Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Episode 10 of House of the Dragon.
The first season finale of House of the Dragon is finally here, and it brought everything that we came to expect from a Game of Thrones finale. If you watched and are not heartbroken by now, it might be a good idea to do a check-up, as you’re likely dead inside. “The Black Queen” was heavy on the subject of responsibility and bearing one’s burden, focusing mostly on Rhaenyra’s (Emma D’Arcy) ascent as disputed queen in times of war, but also on her second child, Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), who is bound to inherit Driftmark and is currently struggling with that idea. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to come to terms with his burden.
As the very real possibility of war is brewing in Westeros, Rhaenyra gathers her council on Dragonstone to plan her next steps, trying her best to avoid drawing first blood and prevent lives from being lost. Eager to take more responsibility, her sons Jacaerys (Harry Collett) and Lucerys volunteer to go on a tour throughout the most important castles in the Seven Kingdoms and remind their lords and ladies of the fealty they swore to Rhaenyra as heir to the Iron Throne. While Jace is going North, Luke has just a short roundtrip to Storm’s End to treat with Lord Borros Baratheon (Roger Evans)… but never comes back.
At Storm’s End, Luke was met with hostility by Lord Borros, who already had another guest: Prince Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), the one whose eye Luke had to stab all those years ago in the episode “Driftmark“. Extremely vicious, Aemond taunts Lucerys and goes after him after the young prince as he flees. Luke bravely and skillfully maneuvers his dragon Arrax through the permanent storm that engulfs the Stormlands, but doesn’t survive after Vhagar disobeys Aemond and kills the young Velaryon and his mount. Aemond watches aghast as his prank goes terribly wrong and will be the trigger that starts the war.
How Faithful Is That Scene to the Book?
As this event is told in Fire & Blood, there are some discrepancies between House of the Dragon and George R.R. Martin‘s book. They carry the same essence on both mediums, though. In the book, the accounts of Archmaester Gyldayn and the fool Mushroom state that Rhaenyra also pleaded to her sons to not get involved in any fighting, and made them swear it before The Seven Pointed Star, the holy book of the Faith in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Lucerys was expected to be back shortly from Storm’s End, as he was still very young and was still consolidating the bond with his dragon, Arrax. His mother also expected him to have a warm welcome from Lord Borros, who she thought would be proud to host a royal prince in his halls.
Rhaenyra misread Borros’ pride, however, and her plan backfired. Borros was livid to see Lucerys act as an envoy from his mother without any offerings. He then asked which of his daughters Lucerys was going to pick to wed, to which the prince replied he couldn’t, as he was already betrothed to his cousin, Rhaena Targaryen. Borros immediately sent the boy back to tell his mother “to not have expected the lord of Storm’s End to obey like a dog.” Borros was indeed proud, and he didn’t care that his late father, Lord Boremund, had sworn an oath to support Rhaenyra. Perhaps if Lucerys had arrived sooner…
But he hadn’t. Unfortunately, Aemond Targaryen was already at Storm’s End, and had already pledged to wed Maris Baratheon. After Lucerys’ was turned away by Borros, Aemond revealed the sapphire he placed in his eye socket after losing his eye to the young prince years before, and went after him saying he owed a debt, and should give either his eye, or his life. Lord Borros intervened and had Lucerys escorted back to Arrax, as Aemond asked him for his leave. The Lord of Storm’s End said he didn’t care what Aemond did outside his halls, so the Targaryen prince went after his nephew after being taunted by Maris, who asked him if Luke had “removed his balls” as well as the eye.
The Battle and the Aftermath
The battle itself is not narrated in Fire & Blood, but the accounts of it vary a lot. The most important aspect is that Aemond seems to have killed Lucerys and his dragon on purpose, with Vhagar acting according to his commands. Luke and Arrax were indeed swifter than Aemond and Vhagar in the skies, but the storm was an impediment for them. The younger dragon had trouble fighting under such conditions and was facing the five-times-bigger Vhagar, so, according to Gyldayn, “if there was a battle, it couldn’t have lasted long.”
Arrax’s head and neck washed up on the shores of Storm’s End three days later, but Lucerys’ body was never found. Mushroom claims that Aemond did find his nephew’s corpse and cut its eyes out to present to Maris Baratheon, but Gyldayn states that is highly unlikely. Other accounts say that Lucerys survived the skirmish and lost all memory, living as a simple fisherman afterward, of that he was swallowed whole by Vhagar. Again, mostly hearsay.
Something that was kept from the original story in the books is the death of Lucerys as the trigger for the Dance of Dragons to begin. When Aemond returned to King’s Landing, his mother, Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower, was terrified to learn of Lucerys’ death by her own son’s hands (or dragon). Even his grandfather, the power-hungry Hand of the King Otto Hightower was taken aback, asking Aemond how he could’ve been so blind since he “only lost one eye.” His brother, king Aegon II, however, was extremely happy and offered a feast to toast the beginning of the war.
Why These Differences Are Important
While House of the Dragon has a very character-driven plot, Fire & Blood is almost the polar opposite of that. The book tells the story of the Targaryen dynasty and the Dance of Dragons mainly based on the accounts of two people: Archmaester Gyldayn and court’s fool Mushroom. Gyldayn was a respected historian, and compiled in his book many reports and accounts by fellow maesters. Mushroom, on the other hand, had a more ground-level view of the events, being the fool on the courts of Viserys, Aegon II, and Aegon III. Both reports are unreliable, as they are personal.
It’s only natural that the series’ portrayal of Lucerys’ death would greatly differ from the accounts of the book. For the show to go forward, we need to see how things actually happened, as we follow directly the players involved. They all have stories and complete character arcs, so it’s necessary for us to understand the bigger picture once the puzzle is finished. We’ve known Lucerys and Aemond very briefly, for only four episodes, in different moments of their lives, but we know their strengths and weaknesses as characters. What’s left to see is how this act will play on Aemond’s future in Season 2, as Lucerys’ was cut way too short.