Ser Harwin Strong was a major player in the events of House of the Dragon season 1. While he did not appear as much as other important characters in the events leading to the Dance of the Dragons, he did provide their means as the real father of Rhaenyra’s children Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey.


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Strong may not be a part of any events going forward in the series, due to his sudden death at Harrenhal alongside his father. This means that there are a number of points about his backstory explored in books such as Fire & Blood, the huge text George RR Martin wrote to relate the history of House Targaryen. The second half of this text has made up the basis for House of the Dragon.

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A Clear Killer

Harwin dies in both the books and House of the Dragon at the seat of his family’s power, Harrenhal. However, the blame for his death was left unresolved in the book world. It was supposed that the killer could have been any of a number of people, including Daemon, whose jealousy at Harwin and Rhaenyra’s affair was obvious.

Instead, House of the Dragon makes it clear that his brother, Larys, was responsible for the murders of both Harwin and his father. While Harwin didn’t get a lot of screen time in the show, this definitive solution to his death makes for a larger part of rounding out his character arc.

How He Got Rhaenyra

A major detail left out of House of the Dragon is how Harwin and Rhaenyra actually ended up together. Episode five showed Harwin fighting through the brawl to get to her and take her away, but when things are picked up in episode six Harwin has already fathered three bastards by Rhaenyra.

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In the books, this is explored further. At the tourney celebrating her wedding to Laenor Velaryon, Rhaenyra gives her favor to Ser Harwin, and he goes on to have his collarbone broken in the tourney by Ser Criston Cole. This provided a further modicum of insight into how Rhaenyra and Harwin managed to get so much closer over time before becoming secretive lovers.

His Nickname

While viewers may have heard Harwin referred to as Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong, House of the Dragon certainly doesn’t focus on the name or the reasons for it. Knights in Westeros often have such nicknames due to deeds or capabilities they possess, and Ser Harwin is no different.

The Breakbones moniker is due to Ser Harwin being known as the strongest man in Westeros. Whether this is completely accurate is never truly known, but such a name surely made it easier for him to get his eventual position as captain of the King’s Landing City Watch. Books describe Harwin as a massive brute of a man, whereas the House of the Dragon version seems to be more of an all-rounder. Large, but not massively so.

His Contentedness

Harwin was shown to be someone with some level of ambition in House of the Dragon. This was not the case in the book, where he never became the commander of the City Guard, instead residing as merely a Captain in their ranks. His ambitions to gain rank for himself were never a part of his book character.

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In the books, he appeared to be completely content just getting to be with Rhaenyra, as he often was. He even managed to spend more time with her in the books, going with her to Dragonstone after her feud with Alicent reached boiling point. In the show, he never gets to go and spend those years with her.

Rhaenyra Spurned Him

Another important point in the history of Harwin is that when Rhaenyra went on her tour to try and find a husband, one of the men that attempted to court her and ended up being unsuccessful was Harwin Strong himself. Obviously, in the book Rhaenyra again ended up choosing Laenor Velaryon as her husband.

The romance between Rhaenyra and Harwin was not to be in marriage, but House of the Dragon doesn’t mention it as even being a possibility. The book writes that the two were discovered in bed together a year before Rhaenyra’s wedding, but their relationship was never presented as being anything beyond courteous in House of the Dragon until long after the wedding.

A Larger Family

There are always plenty of characters to keep track of, both in Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. However, the show actually managed to have quite as many characters as it does while still leaving some out of existence completely, or so it appears. Harwin is shown to have a brother in Larys, who kills him and his father for the likely reason of inheriting Harrenhal himself.

In the book, however, there were two sisters to Harwin as well, the Strong family was much larger than it is shown to be in House of the Dragon. While the show never rules out the possibility that there could be more Strong children, they go entirely unmentioned, and so it seems somewhat likely that they simply didn’t exist in the reality of the show.

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