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An Oddity in Targaryen History: The Three Heads of the Dragon

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When it comes to Targaryen history, I believe it's fair to say that it often seems as if something is going on just beneath surface. The Tragedy of Summerhall and Rhaegar's birth, the Great Spring Sickness and Bloodraven's massive funeral pyre, the Battle Above the Gods Eye and Aemond's sapphire eye, much of Maegor's reign, etc.

If I'm not mistaken, the prevalent opinion in the community appears to be that moments such as these likely have no greater significance; they're not evidence of some secret history, they're solely there to make it seem as if there's something happening beneath the surface of the text. The history of the Targaryen dynasty is just backstory, with an interesting plot to keep the reader's attention, and strange moments sprinkled in to give the whole thing an air of mystery. This may very well be true, and I don't have any answers for the specific events I've mentioned above.

However, there is one strange series of events that has caught my attention, and has been on my mind for some time. It's fairly subtle and the reader's attention is never directly drawn to the pattern, so I find it hard to believe that it's something GRRM has included to create intrigue, if it's gone unnoticed until now. The extent to which some things hold true makes it feel intentional, and these events even touch on some of the premier supernatural things and concepts, which suggests to me that they may actually be relevant.

I have to first give credit to LuciferMeansLightbringer. He pointed much of this out in Visenya Draconis, and it was that post that originally peaked my interest. This theory begins by expanding on a topic from that post.

The story I'd like to tell begins in King's Landing, with Visenya's Hill and the Hill of Rhaenys. I believe the things that happen upon each Hill, and the symbolism surrounding them, suggests a pretty straightforward conclusion.

The symbolism surrounding the Hill of Rhaenys is perhaps the most obvious.

The Hill of Rhaenys

The Sept of Remembrance was constructed atop the Hill of Rhaenys, as a memorial to Queen Rhaenys herself, who died in Dorne in 10 AC. The first major event that occurs on Rhaenys’ Hill comes in 42 AC, when King Maegor awakes from the coma that had followed his trial by combat, and attacks the Faith Militant that have fortified the Sept of Remembrance.

Then Maegor mounted Balerion and flew from Aegon’s High Hill to the Hill of Rhaenys and, without warning,unleashed the Black Dread’s fire. As the Sept of Remembrance was set alight, some tried to flee, only to be cut down by the archers and spearmen that Maegor had made ready. The screams of the burning and dying men were said to echo throughout the city, and scholars claim that a pall hung over King’s Landing for seven days. -The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I, TWOIAF

Maegor unleashed dragonfire on the Hill of Rhaenys, burning down the Sept of Remembrance. He then ordered the construction of the Dragonpit to house the dragons, who are “fire made flesh”.

Hardly had the last stone been set on the Red Keep than Maegor commanded that the ruins of the Sept of Remembrance be cleared from the top of Rhaenys’s Hill, and with them the bones and ashes of the Warrior’s Sons who had perished there. In their place, he decreed, a great stone “stable for dragons” would be erected, a lair worthy of Balerion, Vhagar, and their get. Thus commenced the building of the Dragonpit. -The Targaryen Kings: Maegor I, TWOIAF


For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power. -Daenerys II, ACoK

The dragons lived on the Hill of Rhaenys for almost a century, until it was destroyed during the Dance of Dragons.

Half-blind, and maddened by a dozen lesser wounds, Dreamfyre spread her wings and flew straight up at the great dome above in a last desperate attempt to break into the open sky. Already weakened by blasts of dragonflame, the dome cracked under the force of impact, and a moment later half of it came tumbling down, crushing both dragon and dragonslayers under tons of broken stone and rubble.

The Storming of the Dragonpit was done. Four of the Targaryen dragons lay dead, though at hideous cost. Yet the queen’s own dragon remained alive and free … and as the burned and bloody survivors of the carnage in the pit came stumbling from the smoking ruins, Syrax descended upon them from above. -TPATQ

The Dragonpit on the Hill of Rhaenys is reduced to smoking ruins. It's scorched with dragonfire, just like the Sept of Remembrance before it. The Hill of Rhaenys was where the dragons lived. Might an association with fire be emerging?

A thousand shrieks and shouts echoed across the city, mingling with the dragon’s roar. Atop the Hill of Rhaenys, the Dragonpit wore a crown of yellow fire, burning so bright it seemed as if the sun was rising. Even the queen trembled as she watched, the tears glistening on her cheeks. Many of the queen’s companions on the rooftop fled, fearing that the fires would soon engulf the entire city, even the Red Keep atop Aegon’s High Hill. -TPATQ

The Hill of Rhaenys “wore a crown of yellow fire”, the Dragonpit “burning so bright it seemed as if the sun was rising”.

Later, as the Great Spring Sickness swept across Westeros, Bloodraven needed a way to dispose of the bodies of the dead.

So many died so quickly there was no time to bury them. They piled them in the Dragonpit instead, and when the corpses were ten feet deep, Lord Rivers commanded the pyromancers to burn them. The light of the fires shone through the windows, as it did of yore when living dragons still nested beneath the dome. By night you could see the glow all through the city, the dark green glow of wildfire. The color green still haunts me to this day. -The Sworn Sword

The Hill of Rhaenys is the site of a giant funeral pyre.

In the current story, Tyrion learns that wildfire has been stored beneath the Dragonpit.

The Dragonpit atop the hill of Rhaenys had been abandoned for a century and a half. He supposed it was as good a place as any to store wildfire, and better than most, but it would have been nice if the late Lord Rossart had told someone. -Tyrion XI, ACoK

The Hill of Rhaenys was the home of the dragons. The Sept of Remembrance on the Hill was burned by Maegor and Balerion. It was scorched by dragonfire again when the Dragonpit was destroyed, where it iss said it have worn a crown of fire, almost as if it were the Sun. Bloodraven turns the Hill into a giant funeral pyre. In the current story it's being used to store wildfire.

The Hill of Rhaenys is repeatedly associated with fire. It's set aflame three different times and literally contains fire for much of history, in the form of dragons or wildfire.

The symbolism surrounding Visenya’s Hill is somewhat less obvious, but perhaps more intriguing.

Visenya’s Hill

Atop Visenya’s Hill sits the Great Sept of Baelor.

Visenya’s hill was crowned by the Great Sept of Baelor with its seven crystal towers. -Catelyn IV, AGoT

The Great Sept of Baelor has seven crystal towers. All of the Faith is associated with crystals, not just the Great Sept.

Worship was a septon with a censer, the smell of incense, a seven-sided crystal alive with light, voices raised in song. -Catelyn I, AGoT


The septon removed a faceted crystal sphere from the soft cloth bag at his waist. -Catelyn VII, AGoT


Inside the sept, the great crystal caught the morning light as it streamed through the south-facing window and spread it in a rainbow on the altar. -Jon VII, AGoT

The High Septon wears a crystal crown.

The High Septon himself stood behind him, a squat man, grey with age and ponderously fat, wearing long white robes and an immense crown of spun gold and crystal that wreathed his head with rainbows whenever he moved. -Arya II, AGoT

Crystals are often associated with the Faith of the Seven, but the word ‘crystal’ shows up in another context: often being used in reference to ice, and surrounded by themes of coldness, blue, white, and the moon. All of these associations are found in the very first chapter of the series, in fact.

The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor. -Prologue, AGoT


The flint hills rose higher and wilder with each passing mile, until by the fifth day they had turned into mountains, coldblue-grey giants with jagged promontories and snow on their shoulders. When the wind blew from the north, long plumes of ice crystals flew from the high peaks like banners. -Tyrion II, AGoT


Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks. -Bran II, AGoT


He woke to the sight of his own breath misting in the cold morning air. When he moved, his bones ached. Ghost was gone, the fire burnt out. Jon reached to pull aside the cloak he’d hung over the rock, and found it stiff and frozen. He crept beneath it and stood up in a forest turned to crystal. -Jon III, AGoT


He found Ygritte sprawled across a patch of old snow beneath the Lord Commander's Tower, with an arrow between her breasts. The ice crystals had settled over her face, and in the moonlight it looked as though she wore a glittering silver mask. -Jon VII, ASoS


Old snow cloaked the courtyard, and icicles hung down like crystal spears from the terraces and towers. The Eyrie was built of fine white stone, and winter's mantle made it whiter still. -Alayne II, AFfC


A cold wind came swirling through, and a cloud of ice crystals sparkled blue-white in the air. -Theon I, ADwD


The sun had returned to the sky after a fortnight's absence, and to the south the Wall rose blue-white and glittering... In snowstorms it seemed carved of snow. But on days like this, there was no mistaking it for anything but ice. On days like this the Wall shimmered bright as a septon's crystal, every crack and crevasse limned by sunlight, as frozen rainbows danced and died behind translucent ripples. On days like this the Wall was beautiful. -Jon XI, ADwD


The rest was shrouded in shadow … except beneath the open window, where a spray of ice crystals glittered in the moonlight, swirling in the wind. On the window seat a raven loitered, pale, huge, its feathers ruffled. It was the largest raven that Kevan Lannister had ever seen. Larger than any hunting hawk at Casterly Rock, larger than the largest owl. Blowing snow danced around it, and the moon painted it silver.

Not silver. White. The bird is white. -Epilogue, ADwD


Of all the queer and fabulous denizens of the Shivering Sea, however, the greatest are the ice dragons. These colossal beasts, many times larger than the dragons of Valyria, are said to be made of living ice, with eyes of pale blue crystal and vast translucent wings through which the moon and stars can be glimpsed as they wheel across the sky. -Beyond the Free Cities: The Shivering Sea, TWOIAF

These quotes alone really can’t do the strength of this association justice. I would encourage you to just skim through all the mentions of ‘crystal’ in Asoiaf. With the exception of Daenerys’ POVs (2 mentions) and Cressen’s prologue chapter (6 mentions), every other mention of the word ‘crystal’ (64) refers to either ice, the Faith of the Seven, or both.

These mentions of crystal are often accompanied by some other themes, not just ice. Namely, they repeatedly refer to the colors white and blue, as well as the moon. So what, right? It's sort of easy to see why these specific themes might be found around each other, for the most.

But interestingly enough, the Great Sept on Visenya's Hill is made of another notable material that has the exact same associations surrounding it.

Hundreds were encamped upon the plaza, hundreds more in the gardens. Their cookfires filled the air with smoke and stinks. Roughspun tents and miserable hovels made of mud and scrap wood besmirched the pristine white marble. They were even huddled on the steps, beneath the Great Sept’s towering doors. -Cersei VI, AFfC


By the time they reached the Street of the Sisters, they were packed in shoulder to shoulder. Arya let the human current carry her along, up to the top of Visenya’s Hill. The white marble plaza was a solid mass of people, all yammering excitedly at each other and straining to get closer to the Great Sept of Baelor. -Arya V, AGoT

The Great Sept of Baelor is constructed of white marble, and there are some other notable buildings that are constructed from white marble as well.

“Sealords,” said Yorko. “The Isle of the Gods is farther on. See? Six bridges down, on the right bank. That is the Temple of the Moonsingers.

It was one of those that Arya had spied from the lagoon, a mighty mass of snow-white marble topped by a huge silvered dome whose milk glass windows showed all the phases of the moon. -Arya I, AFfC

The Temple of the Moonsingers is constructed of white marble (snow-white marble even), with windows that look like milkglass, which is how the Others are described.

Sam rolled onto his side, eyes wide as the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too. -Samwell I, ASoS


Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took. -Prologue, AGoT

The High Hall of the Eyrie, in the Mountains of the Moon, is constructed from white marble as well.

The High Hall of the Arryns was long and austere, with a forbidding coldness to its walls of blue-veined white marble, but the faces around him had been colder by far. -Tyrion V, AGoT

These associations found around white marble structures are the same associations that we found around mentions of the word ‘crystal’: coldness, white and blue colors, and the moon. These themes are laid on pretty thick in Sansa's chapters in the Eyrie.

Sansa walked down the blue silk carpet between rows of fluted pillars slim as lances. The floors and walls of the High Hall were made of milk-white marble veined with blue. Shafts of pale daylight slanted down through narrow arched windows along the eastern wall. Between the windows were torches, mounted in high iron sconces, but none of them was lit. Her footsteps fell softly on the carpet. Outside the wind blew cold and lonely.

Amidst so much white marble even the sunlight looked chilly, somehow . . . though not half so chilly as her aunt. Lady Lysa had dressed in a gown of cream-colored velvet and a necklace of sapphires and moon-stones. Her auburn hair had been done up in a thick braid, and fell across one shoulder. She sat in the high seat watching her niece approach, her face red and puffy beneath the paint and powder. On the wall behind her hung a huge banner, the moon-and-falcon of House Arryn in cream and blue. -Sansa VII, ASoS

Here we see each of these symbolic elements multiple times in a single passage; white marble and white in general, blue, crystals, the moon and the cold. Blue carpet and milk-white marble walls veined with blue which make even the sunlight look cold, and all within the Mountains of the Moon. Lysa herself is described as chilly, she wears a white gown with a necklace of crystals; (presumably) blue sapphires and moonstones. Behind her is the banner of House Arryn, the moon in white and blue.

The Great Sept of Baelor on Visenya’s Hill is made of white marble and crystal, two materials that are very heavily associated with not just ice and the cold, but white, blue, and the moon as well. The association of white marble with ice makes some sense; what stone resembles a sheet of ice more than white marble? The white marble of the Great Sept on Visenya's Hill is even described pretty similar to ice during Cersei’s walk of atonement.

Her bare feet slapped against the cold marble floor. She could feel the eyes. Behind their altars, the Seven seemed to watch as well.

The marble underfoot was cold and slick, and Cersei had to step carefully for fear of slipping. -Cersei II, AFfC

Crystal and white marble, the two most prominent materials from which of the Great Sept on Visenya’s Hill is made, are both consistently associated with ice. This association is intriguing, particularly because it contrasts the fiery symbolism surrounding the Hill of Rhaenys. White marble and crystal are both surrounded by the exact same themes of coldness, blue, white, and the moon as well. The association with the moon also happens to contrast the Hill of Rhaenys, which "burned so bright it seemed as if the sun was rising".

There is also the execution of Ned Stark, Lord of the North and descendant of the Kings of Winter, with his own blade, Ice, upon Visenya’s Hill.

Visenya’s Hill fits into a larger pattern of icy symbolism, and Rhaenys’ Hill is consistently associated with fire. These two associations, I think, apply to Visenya and Rhaenys themselves as well.

Visenya and Rhaenys

Each sister's personality reflects this ice-fire dichotomy pretty well.

Visenya is described as harsh, stern, serious, and unforgiving.

Visenya, eldest of the three siblings, was as much a warrior as Aegon himself, as comfortable in ringmail as in silk. She carried the Valyrian longsword Dark Sister, and was skilled in its use, having trained beside her brother since childhood. Though possessed of the silver-gold hair and purple eyes of Valyria, hers was a harsh, austere beauty.Even those who loved her best found Visenya stern, serious, unforgiving, and some said that she played with poisons and dabbled in dark sorceries. -The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest, TWOIAF

Visenya might be said to have a fairly cold personality: “lacking affection or warmth of feeling.” Synonyms include: unfriendly, unwelcoming, haughty, strict, austere.

Like the symbolism surrounding crystal and white marble in Part 1, our attention is even drawn to a passing association between Visenya and the moon.

That night she mounted Vhagar and returned to Dragonstone, and it is written that when her dragon passed before the moon, that orb turned as red as blood. -Sons of the Dragon

Rhaenys, on the other hand, is night and day from her sister.

Rhaenys, youngest of the three Targaryens, was all her sister was not: playful, curious, impulsive, given to flights of fancy. No true warrior, Rhaenys loved music, dancing, and poetry, and supported many a singer, mummer, and puppeteer. Yet it was said that Rhaenys spent more time on dragonback than her brother and sister combined, for above all things she loved to fly. She once was heard to say that before she died she meant to fly Meraxes across the Sunset Sea to see what lay upon its western shores. Whilst no one ever questioned Visenya’s fidelity to her brother/husband, Rhaenys surrounded herself with comely young men, and (it was whispered) even entertained some in her bedchambers on the nights when Aegon was with her elder sister. Yet despite these rumors, observers at court could not fail to note that the king spent ten nights with Rhaenys for every night with Visenya. -The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest, TWOIAF

Rhaenys was playful, curious, and impulsive; you might say that she was passionate, that she had a fiery personality. This quote even frames Rhaenys and Visenya as opposites; “Rhaenys…was all her sister was not.”

So far I don't think this association is too radical. I'm far from the first one to make this distinction between sisters, and I think (hope) that many of you have gotten the same icy vibe from Visenya and fiery vibe from Rhaenys. Even if that is the case, I'm certain there's no consensus on what this means, or whether it's significant at all. For the most part, it seems like it's just a small tidbit thrown in by GRRM to fill out the story; an easter egg for the theorists to find, if anything.

However, this ice and fire dichotomy between Visenya and Rhaenys manifests in real world events, and seems to continue with each sister’s actions during Aegon’s conquest. After Aegon's first coronation, the three siblings split up in different directions.

Within days of his coronation, Aegon’s armies were on the march again. The greater part of his host crossed the Blackwater Rush, making south for Storm’s End under the command of Orys Baratheon. Queen Rhaenys accompanied him, astride Meraxes of the golden eyes and silver scales. The Targaryen fleet, under Daemon Velaryon, left Blackwater Bay and turned north, for Gulltown and the Vale. With them went Queen Visenya and Vhagar. -The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest. TWOIAF

Visenya travels north, while Rhaenys travels south, which makes sense if we're really to associate Visenya with ice and Rhaenys with fire. A tenuous connection perhaps, but the three siblings split up again later in the Conquest, and the pattern is precisely the same.

Now once again Aegon Targaryen and his queens parted company. Aegon turned south once more, marching toward Oldtown, whilst his two sisters mounted their dragons—Visenya for a second attempt at the Vale of Arryn, and Rhaenys for Sunspear and the deserts of Dorne. -The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest. TWOIAF

Visenya heads north once again, to the snow-capped Mountains of the Moon.

Rhaenys heads south once again, to the heat-scorched Sunspear.

It’s just like their Hills and their personality. Visenya heads to the chilly north, while Rhaenys heads to the fiery south.

And it's not even just that Visenya went north while Rhaenys went south; the places that they're sent are literally named after the sun and the moon. We've just seen the same thing about their respective hills: Rhaenys' Hill was said to have burned so bright it looked as if the sun was rising, and the crystal/white marble atop Visenya's Hill are both surrounded by lunar symbolism.

Rhaenys even heads to Dorne yet again some years later, and appears to have fallen to her death at Hellholt, a fiery name if I've ever seen one.

Rhaenys’ Hill is constantly associated with fire and even the sun, her personality is fiery, she’s repeatedly sent south, once to Sunspear, and eventually she dies in Dorne, at Hellholt. This is in contrast to Visenya, whose eponymous hill is surrounded by icy symbolism, whose personality is chilly, and who was twice sent north, once to the Mountains of the Moon.

I think the associations between Rhaenys and fire, and Visenya and ice, are pretty clear.

But this dichotomy continues beyond just Rhaenys and Visenya. House Targaryen came to Westeros with three Valyrian steel objects, and each is lost by the end of their dynasty.

Dark Sister and the Conqueror’s Crown

The icy Visenya owned the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister. The last person to wield Dark Sister was Brynden Rivers, or Bloodraven. Bloodraven was sent north to the Wall, where he later became Lord Commander.

Though many agreed, and were pleased to see another Blackfyre pretender removed, King Aegon felt he had no choice but to condemn the Hand, lest the word of the Iron Throne be seen as worthless. Yet after the sentence of death was pronounced, Aegon offered Bloodraven the chance to take the black and join the Night’s Watch. This he did. Ser Brynden Rivers set sail for the Wall late in the year of 233 AC. (No one intercepted his ship). Two hundred men went with him, many of them archers from Bloodraven’s personal guard, the Raven’s Teeth. The king’s brother, Maester Aemon, was also amongst them.

Bloodraven would rise to become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch in 239 AC, serving until his disappearance during a ranging beyond the Wall in 252 AC. -The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V, TWOIAF

The very last person to wield Queen Visenya’s sword ends their life far up north, past the Wall; like Visenya herself was twice sent north, and like her hill is surrounded by icy symbolism.

Considering Dark Sister disappears from history after Bloodraven is sent to the Wall, it would appear as if the sword went to the Wall with him. This is never explicitly stated in the text, but semi-canon sources claim that GRRM has confirmed as much in an interview.

According to a semi-canon source, Brynden took Dark Sister with him when he went to the Wall to join the Night's Watch. -”Dark Sister”, AWOIAF

Visenya’s Valyrian steel sword seems to follow the same pattern and share the same symbolism as Visenya and her Hill; traveling north, and being surrounded by ice, literally or symbolically.

Visenya’s Hill is surrounded by icy symbolism. Her personality could accurately be described as chilly. She’s repeatedly sent north during the Conquest. Her sword is taken north to be wielded by the Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, and likely lost beyond the Wall.

All things Visenya seem to be associated with ice and the north, even her sword.

On the other hand we have Rhaenys, of whom all things seem to be associated with fire and the south. Visenya’s sword, Dark Sister, is lost far to the north, just like Visenya herself was repeatedly sent north, but Visenya’s journeys north are contrasted by Rhaenys’ journeys south. Is it then possible that the fate of another Valyrian steel object of House Targaryen follows Rhaenys' fate, and contrasts that of Dark Sister? In other words: Visenya’s Valyrian steel sword was lost to the north, just as she was repeatedly sent north, so might there be a Valyrian steel object lost to the south, just as Rhaenys was repeatedly sent south?


Aegon the Conqueror’s crown had been lost after Daeron I’s death in Dorne -The Targaryen Kings: Maekar I, TWOIAF

Aegon’s Valyrian steel crown was lost to the south in Dorne, just as Rhaenys was lost in Dorne. The last person to wear this crown, Daeron I, repeatedly journeyed south and invaded Dorne, in contrast to the last person who wielded Dark Sister, Bloodraven, who traveled north to Wall. Perhaps on its own this seems insignificant, but it follows the strangely specific pattern we’ve already covered.

Visenya repeatedly went north and her Hill seems to be associated with ice, and the last person to wield her sword went north to the Wall for the rest of his life, where the sword was lost.

Rhaenys repeatedly went south (even died in Dorne) and her Hill seems to be associated with fire, and the last person to wear the Valyrian steel crown went south to the deserts of Dorne, where he died and the crown was lost.

Three Targaryens came to Westeros, and two of the three follow this north/south, ice/fire dichotomy. The Targaryens brought with them three Valyrian steel objects, and two of the three follow this north/south, ice/fire dichotomy as well.

This seems intriguing, to say the least. 2/3 Targaryens and 2/3 Valyrian steel objects of House Targaryen follow this pattern, almost as if at least two of the three Valyrian steel objects are somehow related to a specific Targaryen; Visenya and Dark Sister, Rhaenys and the Valyrian steel crown.

But where do the remaining thirds fit in? What about Aegon and Blackfyre?

Aegon and Blackfyre

Aegon and his sisters had split up twice during the Conquest. Visenya went north twice, and Rhaenys went south twice. Might there be a pattern that Aegon followed as well? Perhaps one that fits in with the ice/fire dichotomy of Visenya and Rhaenys?

The first time the three siblings split up, when Visenya is sent north to Gulltown and Rhaenys is sent south to Storm’s End, Aegon travels northwest to a lake called the Gods Eye in the riverlands.

Within days of his coronation, Aegon's armies were on the march again. The greater part of his host crossed the Blackwater Rush, making south for Storm's End under the command of Orys Baratheon. Queen Rhaenys accompanied him, astride Meraxes of the golden eyes and silver scales. The Targaryen fleet, under Daemon Velaryon, left Blackwater Bay and turned north, for Gulltown and the Vale. With them went Queen Visenya and Vhagar. The king himself marched northeast, to the Gods Eye and Harrenhal, the gargantuan fortress that was the pride and obsession of King Harren the Black and which he had completed and occupied on the very day Aegon landed in what would one day become King's Landing. -The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest, TWOIAF

Visenya goes north, Rhaenys goes south, and Aegon goes to a body of water.

As we’ve already discussed, the three siblings split up a second time during the Conquest. Visenya goes north to the Mountains of the Moon, Rhaenys goes south to Sunspear, and where does Aegon go? To the seaside port city of Oldtown.

Now once again Aegon Targaryen and his queens parted company. Aegon turned south once more, marching toward Oldtown, whilst his two sisters mounted their dragons—Visenya for a second attempt at the Vale of Arryn, and Rhaenys for Sunspear and the deserts of Dorne. -The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest, TWOIAF

Once again, Visenya goes north, Rhaenys goes south, and Aegon goes to a body of water. Visenya goes to the Eyrie in the Mountains of the Moon, Rhaenys goes to Sunspear in Dorne, and Aegon goes to the Hightower on Battle Island.

A similar association with water can be seen with Aegon’s Hill. King’s Landing itself was built alongside the Blackwater Rush, but it’s Aegon’s High Hill that sits right at the mouth of the Blackwater. Visenya and Rhaenys’ hills are set a decent distance inland from the river, while Aegon’s Hill sits directly on the shore of the Blackwater and its bay, bordered by water on two sides. Just like Aegon himself traveled to a body of water both times that the siblings separated, so does his Hill sit directly on the shore.

Might we then wonder whether Aegon is associated with water, just as Visenya is with ice, and Rhaenys with fire? We actually have a way to test this hypothesis. Dark Sister and the Valyrian steel crown seemed to follow the same pattern as Visenya and Rhaenys, respectively. The only Targaryen excluded from this pattern is Aegon, and the only Valyrian steel object excluded is Blackfyre; so we can assume that Blackfyre follows the same pattern as Aegon, if it follows any pattern at all. And in this way we can not only test whether this 'water' symbolism holds true, but also whether or not it's true that the Valyrian steel objects follow the same pattern as Aegon and his sisters.

Is there an obvious association between water and the fate of Blackfyre, like there is between ice and the fate of Dark Sister, and fire and the fate of the Valyrian steel crown?


The last person known to have wielded Blackfyre was Aegor Rivers, or Bittersteel.

Daemon Blackfyre’s surviving sons fled to Tyrosh, their mother’s home, and with them went Bittersteel. -The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II, TWOIAF

Bittersteel fled to Tyrosh, and Blackfyre went with him.

With Daemon and his twin sons dead at the Redgrass Field, Bittersteel took Blackfyre with him in exile to the Free Cities, where he eventually founded the sellsword Golden Company. Aegor refused to give the Valyrian sword to Daemon II Blackfyre in the failed Second Blackfyre Rebellion. -”Aegor Rivers”, AWOIAF

Blackfyre is lost across the Narrow Sea.

Looking at three things/events, it appeared that a pattern involving water surrounded Aegon's travels and his Hill; Aegon went to the lake of the God's Eye in the riverlands, then he went to Oldtown on the coast, and his Hill sits directly on the shore of mouth of the Blackwater Rush. We looked at that and wondered whether Aegon's sword fit into the same pattern; does the fate of Blackfyre involve water in some way? Lo and behold, Blackfyre was lost across the sea. The fate of Aegon's sword follows the same pattern that he and his Hill both followed: an association with water.

As foreign as this association seems, it actually makes a lot of sense; water is at least in the same wheelhouse as ice and fire. I’m certain this will seem simplistic to the point of being controversial, but we might even think of 'water' as the middle ground between ice and fire, or even as the result of their combination: Ice and Fire. If the term 'water' is too cheesy for you to stomach, the concept is much better thought of as both ice and fire.

Regardless of how strange it sounds, it's interesting to me that we suspected that there would be a similarity between four specific things/events involving Aegon, and actually found one. That this similarity was water is even more interesting, as the middle ground between ice and fire; ice and fire, the dichotomy between Visenya and Rhaenys, being the reason we were interested in these four specific topics in the first place.

All four things and events follow the same trichotomy.

  • Visenya goes north, Rhaenys goes south, and Aegon goes to a body of water.

  • Visenya goes north again, Rhaenys goes south again, and Aegon goes to a body of water again.

  • Dark Sister is lost to the north, the Valyrian steel crown is lost to the south, and Blackfyre is lost across a body of water.

  • Visenya’s Hill is associated with ice, Rhaenys’ Hill is associated with fire, and Aegon’s Hill sits aside a body of water.

This trichotomy doesn’t end when House Targaryen’s Valyrian steel objects are all lost either. In fact, it seems to reappear again, and much more recently in Targaryen history.

Rhaegar’s Children

Rhaegar had three children: Rhaenys, Aegon, and Jon Snow. Right off the bat, you might notice an interesting similarity with what we’ve discussed so far. The very fact that Rhaegar has three children is fortunate, as it allows for the possibility of a parallel with the first three Targaryens upon which this theory is based; Visenya, Rhaenys, and Aegon, ice, fire, and water. Two of Rhaegar’s children are named after two of these Targaryens: Rhaenys and Aegon, fire and water. The only difference is that Rhaegar’s third child is not named Visenya, who was associated with ice. He was instead named Jon Snow, making this association with ice nonetheless.

My point is that even the names of Rhaegar’s children provide a hint that they follow the same pattern. One is named Rhaenys, ultimately named after Queen Rhaenys, who seemed to be associated with fire. One is named Aegon, ultimately named after King Aegon I, who seemed to be associated with water (or ice & fire). The only name Rhaegar’s children don’t share with this original triad is Visenya, who was associated with ice; the third child was instead named Jon Snow, whose name is straightforwardly associated with ice anyways.

Rhaegar’s children seem as though they may follow this ice, fire, water trichotomy.

Jon Snow’s association with ice goes far beyond his name. He's a descendant of the Kings of Winter, through his mother, Lyanna Stark. He was raised in the North at Winterfell, as the child of Lord Stark himself. He eventually joins the Night’s Watch and goes to the icy Wall. Here, Jon Snow’s story actually converges with Visenya’s story, or rather, that of her sword.

The last person to wield Dark Sister was Bloodraven, who was sent to the Wall to join the Nights Watch; the last person to wield Dark Sister joined the Watch, and Jon Snow joined the Watch. Bloodraven later became Lord Commander; the last person to wield Dark Sister became Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, and Jon Snow becomes Lord Commander of the Nights Watch.

Jon Snow is not only a Targaryen heavily associated with ice and the north, just like Visenya, but his story also parallels the fate of Visenya’s sword; Dark Sister ultimately ends up at the Wall, and the last person to wield her joined the Nights Watch and became Lord Commander, just like Jon Snow’s story thus far.

Jon Snow’s story matches the fate of Visenya’s Valyrian steel sword, which itself follows the same pattern as Visenya’s travels during the Conquest, a pattern that matches the icy symbolism surrounding her hill. Just a coincidence, perhaps.

But what if it's not just Jon Snow? How strange would it be if the rest of Rhaegar’s children fit into this same pattern as well, their lives following the fate of House Targaryen's three Valyrian steel objects?

Prince Aegon quite obviously shares his name with King Aegon I. Aegon I seems to be related to Blackfyre, in that the fate of Blackfyre matches Aegon’s travels and his Hill, just like Visenya & Dark Sister and Rhaenys & Aegon’s crown.

If we’re following the example set by Jon Snow and Dark Sister, we might wonder if Prince Aegon’s story matches the fate of the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre. Blackfyre was lost by Bittersteel after he fled across the Narrow Sea to Essos and formed the Golden Company. It would be almost too perfect if Prince Aegon had, say, fled across the Narrow Sea to Essos and met up with the Golden Company, right?

“You’re a dwarf,” Young Griff said scornfully. “My secret is revealed,” Tyrion agreed. “Aye, I’m less than half of Haldon, and no one gives a mummer’s fart whether I live or die.” Least of all me. “You, though … you are everything.


“What do you mean? I am everything? What did you mean by that? Why am I everything?”

“Why,” said Tyrion, “if the stone men had taken Yandry or Griff or our lovely Lemore, we would have grieved for them and gone on. Lose you, and this whole enterprise is undone, and all those years of feverish plotting by the cheesemonger and the eunuch will have been for naught … isn’t that so?”

The boy looked to Griff. “He knows who I am.

If I did not know before, I would now


I must admit, you have noble features for a dead boy.

The boy flushed. “I am not dead.”

“How not? My lord father wrapped your corpse in a crimson cloak and laid you down beside your sister at the foot of the Iron Throne, his gift to the new king. Those who had the stomach to lift the cloak said that half your head was gone."


"Stand aside!" someone shouted, far away, and another voice said, "The prince! Protect the boy!" -Tyrion V, ADwD


Lemore gave him a reproachful look. "That is because you have a wicked soul. Septa's robes scream of Westeros and might draw unwelcome eyes onto us." She turned back to Prince Aegon. "You are not the only one who must needs hide.? -Tyrion VI, ADwD


"Last night the talk here was all of Westeros. Some exiled lord has hired the Golden Company to win back his lands for him. Half the captains in Volantis are racing upriver to Volon Therys to offer him their ships." -Tyrion VII, ADwD

The last person to wield Blackfyre ended up across the Narrow Sea, in Essos, with the Golden Company; and Prince Aegon ends up across the Narrow Sea, in Essos, with the Golden Company.

It’s just like Jon Snow and Dark Sister. The last person to wield Dark Sister ended up at the Wall as Lord Commander, and Jon ends up at the Wall as Lord Commander. The last person to wield Blackfyre ended up across the Narrow Sea with the Golden Company, and Prince Aegon ends up across the Narrow Sea with the Golden Company. Prince Aegon’s story parallels the fate of Blackfyre, just as Jon Snow’s story parallels the fate of Dark Sister.

This does of course depend on Young Griff actually being Prince Aegon, and not a Blackfyre descendant. I myself have always leaned towards fAegon, but if he's not actually Rhaegar's son, it does seem quite coincidental that this impostor has followed the path of Blackfyre, just like Rhaegar's other son followed the path of Dark Sister. And if he really is Rhaegar's son, well then all of this is starting to look less and less like coincidence, and more and more like an intentional pattern. Jon Snow becoming Lord Commander just like Bloodraven is one thing, but Aegon also fleeing across the Narrow Sea to join the Golden Company just like Bittersteel? It seems too specific to be a coincidence.

So far, two of Rhaegar’s three children perfectly follow the path of House Targaryen’s Valyrian steel swords. In fact, each parallels the specific sword that we would expect them to; Jon Snow follows the path of Dark Sister, sword of the icyVisenya, and Prince Aegon follows the path of Blackfyre, sword of King Aegon I.

These are two parts of a trichotomy of ice, fire, and water, ultimately based on Visenya, Rhaenys, and Aegon. We might call the whole thing a triad, three concepts that seem to be intimately related to each other. And at least two of Rhaegar's children fit into it pretty perfectly, living lives that lead them down the exact same path that Dark Sister and Blackfyre took. So what is this triad that appears to be present throughout Targaryen history? This thing of which at least two of Rhaegar's children seem to be a part?

Well, Rhaegar literally believed that his children were a part of some supernatural triad.

He has a song," the man replied. "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire." He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany's, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. "There must be one more," he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. "The dragon has three heads." -Daenerys IV, ACoK

Rhaegar believed that his children were the three heads of the dragon. I suppose that's really what this post has been about: a triad, a strangely specific three-way pattern that runs throughout Targaryen history, the three heads of the dragon.

Also notice that Aegon "has a song", "the song of Ice and Fire". It's just as this theory has associated Aegon with 'water', which is really Ice and Fire. We might think of this triad as Ice, Fire, and Ice & Fire.

Rhaegar's children, so far, match the fate of House Targaryen's two Valyrian steel swords. But the Targaryens had a third Valyrian steel object, the Conqueror's crown. We might expect the story of Rhaegar’s remaining child, Princess Rhaenys, to parallel the fate of Aegon’s crown, which we’ve actually associated with Queen Rhaenys. It’s here this theory runs into a hiccup, but one that still seems to point us in an interesting direction.

It's not the case that Princess Rhaenys' fate follows that of Aegon's crown. I believe that her story is instead symbolic of Queen Rhaenys herself, not the Valyrian steel object that we’ve associated her with. That is, Jon Snow shares Queen Visenya’s sword’s fate, Prince Aegon shares King Aegon’s sword’s fate, but Princess Rhaenys’ fate is symbolic of the fate of Queen Rhaenys herself, not the Valyrian steel crown that we've associated her with. That is admittedly not the same, but the difference is not quite so large when we consider that Dark Sister, Blackfyre, and Aegon's crown were themselves following the pattern set by Visenya, Aegon, and Rhaenys during the Conquest. By following Dark Sister and Blackfyre's fates, Jon Snow and Prince Aegon were also following the pattern displayed by Visenya and Aegon during the Conquest.

Princess Rhaenys and Queen Rhaenys obviously share the same name. Queen Rhaenys was also associated with fire and the south, having repeatedly traveled to Dorne. She even died in Dorne, supposedly at Hellholt. Princess Rhaenys is half-Dornish and looks like a Martel.

Nor did the birth of King Aerys's first grandchild, a girl named Rhaenys, born on Dragonstone in 280 AC, do aught to reconcile father and son. When Prince Rhaegar returned to the Red Keep to present his daughter to his own mother and father, Queen Rhaella embraced the babe warmly, but King Aerys refused to touch or hold the child and complained that she "smells Dornish." -"The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II, TWOIAF


Rhaenys looked more like a Martell, Aegon more a Targaryen. -So Spake Martin: A Number of Questions

Queen Rhaenys and the Valyrian steel crown were both associated with Dorne, and Princess Rhaenys has a distinctly Dornish appearance, more so than even her brother.

The official story of Queen Rhaenys death is that she died at Hellholt after falling from Meraxes. I'm sure most everyone is aware by now of the theories that she survived her fall, and was held captive in Dorne. Plausible at best, I know. But the thing is, it does happen to make the death of Princess Rhaenys evocative of what would have been Queen Rhaenys' unfortunate fate.

Princess Rhaenys was killed by Amory Lorch with "half of a hundred thrusts".

Nor did I yet grasp what I had in Gregor Clegane, only that he was huge and terrible in battle. The rape . . . even you will not accuse me of giving that command, I would hope. Ser Amory was almost as bestial with Rhaenys. I asked him afterward why it had required half a hundred thrusts to kill a girl of . . . two? Three? He said she'd kicked him and would not stop screaming. If Lorch had half the wits the gods gave a turnip, he would have calmed her with a few sweet words and used a soft silk pillow." -Tyrion VI, ASoS

In her bed.

It is not known who murdered Princess Rhaenys in her bed, or smashed the infant Prince Aegon's head against a wall. -The Fall of the Dragons: The End, TWOIAF

I don't mean to imply any actual rape on the part of Amory Lorch, just that Princess Rhaenys repeatedly being stabbed in her bed is symbolic of the unfortunate fate of Queen Rhaenys, as told by theorists who surmise she survived her fall.

Princess Rhaenys is (ultimately) named after Queen Rhaenys. Queen Rhaenys repeatedly traveled to Dorne, and Princess Rhaenys looks and is half Dornish. Queen Rhaenys may have been taken captive in Dorne before she died, and, if so, very possibly raped; and Princess Rhaenys is stabbed to death in a bed with "half a hundred thrusts".

Jon Snow became Lord Commander, like the last wielder of Visenya's sword Dark Sister. Prince Aegon joined the Golden Company, like the last wielder of Aegon's sword Blackfyre. The half dornish Princess Rhaenys is stabbed with half a hundred thrusts in a bed, evocative of how Queen Rhaenys may have been captured in Dorne and raped before her death.

Rhaegar's children very plausibly follow some sort of pattern shared by the original three Targaryens and their three Valyrian steel objects. The parallel between Jon Snow and Bloodraven/Dark Sister is perhaps the most straightforward, but the parallel between "Young Griff" and Bittersteel/Blackfyre is pretty striking as well, assuming one is willing to accept that Young Griff really is Prince Aegon.

The parallel between Princess Rhaenys and Queen Rhaenys is perhaps not as compelling if you don't accept that Rhaenys may have survived her fall. It's an unfortunate possibility to contemplate, but in light of the associations surrounding Jon Snow and Prince Aegon, when we would expect Princess Rhaenys to be associated with the only remaining ("fiery") part of this trichotomy (Queen Rhaenys), Princess Rhaenys does seem to at least hit some of the right notes, and does fit perfectly into the preexisting theories of Queen Rhaenys' capture.

Even if you do not accept the association I've made between these two Rhaenys's, I think there is still an interesting pattern that was pretty consistent up until then.

The personalities of Visenya and Rhaenys are explicitly described as diametrically opposed; one sounds chilly, the other, fiery. Their respective Hills are surrounded by the same symbolism; ice and fire. Their travels match this ice/fire dichotomy; one keeps going north, the other, south. The fate of Visenya's sword matches her own travels and symbolism, being lost to the north at the Wall; the fate of Aegon's crown matches Rhaenys' fate, lost in Dorne.

The introduction of Aegon and Blackfyre seem to create a trichotomy from this dichotomy. Aegon's Hill sits directly at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. During the Conquest he travels to a lake in the riverlands and then later to an island on the shore of a sea. His sword is lost across the Narrow Sea.

At least two of Rhaegar's children continue this pattern, with Jon Snow following the path of Dark Sister and becoming Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and Prince Aegon following the path of Blackfyre and fleeing across the Narrow Sea to join the Golden Company.

And if you're willing to accept that Queen Rhaenys survived her fall (and that Young Griff really is Aegon) then suddenly all three of Rhaegar's children fit into a pattern that goes back at least to the Conquest.

The Targaryens whose actions built this three way pattern are, I believe, the three heads of the dragon. Visenya, Rhaenys, and Aegon were the first incarnation of which recorded history is aware. Each head of the dragon is associated with a Valyrian steel object; Visenya and Dark Sister, Rhaenys and the Valyrian steel crown, Aegon and Blackfyre. Rhaegar's children really were/are the three heads of the Dragon; Jon Snow and Aegon following the paths of Dark Sister and Blackfyre, and Princess Rhaenys symbolically sharing her fate with Queen Rhaenys.

In all likelihood, these aren't the only three heads of the dragon in Targaryen history, just the most obvious; Aegon I and his sisters, the last three people to own their Valyrian steel objects, and Rheagar's children, are all obviously pretty high on the list of seemingly significant Targaryens. It's possible that there have been three heads of the dragon throughout all of Targaryen history, the role of each being less prominent than the ones discussed here; "the dragon has three heads" possibly being more akin to "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell", than a one-off prophesy.

In fact, this same triad might go back thousands of years, before House Targaryen even existed, but that's a story for part 3.

TL;DR: Aegon and his sisters were the three heads of the dragon. Each of House Targaryen's three Valyrian steel objects follow the same pattern as one of these three Targaryens. Rhaegar's three children have a fate identical to Bloodraven, Bittersteel, and Queen Rhaenys, and were/are the three heads of the dragon.


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