The following article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode 1-5 and for the book Fire & Blood. Many fans of the source material Fire & Blood quickly identified the main differences between the two shows, including the addition of the friendship between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Emily Carey. This added layers of depth to the upcoming conflict between the two women.
The story of the Targaryan civil conflict, also known as the Dance of the Dragons, is told through many accounts and uses fictional unreliable narrators. It is not told like A Song of Ice and Fire through novels that alternate between characters' points of view, but rather acts as a book that might exist in Westeros as a historical piece of writing.
Alicent and Rhaenyra's Relationship Starts at the Very Beginning
Alicent and Rhaenyra are two young girls from King Landing who attended the Red Keep, but this is not the case in the book. When Rhaenyra and Alicent are introduced to the show, both are 14 years old. In the book, both Rhaenyra and Alicent are 18 years old; however, Rhaenyra is only nine years old when she marries Viserys.
House of the Dragon can cultivate an ancient friendship between Alicent and Rhaenyra that is vital to the Targaryen's near-death experience.
The first episode of the series depicted Rhaenyra and Alicent as best friends who simply wanted to break away from the norm in front of them. They both need and lean on each other in times of need, and Emily Carey herself speaks out about it in interviews where she admits that while they intended to do it that way, it is more about the fact that at a young age, recognizing the difference between a romantic and platonic relationship can be difficult.
When Alicent marries Viserys, their friendship begins to deteriorate.
Rhaenyra and Alicent's relationship was primarily a collaboration between two young women who wanted to break free of their worlds and were separated from their fathers' ambitions. She has no choice but to marry him and give him children at the beginning.
On the other hand, Rhaenyra never forgives Alicent or her father to a lesser extent, despite the clear indication that her best friend concealed the fact that they had a relationship. The moment Viserys announces that he will marry Alicent, it is the beginning of a different relationship, one that involves Rhaenyra feeling betrayed.
Alicent Arrives in Her Green Dress Breaks Their Friendship
Alicent becomes the character described in the book after Criston Cole's (Fabien Frankel) affair with Rhaenyra. Rhaenyra might have slept with Alicent before her marriage and lied to Alicent about it splitting the couple. The moment Alicent arrives at the wedding dressed in her father's house color, green, she picks her side and completely dissolves any friendship between her and Rhaenyra.
The arrival of Alicent's son Aegon for the throne in the green dress is a part of two factions: the Greens and the Black, those who will support Rhaenyras' claim to the throne.
House of the Dragon adds to the animosity between Alicent and Rhaenyra by removing the ten-year time difference. While Alicent can still be seen as a villain, there is context. Alicent isnt just power hungry, there is much more there.
And this is where the idea of what might have become a romantic relationship or as a perception of one is fascinating. Because both Alicent and Rhaenyras actions will lead to the start of the Targaryen dynasty, these were two young women who were torn apart and reacted the only way they knew. Because if Viserys had done what many believed was the appropriate choice and married Laena Velaryon, then the Dying of the Dragons might not have happened.