Balerion the Black Dread in 'House of the Dragon'

Balerion’s Brief Appearance In ‘House Of The Dragon,’ Explained

HBO’s fantasy drama series House of the Dragon has remained true to its name so far, doing incredible fan service by depicting a range of dragons—even Balerion the Black Dread—with a promise of more to come.

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Spoilers ahead for the Song of Ice and Fire book series.

Fans familiar with the lore of the Song of Ice and Fire series will be aware of the fact that the show hasn’t shown much of one of the more significant dragons in the book, Balerion. He was one of the five dragons that were brought to Dragonstone from Old Valyria, and the most notable rider that mounted him was Aegon the First of His Name. Balerion was the cornerstone of the Targaryen conquest, as he, along with Vhagar and Meraxes, ensured key events, like the Field of Fire and the Burning of Harrenhal, went in the Targaryens’ favor.

Balerion the Black Dread is featured in the show, albeit momentarily. The massive beast makes a posthumous appearance, as his skull is displayed in the background as King Viserys I Targaryen and Rhaenyra Targaryen have a father-daughter moment in season 1, episode 2, “The Rogue Prince.” His skull is kept on a pedestal and is surrounded by candles.

Viserys I is the last known rider of Balerion, who is known to have died of old age in 94 AC during the rule of Jaehaerys I Targaryen. Viserys claimed the dragon when he was a prince, although the Black Dread was way past his prime when the young scion took charge of him. According to the lore, in his heyday, Balerion’s shadow could cover entire cities, and if the portrayal of his skull is anything to go by, that doesn’t sound like an exaggeration at all.

In the books, Balerion is credited with melting the swords that went on to become a part of the Iron Throne. He was black in appearance throughout, his fire being coal-colored in shade with an occasional hint of red. Till his death, Balerion remains the biggest dragon in the Song of Ice and Fire universe, following which Vhagar takes over the esteemed title.

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Evan Tiwari
Evan is a staff writer at The Mary Sue, contributing to multiple sections, including but not limited to movies, TV shows, gaming, and music. He brings in more than five years of experience in the content and media industry, both as a manager and a writer. Outside his working hours, you can either catch him at a soccer game or dish out hot takes on his Twitter account.