Who Is Harwin Strong, ‘House of the Dragon’s New King of the Fancams?
Rhaenyra fight me in the parking lot I want what you have.
This week, a hot new bombshell entered the villa. We had already caught a glimpse of him in episode 3, smiling as a covered-in-blood Rhaenyra Targaryen strutted through the royal hunt camp, and episode 4, as he caught the Princess while she ran incognito through the streets of King’s Landing. Now, Episode 5 of House of the Dragon has properly introduced us to one of its key players, Ser Harwin Strong.
**Spoilers ahead for this and possibly future seasons of House of the Dragons. You’ve been warned.**
His brief appearance in “We Light The Way,” where he punched his way through the fight that exploded in the middle of the throne room to reach Rhaenyra and bring her to safety, was enough to set the House of the Dragon fandom in a frenzy of TikTok fancams, beautifully descriptive Tumblr tags, and thirst tweets.
Daemon Targaryen and Criston Cole, you both better watch your backs—Harwin Strong and his “I’ll throw you over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes to rescue you” is coming for your title of Hottest and Most Unhinged Guy in Westeros. Funny how the three top contenders so far all have had or will have a connection to our beloved Princess. Rhaenyra Targaryen is truly out there living the life, huh?
But let’s actually take a couple of steps back and start from the basics. Who exactly is Ser Harwin Strong? And what will his role be in the Dance of the Dragons that is looming closer and closer? As always, I’m ready to answer with the help of my trusted copy of The World of Ice and Fire—and with spoilers!
Breakbones, Knight of House Strong
By the time the events we have seen in this first half of House of the Dragon roll around, Ser Harwin Strong is already known throughout Westeros as “Breakbones”—a nickname he earned by being arguably the strongest man in the entire realm.
As you might have guessed from his name, Ser Harwin is the eldest son and heir of Lord Lyonel Strong— whom we saw first as Viserys’s Master of Laws and was recently appointed Hand of the King now that Otto Hightower has been sent home at the end of Episode 4.
Just a quick note on House Strong. At this moment in time, they are the rulers of Harrenhal, the famous castle that Balerion the Black Dread melted during the War of Conquest—the same one where the Great Council of 101, which decided the Iron Throne would go to Viserys, was held, and that would be used during the events of Game of Thrones as the Lannisters’ military base in the Riverlands. A castle said to be cursed since pretty much every single House that has ever held it has met an untimely and unpleasant end—the same thing that will happen to the Strongs.
Now, back to Ser Harwin in the prime of his life and breakbone-ness. He first arrived in King’s Landing with his brother, Larys, at the request of his father—and he was made a captain in the city watch of King’s Landing, the famous gold cloaks. Larys too will play a major role in the Dance of the Dragons, and we have already seen him start to whisper in Queen Alicent’s ear—suggesting in Episode 5 that Rhaenyra hadn’t exactly been truthful with Alicent about her nightly escapade. Seeing his Petyr Baelish/Lord Varys attitude, you should absolutely not be surprised to learn that Larys will later serve as Master of Whispers in the Small Council of Aegon II, Alicent’s son.
Harwin, on the other hand, will start to gravitate more and more towards “the blacks,” the party that favours Princess Rhaenyra and her claim to the Iron Throne. Once the situation in the Red Keep becomes unsustainable and Rhaenyra removes herself from court to get away from Alicent, claiming her seat of Dragonstone, Harwin will follow—and rumors say as more than a simple ally, or as her sworn shield.
The short clip of episode 6 that is already making the rounds through the internet shows Rhaenyra struggling to get back on her feet after the birth of her third son, Joffrey Velaryon. Before him, she has already given birth to Jacaerys and Lucerys. And what has this to do with Ser Harwin, you might ask?
Well, all three boys are described in Fire & Blood and The World of Ice and Fire as bearing a striking resemblance to Ser Harwin rather than having inherited the typical traits of Old Valyria they should have had, considering that both their parents are of pure Valyrian descent. Princes Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon don’t have a single strand of silver-gold hair on their head, or a drop of purple in their eyes—suggesting that their father isn’t Ser Laenor at all.
Fire & Blood never really confirms that Harwin was Rhaenyra’s lover, but then again, Fire & Blood presents itself as a “serious” historical chronicle that skims over some of the more personal events—but it’s very likely that House of the Dragon will show the full extent of the relationship between the two. After all, the children who play Princes Jacaerys and Lucerys are shown with full heads of dark hair rather than the silver-blonde wigs all other Valyrian characters have. Maybe it’s better for them, considering how terrible those wigs have been so far.
What happened to Harwin Strong?
This question of the three princes’ birth is actually what indirectly causes the demise of Ser Harwin. It all starts when a fight breaks out when Prince Aemond Targaryen—the third-born son of King Viserys and Queen Alicent—mockingly calls them “Strongs.” The four boys, who until then have been brawling with wooden swords, move onto more lethal weapons and Lucerys takes out his knife to slash Aemond’s face. He does, taking out his right eye as well—something that will earn Aemond the nickname of Aemond One-Eye.
After that fight, King Viserys demands that Ser Harwin be removed from Princess Rhaenyra’s service. So he returns to Harrenhal, where his story ends in fire—ravaging through Harrenhal that same year and taking both Ser Harwin and Lord Lyonel’s lives. Officially, the accident was attributed to Harrenhal’s curse, but it’s very much a Lady Rhea Royce situation if you get what I mean. In Fire & Blood, Lady Rhea’s death is described as a fateful, tragic accident, but considering that Daemon has a dragon at his disposal, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think he could quickly fly up to the Vale to dispose of a wife he had grown tired of.
House of the Dragon expanded on that rumour. It made it the actual truth of the matter, so we’ll likely see something similar happen with Ser Harwin, as well—since there were whispers that the fire at Harrenhal had some very real, very human perpetrators.
The suspects consist of Daemon Targaryen, once again, in an attempt to get rid of his competition in Rhaenyra’s affections; Lord Corlys Velaryon, as an act of revenge for the smear Ser Harwin put on his son’s honour; King Viserys himself, to eliminate the source of rumours swirling around Rhaenyra; and Harwin’s brother Larys, who aimed at claiming his role as heir of their House’s titles and fortunes.
Whatever version of the facts House of the Dragon decides to go with, we can be sure that we’ll be delighted by Ser Harwin’s presence for at least a couple more episodes—or maybe even until the end of the season. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a gif that perfectly sums up the fandom’s feelings about him.
(via: AWOIAF; image: HBO)
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