House of the Dragon: How Does Rhaenys Targaryen Die in the Books?

how does Rhaenys die

The Game of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon, has brought renewed attention to the Targaryen family and their tumultuous history. While the series is based on George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood, it’s unclear how much of the story will follow the events in the novels. One question that fans of the series are particularly curious about is how Rhaenys Targaryen, one of the fascinating characters in the Targaryen dynasty, met her end. In this article, we explore the life and death of Rhaenys Targaryen as it was depicted in the books. Having said that, let’s see how Rhaenys Targaryen dies in the books. 

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Rhaenys Targaryen died in the battle above Rook’s Rest in the book. She was ambushed by Aegon II Targaryen and Aemond Targaryen, who were riding Sunfyre and Vhagar, respectively.
  • Sunfyre, Vhagar, and Meleys locked in a deadly duel falling to the ground. Meleys stood no chance against the massive Vhagar, joined by a swifter and younger dragon, Sunfyre.
  • After the confrontation, Rhaenys’ body was burned beyond recognition. She was found near the dead body of her loyal Meleys. 

King Aegon lashes out in frustration

With Lucerys’ death, the war between the Greens and the Blacks is now fully underway. The Greens have dealt a heavy blow to Rhaenyra by taking her son from her, and Daemon, behind Rhaenyra’s back, dealt the blow back. Despite Rhaenyra’s undercover efforts to stop the war from tearing the realm apart and annihilating dragons, it was obvious that Alicent, on the spot, was not ready to resign the throne to her.

Meanwhile, Aegon’s council plotted. Much of the Greens’ forces were sent after Rook’s Rest, it was an inconsequential location on a large scale of things but it was also a home of one of Rhaenyra’s supporters who sat on her council – Lord Staunton.

King Aegon II wanted to take back Harrenhal, but Aemond advised against it, claiming that such a big fortification is currently useless and only serves as a misdirection to drain Daemon’s strength and resources. King Aegon was not happy to have his brother lead the say in the war, but eventually agreed to follow the Rook’s Rest approach, telling his brother so in broken High Valyrian.

He confronted his mother angrily about the fact that no one seemed to take him seriously with Alicent only confirming his fears and frustration – the king was a king only in title, and it was apparent that pretty much anyone on the King’s council could do a better job at being a king.

Following a conversation with his mother, Aegon impulsively decides to join the battle at Rook’s Rest and rides his dragon Sunfyre to meet with Criston Cole.

Rhaenys went to Rook’s Rest instead of Jacaerys

At the same time, the Council of Blacks was facing issues of their own as Rhaenyra’s council was in disarray without proper leadership and no one knew where Rhaenyra was for the past couple of days. Once she returned she revealed that she tried to negotiate peace but failed and now she was ready to strike.

Jacaerys volunteered to be sent to Rook’s Rest but Rhaenyra forbade him from going, partially due to a lack of experience and partially beacuse of what happened to Luke. Rhaenys decided to go to battle on Meleys. Meleys and Rhaenys arrived at Rook’s Rest first, followed soon by Aegon II on Sunfyre and Aemond on Vhagar.

Aegon had trouble holding his ground on Sunfyre but was eventually eliminated from the battle by his own brother, who finished off Rhaenys just as she was about to retreat. Things went a bit differently in the books, however.

How did Rhaenys Targaryen died? Who killed her? 

Lord Staunton of Rook’s Rest asked for Rhaenyra’s help in dealing with the growing danger that Ser Criston Cole’s forces presented. Instead of Rhaenyra addressing the issue herself or sending one of her sons, the duty of defending the Rook’s Rest with her Meleys fell upon Rhaenys’ shoulders. 

Rhaenys arrived at Rooks Rest nine days after the plea had been sent. Rhaenys attacked Ser Criston Cole and his soldiers stationed at the keep, only for the attack to prove to be misdirected. She was soon ambushed by Prince Aemond and King Aegon II, arriving on the back of their dragons, Sunfyre and Vhagar. 

Rhaenys on Meleys

Rhaenys was not discouraged by this. She expected her death. She knew she and Meleys stood no chance against two dragons simultaneously. She bravely faced both Vhagar, Sunfyre, and the three dragons locked in the deadly battle. Falling to the ground from thousands of feet above. It is said in the books that when the dragons fell to the ground, the ground shook with such might that “stones fell from the battlements of Rook’s Rest half a league away.”

The battle between the three dragons raged on for hours. The fires were so strong that everybody near the dragons lost their lives. Knights were cooked in their armors on the back of their horses. 

After the fires died down, only Vhagar was left unharmed. Meleys was dead, near the dragon Princess Rhaenys lay burned to crisps, unrecognizable. Sunfyre was severely wounded in the battle as it was his rider, King Aegon II Targaryen. 

Those closest to the dragons did not live to tell the tale. Those
farther off could not see for the flame and smoke. It was hours before
the fires guttered out. But from those ashes, only Vhagar rose
unharmed. Meleys was dead, broken by the fall and ripped to pieces
upon the ground. And Sunfyre, that splendid golden beast, had one
wing half torn from his body, whilst his royal rider had suffered broken
ribs, a broken hip, and burns that covered half his body. His left arm
was the worst. The dragonflame had burned so hot that the king’s
armor had melted into his flesh.
A body believed to be Rhaenys Targaryen was later found beside the
carcass of her dragon, but it was so blackened that no one could be
sure it was her. Beloved daughter of Lady Jocelyn Baratheon and
Prince Aemon Targaryen, faithful wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, mother
and grandmother, the Queen Who Never Was lived fearlessly, and died
amidst blood and fire. She was fifty-five years old.

House of the Dragon: The Dying of the Dragons

Sunfyre lost one of his wings, and Aegon II suffered extreme burns. The dragonfire burned so hot that the armor melted into his flesh. He likewise suffered from broken bones, most notably his hips and ribs. He was taken from the battlefield in a horrid state with severe injuries, the ones that he won’t recover from for the rest of his ultimately short life


Did Princess Rhaenys Have a Better Claim Than King Viserys? Succession Explained

And this is how Rhaenys Targaryen died. She was ambushed during the battle of Rooks Rest, and burned alive on the back of her loyal dragon Meleys. She was found after the battle blackened and charred, killed by Vhagar and Sunfyre, ridden by Aegon II and Aemond. 

After Rhaenys’ death, Coryls was enraged beyond belief; he blamed Rhaenyra for the death of his wife, and this was just one of many daggers driven between them, and just one more thing that ultimately led to Corlys betraying Rhaenyra

Rhaenys died valiantly, and she managed to strike a crippling blow to the Greens by taking the wing of Sunfyre and horribly wounding King Aegon II. 

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