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, SomethingLikeaLawyer, MilitantPenguin, and I have explored the Targaryen dynasty from its rise in the Conquest to its fall in Robert’s Rebellion. My pieces, the Ladies of Fire, have analyzed the queens and princesses of House Targaryen, as well as those ladies who had a substantial impact on the dynasty itself.
For over two and a half centuries, the Targaryen dynasty had seen its fair share of ladies. Rhaenys and Visenya were celebrated as founding, conquering matriarchs of the royal house, while Jaehaerys’ queen Alysanne was universally beloved for her clever goodness. Alongside the good, of course, were those ladies less pleasantly remembered – tyrannical, usurping Rhaenyra, or defiant Daena, whose son caused many decades of grief. Whether they were considered paragons or fiends, however, both sorts of ladies played into the inheritance of the Targaryen female: a well-bred marriage pawn she might have appeared to be, but a dragon princess was still the descendant of warriors, through whose veins ran the exalted blood of mighty Valyria.
Such was the burden placed on the delicate shoulders of the last of these dragon princesses, Rhaella. It was her duty to live up to this inheritance – to be the hope of a dynasty which, by the time of her birth, was already slipping into decline. Yet Rhaella, more than any of her lady predecessors, seems to have incurred the wrath of Fate; her life, at least since the age of 14, was an almost unmitigated, relentless tale of woe. It was hers to watch the collapse of everything she had ever relied on – a stable marriage, a role as royal mother, her very kingdom – and hers to endure the cruelties of marriage to the Mad King. It was hers, most of all, to be given glimmers of hope for the improvement of her lot, and then to watch them be snatched away one by one, until the Stranger finally relieved her of her tragic burden.