Tower of the Hand

ConQuesT 44 report: Aegon's Conquest reading

5/27/2013 5:55:02 PM ET

Editor's note: George R. R. Martin attended ConQuesT 44 this weekend in Kansas City and participated in two panel discussions. Pharout attended both sessions and she has kindly shared with us her reports. Below is a detailed summary of GRRM's reading from his forthcoming history book, The World of Ice and Fire.

Aegon's Conquest

A summary of a reading by George R. R. Martin from his upcoming The World of Ice and Fire on Saturday, May 25, 2013, at ConQuesT 44 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Written by a Maester "Glyndon"

Begins with a treatise on dates/timing in Westeros detailing A.C (after the Conquest) and B.C. (before the Conquest) and that such is arbitrary, since the conquest did not happen in one day, nor was it complete at the time that is the touchstone for that date - Aegon's coronation in the Starry Sept at Oldtown. The bulk of the conquest actually took place from 2-1 B.C.

The Targaryens were families of dragonlords from Old Valyria. About twelve years before the Doom, Aenar Targaryen sold all his holdings in Valyria and moved to Dragonstone.

His daughter Daenys had a dream foretelling the Doom. However, there were always two rival families of dragonlords in Valyria, and the uprooting of the Targaryens was always looked upon as capitulation.

The Targaryens were not the only Valyrian family in Westeros - the Celtigars and Velaryons (and Masseys?) had holds on the mainland near Dragonstone, and the families made their living controlling shipping and trade in the area.

Aenar's son, Gaemon married Daenys the Dreamer. (quick details of their descendants followed - I counted 4 -6 generations, about 200 years till Aegon)

Aegon Targaryen was born in 27 B.C. Per family/Valyrian custom he married his sister, but flaunted this tradition by actually marrying both his sisters. His description was "Rhaegarish" to my hearing - more studious and serious, but adequately skilled as a warrior. He was stern and swift in answer to those who disrespected him, but was openhanded to those who bent their knee.

Visenya was older than Aegon. She was noted to be stern and serious, with an austere beauty. She was a warrior through and through and was rumored to have dabbled in poisons and dark sorcery. She had a Valyrian steel sword named Dark Sister. If Aegon had held to tradition, she would have been his only bride.

Rhaenys was younger than Aegon. She is described as a true beauty, coquettish in her demeanor and typically girlish in her interests. But she could FLY! She reported that her greatest desire was to fly west beyond the Sunset Sea to find the mysteries there. It is rumored that she took other lovers when Aegon was with Visenya, but it was also noted that Aegon spent ten nights with her for every one spent with Visenya.

Some say the beginning of the conquest was the first time Aegon set foot on the mainland of Westeros, but there are histories detailing the sisters' visits to the Redwynes, and possibly time that Aegon spent in Lannisport.

Of the seven kings of Westeros, the most important to the story's beginning are Argilac Durrendon, the Storm King, and Harren Hoare (Harren the Black) of the Iron Islands and the Riverlands. The kingdom of the Stormlands had been depleted through the years via conflicts with Dorne, Highgarden and finally Harren the Black. King Argilac hoped to form an alliance against Harren and create a barrier between the two kingdoms by offering the hand of his daughter in marriage to Aegon and offering certain buffer lands to him as her dowry.

Aegon did not wish to take a third wife, but saw some merit in the alliance. He countered that his lifelong friend, baseborn Orys Baratheon, would be a worthy husband who would be able to protect the princess and the lands that came in the marriage.

Argilac was insulted. He cut the hands off (the envoy?) and placed them in a box. It was returned to Aegon with the message, "These are the only hands you shall have of me!"

Aegon closeted himself on Dragonstone with his wives, his friend Orys Baratheon, and his close allies, Velaryon, Celtigar, and Massey. After a time he issued a proclamation:

"To the Seven Kings (of Westeros?), the Citadel of Oldtown (and the Faith of the Seven?):"

Aegon declared himself king and named his small council:

  • Lord Velaryon - Master of Ships
  • Lord Massey - Master of Laws
  • Lord Celtigar - Master of Coin
  • Lord Baratheon - "my good right hand in matters great and small," or the first Hand of the King

They landed near the mouth of the Blackwater Rush at a site with (#?) hills, which had been claimed by many kingdoms, but never successfully settled. He built a wooden palisade on top of one of the hills and it was named the Aegonfort.

What became known as the Crownlands quickly fell to the conquering king, namely Rosby, Stokeworth and Duskendale, and their lords were welcomed into the fold. Aegon was crowned by Visenya at the Aegonfort.

Visenya took her dragon Vhagar north along the coast and conquered Gulltown, (?), and Maidenpool. At the time, Maidenpool was the major trade harbor and Visenya spared the town for that reason. Lord Velaryon died at Gulltown. Visenya continued into the Vale.

Aegon crossed the Blackwater and continued north to Harrenhal with Balerion the Dread. Balerion was the largest of the dragons, and the oldest, having been hatched in Valyria.

Black Harren was known to be cruel and dismissive of his subjects. Lord Edmund Tully of Riverrun rebelled against his liege lord and joined his forces to the Targaryen cause. Others of the Riverlands followed swiftly.

At Harrenhal, Aegon proffered a parlay, and promised that if he bent the knee, he could withdraw to the Iron Islands and remain lord of them. Harren refused, despite the threat of dragons, saying, "Harrenhal is build of stone, and stone doesn't burn."

Harren manned the high walks with archers. Having no daughters of his own, he offered the hand of the daughter of one of his rebellious lords to the "Dragonslayer."

Aegon flew high into the sky and was seen as only a pinpoint. With a swift dive, fire was raining down upon the castle before they were in range as a target. "No - stone does not burn, but wood and wool and casks of dried beef do, as do men." (an inexact quote, but a close facsimile of George's beautiful writing.) It is said that the towers of Harrenhal glowed red that night. Harren and all his sons perished and House Hoare was extinguished from the world.

Edmund Tully was raised to Lord Paramount of the Trident. The swords of the fallen were gathered and placed on a boat and sent downriver to the Aegonfort.

Rhaenys and Orys Baratheon were sent to the Stormlands. Early in the conflict, Argilac's holding were harassed by pirates and Dorne took advantage of the instability.

After hearing of Harrenhal, Argilac opted to not hold up in Storm's End and met Orys Baratheon in battle. Poetically, the battle that would become known as the "Last Storm" was marked by a severe rain. The Stormlands army fought valiantly against the weather, mud and low ground position and broke through the lines, only to face Rhaenys and Meraxes.

Argilac asked and was granted single combat against Orys and was killed.

His daughter Argella held Storm's End and declared herself the Storm Queen. She would not bend the knee. However, her guardsmen were less resolved and delivered her naked to Orys Baratheon's tent.

Orys wrapped her in his own cloak, gave her a cup of wine, and spoke gently to her of her father's valiant fight and death. She agreed to become his wife, and he took the Durrendon house words "Ours is the Fury" and the crowned stag sigil as his own.

Meanwhile in the Vale, Queen Sharra Arryn, regent for little King Ronnel, offered herself as a third wife for Aegon, and sent their army to the Bloody Gate.

Mern Gardener, King of the Reach and Loren Lannister, King of the Rock joined the forces for the South and the West, and marched north against Aegon. Aegon came south and was joined by his sisters. Despite being outnumbered five to one, the Targaryen forces formed a crescent of pikeman, archers and light cavalry. The three dragons took to the air and rained fire down on their foes. Aided by the extremely dry conditions, the battle became known as the Field of Fire. House Gardener was extinguished, but Loren Lannister escaped. Eventually he was found and he capitulated to King Aegon. Again the swords of the fallen were gathered and sent to the Aegonfort.

Aegon marched on Highgarden, where he found a steward named Tyrell, who yielded the castle. He was rewarded with a lordship and the title Lord Paramount of the Mander.

Word was received that King Torrhen Stark had crossed the Neck with a force half again as large as the Targaryens, and Aegon once again moved north. Their forces were stopped on either side of a river (?). Torrhen's bastard brother(?), Brandon Snow volunteered to cross the river under cover of darkness to kill the dragon. He was sent across the river, but with three maesters to treat with the conquering king. The next morning, Torrhen knelt and was raised up again as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. The Northmen kept their swords.

Aegon declined Sharra Arryn's offer of marriage and the Targaryen army began to move against the Eyrie. While the Queen Regent was away seeing to fortifications of the Stone, Snow and Sky gates, Visenya landed Vhagar in the courtyard of the Eyrie. Sharra returned to the throne room to find her son sitting on the queen's knee. He asked, "Mother, may I fly with the pretty lady?" No other threat was spoken or implied. Sharra Arryn gathered the three crowns - her son's small one, her dead husband's and her own and gave them over to Queen Visenya.

Rhaenys rode Meraxes into Dorne, landing first in Vaith(?). There she found only women, children and old men. When she inquired where the warriors went, the only answer was "Away." She found the same at a second location, and then at Planky Town on the Greenblood. Finally she landed at Sunspear, where she met Princess Myriah(sp?) Martell, who was 80 years old, blind, fat and balding. King Argilac had named her "The Yellow Toad of Dorne."

Again there were no warriors. Rhaenys questioned the princess, making several threats as well. Myriah answered in fine Dornish fashion, which I frankly enjoyed too much to take proper notes. Short story: Rhaenys said yield, Myriah said no. As we know, it is many, many years before Dorne is "conquered."

And finally, Aegon went to Oldtown, to find that Lord Hightower had opened the city gates wide for him. The High Septon, upon hearing that Aegon was approaching, fasted and prayed for seven days and nights and was granted a vision from the Crone that they should not resist. If the High Septon hadn't come through, I believe I recall that a Hightower daughter would have been yet another bride offered to Aegon.

King Aegon was anointed and crowned again in the Starry Sept at Oldtown. It was thought that he would make Oldtown his capital, but instead he chose to build a city near the mouth of the Blackwater Rush, where he landed at the start of the Conquest. The captured swords were bent and shaped into what became known as the Iron Throne.

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