I Am Once Again Reminding You That Targaryens Are Not Immune to Fire
One of the significant changes from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books to HBO’s Game of Thrones, in terms of lore, is how the Targaryens were made “fire-proof,” which has become particularly relevant, and a bit confusing, with the series’ new prequel, House of the Dragon.
Throughout Game of Thrones, the ultimate way in which Daenerys Targaryen is shown to be a “true dragon” is by her resistance to fire. Dany is initially depicted as slightly resistant to heat, including warm baths and other fires. However, when her elder brother, Viserys, is killed by his brother-in-law, Khal Drogo, Dany says he wasn’t a true dragon because “fire cannot kill a dragon.” This is later revisited when Dany walks into a funeral pyre and walks out, unburnt, with three hatched dragons.
Now, Martin has stated, multiple times, that this event with Dany was meant to be a magical situation. Through magic alone, she was able to walk through the pyre and survive (and in the books, her hair is burnt so it is short, a detail that was not continued in the series.)
“No, no, my good knight, do not fear for me,” Dany thinks in the books. “The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of dragons, mother of dragons, don’t you see? Don’t you SEE?“
Later on, Dany kills all of the Khals in season six by setting fire to the temple they are all in. She, like before, remains unburnt except for her clothes.
Now, in House of the Dragon, we see maesters cauterizing the wounds of King Viserys I—not to mention Dragonfire being used to cremate the bodies of other Targaryens—and it is clear this is correcting the change made in Game of Thrones. Of course, that can’t help but be confusing, since there was never anything clarifying what made Dany special—especially since the show kept leaning into her being a “true dragon.”
Fire & Blood, the book that House of the Dragon is based on, absolutely works to dismantle the general ~specialness~ of the Targaryen family. House of the Dragon is balancing the idea that this family is just like any other with crafting a compelling series about a woman wronged, and how the foundation for female rulers was cut short because of pre-existing sexism in Westeros.
TLDR: Targaryens are not immune to fire. Slightly heat resistant, likely from dragon-rider history, but that’s it. Dany was a special because of magic (and bad writing), but that was one case.
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