House of the Dragon: Season 2 Primer

Eager for the release of the second season of the critically acclaimed series, “House of the Dragon?” To our confounding dismay, the long-tenured titan of American literature in the fantasy genre has seemingly abandoned his post, failing to release the penultimate and concluding novels of his series, “A Song of Ice Fire.” His last release in the series was 13 years ago. We’ve all been waiting.

Thankfully, in the still-expanding interim, for those of us still wedded to the history of Essos and Westeros — the Valyrians, the Bravoosi’s, the internecine warfare between the dynastic houses of the Seven Kingdoms — HBO is providing us, yet again, with access to a world we may not necessarily want to witness or be a tax-paying citizen of, but are nonetheless drawn to as observers.

“The House of the Dragon,” a re-articulation of Martin’s historical tome on the Targaryen dynasty, “Fire and Blood,” recreates the fabled “Dance of Dragons”, a conflict that tore the Targaryen’s asunder, pilfered their aeronautical power in the eventual elimination of their fabled dragons; and eventually set the stage for the ambitions of a young Baratheon lord several centuries later.

Below is a quick primer on the upcoming season of the “House of the Dragon,” for those of you who require edification on the amblings and politics of Westeros. “House of the Dragon,” Season 2, will premier on HBO Sunday, June 16th.

Black vs Green

Photo courtesy of YouTube, House of the Dragon | Official Black Trailer

If one has taken even a fleeting glance at the newly released trailers revolving around Season 2, we all know the narrative arc of the season will bend between the two factions now manifest within the Targaryen clan; the “Blacks” supporting the eldest daughter of the now-deceased King Viserys I, ensconced in the nearby fortress of Dragonstone; and the “Greens,” supporting the tradition of primogeniture and thus consequently in favor of the ascendance of King Aegon II, the eldest son of King Visery’s second wife, Queen Alicent Hightower.

Military superiority, at least in a clash involving the Targaryens, largely depends on a numerical assessment of who possesses the greater quantity of dragons. At the conclusion of Season 1, the “Blacks” claimed to hold possession of 13 dragons, the “Greens” only 4.

Still, we all know how quickly political intrigue can alter the complexion of fortunes in the world of Westeros, and within the courts of King’s Landing. Perceived superiority can quickly diminish depending on needless prevarication and posturing, a swing of the sword, outright betrayal, or the unrelenting inferno of a dragon’s breath.

The Song of Ice and Fire

Photo courtesy of YouTube, House of the Dragon – Aegon’s Dagger

One of the most intriguing moments from Season 1 of the “House of the Dragon” was when VIserys I, near his death, transfers news of a prophecy made by Aegon the Conqurer, the progenitor of the Targaryen conquest and its eventual dominion over Westeros. The contents of the message are not articulated in full to the viewing audience, but we do become aware of it’s content: An impending doom that will emanate from the North, as well as the genesis of a Targaryen heir destined to defeat it.

That Viserys I would insist upon this confession confirms his stated intention that Rhaenyra be his eventual heir, while also raising questions that aren’t necessarily yet answered within the framework of GRRM’s canon.

The Emotional Arc of Alicent Hightower

Photo courtesy of YouTube, House of the Dragon | Official Green Trailer 

Alicent Hightower, as well as her father, Otto Hightower, largely control the faction supporting Aegon II”s claim to the throne.

The curious perversion in Alicent’s behavior, however, is that she was once actually a staunch ally to her now erstwhile opponent, Rhaenyra. She served as her handmaiden, and despite several rows, eventually is able to renew her friendship with Rhaenyra. However, before Visery’s death, under the mistaken impression that he was speaking to Rhaenyra: he uttered the following words to Alicent, completely altering her disposition:

“To unite the realm against the cold and dark. It is you. You are the one. You must do this.”

Allicent’s misperception of her husband’s words, expressed within the throes of his leprosy-ridden state, catalyzes her every ensuing misaction, ensuring war and ruination.

Lying Lucerys to Rest

Photo courtesy of YouTube, House of the Dragon (2022) | Aemond vs Lucerys Scene

Lucerys, one of Rhaenyra’s sons, long held a combative relationship with his uncle, Aemond Targaryen, the second son borne to Viserys I and Allicent Hightower. Targaryen lineage is confusing, oftentimes, as they insist upon passing down familial names and pursuing incestuous marriages.

Toward the latter episodes of Season 1, Lucerys was sent to Storm’s End, home of the Baratheon’s, forebears to Robert Baratheon, who would one day usurp the Targaryen dynasty. While Rhaenyra initially believed the Baratheon’s might be a pliable ally, that quickly proves to be untrue. Persuaded, already, by the guileful Hightowers to join in the cause of Aegon II, they remove Lucerys from their fortress without any diplomatic negotiations.

Lucerys flees to Dragonstone upon his dragon, Arrax; with his Uncle, already in the employ of the Baratheon’s, fast on his tale, riding the gargantuan dragon, Vhagar, in pursuit. Dragons are notoriously implacable creatures and what Aemond once believed to be a mere display of force; transforms into sheer brutality, with Vhagar seemingly consuming Lucerys and leaving Arrax to drop as debris into the accepting bay below.

Hence was commenced, the “Dance of Dragons.”

The Once and Future King (or Queen?)

Photo courtesy of YouTube, Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen

Rhaenyra Targaryen ultimately has two husbands: Leanor Valaryon and her Uncle, her Father Visery’s brother, Daemon Targaryen. By Laenor Velaryon, though the show and books hint heavily that he is not the biological Father, Rhaenyra has three sons: Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey. By her second husband, Daemon, she has two more living children: Aegon and Viserys II.

With the multiplicity of dragons primarily fighting for her, it would be easy to assume that either Rhaenyra, one of her children, will eventually sit the Iron Throne. We’ll know more the end of Season 2.