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"The Dance of the Dragons" is part of the Histories & Lore, a special feature in the Blu-ray of Season 5 of Game of Thrones. It is narrated by Kerry Ingram as Princess Shireen Baratheon, Harry Lloyd as King Viserys Targaryen, Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, Michelle Fairley as Lady Catelyn Stark, Pedro Pascal as Prince Oberyn Martell and Jack Gleeson as King Joffrey Baratheon.
Shireen Baratheon, Viserys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Catelyn Stark, Oberyn Martell and Joffrey Baratheon each narrate the story of the Dance of the Dragons, a Targaryen civil war between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Aegon II Targaryen that nearly destroyed the Realm.
Shireen Baratheon: "The Dance of Dragons, A True Telling" by Grandmaester Munkun, being a history of the war of Targaryen succession between the Princess Rhaenyra and Aegon, Second of His Name, that nearly destroyed the realm.
Viserys Targaryen: "The Dance of the Dragons". A stupid name for a Targaryen civil war where my ancestors danced away my birthright. Before the war, House Targaryen counted eighteen dragons. By the end we had two, and nearly as few Targaryens. We would never be as powerful or as feared again.
The Dance began, as many dances to, with an old man and a young girl. The queen had failed to produce a son for her king, so he anointed his daughter, the Princess Rhaenyra, as his heir. But years later the king remarried and his new wife, Queen Alicent of House Hightower, gave him a son. Feeble and foolish, the old king refused to change the succession. He didn't even see how his court had split into two rival camps; the Blacks and the Greens, after the dresses that the princess and the queen had worn to some tourney.
One night, a servant found the old king had died in his sleep and ran to inform Queen Alicent. Protocol dictated that the bells would be rung and a raven sent to Dragonstone to summon the heir, Princess Rhaenyra, for her coronation. But Alicent had other plans. Once she saw her dead husband's body, she sealed the room and had the servant thrown into the Black Cells to ensure his silence. At the hour of the owl, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole, summoned the Small Council to inform them of the king's death. Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King and father to Queen Alicent, demanded that the succession be settled immediately. The decrepit old men of the Small Council were confused; the succession was settled in their minds. The old king had forced the lords of Westeros to swear fealty to Princess Rhaenyra as his heir. But Ser Criston Cole rightly pointed out that a son comes before a daughter. The Council argued until dawn, when the Master of Coin finally stood up and declared he would have no part of treason. Ser Criston Cole wisely opened his throat with a dagger, ending the debate.
None were more surprised to hear of Prince Aegon's succession than Prince Aegon himself. At first, the fool rejected the crown, but his mother pointed out that his sister Rhaenyra would return such loyalty by taking his head. "As the old king's trueborn son, you would always be a threat". Aegon relented. He was crowned in the Dragonpit, and his wife and sister Helaena became Queen. His brother Aemond flew off to win over the few great lords whose support Aegon didn't already have. The banner of the gold dragon flew over King's Landing and the Red Keep as Aegon, Second of His Name, ascended the Iron Throne. He would not sit it long.
When ravens carred the news of Aegon's coronation to Dragonstone, Princess Rhaenyra summoned her own Black Council. With her was her uncle and husband, Daemon Targaryen, considered by many to be the most dangerous man in Westeros. Few lords supported her, but the greatest of these was Corlys Velaryon, who controlled the largest fleet in the realm, and his Targaryen wife Rhaenys, the old king's sister. Then there were her five sons, although none grown to manhood. A pitiful assembly, really. Combined they couldn't match the power of House Hightower alone. But Rhaenyra had dragons. She, Daemon and Rhaenys rode huge and formidable beasts, and three of her five sons were riders as well. Dragonstone also housed six more dragons without riders. Against this, King Aegon had only four dragons of his own. Dragons can burn a city, but only armies can take and hold it. If she was to prevail, Rhaenyra desperately needed the support of the few great houses not already sword to Aegon. Her eldest son, Jacaerys, flew to the Vale and the North, her middle son Lucerys flew to the Stormlands. Rhaenyra hoped that the war would begin and, if the gods were good, end with diplomacy. As always, they weren't.
Robert Baratheon: Little Prince Lucerys must have wet himself when he entered Storm's End and found King Aegon's younger brother Aemond already with Lord Baratheon. Aemond was fearsome even before he lost his eye and set a sapphire in its stead, but the princeling pleaded his mother's case. Finally, Lord Baratheon made his decision. "Go home, pup, and tell the bitch, your mother, that the Lord of Storm's End is not a dog she can whistle on". As Aemond's false eyed gleamed at him, the princeling fled the castle and mounted his young dragon Arrax. The rain fell in sheets, and great bolts of lightning lit the world bright as day. Arrax was struggling to stay aloft in the gale, when a roar shook the very foundations of Storm's End. Aemond rose through the clouds, and below him the monstrous Vhagar. Vhagar was five times the size of Arrax and a hardened survivor of a hundred battles. Vhagar caught him above Shipbreaker Bay. Watchers on the castle walls saw distant blasts of flame and heard a shriek drown out the thunder. Prince Lucerys fell, broken, to be swallowed by the waves. With his death, the war of ravens came to an end and the war of fire and blood began.
Catelyn Stark: When Rhaenyra heard of her son's death, she collapsed. She considered ending the war right then, until a raven arrived from her husband Daemon. Her son would be avenged. Whispers slithered through the taverns and back alleys of of Flea Bottom. Two men were found; one was a former Goldcloak, the other a rat catcher in the Red Keep who knew all its secrets. History remembers them only as Blood and Cheese. One night, Queen Helaena entered the royal apartments with her daughter and two sons to put them to bed. Without warning, Blood and Cheese burst in, daggers in hand. They told her that a debt was owed; a son for a son. Blood and Cheese demanded she choose which son would be ripped from her forever. Queen Helaena pleaded with the men to kill her instead, but they refused, Weeping, Helaena named her younger son Maelor. Perhaps she thought the boy was too young to understand. Perhaps because the older boy was King Aegon's firstborn son and heir. "You heat that, little boy?", Cheese whispered to the younger son, "Your mama wants you dead." Then Blood struck off the older boy's head with a single blow. When the guards burst in, they found Queen Helaena still screaming, clasping her dead son's body to her, mad with grief. The blood of her children transformed a dynastic dispute into a war of annihilation. The grief and rage of losing a child could burn down the world. Either Aegon or Rhaenyra could live at the end, but not both.
Viserys Targaryen: Rhaenyra's forces struck yet another blow. The moment the Lord of Harrenhal saw Daemon Targaryen circling the castle on his dragon Caraxes, he struck his banners and surrendered. The Blacks now had the strongest castle in the Riverlands. Darker news still came to Aegon; thanks to Rhaenyra's sons, Winterfell had declared for Rhaenyra, as had the Vale. Furious, Aegon dismissed his grandfather, Ser Otto, as Hand and appointed Ser Criston Cole, who swore to march on all the lords who had declared for Rhaenyra and put their castles to the torch.
Cole and the royal army first marched north and laid siege to Rook's Rest, a Black stronghold near Dragonstone. When the lord saw their approach, he sent a raven to Rhaenyra begging for help. For days he watched his fields and villages burning, with no response from his queen. Until one day a shadow passed over the Green army. Rhaenyra had sent not an army, but her former mother-by-law Rhaenys and her dragon Meleys. As her ancestor had done at the Field of Fire, Rhaenys gleefully began to incinerate Ser Criston's army. But Aegon had set a trap and Rhaenys had flown right into it. As Rhaenys and Meleys blanketed Ser Criston's troops in dragonflame, two other dragons rose into the sky. Aemond on Vhagar and King Aegon himself on the gleaming Sunfyre. To her credit, Rhaenys didn't flee. Dragon fought dragons, and a second sun blossomed in the sky. When the smoke cleared, only Aemond and Vhagar stood uninjured. Sunfyre, the most magnificent dragon in the world, had one of its wings almost completely torn from its body. Trapped beneath Sunfyre was the king himself, broken and burned so badly in places that his armor had fused onto his flesh. His body survived but his mind was given over to milk of the poppy. Meleys had been torn to shreds and her rider, Rhaenys, was a pile of ash.
Panicked by the defeat, Rhaenyra shipped her two youngest sons across the Narrow Sea for their protection. Only for her youngest to return days later, clinging to the neck of his wounded and dying dragon. He and his brother had been set upon by an enemy fleet just off Dragonstone. Defying his mother's command, Rhaenyra's eldest son and heir, Jaecerys, mounted his dragon Vermax and flew to rescue his other brother and punish the enemy fleet. But the foolish boy let Vermax be hooked like a trout and dragged into the sea, where he soaked up even more arrows than seawater. His brother disappeared, over the horizon or beneath the waves, no one could say for sure.
With the loss of four dragons, Rhaenyra's only advantage was fading. Luckily for her, over the centuries House Targaryen had spilled more than blood on Dragonstone. She promised gold and title to any of the Targaryen bastards who could tame the six untamed dragons on the island. These bastards were called the dragonseeds, though most were called supper. Perhaps the dragons were eventually sated or bored, but four of them accepted riders and were enlisted in Rhaenyra's cause.
Robert Baratheon: After Rook's Rest, Aemond One-Eye took command of the Greens from his crippled and poppy-addled brother. Aemond was the blood of the dragon, and dragons don't cower behind city walls. He marched the king's army north to take back Harrenhal from Rhaenyra's husband Daemon. But when he and Criston Cole reached the castle, they found the gates open, with Daemon and all his men gone. That night they feasted their victory; Daemon had fled rather than face their wrath. But Daemon was more snake than dragon; as Aemond marched north, he'd flown Caraxes south, slithering past the Green army over the waters of the Gods Eye. One day King's Landing looked up and saw two dragons circling their fowl city. Daemon and Rhaenyra had come for her throne, for the city was defenceless. Aemond had taken the king's army from the city, and worse, he'd taken his dragon Vhagar. Seeing that resistance was hopeless, the Small Council surrendered the city, the Queen Mother Alicent and the broken Queen Helaena. But not King Aegon. Somehow, despite his wounds and delirium, he had vanished from the city. And so Queen Rhaenyra climbed the steps and seated herself of the Iron Throne. Legend has it that as she left that hall later, blood trickled down her legs and hands, proving the Iron Throne had spurned her. Nonsense! It's a chair made of steel blades. Rhaenyra had wanted it all her life and had sacrificed two sons for it. She likely gripped the damn thing too tight.
Viserys Targaryen: When Aemond realised that his arrogance had cost him the capital, he mounted Vhagar in a black rage and rained fire onto every village and castle he suspected of disloyalty. Abandoned by Aemond, Ser Criston marched the royal army back to King's Landing, intent on recapturing the city himself. Instead, he was trapped and cut to pieces by the Riverlords, who had sworn to support Rhaenyra's claim. When a new army of Green loyalists marched up from the Reach and laid siege to the city of Tumbleton, Rhaenyra sent two of her dragonseeds to lay waste to them. Instead, the dragonseeds proved their bastard nature and betrayed her. They burned the city and all the Black forces garrisoned within. Lucky for her, they didn't turn towards King's Landing, but whored and drank in the ruins with the Greens, who were victorious and somewhat confused.
Oberyn Martell: Rhaenyra now mistrusted all the dragonseeds, including the girl who rode with her husband Daemon, hunting Aemond in the Riverlands. She ordered the girl's head be sent to her. But there was a complication; as well as her dragon, the girl had taken to riding Daemon. When Daemon received the queen's order, he proclaimed it a queen's words and a whore's work. He sent the girl away at dawn, watching her and her dragon vanish into the morning mists. Then Daemon sent a challenge to his nephew Aemond and flew to Harrenhal alone to wait. Fourteen days later, a shadow blacker than any passing cloud swept over Harrenhal; Vhagar had come at last and on her rode one-eyed Prince Aemond. He mocked Daemond for facing him alone; "You have lived too long, uncle". And Daemon replied; "On that much, we agree." Then the old prince climbed stiffly onto the back of his dragon Caraxes, but neglected to fasten the chains that secured rider to saddle. The sun was close to setting when, as one, the two dragons leapt into the sky. Daemon took Caraxes up swiftly until he disappeared into a bank of clouds. Vhagar, older and slower, ascended more gradually. Up and up Vhagar soared, searching for Caraxes. Sudden as a thunderbolt, a shrieking Caraxes dove upon Vhagar. Locked together, the dragons tumbled toward the lake. Caraxes' jaws closed upon Vhagar's neck, but Vhagar ripped open Caraxes' belly and her teeth ripped off a wing. The lake rushed up with terrible speed. Then Daemon Targaryen, who had never fastened his riding chains, stood in his saddle. He leapt from his dragon to Aemond's, and in his hand was Dark Sister, the Valyrian sword of Aegon's sister Queen Visenya. As Aemond One-Eye looked up in terror, Daemon ripped off his nephew's helm and drove the sword down into his one remaining eye so hard the point came out the back of the young prince's throat. Half a heartbeat later, the dragons struck the lake, sending up a gout of water so high that it was said to have been as tall as Harrenhal's great tower. The lake boiled with dragon blood and then was still. Daemon Targaryen was nine-and-forty at his death. Prince Aemond had only turned twenty. Vhagar, the greatest of the Targaryen dragons, had counted one-hundred-and-eighty-one years. Thus passed the last living creature from the days of Aegon's Conquest.
Viserys Targaryen: Back in King's Landing, Queen Rhaenyra didn't have much time to grieve for her stupid husband. The mad former queen Helaena flung herself from a balcony, to be impaled upon the iron spikes lining the moat of Maegor's Holdfast. That night, the city rose in riot against Rhaenyra, demanding justice for Queen Helaena and her murdered son, among other foolish peasant fantasies. In the midst of this chaos, and one-handed fool called the Shepherd began to rant against dragons. Not just the ones of the enemy, but all dragons, everywhere. As he pointed to the Dragonpit above on the hill he shouted "There the demons dwell, this is their city. If you would make it yours, first you must destroy them." A cry went up from 10,000 throats; "Kill them!" There were four dragons housed within the Dragonpit that night. By the time the first of the attackers came pouring in, all four were roused, awake and angry. Nobody knows how many men and women died that night. Who cares? They all should have! Trapped within the pit, the dragons could not fly. Instead, they fought with horns, claws, teeth and fire. For every man who died, ten more appeared, shouting that the dragons must die. One by one, they did. Finally, the last remaining dragon broke her chain, spread her wings and flew straight up at the great dome trying to flee. Already weakened by dragonflame, the dome cracked under the force of impact and then tumbled down, crushing the dragon slayers and herself.
Joffrey Baratheon: High atop the Red Keep, Queen Rhaenyra clutched her two remaining sons to her as she watched the end of her family's might, too afraid of the peasants to defend her dragons. At least her older son, Joffrey, had a man's spine. He stole his mother's dragon Syrax and tried to fly it to the Dragonpit to save his birthright. But the stupid beast didn't understand and twisted beneath him, fighting to be free of the little boy, until it was. A queen is still a woman, with all the weakness of that sex. Weeping for her lost son more than her dragons, Rhaenyra abandoned the Iron Throne and sold her crown to buy passage for her and her last son back to Dragonstone. Rhaenyra hoped to hatch more dragons from the eggs in the castle, but when she landed the welcoming party slew her guards and marched her and her son at spearpoint to the castle to face a dead man and a dying dragon. "Sister!", King Aegon, Second of His Name, called out to Rhaenyra. Rook's Rest had left Aegon bent and twisted, his once handsome face puffy from milk of the poppy, with burn scars covering half his body. Rhaenyra, ever defiant, told her dear brother that she'd hoped he was dead. "After you!", Aegon answered. Then Sunfyre bathed her in a blast of flame and devoured her in six bites while her son watched, leaving the seventh and final bite, her lower leg, for the Stranger.
Viserys Targaryen: Rhaenyra was dead and King Aegon sat the Iron Throne again. But only for half a year. He was poisoned by his own men and replaced with the very boy who had watched his mother devoured.
Shireen Baratheon: When Rhaenyra's last son wed Aegon's only daughter, the Dance of Dragons officially ended. Ash and burned men, all that was left of the Riverlands. Two scared children spouting oaths they didn't understand. All that was left of the mighty House Targaryen. Ancient skulls and hatchlings that grow no bigger than cats. All that was left of the dragons.
- Grand Maester Munkun (mentioned)
- King Viserys I Targaryen
- Queen Aemma Arryn (indirectly mentioned)
- Princess/Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Queen Alicent Hightower
- Prince/King Aegon II Targaryen
- Ser Otto Hightower
- Ser Criston Cole
- Lord Lyman Beesbury (unnamed)
- Ser Tyland Lannister (unnamed)
- Lord Jasper Wylde (unnamed)
- Lord Larys Strong (unnamed)
- Grand Maester Orwyle (named in illustrations)
- Queen Helaena Targaryen
- Prince Aemond Targaryen
- Septon Eustace
- Prince Daemon Targaryen
- Lord Corlys Velaryon
- Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
- Prince Jacaerys Velaryon
- Prince Lucerys Velaryon
- Prince Joffrey Velaryon
- Prince/King Aegon III Targaryen (unnamed)
- Prince Viserys Targaryen (unnamed)
- Lord Borros Baratheon (first name unmentioned)
- Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen
- Princess Jaehaera Targaryen
- Prince Maelor Targaryen
- Maester Gerardys
- Hugh Hammer (unnamed)
- Ulf the White (unnamed)
- Nettles (unnamed)
- Addam Velaryon (unnamed)
- The Shepherd
- Hobb the Hewer (unnamed)
- Seven Kingdoms
- Dance of the Dragons
Dragons belonging to Aegon II's faction:
Dragons belonging to Rhaenyra's faction:
- Tyraxes (indirectly mentioned)
- Stormcloud (unnamed)
- Seasmoke (unnamed)
- Tessarion (unnamed)
- Vermithor (unnamed)
- Silverwing (unnamed)
- Sheepstealer (unnamed)
- The Dance of the Dragons, A True Telling
- Valyrian steel
- The Triarchy (mentioned in illustrations)
- Winter Wolves (mentioned in illustrations)
- "Hour of the owl"
- Milk of the poppy
As the featurette is only 20 minutes long, it understandably only gives a concise overview of the most important events which occurred during the Dance of the Dragons - though it is a very accurate overview of the events it does cover. Many major subplots and character groups are not mentioned at all, however - the story of the civil war could easily sustain an entire live-action prequel project. It also only covers the first three quarters of the war (which lasted two years) ending with Rhaenyra's death, only briefly explaining that Aegon II died six months later.
To put this in perspective, in terms of the main Game of Thrones TV series it would be roughly comparable to making a 20 minute summary video attempting to recap the entire narrative of the first three seasons, which as a result focused purely on the main Stark-Lannister military conflict (with major figures such as Eddard, Robb, Tywin, and Cersei), then ending with the Red Wedding and not explaining how the war progressed after that. At the same time this would also completely omit all of the other subplots: Jon Snow and the Wall, Daenerys in Essos, the Greyjoys, the Tyrells, Arya Stark in the Riverlands, and the storylines of both Baratheon brothers (including the Battle of the Blackwater).
Some of the other subplots from the wider Dance of the Dragons which were condensed in this featurette include:
- Daemon Targaryen had two daughters from a previous marriage, Baela and Rhaena. Both of them are major characters and dragonriders (though their dragons are too young to ride to war at the beginning of the story).
- It is mentioned that Aegon II's faction controlled four dragons: his own, his brother Aemond's, and his wife's. It makes no mention that Aegon II and Aemond actually had a younger brother, a young teenager named Daeron the Daring. Daeron rode the younger dragon Tessarion in campaigns in the Reach, and became a valiant hero in the war.
- While the Stormlands surprisingly sided with Aegon II, the Reach was torn in half by the civil war: while Aegon II's family House Hightower dominates the southern half of the Reach, the northern half (including House Tarly) grew wary of them and sided with Rhaenyra. This led to an extended campaign as the main Hightower army (along with Daeron and Tessarion) slowly fought its way across southern Westeros from Oldtown to approach King's Landing.
- The video mostly focuses on the eastern theater of the war: the actions of the Starks, Tullys, and Lannisters are barely alluded to, when they actually formed an entire separate central theater of the war, primarily in the Riverlands. This culminates in the Battle by the Lakeshore, stated to be the largest and bloodiest land battle of the entire war.
- The ironborn subplot is not mentioned at all, which formed an entire western theater to the war. Aegon II had assumed the Greyjoys would side with him, but Dalton Greyjoy - the Red Kraken - stabbed the Greens in the back by siding against him and ravaging the coasts of the Westerlands and the Reach while their armies were away to the east fighting Rhaenyra's forces.
- It is only briefly shown that an enemy fleet attacked the ship carrying Rhaenyra's younger sons across the Narrow Sea - this is also a larger subplot in which the Greens allied with the "Kingdom of the Three Daughters" (an alliance of Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh) as a counter-balance against the power of the Velaryon fleet. The resulting Battle of the Gullet was actually stated to be one of the largest naval battles in recorded history, involving the entire Velaryon fleet, and the dragonseeds riding into battle.
A few other points from the main narrative are only quickly glossed over:
- It is said that Rhaenyra's dragon Syrax dropped her son Joffrey, but not that Syrax ultimately died fighting off thousands of rioters on the ground at the ruins of the Dragonpit. The next scene simply transitions to Rhaenyra fleeing King's Landing without a dragon.
- It isn't clearly explained that King's Landing fell so quickly to Rhaenyra and Daemon not only because its army was gone, but because of the City Watch. Daemon actually used to be the commander of the Gold Cloaks for years; a visible part of the history book presented on screen even recounts that Daemon created the Gold Cloaks as they were later known, training them as a formal police force and giving them their signature Gold Cloaks. When Daemon appeared in the sky above the city, the Gold Cloaks mutinied en masse, killed the few Green officers still in the city, and threw the city's gates wide open to Rhaenyra's army.
- It isn't explained how Aegon II's younger son Maelor died. At the end of the video Aegon II's daughter is simply presented as his only surviving child. In the novellas, it is said that when King's Landing fell one of his Kingsguard attempted to flee with Maelor back to Oldtown, but he was intercepted by an angry pro-Rhaenyra mob at Bitterbridge who tore the three year old Maelor limb from limb in their fury.
- The subplot of how Aegon II ultimately ended up on Dragonstone and managed to seize Rhaenyra's home castle is left totally unexplained. Nor is it clearly explained why Sunfyre was now dying months after its fight with Meleys (it got into a fight with another Black dragon).
- The point in the video when it is said that Aegon II didn't even want to be king is actually an in-universe piece of propaganda - all other sources agree that he was a self-entitled grasper who always felt the throne was rightfully his: his mother Alicent was the true ringleader of his faction, but he still eagerly went along with it (not unlike Cersei and Joffrey). Much like the novels, however, this part of the video is presented as Viserys III's biased POV narration, so he might just be mistaken (by the same logic, other Histories & Lore videos that Viserys III narrated back in Season 1 contained a number of intentional inaccuracies due to his biased perspective).
- As George R.R. Martin explained, when he wrote the first prequel novella about the Dance of the Dragons it was for an omnibus hardcover collecting short stories from a dozen writers, and to make the novella fit within length constraints, the editor cut out several phrases here and there which were assumed to be extraneous - when they were actually vital clues about the narrative. The novella is framed as an in-universe history book which at times has to sort out rival accounts written by different survivors from both sides of the war - specifically, Grand Maester Munkun's pro-Rhaenyra book about the Dance, and Septon Eustace's pro-Aegon II book about the Dance. Therefore, in Martin's original draft he prefaced this anecdote with the text "According to Septon Eustace's account, Aegon II was surprised and didn't even want to seize the throne" - which was meant to strongly hint that this story was just a lie that Aegon II's supporters circulated (much as a pro-Joffrey book commissioned by the Lannisters might say "Joffrey didn't even want to be king but he had to save the realm from Ned Stark's attempt at a treasonous coup"). The short story collection's editor, however, didn't realize that these short prefaces were actually important, so they were cut for space - resulting in just the phrase "Aegon II didn't want to be king" simply presented as a statement of fact.
- The number of dragons stated to be alive at the beginning of the Dance is incorrect. Viserys III's exact words are: "Before the war, House Targaryen counted eighteen dragons. By the end we had two." In the novels, there were actually twenty living dragons at the beginning of the Dance, and only four were alive at the end (only three from the beginning of the war, as a fourth hatched near the end of it). This statement about the number of dragons after the Dance is broadly true in a sense: the last of the dragons died out a little over twenty years after the Dance ended, at which point it was said that the very last dragons were two stunted creatures not much bigger than dogs. It isn't clear if either of these two was also alive at the end of the Dance (the three that lived through the whole war were large adults). The statement that there were eighteen living dragons at the beginning of the Dance, however, isn't even internally consistent with the video, regardless of the novels.
- In the books, at the start of the Dance there was 1 very large dragon (Vhagar, last of the original Targaryen dragons), 8 large dragons, 8 medium-to-small dragons, and 3 hatchlings too small to ride, for a total of twenty. The featurette itself later directly states that Aegon II's faction only had four dragons - in the novels this is true, they had four battle-ready dragons, but also too hatchlings who were bonded to Aegon II's children. The video later refers to the three large dragons initially possessed by Rhaenyra's faction, by name: Meleys, Caraxes, and Syrax. It also states that her three eldest sons each had dragons (and refers to Vermax and Arrax by name). It is then stated that there were also six "wild", unclaimed dragons living on Dragonstone island - a total of 12 held by Rhaenyra. The third hatchling was Stormcloud, the young dragon who flew Rhaenyra's younger son back to Dragonstone to evade capture but died of his injuries (Stormcloud's name also appears in on-screen text). The result is that the video directly refers to 13 dragons in Rhaenyra's possession, and 4 in Aegon II's possession, for a total of 17 - not 18. The two hatchlings that Aegon II possessed do appear visually, as they were two of the four dragons killed in the Storming of the Dragonpit (Morgul and Shrykos). Counting these additional two dragons brings the count up to 19, not 18. Only one of the twenty dragons from the novels isn't referred to in one way or another: Moondancer, a young dragon which belonged to Daemon's daughter from a previous marriage. None of the ways one could potentially count the dragons that appear in the video add up to 18, so this is probably just a dialogue error.
- Another possibility is that, strictly speaking, while there were twenty "living dragons" at the start of the Dance, the Targaryens didn't exactly "possess" the six "wild" dragons living on Dragonstone at the beginning of the war - and of these, as the video does state, only four of them were later claimed by Targaryen bastards. Even in the novels, two of the wild dragons - Grey Ghost and the Cannibal - never had riders during their lifetimes. So it is possible that the count of "18" was intended to refer to "dragons with riders".
- The video states that the Lord of Harrenhal surrendered the castle of Daemon. The prequel novella states it was the castellan of Harrenhal, Ser Simon Strong. The Lord of Harrenhal, Larys Strong, is the Master of Whisperers in the small council of both Viserys I and Aegon II.
- The video says that Daemon stabbed his sword down through Aemond's one remaining eye. The prequel novella actually explicitly states that he drove his sword through Aemond's blind eye, the empty socket he put a sapphire in. Daemon specifically attacked Aemond from what he knew to be his nephew's blind side so he would be slower to react to it.
- Due to time limitations, the video doesn't have room to explain the very convoluted Targaryen familial relationships in the Dance due to their incestuous marriages and even remarriages. "Rhaenys, the Queen Who Never Was" is alternatively described in the video as both "the old king's sister" and "Rhaenyra's former mother by law" (from her first marriage). In the novellas, Rhaenys was actually the first cousin of King Viserys I, Rhaenyra's father.
- Rhaenys in the novellas was Viserys I's cousin, the daughter of King Jaehaerys I's firstborn son Aemon, who died in 92 AC fighting against Myrish pirates. Viserys I's father was Baelon, Aemon's younger brother who Jaehaerys I named as his heir instead of Rhaenys, hence the name she got from the smallfolk: "The Queen Who Never Was". Both Daemon and Rhaenyra were previously married, to the daughter and son (respectively) of Corlys Velaryon, Rhaenys's husband - which is what makes Rhaenys the mother-in-law of Rhaenyra. Both of Rhaenys's children later died, however, after which Rhaenyra and her uncle Daemon remarried to each other and had several more children.
- It remains unclear if this was an intentional change or just a dialogue error due to the convoluted Targaryen family tree at the time of the Dance.
- The video says that Rhaenyra sent her "two youngest sons" across the Narrow Sea for their protection - Aegon III and Viserys II - only for "her youngest son" to return to Dragonstone on his dying dragon, bringing news that their ship had been ambushed by an enemy fleet. The prequel novella specifies that it was actually her second youngest who flew back, Aegon III on his dragon Stormcloud, while it was Viserys II - the youngest of her five sons - who was lost and presumed dead.
- The video depicts all three of Rhaenyra's eldest sons as having classic Targaryen features of silver/platinum blonde hair and purple eyes, but a second prequel novellas about the Dance, The Rogue Prince, specified that none of them had the classic Targaryen/Valyrian ethnic features. All three of her sons by her first husband - Rhaenys's son Laenor Velaryon - had brown hair and eyes and pug noses, and looked nothing like what is expected of a Targaryen. This led the Greens, Aemond most of all, to allege that they assuredly must be bastards produced out of wedlock in sexual trysts Rhaenyra had (though their paternity was somewhat irrelevant given that in this case their mother was the heir to the throne, and she had undeniably given birth to each of them). Laenor was widely known to be homosexual and many doubted he ever successfully consummated his marriage with his bride. Rhaenyra's defenders pointed out that unlike in past generations of the family, Rhaenyra's mother had been half-Arryn, so her three sons might have just taken after that side of their family. Whatever the case, Rhaenyra's subsequent two sons with Daemon did have classic Targaryen features.
- George R.R. Martin came up with the names for Rhaenyra's sons much later than the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and his choice of the name "Joffrey" for the third one might have been an attempt to explain why King Robert and Queen Cersei would later choose a name for their son which didn't resemble any past king's name or any name from their respective families - retroactively establishing that Joffrey Baratheon may have been named after Joffrey Velaryon. Joffrey Baratheon, narrating a segment of the video in-character, even seems to take pride in the fact that he shares a name with a Targaryen prince. Joffrey Velaryon himself was by all accounts a brave young boy, but the fact that he was named "Joffrey" was actually seen as a sign of shame by some: the reason he didn't have a Valyrian-style name was because his father Laenor named him after one of his secret homosexual lovers, which some saw as a tactless admission of a matter others preferred he'd keep secret.
- The video clearly states that Aegon II's personal sigil, which became the Heraldry carried as his faction's war banners, was the Targaryen dragon sigil colored gold instead of red (for his golden dragon, Sunfyre) - but it doesn't directly state what Rhaenyra's sigil was. On closer inspection, however, it actually does subtly appear on-screen, albeit in a heavily stylized form. Rhaenyra's heraldry used the normal Targaryen red dragon sigil, but quartered with House Arryn's falcon-and-moon sigil (for her mother) and House Velaryon's seahorse sigil (for her first husband and primary supporters) - "quartered" with three sigils like this means that when facing it, the upper left and lower right were the Targaryen sigil, the upper right was the Arryn sigil, and the lower left was the Velaryon sigil. When Rhaenyra sits on the Iron Throne for the first time in the video, the narration shifts so the camera views an in-universe history book with simplified artwork of the event: notice that Rhaenyra's sigil is cut in half in order to frame either side of the image of her on the throne: a dragon and a seahorse on the left, a dragon and a falcon on the right.
- All of the narrators for this featurette, except for Catelyn Tully, are actually descendants of Rhaenyra (though not Aegon II - his daughter later died and Rhaenyra's son remarried):
- Viserys III Targaryen is Daenerys's older brother, and both of them are direct descendants of Rhaenyra through the surviving Targaryen line.
- House Martell joined with the Iron Throne through marriage-alliance with the Targaryens only one century before the War of the Five Kings. Indeed, before the prequel novellas were released, the World sourcebook co-authors described Daemon Targaryen as in many ways "a Targaryen version of Oberyn Martell". Like Oberyn, Daemon was also rather openly bisexual, known for his sexual exploits, and a dangerous and aggressive warrior. Out-of-universe, of course, Oberyn Martell was actually written as a character first, years before Martin invented Daemon and the other details about the Dance of the Dragons - so while in the video Oberyn is talking about his famous predecessor Daemon Targaryen, out of universe, Oberyn was actually Daemon's predecessor as a character.
- More recently than the Martells, House Baratheon intermarried with the Targaryens as well. In the novels, King Robert Baratheon's paternal grandmother was a younger Targaryen daughter (Rhaelle Targaryen, herself the daughter of King Aegon V Targaryen, and thus the niece of Maester Aemon). The TV continuity has condensed the exact relationships somewhat through an unclear method (a past video said that Robert had Targaryen blood on his mother's side, not his grandmother) - but the point stands that TV-Robert still used his blood relationship with the main Targaryen line as a pretext for his right to claim the Iron Throne. Given their shared parentage, Robert's younger brother Stannis also had some Targaryen blood, and thus so did Shireen.