The New Notion Club Archives
The New Notion Club Archives

A Dragon

Of all the Beasts and monsters in Middle-earth, the race of the Dragons (Q. "Lóki" or "Angulóki" or "Valóki"; sing. "Lóke" or "Angulóke" or "Valóke"; S. "Engwai": sing. "Angwa"), or Drakes as the lesser varieties were called, were the most infamous and feared. Intelligent and yet bestial, greedy and as bloodthirsty, they were a dreadful race of reptiles bred by the Dark Lords, as living superweapons. From their spawning in the First Age, no other creature instilled so much awe, wonder and tale. They were Morgoth's supreme conception, though a few lesser breeds were said to have been devised by Sauron.

Dragons of Renown

Ádfyr Agburanar Aivnec Alagos Ancalagon Andanc Angurth Ashaug Bairanax Balcheneb Bessamarth Bleakwind Bloodmaw Bloodwing Bregmor Brégnes Bruigon Brúllug Canadras Carahaug Celebarch Celebros Celruith Cloben Colnor Cuada Cuadada Glóringor Cûtael Cytharox Daeloven Dagnir Daudi Delgalen Draigoch Drogoth Drolem Dynca Eärcaraxë Eldran Eletredde Emchangodogo Faolókë Fentor Fondram Gathamaur Gaurakh Goehel Gesathago Glaurung Gondring Gorlagon the Red Gorlos Gostir Grodris Hâdhlhûg Harcennun Haurnfula Helegroval Helgradur Hopealohikäärme Hrimil Iaurlóke Iorvael Ikhashu Iltheor Itangast Kârlax Khuzadrepa Kibiluzn Kindle-maw Klyaxar Lastalaika Lavalúg Leucaruth Lamthanc Lhoerlhûg Lhugarch Lhugrien Lithulan Lomaw Lytegan Mandrake the Wicked Merkampa Murakzar Morgarach Naglangon Nauroval Nethgarch Nimanaur Ningarach Níocúpa Nurnor Ogarolrû Ozz Raenar Render Rimlúg Ripper Rothlúg Ruillug Ruinnaeg Ruingurth Ruithroval Saelug Scatha Scorba Seahmatha Skybreaker Smaug Sticlas Tantafod Tholthaur Thorog Thostir Throkmaw Túgarch Turukulon Twilight Dragon Urgost Urntor Uruial Usuarch Utumkôdur Vaurak


Little was known of the beginnings of Dragons. While their origins were tied to the breeding pits of Angband, where Morgoth wrought the first Drakes, the Dragon-race achieved its splendor later in the First Age.

Fire-drakes (Q. "Urulóki" or "Foalóki"; sing. "Urulóke" or "Foalóke") and the great Winged Drakes (Q. "Ramalóki"; sing. "Ramalóke") — the Dragons of lore — were born of fire and magic in the halls of Thangorodrim (S." Mountains of Tyranny"). Since that time, many lesser, more specialized species had appeared, although none in such numbers as to destroy the Balance of Things. How the Dragons came into life was not known, but it was said that there lived an evil spirit within Glaurung and that he was filled with the evil spirit of Morgoth; whether this could be interpreted in a way that the Body of Glaurung was inhabited by a fallen Maia of some sort, or if Glaurung's personality was itself a split-off from Morgoth's own horrible mind, remains uncertain.

According to Sauronic scribes, Iaurlóke the Cold was the first true Drake. He was born in Angband during the long struggle between Morgoth and the Eldar of Beleriand. He sired Glaurung, the Father of Dragons and the first of the Fire-drakes, but Glaurung consumed him in an ireful duel less than a century later. Soon afterwards Glaurung burst forth out of Thangorodrim and wreaked havoc on the Elves of Dorthonion and Hithlum (in Beleriand). He burned the fields of Ard-galen in his youthful display of raw power. Because Glaurung was only half-grown, though, Fingon and his archers drove the young Dragon back to Angband. Morgoth was incensed, for Glaurung's rash assault destroyed any hope of surprising the Free Peoples with the full might of a Fire-drake. So ended the world's first encounter with a true Dragon.

Two centuries passed before the Worm of Morgoth appeared again. Then, at the Battle of the Sudden Flame (S. "Dagor Bragollach"), Glaurung successfully led the forces of darkness in the struggle to break the siege of Angband. He slaughtered hundreds of Elves and razed large areas of eastern Beleriand before the campaign ended. Returning home triumphant, Glaurung began a long repose.

Glaurung endured the ensuing peace by breeding and producing a brood of lesser Dragons. When they came of age, he guided them into combat. This was the first time a group of Drakes ever appeared together. During the Fifth Battle of the First Age, the "Battle of Unnumbered Tears," they decimated a combined army of Elves and Men. Only the valor of the Dwarves of Belegost averted the complete defeat of the Free Peoples.

In subsequent years Glaurung and his offspring helped secure the lands conquered by the armies of the Black Enemy. They used their powerful incantations to bind the minds of their defeated foes and bring them under Morgoth's sway. Glaurung eventually assailed the Elf-city of Nargothrond, slaying all of its inhabitants save its Warlord, Túrin Turambar. Glaurung's power was such that he first bewitched Túrin and drove him off, leaving the city open to assault.

Túrin vowed revenge, but Glaurung's plotting's bore another evil before the two came together again. The awful Worm placed a spell on Túrin's sister, Nienor, and stole her memory. This curse led to her unfortunate and ill-fated marriage to Túrin. Turin tracked Glaurung down at Cabed-en-Aras and drove the great sword Gurthang deep into the Dragon's underbelly. As the Fire-drake died, he lifted his spell... letting Nienor recover her memory. She committed suicide following the terrible revelation that she had married her own brother, despite her pregnancy with their poor child. Grief-stricken and burning from Glaurung's caustic black blood, Turin perished as well by his own hand.

Glaurung's death marked the end of the first and longest chapter in the story of the great Drakes of the North. While he was the Father of Dragons and exceptionally powerful, Glaurung was not the greatest Drake ever to enter Endor. That distinction goes to Ancalagon the Black — the mighty Winged Dragon known as "Rushing-jaws." Like Glaurung, Ancalagon was a Fire-drake: but unlike his predecessor, the Black Dragon was far larger and possessed the power of flight. He was the first and most awesome of his kind. His wings darkened the skies, while hurricane-winds swept the plains before he unleashed his unstoppable fire. Undoubtedly the greatest monster born in Middle-earth, Ancalagon was the culmination of Dragon-breeding.

Fortunately, Ancalagon proved relatively short-lived. He was slain soon after he first appeared, during the War of Wrath. There he dueled with the Great Eagles, who were led by their King, Thorondor. The skies turned black with smoke and thunder ripped through the clouds as the giant avians dueled. In the midst of this unparallelled aerial fray, the warrior Eärendil — who came out of the West on the flying ship Vingilot — cut the Dragon down with a remarkable bowshot. Ancalagon fell, creating an upheaval that shattered the peaks below. His fellow Dragons fled amidst the turmoil.

Ancalagon died at the very end of the First Age, just as a cataclysm struck and sank Beleriand and began reshaping Endor. Only two of the other Dragons escaped the destruction and, like their brethren in Utumno and the other Underdeeps, went elsewhere in Middle-earth. One settled in the Grey Mountains, while the other ventured further east.

As the Second Age dawned, Morgoth's legacy spread. Dragons remained to someday haunt virtually every corner of the Endor. Recovering from their losses still, only a very small number went in following to Sauron, claiming much of the Grey Mountains and wrestling control of Dwarven holds.

By the late Third Age, most of the great Dragons from the line of Glaurung had been extinguished, yet lesser drakes remained at large in the Withered Heath and Grey Mountains until at least the early Fourth Age, when the Dwarves aided by Gondor and Arnor liberated their once proud households in the North.


Physically, these so-called Giant Worms varied in size and appearance. Some slithered or crawled; others ran, jumped, or flew. Most had vision that surpassed that of the most keen-sighted of birds, while others could perceive smells better than a North Bear. All shared a common heritage, though, and had scaly hides, two to four horns, and long, serpentine bodies. Those with limbs had four appendages, although two might be modified to support wings. Razor-like talons crowned their nimble digits.

General Features

While each Drake was unique, of course, they all shared certain common elements. They were all virtually immortal creatures with formidable individual strength. As shown in the stories surrounding Glaurung, Ancalagon, Scatha, and Smaug, they feared no single individual from the ranks of Middle-earth's Free Peoples. No other monsters, save the renegade Maiar known as the Balrogs, rivaled them. Still, Dragons were vain, deceitful, ireful, and ruthless, making them predictable and incapable of adapting to certain critical challenges.

Winged Dragons and Cave Drakes tended to be more slender, while Cold-drakes were more stout. Dragons were enchanted beasts. Magic flew through their caustic blood, and many Drakes were powerful spell-casters. Some utilized their skills to crush their foes, while others wielded enchantments in more subtle ways. All Dragons basked in power and enjoyed dominating other creatures, and many knew an array of potent mind-manipulation spells. Coupled with their sharp intellect, these incantations could drive a stalwart Man or Elf to lay down his arms or even wage war upon his brethren. The Dragons' fondness for word-games, riddles, and other contests of the mind was legendary. All Drakes enjoyed using their intellectual prowess. Puzzles and riddles fascinated them. They were skilled in myriad tongues and capable of conversing and word-dueling in many languages. Their wicked eyes, audacious presence, incredible vocal-strength, and perceptive ways made them formidable (if not overwhelming) foes in a debate. Schooled in the arts of verbal illusion and capable of sensing the slightest changes in sound pitch and emotion, they saw deep into the words of those who were unfortunate enough to meet them. Few could conceal their true feelings in the face of such utter power.

Dragons, however, had certain weaknesses when it came to battles of logic or wit. Vain, wrathful, deceitful, self-centered, and astoundingly boastful, Drakes had a very delicate temper. Filled with hubris and easily flattered, they basked in others' adoration and enjoyed complements even when they know the speaker was simply hoping to delay his own doom. A Dragon would toy with a foe whose soothing words were effectively delivered far longer than he would tolerate a pugnacious adversary. To a Drake, a false flatterer was wise and an armed challenger was simply foolhardy fodder. Dragons despised disrespect.

Regardless of their species, Dragons lived and hunted alone. They jealously guarded their territories, and would confront or kill other Drakes that infringed on their ever-expanding domains. Their realms, of course, reflected their origins, for wherever a Dragon went, he laid waste to the land. They did not concern themselves with subjects or the works of lesser creatures; they sought only power and the booty that testified to their triumphs.

All Dragons lived in lairs of some form, returning in a way to the womb-like earth from which they came. They spend an inordinate amount of time in these underground (or underwater) abodes, reclining on beds of treasure. Even when active, they rested or slept for ten to a hundred hours on end. During hibernation, a Dragon might sleep for a thousand years. Many a Drake had slept so long that chunks of his treasure became imbedded in his armored scales.

Dragons could mate but, like other monsters, they had no inclination to form unions or reproduce. Only an outside will could compel them to produce offspring. In a sense, then, Drakes had to be bred.

When Dragons did mate, they followed elaborate courtship rituals. Males made the invariably long journey to their mate's home, where he combatted any rivals or pretenders. He subsequently engaged in dance, a stormy but acrobatic display of frightening frenzy. Mating followed and might last as long as ten days. The male then departed for 10-100 years. Six months or so later the female laid 1-10 eggs in a hatchery pit deep within the earth. After another six months passed, the newly-developed young used their sharp horns to break out of their tough, leathery shells and began their lives in Arda. Those that were perceived to be weak, however, were eaten by their mothers.

Drakes subsisted on virtually any kind of food. They could consume anything from meat to mithril, swallowing as much as a thousand pounds in a single gulp. When they fed, it was often in the form of an unbroken orgy of consumption lasting two to forty days. During this time, they slaughtered and ate herds of cattle or wild Lassanakûni. Their unusual metabolism enabled them to store most of this food and allowed them to hibernate with impunity.

Virtually immortal, Dragons had never been known to die of old age or disease. They grew and aged though, getting larger and in many cases slower with the passing years. Their enchanted blood got increasingly caustic and corrosive, while their armor got thicker and tougher and their horns got longer and more heavily ribbed. In time, a Drake's overlapping scales became almost impenetrable, and even their relatively soft underside became capable of deflecting all but the best of weapons.

However, Drakes had a flaw in their defenses. Known as a "birth spot," it was an imperfection of unknown origin or purpose which some chroniclers attributed to the wrath of Eru. Here, scales failed to develop. With the exception of the Dragon's eyes, it was the only vulnerable point on the creature's body. If found by a lucky opponent (e.g. Bard the Bowman), this flaw could spell the Drake's doom.

Of course, just getting close to a Dragon was a considerable feat. Dragons had gigantic, multi-rowed teeth and claws as hard and sharp as a lance-head. Some had whip-like tails that could bash or slash an opponent to death in a single, precise sweep. Others had huge bat-like wings that could stir the air into a spout or drive it into a galing wind. Those that possessed breath weapons, like the fearsome Fire-drakes, could use this wind to enhance the strength and speed of their flames — flames that could scour a whole valley in minutes.

The Dragon's horns were special tools used for boring and dueling. Their size and rib pattern symbolizesd a Drake's power and denoted his stature in the hierachy of the species. These horns were essentially unbreakable. Prized for their value as musical instruments and bow-making material, they could be ground to produce a host of enchanted potions. In a strange way, they embodied the strength and magic of these exceptionally special creatures.


The Dragon-kind had their own language, Dragon-Speech, a dialect originating in the Melkian language of Angband.

Dragons of The North

see stand alone article : Dragons of The North

A Genealogy of the Dragon Kind