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How does one actually hatch a dragon's egg?

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Dragons cannot hatch their own eggs, they depend on the presence of not just human beings, but specific human beings, to reproduce. This suggests dragons are bioengineered creatures, key-coded to respond to people who have a specific genetic trait, which is likely also bioengineered, all in the distant past. All of which now works mysteriously, as a form of magic.

The way the understanding of this has warped over time is that people believe "the blood of the dragon" is necessary to hatch dragons.

  • People think this means some sort of actual human sacrifice.
  • But what it really means is an inherited genetic trait.

We know one traditional way to try to hatch a dragon is to put the egg in a cradle with a baby with the blood of a dragon.

However, if you look at the Targaryan bloodlines and marriages, you can infer three things:

  • Not every Valyrian has blood of the dragon
  • Valyrians are not the only people with blood of the dragon
  • You can infer that it is not the baby that has the blood of the dragon that matters, but the mother.

To flesh this last point a little more - only women can hatch dragons, because the trait that allows them to do it only occurs on the X chromosome, and thus only women can have a double of it. Men can only be carriers/riders. You can infer this by looking at when a lot of dragons hatched or only a few, and matching that up to the family trees of the matriarchs of the Targaryans at the time.

A kid of a bullshitty fantasy version of Mendelian inheritance is, lest we forget, a huge part of the main story, and the basis for most of what Ned does in A Game of Thrones. We know the maesters keep copious, copious records of inherited phenotypical traits of great houses. So it's not outlandish to look for other ways in which Mendelian inheritance might matter.

Now, it seems like a lot of the magic in the story has to do with ESP, the mind, mental powers, and most of the magic GRRM writes about in other stories are various sorts of mental powers.

So it seems possible that the power to hatch dragons is a mental power - a form of telepathy.

If the mother is the one with the genes to hatch dragons, why would putting the egg in the cradle with the baby make it hatch?

The baby is the focus of the mother's mind and attention. If she has psychic powers, the baby is a focal point for her powers. The mother's attachment for the baby is sort of like tinder for a campfire, or a pilot light for a stove.

Dany thinks strongly about her relationship and connection with Khal Drogo at his funeral pyre when the dragons are hatched. This seems like it might have a similar sort of effect to the egg being in the cradle with a baby.

An additional conjecture you could throw in with all these conjectures is that the Oldtown Triad (the Hightowers, the Citadel and the Faith) figured this out some time ago, and have been manipulating marriages, succession, and even fertility and prenatal care to try to get the "blood of the dragon" out of the gene pool and in particular out of House Targaryan, so they no longer have access to dragons.

It's also possible that there are rituals that were used, involving fire, to create a point of focus for magical telepathic energies, and that misunderstanding these rituals - seeing the ritual, rather than the psychic powers, as what hatches the dragons - is what led to some of the Targaryans going all "Hold My Beer, New Hampshire-style" with various incendiaries, with predictably catastrophic results.

This carries over into a larger conversation about "blood and fire" - the various ways they relate to each other, and how the systems behind them might work, but it's all very interesting.

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Thank you, GyantSpyder, for that analysis. I found it fascinating. If I may, I have a couple of follow up questions: 

Would you concur that Daenerys has this particular gene? How pure exactly does her blood have to be for her to seemingly wield such a great amount of influence? Are her prophetic dreams a byproduct of this  as well? That is, if her dreams are truly prophetic, which I'm not sure is true. 

Is there any plausibility that the pyre birth was in some way associated with blood magic? I have always wondered about this. 

It's quite clear that she has a "destiny" and that the eggs and later dragons are in some way a product of her, I guess you would call it a genetic destiny if we're being as scientific as I can be (I understand the science, but am terrible at expressing that comprehension using the correct language). However, I have reread that scene in A Game of Thrones several times, and have watched it several times, and the maegi seems to make a deduction that Daenerys is trying to pull off blood magic to hatch the eggs; albeit she doesn't think Daenerys knows enough about magic to actually pull it off. Was the maegi's life in anyway integral to the hatching? Or was that just a hunch, or a blunder...or a punishment? This puzzles me. 

Any other thoughts to how magic works in this world? Jon Snow obviously has magic, especially if you read the books, and Rhaegar was his father so I think that makes sense. What about Melissandre? Or Quaith? Is it something that can be learned, or only passed down through genes? Not just dragon magic, of course. 

Who, in your opinion, could ride the other dragons? I was thinking Jon Snow on Viserion but Tyrion being a Targaryen just doesn't have enough evidence behind it for me to believe. They have already hatched, so does that mean Targaryen blood at this point in bonding with the dragons is completely necessary? 

Again, I really appreciate your input. Thanks so much. 



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I believe volcanoes play an active part. There is what appears to be a throwaway line from GoT in Dany's second to last chapter before the dragons hatch. One of her handmaids (don't remember which) was filling up the basin to prepare a bath and the water is described as smelling like sulfur. There have been a few threads on the topic, and this was the first one that popped up when I typed "volcanoes" in the search box. This may help. Or not. :dunno:



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Dragons stopped hatching shortly after house Lothston took possession oh Harrenhall. They began hatching again after house Whent (which almost certainly shared blood with the Lothstons) was driven from Harrenhall.

Conclusion: Harrenhall, staffed with an appropriate bloodline, inhibits dragon birth.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

Would you concur that Daenerys has this particular gene?

Sorry it took me so long to get back to this! I've been trying to puzzle out some of it that maybe some other people have figured out but I can't quite track down.

Yes, I think Daenerys has two copies of the gene. How Daenerys got the gene is really tricky, because the attempt to drive it out of the Targaryan bloodline seemed all but successful.

And looking more and more at the family trees, I think maybe it was successful, and the gene was reintroduced later by somebody who had it and was not a Targaryan into the Targaryan bloodline.

The main takeaway is that Daenerys - if she is who she says she is, which is a big if - is a product of three generations of incest. Her father and mother were siblings, and her grandfather and grandmother were siblings.

So if we go by very simple Mendelian inheritance, that means that if either Aegon V - "Egg" - or his wife Betha Blackwood had one copy of the gene between them, Daenerys could potentially have two copies of it.

But yeah, the Blackwoods are known for having at least some association with mystical powers, and definitely past association with Targaryans, so it's possible Betha Blackwood had the gene.

That story though we won't know more about until we learn more about Jenny of Oldstones and Maggie the Frog, which seems like it's really important and in the story for a reason.

Although I think it might be more likely that the gene comes from Egg's mother, Dyanna Dayne, Daenerys's great great grandmother. How the Daynes got a dragon blood gene is a bit of a puzzle, but it doesn't strain credulity that much. The Daynes seem distantly related to Targaryans based on their characteristic features, and the Daynes are still pretty mysterious, so we don't really know what else they've got going on.

It seems possible it came from Mariah Martell, since we know the Martells have a drop of dragon blood in their bloodline from past marriages, but I don't think this works with the way the rest of it seems to work. If the gene then passes to Maekar I, he would only be able to pass it to his daughters, not his sons, and he didn't have any daughters.

So, anyway, if Dyanna Dayne had the gene, but her husband Maekar I did not, the things that happen to her kids make sense.

On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

How pure exactly does her blood have to be for her to seemingly wield such a great amount of influence?

The guess is she needs to have two copies of a single gene that is passed along on the X chromosome in a simple, fantasy version of Mendelian inheritance. It's not that her blood needs to be pure, although the incest in her family helps. They need to go out into the gene pool, find a copy of the gene, and then breed it true within their own house.

What is interesting about these generations (Daenerys's great, great-great and great-great-great grandparents) is there's a line of Targaryans who marry into families with mysterious possible connections to mystical powers or dragon blood. We also see (per the "True Queen Theory") that when the Starks need to replenish their bloodline, they go take women from north of the wall. So it's possible during this time when the Targaryans had no dragons there were some efforts to find this dragon blood and bring it back into the family. And some of this might have been successful, but getting two copies of the gene together to produce a woman who can hatch dragons was much harder and faced much more opposition.

On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

Are her prophetic dreams a byproduct of this  as well?

Yes, I think a few of the Targaryan characteristics that seem to be different are actually different manifestations of the same trait - an old engineered psychic power.

I think one copy of the gene is enough to give you some level of psychic sensitivity - meaning dragon dreams, dragon riding, and potential madness if you're attacked by a different psychic force - but two copies are what you need to actually hatch a dragon.

Part of why I think Dyanna Dayne is the source of Daenerys's copy of the gene is how many of her great-grandfather's brothers and sisters showed strange characteristics.

First you have Aerion Brightflame, who got involved with dark magic and went crazy and killed himself from drinking wildfire. This makes sense if you think there is some sort of psychic broadcaster telling all Targaryans with the gene "KILL YOURSELF WITH FIRE. KILL  EVERYTHING WITH FIRE."

Then you have his brother Daeron, who had prophetic dragon dreams, but was also an alcoholic. It's a pretty common thing in the story for people with dreams or visions to be medicated with narcotics - alcohol seems like another way a psychic would try to self-medicate to stop the voices.

Then you have Maester Aemon, who has dragon dreams, so appears to have dragon blood. According to Marwyn, Aemon was barred from the Citadel on the DL because of his genetics. And he didn't go mad or burn himself alive, but he did live most of his life thousands of miles away up near the Wall, where maybe he was safer.

Both of Aegon V's sisters tried to seduce him into incestuous relationships, including attempting to drug him. It would be interesting if one side effect of the gene is powerful attraction to other people who have the gene. This would explain why Egg's sisters acted this extremely. This might also be a case for Daenerys, when she meets him, being very attracted to Jon Snow, who might have gotten a psychic gene from Lyanna Stark. That would also explain Rhaegar's insistence on getting together Lyanna Stark as well.

Then you have Egg, who seemed to be a very level-headed kid who wasn't susceptible to madness, thus why all his relatives were passed over in favor of him. But then later in life he also became determined to hatch dragons and burned himself and his family alive.

Note also that Aerys, Egg's grandson, tried to burn himself and everyone around him alive.

So yeah, that whole generation - the start of Daenerys's incestuous immediate ancestry - shows a combination of intense Targaryan psychic traits.

On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

Is there any plausibility that the pyre birth was in some way associated with blood magic?

I tend to think there are two kinds of blood magic: hereditary magic (that is, magic inherited through your "blood" - your family and genetics), and blood sacrifice magic (that is, magic you get from a magical creature in exchange for making a sacrifice to the creature).

The "power in King's blood" doesn't actually have to do with sacrificing it or burning it, but in utilizing the traits that are inherited through it.

I think that the pyre birth was definitely related to hereditary blood magic.

Whether it was related to blood sacrifice magic is more questionable. It seems reasonable based on what happened, but this is another case where we'd want to know more about Maggie the Frog, Mirri Maz Dur, and the other "maegi" whose true nature and power are hidden from us in the story so far.

On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

Was the maegi's life in anyway integral to the hatching? Or was that just a hunch, or a blunder...or a punishment?

This is where things get really cloudy - I'm wondering if part of the "main plot goal" of the Dunk & Egg stories was to eventually get to Jenny of Oldstones and the Tragedy of Summerhall, which I think would explain a lot more of this.

It's possible Mirri Maz Dur was trying to cast some sort of spell while she was dying and it got co-opted or deflected or something. That all seems possible.

The element we know the most about are Daenerys and the dragon eggs, so that's what I've focused on, but it could be there were other things that happened that made it more likely to happen in that moment rather than at other times.

It seems like Daenerys was attempting to forge some sort of mental bond with her dragon eggs when she was staring at them while having sex, as well.

But yeah, I'd need more evidence to be prepared to answer this.

On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

Any other thoughts to how magic works in this world? Jon Snow obviously has magic, especially if you read the books, and Rhaegar was his father so I think that makes sense. What about Melissandre? Or Quaith? Is it something that can be learned, or only passed down through genes?

Well, if you go with the idea that Azor Ahai (a.k.a. "The Red Dragon") started out in the far east, then came to Westeros, then caused the Long Night, then had a son who went north into the Land of Always Winter, almost died, and then got help from the Children of the Forest, it seems possible that certain First Men houses are descended from Azor Ahai and his family - including House Stark and the complementary matrilineal line of "True Queens" among the wildlings, of whom Val and Dalla are members.

This means that Val's weird mutual attraction/threats with Jon Snow might be connected to having copies of the dragon blood gene - or that Dal's child with Mance Rayder, who is with Gilly and Sam in Oldtown, has a copy of the dragon blood gene as well. 

Other families with it might include the Arryns or the Whents. It seems like it might have been an evolutionary sort of advantage that would help a house subdue the people around them - or, in the regime of the First Men under the Pact, maybe the humans who were in charge were psychically linked to the trees to make sure people did what the trees wanted, so the ruling houses had to be psychics.

Also it explains the curse of Harrenahl to an extent - if the Grey King also had the gene, and Harren the Black had the gene, it would explain how maybe Harrenhal drove him crazy - if the Isle of Faces was broadcasting "kill yourself" at him and he responded. Maybe there is a form of Greyjoy madness that is similar to Targaryan madness. It seems likely that Aeron Damphair has psychic powers, and Euron appears to have them as well, and then there's Victarion and his arm and the idea that Victarion might die from blowing the dragonhorn or something like that. Maybe house Sunderly, with its sigil of the parts of the drowned man eaten by fish, through Balon's mother, had a copy of the gene. It seems possible Euron had a childhood not unlike Bran's in certain ways, but that it went horribly wrong somehow and he was rejected.

And it also explains the death of Daemon and Aemond Targaryan at the Battle of the God's Eye, where Daemon pulled a super-crazy suicidal move right in the place in the world most likely to put suicidal thoughts in his head.

Melissandre and Quaithe probably have psychic powers based on either their birth or on being reanimated by some psychic force that acts through them, like Beric Dondarrion and his flaming sword.

But it seems true that you can both be born into magic, or come across magic by other means. And that the "other means" might also be seeking out people born into magic to incorporate them, control them, and exploit their power.

But yeah, there's a ton of room to speculate.

On ‎7‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 6:15 PM, Rain on Wednesday said:

Who, in your opinion, could ride the other dragons? I was thinking Jon Snow on Viserion but Tyrion being a Targaryen just doesn't have enough evidence behind it for me to believe. They have already hatched, so does that mean Targaryen blood at this point in bonding with the dragons is completely necessary? 

There are a whole bunch of candidates. Any number of Cersei, Jaime or Tyrion might have the dragon blood gene from Aerys - and I don't think we'll really know that for sure until it's revealed, if ever. But also Lan the Clever might have been related to Azor Ahai or the Great Empire of the Dawn (based on the story of how he took over Casterly Rock), like the Daynes and the Hightowers, so it's possible Lannisters might be able to do that sort of thing too if pressed, as long as they learned enough.

Any of the Stark kids could potentially do it.

Darkstar could potentially do it, if, as we guessed above, Daenerys's dragon blood gene came from Dyanna Dayne.

Maggie the Frog or

Euron, Aeron or Victarion.

Brown Ben Plumm, maybe.

Quentyn, Arianne, or any of the Martells or Sand Snakes, but probably not.

Edmure Tully possibly, but that seems extraordinarily unlikely.

Melisandre or Quaithe

The warlocks of Qarth - possibly shade of the evening could give you a temporary ability to control a dragon

Sweetrobin maybe, but seems unlikely to happen in the story - one common counter-strategy against dragon blood seems to be to sicken or drug the children, drive them crazy, deprive them of their own will or agency, or shut them up somewhere (like Baelor the Blessed and his immediate relatives at the end of the old line of dragon blood Targaryans). This seems to have more or less worked with Sweetrobin.

Ironically, even if (f)Aegon is who he says he is, he would likely not be able to ride a dragon.

But if Varys is a Velaryon or secret Blackfyre or whatever, it's possible Varys has the gene. The crazy theory that Varys is (f)Aegon's mother, Serra V., adds a bunch of possibilities, but at that point we're way off the grid.

It's also possible that castrating men with dragon blood takes away their power. I mean, why not?


Gilly's adopted baby (child of Dalla and Mance Rayder) could communicate with a dragon telepathically and bond with it. That might be a way for Sam to neutralize one of the dragons. Sam might also be able to use Gilly's baby as a conduit to use glass candles or other magical powers.

There's a lot of possibilities that seem extremely unlikely but are technically possible to retroactively justify if they happen in the story.

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To flesh out a couple of things I missed:

- I meant to say Maggie the Frog or Malora the Mad Maid of House Hightower. How House Hightower uses magic is not clear either. Maybe Leyton Hightower has magic powers? Maybe it's the fire itself in the Hightower that is a source of magic? We know that in the Citadel they cultivate mosses that interact with weirwoods, so it's possible there are other methods of magic derived from that that the Hightowers have access to, like Shade of the Evening.

Not that I think they'd bond with or ride a dragon, but I can see them try to conduct some sort of dragon-oriented ritual - like trying to sacrifice Gilly's baby because of its king's blood by throwing it into the Hightower fire, and Sam having to make a choice.

- Also, another factor to take into consideration regarding Mirri Maz Dur, in addition to her being a shaman and a maegi and trained by Marwyn, is that the Lamb Men as a cultural group, as opposed to the Dothraki, seem to be more amenable to living in symbiosis with nature - and lambs are symbols of sacrifice. So the Lamb Men might be like the First Men in that they might be living in some relation to some non-human intelligence that demands sacrifices from them. Animals like this tend to symbolize actions like this - like the Black Goat of Qohor, which gets human sacrifice, or the fate of Vargo "The G.O.A.T." Hoat, who experienced a truly horrible sort of sacrificial death, or, you know, Jesus Christ.

So if one source of magic is genetic engineering bred into humans, and another is fungi, mosses, molds and plants in symbiosis with trees or in other service, the Lamb Men might have a history with the latter in addition to what Mirri Maz Dur does.

- Melisandre is likely dead and reanimated. So it matters whether she herself had psychic genes before she died, and it matters whether whatever is reanimating her has its own psychic powers.

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