How 'House of the Dragon' Changes Laenor's Fate From Book 'Fire and Blood'

House of the Dragon has not been afraid of adding to or changing certain things from George R. R. Martin's books.

Martin is a co-creator of the show, and the HBO hit is based on his novel Fire and Blood, which charts the history of the Targaryen dynasty as told by a maester, or scholar, from Westeros.

Episode 7 of the show made some surprising changes to the story, particularly when it came to one character: Ser Laenor Velaryon, played by John Macmillan.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for 'House of the Dragon'

How 'House of the Dragon' Changes Laenor's Fate From Book 'Fire and Blood'

John Macmillan in House of the Dragon
John Macmillan as Laenor Velaryon in "House of the Dragon" episode 7. The television series changes his fate from that in George R. R. Martin's book "Fire and Blood." Ollie Upton/HBO

Laenor is the husband of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy), though they are husband and wife in name only, since they were betrothed to one another despite the fact that Laenor is gay.

Princess Rhaenyra struck a deal with Laenor that if they wed, she would be fine with him continuing to have a lover, so long as she could also have her own. However, this does bring into question the legitimacy of their children.

Following the death of his sister Laena in House of the Dragon, Laenor tried to be there for his wife and their children, saying that he wants to be a supportive husband.

However, episode 7 saw Rhaenyra look elsewhere and admit to her uncle Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) that she wanted to be wed to him. In that way, her legitimacy to the throne would be harder to question.

Daemon tells Rhaenyra that the only way for them to wed would be if her husband were dead. The pair appear to concoct a plan with Laenor's lover Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan) to kill him and run away to the Free Cities, where no one will know him.

In the show, Qarl confronts Laenor at his home in Driftmark. They swordfight alone, with Laenor appearing to be defeated and left to burn in the fireplace. His body is scorched to the point of being unrecognizable, aside from his clothing.

It is revealed later, however, that Laenor and Qarl faked the former's death and had decided to run away together. Laenor shaves his head to remove his distinct silver hair so that they can live out their days together in the Free Cities and give Rhaenyra the opening she needed to marry Daemon.

In Fire and Blood, Laenor's story ends differently. The novel shows him killed during a swordfight with Qarl at a fair in Spicetown, where there are lots of witnesses to the slaying.

Laenor's father, Ser Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), collects his son's body, and it is said that Qarl killed his lover because he was jealous that Laenor had started to become interested in another, younger male suitor.

One theory suggested in the book, though, was that Prince Daemon had paid Qarl to kill Laenor, so Rhaenyra was free to marry him, and it is this plotline that has been tweaked for the purpose of the show.

House of the Dragon has come under fire for the violent killing of one of its gay characters, so by allowing Laenor to live by faking his own death, this may well allow viewers to see the show differently.

In a previous interview, co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik told Newsweek that he and the creative team were keen to do something different with the show and that it was "really important that the franchise evolve."

Toussaint, who plays Corlys, also told Newsweek about the events in his character's life, particularly how he feels over both his children dying for his ambitions—since he is unaware Laenor is really alive.

"I think his overweening ambition is one of his flaws and it kind of leads to terrible things that happen later in the season," Toussaint, 57, said.

"And, in fact, there is a point in an episode where he does actually sort of go, 'Yeah, it was me. I shouldn't have done this. Let's just go home and enjoy our grandkids.' But, you know, this is Game of Thrones, and that ain't going to happen!

"So, yeah, I think sometimes, maybe in life, you have your eye on the prize, and sometimes you don't see the little things because you're so fixated on this one goal that you don't see the things that you're trampling underneath, and I feel like that's what happens with him with his kids."

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.