‘House of the Dragon’s Dragon Skull in Dragonstone Means More Than You Think


Editor’s Note: The following incorporates spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 2 Episode 1.



The Big Picture

  • The iconic dragons in
    House of the Dragon
    have a wealthy historical past, with Meraxes enjoying a significant function in the Targaryen conquest.
  • The dragons of House Targaryen, particularly Meraxes, have been instrumental in the conquest of Westeros by Aegon and his siblings.
  • The destiny of Rhaenys and Meraxes, significantly the impactful demise of the dragon, holds symbolic significance in the story’s continuation.


It’s truthful to say that the most iconic side of George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire collection is the dragons. When the books have been tailored into the hit HBO present, Game of Thrones, their reputation skyrocketed due to the spectacular CGI used to deliver them to life, and followers have been keen to observe them develop. In the prequel collection, House of the Dragons, the showrunners obtained much more inventive and diversified the dragons of House Targaryen, the final surviving dragon riders of the Valyrian Empire, who got here to rule over Westeros when Aegon I, known as the Conqueror, and his two sister-wives, Visenya and Rhaenys, used them to overcome six of the continent’s seven kingdoms into one nation.


Fans of House of the Dragon get to witness Visenya’s dragon, Vhagar, in all her glory as the oldest and largest of the dwelling dragons throughout the reign of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine). The cranium of Aegon’s Belarion, the largest of all dragons, was additionally used as a set piece for vital conversations between the king and his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy) regarding the future of House Targaryen. However, the present has given little info concerning Rhaenys’ dragon, Meraxes. During the premier of the first episode of House of the Dragon’s second season, “A Son for a Son”, a dragon cranium briefly appeared in the background of Dragonstone. Given its dimension and the way it parallels Balerion’s cranium in King’s Landing, there’s a sturdy probability that this cranium belongs to Meraxes. As audiences attempt to get well from the episode’s stunning ending, now could be nearly as good a time as ever to look into the third Targaryen dragon, what she and her rider achieved, and their destiny and legacy in the collection.



Rhaenys and Her Dragon Meraxes Helped Conquer Westeros

Queen Rhaenys was born the third baby of Aerion Targaryen, Lord of Dragonstone. To hold their Valyrian bloodline pure, the Targaryens had a behavior of marriage ceremony brother to sister, so Aegon was betrothed to their older sister, Visenya. However, Aegon took this a step additional by additionally marrying Rhaenys out of love. Before their marriage, Rhaenys claimed Meraxes, the second largest of the three Targaryen dragons. Like Balerion and Vhagar, Meraxes was named after one of the historical gods of Valyria. She was described as a big silver-white dragon who may swallow a horse entire. The two turned inseparable, and Rhaenys was identified to go flying as usually as doable, a trait that she shares together with her youthful and spirited descendant, Rhaenyra.

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When Aegon launched his invasion of Westeros, Rhaenys and Meraxes campaigned south of his touchdown web site, which might ultimately grow to be the metropolis of King’s Landing. They first subdue the native lords to hitch Aegon’s trigger earlier than accompanying Aegon’s greatest buddy and trusted advisor, Orys Baratheon, towards the Storm King Argilac of House Durrandon. Rhaenys and Meraxes supplied aerial reconnaissance for Orys’ military, permitting him to arrange a powerful place on a hill for a battle that might be known as the Last Storm. Even although she was grounded because of horrible climate, Meraxes killed scores of Argilac’s troopers, whereas Orys slew the Storm King himself in single fight. Orys then married Argilac’s daughter and established House Baratheon. Though House Baratheon started as allies of the Targaryens, over time the relationship would grow to be extra strained. While Lord Boremund Baratheon (Julian Lewis Jones) was a staunch ally of Rhaenyra, his son, Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans) sides with the Greens once they agreed to marry Prince Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) to 1 of his daughters. Ultimately, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) overthrows the Targaryen dynasty throughout his insurrection towards the Mad King, Aerys II (David Rintoul).


Once the Stormlands surrendered, Rhaenys regrouped together with her siblings and partook in the Field of Fire, the solely battle the place all three dragons have been unleashed at the identical time. This satisfied the Lannisters to give up their crown, and worn out House Gardner of the Reach, permitting for the promotion of House Tyrell. Meraxes was additionally half of the power that met King Torrhen Stark from the North, and satisfied him to give up his crown with out bloodshed. This occasion was introduced up in a dialog between Lord Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor) and Prince Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) when the two visited the Wall throughout Jace’s try to deliver the Starks to his mom’s trigger in “A Son for a Son”.


Bolstered by these victories, Rhaenys left her siblings to go south and persuade Dorne to give up. However, the Dornish have been descended from the historical Rhonyar individuals and their warrior queen, Nymeria, who fled to Dorne following a warfare with Valyria. This gave the Dornish extra information about learn how to survive dragons than the relaxation of Westeros. So when Rhaenys and Meraxes flew to Dorne, they discovered the castles deserted and the military nowhere to be discovered. Still, they made their solution to Sunspear to talk with Meria Martell, the aged and blind Princess of Dorne. Meria refused to give up and declared that her individuals wouldn’t battle Aegon’s armies earlier than advising Rhaenys to return at her peril. Thus, Dorne turned the solely kingdom Aegon did not conquer, however the dragons would not keep away for lengthy.

Dorne Was Never Able To Be Conquered

The gardens of Dorne in Game of Thrones
Image through HBO

For the subsequent 4 years, Aegon consolidated his energy and toured his kingdom, leaving Rhaenys to deal with most of the governing. She proved to be nearly as good at diplomacy as her older sister was at battle: Rhaenys received the smallfolk over to Aegon’s aspect, organized many sturdy marriages between noble homes, and introduced many singers to Aegon’s rising court docket. She additionally had Aegon’s first son, Aenys.


Eventually, Aegon determined to complete what he began and declare Dorne. Rhaenys and Meraxes led the first assault, however similar to the first time, the Dornish left their strongholds and averted open fight. Aegon tried to assert this as a victory anyway and arrange his personal lords to manipulate the area. But as soon as the dragons have been gone, the Dornish re-emerged and killed Aegon’s lords and garrisons. Even the infirm Meria Martell obtained in on the motion and pushed Aegon’s regent out a window.There’s a cause followers of this franchise love the Dornish.

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What adopted have been years of escalating battle. Since each military they despatched into Dorne obtained ambushed, the Targaryen siblings used their dragons to burn Dornish castles from the sky. The Dornish retaliated by raiding deep into the Reach and Stormlands, looting cities and setting forests on hearth. They additionally lower off the hand of Orys Baratheon, at the time Aegon’s Hand of the King, who resigned after this mutilation.


How Did Rhaenys and Meraxes, Die?

Six years into the battle, Rhaenys and Meraxes attacked the Dornish fort of Hellholt. However, the Dornish had begun to fortify their castles with large ballistae known as Scorpions. One of these Scorpions shot Meraxes by means of the eye, sending her and her rider crashing to the floor. Needless to say, Aegon and Visenya reacted with hearth and blood, burning each Dornish village and chateau besides Sunspear at the very least as soon as, and putting bounties on the heads of many Dornish lords. Yet even after two years of what was known as “The Dragon’s Wroth,” the Dornish refused to give up.


It wasn’t till Meria Martell lastly died that the warfare discovered an finish. Her son, the new Prince of Dorne, satisfied Aegon to comply with peace through a mysterious letter, which he delivered together with the cranium of Meraxes. Nobody is aware of what the letter contained, however one concept was that Rhaenys one way or the other survived her fall from Meraxes, and was damaged and in horrible ache. The concept goes that the Prince of Dorne would finish her struggling if Aegon agreed to peace. In any case, Aegon agreed, and would not invade Dorne once more for the relaxation of his life.

The Legacy of Rhaenys and Meraxes

Cersei looking at the skull of Balerion the Dread in 'Game of Thrones'
Image through HBO

While Meraxes is not correctly described in Game of Thrones, the technique of her demise has a long-lasting affect on the collection. “A Son for a Son,” reveals the Red Keep fitted with Scorpions to guard the metropolis from Rhaenyra’s dragons. This is smart, provided that matching dragons with dragons comes with the danger of demise or damage to the survivor. Augmenting King’s Landing with Scorpions which have a historical past of killing dragons thus helps to make sure that the Blacks are at a larger danger of dropping dragons in the assault. It additionally is smart that the Greens are the ones using Scorpions since whereas their largest dragons are bigger than the Blacks, they’ve fewer total.


During the time of Game of Thrones, the disgraced maester, Qyburn (Anton Lesser), produced Scorpions en-mass for Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) following Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) arrival in Westeros with three dragons of her personal. These Scorpions grow to be a really literal thorn in the aspect of Daenerys: her largest, Drogon, takes a nasty wound to the wing in Season 7 when battling the Lannister military, courtesy of Sir Bronn of the Blackwater (Jerome Flynn). In Season 8, her second-largest, Rhaegal, is killed in an ambush by Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) close to Dragonstone. However, in the present’s penultimate episode, the Scorpions appear to lose their sting, as a whole bunch of them abruptly can’t hit Daenerys on Drogon as she assaults King’s Landing and burns it to the floor.

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As for Rhaenys, her bloodline is the one which continued the Targaryen dynasty to Daenerys, as Visenya’s son, the aptly named King Maegor the Cruel, died with out kids. Her great-great-granddaughter would even be named Rhaenys (Eve Best) and dubbed the Queen Who Never Was when her cousin, Viserys, was chosen as the subsequent in the line of succession. Still, she turned a robust girl in her personal proper, marrying the highly effective and achieved sailor, Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and claiming the Red Queen, Meyles, as her dragon.

Related

‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: Make It a Son for a Son

Now, greater than ever, each side of the impending Dance really feel simply as divided inside as with out.

What Does Meraxes’ Skull Symbolize in ‘House of the Dragon’?

Meraxes' Skull in Dragonstone in House of the Dragon
Image through HBO


When Queen Rhaenyra returns to Dragonstone after trying to find the stays of her son, Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), she walks previous a room with a big dragon cranium on her solution to her warfare council. Given its dimension and that solely younger dragons have died recently, it probably belongs to Meraxes. The cranium is mounted equally to how the cranium of Balerion is displayed in the Red Keep, however with none candles. This fast demonstration of cinematic mirroring has rather a lot of stunning symbolism behind it. The most evident is the method of Meraxes’ demise, which occurred throughout a warfare. This serves as a grim however inevitable reminder that even an grownup dragon might be killed. It can also be a reminder of the first main deaths of a Targaryen and their dragon in Westeros’ historical past. The upcoming Dance of the Dragons will see the most draconic and Valyrian blood spilled since the Doom of Valyria.


Meraxes’ cranium, for now, serves as little greater than set dressing. Rhaenyra and the viewers are caught up in the emotional turmoil following Lucerys’ demise and are extra targeted on the warfare forward. Will she enact her model of the Dragon’s Wroth, or will she discover a completely different answer? Ultimately, Rhaenyra tells her council, “I want Aemond Targaryen,” which conjures up Daemon to ship two assassins into the Red Keep, and results in the demise of an harmless baby. Thus, issues escalate even additional in direction of open warfare, and the extra the characters focus solely on the glory of battle or how they may deliver hearth and blood upon their enemies, the extra skulls will come to be mounted beside Meraxes.

House of the Dragon Season 2 is out there to stream on Max in the U.S.

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