The Targaryens take what is theirs with Fire and Blood.

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So, it should come as no surprise that the legendary fallen house during the times of Game of Thrones was once at the height of its powers and also helped to destroy itself through a bloody war.

In the new prequel series House of the Dragon, we begin our story during the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) as he hopes for a male heir with his wife Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke).

The pair already have a daughter in the form of the 'Realm's Delight', Princess Rhaenyra Targayren (Milly Alcock and Emma D'Arcy), but many expect Viserys's controversial brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) to be named as his heir in the absence of a son.

However, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King, has other plans – and they involve his daughter, Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke).

This all leads us to the Dance of the Dragons – but what exactly does this mean?

**Spoilers for the book Fire and Blood and House of the Dragon ahead**

What is the Dance of the Dragons? House of the Dragon war explained

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon. Ollie Upton / HBO

House of the Dragon depicts a civil war that breaks out between factions within House Targaryen over who is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

The civil war is dubbed the 'Dance of the Dragons' due to the clashing of Targaryens and their dragon steeds.

King Viserys I Targaryen himself was chosen as the heir to his grandfather King Jaehaerys in a Great Council, which saw him favoured over his female cousin, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen.

The divisive prospect of Viserys's roguish brother Prince Daemon Targaryen being named heir to the Iron Throne in the absence of Viserys having a male heir led to a bold move from the king.

At the urging of Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King, Viserys chose to name his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen as heir to the throne, bestowing her the title of Princess of Dragonstone and making the lords of the realm swear to honour this proclamation and honour Rhaenyra.

However, following the death of King Viserys's wife Queen Aemma Arryn in childbirth, he goes on to take a younger bride in the form of Ser Otto's daughter, Lady Alicent Hightower.

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower and Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon. HBO

In the book Fire and Blood and the series, the marriage proves fruitful and Alicent gives birth to multiple healthy children – including legitimate male offspring.

Despite this, Viserys never recognises any other heir to the Iron Throne than his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra.

Naturally, two factions soon begin to emerge, in the book, one dubbed the 'Blacks' who defend Princess Rhaenyra's interests and those of her children, and the other dubbed the 'Greens' who defend the interests of Queen Alicent Hightower's children.

The colours in the book came from a frosty tourney held at the fifth anniversary of King Viserys and Queen Alicent's marriage, where Queen Alicent wore a green gown and Princess Rhaenyra wore the Targaryen colours of black and red. Their supporters then went on to match these colours to show their allegiance at court.

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These disagreements soon come to tear the royal family apart and spark a bloody war that lasts years and leaves many of them and their dragons dead.

Who would reign at the end of the war? Would it be Queen Rhaenyra I Targaryen or her half-brother King Aegon II Targaryen?

In fact, the Game of Thrones series already spoiled one of the biggest deaths in House of the Dragon back in its third season.

**Major spoilers for House of the Dragon**

Jack Gleeson as King Joffrey Baratheon and Natalie Dormer as Lady Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones season 3 episode 4
Jack Gleeson as King Joffrey Baratheon and Natalie Dormer as Lady Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones season 3 episode 4 HBO/DAMIEN ELLIOTT

In the episode, And Now His Watch Is Ended, King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) gives his bride-to-be Lady Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) a tour of the Great Sept of Baelor.

While there, Joffrey shows her the tomb of Rhaenyra Targaryen herself, having died over a century earlier.

Joffrey reveals: "Rhaenyra Targaryen was murdered by her brother - or rather his dragon. It ate her while her son watched. What's left of her is buried in the crypts right down there."

The murderous brother refers to her half-brother Aegon II Targaryen, the son of King Viserys I Targaryen and his second wife, Queen Alicent Hightower.

However, we will have to wait and see whether House of the Dragon depicts events in this way or if Joffrey has been influenced by who wrote the history he read.

House of the Dragon airs on Sky Atlantic and is available on NOW. Check out more of our Fantasy coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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