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Although this episode put a spotlight on the Lord of Westeros’ second sons, I would first like to speak of the Iron Throne’s heirs.
Why is King Viserys I A Weak King?
King Viserys I is a Weak Ruler. I can’t even beat around the bush on this one.
As the realm grows weaker and is targeted by outside threats, King Viserys sits in his study and smiles over receiving a mended stone dragon figurine. It was not lost on me that King Viserys – the blood of Old Valyria – drops the stone dragon figure – a symbol of Targaryen rule and power – while showing it to the (scheming) outsider, the Lady Alicent Hightower.
I know we are not there yet, but King Viserys is credited with fracturing House Targaryen in two – culminating in the Dance of Dragons where the family lost their dragons, and their power began to diminish. King Viserys even tells Rhaenyra that only the dragon can destroy itself – to which Rhaenyra concurs that “without their dragons” their house would be “just like everyone else”.
Something their descendant Daenerys Targaryen would learn some odd 200 years later in Essos. Beggaring for food and shelter, sold into a marriage with a petty Dothraki warlord and endlessly mocked every time she mentioned her illustrious Targaryen legacy.
Only when Dany hatched her 3 dragon eggs on the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo did the world finally begin to take her seriously.
I can’t help but think it was foreshadowing that Viserys ‘drops the dragon’ and Alicent picks it up and fixes it – as Alicent is credited with ending the Targaryen Civil War with the proposed marriage of hers and Rhaenyra’s surviving heirs.
What Is The Grand Maester Conspiracy?
During the height of my own Game of Thrones mania, I remember reading theories surrounding the Grand Maester Conspiracy in the books on the asoiaf subreddit.
In essence, the theory states that the maesters were spying on the realm, and dictating the course of events and rewriting history as they pleased. Looking back, it still makes a great deal of sense to me.
Every major house is tasked with a maester, who is in charge of sending letters, delivering births, and keeping classified stories and secrets. I believe maesters are even tasked with recording the family histories, alongside keeping occult knowledge of what goes on throughout the realm by listening to the ‘whispers’ at court.
The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros alongside this series adaption Fire & Blood are both books told from the perspective of maesters and their (alleged) fractured histories of house bloodlines and gossip through the Targaryen age of rule.
Lord Otto Hightower, Second Son and Hand of the King
Lord Otto Hightower had served another king before coming to Viserys I – and it happened to be his grandfather, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. It was around this time that Lord Hightower also brought his young and comely daughter, Alicent, to court. Alicent could often be found reading books to the old senile man as he laid in bed.
King Jaehaerys I Targaryen was said to have died in bed, at the age of 69 years old.
I should note that author George RR Martin more often than not has a humor for such things, alongside making analogies for longswords being exquisite dick jokes. Given the fact that Alicent was last seen with the King when he was alive, and now Alicent has been tasked with wearing her late mother’s dresses while reading to the grieving and kindly King Viserys…I cannot help but put two and two together.
Otto’s urgency for his daughter to visit Viserys’ chambers before leaving to Dragonstone just before the King would announce his new wife is not lost on me, either.
Between King Viserys’ wife dying in childbirth surrounded by Otto Hightower’s Maesters despite experiencing at least 10 years of miscarriages and stillbirths is odd.
Otto attempting to cause a rift between King Viserys and his only male heir and brother, Daemon, is odd.
Otto and the Grand Maester exchanging worried looks as they subtly try to direct the King away from marrying his best option to strengthen the realm, young Laena Velaryon – is odd.
The Hightower ancestral seat in the Reach is in close proximity to the Maesters’ Citadel of Oldtown, which is odd.
The Maesters downright hatred of women and anything magical by the time Game of Thrones takes place nearly 200 years later is odd, to say the least.
Do you catch my meaning in listing these ‘coincidences’ that hardly seem to be mere happenstance?
Lord Corlys Velaryon, Master of Ships and Second Son
Did you know that back in Old Valyria, House Targaryen was only a minor one?
The Targaryens had no prestige, and I don’t even think they had many dragonriders back then, either. That is why when Daenys the Dreamer had her prophetic dragon dream surrounding the Doom of Valyria, it felt on deaf ears amongst the majority of the powerful dragonlord families.
Only House Velaryon, amongst a few others, headed their call and traveled across the Narrow Sea with them.
So, Lord Corlys claim to Daemon Targaryen that his blood is older than theirs – as some histories profess– could very well be the truth. Yes, the Targaryen family from Old Valyria rules Westeros, but only because they were the last dragonlord family with riders to escape the Doom.
In essence, that is the only reason why the Targaryen family had power in Westeros.
Why is Dragonstone so Important?
Dragonstone served a purpose for Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives.
It resembled their homeland of Old Valyria, the volcanic ash and obsidian stone being helpful for the nurturing and then hatching of their dragons. Inbreeding to keep the ‘Valyrian blood pure’ was also necessary for the Targaryen family to maintain their rule in a foreign land.
Viserys I, who wears the Valyrian steel dagger that later falls in Littlefinger’s hand and bears an inscription from Aegon the Conqueror that could only be visible by dragonfire – should know this.
Lord Corlys – the blood of Old Valyria – reminding his King (and extended family) of this in Laena’s proposal speech to the king was calculating. Even the man in the small council whose name I am forgetting had to remind the King that Lord Corlys controls the seas – and owns half of the ships in the royal fleet.
Lord Corlys is King Viserys’ true Valerian ally, yet the Hand of the King Otto Hightower refuses to help the King’s oldest ally.
What motivation would The Hand of the King have for removing the Targaryen family’s close kinship with another Valyrian family that happens to be the richest in the realm?
I’ll tell you – power.
What King Viserys is too weak to see, that both Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys could, is that Lord Hightower was trying to cause a rift between the two great houses.
Although young, yes – Lady Laena Velaryon would have made a splendid queen.
Lady Laena’s Strong Points for Betrothal to King Viserys I
Lady Laena has the Blood of Old Valyria, which is necessary for Targaryen dragonriders to hatch, tame, and ride their dragons which in turn – give them power.
Lord Corlys is the richest man in the realm, so in turn Lady Laena is the oldest – and only – daughter of the richest man in the kingdom.
Lord Corlys is Master of Ships and owns half the ships in the realm, in addition to holding trade routes across the narrow sea to the Free Cities in Essos. Through his network of spies and contacts, he could bring any foreign desires for goods, trade, gossip, or even women the King could desire.
Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the “Queen Who Never Was” is considered by some the rightful heir of the realm – especially to House Baratheon, to whom her mother belonged.
A legitimate marriage with her own daughter on the throne would have smoothed the ruffled feathers of certain Houses in the kingdom, and maybe…it could have even prevented Robert’s Rebellion centuries later…
With a marriage between Lady Laena Velaryon and King Viserys I, the realm would be secured and the Targaryens would still rule the skies as House Velaryon would control the seas. The two houses of Old Valyria would be an impenetrable force to be reckoned with.
Instead, King Viserys I chose Alicent Hightower, a girl of 15 born to a second son set to inherit nothing. Hailing from a family that does nothing but surround itself with old men who spend their time idling with gossip, and hating the women they are forced to serve all for the alleged good of the realm.
What a pity.
Not to mention, King Viserys doesn’t even know where Vhagar – a Targaryan legacy dragon that helped his family secure the Iron Throne he sits on – is, and Viserys is frankly unconcerned and doesn’t even care that another with Valyrian ancestry in Essos could try and tame it.
Prince Daemon Targaryen, Second Son and Outcast Dragonrider
I don’t have much to say about Daemon, other than he sees through his brother’s lecherous council.
The privy council fears Daemon and continually likens him to a “second Maegor the Cruel” because they know their jobs would be gone if Daemon ever ascended the Iron Throne. To be quite frank, I’m glad Lord Corlys went to seek Daemon’s help towards the end of the episode.
We can count on Prince Daemon Targaryen to prevent the ruin of his House, but we cannot say the same about his brother, King Viserys.
But, tell me your thoughts.
What do you think makes Viserys such a weak king?
Does he realize that Otto Hightower is manipulating him?
Were you impressed with Princess Rhaenyra taking charge of the situation on Dragonstone in this episode?
I’d love to know your thoughts and opinions! Leave them in the comment section below, and Subscribe to our Newsletter for more weekly House of the Dragon reviews.
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