HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon will tell the story of a catastrophic war called the Dance of the Dragons; however, it is difficult to judge who actually ends up winning that war. House of the Dragon season 1 has come to a close, and season 2 should be releasing sometime in late 2023 or 2024. The first season saw various time jumps and recastings, creating a confusing timeline of events. However, the sole purpose of season 1 was to set up the upcoming Dance of the Dragons, chronicling exactly what leads to the monumental Targaryen Civil War.
The House of the Dragon season 1 ending sees the Targaryens split into two parties: the greens and the blacks. The greens believe that Rhaenyra does not hold a claim to the throne, rather, Viserys’ firstborn son Aegon does, despite Rheanyra being named heir. The blacks, on the other hand, support Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne, even though she had two bastard children with Harwin Strong. After Aegon is crowned king before Rhaenyra discovers Viserys is dead, the queen-elect considers bowing out peacefully. That is, until her son Lucerys is accidentally killed by Aemond Targaryen on dragonback. This is the titular event that kicks off the Dance of the Dragons — and here’s the complicated answer behind who wins it all.
Greens vs. Blacks: The Targaryen Civil War’s Factions Explained
Though Princess Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower were good friends when they were young, before the Dance of the Dragons, this changes when King Viserys chooses Alicent to be his next queen. Their two factions become known as the Greens and the Blacks when Queen Alicent attends a tourney in a Hightower green dress while Rhaenyra wears the traditional Targaryen black and red. Important figures of Queen Alicent’s Green faction include her father and Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower, her children Aegon, Aemond, Halaena, and Daeron, Commander of the King’s Guard Ser Criston Cole, and many of the richest and most powerful houses of Westeros. They represent the status quo that bars women from the throne, though Alicent is motivated primarily by ambition for her children and her firm belief that Rhaenyra’s children are bastards unworthy of the crown rather than any real passion for gender politics.
Rhaenyra’s Black faction in the Dance of the Dragons includes Prince Daemon, the Sea Snake Lord Corlys Velaryon, the Queen Who Never Was and Corlys’ wife Rhaenys Targaryen, Rhaenyra’s children from her first marriage, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey, and her children from her marriage with Daemon, Aegon the Younger and Viserys. Rhaenyra’s side has an initial advantage because they hold Dragonstone and therefore have more dragons and dragonriders than the Greens. However, the Greens have the Royal Treasury and all the vestiges of King’s Landing — including the Iron Throne.
Rhaenyra & Aegon II Both Die During The Dance Of The Dragons
The Dance of the Dragons results in the deaths of nearly all the dragons, as well as Prince Daemon, Queen Rhaenyra, Lady Rhaenys, Queen Helaena and her children, Aemond, Daeron, and all three of Rhaenyra’s children from her first marriage. King Aegon II effectively wins the war when he has Rhaenyra burned and eaten by his dragon, Sunfyre. However, he has been badly maimed throughout the events of the Dance of the Dragons, and Rhaenyra’s death does not stop the advance of her reinforcements from the North led by Lord Cregan Stark. Aegon is advised to surrender, but the king does not listen. His advisors then take matters into their own hands by poisoning the feeble and bitter King Aegon II in his own litter, leaving Rhaenyra and Daemon’s son, Aegon the Younger (now King Aegon III) as the undisputed leader of Westeros.
Aegon III Becomes King Of Westeros (Is That A Win For Rhaenyra?)
Poor Aegon III is only ten years old when he ascends the Iron Throne after the Dance of the Dragons. He has been severely traumatized by the war, the loss of his family, and watching his mother be burned and eaten by a dragon in front of his very eyes. Aegon’s only remaining sibling, Viserys, was seemingly lost during the Dance of the Dragons, though he eventually returns, to Aegon’s delight, and even sits upon the Iron Throne himself for a short period. Rhaenyra’s bloodline clearly won out, as all of Alicent’s children perished in the Dance. Though Aegon III is initially married to King Aegon II and Queen Helaena’s daughter, Jaehaerya, theoretically uniting what is left of the two factions, Jaehaerya dies tragically only two years later — either by suicide or murder. She and Aegon were too young to have children, and Jaehaerya represents the end of Queen Alicent’s ill-fated bloodline.
Ruling reclusively for 26 years, King Aegon III becomes known by monikers such as “the Broken King” and “Aegon the Unlucky,” as well as “the Dragonbane” due to the last Targaryen dragon dying during his reign. Aegon eventually perishes of consumption at the age of 36, but leaves the Targaryen legacy to his two sons, three daughters, and his brother. Alicent spends the last years of her life confined to her chambers and riddled with grief. Both Rhaenyra and Alicent meet disastrous ends paved by the broken bodies of their dead loved ones and dragons, making the situation too complicated to declare anyone the “winner” of the war; everyone lost in the Dance of the Dragons. If House of the Dragon comes to the same conclusion, the only victor is perhaps the God of Death.
How Has HotD Changed The Dance Of The Dragons So Far?
There were a lot of changes made from the Fire & Blood book to bring House of the Dragon to the screen — but how will these changes impact the Dance of the Dragons? One major change is Laenor Velaryon’s faked death. In the books, Laenor dies for real, and what’s worse, it’s at the hands of his lover Ser Qarl Correy. Laenor perishes by the sword in Spicetown, rather than rowing to freedom in Essos with Ser Qarl. What this could mean is that House of the Dragon might not be done with Laenor’s story, and he could have an impact on the upcoming Dance of the Dragons, whereas, in the books, he was already dead.
Another character choice that was changed for season 1 was the exclusion of Daeron Targaryen, Alicent and Viserys’ youngest son. The character is alluded to with his sigil, but an actual character was absent. George R.R. Martin addressed this, saying there simply wasn’t enough time in season 1 to include him. Either way, the missing Daeron Targaryen may or may not be included in the Dance of the Dragons arc, as he was cupbearer for Lord Ormund Hightower in Old Town.
Alicent and Rhaenyra’s relationship was also changed for the show, which could majorly impact how the Dance of the Dragons goes down. The two were the opposite of friends in the books, with Alicent being far more cunning and even wishing for Rhaenyra’s death during childbirth. Their friendship is a cornerstone of House of the Dragon, and will definitively change pieces of the Targaryen Civil War. Finally, the last major deviation from the book that could change the Dance of the Dragons was Aemond’s involvement with Lucerys’ death. In Fire & Blood, Aemond purposefully killed Lucerys, whereas, in the show, the boys simply lost control of their dragons. It could come up in House of the Dragon that his death was the result of an accident, which may have major sway on the Dance of the Dragons.