Dragonstone is the name of the island located at the entrance to Blackwater Bay and the castle thereon, which was shaped from stone to look like dragons. Dragonstone was the original seat of House Targaryen in Westeros, which they had colonized and fortified as the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold. After the Targaryen conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, the island served as the seat of their heir apparent, known as the Prince of Dragonstone. After Robert Baratheon overthrew the Targaryens, he gave the island to his brother Stannis, creating House Baratheon of Dragonstone. The castle has a dark reputation.
The Island of Dragonstone
Dragonstone is a volcanic island at the mouth of Blackwater Bay, created by the active volcano, Dragonmont. The island is damp and dreary. The castle of Dragonstone is a small fortress located on the face of the volcano. Outside its walls sits a small fishing village on the stormy coast. Beneath Dragonmont are rich deposits of dragonglass. There is much obsidian seen in the old tunnels beneath the mountain, found in chunks and boulders. The greater part of it is black, but there is some green obsidian as well, some red, even purple. Through the dalliance of many Targaryen lords and princes over the years, many of the smallfolk of the island are descendants of that dynasty, and are known as dragonseeds. A short distance off the coast is the island of Driftmark, which is the seat of the bannermen of House Velaryon, another Valyrian house. Dragonstone, though old and strong, commands the allegiance of only a few lesser lords whose islands are too thinly populated to provide any great numbers of troops.
The Castle of Dragonstone
The ancient fortress of Dragonstone was built using advanced Valyrian techniques of masonry that were lost in the Doom, causing it to look unique among all the castles in Westeros. The citadel of Dragonstone is wrought all of black stone (the "stones of hell", if the old tales are true), its towers carved into the shapes of dragons, and 1,000 gargoyles carved into various shapes serve as brooding crenellations along the three curtain walls. When Maester Cressen first came to Dragonstone the army of grotesques had made him uneasy, but as the years passed he grew used to them, and in his old age came to think of the 12 foot tall hellhound and wyvern on his windswept balcony as old friends. The design of the castle is very dragon-oriented. Small dragons frame gates and dragon claws hold torches. A pair of great wings cover the armory and smithy, and tails form archways and staircases.
- The Stone Drum is the central keep of Dragonstone, named as such because of the booming sound made by the powerful winds during storms. Cells in the dungeons beneath the citadel are warmer than they ought to be, but as dank as one might expect for an isle such as Dragonstone. It is said that there are shafts and secret stairs leading further below into the heart of the Dragonmont. The Stone Drum is connected to the dungeon tower by a high stone bridge that arches over emptiness.
- The Chamber of the Painted Table, located on the top floor of the Stone Drum, is a round room, with four tall windows, overlooking the north, south, east and west. It holds a large table, carved and painted in the form of a detailed map of Westeros. Here, Aegon the Conqueror planned for the invasion of Westeros. The Painted Table is more than fifty feet long: roughly twenty-five feet wide at its widest point and four feet at its thinnest. At the precise location of Dragonstone is a raised seat that allows the occupant to view the entire map.
- The Great Hall is carved in the shape of a huge dragon lying on its belly; its doors are set in the mouth and those entering pass through its mouth. The kitchens resemble a curled up dragon where the smoke and heat vented through its nostrils.
- Aegon's Garden is a garden near the arch of the Dragon's Tail. Within its confines grow tall trees on every side, as well as wild roses. Cranberries grow in a boggy spot. Aegon's Garden has a pleasant pine scent.
- Windwyrm is one of the towers of Dragonstone. It is shaped like a dragon and arches into the sky, screaming defiantly.
- Sea Dragon Tower is shaped like a dragon at peace, facing the sea. The maester's chambers lie in this tower, below the rookery. The stairs of the tower are narrow and twisting. Going down the stairs of the Sea Dragon Tower, one must then cross the gallery, pass through both the middle and inner walls with their gargoyles and black iron gates, and climb even more steps to reach the Chamber of the Painted Table.
- The Sept contains carved statues of the seven aspects of the Faith of the Seven's god. The Crone has pearl eyes, the Father a gilded beard, and the Stranger looks more animal than human. They had been carved from the masts of the ships that carried the first Targaryens to Dragonstone, and many layers of paint and varnish had been applied to them over the centuries. The sept has several altars and stained glass as well. It is said that Aegon the Conqueror knelt to pray in Dragonstone's sept the night before he sailed to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. This may be apocryphal, as Aegon only publicly converted when he reached Oldtown during his invasion - the sept could have been constructed after that fact.
House Targaryen colonization
A century or so before the Doom of Valyria, House Targaryen, a noble Valyrian house, took possession of the island and built a castle upon it, which became the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold. The castle towers were shaped by Valyrian magic to look like dragons, giving it the name Dragonstone. Twelve years prior the Doom of Valyria, the head of House Targaryen at the time, Aenar Targaryen, relocated his family and five dragons (including Balerion) to Dragonstone, because of the visions of his maiden daughter. In Valyria their rivals saw their flight to Dragonstone as an act of surrender, as cowardice. Four of the dragons brought from Valyria eventually died on Dragonstone, leaving only Balerion. However, two eggs hatched and Vhagar and Meraxes were born. The Targaryen Lords of Dragonstone were:
- Aenar the Exile, who led the Targaryen exodus to Dragonstone.
- Gaemon the Glorious, son of Aenar, brother-husband to Daenys the Dreamer.
- Aegon Targaryen and Elaena Targaryen, the children of Gaemon and Daenys, who ruled together as kin and a couple.
- Maegon Targaryen, the son of Aegon and Elaena.
- Aelix Targaryen, Baelon Targaryen and Daemon Targaryen, the sons of Maegon.
- Aerion Targaryen, the son of Daemon Targaryen, married to Lady Velena of House Velaryon
War of Conquest
Roughly a century after the Doom, Aegon I launched his invasion of the continent, conquering six of the Seven Kingdoms. He established the city of King's Landing where he first made landfall at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. King's Landing became the capital and Dragonstone became the seat of the heir apparent to the Iron Throne, who was styled the "Prince of Dragonstone".
The Dance of the Dragons
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, who was pregnant at the time, was in confinement on Dragonstone when Viserys I died. After receiving the news of his death and Aegon II’s coronation she was driven into a black fury and went into early labor, delivering a stillborn girl. The black council first formed and met on Dragonstone to decide how best to deal with Aegon II and the greens. The Battle in the Gullet took place north and south of Dragonstone. With the Blacks using the island as a base, they opted to try to increase their air power by recruiting some of the dragonseed smallfolk to bond with their spare dragons. Many died, but eventually enough gains were made that the balance of the war was shifted. Rhaenyra eventually flew to King's Landing, leaving an ineffective garrison at the castle and Ser Robert Quince as castellan instead of Ser Alfred Broome. Rhaenyra took King’s Landing and seized the Iron Throne. As the city fell to his half sister, Aegon II was smuggled on a skiff to Dragonstone. The wounded Sunfyre eventually flew from Rook's Rest back to Dragonstone and joined Aegon where the two stayed in hiding. Aegon eventually took Dragonstone with the help of some of the islanders, including Alfred. After the Storming of the Dragonpit Rhaenyra fled King's Landing back to Dragonstone, thinking she would be safe, unaware that the island had fallen to Aegon II. Upon her arrival she was seized and delivered to her brother who fed her to his own dragon.
War of the Usurper
After the royalist defeat at the Battle of the Trident, Queen Rhaella and Prince Viserys were evacuated to Dragonstone with the Red Keep's master-at-arms, Ser Willem Darry, before King's Landing fell to the rebels. As Robert's Rebellion wound down, Dragonstone became the last haven of the remaining Targaryens. Nine moons after their midnight flight from King's Landing Rhaella died giving birth to Princess Daenerys while a raging summer storm threatened to rip the island fastness apart. The Targaryen fleet was smashed while it lay at anchor, and huge stone blocks were ripped from the parapets and sent hurtling into the wild waters of the narrow sea. Dragonstone's garrison was prepared to sell Viserys and Daenerys to the new king, Robert Baratheon. Just before Stannis Baratheon, Robert's brother, prepared to sail to Dragonstone, Ser Willem Darry and four loyal men broke into the nursery one night and stole the children, the last scions of House Targaryen, and fled with a wet nurse, setting sail under cover of darkness for the safety of the Braavosian coast. Stannis commanded the successful Baratheon assault on Dragonstone.
After Robert's Rebellion
After the war, the castle passed to Stannis Baratheon, who became Lord of Dragonstone. Stannis resented the castle because its lands were far poorer than those of Storm's End, which he felt was his due as heir of House Baratheon, but King Robert had granted that castle to their younger brother, Renly Baratheon. Robert felt a strong leader should be placed in the old Targaryen seat, and its occupant was traditionally the heir to the Iron Throne. However, Robert was also angered that the Targaryen children had escaped to Essos, and Stannis considered Dragonstone to be an insult. Years later Stannis is still brooding and has not forgotten or forgiven Robert for not giving him his due, and says so to old Maester Cressen:
- "I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it. I took it because Robert’s enemies were here and he commanded me to root them out. I built his fleet and did his work, dutifully as a younger brother should be to an elder, as Renly should be to me. And what was Robert’s thanks? He names me Lord of Dragonstone, and gives Storm's End and its incomes to Renly. Storm’s End belonged to House Baratheon for three hundred years; by rights it should have passed to me when Robert took the Iron Throne."