“The House of the Dragon” and Winds of Winter in Game of Thrones

In “House of the Dragon,” HBO’s first Game of Thrones spinoff, the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons—which may have connections to The Winds of Winter—will be shown. Even if Game of Thrones ends in 2019, Westeros’ story has yet to be fully told. The sixth and penultimate book in the A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy, The Winds of Winter, is still being written by George R.R. Martin. This is also true on the big screen, where much more Game of Thrones spinoffs is anticipated after “House of the Dragon.”

Beginning about 200 years before Game of Thrones (and consequently The Winds of Winter as well), “House of the Dragon” tells the tale of House Targaryen being split apart by contenders for the Iron Throne following the death of King Viserys I Targaryen (though the seeds are planted much earlier). This leads to the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war that causes the kingdom to split in two, supporting the “greens” and the “blacks,” the rival Targaryen factions supporting either Aegon Targaryen or his half-sister Rhaenyra. The civil war’s name alludes to both the rivalry and the proportion of the conflict that is fought with dragons.

This could inform what appears in The Winds of Winter and/or Martin’s concluding A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dream of Spring, rather than just being its own independent story. Of course, the Dance of the Dragons events are already recorded, but this might be an instance where history repeats itself (a theme Martin is extremely fond of). The Dance of the Dragons was seen in “House of the Dragon,” thus, it’s probable that The Winds of Winter may also feature that episode, which features a heated confrontation between two Targaryens who each consider themselves to be the legitimate king of Westeros.

Aegon versus Daenerys? The Dance of the Dragons 2 could have been prefigured by Winds of Winter.

Young Griff, revealed in A Dance with Dragons to be Aegon Targaryen, the long-thought-dead son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell, was a significant literary character absent from Game of Thrones. Even though there are many reasons to question if Young Griff is Aegon, it might not matter too much for where the plot of The Winds of Winter takes him. With his sights set on the Iron Throne, Aegon has arrived in Westeros. There are grounds for doing so as well. This is partly due to prophecies: Daenerys is warned about a “mummer’s dragon,” which is thought to be Aegon, and how Varys and Illyrio Mopatis are using him. She also sees a “cloth dragon on poles” amid a cheering throng, which suggests Aegon would be adored. However, it also suits his character arc because he was brought up as the ideal prince and would arrive in Westeros as the miraculously revived son of Rhaegar, another adored prince. He will be supported by the Golden Company, the largest army of swordsmen in existence, and several important Westerosi households (Dorne is already shaping to pledge its support to him).

All of this puts Aegon in a position to succeed himself as king, and critically, to do so before Daenerys has arrived in Westeros. This is significant because it signals that Dany would eventually visit Westeros to take possession of the Iron Throne she believes is rightfully hers, only to find another Targaryen occupying it. Even though Aegon may attempt to propose marriage, Dany has already embarked on a dark path to seize what is rightfully hers through fire and blood (something she would surely reject). The Dance of the Dragons 2.0, another Targaryen civil war to split Westeros, would result from Daenerys vs. Aegon after The Winds of Winter (or build up for the start of A Dream of Spring), and it might even feature dragon vs. dragon combat.

Aegon doesn’t have a dragon right now, but there are ways for him to get one: Dany might ask him to ride one to prove his Targaryen family ancestry; he might be able to bond with and steal one; there is also the mysterious dragon horn that is in play, which is said to bind a dragon to its user and could play some sort of role. A replay of the greens vs. the blacks, with Aegon riding the green dragon and Daenerys riding the black Drogon, is entirely plausible if Aegon chooses to ride Rhaegal, the dragon named after his (apparent) father. This may also be how Daenerys burns King’s Landing in the novels; not as an intentional act by a would-be Queen on a vengeful rampage, but rather as collateral damage of a dragon battle, whose fire produces confusion and starts the wildfire reserves beneath King’s Landing.

Daenerys and Aegon should be a significant factor, and the Dance of the Dragons looks to be the most likely means to end it despite all of The Winds of Winter’s other questions and stories to be resolved. It has already been alluded to in the preview chapters of The Winds of Winter, where Arianne I contains the following passage: “They were joking around. In my slumber. People killed everywhere that the dragons danced.” And if that weren’t enough, Martin himself stated the following in response to a query about knowing more about the Dance of the Dragons in a 2003 interview [via Westeros.org]: “Which dance, the first or second? A book will be written about the second. I’m sure the first will come up from time to time.” Plans may change, of course, and there are other options, but it appears like The Winds of Winter will have or set up the second Dance of the Dragons, much as “House of the Dragon” entirely depicted the first (which Martin did more than a mention, writing about it in depth in Fire & Blood).

How Dance of the Dragons by Winds of Winter Differs from “House of the Dragon’s”

For several reasons, the conflict between Daenerys and Aegon in The Winds of Winter will probably differ significantly from the civil war in the “House of the Dragon.” In the latter, House Targaryen is at its height, allowing for several factions and rivalries to develop over decades before the war even commences; in the former, there are only two Targaryens (assuming all of this occurs well before Jon Snow’s parentage is revealed). All major houses participated in the first Dance of the Dragons, which took place across several significant Westeros locations and lasted two years. The second will probably have a significant impact, but it might be more localized to King’s Landing, which will bear the brunt of the conflict. Of course, the number of dragons has decreased as well.

In “House of the Dragon,” there will be 17 dragons, whereas The Winds of Winter will likely only have Daenerys’ three dragons, though one of them may have switched sides. This is unless Aegon manages to find another dragon (which, once more, is possible with magic artifacts in play – blowing dragonbinder could stir other dragons; there are some from the Dance, such as the (mostly) wild Sheepstealer, whose fates are unknown, Despite these differences, there will be thematic similarities between the two adaptations of Dance of the Dragons, allowing Martin to comment on the true horrors of war, the risks associated with using such weapons and the weight of that power, how those who seek to rule are frequently the least qualified to do so, and how when the nobles wage war, the common people suffer the greatest losses.

Why Was Aegon Targaryen Cut From Game of Thrones?

If Daenerys confronts Aegon in The Winds of Winter, it raises new questions about Aegon’s whereabouts in Game of Thrones. Naturally, the program couldn’t have faithfully recreated every chapter from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books; in particular, Young Griff is a late-in-the-game twist that’s challenging to work into a TV show. It would have happened during Game of Thrones season 5, by which time the show had already begun to diverge from the books (even if The Winds of Winter was still unfinished), which would have had an impact on the plot’s final act. For more general TV audiences, revealing another secret Targaryen and maybe revealing he is a fake later on, may have been overkill. After all, Game of Thrones has had to announce Jon Snow is a Targaryen at some point. Given everything, it makes likely that Game of Thrones omitted the Aegon Targaryen twist to maintain its focus on the characters it already had and to set up some bigger surprises for The Winds of Winter.

New “House Of The Dragon” Image: Matt Smith In Full Targaryen Armor