House of the Dragon (HOTD) episode 5, saw two major character deaths – Lady Rhea Royce and Ser Joffrey Lonmouth. However, the way these deaths were dealt with in the George R. R. Martin’s book ‘Fire and Blood’ (on which HOTD is based) is a bit different. Even the nature of these deaths and the motives of the characters behind them are different. So, let’s try to understand these differences.
At the start of the episode, Deamon Targaryen goes to Vale and meets his wife – Lady Rhea Royce, the lady of Runestone and his first wife. This is the first time that Lady Rhea Royce made her appearance in the series. Prior to this, she was just mentioned in the dialogues of various characters. However, audiences do get to realize the bitter relationship that Deamon had with Lady Rhea. He even once called her his “brown bitch”. It was clear that the man had little or no affection for his wife. So, when Daemon shows up in front of Lady Rhea, things were bound to go south.
As soon as Lady Rhea saw her husband directly in his eyes, she sensed a malicious intent. Her hand, in defense, went to her small armory, which she was carrying on the horse’s back. Before she could pull out her weapon, Daemon pulled her horse and she fell down. She fell on her back and lay on the ground in a miserable state. Lady Rhea then screams to Daemon – ‘I knew you couldn’t finish. Craven!’. Hearing this, Daemon stops midway and picks up a large pointy rock. He then proceeds toward fallen Rhea. Although the screen cuts at this point, it is implied that Daemon smashes Rhea’s head and kills her. The news soon reaches King Viserys, who is told that Lady Rhea has died after falling from her horse and smashing her head against a rock.
According to the book, “Fire and Blood,” Lady Rhea Royce fell from horseback, and her head directly hit a stone. She suffered for nine days before she finally succumbed to her injuries. At this point in time, Daemon was in Bloodstone, fighting against the Triarchy. When he got the news of his wife’s death, he immediately went to Vale to take part in her last rites. The timelines of these events have clearly been altered in the series. Daemon then goes to Lady Jeyne Arryn to ask for his inheritance (Runestone) after Lady Rhea’s death, as he did not have a child with lady Rhea. However, Lady Arryn asks Daemon to never visit Vale again and the inheritance is passed to Lady Rhea’s niece.
We are also introduced to Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, who is the homosexual lover of Laenor Velaryon. Laenor’s and Joffrey’s relationship was well-known across the kingdom, but nobody spoke about it. However, in the episode he attempts to mock Ser Criston Cole about knowing his relationship with Rhaenyra (who was now marrying Laenor). Ser Criston was already filled with guilt about sleeping with Rhaenyra. Ser Criston did it out of his love for Rhaenyra (he even broke his oath of Chastity as a Knight), but Rhaenyra said that she only did it for fun. So, when Joffrey mocks him, he snaps and smashes Lonmouth’s face in front of the whole gathering and kills him in the process.
As per “Fire and Blood”, Criston Cole never slept with Rhaenyra. This ultimately led to the princess detesting him. That is why she denied him a favor during the tourney, and he turned towards Alicent Hightower, who granted him one. The wrath of the Lord Commander (Ser Criston) fell on the other competitors in the tourney, and Lonmouth was one of his victims. He used a weapon called the Morningstar to severely injure Joffrey Lonmouth, who was alive for seven days before ultimately succumbing to his injuries. Lonmouth never instigated Criston Cole and met him face-to-face in the tourney which was held during the royal wedding as shown in HOTD.