A Breakdown of What Really Happened During the Battle of the Burning Mill in 'House of the Dragon'

The Battle of the Burning Mill sees tensions rising between allied forces, but what actually happens during the fight?

Sara Belcher - Author

Jun. 30 2024, Published 10:01 p.m. ET

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO

This article contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3 of House of the Dragon.

Only three episodes into Season 2 of House of the Dragon and the Dance of the Dragons is heating up. Though neither the blacks nor the greens have faced off on the battlefield, blood has already been shed within the first 10 minutes of Episode 3.

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The Battle of the Burning Mill has widely been considered the first battle in the war between Rhaenyra and Aegon, and despite its small role in the episode, it's a pivotal moment in the war to come. But what happened at the Battle of the Burning Mill, and who actually claimed its victory?

King Aegon talking with Larys Strong in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO
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What happened at the Battle of the Burning Mill?

The Battle of the Burning Mill takes place at the outset of Episode 3, though viewers don't get to see much more than the inciting argument. It begins as a dispute over land markers between knights of Houses Bracken and Blackwood. Amid their squabble over who moved the property markers, the two boys begin to argue about their differing allegiances: House Bracken has bent the knee for King Aegon, while the Blackwoods believe that Rhaenyra is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

When the Blackwood knight challenges the Bracken knight, tauntingly claiming he wouldn't attack as he threatened, it seems that an intense and bloody fight broke out between the two houses. Though the conflict was done in the name of their declared rulers, it seems that it was more about their long-standing hatred of each other than their allegiances to either heir.

The exact details of the fight aren't shared on screen, but in the books it was much more severe.

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Who won the Battle of the Burning Mill?

In House of the Dragon, Aegon is proud that a house loyal to him has drawn first blood in the war, considering it a win for his cause and calling it the 'first blood in our name." The lord of House Blackwood, Samwell, was killed in the battle — enough for Aegon to consider it a victory. But in the show, even his small council acknowledges that the battle was so deadly that despite Lord Samwell being slain, it wasn't as large of a victory as one would hope for.

Rhaenyra's small council in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO
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In the book, Fire & Blood, the win was technically granted to Rhaenyra and team black, though both house heads were slain in the battle, leaving little to celebrate. The battle seems much more calculated in George R.R. Martin's novel, as the Blackwoods raided the Bracken land first, resulting in retaliation from the Brackens. The Brackens were then forced to retreat to Stone Hedge, only to find that Daemon had already claimed it for the blacks — something he's already accomplished in Episode 3.

It was a bloody battle that seemed to be based, both in-book and on-screen, more on the ongoing rivalry between the houses than the tension between the blacks and the greens. Regardless, it is canonically considered one of the earliest battles in the Dance of the Dragons.

House of the Dragon airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and Max.

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