In George R.R. Martin’s vast world, there are hundreds of characters. One must be mad to know the exact count. Those who have read the books have had the privilege of getting acquainted with all of them, while those who watched the series only met a certain portion. In this sprawling universe, though many heroic deeds are accomplished by men because it sets in a wild era of medieval mindset, women also bear significant weight. They have played pivotal roles in shaping the universe, sometimes wielding swords and other times contributing with their cunning plans. The series introduced us to numerous important female characters, such as Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Ygritte, the Sand sisters, and many more. We had the chance to watch and get to know all these characters, each playing a significant role in the story. However, the universe is filled with even more women beyond what we see on the screen.
While some may not contribute much to changing the period they live in, others have etched their names into history. In this piece, I wish to talk about some female characters who are essential to the books but remained unseen in the series, yet played pivotal roles in shaping the order of events. Some of them might appear in future seasons of House of the Dragon or potential spin-off series, while others might remain among the possibilities of never being shown. For instance, Arianne Martell, a name frequently mentioned in the books but never seen in the series. If you are intrigued by George R.R. Martin’s magnificent universe and enjoyed watching the series, I believe knowing about these women will further deepen your love for the world he has created.
Daenys the Dreamer Targaryen
If you read the article I wrote about the state of Westeros before the Targaryens, you will realize the significance of Daenys as a character. Before Aegon the Conqueror, the Targaryens were dwelling on Dragonstone, owing to the sudden destruction of Valyria, the once magnificent civilization ruled by 40 different families, including the Targaryens.
Among the Targaryen dynasty, Aenar had a daughter named Daenys. One day, Daenys had a dreadful dream foretelling the downfall of Valyria. Fearful of the truth behind her vision, she confided in her father about the dream. Instead of dismissing her concerns, Aenar chose to believe her. He sold all his possessions in Valyria and departed the realm with the Celtigar and Velaryon families aboard Velaryon’s ships.
While other families in Valyria mocked the Targaryens for their impulsive actions, destiny proved Daenys right. Valyria was obliterated overnight. Thanks to Daenys’ dream, the Targaryens, Celtigars, and Velaryons managed to escape disaster. It is said that Valyria was reduced to ashes due to a volcanic eruption that once housed dragon eggs.
Nymeria and her fleet of ten thousand ships were in the production phase as a spin-off series, but HBO abruptly withdrew its support. Perhaps they assumed that a series centered around a female character would not garner enough viewership. However, Nymeria is undeniably one of the most crucial figures in Westerosi history, playing a significant role in shaping the continent’s early history.
Before the fall of Valyria, the dragonlords held dominion over much of Essos and continued their expansion. The dragonlords, especially with the aid of their dragons, conquered the remaining regions one by one. One of the territories they encountered was the land of Rhoynar. Initially, Rhoynar welcomed Valyria’s westward expansion in a friendly manner, but they soon came to view Valyria as a threat, sparking the Rhoynar Wars. The Rhoynar and the local populace, unwilling to submit to Valyrian rule, engaged in nine great battles against Valyria.
Prince Garin of Chroyane, a Rhoynar noble, rallied those around him and assembled a formidable army to confront Valyria. During this time, Nymeria held rulership over the city of Ny Sar. However, she clashed with Prince Garin, warning him that they would not emerge victorious from this conflict. Despite Nymeria’s counsel, Garin disregarded her advice and led his army against Valyria. Following a few minor victories, the Ninth Battle, known as the Second Spice War, ended in Valyria’s triumph, and Garin fell in battle, leaving Nymeria with no choice but to flee.
Gathering her people around her, Nymeria collected every ship they could find and set sail from Essos. Legend has it that Nymeria led a fleet of ten thousand ships. Embarking on this colossal fleet, Nymeria first settled in the Basilisk Isles, then the Isle of Toads, Sothoryos, Zamettar, and finally, the Summer Isles, but they were forced to depart each location due to various afflictions. Ultimately, Nymeria changed her course westward and arrived at the southeastern point of Westeros, known as Dorne. The region was under the rule of House Martell. However, instead of engaging in conflict with the arriving strangers, Mors Martell found it wiser to negotiate and unite through marriage with Nymeria. As a result, Nymeria became the princess of Dorne and dedicated 27 years to ruling the region, engaging in many battles to maintain its peace and loyalty to its roots. The legend of Nymeria continues to be remembered through songs and poetry, passing down through the generations.
Following the downfall of Valyria, the Targaryens settled in Dragonstone in the West and lived there in isolation for a long time without interfering with either the East or the West. Until Aegon decided to conquer Westeros with his later-to-be wives, his sisters. Rhaenys played a significant role alongside her sister Visenya in the conquest of Westeros. Rhaenys’ place in history, marked by the devastation caused by her dragon Meraxes, remains a great tragedy and an unsolved mystery.
After the three Targaryens secured all corners of Westeros, Rhaenys traveled to Dorne, the only unconquered territory, which bore the roots of Nymeria. When Rhaenys arrived in Sunspear, she encountered an 80-year-old Meria Martell. Despite the potential for total destruction, Meria declared that her people would never kneel. Thus began the war that would span years between the Targaryens and Dorne.
Dorne employed a unique tactic, always staying one step ahead in the war. The Martell forces would retreat underground when the dragons arrived and reemerge after the dragons departed. Regardless of the efforts and battles waged by the Targaryen armies, they could not subjugate Dorne. In an attempt to resolve the situation entirely, Rhaenys flew to Dorne with her dragon Meraxes in the 10th year After the Conquest. A bloody battle unfolded at Hellholt, where Dorne answered dragonfire with their own flames. However, the fate of the battle was decided by a Scorpion arrow. One of the arrows pierced Meraxes’ eye, causing the massive dragon to crash onto the castle along with its rider, Rhaenys.
There is no definite information about what happened to the fallen Meraxes and Rhaenys. Some accounts claim that Rhaenys died alongside her dragon, while others suggest she survived but was taken captive. Whatever the truth may be, no one ever saw Rhaenys and Meraxes again. Upon learning of the deaths of his wife and sister, Aegon mounted his dragon Balerion and set all of Dorne ablaze. However, Aegon’s invasion of Dorne came to an end three years later, in the 13th year After the Conquest, upon reading a letter from Nymor Martell. Unfortunately, we do not know what the letter contained. Some claim that Rhaenys was still alive and suffering, while others present a much more chilling claim: The entire letter was written in Rhaenys’ blood.
Visenya was not as unlucky as her sister Rhaenys. With a much longer life ahead of her, Visenya played a significant role in shaping Westeros. As the rider of the colossal dragon Vhagar, she, along with her siblings, played a crucial role in the conquest of Westeros. However, not all conquests were achieved through fire and blood. When the three siblings ventured north, they encountered Torrhen Stark and his 30,000 soldiers. Surprisingly, when Torrhen Stark kneeled, the Targaryens took the North without engaging in battle. Torrhen Stark, although chosen as the leader of the region, is forever remembered as the king who knelt.
Following the success in the North, Visenya set out for the eastern Vale of Arryn, expecting resistance. However, when she landed in the gardens of Eyrie, she encountered the young king, Ronnel Arryn. Upon arriving in the garden, Lady Sharra Arryn saw that the young king wished to be taken on a ride by Visenya on her dragon. Not wanting to disappoint the young king, Visenya took him on a delightful journey through the sky. After witnessing this, Lady Sharra realized they had no chance against the Targaryens and surrendered directly.
After the war with Dorne, Aegon withdrew to the King’s Landing and began ruling Westeros from there. During this time, Visenya had two children, Maegor and Rhaena. After a long and prosperous life, Aegon passed away in the 37th year After the Conquest, and the throne passed to Aenys, Rhaenys’s son. However, neither the kingdom nor Visenya was pleased with this situation, as Aenys possessed a weak character. In contrast, Visenya’s son, Maegor, followed in his father’s footsteps and was a true warrior.
Aenys’ reign was marred by failures and hiding behind closed doors. Upon Aegon’s death, the kingdom was plagued by rebellions, and Aenys proved incapable of responding effectively. Instead of taking action, he chose to seek refuge in Dragonstone, where he eventually succumbed to death, despite all efforts to keep him alive.
According to the laws, the throne should have passed to Aenys’ son, Aegon. However, Visenya convinced the council that her son, Maegor, was the only one capable of resolving the kingdom’s crisis. Thus, Maegor was placed on the throne. As his mother had predicted, Maegor managed to suppress the rebellions in Westeros, but he proved excessively cruel. Visenya had brought a dictator to the throne. Maegor’s unjust ascension to power led Aenys’ son, Aegon, to revolt. Maegor challenged Aegon and emerged victorious in a dragon battle over God’s Eye, resulting in Aegon’s death and marking the first instance of fratricide within the Targaryen family.
After this event, Visenya moved to Dragonstone and began living there. Despite being healthy enough to ride her dragon and challenge the kingdoms, Visenya collapsed within a year and eventually passed away due to her illness. Following Targaryen tradition, Visenya’s remains were cremated, and her ashes were placed next to her brother and husband, Aegon.
King Aenys had six children, the eldest of whom was Rhaena Targaryen. Rhaena, riding Dreamfyre, holds a place in Westerosi history marked by great shame. Her life was not easy, as she was married to her brother, Aegon, and they had two daughters, Aerea and Rhaella. However, when Visenya, for political reasons, passed Aegon’s rightful throne to Maegor, Aegon rebelled. Rhaena stood as Aegon’s staunchest supporter, but when Maegor killed Aegon in a duel at God’s Eye, Rhaena became a widow. Even worse, she was forced to marry Maegor. However, despite marrying six different women, including Rhaena, Maegor could not father a child who survived.
After Aegon’s death, Jaehaerys declared himself the rightful ruler of the throne. Initially supporting Maegor, the people grew tired of his cruelty and started to back Jaehaerys. Seizing the opportunity, Rhaena took her daughter Aerea and Valyrian sword and flew on her dragon to join the rebel forces gathering in the West. Upon learning of Rhaena’s escape, Maegor sent an ultimatum to Oldtown, labeling his wife a traitor and demanding her death. When Lord Hightower refused, Maegor’s forces set off towards the capital. However, upon arriving, they found Maegor dead on his throne.
Elissa Farman, also known as Alys Westhill, becomes a part of the story at this point. After Jaehaerys ascended the throne, Rhaena married Marq Farman, who resided on Fair Isle. Their secret marriage surprised the entire kingdom, as they hadn’t informed anyone and had wed in private. However, according to Maester Smike, Rhaena did not marry Marq Farman out of love for him but rather to be close to her sister Elissa Farman, whom she loved. While living on Fair Isle, Rhaena developed a close friendship with Elissa Farman. She also became part of a group known as the “Four-Headed Monster,” along with Alayne Royce and Samantha Stokeworth. However, their enjoyable friendship on Fair Isle was disrupted when Franklyn Farman ascended to the throne. When Franklyn demanded Rhaena’s departure from the island, she chose to leave, taking her husband and friends with her. Nevertheless, this decision would be later written in Targaryen history as a source of shame.
Elissa’s love for the West and the Western seas never fades, even if she travels from West to East. When Elissa requested a ship from Rhaena, her offer was rejected. Four years later, Elissa tells Rhaena that she wishes to leave Dragonstone, taking with her three dragon eggs found on the island. After stealing the eggs, Elissa crosses over to Braavos in Essos and sells them to a wealthy Braavosi sea lord for a substantial sum. Legend has it that the three eggs that eventually fall into the hands of Daenerys Targaryen were the ones Elissa sold.
With the money she gained, Elissa commissions the construction of a ship she names “Sun Chaser.” Until the news of her actions reaches the realm and Dragonstone, Elissa changes her name to Alys Westhill. She forms a fleet that includes Donnel Hightower and sets sail westward towards the western part of Westeros. According to the books in Westeros, there is nothing beyond the western shores. No one ever sees Elissa Farman again after she embarks on this journey to explore the unknown. Donnel Hightower returns halfway through the journey and claims they found some exotic islands, which Elissa named Aegon, Rhaenys, and Visenya. Despite Donnel’s return, Elissa continues her voyage westward. Sea Snake Corlys Velaryon asserts that he saw Elissa’s ship, Sun Chaser, during an expedition to Asshai in Essos. Elissa was rumored to go as far west as she could until she reached the furthest East—Asshai in Essos. This leads us to the next character in the story.
Quaithe is, in fact, a character that contradicts the fundamental message of my article. We had the chance to see Quaithe in the Game of Thrones series. However, the reason I am adding her to the text is that every character you have read about so far is somehow interconnected. Quaithe is also one of the women who play a significant role in the universe and is closely related to the characters I have mentioned.
First appearing in A Clash of Kings, Quaithe visited Daenerys when she was in Qarth and warned her. Speaking a common language with Khaleesi, Quaithe introduced herself as a shadow binder from Asshai. She told her to “beware of those who seek your young dragons.” However, Quaithe’s final words were even more striking.
To go north, you must journey south, to reach the West you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.
Later, Quaithe confronted Dany again and uttered other mysterious warnings.
The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.
By “Kraken,” she meant Victorian or Euron, and by “Lion,” she referred to Tyrion and others who were pursuing Dany, ready to harm her. Quaithe somehow knew everyone who was after Dany. An even more intriguing question is why she helped Dany. Why was she warning Dany to be the person who should be the essence of power?
Quaithe, unfortunately, is a character that appeared only three times in total. According to George R.R. Martin, we will never go to Asshai; it will remain a mysterious region only mentioned in memories or flashbacks. So, we won’t be able to delve deep into the character’s depths. In that case, we are left with speculations. The reason for adding her to the text is actually related to Elissa Farman. Some theorists claim that Quaithe is Elissa Farman. Why?
Quaithe told Daenerys that she must go east to go west. The most prominent theory revolves around Elissa Farman’s journey. It is said that Elissa, starting from the West of Westeros, reached Essos at the far East of the map. However, most people in the universe believe that there is nothing in the West of Westeros. What if Elissa indeed managed to reach the East from the West? Was Quaithe trying to convey this message?
Now, why was she helping? This is an entirely different topic for another article. Many universe enthusiasts believe in a theory connecting Quaithe to the underlying Blood Raven story in the universe.
Tyanna of the Tower
Let’s rewind and return to Maegor. We know that Maegor had no children and, as a result, had relationships with six different women. First, he married Ceryse Hightower, but since she couldn’t bear him a child, he took Alys Harroway as his second wife. The Hightower family was uncomfortable with this situation and called their daughter back. However, Maegor still had no children with Alys Harroway, so he took Tyanna of the Tower from Pentos as his third wife. Tyanna was rumored to be a sorceress and had an interest in alchemy. No one liked her or even dared to speak to her from the day she arrived in the king’s city. She served as the mistress of whisperers in the small council, and everyone believed that the castle’s rats and bugs were her spies.
Tyanna was a character who left a mark on the history of Westeros with her actions. When Alys Harroway gave birth to a monstrosity in the 44th year after the conquest, Tyanna provided Maegor with a list of 20 people, claiming that Alys had cheated on him. This resulted in the complete destruction of the Harroway family, facing Maegor’s tyranny.
After Maegor killed Aegon at God’s Eye, Visenya returned to Dragonstone. Alyssa Velaryon and her children, Jaehaerys and Alysanne, who were there at the time, also became her captives. However, within a year, Visenya died of an illness. Alyssa saw the chaos as an opportunity and escaped with her children and the Valyrian sword, Dark Sister. In response, Tyanna took Alyssa’s third child, Viserys, as a prisoner. Viserys died during the ninth day of questioning, raising questions about what Tyanna did to him.
Even Tyanna, who came to Maegor with hopes of bearing him a child, could not give him one. Worse yet, when Jeyne Westerling also gave birth to a crippled child after Alys, Maegor accused Tyanna of practicing sorcery and imprisoned her. Tyanna, in turn, confessed to everything she had done, including poisoning Alys, Jeyne, and even Elinor, who was pregnant at the time, causing them to give birth to monstrosities. Upon hearing this, Maegor killed Tyanna by strangling her with his own hands. Two months later, Elinor did indeed give birth to a crippled child.
Nettles is one of the most significant characters in the Targaryen civil war. Although she has not appeared on screen yet, if House of the Dragon continues, she will undoubtedly be featured.
When the war between the Greens and the Blacks officially began, both sides suffered heavy losses. After these losses, the Blacks started searching for individuals who could ride their unclaimed dragons. Many people came to the Blacks, claiming blood connection to the dragons. However, most of these individuals died while attempting to mount the dragons. Only four individuals passed the test: Hugh the Hammer, Ulf the White, Addam of Hall, and Nettles.
I will focus on the crucial part of the story concerning Nettles without delving into the entire account of the Targaryen civil war. The Blacks believed they would win the war when they found their four dragon riders, but these riders were inexperienced in the art of war. However, they were experts in betrayal, a flaw common to human nature.
Ulf the White and Hugh Hammer betrayed the Blacks and attacked their armies. Not only did they attack, but Ulf also claimed Highgarden for himself, while Hugh sought to directly rule the kingdom. Upon learning of these events, Rhaenyra demanded the capture of all the traitors, including Nettles. However, Nettles managed to escape with the help of Rhaenyra’s husband, Daemon. According to reports, while Daemon was married to Rhaenyra, he was also involved with Nettles. They were flying together, and they were spending their nights together.
After assisting Nettles in her escape, Daemon heads to God’s Eye to confront Aemond. In the legendary battle that ensues between Daemon and Aemond in the skies, both names crash to the ground along with their dragons. While Aemond’s body is found, Daemon’s body is never recovered. It is said that Daemon did not die and continues to live somewhere together with Nettles.
After the civil war, the Targaryens, who were once rulers of the region thanks to the dragons, saw the dragons’ lineage on the brink of extinction. The whereabouts of the remaining dragons remain unknown. Nettles disappears, riding Sheepstealer. Some say she went to Essos, while others claim to have seen her around the Mountains of the Moon after the war. During Aegon III’s reign, Robert Rowan encounters Sheepstealer and Nettles in the mountains with his men. The encounter ends with Rowan’s men dead, and Nettles escapes further into the mountains, never to be seen again by anyone.
The final name on my list is Princess Arianne Martell. Although we have not seen Arianne in the TV series, she is a prominent character frequently encountered in the books. Her father, Doran Martell, originally intended to marry her to Daenerys’s brother, Viserys. However, Viserys’s death and Dany’s marriage to Khal Drogo ended those plans. During this time, Tyrion Lannister sends Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella, to Dorne to establish good relations. Accompanied by members of the King’s Guard, Myrcella travels with Arys Oakheart.
At this moment, Princess Arianne secretly reads a letter in her father’s room. From the letter’s contents, she infers that Quentyn Martell, with the help of Anders Yronwood, is plotting to ascend the throne. This discovery leads Arianne to start making plans to claim her rightful throne, especially when she learns about Myr’s cancellation of its contract with the Golden Company and Quentyn’s secret journey to Essos.
Arianne seduces the King’s Guard, Arys Oakheart, and expresses her desire to marry him. When Arys points out that King’s Guard members are not allowed to marry, Arianne suggests they could marry if the king approves. However, her real intention is not to marry Arys. Arianne plans to use him to put Myrcella on the throne. After Joffrey’s death, when Tywin assumes the throne, Arianne aims to secure her own position in Dorne by placing Myrcella on the throne.
Arianne executes her plan with the help of a few bold companions, but upon reaching Greenblood port, she encounters Areo Hotah and his men, who were sent by her father. Arianne attempts to surrender, but Arys Oakheart steps forward to fight and is killed by Areo Hotah’s long axe. Meanwhile, Gerold Dayne, who is also with them, manages to escape but not before inflicting harm, causing Princess Myrcella’s ear to be severed.
After her capture, Arianne is confined to the Speak Tower in Dorne, where she is denied any visitors for weeks. After a prolonged imprisonment, she is summoned to face her father, and it is during this meeting that Arianne learns the truth behind the letter she read. Doran Martell originally planned to bring Quentyn Martell to rule Dorne and marry Arianne to Viserys Targaryen. However, all plans were disrupted by Viserys’s death. On the other hand, the Golden Company, which was supposed to be led by Quentyn, arrived from Essos under the command of Aegon Targaryen, whose name was utterly unknown to everyone until then.
Sources and Further Information
- R. Martin, George. “A Game of Thrones,” Bantam (2002)
- R. Martin, George. “A Clash of Kings,” Bantam (2002)
- R. Martin, George. “A Storm of Swords,” Bantam (2003)
- R. Martin, George. “A Feast for Crows,” Bantam (2011)
- R. Martin, George. “A Dance with Dragons,” Bantam (2011)
- R. Martin, George. “Fire & Blood,” Bantam (2018)
- A Wiki of Ice and Fire
- Wiki of Westeros
- Alt Shift X, YouTube
- Whycreate, YouTube