Just Wait: How Criston Cole Dies In House Of The Dragon Will Be So Satisfying


Criston Cole’s death in House of the Dragon is among the most anticipated moments of HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood. From a knight of the stormlands to Lord Commander of the King’s Guard and eventually Hand of the King, Criston Cole’s story is almost synonymous with that of the Dance of the Dragons. Once Rhaenyra’s friend and lover, Cole could not accept that the princess would not run away with him. Following Rhaenyra’s marriage with Ser Laenor Velaryon, Cole grew closer to those who were against Rhaenyra in what would soon evolve into a civil war.

As the knight who crowned Aegon II, “Criston the Kingmaker” essentially started the war. Although most House of the Dragon characters picked a side during the conflict, Cole’s actions made him a particularly unlikeable character. Rhaenyra did not owe Cole anything, yet, after she declined his offer, the knight made sure to act against her and her children whenever possible. From small things like Cole training Alicent Hightower’s sons to fight Rhaenyra’s children to the crowing of Aegon II, Criston Cole quickly joined the list of the most dislikeable ASOIAF characters.

How Criston Cole Dies In The Book

Ser Criston doesn’t get a hero’s death

In George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, Ser Criston Cole leads 4,000 men to Harrenhal to reclaim the castle. But Daemon Targaryen’s army has already marched west to fight Jason Lannister and his bannermen supporting the Greens. Daemon knew that Sir Criston and Aemond were marching to Harrenhal, meaning now was the perfect time for him and Rhaenyra to take King’s Landing. A long way from King’s Landing and suffering from a burned earth tactic by the Blacks, Ser Criston’s provisions dwindle rapidly as the scorched land and corrupted rivers prove it difficult to resupply.

The Hand of the King knew that he and his men were dead as soon as they ran into the enemy.

Due to this predicament, he and Prince Aemond Targaryen argued on their next course of action, ending with Aemond mounting Vhagar and razing the Riverlands while Ser Criston chooses to rendezvous with Lord Ormund Hightower’s army in the Reach. However, Ser Criston’s militia — many of whom had been lost to disease, deserters, and raids — was ambushed south of the God’s Eye by the Rivermen and Northmen. With his forces greatly deteriorating, Ser Criston Cole holds a parley with the commanders of the Blacks’ forces, namely, Ser Pate of Longleaf, Ser Garibald Grey, and Lord Roderick Dustin of Barrowton.

The Hand of the King knew that he and his men were dead as soon as they ran into the enemy. Ser Criston bargains with the three Blacks about his surrender to ensure that his men live, yet he is declined. As a skilled swordsman, Ser Criston then suggests taking on all three Blacks in single combat format, which they also deny him. In the end, Robb Rivers and two other bowmen fatally strike Ser Criston Cole with three arrows under Pate’s orders – one in the stomach, one in the neck, and one in the chest.

According to Longleaf, he was “talking to a corpse.” In other words, Criston Cole never had a chance. After that, the Blacks’ host killed the Greens’ remaining soldiers, calling the massacre the Butcher’s Ball. Ser Criston’s head is ultimately decapitated from his body, mounted on a spear, and brought to the First Battle of Tumbleton as a spectacle — one of the Blacks’ greatest triumphs. Although things would still get worse for Rhaenyra, the death of Criston Cole was symbolic considering she finally sat on the Iron Throne and “the Kingmaker” and “the Kinslayer” walked right into Daemon’s trap.


When Will Ser Criston Cole Die In House Of The Dragon?

Criston Cole’s death happens toward the end of the war

The Butcher’s Ball is one of the last major events in the Dance of the Dragons, taking place shortly after Rhaenyra took over King’s Landing. That said, despite sitting on the Iron Throne and learning about the death of Aegon’s hand, Rhaenyra knew that the war would not be over until Aegon and Aemond were alive. Regardless, assuming House of the Dragon will take four seasons to cover the entirety of the Dance of the Dragons, it’s safe to say Criston Cole will likely die in season 3. A couple of major things need to happen first, though.
Firstly, Aemond and Criston Cole only march to Harrenhal after King Aegon is almost killed in battle by Rhaenys Targaryen. With Aegon and his dragon hurt and in pain, Aemond becomes Protector of the Realm, while Criston keeps his job as Hand of the King. According to Aemond, the easiest way to defeat Rhaenyra was to kill Daemon. This is why he and Crston march to Harrenhal, where Rhaenyra’s husband had made his home. However, Daemon and his allies acted quicker than Cole’s army could walk, which allowed the Blacks to ambush the Greens.

Why Criston Cole’s Death Will Be So Satisfying

Criston is arguably House of the Dragon’s most unlikeable character

Game of Thrones had its fair share of dislikeable characters whose deaths fans could not wait to see, including but not limited to names like Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsey Bolton. The same can be said about House of the Dragon, whose most dislikable character is arguably Criston Cole. Although George R.R. Martin’s ASOIAF books rarely have proper heroes and villains, it’s difficult to find any justifications for Ser Criston’s actions other than his resentment over Rhaenyra. Cole’s actions become even worse if he ever truly loved Rhaenyra. This is why his non-heroic, unceremonious death will be so satisfying.

Criston Cole’s actor Fabien Frankel does an incredible job at making the character seem cold and unlikable after the first half of season 1 portrayed him as a charming knight who would always help Rhaenyra. Criston and Alicent’s relationship also contributed to how the character was received, as it added another layer to his betrayal. As a symbol of the Greens in House of the Dragon, Criston Cole’s fate is a huge moment in Fire & Blood and will surely impact House of the Dragon viewers just as much.