In the first two episodes of House of the Dragon, one of the background stories that the series explored were in relation to Corlys Velaryon’s concern over the matters occurring in the Stepstones. That’s because he had a vested interest in this area due to his family’s business. Of course, while King Viserys ignored this matter, Corlys had to convince Daemon Targaryen to join him in their war against the pirates in the Stepstones. So, what are the Stepstones in House of the Dragon?
The Stepstones are a group of small islands that connect the eastern coast of Dorne in the south of Westeros to the western coast of Essos over at the Disputed Lands. These islands are important, particularly to Corlys, because ships that needed to trade with the southern part of Essos had to pass through them.
It is important to keep in mind that a lot of the characters in both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon have vested interests in the things that are happening in the known world. This is why Corlys Velaryon was particularly concerned about the Stepstones, which aren’t really important in terms of their resources but are still strategic locations. Now, let’s look at what the Stepstones are.
What Are The Stepstones In House Of The Dragon?
Ever since the very first episode of House of the Dragon, there has been a background topic that constantly makes its way to the discussions between the members of King Viserys’s Small Council. We are talking about the Stepstones, which have been the focus of Corlys Velaryon since the first time we saw him on screen. But what exactly are the Stepstones in House of the Dragon?
The Stepstones are actually just small islands that connect the southeastern coast of Westeros with the western part of the continent of Essos. These islands are scattered in a way that makes them look like actual stepstones from Westeros all the way to the eastern continent of Essos, as it is said that these islands were once connected to form a bridge between the two continents.
In ancient lore, it is widely believed that the Stepstones used to be a bridge that allowed the people of Westeros and Essos to simply cross between the two continents by foot instead of relying on boats. However, the Children of the Forest were said to be the ones that destroyed the Stepstones for a reason that was never fully explained.
We believe, however, that the Children of the Forest destroyed the bridge that now became the Stepstones because they wanted to keep the White Walkers away from Essos. As shown in Game of Thrones, the White Walkers are incapable of swimming, and it is perhaps this fact that made the Children of the Forest destroy the bridge between the two continents so as to make sure that the undead would never find their way to the east.
Whatever the case may be, the Stepstones eventually became a group of islands that constantly housed pirates because they could easily hide on any of the different islands there. The fact that the Stepstones became the den of pirates was what made it difficult for either the Seven Kingdoms or the Free Cities to conquer it. Of course, the different city-states of the Free Cities of Essos tried to conquer the Stepstones, but they mostly fought with one another for control over these islands.
Decades before the Dance of the Dragons, the Triarchy, which was a group formed by three different city-states from the Free Cities, tried to take the Stepstones. It was their leader named the Crabfeeder that led this attack, as his army slaughtered the pirates in the Stepstones. He earned his nickname by feeding the captured pirates to the crabs on those islands.
In House of the Dragon, Corlys Velaryon introduced the Stepstones by talking about the Crabfeeder’s activities in that area. However, King Viserys dismissed his concerns because he believed that dead pirates did not concern the Seven Kingdoms. Nevertheless, the Stepstones were once again brought up in episode 2, as we would learn later on.
Where Are The Stepstones Located?
As mentioned, the Stepstones are islands that are located between the eastern shore of Westeros and the western shore of Essos. Particularly, the islands are located just east of Dorne, which is the southernmost region of Westeros, and west of the Disputed Lands over at Essos.
While the Stepstones are too small to provide any true value when it comes to their resources, the fact is that they are strategic in terms of their location because they act as gateways for the ships from the northern parts of Westeros to the southern part of Essos and vice versa. So, if Westerosi ships coming from the central and northern areas of the continent needed to travel to the southern areas of Essos, they needed to pass through the Stepstones.
Why Are The Stepstones Important?
The fact that Corlys Velaryon continued to bring up the activities of the Crabfeeder in the Stepstones suggests that this area is quite important not only to him but also to Westeros as well. In fact, after the Small Council ignored his concerns in episode 1, he brought it up again in episode 2. However, in episode 2, it looked like matters in the Stepstones had escalated.
This time, Corlys now described the Crabfeeder as a pirate, as it appeared that he had taken the place of the pirates that used to live in the Stepstones and is now the one who is terrorizing that area. Corlys said that the Triarchy had already sunken four Westerosi ships, one of which was a ship owned by House Velaryon.
Of course, the importance of the Stepstones goes back to their geographic location. While there are now important resources in these small islands, the fact is that ships need to pass through the Stepstones to make their way to the southern portions of Essos.
In Corlys’s case, House Velaryon makes its fortune through its ships because half of the ships in Westeros are owned by this family. It only follows that House Velaryon has a vested interest in merchants from Westeros and Essos trading with one another.
But with the Crabfeeder terrorizing ships that pass through the Stepstones, his family is losing a fortune. And considering that House Velaryon not only contributes to the strength of the entire kingdom with its ships but also with its riches, the presence of the Crabfeeder could potentially disrupt the economy of the Seven Kingdoms.
This is why Corlys Velaryon believes that taking the Stepstones and going to war with the Crabfeeder was important for the Seven Kingdoms. Nevertheless, none of the members of the Small Council were willing to wage war with the Triarchy because that would also mean waging war with the Free Cities that fund the Crabfeeder and his band of pirates.
As such, as we saw at the end of episode 2 of House of the Dragon, Corlys was willing to go to any lengths to make sure that they get rid of the Crabfeeder. And that was the reason why he had to recruit the glory-hungry Daemon Targaryen into his cause.