HBO’s new fantasy series Dragon House promises to be another smash hit. Filled with dragons, politics and great battles, it will chronicle, in part, the Dance of the Dragons, which tore the realm apart and dealt House Targaryen a blow from which it never fully recovered.
One of the key players in this drama was Alicent Hightower, the second wife of Viserys I, who would bear him a son who would claim the throne in opposition to his half-sister Rhaenyra. As such, it’s worth taking a look at some of the things only book readers know about this fascinating and powerful character.
She had several brothers
Given that she was a member of one of the most powerful noble houses in Westeros, it makes sense that Alicent would have multiple siblings. One of them, his brother Gawyn, was going to play a key role in the Dance of the Dragons, as his father wanted him to keep tabs on the current City Guard Commander.
He would remain staunchly loyal to his sister, until he was killed for refusing to align himself with Rhaenyra’s regime and his confederates.
She accompanied her father to court at a young age
Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower, would eventually become one of the most powerful men in the kingdom, especially as he made himself indispensable to King Viserys (and his grandfather before him). Thus, Alicent was brought to King’s Landing at a very young age. It gave him a key opportunity to learn how politics worked in the grim world of the court.
As she would show growing up, she knew how to put those valuable lessons into practice, arguably even better than her father (who was very good at Game of Thrones himself).
She may have lost her virginity to Daemon
Along with becoming a treasured part of the King’s Landing court, Alicent also learned the power of flirtation. One of the objects of his affection was Prince Daemon (played on the show by Matt Smith, in what will surely be considered one of his best roles).
According to some rumors at the time, mostly from the madman, Mushroom, she actually lost her virginity to him. If true, it would certainly explain why Otto and Daemon developed a hatred for each other that would have its own part to play in the Dance of the Dragons.
She married Viserys against the advice of her council
In the world of the Seven Kingdoms, the marriage of a king can affect an entire kingdom. Although widely considered one of the finest kings in the kingdom’s history (or at least one of the friendliest), Viserys erred in marrying Alicent.
This is particularly notable because her advice had actually advised her against marrying him in the first place. Given this hostility, it makes sense that, later in life, she would be so determined to retain power for herself and her children.
His house was one of the most powerful in Westeros.
Like many of the best characters in game of thrones, Alicent hailed from a very powerful noble house. In his case, it was the Hightowers, who exercised very firm control over Oldtown, the seat of both the Faith of the Seven and the Citadel (where the maesters train).
As such, his House was able to wield significant influence over the events of the Seven Kingdoms. Given her background, it makes even more sense for her to do everything in her power to ensure her son can ascend the throne.
She was originally close to Rhaenyra
Rhaenyra and Alicent would become two of the most powerful women in Westeros. It is therefore particularly tragic that they find themselves on opposite sides, each determined to end the other.
This is remarkable in that when they were both young, they had actually been quite close to each other. It’s only the vagaries of power and inheritance that have pitted them against each other, and it’s a reminder of the terrible impact politics can often have on relationships between individuals.
She had several children
Although Aegon would become the most famous of her children, Alicent actually produced several children with her husband. This would cause huge complications for the future of the kingdom, especially because his daughter, who became queen, suffered from madness later in life.
Additionally, her own children had a strong dislike for those born of Rhaenyra. Alicent, as usual, often sided with her own children, no matter who was at fault.
She helped cast doubt on the children of Rhaenyra
Although Rhaenyra is one of the most powerful women in the Seven Kingdoms, that hasn’t stopped her from being the source of gossip. Much of this surrounded the parentage of his first sons, who were considered bastards. Alicent was one of the main people responsible for fanning the flames of this scandal.
It’s clear to see why she would do such a thing, as it would make it less likely that the kingdom would accept Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne, not wanting a bastard to sit on the Iron Throne.
She may have poisoned her husband
Just as many significant deaths occur in game of thrones, the same thing happened in this earlier period of history. One of the most notable was Viserys, whose passing set the tinder ablaze and helped ignite the Dance of the Dragons.
Although it’s impossible to prove – given that Mushroom, who makes the claim, was not at King’s Landing at the time – some believe that Alicent actually poisoned Viserys. It’s easy to see why she would take this step, as it would allow her own son to ascend the throne without waiting for his father to die.
She had a peace plan
Once it became clear how destructive the Dance of the Dragons was going to be and how unlikely it was that anyone would emerge unscathed, Alicent offered a peace deal that would divide the kingdom.
As is so often the case, it’s easy to see why Alicent would do such a thing, as it would have spared her and her sons a more unnecessary death. Unfortunately for her, it was not the kind of peace that Rhaenyra would ever accept.
NEXT: 10 Best Reactions To The Official House Of The Dragon Trailer On Reddit