Game Of Thrones didn’t exactly have a strong ending, which made fans reticent about House Of The Dragon. Luckily for all involved, the first season delivered, making up for the last season of GOT. HOTD was based on the Dance of the Dragons, which was outlined in The World Of Ice And Fire and Fire & Blood, the first of a two-part series that focused on the Targaryen kings.
Book readers know a lot about this story, things TV-only fans have no idea about. Season One gave fans the barest of glimpses of where the Dance of the Dragons is going, something book readers are ready for.
SPOILERS ahead for the rest of House Of The Dragon.
This article discusses traumatic violence and suicide.
10/10 House Velaryon Loses Its Power
House Velaryon is HOTD’s second most powerful noble house. The Velaryons came to Westeros with the Targaryen, the two Valyrian houses working as close allies. Lord Corlys Velaryon’s fleet is the most powerful in the Seven Kingdoms and he married Rhaenys Targaryen, the Queen Who Never Was.
In Season One, the Velaryons have been hit hard by the burgeoning conflict within House Targaryen. Laenor was “killed,” secretly leaving Westeros with his lover, and Laena committed suicide. Unfortunately, things get worse for House Velaryon. Rhaenys dies in the Dance, killed in an ambush by Ser Criston Cole. Corlys survives the Dance, but House Velaryon is broken. They stop being a power in the Seven Kingdoms and end up sworn to House Baratheon after Robert’s Rebellion.
9/10 Helaena Targaryen Takes Her Own Life
Helaena Targaryen is the sister/wife of Aegon II Targaryen. Helaena was a beautiful woman but the Targaryen curse, as it was known to the maesters, struck her. She wasn’t as ill as some of her family members have been and would be; it was more of a benign condition closer to autism than the violent insanity that struck Maegor the Cruel and Aerys II.
While Alicent and Aegon II escape, Helaena is left in King’s Landing when Rhaenyra takes the city. After six months of captivity, she kills herself, although no one is sure exactly why. Helaena had no place in her family’s wars and paid the price for the hubris of the Targaryens.
8/10 Aegon II Dies As The Noose Tightens Around King’s Landing
The Greens eventually re-take King’s Landing, but the war doesn’t go well for Aegon II. The Blacks eventually kill his brother and find allies despite their defeats. Aegon II is gravely injured in Ser Cole’s ambush of Rhaenys Targaryen, his body burned so badly it never heals.
The Greens lose their advantage over the Blacks and King’s Landing is surrounded by armies. Inside the city, Aegon’s lords openly plot against him but he’s too drunk to notice. After a small council meeting, Aegon asks to be taken to the royal sept and is found dead when he gets there, blood on his lips, believed poisoned.
7/10 All Of Rhaenyra’s Strong Children Die
The Targaryen dynasty is damaged in the Dance, although Rhaenyra does her best to propagate the House. Between her bastard children with Harwin Strong and her trueborn offspring with Daemon, she has five children. In the Dance, all three Strong children die. Lucerys is killed by Aemond, Jacaerys in the Battle of the Gullet, and Joffrey is thrown from a dragon and falls to his death.
Rhaenyra’s Targaryen children have better luck, but Westeros’ historians think the fact that all of her bastard children die in the war is fitting. Jacaerys never sits the Iron Throne, even though his mother takes King’s Landing; Joffrey never gets a chance to fight, dying while trying to ride Syrax out of the Dragonpit during the Greens’ attack on King’s Landing.
6/10 Aemond Targaryen Is A Great Soldier But Can’t Overcome Daemon
HOTD is full of violent warriors, with Aemond Targaryen being the more martial of Viserys I’s and Alicent’s children. The loss of his eye changed him, and taking Vhagar as his mount gave the Greens great power. His battle with Lucerys over Storm’s End is the first blood shed in the Dance, but it’s not the last that Aemond spills.
Aemond is his brother’s greatest defender, next to Ser Criston Cole. He and Vhagar do terrible damage to the Blacks. Aemond is instrumental in the battle against Rhaenys, but meets his match in the Battle Above The Gods’ Eye. Daemon Targaryen, riding Caraxes, battles him and Vhagar. Aemond and Vhagar are killed, with Aemond’s skull is later found with Daemon’s sword still in it.
5/10 The Starks Play A Huge Role In The War’s End
Eventually, Aegon III is the last remaining Targaryen and is made king. He’s much too young and so a regency is created. However, before the regency, Cregan Stark takes command. Cregan pledged himself to Rhaenyra years before and the Starks had never broken an oath at this point. In the chaos of the end of the Dance, Cregan decrees himself Hand of the King, his massive army scaring away any complaints.
While he was no Green, his time as Hand sees him arrest everyone who is implicated in the regicide of Aegon II and those who arrested Queen Alicent. Only Corlys Velaryon was spared because of Aegon III. Nineteen took the black, while Larys Strong and Ser Gyles accepted execution. At the end, Cregan swung the sword himself.
4/10 Alicent Hightower Survives The War
Alicent isn’t the villain of HOTD, but she’s no saint either. The Dowager Queen is able to stay alive throughout the Dance of the Dragons, outliving her children but also Rhaenyra and Daemon. She escapes the sack of King’s Landing with Aegon II and returns when the city is retaken. She’s arrested after the death of Aegon II.
Alicent is freed by Cregan Stark and the men who imprisoned her are executed. She opposed her granddaughter’s wedding to Aegon III and was imprisoned in Maegor’s Holdfast until her death, often crying over the bitterness of her life.
3/10 Aegon III And Viserys Both Survive The War
Aegon III and Viserys were Rhaenyra and Daemon’s children. Unlike the Strong bastards who started the entire succession crisis, the trueborn Targaryens survived the battles, although for years Viserys was thought lost in wars with the Triarchy of Essos over the Narrow Sea. Aegon III was taken by his uncle Aegon II when King’s Landing was retaken and kept hostage.
As the Dance killed more Targaryens, Aegon III was the last left standing. The boy was damaged by the deaths of his family but did his duty. Eventually, it was discovered Viserys lived, and he was ransomed back from Lys. Aegon was happy his brother was alive and appointed him Hand of the King.
2/10 No One Knows If Daemon Targaryen Survived The Dance
Daemon Targaryen didn’t have it easy in HOTD, but most of his tribulations were partly his own fault. The best thing he did was marry Rhaenyra. He served her as a good husband and partner for a time, he and Caraxes making a difference in many battles. However, his wandering eye would get him into trouble.
He fell in love with the dragonseed Nettles, straining his marriage. He still fought for the Blacks, though, with his final fight being the Battle Above The Gods’ Eye. He may have died killing Aemond, because no body was found, but others believed he ran off to Essos with Nettles.
1/10 Rhaenyra Targaryen Sat The Throne Before She Died
Rhaenyra’s life in HOTD was tragic, although many felt she brought it on herself in later years. Her war against the Blacks had its ups and downs. Eventually, the Blacks were able to take King’s Landing and Rhaenyra finally sat on the Iron Throne.
Daemon’s infidelities damaged Rhaenyra and she was the victim of other betrayals. Jacaerys’s death weighed on her and the Greens pressed their advantage, retaking King’s Landing. Her son Joffrey died and she and Aegon III were captured. She was sentenced to death, killed in front of Aegon III when she was fed to Aegon II’s dragon, Sunfyre.
NEXT: 10 Worst Tropes In House Of The Dragon