In the latest ‘Send the Ravens’, we look back at the most infamous display of dragon fire in Westeros history and answer your ‘Game of Thrones’ questions…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Watching Daenerys Targaryen fly in on the back of her dragon Drogon while torching the Lannister army with fire enough to turn a man to ash in a matter of seconds was quite the sight in last week’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones’.
By the time Daenerys stepped into her husband’s funeral pyre and three baby dragons were born into the world, it had been more than a hundred years since anyone in Westeros had seen the great scaly beasts. In fact, most of the dragons were destroyed during the infamous Targaryen civil war known as the ‘Dance with Dragons’ (read more about that from a past edition of ‘Send the Ravens’).
When Jamie Lannister’s jaw drops to the floor after seeing Drogon flying overtop of a Dothraki horde — another first in Westeros — it’s understandable why he was so unbelievably shocked. From there, Drogon would set ablaze the majority of the Lannister army including the caravan of wagons headed back to King’s Landing after they successfully conquered the Reach, which included House Tyrell’s stronghold at Highgarden.
While Daenerys did unleash her dragons to take out the slaver’s ships in the ‘Game of Thrones’ season six finale last year, nothing had been seen quite like watching Drogon burn through an entire armada in a matter of minutes.
Of course dragons torching the Targaryen’s enemies wasn’t anything all that unusual hundreds of years ago but there was no more famous attack than when Aegon I Targaryen, the first conqueror of Westeros, rode on the back of Balerion the Dread and proceeded to take down the most impressive castle ever built in history.
Balerion the Dread is by far the most well known dragon in Westeros history — he was mentioned earlier this season when Qyburn showed off his impressive new weapon by shooting a giant arrow through the dead beast’s skull.
When Aegon I Targaryen decided to conquer the Seven Kingdoms and bring them all under his rule, he didn’t have the biggest or most impressive army but no enemy could deal with the power unleashed by his dragons. Of course not everyone was ready to bend the knee (that probably sounds familiar given this season) and perhaps the biggest outlier was a lord known as Harren the Black.
For three generations, House Hoare had ruled over the Iron Islands and the Riverlands and the latest was Lord Harren Hoare, better known by his nickname Harren the Black. Harren was a cruel and vicious ruler who devoted almost his entire reign towards the construction of the greatest castle in history, which he named Harrenhal.
Harrenhal featured enormous walls — far too tall to scale by any man — and three gigantic towers inside built out of stone. Harren purposely built his castle to withstand a dragon attack because while wood burns, stone does not. He stocked the castle with food and supplies that would last any sort of siege and Harren looted anything and everything he could from the surrounding areas to ensure that the people inside the walls at Harrenhal could survive any sort of attack from the outside.
Harren’s forces actually won a battle against Aegon I Targaryen during the war, so he was definitely a considerable threat. That being said when Aegon arrived at Harrenhal, he offered a treaty to House Hoare by allowing Harren to remain as the Lord of the Iron Islands so long as he bent the knee and pledged fealty to House Targaryen.
Harren refused and Aegon promised that House Hoare would come to an end that very night.
A very confident Harren the Black retired into the tallest tower with his family, believing that Aegon would have no luck bringing down his mighty castle from the outside even with dragon fire. Harren even offered some of the other lords of the Riverlands great prizes of lands and marriage if any of them could kill Aegon’s beloved Balerion the Dread.
Unfortunately, Harren had made few friends during his reign and eventually Lord Edmyn Tully from Riverrun turned against him and joined forces with House Targaryen in the war. On the same night that he was offered a chance to join or die, Aegon mounted Balerion and flew high above Harrenhal before unleashing his dragonfire.
Balerion didn’t have to scale the walls because he roasted Harren and his sons alive in the tallest tower where they fled for safety. The castles may not have been made of wood, but a great many things inside Harrenhal were burnt to a crisp as Balerion unleashed his dragon fire throughout the kingdom until House Hoare came to a final, tragic end.
In the aftermath, Aegon named Edmyn Tully as Lord Paramount of the Trident — a title the family held until the War of the Five Kings when the family teamed up with House Stark against Joffrey Baratheon and the Lannister forces. The leftover swords inside Harrenhal were gathered and many of them used to forge the Iron Throne that still stands today.
As for Harrenhal, the castle remained in ruins and was never rebuilt back up again. We saw Harrenhal back in season two when Tywin Lannister set up shop there for several weeks when Arya Stark was his handmaiden. After Tywin left, Robb Stark used Harrenhal as a stronghold while he marched against the south.
Interesting enough, the current Lord of Harrenhal is none other than Lord Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. He was named Lord of Harrenhal several seasons ago as a reward for his loyalty by Joffrey Baratheon, despite the fact that Baelish has never stepped foot into the kingdom. It did legitimize him enough so that Baelish could marry Lysa Arryn, who he later murdered before becoming the regent over the Vale of Arryn until Lysa’s son Robin came of age.
The burning of Harrenhal is one of the most notorious moments in Westerosi history but Daenerys’ dragon attacks aren’t likely over so the books will almost certainly be rewritten to tell tales about leading her three “children” into battle to take back the Iron Throne.
With that said, let’s get to some of your ‘Game of Thrones’ questions this week:
Now what for Cersei and the Iron Bank? What exactly does she owe?
— Josh (@cubbiezfan80) August 8, 2017
Despite Daenerys burning the loot train to the ground, Lord Randyll Tarly actually stated just before her attack that the gold they captured from House Tyrell had been delivered through the gates at King’s Landing.
It was a quick moment easily missed in the episode, but for all the problems Cersei Lannister has now that Daenerys’ dragons have been unleashed, at least she’s going to be able to pay back the Iron Back of Braavos.
Why does the Three Eyed Raven have such bad manners?
— Brandon Gibson (@SixGunGibson) August 8, 2017
Before Bran Stark ascended to become the Three-Eyed Raven, the position was held by a man named Brynden Rivers — a legitimized bastard of Aegon IV Targaryen and a loyalist to House Targaryen during the Blackfyre rebellions (another legitimized bastard of Aegon named Daemon Blackfyre, who believed he should sit on the Iron Throne before leading several uprisings).
Eventually, Brynden became the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch before disappearing beyond the Wall and he never returned again. It is believed that Brynden was the last greenseer (a powerful ally to the Children of the Forest, who could control nature and animals as well as seeing visions).
Brynden disappeared approximately 47 years before the stories that started with the first season of ‘Game of Thrones’ and that’s where he’s remained as the Three-Eyed Raven ever since. He was training Bran to become his replacement as he had the same visions and the ability to warg into animals as well as men (like he did with his wolf Summer and with Hodor). Unfortunately, Bran ventured out onto his own vision quest where he ran into the Night King, which led him right to the lair of the Three-Eyed Raven.
In that moment, the Three-Eyed Raven “downloaded” all of his memories into Bran, which then transformed him into the new version of the Three-Eyed Raven. Think of it like this — Bran is a computer and the Three-Eyed Raven just overloaded him with hundreds upon hundreds of years of information in a matter of seconds rather than allowing him to assimilate that knowledge over several years.
The result is Bran is just overloaded with so much information that what was left of the boy known as Brandon Stark is almost gone because becoming the Three-Eyed Raven was just too much for him to take all at once.
For a better reference, just watch this scene from ‘Married with Children’ where the same thing happens to Kelly Bundy.
Question. Shouldn't Cersei be a Baratheon since she married Robert? Catelyn became Stark when she married Ned.
— FCFBlazer (@FCFBlazer) July 31, 2017
This is actually a great question based on marriage customs in Westeros.
Not all women take their husband’s names and Cersei Lannister is one who kept her maiden name even after marrying Robert Baratheon. It’s not always the same custom as we saw with Catelyn Stark, who took Ned Stark’s name after they were married. Later in the seasons, you would hear Catelyn also referred by her maiden name of Tully as well.
Often times it can come down to personal preference or if the woman comes from a well standing royal house, she may keep her name regardless of marriage. In Cersei’s case, House Lannister is very well known and highly regarded in Westeros so it stood to reason that she would keep her name even if she was marrying a king in Robert Baratheon.
If Jon’s true parentage is ever revealed — that his father is Rhaegar Targaryen and his mother is Lyanna Stark — then yes, he would be the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Rhaegar was the first born son of the ‘Mad King’ Aerys Targaryen and would have been next in line to sit on the Iron Throne if he wasn’t slain in battle by Robert Baratheon.
By law, Rhaegar’s children would be next in line ahead of any of Aerys’ other children and that includes Daenerys.
Here’s where things get interesting — Jon has refused to bend the knee, but my guess is this could eventually lead to a union with Daenerys where they would become husband and wife, which would bring the North back into the Seven Kingdoms but it would make them equal (for argument’s sake anyways). Of course, Daenerys is actually Jon’s aunt so that could get rather creepy if they become husband and wife, but then again Cersei and Jamie Lannister have been boning for seven seasons and no one really seems to mind anymore.
Add to that, the Targaryen bloodline was kept “pure” for centuries by family members all marrying each other. In fact, Aegon I Targaryen — the first king of Westeros — married both of his sisters.
Do you think the teleportation in the show is getting out of hand? Especially with Euron.
— Abhinav (@AbhinavMMA) August 8, 2017
One of the biggest complaints this season during ‘Game of Thrones’ has been how quick the show has been moving when compared to the other 60-plus episodes in the series. When Robert Baratheon arrived in the North to ask Ned Stark to become his Hand of the King, he remarked that they had been on the road for over a month to travel between King’s Landing and Winterfell.
That being said, it’s clear the creators behind ‘Game of Thrones’ have decided to eliminate travel times while moving ahead with the final two seasons of the show. It certainly makes things move a lot faster, but it is a big of a shock when we’re used to these sorts of stories playing out over 10 episodes rather than one or two. For instance, Jon’s travel from the North to Dragonstone should have taken weeks rather than a couple of days (by the standards set forth in this season). Euron’s travels are a little different because he’s on ships so he can certainly get around much quicker than anyone could on horseback.
In fact that was mentioned after Euron destroyed much of Daenerys’ fleet when the Unsullied took Casterly Rock because they knew it would trap the soldiers there without any quick means of travel to get back to Dragonstone without marching all the way across Westeros.
So they are still acknowledging how long it takes to travel from Point A to Point B this season, but it’s just not adding up that much from episode to episode.
Where were the other 2 dragons for the battle at the end ?
— SOS (@tweettwooo) August 8, 2017
Typically speaking, it’s one rider to one dragon.
So Daenerys has a bond with Drogon — the dragon named after her late husband Khal Drogo — but the other dragons will typically follow the leader as we witnessed with her attack on the slaver’s ships at the end of last season. Of course there has been speculation that perhaps at some point in the future when Jon is finally revealed as a Targaryen that perhaps he might mount Rhaegal — the dragon named after his real father, Rhaegar Targaryen.
As far as this particular battle, Daenerys opted to use only one dragon while also unleashing the Dothraki horde against the Lannister army.
In my opinion, Daenerys showed the true power she possesses by using both in that particular battle. Not only does she have the fire power from the dragons but her army is built with the most powerful warriors ever known to mankind. Remember, the Dothraki have never crossed the Narrow Sea into Westeros. Part of their religion is to fear the water so they’ve never even attempted to travel to Westeros, which is why past kings have never worried much about them.
Daenerys has now managed to bring a Dothraki horde numbering over 100,000 onto the shores of Westeros and they are the ultimate bad asses — why not use them?
If you have any more questions about ‘Game of Thrones’, we will be doing weekly ‘Send the Ravens’ columns for the final three weeks of the show. Just send your questions on Twitter to @DamonMartin to have them answered here!