Game Of Thrones: 10 Things Only Book Fans Know About The Hand Of The King

The following article contains spoilers to the TV show, House of the Dragon.

In new series House of the Dragon, Otto Hightower serves as Hand of the King, and he is famous for his knowledge, much the iconic Tyrion Lannister, who would become Hand in Game of Thrones. The Hand of the King is the most important position in a King’s Small Council. They are basically responsible for governing the realm, especially whenever the King is either too uninterested or unprepared to take on the duties. It’s a thankless role; there’s even a popular saying about how “The King eats, and the Hand takes the sh*t.”


Many of the most memorable characters in Game of Thrones served as Hand of the King, including Tyrion, Tywin Lannister, and Ned Stark. Fans will surely already know the basics about being Hand, but several details might still elude them.

The Hand Has Multiple Duties

Although the King is presumably the Seven Kingdom’s ruler, the Hand of the King is in charge of many of the day-to-day responsibilities. The Hand commands the King’s armies, drafts laws, dispenses justice, and oversees the kingdom’s overall issues. They work closely with other members of the Small Council, including the Masters of Laws, Coin, and War.

Contrary to popular belief, the Hand can design their official pin, personalizing it to their will. The Hand presides over the Small Council when the King is not present and sits on the Iron Throne in their capacity as representative for the King.

The Hand Has An Exclusive Residence

The Hand of the King has a unique residency, in keeping with his privileged position in the kingdom. The Tower of the Hand is not as luxurious or big as the King’s residency, but it’s still ample and has a Small Hall capable of housing two hundred. It also has a solar and a garderobe.

Aegon the Conqueror commissioned the construction of the Tower of the Hand along with the rest of the Red Keep. The structure got finished 10 years later, during the rule of Maegor the Cruel. The Tower will play a crucial role in House of the Dragon, as Alicent takes up residence there during the war; it is while at the Tower that the infamous assassin duo Blood and Cheese kill six-year-old Prince Jahaerys.

Orys Baratheon Was The First-Ever Hand

The Baratheons were one of the most powerful houses in Westeros, even before taking over the Iron Throne. The first-ever Hand of the King was a Baratheon, or so history claims. Orys Baratheon was a close confidant of Aegon the Conqueror, to the point where many believed the former was the latter’s bastard brother.

Although Orys never officially took on the title of Hand of the King, he fulfilled the duties and acted the part. He resigned after losing his hand during the first Dornish War. Orys claimed that “the King’s Hand should have a hand. I will not have men speaking of the King’s Stump.”

Aegon III Had The Most Hands For Any King

House of the Dragon will follow Rhaenyra Targaryen and her attempts to secure the Iron Throne. Book readers know she fails and eventually dies a horrible death, leaving her infant son, Aegon III, as the heir to the Iron Throne. Aegon was 10 when he inherited the throne, meaning the realm spent five years being ruled by the Hands of the King and a council of regents.

A whopping nine men served as Hand of the King throughout Aegon III’s rule, eight of which held the position during the boy’s regency. The seemingly endless parade of Hands ended when Aegon’s brother, Viserys I, returned and took over the Hand’s responsibilities.

Cregan Stark Served As Hand For Only One Day

Aegon III’s first Hand of the King was Cregan Stark, also known as the Wolf in the North. Cregan embodied everything that sums up House Stark; he was stern, loyal to a fault, honorable, and excellent on the battlefield. Cregan also faired terribly in the south, as evidenced by his one-day tenure as Hand of the King.

In the immediate ending of the Dance of the Dragons, Cregan served as King’s Landing’s de-facto ruler for six days, a period known as the Hour of the Wolf. Cregan was Aegon III’s first official Hand following the boy’s ascension to the Iron Throne. However, the Wolf in the North resigned from his post after only a day, riding back to Winterfell and remaining there for the rest of his life.

Rogar Baratheon Was Among The Most Powerful Hands

Artwork from Fire & Blood by Douglas Wheatley.

House Baratheon always held a privileged position in the realm. However, Rogar Baratheon increased the house’s reach considerably during his tenure as Hand of the King to Jahaerys I. Unlike other child rulers, Jahaerys was present in most Small Council meetings, although Rogar still held the realm’s real power.

Still, Rogar was a loyal servant to Jahaerys. Their relationship deteriorated following Rogar’s marriage to the young king’s mother, Dowager Queen Alyssa Velaryon, leading to his eventual dismissal from the position of Hand of the King. Rogar would later face more conflicts with Jahaerys, but none escalated to genuine conflict.

Viserys II Was The Only Hand That Eventually Became King

Art by Amok.

House of the Dragon will show the Targaryen dynasty severely weakened following the Dance. The conflict ends with Rhaenyra’s son, Aegon III, becoming king. Aegon maintained peace throughout the Seven Kingdoms with his brother Viserys II’s help.

Viserys proved himself a capable and level-headed hand. He served as Hand to three kings, with popular saying claiming that Viserys ruled while “Aegon brooded, Daeron warred, and Baelor prayed.” Viserys II eventually became king himself, following Baelor’s death. However, his reign was short, lasting a little longer than a year. Many think that his son, Aegon IV, poisoned him, leading the smallfolk to call him Aegon the Unworthy.

Bloodraven Is Arguably The Most Important Hand In Recent Memory

Artwork by Naomimakesart.

The Three-Eyed Raven’s identity is one of the biggest mysteries in Game of Thrones, but less so in A Song of Ice and Fire. The books reveal him to be Brynden Rivers, the former Lord of Commander of the Night’s Watch and the Hand of the King to two Targaryen rulers, Aerys I and Maekar I.

Known as Bloodraven throughout the Seven Kingdoms, Brynden was a powerful warg. Many theorists and fans believe he is behind some of the series’ most important events, including Aegon V’s ascension to the throne, the doomed romance between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, Jon Snow’s continued presence at Castle Black, and Bran Stark’s travels beyond the Wall.

Tywin Lannister Was The Youngest Hand

Tywin Lannister is among the most memorable and complex characters in Game of Thrones. Staunchly committed to preserving his family’s name and willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure their success, Tywin is the true power in Westeros, thanks to his cunning, ruthlessness, and wealth.

Although fans saw Tywin serving as Hand of the King to Joffrey and then Tommen, he first occupied the position under Aerys II, the Mad King. At 20, Tywin was the youngest Hand of the King, and many in the Seven Kingdoms claimed he was the true ruler. Tywin’s ruthless methods ensured the kingdom prospered, although his success caused a strain on his relationship with the increasingly paranoid Aerys.

Claimants To The Iron Throne Have Their Own Hands Of The King

Throughout Game of Thrones, many claimants rebelled against the Iron Throne. Each had a Hand of their own, with Renly choosing his father-in-law, Mace Tyrell, while his brother, Stannis, chose his wife’s uncle, Alester Florent; upon Alester’s death, Stannis chooses Davos Seaworth. Daenerys Targaryen named Tyrion Lannister Hand of the Queen, albeit only in the show.

The Blackfyre pretenders also chose Hands of their own. During the Dance of the Dragons, Rhaenyra appointed Corlys Velaryon Hand of the Queen; her opponent, Aegon II, chose his grandfather, Otto Hightower. Following Otto’s death, he chose the captain of his Kingsguard, Ser Criston Cole.

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