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We know Lews Therin Telamon is called the Dragon in the series, but what does that mean to the people of the world?

As far as I remember in the books, there are no monsters known as dragons. There is also no mythology mentioning dragons.

Does any of the source material ever tell us what a dragon is, and approximately how a dragon would be depicted in the setting?

I always thought Rand would transform into a fire-breathing dragon for the Final Battle

  • In WoT, a dragon is a crazy/awesome male channeler with tattoos who breaks the world. – CHEESE Jan 23 '16 at 17:03
  • Also worth noting that "dragons" became a word for "cannons" later in the series when the technology was invented. – JMac Aug 28 '17 at 11:12
26

LOWLANDER

Are there any dragons (like real dragons (=animals)) in Rand's world? If not where did they get the idea of dragons?

ROBERT JORDAN

There are no animal dragons of any kind in this world. The people speak of a man called the Dragon. They know that the banner that has a certain creature on it was the banner of this man and they have taken to calling this creature the dragon. To them it is a simple association with the name of this man.

dragon quote number 42

Lews Therin Telamon's flag had this creature on it, enter image description here

based on Robert Jordan's answer in the above interview this creature was labeled the dragon AFTER Lews Therin was named the Dragon. Therefore, this creature, whether it existed or not, is named after a person, not a species.

  • Where does the pic come from? – Valorum Feb 13 '15 at 15:24
  • @Richard its a recreation of the pic michael just posted, from the book cover. found in the depths of the internet :D. – Himarm Feb 13 '15 at 15:26
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    Had to sift through about 300 pages of interviews to find this quote. – Himarm Feb 13 '15 at 16:10
  • It's a great quote that covers both in-universe and out-of-universe. It doesn't explain the enormous dragon-shaped skulls in the fourth and fifth books though :-)) – Valorum Feb 13 '15 at 18:14
  • Nor does it explain why Lews Therin was named "the Dragon", since there was/were no such things as dragons. – DSKekaha Aug 8 '17 at 19:15
13

Based on the later books in the series, it seems very likely that "dragons" depicted on banners and buckles are based on real, albeit historical creatures.

Egwene encounters a museum piece that resembles, but dwarfs the rakens, suggesting that their kind (or something similar) used to be substantially larger:

What appeared to be a stuffed brown owl, not much bigger than Egwene's hand, stood on what seemed to be a bleached white lizard's skull, but could not be, for the skull was longer than her arm and had crooked teeth as big as her fingers. - The Dragon Reborn

and

Whatever the reason, it did not help her search. What she was after had to be somewhere in this huge hall among all these displays. Pulling her eyes away from what looked like the bones of a toothy lizard ten paces long, she closed them. The Dragon Reborn


It seems highly likely that people have based their depictions of dragons on these creatures.

Rand picked up what she had thrown and turned it over in his hands. A belt buckle in the shape of a dragon, ornately made in good steel and inlaid with gold. "Thank you. It's beautiful. Aviendha, there is no debt to cancel." - The Wheel of Time : The Fires of Heaven

and

“I am aware of the threat,” Rand said flatly, holding up the stump where his left hand had been. The metallic gold and red tattoo of a dragon’s body sparkled in the lamplight. Its head had been consumed in the Fire that had nearly killed him. - The Wheel of Time : The Gathering Storm

and

The high collar of his black coat held a silver pin in the shape of a sword on one side, and on the other a red-and-gold pin shaped like one of the creatures that entwined the Coramoor’s forearms. A dragon. Yes, that was what it was called... [later] ... a gold-inlaid buckle in the shape of a dragon fastened his swordbelt, and he had the Dragon Scepter in hand, a two-foot length of spearhead with a long green-and-white tassel below the polished steel point. If the Daughter of the Nine Moons recognized it for part of a Seanchan spear, she must also see the dragons that Maidens had carved winding around the remaining haft. Today, he wore no gloves. The golden-maned dragonheads on the backs of his hands glittered metallically in the sun....[later] a sinuous red-and-gold figure, a dragon, on his tall black collar gave them a minimal bow. - The Wheel of Time : Knife of Dreams

and

A burst of wind swirled into the bowl, making cloaks flap and rippling the banner out to its full length. For a moment the creature on it seemed to ride the wind. A four-legged serpent scaled in gold and blue, golden maned like a lion, and its feet each tipped with five golden claws. A banner of legend. A banner most men would not know if they saw it, but would fear when they learned its name. - The Wheel of Time : The Dragon Reborn

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    from my understanding of the books i dont think they are ever thought of to be Raken, or to'raken. both of those creatures have wings, while the dragon has no wings. we know that at the time of lews theron there werent "dragons" but the to'raken and raken would have been around somewhere. And we know the lizard in the museum inst a raken as it has no wings, unless its an uncompleted fossil. – Himarm Feb 13 '15 at 15:43
  • @Himarm - See my edit. There are clearly creatures that are far larger than the Raken but it seems incredibly coincidental that the Raken exist and yet they're basing the dragon on a mythical creature. – Valorum Feb 13 '15 at 15:46
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    i dont have a quote handy but im pretty sure jordan designed the title of dragon first, with no relation to a "dragon" then decided to add in the dragon symbolism later, and since its a chinese dragon with no wings its more of a serpent, which leads me to believe its more to represent the the great serpent. – Himarm Feb 13 '15 at 15:49
  • @Himarm - As I said, they encounter a huge lizard skull. A dragon skull, perhaps? – Valorum Feb 13 '15 at 15:51
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    The skeleton in the museum was obviously a dinosaur, as per the many other references to artifacts associated with our Age. – Ryan Reich Feb 13 '15 at 23:55
6

tl;dr: it's the same legendary creature as the Chinese mythological dragon.


One of the conceits of the Wheel of Time world is that it's our world in the distant past/future. In other words, time is cyclical, and the events of our time become the myths and legends of future ages, and we in turn remember the events of future ages as our myths and legends.

Thus, it makes sense that certain universal mythological archetypes would survive across all those ages. The concept of "dragons" appears to be one of those things.

The people of the Second and Third Ages recognize the mythical creature that we call a dragon (specifically, the Chinese variation of a dragon, not the more European version you see in most modern fantasy movies). Where this legendary creature comes from is, of course, never specified, because it's a myth. It would be like asking where our myth of the Griffin or Unicorn came from.

The shape of the dragon on Lews Therin's banner, the one that Rand later finds and uses, is described many times, and it's clear from that description that it's a Chinese-style dragon. You can also see the banner on, for example, the cover to Path of Daggers:

*Path of Daggers* book cover

  • Hmm. Do you know if the author personally authorised the book covers? I know that the series was completed after his death. – Valorum Feb 13 '15 at 15:25
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    @Richard this book was a few years before his death so he would have seen/known about it. only the last 3 were written after his death, i believe thats 11-13. the dragon is described as red with gold mane and claws, and its essentially supposed to look similar to the book chapter art you linked. – Himarm Feb 13 '15 at 15:28
  • I dunno if Jordan personally signed off on them but they are, ostensibly, based on his descriptions of the narrative, and they were at least approved by the publisher. And he was alive and actively writing when this book went to print. – KutuluMike Feb 13 '15 at 15:28
  • The original painted covers were a collaboration effort between Jordan and the artist. Not sure what level of collaboration, but Jordan definitely had some level of input into their creation. – Omegacron Feb 13 '15 at 16:40
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    Regardless of the cover art, the banner matches the book description. The Dragon depiction also matches that of the Dragon tattoos on Rand's (and Couladin's) forearms. – user31178 Feb 14 '15 at 0:15
-1

I happened upon this quote in The Shadow Rising and thought it was pretty interesting. It's from Egwene's point of view when she is in Tel'aran'rhiod.

"She took a closer look at the huge skull. She had grown up in a country village, and she knew what animal bones looked like. Not four eye sockets after all. Two seemed to be for tusks of some kind instead, on either side of where its nose had been. Some sort of monstrous boar, perhaps, though it looked like no pig skull she had ever seen. It had the feel of age, though; great age." pg. 208, What Lies Hidden

This is, in my opinion, definitely a dragon's skull and could be Robert Jordan hinting that actual dragons did exist at one point in the world. Although they are extinct in the time period of the story and probably had a different name before they died out. Only after Lews Therin took the name Dragon and used the creature as his banner did the animal acquire the name dragon as well.

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    Sounds like a clear description of an elephant's skull to me. An elephant's skull has the appearance of four eye sockets, as you can see here: amnh.org/exhibitions/mythic-creatures/land-image-gallery/… – recognizer Feb 1 '16 at 23:03
  • A number of the other objects described in that chapter are clearly intended to represent real-world artifacts. The one described as a "three pointed star inside a circle […] softer than metal, scratched and gouged" and giving off an aura of "pride and vanity", for example, is clearly a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament. :) – duskwuff Apr 25 at 19:26

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