Updated: Nov 12, 2018
The meaning of the prophecies from the House of the Undying
Throughout the hero saga in the books of a Song of Ice and Fire, several characters have dreams and visions outside the regular dreams for their hopes and fears. Ned dreams of his memories, Jon visits the crypts, Arya visits Nymeria, Bran and Jojen have green dreams, Ser Jaime has answer-giving dreams and Quaithe enters people’s dreams, but nobody has dreams like Daenerys and although she qualifies for all sorts of prophecies, the most important visions she has are in the House of the Undying. Pyat Pree promises her that if she visits the House of the Undying, she “shall drink of truth and wisdom”. She drinks ‘shade of the evening’, receives some basic instructions and enters to find herself inside a place with countless rooms.
That entire visit is precious and filled with details that deserve their own discussion, but it’s the triple fires that causes incredible reactions across the fandom.
There’s a literary device called Bildungsroman that is used when the author wishes to base the story on the overall growth of the character. That is the main device used on Daenerys, and as the story progresses, she undergoes noticeable mental, physical, social, emotional, moral, and often spiritual advancement and strengthening right before the readers’ eyes. When she goes through the house of the undying, she lives those memories, but doesn’t refer to any of them as she does to the triple fires. As a matter of fact, it’s the triple treasons that concerns her the most, but George is a master of misguidance, so he inverts the prophecy, makes it more poetic, groups parts together and indicates to the reader by means of Daenerys inner dialogue that the prophecies are separated, and each means its own thing. However, that is simply the author sending the readers into one of his many wild goose chases. The style of writing, when keeping the importance of the number three, clearly indicates that she has to face three things, and not nine, which would be the number of events should she separate that prophecy into pieces.
"The whispers became a swirling song. . . . three fires must you light . . . one for life and one for death and one to love . . . Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt . . . three mounts must you ride . . . one to bed and one to dread and one to love . . . The voices were growing louder, she realized, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath. . . . three treasons will you know . . . once for blood and once for gold and once for love . . ."
George R.R. Martin was extremely consistent when writing his series and Daenerys is an intended hero. The focus on the number three has been evident since the very beginning. Her parents had three children, she has three eggs that hatched into three dragons, she gets three bloodriders, the visions called her child of three. Three heads has the dragon, and every indication is that Daenerys will have married three men by the end of her story. But if the prophecies are grouped together, then her arc offers us the foreshadow necessary to see exactly where her story will go.
Three fires: 1-life 2-death 3-love
Three mounts: 1-bed 2-dread 3-love
Three treasons: 1-blood 2-gold 3-love
By defying George’s misdirection and instead following his clear rule, maintaining the number three indications throughout Daenerys’s arc, the story becomes:
One fire for life, one mount for bed and one treason for blood
One fire for death, one mount for dread and one treason for gold
One fire to love, one mount for love and one treason for love.
Each of them showing a part of her destiny.
1. Daenerys married Drogo and “mounted” him for bed, then Mirri Maz Duur and her blood magic brought the treason for blood, so she lit the fire for life – the dragons’ lives.
2. Then Daenerys married Hizdahr and “mounted” him, all the while dreading it. He betrayed her for gold and she will likely return and set him on fire for death.
3. Love is on the horizon, and with it, is her last treason. The treason that will bring her end that has been foreshadowed since A Game of Thrones and as the prophecy changes the wording to say “to love”, it seems she will give herself to ignite that fire.