House Of The Dragon Changed Laenor In A Big Way From The Books, And Fans Have Thoughts

Laenor Velaryon in a conversation with Rhaenyra about taking his lover to Dragonstone.
(Image credit: HBO)

Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for Episode 7 of House Of The Dragon. It also compares things that happened in Episode 7 to the books, but it does not contain book spoilers beyond what has already been shown on the show.

House Of The Dragon dropped another wild episode last night. As per usual, there was no shortage of topics fans reacted hard to. That’s what happens when you have several types of nonsense including dragon riding, eye-gouging and a husband accidentally calling his wife the wrong name. Perhaps the single most discussed moment, however, was the very last scene with Laenor Velaryon, both because it was a really pivotal moment for the story arc of the show and because it represented a major change from the way things were handled in Fire & Blood.

Let’s back up here for a second and talk about what happens in the books. In Fire & Blood, Rhaenyra decides she wants to be with Daemon after the kids all get in a big fight, which causes further issues between her and Queen Alicent. Rhaenyra wants to further cement her claim; so, she and Daemon hatch a scheme in which Laenor’s lover, Qarl, is paid to murder him, which he does. That clears the way for Rhaenyra and Daemon to get married, although they can’t prevent all the whispers that there may have been more to the death.

That same fight happens in House Of The Dragon between the kids. Aemond Targaryen loses his eye. The queen stabs Rhaenyra. It’s an absolute mess. Laenor isn’t present but feels bad about it and volunteers to ship Qarl off to the fighting in the Step Stones so he can recommit himself to being present in their lives. Separately though, Rhaenyra and Daemon hatch a plot to get married, which they both acknowledge means Laenor needs to die. Qarl is paid by Daemon, who is told there needs to be witnesses. Laenor and Qarl get into a fight, and Laenor ends up thrown into one of the fireplaces at Driftmark. Or at least that’s what we’re made to think, but we later see Laenor and Qarl together on a boat, seemingly headed for a new life in Essos, having apparently plotted with Rhaenyra and Daemon.

The bait and switch was a shock to both book readers and non-book readers and many commented on that wild range of emotions on Twitter. Here’s an example:

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This change is incredibly important for two reasons. First, it’s obviously very important to Laenor whether he’s dead or not, as well as to the larger story. My guess is he’s going to go away for awhile, but as Game Of Thrones showed us, just because a character departs the plot doesn’t mean they won’t be reintroduced. People like Gendry and The Hound both left for extended periods of time, only to reemerge in hyper plot critical ways

Second, it’s incredibly important to how we’re supposed to perceive Rhaenyra Targaryen. She’s, I think quite clearly, the main character in House Of The Dragon, and while we haven’t always seen her make the best or safest choices, she’s typically come off like a well-intentioned person, particularly among other members of the Targaryen family tree. Having Laenor murdered so she could marry Daemon would been a really hard push for her character into a more morally ambiguous direction. 

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At some point, you’d have to think Rhaenyra will need to cross some lines in the coming war. You have to think the show will let her make some of those choices so the good and evil is a little less black and white, or in this case, black and green, but for now, Rhaenyra survives as the favored saint and also as an incredible ally for Laenor and his life choices. 

Tons of fans took to social media to celebrate that allyship and how much she’s done to try and allow Laenor to be happy outside of the chains of their marriage. Many tweets were about picturing the two and their lives together.

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House Of The Dragon will return for another episode next Sunday night, at which point we’ll reportedly get our last consequential time jump. At that point, the show should settle into a more methodical and slow Game Of Thrones rhythm, as all the backstory of the characters will be established. We obviously have no idea if we’ll see Laenor again this season or ever, but if he does come back, expect fans to have some big reactions. 

Mack Rawden
Editor In Chief

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.