Aegon, Daeron, Baelor, and Viserys, by Hubsher
“The melancholy king is not remembered fondly, and his legacy would pale before that of his sons.” -The World of Ice and Fire, Aegon III
The Broken King led his broken realm as an adult for 21 years. Despite the difficult hand he had been dealt, Aegon III did remarkably well during his tenure, keeping his realm relatively free from conflict, kept the treasury afloat, and knit the realm back together – a remarkable accomplishment in the face of grasping vassals, wealthy interlopers, and the extinction of the dragons. However, Aegon III won no love among his subjects for his distant and depressive nature. He was competent, but not inspiring the way his storied namesake had been. That Targaryen charisma would fall to his sons, two of the most colorful individuals to sit the Iron Throne.
Welcome to the next installment of The Three Heads of the Dragon, the first multi-author essay series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, examining the kings, pretenders, and women of the storied Targaryen dynasty, from fiery beginnings to bloody end. For my part, I will be discussing the monarchs of the Targaryen reign, their policies, their historical analogues, and how they measure up to history.
Spoilers Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter
Prince Aegon spoke. “Then put your hopes on me,” he said. “Daenerys is Prince Rhaegar’s sister, but I am Rhaegar’s son. I am the only dragon that you need.” (ADWD, The Lost Lord)
Aegon Targaryen, the purported son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia of Dorne, is set to have a fateful impact on Westeros in The Winds of Winter. His landing in the Stormlands sets Westeros on a path that brings more war, and Aegon’s future promises more suffering, and more destruction for an already war-ravaged kingdom. But that reality will be offset by a public perception that will likely view Aegon as the conquering hero and liberator of Westeros. But who is Aegon? Who are his supporters? What are his and their goals? And what exactly will that fateful impact look like?
Welcome to Part 1 of Blood of the Conqueror, a speculative analysis of the coming Winds of Winter arc of the Young Dragon, Aegon Targaryen. In this essay series, we’ll examine Aegon’s impact on Westeros. To do so, we’ll examine the background, conspiracies, alliances and battles that look to dominate Aegon’s arc in The Winds of Winter.
In a later installment, I’ll do in-depth battle analysis of the Battle of Griffin’s Roost and the Golden Company’s landing in the Stormlands, but in today’s essay, I thought it might be fun to examine this event in the meta-venue of how A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter were written and re-written. And I thought it might be fun to do so by examining a minor mystery that I came across while reading George RR Martin’s notablog. It’s a mystery that takes place in the Stormlands around the time that Griffin’s Roost fell, and it involves how George RR Martin originally structured this event in A Dance with Dragons and why one of Martin’s famous restructurings of A Dance with Dragons might reveal how GRRM originally planned Aegon’s invasion of Westeros and why a key rewrite makes Aegon’s invasion and the involvement of a major player in the game of thrones that much more poignant.
Aegon the Dragonbane, by Amok
Under Viserys I, Westeros turned into a powder keg as the blacks and the greens vied for power with one another. After Viserys died and his son Aegon II took the Iron Throne, that powder keg exploded into the Dance of Dragons: a two-year civil war characterized by high casualty counts and royal murder. When the smoke finally settled, Aegon’s half-sister and rival Rhaenyra had been devoured by Sunfyre, Aegon II poisoned shortly thereafter by his own courtiers, and Rhaenyra’s son Aegon the Younger, a boy of eleven, had become Aegon III, the seventh king on the Iron Throne.
For 26 years, Aegon III would lead Westeros through political instability and the death of the last dragon. Aegon is not remembered fondly by Westerosi, either for his personal shyness and somber attitude or for his refusal to treat with his vassals and generally broken reign. Yet oddly enough, during his majority, there were no foreign or civil wars and no rebellions. Could this merely be chalked up to war fatigue after the Dance? Or was there something to Aegon the Unlucky after all?