House of the Dragon has been deft at calling back to earlier episodes -- and the season 1 finale, episode 10, was no exception. We saw a faded page torn from a large book, a callback to the very first episode. This page is so significant it almost prevented the declaration of war between the greens -- King Aegon's supporters -- and the blacks, Queen Rhaenyra's clan.
But if you've watched the finale, you know things took a sour turn. Let's discuss the significance of that torn page in the spoiler-packed section below.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
What does the torn page say?
Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, produces the torn page at an opportune moment in the hopes of preventing war. In episode 10, he and a small delegation meet with Queen Rhaenyra at the Dragonstone Bridge. They present "generous terms" -- possession of Dragonstone castle, Driftmark island, places of "high honor" at court -- on behalf of King Aegon in exchange for peace and acknowledgment of Aegon's kinghood.
This goes down horrifically -- until Hightower reveals his trump card: A torn page from an old, large book.
The old faded page bares a large picture of a woman in a crown standing over ocean waves and what look like red snakes. The old style writing reads: "Lashed together with ropes and cables, Nymeria's fleet dispersed at the coming of the first storms, sweeping them across the sea, east, west, and south into corsair infested pockets of the Basilisk Isles."
What book is the torn page from?
This passage is from a huge fictional tome entitled Ten Thousand Ships. It tells the history of warrior queen Nymeria and first appeared in episode 1, when Septa Marlow instructs childhood friends Alicent and Rhaenyra to study it. In the Red Keep's godswood, Alicent quizzes Rhaenyra on the book's contents, including which husband Nymeria takes when she arrives in Dorne (the answer is Lord Mors Martell).
The conversation moves to Rhaenyra and her fears about her parents -- King Viserys and Queen Aemma -- who might soon have a newborn son. Rhaenyra says she hopes her father will get the son he's always wanted. Meanwhile, this is what she wants.
"I want to fly with you on dragonback, see the great wonders across the Narrow Sea, and eat only cake."
Rhaenyra reveals that she did study the book before ripping out the special page. She hands it to Alicent, saying, "So you remember."
What does the page mean?
Alicent has evidently kept this childhood memento for two decades. So why give it to Rhaenyra via Otto at the bridge? She might hope it reminds Rhaenyra of a simpler time when both women were free of duty to their families. It was a time when they truly loved each other and would never dream of waging war with the friends on opposing sides.
"Queen Alicent has not forgotten the love you once had for each other," Hightower says on the bridge. "No blood need be spilled, so the realm can carry on in peace."
Initially, this sweet memento inspires Rhaenyra to remain open to peace. Sadly -- and unsurprisingly, given House of the Dragon is about a civil war in House Targaryen -- this takes a tragic turn when Alicent's son Aemond mostly unintentionally kills Rhaenyra's son Lucerys.