Warning: Major Fire and Blood/House of the Dragon spoilers ahead!
With the season finale of HBO’s hit series House of the Dragon, viewers were excited to see the legendary Dance of the Dragons begin. And while Season 2 is not expected to debut until sometime in 2024, there is one character we look forward to seeing in the forthcoming season. Her name is Nettles.
The Velaryons were the epitome of Black excellence on the show, and I am thrilled that showrunner Ryan Condal opted to race bend the seafaring noble house. Very rarely do we see ourselves in high fantasies. However, Nettles is a character from the original source material that was already Black, and she had an important role to play in the Dance. Described as a small, brown-skinned girl with black hair and brown eyes, Nettles was a dragonseed who grew up on the island of Driftmark. For those who are unfamiliar, dragonseed is a term used to describe the bastards of House Targaryen and House Velaryon.
Nettles, aged 16 at the beginning of the Dance, was a homeless youth living in a small fishing village on Driftmark called Hull. She did not know her father and had long been abandoned by her mother, a dockside sex-worker. The girl, described as foul-mouthed and fearless, survived by stealing food and whatever else she could find. Once she was caught in the act and her nose was slit, leaving behind a permanent scar. When Prince Jacaerys Velaryon declared the Blacks needed more dragonriders in preparation for the imminent civil war, dragonseed from all over Westeros arrived to pledge their loyalty. Seeing her chance at a better life, Nettles decided to tame her own dragon.
The dragon in question was a wild male aptly named Sheepstealer. The dragon, described as “mud brown” and slender, lived in the caverns of the Dragonmont on Dragonstone and had a taste for sheep, which he hunted on the neighboring island of Driftmark. Nearly 50 years old at the time of the Dance, Sheepstealer remained unclaimed and thus unaccustomed to humans.
While he was said not to be aggressive toward humans, he was quite vicious when provoked. During the Sowing, an event known in the histories when dragonseed and dragonseed pretenders tried to claim their own dragons, Sheepstealer was one of four riderless dragons. He was said to have killed more potential riders than the other dragons (Seasmoke, Vermithor, and Silverwing) combined.
Nettles was far more clever than her predecessors and won Sheepstealer over by presenting him with freshly slaughtered sheep every morning. Now bonded with her dragon, the skinny brown girl on her skinny brown dragon joined Queen Rhaenyra’s Blacks in the fight against the Greens and became a constant companion of Prince Daemon Targaryen.
There are differing accounts of Nettles’ relationship with Daemon. According to Mushroom, a court jester, Nettles became Daemon’s lover. He taught the once filthy street urchin how to properly bathe, even sharing a tub with her and lavished her with gifts, including an ivory hairbrush, a silver looking glass, leather riding boots, and a velvet and satin cloak. In contrast, the maester of Maidenpool (homebase for Blacks operations), described Daemon’s love for Nettles as that of a father for his daughter. Whether they were lovers or had a pseudo father/daughter relationship, there’s no doubt that Daemon and Nettles were very close.
Aside from her relationship with the Rogue Prince, Nettles was a valuable player in the Dance of the Dragons. On the back of Sheepstealer, she fought fiercely in the skies, winning a great victory at the Battle of the Gullet, known as the bloodiest sea battle in the history of Westeros. Nettles, along with her fellow dragonseed Ulf the White on Silverwing, Hugh Hammer on Vermithor, and Addam Velaryon on Seasmoke, joined Prince Jacaerys riding Vermax and destroyed the fleet of the Triarchy, allies of the Greens. The great victory came at a cost, as Jacaerys was killed in battle. Nettles wept bitterly at the loss of her friend who once gave her a chance at a better life. During the fall of King’s Landing, Nettles landed Sheepstealer on Visenya’s Hill as a show of force, which was instrumental in the Blacks taking back the capital.
After the fall of King’s Landing, Otto Hightower sent his nephew Ormund and an army of Greens to secure the capital. Ulf and Hugh along with their dragons were sent to defend Tumbleton, the last stronghold between King’s Landing and the Green army. For reasons unknown, Ulf and Hugh betrayed the Blacks and joined the Greens, raining dragonfire upon Tumbleton and killing thousands of innocent people. This great betrayal led Rhaenyra to distrust dragonseeds, and Mysaria, now Rhaenyra’s Mistress of Whispers, stoked the flames further by telling Rhaenyra about Daemon’s close relationship with Nettles.
Enraged, Rhaenyra sent a raven to Manfryd Mooton, Lord of Maidenpool, ordering the death of Nettles. Rhaenyra requested Manfryd return Nettles’ head and demanded Daemon return to the capital. Thankfully, Manfryd ignored Rhaenyra’s request, and with Daemon’s help, Nettles escaped. The girl was deeply hurt by Rhaenyra’s rejection and tearfully flew away on the back of Sheepstealer.
Nettles and her dragon were not seen for years. During the reign of King Aegon III Targaryen, Ser Robert Rowan and his army were sent to the Vale to aid Ser Joffrey Arryn in a succession conflict for the Eyrie. Robert and his men found Nettles and Sheepstealer in a cave on the Mountains of the Moon, leading to a skirmish that killed sixteen of Robert’s men. Afterwards, Nettles and Sheepstealer flew deeper into the mountains and were never seen again.
Some say Nettles lived happily with Daemon in secret after he and Aemond fought on the backs of their dragons in the Battle Above the God’s Eye — after all, Daemon’s body was never found. Some say Nettles was worshiped by the Burned Men of the Hill Tribes, as they frequently brought offerings to a fire-witch who lived with her dragon deep in the mountains. We will never know what truly happened to our beloved Nettles, but we hope she’s introduced in House of Dragon’s second season.
All Season 1 episodes of House of the Dragon are currently streaming on HBOMax.
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Angelica Monk is an Afro-Latina, working mom, writer, podcaster, social media wiz, and proud Disney enthusiast who enjoys covering music festivals, popular fandoms, and beloved TV shows. She is a huge Game of Thrones superfan and an avid lover of period dramas. You can find her on Twitter at @AngieDaCoolNerd or on Instagram at @Angelica_TheCoolBlerd.