|Although this article is based on canonical information, the actual name of this subject is pure conjecture.
Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros was a military effort to conquer the Seven Kingdoms and seize the Iron Throne of Westeros. The war for Westeros ended in victory for Daenerys, but at a great cost of innocent lives.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Prelude
- 1.2 Opening moves
- 1.3 The White Walkers
- 1.4 The Iron Throne
- 1.5 Aftermath
- 2 Legacy
- 3 Combatants
- 4 In the books
- 5 See also
- 6 References
For nearly three centuries since the War of Conquest, the Targaryen dynasty ruled the unified Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. However, the reign of King Aerys II Targaryen, nicknamed the Mad King for his insanity and cruelty, was challenged in the form of Robert's Rebellion. Ultimately, the rebellion saw a rebel victory with Prince Rhaegar's death at the Battle of the Trident and the Mad King's death during the Sack of King's Landing; only the young Prince Viserys and newborn Princess Daenerys survived due to their smuggling across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cities of Essos by loyalists. Robert was crowned king.
Robert's death threw the realm into chaos as civil war erupted in the form of the massive War of the Five Kings. Robert's two brothers, Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon, laid claim to the Iron Throne on the basis that Cersei's children were bastards born of incest with her brother Jaime. Meanwhile, Robb Stark, who had been proclaimed the King in the North, led an independence movement for the North and the Riverlands. Balon Greyjoy once more led an independence movement for the Iron Islands, declaring himself the Iron King.
Each king eventually fell from battle, massacre, or murder. House Lannister now controlled the throne in all but name.
Dorne formed an alliance with the resurgent House Targaryen, now led by Daenerys, who had three dragons and built up a massive army. Olenna Tyrell joined this alliance, seeking justice for the deaths of her son, Mace Tyrell, and her grandchildren at Cersei's hand. Yara Greyjoy and Theon Greyjoy, with 100 stolen ships of the Iron Fleet and their faction of loyal ironborn, also formed a pact with Daenerys Targaryen to depose their uncle, Euron Greyjoy.
Elsewhere in the North, the Battle of the Bastards saw the restoration of House Stark, where Jon Snow, the alleged bastard son of Eddard Stark, was proclaimed the new King in the North. In actuality, however, Jon is the legitimate son of Eddard's sister, Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen, and thus is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
For the first time since her storm-ridden birth, Daenerys sets foot on Westerosi ground on the beaches of the ancestral castle-island of House Targaryen, and begins planning the invasion and reconquest of the Seven Kingdoms. In response, Cersei invites King Euron Greyjoy to King's Landing to propose an alliance with him. Euron pressures her to marry him to solidify a potential alliance between the Lannisters and the Greyjoys, but Cersei declines; Euron vows to make Cersei change her mind by bringing her a priceless gift, and leaves with the Iron Fleet to fulfill his promise.
Daenerys sends Yara and Theon to Dorne with Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes, so that they can consolidate the Dornish armies and gather the Dornish fleet to besiege King's Landing. In the meantime, she sends her own fleet and her Unsullied led by Grey Worm to conquer Casterly Rock, the ancestral home of House Lannister.
The Targaryen-Greyjoy fleet is ambushed and defeated on the way to Dorne by Euron. Obara Sand and Nymeria Sand are among the casualties, while Ellaria, Tyene Sand and Yara are taken captive, and Theon escapes.
Euron eventually returns to King's Landing. He presents Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei as a gift, who declares to the gathered court that with his fleet, they will be able to come together and defeat the daughter of the Mad King.
While meeting with Jon, the King in the North, to negotiate an alliance, Varys informs Daenerys that Yara Greyjoy and the Sand Snakes have been captured with their fleet smashed. Nonetheless, Tyrion proceeds with his plan: the Fall of Casterly Rock. The Unsullied army seize to the castle.
Having lost most of her allies, as well as a significant chunk of her fleet, Daenerys decides to take matters into her own hands.
The combined Lannister-Tarly army is on its way back to King's Landing, taking with them a massive supply convoy. The gold reserves of Highgarden are successfully sent ahead to King's Landing in secret, as Cersei intends to use them to pay off her debts to the Iron Bank of Braavos, enabling her to hire the Golden Company (the largest sellsword company in Essos) to help enforce her authority.
The survivors of the battle, including Randyll and his son, Dickon Tarly, are captured and presented a choice by Daenerys: they can bend the knee and join her in building a better world or die. The majority of the surviving soldiers submit, but Randyll and his son choose death and are executed by dragonfire.
The Battle at the Goldroad undid nearly all the advantages Cersei gained from her previous victories; her armies have been severely reduced and much of the food supplies she needs for the siege have been destroyed, while her allied House Tarly has been effectively put out of the war. Daenerys finally has exhibited the power of her dragons in full force and gained a foothold on the Westeros mainland. Presumably, with the remains of Jaime's army having bent the knee, her Unsullied would be able to link up with the Dothraki and march on King's Landing.
The White Walkers
Jaime, having been rescued from drowning in the Blackwater Rush by Bronn, manages to return to King's Landing and inform Cersei of the defeat. Jaime pleads for Cersei to negotiate, but she resolves to fight on.
When Jon receives a message from Bran that the Army of the Dead is marching toward Eastwatch, he says he must return North to prepare their defenses and asks again for Daenerys's help. However, Daenerys is worried that Cersei will take advantage and march back in while they deal with the Army of the Dead. Tyrion proposes a plan that they provide Cersei with proof that the Army of the Dead is real, by showing her a wight as evidence.
To secure a wight to bring to the summit, Jon and six companions venture beyond the Wall for the Wight Hunt. They capture a wight but are surrounded by the army of the dead. Daenerys comes to their rescue with her three dragons. The Night King kills Viserion and later reanimates the fallen dragon as a wight. Meanwhile, on a Targaryen ship en route to King's Landing for the parley, Jon pledges fealty to Daenerys, declaring her his queen.
- "There's only one war that matters - the Great War - and it is here."
- ―Jon Snow at the Dragonpit Summit
The summit is held at the Dragonpit in King's Landing. Jaime and Bronn oversee siege preparations on the battlements of the city walls with the Lannister forces and City Watch, while the forces of House Targaryen - the Unsullied and the Dothraki - line up in formation outside the city gates, commanded by Grey Worm.
Tyrion states they have a common enemy that they must face, requiring a truce. The captured wight is shown to Cersei but is held back by its chain. Realizing that the White Walkers are real, Cersei agrees to a truce with Daenerys, but tells Jon that he must agree to remain neutral when the war to come is won. Jon, bound to the code of honor among Northmen, informs the summit that he has already pledged fealty to Daenerys and cannot be neutral. Cersei declares the meeting over and leaves.
Tyrion speaks with Cersei in private. She agrees to the truce with the Targaryen and Stark alliance and will send the Lannister armies north to help fight the Great War. However, she secretly conspires with Euron to abandon her new allies with the hope that her enemies slaughter each other, leaving herself unopposed. In response, Jaime decides to abandon his sister.
With this, Daenerys's military campaign is put temporarily on hold until the Army of the Dead is defeated.
While Euron is in the Red Keep with Cersei, Theon sneaks aboard the Silence and rescues Yara. Yara decides to sail to the Iron Islands with her three remaining ships to take them back in Daenerys's name, while Theon leads a group of ironborn to Winterfell to fight in the Great War.
- "We have won the Great War. Now we will win the last war."
- ―Daenerys Targaryen
The Great War is won by the alliance of living armies led by the Great Houses of Stark, Targaryen, and Arryn at the Battle of Winterfell, where the Night King and his army are destroyed. After a massive funeral is held outside Winterfell, Daenerys declares they will now focus on the "last war," taking the Iron Throne from Cersei.
The Iron Throne
Daenerys and her allies hold a war council at Winterfell to plan the taking of King's Landing. Tyrion reiterates that their strategy is to prevent as many innocent civilian deaths as possible. Varys informs the group that Yara has succeeded in taking back the Iron Islands and that the new Prince of Dorne has pledged his support to Daenerys. Daenerys plans to sail back to Dragonstone from White Harbor with Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, Grey Worm, and the Unsullied, now reduced to half their number. Meanwhile, Jon will march south down the Kingsroad with the remaining Dothraki, Northern and the Vale forces.
Approaching Dragonstone, Daenerys and her fleet are suddenly ambushed by the Iron Fleet. The ironborn shoot and kill Rhaegal, damage the Targaryen ships, and capture Missandei. The survivors swim ashore to Dragonstone. Missandei is delivered to Cersei.
Daenerys and Tyrion parley with Cersei outside King's Landing but neither side agrees to surrender to the other. Tyrion's attempts to appeal to Cersei's humanity fail, and Cersei has Gregor Clegane behead Missandei to Daenerys's and Grey Worm's devastation. Distraught and angry, Daenerys returns to Dragonstone with her advisors and forces.
The Battle of King's Landing begins shortly thereafter. Jon, Davos, and Tyrion lead the Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northern-Vale armies outside the gates of the capital, where Tyrion informs Jon that if the bells are rung, to call off his men. Their combined forces face the Golden Company led by Captain Harry Strickland. Daenerys arrives on Drogon, burning the Iron Fleet, the city's gate, and the Golden Company, allowing the Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces to charge the city. When they meet the Lannister soldiers, the Lannister soldiers surrender. This is followed by the citizens calling to ring the bells in surrender. The bells are rung but, despite this, Daenerys burns the city. Her ground forces follow her lead, including the Northman despite Jon's orders to stop, and attack both the Lannister soldiers and the smallfolk.
Cersei and her entourage are confronted by a vengeful Hound. He and the Mountain fight to death. Cersei reunites with Jaime, who previously killed Euron, but they are trapped beneath the Red Keep and crushed by the falling debris.
A new era
Daenerys delivers a speech to her forces among the ruins of the Red Keep, where she thanks them for honoring their promises to give her the Seven Kingdoms. She says they "liberated" King's Landing and declares that their war is not over as they will "liberate" the entire world from tyrants.
Tyrion tells Jon that despite Jon's love for Daenerys, action must be taken against her to prevent more death and destruction as she has now become the people's greatest threat. He urges a resistant Jon that killing Daenerys is the right thing to do.
Jon finds Daenerys in the throne room of the Red Keep, guarded by Drogon. He confronts her over burning down King's Landing, killing thousands of civilians, and executing surrendered forces. Daenerys defends these actions as necessary and Cersei mistakenly thought mercy was her weakness. Jon pleads with Daenerys for a merciful world, but Daenerys is certain her "liberation" plans will build her better world. Unable to dissuade her from more destruction, a heartbroken Jon tells Daenerys that she will always be his queen before reluctantly killing her. Weeping, Jon holds Daenerys in his arms as she dies. Drogon arrives and as he approaches, Jon lays Daenerys's body on the ground. Drogon nudges Daenerys's body and when she does not wake, he faces Jon. As Jon prepares to face his death, an anguished Drogon roars in rage and unleashes his fire on the Iron Throne, melting it. He departs with Daenerys's body as a grieved Jon watches.
Some weeks later, the high lords and ladies of Westeros gather in the Dragonpit of King's Landing. Tyrion proposes that the gathered nobles choose a king, formally beginning the Great Council of 305 AC. Bran is chosen as the new king. Bran allows Sansa to rule the North independently, turning the Seven Kingdoms into the Six Kingdoms. Bran names Tyrion his Hand of the King to rectify his past mistakes. As a compromise between the Unsullied and the Stark sisters, Bran decides to exile Jon to the Night's Watch. Tyrion delivers the news to Jon, who confides that killing Daenerys does not feel right. His identity as a Targaryen is kept secret.
Jon meets with Sansa, Arya, and Bran one last time, bidding them farewell on a dock in Blackwater Bay. Sansa tells Jon that she wishes there was another way and asks for Jon's forgiveness. Jon hesitates but replies that she made the North independent and is a good choice as its representative. They hug. When Jon invites Arya to see him at Castle Black, Arya tells Jon, Sansa, and Bran that she intends to sail west of Westeros to discover what lies beyond the charted maps. She and Jon share a good-bye hug as well. Jon bends the knee to Bran and apologizes for not being by his side when he needed him, but Bran responds that Jon was exactly where he needed to be. Jon then boards the ship sailing to Castle Black.
Grey Worm and the Unsullied board another fleet, leaving Westeros and sailing for the Isle of Naath, fulfilling Grey Worm's promise to his late lover Missandei to protect her people from slavers and other threats.
As Hand of the King once more, Tyrion reforms the small council. Lord Bronn of his own House, who was elevated to Lord of Highgarden and Lord Paramount of the Reach, is named Master of Coin, Lord Davos Seaworth is named Master of Ships, and Samwell is named Grand Maester. Ser Brienne of Tarth also sits on the council as Lord Commander of Bran's Kingsguard.
Jon reaches the Wall as a brother of the Night's Watch once again. There, he reunites with his other brothers as well as Tormund and his direwolf Ghost. Jon, Tormund, and Ghost lead the Free Folk beyond the Wall to resettle the now-thawing snowy lands.
Daenerys's war for Westeros left much of the Seven Kingdoms devastated. Dorne and the Reach descended into chaos for a brief period of time, while countless people were killed by Daenerys's dragons, including Lannister and Tarly soldiers at the Battle of the Goldroad and innocent civilians at the Battle of King's Landing. This wide-scale death and destruction led to Daenerys's assassination and the legal extinction of House Targaryen, though the Targaryen bloodline continues to live on in Jon as the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
While the war destabilized and weakened the realm, the fallout from the conflict allowed the remaining leaders of Westeros to peacefully negotiate a resolution, preventing any further civil war for the time being. The Iron Throne was permanently destroyed, and Tyrion declared that the King was to be chosen from Great Councils rather than through bloodline and inheritance. Daenerys's followers left Westeros without any further bloodshed, while Sansa's request for the independence of the North was granted. Upon this, the Seven Kingdoms are reorganized into the Six Kingdoms. This smooth transition of power allows the Westerosi to rebuild their country and introduces the idea of election based on merit at a larger scale in Westeros. In some ways, this fulfills the legacies of Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon, and Varys with her desires to "break the wheel" that allowed the few, powerful noblemen to prey on the many smallfolk.
Daenerys Targaryen claims the Iron Throne on the basis that she is the head of House Targaryen and the rightful heir to the throne, which was initially forged by her ancestor Aegon the Conqueror some three hundred years ago. Rather than immediately divert her attention to Westeros, however, Daenerys instead first launched a campaign to liberate the enslaved populace of Slaver's Bay from the slave masters. Her war to free the slaves ultimately concludes in a victory, and slavery is abolished across the region and its three cities. Leaving the newly-named Bay of Dragons under the guard of her sellsword company, the Second Sons, Daenerys then forges an alliance with House Tyrell, Dorne, and part of House Greyjoy.
Daenerys personally commands a legion of Unsullied heavy infantry (just under 8,000 strong) and hordes of Dothraki light cavalry (just under 100,000), giving her easily the largest army in the entire conflict. House Tyrell and the Dornish, who act in alliance with her and her advisers directly, can field further ground troops (from both the Tyrell army and the Dornish militias) and provide naval support (in the form of the Tyrell-aligned Redwyne Fleet). Her greatest military asset is her three dragons, making Daenerys the only person in the entire known world capable of launching an aerial assault on her enemies. However, Daenerys has suffered a series of defeats, between the assault on the Targaryen fleet, the fall of Casterly Rock and the sack of Highgarden. This results in Daenerys losing many of her Westerosi allies, as well as the detachment of her fleet that transported her Unsullied troops to Casterly Rock, who have taken moderate casualties and are stranded at Casterly Rock. Impatient with the cautious plans that Tyrion had advised her to follow, but still unwilling to harm civilians by burning cities, Daenerys forms a plan of her own and wins a decisive field victory at the Battle of the Goldroad. Following the battle, the surviving Westerosi soldiers bend the knee to Daenerys, increasing her forces. In the aftermath, she reluctantly agrees to negotiate an armistice with House Lannister in order to keep her gains while dealing with the oncoming threat of the army of the dead. Later, Jon eventually bends the knee to Daenerys and they fall in love; by extension, she is also allied with the Vale of Arryn, which has pledged to support the Starks in the Great War.
Yara Greyjoy claims the Salt Throne on the basis that she claims to be the head of House Greyjoy and that her father, Balon Greyjoy, the King of the Iron Islands, wanted her to rule. Her claim to the Salt Throne is supported by her younger brother Theon, but their uncle Euron wins the Salt Throne at a kingsmoot. Yara currently seeks to avenge her father's death at the hands of Euron and to retake the Salt Throne. Yara, Theon, and their portion of the Iron Fleet sails to the Bay of Dragons to seek an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen. As per the terms of their alliance, Yara will be recognized as queen of a sovereign Kingdom of the Iron Islands should Daenerys successfully become the queen, provided the ironborn honor Daenerys's terms and give up all raping, reaving and pillaging.
Being a queen herself, Yara is the highest-ranking of Daenerys's allies. She commands a major portion of the Iron Fleet, which serves as the backbone of the Targaryen allied navy which itself consists of the Redwyne Fleet, a Dornish fleet, and the Targaryen Royal Fleet. However, with her capture at Euron's hand and the almost complete annihilation of her fleet during the assault on the Targaryen fleet, it is likely that the majority of her faction has been wiped out, save for her brother.
Cersei claims the Iron Throne as successor to her son Tommen I, and is also the current occupant of the throne. The Iron Throne was previously usurped by House Baratheon. However, the dynasty finally collapsed upon Tommen's suicide. With no one to oppose her, Cersei ascended to the Iron Throne, beginning a new Lannister dynasty. The Lannisters had already amassed great power and influence over the Iron Throne during the Baratheon dynasty. Cersei now seeks to preserve the Lannister dynasty and continue to sit atop the Iron Throne.
Cersei's military forces consist mostly of the well-equipped armies of House Lannister, reinforced constantly with fresh recruits from the Westerlands. Originally 60,000 men strong at the start of the War of the Five Kings, this army has been severely reduced by the war and post-war conflicts, leaving her with only around 10,000 men at the start of the invasion, much of which was then decimated by Daenerys's crushing victory at the Battle of the Goldroad. This leaves Cersei with only the City Watch of King's Landing, the remains of the Lannister Army, and what surviving troops she can conscript from the depleted Westerlands and its vassals. House Frey, the Lannisters' most loyal ally since the Red Wedding, has been all but eliminated by Arya, with apparent the death of all Frey heirs, leaving House Frey powerless, and a power vacuum in the Riverlands. The Wardens of the North, House Bolton has gone extinct after the Battle of the Bastards, although ties between House Bolton and House Lannister were seemingly fractured when Ramsay Bolton married Sansa, undermining the plans of the Lannisters in the region. House Arryn, rulers of the Vale who remained neutral during the War of the Five Kings, pledged its forces to the Northern cause. While House Tarly briefly aligned with Cersei, the majority of the Tarly army were killed during the Battle of the Goldroad while Lord Randyll Tarly and his heir Dickon Tarly were executed afterward. Their surviving bannermen (as well as some Lannister bannermen) bent the knee to Daenerys.
Having accepted a marriage agreement from Euron, Cersei acquires over 1,000 Greyjoy ships to serve as her royal fleet. Using the gold plundered from Highgarden, and immediately after making an armistice with Daenerys, Cersei secretly orders Euron to sail to Essos and ferry over the Golden Company, putting 18,000 mercenary infantry and 2,000 cavalry, at her disposal. While she is still badly outnumbered, Cersei intends to use the Golden Company to mop up the remains of whoever wins the Great War – either the Targaryen-North alliance or the army of the dead – and finally reign unopposed. This devious move, however, has cost her Jaime, her greatest supporter and commander of her forces, as he leaves King's Landing to honor his oath to fight the army of the dead. Currently, although none of the southern kingdoms has the strength to fight her (except the Vale of Arryn and possibly Dorne), she only occupies the Crownlands, the Westerlands, and fragments of the Riverlands and Stormlands. However, with the conclusion of the Great War resulting in a victory for the living, Cersei is in a much better position, as not only has the entire army of the dead been eradicated, but the forces of House Targaryen and Stark have suffered severe losses as a result.
Euron Greyjoy sits the Salt Throne of the Kingdom of the Iron Islands after winning over the ironborn lords and captains at a kingsmoot, promising to conquer all of Westeros for the ironborn with the dragons of Daenerys. Knowing Euron to be a dangerous man, Yara and Theon lead an active resistance faction against him, seeking to install Yara on the Salt Throne as Queen of the Iron Islands. Yara and Theon beat their uncle Euron to Meereen, where they form a pact with the Dragon Queen, who agrees to help them defeat Euron and take back the Iron Islands. Euron seeks the deaths of his niece and nephew so that they cannot challenge his reign.
Euron commands the freshly rebuilt Iron Fleet, crewed by Houses loyal to him. The new fleet is visually impressive and apparently more than a match for any other fleet in the world; he proves his prowess when he strikes a first blow against the Targaryen alliance, destroying the majority of his niece's fleet and captures Yara, as well as Ellaria and Tyene Sand, essentially stripping Daenerys of two of her Westerosi allies. He then ambushes the remainder of the Targaryen fleet at the Fall of Casterly Rock, destroying the armada and stranding the Unsullied.
However, Euron's position has been substantially weakened with Theon's liberation of Yara, who has sailed back to the undefended Iron Islands with her remaining men to take them back from Euron, thus possibly costing Euron his seat. However, he still has a numerical superiority over Yara's remaining forces, and with Theon's death in the Great War, now has one less threat to his rule.
Though not a formal combatant, the coronation of Jon as King in the North will likely interfere with Daenerys's military campaign given that she seeks the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, and the North and the Vale were both under the dominion of the Iron Throne, being two of the seven kingdoms. The Knights of the Vale, led by House Arryn, previously came to aid the Stark-Free Folk army during the Battle of the Bastards. With the deaths of Eddard, Robb and Rickon Stark, as well as the believed death of Bran, the Northern lords named Jon, the bastard of Eddard Stark, their king following his victory against Ramsay Bolton in reclaiming Winterfell and the North from House Bolton. The Starks have eradicated House Bolton and reclaimed Winterfell under the leadership of Jon, who has now been named the new King in the North in defiance of the Iron Throne.
Unbeknownst to all, including Jon himself, however, is the truth of Jon's parentage: he is actually the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen, King Aerys II Targaryen's eldest son who was slain by Robert Baratheon, with Eddard's sister, Lyanna Stark, who died giving birth to Jon at the Tower of Joy in Dorne, thus making him Daenerys's nephew by blood and giving him a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. However, Jon is much more concerned with preparing the defense against the White Walkers in the impending Great War than taking part in any of the strife still gripping the South.
Shortly after her arrival, Daenerys is informed of Jon and his status as King in the North by Melisandre. Though intrigued by Jon's efforts and achievements, she summons Jon to Dragonstone to meet her and "bend the knee". Jon accepts her invitation, but refuses to bend the knee. He asks for Daenerys's help against the Night King as it is a threat to all of humanity. Daenerys declares Jon to be in open rebellion against her and keeps him on Dragonstone. After hearing of her army's casualties at the hands of Euron, Jaime, and Randyll Tarly, Daenerys acknowledges that she may need Jon's help after all, and allows him to mine the dragonglass as a good faith gesture. In the process, Jon discovers cave paintings left behind by the Children of the Forest and the First Men, who fought alongside each other against the White Walkers despite their differences, and implores Daenerys to do the same lest they all die. Daenerys acknowledges the threat and promises to fight for the North if Jon bends the knee, which Jon remains reluctant to do. Around the same time, an attraction grows between Jon and Daenerys, and eventually they fall in love.
After the wight hunt, during which Daenerys's dragon Viserion is killed by the Night King, Daenerys vows to help Jon defeat the Night King. Jon pledges allegiance to Daenerys as his queen, assuring her his people will accept her once they see her personality. Following his public declaration to Daenerys during the parley with Cersei, Jon signs his letters as Warden of the North.
Jon has the re-conscripted forces of the North at his disposal as well as the armies of the Vale of Arryn, which have been left intact during the War of the Five Kings. He is also in alliance with the free folk better known throughout the Seven Kingdoms as "wildlings", who currently occupy the Wall alongside what remains of the Night's Watch.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the plot is far behind the point the show has reached: the battles of Meereen and Winterfell have not begun yet; many characters, who were killed off in the show, are still alive and active (Stannis, the Tyrells, Ser Barristan Selmy, etc.); the show has greatly strayed from the novels, especially in respect of the Dornish plotline, thus it is difficult to predict how the various plotlines progress and combine in the novels, and how the various parties regard Daenerys - if they will choose to ally with or oppose her.
Moreover, a new contender has recently appeared in the last published novel - Daenerys's presumed-dead nephew Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar and Elia who has the strongest claim to the Iron Throne (since the marriage of Rhaegar and Elia has never been annulled - it is an invention of the TV show), with a significant military force that can seriously affect the balance of forces in Westeros.
Daenerys hasn't attempted to return to Westeros as of the fifth and most recent novel (corresponding to the end of Season 5 of the TV series for her storyline). She is far away from Meereen and her troops, and has just encountered Khal Jhaqo. It is unknown whether she will win over the Dothraki at some point as she did in Season 6.
In the North
By the point the fifth novel ends, Stannis's host camps three days away from Winterfell. The battle between Stannis and the Boltons has not begun yet. Stannis's position is by no means as hopeless as in the finale of season 5: he has gained the support of Northern houses, among them the Mormonts, and the Northern mountain clans; the traitor in his host has been exposed and neutralized, thanks to Alys Karstark; the Boltons are in a very inconvenient position. Soon, Stannis will be reinforced by the White Harbor men. In the sample chapter of the sixth novel, it is implied he intends to set a trap to his enemies (perhaps drown them at the frozen lake near the village). Tycho Nestoris meets with Stannis and grants him the funds he needs since the Lannisters refuse to pay the Crown's debt.
In view of how far the show has strayed from the novels, it is not impossible Stannis wins after all, despite the contents of the Bastard Letter. Since he consistently insists that he is the only rightful king of Westeros, it can be assumed he will oppose Daenerys rather than ally with her.
Doran Martell is still alive in the books (his murder by Ellaria Sand in the TV series was a drastic condensation, rather, invention, of the TV series with no basis in the novels). Doran explains to his daughter Arianne that he intends to ally with Daenerys - thus she doesn't even need to conquer a beachhead, as the instant she arrives in Westeros Dorne will revolt against the Lannisters and join her other armies. Doran even sends his elder son Quentyn as an envoy to try to broker a formal alliance, based on the secret pact he signed many years before with Willem Darry (though he is later killed during an attempt to steal one of Daenerys's dragons).
Quentyn's death, however, may cause a rift between Daenerys and the Martells: although it was not her fault, the Martells may become upset at her for rejecting Quentyn's proposal (though she did it very gently). The Martells may decide to support her nephew instead; recently, Doran sent his daughter to meet him, in order to form an alliance against the Lannisters.
Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar and Elia, accompanied by his guardian Jon Connington and nearly half of the Golden Company, recently arrived at Westeros. They have already conquered the Griffin's Roost and several more castles, and it is reported (but not confirmed yet) that they have seized Storm's End. Connington begins rallying supporters and allies; first, he sends a letter to Doran Martell, informing him that his presumed-dead nephew is alive, and requests his support.
News about the landing of Aegon reaches King's Landing, but Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly do not regard this seriously. Conversely, Kevan believes that Aegon and Connington pose a serious threat, especially if Daenerys arrives and joins forces with them. Kevan is murdered by Varys, in order to keep the realm destabilized, which will work in Aegon's favor.
Riverrun has been taken, and currently it is governed by House Frey. However, Brynden Tully has escaped, and there are hints that the Brotherhood - led by the monstrous Lady Stoneheart (the reanimated Catelyn Stark) - plans to attack and massacre the Freys who occupy the castle.
Brienne and Pod, fruitlessly searching for Sansa (who is safe in the Vale), are taken captive by the Brotherhood. In order to save Pod, Brienne reluctantly agrees to Lady Stoneheart's demand to kill Jaime. She meets him at Pennytree, and it seems she is leading him to a death trap.
Asha Greyjoy (called Yara in the show) doesn't go to Meereen in the novels: instead, she flees the Kingsmoot back to her captured holdings in the North, with 4 ships and 200 men only. Her army is nearly destroyed by Stannis in the Second Battle of Deepwood Motte, and she is taken prisoner. Asha and Theon are currently imprisoned at Stannis's camp. Instead, it is her uncle Victarion Greyjoy (cut from the TV series) who takes the Iron Fleet east to Meereen. He has not stolen the fleet, but acted at Euron's command; however, he plans to betray Euron by taking Daenerys and her dragons to himself (possibly by force).
In the TV version, Yara takes Victarion's role, and instead of secretly planning to turn against Euron, openly does so.
The books make explicitly clear that the Iron Fleet isn't the only fleet in the Iron Islands, just their "national fleet" of sorts - the best ships and crews, under direct command of their king. Each of the local houses and isles have their own fleets. Thus in both versions, even though Victarion/Yara took their "best ships", Euron would still have several hundreds of ships left at his command, thus he does not need to build even one ship (let alone 1,000).
In the fourth book, Euron launches a military campaign against the Reach. He has already captured the Shield Islands and the Arbor, and is currently sailing south and east towards Oldtown, on the verge of a massive naval engagement with the Redwyne Fleet (the last major fleet remaining around Westeros after the old Royal Fleet got destroyed at the Battle of the Blackwater). Euron captured his brother Aeron the priest, and is holding him in harsh imprisonment in the bowels of his ship for unknown purpose.
At present, Euron is far away from the Slaver's Bay, yet he is expected to intervene with Daenerys's plotline, based on the prophecies of the Red Priests Benerro and Moqorro about an enemy of Daenerys, described as "a tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood". The earlier novels contained more subtle hints and foreshadowings that Euron was eventually going to be a major antagonist in the war, on the scale of Tywin, Joffrey, Roose, and Ramsay. It is implied that Euron may try to ally with Cersei in the future: given that her actions have totally alienated the Starks to the north and the Tyrells/Martells to the south, Euron is the only other possible extant faction she can ally with. In a preview chapter from the next novel, Euron forces Aeron to drink shade of the evening to give him psychedelic visions, one of which is of Euron seated on the Iron Throne, with a mysterious woman next to him in the shadows, with fire coming from her hands (i.e. how Cersei will use wildfire to destroy the Great Sept). It is also somewhat hinted that Euron has truly gone insane and is in service to some sort of dark demonic powers (either the White Walkers or those beneath the depths), and is a "dark messiah" of sorts for them, intentionally trying to bring about an apocalyptic event.
At King's Landing
The Lannisters, meanwhile, are already half-exhausted and bankrupt. Robb Stark have been killed and his army massacred at the Red Wedding, but he inflicted significant losses on the Lannister's main armies before that (at the Battle of the Whispering Wood, Battle of Oxcross, and overall attrition in the protracted Riverlands campaign). Around half of the Lannisters armies' were slaughtered by Robb's forces and they cannot simply replace men as they can swords or ships - their strength has been hobbled for years to come. The Iron Throne is in astronomical debt and the Iron Bank of Braavos has lost faith in them, since Cersei has foolishly refused to pay the debt. The TV version claimed this is because their gold mines ran dry - which is a gross exaggeration and physically impossible. In the books, spending simply outpaced the rate of production (just because they have gold mines doesn't mean they produce infinite amounts of gold). In comparison, the TV series addresses the fact that Cersei's regime is bankrupt in Season 7 - by requisitioning the Tyrell fortune to pay her debts and reintroducing Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank.
By the end of the fifth novel, the current state of affairs in King's Landing is definitely in favor of the Tyrells, all of whom are still alive. They have greatly increased their political power at the expense of the Lannisters:
- The Tyrells have three of the seats in the small council.
- A hundred Highgarden men have been added to the gold cloaks.
- Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly have both brought armies to King's Landing, while most of the Lannister troops are away in the Riverlands.
- The High Sparrow agreed to release Margaery and her cousins to the custody of Randyll, since the case against them is so weak. Margaery has not been declared innocent yet, but her position is far better than Cersei's.
- Cersei has been stripped of all powers and authorities; all her henchmen have been either deposed, imprisoned or fled away, and some of them (Lancel and Pycelle) even turned against her; she is confined to her rooms, guarded all the time, and is not allowed to walk freely around with her new bodyguard and intimidate people; whatever schemes she has in mind, she cannot realize them (the TV version had her under "house arrest" within the Red Keep, but not her specific chamber). Qyburn is the only one who remains loyal to her.
- Jaime is away from King's Landing, concluding the Second Siege of Riverrun. Having already learned that Cersei has been unfaithful to him and she is guilty of all the crimes she is charged with (among them the murders of Robert and the previous High Septon), he then receives news that she has nearly destroyed the vital Lannister-Tyrell alliance that they desperately need to survive. In the books, she did this by having Margaery arrested, and agreeing to send Loras Tyrell to force a quick end to the siege of Dragonstone (in which he was severely burned with boiling oil and was left clinging to life). On hearing just how far gone Cersei is, Jaime decides not to intervene, burns the distress letter Cersei sent him, and apparently intends to simply let his uncle Kevan assume control over Tommen's regency. He continues to Raventree Hall, and does not care if Cersei is executed before he returns to King's Landing. Following an unexpected meeting with Brienne at Pennytree, however, it seems he is being led to a death trap at the hands of the vengeful Lady Stoneheart.
- Varys, shortly after killing Pycelle and before ordering his helpers to finish Kevan off, explains that he expects Kevan's death to create chaos which will be used by the Targaryens to conquer the kingdom.
In view of the above factors, the Tyrells, given their military power and Margaery's popularity, can take advantage of Kevan's death and Cersei's downfall, and seize King's Landing; they cannot hope, though, to rule the entire kingdom without any allies and being surrounded by enemies: in the north - Stannis, in the west - ironborn, in the south - Aegon Targaryen and his sellswords. They may decide to ally with the Targaryens, as they did during Robert's Rebellion.
The Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor has not yet occurred in the current novels, though it is foreshadowed - Cersei takes great delight in burning down the Tower of the Hand with wildfire (but no one is killed). If an event analogous to this occurs in the novels, it cannot possibly kill all of the Tyrells - that is, their many younger cousins and cadet branches, not to mention that Mace has two older sons (Willas and Garlan) cut from the TV series. Thus even if Mace, Margaery, and Loras are killed, the fate of House Tyrell's leadership is unclear. Similarly, the Faith Militant has spread throughout all of southern Westeros, and even a decapitation strike against their core leadership in King's Landing will not eliminate their presence entirely.
In the Vale
Littlefinger's plans have also been drastically altered in the TV series. Littlefinger reveals to Sansa that he plans to wed her to Harrold Hardyng, Robert Arryn's cousin and closest living relative, after Robert dies (he will probably not live to adulthood in view of his poor health - and Littlefinger's actions imply he may have him poisoned). When all the pieces are in place, Sansa will reveal her true identity, and call upon the lords of the Vale to remember their old loyalty to her father Ned. Every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win her back her birthright, and she will have it all - Harrold, the Eyrie, and Winterfell. In the process, Littlefinger will vicariously control two of the Seven Kingdoms. He was the true instigator of the entire war, explicitly to dupe the Starks and Lannisters into fighting each other to the point of exhaustion, while keeping the Vale's army out of the war and at full strength to finish off any survivors.
Littlefinger says that he originally thought it would take four to five years for his plans to come to fruition. However, while he always expected Cersei's weak regency over Tommen to crumble from within, he says he didn't anticipate how rapidly Cersei would spiral into self-destruction: arming the Faith Militant, utterly mishandling the debt crisis with the Iron Bank, needlessly antagonizing the Tyrells. This has forced him to speed up his timetable, though he sees this as an opportunity.
Littlefinger cryptically says that whatever peace was left in Westeros after the War of the Five Kings will not long survive the "Three Queens". Sansa is puzzled and doesn't understand what he means: she assumes he is referring to Cersei and Margaery, but doesn't understand who the third queen is (possibly Daenerys, though it's possible he's referring to other women entirely).
Littlefinger hasn't mentioned Stannis in his plans yet, or how his sudden appearance in the North may alter any of his plans. Stannis loathes Littlefinger, and accurately suspected for years during Robert's reign that Littlefinger was a traitor. Stannis may kill Littlefinger if they ever came into contact again rather than ally with him.
For the moment, Littlefinger is strengthening his grip over the lords of the Vale, bribing off old aristocratic families who are deeply in debt (apparently with massive amounts of money he embezzled from the Iron Throne). His entry into the war still seems some way off, so he is focusing on the first step in his plan: his alleged bastard daughter "Alayne" (Sansa) winning over and betrothing Harold Hardyng.
As this conflict has not yet occurred in the novels, it has yet to have an official name. The following names are unsuitable for different reasons:
- "Targaryen Restoration": such a name assumes that either Jon or Daenerys will succeed and sit on the Iron Throne, when it is perfectly possible that they will be killed by the White Walkers during the Great War.
- "Second War of Conquest": as the War of Conquest consisted of Aegon Targaryen invading and unifying the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros into one Realm (even though Dorne joined two centuries later), this name assumes that it will happen again, while the Seven Kingdoms are still essentially the same Realm that Aegon created, and most factions follow the monarch who will sit on the Iron Throne, except the North and the Vale, who follow the King in the North. This name would only be applicable if Daenerys wins and unifies all Seven Kingdoms under the Iron Throne again.
Therefore, the conflict, and this article, will be named Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros, for the time being.
Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros
|Wars in Westeros:||
Wars of the First Men and the Children of the Forest · Long Night · Thousand Years War · Fall of the Night's King · Unification of the North · Andal Invasion · Gorne and Gendel's War · Nymeria's War · War of Conquest · First Dornish War · Vulture Hunt · Faith Militant uprising · War for the Stepstones · Dance of the Dragons · Conquest of Dorne · Blackfyre Rebellion · Raymun Redbeard's War · War of the Ninepenny Kings · Reyne Rebellion · Defiance of Duskendale · Robert's Rebellion · Greyjoy Rebellion · War of the Five Kings · Conflict beyond the Wall · Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros · Great War
|Wars outside of Westeros:|