I’ve posted here a few times about the romantic life of the future Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon. Best known in the Game of Thrones universe for having staged the bloodiest civil war in Westeros, fighting with her half-brother, Aegon II, for the Iron Throne, her tragic fate was marked in the violent pages of the franchise’s history. The series has brought more context to a series of facts and gossip about Rhaenyra, who faced a misogynistic society that didn’t accept empowered women.
As we have seen, the princess has a strong personality and a modern mind: she knows that she will have children, but the death of her mother (in childbirth with a half-brother who did not survive) marked her in a way that her attitudes are seen as rebels (on the best of days) and reckless (by enemies). There is truth in both views. Rhaenyra doesn’t conform to the role of women in an oppressive society and she has it with her that will change everything when she sits on the throne. If men already feared a woman as a Queen without that conviction, imagine with her!
The affectionate and romantic relationship he developed with his uncle, Daemon, will be remarkable, but not the most significant of all, some suspect. The sexual initiation sparked by a visit to a brothel ended in a night of seduction with Ser Cristan Cole, and Rhaenyra’s life will forever be connected with this mischief.
Unlike the book, which places Rhaenyra as the offended and despised party in the relationship, it is Ser Cristan who reveals a violent and vengeful side when he realizes that it was just an adventure for her. He is passionately dedicated to the cause of Alicent Hightower, another frustrated and envious person, who wants to prevent Rhaenyra from being queen.
In the midst of this crisis, the princess was married by convenience to her cousin, Laenor Velaryon, but will fall in love. That’s right, we will have a jump of 10 years and we will find Rhaenyra again with no less than three children… none that look like her husband. By your side, faithful, protective, and devoted will be Ser Harwin Strong.
A matter of political strategy, provoked by a mistake by Viserys II, diverted Peace from the realm forever. When he was widowed, the King was pressured to remarry and the one chosen was a 12-year-old girl, Laena Velaryon. Marrying her would strengthen the bond between the Velaryons and Targaryens, make up for the fact that Viserys was king in place of her mother Rhaenys and all would be well. But Viserys fell for Otto Hightower’s play and chose 15-year-old Alicent as his wife. Following his heart wrapped around the girl (planted by her father to sell herself to the King), one day Viserys lost powerful allies and threw his daughter, Rhaenyra, into an aggressive depressive spiral, leaving her susceptible to Daemon Targaryen’s charm and prone to act without think.
Ser Harwin’s father, Ser Lionel Strong, was one of the King’s best and most accurate advisers. When it came time to wed Rhaenyra, her son was one of the strong names (sorry for the joke) on the list, but Ser Lionel – as upstanding as Ned Stark – didn’t push the envelope or take the chance. It was he who suggested to Viserys to patch things up by marrying Rhaenyra and Laenor, indirectly hastening the crisis.
Ser Harwin lived up to the name of the house and was the strongest man in the kingdom, an excellent soldier (part of the troop commanded by Daemon), he lived with the princess since she was very young, watching her from afar and flirting when possible. He was a prime witness to the girl’s smoky night out with her uncle, but he kept his silence. He danced with her at her wedding, defended her when Ser Criston lost his temper… and will be Rhaenyra’s love interest for over 10 years. The Internet is abuzz with memes chipping at the couple and I’m on board with the theory that there will be true love between them, as well as a unique understanding of him – as opposed to Ser Criston’s – of understanding the rules of the game. Unfortunately Ser Harwin has more than enemies in the Greens, he has in his own family the rattlesnake that will bring about his downfall… and death. Your brother, Larry Strong.
House Strong is from Riverland, loyal to the Targaryens since Aegon I the Conqueror ruled the continent, with possession of the greatest castle in Westeros: Harrenhal (cursed, as we know). Over time, many representatives in the reigns of the Targaryens.
The Seed is Strong
The Strongs’ motto, The Seed is Strong, clearly translates to Rhaenyra’s three sons. Although they are Velaryon in name, Jacaerys, Lucaerys and Joffrey resemble Ser Harwin, the princess’s inseparable companion. The relationship of acceptance and familiarity between Rhaenyra, Laenor and Harwin defies current times, even more so in a medieval universe. And who can’t stand the balance is Alicent, who wants to expose the trio so that her son, Aegon II, gains preference in the succession.
As we see in the two trailers for the upcoming episodes, Ser Harwin will personally take care of the education of the Velaryons princes, especially in battle teaching. After the wedding, we already know that Ser Criston is an expert at provoking fights and creating thugs, is anyone surprised that he and Harwin get slapped?
The strange thing is that apparently Ser Criston “loses” the fight, but it is Harwin who is expelled. That’s right, Alicent sets everything up so that if he’s not removed out of decency, then it’s because of gossip. And with that he manages to remove Ser Lionel from the position of Hand, closing with a golden key with the providential death of the two in the fire at Harrenral.
Who helps Alicent in all this is Larys Strong, envious like her and ambitious like her father, Otto, who will triumphantly return to King’s Landing. Isolated in Dragonstone, Rhaenyra will suffer another blow when Laenor dies under similarly suspicious circumstances. The union with Daemon arises from this opportunity, created by enemies, but fatal to the game of thrones.