When it comes to House of the Dragon, the recent HBO Max endeavor does a magnificent job of sticking true to the themes that have been cemented in the legacy of Game of Thrones. The prequel has a lot to offer, which the fans have yet to see unfold, but one striking feature that has led to fan debates and discussions online is the parallels between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Daenerys Targaryen.
Many in the online sphere have attested to how they can draw similarities, besides the most obvious one, between the two — starting from their never-ending bravery, standing up for themselves constantly, and not shying away from rising above the patriarchal shadow that is cast upon them, a strong affinity for the Iron Throne, and of course, a shared love for the dragons. But amidst such similarities, a question plagues the mind – is Rhaenyra a better dragon queen than Daenerys?
Without attempting to fan the flames of a potential fandom war, there are several reasons why such comparisons fall flat in the face of such a question.
Warning, spoilers ahead.
House of the Dragon and Rhaenyra Targaryen
While only two episodes of the spin-off have graced the world, many have been quick to form an impression on the Targaryen predecessor. The premise of the show is based on George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood. With its main objective to delve deep into the nitty-gritty of the Targaryen history, the exploration of the event of the Dance of the Dragons, and a closer inspection of the civil war that occurred between Aegon II and Princess Rhaenyra for the Iron Throne, we have yet to see a lot unfold in the show.
From what we have been offered so far in the show, and without relying too much on the textual canon of Martin’s novels, it is simply too early to tell the character arc Rhaenyra is set to follow and how it intends to match up to the legacy of Daenerys. When it comes to her claim to the throne, however, one must address the differences between the two characters and the road of tribulations and trials that comparatively separate both.
While it is true, indeed, that Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon is and will be subjected to a heart-wrenching, challenging route to obtain what has been rightfully declared hers. As said by Rhaenys Targaryen, “Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.”
However, when it comes to Daenerys, who was developed throughout Game of Thrones, and practically had to start from scratch; the very rock bottom: the road was much longer, more painstaking, and met with a much more tragic end – what she truly ever desired and fought for slipped away; all for nothing.
Game of Thrones: The Tragic Tale of Daenerys Targaryen
When it comes to arguably one of the most well-liked characters from the franchise, there is perhaps a reason why fans have never-seeming-to-cease respect and admiration for Daenerys Targaryen. It is also the reason why the end she was met with is hands-down the most unfortunate event to have been witnessed in media history. Over the seasons of Game of Thrones, the much-acclaimed predecessor to the latest House of the Dragon, people saw the growth of Daenerys; her character transition – spanning from a mere pawn in the political world of the franchise to a formidable, intelligent, and strategic contender of the Iron Throne.
Even in the aftermath of Season 8, people were distraught over the end of the tragic character; who began as the heroic protector of her people, the nurturing Mother of Dragons, and the sacrificial, and valiant claimant of the crown. However, it soon spiraled down to what culminated in the finale of the series: an unfortunate twist.
The betrayal suffered by her character will be a moment remembered by all. But the years of development, the years of narrative, and the efforts truly put behind Daenerys reveal the most important detail about her – she had to slowly build herself up throughout the seasons; she was merely a claimant, not a declared heir.
Two Targaryen Women Through Time
This is not a matter of who had it the worst, who is more deserving of the title, or who is the better character in general. The two, as claimed by actress Milly Alcock, are similar in their “fundamental morals as people”. However, their approach, the path they ought to take, and the way they move around the world – are beyond any grounds for comparison. It would also be quite unfair to compare two strong characters, and decide on a perfect and absolute answer; the two have different elements to contribute to the franchise, through the overarching narrative and their character arcs.
However, when it comes to Daenerys – the audience was allowed a closer character inspection; an opportunity that Rhaenyra is yet to delve deep into. Therefore, while Rhaenyra holds a lot of promise, it wouldn’t make sense for her path to the claim of the Iron Throne to be compared with Daenerys. While the former had a legacy of her own, Rhaenyra, too, can have one on her own accord.
The future would be much kinder in telling us what is yet to come for Rhaenyra Targaryen.
House of the Dragon premieres new episodes every Sunday on HBO Max.