House of the Dragon is an upcoming Game of Thrones prequel that’s all about House Targaryen. It’s set approximately two centuries before the events of the original HBO series when the family was at the height of their power. And it focuses on the Dance of the Dragons — aka the brutal Targaryen civil war that tore the realm apart.
One of the most notable characters in George R. R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood — the book House of the Dragon is based on — is Daemon Targaryen. He’s a colorful member of the family who will be played in the HBO series by Doctor Who alum Matt Smith. Here’s a complete history of the character, and how he fits into the story.
‘House of the Dragon’ is about a war of succession
The fight for the Iron Throne will be just as central to House of the Dragon as it was to Game of Thrones. It begins when King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) raises his daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) to be his heir.
But this is a controversial choice of successor because King Viserys didn’t abide by the male-heir succession precedent set forth by his grandfather — Jaehaerys I (aka The Conciliator).
Viserys’ oldest child grows up assuming she would eventually be crowned Queen of Westeros. But the king’s second wife — Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) — believes her son Prince Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) should be king.
Alicent works behind the scenes in an attempt to help her son win the throne instead of Rhaenyra, and it’s this conflict that sparks the civil war. When Viserys dies, both Rhaenyra and Aegon are crowned. But only one can sit on the throne.
The complete history of Daemon Targaryen
Smith’s Prince Daemon is the brother of King Viserys and the uncle of Princess Rhaenyra. He is the heir presumptive before the king names his 8-year-old daughter, and he’s also one of the greatest warriors in Westeros. In addition to riding the dragon Caraxes, he wields the Dark Sister — the Valyrian steel sword of his ancestor Visenya.
Daemon’s desire to reign and be Viserys’ heir essentially defined his life. He’s an interesting and complex character who alternates between hero and villain, and his story leads to one of the most epic moments in Westeros history.
Daemon and his older brother didn’t hate each other, but the two were definitely different. Daemon was the more aggressive of the two, and could go from charming to flying off the handle in the blink of an eye. He was a hot-head who loved fighting and sex, a personality that didn’t fit with the jobs his brother had given him — master of coin and master of laws.
It wasn’t until he became Lord Commander of the City Watch that Daemon found some happiness, and inspired loyalty among his men. He even started the tradition of the golden cloaks.
The ‘House of the Dragon’ character had a reputation among the brothel owners
Crime went down sharply under Daemon’s command, which was probably due to the fact that he enjoyed inflicting harsh punishments on the thieves and cut purses. At the same time, he was making connections with brothel owners and gaining quite the reputation.
“Daemon developed a dark reputation in the stews and brothels, he was well known at every inn (where he drank for free) and brothels in the city where Daemon was never wont to make free of the wares on offer,” the Art of Ice and Fire Instagram page explains.
“Daemon in one of these brothels became acquainted with a prostitute named Mysaria who would serve as his mistress of whisperers in the streets of Flea Bottom. While Daemon called himself ‘the Prince of the City,’ he became known as ‘Lord Flea Bottom’ among the residents of King’s Landing.”
Prince Daemon has a long list of enemies
Another important part of Daemon’s history was when he conquered the Stepstones, a chain of islands located off Westeros’ southeast shore. As a result, he had his friend Lord Corlys Velayron crown him king of the Stepstones and the Narrow Sea.
But just like a lot of things that Daemon did, this made him a lot of enemies. Especially among the Free Cities. He was also at odds with Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King under Viserys. Otto didn’t like the prince because he was becoming too powerful in King’s Landing.
House Royce wasn’t a fan, either, because of how he treated his first wife Rhea Royce, who died after falling off of a horse. Daemon is actually married three times throughout Fire & Blood. His second wife Laena Valaryon dies in childbirth. And his third wife gets him heavily involved in the Dance of the Dragons — his niece, Princess Rhaenyra.
Daemon also made an enemy out of his brother before his death over the trysts with his niece, as well as the fact that he mocked his nephew’s stillbirth. Ultimately, Daemon earned the title of Rogue Prince for continually breaking away from the Targaryen household.
He backs Princess Rhaenyra’s claim on the throne in ‘House of the Dragon
Daemon had given up hope of becoming king himself. But when his brother dies and his wife has a claim to the throne, he is happy and willing to support her. He even crowns her on Dragonstone himself.
Daemon is an extremely skilled warrior. His experience as a soldier — as well as his dragon Caraxes and his Valyrian steel blade Dark Sister — is a valuable asset for Rhaenyra in the Dance of the Dragons. Viewers will also see him use his Flea Bottom connections, too, which will result in murder.
As for his marriage to Rhaenyra, they have three children together — Aegon “The Younger” Targaryen, Viserys Targaryen, and Viserys I Targaryen. And it’s Aegon the Younger who eventually ascends to the Iron Throne after the Dance of the Dragons.
However, we won’t spoil the details about Daemon’s role in the civil war, or his character’s fate. To find that out, fans will have to watch House of the Dragon when it premieres Sunday, August 21 on HBO.