What Otto Hightower Being Fired As Hand Of The King Really Means


WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4 and George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood!In House of the Dragon episode 4, Viserys fires Otto Hightower from his position as Hand of the King, leaving the question of what this means for the character going forward. If anyone in House of the Dragon has proven themselves as much of a schemer as Game of Thrones’s Littlefinger, it’s Otto Hightower — particularly with him sending his daughter, Alicent, to a grieving King Viserys in hopes of making her the next queen and doing anything in his power to get his young grandson, Prince Aegon, on the Iron Throne. Therefore, King Viserys was right in recognizing that Otto’s judgment could no longer be trusted.

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As explained in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4, “King of the Narrow Sea,” Otto Hightower was first appointed Hand of the King to Jaehaerys I Targaryen after the unexpected death of Viserys’s father, Baelon. When Viserys succeeded his grandfather, Otto maintained his role as the King’s Hand. But it has taken some time for the ruler of Westeros to see how self-serving Otto’s actions have been. Still, Viserys likely would not have fired his Hand had Rhaenyra not compelled him to do so at the end of House of the Dragon episode 4, with her explaining how Otto would never stop trying to ruin her and supplant her with Aegon, actions that would threaten the stability of the realm.

Considering his daughter is still queen consort and his grandchild is the king’s firstborn son, Otto Hightower will not stop with his plan to place the latter on the Iron Throne. In fact, his understanding that Rhaenyra was instrumental in his removal as Hand of the King may further implore him to use unsavory tactics to ruin her reputation. His departure from King’s Landing gives him more opportunity to operate from the shadows, too. He now has more time to work with his brother, Hobert Hightower, to recruit lords and important Westerosi figures to Prince Aegon’s cause, and he is certain to be instrumental in uplifting Alicent’s “green” party in House of the Dragon season 1. Otto may not have his position as Hand of the King, but he will likely still have vital information being fed to him by Mysaria, a.k.a the White Worm, while in Oldtown.

Who Replaces Otto Hightower As Hand Of The King

George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book reveals that Otto Hightower’s replacement as Hand of the King is Lord Lyonel Strong. Before the ending of House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4, “King of the Narrow Sea,” Lyonel Strong served as King Viserys’s master of laws, so he’s already a trusted member of the small council. Lyonel is also the one member of Viserys’s small council who has given the king the best and least self-serving advice, particularly in reference to marriage proposals. Lyonel originally suggested that Viserys marry Laena Velaryon for political advantage, and later he counseled that Rhaenyra Targaryen marry the dragon-riding Laenor Velaryon for the same reason.

King Viserys clearly sees the value in Lyonel Strong’s counsel. At the end of House of the Dragon season 1, episode 4, he takes Lyonel’s advice by forcing Rhaenyra to marry Laenor. Just as Lyonel had reasoned, Viserys needs to unite the two Valyrian houses, regain the Velaryon fleet, increase the Targaryens’ dragon power, and heal the rift that had been growing since the Great Council of 101 AC. Since Otto Hightower’s primary motivation was to place his own blood on the Iron Throne, he let the division between the Targaryens and Velaryons fester, as it benefited him by being the only one with King Viserys’s ear. With Lyonel Strong as Hand of the King in House of the Dragon season 1, Viserys at least won’t have to worry about his most trusted advisor being the most manipulative.

New episodes of House of the Dragon release on Sundays on HBO/HBO Max.

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