In theory, Prince Aemond Targaryen was born to have a supporting role. The third child from his father’s second marriage, King Viserys I to Alicent Hightower, was officially sixth in succession to the Iron Throne, behind his half-sister Rhaneyra, his three nephews – Jacaerys, Lacaerys, and Joffrey – and even his eldest brother, Aegon II. Shy in his childhood, the fact that the dragon egg assigned to him didn’t hatch, made him furiously teased by his nephews and brother for not having a dragon, nurturing a side that every kingdom would come to fear in the future. No mincing words? Here’s a great villain from House of the Dragon, if you’re rooting for the Blacks. Smart, fierce and effective, even with a single eye Aemond will be responsible for hard defeats on the side of Rhaenyra, perhaps Alicent and Otto Hightower‘s most efficient – and lethal – weapon in the Dance of Dragons. The list of those who will meet their end when facing Aemond is impressive.
But first, let’s see how he got there. Aemond’s stubbornness and shyness as a child were underestimated by everyone, including Aegon. Closer to his mother than his brother, the little prince showed intelligence, and sagacity and kept his resentments in his chest, just like Alicent. He became one of the most ruthless soldiers of the Greens, fighting for his brother and earning two aliases: One-Eyed Aemond and Kinslayer. He had more affection for Haelena than Aegon (some say love), but his dedication to the family cause was blind (no pun intended, and yet, unavoidable).
Because of his affinity with his mother, unlike Aegon who hesitated when he was crowned King, Aemond hated his half-sister and his nephews (bastards or not), becoming even angrier at the forced coexistence when his father was still alive.
The incident in which he loses his eye at age 10 and tames Vhagar is slightly different in the book (he would have felt humiliated by his father at Laena Velaryon’s funeral when Viserys I reminds him he was the only one who didn’t ride a dragon. Hidden (as he appeared in the series) he approaches Vhagar, but Joffrey (who would have been 3 at the time) unintentionally denounces him, being beaten by his uncle and thrown into a pile of dragon feces. To escape, Aemond manages to mount Vhagar. and gain his command, but on the way down he finds his older nephews who went to defend Joffrey. Otherwise, it was as shown in House of the Dragon.
Enraged, Alicent wanted severe punishment at the cost of Lucerys’ eye, but her husband prevented further violence among their kin, favoring Rhaenyra. Likewise, Viserys I threatened anyone who dared question the paternity of his grandchildren, even though Aemond would have called them bastards for listening to his brother (who repeated what he heard from Alicent). The king’s choice only made the tension worse. Aemond officially assuaged tempers by claiming that his victory in taming the greatest dragon in the realm was a fair price for the eye. The speech was not sincere, of course.
In the advance of the time that we will see in the next episode, Aemond will be more sure of himself and still hate his nephews, whom he refers to as “strong” in allusion to the alleged biological father of the boys, Ser Harwin Strong. Naturally, a new confrontation can be expected.
With Viserys I dead, Alicent leads the coup d’état and crowns Aegon II in place of Rhaenyra, the sworn successor to the King. Aemond is the most passionate and committed of his brother’s supporters and is the one who benefits straight from the usurpation as it makes his long-awaited revenge possible. The tense atmosphere turns to civil war thanks to him, in what promises to be shown in the last episode of season 1.
Aegon and Rhaenyra are still fighting politically when Aemond turns to violence, with irreparable consequences. The siblings are still demanding the allegiance of the Houses when war breaks out. This is because one of the princess’s sworn supporters was the Baratheons and with that, both the Greens and Blacks went to Stormsend to confirm which side the House Baratheon would be on. After all, as cousins of the Targaryens, the Baratheon had supported Rhaenys in the past and could remain loyal to Rhaenyra. On the side of the Greens, Aemond was the one sent to make him support Aegon’s cause. Marriage to one of his daughters guaranteed the breaking of the oath. Unaware of the deal, Lucerys arrived next to plead his mother’s cause, finding to his surprise the uncle he had taken her eye out for years before.
Considering the ideal moment for his revenge, Aemond tries to provoke Lucerys into a confrontation, but the young man ignores him. Ser Borros Baratheon avoids fighting under his roof, and Lucerys leaves the castle with his dragon, Arrax. But Aemond’s future wife, Marys, taunts him, calling him a coward for letting his nephew live. Borros also hints that he wouldn’t stop him from chasing Lucerys as long as he wasn’t on his soil. With Vhagar being much larger than Arrax, Aemond easily attacks and kills Lucerys, gouging out both of his eyes to give as a gift to Marys. Alicent and Otto condemn Aemond’s attitude, anticipating the consequences, but Aegon celebrates his brother.
The Blacks’ response, led by Daemon, is violent. “An eye for an eye?” he remembers Alicent’s demand. “Son for a son”, he promises. And delivers.
The second season will start with this revenge. Daemon has Aegon II’s firstborn killed, ripped from Haelena’s arms, who goes insane afterward (eventually committing suicide). Aegon II and Aemond still manage to defeat and kill Rhaenys in combat and Aemond becomes regent of the realm for a full year, as Aegon recovers. Only Daemon stops him (and dies in the confrontation) killing Aemond in a fierce battle. But that will be much later. Now it is certain that Aemond will be one of the most efficient assassins in Westeros. He’s still going to scare us a lot.