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Literature / Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories

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Being A History of the Causes, Origins, Battles, and Betrayals of that Most Tragic Bloodletting Known as the Dance of the Dragons, as set down by Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel of Oldtown

Two novellas written by George R.R. Martin. Set in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire universe about 170 years before the events of the main series, they are written as an in-universe text and presented as the writings of the fictional Archmaester Gyldayn.

The published novellas include:

  1. The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens: Narrating the events of the Dance of the Dragons, a war of succession between rival Targaryen branches 170 years before the time of the main series, published as part of the Dangerous Women anthology in December 2013. Upon the death of Viserys I, King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, his two eldest children go to war over the Iron Throne. His second wife, Alicent Hightower, conspires to crown their son Aegon with the help of her supporters, called the Greens. His chosen heir and the only surviving child of his first marriage, Rhaenyra, begins her campaign on her seat on the island of Dragonstone with the support of her allies, the Blacks, after hearing that her half-brother sits on the throne. The names of the rival factions arose from the fact Princess Rhaenyra wore black at a court ball while Alicent wore green. The novella is written in a story-styled manner with instances of dialogue, with quotes from Septon Eustace and the fool Mushroom, witnesses to the events.

  2. The Rogue Prince, or, The King's Brother: Narrating the exploits of Prince Daemon Targaryen, including the events leading to "The Princess and the Queen", published as part of the Rogues in June 2014. The second novella (which takes place before chronologically) spans the reign of Viserys, detailing the events that led to his coronation up to the moment that led to bloodshed. It focuses on the life and adventures of Viserys' younger brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen, as he consorts with the lowborn of the King's Landing, wages war on an archipelago called the Stepstones, and navigates his brother's increasing divided royal court. Contrary to TPATQ, the novella is written as a biography-styled document with little to no dialogue and in succinct language, leading the text to be considerably shorter than in the previous novella.

Characters and tropes related to the novellas sprawl from all over Westeros, but the main ones are included in:

  1. The House Targaryen Ancestors page, especially the entry on the court of King Viserys I;
  2. The Court of Aegon II for the Queen's men ("The Greens");
  3. House Hightower, the main instigators of the war and the backers of The Greens;
  4. The Court of Rhaenyra I for the Princess' men ("The Blacks");
  5. House Velaryon, the main backers of The Blacks.

George R. R. Martin announced that these history chronicles comes from his notes on the backstory of Westeros and that he had tentative plans to eventually publish what some fans call the GRRMarillion but which he tentatively titled "Fire and Blood". Some of the notes also feature in The World of Ice & Fire.

As Martin explained, he always knew a general outline of the Dance of the Dragons, but when he sat down to write the novella for an edited collection he got a bit "carried away" and ended up writing an 80,000 word history for a submission with a 30,000 word limit. As a result The Princess and the Queen is presented as an excerpt from the longer in-universe history book Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories. When the subsequent prequel novellas The Rogue Prince was released, 10,000 words long, it is technically a prequel to TPATQ but was written at the same time - you could actually read them in chronological order and you wouldn't get spoiled for later events. Fans then had to parse out from the World of Ice and Fire other major subplots which were part of the longer story:

  1. The war lasted two years, but TPATQ ends half a year before the end of the war.
  2. TPATQ focuses on the eastern theater of the war, while only mentioning in broad strokes what happened in the central theater as the Starks/Tullys fought against the Lannisters in the Riverlands - with about a half dozen characters who could be described as the Hero of Another Story.
  3. The Greyjoys were barely mentioned at all, when the World book reveals there was an entire western front to the war as the ironborn attacked the Westerlands and the Reach - which continued to drag on as a side conflict well into the six year long winter that followed the main war.
  4. The major shakeups in the Free Cities due to spillover from the war: the Lys-Myr-Tyrosh alliance attacked Rhaenyra's faction in the Battle of the Gullet, but took such heavy losses that within a few months the alliance was tearing itself apart. A counter-alliance formed between Braavos-Pentos-Lorath to the north, leading to a major war to crush the "Kingdom of the Three Daughters" before it got too powerful to stop. Something called the "Lyseni Spring" happened, in which Lys got taken over by a Westerosi concubine from House Swann, then apparently stabbed Tyrosh and Myr in the back in the war to become even more powerful by the end - at which time the Rogare bank of Lys briefly grew more powerful than the Iron Bank of Braavos.

In 2016, the Season 5 Blu-Ray/ DVD of Game of Thrones featured a 20-minuted animated/slide adaptation of The Princess of the Queen, "The Dance of Dragons".

In 2018, George R.R. Martin did indeed publish Fire & Blood, which contains the fuller account of the Dance, it cause, events, and aftermath.

This series provides examples of:

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  • Adaptation Distillation: The 20-minute Histories and Lore video on the Season 5 Game of Thrones does this to the overall conflict.
    • Mostly since it leaves out details from The Rogue Prince (which would admittedly make it far too long), the Lore version implies that all of Rhaenyra's children were legitimate. They also leave out Prince Viserys' survival, implying that Aegon III was the only survivor and the youngest son of Rhaenyra.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Rhaenyra is presented more sympathetically in the Histories and Lore video. This is largely since the original controversy revolving around her children in first marriage is Adapted Out and the Greens' reason for opposing Rhaenyra is solely for her being a woman claimant whereas in the books the question of "Strong bastards" was as important.
  • The Alliance: The Blacks composed of Rhaenyra's half of House Targaryen and her biggest supporters Houses Arryn and Velaryon, she also won over House Stark, who remained loyal to the Blacks cause even after Rhaenyra's death and succeeded in installing her son to the Iron Throne.
  • Anyone Can Die: With all the people who died or went missing in action, it would actually be easier to list the people who survived.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Targaryens, the royal family, spent years fighting each other, both with words and with dragonfire.
  • Bond Creatures: Dragons have been known to share the temperament, allegiance, and attitudes of their riders.
  • Cain and Abel: Rhaenyra and Aegon II. Good luck differentiating them both. Same with Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Cargyll.
  • Civil War: The Dance of the Dragons, as the Succession Crisis is called, tore Westeros down right down the middle. There was even an instance of twin brothers on opposite sides of the war killing each other in battle.
  • Depraved Dwarf: The court jester Mushroom left behind a chronicle that is filled with highly lurid court gossip whose validity Gyldayn doubts, but given the nature of the series and history, it's possible that a lot of that is actually true.
  • Divided We Fall: Targaryens were killing each other left and right, especially (but not only) during the Dance.
  • Dragon Rider: Much of the war was fought on the backs of dragons. It was commonly believed that only those with Valyrian blood (Targaryens, Velaryons, and their bastards, called "dragonseeds"), could become dragon riders, but Nettles, the rider of Sheepstealer, is not known to have any Valyrian blood.
  • The Fool: Mushroom, the court jester, who eventually wrote about the events of the court.
  • Foreshadowing: If one pays attention, the Dance of the Dragons foreshadows the War of the Five Kings in matter of feuding Great Houses - Starks and Tully vs. "Baratheon," Lannister, and a powerful house from the Reach.
  • I Gave My Word: Played with. After the death of his son and wife, Viserys named Rhaenyra the Princess of Dragonstone and had lords from all over the Seven Kingdoms vow to protect her right to the Iron Throne. At the beginning of the Dance, many of those lords and their heirs kept their vows, but many others went back on them.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Six pregnancies took their toll on Rhaenyra.
  • Love Ruins the Realm:
    • The conflict over succession might have been avoided entirely if Viserys hadn't re-married.
    • Rhaenyra's relationship with Criston Cole turned sour, causing him to defect to the Greens. Her rumored affair with Harwin Strong also turned many people against her. And her marriage to Daemon won her even more enemies.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: It was rumored that Rhaenyra's three oldest sons were fathered not by her husband, Laenor Velaryon, but by her lover, Harwin Strong.
  • Marry for Love: Viserys I was advised to marry Laena Velaryon to help relations with Driftmark, but she was 12 years old at the moment of the betrothed and he wanted to wed Alicent instead, so he did. This turned out to be a very bad idea.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Queen Alicent, Viserys' second wife, was much more ruthless and ambitious than her husband. The Princess and the Queen was first published in the 2013 Dangerous Women compilation book.
  • Prequel: To A Song of Ice and Fire. The Rogue Prince is also a prequel to The Princess and the Queen.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The histories reveal more about dragons than has yet been stated in A Song of Ice and Fire''. One example is that dragons are choosy about their riders, but their criteria is mysterious. It ranges from having a mystical bond with the rider to being bribed with food; regardless, they are stubbornly loyal to those they chose to bond with.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: There are multiple versions of certain events, especially because of marked bias.
  • The Rival: Alicent vs. Rhaenyra. Some would say this rivalry was more important than that between Rhaenyra and Aegon.
  • Succession Crisis:
    • The main conflict of the series arises from uncertainty over who is to succeeded King Viserys I as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
    • In The Princess and the Queen, Aegon was crowned and his older half-sister Rhaenyra contested his claim, citing her position as Princess of Dragonstone as proof that she was meant to succeed her father. The Greens argued that she was unfit to rule because she was a woman.
    • In The Rogue Prince, the claim to the throne was contested between Daemon and Rhaenyra. Ironically, some people who would later become Greens supported Rhaenyra because they considered Daemon a worse alternative. This all changed when Alicent's sons were born.
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • Gyldayn admits that not everything written is certainly accurate, that history has mixed with folklore and historians disagree about the details of some events.
    • He also glosses over his own biases on the subject: e.g. in many places Mushroom is cited as saying something which the narrative notes is obviously false, but no follow-up statement serves to blunt the force of it.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: The Dance devastated the Seven Kingdoms and its people. Aegon II is inscribed in the history books as the rightful king but he dies without issue and it is Rhaenyra's children who succeed him. She on the other hand, is forever condemned as a usurper despite being her father's heiress. Also, the dragons go extinct.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Some characters go missing in-universe during the story, such as Qarl Correy and Nettles, but many more simply disappear from the record. It's possible that Gyldayn did know the fates of those characters but didn't consider them important enough to write down.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Queen Alicent to Princess Rhaenyra.

     The Princess and the Queen 

  • 0% Approval Rating: After taking King's Landing, Rhaenyra quickly earned the enmity of its people by putting a lot of heads on spikes and increasing taxes to fund the rest of the war.
  • Air Jousting: The final duel between Aemond One-Eye and Daemon Targaryen takes place on the back of two dragons, high above Harrenhal, over the God's Eye lake. Daemon jumps off his dragon in mid-air, slams the Valyrian Sword Dark Sister through Aemond's head, and both riders and dragons fall from the sky.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Blacks capturing King's Landing and The Greens capturing Dragonstone.
  • Badass Army: Roderick "Roddy the Ruin" Dustin's Winter Wolves were always outnumbered on the field, yet managed to win or do considerable damage every time.
  • Bastard Bastard: Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White were both selfish, arrogant hedonists who betrayed the Blacks by burning down the town of Tumbleton. They were so bad that hatred of them was the only thing the Blacks and the Greens could agree on. The Greens end up killing both when the Two Betrayers decide to usurp rule themselves.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Prince Daeron for the Greens during the Battle of the Honeywine. It earned him a knighthood and the title "Daeron the Daring".
  • Body Horror: Aegon II got burned into his armor during the Battle of Rook's Rest and he spent over a year recovering. His duel with Princess Baela ruined his legs and he was never able to walk again. His dragon Sunfyre fared little better; after his wing was permanently damaged during the Battle of Rook's Rest, he lost an eye and got terrible scars from his battles with the Grey Ghost and Moondancer.
  • Break the Cutie: Helaena is one of the few characters that can really be considered a cutie and boy did she get broken.
  • Butt-Monkey: Just like in the original series, the Riverlands are the region where most of the damage is done, despite, in this case, having nothing to do with the events causing the war.
  • Break the Haughty: After losing King's Landing to the rioters, Rhaenyra is forced to flee for her life, loses what few men she was to bandits and desertion, is coldly turned away by former allies, and was forced to sell her crown to buy passage to Dragonstone. Then she finds Aegon II sitting on her seat in her own castle.
  • Cain and Abel: Rhaenyra and Aegon II. Good luck telling which is which.
  • Co-Dragons: Aegon II had his younger brother Prince Aemond, and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Criston Cole. Rhaenyra had her husband Prince Daemon, and her former father-in-law Lord Corlys Velaryon.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Fall of King's Landing took less than a day. The Fall of Dragonstone was similarly quick and easy, with Princess Baela's defiance as the only major threat.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Getting immolated by dragons is not a good way to go, but the worst was Rhaenyra's death — she got eaten afterwards, with the dragon (Sunfyre) taking a total of six bites.
    • Joffrey Velaryon's death was pretty awful too. He fell from the back of a dragon, crashed into several buildings on the way down, and was impaled by his own sword and the broken shards of rooftop slates.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Rhaenyra comes home to Dragonstone to find her loyal knights and men-at-arms hanging in front of the castle, their bodies charred by dragonfire.
  • Decapitated Army: The Green army that came out of Oldtown became this after Lord Hightower was killed in the Battle of Tumbleton. Prince Daeron and the remaining Reach lords remained at the town for months, unable to decide what their next move would be. After the Second Battle of Tumbleton, when the prince and most of the lords were also killed, the army simply disintegrated by mass desertion.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: At one point, things are going so well for Rhaenyra that she only needs to defeat the Hightower army and the renegade Prince Aemond to achieve total victory. Then Hugh Hammer and Ulf White betray her, setting off a series of events that completely unravels her faction, and unlike most other events where Gyldayn offers too many explanations, here he simply says nobody knows why and neither character was prominent enough beforehand to even offer any foreshadowing.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Joffrey Velaryon, Rhaenyra's third-eldest son, fell from the back of a dragon onto the streets of King's Landing. The smallfolk claim that a common girl held and comforted him as he died.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Borros Baratheon had no problem with Aemond murdering Lucerys, he just didn't want him to do it in Storm's End, which would mean breaking Sacred Hospitality.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Everyone knew that going up against Prince Aemond and Vhagar alone was a death sentence. The pair spent months terrorizing the Riverlands in the later part of the war.
    • For the Greens, Daemon Targaryen is this. He's an experienced commander, military strategist, badass and utterly ruthless.
  • Droit du Seigneur:
    • Practiced on the island of Dragonstone, but unlike other examples, the local people actually like the practice (or so Gyldayn claims), because the Valyrians are so revered. The children resulting from these encounters, called "dragonseed", are considered a blessing.
    • Rhaenyra eventually recruits some dragonseed — Addam of Hull (later legitimized and made the heir of House Velaryon), Nettles, Hugh Hammer, and Ulf the White — to her cause.
  • Due to the Dead: Subverted. The Greens left Viserys' body in his chambers to rot because they had to hide his death long enough to get their schemes together. After seven days they finally bring in Silent Sisters to perform the proper rites.
  • Dying Curse: The moment before Sunfyre devours her, Rhaenyra screams one last curse upon her half-brother.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Several.
    • Princess Rhaenys and Meleys the Red Queen died fighting the whole royal army and two enemy dragon riders on their own.
    • Rodrik Dustin killed two men with one arm before succumbing to wounds that should have killed him far earlier.
    • Jon Roxton sliced Hugh Hammer almost in half before being zerg rushed by Hugh's men. Even then he killed three men in a ten-on-one fight, likely only dying because he lost his footing.
    • Addam Velaryon and his dragon faced both Tessarion and Vermithor knowing Seasmoke couldn't win against them both. He only had to give his men enough time to flee.
    • Hobert Hightower's death was actually his greatest accomplishment. He knowingly drank poisoned wine in a Taking You with Me gambit when he could have very easily (and was likely expected to) chicken out.
    • Both Daemon and Aemond get one in Mutual Kill Air Joust.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Alicent hides her husband's death for as long as possible so she and her allies can have a head start in claiming the throne. She and the other Greens also constantly call Rhaenyra a whore or insult her husbands and children.
    • Rhaenyra becomes so enraged at the news that her brother was crowned that it induces labor. Her temper does not improve throughout the story. Her three eldest sons show an eagerness for battle that eventually gets them all killed.
    • Nettles shows her savvy by taming a feral adult dragon, when most men get burned alive trying to approach to a previously tamed one.
  • Evil Uncle:
    • Aemond murdered his nephew Lucerys, even though the boy gracefully accepted losing a possible alliance with House Baratheon, said he didn't want to fight, and was just trying to go home.
    • As the war turns against him, Aegon II threatens to have his sister-son Aegon killed if his bloodline should die out. However he is poisoned shortly after this.
    • Daemon arranges for two assassins, Blood and Cheese, to murder one of his niece Halaena's children in front of her, in such brutal fashion that she's left traumatized and effectively mentally disabled for the rest of her life.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The civil war between Aegon and Rhaenyra, is very similar - except for the dragons, of course - to the conflict between Stephen of Blois and Empress Matilda, cousins who vied over the English throne in the 12th century. Aegon is even persuaded to take the throne by his wife and mother, much as Stephen was. Like Stephen of Blois, Aegon II wins a Pyrric Victory, and Rhaenyra's claim is vindicated by her son Aegon III.
  • Foreshadowing: Some sailors saw two dragons fighting over Dragonstone. When the Grey Ghost's ripped-apart corpse washed up on shore, they assumed he'd been killed by the Cannibal. But those two dragons had never fought before despite living on the same island all their lives. The Grey Ghost had actually been killed by Sunfyre when Aegon arrived on Dragonstone, having been stolen away to safety after Rhaenyra took King's Landing.
  • Forced to Watch: Aegon II forces the future Aegon III to watch his mother get killed and eaten by the dragon Sunfyre. We know from the expansion that the boy never recovered from this and wore black all his life.
  • Genius Cripple: Larys Clubfoot managed to hide Aegon II and his two surviving children as the Blacks took King's Landing. He then split them up and made sure than none of their protectors knew the others were going, so they couldn't betray each other.
  • Gut Punch: In-universe. When Viserys I died, the opposing factions tried to work out treaties and compromises. Aemond's murder of his nephew Lucerys is what made people put down their quills and pick up their swords.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: While both sides committed some truly revolting atrocities, neither could be considered completely evil. The conflict was generally started by the Greens, who usurped the Crown against Viserys I's wishes, but this was in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of the lords of the realm, who had previously voted 20-1 for the male claim to always take precedence.
  • Heir Club for Men: The primary argument against Rhaenyra's ascension as queen was her gender. It's also subject to a lot of Deconstruction, in that the main opponent to her claim is not really the male-dominated society, but her stepmother Queen Alicent, whose ambitions for her children lead her to usurp the throne. Likewise, the scrutiny on Rhaenyra's conduct or misconduct is so disproportionate that slights that are forgivable in men are exaggerated and distorted for her, which slowly makes her paranoid and highly image-conscious, leading to quite a few political blunders. When Aegon II feeds her to her dragon, nobody speaks against it or denounces Aegon as a kinslayer, except Cregan Stark.
  • Heroic Bastard: Addam of Hull, later Addam Velaryon, was courageous, selfless, and loyal to a fault. Despite Rhaenyra trying to arrest him for a crime he didn't commit, he helps her side win the Second Battle of Tumbleton, dying in the process. Nettles was also loyal and honorable.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: During the Second Battle of Tumbleton, one witness said that it looked as though Tessarion and Seasmoke were engaged in a mating dance than a fight.
  • Kill It with Fire: Dragonfire was used extensively throughout the war.
  • Kissing Cousins: Subverted. Jacaerys and Lucerys were betrothed to their twin cousins Rhaena and Baela but both boys died before the weddings could take place. The girls ended up married to other men. It's debatable if they were even first cousins or just first cousins once removed (their mother's uncle married their father's sister), due to the fact their father wasn't interested in women.
  • Little Miss Badass: Baela Targaryen, Daemon's 14 year old daughter, chose not to flee during the Fall of Dragonstone, but instead challenged Aegon II to a dragon duel. She wounded him, killed his dragon Sunfyre, and survived her burns long enough to be taken to a maester, though her own dragon Moondancer ended up dying as well.
  • The Magic Goes Away:
    • The battles were so intense that most of the dragons died. Those hatched after the war were much smaller and weaker than their predecessors, and the species went extinct within a generation.
    • Invoked by the people of King's Landing. A charismatic man called the Shepherd preached that dragons would eventually kill them all, stirring the city into such a frenzy that a riot formed to storm the Dragonpit and kill every dragon in it. Prince Joffrey raced on the back of his mother's dragon Syrax to stop it, but she rejected him as a rider and threw him off her back. Syrax and all the other dragons were killed, but not before burning thousands of people to death in the process.
  • Mercy Kill: After the battle with Seasmoke and Vermithor, Tessarion thrice tried to fly away but was too injured to get up. Lord Blackwood finally put her out of her misery.
  • My Beloved Smother: Rhaenyra loathed to let her sons out of her sight, though for good reason, what with a civil war raging and all. Whenever her sons went off on their own, they ended up dead.
  • Never Found the Body: Years after the Harrenhal duel between Daemon, Aemond and their dragons, the dragons' and Aemond's (with Dark Sister still impaled through his skull) skeletons were found, but Daemon's body was never found. This led to urban legends that he somehow survived, but as Gyldayn points out about his fall from the dragon from the sky No One Could Survive That! and in George Martin's world that means something.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Rhaenys, "the Queen Who Never Was", fought for the Blacks and was the oldest dragon rider of the time at 55 years old. She took on the entire royal army and two enemy dragon riders single-handedly, almost taking Aegon II down with her. It was said that she and her dragon Meleys, "the Red Queen", possibly could have defeated Vhagar in a one-on-one duel.
  • Never Suicide: Many people believe that Helaena didn't throw herself from a tower window, but that Rhaenyra had her murdered.
  • Non-Indicative Name: On the novella's title itself; Alicent Hightower is not actually a "Queen" in the proper sense of the word at this point of the story; she's what would be called a Queen Dowager as the widow of King Viserys I. The actual queen at that point was Helaena Targaryen, Aegon's wife and her daughter-in-law. Technically, because of the tragedies that befell on Helaena, Alicent did assume a position of Queen.
  • The Ophelia: Helaena Targaryen fell into a deep depression that she never recovered from after her son was killed in front of her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Pretty much anytime an army without dragons faces an army with dragons.
    • The Essosi fleet thought they were only going to face a few ships sent to escort Prince Aegon the Younger and Prince Viserys. Then a bunch of a dragon riders showed up, starting the Battle of the Gullet.
    • The people of King's Landing had this reaction when the Blacks flew all their dragons into the city, ready to strike if they didn't surrender.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Roderick Dustin cracked his skull, was stabbed several times, and got an arm hacked off in battle, yet still managed to kill Ormund and Bryndon Hightower before succumbing to his wounds.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The individuals history knows only as "Blood" and "Cheese". While historians have a pretty good idea about their occupations before the war, their actual names are a complete mystery.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: There are too many instances to count.
    • Queen Helaena actually went mad when her eldest son was assassinated in front of her and her other children.
    • Alicent has to live with the fact that her ambition got most of her family, including all but one of her descendants, killed.
    • Corlys is horrified when Rhaenyra, in her paranoia, turns on Addam Velaryon, who was his heir and possibly his son. Keep in mind that Corlys had already lost of his wife because of her. Nettles goes into exile to avoid her death sentence, leaving Daemon depressed to the point of Suicide by Cop.
    • Rhaenyra's sons died one after another. Luke was murdered by his uncle Aemond and Jace got hit with an arrow in battle. Joff's death is horrific in it's own special way: he got himself killed doing something reckless because his mother took her eye off him for just a minute.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Both sides could be said to have "won", but neither were really happy with the result. And the Dance ultimately caused dragons to go extinct, crippling the Targaryen dynasty's power.
    • The Greens officially won the war and Aegon II was crowned; however, both he and his dragon suffered debilitating injuries that neither ever recovered from. Sunfyre died of his wounds, and Aegon lived in crippling pain. Aegon was poisoned soon after and died without any heirs, meaning that Rhaenyra's claim was posthumously vindicated as her son Aegon III became the next king.
    • The Blacks ultimately established Rhaenyra's line on the throne... after Rhaenyra was gruesomely murdered and went down in history as a usurper.
  • Refusal of the Call: Aegon II initially wanted to let Rhaenyra stake her claim unchallenged, but his mother insisted that she would kill him, his siblings and his children if she got the throne. (However it is debated how true this is.)
  • Sadistic Choice: The infamous "Blood and Cheese" incident. Blood and Cheese were two assassins sent by Daemon Targaryen to infiltrate the Red Keep to carry out the retaliation for the death of Lucerys Velaryon. Their real names were lost to history, but the former used to be a sergeant of the City Watch and the latter a rat-catcher in the Red Keep. Together, they broke into Queen Alicent's bedroom, tied her up, and waited for Queen Helaena Targaryen to bring her children to kiss their grandmother goodnight. They killed the guard and then forced Helaena to choose which of her two sons she wanted them to kill. When Helaena eventually chose her youngest, 2 year old Maelor, they killed 6 year old Jaehaerys instead, so that Maelor would live the rest of his life knowing his mother chose him to die. And for good measure, they threatened to rape her 6-year-old daughter Jaehaera if she didn't make up her mind fast enough. Itís no wonder that Helaena fell into a crippling depression following the incident and never recovered.
  • Sanity Slippage: Poor Queen Helaena fell into a bottomless depression after the murder of her eldest son.
  • Self-Poisoning Gambit: This was how Ser Hobert Hightower killed Ulf the White after Ulf announced his intention to crown himself king solely due to being a Dragon Rider. Hightower brought The Alcoholic Ulf some poisoned wine, but Ulf suspected something was up and refused to drink. In order to get Ulf to drink the poison, Hightower had some first, after which Ulf lowered his guard and drank too. Both men promptly died.
  • Seers: Prince Aemond's lover, Alys Rivers, might have been one. He claims she used her visions to track the Blacks' movements.
  • Short-Runner: Neither Rhaenyra nor Aegon II lasted a full year on the Iron Throne.
  • Slashed Throat: The first casualty of the war, Lord Lyman Beesbury, had his throat cut by Ser Criston Cole for insisting to the Small Council that Rhaenyra was the rightful queen.
  • Suicide by Cop: After Nettles is forced in exile, Daemon crosses the Despair Event Horizon and goes off to fight Aemond knowing that he most likely won't survive.
    Aemond: You have lived too long, nuncle.
    Daemon: On that much we agree.
  • Taking You with Me: Hobert Hightower killed Ulf the White with poisoned wine, and drank a whole glass himself to avert suspicion.
  • Team Switzerland: Despite their bannermen supporting both sides of the war, House Tyrell doesn't get involved
  • Tom Swifty: In the novella "The Princess and the Queen", there's a line about a Lord Beesbury saying something waspishly.
  • Turncoat:
    • Several, most infamously Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White. Both were bastard dragon riders raised to power by Rhaenyra for helping her cause. They rewarded her favor by burning down Tumbleton and defecting to the Greens. History now knows them as "The Betrayers".
    • Rhaenyra's final downfall came when several of the men she had left to garrison Dragonstone changed sides to the Greens, either because of old grievances or promises of wealth and power. When she returned to island, they lulled her into a false sense of security before killing the remainder of her Queensguard and turning her over to Aegon II.
  • Undying Loyalty: How loyal was Addam Velaryon? He kept fighting for Rhaenyra even after she tried to have him arrested and forced him to flee King's Landing.
  • Vicariously Ambitious: Alicent's ambition to have her children reign as king rather than step aside and kneel to a stepdaughter that Alicent despised was the single biggest factor leading to the war.
  • War Is Hell: Man is it ever, especially when dragons are brought into the mix. In the end, the Greens nominally win, but the Blacks gain dynastic vindication when Alicent's son Aegon II is succeeded by Rhaenyra's son Aegon III. Both sides took very heavy loses. In short, everyone underwent a Trauma Conga Line.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: If it weren't clear that dragons are essentially this then this story dispels any few doubts. A single dragon makes absolute nobodies like Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White indulge in casual war crimes, Aemond on Vhagar is Death from Above personified and whole cities and towns can be burnt to the ground thanks to dragonfire. This eventually caused the people of King's Landing to riot and kill the dragons in the Dragonpit.
  • Wham Shot: Rhaenyra fled back to Dragonstone after the riots of King's Landing, only to that find Aegon II, who had been missing for over half a year, had already conquered it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Right before the final duel, Nettles flies away on Sheepstealer, leaving behind Daemon and his dragon. She disappears from the chronicles after that.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Both sides would.
    • After Aemond killed 14 year old Lucerys, Prince Daemon sent cutthroats to kill one of Aegon II's sons, 6 year old Jaehaerys.
    • Alfred Broome advocates killing both Princess Baela (13) and Prince Aegon the Younger (10) when Aegon II has them prisoner. Marston Waters and Aegon II decide against it.
  • Zerg Rush: The Storming of the Dragonpit. The smallfolk of King's Landing throw themselves into what is essentially a flaming meat-grinder to kill the dragons they blame for all their woes. Thousands die incredibly painful deaths, but they are ultimately successful in killing every dragon in the city.

     The Rogue Prince 

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Young Rhaenyra is described as such, even become a dragonrider at the tender age of seven.
  • The Alliance: Lys, Tyrosh, and Myr put aside their old rivalry to attack Volantis together and claim control over the Disputed Land and the Stepstone. When Daemon attempted to carve out a kingdom for himself in the Stepstones, the Three Daughters (as they were called) were his most bitter foes. Later on Dorne would join the fighting on behalf of the Three Daughters.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Daemon hated his wife Rhea Royce and the feeling was mutual.
  • Batman Gambit: Daemon wanted to marry Laena Velaryon, but she was betrothed to the son of the Sealord of Braavos, so Daemon insulted the other man, knowing he'd be challenged to a duel. Being older, more experienced, and in possession of a Valyrian steel sword, Dark Sister, Daemon won without much effort and got to marry Laena, thus strengthening his ties to the powerful House Velaryon.
  • Blatant Lies: Viserys I hated to see the in-fighting within his family, so sometimes Alicent, Rhaenyra and their sides of the family would pretend to get along for his sake, but only the king was ever fooled by these false displays of family harmony.
  • Bling of War: Daemon thought the City Watch's uniforms were boring, so he added golden cloaks to distinguish them, which is why members of the City Watch are known as goldcloaks to the present day.
  • Book Ends: Lampshaded by Gyldayn. The year 120 AC began and ended with a woman giving birth (Laena at the beginning of the year and Rhaenyra at its end).
  • Cain and Abel: Subverted with Viserys and Daemon. They're polar opposites in personality, with Viserys being loved and Daemon being divisive at best, but despite several fights, the brothers ultimately love each other.
  • The Caretaker: The teenaged Alicent faithfully cared for the Old King Jaehaerys in the final years of his life. She was so often at his side that he would mistake her for one of his daughters.
  • Cartwright Curse: Daemon's first two wives both died, leaving him free to marry Rhaenyra.
  • Child Marriage Veto: Subverted. Rhaenyra refused to marry Laenor Velaryon, but was forced to do so anyway after her father threatened to strip her of her title as his heir.
  • Chocolate Baby: Rhaenyra's three eldest sons were brown-haired and brown-eyed, but she and her first husband Laenor both had the traditional Valyrian look of silver hair and purple eyes. This lent more credence to the rumors that Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey were not legitimate, but bastards fathered by Harwin Strong.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: When Daemon got his paramour Mysaria pregnant, he gave her a dragon egg. Viserys became angry over this, since Daemon was already married. He commanded his younger brother to take back the egg and go back to his wife. Daemon grudgingly obeyed, but when Mysaria lost her child while being sent back to Lys, it caused a huge rift between the brothers.
  • Commanding Coolness: Daemon was commander of the City Watch, and many of the goldcloaks were actually personally loyal to him, not the king.
  • Cool Uncle: After getting over his resentment over the fact that she displaced him in the line of succession, Daemon became his niece Rhaenyra's best friend, spending hours entertaining her and showering her with exotic gifts.
  • Daddy's Girl: Rhaenyra to Viserys. He named her his heir publicly before several lords and ladies, and even made her sit in on Small Council meetings to properly train her. Nobody opposed this until his second wife Alicent gave birth to sons. (That was one of the reasons that later led to several powerful families fighting for the Blacks during the Dance of the Dragons, including the honor-bound and oath-obsessed Starks.)
  • Darkest Hour: Gyldayn considers the year 120 AC, called "the Year of the Red Spring", as this. Laena died in childbirth at the beginning of the year (her son dying at birth), Laenor was later killed by his friend Qarl Correy at a feast, Aemond lost an eye to his nephews in a fight after claiming Vhagar, and Harwin Strong and his father Lyonel (Hand to Viserys I) died in a fire at Harrenhal.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Joffrey Velaryon was named after his (supposed) father's best friend (and perhaps lover) Joffrey Lonmouth. His cousins Jaehaerys and Jaehaera, twin children of Aegon II and Helaena, were named after their great-great-grandfather Jaehaerys I, "the Old King".
  • Death by Childbirth: Aemma Arryn and Laena Velaryon both died in childbirth, and the sons they gave birth to died as well (Aemma's son, Baelon, lived for a day, and Laena's son died at birth, predeceasing her).
  • The Dying Walk: Laena Velaryon tried to ride her dragon Vhagar one last time, but finally succumbed to childbed fever on the tower steps.
  • Enforced Cold War: The rivalry between the Blacks and the Green hasn't escalated to war yet as of this story.
  • The Evil Prince: When Viserys' son Baelon died the day after his birth, Daemon partied with his friends and made jokes about "the Heir for a Day". Daemon was also jealous of Rhaenyra for her status as heir, but he came around and became a Cool Uncle instead, so subverted in that regard. The Greens saw him as playing it straight, however.
  • Eye Scream: After claiming Vhagar as his mount, Aemond got into a fight with his three nephews, during which Luke slashed him in the face with a dagger, taking out his eye. That said, Aemond would later consider his eye a fair trade for getting the oldest and strongest living dragon.
  • Fingore: In the later years of his life, Viserys I cut himself on the Iron Throne, slicing his hand almost to the bone. He had to have two fingers removed to save him from the infection.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Vhagar, the most feared dragon at the time, was ridden by the sweet and cheerful Laena Velaryon from the time she was a child. She loved riding her for fun.
  • The Good King: Subverted. Viserys I was generous, fun-loving, and popular, but lacked a spine. His inability to confront the problems in his court and among his family had fatal consequences. Played straight with his grandfather Jaehaerys I.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Viserys I named Rhaenyra his heir and refused to touch the issue of succession again, which eventually led to disaster.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Rhaenyra and Laena were the very best of friends and would often visit each other.
    • Prince Daemon and Lord Corlys were also very close.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Rhaenyra was made to marry Laenor Velaryon, who was gay. They spent most of their time apart and many people doubt the marriage was consummated.
  • Kill It with Fire: A fire broke out in Harrenhal in 120 AC, killing Harwin Strong and his father. Though some believe it was a tragic accident or simply a result of Black Harren's curse, there were rumors that someone had intentionedly murdered them for whatever reason. Corlys Velaryon, Prince Daemon, Larys Strong, and even Viserys I were all suspects, though nothing came of these suspicions. Most likely it was just an accident, since no one had expected them to return to Harrenhal at that time.
  • Kissing Cousins: Subverted. Rhaenyra was married to her cousin Laenor, but it's believed that they didn't have a physical relationship at all (he wasn't interested in women and their supposed children were likely fathered by Harwin Strong).
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Viserys threatened anyone who called his beloved grandsons bastards, even his own sons.
    • When Corlys Velaryon fell ill, his oldest nephew Vaemond planned on petitioning to Viserys to name him Corlys' heir, as he believed Lucerys, the one expected to succeed Corlys, was a bastard. Daemon had him killed. When Vaemond's wife, children and brothers complained about it to Viserys, he had their tongues cut out.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: During the Council of 101, several people from Houses Targaryen and Velaryon were passed over for Viserys I to be named king.
  • Precocious Crush: Rhaenyra loved Criston Cole from the time she was a child, and (possibly) saved her maidenhead for him. It didn't end well.
  • Pretty Boy: Laenor was said to be even more beautiful than his sister Laena.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: The last thing Viserys I ever did was tell a story to his grandchildren about his grandfather, the Old King Jaehaerys. Then he took a nap and died in his sleep.
  • Rebel Prince: Deconstructed. Daemon was despised for his lack of propriety, and many people at court would do anything to keep him away from the throne.
  • The Resenter: Prince Daemon resented never being named heir to the throne and having to sit by the side, while other heirs and descendants were placed in succession before him. He even resented Rhaenyra being named heir at first, though he came around later.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Soft, fun-loving, easygoing Viserys I and martial, hot-tempered, dangerous Prince Daemon.
  • Skewed Priorities: Aemond sneaked out his room to try to ride Vhagar, knowing his parents never would have allowed him to do so. He was so afraid of getting caught that he forgot to be afraid of the dragon.
  • Slut-Shaming:
    • Rhaenyra is accused of having an affair with Harwin Strong. Before that, rumors circulated that Daemon gave her the sex-ed course of a lifetime, taking her to brothels, teaching her about oral sex and showing her what men found most seductive in a woman.
    • Alicent got a bit of this as well. Rumors circulated that she may have slept with Daemon, or Viserys while his first wife was alive, or even the then feeble and senile King Jaehaerys.
  • Spare to the Throne: Daemon Targaryen was the brother of a king, husband to a queen and father of two kings, but the only time he was king of anything was when he carved out a short-lived pirate kingdom in the Stepstones.
  • Stealth Insult: At a feast, Aemond One-Eye "complimented" his nephews on their strength, a reference to the fact that they were rumored to be bastards fathered by Harwin Strong.
  • Succession Crisis: Averted in regards to House Velaryon. When Lord Corlys became terribly ill, his nephews got into a dispute with Rhaenyra and her children over who would succeed him, but the king took his daughter's side and Corlys recovered anyway. (Ultimately Corlys would be succeeded by the legitimized bastard Alyn Velaryon).
  • Transparent Closet: Everyone knew that Laenor Velaryon was gay.
  • Unbroken Vigil:
    • Laenor stayed by the bedside of his best friend (and likely his lover) Joffrey Lonmouth after Cristen Cole dealt Joffrey a fatal blow to the head.
    • After Laena passed away, having tried to reach her dragon one last time, Daemon carried her corpse back to her bed and he and Rhaenyra sat vigil over her.
  • Unexpected Successor: King Jaehaerys I outlived his eldest son Aemon and his second son Baelon, and the Great Council of 101 AC that was assembled upon the death of the latter granted the inheritance to Baelon's son Viserys over Aemon's daughter Rhaenys or any of the other potential claimants.
  • Unusual Euphemism: How Grand Maester Mellos assured Viserys I that Laenor would still give Rhaenyra heirs, despite not being attracted to women: "What of it? I am not fond of fish, but when fish is served, I eat it."
  • War for Fun and Profit: Daemon, with the help of Corlys Velaryon, began a war for the Stepstones to avoid having to pay taxes to the Kingdom of the Three Daughters. The Daughters remember this during the Dance of the Dragons and lend aid to the Greens as payback.
  • Wedding Smashers: Downplayed. The tourney at Rhaenyra and Laenor's wedding was meant to be a fun event, but then Criston Cole beat Joffrey Lonmouth, Laenor's best friend (and possible lover), to death. Not as bad as a battle, but it certainly put a damper on things.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • Alicent and Rhaenyra were quite fond of each other after Alicent first married Viserys and before the issue of succession drove them apart.
    • Also, Criston Cole was once Rhaenyra's closest companion and childhood crush, but an incident occurred (either she tried to seduce him and was rejected, or he tried to get her to leave for the Free Cities with him and she refused, depending on the source) that made him one of her most bitter foes.
  • Wild Card: More than most Targaryens, Prince Daemon hated daily administrative duties and preferred hanging out with Kingslander crooks, criminals, whores and fellow goldcloaks. He also took any excuse to get away from the capital and engaged in wars with pirates at the Stepstones for fun and games.
  • World's Strongest Man: Harwin Strong was believed to be the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms.