Will 'House of the Dragon' Solve These 'Game of Thrones' Mysteries?
House of the Dragon will be set 180 years before the events of Game of Thrones, but that doesn't mean it's irrelevant to the original series. The prequel spinoff will be self-contained in many ways, but it could still answer some long-standing questions that GoT left behind. Some fans are even hoping that it will shed new light on the original novels, A Song of Ice and Fire.
House of the Dragon is based on George R.R. Martin's most recent book, Fire & Blood, which is written like a history book about Westeros. While that book offers a bird's-eye view of the events, this show will more closely resemble its TV predecessor, shedding new light on the characters and events it covers for both book-readers and TV-only fans alike. It will cover "The Dance of the Dragons" -- a civil war spanning most of Westeros as competing factions of House Targaryen try to sieze the throne.
This may not sound all that relevant to Game of Thrones with its post-Targaryen civil war, its mystical threats from up north and its resurgence of fire magic, but there are a lot of connections to be made. Among the possibilities are explanations about the extinction of dragons, clarification on some characters' bloodlines, new information about the nature of dragon-riding itself and insight on the mysterious maesters.
For those that don't recall, the maesters are the scholars, doctors and messengers of Westeros both in the main timeline and in the time of House of the Dragon. They are generally depicted as dutiful servants of the aristocracy, though the latest ASoIaF novel cast some doubt on that. On top of that, Martin wrote Fire & Blood from the first-person perspective of a fictional author named Archmaester Gyldayn, and he intentionally ascribed Gyldayn biases that effected the way the story was told in the book.
Gyldayn's writings leave many rumors unconfirmed, conclusions open-ended and mysteries alive, just as real history does. In the context of a show, however, these events will be more straightforward, and our answers will be more concrete. In preparation for House of the Dragon, fans are revisiting Fire and Blood to see which questions may finally get answered on screen. Here are some of the top contenders.
'Dreams Didn't Make Us Kings'
In the first teaser for House of the Dragon, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) says in voice-over: "Dreams didn't make us kings, dragons did." This quote may have important implications on several levels. So far, in all of Martin's writings, the only perspective character from within House Targaryen the audience has gotten to know is Daenerys, who was raised separately from the rest of the family. Some fans think that this deprived her of a secret education that only the blood of the dragon was allowed to get, and that we will finally learn more about it in the new show.
Martin's books often mention that members of House Targaryen have a hereditary gift for prescient dreams of the future. It was their ancestor Daenys the Dreamer who foresaw the Doom of Valyria, prompting the entire family to leave their home country and settle in Westeros, making them the last dragon-riders to survive. Martin's Dunk & Egg novellas also feature Prince Daeron "The Drunken" Targaryen, who has at least one prophetic dream in the first story. Fire & Blood and The World of Ice and Fire make reference to several other Targaryens throughout history with a well-documented gift for prophecy.
There are hints that these prophecies are passed down within the family and jealously guarded — perhaps with other remnants of the advanced magic that made Valyria so powerful. In A Song of Ice and Fire book four, A Feast for Crows, Samwell Tarly listens to the delirious Maester Aemon as they travel from The Wall down to Oldtown. Aemon babbles about "dragon dreams," shared ancestral memories and other secrets of his old family. He references not only the prophecies of Azor Ahai, but conversations about it with Rhaegar Targaryen. He wants to go to Daenerys at all costs, believing that only someone from House Targaryen can guide her and give her the information she needs.
This seems to suggest that Aemon knew secrets that were kept exclusively by House Targaryen, but the audience has not learned them yet because they have not gotten inside the perspective of any Targaryens besides Daenerys. Obviously, in this prequel, that will change, so we may finally see what arcane secrets the last dragon-riders keep for themselves. However, as Daemon's dismissive line "dreams didn't make us kings" hints, we may see the early signs of the family dismissing those prophecies, to their detriment.prevnext
The Seed is 'Strong'
"The Blacks" by Enife (Altered by me to more accurately depict Rhaenys, Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey) from r/ImaginaryWesteros
The Dance of the Dragons is, essentially, a war for succession between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Prince Aegon II. It began because King Viserys named his only daughter, Rhaenyra, as his heir, but then remarried and had more children. After his death, his new wife fought for the claim of her eldest son, Aegon, saying that the male heir came first.
Part of the queen's argument rested on salacious rumors about Rhaenyra. The princess was said to have a sexual relationship with her Kingsguard knight Harwin Strong, and the queen argued that Rhaenyra's children were bastards, born with Strong blood rather than that of Rhaenyra's husband, a distant Targaryen cousin.
To borrow a phrase from the main series, "the seed is Strong." However, these rumors are never confirmed, and in Martin's writing it is hard to tell whether they are part of the queen's smear campaign or based in fact. Perhaps House of the Dragon will give us a better idea of whether Rhaenyra's sons, Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffrey belong to House Targaryen or House Strong.prevnext
The Pact of Ice and Fire
Jacaerys Targaryen, Prince of Summerhall from r/awoiafrp
House of the Dragon will not be all blonde-haired dragon-riders, as the whole continent takes part in the war. Game of Thrones fans will be glad to hear that House Stark plays a notable role, with a massive army making its slow way down to the lower kingdoms. Along the way, there is an interesting episode that may get more attention on screen than it did on the page.
House Stark is swayed to join the side of Rhaenyra Targaryen thanks to a visit from her son, Jacaerys. Jace becomes fast friends with the current lord of Winterfell, Cregan Stark, according to Fire and Blood, and we are told they spend weeks hanging out together. During his stay at Winterfell, Jace is said to make an agreement with Cregan called the "Pact of Ice and Fire," in which he promises his firstborn daughter will marry Cregan's heir, Rickon Stark, thus binding his house to that of the royal family. This pact is never fulfilled, and many fans think its echoes are felt later in the main series.
However, less reliable accounts from this time tell us that Jace found his love in Winterfell. He supposedly had a secret wedding with Cregan's bastard sister, Sara Snow, following the northern custom of the Old Gods — meaning it wouldn't even be seen as legitimate in the rest of the realm. If this alleged secret wedding was consummated, as we are told, there may be some dragon-riding blood in House Stark after all.
Meanwhile, one more rumor from this time states that Jace's dragon, Vermax, laid a clutch of dragon eggs in the crypts beneath Winterfell. This tidbit had intrigued fans, though most are still unsure what to make of it, or how it may pertain to the series down the road. We may have to wait for the final two books to get a real idea.prevnext
Nettles and Sheepstealer
Coastal by Kou Takano from r/ImaginaryDragons
The Dance of the Dragons is a particularly epic part of Martin's history because it is the only war in Westeros that features dragon-on-dragon fighting. As such, dragon-riders were the key to power, and as the war got going, the Targaryens began looking for more riders to mount every available dragon.
They turned to the local smallfolk, many of whom descended from Targaryen bastards with some amount of dragon-riding blood in their veins. It was announced that anyone who could mount a dragon and fight for Princess Rhaenyra would be made a noble, regardless of their birth. Many people died attempting to mount one of the un-bonded dragons, but a few succeeded — including a teenage girl named Nettles.
Nettles was dark-skinned with curly hair, suggesting that she had very little Targaryen blood, if any. She had determination, however, and she set her sights on the meanest wild dragon alive: Sheepstealer. We are told that she brought the dragon a freshly slaughtered sheep each morning at its lair until she finally earned its trust. She went on to become a fierce warrior.
Nettles raises a lot of questions for fans that cannot be answered in the context of Fire and Blood. Does her mastery of Sheepstealer mean that Valyrian ancestry is not really necessary to be a dragon-rider, or does it mean that you need so little that you may not look like a Targaryen at all? We are told throughout the series that dragons are not like other animals, yet does Nettles' story tell us that there is some simple way of taming a dragon without the mysterious magic we see elsewhere?
There is also the possibility that Nettles did use magic, and it simply did not make it into Archmaester Gyldayn's account. Either way, House of the Dragon will most likely answer this question in a way that the books could not, and fans cannot way to see how.prevnext
No matter when House of the Dragon starts, we're going to see Vhagar, who lived from pre-conquest to 130... which means HER COLOR WILL BE REVEALED AT LAST.
(We have literally asked GRRM this before and the closest he's committed to is "pale").— History of Westeros (@WesterosHistory) October 31, 2019
Another dragon question that die-hard fans have been curious about is the color of Vhagar, one of the most iconic dragons in this early part of the series. Vhagar is originally the mount of Queen Visenya during the conquest, and goes on to participate in many Westerosi wars up to the Dance of the Dragon. In all that time, however, the color of Vhagar's scales is never specified.
This is odd, considering the descriptions of other dragons in the series. We know that Balerion the Black Dread, for instance, is black and red, looking almost exactly like Daenerys' Drogon. It may be a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but when Vhagar flies into the frame for the first time, many fans will rejoice. It's worth noting that we may also see a canonical depiction of Vhagar first in the upcoming illustrated edition of Fire & Blood, titled Rise of the Dragon.prevnext
The Princess and the Queen by Rich Kelly from r/ImaginaryWesteros
Because of its academic style, Fire and Blood tends to ignore low-born characters, including Alys Rivers, the mysterious witch character from the Dance of the Dragons. Throughout the story, Alys seems to cast spells, see visions and enthrall other characters, including members of House Targaryen, turning the tides of war toward her interests.
Alys first appears at Harenhal, where she is believed to be a woods-witch. Some even say she is much older than she appears, like Melisandre in the main series.
Alys finds herself in a sexual relationship with Prince Aemond Targaryen fighting on the side of the Greens, and the prince acts erratically when he is in her presence. Hopefully, there will be more time to explore Alys and the nature of her powers — if she really has any — in House of the Dragon.prevnext
Nettles and Prince Daemon
Daemon Targaryen, the Prince of the City, with his gold cloaks by Marc Simonetti from r/ImaginaryWesteros
As mentioned above, Nettles and Sheepstealer fight on the side of Rhaenyra Targaryen, and try to match dragonfire with dragonfire. As the fighting picks up, Nettles is paired with Prince Daemon Targaryen, and the two go out looking for rival dragons to take down.
It is rumored that the two develop a romantic relationship in their travels, though this is never reliably confirmed. This would add yet another layer of complication for both characters, especially given their huge age difference. While Nettles is around 16, Prince Daemon is in his 40s at the time of the war. More importantly, Prince Daemon is supposed to be married to Rhaenyra, so this could be a dramatic turn of events indeed.prevnext
Nettles and Daemon's Fate
Rhaenyra Facing her Death by Arthur Bozonnet from r/ImaginaryWesteros
After the war, neither Nettles nor Daemon is ever seen again. Daemon is presumed dead after the Battle Above the Gods Eye, but while the body of his dragon is found, his never is. There are rumors that he ran off to live out his days with Nettles, but again, we will not know for sure unless the show gives more details than the book did.
Meanwhile, Nettles turns her back on Rhaenyra after the princess orders her killed, due to the actions of some of the other low-born dragon-riders. Nettles escapes, and she and Sheepstealer fly off into the Mountains of the Moon. They are later seen living in a cave near the Vale of Arryn. It is even implied that Nettles is worshipped by the clan of wildlings called the Burned Men, who later become vassals of Tyrion in the main series.
We may find out that Nettles and Daemon both lived out their days in these mountains, although it is worth noting that it will not be until later in the series. The Dance of the Dragons is a long story, and hopefully, House of the Dragon will build the dramatic tension for quite some time, just as its predecessor did.prevnext
Septon Barth's Writings on Dragons
If you haven't had the chance, there's a story about Aerea Targaryen in FIRE AND BLOOD which might hint at what's going on with Victarion's arm. Please enjoy this family-friendly image of Aerea in the meantime. pic.twitter.com/SBXCOxitHK— BryndenBFish (@BryndenBFish) July 3, 2019
Finally, many fans are holding out hope that House of the Dragon will give us a glimpse of Septon Barth, or perhaps at least his writings on dragons. The Septon is one of the most popular characters from early Westerosi history, and was the Hand of King Jaehaerys I.
Barth wrote a book called Dragons, Wyrms, and Wyverns: Their Unnatural History, which Tyrion is always searching for in the main series. Most copies of the book were destroyed during the reign of King Baelor the Blessed, but thankfully, the Dance of the Dragon falls between Barth's writing and that purge.
Barth's book may also be the best chance we have of learning more about the most horrifying story in Fire and Blood: the death of Aerea Targaryen. The young princess fled King's Landing on the back of her dragon and was missing for over a year. When she returned she was gravely ill, and Barth tried to treat her for fiery, snake-like parasites living under her skin, but he failed. This is a chapter fans are dying to know more about, and while it predated the Dance of the Dragons, many are hoping to hear more about it as soon as possible.
Check back here at PopCulture.com for updates on House of the Dragon as they are made available.prev