Shakespeare wrote, “heavy is the head that wears the crown” and no House of the Dragon character knows that better at the moment than House of the Dragon’s King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine). As the patriarch of House Targaryen, the royal family of Westeros, poor Viserys has a lot on his plate.
He’s a kingdom to run, but in just the first few episodes of the fantasy series, his wife died, his son died, and his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) had a fling with her uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). It’s perhaps no wonder then that the king’s not at all well. In the first episode, we saw he had a sore on his back that the maesters could not heal.
Each episode, his condition appears to have grown worse, with more sores and scabs appearing each week. Whatever this pestilence is, it’s grown so bad that by episode four, he was missing fingers. While the TV series has yet to name the King’s mystery illness, Considine – our secret favourite member of the House of the Dragon cast – has explained exactly what’s going on.
“He’s actually suffering from a form of leprosy,” he told the podcast West of Westeros. “His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating. He is not actually old. He’s still a young man in there. He’s just, unfortunately, got this thing that’s taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, and what it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally.”
It’s likely that Viserys caught his illness from his throne. We’ve seen that the Iron Throne keeps cutting Viserys, potentially poisoning his blood. In the book The World of Ice and Fire, it’s implied that the blades of the throne, which kept nicking and scratching Viserys, played a role in his death.
This has got some fans speculating that the Iron Throne is in some way magical and judges the kings who sit in it. Indeed some of the worst kings of Westeros, including Maegor the Cruel and Joffrey Baratheon, found themselves seriously injured by the deadly chair.
If you love the world of Westeros, then check out our guide to the best Game of Thrones characters, or you might enjoy our list of the best fantasy movies. If that’s not enough, we have an article all about House of the Dragon season 2.