As I mentioned in my previous post, Jaehaerys I ruled the Iron Throne longer than anyone before or after him. He was widely known as a good king, but you do not have a reign as long as his just from being good. Just because he was a good king, Jaehaerys was by no means a weakling like his father Aenys I. During the first two years of his reign, Jaehaerys trained every morning with his master-at-arms and Kingsguard so that he would not be weak like his father and no one would doubt his courage. Based on the reigns of his grandfather, father, and uncle, Jaehaerys knew there would be challenges for him throughout his reign and he wanted to be ready when those challenges came. There were times when Jaehaerys had to put down a rebellion or fight his own battles. One time, a knight from the Reach seduced and violated one of his daughters and Jaehaerys brought the knight before him. When the knight asked for a trial-by-combat, Jaehaerys personally fought him instead of sending one of his Kingsguard. During the duel, Jaehaerys remained on the defensive and waited for the younger man to tire himself out. When that happened, Jaehaerys went on the offensive and drove his sword through the knight’s skull. Most kings we have seen in Game of Thrones were either warriors or politicians, but Jaehaerys was a healthy balance between warrior and politician.
Easily my all-time favorite Targaryen king would be Jaehaerys the First of His Name AKA The Conciliator. He was easily the greatest king House Targaryen ever produced and many historians believed he was the greatest king Westeros has ever known. He ruled the Iron Throne for fifty-five years, which is longer than any living soul before or after him. He was crowned when he was just a fourteen-year-old kid, but he proved wise, charismatic, and just beyond his years. Like Robb Stark, Jaehaerys married for love instead of political gain, but unlike Robb Stark, Jaehaerys was able to get away with it because of the power and authority he wielded. His true love was his sister Alysanne, who was a wise and capable politician in her own right. He always listened to his queen and many of his decisions were influenced by her. They had thirteen children, but only nine of them grew into adulthood and four had children and grandchildren of their own. Later in his reign, Jaehaerys had one succession crisis after another as several of his children died from wars, diseases, and accidents. Eventually, Jaehaerys held a Great Council where the lords of Westeros decided who would succeed him, which turned out to be his grandson who would reign as Viserys I. After his queen died, Jaehaerys became a broken shadow of his former self and old age made his mind fade. He died peacefully in his bed, which is EXTREMELY rare in the Game of Thrones universe. He was sixty-nine years old and his death was felt across the Seven Kingdoms. Even Dorne, who were part-time enemies of the Targaryens at the time, mourned Jaehaerys’s death. You know someone was a truly great king if even his enemies mourned him. His reign was a time of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and justice that Westeros would never see again. Thanks to Jaehaerys’s efforts, his grandson inherited a secure throne, an overflowing treasury, and a legacy of goodwill from the people. No other king since has been on Jaehaerys’s level and he was one of the rare few who were truly worthy to rule the Iron Throne.
In the book Fire and Blood, I received a revelation about Old Valyria that was horrifying beyond belief! During the reign of Jaehaerys I, Princess Aerea Targaryen flew off with Balerion the Black Dread and did not return for some time. When they returned, Aerea Targaryen was dying an indescribable death. At first, it was thought she had a common fever, but after the Grand Maester and Septon Barth took a look at her, her condition was infinitely worse than they thought. Aerea was being cooked from the inside out with smoke slithering out of her mouth, nose, and private parts. Eventually, she became so hot that her eyeballs exploded in their sockets and Aerea was begging for death to end her living damnation. In a last ditch effort to cool her down, the Grand Maester and Septon Barth placed her in a tub full of ice . . . THAT was when the worst of the ordeal happened. A swarm of worm/eel creatures with hands and faces burst out of Aerea’s flesh, making unholy noises as they squirmed in the tub. After a while, the worms died along with Princess Aerea. The whole ordeal was so nightmarish that even a holy man like Septon Barth question his faith.
These creatures reminded me of botfly larva, but far worse. The botfly impregnate their larva into the flesh of animals and humans alike. The larva grows under the skin before eating their way out and flying away. I recall one instance in which a man was bitten behind the ear and kept awake at night by the sound of botfly larva eating the flesh inside his head. As for the appearances of the creatures that afflicted Aerea, I pictured them looking like a mixture between eels and salamanders, but more demonic.
Then things got even more frightening when it was revealed that Balerion the Black Dread, the largest and mightiest of the Targaryen dragons, was also injured with a nine foot long cut that was still bleeding. What in the known world could injure a dragon of Balerion’s caliber? These wounds were physical evidence that there was something more powerful and dangerous than the Black Dread!
It was eventually concluded that Balerion took Princess Aerea to the ruins of Old Valyria. Game of Thrones fans have always know that the Valyrians were not just dragonlords but sorcerers as well. However, we never truly got a real glimpse of just how strong their magic was . . . until now! It became clear that the Valyrians used blood magic and dark alchemy to create chimeras and other unnatural monstrosities. This incident with Aerea and Balerion is proof that even though Valyria’s people and dragons are long gone, the Frankenstein monsters that the Valyrians created still linger among its ruins. Up until now, I thought only the Stone Men dwelled in the ruins of Old Valyria, but this shows me that there are far worse things than Stone Men lurking in Valyria’s shadows.
As much as this incident and revelations disgusts and horrifies me, I am VERY curious about what Valyria was like when it was at the zenith of its power. I hope one day we will get to see Valyria in all its glory before the Doom.