New Game of Thrones spin-off can solve one of series’ biggest mysteries

Tom Percival
Aegon the Conqueror and his sister wives.

A Game of Thrones spin-off focused on Aegon’s Conquest is in development, and it has the potential to solve one of the biggest mysteries in the history of Westeros. 

Secrets are as valuable as gold and as dangerous as an army in Westeros; it’s how a lordling of no renown like Littlefinger could threaten some of the most powerful houses in Game of Thrones. 

Yet despite Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon shedding light on some of the series’ biggest mysteries, there are plenty of skeletons lurking in Westerosi wardrobes.

Most of these skeletons belong to the Targaryen Kings — quite literally, in the case of Maegor the Cruel — and there’s at least one secret so big it makes Balerion look like Arrax (is this the nerdiest thing I’ve ever written?): why did Aegon the Conqueror abandon his attempt to bring Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms?

Drogon flies through the air

The Dragon’s Wroth

The answer seems obvious on paper: the Dornish were simply too tenacious a foe, and even the might of three full-grown dragons couldn’t force them to bend the knee. So, as Aegon grew older, he decided to focus on binding his new realm together rather than wasting more lives and resources trying to break House Martell.

Yet that explanation misses out on some critical details; you see, the Dornish did more than any other of the petty kingdoms of Westeros to earn Aegon’s wroth. They didn’t just resist the conquest. They were the only kingdom to prove that the Targaryens were not unstoppable when they killed the dragon Meraxes and Aegon’s one true love and sister (don’t think about it, Targaryens are weird), Queen Rhaenys. 

Such was Aegon’s fury after Rhaenys’ death that the King began a two-year campaign of violence against Dorne so brutal that the Maesters would later name it the “Dragon’s Wroth.” To use more modern parlance, Aegon basically nuked Dorne with his dragon, burning every Dornish stronghold he could find (except Sunspear) at least once. It was a horrific period in Dornish history, but after two years of violence, Aegon unexpectedly made peace with House Martell and Dorne.

The Dragon’s Peace

So what happened? Well, Princess Deria Martell visited King’s Landing with two gifts. The first was the skull of Meraxes, and the second was a letter from Prince Nymor, the ruler of Dorne. Upon reading the letter, Aegon left the capital for Dragonstone and ended his war with the Dornish one day later. 

So what did the letter say? Well, that’s just it: we don’t know. George R.R. Martin has never revealed what Aegon read or what caused him to abandon his conquest. Fans have speculated for years: perhaps Rhaenys hadn’t perished since when Meraxes fell, and the letter revealed she was being held hostage; maybe the Martells used the threat of a Faceless Man attacking Aegon’s sons and heirs to cow the King, or perhaps the letter contained something that hurt Aegon more than any sword ever could. 

Yes, the darkest theory is that Rhaenys had survived her dragon’s death, but that when Aegon took flight on Balerion and taught the Dornish how terrible a wrathful dragon could be, he accidentally killed his wounded queen, who was recovering in some stronghold. The accidental murder of his own beloved sister-wife (still icky) caused Aegon to realize the true horror of war, and he abandoned his conquest in honor of his lost love. 

Aegon the Conqueror and his sister wives.

As things stand, that’s just a fan theory, but it’s something that could be explored in the upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off. Personally, I’d love to learn more about Aegon and what caused him to abandon the conquest. Who knows, maybe this intriguing chapter in Westorsi history won’t be secret for much longer when Aegon’s Conquest hits the small screen.

Want to know more about the history of Westeros? We have a guide breaking down everything you need to know about the House of the Dragon season 2. We also have a list of every dragon in House of the Dragon. If you’re sick of fire-breathing lizards, though, and looking for something else to watch, I recommend checking out our list of the best new TV shows on streaming this month.