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Why did they wait?


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Something that has intrigued me for a while:



  • We know that Dragonstone was the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian freehold, occupied approximately 2 centuries before the conquest (according to the Wiki)
  • A century before the conquest, Aenar Targaryen relocates his entire house to Dragonstone. He brings the Celtigars and Velaryons with him. He also brings Dragons.

  • We have this passage from the second Tyrion chapter in ADwD:


    "He had read about Valyrian roads, but this was the first he had seen. The Freehold’s grasp had reached as far as Dragonstone, but never to the mainland of Westeros itself. Odd, that. Dragonstone is no more than a rock. The wealth was farther west, but they had dragons. Surely they knew that it was there."


This is almost a throw-away line in the book but I think it might be an important moment of foreshadowing. It could imply that they simply had no interest in Westeros or they had something to fear, which is strange considering how easily the conquered the place.




So why did they wait? What were they doing on Dragonstone for a century?


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Here's some stuff from the worldbook talking about a possible Valyrian outpost where the Hightower now stands:

other men [claim] that dragons once roosted on the Battle Isle until the first Hightower put an end to them.

Maester Jellicoe, suggests that the settlement at the top of Whispering Sound began as a trading post, where ships from Valyria, Old Ghis, and the Summer Isles put in to replenish their provisions, make repairs, and barter with the elder races, and that seems as likely a supposition as any.

Yet mysteries remain. The stony island where the Hightower stands is known as Battle Isle even in our oldest records, but why? What battle was fought there? When? Between which lords, which kings, which races? Even the singers are largely silent on these matters. Even more enigmatic to scholars and historians is the great square fortress of black stone that dominates that isle. For most of recorded history, this monumental edifice has served as the foundation and lowest level of the Hightower, yet we know for a certainty that it predates the upper levels of the tower by thousands of years. Who built it? When? Why?
Most maesters accept the common wisdom that declares it to be of Valyrian construction, for its massive walls and labyrinthine interiors are all of solid rock, with no hint of joins or mortar, no chisel marks of any kind, a type of construction that is seen elsewhere, most notably in the dragonroads of the Freehold of Valyria, and the Black Walls that protect the heart of Old Volantis. The dragonlords of Valryia, as is well-known, possessed the art of turning stone to liquid with dragonflame, shaping it as they would, then fusing it harder than iron, steel, or granite. If indeed this first fortress is Valyrian, it suggests that the dragonlords came to Westeros thousands of years before they carved out their outpost on Dragonstone, long before the coming of the Andals, or even the First Men. If so, did they come seeking trade? Were they slavers, mayhaps seeking after giants? Did they seek to learn the magic of the children of the forest, with their greenseers and their weirwoods? Or was there some darker purpose? Such questions abound even to this day.

The wealth of the westerlands was matched, in ancient times, with the hunger of the Freehold of Valyria for precious metals, yet there seems no evidence that the dragonlords ever made contact with the lords of the Rock, Casterly or Lannister. Septon Barth speculated on the matter, referring to a Valyrian text that has since been lost, suggesting that the Freehold’s sorcerers foretold that the gold of Casterly Rock would destroy them. Archmaester Perestan has put forward a different, more plausible speculation, suggesting that the Valyrians had in ancient days reached as far as Oldtown but suffered some great reverse or tragedy there that caused them to shun all of Westeros thereafter.
So I think the Valyrians came, they met the Children of the Forest. There was a conflict and the Valyrians got their asses kicked by skinchangers taking control of their dragons. They retreated leaving behind the base of the Hightower on what became known as Battle Isle. It was only thousands of years later that they settled Dragonstone, perhaps still afraid that there were skinchangers on the mainland. Though by this time the Andals had taken out most of them south of the Neck.
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Conquering a place and holding to it are 2 different things, as one of the last of the Valyrians , Dany, has recently learned at slavers bay.


Targaryen's moved to Westeros after conquering it and invested a lot of effort in ruling it.


Valyrians had no intentions of doing so while Valyria still stood. They could trade with Westeros if they wanted. it was probably good enough for them.



There could be some magical explanations to why they did not take Westeros , but the simple one seems good enough to me.


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I think it's simply that they didn't really have any desire to. After all, you could ask why Valyria never conquered Yi Ti, Leng, or Asshai since the Freehold probably could have if they wanted to.



As for Hightower, I don't think the base is of Valyrian construction. The method of construction may be similar, but the architecture isn't Valyrian.


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Here's some stuff from the worldbook talking about a possible Valyrian outpost where the Hightower now stands:

So I think the Valyrians came, they met the Children of the Forest. There was a conflict and the Valyrians got their asses kicked by skinchangers taking control of their dragons. They retreated leaving behind the base of the Hightower on what became known as Battle Isle. It was only thousands of years later that they settled Dragonstone, perhaps still afraid that there were skinchangers on the mainland. Though by this time the Andals had taken out most of them south of the Neck.

The oily black stone looks nothing like Valyrian stone work though. It also does not explain the 5 forts, the seastone chair, or the toads, all made from the same stone where the Val's never went or conquered

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The oily black stone looks nothing like Valyrian stone work though. It also does not explain the 5 forts, the seastone chair, or the toads, all made from the same stone where the Val's never went or conquered

Hightower isn't the oily black stone (and neither are the Five Forts). Hightowers is just made of fused black stone, with no mention of it being oily.

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Well, I figured the Valryian's didn't conquer Westeros because it would be too much land to hold alongside Essos. The Targaryen's probably had no plans for conquest until Aegon. They could have been planning to reclaim Essos for a time.

I don't think so. Empires bent on expansion tend to expand. If it can be had and it's worth being had, an ambitious so-and-so is going to try and take it. Theories about an empire being crushed under its own weight usually only come long after that empire has fallen. Your idea assumes a lot of foresight on the part of the freehold (regarding the territory it can reasonably control) and it also assumes it operates like a single political bloc. Also remember that Valyria is destroyed by a cataclysm, not the usual suspects of efficiency, economic stagnation, war, institutional inertia or corruption. And, as Tyrion implies, there are good reasons to expand west.

There is also the possibility of them fearing that a greenseer would be able to skinchange a dragon

I think this is on the right track. I suspect something kept them out.

Quote

The wealth of the westerlands was matched, in ancient times, with the hunger of the Freehold of Valyria for precious metals, yet there seems no evidence that the dragonlords ever made contact with the lords of the Rock, Casterly or Lannister. Septon Barth speculated on the matter, referring to a Valyrian text that has since been lost, suggesting that the Freehold’s sorcerers foretold that the gold of Casterly Rock would destroy them. Archmaester Perestan has put forward a different, more plausible speculation, suggesting that the Valyrians had in ancient days reached as far as Oldtown but suffered some great reverse or tragedy there that caused them to shun all of Westeros thereafter.

That's really good. I wonder if the detail of "Lannister gold destroying them" is some oblique reference to the rebellion and subsequent events. Archmaester Perestan's speculation is awfully vague. It's also a bit self serving because it implies that the Maesters had something to do with this "reversal", given that the Citadel is located in Oldtown. Although, that's an interesting idea in itself. Also, isn't Perestan a bit of a crank?

So I think the Valyrians came, they met the Children of the Forest. There was a conflict and the Valyrians got their asses kicked by skinchangers taking control of their dragons. They retreated leaving behind the base of the Hightower on what became known as Battle Isle. It was only thousands of years later that they settled Dragonstone, perhaps still afraid that there were skinchangers on the mainland. Though by this time the Andals had taken out most of them south of the Neck.

This is probably just my bias, but I don't think it does a good job of explaining the century of isolation on Dragonstone after the Doom. Hadn't the CotF long disappeared from history at that point?

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If there was something, whether it was Skinchangers/CoTF/whatever, keeping Valyria from invading Westeros, then why didn't they continue eastwards? I mean, they conquered Ghiscar and if they'd continued East they could've taken Qarth. And Qarth is a major port city that commands the Jade Gates. They could've easily controlled all of the trade from the Jade Sea if they'd expanded eastwards. And why didn't they just take the wealthy lands around the Jade Sea either? And I don't think them worrying about sorcerers and the Warlocks would be an adequate explanation, since the Freehold defeated the Rhoynar and their water wizards when they brought their full strength to bear.


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I don't think so. Empires bent on expansion tend to expand. If it can be had and it's worth being had, an ambitious so-and-so is going to try and take it. Theories about an empire being crushed under its own weight usually only come long after that empire has fallen. Your idea assumes a lot of foresight on the part of the freehold (regarding the territory it can reasonably control) and it also assumes it operates like a single political bloc. Also remember that Valyria is destroyed by a cataclysm, not the usual suspects of efficiency, economic stagnation, war, institutional inertia or corruption. And, as Tyrion implies, there are good reasons to expand west.

I think this is on the right track. I suspect something kept them out.

Quote

That's really good. I wonder if the detail of "Lannister gold destroying them" is some oblique reference to the rebellion and subsequent events. Archmaester Perestan's speculation is awfully vague. It's also a bit self serving because it implies that the Maesters had something to do with this "reversal", given that the Citadel is located in Oldtown. Although, that's an interesting idea in itself. Also, isn't Perestan a bit of a crank?

This is probably just my bias, but I don't think it does a good job of explaining the century of isolation on Dragonstone after the Doom. Hadn't the CotF long disappeared from history at that point?

I didn't put much stock into that supposed Valyrian prophecy. It seems like the type of thing that Yandel would write to blow smoke up the arse of his king of Baratheon Lannister lineage.

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This is probably just my bias, but I don't think it does a good job of explaining the century of isolation on Dragonstone after the Doom. Hadn't the CotF long disappeared from history at that point?

No you're right it doesn't. I wasn't really trying to explain that part. It seems like by that time there was no surviving record of the battle that gave Battle Isle it's name. (or if there was the Valyrians weren't sharing it with the Maesters who came to Valyria looking for answers.) So I'd imagine Aener, Aegon and the others weren't even aware of the threat of skinchangers, or didn't take the threat seriously.

A lot was going on during the "Century of Blood" so maybe the Targaryens didn't want to risk expansion to the west until things had settled in the east. Mainland Westeros may have just been of little interest to the Targaryens until Aegon came along. Aegon's interest may have had something to do with a prophecy he read about the Others coming from northern Westeros and destroying mankind.

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No you're right it doesn't. I wasn't really trying to explain that part. It seems like by that time there was no surviving record of the battle that gave Battle Isle it's name. (or if there was the Valyrians weren't sharing it with the Maesters who came to Valyria looking for answers.) So I'd imagine Aener, Aegon and the others weren't even aware of the threat of skinchangers, or didn't take the threat seriously.

A lot was going on during the "Century of Blood" so maybe the Targaryens didn't want to risk expansion to the west until things had settled in the east. Mainland Westeros may have just been of little interest to the Targaryens until Aegon came along. Aegon's interest may have had something to do with a prophecy he read about the Others coming from northern Westeros and destroying mankind.

I actually vaguely recall something in aWoIaF that most of the Targaryen Lords of Dragonstone were more interested in the east (and so I would assume it was based on a desire to create a new New Valyria) and that Aegon was the first to look westwards.

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Conquering a place and holding to it are 2 different things, as one of the last of the Valyrians , Dany, has recently learned at slavers bay.

Targaryen's moved to Westeros after conquering it and invested a lot of effort in ruling it.

Valyrians had no intentions of doing so while Valyria still stood. They could trade with Westeros if they wanted. it was probably good enough for them.

There could be some magical explanations to why they did not take Westeros , but the simple one seems good enough to me.

There are a couple important differences:

The destruction of Harrenhall and the field of fire were pretty solid demonstrations that the Targs were not to be defied. There's no real parallel with Dany's conquests. If she had mature dragons and people to ride them, it might be different story. It might also be different if she had a larger army with more loyal, mature officers in it so she could settle conquered areas with these people before moving on.

The Targ invaders didn't do much to disrupt business-as-usual in Westeros. Those kings who bent the knee got to keep what they had, the difference being that they were now Wardens with a little less autonomy and obligations to a newly created autocracy. On the other hand, Dany is attempting fairly radical changes to both the economy and culture of the areas she conquers, removing the existing ruling classes and eliminating the slave trade.

It's possible the Targs simply weren't ready and it took the 100 years to orchestrate the invasion, but I'm not so sure.

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There are a couple important differences:

The destruction of Harrenhall and the field of fire were pretty solid demonstrations that the Targs were not to be defied. There's no real parallel with Dany's conquests. If she had mature dragons and people to ride them, it might be different story. It might also be different if she had a larger army with more loyal, mature officers in it so she could settle conquered areas with these people before moving on.

The Targ invaders didn't do much to disrupt business-as-usual in Westeros. Those kings who bent the knee got to keep what they had, the difference being that they were now Wardens with a little less autonomy and obligations to a newly created autocracy. On the other hand, Dany is attempting fairly radical changes to both the economy and culture of the areas she conquers, removing the existing ruling classes and eliminating the slave trade.

It's possible the Targs simply weren't ready and it took the 100 years to orchestrate the invasion, but I'm not so sure.

it's probably this.as it seem's like the targs waited a couple years for vhagar and merexes to hatch. and mature into the dragon's used to take westeros.

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it's probably this.as it seem's like the targs waited a couple years for vhagar and merexes to hatch. and mature into the dragon's used to take westeros.

I'd wager that's a good explanation. After all, Balerion may be an impressive specimen but he probably wasn't as big back then and dragons can be killed. There are reports that Dragonlords in Lys and Tyrosh survived the Doom, but the people turned against them and both Dragonlord and dragon were killed. And then you had Emperor Aurion, a Dragonlord who reportedly was visiting Qohor. He declared himself Emperor of Valyria and went off to war on his dragon with 30,000 men, but they were never seen again. Assuming those reports are true, it would make sense for the Targaryens not to immediately start to conquer after the Doom.

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