Warning: This article contains discussion of violence, depression, incest, and suicide.
Obviously, we're walking into 🚨SUPER SPOILER🚨 territory here, so please don't proceed unless you're ready for a breakdown of the book House of the Dragon is based on.
Fans have been whisked back into the fictional world of Westeros with HBO's new series House of the Dragon.
First, Fire & Blood has a defined beginning, middle, and end. Unlike Game of Thrones, which left showrunners to their own devices after it outpaced the story from the novels, House of the Dragon has been plotted out for us ahead of time.
And Fire & Blood was written from the "perspective" of an archmaester who collected historical texts across Westeros and Essos. As we all know, history is written by the victor, and sometimes, it is inaccurate.
The book is written more like a synopsis of historical events and traces the Targaryen lineage over hundreds of years, rather than being written as a conventional novel. This also means the showrunners can fill in little history between the lines as they see fit.
With all that in mind, I know many of you like spoilers.
🚨🚨So here's a second warning for you. Turn back now if you don't want spoilers from the book Fire & Blood.🚨🚨
Also, I'm going to be throwing A LOT of names at you. Be prepared. Here's a little family tree to help you along the way.
So, without further ado, here is where House of the Dragon is heading over what I would assume would be several seasons, based on Fire & Blood.
Fire & Blood actually starts much earlier than House of the Dragon, chronicling Aegon I's conquest of Westeros and the succession and lineage of the Targaryens for hundreds of years.
As shown in Episode 1 of House of the Dragon, "The Old King" King Jaehaerys I outlived his heir and son, Prince Baelon Targaryen. So, there was a succession crisis. Prince Baelon's eldest son (and the king's grandson), Viserys I, was chosen by the Great Council. He was chosen over King Jaehaerys' granddaughter, Rhaenys. It was here that we see precedence set by skipping over a female Targaryen to anoint a male heir.
Fast forward several years. King Viserys I is now having a succession crisis of his own. The king was blessed with his daughter Princess Rhaenyra, but tragedy hit his family hard. King Viserys I's wife, Queen Aemma Arryn, suffered through multiple stillborns and miscarriages, leaving the king with no male heir and only a daughter.
After Queen Aemma dies, King Viserys I finally names Princess Rhaenyra as his heir.
However, King Viserys I would remarry a year later to Alicent Hightower (the daughter of the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, and Princess Rhaenyra's best friend). By Episode 2 of Season 1, we have basically reached this point. As you can see in the show, this is the beginning of the end of their "bestie" days.
At an anniversary tournament set up for the king and queen, Princess Rhaenyra wore the Targaryen colors of black and red. Queen Alicent wore a green gown. From then forward, it became custom to call the Queen's party the Greens and the Princess's party the Blacks. And so the split began.
It's also important to mention that the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, hated the king's brother, Daemon. Daemon Targaryen is a great warrior and was wed first to Rhea Royce. When she passed away (or as the show adapted it, he murders her), Daemon was wed to Lord Corlys Velaryon's daughter Lady Laena Velaryon (the daughter of Queen Who Never Was). He and Laena then had two kids (twins), Rhaena and Baela Targaryen.
Princess Rhaenyra was wed to Laenor Velaryon (the sibling of Laena) to strengthen her place in the succession since both Laenor and Laena have Targaryen blood via their mother, The Queen Who Never Was.
Unfortunately, Laenor would be murdered some years later under very suspicious circumstances. In the novels, he is killed by his lover Ser Qarl. However, the show has put a twist on this, allowing Laenor to escape with Ser Qarl after faking his own death. His sister Laena also died, but due to complicated childbirth. In the show, we see Leana "dracarys" herself after birthing complications. However, in the text, she is said to have tried to make it to Vhagar but ultimately died before reaching her fabled dragon. At this point, the two widowers would wed. Princess Rhaenyra married her uncle, Prince Daemon. They had two sons, Aegon III (also called Aegon the Younger) and Viserys II.
Rhaenyra and Alicent, who were best friends in their youth, had grown apart for years. Alicent fully bought into her role as Queen, and was enraged that Rhaenyra (allegedly) had three bastard children. The father of those children, Hardwin Strong, would be murdered in a suspicious fire. In the book, the true cause of the fire is never revealed (although Daemon is a prime suspect). However, in the show, we see that Larys Strong set the fire ablaze using his agents of chaos. This positions Larys to be the head of Harrenhal, with both his brother and father dead. It also gives Larys some power of Alicent.
So now that we have the players in place, let's get to the Dance of the Dragons.
The Small Council, who I'll now call the Green Council, tried to hide the death of the king by not reporting it right away. Aegon II, who married his sister Helaena and had three children, Jaehaera, Jaehaerys II, and Maelor, would be the new King. He was crowned in the dragon pit while the realm was unaware of King Viserys I's death. Rhaenyra, who was pregnant and at Dragonstone during this time, was unaware of everything that happened as well. In the show, we see it played out a little differently.
When Rhaenyra found out about the treachery of her half-siblings, she gave birth to a stillborn out of agony and pain. She blamed this on the Greens, and swore vengeance. When a truce is sent from Queen Alicent, Rhaenyra is not interested in bending the knee.
The series also adds a bit of a twist here. Rhaenyra appears to be open to the truce, sent from Alicent, rather than wanting to rush to war. The prophecy her father bestowed upon her, the Song of Ice and Fire, plays a central role in the series. However, it isn't soon after that Rhaenyra chooses a path of vengeance instead.
Rhaenyra is then crowned Queen on Dragonstone with the stolen crown of her father. She also created her own council — the Black Council.
To kick things off, the plan was for Daemon and his dragon Caraxes to fly to Harrenhal, which they would take as their base of operations for Queen Rhaenyra. Then Lord Corlys Velaryon, the Master of Ships who is known as the Sea Snake due to his extensive naval experience, would block off imports to King's Landing by placing a fleet in Blackwater Bay.
Lucerys would travel to Storm's End to try and recruit the Baratheons to his mother Queen Rhaenyra's cause. However, when he got there, he was met by Aemond, who was there doing the same for his brother, King Aegon II. Lord Borros Baratheon refused to let the two Targaryen kids fight there, however, Aemond would follow Lucerys once he left Storm's End.
Once Queen Rhaenyra learned of her child's murder, she promised revenge and her husband Daemon would be instrumental in carrying out this vengeance. I'm excited to see Season 2 pick up here.
Queen Helaena, ashamed to look at Maelor after this event, slowly went mad with depression. She and King Aegon II stopped sleeping together at this point, and the king turned to alcohol and anger in response.
With a dead prince on both sides, the Greens and the Blacks were even more enraged.
King Aegon II would become disillusioned with his hand, Otto Hightower, and dismissed him, naming Ser Criston Cole as his new hand. Cole would be more strict in dealing with perceived friends or allies of Queen Rhaenyra.
Let's pause for a moment here.
Amidst all this fighting and bickering is the Kingdom of the Three Daughters. Also known as The Triarchy, it is an alliance of the Free Cities of Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh. The Triarchy counts Daemon and Corlys as their sworn enemies due to Daemon's past conquest of the Stepstones.
Otto Hightower, before being dismissed as King Aegon II's hand, sent for assistance from The Triarchy. Knowing they hated Daemon for his conquest of them, he made them allies.
Okay, back to the civil war.
The new hand, Ser Criston Cole, starts out pretty ruthless.
It's worth mentioning that at one point, loyalists of the Blacks took back Rook's Rest and tried to kill the grounded Sunfyre. The dragon escaped and wouldn't be seen for a very long time...
When Corlys Velaryon found out his wife was killed, he tried to leave the civil war. However, he was named Queen Rhaenyra's hand in a move to persuade him to stay. To protect the Blacks' youth, Corlys sent Joffrey, his dragon Tyraxes, and Rhaena with three dragon eggs to the Vale of Arryn. Aegon III and Viserys II were placed upon a ship and sent to Pentos, where they were to be protected and fostered by a friend of Daemon and Corlys.
Remember Aegon III and Viserys II were placed on the ship to Pentos, right? Well, warships coming from the Stepstones (called by Otto Hightower) to assist the Greens happened to stumble upon the ship carrying the children. Aegon III escaped on his dragon, Stormcloud, who took him to Dragonstone before it died of its wounds. However, the younger Viserys II only had a dragon egg and he was captured by Admiral Sharako Lohar of Lys. Viserys II was thought to be dead by everyone in Westeros until after the completion of the civil war.
Many more battles took place, and I hope we get to see them all throughout the show (such as the Battle by the Lakeshore... can't wait for that!) However, I'm going to fast forward a little bit to the Greens taking back Harrenhal. Or else you'll be here reading about battles forever.
Since a bulk of the Greens' army was at Harrenhal now, Daemon, his dragon Caraxes, and Queen Rhaenyra with her dragon Syrax attacked the capital. Corlys assisted by taking Blackwater Bay with his navy. The Blacks were able to take King's Landing and Queen Rhaenyra would finally sit upon the throne.
Aemond would spend much time after the taking of King's Landing scorching the countryside in rage while Ser Criston Cole retreated south to meet with Daeron and another squadron of Hightower soldiers, led by Lord Ormund Hightower (the nephew of the recently beheaded Otto).
Soon after, we get the first Battle of Tumbleton. After Maelor and his guard are discovered following their escape from King's Landing, the child is killed by a mob. Enraged, Daeron rode his dragon Tessarion and burned the town down. Next, the plan of attack was Tumbleton, a town full of Queen Rhaenyra supporters.
Of course, this made Queen Rhaenyra weary of the Dragonseeds.
Meanwhile, King Aegon II was disguised and smuggled onto Dragonstone. It was here, while he was still battered and bruised, that Sunfyre would find his old master. Reunited, King Aegon II and his dragon seized the weakly defended Dragonstone as their own. Baela was captured during the fight, which also left Aegon with broken legs.
Now it was Queen Rhaenyra's turn to feel desperate. After learning the Daemon was sleeping with the Dragonseed Nettles, the Queen demanded her head. Instead, Nettles was allowed to escape with the influence of Daemon.
It is said that Daemon leaped from his dragon onto Aemond's, and thrust his sword through the latter's eye. A moment later, both dragons hit God's Eye (a massive lake with an island in the center). Aemond's body was recovered from the lake with the sword still in his eye socket, his body still chained to the dragon. Caraxes also died in the battle, but Daemon's body was never found. He is presumed to have died that day as well, although some believe he escaped and lived his days out with Nettles in secret.
As you can imagine, we're nearing the end of the civil war here. Soon after the death of Daemon and Aemond, King's Landing went full riot mode. Queen Rhaenyra appealed to the Starks of the north for help, who would begin a march down to the capital. The people no longer believed Queen Rhaenyra could hold the city and a cult-like following rose up to destroy it. Queen Helaena killed herself from grief and the city fell into despair.
Meanwhile, the Greens lacked leadership. King Aegon II was still presumed missing, Aemond was dead, and the Hightower army was in shambles. Infighting began and the Greens were attacked by thousands of Black loyalists, setting up the second Battle of Tumbleton.
This time, the Blacks were led by Addam on Seasmoke. They essentially destroyed the bigger but battle-worn and sluggish Greens that had taken Tumbleton previously. Daeron and Hard Hugh were killed, however, Addam was forced to fight their riderless dragons Tessarion and Vermithor. Addam, Seasmoke, Tessarion, and Vermithor all died during or as a result of this battle.
Soon after, Queen Rhaenyra and Aegon III reached Dragonstone...only to be met by King Aegon II and Sunfyre.
So the Greens win!
But not so fast... Queen Rhaenyra's loyalists continue to fight, putting immense pressure on King Aegon II. With Cregan Stark marching south with an army from Winterfell and The Vale sending an army as well, King Aegon began to sweat. But he never faced the armies knocking on his door because he was poisoned before they arrived. So ends the reign of King Aegon II.