Bringing a dragon to a battle in Westeros is a bit like bringing a nuclear bomb to WWI. It’s not a fair fight. And if both sides bring a nuke, there’s a good chance everyone involved will end up dead.
In a world with very few dragons, Game of Thrones waited until the very end to reveal just how devastating they could be. But in House of the Dragon Season 1, that’s already become clear. And one line of dialogue, in particular, reveals how the prequel series is also changing the way we think about an iconic GoT scene.
“Queen of the ashes”
When word that House Hightower has usurped the throne reaches Rhaenyra Targaryen and her supporters, everyone’s first reaction is to attack. Daemon Targaryen points out that they have a lot more dragons than their enemies, and could retake the Iron Throne in a day or two if they go on the offensive. But Rhaenyra disagrees.
“I do not wish to rule over a kingdom of ash and bone,” she tells Daemon and the rest of the room.
The implication is clear. If dragons fight dragons, they’ll burn everything in sight. And what good is it to be queen if Westeros is just one giant ash heap?
This pretty much ends the discussion, and while Daemon heads below the castle to seek out more dragons, Rhaenyra decides to focus on diplomacy, sending her sons off to rally support across Westeros.
But if you thought this line sounded familiar, you’re not wrong. Daenerys Targaryen said something very similar in Game of Thrones when her supporters suggested she attack King’s Landing with all three of her dragons.
“I am not here to be queen of the ashes,” Dany replied.
In response, Olenna Tyrell (one of the people urging Dany to attack) offered a powerful rebuke.
“That's very nice to hear,” Olenna said. “Of course, I can’t remember a queen who was better loved than my granddaughter. The common people loved her. The nobles loved her. And what is left of her now? Ashes.”
Rhaenyra and Daenerys
As Game of Thrones fans know all too well, Olenna Tyrell had a point. Dany listened to Tyrion Lannister instead when he suggested restraint, and it cost her dearly. By the time she was finally ready to attack, she had lost two of her three dragons, leading to a much more difficult and devestating fight for King’s Landing.
Olenna isn’t around to offer the same advice to Rhaenyra, but it’s also unclear if it applies. In this case, both sides have dragons, which means an all-out battle will leave thousands of people dead. Still, we can’t help but wonder if, in the long run, Rhaenyra will regret her decision. Her son Lucerys is already dead, and we have to assume he won’t be the only casualty.
By the end of House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra Targaryen may look back and wish she attacked when she first had the chance — assuming she survives at all.
House of the Dragon is streaming now on HBO Max.