House Targaryen: The Dragonlords
The profile of House Targaryen is one of the most unique and interesting elements in the world of Westeros. Notorious for possessing the “blood of the dragon”, members of this family are blessed with silver-white hair, violet eyes, and a high tolerance for heat. They introduced dragons to Westeros and are the only house known to share a bond with these powerful beings. They raised and trained the dragons until their purported extinction during the reign of King Aegon III.
The family is also reputed to be prone to madness, possibly due to their adherence to the ancient Valyrian custom of intermarriage. It has become a running joke in the kingdom to toss a coin for every new addition to the Targaryen family, as a means of determining whether the baby would turn out mad or great. It is during the erratic and cruel reign of Aerys II the “Mad King” that Robert’s Rebellion would put an end to the great line of Dragon Kings.
The Targaryen family originated from the ancient Freehold of Valyria. When their homelands were destroyed due to a mysterious cataclysm known as the “Doom of Valyria”, the Targaryens settled on Dragonstone, an island at the westernmost part of the Valyrian outpost. A hundred years after the Doom, Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters brought their army and three dragons into Westeros, successfully conquering six of its seven kingdoms. Only Dorne would not succumb, and this last House will not join the kingdom until around two centuries later – through a marriage alliance with the Targaryens.
The Targaryens adopted the religion and customs of Westeros, though they chose to retain their own traditions of permitting their kings and princes to have multiple wives and allowing incestuous marriages within their family. In addition, although their kings ruled from King’s Landing, a fort built on the first landing site of Aegon the Conqueror’s army, Dragonstone remained as the traditional seat of their heir-apparent.
After nearly 300 hundred years of uncontested rule, the line of Targaryen Kings ended with the “mad” King Aerys II. His son, Prince Rhaegar, kidnapped Lyanna Stark. The subsequent deaths of her father and brother by the King’s command started a massive uprising led by Robert Baratheon, Lyanna’s betrothed, who was supported by the Houses of Tully, Arryn, and Stark.
House Lannister would eventually end the civil war by slaying the King and his family in a violent assault of King’s Landing. Only Aerys’ youngest children, Viserys and Daenerys, survived the onslaught and were taken into exile in the Free Cities by Targaryen loyalists.
Being virtually penniless in a faraway land has not stopped Viserys from plotting revenge in the hopes of regaining his family’s seat in King’s Landing. Under the influence of the wealthy merchant Ilyrio Mopatis, Viserys forces his 13-year-old sister, Daenerys, to wed Khal Drogo, the leader of the Dothraki.
The Dothraki are a fierce tribe of warriors who possess the strength and numbers that could help Viserys further his cause – if they so choose. In his impatience to invade Westeros, the Targaryen heir insults the Dothraki, prompting Drogo to kill him. In the wake of her brother’s death, Daenerys comes into her own as the sole heir to the Targaryen line. She inherits the last three dragon eggs and embarks on her own quest to prove that she is, in fact, the true successor to the noble House of Targaryen.
Viserys and Daenerys fit the profile of House Targaryen to a tee, showcasing the best and worst of their family traits, respectively. Viserys is cruel and abusive and deeply obsessed with restoring their family’s seat. Shortly before his death, he began to display the madness that runs in their blood. Daenerys, on the other hand, exudes a maturity, determination, and strength of character that belies her youth. She is one of the more vibrant and intriguing characters in the series. She also holds her own as one of the main point of view characters – it is through her eyes that readers get to witness the colorful life of the Free Cities that lie across the sea, far from the present turmoil of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Sigil & Motto
The profile of House Targaryen is symbolized by their sigil – that of a three-headed dragon, red on black. Their motto is “Fire and Blood”.