Based on certain sections of the 2018 descriptive novel ‘Fire & Blood’ by George R. R. Martin, ‘House of the Dragon’ is an action fantasy series that serves as a prequel to ‘Game of Thrones,’ which is based on Martin’s ongoing magnum opus, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book series. ‘House of the Dragon’ revolves around the bitter war of succession between two factions of the ruling Targaryen dynasty. The first season of the series comprises the years leading up to the civil war, depicting events that inevitably resulted in the near destruction of House Targaryen and the temporary extinction of the dragons.
Portrayed by Paddy Considine, Viserys I Targaryen is ultimately a tragic figure. He inherited a peaceful and prosperous realm from his grandfather, Jaehaerys I Targaryen, also known as the Conciliator, managing to keep the peace and expanding on the prosperity. However, his actions sowed the seeds of the civil war, which ultimately led to the downfall of his family about 200 years later. If you are wondering whether Viserys will die in ‘House of the Dragon,’ we got you covered. BOOK AND SHOW SPOILERS AHEAD.
Does Viserys Die?
While the long-standing enmity between the Green and Black factions of the Targaryen dynasty sets the stage for the civil war, Viserys’ death serves as its trigger. In the books, Viserys died on the third day of the third moon of 129 AC (Aegon’s Conquest) in his sleep in Red Keep in King’s Landing after ruling most of Westeros for about 26 years. However, Alicent, her father Otto, and their supporters kept the King’s demise a secret, refusing to let septons and silent sisters attend to Viserys’ body and arresting all the supporters of Princess Rhaenyra — Viserys’ chosen heir — before crowning Aegon II as the new King of the Seven Kingdoms. Predictably, Rhaenyra had no inclination to accept Aegon II as king, and their dispute led to war.
So, Viserys is most likely to die at some point in the first season. Given the ending of episode 8, where he is wheezing and muttering incoherently, it seems that moment has arrived in the show, though it doesn’t particularly match the timeline of the books. There, at the time of Viserys’ death, Criston Cole was the commander of the Kingsguard. But in the show, Harold Westerling still holds the position.
Viserys’ ailment has been the subject of widespread speculation among viewers since the premiere of ‘House of the Dragon’ as he didn’t have the disease in the books. A prevalent theory was that it was a type of gangrene until Considine clarified that his character suffered from a form of leprosy.
Is Paddy Considine Leaving House of the Dragons?
Considine’s love for his character and the show can be easily observed in various interviews. He refers to Viserys as a good and decent man but a bad king, adding that his character has an ego that often comes into conflict with his lack of accomplishment. For his performance, Considine has received widespread critical acclaim, with Martin himself admitting that his (Considine’s) rendition of Viserys is superior to the one from the books and comparing it to William Shakespeare’s King Lear, the character from the eponymous play. “He’s stronger, he’s still conflicted, but he’s more of a tragic figure. He has King Lear aspects to him…that’s made his portrayal really interesting to watch on the show,” the author and co-creator of ‘House of the Dragon’ said during a fan interaction on HBO’s Twitter page.
In many ways, Considine’s outing in the prequel is quite similar to Sean Bean in the original series. Bean also received critical praise for his performance as Eddard “Ned” Stark and is fondly remembered by the fans, despite being part of ‘Game of Thrones’ for one season. While Viserys and Ned have significantly different personalities, they play somewhat of a similar role in their respective stories.
In an August 2022 interview with Screen Rant, Considine stated that he was mindful of Bean’s performance while preparing for Viserys. “ Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s funny, really, because Ned Stark – what Sean [Bean] did – was sort of in my head when I played this, which is kind of weird. It was part of the makeup for me of Viserys,” the actor stated.”
So, it’s true that Considine is likely to leave the show in its first season, but his performance is as influential to the overall narrative as Bean’s has been in the original show and potentially as iconic.