House Of The Dragon: 10 Things Fans Always Misunderstand About Viserys Targaryen

WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon and Fire & Blood!As House of the Dragon's viewership continues to rise, fans are now several episodes in after becoming hooked on the Targaryen drama, and they have a pretty good idea of how the succession conflicts got started. However, the path of the story is much more complicated, given the context of books, such as G.R.R.M.'s Fire & Blood.

Many fans haven't read these supplementary stories, so they can come to flawed conclusions about the plot and characters. In particular, fans have many misunderstandings about King Viserys Targaryen, whose decision-making has led to many people questioning his competence to rule. Despite how some fans view King Viserys from the show, some of the things he has done are much more intricate, whether to show loyalty or put duty over anything else.

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Viserys Marrying Alicent For Love

Alicent, Aegon, and Viserys Targaryen in HOTD

After Aemma's death, Viserys was pushed to marry again. The primary suggestion was that he wed Laena Velaryon, who was 12 at the time, but instead, he chose to marry Alicent Hightower, who he had formed a connection with. However, the fact that they shared this connection does not make his decision illogical.

Alicent Hightower was the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the book states that "there could be no possible objection to the king’s choice of bride." She was also old enough to conceive and give birth to children right away, as she was 15 or 16 in the show, and 18 in the books. His duty was to wed a woman of good birth and have children with her—and that's exactly what he did.

He Wasn't A Dragon Rider

Viserys and Rhaenyra split image in House of the Dragon

Dragon riding was a critical element of being a Targaryen, yet audiences never saw Viserys mention his own. For many fans, this seems like proof that he is not as good of a Targaryen as his brother and children. However, his story when it came to dragons is actually more complicated than that.

Fire & Blood notes that Viserys's mother took him flying on her dragon, Meleys, when he was only nine days old. Book readers know that 16-year-old Viserys bonded with Balerion, Aegon the Conqueror's own dragon. Sadly, the dragon was old and died within the year, prompting Viserys to stop flying altogether. Viserys's decision not to bond with another dragon shows his loyalty, not his cowardice.

Viserys's Fatal Flaw Was His Indecision

King Viserys and Lyonel Strong during a Small Council meeting in House of the Dragon

When looking for flaws with Viserys, fans tend to critique his decision-making. For example, Redditor assaulthelicopter said, "He has good intentions and a soft heart, genuine, but unable to make hard decisions. He cannot be firm and forward." While Viserys is undermined by his words to his daughter and wife in the show, he acted decisively on a regular basis.

Viserys made a choice quickly and concretely with regard to Aemma's pregnancy, and whether fans like it or not, he followed through with it. When he learned what Daemon had done, Viserys made the shocking decision to establish Rhaenyra as his heir immediately. He wasn't indecisive in his dealings before that, and he was just trying to handle the situation delicately.

He Suffers From Illness Throughout His Life

King Viserys I Targaryen getting medical treatments in House of the Dragon

One of the biggest changes that the show made from Fire & Blood is showing Viserys having medical problems from the first episode. This gave viewers the impression that he had been sick forever, without giving any real explanation of what was wrong with him. However, the book can add a lot of clarity here.

Viserys was not sick in the books until six years after the events of "The Princess and the Queen," when he tripped and cut himself deeply on the Iron Throne. This became infected, and while it was stopped from spreading, he never regained his health. In the series, he's seen cutting his hand on the throne just after announcing Rhaenyra as his heir. By either timeline, he should have been healthy until that point.

Viserys Is A Bad King

King Viserys standing in front of the Iron Throne while sending his brother Daemon away in House of the Dragon

While Viserys has become a fan-favorite character, many fans think that he is actually a bad king. He doesn't often have his own thoughts about the realm's problems, relying heavily on his Council, and his optimistic view of life can make him seem naive. However, he reigned for 26 years, with no internal wars.

Because of his decisions, the realm was stable and strong, which is about all his subjects could ask. He may be partially responsible for the upcoming war, but he kept Rhaenyra as heir for 24 years of that time, despite Aegon being born so soon after. Even if the show only includes the 13 years viewers have seen so far, that should have been enough to solidify the succession.

He’s Just A Frustrated Dad

Paddy Considine as Viserys I Targaryen and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon

On top of Paddy Considine having one of the best performances in House of the Dragon, Viserys has gotten some excellent lines so far in the show, including many directed at Rhaenyra. Perhaps the best was when he told her that she was his political headache. Because of this, Viserys has become a meme, depicted as a tired father, just doing his best to keep his impetuous daughter in line. However, this is a vast over-simplification of events.

Rhaenyra threw a temper tantrum over his marriage to Alicent for three years, followed by mocking potential suitors. But as soon as it became a serious problem, he ordered her to marry Laenor, which she did. Viserys knows how to choose his battles, which gives him more power when he does demand his way.

Viserys Can’t Stand Up To Alicent

Alicent talking to Viserys in House of the Dragon

Alicent took control of her position after her green dress moment, but her power as queen has convinced fans that Viserys gave up much of his power as king. However, his respect for Alicent's opinion does not mean she can get away with anything.

Alicent herself admits that Viserys "forbade me to speak of it, so I held my tongue." In the book, he proclaims that anyone (including the royal family) who claims the boys are illegitimate will have "their tongues be pulled out with hot pincers." Viserys may let most issues go, but when he stands his ground, Alicent is smart enough to listen.

He Is A Push-Over

King Viserys Targaryen's Small Council in House of the Dragon

Many things were up for debate in Fire & Blood, but "all the chronicles agree that King Viserys hated dissension." This characteristic is extremely prominent in the show, where he tries to cling to easy solutions in order to keep Alicent and Rhaenyra from attacking one another. However, it would be short-sighted to believe this proved his lack of resolve.

When the Small Council objected to him marrying Alicent, “no amount of argument would sway him from his course.” Likewise, when he was pushed to replace Rhaenyra with Aegon as his heir, he stood firm: "The matter had been decided, so far as King Viserys was concerned; it was not an issue His Grace cared to revisit."

Viserys Is Too Weak With Daemon

Viserys and Daemon Targaryen standing in front of the Iron Throne on House of the Dragon

Daemon pushed every boundary he could find, and Viserys generally let him get away with it. This is often used as proof that Viserys is too familial to be a good king, as he let his brother slide on everything. However, there's good reason to believe Viserys had legitimate reasons for giving Daemon a long leash.

As Commander of the City Watch, Daemon had 2,000 soldiers serving under him, who were incredibly loyal and eager for violence. He then had his own soldiers from his war in the Stepstones, and an alliance with Corlys Velaryon. On top of that, Daemon had Caraxes, his wife had Vhagar, and their daughters were learning to ride their own dragons. By humoring him, Viserys kept the peace.

He’s Exempt From All The Prejudices Of His Time

Viserys sits at Aemma's bedside in House of the Dragon

Perhaps because Game of Thrones provided fans with such poor examples of leaders, fans have clung to the idea of Viserys being a progressive and egalitarian king. As Redditor Tristen_24 put it, Viserys "chose a woman as his heir, Allows his daughter to choose her own husband, Is anti-war, [and] Is pro-choice." While this is a reasonable argument, Viserys is still firmly a product of his time.

In the show, Viserys was desperate for a son, constantly diminishing Rhaenyra in comparison to his unborn son. He was also extremely dismissive to the poor and low-born. In the book, he threw money at Daemon's wars, hoping it would keep Daemon out of his way. Viserys may well be the best king that Game of Thrones fans have seen, but that is a far cry from him being a beacon of equality.

NEXT: Every Lesson Viserys Taught Rhaenyra About Ruling In House Of The Dragon

2022-09-30T16:08:30.000Z

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