While he didn’t have any important roles in the first five episodes of House of the Dragon other than the fact that he was responsible for rescuing Rhaenyra from the mob during the episode 5 scene of Criston’s fight with Joffrey, Harwin Strong had a huge role to play in episode 6 and the ten-year time skip from the previous episode. But the bad part is that he ended up perishing quite early in the storyline and just when fans were beginning to love the character. So, how and when did Harwin Strong die?
Harwin Strong died due to a fire that broke out in Harrenhal when he and his father, Lord Lionel Strong, were staying there. The fire was started by the cutthroats that Larys Strong hired to get on the good side of Queen Alicent’s favor. He died in the night after he and his father returned to Harrenhal from King’s Landing.
The story of Harwin Strong is one that could have been full of potential. Sadly, we could never see him taking part in the Dance of the Dragons and protecting his children from harm in the Targaryen civil war that took all of their lives. Nevertheless, seeing him as a caring father in episode 6 was one of the great moments of House of the Dragon. Now, let’s look at how Harwin Strong died.
How Did Harwin Strong Die?
One of the characters that we met quite early in House of the Dragon and ended up playing a big role in episode 6 was Ser Harwin Strong, who was able to make people swoon over him even for the small moments that he had in the series. We first met the character back in episode 3 when he joined the Kingswood hunt during Aegon II’s second name day, as he was quite impressed with Rhaenyra being able to kill a wild boar while she was out in the woods.
Then, as the series progressed, there were instances when the two shared a few moments, such as when Harwin caught Rhaenyra out in King’s Landing with Daemon and when he was the one responsible for saving her from the violent crowd during the fight between Ser Criston Cole and Ser Joffrey Lonmouth. Those were the scenes that were basically premonitions of their future relationship.
Of course, in episode 6, it was made clear that everyone in the Red Keep was aware that Princess Rhaenyra’s children couldn’t have belonged to Ser Laenor Velaryon due to the fact that their features didn’t resemble their supposed father at all. That was when people realized that the true father could be Ser Harwin Strong of the City Watch, as he was almost always by the side of the princess and her children. And the only one who was blind to that fact was King Viserys Targaryen, who was intentionally blinded by his love for his daughter even though the proof was already plain to see.
Harwin Strong, however, lost his cool during a training session involving the Targaryen and the Velaryon boys. When Harwin protected Jacaerys from Aegon II, who was ruthlessly beating the younger and smaller boy up at the coaching of Ser Criston Cole, the knight of the Kingsguard insinuated that the City Watch knight was the one who sired Rhaenyra’s children. This led him to beat Criston Cole down to a bloody pulp as he was removed from his post in the City Watch.
After that, he had a moment with Lord Lyonel Strong, who made it clear to him that what he did was a dishonor to their house. Lyonel also told him that everyone around them knew the fact that he was the father of Rhaenyra’s children and that the only thing protecting him from getting executed was King Viserys and his willful blindness to that fact.
As such, Lord Lyonel tried to resign from his post so that he could remedy the situation while protecting his family’s honor from what his son did. But Viserys rejected his resignation and gave him the opportunity to escort Harwin back to Harrenhal, where he would take his place as the lord of the castle.
Queen Alicent confided in Larys Strong about what happened while also telling him that she wished that she had more allies in King’s Landing. Of course, the only ally that was always partial to her was her father, Ser Otto Hightower, who used to serve as Hand of the King. That was when Larys unilaterally acted on his own by hiring some cutthroats to assassinate his father and his brother, as this was the only way for him to improve his status in life while getting on the good side of the queen.
Meanwhile, Harwin said his goodbyes to Rhaenyra and to the boys that were rumored to be his sons, as Jacaerys himself felt that Ser Strong could be his father. This was the final time that Rhaenyra saw her rumored lover and the final instance that the “Strong” boys saw their rumored father. Harwin and Lyonel went back to Harrenhal after that.
So, while Harwin and Lyonel were in Harrenhal, a fire broke out. Lyonel tried to break Harwin out of his room, but it was clear that the assassins may have also locked him in as the fires burned them alive. In that regard, both Harwin Strong and Lyonel Strong died in the fire, as Larys took the opportunity to tell the queen what he did so that she would owe him a favor.
When Did Harwin Strong Die?
As mentioned, Lord Lyonel Strong asked permission from King Viserys to escort his son back to Harrenhal so that Ser Harwin Strong could return to their ancestral castle and then take his place as its lord. In that regard, shortly after the incident with Ser Criston, Harwin and Lyonel returned to Harrenhal. This might have happened a day or two after Harwin beat Criston to a bloody pulp.
During the night of their return and while they were asleep, the assassins started the fire that woke Lionel up and burned both of them alive while the father tried to save Harwin from the flames. As such, it wasn’t too long after Harwin was expelled from the City Watch that he was killed by the assassins that his own brother hired to kill his family.
The deaths of Harwin and Lyonel allowed Larys to improve his station as the new lord of Harrenhal. But above all that, he was able to help the queen open up the position of Hand of the King so that she could bring her father back to court to become her most supportive ally. And, of course, doing so also meant that the queen owed Larys a favor.