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House Of The Dragon: Who Wins The Targaryen Civil War In The Books?

Likely contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 and beyond

The Dance of the Dragons kicks off at the end of "House of the Dragon" Season 1 with the death of Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), but the real action starts in Season 2. With the Targaryen civil war about to burst into full chaos and bloodshed on HBO, many fans may be wondering who will be left standing when the dragon fires burn out. Since the "Game of Thrones" prequel series is also based on a book — George R.R. Martin's "Fire and Blood" — we can predict a lot of what may happen through the rest of the show. There are bound to be some divergences from the source material, as "House of the Dragon" Season 1 already changed some things from "Fire and Blood," but the gist of the war will likely stay the same.

It shouldn't be shocking to learn that there are no real winners in the Dance of the Dragons. Westeros and its people are the real losers when war engulfs the realm, but neither Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) and her Blacks or Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and her Greens really get what they want by the end of the book.

Rhaenyra's Blacks win, but only nominally

Pretty much every major character we've met so far in "House of the Dragon" dies by the end of "Fire and Blood." Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best) falls after a dragon duel with King Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) and his brother Aemond (Ewan Mitchell). As the war rages, it also claims Rhaenyra's son Jacaerys (Harry Collett) and whiny incel Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), among others.

Late in the war, Rhaenyra manages to take King's Landing while a wounded Aegon II retreats to Dragonstone. Aemond and his massive dragon, Vhagar, the Greens' greatest weapon, are defeated by Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) in a battle that also claims Daemon's life. Rhaenyra and her and Daemon's young son, also named Aegon (and known as Aegon the Younger), are captured by Aegon II, and Rhaenyra is put to death, fed to her enemy's dragon, Sunfyre.

Upon his own return to King's Landing with Aegon the Younger as a hostage, Aegon II realizes that his own forces are depleted, but he refuses to yield. In "Fire and Blood," the king is killed by an anonymous poisoner, and forces led by Rhaneyra's remaining supporters take the city and instill Aegon the Younger on the throne. A council of advisors rules in the young king's stead for a number of years until he comes of age, at which point he cements Rhaenyra's bloodline as the winner of the war. But while the Blacks ultimately claim victory, they lose as much as the Greens in the end.

How the Dance of the Dragons ends

Before Aegon II's death, he faces the major threat of an army marching south led by Lord Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor), one of Rhaenyra's allies. Aegon is poisoned before Cregan arrives, but the Lord of Winterfell then makes his presence felt in the city, effectively making himself Hand of the King to Aegon the Younger. In this role, Cregan presides over a series of trials, condemning those remaining who played a role in the final bloodshed of the war. This short period of Cregan's rule is referred to in "Fire and Blood" as the Hour of the Wolf. After fulfilling his loyalties and seeing Aegon the Younger properly seated on the throne, Cregan returns to the North.

It's a hollow victory, all told. Rhaenyra and Daemon are both dead, along with most of their children and many other Targaryens. The countryside of Westeros is devastated by war and dragonfire, and the Dance of the Dragons ends during a brutal winter, which claims additional lives. The Targaryen dynasty continues, but far weaker than it was before. And perhaps most tragic of all, the war claims the lives of nearly every known dragon.

The real losers are the dragons themselves

Most of the active dragons during the civil war die alongside their riders. Meleys falls with Princess Rhaenys, Sunfyre succumbs to prior injuries after eating Rhaenyra, and Vhagar and Caraxes die during the duel between Aemond and Daemon.

Near the end of the war, fed up with all the killing and outraged at both sides, a mob of King's Landing commonfolk storms the Dragonpit and kills the four dragons still kept inside: Shrykos, Morghul, Tyraxes, and Dreamfyre. Rhaenyra's own dragon, Syrax, also dies during the attack. It's one of the most powerful moments recounted in "Fire and Blood," and it symbolically marks the Targaryen dynasty's decline, which began at the start of the war.

"House of the Dragon" Season 2 won't reach all of these dramatic moments, but the show seems to be a shoo-in for continued renewal. It may take a few years to tell the full story, but fans have a lot to look forward to if the show stays loyal to "Fire and Blood."