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Game Of Thrones: 10 Things About The Targaryens Only Book Readers Will Know

Almost everyone knows who Daenerys Targaryen is. As one of the key players in Game of Thrones, she now has a level of fame and recognition that rivals that of Bilbo Baggins and Harry Potter. In fans’ heads, she’s the sole representative of House Targaryen. However, there’s more to the House of the Dragon than just Dany. Indeed, before she was even born, the Targaryens were already massively influential and powerful in Westeros. Fans of the novels will know all the intricacies of the Targaeryens’ backstories, but casual fans might not, and they don’t know what they’re missing. Indeed, the Targaryens have a rich and complex backstory, making them the most intriguing clan in A Song of Ice and Fire.


Updated on August 11th, 2022 by Stuart Kilmartin: With the history and lore of the Targaryen family set to expand further with the release of House of the Dragon on HBO this coming August 21st, fans of the series will want to reacquaint themselves with the complicated history and genealogy of the Targaryen family. Game of Thrones went someway in exploring the Targaryen family, particularly through Daenerys Targaryen, but the series only scratched the surface behind Westeros’ most powerful family. Book readers will be much more knowledgeable when it comes to the expanded backstory and lore surrounding the Targaryens, their origin, their journey to Westeros, and their relationship with dragons.

Life In Valyria

The Targaryens were the most influential House in Westeros, but they were small peanuts in Valyria. They were far from the most powerful family, despite having five dragons. Still, they amassed considerable wealth even though they lacked influence.

RELATED: The Doom Of Valyria & 9 Other Important Details Fans Need To Know About HBO’s House Of Dragons

Daenys Targaryen, also known as Daenys, the dreamer, predicted the Doom of Valyria and convinced her father, Aenar, to leave. He agreed and sold his estates in Valyria, taking his entire family, slaves, and wealth across the Narrow Sea. They settled in Dragonstone, the westernmost outpost of Valyrian influence.

Words & Sigil

House Targaryen’s words are “Fire and blood.” Pretty straightforward, all things considered. Thanks to their dragons, Targaryens take what they want and make no apologies. Speaking of dragons, the House has one on its sigil; it has three heads, representing each conqueror, Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys. Targaryen sons used variations of the sigil over the years. For example, Aerion Targaryen changed the heads’ colors to yellow, orange, and red. Aegon II used a golden dragon, while Maekar I used the traditional three-headed dragon, but quartered.

Targaryens Practiced Incest

Even after they arrived in Westeros, Targaryens didn’t adopt the Faith of the Seven immediately. They made the change sometime before the Conquest, wanting to facilitate the Targaryen invasion. However, they maintained the old Valyrian practice of incestuous marriages.

RELATED: Daenerys Targaryen’s 10 Best Friends In Game Of Thrones

Targaryens wedded brother to sister, cousin to cousin, uncle to niece, and aunt to nephew. Most Westerosi people attributed the infamous “Targaryen madness” to the House’s many incestuous relationships.

Targaryens Fought The Faith Militant

Fans will recognize the name “High Sparrow;” he was one of Game of Thrones‘ smartest villains, after all, commanding the Faith Militant and almost succeeding in ruling Westeros. The Faith Militant had already attempted an uprising during Aenys’ I reign, shortly after Aegon the Conqueror’s death. Aenys died from illness, allowing his brother, Maegor the Cruel, to claim the throne. He fought the Faith Militant until he died. His successor, Jaeherys the Conciliator, reconciled the Faith and the Crown, although it took him ten years to do it.

Targaryens Have Special Abilities

Every fan of Game of Thrones knows that Daenerys is immune to fire. She is “the Unburnt,” after all, and one of the most powerful characters in the entire Game of Thrones universe. However, she is an exception and not a rule. The other Targaryens have a high tolerance for heat compared to regular people, but they are not immune. The Targaryens also have prophetic dreams. These premonitions were supposedly the reason why they left Valyria, twelve years before the Doom. Daenerys constantly experiences these dreams in the books; in the show, her visions occur only while inside the House of the Undying.

Targaryens Have Many Notable Members

Because of their tremendous influence on Westerosi society, the Targaryens have many famous and infamous members. Most people in Westeros know about Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives, Rhaneys and Visenya. Westerosi smallfolk also fondly remembered Kings like Jaeherys I, Daeron II, and Aegon V. However, other members of the family weren’t so lucky. Maegor the Cruel was widely despised and often considered one of the most villainous Targaryens ever. Aerys, the Mad King, ended the Targaryen’s reign because of his incompetence and violence, while Daenerys cemented her place in infamy by burning King’s Landing to the ground.

Targaryens & Dorne

Dorne was the only Kingdom that resisted Aegon’s Conquest. Aegon the Conqueror reached an arrangement with House Martell, and the uneasy peace between them lasted ever since. Daeron I threatened that peace when he attempted to conquer Dorne and finish Aegon’s labor. He succeeded and conquered Dorne within a year, but his triumph was bitter and short-lived. The Dornish smallfolk rebelled and recovered Dorne in a fortnight. Daeron returned and tried to solve things but got captured and killed after being betrayed by his own knights. His successor, Baelor I, negotiated another peace with Dorne by marrying his cousin to Myriah Martell. Thus, Dorne remained the sole Kingdom in Westeros to resist the Targaryens.

House Blackfyre

The Blackfyres were a cadet branch of the Targaryens, founded by King Aegon IV’s bastard son, Daemon. Like the Targaryens, the Blackfyres also had silver or white hair, purple eyes, and the gift of premonition. Aegon legitimized all his bastard sons on his deathbed, granting them unexpected power.

RELATED: 10 Unpopular Opinions About The Targaryens (According To Reddit)

It wasn’t long before Daemon and his allies revolted against the new King, his step-brother Daeron. The Blackfyres lost the war, and four subsequent more, always due to their lack of organization and inability to inspire loyalty from others.

Their Dragon Bonds

Book readers know Targaeryens have a unique bond with their dragons. The mighty dragons, such as Balerion “The Black Dread”, were the key to the House’s rise in Westeros, turning them into the absolute rulers of the land. The Targaryens were one of forty dragonlord families in Valyria and the only ones who escaped the Doom. The House kept their dragons in a domed structure in King’s Landing, the Dragonpit. Angry and starving citizens stormed it during the last days of the Dance of the Dragons. The creatures, chained and unable to escape, fought with their teeth and claws, using their dragonflame to turn the pit into an inferno. Five grown dragons and thousands of smallfolk died during the storming of the Dragonpit. The event considerably lowered the Targaryen’s hold over Westeros.

The Dance Of The Dragons

“The Dance of the Dragons. A stupid name for a Targaryen civil war.” That’s how Viserys Targaryen describes the event in the Histories & Lore feature from Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season. The Dance began when King Viserys I anointed Princess Rhaenyra, his only surviving daughter, as his heir. The conflict would arise when he remarried and his second wife produced a male heir, Aegon. However, he refused to change the line of succession, planting the seeds of war. The Dance would involve every Targaryen in Westeros, including the bastards. The war resulted in multiple casualties, including the deaths of many prominent Targaryens and their dragons. The House would never recover from the event, and their vulnerability would culminate in the Targaryen’s exile from Westeros during Robert’s Rebellion. The upcoming series House of the Dragon will adapt the Dance and will premiere sometime in 2022.

NEXT: 11 Things Fans Should Know From Fire & Blood Before Watching House Of The Dragon

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