Monday, 20 June 2011

The Song of Ice and Fire So Far: Part 2 - The Dragon Kings

This article continues my recap of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and its backstory before the publication of the forthcoming fifth volume, A Dance with Dragons, on 12 July.

As with the first part, this part will mostly be concerned with the backstory of the series. However, there are some backplot revelations here that are not made until later books in the series. As a result, if you watching the TV series Game of Thrones and the TV series alone, beware that this article will contain minor spoilers for the series.

Rhaenys, Aegon and Visenya Targaryen with their Valyrian steel swords, Blackfyre and Dark Sister.

The ConquestAegon Targaryen and his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys, riding the great dragons Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes respectively, led a small contingent of retainers and troops to land at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. They built a modest wooden redoubt atop the tallest hill overlooking the river, and made their plans. Seven kingdoms existed in Westeros, and Aegon wanted to conquer them all.

First, he took up arms against King Harren Hoare, Harren the Black, who ruled both the Iron Islands and the Riverlands from his keep at Harrenhal. Harrenhal was vast and impregnable to regular assault...but not to dragons. Aegon roasted Harren alive in Kingspyre Tower.

With Harren dead, the river lords, led by Edmyn Tully of Riverrun, raised their banners in rebellion and drove their ironborn overseers from their lands. Aegon hounded them all the way back to the Iron Islands, where he demanded their fealty. The ironborn elected Lord Vickon Greyjoy of Pyke to lead them, and Greyjoy and Tully were among the first to swear their fealty to Aegon. For Tully's service, Aegon made them overlords of the Riverlands.

In the east, Orys Baratheon, Aegon's alleged bastard half-brother, led an army against Storm's End. Argilac the Arrogant, the Storm King, soon proved the truth of his name. Rather than take shelter behind the walls of his fortress, he took the field, confident of victory. Orys destroyed his army, slew Argilac and captured Storm's End. He also took Argilac's daughter, his house motto and his lands as his own. For Orys' remarkable achievement, Aegon named him the founder of House Baratheon and legitimised him.

Alarmed at the Targaryens' blitzkrieg-like successes, King Loren Lannister of the Westerlands and King Mern IX Gardener made an alliance and assembled their armies to face the invader. They brought some 55,000 troops, including 5,000 mounted knights, to the battlefield, against Aegon's 10,000 or so soldiers, most of them untested levies from the lands he'd just conquered. The overwhelming superiority of numbers initially succeeded and the Targaryen army began to rout, so Aegon unleashed all three dragons at once. More than four thousand men were burned alive, including King Mern, the last of his line, before they surrendered. King Loren bent the knee and was allowed to remain Lord of Casterly Rock. With Mern dead, Aegon accepted the surrender of Harlen Tyrell, Mern's steward, and appointed him overlord of the Reach. This infuriated House Florent, who had a superior blood-claim to the Gardener line, but Aegon dismissed this.

With the Targaryen armies moving south towards Oldtown, the largest city on the continent, Lord Hightower turned to religion to advise him on what to do. The High Septon of the Faith of the Seven prayed for seven days and nights in the Starry Sept before delivering his answer: Aegon's actions were approved by the gods. Oldtown threw open its gates and Lord Hightower submitted to Aegon's authority. Aegon accepted his fealty and the blessing of the Seven, forever renouncing the old Valyrian gods his dragons were named for.

With Aegon's endeavour blessed by the faith, and with his forces apparently invulnerable when backed by dragons, most of the remaining resistance to Aegon's invasion melted away. The King of the Vale accepted Aegon's rule, and King Torrhen Stark knelt before Aegon on the Trident and sweared fealty to him. The only hold-out was Dorne. Aegon took his army through the Red Mountains, but the Dornish, having learned of the Field of Fire, refused to give battle. Instead, they made hit-and-run attacks on Aegon's army, burning their supplies and melting away before the dragons could be brought to bear. A thousand pinpricks did what a single pitched battle could not, and Aegon withdrew from Dorne, agreeing to respect their independence.

Aegon announced the founding of a new castle, the Red Keep, and a new capital city, King's Landing, on the site where he landed on the shores of Westeros, and retired to a relatively peaceful rule. He melted the swords of those who had opposed him into a throne, the Iron Throne, as a reminder of their submission to the Targaryens.

The Faith Militant UprisingAegon I Targaryen ruled well for more than thirty years. Upon his death, his son Aenys ascended the Iron Throne, but the Faith of the Seven objected. Aenys and his half-brother Maegor, the sons of Aegon the Conqueror, were born of incest, which is sinful in the eyes of the Seven. When Aenys took the throne anyway, the Faith ordered the people to rise up, led by their warrior-orders, the Poor Fellows and Warrior's Sons, also known as the Faith Militant.

The Faith Militant's uprising was bloody and long, lasting for eleven years. King Aenys was incapable of handling the crisis, so made his half-brother Maegor Hand of the King to deal with it. Maegor's response was bloody repression, crushing every gathering and every hint of insurrection. The Faith Militant responded in kind, turning the situation into a bloodbath. Aenys himself soon died, and Maegor took the crown, becoming known as Maegor the Cruel for his acts. Finally, the Iron Throne itself apparently killed Maegor (according to legend, though historians are highly sceptical). Aenys' son Jaehaerys took the throne and immediately offered peace and a full pardon in return for the Faith Militant disbanding. Wearied by war and slaughter, the Faith agreed and Jaehaerys became known as the Conciliator for his act.

The Old King
Jaehaerys I Targaryen was one of the finest kings to sit the Iron Throne. He ruled for over fifty years and brought many improvements to the Seven Kingdoms. He banned the practice of first night, where a king or lord could demand the first night of sexual favours from a newly-wed woman, which was extremely unpopular with the common folk. He also built the great roads of Westeros, including the Kingsroad that linked King's Landing with Castle Black. Jaehaerys' sister-wife Alysanne flew all the way to the Wall on her dragon, Silverwing, and became a friend of the Night's Watch, funding the construction of a new castle to replace the decrepit Nightfort. For his Hand, Jaehaerys chose Septon Barth, a smith's son, whose decision were likewise enlightened and wise.

The Dance of Dragons
Jaehaerys lived so long that he outlived his own son. Upon his death, the Iron Throne passed to his grandson, Viserys. Viserys I Targaryen proved to be a good ruler, but also indulgent and politically naive. His first marriage was to an Arryn of the Vale and they had three children, but only one, Princess Rhaenyra, survived to adulthood. For many years Viserys groomed Rhaenyra to rule as the first ruling Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, taking her to small council meetings and seeking her advice. Later in life, Viserys married again, to a Hightower of Oldtown, and had four more children, including three sons, but Rhaenyra remained his heir by proclamation and in his will.

Despite Viserys' very well-known intentions, upon his death the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole, took the crown from his head and placed it on the brow of his eldest son, naming him Aegon II Targaryen. Aegon II claimed the Iron Throne, disputing Rhaenyra's own claim. The result was a bloody civil war, the Dance of Dragons. The realm was split in half, with even the Kingsguard choosing sides. Targaryen fought Targaryen and dragon fought dragon, with most of the Targaryen dragons being killed in the war.

Aegon II eventually gained the upper hand when his dragon consumed Rhaenyra whole, but the war continued in the name of Rhaenyra's young son, Aegon III. When Aegon II died, the war ended as well, for he had no more heirs (both of his brothers presumably perishing in the war as well). Aegon III, the Dragonbane, was scarred by the memory of his mother's death, and during his reign he confined the remaining dragons to the Dragonpit, the great hall for them built in King's Landing. During his reign the last of the dragons, a stunted green thing, died and her eggs did not hatch.

King Daeron I, the Young Dragon.

The Young Dragon and the Septon King
Upon Aegon III's death, his son Daeron I inherited the throne. Daeron was a great knight, skilled in battle and a noted strategist and tactician. Daeron had long felt that the continued independence of Dorne represented unfinished business for the Targaryens, and upon his ascension he vowed to rectify his ancestor's mistake. He assembled a large army and led it through the Red Mountains. The Dornish armies assembled to contest the passage, both through field battles (now viable that the Targaryen dragons were gone) and their traditional guerrilla attacks, but Daeron was prepared for these tactics. Dorne fell and Aegon accepted the Submission of Sunspear. Flushed from victory, he placed Lord Tyrell of the Reach in command of Dorne and returned to King's Landing.

This proved to be an unwise choice, as the Reach and Dorne had been mortal enemies for a thousand years. Tyrell was assassinated less than a fortnight into the job and the Dornish threw off the Targaryen yoke. Daeron I rushed back to re-conquer Dorne, but was killed in the fighting. His cousin Aemon the Dragonknight, one of the Kingsguard, was captured and thrown into a pit as well.

With Daeron dead with no issue, his brother Baelor became king. Pious and holy, Baelor walked the Boneway barefoot to make peace with Dorne. Aemon was released and Baelor made a marriage pact, marrying his second cousin Daeron (the later Daeron II) to Princess Myriah Martell of Dorne to symbolise the new peace.

Now king, Baelor spent his reign trying to bring peace, enlightenment and piety to the Seven Kingdoms. He was a pacifist, and refused the Faith's suggestions that he refound the Faith Militant orders. He also rejected carnal thoughts and the pleasure of the flesh. He divorced his sister-wife Daena and locked her and his other two sisters, Rhaena and Elaena, in the tower of the Red Keep so they would not tempt him with carnal thoughts. Despite this restriction, Daena became pregnant anyway and refused to name the father, for which stubbornness she came known as Daena the Defiant.

Baelor's worst excesses were mitigated by his uncle Viserys, the Hand of the King for both Daeron I and Baelor. Baelor took to praying over dragon eggs in the hope they would hatch, and kept fasting for longer and longer periods. Eventually, he starved himself to death. Viserys ascended the throne as Viserys II, but died a year later of age.

King Aegon IV, the Unworthy.

The Unworthy King
Viserys' eldest son ascended the Iron Throne as Aegon IV Targaryen, Aegon the Unworthy, accounted the worst king (or rather, the worst sane king) to ever rule Westeros. In his youth he was an effective warrior, but as he got older he became self-indulgent and ate and drank to excess. He was married to his sister-wife, Naerys, who was miserable and unhappy for most of their marriage. She gave Aegon a son, Daeron, who wed Myriah Martell, and asked to be released from their wedding vows, but Aegon refused. The only person Naerys took comfort from was her other brother, Aemon the Dragonknight, a great and stalwart warrior.

Aegon IV kept a whole harem of mistresses at court, with them rising and falling in his favour, setting in motion complex plots and intrigues between them, which Aegon found vastly entertaining. He gave many of them bastards, and eventually revealed that his cousin Daena's bastard son was his own son. Aegon was unimpressed with his legitimate son and heir, Daeron, who grew up favouring songs and stories over swords, but saw in his bastard son Daemon a great warrior. On his twelfth birthday, Aegon IV gave his bastard son one of the two Targaryen Valyrian steel blade, Blackfyre, a sign of tremendous respect and trust.

During Aegon IV's later life, rumours began to circulate that Queen Naerys had been having an affair with Aemon for most of their lives, and that the paternity of Daeron was therefore in question. One knight who openly made these claims, Ser Mormegil, was slain by Aemon in single combat for making them. But still the rumours persisted.

Aegon IV found one of his own Kingsguard, Ser Terrence Toyne, abed with one of his mistresses and slew him. In return, Toyne's two brothers attempted to kill Aegon IV. Aemon defended his brother and was killed, but Aegon IV escaped. The brothers Toyne fled, and one of their descendants continued to oppose the Targaryens by leading a band of outlaws in the Kingswood. Aegon IV himself fell ill and died a few years later, but on his deathbed he legitimised all of his bastard children of noble birth, plunging the realm into crisis.

The Blackfyre Rebellion
On Aegon's death, the so-called 'Great Bastards' became legitimate children of his, though behind his trueborn children in the line of succession. Daemon founded House Blackfyre, taking the name Daemon Blackfyre, and initially appeared to support his half-brother Daeron II, who took the Iron Throne. Of the other Great Bastards, Aegor Rivers, known as Bittersteel, was a close friend and confidant of Daemon's, whilst Brynden Rivers, known as Bloodraven for his distinctive birthmark and white skin, sided with Daeron II, becoming an advisor.

A decade into Daeron II's reign, Daemon Blackfyre raised the standard of rebellion, claiming that Daeron II was a bastard born of an affair between Aemon and Naerys. The trigger for this act appears to have been Daeron II's decision to marry his younger sister Daenerys to Prince Maron Martell of Dorne. Many in the Seven Kingdoms were unhappy with the 'Dornish flavour' the royal court had adopted (the influence of Queen Myriah) and saw this act as unacceptable. In addition, Daenerys and Daemon Blackfyre were known to be in love with one another. Daemon's standard was a black dragon on red, opposed to the red dragon on black of House Targaryen, and rapidly the realm was divided between those who supported red or black.

Daemon Blackfyre and one of his dead sons on the Redgrass Field.

The war culminated in the Battle of the Redgrass Field. Lord Hayford, the King's Hand, led Daeron II's main army from King's Landing to intercept Daemon's forces. A pitched battle erupt, which initially went Daemon's way. Hayford and a number of other prominent royalist commanders were killed. However, Daemon was delayed by an epic clash of swords with Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard, wielding the Valyrian steel blade Lady Forlorn. The duel that followed is one of the most famous in the history of Westeros, the two knights fighting until Daemon eventually gained upper hand, dealing Gwayne Corbray a serious injury. The delay gave time for Bloodraven's archers, the Raven's Teeth, to ascend the Weeping Ridge and rain arrows down on Blackfyre's forces. Bloodraven himself, an elite archer, slew Daemon Blackfyre and two of his sons. Furious at this cowardly attack, Bittersteel led a charge at the Teeth and engaged Bloodraven in single combat, slicing out one of his eyes. By this time Daeron II's sons, Baelor and Maekar, had arrived on the field with Dornish reinforcements and outflanked the rebels, beginning the process of crushing them. Seeing the battle lost, Bittersteel fled the field and his army scattered.

Bittersteel took refuge in the Free Cities with many surviving knights and the remaining five sons of Daemon Blackfyre. Though now exiled, Bittersteel declared that their destiny lay in Westeros and they must never forget their cause. They founded the mercenary company known as the Golden Company and vowed to return home to Westeros one day.

After the Blackfyre Rebellion, Dorne entered the Seven Kingdoms formally and peacefully, swearing fealty to the Iron Throne in return for allowing to retain a greater degree of autonomy than the other kingdoms.

Dunk and Egg
Fifteen years after the Redgrass Field, the Seven Kingdoms was enjoying a time of peace and plenty. Good King Daeron sat the Iron Throne with his son Baelor the Breakspear as Hand, and the realm prospered. Lord Ashford held a great tourney to celebrate his daughter's wedding and Prince Baelor attended with his brother Maekar and their respective children. However, during the tourney one of Maekar's sons, Prince Aerion, took offence to a puppet show in which a dragon was killed. Taking this as a criticism of House Targaryen, Aerion punished the puppeteers. A hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall, intervened and laid hands on Aerion, injuring him. Duncan was almost killed, but Aerion's brother Aegon, who had made friends with Duncan, stopped it. A trial was held and Ser Duncan asked for trial by battle, noting Aerion's ineptitude at personal combat, but Aerion cleverly demanded instead a trial of seven where each side has to field seven champions instead.

The battle was fought and many legends were made that day, including two knights of House Fossoway taking opposite sides and one taking a red apple as his sigil and the other a green, resulting in a split that endures to this day. Prince Baelor joined Duncan's seven, to his brother Maekar's fury who took Aerion's side. Eventually, Duncan bested Aerion, forcing him to retract his complaints. Duncan was forgiven, but when Prince Baelor removed his helm, it was revealed that he was much more severely wounded than first fought. Baelor died and his body was burned.

Prince Maekar confronted Duncan and revealed he knew that his son Aerion was a lickspittle, coward and crazed fool, and he didn't want his younger son Aegon to turn out like him. Duncan suggested that Aegon needed to see the world and live amongst the smallfolk as his brother never did, so Maekar gave Aegon to Duncan as a squire. They travelled the Seven Kingdoms incognito for many years, becoming known as 'Dunk and Egg'. In the Reach they repaired a years-old dispute between the Houses Osprey and Webber, and in the Riverlands they helped avert the Second Blackfyre Rebellion by exposing a gathering of would-be traitors. They journeyed to Winterfell in the aftermath of an assault by the King-beyond-the-Wall, Raymun Redbeard, and saw the sands of Dorne. Aegon saw all the things his brothers and cousins and forefathers had not, and this stood him in good stead to become a great leader in his own right.

The Unlikely King
A few months after Prince Baelor's death, the Seven Kingdoms was struck by the Great Spring Sickness. Hundreds of thousands of people died, including King Daeron II and his wife and Baelor's surviving children. Daeron's second son, Aerys, took the Iron Throne and appointed Bloodraven as Hand of the King. Aerys was weak-willed and bookish, and during his reign Dagon Greyjoy rebelled and led the ironborn in raiding along the coast. Eventually it fell to Beron Stark and the Lannisters to combine their forces to crush the rebellion.

Aerys' reign was considered ill-omened, and Bloodraven was not loved by the people either. A great drought took place, and banditry on the roads increased. When Aerys finally died without issue, the crown passed over his younger brother Rhaegel, who was crazed and sickly, to his youngest brother, Maekar.

Maekar was a solid but unexceptional ruler, noted for his preference to spend as much time as possible in the Targaryen summer place of Summerhall rather than at King's Landing or the ancestral stronghold of Dragonstone. Eventually he died fighting an outlaw lord. There was a gathering of lords to debate the succession, since Maekar's two oldest sons (including Aerion) had died. They offered the crown to Maekar's third son, Aemon, a maester of the Citadel, but he refused it and joined the Night's Watch instead, agreeing to serve as maester at Castle Black on the Wall, a position he would go on to hold for seventy years. Finally, Aegon - Egg - took the crown as Aegon V Targaryen, the Unlikely King, for he was a fourth son of a fourth son.

Aegon V ruled wisely and well for near thirty years. The realm prospered under his rule. The roads were made safe again, and the 'cursed' Bloodraven was packed off to the Wall (though even there he would rise high, eventually becoming Lord Commander of the Night's Watch). Several further attempts by the Blackfyre Pretenders to claim the Iron Throne were defeated. Aegon shored up his support by marrying his daughter Rhaelle to Lord Baratheon of Storm's End, and made his old friend Duncan first a member of the Kingsguard and later its Lord Commander. He also named his firstborn son and heir for Duncan in violation of the custom for giving Targaryen children Valyrian names.

During the latter part of Aegon's reign, names famous now in Westeros were first heard. After a succession of short-lived Grand Maesters, the Citadel appointed the relatively young Pycelle to the position, a position he still holds more than forty years later. During Aegon's reign a young warrior named Barristan Selmy came to prominence, and was knighted.

Aegon's reign, so great in promise, ended in fire and tragedy. Aegon attempted to hatch the last of the Targaryen dragon eggs by creating an enormous fire at Summerhall. The fire got out of control, killing Prince Aegon, Lord Commander Duncan and Prince Duncan the Small. During the chaos of the fire, Aegon V's granddaughter Rhaella gave birth to her son, by her brother-husband Prince Aerys. The son's name was Rhaegar.

The War of the Ninepenny Kings
After Aegon's death, his son Jaehaerys II took the throne, but Jaehaerys was sickly and weak. Despite this, when he heard that the Blackfyre Pretenders were making one last play for the Iron Throne, he was able to respond decisively.

Maelys Blackfyre, commander of the Golden Company, had made common cause and alliance with eight other exiled or outcast rulers of the Free Cities. They agreed to pool their armies and help one another achieve what they could not alone. In the Free Cities they became known as the Band of Nine, but in Westeros were called the Ninepenny Kings. The Ninepenny Kings helped Alequo Adarys conquer Tyrosh and become its new Archon, then they invaded the Stepstone islands and began massing their forces for an invasion of Westeros. Before they could mount the assault, they were hit with a pre-emptive strike. A strong army of Westerosi troops landed on the Stepstones and defeated the Ninepenny Kings. Hoster and Brynden Tully won great acclaim, as did Lord Baelish of the Fingers, but the greatest honour fell to Ser Barristan Selmy, who faced Maelys in single combat. Maelys was known as 'The Monstrous', for it was said that he had consumed his own twin in the womb and had since sprouted a vestigial second head growing out of his shoulder. Using his skill at arms, Barristan killed Maelys, last of the Blackfyre Pretenders.

For his leal service, Barristan was named to the Kingsguard of King Jaehaerys. Elsewhere, the Golden Company, bereft of a cause, returned to the Free Cities and continued fighting for hire. And Hoster Tully made a friend for life of Lord Baelish, later agreeing to raise his son Petyr at Riverrun for a time.

King Aerys II Targaryen, popularly known as the Mad King.

The Reign of the Mad King

Shortly after the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Jaehaerys died and his son Aerys II took the throne. Aerys' reign began with great promise. He made the young, dynamic Tywin Lannister of Casterly Rock his Hand, and the realm prospered. The people were happy, the last rival claimants to the throne were dead and there was no prospect of war on the horizon.

As it happened, this very period of peace unsettled Aerys. He began hearing that it was Tywin who was responsible for peace, not him, and even tore out the tongue of one of Tywin's knights, Ser Ilyn Payne, for saying this in his hearing. When Lord Darklyn of Duskendale refused to pay his taxes, King Aerys disdained asking Tywin to handle it, instead leading his own troops to punish Darklyn. Instead, Aerys was captured and left imprisoned in the castle for several months. Tywin besieged the castle and Ser Barristan Selmy managed to rescue Aerys, but the experience left Aerys maddened with rage, fear and paranoia. He had the Darklyns burned alive.

Back in King's Landing, Aerys began seeing threats in every corner. He disdained marrying his son Rhaegar to Tywin's daughter, Cersei, saying that a king did not marry his heir to a servant. Instead, he married Rhaegar to Princess Elia Martell of Dorne. He also sent a force of knights into the Kingswood to put down an insurrection by the Kingswood Brotherhood. After Jaime Lannister showed great promise during this incident, Aerys named him to the Kingsguard. This meant that Jaime gave his claims to Tywin's castle and title in favour of his little brother, the ugly, stunted and deformed Tyrion. This insult was one too many for Tywin and he resigned the Handship and returned to Casterly Rock.

Aerys' madness became more apparent. In the Year of False Spring, Lord Whent of Harrenhal hosted a great tourney. Prince Rhaegar became the champion of the tournament, but rather name his own wife the Queen of Love and Beauty as was traditional, he named Lyanna Stark of Winterfell. A few months later Rhaegar snatched Lyanna from Winterfell and took her south. Her father and brother, Rickard and Brandon, went to King's Landing to demand justice. Instead, Aerys had them burned alive for questioning the authority of the Iron Throne.

Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen at the Battle of the Trident.

Robert's Rebellion
Aerys' act in executing Rickard and Brandon Stark and holding Lyanna prisoner (or approving of his son doing the same) triggered a bloody uprising against Targaryen rule.

When he killed Brandon, Aerys also had his retainers put to death, including Elbert Arryn, the heir to Lord Jon Arryn of the Vale. Aerys then commanded Lord Jon Arryn to give up his young wards, Eddard Stark, now Lord of Winterfell, and Robert Baratheon, Lyanna Stark's betrothed. Instead, Jon Arryn called his banners. Eddard Stark travelled over the mountains and across the Bite to return to Winterfell and rouse the North, whilst Robert was able to return to Storm's End and call his own banners. In addition, Jon called on the allegiance of House Tully, since Lord Hoster's daughter Catelyn had been betrothed to Brandon. Catelyn wed Eddard instead, whilst Jon married her sister Lysa to shore up the audience.

Aerys' madness had brought the realm to the brink of disaster. The Starks, Arryns, Tullys and Baratheons, half of the Great Houses of Westeros, were in open rebellion and gathering armies to challenge the Targaryens. The Greyjoys and Lannisters refused to answer Aerys' commands for aid. The Martells did send some troops, but their response was apathetic: by taking Lyanna Stark as a paramour, Prince Rhaegar had dishonoured his wife Elia, a princess of Dorne. So Dornish troops were dispatched, but not many and not at speed. Of the Great Houses, only the Tyrells remained truly loyal to Aerys.

The royalists moved to decapitate the rebellion by killing Robert Baratheon. Armies were sent against Storm's End, but in a piecemeal fashion. Robert defeated three separate armies in three separate battles on the same day, winning their commanders to his cause through sheer strength of personality. He then suffered a defeat to Lord Randyll Tarly at the Battle of Ashford, but was able to withdraw northwards in good order. Rather than pursue Robert, Randyll Tarly and Mace Tyrell instead obeyed the Mad King's command to take Storm's End, and besieged the castle. Robert's brother Stannis held the castle against the siege for a year, and only survived thanks to a brave smuggler named Davos Seaworth who ran the blockade with cargo holds full of onions.

Robert became separated from most of his men and took refuge in the town of Stoney Sept on the upper Blackwater. The Mad King had replaced his lacklustre hand with Lord Jon Connington of Griffin's Roost, a young and dynamic knight. However, Connington refused to burn the town to the ground, instead preferring the glory of capturing Robert alive. Because of this, precious time was wasted and Eddard Stark was able to relieve the town during the mighty Battle of the Bells. After this, Jon Connington was exiled to the Free Cities for his failure.

The rebel armies gathered and marched on King's Landing. They were stopped by a larger army, commanded by Rhaegar Targaryen himself, on the banks of the Trident. A huge battle was fought, but Robert's forces gained the upper hand, and Robert smashed Rhaegar's life from him with his battlehammer. The royalist armies were routed and, with Robert injured, Eddard led the pursuit of the host back to King's Landing.

King's Landing now appeared doomed, but at the last moment a Lannister army marched out of the west, Lord Tywin proclaiming his loyalty to King Aerys. The city gates were opened, but the Lannisters brutally sacked the city instead. The Mad King was slain at the foot of the Iron Throne by his own Kingsguard, Ser Jaime Lannister, whilst Elia Martell and her two young children were killed by Lannister knights, most notably Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch. The sack was still going on when Eddard Stark arrived with Robert's vanguard.

The rebellion was over. The Mad King was dead, and Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne by blood right, as the grandson of King Aegon V's daughter. All of the great lords re-swore fealty to Robert as King. The only loose ends were the Mad King's wife and surviving son, Viserys. But the Mad King's wife died in childbirth, giving birth to a daughter, Daenerys. Loyal Targaryen retainers took Viserys and Daenerys into exile in the Free Cities, beyond Robert's grasp.

In the foothills of the mountains of Dorne, Eddard Stark found his sister dying from causes unknown, defended by three members of the Kingsguard. Eddard and his loyal men slew them, but only Eddard and his friend Howland Reed survived the battle. Lyanna passed away, after making Eddard swear a promise on his solemn oath. With Lyanna dead, Robert married Cersei Lannister to ensure her father's continued loyalty.

The Greyjoy Rebellion
Several years after Robert took the throne, Lord Balon Greyjoy of Pyke declared himself King of the Iron Islands, raising the standard of rebellion. His brothers Euron and Victarion Greyjoy attacked and burned the Lannister fleet at rest in Lannisport, as well as raiding Seagard and along the coast. Robert and Eddard moved swiftly to put down the rebellion. Stannis Baratheon and Paxter Redwyne's fleets joined forces and crushed the Greyjoy fleet at the Battle of Fair Isle, allowing Robert to land substantial forces on the Iron Islands unimpeded. Great siege ships battered a hole in the walls of Pyke, and the sellsword-priest Thoros of Myr led the way through the breach with a burning sword, Ser Jorah Mormont close behind him. The fighting was bitter and hard, but eventually Balon was forced to capitulate. He was badly outnumbered, and his two older sons were killed during the war. Balon Greyjoy re-swore fealty and his only surviving son Theon was given to Eddard Stark to raise as a ward and hostage against his father's good behaviour.

King Robert Baratheon ruled from the Iron Throne, whilst Lord Jon Arryn became a respected and wise Hand. Eddard Stark returned to Winterfell to rule the North, whilst in the east spies kept a careful watch on the movements of Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen. Robert and Cersei raised their children, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, whilst Eddard raised his, but found problems in getting his wife Catelyn to accept the presence of his bastard son Jon Snow, born on campaign. But overall, this was a period of peace and recovery from war.


Brett said...

Good post. I have a couple of comments:

1. I think Aegon I might have already been a convert to the Faith before he landed. There was a passage in one of the Dragonstone scenes from the books where it's mentioned that he prayed in Dragonstone's sept the day before the invasion.

2. Interesting that First Night got in there. In real life, First Night was a myth.

3. I was wondering how Lord Baelish (a petty lord if there ever was one) managed to get his son fostered at Riverrun. I was glad to read about it.

4. I wonder what made Daenerys' successful hatching of the dragon eggs with fire different from Aegon V's attempt. Was it magically good timing? Something special about Daenerys? The use of human sacrifice?

Adam Whitehead said...

1. Yup, that's why all I said he did was accept the High Septon's blessing. It's mentioned somewhere that the Targaryens switched to the Faith of the Seven before the invasion. I think there's even something about them burning the icons of the Valyrian gods on Dragonstone.

2. First Night is indeed a myth (if nothing else, it's extremely impractical) but I don't think GRRM is averse to nicking a myth if it suits his purposes.

4. I think it's the sacrifice of a human life (Mirri Maz Duur). We don't know what happened at Summerhall, but Egg doesn't strike me as the sort of person to burn someone alive for the sheer hell of it.

There's also a lot that has been left unrevealed about Summerhall. There's the whole relationship between Jenny of Oldstones and Prince Duncan which is obliquely referred to in ASoS, which apparently had something to do with what happened there.

The Curious Orange said...

Well done! I know history is written by the winner, but I think you should re-word the details of Lyanna's "kidnapping" to make it less perjoritive. I know R+L=J is just a theory, but there's a lot of textual evidence in the books to support it.

Brett said...

1. I asked because you included a comment about how he finally renounced the Valyrian Gods when he took the High Septon's blessing. Thanks for the clarification.

4. I figured as much. Egg definitely doesn't seem like the person to burn someone alive on a pyre to awaken his dead dragon eggs. Aerys II, though . . .

You mentioned that most of the Targaryen dragons died in the Dance of Dragons. Is it mentioned in any sources how Balerion died, other than that he died during the reign of Jaeherys I? I'm almost wondering if he became too large and dangerous to control without the magic that the Valyrians probably used, and Jaeherys had him killed.

Anonymous said...

4. Important to note:
There may not have been an intentional human sacrife in Summerhall, but lives were sacrificed, all the same.
So were is the dragon that should have come from this?
Well...Rhaegar was born that very same day, wasn't he?

Anonymous said...

Great post. Though, Aerys II Targaryen kinda looks a bit like Edward Scissorhands. :P

Anonymous said...

Comment on #4 there - would intentions come into play there? Sure, he never intended to sacrifice a human life for his dragon, but he certainly ended up burning people alive. Is it possible there are dragons alive out there that we don't know about?

Adam Whitehead said...

Yup, Robert definitely spread the story that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna, and this seems to be the assumption a lot of people were working under (even Brandon and Rickard). The evidence to the contrary is somewhat less well-supported going by the evidence, though the emotional indications are that Lyanna was rather more willing than not.

I don't think there's any indication that Balerion died of anything other than old age. As for the other two of Aegon's dragons, don't know. If they were as old as Balerion, maybe they didn't make it to the Dance.

As for Summerhall, I think that intentions may play a role there. The place burned down by accident, or so it appears, rather than through an outright act of blood sacrifice. It's also possible that maybe the dragon eggs simply weren't ready to hatch (if they're the same eggs that Dany gets, for which there is some vague evidence, they'd be 50 years younger).

Yona said...

very cool stuff!
nice work.

is there more to come or is that it for now?

i will definitely post this on my blog!

Jeremy said...

That is a pretty impressive timeline you've managed to compile! Thanks for writing it.

I was wondering if all this information is in the books. I don't remember reading a lot of it.

Maybe I glossed over it as I tore through the series, it's a bad habit of mine.

Adam Whitehead said...

A lot of the detail on the Targaryen Kings came originally from GRRM's notes he supplied to the artist Amoka for their portraits (though most of that information is now in the books as well, mostly ASoS and AFFC, plus the HEDGE KNIGHT short stories). The RPG provided the details of the War of the Ninepenny Kings, a war which increasingly looks important to the backstory given it sets up Hoster, Brynden, Littlefinger and Barristan Selmy, as well as the Golden Company (who we hear a lot about in ASoS and AFFC and may appear in ADWD).

dingo said...

Fantastic work, Adam! It was a great read and brought back to mind a lot of things I'd forgotten as well as teaching me a LOT of new history. Do you have any plans to do a similar summary of the books up to ADWD?

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, these summaries, and keep them coming, please!

I've been wondering, where did you find all the art on the theme of ASoIaF? As in, is there some sort of a dedicated site for those, or did you just find them all over the internet?
I loved them, particularly the ones which depict the buildings, which sounded spectacular in the books, but I never had much of an imagination, so I couldn't quite picture them in my head.

Anonymous said...

Adam - You should post a Part 3, a recap of what has happened in the last 3.5 books so we can remember for this coming second half of book 4. They came out so long ago I can only remember half of what happened!
Great backstory and recap.

Adam Whitehead said...

There will be another part or two covering the books along shortly. Maybe tomorrow, if I can manage it.

Anonymous said...

These write ups are both fantastic. Thank you so much for putting the effort in to them. They have made for a thoroughly good read.

I noticed one minor typo. Dunk was sworn sword to House Osgrey, not House Osprey.

Anonymous said...

You've mentioned you were gonna do a write up about the order to read the Malazan books after you read Stonewielder. Any chance of that next?

FedericoV said...

Great work.

One question and one comment:

Question: where did you find the info about the maiden daughter of Aeghar Targaryen who has prophetized the doom of Valyria? Is she the same of the Signs and Portent book mentioned by the Reader in AFfC?

Comment: about Dany and the birth of dragons. I think that Dany was able to awake the dragons because she is the chosen one, the prince who was promised, azhor ai reborn, etc. . There's not a lot more in there. No convoluted alchemy. She is destined to be the mother of dragons and all it asks is Fire (the pyre) and Blood (Mirri) but not as a magic formula or a ritual (as Melisandre seems to believe) but more as a step to embrace her fate.

NK said...

Great stuff! One comment, though: I don't believe Jorah Mormont had been knighted at the Siege of Pyke; if I recall correctly, he mentions to Daenerys that he "won [his] knighthood that day".

Great work - thanks for the refresher.

Anonymous said...

Great post but it has NEVER been stated what the doom of Valyria was or what happened at Summerhall. You make good conjectures but that is all they are.

Adam Whitehead said...

What happened at Summerhall was clarified by the RPG and comments by GRRM, though we still don't know the full details (and I doubt we will until the final Dunk and Egg story).

We are essentially told what happened in the Doom in AFFC, and this is confirmed by a passage in ADWD which I was made aware of.

Cydal said...

The eggs didnt hatch when summerhall burned because the Targs there were not invulnerable to fire. So accidental burning or not the eggs wouldnt have hatched for Aegon if he could be killed by fire. As we know Dany was shown to first be immune & from what we've gathered, Most Targs are actually not immune to it as a lot of them have died while trying to hatch some eggs.

Adam Whitehead said...

Daenerys isn't invulnerable to fire either (though the TV show suggests she is, or at least far more tolerant than most people). According to GRRM, what happened with the dragons hatching was a one-time deal created by those precise circumstances. If Daenerys stepped into a fire now, she'd be toast like anyone else.

So whilst it's possible that destiny played a role and that's why Dany got the eggs to hatch and Aegon V didn't, it's also possible that he simply didn't fulfil the same criteria (i.e. he didn't - as far as we know - have a human sacrifice).

Anonymous said...

Daenerys was successful in dragon hatching because of the prophecy she fulfilled, "born of fire and salt" Born on Dragonstone, and the apperance of the "bleeding star" the red comet and three sacrifices. Her stillborn son, her husband Drogo, and the blood sorceress maegi.

Adam Whitehead said...

Thanks to later revelations, however, that interpretation of the prophecy is now up in the air again. That point requires further clarification in future books, I think.

Justin said...

I think that Drogo's body was a major part of Dany's success in hatching her dragons. With everything we've learned about the power of a king's blood, it makes sense to me.

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Maybe the red comet has something to do with the hatching of dragons?

Dreaming Moonlily said...

Great post!!!

I'm really curious who Aegon V and Jaehaerys II ended up marrying. I came across that Jaehaerys's married for love but could not find out who that was to.

Since the Targaryens have a habit of marrying kin its always interesting when they pair up with other houses and mix blood.

Sandhya said...

As a response to your first comment, the dragons were born because of the deaths of Khal Drogo, Rhaego, and Mirri Max Duur. Three lives for three dragons. Only death can pay for life, it is known.

Great post!