The mention of “The Song Of Ice And Fire” as a prophecy in the first episode of House Of The Dragon came as something of a surprise to book readers. Not because they were unfamiliar with the concept, but because it doesn’t appear anywhere in Fire And Blood, the book that serves as inspiration for the series. At first, it seemed like the showrunners threw it into the premiere as a way to tie the spinoff to its predecessor. Game Of Thrones fans surely knew exactly what Viserys was talking about in that scene. Now that we’ve seen the end of episode eight, though, it’s looking like the prophecy will play a much bigger part in the conflict to come.
What is the prophecy and how does it relate to Game Of Thrones?
This goes all the way back to Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen king to unite the Seven Kingdoms and rule on the Iron Throne. Besides being dragonriders, some Targaryens also possess the ability to see visions of the future. That’s how the family escaped the doom of Valyria, thanks to a young Targaryen girl’s premonition. These seers are commonly called “dreamers,” and though history tends to prove them right time and time again, there’s still a lot of mystery and suspicion surrounding them. Aegon the Conqueror was one such dreamer. He foresaw the coming of the white walkers in the north, and was convinced that they could only be stopped by a Targaryen leader—“the prince who was promised”—who would unite the kingdom to fight together against the forces of darkness.
What he didn’t know was that it wouldn’t happen for, like, 300 years. We saw the whole thing play out at the end of Game Of Thrones. Though it was never officially confirmed, many believe “the prince” is Jon Snow, whose real name happens to be … Aegon Targaryen. That name shows up a lot in the history of Westeros. It’s going to be important later.
How does the prophecy relate to Viserys and his heirs?
Like every Targaryen king before him, Viserys knew The Long Night was coming, but had no idea when. Above all else, his most sacred and secret duty was to keep the realm united in preparation for that battle to come.
Viserys also believed that he was a dreamer himself. And though he came to doubt it, that still might be true. In his dream, he saw that his son would one day wear “Aegon’s crown.” That’s why he took so long to name Rhaenyra as his heir, because he kept expecting a son to show up and fulfill his prophecy. Like the original Aegon, though, he didn’t get the timing right. After Aemma died in childbirth he put his dream of a son aside and named Rhaenyra his successor, passing down the secret prophecy of “The Song Of Ice And Fire” to her. By the time Alicent gave birth to Aegon, it was too late to go back on his promise. That doesn’t mean his vision was wrong, though.
What Rhaenyra believes
With Viserys going gently into that goodnight, she now assumes she is the only living person to know of Aegon’s prophecy. The responsibility of holding the Seven Kingdoms together in preparation for The Long Night now falls to her. And when the time comes, she will pass it on to her own heir. She’s also the only one left who knows about the inscription of the prophecy on the Valyrian steel dagger, which becomes visible when the blade is heated up. If, for some reason, that knowledge is not passed on to anyone else in Rhaenyra’s lifetime, the secret of the dagger dies with her. In case we need a reminder, there’s a nice shot of the dagger, with the fireplace burning in the background, just before Alicent leaves Viserys for the last time.
And yes, in case you’re wondering, this is the same dagger that plays an important role throughout Game Of Thrones, from Petyr Baelish’s plot to pit the Starks and Lannisters against each other to eventually putting an end to the Night King in the hand of Arya Stark.
What Alicent believes
This is where things get complicated. At the family supper, it looked like Alicent and Rhaenyra had finally put the past behind them. Though Otto clearly didn’t approve, Alicent acknowledged that Rhaenyra would make a fine queen. Everyone made nice with each other for the evening, for the sake of their king and patriarch, and that appeared to be that.
And then we get this final scene between Alicent and Viserys, which changes everything. Viserys is delirious, and believes he’s talking to Rhaenyra when he says, “You wanted to know if I believed it to be true.” Alicent is confused by his mention of Aegon (there’s that name again). He’s talking about Aegon the Conqueror, but when he tells her that “the prince” will be the one to “unite the realm against the cold and the dark” she misinterprets it to mean her own son.
“It is you,” he says. Remember, he thinks he’s talking to Rhaenyra here. “You are the one. You must do this. Can you please do this?”
“I understand, my king,” she replies, not understanding at all.
Alicent believes she’s just been told that her son will be the one to unite the kingdom, and she must make sure of it. Whatever she said about Rhaenyra before, all bets are off. She has a holy cause from here on out, one entrusted to her by the king himself on his deathbed. In the book, Alicent was just fighting for power, but this is a much better and stronger motivation for her. It’s for the good of the realm, after all.
A righteous cause
We always knew a Targaryen civil war was brewing. We were told as much in the first episode. This is how it starts, with two opposite sides believing their cause is the only just one. Neither side has the full picture, or the benefit of hindsight, as we do. When the very survival of the kingdom is on the line, no measure of diplomacy, compromise, or half-measures will suffice. You win or you die. Everyone dies.
Now, let the dance begin.