Even for the uninitiated, the presence of the Master of Law, Lord Lyonel Strong, in Westeros is one of the rare ones that doesn’t seem to be playing Game of Thrones. With balanced opinions, he tries to advise Viserys I, at least when Ser Otto Hightower isn’t dominating the conversation.
As was made clear in Episode 3, the counselor has gained one more point with the King, who is mindful of his wife and father-in-law (and Hand of the King), campaigning hard to change the order of succession again. Be that as it may, Viserys I is on them and has not fallen into the trap. Yet.
In the fourth episode of House of the Dragon, however, Otto once again manages (through gossip) to create a situation in which only his suggestion resolves. Again, too, fending off Daemon Targaryen. The sex scandal that tarnishes the princess’s honor and fuels her uncle’s bad reputation helps reinforce (in the Hightowers’ minds) to benefit Aegon II’s claim.
But one of the coincidences at the end of this story never explained in the book, is that Otto ends up estranged from Westeros and, in his place, Viserys appoints Lyonel Strong as his Hand. And the counselor’s two sons appeared in the third episode and both will have major roles. Shall we talk about the Strongs?
Love or an opportunity? Harwin and Rhaenyra
The princess barely glanced in his direction yet, but Harwin Strong has already signaled that he finds her attractive with the smile and glare he gave when he saw Rhaenyra returning drenched in blood after slaying the boar. Soon this behind-the-scenes scene that only the most attentive noticed will be crucial.
Ser Harwin Strong is known as “Breakbones“, and he is the eldest son of Lyonel Strong and therefore the heir of Harrenhal. He even served as a captain in the City Watch of King’s Landing, he was considered the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms. He courted the princess, as did others, but he only had a chance when one night of partying in the capital, he found Rhaenyra Targaryen. The princess was sad and there a connection arose as Ser Harwin supposedly comforted her. It comforted her so well that the princess’s three children, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey, were considered his rather than Laenor Velaryon‘s, Rhaenyra’s husband.
Their relationship began even before the wedding, one can imagine. After all, at the wedding feast to Ser Laenor Velaryon, Rhaenyra granted Harwin her tourney favor. It was the same event in which Ser Criston Cole broke Harwin’s collarbone and elbow that he became a constant presence at Rhaenyra’s side, and was a leading member among the blacks soon after. He may be in the background (so brilliant of the series of putting him there), but he will come center stage soon.
The dinner party at which Rhaenyra and Alicent’s children fight ended up defining Harwin’s fate as well. As gossip about the paternity of the future Queen’s children was rampant, Viserys I removed Harwin from his position, leading him to return to Harrenhal. Ser Erryk Cargyll of the Kingsguard replaced him close to the Princess.
It was the convenient fire that changed the whole game of succession in Westeros. Nobody knows how it started, after all, Harrenhal was always cursed, but it was so fast that it killed not only Harwin but his father, Lyonel Strong, the Hand of the King at the same time.
Among the suspects were Daemon Targaryen (for wanting to keep his niece) or Corlys Velarion, to avenge his son’s reputation. Hardly logical as both lived with Harwin peacefully for years, The two beneficiaries, unsurprisingly, were Harwin’s brother – Larys – who we’ve already seen in Episode 3 too, as well as Otto Hightower. That’s right, upon Lyonel’s sudden death, he returned to his position as Hand, conveniently unoccupied again. Surely House of the Dragon will clear this up in some way.
And Larys? The new Littlefinger (with a recall to Varys too) deserves a post of its own. Also because in addition to spoilers, it will influence all the sad conflicts of Dance of the Dragons.