Bibliography for GURPS Dragons
Barber, Richard, and Riches, Anne. A Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts (Macmillan, 1971).
Borges, Jorge Luis, with Guerrero, Margarita, "revised, enlarged and translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni in collaboration with the author." The Book of Imaginary Beings (Jonathan Cape, 1970).
Briggs, Katharine. A Dictionary of Faeries (Allen Lane, 1976).
Cavendish, Richard (editor). Mythology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Little, Brown, 1992).
Ciruelo. The Book of the Dragon (Paper Tiger, 1992). A confusing mixture of discussions of dragons from folklore and literature, with descriptions of how Ciruelo thinks real dragons would live. Worth browsing for the gorgeous artwork alone.
Clute, John, and Grant, John (editors). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (Orbit, 1997). An invaluable general reference.
Dickinson, Peter. The Flight of Dragons (Pierrot, 1979). Amply illustrated (and tongue in cheek) scholarly discussion of such issues as the mechanics of dragon flight, biochemical explanations for fiery breath, and reasons for the dragons' legendary hoards. A classic exercise in rationalization.
Ingersoll, Ernest. Dragons and Dragon Lore (Payson and Clarke Ltd., 1928). The writer's attitudes are gloriously non-politically correct. This all-inclusive discussion of ancient, Eastern, and Western dragons, claims that the dragon myth was born in the East, and spread from there.
Shuker, Dr. Karl. Dragons: A Natural History (Aurum Press, 1995). A handy, richly illustrated compendium of dragon legends, mostly – but not solely – dealing with Western creatures.
Simpson, Jacqueline. British Dragons (B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1980). Thorough and lively discussion of how dragons and their slayers appear in British folklore.
Time-Life Books. The Enchanted World: Dragons (Time-Life Books: New York, 1994). Solid, nicely illustrated discussion of the dragon through legend and folklore.
Titley, Norah M. Dragons in Persian, Mughal and Turkish Art (The British Library, 1981).
Myths And Legends
Beowulf. Look for the translation by Seamus Heaney (published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000).
Ferdowsi. The Book of Kings (Shah-Nameh or Shahnama). This book has been translated and republished several times.
There is certainly insufficient room here to list every modern fantasy story featuring dragons. Many novelists have their own ideas about dragons, their nature, and their life cycles. The following is a very limited selection of interesting or influential fictions.
Blanpied, Pamela Wharton. Dragons: An Introduction to the Modern Infestation (Boydell Press UK, 1979). Creates a new dragon legend, explaining why humans have never found evidence of dragons when they have been here all the time. With scientific drawings, footnotes, and a bibliography featuring the more prolific academics of the "New Zealand Institute of Verminology."
Brust, Steven. Jhereg (Ace, 1983). The narrator hero of this book and its sequels has a very useful shoulder dragon as a partner.
Gentle, Mary, and Kaveney, Roz (editors). The Weerde, Books 1 & 2 (Roc, 1992 & 1993). British "shared world" collections; most Weerde are more like werewolves, but their elders develop into interesting rationalized dragons.
Grahame, Kenneth. The Reluctant Dragon (Bodley Head, 1898). Fairytale about a boy who encounters a kindly dragon that is reluctant to fight, and must help save him from St. George. But the saint does not want to hurt the dragon either . . .
Heinlein, Robert A. The Star Beast (Ballantine Del Rey, 1977). A space-operatic treatment of SF dragons, and the delicate art of negotiating with them.
Hickman, Tracy and Weis, Margaret. Dragonlance Chronicles (TSR, 1984). Popular trilogy set on the world of Krynn, where the forces of good and evil do battle on dragon-back. Genre-fest based on the authors' D&D campaign that also became a set of modules.
McAvoy, R.A. Tea with the Black Dragon (Bantam, 1983). A bored 2,000-year-old Chinese dragon takes human form, goes to America, and waits for the person who can help him to find himself. Deftly written mayhem follows. There are also sequels and other books in the same universe.
McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonflight (Ballantine Del Rey, 1984). A servant girl is plucked from obscurity to become a dragonrider, and the life-mate of a golden dragon queen. The first of the popular (and very extensive) "Dragonriders of Pern" series.
Nesbit, E. The Book of Dragons (Harper, 1900). A collection of whimsical and surreal children's stories (also known as The Seven Dragons), all featuring dragons or similar creatures. An electronic copy is included with the RPG Forgotten Futures VIII (see below).
Pratchett, Terry. Guards! Guards! (Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1989). Contrasts an unprepossessing breed of miniature dragons with a full-size beast of seemingly limitless power and the old school. ("Noble dragons don't have friends. The nearest they can get to the idea is an enemy who is still alive.") Some other parts of Pratchett's Discworld series involve dragons more incidentally; The Colour of Magic (1983) features noble and elegant riding dragons whose only slight problem is that they are imaginary, while The Last Hero (2001) finds a new breed of miniature dragons in an unexpected environment.
Shephard, Lucius. "The Man who Painted the Dragon Griaule" (Arkham House, 1984). Short story about a con artist whose swindles become real art, at a terrible price.
Swanwick, Michael. The Iron Dragon's Daughter (Millennium, 1993). A revisionist fantasy featuring a dragon which is at once a war machine and an archetypal draconic personality, cunning, proud, and violent.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again (George Allen & Unwin, 1937). Classic children's story, describing how a posse of dwarves and one reluctant hobbit thief are involved in the death of the dragon Smaug.
Weis, Margaret (editor). A Dragon-Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic (Warner, 1994). A handy collection of modern dragon stories.
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979). Watch it with fresh eyes. This is what it used to be like to meet a dragon.
Dragonheart (Rob Cohen, 1996). A dragon-slayer teams up with the last dragon to save a kingdom from a tyrannical king. A so-so movie, but the dragon is voiced by Sean Connery.
Dragonslayer (Matthew Robbins, 1981). A fairytale about a bumbling apprentice who sets out to prove himself a true wizard by slaying a terrible fire-breathing dragon.
Gojira (Ishirô Honda, 1954). An unstoppable giant reptile with radioactive breath is created by American nuclear weapons tests. As became traditional, Tokyo is destroyed. The first of many Gojira/Godzilla films.
Jabberwocky (Terry Gilliam, 1977). A nicely sordid medieval-fantasy tale of a monster, human responses to its rampages, and the practical problems of slaying. Gloriously messy.
Reign of Fire (Rob Bowman, 2003). An honorable if deeply flawed attempt to update the Western dragon, with properly sinister, serpentine monsters (though not enough of them).
Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001). An appealing Japanese fantasy animation with an impressive dragon river god or two.
Many fantasy RPGs feature dragons in many different forms. The following is just a brief selection.
Cook, Monte, Tweet, Jonathan, and Williams, Skip. Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000). Appropriately, the primary creatures book for the original fantasy RPG has plenty of dragons and draconic monsters. There are also several reasonable D&D or d20 supplements dedicated to dragons.
CROC. Scales (Siroz, 1993). Wonderful French urban fantasy RPG, in which characters are either mythical beasts or descendants of the celestial dragon who wander the world in human form trying to avoid drawing the ire of their powerful grandparents. Only available in French.
Rowland, Marcus L. Forgotten Futures (Marcus Rowland, 1993-2002). A roleplaying game drawing on Victorian and Edwardian scientific romances and fantasies, published on CD-ROM and on the Web. Forgotten Futures VIII ("Fables and Frolics") is based on the children's stories of Edith Nesbit, and includes a complete copy of The Book of Dragons (see above), plus other stories on similar themes.