Who Is HOUSE OF THE DRAGON’s Alys Rivers?

Daemon Targaryen claimed Harrenhal on House of the Dragon, but he hasn’t found no peace in that haunted castle. What he has found instead is a mysterious woman named Alys Rivers. Who is this strange figure and fan-favorite from George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood? Is this bastard of the Riverlands nothing more than a wise woman who minds her surroundings? Or is she something much more magical and sinister? Here’s everything we’ve learned about Alys Rivers on House of the Dragon.

Who Plays Alys Rivers on House of the Dragon?

Alys Rivers by candlelight at night on House of the Dragon

Gayle Rankin (GLOW, Perry Mason) plays Alys Rivers on House of the Dragon. She joined the prequel series during season two. While she is known to readers of Martin’s Fire & Blood, the in-world history reveals less about her than many other figures in the book.

Alys Rivers Arrives With an Ominous Warning (Season 2, Episode 3)

Dark haired Alys Rivers in a purple dress on House of the Dragon
Ollie Upton/HBO

Alys Rivers made her debut (without being named on-screen) in House of the Dragon season two’s third episode. She first appeared in Harrenhal’s dining hall when Daemon Targaryen claimed the castle for Queen Rhaenyra (and himself). Alys was the only person not to kneel to his “Grace.”

She truly made her presence felt later in the episode when she showed up during Daemon’s nightmare-turned-waking vision. After dreaming about his wife (who appeared as a young woman) sewing the head of little Prince Jaehaerys onto his body, Daemon suddenly found himself outside. He was standing near a dying weirwood tree overlooking the sacred Gods Eye lake. A confused Daemons then saw Alys Rivers appear below him. She only said one thing, but it made a major impact. She ominously told him, “You will die in this place,” before walking away.

Gayle Rankin as Alys River at night on House of the Dragon

Alys Rivers: Maester, Owl, or Witch? (Season 2, Episode 4)

Another nightmare once again led Daemon to walk directly to Alys Rivers during House of the Dragon season two’s fourth episode. He found her working late at night in what appeared to be a kitchen.

She explained she was the castle’s de facto maester after the last one fled in the night. Like Daemon, the measter found no peace at Harrenhal. Alys said the castle is responsible for Daemon’s nightmares because Harrenhal is haunted and has been since its first stone was laid. The King who built the massive structure, Harren the Black, felled a grove of sacred weirwood trees for the land. He then used the wood of the heart trees to make the castle’s furniture. According to Alys, the spirits who lived in those ancient trees still roam the castle. She said you can hear them whispering in the night.

Daemon Targaryen speaks with Alys Rivers while standing close to her on House of the Dragon

When Daemon asked who she really is, Alys jokingly said she’s really an owl trapped in a human woman’s body. (At least it sounded like a joke. In a world with wargs that isn’t totally unbelievable.) Later Daemon accused her of being a witch because she seemingly knew things she shouldn’t. That included how she seemed to know everything Daemon has left unsaid about how he feels over his wife’s ascension. Alys didn’t claim witchcraft or other magical powers for her insights. She cited the many clues he’s unhappy being below Rhaenyra, including how he arrived alone but had yet to send a raven back saying he claimed the castle.

The alluring, wise, mysterious Alys then easily got Daemon to drink an unknown potion just days after he feared someone poisoning him. It was as though she had placed him in a trance and he couldn’t refuse her. Whatever she gave him was powerful. It knocked him out completely. Daemon has lost a huge chunk of time from the moment he took her potion. He awoke the next day, in the middle of a meeting, with no idea how he’d gotten there.

Is House of the Dragon‘s Alys Rivers Really a Witch?

Gayle Rankin as Alys River near a fireplace on House of the Dragon

Is Alys Rivers a witch? Is she the one actually causing Daemon’s nightmares? Or is she an owl? Could she possess amazing greenseer abilities like Bran on Game of Thrones? Is that how she knows so much about the past, present, and future? And, maybe most importantly, was she predicting his death at Harrenhal as a prophecy or simply warning him what will happen if he stays there because every Lord of the castle has died before?

There’s still much to learn about Alys Rivers, and we can’t rule out any possibility about who, or what, she might be. The mysterious bastard of the Riverlands could just be a smart woman with a keen eye. Or she could be so much more.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. He’s still mad we didn’t get GLOW’s final season. You can follow him on  Twitter and  Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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