How House Of The Dragon Changed Westeros History With Finale Death
Warning: SPOILERS ahead for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 10 and George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood.House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal explains how Lucerys Velaryon’s death in the season 1 finale was made more complex than its presentation in Fire & Blood. George R.R. Martin’s 2018 book chronicles the history of House Targaryen, including multiple in-universe historical recollections of the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war between Queen Alicent Hightower of the greens and Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen of the blacks. The book serves as the backbone for House of the Dragon’s story beats, including the death of Rhaenyra’s son, Lucerys, at the jaws of Aemond Targaryen’s dragon Vhagar.
In Fire & Blood, historical records purport that Aemond killed his young cousin on purpose. However, House of the Dragon complicates the narrative by having Aemond chase Lucerys on dragonback, clearly intending to scare the poor boy. Doing so has major consequences, though, as Luke’s dragon Arrax shoots flame at Vhagar of his own volition, causing Aemond to lose control of his massive dragon. While Fire & Blood’s history paints Aemond’s murder of Lucerys as premeditated, House of the Dragon makes it clear that Aemond lost control of Vhagar, who tore Arrax in two, swallowing the young Velaryon prince in the process.
In an interview with Variety, Condal explained how complicating Lucerys’ death in House of the Dragon was important for adapting Fire & Blood. He cites the unreliability of some historical texts in the book as allowing for a multifaceted reading of Aemond’s act, allowing for more dramatic freedom when developing the scene. Check out what Condal had to say below:
Historians have told us that Aemond intended to kill Luke, but I don’t think any of them could purport to know what was going on in Aemond’s head the time. And I would also dispute the word “accident” a bit. I mean, Aemond got on his giant dragon and chased his nephew on his much smaller dragon through the clouds screaming and yelling at him, incensing his dragon and starting a fight. He didn’t know how Arrax or Luke were going to respond, and it ended in tragedy. I don’t think that was what Aemond intended when he threw his leg over the saddle, but he did a horrible, dangerous thing. That is the point: This is a war of many cuts that lead to a really, really bloody wound. It adds complexity and nuance to the character that’s potentially interesting. There’s lots of runway to go on with Aemond as a character and the story of the Dance. This is his first act as a dragon rider and a warrior and it’s gone very wrong. Now what happens as a result, and how does he respond? Those are the questions I’m interested in as dramatist.
As Condal states, having Luke’s death be an unintended consequence of Aemond’s actions opens the door for a more complex look at Aemond in House of the Dragon season 2. The final look of guilt on Aemond’s face after killing Luke shows that, despite his history of insinuating Luke and Jace’s House Strong heritage, Aemond is not sadistic enough to kill a child in cold blood on purpose. Be that as it may, his actions are destined to have consequences for the Realm, with Luke’s death considered the first major casualty during the Dance of the Dragons.
In Fire & Blood, Aemond’s killing of Luke is greatly approved of by his brother, King Aegon Targaryen, who holds a feast in his honor. Luke’s death is also what drives Daemon Targaryen to plot the death of Aegon’s son Jaehaerys, ramping up the Dance of the Dragons. Because of the clear guilt Aemond feels for his mistake, it will be compelling to see how the feast and Jaehaerys’ death are presented in House of the Dragon season 2. As previously confirmed by Condal, Aemond Targaryen is not a psychopath, meaning the approval of his actions despite his guilt could lead to familial conflict between him and Aegon. This small change to Lucerys’ death scene could have major consequences for Aemond’s journey in House of the Dragon, opening the door for more possibilities with his character as the series continues.