Book readers and hardcore Thrones fans know all about the infamous Dance of the Dragons, the civil war of succession that nearly destroyed the Targaryens, leaving them more vulnerable than ever before.
Like most of George R. R. Martin’s lore, the Dance is full of intricacies, alliances, betrayals, and death. It is one of the most critical events in Westerosi history, a war that changed the continent’s entire future. The upcoming release of House of the Dragon provides the perfect opportunity for non-readers to take a closer look into the war that shook a dynasty to its core.
10 Viserys I Targaryen Could’ve Prevented The Conflict
Westeros remembers King Viserys I as one of the most peaceful and heroic of the Targaryen kings. However, his desire to maintain peace above everything threw the entire realm into a needless war that he could’ve prevented. He appointed his only daughter, Rahenyra, as his heir and kept her even after having many male sons during his second marriage.
Viserys should’ve known that in a place as despicable as Westeros, the legitimacy of a male heir would always come before that of a daughter’s. House of the Dragon can provide more insight into why he stuck by his decision; perhaps they’ll also delve deeper into Rahenyra’s character and show why she was indeed the best option to be Queen.
9 Aegon II Didn’t Want To Be King
Alicent Hightower might be House of the Dragon’s main antagonist. Her decision to go against Viseys’ wishes and place her son, Aegon II, on the Iron Throne kickstarts the conflict. However, Aegon himself was reluctant to become King. He wanted to respect his father’s wishes and uphold Rhaenyra’s place as Westeros’ next Queen.
Alicent convinced him by telling him Rhaenyra would probably kill him to eliminate any doubt to her claim. The series will surely explore Alicen’t psyche, but it should also take time to dig deeper into Aegon’s character. It’s not always that fans see a reluctant King in the world of Westeros.
8 The Dance Had Several Crucial Battles
The Dance of the Dragons is famous among Thrones fans for representing the fall of House Targaryen and providing many glimpses into their time as Westeros’ undisputed leaders. However, it also showcases the mighty dragons that made Thrones such an ambitious and unique show in the first place.
For example, there’s the battle between Arrax and Vhagar–one of the mightiest dragons in the Game of Thrones franchise, ridden by Visenya Targaryen herself during Aegon’s Conquest. The iconic battle between Aemond and Daemon Targaryen and their dragons, Vhagar and Caraxes, is also a turning point in the conflict. These encounters will be one of the House of the Dragon0s main hooks, and the show better step up in portraying them because the dragon fights during the now-infamous “Long Night” episode disappointed millions of fans.
7 Blood & Cheese
Westeros isn’t exactly a pleasant place; indeed, there are many places in the Game of Thrones universe that fans wouldn’t visit. Conversely, numerous despicable characters gave the show a reputation for being one of the cruelest on television.
House of the Dragon will feature two of the most obscure and loathsome figures in the franchise, Blood and Cheese. These two men killed King Aegon’s young son in front of her mother, on orders of Rhaenyra, as revenge for the death of her own son at the hands of Aegon’s brother. The act turned the conflict into a full-blown war and will surely be one of the most pivotal moments in the series.
6 The Starks Remained Loyal To Rhaenyra
It’s a subject of mockery within the fandom that the Starks are honorable to the point of stupidity. Thanks to their naivete and foolishness, Ned and Robb battle for the title of worst Stark, and Jon’s many questionable choices resulted in multiple tragedies, including his death. Still, the Starks are Thrones‘ closest thing to traditional heroes, making it hard for fans to resent their actions.
As expected, The Starks upheld their vows and supported Rhaenyra during the Dance. It’s currently unknown how big of a part they’ll play in House of the Dragons; they might not appear until later seasons, but their help was crucial in helping Rhaenyra secure the North and Riverlands, so they’ll surely appear.
5 Queen Aegon Lost His Mind During The War
Fans of Game of Thrones are no strangers to Mad Kings and Queens, especially when talking about the Targaryens. King Aegon Targaryen lost his mind during the Dance of the Dragons after a fight against Rhaenys Targaryen, one of Rhaenyra’s biggest supporters, left him badly burned and addicted to milk of the poppy.
Aegon’s storyline has the potential to become one of House of the Dragon‘s most compelling while proving the perfect chance for a do-over on the whole “Mad Targaryen King” storyline. Hopefully, they’ll do a better job than with Daenerys, one of the characters ruined by season 8 of Game of Thrones.
4 Flight Of The Dragonseeds
Book readers know the Targaryens, like many other houses in Westeros, liked to sleep around, fathering several bastard children in the process. During a pivotal moment in the Dance, Rhaenyra, in desperate need of allies, offered wealth and titles to whichever bastard could tame the six dragons living in Dragonstone; the ones who succeeded became known as the Dragonseeds.
Game of Thrones is famous for its ever-increasing cast of characters, so fans should expect some of these Dragonseeds to become key players in House of the Dragons. Their stories are intriguing and chaotic, making them a perfect fit for the world of Westeros.
3 Rhaenyra Did Become Queen Of Westeros
Most people in Westeros don’t know it or outright ignore it, but Rhaenyra Targaryen did become Queen of the Andals and the First Men. After her husband successfully tricked their enemies into abandoning the city, the two flew in with their dragons and conquered King’s Landing in a matter of hours.
Rhaenyra’s reign was short, tragic, and frowned upon by the smallfolk. The Blood and Cheese affair and her forceful conquering of the city effectively turned her into the story’s villain. Her journey will be one of House of the Dragon‘s most complex, and fans can’t wait to see how actress Emma D’Arcy approaches the role. On paper, at least, it has everything to make her an Emmy winner.
2 The Targaryen Dragons Died By Human Hands
According to the show and the books, dragons are among the mightiest creatures in Westeros and Essos. They can burn down entire cities in minutes, guaranteeing victory to their riders. However, the Dance of the Dragons proved they aren’t invincible.
Near the end of the war, the citizens of King’s Landing stormed the Dragonpit and attacked the Targaryen dragons. Proving there is indeed strength in numbers, the raging mob succeeded in killing the giant lizards, even if they also sacrificed their lives. This event effectively marks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen, making it massively important for the show; how HBO will possibly do it justice is one of the many questions fans already have about House of the Dragon.
1 The Dance Had No Real Victors
The Dance ultimately turned out to be futile. Rhaenyra would eventually abandon the throne and flee to Dragonstone, only to be eaten alive by Sunfyre, Aegon II’s moribund dragon. However, Aegon’s victory wouldn’t last long. Moribund himself and practically demented, he proved an unsuitable King, and his men poisoned him six months after Rhaenyra’s death.
Rhaenyra’s surviving son, Aegon III, married Aegon II’s only daughter, thus bringing the Dance to its official end. In true George R. R. Martin fashion, neither party won; the war was a waste of time and life, a display of cruelty where everyone lost, especially the Targaryens, who would never be as powerful as they were before the Dance began.