house of the dragonHBO’s new successor show game of Thrones, has to do with the Targaryen family, so it is not surprising that he digs into their past. But in its first episode, the series already jumps beyond its source material, fire and blood, to reveal previously unknown details about one of the most important characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. And according to the showrunners, the reveal comes directly from George RR Martin himself.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for all eight seasons of Game of Thrones and the first episode of House of the Dragon.]
house of the dragonThe first episode revolves around King Viserys’ eventual choice to name his daughter Rhaenyra as his successor on the Iron Throne of Westeros. This goes against precedent for the kingdom, specifically the decision of the Great Council of 101 AD which solidified in the minds of the majority that male heirs had priority to the crown over female heirs. None of this is news to viewers familiar with the history of the prequel series, but what King Viserys says to his teenage daughter should come as a pleasant surprise to die-hard fans of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Inside the Red Keep, Viserys tells Rhaenyra a little about Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen king in Westeros and the man who united the continent’s seven warring kingdoms into one that could rule. More importantly, Viserys reveals that Aegon first sought to conquer Westeros because he had a vision of the end of the world:
And just as Daenys saw the end of Valyria, Aegon foresaw the end of the world of men. It is to start with a terrible winter, blowing from the far north. Aegon saw absolute darkness riding on those winds, and all that dwells within will destroy the world of the living. When this great winter comes, Rhaenyra, all of Westeros must face him. And if the world of men is to survive, then a Targaryen must sit on the Iron Throne. A king or queen, strong enough to unite the kingdom against the cold and the dark. Aegon called his dream “A Song of Ice and Fire”. This secret has been passed from king to heir since the time of Aegon. And now you must promise to keep it. And to carry it.
This prophecy is unique and important because of its place in the series. While prophecies in modern fantasy stories, especially A Song of Ice and Fire, are often used ironically or as misdirection, this one is presented to us as almost unequivocal truth.
Being positioned alongside Daenys correct prophecy about the end of Valyria, who saved the Targaryen dynasty from the Death that destroyed Valyria and sent them to Dragonstone and Westeros first, Aegon’s dream has a bit more credence. We also know it’s (mostly) true because… we’ve already seen the end. We know that the return of the Targaryens to Westeros and the dragons from him is essential in the fight against the White Walkers and in saving the men of the Long Night. We even know it’s a Targaryen named Aegon who saves, since that’s Jon Snow’s real name. (As a fun fact, this also gives us our second explanation of the series name A Song of Ice and Fire, which most fans normally assume refers to Jon as the son of the Stark and Targaryens, representing ice and the fire).
While all of this sounds like it could be a convenient add-on from showrunners Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, that’s not the case. In an interview with Polygon before house of the dragonAt the premiere of Condal, he confirmed that this specific dream came directly from Martín.
“That actually came from [Martin], at least the origin of that point,” said Condal. “He told us so early in the hall, just as he does, he casually mentioned the fact that Aegon the Conqueror was a dreamer who saw a vision of the White Walkers coming through the wall and sweeping the land with cold and darkness. […] So, with his permission, of course, we infused that into the story because it was a great way to create resonance with the original show.”
This is already a huge reveal about one of the most important characters in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe, but with a bit of speculation, it’s also easy to see how this could give us a clue as to the ways Martin’s book ends for the Serie. could deviate from the one we saw on HBO game of Thrones.
According to Viserys, to save the world, all of Westeros must be united against the threat from the north and a Targaryen must sit on the Iron Throne. Both are vaguely pointed out by the HBO series, but aren’t really true. Neither Dany nor Jon is really on the throne when the Long Night comes, and the final battle at Winterfell really only involves a small force rather than all of Westeros.
If Aegon’s prophecy is correct, and it turns out to be in the books, then we may be able to see either Jon or Dany (notice Viserys says king either queen) take King’s Landing and the Iron Throne long before the Long Night comes. It also means that we could see the army of the dead march much further south, threatening Westeros much more than in the series.
For now though, like most A Song of Ice and Fire questions, we’ll just have to wait for the books to find out if any of this works. But at least this little dialogue proves that house of the dragon has more new information to share with viewers and hardcore fans than its status as a prequel and fire and blood could suggest adaptation.
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