If You Want To Go Down A “House Of The Dragon” Wormhole Today, Here Is A Spoiler-y Breakdown Of The Entire Targaryen Civil War

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Warning: This article contains discussion of violence, depression, incest, and suicide.

Obviously, we're walking into 🚨SUPER SPOILER🚨 territory here, so please don't proceed unless you're ready for a breakdown of the book House of the Dragon is based on.

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Fans have been whisked back into the fictional world of Westeros with HBO's new series House of the Dragon.

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The series is based on the Targaryen Civil War, which is detailed in George R.R. Martin's book Fire & Blood. This time around, the source material differs from the origins of the original Game of Thrones series in two major ways.

First, Fire & Blood has a defined beginning, middle, and end. Unlike Game of Thrones, which left showrunners to their own devices after it outpaced the story from the novels, House of the Dragon has been plotted out for us ahead of time.

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And Fire & Blood was written from the "perspective" of an archmaester who collected historical texts across Westeros and Essos. As we all know, history is written by the victor, and sometimes, it is inaccurate.

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Although the showrunners have a full plot to work with, they have the freedom to change some things. Was the archmaester's account in the book completely true? What actually happened historically compared to what Fire & Blood details? Fans of the book may notice some differences as the show progresses.

The book is written more like a synopsis of historical events and traces the Targaryen lineage over hundreds of years, rather than being written as a conventional novel. This also means the showrunners can fill in little history between the lines as they see fit.

With all that in mind, I know many of you like spoilers.


Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of spoilers, but I do have my caveats. I love to read, and I collect comics. So "spoilers" that are based on source material that is widely disseminated doesn't bother me as much.  If I can read a book about a movie or TV show before it comes out, I don't mind. However, I don't want to run into an article about spoilers without being warned first... or hit with an IG story with a picture of Thanos snapping everyone away before I go to the theaters.

🚨🚨So here's a second warning for you. Turn back now if you don't want spoilers from the book Fire & Blood.🚨🚨

Also, I'm going to be throwing A LOT of names at you. Be prepared. Here's a little family tree to help you along the way.

The Targaryen Family Tree

So, without further ado, here is where House of the Dragon is heading over what I would assume would be several seasons, based on Fire & Blood.

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Fire & Blood actually starts much earlier than House of the Dragon, chronicling Aegon I's conquest of Westeros and the succession and lineage of the Targaryens for hundreds of years.

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The show starts at the part of the book that explains the first succession crisis, which sows the seeds for the Dance of the Dragons, the bloody Targaryen Civil War.

As shown in Episode 1 of House of the Dragon, "The Old King" King Jaehaerys I outlived his heir and son, Prince Baelon Targaryen. So, there was a succession crisis. Prince Baelon's eldest son (and the king's grandson), Viserys I, was chosen by the Great Council. He was chosen over King Jaehaerys' granddaughter, Rhaenys. It was here that we see precedence set by skipping over a female Targaryen to anoint a male heir.


Sooo, Viserys is named heir and eventually becomes the king! Rhaenys was then nicknamed "The Queen Who Never Was." She would later marry Corlys Velaryon.

Fast forward several years. King Viserys I is now having a succession crisis of his own. The king was blessed with his daughter Princess Rhaenyra, but tragedy hit his family hard. King Viserys I's wife, Queen Aemma Arryn, suffered through multiple stillborns and miscarriages, leaving the king with no male heir and only a daughter.

After Queen Aemma dies, King Viserys I finally names Princess Rhaenyra as his heir.

However, King Viserys I would remarry a year later to Alicent Hightower (the daughter of the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, and Princess Rhaenyra's best friend).

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Queen Alicent would provide King Viserys I with several children, including male heirs. The children were Aegon II (also called Aegon the Older), Helaena, Aemond, and Daeron.

At an anniversary tournament set up for the king and queen, Princess Rhaenyra wore the Targaryen colors of black and red. Queen Alicent wore a green gown. From then forward, it became custom to call the Queen's party the Greens and the Princess's party the Blacks. And so the split began.

It's also important to mention that the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, hated the king's brother, Daemon. Daemon Targaryen is a great warrior and was wed first to Rhea Royce. When she passed away, Daemon was wed to Lord Corlys Velaryon's daughter Lady Laena Velaryon (the daughter of Queen Who Never Was). He and Laena then had two kids, Rhaena and Baela Targaryen.

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Princess Rhaenyra was wed to Laenor Velaryon (the sibling of Laena) to strengthen her place in the succession since both Laenor and Laena have Targaryen blood via their mother, The Queen Who Never Was.

The Velaryon family

The princess had three children with Laenor: Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon. However, there were rampant rumors that her children were bastards via Ser Harwin Strong.

Also to note: A Dornish warrior, Ser Criston Cole, was also pining for the love and attention of Princess Rhaenyra.

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Unfortunately, Laenor would be murdered some years later and his sister Laena died in childbirth. At this point, the two widowers would wed. Princess Rhaenyra married her uncle, Prince Daemon. They had two sons, Aegon III (also called Aegon the Younger) and Viserys II.

Daemon and Rhaenyra

This caused a falling out with Ser Criston Cole, who would stop supporting Princess Rhaenyra due to his jealously and dislike for Daemon.

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Rhaenyra and Alicent, who were best friends in their youth, began to grow apart during this time. Both were vying for their sides, with Rhaenyra promised the throne once her father died and Alicent wishing for her children to ascend the throne.

A young Alicent Hightower

So now that we have the players in place, let's get to the Dance of the Dragons.

Ser Criston Cole

The Small Council, who I'll now call the Green Council, tried to hide the death of the king and crowned Aegon II the new king. He would later marry his sister Helaena and have three children, Jaehaera, Jaehaerys II, and Maelor. Rhaenyra, who was pregnant and at Dragonstone during this time, was unaware of everything that happened.

King's Landing

The Green Council arrested anyone who may be loyal to Rhaenyra in the capital. Ser Steffon Darklyn of the Kingsguard would steal the crown worn by the now-dead King Viserys I and defect to Dragonstone to side with Rhaenyra. However, Aegon II was still "crowned" king in King's Landing.


When Rhaenyra found out about the treachery of her half-siblings, she gave birth to a stillborn out of agony and pain. She blamed this on the Greens, and swore vengeance.

Rhaenyra is then crowned Queen on Dragonstone with the stolen crown of her father. She also created her own council — the Black Council.

To kick things off, Daemon and his dragon Caraxes flew to Harrenhal, which they took as their base of operations for Queen Rhaenyra. Then Lord Corlys Velaryon, the Master of Ships who is known as the Sea Snake due to his extensive naval experience, blocked off imports to King's Landing by placing a fleet in Blackwater Bay.

Corlys Velaryon

Grand Maester Orwyle was sent by King Aegon II to sue for peace with Queen Rhaenyra around this time. Rhaenyra denied the terms of the treaty. All the while, Queen Rhaenyra's cause gained support across the realm.


Lucerys would travel to Storm's End to try and recruit the Baratheons to his mother Queen Rhaenyra's cause. However, when he got there, he was met by Aemond, who was there doing the same for his brother, King Aegon II. Lord Borros Baratheon refused to let the two Targaryen kids fight there, however, Aemond would follow Lucerys once they left Storm's End.


Aemond's dragon Vhagar, who was massive and vicious, easily defeated and killed Lucerys and his dragon Arrax as they left Storm's End.

Once Queen Rhaenyra learned of her child's murder, she promised revenge and her husband Daemon would be instrumental in carrying out this vengeance.

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Daemon, who once led the City Watch, would recruit an old friend from the crew simply named Blood. He also hired a rat catcher named Cheese. Blood and Cheese snuck into the Red Keep and tied up Dowager Queen Alicent and pounced on Queen Helaena and her kids. Blood and Cheese made Helaena choose which of the three kids would die. Under extreme duress, Helaena chose Maelor, but Blood killed Jaehaerys instead.

Queen Helaena, ashamed to look at Maelor after this event, slowly went mad with depression. She and King Aegon II stopped sleeping together at this point, and the king turned to alcohol and anger in response.

With a dead prince on both sides, the Greens and the Blacks were even more enraged.

King Aegon II would become disillusioned with his hand, Otto Hightower, and dismissed him, naming Ser Criston Cole as his new hand. Cole would be more strict in dealing with perceived friends or allies of Queen Rhaenyra.

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King Aegon II wanted to pull up on Queen Rhaenyra in Dragonstone and burn her and her followers to the ground, however, the Green Council recommended using stealth instead. Twin knights Ser Arryk Cargyll and Ser Erryk Cargyll chose two different sides of the war. So, Ser Arryk (of the Greens) was tasked with sneaking into Dragonstone as his twin brother, Ser Erryk (of the Blacks). However, Arryk ran into Erryk and the twins fought to the death, with both dying. The Duel of the Cargyll Twins is a famous moment in Westeros history.

Let's pause for a moment here.

Amidst all this fighting and bickering is the Kingdom of the Three Daughters. Also known as The Triarchy, it is an alliance of the Free Cities of Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh. The Triarchy counts Daemon and Corlys as their sworn enemies due to Daemon's past conquest of the Stepstones.

Otto Hightower, before being dismissed as King Aegon II's hand, sent for assistance from The Triarchy. Knowing they hated Daemon for his conquest of them, he made them allies.

Okay, back to the civil war.

The new hand, Ser Criston Cole, starts out pretty ruthless.

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He began by sacking towns that supported Queen Rhaenyra, which built up to the Battle of Rook's Rest. Lord Staunton of Rook's Rest would send for help after being attacked by the Greens. Rhaenys, The Queen Who Never Was, answered the call and appeared on her dragon Meleys. However, King Aegon II and his dragon Sunfyre and Aemond and his dragon Vhagar, arrived not long after. The battle would end with Rhaenys and Meleys being killed, King Aegon II being horribly burnt and battered, and Sunfyre injured and grounded at Rook's Rest with one wing ripped half off. With King Aegon II in critical condition and placed into what I guess would be considered a medical coma with milk of the poppy, Aemond would assume command of the Greens. Sunfyre was left in Rook's Rest with soldiers' protection, since he could not fly.

It's worth mentioning that at one point, loyalists of the Blacks took back Rook's Rest and tried to kill the grounded Sunfyre. The dragon escaped and wouldn't be seen for a very long time...

When Corlys Velaryon found out his wife was killed, he tried to leave the civil war. However, he was named Queen Rhaenyra's hand in a move to persuade him to stay. To protect the Blacks' youth, Corlys sent Joffrey, his dragon Tyraxes, and Rhaena with three dragon eggs to the Vale of Arryn. Aegon III and Viserys II were placed upon a ship and sent to Pentos, where they were to be protected and fostered by a friend of Daemon and Corlys.

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In the meantime, Jacaerys Velaryon offered knighthood and gold to whoever could ride the riderless dragons at Dragonstone. In the end, many were killed but four gained the glory of dragon-riderdom (I think I made that word up). The four riders and dragons were:

Nettles rode Sheepstealer, Hugh Hammer rode Vermithor, Ulf the White rode Silverwing, and Addam Velaryon (once a bastard in the Velaryon family tree) rode Seasmoke. This group was called the Dragonseeds.

Remember Aegon III and Viserys II were placed on the ship to Pentos, right? Well, warships coming from the Stepstones (called by Otto Hightower) to assist the Greens happened to stumble upon the ship carrying the children. Aegon III escaped on his dragon, Stormcloud, who took him to Dragonstone before it died of its wounds. However, the younger Viserys II only had a dragon egg and he was captured by Admiral Sharako Lohar of Lys. Viserys II was thought to be dead by everyone in Westeros until after the completion of the civil war.

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When Aegon III got back to Dragonstone, his half-brother Jacaerys sought to go rescue Viserys II on his dragon Vermax. The Dragonseeds followed. They were able to burn most of the warships, however, both Jacaerys and his dragon were killed in the battle. The surviving warships would make it to Driftmark (the House Seat of House Velaryon) and sack Spicetown, murdering many of Corlys's men stationed there and taking all the treasure that was hidden. This entire horrible event is called the Battle of the Gullet and is another infamous Westeros moment.

Many more battles took place, and I hope we get to see them all throughout the show (such as the Battle by the Lakeshore... can't wait for that!) However, I'm going to fast forward a little bit to the Greens taking back Harrenhal. Or else you'll be here reading about battles forever.

Daemon Targaryen

Aemond, his dragon Vhagar, and Ser Criston Cole took an army of 4,000 to Harrenhal to win it back from the Blacks and Daemon. However, Daemon got word of their plans and left the castle days ahead of time. When Aemond and company arrived, they took the castle and set up shop.


Since a bulk of the Greens' army was at Harrenhal now, Daemon, his dragon Caraxes, and Queen Rhaenyra with her dragon Syrax attacked the capital. Corlys assisted by taking Blackwater Bay with his navy. The Blacks were able to take King's Landing and Queen Rhaenyra would finally sit upon the throne.


A still injured King Aegon II was able to escape the city along with Jaehaera and Maelor. Queen Dowager Alicent was spared but her father, Otto Hightower, was beheaded.

Aemond would spend much time after the taking of King's Landing scorching the countryside in rage while Ser Criston Cole retreated south to meet with Daeron and another squadron of Hightower soldiers, led by Lord Ormund Hightower (the nephew of the recently beheaded Otto).

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However, Cole and his army of Greens were ambushed by a group of Blacks in an event known as the Butcher's Ball (yet another infamous Westeros moment). He and his men were slaughtered.

Soon after, we get the first Battle of Tumbleton. After Maelor and his guard are discovered following their escape from King's Landing, the child is killed by a mob. Enraged, Daeron rode his dragon Tessarion and burned the town down. Next, the plan of attack was Tumbleton, a town full of Queen Rhaenyra supporters.

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With that city sacked, it would create a clear path for the Greens to attack the capital and take it back. Queen Rhaenyra sent the Dragonseeds Ulf the White and Hugh Hammer upon their dragons to Tumbleton's defense. However, Ulf and Hammer would end up betraying Queen Rhaenyra and assisting the Greens in sacking the town. Several died, on both sides, in this massive bloody betrayal. From then forth, Ulf and Hammer were known as the Two Betrayers.

Of course, this made Queen Rhaenyra weary of the Dragonseeds.

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The Black Council decided to arrest Addam and Nettles, the other two Dragonseeds. However, Corlys warned Addam of the arrest, and the latter was able to escape on his dragon Seasmoke. This event led to the arrest of Corlys. Once Corlys was arrested, the navy protecting Blackwater Bay left Queen Rhaenyra's cause.

Meanwhile, King Aegon II was disguised and smuggled onto Dragonstone. It was here, while he was still battered and bruised, that Sunfyre would find his old master. Reunited, King Aegon II and his dragon seized the weakly defended Dragonstone as their own. Baela was captured during the fight, which also left Aegon with broken legs.

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Now it was Queen Rhaenyra's turn to feel desperate. After learning the Daemon was sleeping with the Dragonseed Nettles, the Queen demanded her head. Instead, Nettles was allowed to escape with the influence of Daemon.

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Fed up with everything at the point, Daemon challenged Aemond to a 1-on-1 battle at Harrenhal. Daemon waited roughly two weeks before Aemond appeared at Harrenhal prepared for battle. This fight is called the Battle Above God's Eye, and will probably be the most epic moment once the show gets there. Like the Battle of the Bastards x 1000.

It is said that Daemon leaped from his dragon onto Aemond's, and thrust his sword through the latter's eye. A moment later, both dragons hit God's Eye (a massive lake with an island in the center). Aemond's body was recovered from the lake with the sword still in his eye socket, his body still chained to the dragon. Caraxes also died in the battle, but Daemon's body was never found. He is presumed to have died that day as well, although some believe he escaped and lived his days out with Nettles in secret.

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As you can imagine, we're nearing the end of the civil war here. Soon after the death of Daemon and Aemond, King's Landing went full riot mode. Queen Rhaenyra appealed to the Starks of the north for help, who would begin a march down to the capital. The people no longer believed Queen Rhaenyra could hold the city and a cult-like following rose up to destroy it. Queen Helaena killed herself from grief and the city fell into despair.

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A religious madman known as the Shepherd (like the High Sparrow but worse), gathered a mob, and they went down to the dragonpits to murder the dragons that were kept in King's Landing. Joffrey would mount his mother Queen Rhaenyra's dragon Syrax and head to the dragonpits to defend it. However, Joffrey was thrown from the dragon and died. The mob murdered the dragons, although Syrax did arrive at the last minute to burn them to death. However, Syrax was also killed in the fight. Watching this all unfold from a balcony in the Red Keep, Queen Rhaenyra decided the city was lost. She and her son Aegon III would escape King's Landing in secret and head for Dragonstone.

Meanwhile, the Greens lacked leadership. King Aegon II was still presumed missing, Aemond was dead, and the Hightower army was in shambles. Infighting began and the Greens were attacked by thousands of Black loyalists, setting up the second Battle of Tumbleton.

This time, the Blacks were led by Addam on Seasmoke. They essentially destroyed the bigger but battle-worn and sluggish Greens that had taken Tumbleton previously. Daeron and Hard Hugh were killed, however, Addam was forced to fight their riderless dragons Tessarion and Vermithor. Addam, Seasmoke, Tessarion, and Vermithor all died during or as a result of this battle.

Soon after, Queen Rhaenyra and Aegon III reached Dragonstone...only to be met by King Aegon II and Sunfyre.

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King Aegon II killed Queen Rhaenyra by feeding her alive to Sunfyre, while making Aegon III watch. He then took Aegon III as a hostage as leverage against the Blacks. King Aegon II would then return to King's Landing after Lord Borros Baratheon took it back for him from the rioters who continued to loot the city after Queen Rhaenyra fled. We get an interesting story about a bastard taking the throne during this period of unrest, before Borros "saves" the city. I'll skip over that though.

So the Greens win!

But not so fast... Queen Rhaenyra's loyalists continue to fight, putting immense pressure on King Aegon II. With Cregan Stark marching south with an army from Winterfell and The Vale sending an army as well, King Aegon began to sweat. But he never faced the armies knocking on his door because he was poisoned before they arrived. So ends the reign of King Aegon II.

In the aftermath of it all, Queen Rhaenyra's son, Aegon III, would rise to the throne. He would release Corlys from the black cells and name him to the Small Council, yet again.

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However, Cregan Stark and his soldiers finally reached King's Landing ready for war. But the war was over, with both King Aegon II and Queen Rhaenyra dead. Infuriated, Stark would persuade King Aegon III to make him the Hand of the King.

As Hand of the King, Cregan Stark presided over what was called The Hour of the Wolf. He insisted that all of the Greens be punished.

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So, Hand Stark oversaw the execution of dozens of Green loyalists. He even tried to have Corlys executed (he had him arrested), but Corlys was spared after a deal was made. Then, after all the executions were done, Hand Stark quit the job and returned home to Winterfell. Call that spite.

And so ended the Dance of the Dragons, also known as the Dying of the Dragons. As you can see, the extinction of the dragons in Westeros had a lot to do with this war. The civil war was also used by the Targaryens of the future to refuse any woman succession rights.

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Now the show may change some of these details, and I've obviously skipped over the very very very fine points (you know George R.R. Martin creates these sprawling histories and stories).

But for those who are excited for the future of House of the Dragon, and don't mind a spoilery breakdown, I hope I've only made you more hype to see the text onscreen. I know I am!