What are Stepstones and Free Cities in House of the Dragon?

What are Stepstones and Free Cities in House of the Dragon?

What are Stepstones and Free Cities in House of the Dragon?

Trouble is definitely brewing around King’s Landing in Dragon House, with a succession plot almost as large as any of the dragons. But as we see in this week’s episode, there are other parts of the continent that have game of thrones‘ danger is already going for them. And the main plot, which is mostly about the shipping lines, might also be the most confusing.

[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 2.]

Corlys Velaryon’s rant near the start of the episode sets up her issues with navigation, but it also includes a slew of proper names, enemies, allies, and towns that are all pretty easy to miss. The general idea is that Corlys (as well as many other merchants in Westeros) are losing ships to a pirate called Crabfeeder who has his base in the Stepstones. But as Viserys points out, it’s all much more complicated than that.

To help you keep up with Westeros’ latest conflict, here’s a breakdown of Daemon and Corlys’ war and why it matters, even if Viserys can’t officially sanction it.

Where are the Stepstones and why are they important?

The Small Council meeting with Rhaenyra standing at the table

Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

The Stepstones are a small chain of rocky islands south of King’s Landing between Westeros and Essos near Sunspear. By themselves, they are practically worthless. They can’t really be built, and there’s no soil to farm and no minerals of any value. However, since trade between Westeros and Essos is a vital part of the economies of both continents, the Stepstones could be a suitable base of operations for any pirate to harass ships as they travel through the southern part of the strait. or charge outrageous tolls for safe passage. This is exactly where the Crabfeeder comes in.

Who is the Crabfeeder?

Although the show does not go into detail, Fire & Blood (the novel that Dragon House is based on) tells us that the Crabfeeder was actually a Myrish prince named Craghas Drahar. In the book, Drahar actually cleared the pirates out of the Stepstones himself, then set up a toll system that charged ships for safe passage. Although the merchants of Westeros accepted this for a while, they eventually grew tired of the ever-increasing prices.

However, it seems like it’s all a little different in the show. For one thing, it seems the Crabfeeder isn’t so directly tied to the Triarchy in Dragon House, and is instead secretly supplied by the Free Cities. The Crabfeeder also apparently harasses ships himself and acts a little more like a pirate than the greedy landowner he is in the book.

One thing the show embellishes (or diminishes?) significantly is the look of the Crabfeeder. We don’t get many details about Drahar’s appearance in Fire & Bloodbut in Dragon House it’s clear that his travels across the sea left him scarred and burned and possibly even with a bit of Greyscale from quests in the ruins of Chroyane. Plus, he has a cool mask.

Who are the Triarchy and how are they connected to the Free Cities?

There are nine free city-states that make up the Free Cities of Essos: Braavos, Lorath, Lys, Myr, Norvos, Pentos, Qohor, Tyrosh, and Volantis. While these cities constantly vie for power, there was a brief period where an alliance between Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh was born, calling themselves the Triarchy and becoming the preeminent power in the region.

Why can’t Westeros go to war with the Free Cities?

As often as the Free Cities bicker, their combined strength is far greater than anything Westeros could muster. On top of that, the Free Cities are an important trading ally of the Seven Kingdoms, and the Iron Bank of Braavos is home to much of Westerosi’s wealth. In other words, there really is no upside to openly fighting Free Cities and plenty of downsides.

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