Fires, Mounts, and Treasons: Unraveling the Undying

I’ve seen several posts about the house of the Undying lately, and I wanted to take a deeper look, because I think there is a lot of shallow interpretation going on that places too much emphasis on Daenerys as a sex object. But if you really look at the House of the Undying, it actually lays out Daenerys’ entire story.

Now, when interpreting the House of the Undying visions we have to take two major things into account.

  1. Martin wrote the House of the Undying scene around 1998 when he was still planning a 5 year gap. There was going to be a time skip after Storm, where Dany spent 5 years ruling in Meereen, Jon spent 5 years as Lord Commander, Arya spent 5 years becoming a Faceless Man, Sansa spent 5 years as Alayne stone, Bran spent 5 years training with Bloodraven, and Tyrion spent 5 years… I dunno, drunk or something? anyways the plan was scrapped, and we got Feast and Dance.
  2. You have to read the visions together to understand how they are supposed to be read. Each set of three is in an intentional order, and the prophecies are for things that have come to pass as well as things that are yet to come.

So let’s get started and divide this into segments. I really just want to focus on the “Mother of Dragons” segment, because those are the ones that are structurally setup to be read as a unit, and are the most specific to Daenerys.

Mother of Dragons, Child of Three

“three fires must you light… one for life and one for death and one to love… three mounts must you ride… one to bed and one to dread and one to love… three treasons will you know… once for blood and once for gold and once for love…”

These are harder to predict than what follows because they aren’t accompanied by visions. It’s only after hearing these prophecies that Dany (not understanding) asks the Undying to *show her,* and we start getting visual representation of the prophecies. So, I’m going to come back to these.

This will make sense later.

Mother of Dragons, Daughter of Death

“Viserys screamed as the molten gold ran down his cheeks and filled his mouth. A tall lord with copper skin and silver-gold hair stood beneath the banner of a fiery stallion, a burning city behind him. Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman’s name. . . . mother of dragons, daughter of death . . .”

The daughter of death set shows Viserys, Rhaego, and Rhaegar. Now one should wonder, why choose these three dead relatives in particular? Why not the Mad King? or her mother Rhaella? and why are they presented totally out of chronological order in which they died (2, 3, 1). Well because these three dead mean something in particular for Dany’s journey.

These visions are about legacy. These are the relatives who’s legacy she takes up, in this exact order.

“It all goes back and back, Tyrion thought, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance on in our steads.” – (Tyrion X, ASOS)

This is a major theme in the novels, and so these three visions are instrumental to understanding Dany’s story from beginning to end, and failure to understand these visions are why the fandom gets so much wrong about her.

    • The first vision is Viserys. Note that prior to Viserys death, the quest to build an army and take back the Seven Kingdoms was not Dany’s, but Viserys’. It’s a crucial fact, but we often forget this that at the beginning of the story Dany didn’t care about Viserys’ obsession, but just wanted to return to her childhood home. To the House with the Red door. But with the death of Viserys it becomes Daenerys who carries on the legacy of House Targaryen and begins to build an army. While Viserys was remembered a beggar king, in Qarth and Astapor Daenerys succeeds where Viserys failed, eventually leading up to her becoming Queen in Meereen.
    • The second vision is a hypothetical Rhaego, her deceased unborn child. Dany must become the Stallion that Mounts the World in Rhaego’s place. While the end of Storm saw Dany choose to rule and maintain peace in Meereen, the end of Dance sees Daenerys choose war and conquest, resolving to take up Fire and Blood. Now she will unite Dothraki under one Khalasar just like Rhaego was meant to. This is the part of Dany’s journey where she wages war and burns cities.
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    • The third vision is of Rhaegar dying at the trident. This foreshadows Dany’s third act, in which she must succeed where Rhaegar failed, and take up the prophecy of the Prince that Was Promised; the savior of prophecy that Rhaegar believed himself to be, before trying to bring into the world as one of his children. The implications here are huge, and call into question: is Dany the prince that was promised, or is it her child? In either case, there is a sacrificial implication to the third vision. This is the final legacy Daenerys must take up, but she will not take it up until after the second.

The order of each set will continue to be intentional. The lies, the mounts, the treasons, the fires. All of them happen in the order they are given.

Mother of Dragons, Slayer of Lies

Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd. From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies . . .

These are the lies that Dany will unveil and destroy. Note that this isn’t necessarily about killing these people, but rather about slaying the lies they represent.

    • The blue eyed king is Stannis, Melisandre’s Azor Ahai. The first lie is that King Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai reborn. He is not.
    • The cloth dragon is clearly fAegon, the mummers dragon. The lie is that King Aegon VI targaryen is the true son of Rhaegar and heir to the throne. He is not.
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    • The stone beast that takes wing is Euron, binding a dragon and flying from the smoking Hightower. The lie is that King Euron Greyjoy is god over the apocalypse. He is not.

Note that like the previous set, these visions are in order. Daenerys will accept the title of Azor Ahai reborn in Volantis. Particularly since the establishing of a time skip, I think there is no way we’re getting an actual war between Stannis and Daenerys. Dany will learn of fAegon’s illegitimacy in Pentos and dethrone him in the Second Dance of the Dragons at King’s Landing (or maybe Storms End). Just based on geography and basic narrative structure we must assume she will bring down Euron Crow’s Eye after that. Maybe at Oldtown but more likely at Harrenhal, in a dragon duel over the God’s Eye.

Mother of Dragons, Bride of Fire

Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright in his dead face, grey lips smiling sadly. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . . . mother of dragons, bride of fire . .

This set has been the most complicated by Hizdahr and the removal of the 5 year gap. Clearly Hizdahr is not the grey lip corpse on the prow of a ship, nor does it represent him. The simple answer is that Martin originally didn’t intend to have Daenerys marry a Meereenese noble, but decided to do so when he introduced the 5 year gap and had to showcase the complexities of Dany maintaining post slavery peace in Slavers Bay.

In any case, these visions are about marriages or betrothals.

    • The first vision obviously represents Khal Drogo. The silver is from him, and he is her sun and stars, and this is on the Dothraki sea. Not much to say here other than that these visions are not meant to be only in future tense, as Khal Drogo is in the past.
    • The second vision represents Euron. Definitely Euron. Not Victarion, not Hizdahr, not Aeron. Euron. You might be wondering why the figure is a corpse, or why he has two bright eyes, or why he’s smiling sadly. and there are two explanations for this. The first is that this was written around 1998, possibly before Martin had a clear picture of Euron. But the better explanation is that the corpse in the vision isn’t Euron, but represents Euron. Jon is not literally a blue winter rose growing from the wall, and Khal Drogo is not literally a horse. But those things represent those two characters. Similarly, the grey lip corpse on the prow of a ship *represents* Euron. Since this was written before the 5 year gap was scrapped, most likely what was going to happen was that Euron would have sent a representative to propose a marriage alliance with Daenerys (Victarion or Aeron), or that Euron himself would come to Meereen to propose a marriage alliance, offering to provide Dany with ships and attack the south in her name, asking for her hand in marriage if he helped her succeed. Even though it’s hard to imagine Dany marrying the terror from the Forsaken chapter, it’s pretty feasible to imagine Dany either marrying or betrothing herself to a toned down version of Euron if he carried himself more like Daario Naharis with political power and status worthy of a queen. Dany would have then arrived in Westeros and eventually encountered Euron again, seeing him for the true monster he is. She would then killed him, widowing herself and opening herself up for the third betrothal/marriage.
    •  

    • The third vision obviously represents Jon. Blue winter rose. Wall of ice. RLJ. Note that again, *the visions are in order.* Jon is presented third and she will get to him third.

Bear in mind this wasn’t intended to be about suitors. Even without the 5 year gap, Dany has had more suitors than just these three men. Xaro proposes in Qarth, and Quentyn proposes in Meereen. This is about men Martin planned to have Dany betrothed to/marry…. before Martin decided to scrap the 5 year gap. That’s why Xaro and Quent aren’t on there. That’s why Hizdahr isn’t on here. Originally Dany was going to be betrothed to or marry 3 men. But then GRRM scrapped that 5 year gap.

Now that we understand that these sets of three are all (intended to be) in order, pertain to Dany’s hero’s journey, and are not exclusively about things yet to come, let’s get back to that first part!

Mother of Dragons, Child of Three: Reprise

“three fires must you light… one for life and one for death and one to love… three mounts must you ride… one to bed and one to dread and one to love… three treasons will you know… once for blood and once for gold and once for love…”

three fires must she light

Daenerys burns things all the time. But the three fires are key moments in her story.

    • The fire for life comes first. It’s the funeral pyre which gave life to her three dragons. This is a fire that brings gives life.
    • The fire for death hasn’t happened yet. But this will be a fire that brings death. I suspect it’s either Daenerys burning the Old Blood of Volantis in their Black Walls (mirroring Aegon the Conqueror roasting Harren the Black and his sons at Harrenhal), or Daenerys setting off the wildfire in King’s Landing and burning down the Red Keep in the Second Dance of the Dragons. Dany is definitely headed to Volantis in Winds, as the city is just waiting to name Dany Azor Ahai and have a massive slave revolt in her name. But then again, setting off a wildfire explosion might be more akin to lighting a single fire than burning the Old Blood in the inner city. We’ll have to see.
    • The fire to love, I’m not sure about. But it’s not a fire for love, but a fire *to love.* Martin intentionally changes out “for” with “to.” Why does Martin do this? is it just like “to love” as a toast? is the fire taking her toward love? or does she love the fire? I lean towards the third. Dany will love the third fire. My guess is that this is the very very end of Dany’s story.

three mounts must she ride.

This is not about a sex position people!

Frankly the reason I decided to make this post was because of how many people think this part is about fucking. This is more significant to Dany’s journey, and interpreting it as just being about sex doesn’t even make sense.

As per the rest of the visions, the mounts have to be in order, and they aren’t only future tense. But looking at this as carnal activity is redundant because one of them is to bed. That’s like having a mount to mount. Does that mean the mount to bed is the man she sleeps with mostly for physical reasons? so Daario? The other visions aren’t future tense, so what is Drogo? is he to bed? In Dany’s mind she loves Drogo? is he to love? but they’re in order. What about Hizdahr? wouldn’t he be to peace? Again, this was written before the scrapping of the timeskip. If Daario doesn’t count would this only count marriages if mount refers to carnal activity? And aren’t marriages covered in the bride of fire segment?

The simpler answer is that this was written before Martin scrapped the timeskip, and it’s not about cowgirl. It’s about riding actual mounts.

    • The mount to bed is the silver. In the books she rides this horse, jumps over some fire, impresses Drogo and then has sex with him. She rides the silver to bed. The moment she rides silver over the fire significant because it’s the first moment in the story in which Dany overcomes fear and begins to take control over her destiny.
    • The mount to dread is Drogon. Drogon is represents the return of Aegon the Conqueror’s Balerion the Black Dread. She learns to ride Drogon at the end of Dance, right before abandoning the peace and compromise that characterized her arc throughout ADWD. She has chosen Fire and Blood. Daenerys will ride Drogon to unite the Dothraki and become the Stallion Who Mounts the World. She is now taking up the legacy of Rhaego. She will now light the fire to death.
    •  

    • The mount to love is… unclear. But based on the last two being literal mounts that she rides, it’s not sex with Jon. Regardless how you feel about Drogo, in her mind Dany loved him. If Dany falls in love with Jon he will not be her first love. So does the mount take her to love, or is mount the thing she will love? Since she didn’t bed the Silver and she likely won’t dread Drogon himself, it’s most likely that the mount to love will take her towards love. My guess is it takes her to light the last fire.

three treasons will she know

This one gets tricky. It’s important to note that these are not the only betrayals Daenerys will face. For example, Brown Ben Plum and the Second Sons betray her in Dance because he learns she cannot control her dragons, but this is neither for blood, gold, or love. But rather that these are three significant betrayals that Dany will suffer for these specific reasons.

“The Undying of Qarth had told her she would be thrice betrayed. Mirri Maz Duur had been the first, Ser Jorah the second. Would Reznak be the third? The Shavepate? Daario? Or will it be someone I would never suspect, Ser Barristan or Grey Worm or Missandei?” – (Daenerys I, ADWD)

It’s also important to recognize that Dany guesses the treasons herself. She guesses that Mirri Maz Duur was for blood, and Jorah was for gold. So she now awaits the third. If she’s right, then Illyrio is going to be the treason for love (he seems quite fond of Young Griff, who I believe to be Illyrio’s son). So we have this wrapped up right?

Except. . . Jorah wasn’t giving information to Varys for gold, but rather for a pardon. Which means she’s wrong about Jorah. And if she’s wrong about Jorah, she’s probably wrong about Mirri too. Which means we have to start from the beginning.

    • Once for blood. Is likely Illyrio. Though he likely loves his son, fAegon being his son makes his treason a treason for blood. Namely his own blood.

Why would you support the cause of Queen Daenerys?

For gold and glory,” the dwarf said cheerfully. “Oh, and hate. If you had ever met my sister, you would understand.” – (Tyrion VII, ADWD)

    • Once for gold. My best guess is that this one is Tyrion and the Second Sons. Quaithe has warned Daenerys not to trust Tyrion (the Lion). While the show has taken Tyrion down a vastly different route, in the books Tyrion’s purpose for siding with Daenerys is not a better world, but rather to reign vengeance upon Cersei. If Daenerys does not accept Tyrion into her inner circle or she does not offer him to take Casterly Rock in her name, and if she punishes the Second Sons for their dubious loyalty during ADWD, then Tyrion and Brown Ben Plum might steal a dragon and go take it themselves, perhaps joining back up with fAegon. After all, the whole purpose of going back over to Dany for the Second Sons was being offered the gold of Casterly Rock.
    •  

    • Once for love. This one will come last. In the above passage, Daenerys considers the Shavepate, Daario, Barristan, Grey Worm, and Missandei. Martin’s writing style dictates that this means it will be none of them. So I have an unusual prediction. The treason for love will be committed by Daenerys herself. In her final act Daenerys will give up any ambitions of being queen or ruling Westeros, and instead sacrifice herself to save it.

 

The Many Titles of Daenerys Targaryen

In conclusion, the House of the Undying is not just crucial to understanding Daenerys, but when you read the Mother of Dragons visions as together it actually lays out the entire three acts of her story. From taking up the cause of Viserys the Beggar King and building herself a Queen’s army, to embracing Fire and Blood and becoming the Stallion Who Mounts the World in place of her stillborn son, to realizing her destiny and fulfilling the prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised.

It’s so much more than the question of queen vs. conqueror. Daenerys Targaryen’s is a khaleesi and a queen. A conqueror and a savior. She is the Mother of Dragons, the Slayer of Lies, the Bride of Fire, the Breaker of Chains, and so much more. When we look at the impact of Daenerys Targaryen, we need only remember the very last line from GRRM’s concluding chapter in the Tuf Voyaging saga, Manna from Heaven.

“Her name was Tolly Mune. But in the histories, they call her all sorts of things.”

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10 thoughts on “Fires, Mounts, and Treasons: Unraveling the Undying

  1. It says “bride of fire” after those three visions, and ironically they match up pretty damn well with the “three mounts you will ride, one to bed, one to dread, one to love.” She rides the mount of the Dothraki (horse) to bed (sex) on her wedding night to her Dothraki husband. I have a feeling she will ride the mount of the Greyjoys (ship) to dread (war) in Westeros with her Greyjoy husband, Euron to get his fleet (or Victarion, but let’s be real that’s Aeron strapped to the bow of Silence in her vision), and she will ride the mount of the Targaryens (dragon) to love (Jon) and meet her Targaryen husband at the Wall to fight the White Walkers.

    And I say this as someone that absolutely loathes the idea of Jon and Dany falling in love.

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    1. I don’t have a problem with the idea of Jon and Dany falling in love, but I’m pretty confident that the mount to dread is Drogon. There is a 1 dragon to 1 rider policy in the story, and now that Dany has mounted Drogon that is the only one of her dragons she will ride. She will ride Drogon to dread and war, but not in Westeros just yet. She still has more to do in Essos.

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  2. Great theories. I do want to point out something and I do disagree with two of your interpretations.

    1) To point out something. In the “bride of fire” prophecy, the silver trots to a darkling stream which is a vision associated with the afterlife (the river that takes you to the afterlife). Also the sky is very reminiscent of the Dothraki Nightsky i.e., their version of the afterlife. The second vision is of a dried out corpse (associated with death) that smiles sadly (and associated with sorrow). The third vision however is associated with life ( a flower grows) and hope (in an impossible place). Also with spring.

    2) To disagree. I think the mounts are literally taking her to the important relationships mentioned above. The mount to be is her silver that takes her to Drogo. The mount to dread is probably a ship that carries her across the Narrow Sea to meet Euron. And the mount to love will probably be Drogon when she flies North to the wall.

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    1. Sorry, I forgot the second thing I disagree with… the three treasons. I think they are associated with each phase of her journey. So the treason for blood is Mirri Maz Duur (she betrays Dany to avenge her kin basically). The second treason for gold will likely happen when Dany is conquering in Essos or Westeros; my guess is someone will betray her to Aegon for gold or will literally sell her out to Euron (depending on how she feels about Euron) and here I agree with you, but I am not convinced it’s Tyrion. And the third treason for love will happen during the fight against the Others and will be either meant to protect her from danger or to protect someone from Dany (if the person betraying Dany views Dany in an unfavorable light e.g., Arya betraying Dany for Jon’s sake).

      Which brings me to my most worrisome question: How is GRRM going to fit everything in two books?

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    2. I can see what you’re getting at with your first premise, though I’m not sure the “death, death, life” thing is necessarily intentional on Martin’s part. Jon is literally going to be an undead person when Dany meets him.

      As for the second part, I don’t think so. A boat is not a mount, Daenerys isn’t going to cross the narrow sea specifically to meet Euron, and in a much earlier draft of Dance Euron was actually supposed to be on his way to meet Dany in Meereen. I think the mount to dread makes so much more sense as Drogon (riding Drogon is an extremely impactful moment in Dany’s arc, and he is literally called Balerion the Black Dread come again). Also one of the reasons I initially wrote this analysis is because I don’t think we should try to apply everything in Dany’s visions to sex and marriage. The there is more to Dany’s story than just who she marries, and so I don’t think the mounts to dread and love are about marriages or romances at all.

      Also generally speaking I don’t think it makes sense to treat solely Jon as representative of “love” when Daenerys in the books was clearly in love with Drogo.

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      1. Yeah, I agree that not everything is related to who Dany marries or who she falls in love with. So who knows? You might be right. I just find it interesting that “love” is mentioned in all three sets of three. You have”for gold”, “for blood”, “for life”, “for death”, “to dread”, “to bed”… and in all instance “for/to love”. So love seems to play an important part towards the end of her story. Maybe it will be something as abstract as “love for her people” or the man she falls in love with might not be Jon at all; there is nothing to say that Dany and Jon’s relationship will be anything more than a strategic military alliance or even a showdown for the Iron Throne (show or no show). But I also find it strange that the only epic love story in this epic saga is Rhaegar and Lyanna and even that happened off panel so to speak.
        As far as her loving Drogo, she did in her own way. I think this was the first time she felt protected and the first time she felt a protagonist in her story. She mostly associated Drogo with sex as he was her first lover; a somewhat oversimplification of love. He also was going to give her her first child. I don’t think she was ever in love with him though.

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  3. Lmao,people who still dont get it that this is Daenerys villain story and try to paint an absolutely horrifying experience at the house of undying as something positive.
    Ill give you a clue. love = fire.

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