In “House of the Dragon” universe, it is said that the Iron Throne was made by Aegon I Targaryen by gelding together the broken and twisted blades of all his enemies-a symbol of the price paid for the conquest of the seven kingdoms. The throne is obviously ugly and uncomfortable, signifying the burden that a King must always carry. Which makes us think, why would anybody want to sit on it? The answer is simple enough: they see the power it confers and ignore the baggage it comes with.
What do they see when they look at the monstrosity that does not even pretend to be beautiful or tender? There must be a sense of exhilaration in knowing that the fallen swords that make the throne give them power over seven kingdoms. One must feel invincible to know that there is no one above them when they sit on this metal demon. Is that why, for a family that believes in superstitions, they conveniently ignore the lore that the throne has a history of rejecting those it deems unworthy? Maegor Targaryen was found dead on the throne, and while there were differing accounts of who did it, it is strongly said that the throne had killed him. Viserys Targaryen continued to suffer throughout his life. The throne spared no one, but that did not stop people from coveting it. It led to more bloodshed than peace from the moment it was created to the moment it was destroyed. Maybe Danaerys Targaryen’s dragon, named Drogon, had a point, after all, when he decided to burn it to the ground. But that wouldn’t be realized for another 100 years, and in the present storyline, Rhaenyra, Aegon, and Aemond are fighting for it.
After watching the 8th and 9th episode of “House of the Dragon” Season 1, it is safe to say that Aegon is clearly unfit to sit on it. He was a coward and a rapist, and such people do not belong in power. Even if that was not the case, he did not wish to rule. All Aegon seemed to want was to spend his time in merrymaking. Of course, he felt his entire life that he was not loved by his parents. We know that Viserys was an old king who was constantly sick. It is possible that he was never able to give his son the guidance and love he needed. Not to mention that in an extremely patriarchal world, refusing to name him heir must have been interpreted as an acknowledgment of his lack of abilities. It did not matter that he actually did not have them. Yes, Aegon acknowledges in front of his brother that he did not have the inclination or the capability to rule, but this was driven by his insecurity due to the lack of faith people had in him and not his own self-awareness. When Alicent tells him that Viserys had told her that he wished for his eldest son to be heir, there is a surprise and a surge of determination on his face. When people cheer for him after his coronation, he raises his sword in the air as if ready for the challenge. It was as if the validation was all he needed to believe that he could sit on the Iron Throne. And that is exactly our point. Aegon II never paid attention to his lessons; he never took anything seriously but was open to flaunting his privilege with none of the responsibility while using the lack of validation from his parents as an excuse for his sorry life. He did not have an iota of self-awareness and just wished to be coddled. Would the Iron Throne accept a king like him? We don’t think we need to answer that.
However, among the brothers, Aemond Targaryen was clearly the better choice simply because he cared. Aemond had confidence and courage, qualities that a King must possess. It showed first when he decided to claim Vhagar for himself as a 10-year-old boy. He wasn’t afraid. Instead, he saw something he wanted and went for it, a quality that reminds us of Aegon I Targaryen, who conquered King’s Landing simply because he refused to be anything less than royalty. Aemond was a deadly swordsman who had an uncannily cool head on his shoulders. After all, which child tells his mother to let go of the person who stabbed him in the eye? He considered it a fair exchange, having gotten a dragon in return. Even at a young age, he had the startling ability to get to the point. The loss of an eye did not stop him from becoming a skilled warrior. Imagine the grit and determination it must have taken. It definitely did not come from either of his parents, which means that he was a person capable of thinking for himself and thinking well.
People who have watched “House of the Dragon” know that he seems to have a certain regard for Daemon Targaryen. He was the most skilled warrior of his time, and for a person like Aemond, who valued strength, that had to have been impressive. At the dinner table, he had no problem starting the brawl, but when Daemon stepped in between, Aemond stepped back. Some might call it cowardice, but we would call it a calculated bet. A king knows when to step up and when to step back. On the surface, it is easy to believe that Aemond would make a great king. But that is not the case. Because he lacks the defining quality of empathy. Aemond knows strength, not kindness. He recognizes the sharpness of a blade but not the gentle touch of forgiveness. He desired the throne because claiming it would reaffirm, not just to himself but to the entire world, that he was better than everybody else. It is one thing to think yourself more deserving than Aegon II, but to think you can do a better job than Rhaenyra? Where did that come from? There is a certain coldness to Aemond, which has always been chilling, even when he was a child. And that is something that can freeze over a kingdom in despair. For that reason alone, he would not make a good king.
Lastly, we have to talk about Rhaenyra Targaryen. We have said time and again that we believe that she did not desire the Iron Throne as much as she desired independence and to escape the fate of her mother. She had kindness in her and a way of standing up for herself. This was probably most evident in “House of the Dragon” Episode 3 when she lets go of the prized stag, not seeing the point of unnecessary bloodshed. Rhaenyra is also the only one who comes to understand the burden of the Iron Throne, the knowledge that is imperative to good governance. She seemed to inspire loyalty in those who did not question her station because she was a woman. Rhaenyra would have been the better ruler of the three of them, but that is because one is making the best out of what they have. She was a good woman, no doubt, but maybe not a good ruler. She was unable to establish the allyship with houses required for her succession, and she also lacked the foresight to estimate the cunningness of Alicent and Otto, despite seeing the signs all around her. Being the heir meant that she had some agency in life, an identity beyond being a wife and a mother. Had she been able to get that otherwise, she might have let the chair go after all. It wasn’t power over the seven kingdoms she craved; it was power over herself, to live the life she wanted to. But that had to remain a dream because losing to Alicent had come to mean losing the life of her and her family. So she fought night and day.
Rhaenyra would have made the best ruler among Aegon, Aemond, and herself. But the best queen would have been Rhaenys Velaryon, who should have been succeeded by Laena Velaryon. They possessed the right wisdom and courage, and the thousand swords of the high-chair would have accepted them. Maybe it was a kindness that they did not have to suffer the consequences of wielding that power. Or maybe the throne just needed its history to play out before disappearing in the fire of Drogon. Either way, we will only know in the coming episodes of “House of the Dragon” what happens to the person who rules Westeros and the effect the chair has on them.