The story of Laenor and Qarl surprises book readers

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  • Warning: Spoilers ahead for “House of the Dragon” Season 1, Episode 7.
  • Sunday’s finale episode showed a surprising turn of events between Laenor and Qarl.
  • “House of the Dragon” continues to amaze people even after they’ve read “Fire and Blood.”

At the very end of Sunday’s episode, “House of the Dragon” continued its series of surprising fans with new insights and changes to events depicted in George RR Martin’s fictional history book of the Targaryens. Instead of keeping the “historical” details of Laenor Velaryon’s death the same as in “Fire and Blood”, the TV series version states that Laenor actually helped fake her own death.

The final minutes of the episode lead the audience to think that Rhaenyra and Daemon had paid Qarl to kill Laenor – which happens in “Fire and Blood”. But in the closing shot, we see Laenor getting into a boat with Qarl, and the two go off to live presumably satisfied in Essos for the rest of their lives.

So why change this event for the TV adaptation? It’s just one more adjustment to the historical narrative found in “Fire and Blood” that allows audiences to understand way more with Rhaenyra in her fight for the Iron Throne.

Instead of being a heartless murderous adult, Rhaenyra’s character is revealed to be a loving mother and a good friend and ally to Laenor. Rhaenyra is threatened by people at court loyal to Queen Alicent, and she is politically savvy to literally marry off Daemon and his daughters to her cause.

How Laenor’s death is explained in “Fire and Blood”

A scene from "Dragon House" season one, episode seven.

Laenor Velaryon in “The House of the Dragon”.

HBO



In Martin’s book, Laenor’s death closely follows Laena’s, adding to the tragedy felt by Lord Corlys and Rhaenys.

This is how the fictional story tells of Laenor’s death at the hands of Qarl:

“Ser Laenor Velaryon, husband of Princess Rhaenyra and putative father of her children, was killed while attending a fair in Spicetown, stabbed to death by his friend and companion Ser Qarl Correy. The two men had argued loudly before the blades were fired, the merchants at the fair told Lord Velaryon when he came to collect his son’s body. Correy had then fled, wounding several men who tried to interfere with him. Some claimed that a ship was waiting for him offshore, but he was never seen again.

The historical account of the book goes on to explain that the circumstances of Laenor’s murder had remained a mystery, as a modern-day cold case with varying theories. Jealous lovers’ quarrel turned into murder. Assassination paid for by Daemon to pave the way for Rhaenyra’s wedding (this is the story put forward by Mushroom, the court jester who was spotted at the wedding’s welcome party in episode five). The historical account indicates that Qarl was known for his extravagant taste and therefore it is likely that he killed the future king consort for a heavy reward and shipped off to Essos.

In ‘House of the Dragon’, Laenor and Qarl are on the plane, and a random servant at court is killed to fake the king consort’s death

A scene from "Dragon House" season one, episode seven.

Ser Qarl in “The House of the Dragon”.

HBO



The final minutes of the episode show how Rhaenyra and Daemon conspired to fake Laenor’s death, leaving Rhaenyra officially widowed and in need of a new husband.

Daemon approached Qarl at the docks of Driftmark and said he could have gold and safety in Essos in exchange for a “quick death, with witnesses”.

As we know from episode six, Daemon spent a lot of time in Pentos and traveling to other places in Essos, accumulating gold and allies. “There are places across the strait where a man’s name doesn’t matter,” Daemon told Qarl. “Only the amount of gold he has.”

After that, we see the plan realized. Daemon sneaks up on a castle servant and breaks his neck. Next, Laenor and Qarl played a clash in the main hall of High Tide (the castle where Lord Coryls rules). They made sure to have a witness who ran for help.

By the time Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys arrived, all they saw was a burnt corpse wearing Laenor’s clothes and a witness to Qarl’s attack and escape.

After Laenor is successfully smuggled, Rhaenyra and Daemon marry – forever uniting their children as Targaryen.

This continues the trend of new perspectives for Rhaenyra’s story that make her the most likable protagonist.

Milly Alcock as young Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) stands before her dragon, Syrax, and the Iron Throne.

Ollie Upton/HBO



In “Fire and Blood”, the male bias in recorded history portrays both Rhaenyra and Alicent in an unflattering and cruel light. “House of the Dragon” complemented their characters, adding things like Alice’s discomfort as a young girl in the company of Viserys (her childhood best friend’s father) or the teenage double standards of Rhaenyra because she was a girl.

But after the 10-year jump forward, “House of the Dragon” shows how Alicent has become brittle, cruel and hypocritical where Rhaenyra has become protective, tender and strong. We are given less reason to cheer Alicent on, and instead she acts as a fitting counterpoint to Rhaenyra’s defiance of customs.

Scenes added to the show for Alicent are things like her hitting her kids or accidentally allying with a murderer like Larys.

Meanwhile, the added scenes for Rhaenyra show that she cares for Laenor and her duty to the realm regarding Aegon’s prophecy and the title her father king bestowed on her with the lords of Westeros who have sworn to obey it. We see the intimacies of her consensual marriage and sex life and childbirth, when all of those moments weren’t included for Alicent.

To add to the pro-Rhaenyra slant of “House of the Dragon”, this episode also revealed that Rhaenyra had attempted to have children with Laenor more than once. She didn’t go straight into adultery with Harwin Strong, but tried to “do her duty” with Laenor. Heirs had to be produced, and quickly, to keep the succession vultures at bay.

With just three more episodes in the first season, fans will have to wait and see how the scales tip towards Team Greens (Alicent and Otto) or Team Blacks (Daemon and Rhaenyra).

New episodes of “House of the Dragon” air Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. For more, read our breakdown of the best details you might have missed in the latest episode.

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