Hello and welcome once again to The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire, the first multi-author series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire. In this series, we are taking a comprehensive look at the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros, from its rise to power in the Conquest to its fall in Robert’s Rebellion. My pieces, the Ladies of Fire, will examine the queens and princesses of House Targaryen, as well as those ladies who had a substantial impact on the dynasty itself.
By the time of Viserys I’s death in 129 AC, the Targaryen dynasty seemed to have recovered from the instability of the Aenys-Maegor days and the succession crises that plagued the last years of the Old King’s rule; with three sons, two daughters, seven grandsons, one granddaughter, and two nieces (and dragons for nearly everyone), Viserys had admirably ensured the Targaryen line would continue. Yet this recovery was a sham with only the thinnest veneer of believability, as two rival courts – that of his eldest daughter and officially proclaimed heir and that of his second wife and mother of his sons – both thought themselves the rightful heirs of Viserys’ crown. This simmering conflict exploded upon the king’s death, and the two female leads of each faction – Dowager Queen Alicent and the Princess Rhaenyra – committed everything – wealth, children, and dragons – to the cause of victory. Only Alicent, Aegon, and a handful of the youngest Targaryen generation survived, but no one could be said to have won. Indeed, the driving ambitions of both queens brought about the end of the age of the great she-dragons; never again would Targaryen ladies (or any Targaryen) take to the sky on dragonback, and never again would a Targaryen lady claim a crown in her own right (until after the dynasty had fallen).