Spoilers ahead for the Fire & Blood book. If you’ve been keeping up with House of the Dragon on HBO, you’ve probably been wondering when King Viserys will die. Not because you hate the guy (he’s actually OK, as far as Game of Thrones characters go), but because the event is bound to kick off some pretty pivotal drama. Specifically, in the books, Viserys’ death catalyzes the Dance of the Dragons — the civil war over who will succeed him on the Iron Throne.
So, what does Viserys’ death look like on the page? The king dies in 129 AC, at the age of 52 years old, by which point he was just about “elderly,” Inverse points out, due to the Targaryens’ average lifespan. The cause of death? Surprisingly, he simply dies in his sleep. According to Screen Rant, he does injure himself on the Iron Throne, like Viserys did on House of the Dragon, but that happens later in his life.
By contrast, House of the Dragon seems to have made Viserys’ death much more of a drawn-out event that looms over the entire storyline so far — which, to be fair, does make for good TV. Paddy Considine, who plays the king, recently revealed on Entertainment Weekly’s West of Westeros podcast that Viserys’ illness is “a form of leprosy,” and suggested that the onscreen version of his character is a younger man facing death, not a wizened leader reaching the natural end.
“His like, body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating,” Considine explained during the Sept. 11 podcast episode. “So he’s not actually old. He’s still a young man in there … he’s just unfortunately got this thing that’s kind of taken over his body. And it becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, you know? What it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally.”
Only time will tell how closely House of the Dragon translates the events of Viserys’ death from book to screen, but for viewers who are hoping the succession fight kicks into gear soon, it does look like the show will be speeding things along compared to George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book. In fact, as Esquire points out, there are several other theories about how and when Viserys might die on the show (i.e. a dragon killing him with fire or tetanus caused by the Iron Throne), so nothing is guaranteed just yet.