House of the Dragon: How did Luke Die? Is His Body Found?

Image Credit: Ollie Upton / HBO

Few shows have been as bloody and ruthless as HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ leaving all characters at the mercy of the writer and the audience restless about whether or not their favorite will survive till the end. It is these shocking deaths that made Thrones as popular as it eventually became, and the same technique is employed by its prequel, ‘House of the Dragon.’ Focused on the history of the Targaryen family, it recounts the events of the bloodiest battle to ever happen in Westeros. Kin against kin, dragon against dragon: the show promises a lot of bloodshed. The first season, however, is more focused on laying the foundation of the impending war. It isn’t until Lucerys Velaryon dies that the true game of fire and blood commences. The nature of his death also makes things much more volatile.

Lucerys Velaryon’s Death is a Shock Even to His Killer

Image Credit: Ollie Upton / HBO

The problem within the Targaryen family begins when King Viserys I makes his daughter, Rhaenyra, his heir, completely setting aside his two sons from his second marriage with Alicent Hightower, who used to be Rhaenyra’s best friend. The enmity between the women passes on to their children, who hate each other in equal measure, if not more. Things get even more heated when Rhaenyra’s son damages the eye of Alicent’s younger son, Aemond, inflaming them even further when the king decides to side with his daughter. At the moment, Aemond decides to let it go because, prior to the incident, he’d claimed Vhagar, the biggest dragon of all. However, the sense of injustice pervades, and he becomes even more hostile to Rhaenyra’s sons, particularly Luke.

When the seeds of war finally start to sprout, Rhaenyra’s side (the Blacks) and Alicent’s side (the Greens) send envoys to their potential allies. Luke is sent to Storm’s End to get Lord Borros Baratheon to their side, but when he reaches there, he finds Aemond, who has already struck a deal with Baratheon in exchange for marrying one of his daughters. The atmosphere gets tense when Aemond pokes at Luke, and if it weren’t for Borros Baratheon stopping the uncle and nephew from fighting, they would have been at each other’s throats inside the castle, which, in hindsight, would have been better.

Image Credit: Gary Moyes / HBO

Having delivered his message, Luke flies off on his dragon but is followed by Aemond, who means to tease him. As impulsive as the one-eyed Targaryen is, he knows better than to incite war by killing one of Rhaenyra’s sons. He only means to scare the boy and sets after him upon his mighty dragon. But the game of chase turns deadly as both their dragons get out of control. Aemond tries to control Vhagar, but she doesn’t pay any heed to him, and when Luke thinks he and his dragon, Arrax, are in the clear, Vhagar shows up and eats them whole. Aemond is shaken by this, not because he feels bad for having killed Luke, but because he knows what this means.

Luke’s Remains are Never Found

At the beginning of ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 2, we find a grieving Rhaenyra away from Dragonstone and tracking the path that her son must have taken while returning from Storm’s End. She was informed about Luke’s passing, but she must see the evidence with her own eyes; otherwise, she will never believe it’s real. What makes the situation tricky is that Luke and his dragon (or parts of them) fell from the sky into the ocean below, which means that finding any trace of them is highly unlikely. It is certainly impossible for Luke, who was barely a teenager. The dragon, however, is a different matter.

Image Credit: Theo Whitman/HBO

It is the dragon’s remains that Rhaenyra eventually discovers in a small coastal town. The fisherman raked in a dragon’s wing while fishing, and when Rhaenyra inspects it, it is confirmed that the wing belongs to Arrax. If the dragon didn’t survive, there remains no doubt that he didn’t survive either, and this is proof enough for the Queen, who returns home with war on her mind.

In ‘Fire and Blood’ by George R.R. Martin, which serves as the inspiration for the show, nothing of Luke and Arrax is ever discovered. The story is told in the third person by narrators whose reliability is questioned because either they rely on second-hand sources or are prone to making up tales with little truth at heart. Sources even differ on what may or may not have happened to the young prince. One says that the prince and part of his dragon were eaten by Vhagar; the other says that the prince fell off his dragon and into the sea.

The latter theory also leads to speculation about the possibility of the prince’s survival. Some say that Luke made it to the rocky coasts of Storm’s End but had lost all memory and was later found by a fisherman who took him own and raised him as his own, without knowing who the boy was. This is, obviously, too far-fetched and a fantasy concocted by the narrator, who couldn’t fathom the death of the young prince. However, the one thing that all narrators agree upon is that Luke Velaryon never came back home, and no part of him was ever recovered. And with his death, the war officially commenced between the Blacks and the Greens.

Read More: What Will Happen to Rhaenyra and Alicent’s Kids in House of the Dragon?