Game of Thrones season 8: Will Daenerys Targaryen's dragons fly again after the end of the Long Night?

Rohini Nair

Apr 05, 2019 19:01:50 IST

Ever since Game of Thrones, HBO's fantasy epic, sped ahead of its source material — George RR Martin's A Song Of Ice and Fire books — there's been no knowing which way the story would go.

In a recent interview, Martin — who has been hounded by fans to finish the last two books in the ASOIAF series: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring — admitted that he was "pained" that the TV show would depict the ending of his tale, before he had a chance to write it.

Martin, however, added that the finale of the TV series may differ in parts from the conclusion of his books.

Showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss had initially stayed close to Martin's books in Game of Thrones' early seasons, to the extent of replicating many of the dialogues. Over time, changes were introduced, characters and plot-lines were either entirely removed or merged, timelines collapsed, and the whole enterprise made generally more compact than Martin's sprawling narrative.

We also know that Martin had provided the broad brushstrokes of this narrative to Benioff and Weiss once it became clear that the show would outpace his books. What this means is that while the details of Game of Thrones' eighth season may differ from what Martin lays out in WoW and DoS, the fates of the major characters should not.

We'd provided a breakdown of just what those fates are going to be, in this article predicting how Game of Thrones season 8 will end. (Hint: You'll need to go back to the very beginning to find the answers.)

One particular fate that seems less obvious than most is that of the dragons.

In episode 10 of season 1, we saw Daenerys Targaryen climb onto the funeral pyre of her husband, Khal Drogo, and come forth unscathed from the ashes. But she wasn't alone; Drogon, Rhaegal and Viseryon emerged from the embers with her. Their birth was 'heralded' by a red comet in the skies over Westeros and Essos.

Game of Thrones season 8: Will Daenerys Targaryens dragons fly again after the end of the Long Night?

Daenerys is presented the dragon eggs on her wedding day. Still from Game of Thrones season 1. HBO

The dragons were Daenerys' children, they were all the weapons she ever needed to emerge victorious from a fight. But when she flew with them beyond the Wall (in season 7), she experienced an irrecoverable loss: Viseryon was killed by the Night King, and later reanimated to serve as his mount.

It's fair to assume that no matter how much death and destruction Viseryon contributes to, one thing the dragon will not be doing is having any offspring — unless it laid a clutch of eggs at Dragonstone that no one knows of (a dragon's sex being quite difficult to determine). Then again, throughout the known history of the Seven Kingdoms, dragon eggs have had a way of turning up in odd places.

Take the three eggs that were gifted to Daenerys on her wedding day, by the Magister Illyrio Mopantis.

The eggs are thousands of years old, so old that "they have turned to stone"; Illyrio says they are from the shadow lands beyond Asshai. But how did the eggs get to Illyrio in the first place? Or the shadow lands, for that matter?

Daenerys emerges from Khal Drogo's funeral pyre with her dragons. Still from Game of Thrones season 1. HBO

Daenerys emerges from Khal Drogo's funeral pyre with her dragons. Still from Game of Thrones season 1. HBO

Dragons were present in various parts of the world, but there was a proliferation of them in Old Valyria, the volcanic freehold of the Valyrian people. And the Valyrians had a bond with dragons that no other races in recorded history did. When the Doom came to Valyria, most of the dragonlords and their dragons were killed. Three Valyrian families escaped that fate — the Targaryens, who had moved to Dragonstone 12 years before the Doom; the Velaryons; and a minor house known as the Celtigars. Of them, only the Targaryens were dragonlords (though some of the Velaryons later rode dragons as well).

The eggs that Daenerys receives are possibly the three that were stolen from one of her ancestors: the princess Rhaena. Rhaena was the granddaughter of Aegon the Conqueror; from his son Aenys. She married another Aegon, her younger brother — the Crown Prince to the Iron Throne (or the Prince of Dragonstone, as the heirs of the Targaryen kings and queens styled themselves). However, Rhaena's life, so full of promise to begin with, took unusually painful paths later on.

Even while she and Prince Aegon were on a tour of Westeros, her uncle Maegor (known as Maegor the Cruel) declared himself the next King after his brother Aenys' death. Rhaena saw her husband killed by Maegor and his dragon, Balerion the Black Dread. After Prince Aegon's death, Rhaena fled and took refuge with Lord Farman of the Fair Isles. Later, Maegor forced her to become one of his three wives; she retreated back to the Fair Isles after his mysterious (but well-timed) death.

A quick dive into history: Before Jon Snow, a look at all the Aegon Targaryens to have graced the Game of Thrones universe

This is where Rhaena's dragon eggs come in: instead of coming to court where her youngest brother Jaehaerys now held sway, the princess moved from one noble house to another (including Casterly Rock). With her were her (third) husband Andrew Farman and his sister, the Lady Elissa. Elissa Farman — an adventurous and bold spirit — is believed to have been the true love of Rhaena, but also betrayed her.

The Night King shoots down Viseryon. Still from Game of Thrones season 7. HBO

The Night King shoots down Viseryon. Still from Game of Thrones season 7. HBO

Life on Dragonstone (where Rhaena settled after her nomadic existence) didn't suit Lady Elissa, who longed to sail off into hitherto unexplored horizons (her modern day equivalent would be Asha/Yara Greyjoy). For that, she needed capital — and had access to a veritable treasure trove in the form of dragon eggs. Elissa sneaked away one night, with three eggs; it is believed she sold them to the (then) Sealord of Bravos, who was able to repudiate Jaehaerys Targaryen's attempts to get them back.

While it is never stated that Dany's eggs indeed are the ones stolen from Rhaena, their number and provenance make it quite likely that they are.

That Drogon, Viseryon and Rhaegal hatched thousands of years after the eggs were laid also raises the possibility that other, older dragon eggs might similarly come into being — especially with Daenerys' proven ability to help along the process.

At one time, several of these eggs would have been present in Dragonstone, where conditions were highly conducive to the breeding of dragons. Of course, most of the beasts themselves were destroyed during the Targaryen family wars known as the "Dance of the Dragons"; only three are believed to have survived: Silverwing (who may have left an egg at the Wall); Sheepstealer; and the untamed Cannibal. Nothing is known of how/if these three dragons died; it is widely noted, however, that all dragons are extinct by the time of Aegon III's rule.

Will the dragons rise again? How are their fates tied in to that of the Targaryens? Still from Game of Thrones season 8. HBO

Will the dragons rise again? How are their fates tied in to that of the Targaryens? Still from Game of Thrones season 8. HBO

Coming back to the eggs, seven of them were destroyed by wildfire in an incident called "the tragedy at Summerhall", when Aegon V attempted to hatch them with the help of his pyromancers.

But there's an egg that may have escaped that fire: one that Aegon IV presented to his one-time hand Lord Butterwell for — ahem — a night with his three daughters. That egg is stolen from the wedding ceremony of Lord Butterwell's grandson Ambrose, and is believed to have passed into the hands of the Targaryen bastard and hand of King Maekar, Lord Brynden Rivers aka Bloodraven. The egg is little mentioned beyond this point in Targaryen history.

Just as Dragonstone is suited for dragon breeding, there may be another place in the Seven Kingdoms that is uniquely situated to preserve dragon eggs as well: Winterfell.

Note this description of Winterfell from the first ASOIAF book:

"Of all the rooms in Winterfell’s Great Keep, Catelyn’s bedchambers were the hottest. She seldom had to light a fire. The castle had been built over natural hot springs, and the scalding waters rushed through its walls and chambers like blood through a man’s body, driving the chill from the stone halls, filling the glass gardens with a moist warmth, keeping the earth from freezing. Open pools smoked day and night in a dozen small courtyards. That was a little thing, in summer; in winter, it was the difference between life and death.

Catelyn’s bath was always hot and steaming, and her walls warm to the touch. The warmth reminded her of Riverrun, of days in the sun with Lysa and Edmure, but Ned could never abide the heat. The Starks were made for the cold, he would tell her, and she would laugh and tell him in that case they had certainly built their castle in the wrong place."

Is Winterfell home to a secret clutch of dragon eggs? Still from Game of Thrones opening credits. HBO

Is Winterfell home to a secret clutch of dragon eggs? Still from Game of Thrones opening credits. HBO

Why does that matter? Because in Fire and Blood, the book on Targaryen history, it is briefly hinted that the dragon Vermax may have laid a clutch of eggs when his rider, Jacaerys Velaryon (the son of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen) was visiting the then Lord of Winterfell, Cregan Stark. The possibility is quickly dismissed, but words are rarely wasted when George RR Martin is doing the writing, although whether anything comes of this little rabbit hole remains to be seen.

The rise of the dragons is important not only in how it ties in with Daenerys' destiny (for instance, do the dragons and Targaryens have the sort of directly corresponding relationship as the Starks with their direwolves?), but also in what it might portend for the world of Ice and Fire. We know that the presence of Daenerys' dragons makes certain magic in the world stronger, such as that of the warlocks of Qarth, who attempt to harness it for their own ends. More importantly, the dragons — as "fire made flesh" — seem to exist in direct opposition to the White Walkers. (Side note: the Valyrian word for dragonglass or obsidian — the material that kills White Walkers — translates into "frozen fire".) As long as the dragons flourish, the Long Night will never be quite as dark or quite as complete. And isn't that the ultimate aim?

Updated Date: Apr 06, 2019 20:12:06 IST

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