Balerion, also known as Balerion the Black Dread, was one of the three dragons belonging to House Targaryen prior to the War of Conquest and was named after one of the old gods of Valyria. Balerion was ridden by Aegon the Conqueror during the War of Conquest.
Balerion was one of the five Dragons that had been born in Valyria and brought to Dragonstone by Lord Aenar Targaryen, the Exile, and he was the only one who survived until the War of Conquest, being now a hundred years old.
Balerion gained recognition as the Black Dread during the War of Conquest, when Aegon and his sisters conquered Westeros. Balerion and its siblings Meraxes and Vhagar slew many in the conquest, but became notorious in the battle aganist King Loren of the Rock and King Mern of the Reach known as the Field of Fire. Balerion and the other dragons were deployed by Aegon and his sisters and devastated the army of the two kings. Roughly 4,000 men belonging to King Mern and Loren were burned to death, cooked alive in their armour by the three Targaryen dragons, Mern and all of his sons were also killed, rendering House Gardner extinct in the male line. After the battle, King Loren surrendered to Aegon and his forces, bending the knee and was granted the title of Lord Paramount of the Westerlands. Later Aegon and his forces attacked the Riverlands held by the Ironborn and their Iron King Harren the Black. Harren, after hearing the news of the Field of Fire, hid himself at the top of his highest tower of his castle Harrenhal. Harren foolishly believed that Harrenhal, which at that time was considered to be most impregnable stronghold in Westeros, would protect him from Aegon's dragons. Balerion, under Aegon's control, later sieged the Riverlands with the help of the Riverlords that wished to shake off the yolk of oppression under Ironborn rule. Harren and his sons were roasted to death by Balerion, thus ending Harren's rule and bringing House Hoare to extinction. Harrenhal later became a very dark and desolated place, taking on a charred and melted apperance, it came to be known as a cursed ruin.
Balerion helped Aegon forge the Iron Throne by breathing fire over the swords that Aegon conquered from his enemies, the work took many weeks and produced a throne of great ugliness.
After Aegon's passing, he was ridden by Maegor I, as he considered any other dragon unworthy of him. Maegor rode him thought the entire Faith Militant Uprising, burning anyone who opposed the continued rule of House Targaryen. Later Balerion easily killed his kin Quicksilver, alongside his rider Aegon, during the Battle Beneath God's Eye.
Balerion lived to be two hundred years old and died in Aegon's grandson's reign, King Jaehaerys I. His last rider was King Viserys I Targaryen, who refused to ride any other dragon. It was said that one day the largest and fiercest of the Targaryen dragons simply died in his sleep.
Character and Appearance
Balerion was the biggest and most fierce of Aegon's dragon's. Out of the dragons with the largest skulls, Balerion's massive skull was uniquely the largest skull of all, even compared to Vhagar, Caraxes and Vermithor. Balerion was at such a great size it could devour a mammoth whole. Its fire was as black as its scales. The shadow cast by its wings could cover entire towns. Its very presence on a battlefield foreshadowed utter destruction for his enemies and those of his rider, as Balerion has never lost a battle against humans or another dragon.
Even after his death, Balerion had the fiercest flame of any living dragon, or any dragon that succeeded him; this is made crystal clear by how Balerion destroyed Harrenhal (one of the strongest castles ever built), leaving it a blackened ruin, without any intervention or involvement from Meraxes or Vhagar.