There will be significant spoilers for the season one conclusion of “House of the Dragon,” so beware. Aemond Targaryen and Lucerys Velaryon unexpectedly exchanged blows in the Sunday finale. This is consistent with the strategy used to give the plot in “Fire and Blood” more depth or alternative reasons. Morning Brew is read by more than 3 million people; you should too! Thank you for registering! In the season one conclusion of the TV version of George R.R. Martin’s “Fire and Blood” book, as we anticipated last week, HBO’s “House of the Dragon” brought to life two devastating occurrences.
First, after giving birth to six children, Rhaenyra had a stillbirth for the first time. But her losses weren’t over—the episode ended with her son Luke dying after being pursued by his uncle Aemond riding a dragon.
However, the program was careful to make several significant modifications to how Luke’s death is presented in “Fire and Blood,” so let’s examine them.
‘FIRE AND BLOOD”S’ LEAD-UP TO LUKE AND AEMOND’S SHOWDOWN WAS VERY SIMILAR, BUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE AIR WAS DIFFERENT
There are numerous accounts of the historical tales of House Targaryen in Martin’s “Fire and Blood.” Ryan Condal, the creator of “House of the Dragon,” had his choice of how to depict this significant death in the overarching Dance of the Dragons (the name given to the civil war among the Targaryens during their rule).
All of the events leading up to Luke’s arrival at Storm’s End were taken directly from the novel, including the suggestion that the boys travel with the lords on their dragons by their brother Jace. The book further claims that Rhaenyra would only consent if they took an oath on the Seven-Pointed Star—the Faith’s version of the Bible—promising to act solely as messengers and refrain from engaging in “any fighting.”
According to all of our sources, the disaster that befell Lucerys Velaryon at Storm’s End was not planned, according to Martin’s novel. The Dance of the Dragons’ initial conflicts were waged using quills and ravens, threats and promises, orders and bribes. Few people were aware that Lord Beesbury had been killed at the green council; the majority believed he was incarcerated.
As this line suggests, Luke’s passing definitely sets a new tone for the conflict and lessens any likelihood of his mother, Queen Rhaenyra, making a concession.
The majority of the events that took place in the Storm’s End hall were likewise directly taken from the novel, including Lord Borros Baratheon’s cold reception of Luke and Aemond’s opportunity to abuse him more. The book continues by stating that because of the poor flying conditions, Luke’s dragon Arrax was already having trouble staying aloft when Prince Aemond rode Vhagar and pursued him.
Prince Lucerys might have been able to outfly his pursuer if the sky had been clear because Arrax was younger and more agile. The novel claims that the dragons gathered above Shipbreaker Bay because the day was “as black as Prince Aemond’s heart,” as Mushroom puts it. Watchers on the castle walls observed far-off flamebursts and heard a shriek that drowned out the thunder. Then, with lightning flashing all around them, the two animals were impaled on one another. Vhagar, a grizzled veteran of a hundred wars, was five times bigger than her adversary. A fight, if there was one, could not have lasted long.
Arrax and Vhagar both behaved independently during the actual dragon-on-dragon combat, which is a detail that “House of the Dragon” showrunner Ryan Condal added to the conflict.
While Luke works hard to convince his dragon to suppress the need to retaliate against his pursuers, Aemond seems to believe that he could use his dragon as a bullying tool in the schoolyard. Both of the young men are shouting commands in Valyrian (though Aemond occasionally seems to revert to English), but they are unable to entirely subdue their dragons.
Luke thinks he has escaped when Vhagar appears out of the clouds and bites Arrax into several parts, leaving Luke’s body to either fall into the ocean or be consumed whole by the she-dragon.
In Martin’s stories, having control of a dragon has always been a precarious situation. Additionally, Condal took the time in episode one to inform us that King Viserys, who is now deceased, thought it was foolish for Targaryens to assume they could ever genuinely command a dragon. The show makes the tragic events leading up to the commencement of this civil war even more tragic by making Luke’s death a partially accidental one.
THIS CHANGE REDUCES AEMOND’S CULPABILITY SOME, BUT DOESN’T CHANGE THE OVERALL PATH OF WHAT’S NEXT
In the moments following Luke’s death, Aemond appears repentant, possibly astonished that he didn’t have the power over Vhagar that he imagined he did. But there’s no denying that Aemond was willing to put his young nephew through as much pain as he could, taking advantage of his physical advantage over him.
Is Luke actually dead now? The many stories about what transpired to Luke and his dragon’s body after the battle are described as follows in “Fire and Blood”:
‘Arrax fell, broken, to be sucked up by the bay’s storm-battered waves. Three days later, his head and neck washed ashore beneath the cliffs beneath Storm’s End, creating a feast for crabs and seagulls. Although it seems excessive, Mushroom reports that Prince Lucerys’s body washed up as well and that Prince Aemond cut out his eyes and gave them to Lady Maris on a bed of seaweed. Some claim that Vhagar devoured Lucerys entire after snatching him off the back of his dragon. Even that the prince managed to survive his fall and swim to safety while losing all memory of who he was and living out the rest of his days as a simple-minded fisherman has been asserted.
The most likely outcome appears to be that he dies, while it’s possible that “House of the Dragon” chooses that final choice and shocks book readers in season two like they did with Laenor’s fake-out death. He was so far in the air and in the middle of Vhagar’s jaws that it appears unlikely that he could have survived the attack and the subsequent fall.
The book claims that “The True Telling gives all these tales the respect they deserve, which is to say, none.” Munkun asserts, “Lucerys Velaryon died with his dragon.” Without a doubt, this is accurate. The prince was a 13-year-old boy. He was never discovered. The war of ravens, envoys, and marriage pacts ended with his death, and the fight of fire and blood officially began.
Luke’s passing appears to spur Rhaenyra’s cause into unfettered war against the Greens, as shown in the season one finale shot.
We won’t learn how Aemond chooses to inform his family in King’s Landing about the death until a later scene in season two. Will learning of Luke’s passing please King Aegon II and Otto? What would Alicent do if her own son turns out to be a kinslayer?
Only time will tell. For additional information on “House of the Dragon,” see our list of the most important details from last week’s episode that you could have missed.