Celebrating the women of House of the Dragon

Image: House of the Dragon/HBO
Image: House of the Dragon/HBO /
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It would be incorrect to sum up House of the Dragon, HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series, as a story about a sister and a brother fighting over a birthright. What it really is, at its core, is a story about women. It’s about two women who could have been family and were instead pit against each other, and who bled the Seven Kingdoms dry. It’s the story of the brave women who fought, informed, negotiated, died, survived. It is a story of women who won and women who lost.

House of the Dragon is based on A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood, all about the history of the Targaryen dynasty. It zeroes in on the Dance of the Dragons, a brutal civil war that tore Westeros apart some 200 years before the story we know, after there’s disagreement over whether the Iron Throne should go to Rhaenyra Targaryen, the eldest child of King Viserys Targaryen; or his son Aegon Targaryen, born of his second wife Alicent Hightower.

Fire & Blood, which is presented as the work of a maester writing about events years afterward, winks at the prominence of the female characters when we learn that one Archmaester Abelon wrote a mammoth volume titled “When Women Ruled: Ladies of the Aftermath” which chronicles the deeds of all the women who ran Westeros after the Dance.

Without further ado, let’s celebrate the women of House of the Dragon!

House of the Dragon
Image: House of the Dragon/HBO /

Rhaenyra Targaryen (played by Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock)

This list could only begin with Rhaenyra Targaryen. The closest thing the story has to a protagonist, Rhaenyra is groomed to be queen from a young age. The only surviving child of King Viserys I and Queen Aemma Arryn (who was also a Targaryen on her mother’s side), the princess is beloved by Westeros. She’s bright, beautiful and shows infinite promise, so the highborn and commoners alike call her “the Realm’s Delight.”

At 7 years old, Rhaenyra becomes a dragonrider and names her yellow-scaled dragon Syrax, after a Valyrian goddess. Her father the king dotes on Rhaenyra immensely and is rarely seen without her, even taking her to the council chamber with him so she can observe the ruling of the realm.

As a teenager, the princess proves to be strong-willed and rebellious, inspiring several scandalous rumors at court. When she officially takes possession of Dragonstone at 16, she shows political prowess by choosing savvy allies, although she is known to be unforgiving with her enemies. She marries Laenor Velaryon, a man she wouldn’t have chosen for herself, but it helps tie her to the powerful Velaryon family, who are indispensable to her once the civil war breaks out. The only person she may rely on more is her uncle Prince Daemon Targaryen.

Rhaenyra can be very proud and easily driven by wroth, especially when in mourning. She answers every offense, insult and loss with a counterattack. She is determined and brave and will stop at nothing to fight for her rights. Every inch a queen.