Balerion, famously known as the Black Dread, was a dragon belonging to House Targaryen. During the conquest, he was ridden by King Aegon I Targaryen alongside his sister Queen Visenya’s dragon Vhagar and his sister Queen Rhaenys‘s dragon Meraxes.
Over the years, other notable riders of Balerion included King Maegor I Targaryen, Princess Aerea Targaryen, and Prince Viserys Targaryen. Balerion’s remarkable life ended due to old age in the year 94 AC, during the reign of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. At the time of his passing, he was approximately two hundred years old.
How Balerion Looks Like, His Powers and Color
Balerion, the awe-inspiring dragon of House Targaryen, possessed scales and wings as dark as the night. His fiery breath, often tinged with swirls of red, was a terrifying spectacle. His flames were so potent in his prime that they could liquefy steel and stone, transforming sand into smooth glass with their intense heat.
Among the dragons bred by House Targaryen since the time of Aegon’s Conquest, Balerion stood as the largest. His immense wingspan cast shadows that could shroud entire towns as he soared overhead. His teeth were as lengthy as swords, and his jaws were vast enough to consume a whole aurochs or even one of the hairy mammoths rumored to roam the frigid lands beyond the Port of Ibben.
By the year 93 AC, Balerion had reached his full size. He had become sluggish and unwieldy, challenging to awaken from his stupor. When Prince Viserys Targaryen attempted to claim him that year, the dragon struggled to take flight. Evidently, Balerion had lost the vigor necessary to journey from King’s Landing to Dragonstone.
Balerion’s nature was formidable, and he was not a creature to be trifled with, his legacy forever etched in the annals of Targaryen history.
Balerion derived his name from an ancient god of the Valyrian Freehold, his origins tracing back to the heart of Valyria itself. Born in this legendary land, he was one of the five dragons that Aenar Targaryen carried with him when he fled to Dragonstone, seeking refuge from the cataclysmic Doom of Valyria.
Out of the original five dragons that accompanied Aenar, Balerion stood as the sole survivor, the last living creature to witness the majesty of the Freehold in its prime, his existence a testament to the grandeur and tragedy of a lost era.
Known Riders of Balerion Dragon
- King Aegon I Targaryen
- King Maegor I Targaryen
- Princess Aerea Targaryen
- Prince Viserys Targaryen
First Rider of Balerion | Aegon the Conqueror
Balerion found his legendary rider in Lord Aegon Targaryen, long before Aegon wed his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys. The power of Balerion marked Aegon’s involvement in the conflicts of the Disputed Lands. When Pentos and Tyrosh sought his aid in forming a grand alliance against Volantis, Aegon responded to their plea. Riding atop Balerion, he journeyed eastward to meet the Prince of Pentos and the magisters of the Free City. Subsequently, he flew to Lys, where he set a Volantene fleet ablaze, defending the city.
Following these exploits, Aegon turned his focus to the conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, a campaign during which he and Balerion played a pivotal role. Aegon’s first test saw him descend upon Lords Mooton and Darklyn, swiftly dispatching both adversaries. After the ironborn’s victory at the Wailing Willows, Balerion’s fiery breath consumed the defeated foes on the Gods Eye.
A defining moment came at Harrenhal, where King Harren Hoare, seeking refuge within his imposing fortress, met his fate at the hands of Aegon and Balerion. When Harren the Black refused to yield by sunset, Aegon and Balerion ascended high into the sky before descending upon Harrenhal.
The dragon’s breath was so intense that it liquefied the castle towers, leaving them in the twisted shapes they bear to this day. Harren and his remaining sons met their end, extinguishing the line of House Hoare. Faced with this devastation, the men of Crackclaw Point swiftly surrendered to Visenya, marking another victory for the might of Balerion.
In a pivotal moment during Aegon’s conquest, he rode Balerion alongside his sisters on Vhagar and Meraxes in the famed Field of Fire. Together, their dragons unleashed devastation, incinerating four thousand men, including Mern IX Gardener, the King of the Reach, securing a resounding victory for House Targaryen.
Upon learning of Torrhen Stark, the King in the North, leading an army into the Riverlands, Aegon swiftly raced ahead of his forces on Balerion to confront the threat. When the Targaryen host faced off against the northern army at the Trident, Torrhen’s brother, Brandon Snow, proposed assassinating the dragons to avert destruction.
Remembering the horrors of the Field of Fire, Torrhen chose instead to submit to Aegon’s rule. After being crowned by the High Septon, Aegon, mounted on Balerion, flew through the streets of Oldtown, cheered by tens of thousands of onlookers.
Legend holds that Balerion played a crucial role in forging the Iron Throne after the war, melting the swords of Aegon’s fallen enemies. In the year 2 AC, Aegon and his dragon journeyed to the Iron Islands, ending the succession struggle among the Ironborn.
Aegon’s alliance with Balerion remained unyielding during the First Dornish War. Upon his arrival, he found Sunspear deserted, yet rebellion erupted in Dorne after his departure. In the wake of Lord Orys Baratheon’s mutilation by Wyl of Wyl, Aegon responded with fiery retribution, incinerating several of House Wyl’s strongholds.
With Visenya’s aid, Aegon launched attacks on Sandstone, Vaith, and the Hellholt. Skyreach suffered the same fate after House Fowler assaulted Nightsong. In the two years following the death of Rhaenys Targaryen, Aegon and Visenya’s wrath knew no bounds; almost every Dornish castle, except Sunspear, was engulfed in flames multiple times as a vengeful onslaught.
Aegon’s rule extended far beyond conquest; he embarked on royal progress across the Seven Kingdoms. These visits served not only to acquaint the monarch with his subjects but also to deter rebellion, with the sight of Balerion standing as a potent reminder of Targaryen might.
Second Rider of Balerion | Maegor the Cruel
After the passing of King Aegon I Targaryen, Balerion fell into the possession of his younger son, Prince Maegor, who had coveted the dragon for a long time, deeming all others unworthy. When Jonos Arryn imprisoned his brother Ronnel and declared independence from the Iron Throne, Maegor rode the mighty Balerion to the Vale of Arryn, swiftly quashing the rebellion.
Later, when Maegor faced exile in Pentos due to his polygamous marriage, he took Balerion. Upon the demise of his elder brother, King Aenys I, Maegor returned to Westeros astride Balerion to claim the Iron Throne.
During the Faith Militant uprising, King Maegor and Balerion played a crucial role in the burning of the Sept of Remembrance and the battle at the Great Fork of the Blackwater Rush. Maegor’s wrath extended to the westerlands, where he incinerated the seats of Houses Broome, Doggett, Falwell, and Lorch. Oldtown faced a similar threat, but the city surrendered to the king following the unexpected demise of the High Septon.
In the Battle beneath the Gods Eye, Balerion was Maegor’s instrument in the tragic demise of his nephew Prince Aegon and Aegon’s dragon, Quicksilver. After completing the Red Keep, Maegor initiated the construction of the Dragonpit, a secure abode for Balerion, Vhagar, and other dragons.
Following Maegor’s death, Balerion returned to Dragonstone, leaving behind a legacy of fire and power that echoed through the annals of Westerosi history.
Third Balerion Rider | Princess Aerea
In the latter part of 54 AC, Princess Aerea Targaryen took control of Balerion one morning from the yard of Dragonstone. They vanished, remaining missing for over a year, causing deep concern. King Jaehaerys I Targaryen dispatched expeditions to locate Balerion and the young princess.
Rego Draz, the master of coin, even offered a reward for credible information about their whereabouts, but no reliable leads emerged. Balerion, the largest living dragon in the world, seemed to have vanished without a trace. Septon Barth speculated that the dragon’s absence from sightings indicated Balerion was no longer in Westeros. Desperate for answers, Rhaena Targaryen set off on Dreamfyre to search for her missing daughter and Balerion.
In 56 AC, Balerion returned to King’s Landing, landing in the courtyard of the Red Keep with Aerea barely clinging to him. The princess was gravely ill and succumbed to her sickness shortly after. Barth’s accounts detailed Balerion’s injuries—a massive, jagged rent down his left side, nearly nine feet long, with fresh blood still oozing from the wound.
Barth theorized that when Aerea tried to command Balerion, she failed, and instead, the dragon took her to the place of his birth: Valyria. Subsequently, Balerion became the first dragon to be housed in the Dragonpit, guarded by the Dragonkeepers.
The Rest of the Life
Prince Baelon Targaryen dared to strike Balerion on his snout the first time he entered the Dragonpit. Later, when Princess Alyssa Targaryen sought to claim her own dragon in 75 AC, the Dragonkeepers dissuaded her from attempting to bond with Balerion. They insisted that the dragon had grown old and sluggish, suggesting she choose a swifter dragon instead.
The final rider of Balerion was Prince Viserys Targaryen, who ventured into the Dragonpit to claim the dragon in 93 AC. Balerion proved challenging to awaken, struggling as Viserys encouraged him into the skies. They circled King’s Landing three times, although Viserys later admitted to his father that he had originally intended to fly Balerion to Dragonstone. Concerned about the dragon’s diminished strength, Viserys changed his plans.
Balerion’s life ended in 94 AC, less than a year after Viserys claimed him as his mount, marking the close of an era for the mighty dragon.