Laenor Velaryon expertly rides a dragon in the “House of the Dragon” episode 3 finale despite not being a real Targaryen. Since only members of the House Targaryen family are believed to be able to ride dragons in the Game of Thrones timeline, this became another opportunity to demonstrate Jon Snow’s ancestry. By demonstrating that dragonriding isn’t wholly limited to House Targaryen, “House of the Dragon” temporarily breaches this rule.
Major Targaryen figures, like Princess Rhaenyra on Syrax and Prince Daemon on Caraxes, were previously portrayed on dragonback in the first few episodes of “House of the Dragon.” Dragons are closely associated with House Targaryen as a sign of their conquest of Westeros, ongoing taming of the creatures, and lineage carried over from being a strong dragonlord family in Old Valyria. The animals are also on the Targaryens’ sigil. As a result, when Laenor of House Velaryon was flying on Seasmoke and uttering the well-known High Valyrian command “dracarys” in “House of the Dragon’s” War for the Stepstones, it might have come as a shock to people who haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood.
Laenor Velaryon’s mother, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, was the alternate for King Jaehaerys I Targaryen’s successor to the Iron Throne, which explains why he has a dragon and can ride it. It makes reasonable that Rhaenys would have requested that her children continue her dragonriding skills since she was a contender to become the future queen. Laenor and Laena Velaryon’s pure Valyrian blood on both sides of their family may also be the reason they are able to ride dragons, especially considering how their heritage helps them to understand the dragons’ commands. Several other members of this family who have Targaryen mothers or very little Targaryen blood will soar the sky on dragonback, therefore Laenor won’t be the last Velaryon in “House of the Dragon” to ride one of the monsters.
In Old Valyria, did the Velaryons ride dragons?
Although the Velaryon family of “House of the Dragon” hails from Old Valryia, where dragonlord oligarchies reigned, they were never renowned as dragonriders. The Velaryons would have been of somewhat lower status because they never tamed dragons, unlike the Targaryens who were one of the most influential families in the Valyrian Freehold. Instead, the Velaryons proved their worth at sea, which is why Targaryen monarchs in Westeros frequently employ them as ship’s masters.
In an effort to establish a new dynasty in a region devoid of dragon influence, the Velaryons are claimed to have relocated to Driftmark before the Targaryens did so to Dragonstone. Naturally, the Targaryens would quickly show up with their dragons and take over the realm, diminishing the Velaryons once more for lacking dragons. However, because of their pure Valyrian blood, the Targaryens, and the soon-to-be extraordinarily wealthy House Velaryon did continue to hold power together, and the two families frequently intermarried. Despite this, it doesn’t appear that the Velaryon offspring of Targaryen women frequently rode dragons or were given their eggs as gifts, suggesting that Laenor’s generation’s close relationship with them was a noteworthy exception.
When Dragonriders became once again exclusive to the Targaryens
Less than 25 years after the Dance of the Dragons, the last of the dragons (before Daenerys) pass away, making the Targaryens the only dragonriders once more for a very brief period of time. The “House of the Dragon’s” Black party had to look for new “dragon seeds” to fly their last dragons after the deaths of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s sons Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon (even if it’s all but proved that they were actually fathered by Harwin Strong). As a result, Lord Corlys Velaryon discovered Addam of Hull, a bastardly son of Laenor Velaryon, who was the last dragonrider of his family (though the books strongly imply Corlys was his real father). Eventually, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen recognized Addam and his brother Alyn as legitimate Velaryons, making Addam the last legal Velaryon to ride a dragon before he passed away in 130 AC.
The Velaryons are not the first non-Targaryens to ride dragons during the civil war in the “House of the Dragon,” though. The Black party also came upon Hugh Hammer, Ulf White, and Nettles, three more dragonseed commoners, in addition to Addam. Within a day following Addam’s death, Hugh and Ulf also passed away. Nettles and her dragon went missing not long after, despite the fact that she was thought to have settled deep inside the Vale. In 134 AC, the “House of the Dragon” title line once more became the sole dragonriders in Westeros without any evidence of Nettles’ continued existence or final demise. House Targaryen’s last dragon passed away in 153 AC, therefore the family wouldn’t become dragonriders once more until Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones piloted Drogon, nearly 150 years later.
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