Before the release of the first episode of “House of The Dragon,” we distinctly remember that one of the cast members had said that the show was its own person, and not a complete adaptation of the book. At that point, we were completely stupefied at the audacity of the makers for trying something like that, especially after the epic disaster that the finale of “Game of Thrones” was. George R.R. Martin’s world-building has no place for the mediocre writing of mere mortals. And this is the reason we are holding back our expectations of the show with caution. However, we have to admit that the first two episodes have put us at ease somewhat. While there were variations from the book, they were clever ones that just raised the stakes for the characters and increased the audience’s investment in the show. We are especially looking forward to seeing how the character of Corlys Velaryon develops. He is arguably the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms, and with great wealth comes great politics and zingy one-liners that become a part of pop culture for years to come. After all, the house of dragons is going to play the game of thrones, and they are either going to win or die, with no middle ground.
For the part of “Fire and Blood” that the show is based on, George R. R. Martin said that this is a sketchy record of the history of the Targaryens, as the people recording it were Septon Eustace and Mushroom, the court fool. Their accounts have been in part corroborated by others, enough to know that they are not completely false, despite being based on hearsay and rumors. But the story arc of Corlys Velaryon is based more on economics, politics, and scorned pride through familial ties.
Let’s start with Corlys Velaryon. At one point, his family was the richest in all of Westeros, his wealth surpassing that of the Lannisters of Casterly Rock and the Tyrells of Highgarden. He is still counted among the wealthiest men in Westeros. While the Velaryons are a family of old Valyria, much like the Targaryens, they were never dragon riders, which is the reason they did not sit on the Iron Throne. The Velaryons, however, are a family of sailors, and it is said that nobody in the family took to the sea in the manner that Corlys Velaryon did. He had a zest for life and everything it could offer, which also meant that he was an ambitious man, so he naturally coveted the highest seat of power in all of Westeros. A man like him would hate being answerable to anyone but himself. But that is not possible when you have a King, whose policies and decisions are directly linked to your trade and your station in life.
Corlys Velaryon was something of a master of the seas. He had increased the wealth of his house by leaps and bounds with his voyages across the world. And the Three Sisters, named Sweetsister, Longsister, and Littlesister, were crucial to Corlys’s trade in Westeros. To know some history about them, the islands owe their allegiance to House Arryn of the Vale, though as said by Davos Seaworth in “Game of Thrones,” they are loyal to no one but themselves. Geographically, the Sisters are located south of the White Harbour and north of the Mountains of the Moon. The people there are called the “Sistermen,” and some of them have webbing on their hands and feet, which they call “The Mark.” Ships go between the Sisters and White Harbour all the time. They sell crab, fish, and goat cheese in return for wood, wool, and hides. Beacons burn along the shore to warn the passing ships of danger. Currently, Craghas Dahar, better known as Craghas Crabfeeder, has wreaked havoc, thereby luring the ships into wreckage for their cargo. Some of these ships are under the banner of Vealryon, causing great losses to the house. This was not just beggaring the ports; it is also an indirect loss of repute to Corlys. Craghas Dahar is the leader of the Triarchy, comprising the three cities of Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh. He had captured the Stepstones a decade prior to the events of “House of The Dragon,” and the Crown had turned a blind eye to his activities for the most part. In the first episode, we see that Corlys Velaryon is concerned about the Triarchy’s power over the Three Sisters. We know why: at the beginning of “House of The Dragon” Episode 2.
Corlys was always known to be as adventurous as he was ambitious. He had sailed to Volantis and the Summer Isles, Braavos, and even gone beyond the wall, though he had been unable to find a route around Westeros in the Shivering Sea. He was named the “Sea Snake,” after a ship he had personally designed and built. For a man like him, even the sky isn’t a limit. And he found a worthy wife in Rhaenys Targaryen, a woman who shared his zeal and zest for life and matched his ambitions with her own.
Rhaenys herself, had been termed as “The Queen That Never Was” by the aforementioned Mushroom. She had been passed over as Queen, and her son had been set aside in favor of Baelon’s son Viserys, for succession to the Iron throne after Jahaerys I. This had set an iron precedent in Westeros, that neither female heirs nor the sons and daughters of a female heir could inherit the throne. Mushroom had famously chronicled that there was no difference between Viserys and Rhaenys, except their gender, and it can be safely assumed the Rhaenys never suffered from the bouts of indecisiveness that Viserys was frequently prone to, which would have made her a far better ruler. But it was not meant to be, because, despite all the Lore about Targaryens being closer to Gods, they were just human beings who were trapped in the mindset of the customs and traditions of man. Twice, House Velaryon had been deemed unworthy of the Crown. And once again, when Viserys refused to marry their daughter Laena and chose Alicent Hightower as his Queen.
We know that Westeros is a fictional world with morals that differ from ours. But encouraging pedophilia for power is something we refuse to accept. Laena Velaryon was 12, and it would have been a greater crime to marry her than to reject her. We doubt whether Corlys or even Rhaenys ever cared for their children, or were they just another way for them to achieve what they believed had been denied to them, over and over again. The evident discomfort that Viserys felt at the prospect of talking to a 12-year-old about marriage, was sorely lacking in her parents. We take a moment to think that if Alicent Hightower was not in the picture, would it have mattered to Viserys that he had to marry a child? Probably not, because the audacity of the suggestion by Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen had to be supported by common or acceptable practice. Not once did we hear anybody except Viserys object to Laena’s age. Naturally, this is the third time that Corlys felt slighted by the King. This was just added insult to injury, after the King’s inaction towards the Triarchy’s actions in the Stepstones, which were causing continuous losses to the Velaryon House’s trade.
So he took matters into his own hands, for what he could control. He decided that if the King would not stop the losses to his business, he would do it himself, with the help of Daemon Targaryen. We know from the book that Myseria loses the child in her womb when she is being sent back to Lys on the King’s orders. After the death of his own wife, Daemon marries Laena Velaryon. But in the series, Myseria apparently can not have children. She says that she “ensured long ago that she would not be troubled by childbirth,” which we take to mean that she did something to make sure that she would not have children. It is possible that the story would stay on track, and she would be sent back to Lys. However, in the book, Daemon’s heart hardened against Viserys further when his child was lost at sea. Here, that might happen when Daemon and Lord Corlys join hands to fight the Crabfeeder. We know that there is a long-running relationship waiting between Corlys and Daemon, and this is the start of it. Currently, it remains that Daemon must protect his falling station. So he might just end up turning the situation in his own favor by establishing the basis for a future alliance with House Velaryon now. We must say, though, that Daemon in the book was not someone who could think that far ahead. But the character of Corlys Velaryon might just be the most interesting one yet, and we can’t wait to see his story on screen.
We can say that for this fictional world, Septon Eustace, Mushroom, Martin, and Ryan Condal are writing its history. Very slight deviations from the book, which could lead to a whole other story arc. As said before, we are very cautiously optimistic about “House of The Dragon.” And we can’t wait to see what this offers. Our only prayer is that if it does not create television history like “Game of Thrones” did, at least let it not be the disaster that its parent show’s ending was.