House of Dragon, like its predecessor, Game of Thrones, will have many characters from various houses. Most will play a vital role in the upcoming war, Dance of the Dragon, either directly or indirectly. One of the characters we see often but don’t know much about is Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes). As of episode 4, he is Master of Laws in King Viserys I’s Small Council. But, we can expect to see him as the Hand of the King by the next episode.
Lord Lyonel in the Book
In the books from which the series is adapted, Fire & Blood, Lord Lyonel is very well educated but often misunderstood as a brute. He was described as a large, balding, and quiet person. Lyonel Strong obtained comprehensive knowledge of many subjects while studying at the Citadel. He earned six links, each signifying mastery in a specific area of study. Before becoming his Hand, he served as Master of Laws for four years in Viserys’ Small Council.
Lord Lyonel Strong had two sons, Ser Harwin Strong and Larys Strong, and two daughters whose names we are unfamiliar with. He is also said to have sired a bastard daughter, Alys Rivers. Lord Lyonel served the King faithfully for over a decade til 120 AC, when his son, Ser Harwin, was removed as Princess Rhaenyra’s sworn shield. He returned to their seat in Harrenhal with Harwin, where both died in an unexplained fire. The fire was said to be the curse of Harrenhal but some suspect Lord Lyonel’s younger son Larys. Others suspect Daemon Targaryen, who would have been happy to see Harwin Strong, the rumored father to Princess Rhaenyra’s children, be out of the picture. But removing Lord Lyonel as the Hand of the King would have been beneficial to Ser Otto as well.
His role in House of the Dragon
So far, Lord Lyonel has been the only one providing wise counsel to the King. Most of his small council members are pushing Viserys to make decisions that would benefit their Houses. But while everyone advised the King or his daughter to marry someone from their house, Lyonel did not. In episode 3, Lord Lyonel proves the King wrong by showing him that he is thinking for the benefit of the realm. He has a well-respected son himself, Ser Harwin Strong, who was considered the strongest Knights of the time. But, he never advised the King to betroth Rhaenyra to Harwin.
We see the King turn to Lord Lyonel for advice many times over the episodes, and he never disappoints. He is calculated in his approach but not manipulative like Ser Otto Hightower. We can expect him to be an excellent Hand to the King, but he does not play a massive role in the Dance of the Dragons. Instead, his death changes the game in Westeros. With his death, Ser Otto Hightower conveniently occupies the position of the Hand of the King once more. This would grant the Hightowers significant advantage in the forthcoming war.
With the death of Harwin Strong, the heir to Harrenhal, Larys Strong would have the most to gain. Larys can easily be considered the Littlefinger of House of the Dragon. During the Dance of the Dragons, he sides with the greens (with Ser Otto Hightower). This could mean that Lord Lyonel was betrayed by his son in cahoots with Ser Otto Hightower. Ultimately, this is just one of the many betrayals in this series.