Warning: SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1 finale, « The Black Queen. »House of the Dragon season finale marked prince Lucerys Velaryon’s passing; his death was changed for the better in the show compared to what happens in the books. Lucerys is the second-born son of the heir to the Iron Throne, princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and her then-husband Laenor Velaryon. His older brother prince Jacaerys is in line for the throne, while Luke is set to inherit Driftmark. He is named as the successor to his grandfather Corlys Velaryon’s title of Lord of the Tides, even if Luke himself had expressed disinterest in the title and the High Tide seat. Despite this being his birthright, his claim is initially challenged by Corlys’ brother on account of rumors claiming that Luke and his brothers are illegitimate sons of Harwin Strong. At the end of season 1, Lucerys meets his death in an attack at the hand of his uncle, Aemond Targaryen.
In episode 10, Luke is sent on what seems like the safest journey with his dragon Arrax, heading to Storm’s End where Rhaenyra believes he will receive a warm welcome by Borros Baratheon. However, once he arrives at Storm’s End, Luke realizes that Aemond and his dragon, Vaghar, have arrived first. Aemond demands Luke’s eye for what happened when they were children, but Luke refuses to fight him, claiming that he came as an envoy, not as a knight. However, during the journey back to Dragonstone, Luke is followed by Aemond who wanted to intimidate his nephew. As the two each lose control of their respective dragon, the episode ends with Luke’s tragic death as he and his dragon are irrevocably destroyed by Vaghar in House of the Dragon season 1 ending.
Why House Of The Dragon Changed Lucerys’ Death From The Book
Luke’s death in the season finale of House of the Dragon maintains the same structure as the book but changes some key details. The book showcases Aemond’s rage as he goes after Luke mounted on his dragon Vhagar. In the book, Luke’s death is no accident but rather it is a planned move by Aemond who left Storm’s End with the intention of killing his nephew. Aemond is enraged both by the memory of Luke taking his eye in their childhood and by the mockery of Lord Baratheon’s daughter who asks him if Luke took his balls, and not just his eye. The latter is left out in the show, suggesting that Aemond followed Luke in an attempt to intimidate him after what he said at Storm’s End, thus simultaneously making Luke’s death more tragic and Aemond not just an evil character, but a more well-rounded one overall.
HOTD’s Book Changes Make Lucerys’ Death Even More Tragic
Luke’s death is a pivotal moment in both the book and the show, representing the true beginning of the Dance of the Dragons. After his war, the war of succession ceases to be about marriage proposals and envoys but rather about dragons and fire. With changes that House of The Dragon made to season one, Luke’s death became more tragic and unexpected for the audience as much as for Aemond himself who looks startled after realizing what happened. Similarly, the season finale shows his reluctance to fight as well as his fear as he tries to escape from Aemond and his dragon, knowing that not only this is a conflict he can’t win but also one he is not supposed to fight in the first place.
HOTD’s Changes To Lucerys’ Death Make Aemond A Better Character
In the House of the Dragon finale, neither Aemond nor Luke can control their dragons, which leads to the latter’s downfall, thus confirming Viserys’ idea that controlling dragons is an illusion. With Luke’s death being shown as an accident, and one that could most likely be avoided, Aemond’s character gains a new perspective. Although he does want to intimidate Luke, Aemond had no intention of killing him in what would most likely be an unfair fight. He most likely knows this is not a smart move and might start a civil war, reflecting the fact that, as previously shown throughout the season, Aemond is a smart character, perhaps smarter than his older brother. Moreover, Luke’s death is a result of Vaghar’s actions rather than Aemond’s himself: it is only when Aemond loses control of his dragon that she attacks Luke and Arrax.