Aegon the Conqueror forged the Iron Throne from the swords of his defeated enemies in Westeros. However, his family’s seat of power was no mere symbol of victory. Nor just a warning. Aegon designed the chair to be physically uncomfortable, because “a king should never sit easy.” His descendant, House of the Dragon‘s Viserys I, knows firsthand the perils that come with his royal seat. Literally. He’s already lost two fingers to the chair and his back is covered in open sores incurred by the sharp remnants of vanquished foes. But to some in the Seven Kingdoms those wounds represent something even more dangerous. For there are those who believe the Iron Throne rejects anyone unworthy of sitting on it.
Maegor the Cruel was Aegon the Conqueror’s second son who usurped his nephew’s rightful place as king. He’s also House Targaryen’s most infamous and detested ruler. His memory is why men like Ser Otto Hightower feared Daemon becoming king. They worried he’d be “a second Maegor.” But for all the death and mayhem Maegor brought to Westeros, his reign of terror came to a quiet end. Servants found him on the Iron Throne with his wrists slashed. He also had a large spike from the chair sticking through his neck.
Who killed him? Some say his wife, others his Kingsguard, and a few think he ended things himself. With secret passages throughout the Red Keep, it could have been any of his countless enemies. Many sought revenge against him, and all wanted freedom of his tyranny. But there are some who don’t think any person killed Maegor. They believe the Iron Throne itself brought a bloody end to his heinous rule.
The idea of the Iron Throne having a type of sentience capable of not only judging those who sit upon it but actually harming them remained until the end of House Targaryen’s dynasty. The chair enacted such a toll on the Mad King, Aerys II, that some called him King Scab. His injuries were a sign to some the Iron Throne had deemed Aerys unfit to rule.
In a world of omens, prophecies, dragons, and magic, that’s not as wild a notion as it might seem. And if the Iron Throne really can adjudicate a ruler’s worthiness, Viserys’ many wounds are potentially an ill-omen for both his reign and his family. Is the Iron Throne trying to tell Westeros it chose the wrong person to rule? Viserys only became king thanks to the Great Council of 101. Does the Iron Throne know the lords of the Realm chose the wrong person? Was Princess Rhaenys the rightful heir?
Or is the Iron Throne trying to convey disdain with Viserys’ decisions now? He disinherited his brother Daemon and named Rhaenyra, a woman, as his rightful heir. And he’s sticking with his decision even though Queen Alicent has given him a son. As Otto Hightowe said, by all the “laws of gods and men” little Aegon should be next in line. Is that why the Iron Throne is exacting such a toll on Viserys’ body? Because it is displeased with his plans for succession? Or how Viserys is handling the coming discord?
But whether House Targaryen’s seat of power truly killed Maegor, turned Aerys II into a pin cushion, or is punishing Viserys doesn’t matter. As Viserys told Rhaenyra, perception is what matters. And the fact some believe that chair—made of swords and designed to imperil those who sit on it—can pass judgement on its occupant is a bad sign for whomever claims it as their own.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.