How George R.R. Martin Defines A Good King [Comic-Con]

Hundreds of years before the crown was shuffled from Baratheon to Lannister to Targaryen to ... Bran, the Targaryen dynasty was going strong, but the question of succession remained contentious as ever. "House of the Dragon" will see the question settled with fire and blood, as forces within the Targaryen family fight for their chance to wear the crown. And while they continue the time-old debate of who gets to sit the Iron Throne, the rest of Westeros is left to wonder: who would actually make a good ruler?

At the San Diego Comic-Con "House of the Dragon" panel, author George R. R. Martin himself offered an answer: 

"A good king is someone who regards being king as a duty rather than a privilege that they are entitled to. A duty to the realm to dispense justice and peace, and occasionally do boring things like building roads and sanitation in Kings Landing and all that."

This is a very familiar concept: the best leaders don't want to lead. It's the same mentality that made Ned Stark feel like such an obvious answer to Westeros' problems in the first season of Thrones. It's the same reason Jon Snow felt like a suitable candidate when Ned was taken out of the running. And it might be the determining factor in who makes the best ruler when the dust settles on the upcoming dance of the dragons. George R.R. Martin had much more to say on the matter, pointing out that a series about the best possible leader for Westeros probably wouldn't necessarily be the most entertaining.

Would the best king make the best show?

There's a reason that "House of the Dragon" picks up with this particular batch of Targaryens. The source material is Martin's "Fire and Blood," which documents various Westeros rulers — but "House of the Dragon" skips right ahead to a period of full-fledged civil war.

Martin does however hint that Westeros might have a good king in Viserys, who comes to the throne after the Old King dies. Martin notes that he's "not driven by glory," though he admits that in his later years, Viserys does want "a little glory." But above all, "he wants to be a good king a wise king, and protect people. Those are the most important traits."

But enough about Westeros' kings. What about her queens? The series will thrust Viserys' firstborn daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen forward as a potential successor. We've been down this road before, of course. Whether or not the "Game of Thrones" ending worked for you personally, I think we can all agree that it went disastrously for the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. Any chance that her predecessors will have better luck? 

Judging by how difficult it was to get a Queen installed on the Iron Throne in the far away future, it's safe to assume that the past won't be much easier. But then again this is an entirely new age of Westeros. There are dragons — 17 of them, we hear — and the Targaryen rule is undisputed. Instead of a good king, perhaps Westeros will have its first great queen.

"House of the Dragon" will premiere on HBO and HBO Max on August 21, 2022.