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Dragons of Ice and Fire

22nd Aug 2017
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In the TV Series Game of Thrones and the books Song of Ice and Fire, Dragons are shown to possess awesome and devastating power, capable of laying waste to armies and burning entire cities to ashes. Men who were able to tame and ride dragons as beasts of war used them to burn their enemies and forge vast empires across the continents of Essos and Westeros. The last surviving dragons in the world are possessed by House Targaryen. Aegon the Conqueror used them to conquer and unify the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros three hundred years before the War of the Five Kings. Most of the Targaryen dragons died in the Dance of the Dragons about a century and a half later, and after that, the only dragons the Targaryens were the size of cats. Soon after the civil war ended, the last Targaryen dragons died, and the species was considered to be extinct throughout the world. When the War of the Five Kings began in Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen was in possession of three petrified dragons eggs. They were given to her as a wedding gift, beautiful to look upon and valuable beyond comprehension, but otherwise useless. However, in a shocking display of old magic, Daenerys miraculously made the eggs hatch, and for the first time in generations, filling the skies of the world with the music of dragons once more.

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Dragons of Ice and Fire

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Balerion

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Balerion, known as Balerion the Black Dread, was the dragon ridden by Aegon the Conqueror during the War of Conquest. He was so large it was said his shadow could swallow an entire town when Balerion took flight. Balerion was employed by Aegon the Conqueror to burn and half-ruin Harrenhal. Balerion later participated, along with the other two Targaryen dragons, in the climactic battle of the War of Conquest: the Field of Fire. In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Balerion was the last surviving dragon from Valyria. When the Targaryens resettled on Dragonstone to escape the coming Doom of Valyria, they took five dragons with them, but four of these later died, leaving only Balerion. However, the other dragons did leave behind eggs, from which hatched Meraxes and Vhagar. Aegon personally used Balerion to burn out Harrenhal. Balerion destroyed the castle all by himself, as the other two dragons were away fighting other campaigns. He then took part in the Field of Fire alongside Vhagar and Meraxes. After Aegon I died, Balerion bonded with his second son Maegor, known as "Maegor the Cruel". His first son Aenys succeeded Aegon upon his death, but Aenys had already bonded to the dragon Quicksilver. Maegor refused to attempt to bond with any dragon in his youth, intentionally waiting until his father died and Balerion was available for a new rider - feeling that he was worthy of nothing less than riding Balerion himself. Maegor made extensive use of Balerion during the eleven year long Faith Militant uprising, burning hundreds of members of the Faith Militant at King's Landing. He also participated in the major battle at the big fork of the Blackwater, albeit the rebels intentionally attacked during a heavy rainstorm so Balerion would have difficulty flying. Balerion lived to just over two centuries old. The Targaryens moved to Dragonstone with Balerion about a century before the Targaryen Conquest of Westeros, and Balerion is stated to have died almost a century after that, late in the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. George R.R. Martin stated that Balerion died of old age, not from combat. Balerion's last rider was Jaehaerys I's grandson (and later successor), Viserys I, who did not bond with a new dragon after Balerion died. Jaehaerys I himself didn't ride Balerion, because he was bonded to Vermithor, who during the Dance of the Dragons was the oldest and largest dragon after Vhagar. It is unknown if Balerion had another rider in the number of years after Maegor died but before Viserys I rode him. Balerion was the greatest Targaryen dragon who ever lived, the largest since the fall of Valyria. Dragons keep growing for their entire lives, meaning that Balerion was even larger during the Faith Militant uprising. Only Vhagar ever managed to approach Balerion in size, but only many years after his death. Vhagar was the youngest of the original three Targaryen dragons and therefore was not as large as the others. By the time of the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons in 130 AL, however, Vhagar was approaching two hundred years in age, and had become nearly as large as Balerion during the War of Conquest. During the Dance, Vhagar's body core was said to be about five times larger than a war horse, meaning that Balerion was somewhat bigger than this. Balerion's skull was the largest in the collection of 19 dragon skulls that the Targaryens displayed in the Red Keep. Balerion apparently mated with both Vhagar and Meraxes, though the exact lineage of subsequent Targaryen dragons has not yet been directly stated. Balerion was colored black (hence his sobriquet of "The Black Dread"), with red highlights.
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