The Harry Potter Dragons – Part I

It is only fitting that we talk about Harry Potter when September 1 is upon us. What’s more, it’s not just any September 1; we are talking about the September 1, 2017. The closing lines in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows say: “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” September 1, 2017 is the post-nineteen years date that Rowling was talking about. The new generation of Potters, Weasleys and Malfoys are now on their way to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their official entry into the magical wizarding world.

Since our blog is about people meeting dragons, let’s talk about the four ferocious creatures which exist in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book of the series. We’ve talked about friendly dragons in story books, School of Dragons with dragon riders and sun-eating solar eclipse dragons in the past. But these dragons in the Potter books seem to be more ferocious than the entire lot of the others put together.

Here are the first two dragons faced by two of the champions of the Triwizard Tournament.

  1. Common Welsh Green

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Image courtesy: Wikia

When Harry surprisedly asked Ron to confirm that there weren’t any wild dragons in Britain, he replied: “Of course there are. Common Welsh Green and Hebridean Blacks. The Ministry of Magic has a job hushing them up, I can tell you. Our lot have to keep putting spells on Muggles who’ve spotted them, to make them forget.”

A native of Wales, this relatively subdued, two-horned breed of dragons has a surprisingly melodious roar and emits fire in narrow jets when angered. It enjoys eating sheep and other smaller mammals. This was the Common Welsh Green dragon Fleur Delacour of Beauxbatons faced for her first task in the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts. She put the beast into a partial trance of sorts in order to retrieve the golden egg. In the process, the fire-breathing dragon snored, resulting in the hem of her robes catching fire.

  1. Chinese Fireball

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Image courtesy: Wikia

Popularly known as the Lion Dragon and native to China, the Chinese Fireball is characterized by a rich scarlet skin with smooth scales along with yellow blazing eyes. Viktor Krum from Durmstrang had to face this creature as a part of his task to get past the dragon and steal the golden egg. He decided to temporarily blind the dragon using a conjunctivitis curse. In the process, the dragon ended up crushing some of its own eggs, due to which Krum lost a couple of points.

With protruding eyes, golden spikes around the head and face and flaming nostrils, this Fireball gets its name from the large mushroom-shaped ball of fire it emits when annoyed. The story goes that it is also fond of eating mammals similar to the Common Welsh Green, preferably humans and pigs. Needless to say, the gigantic creature weighing between two and four tons is a force to reckon with.

For those of you who aren’t very familiar with the storyline, in a nutshell here’s what the Triwizard Tournament was all about. In the next post, we’ll talk about the remaining two dragons faced by the Hogwarts champions at the Tournament.

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The Land of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’

Welcome to ‘How to Train Your Dragon land’ at Motiongate theme park in the heart of Dubai! If the pictures and videos doing the rounds are anything to go by, then this exciting space is as magical as the movie characters and their Viking escapades.

‘Camp Viking’ is an interactive playground within the DreamWorks section of the park wherein kids can run amok, armed with crawl nets, water guns and other dragon training tools. Then there’s a suspended in the air, inverted roller coaster of sorts with twisting seats called ‘Dragon Gliders’ stationed above the village of Berk replete with scenery befitting the Viking village, which, in the words of the makers themselves, is ‘storytelling through the use of technology at its very best’.

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Image courtesy: TravellerCzech

Last but not the least, the third major attraction is the gondola-shaped ride called ‘The Swinging Viking’. With this, you can embark on a hijacking adventure with the mischievous twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut, and hold the ship to ransom. This is as real to the reel story as it can get; rest assured, we all know where we are heading to for our family holiday in the next vacation!

3 Fun Dragon Games & Apps for Kids

I recently came across an article here which talked about why we should be sharing old, traditional stories which involve dragons, fairies and Greek Gods with our kids. That made me think about how the world today has changed from how we knew it back when we were kids; then, it was all about books and stories like Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud, Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French, among others. But now, it’s more about online video games and mobile apps involving dragons than old folklore and story books.

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Dragon” by AnoviJoe is licensed under CC by 2.0

Here are three dragon games and apps which are very popular with kids today.

Dragon City

The primary goal of Dragon City is to rear and raise dragons to turn into a ‘dragon master’ – the player needs to provide food for them to grow, nurture them, ensure they are well suited to their natural habitats and surroundings and also have sparring matches with other dragons. The best way to earn virtual currency – ‘free gems’ – is by participating in surveys within the game, in addition to completing certain other activities that enable you to progress more rapidly through the initial levels. Kids love it because the dragons appear to be cute and friendly creatures. You can also build a magical world in Dragon City through the Dragon City mobile apps on platforms like Android and iOS.

School of Dragons

Best suited for kids aged 10 years and above, the School of Dragons is a popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) which is a big hit with both kids and parents alike – kids because of the much-loved game characters based on the DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon movie series; and parents love it since the dragon games are full of underlying educational scientific themes, which help in students learning about various concepts of science, all the while playing with their favorite characters and dragons. The game begins by hatching dragon eggs, acquiring food for them from various sources and eventually preparing them for combat. This one is available on all major mobile platforms as well.

Jurassic Story Dragon Games

Kids who love dragons would definitely wish to keep dinosaurs as pets too! This game is all about raising several dinosaurs in a park (kids will especially adore the cute little baby dragons), breeding and collecting these creatures using a series of hints, working their way through very realistic islands, valleys and volcanoes, looking for rare dragon and dinosaur eggs through simple strategy games and the like. The player earns more coins and jewels as he progresses through the game. Easy, fun and enjoyable – the Jurassic Story Dragon Games are a complete package of sorts.

Wish to add any more to the list?

Where did Dragons come from?

‘If the sky could dream, it would dream of dragons.’

True that. In addition to the cute little catchable Pokemon monsters and the virtual pets that are becoming increasingly popular day by day, we keep hearing about dragons all around us – in books, in movies, as cartoon characters, as characters in science fiction films and so on. But have you ever stopped to think where the myth of dragons came from in the first place? There are several legends and stories which claim to be correct as far as the origin of dragons are concerned. However, which one among them is true is as good as anybody’s guess.

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Dragon” by ArtsyBee is licensed under CC by 2.0

Here are a couple of real-life animals which seem to have triggered the advent of dragons as we know them today.

“Crocodiles are easy. They try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first.”          

Steve Irwin (‘The Crocodile Hunter’)

More specifically it’s the Nile crocodile, the second largest reptile existing in the world today (an adult of the species commonly reaches a length of 16-18 feet), which is thought to have acted as a precursor for dragons. What makes it different from other crocodiles? Well, a fascinating characteristic known popularly as the ‘high walk’ – this menacing reptile has the ability to move by raising their trunks above the ground. Can you imagine a mammoth, lurching, scaly creature walking towards you? No doubt it would resemble a dragon of sorts.

“They were like these Gods of the earth who could understand it so well.”

Peter Sohn (Director – ‘The Good Dinosaur’)

Now this one is pretty obvious. According to this report on the StrangeScience website, ‘some creationists claim that medieval dragons were really ruling reptiles of the Mesozoic era that survived into modern times’ – and who are these medieval dragons being talked about? Dinosaurs. What’s more, there was a Chinese historian named Chang Qu who lived back in the 4th century BC; he discovered a dinosaur fossil, eventually misinterpreting and mislabeling it as the remains of dragons.

“The snake will always bite back.”

Jake Roberts (professional wrestler nicknamed ‘Jake the Snake’)

Prolonged, winding bodies and elongated necks with menacing fangs; how can a snake not be a sort of a miniature dragon? They are ready to strike at a moment’s notice, their sting (read: bite) is mostly lethal and the entire experience of encountering one in real life, poisonous or not, is nothing short of petrifying. Now try to visualize a gargantuan fire-emitting snake with legs for appendages – does it not conjure up the image of a dragon in your minds?

No doubt dragons are scary creatures; but then, who can say no to having a cute little monster for a pet, especially if it looks up at you with those puppy-dog eyes like Toothless does to Hiccup?

Dragons and Zombies in Call of Duty

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Image courtesy: Cinemablend

The extremely popular first person shooter video game franchise, Call of Duty, has two new and exciting entrants – one is dragons and the other is giant robots which look like zombies. In addition to these and the other usual stuff, there’s an exciting new range of weaponry and enemies. The initial video released shows an interesting looking dragon-themed shield which shoots green fire. Exciting times ahead for Call of Duty fans!

Activision, the publisher and owner of the game, had this to say: ‘Players will face off against a swarm of mechanized zombie infantry and dodge hell-fire from aerial dragon assaults in the ruins of Stalingrad. The mission will also feature new enemies, weapons and gameplay mechanics, including a shield shaped like a dragon that seems to unleash emerald fire.’

Slated for release on July 12 on the PlayStation 4 followed by subsequent releases on the Xbox One and PC versions, this new DLC pack that goes by the name of Descent sure looks like a whole lot of fun. After all, with dragons involved, things couldn’t be anything but, could they?

Craving something sweet? Try these ‘Dragon Desserts’

Thinking of dragons, these are the words that cross my mind (and in this particular order, since we have big-time dragon fans at home) – dragon movies, Toothless, animation, my kids and their dragon games, dragon-themed birthday parties, menacing, vicious, gigantic, threatening, hair-raising, petrifying, beasts, thunderous, awe-inspiring, formidable, mammoth, thundering, desserts… Yes, you read it right. ‘Dragon desserts’ seem to be the flavor of the season, and the latest addition to this list. Menacing creatures they may be, but dragons probably have a sweet tooth as well 😉

We’ve talked about refreshing dragon cocktails in a previous post – blushing dragons, happy dragons and the like. We can do without cocktails once in a while, but without desserts? Nah! Hence, since there is always room for dessert come what may, here you go.

Chocolate Dragon Dessert

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Did you know that chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness? I had always presumed so, given its heavenly flavors. This recipe is all about crushing scrumptious chocolate sandwich cookies, adding instant chocolate pudding along with cold milk into it, stirring it all together with whipped dessert topping and leaving the mixture in the freezer for a while. What do you get as a result? A perfect, mouth-watering chocolatey concoction, which becomes all the more inviting provided you top it up with worm-shaped candies and jelly beans as mentioned here.

Dragon Beard Candy

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Similar to the popular cotton candy which is a favorite of kids all around the world, the Dragon Beard Candy (or Dragon Hair Candy as it is sometimes referred to) was first introduced in China. Stuffed with peanuts, coconuts and doused in maltose syrup, this Chinese cotton candy is threaded, chewy, rich and very sweet (everything that kids – and adults like me – would love!). Legend has it that during the Chinese Han dynasty, an imperial court chef was entertaining His Majesty one fine day by performing the steps involved in preparing a new confection; a candy composed from rice flour with a dough-like mixture which had small, thin, sticky strands. For some unknown reason, the Emperor was reminded of a dragon’s beard, and hence the name stuck. So does the candy 😛

Dragon Fruit Dessert

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This one is particularly for all those health-conscious dessert lovers out there. Pitaya, more commonly known as the dragon fruit, is beyond doubt one of the most good-looking or I should say exotic looking fruits I have ever come across. A leathery, bright red skin; sweet, kiwi-like flesh; high in fiber content as well as Vitamins B & C – no wonder this miracle of a fruit has such a weighty name! Have a look at this simple recipe involving yogurt, cream, gelatin, vanilla extract, honey and dragon fruit and you have a dessert fit for dragons, not kings!

And now, with Easter right around the corner, no points for guessing what would be the best time to tuck into these desserts!

Top 5 Dragon Characters in Gaming

If we begin to talk about our favorite characters in dragon games, the list would probably go on and on. The first dragons in gaming are thought to have emerged back in the year 1979 in a game called Atari Adventure. And ever since then, these giant, mythical, powerful, monster-like reptilian creatures have managed to make themselves one of the most memorable aspects of video games.

Here is a list of the top 5 most popular dragon characters in games which we’ve all grown to love, in the recent past and present.

5. Spyro the Dragon

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A 1998 platform video game for the PlayStation, Spyro the Dragon is the first and most popular game of the series with the young purple dragon – Spyro – playing the protagonist.

Spyro might not be scary or evil but he definitely is one of the most iconic dragons in gaming history. All the gamers will recognize the purple dragon from its platforming days on the original PlayStation. The younger crowd knows him from the toy-based Skylanders series. Spyro shows that you don’t have to kill, maim and destroy to be awesome. His two main attacks – charging with his horns at the enemy and breathing fire – are more than enough to defeat the evil Gnasty Gnorc.

4. Alduin – The World Eater

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Skyrim is full of epic dragons but we have to pick out Alduin – the World Eater as the most badass dragon of the bunch. This dragon with superpowers wishes to re-awaken the race of dragons to destroy the entire world. He’s constantly trash-talking you as you fight him multiple times throughout the game. It sure feels good when you finally manage to defeat him and bring him to his knees for good.

Alduin holds sway as the Nordic God of destruction and is expected to destroy and consume the world in its entirety. Just make sure you’re ready for this dragon to suddenly begin hurling large boulders in the combat zone and periodically breathing fire.

3. Toothless – The Night Fury Dragon

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The very first character to appear in the How to Train Your Dragon movie, Toothless – the Night Fury Dragon is the most endearing yet dangerous little iguana-sized dragon ever. His unrivaled intelligence among the entire dragon clan, terrific speed, uncannily perfect sense of hearing as well as the ability to dive bomb and fire are among his many strengths.

The best part of these dragon games based on the DreamWorks movie? The wonderful bond between Toothless and the protagonist Hiccup, an example of which is when Hiccup says: “Toothless, it’s me. I’m right here, bud.” Cheers to this friendship!

2. Deathwing – Warcraft Series

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Deathwing from the Warcraft Series is one of the most awe-inspiring dragons in gaming. He made his debut in Warcraft II but became a legend after releasing a sweeping cataclysm in World of Warcraft. This humongous creature has re-shaped much of the world’s surface in one of the most popular massively multiplayer online games ever and that’s an extremely big achievement.

Earlier known as Neltharion the Earth-warder, this incarnation of pure evil is known all over the world by titles like ‘The World Breaker’, ‘The Destroyer’ and even ‘Aspect of Death’. One flap of his majestic wings can cause a tsunami to occur and demolish half the world. Beware!

1. Rathalos – The Monster Hunter Dragon

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It can be no co-incidence that this Monster Hunter Dragon’s name – Rathalos – has the word ‘wrath’ in it. Again, the fact that this flying monster is popularly known as ‘The King of the Skies’ in the gaming fraternity reinforces what most of us already know – that it is no mean feat to bring down this more than twenty foot long red and orange dragon with his fiery breath and poisonous talons.

Apart from being expert fliers that whizz past like a bolt of lightning and launch unexpected aerial attacks, Rathalos are also known to set their prey ablaze with flaming projectiles. They can bite, burn, poison, maim and kill. Need we now mention which the most dangerous dragon of the lot is?

3 Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about How to Train Your Dragon

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  1. How to Train Your Dragon is the first movie produced by the American film production company DreamWorks in which the hero of the story – Hiccup – is of the same age as the target audience of the film. Most of the other DreamWorks animation flicks feature adults as the protagonists of their movies.
  2. This franchise is not just about the movies alone – which are nothing but the tip of the iceberg. A television series popularly known as DreamWorks Dragons has already completed forty episodes and two seasons and is on to its third, while Gift of the Night Fury is a 30-minute Christmas special short film in addition to two other short films on similar themes related to the dragons. What’s more, there are books, video games and soundtrack albums devoted to the dragons and even an exclusive ice show and stadium show based on the movies! No wonder these beloved dragons are a raging success the world over.
  3. Last but not the least, let’s talk about the most endearing character of the entire series – Toothless. Did you know that the adorable sounds he makes are a combination of the recordings of elephants, tigers, horses, elephant seals, other domestic cats and the voice of the supervising sound designer of the film, Randy Thom? In his own words: “Toothless was the biggest challenge for us in terms of the vocalization, because he had to have so much variety just within his own voice. The voice of Toothless is mostly a combination of my voice and elephants and horses, maybe a tiger here and there. It’s lots of stuff!”

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The End of a New Beginning?

HTTYD3

Speculations abound as the hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon 3 (HTTYD-3) gears up for its release. Although this third and final instalment of the dragon series was originally slated to hit the theatres sometime in 2016, new rumors doing the rounds suggest that we may not get to watch the flick till as late as 2018, due to some unrevealed internal conflicts within the film production company.

However, the guesswork and suppositions related to the movie had already begun as soon as DreamWorks Animation announced that the movie is lined up for release, the proclamation coming shortly after the success of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 film. Be it mini dragon playing sets, online dragon games, dragon mugs, lunch boxes, skateboards or even dragon-themed t-shirts, the How to Train Your Dragon memorabilia continues to fly off the shelves like hot cakes even now. This bears testimony to the fact that the Hiccup-Toothless fervor isn’t something that will die down easily, even though there may be an interval of a couple of years between two of its movie releases.

Regarding it being more of a dragon-centric movie than its prequels, director Dean DeBlois had this to say: “I’m playing with the idea of what happened to the dragons and why they are no more, as suggested by Cressida Cowell’s books. So the whole mystery of where did they go? Did they come back? What transpired? I think it’s all compelling stuff and it’s definitely a story that’s gonna have a lot more Toothless emphasis in it. We continue to get more insight into the dragon world and shed light on their intelligence and all the aspects that we’ve been slowly cooking over the last few films.”

If the movie is anything along the same lines as the novels go, then an all-out war between humans and dragons is on the cards in HTTYD-3. Reiterating this, DeBlois also confirmed: “Both Hiccup and Toothless are now chiefs of their respective tribes, and it’s a dueling story where you have both characters trying to do what’s right for their kind, and an eventual outcome where Hiccup is able to stand on his own.” Does that mean Hiccup and Toothless will ultimately have to part ways, for the greater good, bringing to an end the most beautiful human-dragon friendship ever? “The mystery of what all that is will be saved for the actual story,” is all DeBlois is ready to divulge at the moment.

Those who have read the Cressida Cowell series know that the dragon story does not have a happy ending. Hence, here are some possibilities of what might happen: This might be the last we’ll get to see of Toothless, since the books begin with Hiccup as an old man, ruminating on the days gone by when dragons and humans used to cordially live together. The villain of the series, Drago, might be the one to wage an all-out war against the dragons. On the other hand, he just might have a change of heart (a fake one at that) and get back to Berk in order to make the Vikings trust him, and then eventually poison their minds against the beasts. Only time will tell.

Last but not the least, the most heartbreaking news of all (and this comes from the horse’s – read director’s – mouth); the How to Train Your Dragon 3 is the last movie of the series and there’ll be no more dragon flicks after this.

Needless to say, we’ll always love Toothless and the rest of his clan. Always.

3 Adorable Dragons in Dragon Games

Dragons have captured the imagination of the masses for centuries. In the recent past, they have become a big part of popular culture, making regular appearances in books, movies and video games. With references in so many places, it is quite understandable that these creatures have been depicted in different ways by different people. However, whether in dragon games or ancient lore, they are most often portrayed as fierce, scary-looking, formidable beasts. They often wreak destruction on land, though it is not uncommon to find benign dragons that form friendships with human beings. It is far more uncommon, on the other hand, to find a dragon that is remotely ‘cute’, so to speak. That has slowly begun to change. Huggable dragons with big eyes, delicate features and rounded spikes are no longer outrageous – some of them are incredibly popular! Just take a look at these three cuties that are also stars on dragon games, and you’ll see what I mean.

Spyro

Spyro

Sundet & Spyro – better quality” by vages is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Spyro is the star of the dragon game ‘Spyro the Dragon’. He is an adorable young purple dragon that is stubborn and courageous in spite of his tender age. In the game, all the dragons in the realm are attacked by a spell from Gnasty Gnorc, and only Spyro escapes due to his size. He sets off to save the dragons and confront Gnasty Gnorc. ‘Spyro the Dragon’ was followed by several more dragon games starring this adorable, fire-breathing beast. It’s tough to tell what is cutest about this dragon, but there’s no doubt that his kind and brave heart add to his charm.

Yoshi

Yoshi is perhaps the most famous of all the dragons that have ever appeared in a video game. If you are one of the very few who don’t recognize the name, I must clarify. Yoshi did not make his debut as the star of a dragon game. He is Mario and Luigi’s friendly sidekick in Super Mario World, and since his first appearance has been part of several other Nintendo games, including a few revolving around him. The bipedal, chubby green dragon is cuteness personified. There is an ongoing debate as to whether Yoshi is actually a dragon or a dinosaur. While in his early appearances he was commonly accepted as a dinosaur, in ‘Super Mario Galaxy 2’ he signs a note as ‘Yoshi the Space Dragon’. The fact that he is a ‘space dragon’ would explain why he is missing some of the common features associated with regular dragons, such as wings.

Toothless

This friendly dragon first made his appearance in the animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. He reappeared on screens in the sequel ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, where a more defined personality added to his charm. Toothless has appeared in several dragon games since his movie debut and is extremely popular with fans of the franchise. He does not resemble most dragons, and looks positively benign. He does not have sharp spines anywhere on his body, but he does have a deadly blast.

Are there any other cute dragons that you can think of? Comment and let me know!