Pern and Berk – A Comparison of Dragons

Netflix has the “How to Train Your Dragon” Holiday Special (Can you say ‘Yak-nog’?) and while watching this,  I was struck by the similarity between the concepts of the dragons of Berk and the dragons of Anne McCaffery’s Pern.

Now, I have not read the books so I’m basing this only on the movie of How to Train Your Dragon and books about Pern (I would like to see a Pern movie, but there is no way that it is appropriate for the modern audience).

My basic premise is that the two sets of dragon stories are very, very similar.  In both there are four main types of dragons and a unique (smarter) dragon.

In the Pern series, there are blues, greens, browns, and bronzes as the main dragons.  There are also the queens (golds), but there are never very many of them.  In HTYD, there are gronkles, deadly nadders, monsterous nightmares, and hideous zipplebacks.  There are many other dragons listed in the Viking Book of Dragons, but they are rarely shown.  The exception is the Green Terror.

There are tiny little dragons (whose name escapes me right offhand) in HTYD that are pretty similar to Pern’s fire lizards (even to the point of one of the little dragon’s riding on a Viking’s shoulders at the end of HTYD.

Finally, and the point that really brought this to mind was the very intelligent, smaller, and more agile dragon that appears to be unique in both universes… Ruth and Toothless.

Ruth is the White Dragon (from the book of the same name) of Pern.  He was ‘rescued’ by young Lord Jaxom of Ruatha Hold.  The egg was smaller than any other dragon eggs (laid by Ramoth, Lessa’s gold).  However, the dragon was alive and tried to get out of the extra thick egg.  Jaxom, not trained to impress dragons, broke open the shell and saved the tiny, white dragon.

Ruth is unique in that he should never have been born, but he (of course) is central to the plot line of the third Pern novel.  He is exceedingly intelligent, not only known where he is at all times, but also when he is at all times*.  He is much, much smaller than even a blue dragon (the smallest of the Pern dragons that fight thread), but he is strong.

Also of interest, Ruth, while a male dragon has no interest in sex, which is massively instinctual for dragons.  He understands the concept, but has no interest in competing for a mate.

Toothless, may very well be unique in the HTYD (movie) universe.  No other Night Fury is ever seen.  He is obviously intelligent, capable of fighting from ambush, never missing his shots, drawing, and still being a unique individual with attitudes and personality.  Considering he never speaks, that’s pretty impressive.

He is smaller and more lithe than the rest of the dragons, though perfectly capable of fighting even a monstrous nightmare to a standstill.

As shown in the HTYD holiday special, it also appears that every other dragon (at least in Berk) leaves for the winter mating/egg-laying/hatching season.  Except for Toothless, who goes on another mission while the rest of the dragons are gone.

I don’t think that this is particularly revelatory or interesting, but I was really struck by the similarities.
If any of the above sounds interesting, then check out the movie and the Pern series (start with The Dragonriders of Pern).

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* Pern dragons have the ability to travel ‘between’ which is basically teleportation.  However, with enough knowledge and dragon strength, they can also travel between times, going backward in time.

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4 Responses to Pern and Berk – A Comparison of Dragons

  1. islander says:

    the greens are the smallest fighting dragons on pern, not the blues

  2. midwifetoad says:

    Dragon types come in fours, even in Harry Potter.

  3. Why would you say the Pern series is not appropriate for todays audiances. The people of Pern were from Earth after all. I personally feel that the Pern universe would make a wonderful series of movies but don’t believe Ms. McCaffrey wants that. For anyone who has not read this series of books I heartely reccommend them. I am 70 but still enjoy watching the Berk cartoons as I have always been intrigued by the dragon myth. And as an afterthought I have read all of the Pern novels more than once.

  4. OgreMkV says:

    I have read almost all the Pern novels (several times). I don’t think much of Todd’s style though.

    My point is that the majority of the people in the US seem to want stupid comedy, formulaic comedy romance, or an epic amount of blood and gore, with action so fast that no one can keep track.

    Pern, for all its intrigues and the dragons, is much slower than popular movies today. I would LOVE to see Pern done as movies (as long as it’s not Michael Bay doing them), but they would be either a commercial failure or rewritten so heavily that they would not be Pern anymore.

    Thread is not the kind of enemy that can easily be expressed in a 2 hour movie. Thread is subtle and been going on for thousands of years. It’s difficult to express the changes in life that a long interval brings without the back story that’s easily done in books.

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