July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

House of the Dragon's Harrenhal and all the haunted history that comes with it

(Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2 episodes 3 and 4.)

House of the Dragon No stranger to the supernatural, HBO's fantasy drama series not only features plenty of low-key magic, not to mention, Know? dragons – but it is also the prequel to game of Thronesa show full of snow zombies and smoke monster babies. Clearly, this is a universe where otherworldly forces come into play. Still, The haunting scale of Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) at Harrenhal in season 2 possibly marks House of the DragonThe most overtly supernatural subplot to date.

Everyone's favorite daring girl. sad prince In episode 3, he moves into the supposedly cursed castle and soon after strange events begin to accumulate. It certainly seems like he's trapped in Westeros's answer to Ghost Bustersbut is he (and everyone else) just jumping into the shadows? How cursed is he? House of the DragonIs it really Harrenhal?

Why does everyone think Harrenhal is cursed?

A photo of Harrenhal in the second season of Game of Thrones

Image: HBO

One of the few things that people in Westeros, of both noble and humble descent, seem to agree on is that Harrenhal has been under a curse since its foundations were laid. Why? A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin books, House of the Dragonand game of Thrones Attribute Harrenhal's dubious reputation to two main factors.

The first is the Olympian arrogance of Harrenhal's founder, King Harren Hoare, in the run-up to the castle's opening ceremony. Harren placed great importance on the invincible his strength for future generations was going to be and, on paper, his boasting made sense. Harrenhal is almost comically large and its battlements (supposedly made of mortar mixed with Harren's blood) can theoretically shrug off any conventional attack.

The bad news for old Harren was that dragons are decidedly unconventional. King Aegon I Targaryen and his sisters He swooped down on Westeros literally the day Harren moved into Harrenhal, and promptly burned the place to the ground. The Targaryens' dragons roasted Harren and his children during the assault, and Harrenhal was never the same again. Unsurprisingly, rumors arose soon after that Harrenhal was cursed, haunted, or both.

The second factor contributing to Harrenhal's shady reputation is that almost all of Harren's successors as lord of the castle did not fare much better. We saw some of this misfortune in game of Thrones' eight seasons: Tywin Lannister, Janos Slynt, and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish end up shot to death in the bathroom, exiled and then beheaded, and Pez dispensed, respectively. House of the Dragon Season 1 adds Lyonel Strong and his son Harwin to the supposed victims of the curse of Harrenhal. also.

Frankly, it's hard to blame people for thinking the place is jinxed!

What happens at Harrenhal in the Game of Thrones books?

Daemon (Matt Smith) with his sword walking down the stairs of Harrenhal in season 2 of House of the Dragon

Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

Both the core of A Song of Ice and Fire novels and Dragon House's source text, Fire and bloodThey fail to show any paranormal activity in Harrenhal. Sure, we hear legends about the keep's various horrors, such as the burning ghosts of Harren and his children, a child-eating demon called Mad Lady Lothston, rafters filled with raven spirits, and household staff crumbling to ashes in their sleep. see any of these things, however.

At one point, Littlefinger complains about Harrenhal's ghostly guests; However, it is likely that this is simply the former Master of Mint's characteristic sarcastic comment. Likewise, although several characters (including Jaime Lannister and Arya Stark) acknowledge that apparitions of Harren and his children supposedly wander the halls of the castle, no one directly witnesses this phenomenon. What's more, it is rumored in Westeros that Harren's ghost killed a couple of criminals affiliated with the Lannisters in Clash of Kings They are completely wrong; Arya's mentor, Jaqen H'ghar, is the real person responsible. There's an equally prosaic explanation for the blood-curdling shrieks emanating from Harrenhal's aptly named Wailing Tower: it's just the wind blowing through the cracks in the walls.

Even so, Fire and blood Other, less easily explained, supernatural shenanigans on the grounds of Harrenhal are also detailed. Notably, the castle's Heart Tree not only has a scary-looking face, but it also “bleeds.” of dragon claw marks In its trunk every spring. It's true that heart trees are a completely separate branch (pun intended) of magic in A Song of Ice and Fire. tradition, and do not necessarily fall under the umbrella of the curse. However, this definitely fits the definition of “creepy” and arguably confirms that something even more disgusting is going on at Harrenhal.

So is Harrenhal really cursed? Or is he just a Westeros superstition?

Daemon (Matt Smith) sitting and looking at someone

Photo: Theo Whitman/HBO

Really? No one knows for sure. Ambiguity is a key part of Martin's view of magic, the supernatural, and religion in A Song of Ice and Fire. That's why details surrounding all three (including curses, real or imagined) are intentionally hazy. Harrenhal could be hunted by a malevolent force that wants to destroy Daemon, but don't hold your breath waiting Dragon House showrunner Ryan Condal to put it with certainty.

Certainly, nothing in episode 3 or 4 categorically confirms or rules out the curse of Harrenhal. Yes, Daemon sees his bedroom door shaken by unseen forces; However, Harrenhal is drafty as hell. The (admittedly deranged) visions our man has of young Rhaenyra aren't exactly a reason to call an exorcist either. For one thing, Rhaenyra is still alive (so she's it's not a ghost), and on the other hand, season 2 is littered with clues that Daemon is losing control. It's the classic “Is this all in his head?” trope.

But although the curse of Harrenhal remains a matter of debate in House of the Dragon Season 2, one thing is clear: Haunted or not, the castle is the least desirable vacation spot in Westeros.

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