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This page is about the dragon. For other uses, see: Balerion (disambiguation)

"Balerion was the last living creature to have seen Old Valyria before the Doom."
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]

Balerion, known as the Black Dread, was the dragon ridden by Aegon the Conqueror during Aegon's Conquest. He was so large, it was said his shadow could swallow an entire town when he took flight.[2][3]

Biography[]

Background[]

Burning of Harrenhal closeup

Balerion melts the towers of Harrenhal.

Balerion roasts Harrenhal

Aegon unleashes Balerion against Harrenhal.

HL5 Balerion burns Sept of Remembrance 1

Balerion burns the Sept of Remembrance.

Balerion, named for one of the Old Gods of Valyria, was no bigger than a horse when Daenys Targaryen claimed him. When she went to sleep that night, she dreamt of the Doom that would befall Valyria twelve years later.[4]

Balerion became Aegon the Conqueror's mount during the Century of Blood, and they participated in destroying the Volantene fleet in Lys.[5] During the War of the Conquest, Balerion was employed by Aegon to burn and half-ruin Harrenhal, which resulted in the extinction of House Hoare and the ascension of House Tully as Lord Paramount of the Trident.[6] Upon the climactic battle of the Field of Fire, Balerion, alongside the dragons of Aegon's sisters, Vhagar and Meraxes, participated in the destruction of the largest army ever fielded against them. The outcome of the battle was the extinction of House Gardener and the respective ascensions of House Tyrell and House Lannister as Wardens of the South and the West.[7] Following Aegon's coronation as King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm, Balerion used his fiery breath to melt the swords of his rider's defeated enemies and forge them into the Iron Throne.[8] Aegon would also deploy Balerion in burning several castles across Dorne throughout the First Dornish War alongside Visenya and Vhagar to avenge the deaths of Rhaenys and Meraxes.[9]

During the uprising of the Faith Militant, Aegon and Visenya's son, Maegor the Cruel, mounted Balerion and burned down the Sept of Remembrance with hundreds of members of the Faith Militant inside.[10] Following the destruction of the sept, Maegor would replace its ruins with the Dragonpit to house Balerion and the other Targaryen dragons.[11] When Maegor's nephew, Prince Aegon Targaryen, attempted to claim the Iron Throne from his uncle, Maegor mounted Balerion to kill Aegon and his dragon Quicksilver during the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye.[12]

Years before his accession to the throne, Prince Viserys Targaryen bonded with and rode Balerion. Viserys would be the last Targaryen to bond with Balerion, as the dragon died of old age not long after.[13] Following Balerion's death, Vhagar would grow to rival him in size.[5]

House of the Dragon: Season 1[]

Balerion's skull is kept on a pedestal and surrounded by candles.[1]

Game of Thrones: Season 1[]

Balerion is one of the dragons mentioned by Viserys as he bathes with Doreah in Vaes Dothrak.[2]

Game of Thrones: Season 2[]

It is mentioned in a conversation between Tywin and Arya that Aegon's dragon (without specifying his name) participated in Aegon's Conquest.[3]

Game of Thrones: Season 3[]

While Shireen is teaching Davos to read, she suggests reading about Balerion, and states that his fangs were as long as bastard swords.[14]

Game of Thrones: Season 7[]

Cersei Stormborn ep

Cersei views Balerion's skull.

Balerion's skull is seen in the cellars of the Red Keep when Cersei and Qyburn visit. The skull is massive, especially when compared to Cersei and it is clearly larger than Drogon's head. They use the skull to test a new weapon designed to defend against Daenerys's dragons, the scorpion. It shoots a bolt that goes right through the skull.[15]

The skull is also seen again behind Tyrion during his meeting with Jaime to arrange the Dragonpit Summit.[16]

Game of Thrones: Season 8[]

Balerion's skull is once again seen in the cellars of the Red Keep, when Cersei and Jaime pass by it in an attempt to escape the Red Keep during the Battle of King's Landing.[17] The ancient skull is shown to have been significantly damaged, with the snout having been broken off from the rest of the head.[18]

Quotes[]

Spoken about Balerion[]

"...and Balerion the Dread, whose fire forged the Seven Kingdoms into one."
Viserys Targaryen to Doreah.[src]
Tywin: "Harren the Black thought this castle would be his legacy. The greatest fortress ever built... the tallest towers, the strongest walls. The great hall had thirty-five hearths. Thirty-five! Can you imagine? Look at it now... a blasted ruin. Do you know what happened?"
Arya: "Dragons?"
Tywin: "Yes, dragons happened."
Tywin Lannister and Arya Stark.[src]
Shireen: "My books are better than these boring scrolls. You could read about Balerion the Dread. They say you can still see his skull in the dungeons beneath the Red Keep. I'd like to see that someday."
Davos: "I've been trying to stay out of those dungeons my whole life."
Shireen: "His fangs were as long as bastard swords."
Davos: "Aye, old Balerion's definitely better than anything your cousin Rylene's got on offer."
Shireen Baratheon and Davos Seaworth.[src]
"Balerion the Dread, the beast that Aegon rode across the sea. His flames forged the Iron Throne and brought the Seven Kingdoms to heel. Powerful... but not invincible."
Qyburn to Cersei Lannister.[src]
"While the ironborn were ringing the battlements, Aegon drove his dragon Balerion higher and higher in the night sky, so that even the great castle of Harrenhal looked like an anthill below them. Then they plunged straight into the castle, well inside the guarded walls. The five towers of Harrenhal reached towards Aegon like a hand. Balerion opened his mouth and bathed all the fingers in flame."
Viserys Targaryen[src]
"The stone didn't burn, but as Balerion blasted it with fire, it glowed white-hot. The world's greatest castle became the world's greatest oven, baking the last of House Hoare within it."
Euron Greyjoy[src]
"There are times when I would rather face the Black Dread himself than mine own daughter of fifteen."
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]

In the books[]

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Balerion was the last surviving dragon from Valyria. When the Targaryens resettled on Dragonstone to escape the coming Doom of Valyria, they took five dragons with them, but four of these (whose names are not mentioned) later died, leaving only Balerion. However, the other dragons did leave behind eggs, from which hatched Meraxes and Vhagar. He was named after a Valyrian god.

Balerion would have been only about a dozen or so years old when the Doom of Valyria occurred, very much still a juvenile.

Aegon personally used Balerion to burn out Harrenhal. Balerion destroyed the castle all by himself, as the other two dragons were away fighting other campaigns. He then took part in the Field of Fire alongside Vhagar and Meraxes.

After Aegon I died, Balerion bonded with his second son Maegor, known as "Maegor the Cruel". His first son Aenys succeeded Aegon upon his death, but Aenys had already bonded to the dragon Quicksilver. Maegor refused to attempt to bond with any dragon in his youth, intentionally waiting until his father died and Balerion was available for a new rider - feeling that he was worthy of nothing less than riding Balerion himself. Shortly after bonding with Balerion, Maegor took him to the Vale of Arryn to suppress the rebellion of Jonos Arryn, who had deposed and murdered his elder brother Ronnel in a bid to regain the Vale's independence. Aware the Eyrie's position would not save it from Harrenhal's fate, Jonos' co-conspirators betrayed and murdered him by way of the Moon Door, then surrendered in the hopes of gaining mercy; Maegor instead had them all executed. When Maegor was exiled to Pentos for his illegal second marriage to Alys Harroway, he took Balerion with him. Balerion would return to Westeros with Maegor when his mother Visenya summoned him back to claim the crown following Aenys's death.

Maegor made extensive use of Balerion in attempting to suppress the Faith Militant uprising, including burning hundreds of members of the Faith Militant when he destroyed the Sept of Remembrance in King's Landing. He also participated in the major battle at the Great Fork of the Blackwater, albeit the rebels intentionally attacked during a heavy rainstorm so Balerion would have difficulty flying.

After Maegor's death and the ascension of Jaehaerys I, Balerion remained riderless for several years, residing alongside a riderless Vhagar and the other Targaryen dragons in the yards of Dragonstone while construction of the Dragonpit continued in King's Landing. When the seat was given over to Queen Rhaena Targaryen, King Jaehaerys's widowed sister, by the King's order, the dragons became the constant companions of the queen's daughter Aerea Targaryen. Aerea had been raised for most of her years in King's Landing, first as the acknowledged heir of King Maegor and then of King Jaehaerys, and she had loved the attention lavished on her as a queen-in-waiting. After her mother had asked for her to be placed in her care, Aerea was moved to Dragonstone where she grew miserable with the lack of attention and failed to get on with her mother. After the birth of King Jaehaerys's first children and the failure of a promise from Good Queen Alysanne to return the girl to the capital, Aerea fled to the yards where she claimed her first dragon; no less a mount that Balerion himself. The princess and the dragon fled Dragonstone, not to be seen again for a whole year. Rumors of a beast haunting the hills of Andalos, of a great fire in the Disputed Lands of Essos and a dragon fighting in the fighting pits of Astapor reached the agents of the Iron Throne in the east, but none were believed by the Red Keep as being Balerion. A year after their disappearance, Balerion and Aerea returned to Westeros, landing in the courtyard of the Red Keep one day that would long be remembered. Aerea returned gaunt and emaciated, and was afflicted with something that neither the Grand Maester nor Septon Barth had ever seen before, an infestation of worm-like creatures which had been roasting the girl from within, causing smoke to emerge from every orifice, including her mouth and nose and charring her skin like roasting pork crackling. Even as she lay suffering, she muttered of the terrible things she witnessed to Septon Barth and the Grand Maester, who never spoke of them in later years out of pure horror at what she'd faced. Only plunging her in a bath of freezing water was able to end the creatures, but it didn't save her, as her eyes boiled and burst and she died quickly afterwards As worrying as the creatures had been, something else had terrified the court even more: Balerion, the greatest of the Targaryen dragons, had been wounded, and bore a great bleeding gash roughly nine feet long across his neck. The last time Balerion had faced a beast similar to himself in combat had been Quicksilver at the Battle Beneath the God's Eye, and he had made short work of the smaller dragon.

Where Balerion, Aerea and the creatures had come from was never known, but one theory continued to dominate the minds of those who had seen the affliction that had killed the princess and wounded the Black Dread: Septon Barth, King Jaehaerys's Hand, wrote an account claiming that the only place such things could have been found was in the smoking ruins of Valyria. Many had believed that Aerea had been the one to lead Balerion away but now the theory had been born that it had been the dragon that had taken the girl away. The Black Dread had been one of the five dragons taken by House Targaryen when they had fled Valyria for Dragonstone, and the only one who had survived to see the Conquest. This made Balerion the only creature to have witnessed Valyria at its height. Barth believed that the dragon had flown back to his homeland, taking the Targaryen princess with him. The creatures, and whatever had attacked Balerion, were most likely spawns of the sorceries the Valyrians had unleashed in their prime, or creatures born of the Doom that had claimed their civilization. Despite their lack of proof regarding Balerion and Aerea's destination, King Jaehaerys and his advisors were sufficiently worried about the aberrations that had killed Aerea Targaryen that they forbade any ship that sailed into Valyria from landing in the Seven Kingdoms, and made it punishable by death for Westerosi citizens to travel to Valyria and attempt to return.

Balerion lived to just over two centuries old. After Aerea Targaryen's death, he became the first dragon to be housed in the Dragonpit, where he remained for most of the Old King's reign. None claimed the Black Dread again until Jaehaerys's grandson, the future King Viserys I. By this time, Balerion had ceased to grow and was weakened by old age. When Viserys claimed him, he struggled to rise and could only fly around the city three times before returning to the Dragonpit. A year later, Balerion the Black Dread passed of old age, leaving Vhagar as the only surviving dragon from the time of Aegon's Conquest.

Balerion was the greatest Targaryen dragon who ever lived, the largest since the fall of Valyria. Dragons keep growing for their entire lives, meaning that Balerion was even larger during the Faith Militant uprising. Only Vhagar ever managed to approach Balerion in size, but only many years after his death. Vhagar was the youngest of the original three Targaryen dragons and therefore was not as large as the others. By the time of the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons in 130 AC, however, Vhagar was approaching two hundred years in age, and had become nearly as large as Balerion during Aegon's Conquest. During the Dance, Vhagar's body core was said to be about five times larger than a war horse, meaning that Balerion was somewhat bigger than this. Balerion's skull was the largest in the collection of 19 dragon skulls that the Targaryens displayed in the Red Keep.

Balerion apparently mated with both Vhagar and Meraxes, though the exact lineage of subsequent Targaryen dragons has not yet been directly stated.

Balerion was colored black (hence his sobriquet of "The Black Dread"). Even his wings were black. Generations later, soon after Daenerys's dragons hatch, the resemblance between Drogon to Balerion makes the bloodrider Aggo say amazingly "There sits Balerion, come again". Daenerys answers it may be so, but gives him a new name for his new life.

Rhaenys Targaryen had a black kitten she named "Balerion" after the mighty dragon.

In homage to Balerion, Daenerys renames one of the ships Illyrio Mopatis sent her after him.

George R.R. Martin stated that if he could ride a dragon, he'd choose Balerion.[19]

Appearances[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 1: "The Heirs of the Dragon" (2022).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Game of Thrones: Season 1, Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things" (2011).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Game of Thrones: Season 2, Episode 7: "A Man Without Honor" (2012).
  4. House of the Dragon: The House That Dragons Built: Season 2, Episode 1: "Episode 1" (2024).
  5. 5.0 5.1 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 6: "The Princess and the Queen" (2022).
  6. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms, Chapter 3: "House Hoare, Ironborn Kings of the Riverlands" (2017).
  7. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms, Chapter 5: "House Lannister, Kings of the Rock & House Gardener, Kings of the Reach" (2017).
  8. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms, Chapter 8: "Aegon, First of His Name" (2017).
  9. Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms, Chapter 9: "House Martell, Princes of Dorne" (2017).
  10. Histories & Lore: Season 5, Short 2: "The Faith Militant" (2016).
  11. Histories & Lore: Season 7, Short 1: "The Dragonpit" (2017).
  12. Histories & Lore: Season 8, Short 6: "Maegor the Cruel" (2019).
  13. House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 2: "The Rogue Prince" (2022).
  14. Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 10: "Mhysa" (2013).
  15. Game of Thrones: Season 7, Episode 2: "Stormborn" (2017).
  16. Game of Thrones: Season 7, Episode 5: "Eastwatch" (2017).
  17. Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 5: "The Bells" (2019).
  18. Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 6: "The Iron Throne" (2019).
  19. So Spake Martin, August 08, 2019

Notes[]

  1. "Episode 1" of House of the Dragon: The House That Dragons Built: Season 2 shows a prop book revealing that Balerion, no bigger than a horse at the time, was claimed by Daenys Targaryen the night before her prophetic vision, meaning he must have hatched before 114 BC.

External links[]


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