House of the Dragon wasted no time in establishing the many conflicts that are raging in the Seven Kingdoms. However, one of the greatest threats to King Viserys Targaryens' rule is largely playing out in the background.
The following are spoilers for House of the Dragon and Fire & Blood.]
Viserys is discovered to have a small wound on his back from sitting on the Iron Throne. The wound mysteriously refuses to heal. In fact, it is spreading. In the same episode, Viserys receives a second cut from the throne that similarly becomes infected, leading to themputation of two of his fingers.
The reason Viserys' wounds will not heal is more symbolic than anything as simple as bacterial illness. The significance of being cut by the Iron Throne is actually deep within Targaryen history and Game of Thrones lore, dating back to the creation of the thrones.
What does it mean to be cut by the Iron Throne?
Aegon I Targaryen, the Viserys' ancestor, built the Iron Throne out of a thousand broken blades he had taken from his foes in Game of Thrones. It was designed with the intention of causing extreme discomfort, as George R.R. Martin explained in the first A Song of Ice and Fire book.
Aenys' son Aenys succeeded his father, but was later murdered by Maegor's brother, the usurper. Six years after Maegor's famously cruel reign, his nephew Jaehaerys Targaryen raised banners against him. Maegor chose to spend the night brooding alone on the Iron Throne. The next morning, one of Maegor's wives, Elinor, found him dead in the seat with one of the thrones blades
Maegor's death is backed by many theories, including that he committed suicide or that Elinor murdered him. However, many do not believe that the Iron Throne itself was the cause of Maegor's death. This is what has spawned popular belief that the throne chooses who is worthy or not of ruling Westeros, and that those who are deemed undeserving suffer harm as a result of its blades.
Does everyone who is slain on the Iron Throne die?
No, or at least not as a direct result of their wounds.
Daenerys Targaryen's paranoid father Aerys II Targaryen was also dubbed King Scab because he sliced himself so frequently on the Iron Throne. Rather, the Mad King's death came at the end of Jaime Lannister's sword.
The Iron Throne isnt a supernatural judge, jury, or executioner that decides the ruler itself. That being said, anyone who sits on the throne is already at a greater than average risk of death. If they are not a fit ruler, those odds increase exponentially.
What does Viserys' being slashed by the Iron Throne mean?
Viserys' decision to name Rhaenyra as his replacement or marrying Alicent Hightower only sparked more outrage against him.
The second cut from Visery's Iron Throne occurred at an unknown time, but the timing of his second injury is of particular significance, coming immediately following his decision to remove Daemon from the line of succession. This decision is one of the main decisions that ultimately lead to the first Targaryen civil war. It could also serve as a sign that Viserys is a weak king capable of suprising his own power.
Viserys is less concerned about his health than with political maneuvers and the devolving stability of Westeros. However, Viserys has already lost two fingers as a result of his Iron Throne losses. Only time will tell the true cost hell pay for his failings as king.