‘House Strong,’ Explained: How Do Lyonel, Harwin, & Larys Leave Their Footprints?


The five colossal skyscrapers were the pride of Harrenhal. It had taken 40 years for Harren the Black to build them. It was believed that the towers were impenetrable, and Harren often boasted about his creations. But it is often seen that the creation of man-made structures (even in the contemporary world) leads to the destruction of natural habitats. Human beings, soaked in their greed, often disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem and forget to maintain its sanctity. The holy trees called Weirwood were cut down to build the five towers of Harrenhal. The laborers also suffered in harsh climatic conditions. Harren’s pomposity was smoldered by the wrath of a deadly creature named Balerion. Aegon the Conqueror had arrived on the shores of Harrenhal. His dragon, Belarion, nicknamed as “The Black Dread”, burnt the King of Harrenhal alive. Since then, it was believed that whoever resided in Harrenhal was subjected to bad luck and tragedy. Nobody knows if it was the curse of the laborers who died while construction or if it was a malediction spelled by the universe for cutting down the Weirwoods. Years passed and the events became folklore. But once again, the curse was awakened by treachery. Once again, the walls of Harrenhal were charred by fire. Once again, it literally became a “Kingspyre” (the name of the tallest tower in Harrenhal) that incinerated the royal seat, the King, and the heir.

‘House Strong’ Explained – Are Lyonel And Ser Harwin Strong Dead?

Lyonel Strong, Lord of Harrenhal, was made the Hand of the King after Otto Hightower was expelled from his position by Viserys Targaryen. There were many instances in “House of the Dragons” through which one could tell that Lyonel was a man who believed in upholding the integrity of the House. His dignified and honest approach was a rarity in King’s Landing, where everyone was just looking out for their own interests. Otto never hesitated to send his daughter, Alicent, first to an ailing Jaehaerys and then to a grief-stricken Viserys, who was going through a very rough phase in his life. Viserys had lost his wife, and somewhere, Otto knew that he would emotionally lean on any support that he got. He used the situation to his advantage and his own daughter as bait. The monstrosity of the man was such that even when he could evidently see the hesitation on the face of his daughter, he sent her to “comfort” the grieving King. Lyonel, on the other hand, always gave the best possible advice, keeping in mind the prosperity of the kingdom. He was a man of principles and didn’t compromise on them, even if it put him at a disadvantage. 

When Otto was brewing thoughts of getting his daughter married to King Viserys and gaining access to the Iron Throne, Lyonel suggested the King get married to Laena Velaryon. It was quite evident to the fact that at a time when the members of the small council were looking out for their vested interests, Lyonel thought about the greater good of the kingdom. When Viserys was getting bogged down by the thought of Rhaenyra’s marriage, it was Lyonel Strong who’d once again come to his rescue. Lyonel suggested to the King that he should get Rhaenyra married to the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon, i.e., Laenor Velaryon. Viserys was almost taken aback when Lyonel gave him the advice. The whole day, the King entertained lords and noblemen who wanted to marry Rhaenyra, not because they liked her sensibilities, but because they wanted to marry the hero of the iron throne. Viserys thought that Lyonel would also follow the pattern and ask for the princess’s hand for his own son. But when he didn’t do that, Viserys realized that Lyonel was a faithful and dutiful servant of the Iron Throne. Lyonel was not only a righteous man, but he was an accomplished policymaker too. His bureaucratic means and methods were always very effective and were always created by keeping in mind a long-term goal or vision.

Lyonel Strong had realized that his own son, Ser Harwin Strong, a.k.a. Breakbones was the real father of Rhaenyra’s sons. He was ashamed of the sheer audacity of his own son. It made him feel humiliated. Lyonel wanted to repent for the sins of his son, and so he offered to step down from his position as Hand of the King. Viserys didn’t let him do that, but it spoke volumes about the incorruptible attitude of Lyonel Strong. Ser Harwin Strong might not have been as stringent about his principles as his father was, but strains of that honor and righteousness could also be seen in his demeanor. He did indulge in an illegitimate relationship with Rhaenyra and gave in to his carnal desires, but he never shied away from his responsibilities as a father. He visited his sons as often as he could. He wanted the best for them, but not at the cost of depriving somebody else of their entitlements. 

When Harwin’s father, Lyonel, asks him to leave Kings Landing for good and resume his duties as the Lord of Harrenhal, he doesn’t contest the decision made by his father. His obedience was proof of the fact that even if he had indulged in something that was not so honorable, he wanted to rectify his mistake and was ready to bear the consequences of it. It broke his heart to leave his sons behind. He knew that he wouldn’t be around to see them grow up and become young adults. He knew that there was a possibility that they might not even remember him. But still, he adhered to the commands of his father as he knew that he had done something that had brought shame to his honorable House. His younger brother, though, didn’t have any of those characteristic qualities that members of House Strong were extremely proud of. 

Larys Strong was as treacherous as a man could get. He was an extremely shrewd, conniving, and self-serving individual. He held the post of the Master of Whisperers, and you realize that the nature of the job suited his own endeavors way too much. He always wanted to have his ears to the ground so that he would get to know about the crevasses that existed in the kingdom and then fill them with mortar that was soaked in blood. His sheer freakishness comes to light when he gets his own father and brother burnt alive in Harrenhal. Larys’ ideologies were in juxtaposition with those of his own father. It was strange that such an anomaly could exist in a House that was known for possessing such high standards of moral integrity.

The “House Strong” had a huge impact on the proceedings of the 6th episode of “House of the Dragons.” Though Lyonel and Harwin met their fateful end, the sly conspirator, Larys Strong, still had the ears of Queen Alicent. He was still in a position from where he could influence the state of affairs. It would be interesting to see how long he could operate under the shadows and whether he would be able to accomplish his devilish plans. The demise of Lyonel Strong and Harwin Strong also marked the beginning of the extinction of the great house and ended a glorious chapter of its history.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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