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"Give your uncle a kiss!"
Euron Greyjoy to his niece Yara Greyjoy.[src]

The Assault on the Targaryen Fleet is an engagement fought during Daenerys Targaryen's invasion of Westeros where the Iron Fleet, commanded by Euron Greyjoy, the King of the Iron Islands, attacks a portion of the Targaryen fleet under the command of his niece, Yara Greyjoy, herself an ally of Daenerys Targaryen.

King Euron sought to capture Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes as gifts for Cersei Lannister, whom he seeks to marry to solidify an alliance. Previously, they assassinated her daughter, Myrcella Baratheon, who herself was innocent of any crimes. Nonetheless, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes sought vengeance for the abuses that the Lannisters had committed against Dorne for decades, and killed Myrcella to start a war with Cersei.

Additionally, he sought the deaths of his niece Yara and nephew Theon, who both oppose Euron after he murdered their father and his brother, Balon Greyjoy, and won over the Ironborn at the subsequent Kingsmoot, seizing the Salt Throne of the Iron Islands for himself.

Prelude

Near the end of Robert's Rebellion, Lord Tywin Lannister led the Sack of King's Landing against the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, after receiving word of Robert Baratheon's victory at the Battle of the Trident and the death of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. During the sack, Tywin dispatched the Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane, to murder Rhaegar's wife, Princess Elia Martell, and her two children, Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon. This strained the relationship between the Iron Throne, which had been taken over by Robert Baratheon, and House Martell, the rulers of Dorne.

Years later, Prince Oberyn Martell, the younger brother of Dorne's ruling prince Doran Martell and Elia, arrived at King's Landing and fought against the Mountain at the trial by combat of Tyrion Lannister as his champion, seeking to avenge the death of his sister and her children. However, he was gruesomely killed by the Mountain, his skull crushing death being witnessed by his paramour, Ellaria Sand. Ellaria returned to Dorne and rallied three of the Sand Snakes - Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene - to murder Myrcella Baratheon, the daughter of Cersei Lannister and granddaughter of Tywin, and overthrow Doran and seize power in a coup after Doran refused to go to war with the Lannisters so as to keep his people safe and alive. Under Ellaria, Dorne joined with the Reach, ruled by House Tyrell, in forming an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen, the Mad King's daughter, who sought to take back the Iron Throne and restore her family, House Targaryen, to power.

On the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy had declared himself king once more during the War of the Five Kings; previously, he had rebelled against Robert Baratheon during the Greyjoy Rebellion but was swiftly defeated by the Baratheons, Starks, and Lannisters. Eddard Stark had taken his last surviving son Theon Greyjoy as a ward at the end of the rebellion. Balon's campaign to conquer the North during the War of Five Kings failed, however, and he was murdered by his younger brother, Euron Greyjoy, after receiving word from his daughter, Yara Greyjoy, that their last stronghold in the North had fallen.

At the subsequent Kingsmoot, both Yara and Euron claimed the Salt Throne, but Euron ultimately won over the Ironborn and became the new King of the Iron Islands. Realizing their uncle to be a dangerous man, Yara and Theon fled, stealing 100 ships of the Iron Fleet with their loyalists, and sailed to Meereen, where they made a pact with Daenerys Targyaren. Euron previously sought to offer his hand in marriage to Daenerys, but after learning he had been beaten by his nephew and niece, he instead accepted an invitation to King's Landing by Cersei Lannister, who had seized the Iron Throne after the death of her son, King Tommen Baratheon. Euron once more offered his hand in marriage, this time to Cersei, to solidify an alliance between the Lannisters and the Greyjoys, but she declined to marry him. Euron decided to bring Cersei "a priceless gift" to change her mind and vowed not to return to King's Landing until he had that gift for her, much to the distaste of Jaime Lannister.

Daenerys, meanwhile, landed at Dragonstone with her allies. In the chamber of the Painted Table, they discussed their war plans for the Targaryen reconquest. Daenerys ordered Yara, Theon, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes to go to Dorne with their ships to gather and consolidate their forces.

The battle

Ellaria Sand begins to intimately kiss Yara Greyjoy when the Black Wind is suddenly rammed. Yara and her brother Theon run up onto the deck to see the Silence, the flagship of their uncle Euron, attacking them, along with the rest of the Iron Fleet attacking theirs. Euron locks the Silence onto Black Wind with his corvus and boards, along with the rest of his soldiers and they begin to fight Yara and Theon's loyal Ironborn warriors. Tyene Sand runs onto deck but Yara sends her back down below to protect Ellaria, her mother. Her sisters and fellow Sand Snakes, Obara Sand and Nymeria Sand, however, remain on the deck, fighting against Euron's men. All the while, trebuchets from Euron's fleet launch fireballs into Yara's ships, setting them afire and sinking them.

Euron cuts down several of Yara and Theon's men with his axe, but it is buried too deep into the skull of one of the men he kills and he is unable to pry it out. As he struggles to get it out, he is suddenly grabbed by Nymeria's whip around his throat and thrust towards Obara, who cuts his back with her spear. However, he is able to dodge her other attacks and knocks her to the ground with her own spear, snapping it in half with her back before impaling her with the two halves of her spear and lifting her in the air. Nymeria sees this and runs towards Euron, stabbing him with her knife; their weapons were likely not coated with poison due to the unexpectedness of the attack. Euron is able to take her whip, however, and chokes her to death with it. Meanwhile, Tyene and her mother Ellaria are captured by Euron's men. Ellaria tells them to kill them and be done with it, but the tongueless crew of the Silence only smile and bring them on deck to Euron.

702 Fleet Siege Aftermath

Obara and Nymeria's bodies in the aftermath of the attack.

Meanwhile, Yara watches on as her fleet is burnt and destroyed by Euron's. She continues cutting down Euron's men with her sword; when she catches sight of Euron, she leaps onto him, knocking him to the ground. However, Euron is able to push her off and retrieve his axe, and the two engage in a brutal melee while Euron's men finish off his niece's. Euron is able to beat her and holds his axe at her throat, imploring Theon to come and get her. However, Theon, watching his men being slaughtered and tortured by Euron's, drops his sword and jumps overboard. Euron laughs madly and takes Yara to the Silence. He has the corpse of Nymeria hung from the front of Black Wind with Obara above it, the two halves of her spear keeping her up. Theon watches on in Blackwater Bay as the Silence sails away to King's Landing.[2]

Aftermath

Yara's fleet has been destroyed almost completely. Only "two or three" ships escaped. One of those rescues Theon.[3]

Euron Greyjoy returns to King's Landing, greeted by a crowd of cheering smallfolk. He rides a horse towards the Red Keep with his niece Yara on a leash behind him.[3] In exchange for Euron's "gift" to the Iron Throne, Queen Cersei agreed to marry him...*after* her enemies were defeated.

Euron's victory left Daenerys at a logistical disadvantage, as the vast majority of the ships needed to ferry her troops to mainland Westeros were lost. The capture of Ellaria and Tyene and the deaths of Obara and Nymeria Sand also left Dorne without current leadership, despite their strong opposition to the Lannisters. As a result, Daenerys will likely have to postpone her planned siege of King's Landing, at least temporarily as the bulk of her forces are still on Dragonstone. Daenerys proposed using her dragons to hunt down and burn the Iron Fleet all at once. However, Tyrion pointed out that Euron has likely spread out his fleet into smaller flotillas to prevent just that. Missandei also warned that the risk to Daenerys was too great, as she would be exposed and vulnerable while riding Drogon.

However, Daenerys and Tyrion had already been making two other plans to gain a beachhead on the mainland: an alliance with the King in the North Jon Snow, and a separate assault on Casterly Rock, to deprive the Lannisters of their seat of power.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin, no equivalent battle has occurred. However, Asha (Yara's name in the novels) is defeated and taken captive at the second battle of Deepwood Motte, but the circumstances of the battle are almost totally different, for instance:

  • Euron, Ellaria, the Sand Snakes and Theon are not involved at all in the battle. The combatants are Asha and Stannis.
  • Asha has only 4 ships and 200 men.
  • The battle takes place at a much earlier point of the plotline, before the Battle of Winterfell.
  • The main part of the battle takes place on the mainland. 

In a sample chapter of the sixth novel, Euron expects to engage soon in a naval battle against the Redwyne fleet, but that also will happen under different circumstances, as House Redwyne remains loyal to the Iron Throne and is responding to massive raiding on the Reach's shores.

References

  1. Given that Euron's fleet had just arrived in King's Landing and departed from it to bring Cersei a gift, and that Yara had just been sent to Dorne from Dragonstone, it seems logical that Euron intercepted them in Blackwater Bay or near it. Though, it is truly uncertain, given that the Lannisters inexplicably never even bothered to capture an abandoned fortress. Further confirmation may be needed.
  2. "Stormborn"
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Queen's Justice"