House of the Dragon wasted no time in establishing the various conflicts that are roiling the Seven Kingdoms. However, one of the greatest threats to King Viserys Targaryens' rule is played out in the background.
The following are spoilers for House of the Dragon and Fire & Blood. [Ed. note: The following is a summary of spoilers for House of the Dragon and Fire & Blood.]
Viserys is discovered to be suffering a minor cut on his back due to sitting on the Iron Throne. The cut, according to the maesters, is mysteriously refusing to heal. In fact, it is expanding. In the same episode, Viserys receives a second cut from the throne, which similarly becomes infected, which results in the amputation of two of his fingers.
The reason Visery's wounds will not heal is more symbolic than anything as routine as bacterial infection. The significance of being cut by the Iron Throne has deep roots in Targaryen history and Game of Thrones legend, dating back to the thrones' creation.
What does it mean to be cut by the Iron Throne?
Aegon I Targaryen, the Viserys ancestor, created the Iron Throne out of a thousand broken blades he had taken from his opponents in Game of Thrones. The ironwork monster, as George R.R. Martin referred to it in Game of Thrones, was designed with the intention of causing great agony.
Aenys, the son of Aegons, was succeeded by his brother, Maegor, who later murdered him. Six years after Maegor's notoriously cruel rule, his nephew Jaehaerys Targaryen raised banners against him. The next morning, one of Maegor's wives discovered him dead in the seat with one of the thrones blades punctured his throat and his forearms slashed open by several other spikes.
Maegor's death is disputed by many, including that he committed suicide or that Elinor murdered him. This is what spawned popular belief that the throne decides who is worthy or not of ruling Westeros and that those who are deemed undeserving suffer damage by its blades.
Does everyone who is cut 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 known as King Scab because he frequently cut himself on the Iron Throne. However, the Mad King was neither discovered dead on the throne nor of an infection caused by one of his many cuts. Instead, his death came at the end of Jaime Lannisters sword.
The Iron Throne isnt a supernatural judge, jury, or executioner that disposes of the ruler itself. That being said, anyone who sits on the throne is already at a higher than average risk of death. If they are not a fit ruler, those odds increase exponentially.
What does Viserys' being cut by the Iron Throne mean?
Viserys' death from the Iron Throne demonstrates his willingness to please and avoids confrontations head on, as shown in his dismissal of the threat the Crabfeeder and Triarchy posses. These actions only stoke more outrage against him.
Viserys first strike from the Iron Throne occurred at an unknown time, but his second injury is of particular significance, coming immediately after his decision to remove Daemon from his line of succession. This decision is one of the many crucial decisions that ultimately leads to the first Targaryen civil war. It could also be a way to reinforce what Daemon told his brother that Viserys is a weak king who is incapable of assuming responsibility for his own power.
Viserys is less concerned about his health than with political machinations and the devolving stability of Westeros. However, Viserys has already lost two fingers as a result of his removal from the Iron Throne. Only time will tell whether or not his failures as king will pay out.