The Dragon Illusion by L.E. Modesitt JR.

L.E. Modesitt JR.

The Dragon Illusion

Recently, I think I’ve seen a resurgence or perhaps a continuation of “dragon books.” I couch it that way because I’m not keeping a tally on how many dragon books are being written and sold. Certainly, dragons are popular, popular enough that lots of books about them are sold and that DragonCon is one of the largest of F&SF conventions

As a writer, I’ve never had much interest in them, most likely because I find the giant ones, in particular, rather unbelievable. From what I can determine, Drogon from Game of Thrones, [if I have this right] has a body some fifty feet long, roughly six times the length of a large adult male tiger and four times higher. Such a tiger would weigh between six and seven hundred pounds [the largest recorded was 850 pounds]. That would put Drogon’s weight well over 14,000 pounds, and Drogan certainly appears to be built as massively as a tiger.

But most dragons supposedly fly. The golden eagle is one of the largest raptors, with a wingspan of from six to eight feet and a corresponding weight of from eight to fifteen pounds. So, assuming some correspondence between weight and wingspan, a 14,000 pound dragon would need roughly a wingspan of 25,000 feet [structurally, of course, that doesn’t work]. By comparison, the wingspan of a B-52 is 185 feet. If a dragon were built like a golden eagle, a 185 foot wingspan would only lift a body weighing 375 pounds, but if magic is equivalent or superior to jet fuel, the Navy A-4 [with a 28 foot wingspan] might be an approximation to a 14,000 pound dragon.

Even in a very verdant environment, a tiger requires a minimum of 20-30 square miles, and in the Siberian locales it’s more like 250 square miles. How much land and how many villages would it take to support just one dragon? And for how long would the villagers put up with it before leaving or becoming troglodytes?

Obviously, dragons must be very magic…or at least too magic for me to want to write about them.

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