- This article is about the island. For the episode, see "Dragonstone;" for the eponymous castle, see Dragonstone (castle); for the Histories & Lore special feature, see Dragonstone (Histories & Lore).
- "The island itself was and is nothing. It had no gold or gems to lure Valyrian nobility, all it has is rock."
- ―Stannis Baratheon
Dragonstone is a volcanic island in the Narrow Sea that guards the entrance to Blackwater Bay and the sea approaches to King's Landing, off the east coast of Westeros. It is the location of the eponymous castle of Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of House Targaryen, the former seat of King Stannis Baratheon, one of the claimants to the Iron Throne, and Queen Daenerys I Targaryen.
Dragonstone island produces no significant crops (such as wheat or barley), nor can it sustain livestock farming (such as cattle and pigs). The surrounding waters of Blackwater Bay are plentiful enough with fish - the main food source that can be locally obtained by the island's inhabitants.
Large amounts of dragonglass can be found on Dragonstone, one of only two materials that can be used to kill White Walkers; the other being Valyrian steel. In "Dragonstone," Samwell Tarly makes a game-changing discovery: Dragonstone sits atop a mine of dragon glass. Earlier in the episode, Jon declared it more precious than gold and ordered his people to find every last bit of dragon glass they can get their hands on. Other than that, it is not a particularly useful material, being too brittle to make weapons and too sharp to use in building. The other significant advantage of holding Dragonstone island is its strategic position, guarding the entrance to Blackwater Bay and King's Landing.
While Dragonstone previously had no particular value, its cache of dragonglass and its command of the sea lanes passing into or out of Blackwater Bay, to and from King's Landing, give it an ideal strategic value. The Royal Fleet is stationed at Dragonstone island, from which it can effectively defend (or in time of rebellion, blockade) any approaches to the capital city.
Just before the Doom of Valyria, four hundred years before the War of the Five Kings, House Targaryen settled on the island - thus becoming the only family of Dragonlords to survive the fall of the Valyrian Freehold, along with the last surviving dragons in the world. The Targaryens spent the next hundred years slowly building up their strength on Dragonstone, while east of the Narrow Sea, the remnants of the Freehold tore themselves apart in the Century of Blood, eventually coalescing into the Free Cities.
One hundred years after the Targaryen family settled on Dragonstone, Aegon I Targaryen and his two sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys set out to conquer and unite the Seven Kingdoms on the mainland of Westeros, in the War of Conquest. This they achieved using their three dragons, Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes.
Aegon I declared that a new capital city would be built at the place where his army first made its landing on the eastern coast, at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush: King's Landing. The seat of House Targaryen moved there, but Dragonstone always remained their ancestral territory. Soon, the title of "Prince of Dragonstone" was developed for the heir-designate to the throne. Frequently, the heir to the throne would rule Dragonstone directly for years to prepare for ascending the Iron Throne one day. For example, Rhaegar Targaryen was Prince of Dragonstone during the reign of his father, Aerys II, the Mad King.
During Robert's Rebellion, after the defeat and death of Rhaegar at the climactic Battle of the Trident, the Mad King sent his younger son Prince Viserys and his pregnant wife Queen Rhaella to Dragonstone for safety. Soon afterwards, Tywin Lannister's army arrived at the capital and betrayed the Mad King as soon as they entered the gates, resulting in the Sack of King's Landing. During the sack, the Mad King was killed by his own Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister. Viserys on Dragonstone technically succeeded his father as king ("Viserys III") - at least according to Targaryen loyalists, as Robert Baratheon usurped the throne and was crowned king himself.
With no major armies left, the boy Viserys was trapped on Dragonstone with nothing to do, and weeks passed as the rebels prepared to launch an attack on the well-defended island (as the rebels did not have any strength at sea). Queen Rhaella later went into labor, the same day that a massive storm struck the island and destroyed the remaining Targaryen fleet at anchor. Rhaella died giving birth to her daughter, Princess Daenerys Targaryen. A short time later, a rebel fleet commanded by Stannis Baratheon set out to attack the island, but before they could, loyal servants spirited away Viserys and the infant Daenerys on a remaining ship, fleeing across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cities. When Stannis arrived, he found an empty castle. Years later, Daenerys admitted that while she considers the Seven Kingdoms to be "her country", the last time she was actually in it, she was just a baby (in the brief period of time after she was born on Dragonstone).
Afterwards, King Robert made Stannis the ruler of Dragonstone - instead of giving him House Baratheon's ancestral seat at Storm's End, the mighty fortress that is the capital of the Stormlands. Instead, he gave Storm's End to their much younger brother Renly Baratheon. Robert later tried to explain to Stannis that he did not mean this as an insult, but because he needed a firm hand to rein in the Targaryen home territory on the island, and he pointed out Dragonstone's royal pedigree as the traditional seat of the heir to the throne. Stannis was not amused. In time, along with his wife Selyse of House Florent and their daughter Shireen, Stannis formed his own cadet branch of House Baratheon, "House Baratheon of Dragonstone".
Following his failed assault on King's Landing in the massive Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis barely managed to retreat back to Dragonstone with his few remaining forces. Still, Stannis remains effectively knocked out of the war after this point, with no sizable armies or ships, making him more or less trapped on Dragonstone.
Stannis obtains a provisional loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos to rehire the sellsail fleet of Salladhor Saan, and uses it to transport most of his remaining forces north to the Wall, in time to decisively intervene during the Battle of Castle Black. While Stannis has removed from Dragonstone, he hopes to rally the defeated North as a new springboard against their shared Lannister enemies.
During his research into the White Walkers at the Citadel of Oldtown, Samwell Tarly discovers that a "mountain" of dragonglass can be found on Dragonstone, as Stannis Baratheon had mentioned to him during his stay at Castle Black. Realizing such a massive deposit of dragonglass might be Westeros's only advantage, Sam sends word to Jon Snow immediately.
Around the same time, Daenerys Targaryen and the fleet bearing her armies finally reaches Westeros and stopped first at Dragonstone. The choice is both strategic and symbolic: the first because of the island's proximity to King's Landing and its deep ports to hold the fleet; the second because Dragonstone is the ancestral home of House Targaryen and Daenerys's birthplace. Daenerys makes landfall with her closest advisors (Tyrion Lannister, Missandei, Grey Worm, and Varys), who give her a moment to savor returning to Westeros at last.
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen visit the mountain of dragonglass, where Jon shows Daenerys ancient carvings depicting the Children of the Forest and First Men fighting their common enemy, the White Walkers, before the Northerners begin mining it.
Jon Snow is walking on the grounds of Dragonstone island when Daenerys arrives on the back of her dragonDrogon. Drogon roars at Jon at first and stretches out his head to face the King in the North. Drogon calms down and recognizes Jon as a friend of his master (and possibly sensing his Targaryen ancestry), allowing him to stroke his snout, much to Dany's surprise. When Jon Snow replies that the dragons are beautiful beasts, Dany responds that the dragons are her children. When Jon Snow asks if she has not gone for long, Daenerys curtly replies that she has fewer enemies to deal with.
Daeneyrs then asks Jon about the Battle of the Bastards and him "taking a knife in the heart for his people." Without going into detail, Jon replies that Davos Seaworth likes to embellish things. Their conversation is interrupted by the return of a recently-healed Jorah Mormont. Daenerys introduces Jorah to Jon, who claims he worked under Jorah's father in the Night's Watch. When Jorah reaffirms his allegiance to her, she accepts his offer of service and hugs him.
Later, Tyrion and Varys talk about the deaths of Randyll and his son Dickon in the Reach. Varys tells Tyrion about how he distanced himself from the Mad King's role in killing Rickard Stark and his son Brandon Stark. Tyrion continues to insist that Daenerys is not her father, and Varys agrees up to a point: Dany may not have her father's madness, but she certainly has a considerable ruthless streak, which -in Varys' view- must be curtailed by Tyrion's more pragmatic counsel. They discuss the sealed scroll containing Bran Stark's message from the North.
Later, at the Chamber of the Painted Table, Jon tells Daenerys about the news of his half-brother Bran and half-sister Arya Stark's return to Winterfell. He warns Daenerys' about Bran's vision of the Army of the Dead marching towards Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Tyrion is present and proposes bring a Wight south in order to prove that the Army of the Dead and the White Walkers are real. Varys opines that it is suicide trying to appeal to Queen Cersei Lannister but Tyrion argues that he can persuade his brother Jaime.
Davos also thinks such a mission is risky even for a smuggler like him. Jorah volunteers to go north to help capture a Wight while Jon volunteers to lead such the expedition. Apparently on the verge of tears about the idea of Jon leaving, Daenerys responds that she did not give Jon permission to leave but Jon reminds her that he is the King in the North. He tells her she has the power of life and death over him but that he trusted her even though she was a stranger. He pleads with her to return the favor by trusting him. Later, Davos and Tyrion chat about smuggling before embarking on their mission to infiltrate King's Landing. Davos plans to find Gendry while Tyrion wants to secretly meet with Jaime to find a peaceful solution to the war.
Davos and Tyrion return with Gendry to Dragonstone. At the dragonglass mines, they meet Jon Snow, who is supervising the diggings and excavations. Gendry remarks that Jon is a lot short shorter than he expected. Gendry volunteers to accompany Jon on his mission to the North to capture a wight and convince Queen Daenerys and Queen Cersei that the true war lies to the North. As Jon Snow and his party including Jorah Mormont prepare to depart on boats for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, Dany and her entourage arrive and bid Jorah farewell. Jorah quips that he is used to saying farewell. Jon warns Daenerys that there is a chance that he might not return and wishes her well in the "wars to come." Dany and Tyrion watch as Jon Snow and his party depart on their boats for Eastwatch.
In the books
Beyond Dragonstone castle, Dragonstone island is home to several fishing villages which obtain food from the surrounding waters, but otherwise the small volcanic island is not well-suited to farming crops, raising livestock, or pasturage. A small number of shepherds and the like operate on the island, but they do not produce enough to feed the entire island's population, which must rely on the sea.
One of the few advantages the island itself possesses (besides its strategic location) is the active volcano known as the Dragonmont - possibly the only large active volcano in the Seven Kingdoms (though smaller thermal vents and hot springs are relatively common). Dragons prefer to nest in caves in the sides of volcanoes, being attracted to the heat. The ancient Valyrians first discovered dragons nesting in the string of volcanoes in Essos known as the Fourteen Fires. Dragonstone island was thus an ideal location for the Targaryens to raise and breed their surviving dragons. Some dragons were later raised in the massive Dragonpit built in King's Landing, but the main hatcheries remained on Dragonstone in volcanic tunnels.