Being set in a vast universe of its own, “House Of The Dragon” has a deep history before King Viserys Targaryen took the Iron Throne and a future that we have already witnessed in “Game of Thrones.” It’s hard to fit all the small details from the past and future into one episode, so we’ll try to fill in the gaps and point out all of the major references from the book “Fire and Blood” that we noticed in “House of the Dragon” Episode 2.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Thematically, Episode 2 swings between order and chaos. Viserys had announced Rhaenyra as the heir to the Iron Throne, a decision that caused a stir in the Seven Kingdoms. While some favored the King’s decision, many wanted to raise a concern but were mum due to fear. They were secretly conspiring behind the King’s back and influencing his decision from the shadows so that he would alter his decision. Rhaenyra, on the other hand, was trying to create a new order of things in which a woman sitting on the Iron Throne would seem like the new normal. Though it may take another 200 years for that to happen, where we will see a woman, Queen Daenerys Targaryen, sitting on the Iron Throne and ruling the seven kingdoms. Besides that, many of the references that we came across in Episode 2 were related to the past history of the Targaryens. The makers might have decided to focus on the question of succession, yet the links to the past keep springing up. So without any further ado, let’s explore further.
The opening shot of “House Of The Dragon” Episode 2 depicts the long-awaited antagonist of Season 1, i.e., Craghas Drahar, also known as Craghas Crabfeeder (as he used to feed his prisoners to the crabs). In another continent called Essos, there were many Free Cities, mentioned in Episode 2 quite often. One of these Free Cities was Dorne, the arch-nemesis of the Targaryens. Along the same line were Volantis and three other small cities called Tyrosh, Lys, and Myr, also known as the Kingdom of Three Daughters (as the queens claimed themselves to be daughters of old Valyria). Some years ago, Tyrosh, Lys, and Myr formed an alliance called The Triarchy to fight against Volantis in order to claim the disputed lands called The Stepstones, which had an important trade port from where the fleet of Lord Corlys Velaryon often crossed. The Triarchy levied tolls on the ships passing through the Stepstones, but in time the tolls kept on increasing, which angered Corlys. Being a proud ruler of Driftmark, he probably had decided not to pay the taxes, and thus, Crabfeeder seized one of the ships bearing his flag. Corlys tried to bring the matter of the Triarchy to the King’s council twice. First in Episode 1 and then again in Episode 2, but the King, who was more interested in heirs, marriages, and tournaments, didn’t listen. In the closing shot of Episode 2, we saw Corlys proposing an alliance with the King’s brother, Daemon, who was much more interested in war and bloodshed than the King himself. Together with Daemon, Corlys would launch an attack on Crabfeeder and the Triarchy, which would come to be known as the Battle Of The Stepstones. The battle would certainly become one of the major battles of “House Of The Dragon” Season 1.
Every King needs champions to protect him. However, since the King of the Iron Throne was the lord of the seven kingdoms, they should be bestowed with seven knights who would protect the King with their own lives. The order of these seven protectors of the King was called Kingsguard. The second scene of Episode 2 brought a disturbance of order in the Kingsguard, where the Lord Commander, the legendary Ser Ryam, died after a prolonged illness. His absence had to be dealt with immediately to keep the order in place.
Without much discussion, Rhaenyra chose Ser Criston Cole to fill the place in the Kingsguard because she had already witnessed the glory of the knight during the tourney in Episode 1. In the absence of the real war, the tourneys were held in the kingdom (first initiated by Aegon the Conqueror) to test the strength of the knights who came from all over Westeros to join the Kingsguard. Ser Criston Cole became an undisputed champion in the tourney and also had real war experience that made him a perfect fit for the Kingsguard. However, there was one more reason why Rhaenyra chose Criston Cole. She was infatuated by the glory of the young knight, and if the accounts of the book were followed, then the effects of this one-sided romance would be seen further in the next episodes.
Power Vs. Politics
In Episode 1, Queen Rhaenys, wife of Corlys, pointed out that it’s been 70 years since the death of the Targaryen king, Maegor, and the kingdom hasn’t witnessed a real war or bloodshed since then. Maegor’s successor, Jaehaerys I, much like Viserys, tried to avoid war as much as possible. These two kings preferred diplomacy over war, but true Targaryens were born conquerors, not talkers. The distinction between a calm and peace-loving Viserys and a hot-blooded Daemon will indeed be witnessed more and more in the upcoming episodes.
The kingdom is rotting from within, and a foreign power has risen in power, yet Viserys is much more concerned about marriage and merry-making. His laid-back attitude towards the threats might create a rift between him and his daughter Rhaenyra. The actions of Viserys will eventually portray him as a weak king not fit to rule (as he is really being cut by the throne quite often). In times of uncertainty, the kingdom is bound to be divided between those who believe in a show of force and those who prefer to settle disputes in court. Corlys is the first to express his distrust of the sitting throne, having tried to warn the King about Triarchy in two episodes, both times being ignored and neglected by the King’s council. Corlys is a self-made man, a warrior among the warriors, who will not sit silently and witness the loss of fleets, which eventually leads to his decision to make an alliance with Daemon, the man with actual combat experience and a “living” dragon.
The Destruction Of Valyria After A Dream
The ancestry of the Targaryens traces back to the great city of Valyria, which was destroyed by fire (some accounts suggest a massive earthquake leading to volcanic eruptions around which the city was built). In 114 BC, twelve years before the Doom of Valyria, the insignificant lords of the city, the Targaryens, sold away all their withholdings and took shelter in Dragonstone. A maiden named Daenys the Dreamer had seen the destruction of the city in her sleep. The Doom of Valyria took away all the pure Valyrian blood, along with a fleet of more than a thousand dragons, leaving behind only one family of Dragonriders, the Targaryens. Since then, dreams, dragons, and prophecies have played an important role in the Targaryen empire. We even witnessed a miniature of Great Valyria in King Viserys’ private chamber, which he had designed himself. He probably designed that miniature based upon the accounts of old maesters and other historians who wrote about the glory of Valyria in their texts. So, even though Viserys wasn’t much of a warrior, he was well-versed in history and literature. He had even designed a miniature of Aegon’s dragon, Balerion, which he accidentally dropped in Episode 2. Viserys was the last one to ride Balerion before the strongest dragon in the world took its last breath in 94 AC.
Temple Of The Seven
At the end of Episode 1, the hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower, had sent a raven to the old town that was the center of the Faith in Westeros. The Old Town was ruled by one of the noblest houses in the realm called the Hightowers; hence both Otto and his daughter, Alicent, can be deemed as faithful followers of the Faith. In Episode 2, Alicent takes Rhaenyra to the Temple of the Seven in King’s Landing (the structure that was also depicted in “Game of Thrones”). The scene that took place under the roof of the Temple of the Seven highlighted one important fact: while Alicent was a true believer in “the Faith,” Rhaenyra, on the other hand, had a very thin inclination towards it. “The Faith” is going to play an important role in the upcoming episodes, mostly because Viserys has announced Alicent as his queen. The Faith will probably support the children of Alicent in their claim to the Iron Throne, thereby robbing Rhaenyra of her rights. As Rhaenys rightly said in Episode 2, men would do anything in their power to keep a woman away from the Iron Throne, and the seeds of such chaos have already been sown.
The rivalry between the two people, one being a supporter of the Faith while the other being a dragon rider, will also be covered in detail in the upcoming episodes. As per the historical accounts, the followers of the Faith had always believed in dealing with situations with wit and cunningness, as evident through the actions of Otto Hightower. The Targaryens, on the other hand, believed in the display of dragons and power. The difference and hatred between the two sects could better be understood from a scene where Rhaenyra courageously arrived at Dragonstone on her dragon, Syrax, and demanded the dragon egg from Daemon. Otto, on the other hand, had stepped back in fear as soon as Daemon’s dragon snarled at them. Otto and men like him always knew that they couldn’t take the throne from the Targaryens by force or power (until the dragons were alive), and thus they had to use their wits to fulfill their desires.
Corlys and his wife, Rhaenys, wanted a direct link to the Iron Throne and had been trying to grab that opportunity since the times of Jaehaerys. The old King had lost both his sons, and Rhaenys, being the daughter of his eldest son, Prince Aemon, had the right to the throne, but the King’s council didn’t want to put a woman on the Iron Throne, and that was how she got the name “The Queen Who Wasn’t.” When the council showed their disinterest in a woman claiming the succession of the Iron Throne, Rhaenys came up with another argument. She was pregnant with the first child of Corlys, and she claimed that it was a son. As per the laws of succession, Rhaenys’s son would have had a better claim to the throne but was denied her rights once again. Later, the baby turned out to be a girl whom they named Laena.
Corlys, like the Targaryens, had pure Valyrian blood running in his veins, but he was not a dragon rider that shunned his or his family’s chances of being a ruler on the throne, which was the reason why he wanted his 12-year-old daughter to marry Viserys in order to get a member of his family to be considered as an heir to the throne, a desire that he had in mind. However, while Viserys was walking with Laena in the gardens, she told Viserys that her mother had told her that she wouldn’t have to sleep with the King until she was 14. It was probably a reference to the fact that Queen Aemma died while giving birth. The maesters believed she had a lot of miscarriages throughout her life because she was bedded too soon.
Besides Aegon’s dragon, Balerion, or the Black Terror, there was another fierce dragon that was ridden by his sister-wife, Queen Visenya. Throughout generations, the dragons were passed on to the successors, and that was how princess Rhaenys got Vhagar after her father’s untimely death. As per the books, Vhagar was passed from Rhaenys to Laena, but there was no mention of it in the series. Laena was very interested in Vhagar, but Episode 2 suggested that the dragon had made its nest near the Narrow Sea. Thus, if Laena or Rhaenys do not own Vhagar, the dragon may be resting peacefully, but it will return, as we saw in the trailer for “House Of The Dragon,” where Aemond, the one-eyed and dragonless, attempted to mount on Vhagar.
The Hint Of A Love Triangle
Daemon had stolen Dreamfyre’s egg to give it to his mistress, Lady Mysaria, whom he claimed was pregnant with his child. In the book, Lady Mysaria was indeed pregnant with Daemon’s child, but she lost the baby during a sea voyage after Viserys ordered Daemon to banish his mistress. However, in the series, Mysaria wasn’t pregnant, and Rhaenyra saw through his lies immediately. It is even suggested in the book that Daemon and Rhaenyra were fond of each other’s company, and he would often bring her gifts from his travels, something which we saw in the first episode as well. It is entirely plausible that Daemon is in love with his niece, but he probably doesn’t care for his own feelings, as his desire for power overshadows it. The stage is set for their relationship to go through a fair share of twists and turns. We know that despite Rhaenyra’s soft spot for her uncle, she definitely favors Ser Criston Cole. How this ‘love triangle’ (for lack of a better term) plays out, remains to be seen.
The creators of the series probably skipped Mysaria’s pregnancy because they didn’t want to complicate Daemon and Rhaenyra’s upcoming affair. The words they shared while standing on the steps of Dragonstone was suggestive of the fact that Daemon is indeed going to get a son, and the mother would be the one we least expect. The question of Rhaenyra’s marriage is already being discussed by Viserys in the trailer of “House Of The Dragon” Episode 3. However, there are too many suitable grooms in line, and Daemon has the slightest chance, despite their previous flirtations.
Rhaenyra, on the other hand, is growing fond of Ser Criston Cole, but this romance might never develop or do so one-sidedly, due to the knight lacking even a single drop of Valyrian blood. The trailer hints at a plotline where their heir to the Iron Throne is in talks about marrying someone. If there is a discussion, instead of strong opposition, it is definitely not Criston. If it must be Daemon, then what happens to Myseria and his wife? Or is it someone else entirely, and if so, what will be their relevance to the story and the ensuing power struggle? “House of the Dragon” is, after all, a story about familial disputes for power. And with these thoughts, we prepare ourselves for more intrigue in the coming episodes where the makers of the show have managed to mesh the book and their own interpretations of the events into a masterful travesty. This might just be the show that replaces the bitter aftertaste of the ending of “Game of Thrones,” with the thrill and awe that the parent show was initially known for.