House of the Dragon season 2 has introduced Alys Rivers – who is she and why is she so important?

Alys Rivers in House of the Dragon season 2
(Image credit: HBO/Sky)

Warning: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2.

House of the Dragon season 2 has seen Daemon Targaryen sent to Harrenhal, where he's met an intriguing new character in Alys Rivers. In episode 3, he arrives at a crumbling castle, which is still recovering from the devastating fire, to claim it for the Blacks. However, as well as encountering Simon Strong (Simon Russell Beale) who bends the knee, Daemon finds a bit more than he bargained for as he starts having strange visions.

He sees a younger version of Rhaenyra in one (played once again by Milly Alcock) as well as a strange woman in the ruins of the castle. Speaking to him, she warns him that he will "die in this place". Intriguingly, we also saw this woman earlier in the episode, sitting at the table with Simon Strong and his men. So, just who is she? Well, this is Alys Rivers, played by GLOW star Gayle Rankin.

Rivers is a bastard of House Strong and a fan-favorite among readers of George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood. In episode 4 we see her again as Daemon brands her a witch as she mocks him for the visions he's been having. But just what is her significance in the wider story, and what could be on the cards for her character going forward? Below, we get into major plot points from Martin’s novel, including the fate of some major characters. So if you’re trying to avoid book spoilers, turn away now.

Who is Alys Rivers in House of the Dragon? *SPOILERS*

Alys Rivers and Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2

(Image credit: HBO/Sky)

In Fire and Blood, Alys is described as the daughter of Lyonel Strong (Viserys’ former Hand of the King) and an unknown woman. She was often considered to be a witch by the varying accounts of the narrative in that book and several versions dispute her actual age. By the time the Dance of the Dragons comes around, she’s thought to be about 40, and she survives Daemon’s invasion of the castle. This is where we’re up to in the show so far, so if you don’t want to know what comes next, pause here. 

Eventually, the Greens retake Harrenhal with Prince Aemond Targaryen leading the charge. He spares Alys’s life but kills every other member of House Strong. In the book, he takes her as his bedmate, and later she is pregnant with his child. She becomes his confidant, soothing him through several battles going awry, and he helps her escape when she’s under attack by Lady Sabitha Frey at Harrenhal.

Their story ends back where it began at the stronghold. Alys has some visions that Daemon is back at Harrenhal with Caraxes, leading Aemond and Vhagar to head there and confront him. After one final kiss with Alys, Aemond and Daemon take to the sky above the Gods Eye in Harrenhal and fight to the death. Neither man survives.

House of the Dragon season 2 airs weekly on HBO and Sky. Read our House of the Dragon season 2 release schedule to never miss an episode, as well as our guides to:

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.