The Targaryens aren’t the only ones fighting the war in House of the Dragon. A potential new character could shake things up for Rhaenyra and Daemon.
As the second season of “House of the Dragon” kicks off, the Targaryen civil war for the Iron Throne is intensifying. At the forefront of the conflict are the Targaryens and Hightowers, turning their once innocent friendship between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower into a bloody rivalry. However, they are not the only ones fighting on the front lines. A group of dragon riders known as “Dragonseeds,” affiliated with Team Black, takes flight, led by a young woman named Nettles, the most crucial member of the team.
Nettles becomes significant as Rhaenyra seeks to reclaim her rightful claim to the Iron Throne and recruits more fighters for the war. Yet, their stories intertwine in a dark way when Daemon, Rhaenyra’s uncle and husband, aligns with the Dragonseeds. With the release of House of the Dragon Season 2 on HBO still months away, there’s no word yet on whether Nettles will make an appearance. If she remains absent from the series, it will undoubtedly have serious implications for the arcs of Rhaenyra and Daemon, and not for the better.
As Corlys Velaryon once said, “History does not remember blood; it remembers names.” However, in the context of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, this usually applies only to the powerful houses like Targaryens, Starks, or Lannisters. In the history of Westeros, small names often fade into obscurity. But in the case of Nettles and the Dragonseeds, they have overcome all obstacles. Before delving into Nettles’ significance and the dynamics of her relationship with Daemon and Rhaenyra, it’s essential to understand what Dragonseeds truly are and why both Rhaenyra and Daemon trust them with great responsibility.
George R. R. Martin’s “Fire and Blood” defines Dragonseeds as scions of the Valyrian bloodline, usually with a Valyrian male as their father. They reside on the islands of the Blackwater Bay, near Dragonstone. Their origin is part of a widespread tradition of vanishing marriage, known as the “First Night,” where a king or lord would consummate his marriage with a commoner on the first night. Targaryens embraced this tradition at the pinnacle of their peculiar rites, and any child born of such an encounter was recognized as a Dragonseed.
During the Dance of Dragons, Jaehaerys Velaryon initiated the search for potential dragon riders due to the multiple unclaimed dragon eggs on Dragonstone. Many attempted and failed, but among the successful ones were the Dragonseeds, including Nettles. Described with brown coloring, a severed nose from thieving, and a coarse tongue, she was born in a Docksides sex worker’s home on Driftmark and grew up in Spicetown and Hull.
At the age of 16, she tamed a wild dragon by bringing a dead sheep every morning, displaying courage like any soldier for the Whites. However, as Rhaenyra faced more losses and betrayals, Nettles’ loyalty to her was tested.
The true nature of the relationship between Nettles and Daemon raises significant questions in the history of the war. Mushroom claims that Daemon fell in love with Nettles as they spent more time together, especially during their travels on Dragonback and in Maidenpool. Allegedly, he took her as his bedmate and betrayed Rhaenyra during their encounter.
Another source, the Mistress of Maidenpool, denies their intimate connection, asserting that they merely slept together without emotional attachment. They shared meals and, in some instances, servants claimed to have seen them sharing a bath. However, Noren insists that their relationship was like that of a father and daughter.
Their rumored romance ultimately reaches Maesaria, leading to suspicions of treason against Nettles on the part of the Black Queen. Maesaria orders Nettles’ death, but her wish is rejected by the Lords of Norren and Maidenpool, giving Nettles the opportunity to escape. Nettles’ fate remains unknown, although some claim that he survived the battle above Isle of Faces, avoiding falling in the Dance of Gods and reuniting with the Dragons. Maesaria’s order for Nettles’ execution sheds light on her growing obsession and potential delusion, as the dance turns ugly.
Gradually, she loses her Velaryon children one by one, along with any genuine emotions. She transforms into the kind of ruler she despised, using fear and blood to sway people to her side. Issuing an order to kill a guest during a feast goes against the sacred hospitality rules in Westerosi culture. Criticism towards Nettles and the Dragons leads to hostility from Corlys Velaryon and possibly Daemon, making her even more enraged. In the eyes of Westeros, Maesaria begins to reveal her true colors as a ruler who crumbles under pressure, providing another reason for them to turn against her.
Nettles’ presence in the war also highlights the complexity and toxicity of the marriage between Maesaria and Daemon. If there was any connection between Daemon and Nettles, it shows how little importance he gave to his marriage. Despite years of caring for Nettles, Daemon ultimately betrays her during the war, engaging in a deceitful relationship with a common woman. Falling in love with an ordinary person rather than a rightful Targaryen queen is a significant insult to Maesaria. Daemon’s attempt to manipulate Nettles doesn’t necessarily mean he has stopped loving Maesaria, but he disrespects her.
Recently, there have been rumors that Nettles and Rhaegon Targaryen will not appear in House of the Dragon Season 2. However, this information should be taken with caution as it comes from an unofficial source on Twitter/reddit, so the presence of both characters is still uncertain. Nevertheless, it has sparked discussions on how the story would be handled without Nettles. It’s possible that House of the Dragon could follow Game of Thrones’ example by condensing the story to a single character, possibly aligning it with Rhaena Targaryen. Season 1 set the stage for a significant role for Rhaena in the second season as she was one of the few Targaryens without a dragon.
Their successful attempt to control Sheepstealer could strengthen their bond with her father in an ideal way, as their relationship already seems particularly strained. However, despite their efforts, Rhaena already has a story in Fire and Blood that can be easily adapted for the screen, and Nettles is essential to tie up the intricacies between Daemon and Rhaenyra’s characters.
As the war progresses, taking sides between Team Black or Team Green becomes challenging because both commit atrocities. Innocent people become collateral damage, children become pawns for revenge, and loyal followers are thrown to the wolves. The tragic situation with Nettles shows that Rhaenyra and Daemon are not entirely innocent in the war.
No side is perfect, and Team Black has reached the same level as Team Green at various points. Most importantly, Nettles reveals the true nature of Daemon. Including Nettles in a relationship with Nettles, House of the Dragon highlights a pattern for Daemon: making young women feel important, giving them grand gifts, empowering them emotionally, and using their emotional strength.
Knowing that he can easily harass these women, making them feel controlled, and since he will never have the power of a king, he uses his influence as a Targaryen to his advantage. Removing Nettles from the story means removing any dilemma for Rhaenyra and Daemon, which goes against the principles of House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones’ gray characters.
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