Was Jaehaerys Targaryen’s assassination in House of the Dragon premiere novel accurate? Book vs. series details explored 

A still from HOTD (Image via HBO)
A still from HOTD (Image via YouTube/HBO Max)

House of the Dragon returned with a new season on June 16, 2024, after a long hiatus of almost two years, and things seemed to lick right into gear instantaneously. Though the first episode initially seemed to dwell on the edges of the primary events, the ending of the episode was reminiscent of some exceptional Game of Thrones episodes.

The finale saw Matt Smith's Daemon Targaryen sneaking into King's Landing and hiring two "debt collectors" to eliminate Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell). The ending saw a grizzly murder by the assassins (unnamed in the series but called Blood and Cheese in the novel), perhaps further pushing the sides toward the inevitable war that lay ahead.

Though the assassination itself is novel-accurate, this defining scene played out differently in the book than what happened in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1. Here is a breakdown of the major differences between the novel and the series in Jaehaerys' murder.

House of the Dragon season 2 premiere: How Jaehaerys' death was different in the book and the series

The series did not see much of Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) throughout the premiere episode, explaining her absence in the wake of Lucerys's murder at the hands of Chaegar and Aemond Targaryen. However, when Rhaenyra does discover proof of her youngest son's death, she instantly asks Daemon and the rest of her army for Aemond's murder, i.e. a son for a son.

In the book, the scheme starts as Daemon's plan to avenge Lucerys, and Rhaenyra's involvement in the plan is not mentioned. Moreover, the book is more ambiguous about which son they want to be killed. Most would assume the assassins, the watchman, and the ratcatcher called Blood and Cheese, were sent to kill Aegon Targaryen.

However, in the series, it is made clear that Daemon wanted Aemond to be killed, and the situation that culminated in the bloody finale was only when the two assassins could not find Aemond.

In both cases, Jaehaerys Targaryen, the young son of Queen Helaena (Phia Saban) and Aegon II Targaryen became the victim of the bloodshed, but the manner was quite different.

In House of the Dragon, Daemon sends the two unnamed assassins through the tunnels and passages of the Red Keep to find Aemond, acting on a tip from Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno). However, they end up in Helaena's room, where she is with her twins, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera. The assassins threaten her to reveal which one the son is, and on finding out, brutally decapacitate the young Jaehaerys.

In the book, however, the scene is far more dynamic. After traveling through the intricate tunnels and passages, the duo ends up finding Alicent Hightower. They tie and gag Alicent Hightower as they lay in wait for one of the sons to arrive. When Helaena arrives with her three children (one of which was never depicted in the series), the assassins ask her to pick a child they would kill.

They threaten that if she doesn't, they will kill all three. When Helaena picks Melor, her youngest son, Blood kills Jaehaerys instead, telling Melor that his mother wants him dead. They proceed to escape after this.

So, the brutality in the novel is more but it seems that House of the Dragon made some clever choices to play this story out. The result is an impeccable ending that would shape a lot of the story to come.

House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1 is now streaming on Max. The subsequent episodes are slated to premiere in the coming weeks.

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Edited by Tiasha
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