To A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones fans the world around, some exciting news has recently drawn some eyes. House of the Dragon, a show centered around the Targaryen Dance of the Dragons, is set to be released on August 21st, and fans are eager to see what the show does with the titular characters.
With so much history to the Targaryen house, there have been a considerable amount of fully fleshed-out characters that have been explored throughout the series. These characters, whether good or evil or something in between, each have fascinating stories that often leave readers pondering which of these Targaryens could be crowned the best of them all.
Jaehaerys The Wise
The longest reigning Targaryen king, Jaehaerys I earned many titles through his 55 years on the Iron Throne, but only one best describes his tenure. As bahookery said on Reddit, Jaehaerys earned the “Longest and most peaceful reign by far.”
Jaehaerys managed to squash the conflict between the Iron Throne and the Faith of the Seven single-handedly through pardons and promises of protection. He also managed to calm tensions with the warring Houses and with the Starks with shows of strength and by granting a great deal of land to the Night’s Watch. By using his dragons, which are surely one of the best weapons in Game of Thrones, as tools of strength rather than war, he managed to bring lasting peace to a land that has hardly ever known it.
Daeron The Good
The king that reigned during the First Blackfyre Rebellion, Daeron’s skill with diplomacy and warfare helped him beat off the Blackfyre threat and unite Westeros with Dorne. “I’d match up Daeron II with Jaehearys,” says Redditor shifa_xx. “Both of them were successors of [poor] rulers and weren’t given the happiest childhood but they still came out to be good adults, good kings, and good fathers all in one.”
It’s this title of “good” that would stay with Daeron through the years, as he is generally remembered for his sense of justice and his good nature. There’s a reason the majority of his realm was peaceful, and it’s why his early death was one of the saddest in Game of Thrones.
Aegon The Conqueror
The Conqueror of Westeros, Aegon managed to use his dragons to completely subjugate an entire realm with his sisters at his side. “He reads like a character from a legend or an epic tale,” says Reddit user Mws23. “I also like that for the most part, he was just. He didn’t just burn everyone up with his dragons, he let those who surrendered swear fealty and raised them as lords and wardens. The man who started 300 years of a Targaryen dynasty.”
Part of the allure of Aegon was, as Mws23 described, his strange sense of justice. Though he was completely willing to slaughter his foes, he was also perfectly happy to keep the realm intact, and it’s a major part of why the Targaryen reign lasted quite as long as it did.
The eldest of the Targaryen conquerers, Visenya aided Aegon in his quest to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Together, she and her family managed to dominate Westeros on the back of dragons, pacifying Houses that had ruled without challenge for centuries. She was suspected of using magic to help along the way.
“She is a really interesting… character. Plus with all this talk about sorcery, there is a big part of mystery around her,” says Redditor Thomaerys, “Without her the Targaryen dynasty wouldn’t have lasted more than 30 years.” As a conqueror, the founder of the Kingsguard, and the proud mother of a King of Westeros that she helped to secure the throne, it is without question that Visenya is a significant reason the realm survived the death of Aegon the Conquerer.
A man with a sapphire for an eye, Aemond was a Targaryen Prince who fought in the Dance of the Dragons. Though headstrong enough to earn the title of kinslayer, Aemond was a skilled warrior who used his dragon without care for the consequences.
Aemond is genuinely remembered for his skill and his brutal accomplishments, not to mention that his death is one of the most visually breathtaking illustrated scenes in the books. As Redditor rowandondarriondayne put it, “Tywin needs 10,000 men to destroy the Riverlands and Aemond does it on his own.”
Few fans don’t know the name Daenerys Targaryen, and for good reason. After the collapse of the Targaryen line, Daenerys birthed three dragons and became a conqueror in her own right. As BrandontheBlessed described, “Aegon the Conqueror had his dragons, the ones that followed him to the throne had the power and wealth. Daenerys had nothing at first, yet she’ll go out as the greatest of them.”
There’s something to be said for accomplishing as much as she did without having even half of the influence that her ancestors did. Even if she deserved a better ending, Daenerys managed to do the impossible, and she is still remembered as one of the best Targaryens because of it.
There were a few key differences between Daemon Blackfyre and the others in the Targaryen line. For one: he was born the bastard son of Aegon IV. Secondly: it’s his story, rather than his accomplishments, that draws the attention of fans.
As Reddit user, Pirao666 says, “Daemon Blackfyre is technically legitimate since he was legitimized, and I’ve always liked his story.” The story, specifically, is Daemon raising House Blackfyre and starting the first in a long line of Blackfyre Rebellions. As one of the best swordfighters in the Game of Thrones books, he fought with the Valyrian steel blade Blackfyre and only lost his life after attempting to prevent a wounded Kingsguard enemy from being killed in the field.
Baelor The Blessed
A king and a priest, Baelor returned hostages to negotiate peace with Dorne, was bitten over half a dozen times by snakes in the process of freeing another hostage, gave food to the poor, and often aided the hungry whenever he could. Though he was cruel to many of the women of the Red Keep, his accomplishments lead many fans to appreciate him.
“You can’t deny the fact that he saved lives beyond counting by ending the war in Dorne, a conflict which probably had a death toll of nearly a hundred thousand,” says Redditor Thenn_Applicant. “No other king ever sacrificed so much for his people as Baelor did.” Given that the man died fasting as a way to absolve the realm of sins, it’s hard to say that he didn’t intend to give his life for his people.
Aemon The Dragon Knight
Aemon the Dragon Knight is not beloved for his accomplishments, so much as he is remembered “for being a paragon of virtue and honor, even in the face of [Aegon the Unworthy’s] twisted lies and jealousy,” says IAmParliament. A member of the Kingsguard, Aemon was an excellent swordsman who managed to carry Baelor the Blessed out of a pit of snakes, after the King tried to free him from confinement.
His death also adds to his legend, as Aemon lost his life defending a king that hated him. The picture of nobility, Aemon’s legend lived on after him, marking him as one of the greatest knights of the Seven Kingdoms in its history.
Though she ruled over a major uprising by the Faith Militant and was forced into a marriage to King Maegor, Rhaena was a woman who was never afraid to fight. She managed to steal the sword Blackfyre from Maegor and deliver it to Jaehaerys, earning his loyalty and securing her place in his reign.
“She was a fascinating person that has one of the most interesting lives of any of the Targaryens,” as Redditor elizabnthe describes. She lived a long life filled with considerable tragedy, but every moment was some of the most fascinating lore in Targaryen history. There’s a reason Rhaena is so well remembered by the fanbase.