Category Archives: Top Ten Lists

Top 10 Orc Species Cameos

From their humble beginnings fighting Beowulf to their most famous debut in Middle-Earth, I’m listing my top 10 orc species cameos in literature, movies, and games.

As I formed this list, I came to realize that the orcs of Middle Earth would be #1 on my list because they invented the “modern orc”, but I’ve decided to put them in a different place and give other appearances a fair chance. This list will be Tolkien-free and if you want to see what I think of his orcs, you can check out a list dedicated to the top ten orc chieftains of Middle Earth here.

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 The well-known orcs are Sauron’s Uruks and Saruman’s Uruk-hai, but that hardly does justice to the variety. Nothing beats the ferocious war machine that Saruman created beneath Orthanc, or the hundreds-of-thousands of orcs that laid siege to Minas Tirith and that’s not including the orcs of Moria, Gundabad, Minas Morgul, Angmar, the Misty Mountains, or Morgoth’s original orcs of Angband… *cough* all beaten by some hobbits *cough*… As I stated earlier, I’m giving the other cameos a chance.

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#10 Grendel

(Beowulf)

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While not a modern orc, Grendel deserves to be mentioned because he is one of the earliest literary creatures that was described using the word “orcnéas” which would become the name of the orcs envisioned by Tolkien and other modern authors.

A beast said to be descended from Cain himself, Grendel terrorized the countryside and ate many people in the mead-hall of Heorot. Ironically, those people went to the mead-hall to eat and drown their worries away.

He squared off with Beowulf and held his own until Beowulf ripped his arm off, mortally wounding him. Beowulf tracked him to his cave, where he killed Grendel’s mother as well. I put Grendel here because it’s hard for the noobs to compete with the original orcnéas and someone has to give the other guys a fighting chance.

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#9 Magic: The Gathering

(Wizards of the Coast)

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The orcs found in this collectible card game are few and far between. The original cards portrayed them as cowardly and hiding behind hordes of goblin servants, but in more recent times, the orcs show off their more powerful side in Sek’kuar the Deathkeeper and Zurgo Helmsmasher.

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#8 Dungeons and Dragons

(TSR)

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In the beginning, the orcs were two dimensional creatures with a single purpose: to grant experience to adventures with whom they fought. Then, decades later, they could be the adventurers. These orcs are based heavily on Tolkien’s orcs and they were originally considered a subspecies of goblin.

The orcs of the famous D&D are cannibalistic, but prefer aggressive expansion into the territories of men and elves. Their chief deity Gruumsh cleats that the orc is the top of the food chain.

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#7 The Elder Scrolls

(Bethesda Softworks)

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Savage brutes? Sure. In their early days they often rubbed the other races of Tamriel the wrong way. When the Empire beat them back countless times, the orcs submitted to the Emperor and have been admitted into the Empire as fellow citizens. While not as “cultured” as other races, the orcs enjoy the company of humans more than humans enjoy the company of elves.

What is most notable about the orsimer is that they are fantastic rank-and-file soldiers and blacksmiths. They are an evolutionary step up from raging hordes and wooden clubs.

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#6 Might and Magic

(New World Computing)

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The the world of Ashan, a war began between humans and demons. In order to match the demons in strength and raw power, human wizards fused demon blood with human flesh creating the the orcs. The orcs were ultimately successful in driving back the demonic hordes, but when the war was done, they were sent to do menial tasks as slaves of the humans. They rebelled and began forming their own clans. The weakest orc will make the strongest of men quake with fear.

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#5 Warhammer/Warhammer 40K

(Games Workshop)

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These orcs are tough, they are cunning, but they are not intelligent. Their society revolves around the need for constant war. They are allied with the goblins for two purposes it seems: to use them as shields and to use them as a snack.

They worship two gods named Gork and Mork (not Robin Williams’ Mork). These gods are brutally cunning and cunningly brutal and if you ask an orc which is which, he won’t have a clue.

Now fast forward 40,000 years (or something) and the orcs have proven themselves intelligent enough to build spaceships, vehicles, and firearms. Maybe their god Mork really IS Robin Williams…. nanu nanu orks of the future!

#4 Heroscape

(Milton Bradley)

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The orcs of Horoscope hail from the prehistoric planet Grut. They are blue-skinned, which is a shade of orc not previously used. They are a bit shorter than humans, but make up for that in strength and courage to ride a tyrannosaurus rex or velociraptor into battle. I give them an A+ on animal mount choice.

#3 Warcraft

(Blizzard Entertainment)

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The orcs of Warcraft originated on the planet Draenor, but were enslaved by the demons of the Burning Legion and sent through the Dark Portal to Azeroth to destroy the humans. One epic war after another saw the destruction of many lands, but the humans eventually defeated the orcs and destroyed the Dark Portal.

Their connection to their demon lords severed, the orcs, under the command of Thrall, began to rebuild their society and ever allied themselves with the humans and night elves for a time to defeat the invading Burning Legion and their undead armies.

Much can be said about these orcs since Blizzard has gone to great lengths to make the brutish orcs into a full society to be explored. These orcs are known to ride wolves, bats and wyverns into battle and are long-time allies of the Jamaicans….I mean trolls with Jamaican accents… yeah.

#2 Discworld

(Terry Pratchett)

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We finally move out of the raging hordes and bloodlust and find the orcs bred from humans for the Great War. These orcs are nearly extinct, with only one ever being named in the series: Nutt. What peaks my interest in these orcs is that they are no different from you or I. The people of Discworld kept Nutt ignorant of his society and educated him like a normal being. The result: An orc that is not a soulless killer as is usually believed in fantasy. In fact, an educated orc has a heightened sense of honesty and morality.

#1 Earthdawn/Shadowrun

(FASA)

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The number one iteration of the orc is actually a subspecies of human and have no trouble breeding with all of the subspecies of human. The orc species as a whole is neither good nor evil. Another interesting factoid is that these orcs began to populate Earth post-2011. They live only 40 years, but are fully mature at age 12. They give birth to litters of 4 orc babies (and you thought twins was rough and rare).

It is now 2015, so the Unexplained Genetic Expression of 2021 is right around the corner. You might just mutate into an orc.

And those are the top ten cameos of the orc species from the brutes to the civilized! From where are your favorite orcs? Subscribe for more fantasy related posts and comment below to share your ideas!

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Reimagination Sensation

Many people wonder where the original inspiration for popular books comes from. The truth as many authors will tell you, it that the original idea has been re-written, re-edited, re-envisioned, and sometimes tossed aside completely. You may have read the published and reimagined versions of these classic stories. These were their original working titles and plots pre-reimagining.

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Hairy Potter: The story of a caveman that discovers ceramics, which sets him at odds with his aunt and uncle, who believe that his work is nothing more than mud-pies and magic.

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The Wheel of Thyme: The epic adventures of a famous chef who dies midway through his ridiculously long cookbook series, but don’t worry, another chef will step up to finish the books.

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Poke a Hauntess: The story of a sex predator who friends a vengeful Native American ghost girl on Facebook.

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Lorde of the Rings: A young singer and songwriter and her tennis court team endeavor to become royals through glory and gore. The Lorde of the Rings will not stop until it has created one ringtone to rule them all.

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The Fault in our Star: An epic space adventure of apocalyptic size where the discovery of tectonic plates on the Sun’s crust and an impending super-massive “sun-quake” threatens to destroy the solar system.

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Inheritance Cycle: A Free Rider destroys all the other Free Riders and crowns himself King of all the land. A Young farmer boy discovers a blue stone in the woods and decides he hates poverty and reignites the order of the Free Riders and begins to write himself into the wills of every race he can find, beginning with a prestigious dwarf clan.

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The Princess and the Fog: A promising horror novel where an island kingdom is covered in thick fog and the spirits of the dead return to take revenge on the inhabitants for burning their ship. A Princess kisses the fog in an attempt to break the curse and turn it into a prince.

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Cider Man: A historical fiction based on Isaac Newton’s years at High School. One day, while visiting a laboratory, a radioactive apple falls on his head, giving him the ability to walk on walls and shoot streams of apple juice from his wrists.

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The Red Badger of Courage: King Vortigern must choose what his emblem shall be in the coming war with the Saxons. His wise men tell him that a badger will rally the men better than a dragon would. A young Merlin disagrees. Who will win?

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Churrasco Park: A fun barbeque-themed park turns sour when the reanimated food escapes confinement and begins to eat the tourists.

My Top Ten Orc Chieftains of Middle Earth

Middle Earth is full of dark and dangerous creatures and the most famous is the orc (also known as goblin in Tolkienology). There are several breeds and tribes of these nasties that often exhibit extreme rascism towards each other and other species. In order to keep these fighting machines in line, the powers of darkness find the strongest, smartest, and bravest to lead these endless hordes across the land.

Most of the orcs here are canon from Tolkien’s original works, but a few are taken from the expanded universe. If you are looking for orc cameos in non-Tolkien works, check out the top ten list of orc cameos.

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#10 Gorkil the Goblin King

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Coming it at the top of the list is the goblin king never mentioned in Tolkien’s works. He appears only in The Battle for Middle Earth II (EA Games) and rides a giant scorpion. His forces took control of the Ettenmoors in Angbar and leads the assault against the Elves and Dwarves in the North. In the alternate history of the game, he plays an important role in forming alliances with the dragons and destroying the Shire. He is a non-canonical character of Middle Earth, but his pivotal role in “what could have been” lets him squeeze into this list.

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#9 Glorfimbul

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Glorfimbul hails from Mount Gram of the Misty Mountains and led a war against the Northfarthing of the Shire in the year TA 2747. Since the rangers of the north were busy fighting so many goblins, Glorfimbul was able to reach the Shire with his entire host of goblins to pillage the peaceful hobbits. Glorfimbul’s moment of fame appears in a brief conversation between Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins as it was this particular chief that was killed by Bilbo’s ancestor Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took. According to the narrative, Bullroarer knocked Glorfimbul’s head off with a wooden club, sending it flying a hundred yards and down a rabbit hole. The war was one by the hobbits that day and the game of golf was invented.

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#8 Uglúk

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Without doubt, Uglúk is Saruman’s most trustworthy captain. After raiding the Wold and capturing Merry and Pippin, his company ran into a company of Sauron’s orcs that also wanted the halflings. Uglúk was undeterred, and continued on his journey to Isengard with his prisoners by the shortest route possible. With the Fellowship on his tail and dissenting orcs of Mordor in tow, Uglúk nearly succeeded in delivering Merry and Pippin to Saruman, but was killed by Éomer and the Rohirrim. In Peter Jackson’s film adaptation, Uglúk becomes the captain of the orcs after the death of Lurtz.

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#7 Shagrat

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Shagrat was captain of Cirith Ungol and led the patrol that found and captured the poisoned Frodo Baggins. Had it not been for Samwise’s wise choice to take the Ring from Frodo’s lifeless body, Shagrat would have discovered his master’s power and Middle Earth would have fallen to Sauron.

After searching Frodo, Shagrat and Gorbag fought over Frodo’s mithril coat, leading to Gorbag’s eventual death and the deaths of nearly every orc in Cirith Ungol. This allowed Samwise Gamgee the opportunity to enter Cirith Ungol and save Frodo. Shagrat fled with Frodo’s things, and brought them to Sauron, who then executed him.

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#6 Gorbag

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Gorbag is the shorter, yet quicker counterpart to Shagrat in Cirith Ungol. He is a Morgul Orc. He inadvertently allowed Sam to free Frodo when he fought with Shagrat over Frodo’s mithril coat. He is killed by Shagrat, who then takes the coat to Sauron. In Peter Jackson’s film portrayal, his and Shagrat’s roles are reversed and he meets his end when Sam sticks him in the back.

I like him over Shagrat partly because he is the more gruesome looking of the two captains. During the feud between orcs, Gorbag kicks one of Shagrat’s black orcs out of a window at the top of Cirith Ungol (in the film), and it is that act that wins him a place above Shagrat.

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#5 The Great Goblin

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The Great Goblin is the King of Goblin-town in the Misty Mountains. He and his subordinates preyed upon travelers and chanced upon Thorin’s company of dwarves. He was a huge and grotesque goblin and enjoyed taunting his victims. He would sometimes eat fish from the underground lake where Gollum lived. Many of his goblins died when Gandalf arrived to rescue the dwarves and he himself was stabbed to death by the wizard.

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# 4 Gothmog

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Gothmog was the Witch-King’s second in command. His species is unknown as he is only mentioned once in the books, but speculation puts him as an orc type of creature. He assumed command of the hosts of Mordor upon the death of the Witch-King. He called for the reinforcements from Osgiliath, a host of men serving the Great Eye. In the film, his role is greatly enhanced, from leading the ground troops against the men in Osgiliath to commanding the legions of Mordor in the siege of Minas Tirith. With a crippled hand, he fought Éowyn and was wounded, then killed while hunting her down.

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#3 Bolg

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Here the characters of the books and movies really begin to change. In the books, Bolg became leader of the orcs after his father Azog died in Moria. He ruled the Goblins of the Misty Mountains from his fortress in Mount Gundabad and led the forces of darkness in the Battle of Five Armies. He was crushed to death by Beorn.

In the Hobbit trilogy, Bolg is his father’s second in command and leads his father’s hunting party through Mirkwood to Lake-town, fighting the dwarves and the elves along the way. He proved himself difficult from Legolas to kill (which is an amazing accomplishment for an orc) and he is the only character to make Legolas bleed.

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#2 Lurtz

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Lurtz was the first captain of the Uruk-hai hunting party that ambushed the Fellowship in Amon Hen. He was created by Saruman to be a deadly force to be reckoned with. He is a Peter Jackson film character only. In the film, he chokes an orc to death upon his birth and is presumed the strongest and smartest of Saruman’s servants. He shoots Boromir three times with arrows, then engages in combat with Aragorn and very nearly decapitating him as well. Aragorn defeats Lurtz by stabbing him in the thigh with his dagger, then cuts his arm off, then stabs him in the stomach, an then decapitating him. To prove how unstoppable he was, he pulled Aragorn’s sword even deeper into his stomach to taunt Aragorn.

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#1 Azog the Defiler

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It was a tough choice between Azog and Lurtz, but Azog wins the number 1 spot, partly for his canonical story, and also for his non-canonical portrayal in the Peter Jackson films. First the canon. Azog was a powerful orc who assumed control of Moria and waged war against the Dwarves. He beheaded Thrór, the former King Under the Mountain, and carved his name into Thrór’s forehead. In the Battle of Azanulbizar, he killed Náin, but was then killed by Náin’s son, Dáin. His son Bolg carried on his legacy.

His life in the film version is quite different. In the films, he survives the Battle of Azanulbizar, but his arm is cut off by Thorin Oakenshield. He returns with a prosthetic hook arm and hunts Thorin’s company of dwarves. Later he is placed in command of Sauron’s forces in Dol Guldur and leads them in the Battle of Five Armies. He nearly kills Thorin and he ambushes and confronts Gandalf in Dol Guldur.

Well there you have it, my favorite orc chieftains of Middle Earth. What orc leaders did you like that aren’t on this list? Comment below if you want to share!

My Top Ten Dragons of Folklore and Fantasy

Nothing in the fantasy world promises more death and terror than the dragon. Legends have painted them in many lights, from the benign to the fire-breathing menaces that we think of when the word dragon is mentioned. In stories they can be both gods and demons, guardians of untold wealth and knowledge. They vary in color and size, and some of them come back from the grave to haunt us, but the broad consensus of dragons is that they are not to be trifled with. Many people survive their reptilian neighbors by sacrificing their virgin daughters to these creatures.

Sadly, fantasy isn’t always kind to dragons. Where hundreds of trained professionals and adventurers have attempted and failed to steal the dragon’s hoard, inexperienced farm boys and apprentices will succeed. So without further ado, I’ll list off the ten dragons that I have enjoyed the most.

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#10 Hungarian Horntail

(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling)

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            At the top of my list comes the most dangerous dragon of the Harry Potter series. Remember how I said fantasy isn’t kind to dragons? The Horntail is the prime example. The Horntail is a tough lady with an equally tough attitude. Unfortunately, this poor soul was captured and sent to Hogwarts as part of the Triwizard Tournament, where he was shamed by the 14 year old main character. The dragon looks fantastic on the big screen and would have eaten Harry if it weren’t for that meddling JK Rowling. The movie was the worse depiction of this dragon’s demise, making her crash into a wooden bridge…

The Horntail makes my list because it is one of my favorites to see in action.

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#9 Toothless

(How to Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks)

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            This little bundle of joy has captured the hearts of countless fans and mine too. Toothless, a Night Fury, is first seen, or rather heard, at night, speeding through the skies and raining explosive balls of blue fire at the Vikings. As the offspring of lightning and death, Toothless forges a loving bond with a human and the two of them have many adventures.

Arguably the fastest dragon on this list, (and the cutest by far!), Toothless and his friend Hiccup (who also happens to be responsible for crippling poor Toothless) destroy Red Death, the super-sized dragon queen, in a one-on-one midair firefight, proving that size doesn’t matter.

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#8 Fafnir

(Volsunga Saga, Norse Mythology)

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            Fafnir was once the son of the dwarf king Hreidmar, but blinded by greed, he killed his father and stole the cursed gold of Anvari and the ring Andvaranaut. He was then transformed into the legendary dragon that we associate his name with. The huge beast poisoned the land around him, but was ambushed by Sigurd.

Fafnir was a legend that defined the iconic dragon and the dragon’s hoard of treasure. He may have even defined the dragon’s role in fantasy as an extremely dangerous yet rather easily defeated creature. In defense of dragons, Fafnir wasn’t born a dragon, so we can give him some leeway for his failure.

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#7 Alduin

(The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda Softworks)

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       This dragon is the self-proclaimed firstborn son of the dragon-god Akatosh of Tamriel. His very name will make you step back and rethink fighting him: World Eater. While he hasn’t eaten any worlds (to my knowledge), he does command the ability to resurrect dragons to terrorize the world.

He was a terror to Skyrim long ago, but the power of the Elder Scroll transported him through time to be dealt with by later generations. He had a cool plan as a dragon: eat people in real life, then eat them in the afterlife. Kinda sucks to be a snack twice!

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#6 Trogdor

(Dragon Email, Strongbad)

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            There are few dragons whose birthplace was on the internet. Trogdor the Burninator is King of them all! Trogdor was a man, a dragon man, a dragon with an epic metal theme song. How many dragons can boast that AND a synthesized voice? He was Strongbad’s second attempt at drawing a dragon and received his own holiday named Trogday.

With one beefy arm and constabulate V’s, Trogdor dominated the land of Peasantry and proved to the world that dragons in 2 dimensions are as scary as those of 3.

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#5 Saphira

(Inheritance Cycle, Christopher Paolini)

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The story of the blue babe of dragons was the first to make me jealous of a main character. Eragon lived out my dreams by becoming a Dragonrider and raising his own dragon from birth. Lucky? I think yes! The bond between rider and dragon would grant the rider physical and mgical abilities that he/she never before possessed.

Saphira is most notable because she becomes the hope of the return of the Dragonriders. No living human had seen a dragon, and Saphira’s bite was worse than her growl, a point she often made clear to her enemies, including rival dragons.

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#4 Hydra

(Greek Mythology)

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            What’s scarier than a dragon? A two-headed dragon,. What’s scarier than that? How about a dragon that has more heads than the vase-painters can paint? “This monster was so poisonous that she killed men with her breath and excretion. If anyone passed by when she was sleeping, he breathed her tracks and died in the greatest torment.” –Hyginus.

While not a traditional dragon of fire and flight, the Greek hydra is a terror to behold and a close enough relative to the others. Heracles discovered Hydra’s true strength when he cut off its head: two heads grew in its place. Needless to say, Hydra became exponentially more powerful with each beheading.

Hydra’s reign of terror did not stop with its death. Heracles used its extremely deadly blood on his arrows to kill many other monstrous beasts of Greek legend.

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#3 Smaug

(The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien)

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            Smaug is the iconic dragon of the western world and his actions earned him his own song. He is greedy, he is vain, and he is King under the Mountain. He single handedly burned the entire city of men and dwarves named Dale.

Smaug describes himself as such: “My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!” He is the fantasy world’s epitome of dragons and he won’t be dethroned, even if he has one weak point.

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#2 Glaurung

(The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien)

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            Even though this picture is a winged dragon of the First Age, it captures the power that is Glaurung, the first dragon of Middle Earth. While only a century old, he burned the kingdoms of Ard-galen and Dorthonion. While not as famous as Smaug, he is by far the deadlier and was given command of orcs and balrogs to ravage the people of Middle Earth.

He possesses a hypnotic stare to freeze his foes and even in death his blood was a poison to his enemies. He is the Father of Dragons and destroying entire kingdoms as an adolescent earns him the number 2 spot on my list. Plus, balrogs bow to him.

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Before I list #1, here are a few favored honorable mentions.

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#1 Leviathan

(Judeo-Christian Bible)

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            The great leviathan gets number 1 and if you ask why, I’ll let Job chapter 41 explain it to you:

7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?

8 If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

9 Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.

10 No-one is fierce enough to rouse him…

12 I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.

13 Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?

14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?

15 His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together;

16 Each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.

17 They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.

18 His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

19 Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.

20 Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.

21 His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth.

22 Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him.

23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.

24 His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.

25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.

26 The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.

27 Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.

28 Arrows do not make him flee, sling stones are like chaff to him.

29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw, he laughs at the rattling of the lance.

30 His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge.

31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.

32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.

33 Nothing on earth is his equal—a creature without fear.

34 He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.

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And those are the dragons that I’ve liked the most in fantasy. What dragons do you like and why? Leave a comment below for your favorite dragons! And give a shout out for Oriental dragons because I don’t know anything about them (and I’d love to find some stories about them).

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Pictures taken from (in order of appearance):

wallpapervortex.com

Harrypotter.wikia.com

Howtotrainyourdragon.com

andrekosslick.deviantart.com

elderscrolls.wikia.com

hrwiki.org

inheritance.wikia.com

turkiish.deviantart.com

lotr.wikia.com

lotr.wikia.com (rubendevela)

absoluteanime.com

wowwiki.com

freemovies.me (D-Wars)

pokemon.wikia.com

vyrilien.deviantart.com

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