House of the Dragon: Breaking down Aemond and Lucerys’ fight


Warning: This post contains spoilers for Dragon House.

Everyone gets a hero edition. The game of thrones prequel Dragon House billed as an adaptation of George RR Martin’s book Fire & Blood. But throughout the first season, showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik made several major changes to the story, seemingly in hopes that audiences would sympathize with the characters who were portrayed as villains in the movie. Martin’s story. The final was no exception.

The last episode of season 1 ended with a major death. Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) arrives at Storm’s End, only to find her uncle Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) already there. A confrontation is sparked and Lucerys, with the support of Lord Borros Baratheon, retreats to her dragon and takes flight. Aemond then chases him on dragonback through stormy skies with Vhagar, his much larger dragon. Aemond loses control of his dragon, who accidentally takes a bite out of Lucerys’ dragon, killing young Lucerys in the process. That’s not exactly how the fight over Shipbreaker Bay goes Fire & Blood. Analyzing the changes can provide insight into how the show’s writers think and plan for future seasons.

Read more: What to know about the dragon demon sang on Dragon House

Here’s everything you need to know about how Dragon House the first season strayed from the books and what it could mean for the show.

Aemond murders Lucerys in the book

In the book, as in the series, Rhaenyra’s second son, Lucerys, gouges out the right eye of Alicent’s second son, Aemond. He does this while defending his brother Jacerys from Aemond in a fight as a child.

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When Aegon is later crowned king, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) decides to try forging alliances. Rhaenyra sends her second eldest son Lucerys as an envoy to Storm’s End to curry favor with Lord Borros Baratheon, assuming Lucerys will receive a warm welcome.

Unfortunately for Lucerys, when he arrives at Baratheon Stronghold, he finds Aemond, Aegon’s younger brother, having already made a deal with Borros to marry one of his daughters. Lucerys can’t make a similar offer – he’s already engaged to someone else – so Borros quickly fires him.

In the book, Aemond immediately acts aggressively towards Lucerys. He insults her and tries to snatch Rhaenyra’s message to Borros away from the boy. Borros’s soldiers must intervene.

When Borros tells Lucerys to go home, Aemond draws his sword and insists that Lucerys gouge out his eyes as payment. Lucerys refuses to fight, but Aemond continues to challenge him. Borros’ men keep Aemond inside while Lucerys is escorted to his dragon.

This is where the stories start to diverge: in the book, one of Borros’ daughters taunts Aemond after Lucerys leaves, further infuriating him. Aemond asks Borros to leave and Borros tells Aemond, “It’s not for me to tell you what to do when you’re not under my roof”, essentially encouraging Aemond. Aemond rides his dragon Vhagar and pursues Lucerys as a storm rages.

Read more: Dragon House Could be a great show if it fixed its pacing issue

Vhagar catches up to Lucerys’ dragon, Arrax, and the two engage in all-out battle. Witnesses at Storm’s End see explosions of flames from afar. This battle is fast and Arrax falls into the water. Accounts differ as to Aemond’s reaction – some believe he cut Lucerys’ eyes from his corpse and offered them to one of Baratheon’s daughters, while others believe Vhagar ate the boy .

Regardless of the truth, the story at least strongly implies that Aemond fully intended to assassinate Lucerys. Otherwise, why would he chase him with a dragon after he demanded revenge?

In the commentary aired after the episode, showrunner Ryan Condal provides some insight into Aemond’s motivation:

“Maybe he was trying to scare Luke. But I don’t think he ultimately intended to kill him. But now he did, and he has to decide whether he’ll possess him or no on his journey back to King’s Landing. Because obviously if usurping the throne and crowning Aegon in the dragon pit wasn’t the start of the war, killing one of the sons of the queen certainly is.

This isn’t the first time the series has softened a character.

On several occasions this season, the Dragon House the showrunners tried to add depth to the characters committing dastardly acts.

Take the death of Laenor. In the books, he dies, and it would be easy to suspect that Rhaenyra and Daemon, who got married soon after, played a part. The show absolves our couple of incestuous heroes of this sin. Instead, Rhaenyra and Daemon help Laenor fake her death and escape.

Alice’s justification for crowning her son king also differs significantly from the books. Alicent never hears the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy and therefore does not mix her dying husband Viserys’ reference to it with a wish to crown their son Aegon as king. She and her father just decide to lead a coup and go for it.

Read more: How the chanting of the prophecy of ice and fire in Dragon House Alters the story of the Mad King in game of thrones

These changes largely serve to soften up Rhaenyra and Alicent, the show’s two main characters, and spare them some of the book’s nastier twists. In this case, Aemond is spared from committing the act of nepoticide and can argue that Vhagar eating Arrax was just an accident.

But the book is told by unreliable narrators

Fire & Blood is an intriguing read, and differs from game of thrones, because George RR Martin wrote it as a series of conflicting historical accounts. In the book, several maesters offer their accounts of what happened during the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war that consumes the Targaryen clan. Some narrators are more reliable than others, and it’s clear that some writers deliberately paint certain historical figures in a bad light to curry favor with the current regime. But ultimately, as with all historical texts, it’s up to the reader to decide which stories they believe.

Read more: Why Targaryen’s Dreams Are So Important In Dragon House

The book offers a rich adaptation: The showrunners of Dragon House can decide which version they think is more accurate or if all the maesters got the facts wrong. Presumably what we see on Dragon House is the “real” story and everything is cataloged in Fire & Blood is an interpretation. So Laenor “really” faked her death, and none of the maesters ever found out.

Similarly, we could assume in this case that Aemond really didn’t want to kill Lucerys – that he was just trying to scare her – but either no one believed Aemond’s account or the Maesters intentionally tried to portray Aemond as a villain.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.


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