This article contains light spoilers for the novel Fire & Blood and will likely therefore reveal some plot details about House of the Dragon season 2.
While fans may have to wait awhile for House of the Dragon season 2, that doesn’t mean the downtime has to be boring. There are bound to be some exciting rumors, leaks, and announcements on the horizon. Sure enough, we now officially have our first bit of major season 2 casting gossip.
The news comes from Witcher fan site (hey, it’s the offseason for them too) Redanian Intelligence, which uncovered two videos on Vimeo that appeared to be House of the Dragon season 2 casting auditions for 1889 star Emily Beecham reading for a character called “AR.” We say “appeared to be” because obviously the videos have since been stricken from the internet via Warner Bros. copyright claim. While the videos themselves didn’t survive, descriptions of them did on sites like the aforementioned Redanian along with Winter Is Coming, and, of course: Reddit.
While the character initials “AR” were quite revealing to begin with, the description of the scene Beecham performed leaves no doubt whatsoever as to who the character will be. As expected: Alys Rivers will be coming to House of the Dragon season 2.
For the uninitiated, Alys Rivers is arguably the most prominent remaining character from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones prequel Fire & Blood to have not been presented on House of the Dragon yet (with no disrespect intended to the incoming Cregan Stark, who has also yet to make his debut). The low-born bastard child of House Strong is not only an important player in the Dance of the Dragons but a major figure in Westerosi history itself.
Alys Rivers is, for lack of a better word, a witch. The world of Game of Thrones has very few actual magic-users … or at least magic-users like you’d see in Middle-earth or a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Aside from the obviously powerful Melisandre, the magical folk of George R.R. Martin’s world leave a bit more room for skepticism and interpretation. Alys’s magical abilities fall within the historical realm of “could be real, could be nasty rumors cast upon her by weak, superstitious men.”
Though at least 40 years old, Alys looks unusually (some would say supernaturally) young for her age. The many secondary sources that make up the narrative in Fire & Blood disagree on her true parentage. Some believe Lord Lyonel Strong impregnated a serving wench, others say a wood witch, while some say Lord Lyonel wasn’t her father at all. Her bastard last name of “Rivers” does indicate a noble lineage outside of wedlock though. Alys lives and works as a wet nurse in the House Strong-occupied castle of Harrenhal in the Riverlands. That’s where her part in the Dance of the Dragons begins and that’s where the audition scenes that Beecham filmed appear to have begun.
According to Redanian Intelligence, Beecham’s dialogue as Alys Rivers indicates that she is speaking with a Targaryen royal in Harrenhal (likely Daemon). She makes a sarcastic remark that she is “cursed” and that her healing abilities have led some of the smallfolk to call her a witch. While a scene identical or very similar to this could ultimately make the show, it’s equally possible that Beecham was provided a sample, non-final script to run lines – a frequent occurrence in television production. Either way, all of the details here point to the moment that Daemon arrives at Harrenhal and this important character is introduced.
Though she did not factor into the lead up of the Dance of the Dragons, Alys Rivers is set to play a major part throughout the civil war and even beyond. Martin has yet to conclude the planned second part of Fire & Blood (along with another book or two you might be waiting on) so Alys’s full story remains incomplete for now. There’s enough there, however, to make for not only a compelling House of the Dragon character but also perhaps a piece of the larger Game of Thrones franchise itself.