The Dragon Prince

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The Dragon Prince
Also known asThe Dragon Prince: Mystery of Aaravos (season 4–present)
Genre
Created by
Written by
  • Aaron Ehasz
  • Justin Richmond
  • Devon Giehl
  • Iain Hendry
  • Neil Mukhopadhyay
Directed by
Voices of
  • Jack DeSena
  • Paula Burrows
  • Sasha Rojen
  • Jason Simpson
  • Racquel Belmonte
  • Jesse Inocalla
ComposerFrederik Wiedmann
Country of originUnited States
Canada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes45 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
ProducerLauren Topal (S1–2)
Running time25–33 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkNetflix
ReleaseSeptember 14, 2018 (2018-09-14) –
present (present)

The Dragon Prince, also known as The Dragon Prince: Mystery of Aaravos following the release of the fourth season, is an animated fantasy television series created by Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond for Netflix. Produced by Wonderstorm and animated by Bardel Entertainment, the first season premiered on September 14, 2018. The second season premiered on February 15, 2019 and the third season premiered on November 22, 2019, concluding the first saga of the series. Following a three-year hiatus, the fourth season premiered on November 3, 2022 and started the series' second saga. The fifth season premiered on July 22, 2023. The sixth season is set to premiere in 2024. The series has been renewed for a seventh and final season that will bring the series to its conclusion. The series has earned critical acclaim for its story, themes, vocal performances, animation, and humor.

Set in a fantasy world on the fictional continent of Xadia, the story centers on the human princes Callum and Ezran and the Moonshadow Elf Rayla, who seek to end the thousand-year-old conflict between the human kingdoms and the elves whilst taking care of the infant Sky Dragon, the Dragon Prince.

Synopsis[edit]

Background[edit]

The continent of Xadia is rich in magic derived from six primal sources: the Moon, Sky, Sun, Earth, Ocean and the Stars. The dragons, elves, and humans of Xadia once lived in peace until the humans, unable to utilize primal magic naturally, began to practise dark magic. This newfound power was gifted to them by the ancient Startouch Elf Aaravos, which allowed them to draw in and utilize the life essence from magical creatures to manifest their spells.[1] As a consequence, they were driven away to the western half of Xadia by the dragons and elves, and the continent was split in two. Seven centuries later, Aaravos' machinations to cause further conflict between dragons and elves are exposed, resulting in his incarceration under the supervision of the King of the Dragons and Archdragon of the Sky, Avizandum, through an enchanted mirror. Three centuries later, the human King Harrow of Katolis and his advisor, the dark mage Lord Viren, kill Avizandum. Viren then steals the egg of his unborn heir, the Dragon Prince; however, the world comes to believe that the egg was destroyed.

Book One: Moon[edit]

In retaliation for Avizandum's death, Moonshadow Elf assassins enter Katolis in an attempt to assassinate Harrow and his son, Crown Prince Ezran, and the former is killed. Ezran and his elder half-brother Prince Callum, unaware of the king's death, are confronted by the young assassin Rayla and together they discover the Dragon Prince's egg fully intact. Together, the trio undertake a dangerous mission to travel to Xadia and return the egg to its mother, the queen of the dragons, in an effort to end the conflict between the humans and elves. Hoping to take the throne of Katolis for himself, Viren tasks his children, Soren and Claudia, with hunting down and disposing of the princes whilst their maternal aunt, General Amaya, seeks to return them to Katolis and have Ezran ascend the throne. Callum, Rayla and Ezran successfully reach the Cursed Caldera on their journey east where the Dragon Prince's egg hatches, and Azymondias "Zym" is born.

Book Two: Sky[edit]

Callum, Rayla, Ezran and the newly hatched Prince Azymondias leave the Cursed Caldera and embark on a journey across the sea towards the border between the human kingdoms and Xadia. With the conflict at the border intensifying, Amaya goes into battle against the Sunfire Elves led by their champion Janai. Viren attempts to persuade the other human monarchs to go to war against Xadia, but they all decline. However, Viren forges a secret alliance with the imprisoned Aaravos through the mirror that he had stolen from Avizandum. After reaching a town near the border, Soren and Claudia catch up to Callum, Rayla and Ezran, but after a confrontation with a young dragon, Soren becomes paralyzed and Claudia later uses dark magic to heal him. Ezran discovers that his father has been killed and leaves the others to return to Katolis and assume the throne and Callum successfully forms a connection with the Sky arcanum, allowing him to cast sky magic at will. In an attempt to scare the other monarchs into action, Viren, with Aaravos' help, summons elf-like shadow creatures to attack the other kingdoms and the Katolian high council soon arrests him. Callum, Rayla and Azymondias successfully reach the border but are confronted by Sol Regem, the blind Archdragon of the Sun, who has a strong hatred for humans.

Book Three: Sun[edit]

Callum and Rayla manage to escape from Sol Regem and develop a romantic relationship during their journey to the Storm Spire/Sky Nexus, the home of Azymondias' mother, Queen Zubeia,. Ezran returns home and assumes the throne of Katolis. However, after the other human monarchs are attacked by Viren's shadow creatures, Ezran is manipulated into abdicating after refusing to go to war and flees. Viren is released from prison and leads the combined human armies across the border whilst continuing to receive aid from the deceitful Aaravos. Amaya is defeated by the Sunfire Elves and taken prisoner, and Viren is able to infiltrate the Sunfire Court and kill their queen, Janai's elder sister, and invade their capital of Lux Aurea, corrupting it with dark magic. Ezran reunites with Callum and Rayla, and together they reach the Storm Spire and ally with Amaya, Janai and the Sunfire Elf army while Soren, shocked by his father's actions, soon joins them. Following a confrontation at the base of the Storm Spire, Viren's army is soon defeated by the elves and their allies whilst Rayla kills Viren by throwing him and herself from the Spire's summit but is saved by Callum who uses sky magic to manifest wings. Together, they reunite Azymondias with his mother, and the humans and elves temporarily end their conflict. Sometime later, having survived the battle, Claudia retrieves her father's body and uses dark magic to resurrect him.

Book Four: Earth[edit]

Two years later, relationships between the elves of Xadia and the human kingdoms have begun to improve. Having taken two years to resurrect Viren, albeit only for thirty days, Claudia is convinced by Aaravos that he can permanently extend her father's life if he is freed from his prison. Callum, now the High Mage of Katolis, and King Ezran reunite with Rayla, who spent two years searching for confirmation of Viren's demise. After Zubeia and Azymondias arrive in Katolis, the dragon queen informs the others of Aaravos' dark history and fears his return. Callum, Rayla, Ezran and Soren begin a new quest to recover key information about Aaravos' prison that was previously divided amongst the Archdragons to prevent his escape. Together they journey to Umber Tor, home to Rex Igneous, the Archdragon of the Earth, while Viren, Claudia and her Earthblood Elf boyfriend Terrestrius head there themselves, guided by a homunculus created by Aaravos. Janai, now queen of the Sunfire Elves, lives with her people in a refugee camp and soon proposes to Amaya, despite how many of her people fear it will damage their cultural pride. She later defeats her brother Karim, who wishes to maintain the histories and traditions of their people, after he challenges her to a blood duel. Callum and the others meet with Rex Igneous within Umber Tor but are confronted by Viren who, with Claudia's help, is able to recover the map to Aaravos' prison that was engraved onto Rex Igneous' fang before escaping.

Book Five: Ocean[edit]

Claudia and Terrestrius use the map stolen from Rex Igneous to guide their way towards Aaravos' prison but are slowed down by Viren going into a comatose and later catatonic state after using dark magic for the first time since his resurrection. Callum and Rayla reunite with Amaya and head to Lux Aurea's great library and learn that the Novablade, a weapon that can kill Aaravos, is held within the Starscraper. During their escape from the city, Zubeia is infected with dark magic, causing her to slowly succumb to its corruption. In Amaya's absence, Karim, who had been banished from the Sunfire Elf domain, summons the Bloodmoon Huntress to steal a sacred Sun Seed from Janai, intending to use it to heal Sol Regem's vision and lead the Sunfire Elves against the humans. While this effort is thwarted by Amaya on her return, one of Janai's generals betrays her and gives Karim the Sun Seed, as well as an army of defecting Sunfire Elves. Callum, Rayla, Ezran, and Soren find the creator of Aaravos' prison, who tells them of the prison's location in the Sea of the Castout. During their journey there, the group steal a trio of baby Glow Toads from the notorious pirate Finnegrin who pursues them across the sea and Callum forms a connection with the Ocean arcanum during their fight against him, allowing him to cast ocean magic at will. The group eventually arrive at the prison's location and are confronted by Claudia, but during a brief confrontation Rayla cuts off one of her legs, forcing Claudia to retreat, and the group retrieve a giant pearl that holds the prison within. After awakening from his catatonia on the final day of his life, Viren has an epiphany and decides to accept his fate out of remorse for his actions which led Claudia down a dark path.

Voice cast and characters[edit]

  • Jack DeSena as Prince Callum: Ezran's older maternal half-brother[2] and King Harrow's stepson. He becomes the first human to freely wield primal magic and develops a romantic relationship with Rayla.
    • DeSena provides vocalizations for Bait: An extremely grumpy Glow Toad attuned to Sun magic, and the animal companion of Callum and Ezran. He has the magical ability to emanate a ray of bright sunlight which varies in color depending on his emotional state.
    • DeSena also provides vocalizations for Prince Azymondias / "Zym": An infant Sky Dragon, son of King Avizandum and Queen Zubeia, and the titular character of the series.
  • Paula Burrows as Rayla:[3] A teenage Moonshadow Elf assassin who teams up with Callum and Ezran in order to deliver the Dragon Prince back to his mother. In time, she and Callum begin a romantic relationship.
  • Sasha Rojen as Crown Prince Ezran:[4] The son of King Harrow and Queen Sarai, and Callum's younger maternal half-brother who has the telepathic ability to speak with and understand the thoughts and feelings of animals.
  • Jason Simpson as Lord Viren:[5] King Harrow's closest advisor and the High Mage of Katolis. A practitioner of dark magic, he seeks the advancement of the human race and their dominance over Xadia by any means necessary.
  • Racquel Belmonte as Claudia:[6] Viren's daughter, Soren's younger sister and a talented dark mage, like her father, who is loyal to him regardless of his ambitions or actions.
  • Jesse Inocalla as Soren:[7] Viren's son, Claudia's older brother, and a loyal member of the Katolian Crownguard. While boastful and immature, he is a skillful and good-hearted soldier.

Episodes[edit]

BookSagaTitleEpisodesOriginally released
1The Dragon PrinceMoon9September 14, 2018 (2018-09-14)
2Sky9February 15, 2019 (2019-02-15)
3Sun9November 22, 2019 (2019-11-22)
4Mystery of AaravosEarth9November 3, 2022 (2022-11-03)
5Ocean9July 22, 2023 (2023-07-22)
6Stars92024 (2024)

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The series was first announced on July 10, 2018 by co-creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond.[8][9] Ehasz was the head writer and co-executive producer of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a longtime writer and story editor for Futurama, while Richmond co-directed the video game Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.[10] Giancarlo Volpe, a former director for Avatar, is an executive producer.[10]

The Dragon Prince is produced by Wonderstorm, a multimedia production studio co-founded in 2017, by Ehasz, Richmond, and Justin Santistevan to work both on The Dragon Prince and a related video game,[10][11] and animated by Canadian studio Bardel Entertainment. In November 2019, several female former employees of Riot Games and Wonderstorm accused Ehasz of asking his female employees to take care of his children without permission and not taking women's creative ideas seriously.[12] Although one anonymous accuser speculated that this could affect the show's continuation,[13] Netflix renewed the show and all seven seasons of the saga will be produced.[14]

Style[edit]

The Dragon Prince is created using three-dimensional computer animation. A reduced frame rate was applied to the first season to offset "floatiness";[15] the frame rate was adjusted for the second season in response to fan feedback.[16] Backgrounds are done by a mix of 3D-modeling and hand-painting.[17]

Writing[edit]

The ending of season 2 was changed from the original plan in order to stay true to what the characters would choose.[18] According to Ehasz, one of the creative team's fundamental goals regarding The Dragon Prince is "to portray a fantasy world that feels more diverse and representative than fantasy worlds and stories we've seen in the past."[18]

Release[edit]

The Dragon Prince is available on the streaming service Netflix, in all territories where the streaming service is available.[19] The first season was released on September 14, 2018.[9] Episodes were released simultaneously, as opposed to a serialized format, to encourage binge-watching, a format which has been successful for other Netflix original series.[20]

A trailer was released in July 2018 at the San Diego Comic-Con.[9] The first season premiered in September 2018. A second season, announced in October 2018,[21] was released on February 15, 2019.[22] The third season was released on November 22, 2019. At the virtual ComicCon@Home 2020 panel "Zoom into Xadia", the continuation of the show over four more seasons was announced.[23] Season four was released on November 3, 2022.[24]

In March 2023, a teaser image for the fifth season was released which announced a Mid-2023 release window.[25] Season five was released on July 22, 2023.

In November 2023, at Netflix's Geeked Week virtual event, a teaser for the sixth season was released which confirmed a 2024 release window.[26]

LGBT themes and representation[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Before the release of the show's first season, during the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2018, it was revealed that the series would contain LGBT characters in it; however, no details or characters were provided to avoid spoilers.[27] On the day of the first season's release, Wonderstorm issued a statement regarding the show's handling of diversity, where co-creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond described the importance of telling a story with diverse characters in it, which is something they are passionate about.[28] To achieve their goal of creating a diverse world and characters, it was decided that they would accomplish this through a variety of methods, with some examples singled out being the inclusion of racial diversity, the portrayal of non-typical family structures, as well as people with disabilities.[28] Alongside these forms of representation, the representation of LGBT characters was also singled out.[28]

Regarding The Dragon Prince's diverse representation, it was stated that with some characters their arcs would "play out in ways that clearly demonstrate their difference or representation right away", but that with other characters their status as minorities would be "part of their identity, but not yet a part of their plot or storyline".[28][29] Following the release of season 1, it was theorized that an unnamed elf that appears in the end credits illustrations of two episodes—dubbed "Tinker" by fans—was Runaan's boyfriend.[29]

Season 2[edit]

The second season of The Dragon Prince included the show's first instance of LGBT representation. The Queens of Duren—Annika and Neha—appear in flashbacks set prior to the show's beginning and are depicted as a couple, sharing a kiss on-screen;[30] they appear in two out of nine episodes.[31] Vice noted how the series' creators have "acknowledged their commitment to making sure [the show] doesn’t use the "bury your gays" trope.[32]

Despite this statement, in a pre-release review of the season, Michal Schick of Hypable discussed how the show's representation of these characters would likely cause debate, given that they can be viewed as falling under the "Bury your gays" trope.[33] While Renaldo Matadeen of Comic Book Resources also acknowledged how the depiction of the Queens of Duren can fall under the "bury your gays" trope—also acknowledging fan complaints regarding this—he still praised the show's depiction of an openly lesbian couple.[30] Similarly, The Mary Sue's Caroline Cao argued that while their depiction adheres to the "bury your gay" trope, there are still positives to be found within these characters.[34] Heather Hogan of Autostraddle also expressed mixed feelings towards the characters, acknowledging the characters as having positive attributes, but lamenting them already being dead by the time the story begins.[35]

Following the second season's release and the show's future in terms of LGBT representation, Ehasz stated that there are more characters—including main characters—that are "non-straight".[36] Regarding any future LGBT relationships presented in the series, Ehasz stated that they often let the characters lead them to where they will go next, including any potential relationships that might occur.[36] For this reason, he described revealing a character to be LGBTQ+ as "challenging", as they do not want to give the impression to the audience that these characters will go on to be in a same-sex relationship, but also acknowledged that LGBT characters and relationships are underrepresented in media.[36] Both Ehasz and Richmond stated that under the right circumstances, and with enough time to tell the story, they would like to explore their queer characters more and have their "identities manifest in relationships and in the story"[36]

Season 3[edit]

The third season introduces Ethari, who is Runaan's husband.[37] This season also introduces Kazi, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, but this is only revealed outside of the story through the show's Twitter account.[38] According to lead writer Devon Giehl, the writers intended there to be romantic interest between Amaya and Janai that starts at the end of season 3, and confirmed that both characters are lesbian who like each other.[39]

In a pre-release review of season 3, Inverse's Jake Kleinman criticized the show's LGBTQ+ representation, arguing that despite its initial promise, The Dragon Prince has never truly delivered on said promise.[40] He criticized how the first season lacked any on-screen representation, while in season 2 the Queens of Duren only appear in flashbacks and are killed off.[40] While Kleinman viewed the representation of Ethari and Runaan as an improvement, given that both characters are still alive by the end of the season, he found fault with Ethari's minimal role in the story.[40]

Season 4[edit]

The fourth season makes the romantic relationship between General Amaya and Queen Janai official in the premiere via engagement, which the former happily accepts. Both characters continue to play an important role in the story. Furthermore, Claudia's Earthblood elf boyfriend Terrestrius/Terry is revealed to be transgender.

Reception[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of 12 critics gave the first season a positive review; the average rating is 8.2 out of 10, with the consensus reading "Magically intriguing, The Dragon Prince is a captivating fantasy adventure that has strong character development and a solid storyline."[41] 100% of seven critics gave the second season a positive review; the average rating is 8.4 out of 10.[42] 100% of eight critics gave the third season a positive review; the average rating is 8.8 out of 10.[43] 100% of six critics gave the fourth season a positive review.[44]

In an advance review of the first episode, IGN's Aaron Prune praised the series for "comfortably exploring dark story elements while giving audiences an assortment of lovable characters to engage with" and described it as a "worthwhile animated series for audiences of all ages."[45] Reviewing the first three episodes, Alex Barasch of Slate was also positive towards the series, saying that despite the "slightly shaky animation and some markedly shakier accents", fans of fantasy or Avatar: The Last Airbender will like it. Barasch especially praised the show's inclusivity—such as King Harrow and Ezran, who are both black—and Harrow's relationship with Viren, which he described as "most compelling aspects of the show".[46] Also reviewing the first three episodes, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw of The Daily Dot similarly reacted positively to the show's racial inclusion, writing that it "combines goofy humor with a solid basis for longterm storytelling and character development, the character designs show a deep affection for the genre". However, she criticized Rayla's accent as "the worst part of the show", along with the scarcity of female characters.[47] Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media described the series as a "captivating fantasy tale" with positive themes and broad appeal. She also argued it was a "beautifully rendered epic animated fantasy", noted that characters kiss, said that the series is "brimming with mysticism, action, and suspense", and said it has similarities to Avatar: The Last Airbender and its spinoff sequel Avatar: The Legend of Korra.[48]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2020 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Children's Animated Series Delna Bhesania, Tina Chow, Aaron Ehasz, Richard Grieve, Clint Kisker, Justin Richmond, Justin Santistevan, Giancarlo Volpe Won[49]
Outstanding Music Direction and Composition Frederik Wiedmann Nominated[49]
2023 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Kids and Family Programming - Animated The Dragon Prince Nominated
2023 Leo Awards Best Animation Series The Dragon Prince Nominated[50]
Best Performance in an Animation Series Jason Simpson Nominated[50]
Best Performance in an Animation Series Sasha Rojen Nominated[50]
Best Art Direction in an Animation Series Edison Yan Nominated[50]
Best Direction in an Animation Series George Samilski Won[50]

Other media[edit]

Graphic novels[edit]

  • Through the Moon is a graphic novel written by Peter Wartman, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma and published by Graphix on October 6, 2020.[51] Set between the third and fourth seasons, it follows Rayla's attempt to enter the Spirit World at the Moon Nexus to find out what happened to her missing parents, Lain and Tiadrin, and her guardian Runaan.
  • Bloodmoon Huntress is a graphic novel written by Nicole Andelfinger, illustrated by Felia Hanakata and published by Graphix on July 19, 2022.[52] It was first announced in March 2021.[53] Set before the events of the television series, it follows a young Rayla after her parents leave her to assume their duty and her attempts to rescue a young Skywing elf during a Blood Moon.
  • Puzzle House is a graphic novel written by Peter Wartman, illustrated by Felia Hanakata and published by Graphix on August 1, 2023. It was first announced at the Dragon Prince panel at San Diego Comic-Con@Home in 2021.[54] Set before the events of the television series, it follows Soren and Claudia as they investigate the residence of Viren's former mentor Kpp'Ar, known as the Puzzle House.
  • Dreamer's Nightmare is an upcoming graphic novel written by Nicole Andelfinger, illustrated by Felia Hanakata and is set to be published by Graphix. It was first announced at the Dragon Prince panel at New York Comic Con in 2023.[55] Set before the events of the television series, it follows Callum and Ezran's attempts to quell a storm that is causing nightmares to haunt the town of Noct.

Novelizations[edit]

  • Book One: Moon is a novelization of the first season written by Aaron Ehasz and Melanie McGanney Ehasz and published by Scholastic on June 2, 2020.[51]
  • Book Two: Sky is a novelization of the second season written by Aaron Ehasz and Melanie McGanney Ehasz and published by Scholastic on August 3, 2021.
  • Book Three: Sun is an upcoming novelization of the third season written by Aaron Ehasz and Melanie McGanney Ehasz and is set to be published by Scholastic on October 1, 2024.

Video game[edit]

Concurrently with the series, Wonderstorm began developing a video game in 2019 under the working title Project Arcanum. Based on the series, it will expand on its plot and feature several playable characters. It will be a cooperative action role-playing game, but not an MMO.[56] In November 2023, at the Netflix Geeked Week virtual event, the first gameplay trailer was shown under the new title The Dragon Prince: Xadia. It is set to be released on iOS and Android devices and Windows PCs in 2024.[57]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Callum's Spellbook is a trade paperback book written by Tracey West and published by Scholastic on March 3, 2020.[51] It acts as an in-universe notebook written from Callum's perspective during the events of the first three seasons.
  • The Art of The Dragon Prince is an artbook written by Aaron Ehasz and published by Dark Horse Books on August 18, 2020. It features behind-the-scenes information and concept art for the first three seasons.
  • Tales of Xadia is a tabletop role-playing game that was published by Fandom Tabletop on March 29, 2022.[58] It began its playtesting stage in 2020, with pre-orders having been opened in February 2021.[59][60] The game features various storylines and original characters set in the established Dragon Prince canon that tie into the main television series.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ @aaronehasz (September 16, 2018). "Brothers relationship" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Paula Burrows at IMDb
  4. ^ Sasha Rojen at IMDb
  5. ^ Jason Simpson at IMDb
  6. ^ Racquel Belmonte at IMDb
  7. ^ Jesse Inocalla at IMDb
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