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House Of The Dragon Season 2: Does Daemon Targaryen Die In The Book?

Contains spoilers for "Fire & Blood" by George R.R. Martin

Season 2 of "House of the Dragon" is well underway, and so far, it seems like all of the show's major characters are still standing. Despite that, audiences know that the onscreen civil war between the Targaryens known as the Dance of the Dragons will claim a lot of lives as it progresses. So does that include the life of Daemon Targaryen, the royal consort played by "Doctor Who" and "Morbius" veteran Matt Smith?

Yes, it does — and it's a brutal sequence in George R.R. Martin's history of the Dance of the Dragons, "Fire & Blood." In the book, Daemon meets his nephew Aemond Targaryen (played onscreen by Ewan Mitchell) after years of the two dodging one another, and they viciously battle atop their respective dragons Caraxes and Vhagar. "And it was then, the tales tell us, that Prince Daemon Targaryen swung a leg over his saddle and leapt from one dragon to the other. In his hand was Dark Sister, the sword of Queen Visenya. As Aemond One-Eye looked up in terror, fumbling with the chains that bound him to his saddle, Daemon ripped off his nephew's helm and drove the sword down into his blind eye, so hard the point came out the back of the young prince's throat.

Okay, so that explains Aemond's death — but what of Daemon? According to Martin's book, the dragons both fall into the God's Eye lake near Harrenhal, and no man or dragon could have survived (though Caraxes does crawl out of the water and die on land). "That Prince Daemon died as well we cannot doubt," the story continues. "His remains were never found, but there are queer currents in that lake, and hungry fish as well."

Daemon is one of the most complex and difficult characters on House of the Dragon

There's no question that, amongst a cast of characters who constantly do extremely awful things, Daemon Targaryen is in good company — but he's also a fascinating, layered, and ultimately pretty evil character. Introduced as the brother of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) in the show's debut season, Daemon is clearly a troublemaker with seriously violent tendencies. This is the primary reason that, as Viserys tries to figure out who he'll name as his successor, he balks at naming Daemon, whose erratic nature would potentially be disastrous on the Iron Throne. Furious, Daemon skulks around court and is sort of a creep to his niece Rhaenyra Targaryen — played at that point in the timeline by Milly Alcock — going so far as to bring her to a brothel in the bowels of King's Landing and causes an extremely odd scene at Rhaenyra's wedding to someone who isn't her uncle.

Ultimately, Rhaenyra's husband "dies" (in that he stages his own death and escapes the capital) and she's free to remarry, at which point she begs Daemon to marry her and continue the Targaryen bloodline (at this point, she's also aged up and played by Emma D'Arcy). Together, Rhaenyra and Daemon, as the leaders of Team Black, have multiple children and wage war against Team Green, its matriarch Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), and its "usurper" king Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney). Daemon isn't necessarily all bad, but he isn't exactly a gentleman, and in Season 2, his horrific acts start coming back to haunt him ... literally.

In Season 2, Daemon has visions at Harrenhal — and they're all foreboding

In Season 2 Episode 3, "The Burning Mill," Daemon is skulking once again — this time, around the wet, run-down castle of Harrenhal — when he briefly crosses paths with a mysterious woman who tells him, in no uncertain terms, that he will die in this structure. (She's almost right, apparently.) This isn't the only strange thing that happens to Daemon at Harrenhal. After hearing whispers in the night, Daemon also stumbles across a strange vision ... of a young Rhaenyra (played by Milly Alcock in a surprise return to the series). This version of Rhaenyra is sewing a young child's decapitated head back onto its small body, seeing Daemon and remarking, "Always coming and going, aren't you? And I have to clean up afterwards."

This is a perfectly clear reference to the most shocking moment in the Season 2 premiere of "House of the Dragon," where, in an attempt to retaliate for the death of Rhaenyra's second-eldest son Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault), Daemon hires a ratcatcher and a soldier (Blood, played by Sam C. Wilson, and Cheese, played by Mark Stobbart) to kill Lucerys' murderer Aemond. In a moment offscreen, it's perfectly plausible that Daemon says any prince will do, and as a result, Blood and Cheese behead Prince Jahaerys, the son of Aegon and his sister Helaena (Phia Saban) and a small child. It's an ugly, horrifying act engineered entirely by Daemon, and in the second episode, "Rhaenyra the Cruel," the self-appointed queen makes it quite clear that she doesn't much trust her husband either. Daemon is, at the end of the day, a pretty bad guy — and like so many of this show's other reprehensible characters, he will meet his maker sooner rather than later.

"House of the Dragon" airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 P.M. EST on HBO and Max.