How Did Daemon Targaryen Die in the Books by George R. R. Martin?

How Did Daemon Targaryen Die in the Books by George R. R. Martin?
Image credit: HBO Max

Daemon Targaryen was one of George R.R Martin's favorite characters in Fire & Blood, upon which the TV sensation House of the Dragon is based.

Just a few weeks in, it's clear that the series is not 100% faithful to the books – but many fans have praised Matt Smith for portraying Daemon accurately according to Martin's original writing.

While we don't yet know how closely Matt Smith's iteration of Daemon will follow George R. R. Martins', we can at least speculate on how the character might die. So, let's find out how Daemon Targaryen died in the books.

We'll also look at the possibility that we don't know how he died. Sure, we know he was long gone by the start of the Game of Thrones series, simply because of the amount of time that had passed. But there is a school of thought that nobody knows where, when, or how Daemon Targaryen actually died.

But for now, we'll go with the theory that there is a definite time and place that he was last seen.

The story starts when Daemon marries Rhaenyra in secret. At the time, Daemon was 39 years old, and Rhaenyra (his niece) was 23. They go on to have two sons together (and a stillborn daughter). But the story really gets going following the death of King Viserys which ultimately leads to the civil war known as the 'Dance of the Dragons'.

How Did Daemon Targaryen Die in the Books by George R. R. Martin? - image 1

During the war, Daemon and his trusty dragon Caraxes make a formidable team. The pair fly all over the kingdom fighting and being generally destructive. But things take a turn for Daemon when Rhaenyra appeals for more Dragonriders to come forward.

She believes she can gain an advantage in the war by offering anybody brave (or foolish) enough to try bonding with any of the unclaimed dragons on Dragonstone.

Step forward Nettles. This dark-skinned girl aged around 17 manages to tame Sheepstealer and is subsequently sent to the Riverlands to fight alongside Daemon and Caraxes.

While away fighting Daemon (now in his 50s) and Nettles form a strong bond of their own. Whether this was a father-daughter type relationship or they became lovers is up for debate. Although, let's face it, in Westeros it could easily have been both.

Regardless of the exact nature of the relationship, word gets back to Rhaenyra that Nettles is sharing her husband's bed. And it's fair to say she doesn't take too kindly to the news, ordering that Nettles be killed.

However, Daemon gets wind of the plan and decides to save Nettles' life by sending her and Sheepstealer away to safety.

Having done so, Daemon flies to Harrenhal where he faces off against his nephew, Aemond. Aemond flies Vhagar, the only dragon more powerful than Caraxes at the time. In what would become known as the Battle Above the God's Eye, Daemon makes a daring decision not to strap himself into his saddle as he enters the battle.

This is a vital part of the story of this epic clash. In the midst of the fight, Daemon is able to leap from Caraxes onto Vhagar, where he drives his sword into Aemond. Caraxes rips out the throat of Vhagar, and all four combatants fall into the lake.

We know that both Aemond and Vhagar died, as their bodies were later discovered in the lake. As for Caraxes, he survived the fall and hauled himself to the walls of Harrenhal, where he too passed away.

But Daemon's body was never recovered. So, what happened to him? Well, this is where the argument over his death lies. Some say he perished in the battle, but his body was just never found. Others, though, link what happened after the fight back to his decision to send Nettles to a place of safety. She too was never seen again, although there were rumors that she settled in the Mountains of the Moon. And some say that, after surviving the Battle Above the God's Eye, Daemon went to join her.

Ultimately, we don't know how Daemon Targaryen died in Fire & Ice. And we're yet to find out if or how he will die in House of the Dragon.