Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon Episode 9 and George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood.
No one expected Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) to come out of the woodwork as the biggest force to be reckoned with, but in House of the Dragon’s penultimate episode, that’s exactly what happens. Rhaenys, who is Viserys’s cousin, and who was overlooked in the search for an heir to the Iron Throne, makes it clear whose side she’s on in the HBO series’ ninth episode.
After King Viserys (Paddy Considine) dies, the Game of Thrones spin-off shows Alicent trying to win over Rhaenys. Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) claims that Rhaenys should have been queen; however, her words contradict her actions when Alicent still wants to place her son, Aegon, on the throne. Rhaenys is clearly a formidable force when it comes to the Dance of the Dragons, so how does she die in the books?
In ‘Fire & Blood,’ Rhaenys Targaryen dies during the Dance of the Dragons.
Everything Season 1 of House of the Dragon has been preparing us for is finally happening. Yes, the Dance of the Dragons, which is the Targaryen civil war, is finally upon us ahead of the Season 1 finale. In George R.R. Martin’s source material, Fire & Blood, Rhaenys sits on the black council of Queen Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).
Rhaenys’s life has been defined by getting spurned in the line of succession over the Iron Throne because of her gender, which inspired her nickname, the Queen Who Never Was.
However, Viserys rectifies this, in a way, by naming his daughter, Rhaenyra, as his heir, fixing decades of gender inequality. When Rhaenyra marries Rhaenys’s son, Laenor, their Velaryon children (in name, although likely not in blood) will also rectify the line of succession as Rhaenys’s descendants. When Rhaenyra proposes that her sons marry Daemon and Laena’s daughters, that’s the final nail in solidifying Rhaenys’s loyalty to the blacks.
Rhaenys Targaryen dies fighting for Rhaenyra's claim to the throne in 'Fire & Blood.'
In Fire & Blood, Rhaenyra sends Rhaenys to fly over the Velaryon ships’ fleet on her dragon, Meleys, to prevent the greens from attacking. Effective here, Rhaenys continues to fly on Meleys as a tool during battle. They attack Ser Criston’s soldiers during the Battle at Rook’s Rest, but the attack is a ploy. When King Aegon II Targaryen and Prince Aemond Targaryen appear on their dragons, Sunfyre and Vhagar, Rhaenys meets their attack knowing she doesn't have a chance.
The three dragons fall to the ground, and Meleys dies during the battle. Besides Meleys’s carcass, a body is found, although the body is so blackened with ash that no one could tell who it is. However, it is widely believed that the body is that of Rhaenys. Like her daughter, she dies a dragon rider’s death. While this may be how she dies in the books, we know that House of the Dragon takes its liberties when it comes to character deaths... so perhaps she'll be safe from the perils of battle.
Tune into the finale of House of the Dragon on Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. on HBO.