ealthough he only appeared in flashbacks, King Aerys II Targaryen, aka the Mad King, loomed over Game of Thrones. He was cruel and enjoyed setting fire to his enemies. One of his own Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister (Nikolai Coster-Waldau), ends up killing him. The Mad King is often referred to as a cautionary tale, especially when it comes to growing ambition of his daughter Daenerys (Emilia Clarke).
And while there’s no denying that Iris was a monster, his penchant for burning people to the core can be explained by a prophecy shared in Game of Thrones background, The house of the dragon.
The Prophecy of Aegon the Conqueror A Song of Fire and Ice
During the first episode of The house of the dragon, King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) tells his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) that their ancestor Aegon the Conqueror had an important vision. Viserys shared the contents of this dream only after he decided to officially name Rhaenyra as his heir, despite the fact that a woman had never inherited the Iron Throne.
The Targaryens have a long history of predicting the future, beginning with Denys the Dreamer who prophesied the fall of Valyria. Now it appears that Aegon has also been having eerie dragon dreams.
Viserys says that Aegon dreamed of a threat from the North descending on King’s Landing, a prophecy he calls A Song of Ice and Fire. (Sound familiar? Well, it’s the name of George R.R. Martin’s book series on which Game of Thrones is based on.)
How does prophecy relate to Game of Thrones– or not
At first blush, the name “A Song of Fire and Ice” appears. The house of the dragon it may seem to some a pointless attempt to connect the new series with Game of Thrones. All who watched Game of Thrones knows exactly what happens when that ‘great winter’ comes: Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) must facing down the White Walkers at the Battle of Winterfell. So the revelation that this prophecy existed centuries before this battle adds some dramatic tension.
The dream also confuses the end of Game of Thrones, since it doesn’t exactly come true. Although Jon and Daenerys – both descendants of Aegon the Conqueror – are key to rallying the North against the Night’s King and his army, Cersei Lannister is actually the one ruling from King’s Landing when the Battle of Winterfell takes place. And neither Jon nor Dany will win the war. This is Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) carrying the dagger that Viserys wears prominently on his belt as he speaks to Rhaenyra in The house of the dragonthis eventually killing the Night King.
Most prophecies in A Song of Fire and Ice and Game of Thrones come true, but rarely in the way the characters in the story expected. Without a doubt, George RR Martin, who consulted extensively on The house of the dragonintroduced this new prophecy to A Song of Ice and Fire because he plans to address it in his two unfinished books in Son of ice and fire series, The winds of winter and A dream of spring. (Martin had his say the books won’t end the same way like much maligned series finale of Game of Thrones.)
The Mad King’s Motives
Sleep also eventually changes Game of Thrones canon, especially when it comes to Targaryen figures like Aegon the Conqueror and the Mad King.
Until now, neither book readers nor show viewers knew Aegon’s true motives for uniting the Seven Kingdoms. Most attribute his decision to conquer Westeros to bloodlust and unbridled ambition. But now it seems Aegon had a nobler motivation as well: saving Westeros from the White Walkers by ensuring a Targaryen is on the throne when they arrive.
And perhaps we can better understand the Mad King’s preoccupation with fire. By the time Eris took the throne, the dragons were gone. If the White Walkers had arrived while he was king, there would have been no effective way to fight the ice zombie army. Iris became obsessed not only with fire but specifically with a forest fire that resembled dragon fire. This fixation on developing a fire-based weapon that could destroy an entire army makes a bit more sense if he believes the kingdom will need dragonfire to defeat some threat from the North. Of course, the paranoid ruler doesn’t use the wildfire against the spirits, but against the lords of Westeros, like Ned Stark’s father and older brother.
There is some evidence that the Mad King knew about the prophecy from A Song of Ice and Fire and even passed it on to his son Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar kept talking of another like it a prophecy often referred to as The Prince That Was Promised or Azor Ahai. Azor Ahai was said to be a great hero who would lead the world out of darkness. He was supposed to wield a flaming sword called Lightbringer and be associated with A Song of Fire and Ice.
Basically, the Targaryens discuss several different prophecies, all of which point to a man who represents the duality of fire and ice and can fend off a dark threat. Rhaegar thought he could be that prince. He later thought it might be his son Jon Snow. Maybe that’s why Jon Snow’s Targaryen name is Aegon. (He wasn’t wrong: Jon is, after all, the driving force behind the effort to defeat the Night King.)
Jon probably never heard of Aegon’s dream, as his parents died shortly after his birth and his identity was hidden from him for most of his life. It’s not clear if Daenerys would know about it either, but probably not. She had older brothers who were expected to become kings. And Daenerys wasn’t even born until the Mad King died.
There is one Game of Thrones a character who may have heard of Aegon’s vision: Maester Aemon Targaryen (Peter Vaughan). Aemon was the son of a king, and although he became a maester, he could have a claim to the Iron Throne when his older brothers died. But he turned it down and left King’s Landing so that his presence would not undermine the rule of his younger brother, King Aegon V. However, the secret may have been given to him before he left for the Wall. Indeed, hearing of the legendary threat from the North could theoretically factor into his motivation to serve the Night’s Watch.
In the end, the revelation that Aegon predicted the Battle of Winterfell doesn’t have much of an impact on Game of Thrones or the future of The house of the dragon. But perhaps it will play an important role in Martin’s books—if he ever gets around to finishing them.
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