Fire and Blood

by George R. R. Martin

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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 834

Fire and Blood is George R. R. Martin's partial history of House Targaryen, published in 2018. The events of Fire and Blood occur 300 years before the events contained within A Game of Thrones, the first novel of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Fire and Blood is the first volume of a planned two-volume history of the Targaryens.

Within the in-universe history presented in volume one, written from the perspective of Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel, is an overview of the Targaryen kings from Aegon I (the Conquerer) to the rulership of Aegon III (the Dragonsbane)—in other words, from the first lord of the Seven Kingdoms and king on the Iron Throne to the conclusion of the civil war known as the Dance of Dragons.

“The first law of the land shall be the King’s Peace,” King Aegon decreed, “and any lord who goes to war without my leave shall be considered a rebel and an enemy of the Iron Throne.”

King Aegon also issued decrees regularizing customs, duties, and taxes throughout the realm, whereas previously every port and every petty lord had been free to exact however much they could from tenants, smallfolk, and merchants. He also proclaimed that the holy men and women of the Faith, and all their lands and possessions, were to be exempt from taxation.

Aegon's Conquest (2 BC – 1 AC) saw the Targaryen family's rulership over six of the seven kingdoms, with Dorne remaining independent. Thus any person who rebelled against Aegon I's right to rulership over the six kingdoms would be committing treason. Aegon regulated the tax process, which had previously seen no standardization; this would further economic prosperity and increase Targaryen wealth. Note that "holy men and women of the Faith" were exempt from this taxation; this is a reflection of Aegon's unification of the crown and the Faith of the Seven.

The Iron Throne will go to the man who has the strength to seize it.

These are the words of Maegor, who would soon go on to rule the Seven Kingdoms after Aenys I and become the third Targaryen ruler. Maegor flew to King's Landing on Balerion, known throughout history as the largest and deadliest Targaryen dragon. He was accompanied by Visenya, who rode Vhagar. Queen Visenya, who had married her brother Aegon I, supported the rulership of their son, Maegor. The inhabitants of King's Landing were fearful of the return of dragons to the city and promptly rioted. The new king's coronation marked his destiny to become Maegor the Cruel, a violent and ruthless king who spent a majority of his reign fighting the Faith of the Seven.

It was a time for warm embraces, for smiles, for toasts and reconciliations, for renewing old friendships and making new ones, for laughter and kisses.

It was a good time, a golden autumn, a time of peace and plenty.

But winter was coming.

Archmaester Gyldayn writes of the feast in 58 AC that celebrated the ten-year anniversary of King Jaehaerys Targaryen's coronation. After ten years of conflict, they had achieved peace and prosperity in the Seven Kingdoms. Jaehaerys would be known as the Wise King, and his sister-wife, Queen Alysanne Targaryen, would be known as Good Queen Alysanne. Note that the marriage between the king and queen reflects a long-standing Targaryen custom of marriage between family members in order to preserve the magic and power of the Targaryen bloodline. Archmaester Gyldayn uses foreshadowing to hint at the turning seasons and future conflict in the kingdoms, and he references the motto of House Stark ("Winter is Coming").

"They may not hatch," Benifer said. "Not away from Dragonstone. The heat . . . it is known, some dragon eggs simply turn to stone."

Benifer was Grand Maester of the Citadel during the reigns of kings Maegor I Targaryen and Jaehaerys I Targaryen. At this time in Westeros, there were dragon hatcheries on Dragonstone, where eggs and young hatchlings were found under the Dragonmont volcano. A woman named Elissa Farman living on Dragonstone had sold three dragon eggs to a spicemonger in Pentos for an exorbitant cost without the king's permission. Overall, this quote encapsulates the historical difficulty of the dragon-hatching process; the magic associated with this procedure is not well understood. This became a pertinent issue surrounding Targaryen rulership, as the fear and respect the Targaryens generated was tied to the presence of dragons.

"Go with care, my lady," he told her, "but go. Men are hunting you, all up and down the narrow sea . . . We came here to be free of Old Valyria, and your Targaryens are Valyrian to the bone. Sail far. Sail fast."

In this quote, a Sealord advises Elissa Farman to flee Westeros after having sold the dragon eggs. It expands on interconnection between dragon magic, the Targaryens, and Valyria. Much information on the process of dragon-hatching was lost during the Doom of Valyria. The Targaryens desired to achieve ownership of all dragons in order to completely tie the dragons to their house and accumulate power.

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