The will to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and the desire to sit on the Iron Throne, were present in the members of each and every house of Westeros. But they were not able to do so. Nobody challenged the authority of the Targaryens for just one reason: Dragons. In the 10th episode of “House of the Dragon,” Daemon told Rhaenyra that dreams didn’t make them kings; dragons did. The Targaryen Prince was of the opinion that a King’s reign could only be successful if the people feared him. Daemon considered his brother to be an incompetent ruler and his reign to be feckless. Now that was Daemon’s perspective, and people could choose to agree or disagree with it. But one thing that couldn’t be denied was that dragons gave the Targaryens an upper hand. However, there was a downside to it as well. Dragons were like modern-day nuclear bombs. If two nations engaged in nuclear warfare, the impact would be felt across the whole world. In the same way, it was said that when dragons went to war, kingdoms were reduced to bones and ash. Daemon was a reckless man, and he didn’t understand that his actions could have unprecedented consequences.
In the 10th episode of “House of the Dragon,” we saw that Rhaenyra was skeptical about taking her dragons to war because she was a sensible woman who was well aware of the destruction, they were capable of causing. A lot of discussion in the Black faction was about how they would tackle Vhagar, the largest surviving dragon during the civil war. The deadly beast was feared by all. Everybody knew what she was capable of. Some thought that Vhagar was invincible, but a few believed that if the correct strategy was applied, then the she-dragon could be defeated. It was sort of ironic that in a male-dominated society, a she-dragon was capable of determining the fate of the two factions. So, let’s take a look at the dragons who were introduced or talked about in the first season of “House of the Dragon” and where they stood in comparison to Vhagar.
Book Spoilers Ahead
Balerion, Meraxes And Vhagar
We never see Balerion, the dragon that was ridden by Aegon I Targaryen, in the series “House of the Dragon,” but we do see his huge skull in the Red Keep. Apart from the physical features, there were many other reasons why people called Balerion the Black Dread. It was said that the pernicious beast was so huge that its shadow covered an entire town in darkness. Balerion was one of those few dragons who had the potential to overpower Vhagar. Balerion, together with Vhagar and Meraxes, fought alongside each other during Aegon’s conquest. They were the three oldest dragons that helped the Targaryens establish their dominance over the Seven Kingdoms. Vhagar was ridden by Queen Visenya and then, later, by Baelon the Brave, followed by Laena Velaryon and Aemond Targaryen. Meraxes was ridden by Queen Rhaenys Targaryen. Aegon had got the pseudonym of a Conqueror, and Balerion’s presence had contributed to it in a huge manner. The power dynamics would have been very different if Balerion had still been alive during the Dance of the Dragons. He would have been the most promising adversary of Vhagar.
Vermithor, a.k.a. The Bronze Fury was unclaimed during the reign of Viserys I Targaryen. In the 10th episode of “House of the Dragon,” we saw that Daemon went to the dragon pit to probably claim it. Vermithor was a huge dragon, and the Blacks needed him by their side to tackle Vhagar. According to the accounts of R.R. Martin, Vermithor was claimed by Ser Hugh Hammer, and he fought for the Blacks in the Battle of Gullet. Together with Vermithor, even Silverwings (the she-dragon ridden by Alysanne Targaryen and then later by Ulf White) went to the Battle in the Gullet and wreaked havoc on the enemy ships. Vermithor was of considerable size but still much smaller than Vhagar and Belarion. Though it would have been a very challenging and uphill battle, we believe Vermithor would have stood a chance against Vhagar if backed by clever tactics.
Meleys was another old she-dragon who was ridden by Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in season 1 of “House of the Dragon.” Meleys could move swiftly through the air, and it was said that she could easily outrun Vhagar because of its comparatively lighter weight and smaller size. We caught a glimpse of the dragon that was earlier ridden by Alyssa Targaryen in the 9th episode of the “House of the Dragon” when Rhaenys was trying to escape King’s Landing. Meleys was not as ferocious as Vhagar, but it was said that the dragon could take a lethal shape and form when provoked. Meleys had the experience of war, and the way she roared at Alicent Hightower and Aegon II Targaryen, she made her intentions very clear. Meleys made the Green faction realize that just because they had Vhagar, it didn’t mean that they could win the Battle. According to archmaester Gyldayn, Meleys had the potential to put up a good fight against Vhagar, and if things went in her favor, she could possibly defeat her too.
Caraxes and Syrax
Caraxes, a.k.a. Blood Wyrm, and Syrax, were ridden by Daemon Targaryen and Rhaenyra Targaryen, respectively. Daemon was an experienced campaigner, and so was his dragon. Caraxes was an old dragon, and he was as ferocious as his rider. He was claimed for the first time by Aemon Targaryen. It was said that the Blood Wyrm was a formidable opponent on the battlefield and had an incessant urge to burn anything that stood in its way. We saw the beast during the Battle of Stepstones when Daemon rode on it and wreaked havoc on the forces of the Triarchy. Though Caraxes was half the size of Vhagar, it was believed that it could get the better of him. The two beasts came in front of each other above the Gods Eye, where an aerial battle was fought between Daemon and Aemond Targaryen. Syrax was named by Rhaenyra after a Valerian goddess. She was not as experienced as Caraxes or Vhagar, but had a menacing presence that made her a daunting opponent.
Sea Smoke, Moondancer And Sunfyre
Sea Smoke and Moondancer were comparatively younger and smaller dragons. Sea Smoke was claimed for the first time by Laenor Velaryon, and Moodancer was ridden by Baela Velaryon. The Blacks knew that in the case of a conflict, they couldn’t match the might of Vhagar, but though they were smaller in size, they were much quicker through the air and could be used strategically for different purposes. The Sunfyre, ridden by Aegon II Targaryen, was considered to be the most beautiful dragon to have ever existed. Sunfyre, together with Vhagar, faced Meleys in the battle at Rook’s Rest. Meleys couldn’t survive the double attack, and Sunfyre, too, was heavily injured in the combat. Aegon’s sister-wife, Helaena Targaryen, rode Dreamfyre, the dragon that was earlier ridden by Rhaena Targaryen.
Arrax, Vermax, and Tyraxes
Vermax, Arrax, and Tyraxes also belonged to the same category of young and nimble dragons. They were ridden by Rhaenyra’s sons, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey. In the 10th episode of “House of the Dragon,” we get to know the sheer size and strength of Vhagar when she comes face-to-face with Arrax. Lucerys had gone to Storm’s end to deliver a message to Borros Baratheon, asking him to abide by the oath and fight alongside his mother, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen. But Aemond had already reached there and persuaded House Baratheon to be their ally. Aemond chased Lucerys once he came out of the court. Arrax felt intimidated when a colossal shadow was seen gliding through the rain and lighting. Vhagar ripped Arrax and Lucerys into pieces. The news of the catastrophe reached Dragonstone. The Blacks always knew what that flying assassin was capable of. They never expected that Vhagar would be present at Storm’s End. Given an option, Rhaenyra would have slain the beast with her own hands. But she knew that she couldn’t let her emotions drive her. She knew that to kill the formidable beast, she would have to put in a great amount of effort and additionally hope that the odds were in her favor.
Probably in season 2 of “House of the Dragon,” we will get to witness the epic showdown between Caraxes and Vhagar. It was said that Vhagar’s roar made the dead shiver in their graves. About a century later, a princess named Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen renamed the ships that were sent to her from Pentos as Vhagar, Meraxes, and Balerion, to proclaim that the dragons had once again returned to the world. Though Vhagar died during the “Dance of the Dragon” (according to the book “Fire and Blood”), her legacy lived on, and people remembered her as a fury that once ruled the skies.