Warning: Contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9, “The Green Council,” and George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood. House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9, “The Green Council” fixes a King’s Landing mistake from Game of Thrones season 8. Although there were several controversial moments in Game of Thrones season 8, chief among them was Daenerys Targaryen’s “Mad Queen” arc and, most specifically, her attack on King’s Landing. A key part of that itself was the bells ringing out in King’s Landing, supposedly as a sign of surrender (though they only spurred Dany on), which give Game of Thrones season 8, episode 5, “The Bells,” its title. The only problem there is, based on Game of Thrones‘ own history, there was no record of the bells in King’s Landing meaning surrender prior to that episode.
It’s something that House of the Dragon looks to correct, restoring the true meaning of King’s Landing’s bells. Occasionally in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9, such as when Lord Caswell is attempting his escape and later when Ser Erryk Cargyll helps Rhaenys make her own, the bells can be heard in King’s Landing. This is due to King Viserys’ death, and fits perfectly with what Varys told Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones: “I’ve always hated the bells, they ring for horror. A dead king…” Unlike Game of Thrones, the bells of King’s Landing in House of the Dragon are used exactly as they should be.
The Bells Will Be Heard Again In King’s Landing Later In House Of The Dragon
House of the Dragon season 1, episode 9 won’t be the last time the bells are heard in King’s Landing, and it also won’t be the last time they’re used properly. Another reason Varys gives for the bells ringing is “a city under siege,” which will be seen later in House of the Dragon‘s timeline, when Rhaenyra will return to claim the Iron Throne. Like with Daenerys’ attack on King’s Landing, it will see Rhaenyra and Daemon arrive in the city on their dragons, inflicting terror upon the citizens below (although without the same fiery destruction). Rhaenyra’s taking of King’s Landing will cause chaos, rioting, and end with her in control of the city, and all the while the bells will ring out as a sign of the attack, as it’s described in Fire & Blood:
“Rhaenyra Targaryen donned a suit of gleaming black scale, mounted Syrax, and took flight as a rainstorm lashed the waters of Blackwater Bay. High above the city the queen and her prince consort came together… The sight of them incited terror in the streets of the city below, for the smallfolk were not slow to realize that the attack they had dreaded was at last at hand… Rioting broke out in Flea Bottom. When the sails of the Sea Snake’s ships were seen to the east in Blackwater Bay, making for the river, the bells of every sept in the city began to ring, and mobs surged through the streets, looting as they went. Dozens died before the gold cloaks could restore the peace.”
What The Bells In King’s Landing Could Mean In A Song Of Ice & Fire
Despite the controversy over Daenerys’ destruction of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones season 8, it is possible such events will play out in George R.R. Martin’s remaining A Song of Ice and Fire books as well… though with some key differences. It will likely come as part of a second Dance of the Dragons (giving a thematic link to House of the Dragon), with Daenerys battling the person claiming to be her nephew, Aegon Targaryen (the eldest son of Rhaegar). With that, it’s also possible there will be mention of the bells ringing out in King’s Landing, but it wouldn’t be for surrender, or even for Daenerys at all.
A key supporter of Aegon is Jon Connington, who was best friends with Rhaegar. Though the character was cut from Game of Thrones, he’ll likely be integral in Aegon claiming the Iron Throne in The Winds of Winter. During Robert’s Rebellion, Jon Connington fought in a battle at the Stoney Sept, which became known as the Battle of the Bells (as they rang out as a warning of the battle). Connington lost to Robert Baratheon and then went into exile; the bells in King’s Landing in the book, coming with the city under siege, will then have a much deeper connection to him as a reminder of his loss, driving his arc forward.
Both House of the Dragon and Martin’s books can give the bells much more meaning than Game of Thrones season 8 did. Although it’s subtle in House of the Dragon – though it may be less so when Rhaenyra returns to become Queen and take the city – it is a good example of its commitment to getting the details right. The show better reflects some of Martin’s own worldbuilding, and restores elements Game of Thrones perhaps overlooked.
House of the Dragon releases new episodes Sundays at 9pm ET on HBO.
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