Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon made a great point of following the source material, minus some minor deviations. However, Episode 7 of the first season of House of the Dragon gave us the first major deviation from the books, and that’s Laenor Velaryon’s ‘death.’ So, how does Laenor Velayron die in the House of the Dragon, and what happens to him in the books?
In the books, Laenor Velaryon is killed by his lover, Ser Qarl Correy, after a fight in Spicetown stemming from jealousy. In the show, Ser Qarl supposedly killed and burned Laenor beyond recognition in Driftmark. However, we see it’s a farce because they escape together in the last scene.
Now, it’s unclear if that’s the last we’ve seen of Laenor in the show, and it’s unclear what actually happened here. Let’s go through the source material – mainly the book Fire & Blood – and some major theories about Laenor’s fake death in the show and what repercussions it might have.
How does Laenor Velaryon die in the books?
Before I get into Laenor’s death in the books, there’s one very important thing you need to know about them. The two books used as the source material for Hause of the Dragon – The World of Ice & Fire and (mainly) Fire & Blood – aren’t written in the same manner as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire, used for Game of Thrones.
A Song of Ice & Fire is written from the point of view of multiple narrators, making the narration objective and undoubtedly the truth. However, Fire & Blood, and The World of Ice & Fire, are both written as ‘history books’ written by maesters and the accounts of a dwarf jester named Mushroom.
Archmaester Gyldayn – the one who wrote the history book Fire & Blood – was shown as an unreliable author very early on, as there’s no chance he could’ve known how some things happened, such as personal conversations or events outside of his domain. That being said, we need to take this written version’ of history with a grain of salt.
In that version of history, Laenor Velaryon died at the hands of his lover, Ser Qarl Correy. The two were at a fair in Spicetown in broad daylight when they fell into an argument due to Ser Qarl supposedly being jealous of Laenor’s other lovers. Knives were drawn, and Laenor was stabbed and killed right there, while Ser Qarl escaped.
Now that happened far away from home, and while the events are considered to be the truth, there was still some room left for doubt if it actually happened as it was presented. And George R.R. Martin did that deliberately – the history is incomplete and subjective.
That left a lot of space for the House of the Dragon showrunners to play around with some facts and twist the history while not actually deviating from the source material completely. So was the case with Laenor’s death in the show.
How does Laenor Velaryon ‘die’ in the House of the Dragon?
You probably noticed that I’ve put ‘die’ in quotation marks. That’s because we still don’t know how Laenor Velaryon dies in the House of the Dragon. In Episode 7, we thought he was dead for a moment until the last scene revealed he wasn’t killed at all.
It begins with a conversation between Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen. The two want to get married, but they can’t while Laenor is alive, as he is Rhaenyra’s lawful husband. They develop a scheme with Ser Qarl – Laenor’s lover – and seemingly plot for him to kill Laenor somewhere where there are witnesses in exchange for gold.
We even see Daemon pay Ser Qarl, explaining that he can escape to Pentos, where they don’t care about titles or names, but only how much gold you have. Heck, Daemon even slays a guard in the main halls of Driftmark so that Ser Qarl would have no problem entering and resolving Laenor of his life.
He does so and then tosses the body into the fireplace, burning it beyond recognition. There were witnesses who saw the two fight, but no witnesses to see that it was actually Laenor in the fireplace.
As it turns out – it wasn’t. In the very last scene of the episode, we see Ser Qarl and Laenor – now with a clean-shaved head – sit in a boat and escape together, most likely to Pentos. That’s a huge deviation from the books, making it clear that Ser Qarl didn’t actually kill Laenor – they made it look like he did so that they could escape to Pentos together.
As for the charcoaled body in the fireplace? It was probably the guard that Daemon killed, who was killed for two purposes – making it easier for Ser Qarl to enter and having a body to burn to make it look like it’s Laenor.
It’s a perfect plot for everybody involved, right? Daemon and Rhaenyra can get married, and everybody thinks they are ready to do anything to get what they want – even pay for Laenor’s murder. On the other hand, Laenor gets the freedom he deserves, drifting into a new life with his lover and a buck load of gold. It’s a win-win for everybody.
That is if the plot was actually meant to happen the way it did.
Will Laenor Velaryon return in the show?
My opinion is that Laenor Velaryon won’t return to the show – not anytime soon, at least. I believe the twist was made to show that Laenor wasn’t actually killed but got his happy ending instead. It’s a huge rift from what we usually see in House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, but a happy ending that’s most deserved.
I believe the plot was executed perfectly. Daemon, Rhaenyra, Laenor, and Ser Qarl developed a scheme that works for all involved. However, there’s a theory that suggests otherwise – that the plot might’ve actually been a whole lot different.
What if Daemon and Rhaenyra actually planned to kill Laenor with the help of Ser Qarl? Then, Daemon would’ve killed the guard for the sole purpose of Qarl’s easy entrance to Driftmark. But then, perhaps Ser Qarl chose to change the plot and help Laenor fake his death so that they could escape together?
That theory is corroborated by Laenor’s facial expression in the last scene of the episode – he doesn’t look like somebody who was granted total and utter freedom – he looks sad, shocked, and possibly even angry. It would make him a loose end for the happy couple, Dae and Rhae, and he could come back later in the show to bite them when they least expect it.
That being said, I don’t think that’s what happened, and I believe it’s just a theory. There are too many loose ends for that theory to be true. For instance, Rhaenyra expressed she does genuinely love Laenor only moments before, so I doubt she’d kill him in cold blood.
Also, if Daemon only killed the guard so Ser Qarl could enter, then whose body is it in the fireplace when Laenor and Qarl escape? Finally, Laenor’s sad, angry facial expression at the end might not be directed towards Rhaenyra or Daemon. I mean, he had to leave his family in ruins, and his whole life and heritage behind, just so that he could be himself and be happy.
If that wouldn’t make you angry and sad, I don’t know what would. That being said, I believe that this is the last we’ll see of Laenor in the show and that his escape with Ser Qarl was a lovely twist to his ‘death’ in the books, showing that he didn’t actually die but rather found a way to be happy.