There are a number of unexpected open mysteries present within Fire & Blood, George R. R. Martin’s fictional history of the Targaryen reign of Westeros, many of them ripe for theorizing upon. Considering that the book chronicles events 300 years before the main Song of Ice and Fire novels, it’s a pleasant surprise to find any surprises at all within the text, let alone some that may actually have some bearing on the story within the main series.
Here are 6 mysteries that caught our attention here in the Tor dot office. (Along with some theories, of course!)
Spoilers for Fire & Blood ahead.
Content Warning: Brief discussion of suicide.
Mystery #1: What did the letter from Dorne to Aegon the Conquerer say?
Aegon the Conquerer is the first Targaryen King of Westeros; the one who unites every kingdom within Westeros under his rule…except Dorne. The southernmost kingdom in Westeros hands Aegon his greatest defeat by resisting his soldiers and successfully shooting down one of the Targaryens’ dragons. (In this case, also taking Aegon’s sister and beloved wife Rhaena with it.)
Aegon wants nothing more than to turn Dorne into a vast wasteland of slag after Rhaena is killed, and a back and forth campaign of invasion and attempted assassinations (which come very close to killing Aegon) ensues for 3 years until an envoy from Dorne visits King’s Landing with a letter. Aegon reads it “in open court, stone-faced and silent” then burns the letter, his hand suddenly dripping with blood. That night, he flies to Dragonstone, then returns the next morning and declares that Westeros will agree to every term of peace that Prince Nymor of Dorne wants, defying his entire court and his family.
So what the heck was in that letter?
Theory: Dorne threatened the dragon eggs and Aegon’s heirs. At this point, King’s Landing is just a makeshift town with a small hold, so the Targaryen family, their dragons, and their dragons’ eggs, reside within the safety of Dragonstone, off of Westeros’ east coast. Dorne doesn’t have the capability of forming an army large enough to mount an invasion of Dragonstone.
But it can still send assassins.
The letter could have outlined Nymor’s terms, threatening that Dorne could access the depths of Dragonstone at any time. Nymor’s letter may have stated something like, “To prove our words, fly to Dragonstone tonight and look to your dragons’ eggs. You will see a red X drawn upon each of them and you will now the truth of Dorne’s reach. If we can reach the eggs, we can reach the heirs.”
A threat like that could make Aegon angry enough to drive his nails into his palms, drawing blood. And it would explain him flying off to Dragonstone to check the veracity of Dorne’s claims. Aegon would have realized that while he could continue forth with his campaign and truly conquer Dorne, without an heir or any more dragons, he would most likely be the only Targaryen to rule Dorne. Such a vulnerability would also explain why he burnt the letter immediately. Being seen as strong, just, and fair was of paramount importance to Aegon, and making peace with Dorne was probably the best possibility of preserving that image in the long-term.
Mystery #2: Who Killed the High Septon?
The Faith of the Seven is an extremely powerful presence within Westeros during Aegon’s reign, and that continues to be the case even as Maegor Targaryens’ “fuck you I do what I want” rule takes hold. The High Septon (i.e. the Pope) of that period constantly rails against the unholy, un-obeisant, and illegitimate acts of Maegor, and he has the Faith Militant and the septons to back him up.
But Maegor has dragons. And he loves to use them. So off he flies to Oldtown to burn down the entirety of the Faith’s stronghold.
But—miracle of miracles—it seems that the High Septon has died the night before Maegor arrives! Cool, cool, don’t worry about a thing Maegor, we got this new guy now? And he would LOVE to anoint you King.
So… who killed the High Septon?
Theory: Everyone killed the High Septon. Fire & Blood’s recounting of the event names four suspects, and one of them is definitely the most likely culprit, but you get the feeling that this isn’t meant to be so much a mystery as it is George R. R. Martin slyly riffing on Murder On The Orient Express. Everyone hated this guy and none of them wanted to die by dragonfire, so it’s not hard to imagine each suspect sneaking up to the High Septon’s chambers on the same night to murder him. (“I stabbed him on the privy.” “But I stabbed him in bed!” “Well I poisoned his food.” “Was that before or after I cast a dark spell?”)
Mystery #3: Who Killed Maegor the Cruel?
Maegor is a monster and squanders his power so monstrously that eventually much of Westeros turns against him and he is urged to abdicate the Iron Throne.
He refuses and spends the night on the Iron Throne stewing in his anger. But then the dawn breaks and he is found dead upon the throne, a sword thrust through each forearm, and another through his neck. This is confusing to imagine, so here’s how it’s depicted in the book by illustrator Doug Wheatley:
Lord Towers and Lord Rosby are the last of his council to see him alive, and Queen Elinor finds Maegor dead upon the Throne.
So… who killed Maegor?
Theory: Maegor took his own life. The second-born child of Aegon, Maegor’s life is guided by a blustering, monstrous overcompensation for his wounded pride at being thought less deserving. Though either Towers, Rosby, or Elinor is the obvious killer, it seems more fitting that Maegor instead had a long dark night of the soul and realized he had lost control of his reign, his legacy, his legend, and would probably never regain it. Though he had three queens, he loved nothing so much as himself. In his mind he could probably only conceive of two choices: continue the story of his life as an exiled king, or end his tale on his own terms.
Mystery #4: Where’d those three dragon eggs go?
During the reign of Jaehaerys Targaryen, Queen Rhaena takes on a paramour known as Lady Elissa Farman. Eventually, that relationship turns sour and Farman pops off from Dragonstone, stealing three dragon eggs and selling them in Braavos in order to fund the next phase of her life.
So… are those eventually the eggs that Daenerys receives?
Theory: They are if you want them to be. The framing concept behind Fire & Blood is that we are reading a historical summary collected from primary and secondary sources by Archmaester Gyldayn, who brings his own bias to the importance and likelihood of recorded events. So this history is fluid, and as readers we are free to read between the lines and create our own theories… as long as we remember that Martin is also free to rewrite this imaginary history later, in favor of a more reliable in-world telling.
The three stolen dragon eggs are not mentioned again in Fire & Blood, and in A Game of Thrones Illyrio says that the eggs come from Asshai. But there are around 200 years between the theft of the eggs and Illyrio’s gift to Daenerys, so really anything can happen.
We like to believe that these are Dany’s eggs, because it’s fun to imagine them bopping around the world from owner to owner until they finally hatch. (That would be a great history to read!)
And there is one possible piece of connective tissue between Elissa Farman’s theft and Daenerys: One of the final acts of Aegon V’s reign (who we also know as “Egg” from the Dunk & Egg stories) is finding a way to revive the dragons. In doing so, The World of Ice and Fire mentions that Aegon V commissions journeys to Asshai to ascertain further knowledge of dragons (or maybe even obtain new eggs), then chronicles a fiery tragedy at Summerhall where pyromancers, mages, and seven dragon eggs are convened.
So perhaps Aegon V’s efforts worked… just not at all in the way he had hoped.
Mystery #5: Who pushed Queen Halaena out the window?
A vicious civil war between Targaryen succession lines consumes the second half of Fire & Blood (and. it. is. in. tense.) and during this Dying of the Dragons, Queen Helaena “throws herself” into the spiked moat beneath her tower.
Except she clearly doesn’t, and her death incites the people of King’s Landing to rise up against Queen Rhaenrya, who had recently conquered the city and successfully seized the throne from Aegon II.
So… who killed Helaena and why?
Theory: Larys Strong the Clubfoot, Master of Whisperers, purposefully killed Helaena in order to turn the tide back towards Aegon, possibly solidifying a secret society in the process. Larys was loyal to Aegon II and, as Master of Whispers, would have been the one individual most likely to know about any secret passage into Helaena’s quarters.
Helaena’s death also comes at a critical moment in the Dying of the Dragons, as up to that point it looked like as if Queen Rhaenrya had truly won. The revolt of the “smallpeople” undermines her victory and makes her appear cruel, and that destabilization intensifies as time passes, giving the opposing side and Aegon II time to regather their strength and rally against Rhaenrys.
What’s notable here is that this theory parallels with the events at the very end of Martin’s novel A Dance With Dragons, in which Varys (the exiled Master of Whisperers) reappears, killing the regent Kevan Lannister at a crucial turning point and revealing that he is purposefully destabilizing the Lannisters’ rule so that the recently re-emerged Aegon will be gratefully accepted as the rightful leader of Westeros.
This parallel is so exact, in fact, that one wonders whether Larys Strong is part of, or the inciting member of, a long line of Master of Whisperers who work diligently to guide Westeros to the ruler they believe is fit and proper. A line that, by Varys’ time, would certainly grow into a secret society of sorts. (And one that Littlefinger and Illyrio are possibly a part of.)
Mystery #6: Why doesn’t this book have a map of Westeros in it?
Theory: We don’t have a theory we just want the map put in to the next print edition please!