Fire & Blood

House of the Dragon Can’t Fix Game of Thrones, But It Can Still Redeem it

Remember the Prince That Was Promised?

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Season 2
House of the Dragon

In the Game of Thrones universe, “A Song of Ice and Fire” has myriad meanings. Yes, it’s the title of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series — though it took on another name when HBO adapted it for the small screen. But within Game of Thrones and its Targaryen-centered prequel, House of the Dragon, “A Song of Ice and Fire” is also a long-standing prophecy, and the crux of House of the Dragon’s biggest misunderstanding.

The first season of House of the Dragon is a thorough prelude to the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of Dragons. In a way, it all starts when King Viserys tells his daughter and heir, Rhaenyra about the Song of Ice and Fire. In lay terms, this is King Aegon I’s vision of the future: He saw a never-ending winter descend on the realm and believed that only a Targaryen ruler could deliver the Seven Kingdoms from certain doom. If you caught all eight seasons of Thrones, you know that Jon Snow (technically Aegon Targaryen VII) is probably the Prince That Was Promised (or was it Arya? or maybe Daenerys?). But since House of the Dragon takes place hundreds of years before he’s even born, Viserys and Rhaenyra have to act on blind faith and do everything they can to ensure a Targaryen remains on the Iron Throne.

Their plans inevitably go awry when Viserys’ wife Alicent takes his final words literally. On his death bed, Viserys mentions Aegon and the Prince That Was Promised. Alicent believes he’s referring to their son, Aegon II, and uses that as an excuse to usurp Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne. It’s not until much later, in Season 2, that Alicent comes face-to-face with Rhaenyra and discovers how wrong she really was.

Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 3.

House of the Dragon Season 2 finally addresses Alicent’s biggest mistake


Episode 3 delivers some much-needed catharsis by reuniting Rhaenyra and Alicent. The former friends finally get the chance to clear the air in the hopes of preventing war, but neither is willing to budge at first. Rhaenyra resents Alicent for deposing her and putting Aegon on the throne, while Alicent maintains that Viserys changed his mind at the last second, calling Aegon “the prince that was promised to unite the realm.” (It doesn’t help that both sides are also guilty of infanticide at this point.)

“He spoke to you of the Song of Ice and Fire?” Rhaenyra asks, before bringing Alicent up to speed on the true meaning of Visery’s last words. This obviously shakes Alicent to her core: she upended the realm and stood beside her monster of a son because she (kind of) believed that Viserys wanted him to be king. Her entire coup was basically built on a misunderstanding. Awkward.

Unfortunately, Alicent isn’t prepared to back down — not anymore, anyway. There might have been a time where she and Rhaenyra could have sorted everything out, but that was before her son Aemond accidentally killed Rhaenyra’s son Luke, Aegon was officially crowned king, and Rhaenyra’s husband Daemon sent assassins to kill some Targaryen kids. This war cannot be prevented. In fact, it started a long time ago.

The two feuding houses will inevitably clash in a major way... and unfortunately, the Aegon prophecy actually won’t really matter in the grand scheme. Game of Thrones fumbled hard with the Song of Ice and Fire, but House of the Dragon has repurposed it for its own means. The prequel may find other ways to redeem its predecessor’s lackluster ending, we just have to keep watching to find out.

House of the Dragon is streaming on HBO and Max.

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