4

In House of the Dragon S01E07 "Driftmark", Laenor Velaryon, who is the rider of the dragon Seasmoke, fakes his death, gets a new haircut, and flees "across the narrow sea" (to Essos) with Qarl Correy.

In ep. 10 "The Black Queen", the Season 1 finale episode, it is revealed by Daemon Targaryen (as he was enumerating the dragons that the Blacks have at their disposal) that Seasmoke is now unclaimed (riderless) and still resides on Driftmark, despite Laenor still being alive. (Before that reveal, I thought Seasmoke followed Laenor to Essos.) The significance of Daemon revealing this is that he is the one who orchestrated the faking of Laenor's death in the first place. He is one of the few people that know Laenor is still alive. (This event played differently in Fire & Blood, where Laenor actually died, leaving Seasmoke truly unclaimed and riderless.)

As far as I know, a dragon is bonded to its rider until one of them dies. The TV show Laenor–Seasmoke bond seems to be an exception.

To ride a dragon, a person has to bond with the dragon. Once the dragon and the rider have bonded, that dragon will not allow anyone else to mount it alone while its rider lives, no matter how familiar said person might be to the dragon. For example, when Rhaenyra Targaryen's son Joffrey Velaryon attempted to mount her dragon Syrax, Syrax shrugged him off mid-flight, causing him to fall to his death.

- Dragonrider. A Wiki of Ice and Fire. (The above excerpt references The Princess and the Queen)

What could cause the bond between a dragon and its rider to be broken, other than death? (I doubt Laenor's new haircut fooled Seasmoke.) Is this the only instance in the A Song of Ice and Fire books and derived works, where the bond between a dragon and its rider was broken despite both still being alive?

9
  • How would a dragon tell the difference between their rider abandoning them and dying? The two are pretty much the same as far as the dragon is concerned.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 26, 2022 at 7:06
  • @TheLethalCarrot Maybe it's all the same to the dragon. I don't know. Are you saying that other than death, abandonment by its rider is enough to break the bond between a dragon and its rider? Does the dragonrider just have to board a ship bound for Essos (preferably with a new haircut), and their dragon can now have a new rider? Oct 26, 2022 at 8:40
  • My point is that if the dragon doesn't see the person die; it's all the same to them really. How can it tell the difference between someone dying in a fight in a hall and someone cutting their hair and running away?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 26, 2022 at 8:42
  • I haven't seen the tv-show, but I think the answer might be in the infamous unreliable narrator concept here. Daemon thinks Dreamfyre is unclaimed, but how would he know? He cannot have tried to mount Dreamfyre, since he already has a dragon. He could assume it was unclaimed by assuming Leanor is dead, however.
    – TLP
    Oct 26, 2022 at 14:25
  • 1
    @PaulD.Waite In the book, unlike in the TV show, Laenor was killed in the open. His death was witnessed by several people. His body was not burned, allowing it to be clearly identified as Laenor's. His death was also not disputed by any of the sources mentioned in the book. Mellos, Eustace, and Mushroom all state that he died. Nov 7, 2022 at 14:51

2 Answers 2

6

I think the below quote pretty much sums up that any answer to the question is going to be mostly speculation:

We shall not pretend to any understanding of the bond between dragon and dragonrider; wiser heads have pondered that mystery for centuries. We do know, however, that dragons are not horses, to be ridden by any man who throws a saddle on their back.

Fire & Blood

So really we don't know what else can break a bond between the rider and the dragon. However, for the most part a dragon might not know the difference between their rider dying and their rider abandoning them. Note that Seasmoke was Laenor's pride and passion; it is strange of him to abandon the dragon and so Seasmoke may just assume Laenor is dead.

To further this point note that in the books Laenor is actually dead-dead. He is killed with an audience in the middle of a fair. The addition of his surviving in the show seems to be to add a somewhat happy end for him rather than to make any sense. So we can probably ignore any canon inconsistencies that follow from this.

The Lord of the Tides and his lady were still in mourning for their beloved daughter when the Stranger came again, to carry off their son. Ser Laenor Velaryon, husband to the Princess Rhaenyra and the putative father of her children, was slain whilst attending a fair in Spicetown, stabbed to death by his friend and companion Ser Qarl Correy. The two men had been quarreling loudly before blades were drawn, merchants at the fair told Lord Velaryon when he came to collect his son’s body. Correy had fled by then, wounding several men who tried to hinder him. Some claimed a ship had been waiting for him offshore. He was never seen again.

Fire & Blood

However, one point contrary to this is the case of Helaena Targaryen and Dreamfyre. Dreamfyre is said to have sensed Helaena's death and acted out in pain. So, it is possible for the two to share a close bond such that they are aware of each other. Though this isn't necessarily the case with all dragons.

At the moment of her death, across the city atop the Hill of Rhaenys, her dragon, Dreamfyre, rose suddenly with a roar that shook the Dragonpit, snapping two of the chains that bound her.

Fire & Blood

Lastly, it is worth noting that Seasmoke remains riderless for roughly a decade in the books. We are yet to see how the timeline plays out in the show of course. If that is the case then Seasmoke really would feel abandoned and possibly believe Laenor to be dead. And even then Seasmoke won't let just anyone attempt to mount him; with several attempts at people trying to claim him and failing with some of those perishing.

Dragons are not horses. They do not easily accept men upon their backs, and when angered or threatened, they attack. Munkun’s True Telling tells us that sixteen men lost their lives during the Sowing. Three times that number were burned or maimed. Steffon Darklyn was burned to death whilst attempting to mount the dragon Seasmoke. Lord Gormon Massey suffered the same fate when approaching Vermithor.

Fire & Blood


Just to tack on the end because you've added it to the question now but there have been several instances of people trying ride a dragon that still has a rider; they usually do not end up well. In the case of Joffrey Velaryon trying to ride Syrax, Rhaenyra Targaryen's dragon, he ended up being thrown to the floor and dying.

Syrax was the queen’s dragon. She had never known another rider. Though Prince Joffrey was known to her by sight and scent, a familiar presence whose fumbling at her chains excited no alarm, the great yellow she-dragon wanted no part of him astride her. In his haste to be away before he could be stopped, the prince had vaulted onto Syrax without benefit of saddle or whip. His intent, we must presume, was either to fly Syrax into battle or, more likely, to cross the city to the Dragonpit and his own Tyraxes. Mayhaps he meant to loose the other pit dragons as well.

Joffrey never reached the Hill of Rhaenys. Once in the air, Syrax twisted beneath him, fighting to be free of this unfamiliar rider. And from below, stones and spears and arrows flew at him from the hands of the Shepherd’s blood-soaked lambs, maddening the dragon even further. Two hundred feet above Flea Bottom, Prince Joffrey slid from the dragon’s back and plunged to the earth.

Fire & Blood

-2

This is a tv show & as such liberties are made to explain discrepancies that are not otherwise canon in the novels. I’m not sure if the novels ever really explain it, not that I ever read them. Don’t think there is an answer to the question you posed as the writer (Martin) simply never chose to address it.

In the show when Daenerys was killed by Jon Snow, Drogo still didn’t choose to kill him but rather destroyed the iron throne in anger & protest. That was his way of ensuring no one else would ever claim the throne if it wasn’t his queen/rider.

Many people misunderstood the scene with Rhaenyra giving birth at the beginning of the episode where you see flashes of Syrax appear in between contractions where she seems to be ferociously growling. That’s not the case, the scene was meant to show that Syrax being connected to Rhaenyra felt the pain she was going through, with her failed childbirth. It was meant to reinforce the connection/bond between rider & dragon.

1
  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question was specifically about breaking the bond between a dragon and rider by any means short of death, and if such has ever been depicted before. Posting "I don't think there is an answer" is not very useful, especially when there already is an answer.
    – DavidW
    Oct 28, 2022 at 20:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.