destroyed roof and snow falling in and the illusion of her dead husband and child. The sound of the crying dragons pulls Daenerys out of the temptation to stay in either illusion. Continuing her search for her dragons she finds them all chained beside each other, and they scream with excitement when she nears them. Daenerys goes to them, only to find herself chained as well. With her arms stretched to either side of her she becomes a captive. However with a bit of a twisted smile, Daenerys speaks the High Valyrian word for fire, and Drogon first answers her call, but isn't very effective by himself. However, both Rhaegal and Viserion then join in, setting Pyat Pree ablaze.[11]

Season 3

Drogon kills Kraznys S3E4

Drogon kills Kraznys.

Daenerys arrives with her dragons in Slaver's Bay, hoping to acquire an army of Unsullied. With nothing else to pay the slave-masters, she offers them her largest dragon, Drogon, in exchange for all eight thousand of their Unsullied soldiers.[12] However, the deal is a ruse; after slave master Kraznys mo Nakloz gives her the whip signifying ownership of the Unsullied army, the dragon remains loyal to her. Revealing to everyone that she speaks Valyrian fluently, she orders her new army to slay all of the slave-masters within the city. Daenerys then commands Drogon to attack Kraznys: the slave master is consumed in a powerful jet of Drogon's fire-breath. Drogon and the other dragons then provide air support for the Unsullied as they sack Astapor, burning more of the slave-masters and their personal guards. Afterwards, Daenerys's new army triumphantly leaves Astapor marching in formation, with her three dragons flying above.[13]

When Daenerys besieges Yunkai next, she keeps her three dragons in her tent when she receives the Yunkish ambassador Razdal mo Eraz, in order to intimidate him. At one point she casually throws a piece of meat to them and they playfully fight over it, much to Razdal's consternation. Daenerys ultimately rejects Razdal's offer to leave Yunkai alone in exchange for a gift of gold, but chooses to keep the gold anyway. When Razdal's slaves attempt to retrieve it the dragons scare them away. After Razdal threatens Daenerys the dragons grew more agitated: Daenerys points out that he had threatened their "mother", and while she had promised him safe passage as an ambassador, her dragons did not. Razdal leaves in frustration.[14]

Daenerys ultimately decides not to risk endangering her young dragons again by deploying them against Yunkai, but sends in an infiltration mission consisting of Daario Naharis, Jorah Mormont, and the Unsullied commander Grey Worm. After fighting their way through the city they free the slaves and start a general uprising.[15] When the Yunkish leaders surrender and allow their two hundred thousand slaves to leave the city, they are received by Daenerys and her army as her dragons circle overhead.[16]

Season 4

Dragons imprisoned

Viserion and Rhaegal imprisoned underneath the pyramid by Daenerys.

During her journey to Meereen, Daenerys' dragons have grown larger than they were before, feasting on a dead sheep. While scuffling over the carcass, Daenerys attempted to calm Drogon down, but the black dragon snapped at his mother due to his state in a feeding frenzy. Jorah then reminded Daenerys that dragons can never be tamed, not even by their own mother.[17]

After Daenerys claimed Meereen as its queen, Drogon continues to hunt for their food independently, burning and killing livestocks of farmers that live around the Meereenese region.[18] Seeing that her children have grown wild and reckless, Daenerys decided to lock two of her three dragons, Viserion and Rhaegal, within the Great Pyramid, while the third and largest one, Drogon, was nowhere to be found.[19]

Season 5

Rhaegal & Viserion 5x01

Rhaegal and Viserion defying their mother's presence.

Daenerys visit Rhaegal and Viserion after not seeing them for weeks. She soon sees they have grown larger and more aggressive than they were before. Realizing that her own children have turned against her, Daenerys has no choice but to keep her distance from them.[20] When Ser Barristan Selmy was murdered by the Sons of the Harpy, Daenerys feed one of the Great Masters to her dragons to make example of what happens when someone defies her rule.[21]

Maxresdefault-1

Drogon defending Daenerys from the Sons of the Harpy.

When the Sons of the Harpy attempted to assassinate Daenerys during the Great Games at the Daznak's Pit, Drogon flew in to protect his mother. Despite being injured, the black dragon managed to kill many Sons of the Harpy by tearing some with his teeth and burning the rest with his flames. Afterwards, he flew off north from the pit with Daenerys on his back.[22]

Season 6

Tyrion faces dragons

Tyrion faces the two dragons.

At the Great Pyramid in Meereen, Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm and Missandei discuss the two remaining dragons locked beneath their feet. Grey Worm reports the dragons aren't eating, Tyrion proclaims it's because Dragons don't do well in captivity. He talks of their intelligence and how the Targaryens raised and locked up their dragons, leading to their extinction. He and Varys visit the dragons, claiming he's a friend of their mother, and releases them from their collars. [23]

Blood of my blood Drogon with Dany

Drogon and Dany are reunited.

When the Red Priestess Kinvara comes to Meereen from Volantis, she notes to Tyrion and Varys that Daenerys's dragons are gifts from the Lord of Light, and they can burn the sins for those who has lack of faith in the Targaryen queen.[24]

While Daenerys's khalasar are riding to Meereen, she reunites with Drogon, who has grown about double in size.[25] She rode on his back to further her leadership strength to the Dothraki. Afterwards, Drogon flies Daenerys back to Meereen, which is being attacked by the Masters.[26]

When Daenerys refuses to surrender Meereen to the Masters, Drogon lands right by her side before allowing her to ride on his back. After the pair take flight, Rhaegal and Viserion break out of the Great Pyramid to join their mother and brother in burning the Masters' ships with dragon fire. [27]

After the Second Siege of Meereen was won and the war over the Liberation of Slaver's Bay ended, the three Dragons fly west alongside Daenerys's newly acquired armada towards Westeros. [28]

Season 7

GoT-Sn7 FirstLook 18

Drogon fully grown in Season 7.

Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion fly ahead of their mother as she lands on Dragonstone. They investigate the island as Daenerys enters and secures the castle.[29]

After meeting with the lords of Westeros, Queen Cersei ventures into the vaults with Qyburn to see his "solution" for dealing with Daenerys' dragons. They pass several smaller dragon skulls before reaching the largest skull in the vaults, that of Balerion the Black Dread (King Aegon the Conqueror's dragon). Qyburn directs Cersei a ballista and reassures her that they can hurt dragons. Cersei tests the ballista on the skull of Balerion and is pleased when the bolt pierces the massive, hard skull.[30]

For the first time, Daenerys rides the full-grown Drogon into battle at the Battle of the Goldroad. Also, Qyburn's scorpion is used for the first time, by Bronn, and is proven to pierce the hide of a dragon. However, Bronn only manages to shoot Drogon's shoulder, and doesn't do enough significant damage to mortally wound him.[31]

Viserion-in-beyond-the-wall

A dragon (Viserion) as a wight.

The dragons accompany as they attempt to rescue Jon Snow from the White Walkers and the army of the dead at the Wight Hunt beyond the Wall. Rhaegal and Viserion burn and destroy hundreds of wights while Jon and his party mount Drogon with Daenerys. Not long after they arrive, however, the Night King is given a ice spear by another White Walker, who then hurls it at Viserion, piercing straight through his neck in a fiery blast, fatally wounding him. The helpless dragon shrieks in agony as he drops like a stone, crashing through the frozen lake and sinking beneath the waters.

Later, the White Walkers have their wights heave Viserion's body out of the frozen lake, after which the Night King reanimates the corpse of the fallen dragon.[32]

Known Dragons

Daenerys Targaryen's dragons

Dany and Dragons S3E7

Daenerys and her Dragons.

Known historical dragons

Aegon the Conqueror's dragons

Other dragons

Related dragons

Quotes about dragons

"Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor."
―(A dragon is not a slave.)
Daenerys Targaryen to Kraznys mo Nakloz, much to the shock of the latter.[src]
"They're dragons, Khaleesi, they can never be tamed. Not even by their mother."
Jorah Mormont to Daenerys[src]

Image Gallery

Behind the scenes

The dragons in the TV series are CGI creations, though in Season 2 - when they were about the size of small cats - the actors did use prop-dragon puppets on-set, to make sure that their eye-lines matched.

Supervising sound editor Tim Kimmel explained in a Season 4 interview what went into creating the dragon scream sound effects and other vocalizations: "Each dragon has multiple animals stacked and put together to create it...[in Season 3] we used the sound of two tortoises mating. There are various birds that get used in there. We sneak some other things in there—last season we had some weird dolphin sounds. I believe there's a pissed-off seal in there somewhere, during some of the angry spots. We sometimes use lions for the growlier stuff."[35]

To create the noise of dragon claws clacking against hard surfaces as they move around, the sound effects team used a combination of beef-rib bones, and also press-on nails hot-glued to gardening gloves. That way, drumming the fingers of the glove against a hard surface sounds more realistic, like a dragon's individual claws hitting a surface.[36]

In Season 5, Drogon is about 40 feet long from snout to tail-tip, and 20 percent bigger than the other two dragons (making them around 32 feet long). In Season 5, several dragon traits were copied from different real-life animals: Komodo dragons, iguanas, horned lizards, and crocodiles. Dragon physical motions were derived from eagles and bats, while for their takeoff into flight they used pelicans as a reference.[37] Joe Bauer stated that in Season 6, the dragons will double in size yet again - which would make Drogon roughly 80 feet long, and the other two around 64 feet long.[38]

In Season 5, to give the actors a better prop to react to, instead of just dangling a tennis ball and pretending it was breathing fire, the special effects team took the extra step of custom-building a fire-breathing crane. They began with a Technodolly, a motion controlled crane with a 15 foot high arm that moves in different directions while its base rolls along a track, with a telescopic arm that usually holds a camera. The crew then took the camera out, and in its place mounted a flamethrower that could shoot as far as fifty feet. The crane was then programmed with Drogon's movements, so it could repeat the same sequence over and over again for multiple takes of the same shot. Thus the stunt team, actors, and directors always knew exactly where the dragon and its fire was supposed to be. After filming finished, digital artists then added Drogon's body around the real flames in the shot. A second method they used in Season 5 was the "SimulCam" system: a basic animation of the dragon would be saved on the camera monitor and imposed over what it was pointed at, so the cameramen and directors could always see where a dragon was supposed to be moving in any given shot.[39]

In the books

Biology

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, dragons are described as four-limbed creatures, with two legs and two wing-arms, like a bat. In European tradition, this form of creature was more often called a wyvern, and dragons were described as six-limbed creatures, with four regular legs and a pair of wings sprouting out of their back. As Martin and other Fantasy authors have pointed out, however, in terms of real-life physics, it would be far more difficult for a six-limbed dragon to actually fly than a four-limbed dragon.

In the books, the bones of dragons are black due to their high iron content. In the TV series, however, the skull Arya Stark sees beneath the Red Keep is shown to be white. Weapons are sometimes made from dragon bone, and the material is especially favored for making bows, as it is stronger and more flexible than wood, making the arrows fly much farther. Dragon bone is also fireproof, giving it another advantage over wooden bows.

Dragons, like certain species of amphibians and fish, have no fixed biological sex; they can shift between male and female to meet the reproductive needs of the species. Despite this, they are usually referred to as male; only the ones confirmed to have laid eggs were referred to as female.

Growth

According to Valyrian records, dragons hatch small - about the size of an average cat – growing larger as they age and as their appetites expand; physically, a dragon never stops growing as long as it remains fed, and it was said that Balerion the Black Dread, Aegon the Conquerer's dragon, was so huge by the time he died that he could swallow an aurochs whole. Dragons can have extremely long lifespans, but Barristan Selmy states that it isn’t known for certain how long the average dragon lives before dying of natural causes. This is largely because dragons were originally trained and used as weapons of war, and thus usually died of violent unnatural causes. Balerion may well have been the only Targaryen dragon that grew to healthy adulthood and simply died from old age.

Feeding

Something of a joke throughout the novels is that dragons seem to prefer sheep as their main food (though they will eat any animal smaller than themselves if they are hungry enough). The ancient Valyrians who first trained and rode dragons were shepherds, and as such fed sheep to their mounts. During the great Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons, one wild dragon had such a fondness for sheep that the small-folk whose livestock he stole named him "Sheepstealer". A girl named Nettles ultimately managed to bond with Sheep-stealer when she realized his preference, and brought him a new sheep every day until he grew accustomed to her presence. At Meereen, Daenerys's dragons often attack the flocks of local shepherds: In an effort placate Drogon after he breaks loose, various animals are assembled in local fighting pits to try to keep him well-fed enough so that he won't attack any more humans: one pen is filled with bulls, and another filled with a wide variety of exotic animals from across the world (lions, tigers, bears, etc.) which were meant to fight in the pits - but even with this wide selection of potential meals, Drogon still prefers to go after the pen filled with sheep. This may be a reference to the real-life myth of St. George and the dragon: villages being attacked by a dragon placated the beast for a time by leaving it fresh sheep as tribute (though eventually they ran out of sheep, and had to start sacrificing young maidens). This preference for sheep wasn't an absolute rule for every dragon: during the Dance, a dragon called Grey Ghost was said to have a taste for fish, and fishermen often saw him in the distance snatching prey from the waters. Larger dragons were known to swallow oxen and horses whole, and in the aftermath of battles to feast on fallen men and their mounts alike.

Vulnerabilities

Aside from their ability to breathe fire, dragons were ferociously strong. They were, however, vulnerable to sustained arrow fire from the ground, to poison, and to attacks from other dragons. According to Tyrion – who has read books on the subject – a dragon's eyes are its only real weak spot (not the throat or underbelly as old wives' tales claim), and that the only certain way to kill a dragon is to pierce its eyes deep enough to puncture the brain behind them: Meraxes, Rhaenys Targaryen’s dragon, was killed in precisely this manner during a conflict with the Dornish. Only other dragons are strong enough to pierce a dragon's scales, with tooth and claw. Some of the younger dragons that died in the Dance, who didn't have thick scales yet, were killed by piercing their hides, but this was still very difficult.

The bottom line is that while dragons were extremely powerful, they were not outright invincible. Also, given their rarity and the large effort/expense in training them, they were not simply deployed in battle on a whim: Even Aegon the Conqueror was reluctant to commit all of his dragons to a single battle, for fear that they might be overwhelmed by greater numbers. Thus, Aegon took a calculated risk when he unleashed all three of his dragons for the first and only time at the Field of Fire, the battle which secured his conquest.

Intelligence

Dragons are very intelligent creatures - at times seeming to approach human levels of intelligence and emotion - but they never specifically display it: Dragons can't physically talk, and although they can understand voice commands from humans, this is no more than what a dog or a horse can do. Rather, dragons appear to have some sort of higher, unnatural level of intelligence; they seem to be more in tune with "magic" (or "fate" or "nature") than humans are, and possess a sense of mental awareness that humans do not. Somehow, they are often able to sense when the human rider they are bonded with needs them (something hinted at in the Season 5 episode "The Dance of Dragons", when Drogon arrives seemingly out of the blue to rescue Daenerys). Historians in Westeros have frequently lamented that men could never truly understand the mind of a dragon, and that sometimes dragons took certain actions for inscrutable reasons.

Training

While the specific methods used in training them are not widely known at the time of the novels (such information was nearly all lost in the Doom of Valyria), it has long been believed that only those who possess Valyrian blood (such as the Targaryens) can bond with and ride dragons. This may be for the simple reason that the Valyrians were the first to accomplish this feat, and dragons do seem to be inherently friendlier around people with at least some Valyrian blood. During the Dance of the Dragons, for example, Rhaenyra Targaryen had many dragons at her disposal but not enough allies able to ride them. Therefore, she sought out any surviving Targaryen bastards in the hope that their partial Valyrian descent would enable them to bond with the dragons (which some were able to do, but not others).

The dragonlords of Old Valyria were known to control their mounts with whips, binding spells, and sorcerous horns. Euron Greyjoy claims to have such a horn, which he calls "Dragonbinder". He has given it to his brother Victarion for "binding" Daenerys's dragons, but it has not been put to test yet.

History

The Valyrians first discovered dragons nesting in the warmth of the Fourteen Fires – a chain of volcanoes on the Valyrian Peninsula – but it is not known for certain where dragons originated. The World of Ice & Fire sourcebook mentions that cultures throughout the known world each have their own legends regarding the origins of dragons. Also, ancient dragon bones have been found in such far-flung places as the island of Ibben and on the continent of Sothoryos, where the Valyrians never established a significant foothold. Other than Valyria itself, the only plausible origin site for dragons within the known world is Asshai and the surrounding Shadow Lands; dragon bones and petrified dragon eggs are frequently found there, and the inhabitants claim that dragons existed in the region since before Valyria was founded (Asshai also claims to be the oldest city in the world, but no one can confirm or deny this). The question is further complicated by the fact that multiple types of "dragons" exist - or are said to exist - in different regions of the known world, and there is no evidence to confirm or deny that these species are in any way related to each other: large flying reptiles known as wyverns are known to exist on Sothoryos; myths and legends speak of ice dragons in far northerly reaches of the Shivering Sea; and the deepest regions of the Sunset Sea are said to be home to enormous sea dragons, such as Nagga in the stories of the Ironborn. There is also the possibility that dragons did not originate in any currently explored region of the known world. Whatever the case, the Valyrians were the first people whose interaction with dragons can be historically confirmed, and they succeeded in harnessing the power of dragons as no one else had or ever did. During the conquest of the Rhoynar, the Valyrian Freehold commanded at least 300 dragons and their riders. It is not known how many dragons the Freehold possessed in its final years, but the only ones known to have survived the Doom of Valyria were those belonging to House Targaryen, who later used them to conquer the Seven Kingdoms.

The Targaryens kept dragons in Westeros for approximately 150 years, roughly half of their dynasty. After the dragons died, their preserved skulls were put on display in the Red Keep. Tyrion states that there are nineteen skulls in all, which for a time led to the misconception that there were only ever nineteen Targaryen dragons - however, Tyrion also says that the oldest skull is three thousand years old: The oldest Targaryen dragon was Balerion, who hatched over four hundred years ago and died after living for about two centuries. Thus the nineteen skulls were never an accurate count of all the Targaryen dragons, and the Targaryens apparently acquired several skulls from Essos. According to information from Martin's other writings, there were at least 24 Targaryen dragons throughout the dynasty’s history (and possibly a few more). Twenty dragons were alive during the Dance of the Dragons (of which three were hatchlings too small to ride), and several hatchlings died young in the generations prior to the Dance, never having riders.

Most of the Targaryen dragons were killed in the Dance, which occurred 130 years after the Targaryen Conquest (150 years before Robert's Rebellion). Martin’s short story The Princess and the Queen confirmed that twenty dragons were alive at the beginning of the Dance: Rhaenyra's faction based at Dragonstone had fourteen dragons (of which one was a hatchling), while Aegon II's faction at King's Landing had only six (of which two were hatchlings, but one of the others was the massive Vhagar). Only three dragons survived the Dance, all of them left riderless, though another one hatched late in the war.

Of Aegon's original three dragons, Meraxes was killed in Dorne during Aegon's invasion, Balerion died in the peaceful reign of King Jaehaerys I, just under a hundred years after the Conquest, and Vhagar was killed in the Dance of Dragons. The few surviving dragons after the Dance were weak and sickly, with the last dragon (a stunted creature not much bigger than a large dog) dying during the reign of Aegon III Targaryen, the Dragonbane, only 22 years after the end of the Dance. The last dragons left behind several eggs, which never hatched. These eggs were later destroyed or lost to the vagaries of history. As a result, dragons are now considered to be extinct.

Trivia

  • The method for dragons to breath fire in this series is likely to be based on what was firstly brought in the SF movie "Reign of Fire" (2002), so did Harry Potter movies and other medias such as "Gods of Egypt" (2016) followed it.

See also

References