So, after vampires, werewolves, demons, and angels, what formerly scary monster will become the next “It” alpha hero of the paranormal romance genre?
I’m going to go with the dragon.
We’ve seen the dragon slowly gaining ground over the last few years. Gena Showalter’s first Atlantis book featured a dragon hero. Deborah Cooke has the Dragonfire series. Now, we have Thea Harrison coming up strong with her Elder Races books.
How did this scaly lizard creature with a bad reputation become a contender for the next big brooding romance hero?
I blame it on Dungeons & Dragons.
Granted, I blame many things on D&D, but this time I really think I have a case. Yes, yes, I know, dragons have been around for a long time, showing up in almost every mythology of the world, but the dragon as we think of it in today’s pop culture is a recent creation.
Pre-19th century, there were two major types of dragons: Western and Eastern.
Western dragons were scary, scaly creatures of doom. They flew around blowing fire and laying waste to whole regions. But as powerful as they were, in the end they were just dumb animals. They may have had an evil bent (witness St. George and the dragon) but they had no intelligence and no magic.
Eastern dragons were a different story. Physically, they were very different from the massive Western dragons, much smaller, with the head similar to a bearded crocodile and a snakelike body that had four short legs ending in clawed feet. They were very magical creatures and amongst other things had the power to shapeshift into human form—and anytime something morphs into human form, you know what that means. In fact, both the Japanese and Chinese Imperial lines claimed dragons amongst their ancestors. They embodied luck, wisdom, and often benevolence.
Both are very nice, but somehow they’re just missing that certain something.
Then come the geeks and D&D, and the Dragon goes big time. They are the massive fire-breathing ferocious predators of the Western myths, but now have magic. And not just magic—they are the magic creature, the one every other being with a lick of sense knows not to peeve off. They are ancient and wise, ferocious warriors who kick everyone else’s butt. They are also surly creatures who really want to be left alone who only get involved if they have to.
In short, your typical PNR hero. Admit it, it’s a match made in heaven.
Some may say zombies are the next thing. Others may argue an expanded shifter universe. I’ll keep my hopes pinned on dragons and eagerly await the next series featuring the winged beasties.
Danielle Monsch is a Romantic Geek Girl Writing in a Fantasy World. Besides torturing her poor, poor editor about her latest story, Dani likes to read manga and watch anime, debate the merits of DC vs. Marvel, and geek out over the latest and greatest romance novel offerings. Catch up with Dani on Twitter @DaniMonsch