The last episode of House of the Dragon has Daemon and Corlys preparing for battle at the Stepstones, but they just scratch the surface of the significance of the location in Westerosi annals. House of the Dragon highlights several sites, such as the important Driftmark as well as the Stepstones, that were only briefly seen or referenced in Game of Thrones.
The Stepstones are crucial to global affairs and the very underpinnings of Westeros, and this is true even if we ignore the battle between House of the Dragon as well as the new enemy Crab Feeder which was glimpsed in the last episode.
The overall concept is that the Crabfeeder, a robber based on the Stepstones, is responsible for the loss of vessels to which Corlys and other Westerosi merchants are susceptible. As Viserys elucidates, however, the situation is much more nuanced.
South of King’s Landing, betwixt Westeros and Essos, around Sunspear, lies a tiny mountainous archipelago known as the Stepstones. They are completely worthless on their own. Because there is no useful soil or materials, they are not suitable for construction. Nevertheless, the Stepstones could serve as a convenient launching point for any outlaw who wishes to persecute vessels passing through the southern portion of the Narrow Sea or claim exorbitant taxes and duties for free passage.
This barter involving Westeros and Essos is an essential aspect of the economies of both landmasses. This is when the Crabfeeder can come in handy. Even while Daemon and Corlys emphasize the Stepstones’ economic importance and their susceptibility to assaults by the Free Cities in Season 1 episode 2 of the House of the Dragon, they fail to mention the Stepstones’ far greater relevance to Westerosi legend.
Mythically, the Stepstones are what’s left of the Arm of Dorne, a route that once united Westeros and Essos, tens of thousands of years prior to the events of the House of the Dragon’s chronology. Beginning their conquest of Westeros in the territory that would eventually become Dorne, the First Men utilized the Arm of Dorne to bridge across to the mainland.
As part of their efforts to prevent the expansion of humanity into Westeros, the Children of the Forest as well as greenseers used sorcery to fracture the Arm of Dorne, creating the island now recognized as the Stepstones.
While the Stepstones are more significant in the history of the realm of Game of Thrones, they play a significant role in the first season of House of the Dragon.
After both Daemon Targaryen as well as Lord Corlys were excommunicated by King Viserys after Lord Corlys’ request to have the monarch wed his child Laena Velaryon was turned down, the two strong Westerosi men joined forces to forge their own route and fame in the Stepstones. Invasion and piracy suppression by the Triarchy of Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh has raised the region’s commerce toll, which might be detrimental to Driftmark and the kingdom as a whole.
Daemon, a disaffected scion of House Targaryen, uses the strife in the Stepstones as a pretext for waging a private battle for the region’s sovereignty. Daemon is supported by dragons, devoted warriors, his blade Dark Sister, and the ships of House Velaryon, however, he faces a unique adversary in the Myrish Prince Commander of the Triarchy, known notoriously as Crab Feeder, who sacrifices Westerosi seamen to you guessed it!! Crabs!!
Given that it is unlikely that Daemon would ever adorn Aegon’s crown or rule over Westeros, the Rogue Prince will assume the role of a tyrant in the Stepstones.
Although the episode does not really elaborate, the source novel for House of the Dragon reveals that Craghas Drahar aka the Crabfeeder was hailed as the prince of the Myrish people. In the novel, Drahar single-handedly eliminated the Stepstones’ piracy problem and instituted a toll scheme to compensate for security. At first, Westeros’s business community didn’t mind, but as costs continued to rise, they soon grew frustrated.
This whole, though, appears to be a little off in the presentation. One possible explanation is that the Crabfeeder is receiving supplies from the free cities rather than the Triarchy. The Crabfeeder, unlike the selfish landlord he is in the novel, is reportedly bothering vessels voluntarily.