One of the most visually impressive elements of Game of Thrones so far has been the dragons. Since their hatching at the end of Season 1 to the full grown monsters we see in Season 4, Daenerys’s dragons are one of the finest examples of modern CGI placement in television history.
And nothing else in the GoT universe gives a character legitimacy quite like Dany’s dragons. Before them, the mother of dragon’s was mourning the death of the future Aquaman, Khal Drago, with few of his former khalasar remaining to stand behind her. But having dragons opened the doors of Qarth, helped conquer the cities along Slaver’s Bay, and brought the Unsullied and the Second Son sellsword company to the side of Daenerys Stormborn.
But Season 4 brought to attention a problem that has been in the back of our minds since their hatching. We may have figured the vicious beasts would be loyal to their mother or that Dany would learn how to tame them as they matured. But as it stands now, Dany’s dragons do what they want. One of them has already escaped and the other two had to be chained up for fear another child might die or damaged property could turn those loyal to Dany against her. How can Daenerys claim the throne of Westeros (or keep the seat of power she has now, for that matter) if she can’t control her dragons. For some speculation on the potential answers to these questions, let’s take a look at the history of dragons in Westeros and how that knowledge affects Dany’s interactions with her Dragons in the present.
Dragons in Westeros: A History
The Field of Fire
Dragons in Westeros first appeared with Aegon the Conquerer over 300 years before the events of a Game of Thrones. In a battle known as “The Field of Fire,” Aegon and his two sisters flew their dragons and burned thousands of men who opposed Aegon’s claim to rule all of Westeros. After the battle, the rest of Westeros (except Dorne) chose to bend the knee to Aegon instead of facing the wrath of the dragons, uniting the seven kingdoms (except, once again, Dorne) as one realm ruled by the Targaryens.
The Dance with the Dragons
Dragons were a regular part of the landscape of Westeros for the next 130 years of Targaryen rule. But one war, a civil war between two different factions of the Targaryen’s known as the Dance of the Dragons, ended dragons in Westeros. With both sides possessing them, many on field battles included skyward confrontations between dragons where one or both dragons died or were severely injured in battle. Of the twenty two dragons alive before the Dance, nineteen of them died. Two of the three disappeared never to be seen again. The only dragon that did not disappear or die, Morning, was too young to fight in the Dance and died at a very young age. Dragons have not been seen in Westeros since.
The Taming and Riding of Dragons
Targaryens riding dragons into battles proves they can be tamed and used. But what history shows us about them doesn’t help Dany’s cause. Not anyone can just ride any dragon they want. It may seem obvious that a giant, aggressive beast that shoots flames from its mouth would be tough to ride. But what I mean is dragons only accept one rider at a time. Once a dragon has chosen its rider, it will not accept any other rider until its current rider dies. And the opposite is true as well. A person cannot ride two dragons while they are both living. Only when a person’s dragon has died can they attempt to ride a different one. So even if Dany figures out how to tame her dragons, she could only ride one of them, leaving the other two to their own devices.
History also shows that one must have Targaryen blood in order to ride a dragon. That’s not to say that everyone has to be a pureblood Targaryen to ride a dragon. Many of the dragons flown in the dance were ridden by bastards whose moms believed they were impregnated by Targaryens. If true, this presents another problem for the mother of dragons. She is the only known Targaryen in the Game of Thrones universe. So in order for all three dragons to be used to their full effectiveness, Dany must find two secret Targaryens out there. And considering that dragons tend to burn those who try to ride or tame them that don’t have Targaryen blood, good luck finding people to volunteer for this task.
Questions Going Forward
-Will Daenerys learn to tame and ride one of her dragons?
-If she does, are there two other people out there with the courage and bloodlines to tame and ride her other two dragons?
-Assuming Daenerys learns to control one of her dragons, but can’t find a suitable rider for the other two, what damage will the wild dragons create for her cause? Will her lack of control for the dragons turn people against her?
-Will the producers of the show say “To hell with all this dragon mythology from the books, we will do our own thing Dany,” making everything I just wrote a waste of time.
A second trailer of the fifth season came out and showed what appeared to be Dany communicating something with one of her dragons and the dragon flying off after she did. We will see if that is a good omen for the mother of dragons or just a mirage covering up the many complications she will be having in taming her prized beasts.
Next Week: Q and A: Answering your questions about the upcoming season.
(This article was written by 4LN GoT expert, Jeff Merrick.)