Winter is coming, and so is a new 'Game of Thrones' book (no, not that one, so please stop asking). Maester George R.R. Martin is bringing us back to the World of Ice and Fire this fall with Fire and Blood, a history of House Targaryen. Sure, this book may not give us any closure on whether Dany will ever make it to the Seven Kingdoms (yes), or if Jon Snow is now a zombie ghost wolf (very yes), but it will give us some bloody, bloody backstory on the royal family of Westeros. And that means we may finally get the inside scoop on the Blackfyres.
If you're deep in the Song of Ice and Fire nerd lore, you are now nodding sagely to yourself as you mutter, "Aegon Targaryen is a Blackfyre pretender" under your breath. If you're more of a fan of the TV show, or even just a book fan with better things to do than obsessively read the wiki devoted to this fandom, then you might be wondering, "What is a Blackfyre?" or "Why did these Blackfyres rebel?" or "How many families am I supposed to care about, George!?"
So if you're a little unclear on who the Blackfyres are and why they matter, here is a very brief crash course to get you ready for some top notch Targaryen vs. Targaryen drama in Fire and Blood.
So back in the day, when the Targaryens were still ruling Westeros (but after they goofed up so badly that all of their dragons died), a prince named Aegon hooked up with his hot cousin, Daena. Daena and her sisters had been confined to an area known as the Maidenvault, so their beauty wouldn't "tempt" their brother, the holier-than-thou King Baelor.
But Daena escaped long enough to get pregnant by Aegon, and gave birth to a 100% Targaryen bastard named Daemon Waters. King Baelor was so upset about this that he starved himself to death, and one very short-lived king later, Aegon became King Aegon IV.
Aegon IV married his sister (classic Targaryen move), and they also had a son: Daeron Targaryen. But King Aegon didn't really like his sister-wife all that much, and his true-born son was growing up to be peaceful and also a nerd, which was super not his style. His elder, bastard son, however, was a totally cool guy who was very good at fighting, so the King decided to acknowledge Daemon as his son, and give him the Very Special Targaryen sword, Blackfyre.
(This was kind of awkward because Daeron was his *legal* heir and Daeron didn't get a cool sword at all.)
Daemon took the name Blackfyre for his own, and swapped out his boring red Targaryen dragon sigil for a sleek, new black dragon. Meanwhile, nerdy Daeron and his dad didn't get along all that well, and people started speculating that Daeron's real father was actually his uncle Aemon (also a classic Targaryen move).
Finally, when the king died, he legitimized all of his bastards on his deathbed... and he had a lot of bastards to legitimize. Daeron was crowned king, but things got increasingly awkward as more and more people started to rally around the way cooler and less nerdy Daemon Blackfyre. Finally, at the urging of yet another half-brother, Daemon went ahead and declared himself the true king... and the Seven Kingdoms went to war. Again. Because the Targaryens can't keep their family drama to themselves.
The fighting culminated in the Battle of the Redgrass Field, which featured a whole mess of Targaryen bastard brothers: Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers, Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers, and would-be King Daemon Blackfyre himself. Brynden and his crew of archers killed Daemon and his eldest son on the battlefield, before Aegor took out Brynden's eye and dipped out of Westeros to go hide in Essos with Daemon's widow and other kids.
(And yes, Brynden "Bloodraven" did go on to be that creepy man in the tree who Bran Stark hangs out with all the time.)
King Daeron managed to hold onto his throne, but Daemon's kids and their kids repeatedly rolled up in Westeros to claim the throne over the next several years. They founded the mercenary army known as the Golden Company for the express purpose of invading Westeros. George will have to fill you in all the specifics of those various wars in Fire and Blood, but this much is clear: the Blackfyres spent generations trying to land one of their boys on the Iron Throne.
And, as far as we know, they are now extinct in the male line.
However, George R. R. Martin has been awfully quiet about the female line of house Blackfyre. It's entirely plausible that there are still some Blackfyres kicking around who didn't inherit the family name — in the books, at least.
After all, when Dany's big brother Viserys tried to convince the Golden Company to support his claim on the Iron Throne, they were not feeling it in the slightest. But when Aegon "Targaryen" showed up out of nowhere to take the throne, they were weirdly on board all of a sudden (yes, there is an extra Targaryen in the book and his name is Aegon, just to confuse you).
Many fans have floated the theory that Illyrio Mopatis — Varys the Spider's BFF and the dude who gave Dany her dragon eggs in the first place — might have married a Blackfyre lady. His late wife does have the telltale purple-blue eyes and silvery hair. And they might have had a son (Illyrio does own a weird amount of children's clothing), who Illyrio is now trying to pass off as a Targaryen baby who survived Robert's Rebellion.
So... after all these years, do the Blackfyres still have a shot at the Iron Throne? Techically yes, but it probably won't happen. But we can definitely expect some more Blackfyre drama before the game of thrones declares a winner.