Game of Thrones ended with akingwhom few fans would have predicted: Bran Stark, the Three-Eyed Raven, on the Iron Throne. Or, technically, King without the Throne - as Drogon decided to melt the throne of swords into nothing before leaving King's Landing. Bran was elected by the Lords and Ladies representing the Seven Kingdoms (now Six Kingdoms, thanks to Queen in the North Sansa), after a rousing speech from Tyrion about the need for a ruler with a good story, to capture the imagination of the people and keep Westeros safe.
Tyrion also names Bran as King, calling him "Bran The Broken," a title that feeds into the story of the new King. It's also a name that has caused a certain amount of hilarity in the fandom, as people wonder why Bran would consent to being named after his disability, rather than his actions (or any other part of his story).
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However, the most devoted fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels know that this isn't actually the first time that a King has been called "The Broken," as King Aegon Targaryen III was also called the Broken King.
The Broken Reign Of The Broken King
George R.R. Martin's companion books (The World Of Ice And Fire and Fire & Blood) delve into the history of the Targaryens in a way that the A Song Of Ice And Fire series doesn't - including the reign of King Aegon III. Aegon III ruled from 131 to 157AC, although he came to the throne at the tender age of eleven, which meant that a regency was in place for the first few years of that. The son of King Aegon II, this King was a child throughout the Dance of the Dragons, the massive battle between different Targaryen factions for the throne. As such, he had a far from pleasant childhood; he was sent to Essos with his brother for protection, but their ships were attacked. Aegon was able to escape on his dragon (the first and only time he rode a dragon), but his brother was left behind, and he spent many years believing him dead and taking the blame for not saving him.
Although his mother was able to take King's Landing for a time, their rule didn't last. Aegon watched with her as the city rioted, and as his half-brother fell from his dragon and died. They fled to Duskendale, where they were safe (if miserable and afraid) for a while, but returned to Dragonstone for perhaps the worst event of young Aegon's life. There, they discovered too late that the fortress was overthrown, and as Aegon watched, their enemies had a dragon devour his mother in front of him. Aegon was taken prisoner, and eventually betrothed to a princess of the other Targaryen faction, bringing this house back together again.
Aegon's rule, first with a regency and then alone, was not an easy one - although he did manage to retain power until a natural death of consumption, much of it was spent dealing with the aftermath of the Dance and various dissensions. As a King, he wanted to bring peace and prosperity to the Kingdoms, but his early life scarred him. He was withdrawn, miserable, and largely silent. He hated dragons, and the last of the dragons died out during his rule, leading to him being named "Dragonbane." He did not engage with his court or his people, wore largely black, and was also named Aegon the Unlucky, and Aegon the Unhappy.
Bran Vs. Aegon III: Similarities And Differences
These two broken Kings, despite ruling hundreds of years apart, actually have a surprising amount in common. Both are known as the Broken King, although for very different reasons. Bran's title seems a direct reference to the paralysis he suffered when pushed from the tower, while Aegon was named "broken" because he was emotionally destroyed by everything he witnessed during the Dance. Whatever the reason for being Broken Kings, both of these rulers are described in very similar ways. Aegon is described as dressed in black, cold, gloomy and brooding. He would often avoid speaking to anyone or taking part in the affairs of the court unless he had to, and he shut down the plans for his sixteenth nameday and royal progress, not wanting to deal with revelry. The image of a black-clad King, near-silent, constantly brooding, and uninterested in the celebrations of court could certainly describe Bran, too - even if his is thanks to his Three-Eyed Raven-ness, not a miserable childhood.
Of course, that's not to say that Bran had a purely happy childhood, either! Like Aegon, he grew up in a time of war, with multiple factions battling it out for the throne (and of course, was pushed off a tower and crippled). He watched siblings die in terrible ways, and had to abandon his younger brother on a dangerous journey. He even lost his mother, and although he wasn't physically present to watch her brutally slain by an enemy faction, he certainly will have seen it through the weirwoods. It's not surprising, then, that like the first Broken King, Bran is often silent, traumatized, and thoroughly sick of war. It's also interesting to note that dragons have come to Westeros twice, and that (presumably), dragons will depart Westeros twice, during the reign of a broken king - that is, assuming Bran finds Drogon somewhere using his visions, but doesn't choose to bring him home again.
What Does This Mean For The Future Of Westeros?
There are so many clear parallels between the stories of the Broken Kings that it's difficult to imagine that history won't repeat itself on some level... even if Bran's ability to see all of history means that he could prevent it happening. (Not that he seems overly concerned about revealing his magical knowledge to anyone.) There are a few key differences, of course; Bran has no Regency to worry about, and it seems that the Six Kingdoms are likely to settle into peace with a little more ease. There is also a very different approach to succession in the new Westeros, as Bran cannot father children, and while it's likely he is going to live a very long time (like the Three-Eyed Raven before him), he won't be marrying or looking to name an heir of his own blood.
However, one of the biggest issues with Aegon III's reign was his refusal to take part in the celebrations of court and Kingship, which meant that despite the peace, he was not loved as a ruler. Bran, with a similar personality, and an apparent willingness to step back from the day to day ruling of the kingdom and leave it to his small council, may have to deal with the same issues. Given that the primary reason for his elevation to ruler was that his story could inspire the smallfolk, and unite the people through his compelling tale, having a king who cannot then continue to inspire them with enjoyment, as well as peace, seems a little bit problematic for the future. Then again, perhaps this isn't a bad thing - many of the proposed rulers over the course of Game of Thrones were driven by a desire to be loved by the little people, none more than Daenerys herself, and that rarely turned out well. Perhaps the best future for Westeros is one of a King whose Brokenness means he doesn't truly care about anything but keeping the peace... for once.
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