The Princess and the Queen

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The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens
The Princess and the Queen.jpg
AuthorGeorge R. R. Martin
Audio read byIain Glen
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesA Song of Ice and Fire
Genre(s)Fantasy
Published inDangerous Women
PublisherTor Books
Media typeNovella
Publication dateDecember 3, 2013
Followed by"The Rogue Prince"

The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens is an epic fantasy novella by American novelist George R. R. Martin, published in the 2013 Tor Books anthology Dangerous Women.[1][2][3] The novella is presented in the form of writings by the fictional historian Archmaester Gyldayn, who is also the "author" of Martin's 2014 novella The Rogue Prince, a direct prequel to The Princess and the Queen.[4] The plot of both The Princess and the Queen and The Rogue Prince is later expanded further in the 2018 novel Fire & Blood, which also spawned a television series in 2022.

A spin-off of Martin's famed A Song of Ice and Fire novel series, The Princess and the Queen is set about 200 years before the events of A Game of Thrones (1996), and chronicles the "continent-burning warfare" of a Targaryen war of succession that explodes between heir to the throne Crown Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (whose supporters are known as "the blacks") and her stepmother Queen Alicent Hightower (supported by "the greens"), who conspired to usurp Rhaenyra and have her half-brother Aegon (Alicent's eldest son) crowned on the Iron Throne instead.[5][6][7] Both Aegon (as Aegon II) and Rhaenyra are crowned by their respective followers at the start of the civil war, and both are eventually killed, but Rhaenyra's supporters emerge victorious, with her oldest surviving child (the older three having died in the war) being crowned as the unchallenged King Aegon III. House Targaryen, continuing through Rhaenyra's direct family line, reigns for the next 200 years, until it is overthrown by Robert Baratheon of House Baratheon, tying the outcome of The Princess and the Queen into the opening status of Westeros in the main A Song of Ice and Fire novels. The civil war is called the "Dance of Dragons" due to the active involvement of dragonriders, and is designated the primary cause for the extinction of dragons in Westeros before the time of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Plot

When King Viserys I Targaryen dies, his second wife and widow, Queen Alicent of House Hightower, conspires a coup and has their eldest son Prince Aegon crowned as King Aegon II, before Viserys' daughter and only surviving child from his first marriage, Crown Princess Rhaenyra, can inherit the Iron Throne herself. Although Rhaenyra is the king's oldest child and had been named heir apparent years before, Alicent and her supporters declare Rhaenyra unfit to rule (as Rhaenyra just had a painful prolonged labor to a disfigured stillbirth) and argue that, as a woman, Rhaenyra should be placed after Alicent's male children in the line of succession.

After Rhaenyra is crowned Queen by her followers at the Targaryen ancestral seat of Dragonstone, her middle son Lucerys Velaryon and King Aegon's younger brother Aemond both take their dragons to seek the support of Lord Borros Baratheon of Storm's End. However, Lucerys and his dragon are attacked and killed there by Aemond. In revenge, Rhaenyra's uncle and second husband, Prince Daemon, has Aegon II's elder son and heir Jaehaerys murdered by a pair of assassins. Soon both branches of the Targaryen royal line are at open war, rallying various noble houses supporting Rhaenyra (known as "the blacks") against those supporting Aegon II and Queen Alicent (known as "the greens").

The war of succession, known as the "Dance of the Dragons" due to both sides having dragonriders, is the first major civil war of the Targaryen dynasty, and sees many Targaryens, dragons and noblemen killed in combat. After some early greens victories, Rhaenyra successfully turns the tide and assaults the capital King's Landing, expelling Aegon II, but her vengeful lust, paranoia and subsequent summary executions of perceived traitors triggered a chaotic riot, during which angry mobs fearful of dragons storm the Dragonpit and killed most of the remaining dragons, and she is forced to flee after just half a year on the throne. Eventually, Aegon II's two brothers Aemond and Daeron and his only remaining son Maelor are all killed, himself rendered crippled and no longer fertile; and Prince Daemon and Rhaenyra's three eldest children are also killed. Rhaenyra herself is betrayed and captured by Aegon II, who brutally executes her by feeding to his disabled dragon Sunfyre, though the war continues with Rhaenyra's supporters rallying behind her fourth son Aegon the Younger, despite the latter being imprisoned as a hostage by Aegon II.

After the greens' last fighting strength is annihilated, the stubbornly defiant Aegon II is assassinated by his own men, and Aegon the Younger is crowned by the victorious blacks as King Aegon III, ending the conflict. However, House Targaryen have lost nearly all of their dragons, and the surviving ones have either gone feral and/or died out eventually during the reign of Aegon III.

Development

According to George R. R. Martin, the Dance of the Dragons, the main conflict portrayed in The Princess and the Queen, was inspired by the 15-year-long civil war in High Medieval England known as The Anarchy, where Empress Matilda, the daughter and heir of Henry I of England, fought a protracted war of succession against her cousin Stephen from 1138 to 1153 AD, which eventually ended with the ascension of Matilda's son Henry II, the founder of the Plantagenet dynasty.[8]

The story was to be included in the companion book The World of Ice & Fire but was removed because the book was becoming too long for the original concept of a fully illustrated book. It and several other stories appeared in abridged versions in other anthologies.[9]

Reception

Entertainment Weekly called the 35,000-word novella "a great demonstration of Martin's ability to dramatize the slippery complexities of power: how evil begets heroism, how heroes become villains".[7] The Princess and the Queen was nominated for a 2014 Locus Award.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Dangerous Women Arrives on Tor.com". Tor.com. July 24, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  2. ^ Martin, George R. R. (January 23, 2013). "Not A Blog: A Dangerous Delivery". GRRM.livejournal.com. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  3. ^ "The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens by George R.R. Martin". Goodreads. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Martin, George R. R. (March 12, 2014). "Not a Blog: The Rogues Are Coming..." GRRM.livejournal.com. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  5. ^ Driscoll, Molly (July 31, 2013). "George R.R. Martin's new novella will be a part of the anthology Dangerous Women". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  6. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Dangerous Women by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois". Publishers Weekly. October 7, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Franlich, Darren (December 6, 2013). "Book Review: Dangerous Women". Entertainment Weekly. p. 81. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  8. ^ Preston, Richard E. "The Anarchy: The real war that inspired House Of The Dragon". WinterIsComing.net. Retrieved 2022-09-26.
  9. ^ "August 2018: George R.R. Martin Special Event" (Podcast). August 14, 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2018 – via soundcloud.com.
  10. ^ "2014 Locus Awards Winners". Locus. June 28, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.