House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4’s big battle is even more brutal in George R.R. Martin’s book

Corlys and Rhaenys in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4
(Image credit: HBO/Sky)

Well, House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 certainly upped the ante, didn’t it? Now, before we go any further, we’re getting into huge spoiler territory from here on out so make sure you’ve seen right to the very end before reading on.

Still here? Well, then you’ll know that not everyone makes it out of the latest episode of the Game of Thrones spin-off alive. Sadly Rhaenys and Meleys are the big casualties of the Battle at Rook’s Rest in the Dance of the Dragons

In the episode, we see the Queen That Never Was fight valiantly on her dragon against Aemond and Vhagar as well as Aegon and Sunfyre. However, they’re simply too strong for her, as Vhagar claims another victim, biting Meleys’ neck, and sending the dragon plunging to the ground. 

It’s a heartbreaking farewell to the beloved character, and it’s a pretty gruesome death too. However, in George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood, there are some even worse details that we don’t see here.

How does Rhaenys die in the books?

Aemond Targaryen in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

The Battle at Rook’s Rest does play out broadly the same in Martin’s book, with Meleys and Rhaenys being the only representatives from the blacks to fight. However, Meleys is murdered by both Vhagar and Sunfyre as Aemond and Aegon are actively involved in the battle, rather than the king turning up unexpectedly.

The three dragons fight and become entangled, falling to the ground in the chaos. Meleys is killed, and it is said that a corpse is found beside her that is so blackened that no one could be sure it was the Queen That Never Was. The TV adaptation spares us from that horrific detail. One that may still be on its way though is the fact that Aegon parades Meleys’ head through King’s Landing on a cart in the novel, boasting of the greens' victory over the blacks. Eek.

Another heartbreaking difference is the reaction of Corlys Velaryon. Now, we don’t see this in episode 4, but in Martin’s book, he is enraged that Rhaenyra sent his wife by herself, not accompanying her or sending her sons. Now in the show, Corlys is at the table when Rhaenys volunteers herself to go, so it seems unlikely he’ll have this reaction when next week comes around. Although, he will surely be devastated by her loss. 

House of the Dragon season 2 is airing weekly on HBO and Sky – don't miss an episode with our House of the Dragon season 2 release schedule. We've also got guides and stories on:

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.