A Song of Ice and Fire is a play that is reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As fallen foot soldiers loyal to Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) lay howling in the mud at low tide. A horrifying figure, disguised and lumbering with long, greasy hair, approaches one of these writhing men.
Craghas Drahar (Daniel Scott-Smith) is also known as The Crabfeeder for his tendency to cast his enemies to bloodstained shores in order to die a long, agonizing death as a result of his dragon. Daemon Targaryen does indeed come through in a fiery blaze of glory but not before his poor, loyal swordsman gets nailed to a piece of driftwood and left to die.
The battlefield is where legends are formed, alliances are tested, and the reputations of kings and queens are formed and unmade, at the risk of stating the obvious.House of the Dragon is set in a period that is more similar to ours: the late days of a decaying dynasty, where those in charge are content to ignore any threats to their power, no matter how violent, until they vanish.
The idea that guerrilla warfare was not practiced in medieval Europe is prevalent in Westeros and A Song of Ice and Fire. And as nomadic bands of Vikings and Mongols raided castle towns throughout Europe, Craghas and his army of mercenaries are wagering a war against the Targaryen establishment, apparently for the right to levy taxes to merchant ships crossing through this barren chain of islands on their way to the Free Cities beyond. But they fight with a fero
The Targaryens' dragon fleet has made them the most powerful force in the known world, and centuries of experience have made them arrogant. However, the Crabfeeders' plan is to retreat into the Stepstones' rocky shoreline, destroying the Targaryens' ability to wipe out his entire force with one whispered Dracary.
King Viserys (Paddy Considine) refuses to provide information regarding the conflict during his son's name day celebrations, saying, "This has been three years," implying that the Targaryens' military might (i.e. dragonfire) would never be defeated. So, while the Targaryens are quite adept at dissecting themselves from the inside, theres plenty to keep a king, especially a soft-hearted one who loves everyone, busy at court. But what could
Prince Daemon has a lot to lose. His status, his wealth, his reputation, and, most importantly, his pride are all on the line. When Viserys married Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), it was spite that pushed Daemon to abandon the battle, resulting in the chaotic impromptu skirmish that follows.
The Crabfeeder and his guerrilla forces have weakened House Targaryen and House Velaryon in ways that have yet to manifest themselves. They have developed a strategy for securing loyalty in the long run, such as the loyal soldier who cries only to be crushed by the prince's dragon.
The Targaryens have treated this war, the men who served and died in it, as disposable, and they have no imagination to imagine a world where someday, someone else might sit on the Iron Throne. It does not matter whether they tear each other apart from within, or are ambushed by enemies from without. The Stepstones are the site of their final defeat.