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“House of the Dragon”: That’s why episode seven changes George RR Martin’s book template

“House of the Dragon”
That’s why episode seven changes George RR Martin’s book template

In the latest “House of the Dragon” episode, Rhaenyra (left) and Daemon Targaryen come up with a pretty ingenious plan.

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George RR Martin’s template for “House of the Dragon” is modified in episode seven. The reasons for this are diverse. Warning: spoilers.

The latest, seventh episode of the “Game of Thrones” sequel series “House of the Dragon” has been released. Those familiar with the book by cult fantasy author George RR Martin (74) will notice a significant change in the episode “Driftmark” compared to his work “Fire and Blood” (2018): Instead of Daemon (Matt Smith, 39) and Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy, 30) whose husband Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan) has murdered, he is allowed to live – and most likely even be happy abroad with his friend and life partner. There are many reasons for this deviation from the template.

The difference to George Martin’s “Fire and Blood” explained

First of all, about the book template: Laenor really dies here and in a very public way at that. His lover Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan, 27) is actually responsible for the murder here – presumably because he was paid by Daemon. Qarl flees, manages to escape and was never seen again.

The HBO series House of the Dragon is now changing that story. Laenor likes his wife Rhaenyra here in principle, but the two have a purely platonic relationship and he is not the father of their children. This severely weakens Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne and rulership, as the series “House of the Dragon” beautifully illustrated in the previous sixth episode of season one.

In the show, Rhaenyra and Daemon devise a plan to fake Laenor’s death. Daemon murders a servant, throws his corpse into the fire, and with no forensics yet in the medieval fantasy world of House of the Dragon, everyone assumes the charred corpse is really Laenor. Theon Greyjoy used a similar trick in “Game of Thrones” to fake the deaths of Bran and Rickon Stark.

The consequences of the fake murder

Laenor and his friend Qarl get something that is truly a rarity in the series universe of “Game of Thrones” and “House of the Dragon”: a happy ending. Although viewers will probably never see how the two fare on the continent of Essos, across the strait, they are allowed to live out their forbidden love in Westeros much more freely abroad, and Laenor is also freed from the burden of the throne. He would otherwise have become Rhaenyra’s queen consort at King Visery’s (Paddy Considine, 49) death.

Rhaenyra and Daemon derive a number of benefits from faking death. The two can now get married, which they do at the end of the episode in a Valyrian wedding ceremony. In addition to Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint, 57), Rhaenyra has also gained her strongest ally in Daemon. Daemon is a powerful warrior, leader and powerful dragon rider. He is feared in the Seven Kingdoms and known for his unpredictability.

In the Targaryens’ understanding, the “incestuous marriage” between the two is also legitimate. You can now father offspring of pure Valyrian blood.

But not only that. Rhaenyra and Daemon actually desire and love each other. Both seem unhappy with their lives so far, and sleep together for the first time in episode seven.

After Laenor’s death, Rhaenyra is feared

Another, almost Machiavellian calculation is at play here: Daemon explains to Rhaenyra that nobody except the four involved knows that Laenor is actually still alive. Her numerous noble rivals such as Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans, 55) and his daughter Alicent (Olivia Cooke, 28), the new wife of King Viserys, will suspect that Rhaenyra goes over corpses in cold blood. And for a future ruler whose claim to the throne is being questioned, it’s certainly not a bad thing to be feared.

The change to the book template makes Rhaenyra seem more likeable

And one last advantage is the deviation from the book by George RR Martin – albeit at the level of the series creators around Miguel Sapochnik (48) and Ryan Condal: If Rhaenyra had her husband murdered in cold blood, it would have been more difficult for viewers to show sympathy for her cherish However, this is important because she is the main character of the “House of the Dragon” series, after all.

After episode seven, and after Rhaenyra lets her former husband Laenor live and be happy abroad, viewers of the HBO series can still identify with Rhaenyra and hope that she will ultimately triumph in the game of intrigue.

Her big competitor Alicent, on the other hand, is not at all likable in the new episode when she demands that a child’s eye be taken out. There are a number of reasons why the series creators made a not insignificant change to Martin’s book template.

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