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Jace Velaryon is House of the Dragon's Robb Stark

This post contains major Fire & Blood spoilers.

Seriously, don't read any further unless you want to be spoiled of events that will likely be shown in House of the Dragon.

Final spoiler warning. Proceed at your own risk.

When photos of second season Jace Velaryon first started appearing online, I saw a number of writers compare Rhaenyra Targaryen's eldest son, the current Prince of Dragonstone, to another Targaryen prince, Jon Snow or, as he was named at birth, Aegon Targaryen. The hair was the obvious first point of comparison; House of the Dragon finally allowed Harry Collett's natural curly hair to fly free, and the result was an immediate Jon Snow-ish upgrade. I get it, Jon Snow was the hero who lived through eight seasons of Game of Thrones, and he is a fan favourite. But before Game of Thrones became the show that turned abolitionist Daenerys Targaryen into a murderous tyrant (grrr), way back when Game of Thrones was still staying close to the writing of George R.R. Martin, there was another hero whose journey more closely resembles young Jace Velaryon -- Robb Stark, one time heir to Winterfell and later King in the North.

When Ned Stark made his ill fated journey to King's Landing to serve as Robert Baratheon's Hand, Robb Stark became the Stark of Winterfell. He was Lord of Winterfell while his father was away, and though he had advisors, he very clearly was the one in charge. He called the banners (a very difficult thing to do, to demand his people to leave their families and march toward war where there was a very good chance they would die or be captured by the enemy and tortured) when the Lannisters had his father imprisoned. After his father's execution, he accepted the ancient role of King in the North. He was a brilliant military commander who at such a young age repeatedly beat the more seasoned and far wealthier Tywin Lannister.

Catelyn Stark was of course there to support her son, but Catelyn was also a daughter, a wife and a mother who carried tremendous grief (her father Hoster Tully was dying and later did die, there was of course Ned's brutal execution, plus she thought Bran and Rickon were dead). Catelyn eventually caused Robb a political headache by freeing Jaime Lannister in a desperate attempt to get her daughters Sansa and Arya back; she had no idea that Arya had escaped the Lannisters.

Jace's Robb-ish story will mostly be covered in season 2, and perhaps early season 3; as I am writing this, only the first two episodes of the second season, A Son For A Son and Rhaenyra The Cruel, have aired. Rhaenyra was already grieving the loss of her beloved father and her daughter Visenya. Season 1 ended with the death of her son and Jace's younger brother Lucerys in the hands of Aemond Targaryen and his dragon Vhagar, while on a diplomatic mission that Jace suggested. In Fire & Blood, it was Jace who stepped up as the de facto leader of Team Black whilst Rhaenyra grieved and Daemon was at Harrenhal. It was Jace who sent his brother Joffrey to the Eyrie with his dragon Tyraxes, accompanied by Rhaena, both for his safety and to fulfill Jace's promise to Lady Jeyne Arryn (a dragon in exchange for her support to Queen Rhaenyra's cause). It was Jace who reached out to Pentos and arranged for his brothers Aegon the Younger and Viserys (Rhaenyra's children by Daemon Targaryen) to be fostered there until Rhaenyra had secured the Iron Throne. It was Jace who led the Sowing which found riders for the dragons Vermithor, Silverwing, Seasmoke, and Sheepstealer. It was Jace who appointed his grandsire Corlys Velaryon as Hand to the Queen and with him planned an assault on King's Landing.

Jace, like Robb, was everything a father or mother could ask for in an heir.

The Battle of the Gullet is, for me, House of the Dragon's Red Wedding. For their safety, Jace sent his brothers Aegon the Younger and Viserys to Pentos, escorted by seven of Corlys Velaryon's warships. Unknown to Team Black, however, Otto Hightower's scheming with the Triarchy had borne fruit, and the young Targaryens' ships sailed right into the 90-strong enemy fleet. Team Black only found out what happened when young Aegon arrived in Dragonstone on his severely wounded dragon Stormcloud. Viserys, whose dragon egg had not yet hatched, was left on the captured ship.

Go back to the scene in A Son for A Son, when Jace arrived at Dragonstone and could barely look at his mother as he delivered, his voice breaking with emotion, the report of his successful diplomatic trips to the Eyrie and the North. Beyond his grief over the death of his brother, there must be guilt as well, for it was his suggestion to send the two of them on those missions in the first place. Now, after he thought he had sent his brothers Aegon and Viserys to safely, he suddenly found out that his plan yet again placed his siblings in danger.

Jace on Vermax was the first from Team Black to meet the Triarchy's ships. These are Triarchy troops who have faced dragons in the past via the years long fight at the Stepstones (in Fire and Blood, only Daemon Targaryen's Caraxes was mentioned but in House of the Dragon, Seasmoke was there as well with his rider Laenor Velaryon), and both Jace and Vermax were young and untested in battle. Jace also raced to the Gullet precisely to look for his brother Viserys, desperately trying to save his life the way he was not able to save Luke's life, and he flew his dragon low. The arrival of four other dragons and their dragonriders -- Hugh the Hammer on Vermithor, Ulf the White on Silverwing, Addam Velaryon on Seasmoke, and Nettles on Sheepstealer (she hasn't been introduced in House of the Dragon) -- broke the Triarchy fleet, but it did not save the life of the Prince of Dragonstone. Vermax crashed into the sea and young Jacaerys Velaryon, heir to the Iron Throne, was killed by Myrish crossbowmen.

What would the realm look like when it is ruled by the strong and the dutiful? In Prince Jacaerys Velaryon, we lost both. Like Robb Stark, Jace was filled with promise and good intentions. Like Robb Stark, Jace died too soon. Near the end of the Dance of the Dragons, Robb's ancestor, Lord Cregan Stark, would lead an army of Northmen to King's Landing to honour his promise to the late Prince. Not exactly Fire and Blood's Pact of Ice and Fire, but done right, it should be a fitting tribute to the prince who exemplified the best of House Strong, House Velaryon, and House Targaryen.

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