This is the finale to the Aegon’s Conquest series.
Aegon Targaryen had his throne, he had his Kingdoms, but he did not have Dorne. That meant his work wasn’t yet complete.
Aegon spent some time consolidating his power and forces. It takes a lot to get new management settled, but Dorne was always on his mind. It was a bitter thing for him. He considered not taking Dorne a defeat and in 4 AC Aegon launched his invasion to take the southern Kingdom once and for all. Dorne was not like the other Kingdoms though. Not at all. They were greatly influenced by the Rhoynish. Their methods and ideas were different and they meant to hold true to those Martell words. The Dornish were always an exception to the rules.
This is the Dornish War
They learned from Aegon’s Conquest and adapted. The mistakes of others would not be their downfall as well. Rhaenys and Meraxes were sent deep into Dorne. The sights she saw were similar to the last time she had been there. It was seemingly abandoned.
Aegon marched his forces south through the easiest land route into Dorne. They were constantly on their toes. The Dornish defenders didn’t fight battles. They would emerge, hit Aegon’s forces hard, and disappear when they saw even a glimpse of a dragon. His forces weren’t used to the arid heat of Dorne and many men died along the way either from the raids or from heat and thirst.
Every castle Aegon came upon fell easily. Some were completely abandoned. Others surrendered after only a short siege, only for Aegon to realize the only defenders were old men, boys, and woman. One castle sent out a champion to fight Aegon in single combat, which he easily won. He pulled the helmet off the dead man to see that he was a court jester and the true lords had fled long ago. Aegon had taken castles and small groups of Dornishmen, but the Lords and soldiers were all gone.
Orys was sent to capture the Boneway which led to a crippling defeat. Orys and some of his men were captured.
Aegon and his sisters finally reached Sunspear which was also abandoned. They declared themselves victors. What else could they do? They controlled countless empty castles and they couldn’t find a single Lord or Princess. Aegon left Harlen Tyrell an army to put down any rebellions and the Targaryens flew back to King’s Landing.
With resounding speed and ferocity, Dorne rose up to slay the remaining invaders, which was their plan all along. Harlen Tyrell and his army simply vanished and Sunspear was retaken. Aegon received a ransom for Orys and his men which he accepted. The cost was each man’s weight in gold, but after being payed the Dornish decided to take something extra. Each man’s sword hand was cut off. Orys became incredibly bitter after the loss of his hand and it changed him forever.
Aegon was furious. He took his sisters and flew straight back to Dorne, but this time it was for revenge. The Dornish had avoided fire and blood to that point, but they had poked the dragon. Aegon didn’t look for defenders before burning their castles with dragonfire. The Dornish retaliated by attacking places outside of Dorne in Aegon’s land. He continued burning Dornish castles however, refusing to play into their plans.
It all turned to ash in his mouth though.
The Fall of a Dragon
While attacking one such stronghold, a lucky bolt shot through the sky and impaled Meraxes in her eye. She plummeted to the ground, Rhaenys on her back, and both dragon and rider fell. Aegon’s rage lasted two whole years. Rhaenys had been closer to Aegon than anyone else. Visenya was Aegon’s duty but Rhaenys had held his love.
Aegon and Visenya burned every single Dornish stronghold. And some were burned more than once. The only one they left alone was Sunspear for Aegon hoped the Lords of Dorne would turn on the Martells like the Lords had turned on Harren Hoare, but the Dornish were of another kind. For two years they remained loyal as they watched their homes and seats destroyed. If anything, it strengthened their resolve.
Aegon placed bounties on the heads of the Dornish Lords, so they placed a bounty on his. And he was almost killed for it, only being saved by Visenya. This attack led to the formation of the Kingsguard who were handpicked personally by Visenya.
Years passed like this. Dorne and the Targaryens trading blows and trying to destroy each other, neither succeeding to the slightest degree. Aegon had first marched in 4 Ac and the war didn’t come to an end until 13 AC. Nine long years.
Meria Martell, princess of Dorne, finally passed away. Her son became the ruler and he sent Aegon an offer of peace. The skull of Meraxes and a letter. Anyone who knew Aegon knew he would decline the offer,. especially after Rhaenys. Now he not only saw the fall of Dorne as his duty, but a dream of sweet revenge as well.
But when Aegon read that letter he accepted the peace agreement. He withdrew all his forces from Dorne and the two agreed to live together as two separate entities. He never spoke of what was in that letter, but only one good conclusion can be drawn. Rhaenys didn’t die the day she fell, but was injured instead. The letter put this forth and offered to end her suffering if Aegon would agree to peace, otherwise she would be kept alive and suffering, but it will only ever be speculation as the contents of that letter were never revealed.
So, in the end, Aegon never did see the conquest of Dorne come to fruition. In fact, Dorne wouldn’t be subdued for another 100 years. They were an enemy who had been prepared for Aegon, adapted to his strategies, and were extremely cohesive unlike his previous foes. This is one of the only examples in history of a victory over dragons. As I said before, Dorne is an exception to the rule, and my rule is don’t fight people with dragons. They did and won.
The rest of Aegon’s life was spent strengthening his position and legacy. There are tales of Aegon becoming a different man after the Dornish war, mostly due to the loss of Rhaenys. He was always a good King though. Aegon ordered some construction at King’s Landing to be done and returned to Dragonstone for a time. And there at the Painted Table he died of a stroke while telling his grandsons stories of the Conquest. He lived to be 64 and was survived by Visenya, the last remaining head of the dragon. Balerion the Black Dread died many years later and his skull now sits in a dark cellar in King’s Landing.
Aegon’s life may have been tainted at the end by his failure in Dorne and the loss of Rhaenys, but that’s not how he was remembered. He built a dynasty which lasted 300 years and united a continent. He was never remembered as anything less than Aegon the Conqueror.
As always thanks for reading! All information comes from The World of Ice and Fire and The A Song of Ice and Fire series.
#1: GoT Martell sigil
#2: Art by Michael J. Williams
#3: Art by Alyn Spiller
#4: Art by Chase Stone
#5: Art by Michael Komarck