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Who The Mad King Is, Explained – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Who The Mad King Is, Explained



More than a decade ago, Game of Thrones took the entertainment industry by storm with its release of the first season. The show’s blend of violence, political intrigue, and unpredictable plot twists made it one of the most popular shows on television. Despite the presence of dragons and white walkers, it was the complex characters, their families, and their political schemes that kept viewers hooked for eight seasons. In 2022, Max released House of the Dragon, a prequel set centuries before the events of the original series. It tells the story of House Targaryen of Dragonstone, the family that ruled the Seven Kingdoms for centuries and controlled dragons. The show’s central character is The Mad King, who had a significant impact on the family’s survival and sovereignty.

For viewers who were not fans of the books, the first season of Game of Thrones was confusing because the show was establishing the rules of the fantasy world simultaneously with the characters. After the series ended, House of the Dragon was announced, which led to some confusion about the Targaryen family tree and the timeline of important events. In contrast, the prequel is focused on House Targaryen and follows the book Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin. The show introduces various new Targaryen characters, and the journey to the downfall of one of the most powerful families in Westeros will be fascinating to watch.

The Mad King, whose real name was Aerys II, is the character that ultimately ended the Targaryen family’s reign over the Seven Kingdoms. He descended into madness after a fire wiped out most of his family, and he was kidnapped and kept prisoner for half a year. His growing paranoia and distrust of everyone around him made him scream to set fire to King’s Landing and its population. He was overthrown by his allies and later killed by his Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister. The character appeared briefly in Game of Thrones in a flashback and was played by David Rintoul.

Both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon do not spend much time explaining how The Mad King is related to either Daenerys or Rhaenyra, two of the main Targaryen characters of the shows. Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys I, who rules in House of the Dragon, is Daenerys’s seven-time great-grandfather. Therefore, Rhaenyra is Daenerys’s six-time great-grandmother, with eight generations between them. The Mad King is Daenerys’s father and Rhaenyra’s five-time great-grandchild. Daenerys claims she is the rightful heir to the throne as her father was the King, and her bloodline ruled for many years, which explains her downfall into madness in the last season.

The Targaryen family tree is long, and The Mad King has enormous potential as an exciting character to watch slowly give in to his paranoia. The House of the Dragon will take a long time because of the distance between The Mad King and Rhaenyra, but the intriguing game for the Iron Throne is quite exhilarating, so there’s no rush to get to this point in the story.

Over ten years ago, Game of Thrones took the world by storm with the release of its first season. The violence and brutality of the story, combined with a political game that was impossible to know what would happen next, created one of the biggest shows of modern television. While the dragons and white walkers were exciting, the characters, their houses/families, and political schemes made the viewers obsessed with the show that ran for eight seasons.



In 2022, House of the Dragon was released by Max. A prequel happens centuries before the beginning of the story everyone knows; it sets the stage for a new battle for the Iron Throne. Focusing on the house that controlled the dragons for centuries and ruled the Seven Kingdoms, House Targaryen of Dragonstone, there is some confusion as to which character was mentioned in Game of Thronesespecially the one that impacted the family survival and sovereignty, The Mad King.

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Here’s who the Mad King is, how he got his name, and the degree of relation he has with the main characters of the House Targaryen in both series: Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).



House of the Dragon vs. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
HBO

Game of Thrones could be confusing for first-time viewers who weren’t fans of the books, as the rules of the fantasy world are being established simultaneously with the world and the big ensemble cast. This led to much uncertainty about how people were related to one another, especially in the first season. After the show’s ending, the prequel, House of the Dragonwas announced, and that led to some puzzlement about the Targaryen family three and the timeline of important events.

Related: House of the Dragon: Where Season 2 Could Go

When Game of Thrones starts, the viewers meet the only Tragaryens left, Daenerys and her brother, Viserys (Harry Lloyd), in a world without dragons. Viserys sells Daenerys for a Dothraki army to return to Westeros and conquer back the Iron Throne.

A very different world is established in the prequel: House of the Dragon is set 200 years before the original when House Targaryen rules Westeros and the Iron Throne with dragons for a long time. The prequel is focused on this particular family and follows the book Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin. There are various new Targaryen characters, and the journey to one of the most powerful houses to complete the downfall will be fascinating to watch. There’s one central character on this journey to ruin, and that is The Mad King.

Who Was The Mad King

Game of Thrones
HBO

King Aerys II, or as he is most commonly called in the fantasy world as The Mad King or Scab King, was the one that ultimately ended the Targaryen house as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Aerys’ descent into madness was not expected, as the King ruled and maintained peace in Westeros for many years and was known for being charming. A fire almost wiped out all the Targaryens, including the Aerys’ father (an irony as they are the house of fire and blood). The event became known as Tragedy at Summerhall. This deeply impacted Aerys’ mental health, as expected.

But that was not enough to make him insane to the point of being executed. Another reason people speculate why he became mad was because Aerys was kidnapped and kept prisoner for half a year by Lord Darklyn in the uprising known as Defiance of Duskendale. After the King was free, he demanded the entire house to be executed and deeply distrusted his Hand, Twin Lannister (Charles Dance), and how he handled his rescue plan.

Related: House of the Dragon: What Viserys Is Sick With, Explained

This pain and growing paranoia made the King not leave the Red Keep for years and distrust everyone around him. It reached a point where he screamed to set fire to King’s Landing and its population. Aerys was overthrown by the allies Tywin Lannister, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), and Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), who later became King. He was killed by his Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The character appeared briefly in Game of Thrones in a flashback and was played by David Rintoul.

The Targaryen Bloodline

house-of-the-dragon-2
HBO

Neither of the series spends too much time explaining who is the Mad King and how he is related to either Daenerys or Rhaenyra, two of the main Targaryen characters of the shows. Because of this, the dragon riders family (in which many characters have similar-sounding names) is quite confused about how closely related they are.

Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), the ruler in House of the Dragonis Daenerys seven times great-grandfather. Therefore, Rhaenyra is Daenerys six-time great-grandmother, being eight generations apart. The Mad King is closer to the Mother of the Dragons: he is Daenerys’ father. Consequently, the Mad King is Rhaenyra’s five-time great-grandchild. Because the throne was taken from the Targaryen a while before Game of Thrones began, and all the family members were hunted, Daenerys spent most of the early seasons in Essos, another continent. She also claims she is the rightful heir to the throne, as her father was the King, and her bloodline ruled for many years. It also explains her downfall into madness in the last season, as her father suffered from it too.

The Targaryen family tree is long, and the Mad King has enormous potential as an exciting character to watch slowly give in to his paranoia. Unfortunately, the House of the Dragon will take a long time because of the distance between the Mad King and Rhaenyra. Nevertheless, the intriguing game for the Iron Throne is quite exhilarating, so there’s no rush to get to this point in the story.

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