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House Hightower
House Hightower

"The gods have yet to make a man who lacks the patience for absolute power, Your Grace."
―Otto to Viserys I Targaryen[src]

Ser Otto Hightower is a knight of House Hightower who served as Hand of the King to Jaehaerys I, Viserys I, and Aegon II. He is one of the primary leaders of the Greens during the Dance of the Dragons.

Biography[]

Background[]

Otto is the younger brother of Lord Hobert Hightower, and the father of Gwayne and Alicent Hightower[5] with his wife Alyrie Florent.[6] He is the Hand of the King to Viserys I Targaryen and considers the king's brother and heir Prince Daemon Targaryen to be the greatest threat to the realm.[1]

Ser Otto was named Hand of the King by King Jaehaerys I Targaryen in 101 AC,[c] following the death of Prince Baelon Targaryen.[7]

House of the Dragon: Season 1[]

Otto Council Promo 2

Otto on the Small Council.

Nine years into the reign of King Viserys, Otto attends a meeting of the Small Council. Lord Corlys Velaryon informs the council that the alliance in the Free Cities known as the "Triarchy" is trying to claim the Stepstones. The Sea Snake warns that Westerosi ports could be negatively affected, but his concerns are dismissed by Otto and the king. Otto swiftly turns the discussion to the more joyous topic of the upcoming Heir's Tournament which the king has planned for the approaching birth of his next child and hopeful son. Later that night, Otto is present when Grand Maester Mellos and Maester Mickon are attending to an infected wound on the king's back. Otto instructs Mellos to keep the affliction a secret.[1]

That same night, Prince Daemon leads the City Watch in hunting down the criminals of King's Landing, rounding them up en masse to face summary justice. At the Small Council meeting the following morning, Otto protests that the public measures were too excessive and that he cannot be allowed to act with such impunity. Otto demands that Daemon account for his actions; Daemon defends himself by stating that he followed the king's laws, and with most of Westeros's nobility coming to the king's tourney, it was a justified action to ensure their safety. Otto then says that Daemon should put as much effort into his marriage as his work with the gold cloaks, as Daemon hadn't been seen with his wife Rhea Royce at Runestone, or even in the Vale of Arryn, for a long time. Daemon insults his wife, and when Otto responds to defend her honor, Daemon states that he would be happy for his wife to share Otto's bed as his own wife has so recently passed. Otto furiously rises to his feet at the affront, but Viserys defuses the argument, bidding Otto not to rejoin his brother's provocation. Otto begrudgingly complies.[1]

Tourney Spectators

Otto attends the Heir's Tournament.

The following day, Otto sits beside the king in the royal box as the Heir's Tournament commences. Otto whispers to Viserys that he could have Lord Boremund Baratheon's tongue cut out after he called Princess Rhaenys the "Queen Who Never Was," but the king dismisses it as harmless. Otto is further provoked by Daemon as he picks as his first opponent in the joust his eldest son Ser Gwayne Hightower, defeating Gwayne in the second tilt by tripping his horse. Daemon then asks for and receives Otto's daughter Alicent's favor. As the tournament continues, a maester arrives and informs Otto about Queen Aemma's difficult labor, with Otto then promptly telling Viserys and both leaving the tourney grounds. Otto then later returns to notify members of the Small Council of the news of the birth of Prince Baelon Targaryen and the death of the queen.[1]

Otto attends the funeral of Queen Aemma and Prince Baelon.[1]

At a Small Council meeting, Otto presses Viserys to set his succession firmly in order for the stability of the realm. With Baelon's death, Daemon is now once again Viserys's heir presumptive, but Otto, with the support of Grand Maester Mellos, is adamant that Daemon is too ambitious and insists that Daemon has the loyalty of the City Watch. Viserys responds that his brother may be ambitious but has no ambitions for the Iron Throne itself because kingship wouldn't suit him, and responds to Otto's complaints that Daemon's command of the City Watch effectively gives the prince a private army by pointing out that it was Otto's idea to give Daemon the command in the first place, as Otto had complained when Viserys named his brother Master of Laws that he was a tyrant, and then Master of Coin that he was a spendthrift. Otto concedes the point, but asserts that in his opinion Daemon should be kept far away from any power, as he could be a second Maegor the Cruel or worse. When Lord Lyonel Strong asks who else would have a claim, Otto suggests the king's firstborn child Rhaenyra. Viserys refuses the notion of choosing between his brother and his daughter, so Corlys offers an alternative: his own wife Rhaenys, which Otto dismisses as Corlys had already declared his support for Daemon. The discussion ends abruptly when Viserys berates his Small Council for behaving like crows squabbling over corpses while he is still mourning his wife and son.[1]

Otto Alicent Promo 2

Otto pressures his daughter to seduce the king.

Later within the Tower of the Hand, Otto sends for his daughter Alicent and he gives a message to Grand Maester Mellos to be dispatched by raven to Oldtown. Otto embraces his daughter, comforting her and asking after Rhaenyra, then suggests that Alicent might offer her condolences to the grieving king in his chambers, telling her to wear one of her mother's dresses. Later that evening, at a pleasure house on the Street of Silk, Daemon hosts a party for his subordinates in the gold cloaks and several of his cronies. Otto reports these events to Viserys at a Small Council meeting the following morning, insisting that his sources claim Daemon dubbed Baelon the "Heir for a Day" and that it was a celebration.[1]

Otto and his daughter are in attendance at the ceremony naming Rhaenyra as Princess of Dragonstone and heir to the Iron Throne.[1]

Five months later, Otto attends a meeting of the Small Council. He has assisted the new Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Harrold Westerling in choosing a number of candidates to come to court to fill the vacant seventh slot in the Kingsguard left by the death of Ser Ryam Redwyne. Lord Corlys storms into the council chamber announcing four Westerosi ships have been lost passing through the Stepstones, including one from his own fleet, to the Triarchy forces in control of the region and demands action. Otto replies that the crown will compensate him and the families of the crews, but Corlys rebuffs the offer, insisting he wants to seize the Stepstones and deal with the commander of Triarchy forces terrorizing the region, Craghas "Crabfeeder" Drahar, by force. When Corlys brings up that the pirates have no fear of Westeros because Daemon's occupation of Dragonstone with his army of gold cloaks hasn't been responded to by the crown, Otto warns him that he may have a seat at the council table but he is not the king's equal. Princess Rhaenyra interjects suggesting to use dragonriders to take the Stepstones, but with Otto's urging, Viserys orders her to inspect and choose from the prospective replacements for Ser Ryam Redwyne instead.[8]

In Maegor's Holdfast, Otto arrives as Harrold presents the candidates to Rhaenyra. Otto instructs Rhaenyra on what to say to them, as she had so far not been interacting with any of them. Otto protests when Rhaenyra picks Ser Criston Cole for the vacancy, stating that a more politically valuable candidate should be chosen, which Rhaenyra rejects.[8]

Later that evening in Viserys's chambers, Otto watches as Grand Maester Mellos attends to an infected wound on the king's finger from the Iron Throne. Otto is informed by the king that Corlys and Princess Rhaenys have put forward a marriage proposal with their daughter, Lady Laena Velaryon, and is asked for his advise. Otto states that Corlys has overreached himself and the matter should be put to the council, as well as that Laena is young. Mellos acknowledges that the match would heal the wound made at the Great Council at Harrenhal between House Targaryen and House Velaryon. Otto agrees with the Grand Maester's reasoning, and then brings up the pain of the passing of his own wife and that he does not envy Viserys being forced to remarry out of duty to the realm.[8]

Otto interrupts a private meeting between Viserys and Alicent to notify the king that he has summoned the Small Council. In the council chamber, one of the Dragonkeepers informs them that Prince Daemon has stolen a dragon egg, the same one Rhaenyra picked for Prince Baelon's cradle, from the Dragonpit. The king declares to Otto to assemble a detachment of guards and that he intends to remove Daemon from Dragonstone personally, but Otto insists that it is too dangerous for Viserys to go, volunteering to go in his place.[8]

Later in his chambers, Otto is putting on his armor with his daughter's help. He asks Alicent why, as the most comely girl at court, she hurts her own hands, then inquires if she will be visiting the king tonight. Ser Criston arrives to report that he has gathered twenty of the Hand's guard and Ser Harrold will be joining them.[8]

Otto Kingsguard and Maester

Otto confronts Daemon.

At Dragonstone, Otto leads the detachment along the bridge leading to the castle before they are intercepted by Daemon and his gold cloaks. Otto proclaims to Daemon that he is to relinquish control of the island and return the stolen dragon egg, disband his private army, and banish Mysaria from his side. Prince Daemon demands to know where the king is, to which Otto replies that Viserys would not lower himself to entertain such a "mummer's farce". After a brief exchange of insults between Daemon and Criston, Otto brands the confrontation a "truly pathetic display" on Daemon's part, asking if Daemon is so desperate for his brother's attention that he's resorted to behaving like a common cutpurse. Daemon insists he is merely following Targaryen traditions by placing an egg in the cradle of his unborn child with Mysaria. Otto retorts back that these traditions are for trueborn royalty rather than bastards. He proclaims Daemon's union with Mysaria an abomination and that he is soiling his own brother's reign. Otto calls out to the men of the City Watch who are present, asking if they wish to continue following the prince in his treason. Daemon responds they are loyal to him and challenges Otto to take the egg out of his hand. Otto, aware Daemon is baiting him, incredulous asks if Daemon is mad, pointing out that Daemon would never survive the consequences of killing him. Daemon blithely retorts Otto will be dead regardless of what comes next (a victory in Daemon's eyes), disregarding Otto's warning that to do violence against the King's Hand would be to declare war on Viserys himself. When Otto warns Daemon's unborn child and its mother could die if their confrontation spirals into violence, Daemon draws Dark Sister, prompting the rest of both sides to draw their weapons too, though Otto orders his men to sheathe their swords when Caraxes appears. Before it can spiral into open conflict, Rhaenyra arrives on Syrax. Otto inquires why the princess is here and orders Criston to escort her to safety, to which Rhaenyra responds that she is here to stop bloodshed and ignores Otto's objection.[8]

The next day Otto and his daughter are summoned to a meeting of the Small Council, in which King Viserys announces his intention to marry Alicent Hightower before spring's end. Lord Corlys is outraged that his own daughter has been rejected, and marches out of the council chamber after Otto gives him a satisfied look.[8]

SOHN Viserys and Otto

Otto and Viserys on Aegon's second nameday.

A year after his daughter's marriage to Viserys, she gives birth to a son, Aegon Targaryen. On Prince Aegon's second nameday, Otto joins a royal hunt arranged by Viserys. Otto is pressured by his brother, Lord Hobert Hightower, to convince Viserys to name Aegon his heir over Rhaenyra, as this would place a member of their dynasty on the Iron Throne. Otto expresses doubts that Viserys will be so easily convinced. When Ser Tyland Lannister counsels Viserys to send aid to the Stepstones, Otto steps in, reminding him that Daemon and Lord Corlys started the war without the crown’s leave, and that it would make the crown look weak to intervene now, after so long.[9]

When the hunting party arrives at the Kingswood, Otto joins the gathered lords and ladies in applauding the king, queen, and prince as they emerge from their carriage.[9]

Otto interrupts an argument between Viserys and Rhaenyra to inform the king that a white hart has been sighted. As the white hart is considered a symbol of royalty, Otto tries to convince Viserys that its appearance on Prince Aegon's nameday is a sign from the gods that Aegon should rule.[9]

That night, Otto informs Viserys that the Royal Huntsman has the trail of the white hart, and has sent out the hounds. When Viserys expresses his displeasure over Lord Jason Lannister's attitude in asking for Rhaenyra's hand, Otto reminds him that Rhaenyra will do as he commands, to which Viserys replies that he has no desire to command his own daughter. Otto makes another suggestion: Rhaenyra could marry her half-brother, Prince Aegon. Viserys laughs this off, however, as Aegon is only two years old.[9]

A stag is captured, but to Otto's disappointment, it is not a white one. Otto and the rest of the party watch as Viserys struggles to slay the captured animal. When he finally does so, all applaud him.[9]

Later, Otto and the rest of the party watch in some surprise as Rhaenyra returns to the camp with a boar she and Ser Criston Cole killed.[9]

After returning to King’s Landing from the hunt, Otto visits his daughter, pointing out to her how Aegon's birth has united the men, and ended fifteen years of uncertainty and doubt. He tells Alicent that she must convince Viserys to name Aegon his heir, as the realm would descend into chaos were Rhaenyra to be named instead of him, no matter how good a queen she may prove to be. Alicent is unhappy with the idea of raising Aegon to steal his sister's birthright.[9]

When Prince Daemon returns to King's Landing, victorious after the War for the Stepstones, Otto watches suspiciously as he kneels before Viserys and gives up his crown and the Stepstones to him. Viserys embraces his brother and holds a feast in Daemon's honor, which Otto attends, clearly displeased at the reconciliation between the brothers.[7]

The Small Council meet to discuss Corlys Velaryon, and Otto informs the king that, according to his brother in Oldtown, Lord Corlys plans to marry his daughter Laena to the son of the Sealord of Braavos. This potential alliance would necessitate the crown making a marriage pact of their own.[7]

One night, Otto is informed by a spy working for the White Worm that Princess Rhaenyra and Prince Daemon were seen together in a pleasure house. Otto decides to inform the king, though with great reluctance. Although doing so would undoubtedly discredit both Daemon and Rhaenyra and give his grandson Aegon a clearer path to the throne, it gives him no pleasure to inform his king and friend of his daughter losing her virginity. When Otto informs Viserys, the king furiously accuses Otto of having his daughter stalked, and trying to destroy her reputation. Otto tries to deny this, but Viserys orders him out.[7]

Otto is later summoned to the Small Council chamber by Viserys. The king reminds him of how his father Prince Baelon Targaryen died only five days after King Jaehaerys named him Hand of the King, after which Otto took his place. Viserys has figured out that Otto set Alicent up to be his wife after Aemma passed, but Otto insists that Alicent loves him, as he knows Viserys loves her. Viserys thanks Otto for his service to the realm, but states that his judgement is compromised, and dismisses him as the King's Hand.[7]

As Otto prepares to leave King’s Landing, he is approached by Alicent, who tells him that she doesn’t want him to leave, but that she believes Rhaenyra’s claims of innocence. He berates her for facilitating his dismissal as Hand, to which she responds that Otto himself is to blame due to how hard he pushed for Aegon to be heir. Otto chides her on her naivety and presents her with the cold logic of the situation: When Viserys inevitably dies, Rhaenyra will have to kill Alicent's children whether she wants to or not, simply to ensure her own survival in the ensuing conflict. Alicent therefore has only two choices: either start plotting to secure her position at court against Rhaenyra, or fully commit to ingratiating herself with her stepdaughter and hope that when Rhaenyra takes the throne, this will make her merciful enough towards Alicent that she won't kill her half-siblings. Unable to express in words that he loves her and wants to protect her, Otto gives his sobbing daughter a desperate final embrace and then rides out of the castle.[10]

Ten years later, after the deaths of Lyonel and Harwin Strong,[11] Otto is reinstated as Hand of the King. He accompanies the royal family to Driftmark to attend the funeral of Laena Velaryon. Otto, sincerely or otherwise, offers his condolences to Daemon for his wife's passing, but Daemon, angrily assuming Otto is mocking him, denounces Otto as a leech whose hunger for power will never satisfied and storms off. Otto is later irritated to find his grandson Aegon passed out drunk during the commemorations, and angrily kicks Aegon awake before dragging him off to bed.[12]

Otto is later present during the confrontation in the Hall of Nine following his grandson Aemond's maiming by Lucerys Velaryon. When Alicent snaps as a result of Viserys' refusal to punish Lucerys, grabs a weapon and gets into a scuffle with Rhaenyra defending her son, Otto futilely tells Alicent to relinquish the blade before matters spiral out of control. In a private conversation with Alicent in the incident's aftermath, Otto compliments his daughter on her newfound ferocity, remarking that for the first time he believes she has the determination to win the "ugly game" they are playing to put Aegon on the Iron Throne. He advises Alicent, who fears that her outburst against Rhaenyra and Lucerys will have permanently prejudiced Viserys against her in favor of them, to play up her maternal anger at Aemond's injury as the cause, reassuring her that the passive Viserys will forgive her to avert any further conflict in the royal family. Otto also expresses pride towards Aemond, remarking that his winning control of Vhagar to their side was well worth the loss of his eye. He advises Alicent to be patient, and assures her that in time they will prevail.[12]

In the intervening six years, as Viserys' condition deteriorates, Otto assumes even greater power at court alongside Alicent. When Rhaenyra and Daemon return to court to protest against the disputing of Lucerys's claim to Driftmark, Otto, when informed of their arrival by Ser Harrold Westerling blithely insists they be given the appropriate greeting. He and Alicent later meet privately with Vaemond Velaryon, where they agree to rule favorably on Vaemond's petition that he succeed to the rule of Driftmark should Corlys, presumed fatally wounded in a skirmish with Triarchy forces in the Stepstones, die in return for Vaemond's assurance of the Velaryon fleet's support against Rhaenyra when the time comes.[13]

The next morning, Otto watches as several maesters attend to the stricken Viserys; Otto is clearly saddened by the poor condition of his king, friend and son-in-law, and insists the maesters provide Viserys with milk of the poppy for his pain. He is also left confused when the king insists he wants supper, citing that it is the morning. Viserys explains he wants to have supper that night with all his family in attendance, and instructs Otto to make the arrangements.[13]

Later that day in the throne room, Otto, in his capacity as Hand of the King oversees the proceedings regarding the succession of Driftmark. Unfortunately, his plans to rule in favor of Vaemond are derailed when Viserys enters the throne room and declares his intent to rule on the matter, forcing Otto to withdraw. He is clearly infuriated when Princess Rhaenys, at Viserys's invitation, reaffirms that Corlys wanted Lucerys to succeed him as Lord of Driftmark, and announces her acceptance of Rhaenyra's proposal to betroth Corlys's granddaughters to Rhaenyra's sons, after which Viserys confirms Lucerys's status as Corlys's heir. Otto is clearly shocked and appalled when a thwarted Vaemond furiously denounces Rhaenyra's sons as bastards and slanders Rhaenyra as a whore. After Daemon promptly executes Vaemond with Dark Sister for the insult to his wife, Otto bellows at the Kingsguard to disarm Daemon, only for Daemon to casually sheathe his sword and insist there is no need.[13]

Otto is later in attendance at a feast for the royal family. He applauds his granddaughter Helaena's toast to her cousins Baela and Rhaena Targaryen for their betrothals to Jacaerys and Lucerys Velaryon, and again when she dances with Jace.[13]

Later that night, Otto is awoken by Alicent, who informs him of Viserys' death and seeming wish to name Aegon as his heir. Otto hastily convenes the Small Council and informs them of the King's death and supposed change of heart. When Lord Lyman Beesbury is murdered by Ser Criston Cole for protesting what he sees as treason for subverting Viserys' longstanding wish for the Iron Throne to pass to his daughter, Otto orders a furious Harrold Westerling, who demands Cole's expulsion from the Kingsguard for the murder, to stand down, and refuses Grand Maester Orwyle's suggestion to remove Lyman's body until their business is concluded. When Alicent questions what is to be done about Rhaenyra, Otto insists that she, referring to Rhaenyra as the "former heir", cannot be allowed to remain free to rally support for her claim. Alicent incredulously assumes Otto plans to imprison Rhaenyra and her family. Otto insists Rhaenrya and her family will be given the opportunity to swear obeisance to the new king; Alicent points out Rhaenyra and Daemon will never do so, only to realize Otto, with the Small Council's connivance, intends to kill Rhaenyra and her family. Otto tries to justify the plan by insisting it is necessary to ensure peace and that Viserys would not have wanted an unsavory power struggle over the throne. Alicent furiously retorts Viserys would also never sanction the murder of his beloved daughter and threatens Lord Jasper Wylde with exile to the Wall when he tries to speak up in support of Otto's plan, though she cannot offer an alternative when Tyland Lannister asks for one. Otto then orders Harrold to take the Kingsguard to Dragonstone and assassinate Rhaenyra and her family; a disgusted Harrold retorts that he takes his orders from the King, not the Small Council and resigns in protest.[2]

Once the small council meeting has concluded, Otto and Alicent learn Aegon has fled the Red Keep. Otto instructs Ser Erryk Cargyll, Aegon's sworn shield, to take his brother Arryk, find Aegon and bring him back to Otto. Otto then has the nobles present at court herded into the throne room, informs them of the new succession and orders them to swear allegiance to Aegon. He orders the arrests of Lord Merryweather and Lady Fell when they refuse to forswear their oaths to support Rhaenyra, as well as the execution of Lord Allun Caswell (who feigned allegiance and tried to escape the Red Keep to warn Rhaenyra, only to be arrested by agents of Lord Larys Strong). He later meets with Mysaria, who is holding Aegon prisoner, in Flea Bottom and agrees to her demand that the child-fighting pits in the city be shut down in return for her handing over Aegon. Unfortunately, when Erryk and Arryk find Aegon in the Grand Sept, they are confronted by Aemond and Criston; Erryk, who considers Aegon unfit to be king, deserts, while Arryk is defeated in a duel by Criston, who takes Aegon back to the Red Keep with Aemond to Alicent.[2]

In the Tower of the Hand afterwards, Otto compliments Alicent on having outmanuevered him: Alicent in turn remonstrates with him for having manipulated her all her life, and makes it clear now Aegon is in her possession, his succession to the Iron Throne will be done her way. Otto accepts Alicent's insistence that Aegon be crowned in the Dragonpit at dawn the following day, and that Criston Cole be raised to Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, but protests when Alicent insists generous peace terms be sent to Rhaenyra at Dragonstone to convince her to surrender, insisting that as long as Rhaenyra lives, she and her supporters will continue plotting to seize the throne out from under Aegon. When Alicent insists Viserys would have wanted such mercy shown to his daughter, Otto insinuates Alicent is doing so more out of reluctance to harm her childhood friend. When Alicent refuses to budge, Otto compliments his daughter on her resemblance to her late mother in the moment.[2]

The next day at the Dragonpit, Otto announces Viserys' death to the smallfolk of King's Landing and bears witness to the coronation of his grandson as King Aegon II Targaryen. Unfortunately, Otto's moment of triumph is utterly shattered when Rhaenys Targaryen and her dragon Meleys smash their way out through the Dragonpit's floor and lay waste to the crowd. Amidst the panic, Otto bellows at the Gold Cloaks to open the Dragonpit's doors to allow the smallfolk to escape, but his commands go either unheard or ignored. He fearfully watches as Meleys advances on the dais erected for the coronation, clearly expecting to be burned with the rest of the royal family, but for her own reasons, Rhaenys spares them and flees the Dragonpit atop Meleys instead.[2]

Otto, along with Grand Maester Orwyle and Ser Arryk Cargyll, head a Green delegation that arrives at Dragonstone to negotiate with Rhaenyra, shortly after her own coronation as Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men. They are intercepted by Daemon, Sers Erryk Cargyll, Steffon Darklyn and Lorent Marbrand of the Kingsguard and a portion of Dragonstone's garrison on the bridge to the castle. Otto declares that he has been instructed by the dowager queen Alicent to offer terms to Rhaenyra, who arrives atop Syrax. Otto greets her as "princess;" Rhaenyra icily retorts that she is Queen Rhaenyra, and Otto and his companions are all traitors. Otto presents the terms that King Aegon II is offering: in return for Rhaenyra publicly acknowledging him as king, she will keep Dragonstone, and the castle will pass to her son Jacaerys after her death; Lucerys will be confirmed as heir to Driftmark and the lands and holdings of House Velaryon; Rhaenyra's sons by Daemon will be given places of honor at court—Aegon the Younger as the king's squire and Viserys as his cupbearer; and King Aegon will pardon any knight or lord who conspired with Rhaenyra against his ascent to the throne.[14]

Daemon scornfully rebuffs the terms, insisting he would sooner feed his sons to dragons than have them serve Aegon II in any way, shape or form. Otto retorts that Aegon was crowned by a septon of the Faith before the eyes of thousands, and his possession of Aegon the Conqueror's crown, sword, and name give him greater legitimacy, while adding that the Greens have also sent terms to Houses Stark, Tully and Baratheon to win their loyalty. Rhaenyra asserts those three houses all swore allegiance to her when Viserys named her his heir; Otto smugly replies that old oaths will not make Rhaenyra queen, asserting that the succession changed the day Aegon was born, even if Viserys and Rhaenyra refused to see it. Outraged, a furious Rhaenyra rips Otto's badge of office from his cloak, denouncing him as a "fucking traitor" and no more Hand than Aegon is King.[14]

Orwyle then presents Rhaenyra with the page she tore from the book Ten Thousand Ships, when she and Alicent were reading from it as girls in the Red Keep's godswood twenty years ago[1]. Otto asserts that Alicent still fondly remembers her and Rhaenyra's girlhood friendship, and urges Rhaenyra to accept the terms for the sake of peace. Enraged by Otto's attempts to manipulate his wife, Daemon draws Dark Sister, declaring that Alicent can "have her answer now, stuffed in her father's mouth along with his withered cock," and orders Ser Erryk to seize Otto so he can execute the Hand, prompting both sides to draw their swords and Syrax to roar angrily at the threat to her rider. Rhaenyra defuses the situation by telling Otto that King's Landing will have her answer on the morrow.[14]

House of the Dragon: Season 2[]

Otto heads a meeting of the Green Council, which is interrupted by the arrival of King Aegon II and his heir Prince Jaehaerys. He summarizes that his nephew Ormund is raising the armies of Oldtown and will soon march north to the Riverlands. King Aegon is visibly displeased when Otto informs him both the North and the Vale have rebuffed the Greens' diplomatic offers. After Aegon questions why they didn't just kill Rhaenyra when they had the chance, Otto shoots Alicent a look, and explains that the opportunity has passed and that they gather allies. Otto reassures his grandson, affirming that tradition and precedent are on their side.[6]

Otto is standing at the foot of the Iron Throne as King Aegon listens to petitions. Aegon tries to be generous by wanting to return the sheep taken by the crown to its shepherd, but Otto interjects that they started a tithe on all flocks in the Crownlands because their dragons need to eat more. Aegon protests, but Otto clarifies that if they return one shepherd's flock, all the other shepherds would want their flocks returned. Aegon meekly requests that they just give this one shepherd his flock back, but Otto insists on the tithe, as the dragons need more feedstock. Later, a large blacksmith named Hugh explains that the city's armorers are happy to support Aegon, but need to be paid in advance. Otto starts climbing up the stairs to the King to interject again, but Aegon firmly states that the smiths will be paid because his cause relies on their weapons. Otto is visibly annoyed and turns back to walk down again.[6]

Later that day, Otto returns to his chambers in the Tower of the Hand, after a day of handling petitions, to find Alicent waiting for him. She confronts him angrily if they are working towards the same goal—victory. When Otto inquires about her definition of victory, Alicent states that victory, in her mind, is Rhaenyra bending the knee and Aegon ruling peacefully as Viserys wished. Otto agrees that this is also his view. Alicent insists they need to work together, despite any frustration Otto may have with the decisions she's made following Viserys's death, and not undermine her in front of her sons. Otto acknowledges that he must work with Alicent to control her sons. Alicent also expresses her anger towards Aemond for destroying their diplomatic efforts by killing Lucerys, despite Aemond feeling justified in seeking retribution for the loss of his eye. Otto admits that Lucerys's death was a mistake but defends his grandson's loyalty to their cause, expressing that Lucerys' murder was the "caprice of youth." Alicent mentions that Aegon still listens to them and believes that once ruling loses its novelty for Aegon, they can direct their cause to victory as they see fit. Otto agrees but warns that the path to victory will now involve violence, as the Blacks surely won't accept a peaceful resolution following Lucerys's death. Alicent acknowledges this but believes Greens need not resort to wanton brutality.[6]

At night, Otto visits his grandson Aemond, he finds Lord Commander Ser Criston Cole in attendance there. Otto is annoyed they are discussing strategy outside of the council. After ordering Criston back to his post, Otto urges Aemond to check his impulses and show patience.[6]

Following the murder of his great-grandson, Prince Jaehaerys, Otto consoles his daughter over the murder of her grandson and the trauma inflicted on her daughter Helaena. He stops Alicent for blaming herself for the killing and assures her some good may come from the tragedy. At a following meeting of the Green Council, when Lord Larys Strong informs them that the gold cloaks have detained one of the prince's killers, Otto countermands Aegon's wish to execute the man and orders Larys to interrogate him for further information. Otto also indicates his intention to blame Rhaenyra for Jaehaerys's murder, shocking Ser Tyland Lannister and infuriating Aegon, who wants no word of his son's murder to leave the Red Keep, refusing to let himself be seen as weak. Otto counters that Aegon is already seen as weak, prompting a furious outburst directed at him from the King. Once Aegon has subsided, Otto explains that the haste of his coronation and the devastation Rhaenys and Meleys wrought at the event is being seen as some by an omen that Rhaenyra should have been Queen. Grand Maester Orwyle concludes that Otto intends to brand Rhaenyra a child-killer to counter such whispers on the streets. Otto continues that he intends to give Jaehaerys a public funeral progress, attended by his grieving mother and grandmother, so the smallfolk and the realm can see for themselves. Aegon flatly refuses, appalled at the idea of making a public spectacle of his son's death, but Otto insists it would be an honored procession for Jahaerys, culminating with his cremation at the Dragonpit as befitting a Targaryen prince. Otto adds that the Great Houses who have declared for Rhaenyra might rethink their allegiances when they learn what she is capable of, assuring Aegon that allowing this will increase his support in the coming war. When Alicent speaks in favor of the plan and Otto agrees the King should be spared attending such a spectacle, Aegon gives his consent.[15]

The funeral progress, combined with Otto sending out ravens denouncing Rhaenyra for the murder initially draw support for the Greens' cause. Unfortunately, when Larys's interrogation of Blood reveals his accomplice in killing Jaehaerys was one of the Red Keep's ratcatchers, Aegon has them all executed. An appalled Otto storms into Aegon's chambers and demands an explanation. When Aegon admits he ordered the execution, Otto furiously calls him an idiot. Ser Criston Cole rebukes Otto for his disrespectful tone, but Otto stands by his denunciation of his grandson, as his murder of innocent men, along with hanging their corpses from the city walls, has destroyed any goodwill and sympathy the Greens gained from the smallfolk following Jaehaerys's murder (along with Otto's hard work to win it), and ensured the Great Houses backing Rhaenyra who might have wavered will stand firm with her now that they've seen Aegon is just as, if not more cruel. Aegon fires back that at least he and Criston have acted in response to his son's murder, as opposed to Otto's "wailing and currying favor with the fishwives", to which a wary Otto asks what Criston has done. He is outraged to learn Criston has despatched Ser Arryk Cargyll to infiltrate Dragonstone disguised as his twin and assassinate Rhaenyra, and berates the pair of them for carrying out such an ill-considered plan without bothering to inform him or the small council, calling it an impetuous act that will diminish them in their enemy's eyes. Otto bitterly compares Aegon to his late father, ruefully noting Viserys' judiciousness, forbearance and dignity, compared to his spiteful, petulant son. Aegon dismisses the comparison, insisting he cares about vengeance, not dignity, and remind Otto his father is dead. Otto agrees, noting the realm is poorer for the loss, and bitterly notes Viserys was right about Aegon being unfit to be King. When Aegon retorts Viserys named him King on his deathbed, Otto sneers "Is that what you think?"[15]

As Otto moves to leave, Aegon orders him to remove his badge of office as Hand of the King, insisting Otto was his father's Hand. Otto scoffs that Aegon wouldn't dare to replace him, but Aegon makes it clear he's serious, and that Criston Cole will be his "steel fist" of a new Hand. Otto scornfully hisses that Aegon will regret this decision, throws his badge at Cole's feet and leaves.[15]

In a private meeting with Alicent afterwards, Otto bitterly complains that Criston and Aegon are not acting for the good of the realm anymore, but for the sake of satisfying their wish for vengeance against Rhaenyra. With no place for him at court, and unwilling to remain in King's Landing to watch Aegon and Criston ruin his carefully laid plans, Otto announces his attention to return to Oldtown and mentor Alicent and Viserys's youngest son, Prince Daeron Targaryen. Alicent instead urges him to go to Highgarden and ensure House Tyrell and their bannermen support the Greens, promising that she will speak to Aegon when he has calmed down and arrange Otto's return to court. Otto assures Alicent that so long as they hold to their plans, they will prevail and bring forth peace. Alicent briefly tries to confess to her father her sins (namely that she was in bed with Criston at the time of Jaehaerys' murder) but Otto gently silences her. [15]

Personality[]

Otto Hightower is a calm and calculating man. He appears dutiful in his role as Hand of the King and showed loyalty to both King Viserys I and his son Aegon II. But his ambition to have a member of his own family sit on the Iron Throne eventually outweighed his loyalty to King Viserys.[7] He showed that he valued judiciousness and dignity during his confrontation with Aegon, chiding him over his impulsive killing of the ratcatchers.[15] While loving to his daughter Alicent, Otto was not above using her to seduce Viserys in order to advance his own plans.[1] He also showed he had little love or respect for his grandson. [15]

Quotes[]

Spoken by Otto[]

Otto: "You made a vow before the Seven to honor your wife in marriage."
Daemon: "Well, I'd gladly give Lady Rhea to you, Lord Hightower, if you're in want of a woman to warm your bed. Your own lady wife passed recently. Did she not? Perhaps you aren't ready to move on just yet."
— Otto and Daemon Targaryen[src]
Otto: "Your Grace, this is the last thing any of us wish to discuss at this dark hour, but I consider the matter urgent."
Viserys: "What matter?"
Otto: "That of your succession. These recent tragedies have left you without an obvious heir. Despite how difficult this time is, Your Grace, I feel it important the succession be firmly in place for the stability of the realm."
— Otto and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Otto: "No one here can know what Daemon would do were he king, but no one can doubt his ambition. Look at what he did with the 'gold cloaks.' The City Watch is fiercely loyal to him. An army two thousand strong."
Viserys: "An army you gave him, Otto. I named Daemon Master of Laws, but you said he was a tyrant. As Master of Coin, you said he was a spendthrift that would beggar the realm. Putting Daemon in command of the City Watch was your solution!"
Otto: "A half-measure, Your Grace. The truth is, Daemon should be far away from this court."
— Otto and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Viserys: "Please. Daemon has ambition, yes, but not for the throne. He lacks the patience for it."
Otto: "The gods have yet to make a man who lacks the patience for absolute power, Your Grace."
— Otto and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Alicent: "How is His Grace?"
Otto: "Very low. Which is why I sent for you. I thought you might go to him, offer him comfort."
Alicent: "In his chambers? I wouldn't know what to say."
Otto: "Stop that. He'll be glad of a visitor. You might wear one of your mother's dresses."
— Otto and Alicent Hightower[src]
"I'll caution you, Lord Corlys, a seat at the king's table does not make you his equal."
―Otto to Corlys Velaryon[src]
"I dearly loved my own lady wife. The pain of her passing still haunts me. And to be compelled to replace her for duty's sake... you are the king, but I do not envy you."
―Otto to Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Daemon: "Welcome to Dragonstone, Otto."
Otto: "Your ocupation of this island is at an end. You're to relinquish the dragon's egg, disband your army, banish your whore, and leave Dragonstone by order of His Grace, King Viserys."
Daemon: "Where is the King? I don't see him."
Otto: "His Grace would never lower himself to entertain such a mummer's farce."
— Otto and Daemon[src]
Otto: "This is a truly pathetic show, Daemon. Are you so desperate for the king's attention that you've resorted to skulking about like a common cutpurse?"
Daemon: "I'm simply keeping with the traditions of my house, the same as my brother did for his heir."
Otto: "Those traditions are for the trueborn children of royalty, not for bastards fathered on a common whore."
Daemon: "Lady Mysaria is to be my wife."
Otto: "This is an abomination. With every breath you dishonor your name, your house, and your brother's reign."
— Otto and Daemon[src]
Hobert: "It is Aegon's second nameday. His infancy's behind him. It only remains for Viserys to name him heir to the throne."
Otto: "I wouldn't be so sure."
Hobert: "He's the king's firstborn son."
Otto: "I don't know that His Grace sees it so clearly."
Hobert: "Then it lies with you to make him see it, Lord Hand."
— Otto and Hobert Hightower[src]
Otto: "There is another choice beyond Casterly Rock. One, perhaps, you might be more comfortable with. One... closer to home."
Viserys: "Who do you have in mind?"
Otto: "Prince Aegon."
Viserys: "The boy just turned two, Otto."
Otto: "Yes, but it would cease the endless proposals for Rhaenyra's hand. Betroth them."
Viserys: "I came here to hunt. Not to be suffocated by all this fucking politicking!"
— Otto and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Otto: "It wouldn't matter if she were Jaehaerys himself born again. Rhaenyra is a woman."
Alicent: "What of my son? Would you have me raise a man to steal his own sister's birthright?"
Otto: "It is Aegon that's being robbed. He's the firstborn son of the king. To deny that he is heir to the throne is to assail the laws of gods and men. The road ahead is uncertain, but the end is clear: Aegon will be king. You must guide Viserys towards reason. He'll never find it on his own."
— Otto and Alicent Hightower[src]
Otto: "A loyal Hand must tell his king a discomforting truth from time to time, Your Grace. If he doesn't, he's failed as a servant."
Viserys: "You were a faithful servant, Otto. The crown and the realm both owe you a debt that can never be repaid. But I can no longer trust your judgment."
— Otto and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"Stale oaths will not put you on the Iron Throne, princess. The succession changed the day your father sired a son. I only regret that you and he were the last to see the truth of it."
―Otto to Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
Otto: "What have you done? The rat catchers!"
Aegon: "Oh, I had them hanged. The maggot who took my son confessed to have an accomplice. He could not say for certain which man it was."
Otto: "Idiot!"
— Otto confronting Aegon for hanging every rat catcher.[src]
Otto: "The king is my grandson, and my grandson is a fool! He's worse than a fool. He's murdered innocent men!"
Aegon: "And one guilty one."
Otto: "And hanged them from the walls of the city for all to see!"
Aegon: "Plot against the king I will pay it back one hundred-"
Otto: "They are fathers and brothers and sons, and their wifes and children are gathered out at our gates to weep and curse your name! With your child's blood we bought their approval, with your mother's tears we made a bitter sacrifice against the deprivations to come and you've thrown it away! After all I've done for you! Thoughtless! Feckless! Self-indulgent!."
— Otto and Aegon.[src]

Spoken about Otto[]

Daemon: "I've only ever spoken the truth. I see Otto Hightower for what he is."
Viserys: "An unwavering and loyal Hand?"
Daemon: "A cunt. A second son who stands to inherit nothing he doesn't seize for himself."
Viserys: "Otto Hightower is a more honorable man than you could ever be."
— Daemon and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"You think yourself a cunning man. Your designs are obvious. Do you wish to have your blood on the Iron Throne so badly that you are willing to destroy mine own?"
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
Rhaenyra: "And what will you do about the vulture who perches upon your throne?"
Viserys: "What vulture?"
Rhaenyra: "Your Hand."
Viserys: "Otto Hightower has served two kings loyally and faithfully."
Rhaenyra: "He wants Aegon to be named heir. And he will stop at nothing to see it done. Including spying at me to bring about my ruin. You speak of the Conqueror's vision and the need for strength and unity across the realm, but how can that be accomplished with your most trusted advisor so self-interested?"
— Rhaenyra and Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"You served my grandsire nobly in his final days. You are the man that taught me how to be king. Just five days... you went from being another man in Jaehaerys's court, to the second most powerful man in the realm. I wonder... how long did it take you to choose yourself over your king?"
―Viserys I Targaryen[src]
"No matter how fat the leech grows, it always wants for another meal."
―Daemon Targaryen[src]
"You are no more Hand than Aegon is king. Fucking traitor."
―Rhaenyra Targaryen[src]
"Remove your badge, Ser Otto. You were my father's Hand. Not mine."
―Aegon II Targaryen[src]

Family[]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-HobertHightower
Hobert
Hightower

Deceased
 
Famtree-Lynesse Hightower
Lynesse
Hightower


 
 
 
Famtree-OttoHightower
Otto
Hightower


 
House-Florent-Square
Alyrie
Florent

Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
House-Hightower-Square
Ormund
Hightower


 
Famtree-Gwayne Hightower
Gwayne
Hightower


 
Famtree-ViserysITargaryen
Viserys I
Targaryen
House Targaryen/House of the Dragon
Deceased
 
Famtree-AlicentHightower
Alicent
Hightower


 
House-Hightower-Square
Son(s)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-Aegon Targaryen
Aegon II
Targaryen
Aegon II Targaryen

 
Famtree-HelaenaTargaryen
Helaena
Targaryen
House Targaryen/House of the Dragon

 
Famtree-AemondTargaryen
Aemond
Targaryen
House Targaryen/House of the Dragon

 
House-Targaryen-HotD-Square
Daeron
Targaryen


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Famtree-PrinceJahaerysTargaryen
Jaehaerys
Targaryen
House Targaryen/House of the Dragon
Deceased
 
Famtree-JaehaeraTargaryen
Jaehaera
Targaryen
House Targaryen/House of the Dragon

 

Behind the scenes[]

On February 11, 2021, HBO announced that Rhys Ifans had been cast in the role of Otto Hightower for House of the Dragon. His character description for Season 1 reads as follows:

"The Hand of the King, Ser Otto loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne."[16]

His character description for Season 2 reads as follows:

"Esteemed Hand to two previous Kings, Ser Otto now staunchly supports the claim of his grandson Aegon II to the Iron Throne."[17]

In the books[]

In Fire & Blood, Ser Otto was famous for his knowledge. For this ability, he was named Hand of the King. He served as Hand of the King under Jaehaerys I, and Viserys I, but was not Hand continuously. While his intellect made him arrogant, he was also cautious and methodical.

Otto wasn't the head of House Hightower, but the younger brother of the unnamed head of the family. Otto's wife is never mentioned in the books, and her absence from several major scenes at court seems to imply that she has been dead for some time. Otto had multiple children, but the only ones identified were Alicent and her "youngest brother" Gwayne. All indications from Fire & Blood are that Otto actually had a good relationship with his family, that he loved and was loved by his children.

Otto first served as Hand after the death of Jaehaerys's Hand and son, Prince Baelon Targaryen. Jaehaerys was devastated by the death of his son and loss of his beloved wife Alysanne a year earlier. After resolving the succession crisis caused by Baelon's death with the Great Council of 101 AC, Jaehaerys's health rapidly failed and he spent the next two years largely bedridden. Otto effectively ruled the kingdom as Hand in the final two years of Jaehaerys's reign while his daughter Alicent Hightower nursed the ailing king.

In 109 AC, Viserys dismissed Otto from his office, because Otto kept bothering him about the inheritance issue (not for spying on Rhaenyra, which he did not). Lord Lyonel Strong replaced Otto as the King's Hand.

In 120 AC, following the deaths of Lyonel and Harwin at Harrenhal, Viserys reinstated Otto as his Hand. He remained Hand for the duration of Viserys's reign and the early part of his grandson, King Aegon II Targaryen (whose elevation to the Iron Throne he played a major part in). Unfortunately, at the outbreak of the Dance of Dragons, as more and more setbacks continued to strike the Greens' war efforts (the loss of Harrenhal and the Riverlands to the Blacks following the Battle of the Burning Mill, Prince Qoren Martell and Lord Dalton Greyjoy rebuffing Otto's diplomatic efforts, the damaging effects of the Velaryon fleet's blockade on trade in King's Landing and a spate of pro-Rhaenyra uprisings by noble houses in the Reach), King Aegon rapidly began to turn against Otto, holding his grandfather personally responsible for these failures and accusing him of cowardice. When Otto failed to swiftly secure an alliance with the Triarchy for naval power to break the Velaryon blockade, King Aegon finally ran out of patience and, over his mother's protest, stripped Otto of his position as Hand of the King, giving it to Ser Criston Cole instead.

By the time of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, Otto is largely considered one of the worst Hands of the King in history due to his key role in precipitating the Dance of Dragons. When Davos Seaworth frets about his fitness to be Hand to Stannis, believing the Hand should be noble born or an intellectual, Maester Pylos cites Otto as an example of how possessing such qualities is no guarantee of competence, noting that despite being considered a man of great learning, Otto's tenure as Hand ended up unleashing disaster on the Seven Kingdoms.

Appearances[]

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 1: "The Heirs of the Dragon" (2022).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 9: "The Green Council" (2022).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Otto Hightower. HBO. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  4. Hobert Hightower. HBO. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  5. Character Guide. HBO. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 1: "A Son for a Son" (2024).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 4: "King of the Narrow Sea" (2022).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 2: "The Rogue Prince" (2022).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 3: "Second of His Name" (2022).
  10. House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 5: "We Light the Way" (2022).
  11. House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 6: "The Princess and the Queen" (2022).
  12. 12.0 12.1 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 7: "Driftmark" (2022).
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 8: "The Lord of the Tides" (2022).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 House of the Dragon: Season 1, Episode 10: "The Black Queen" (2022).
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 House of the Dragon: Season 2, Episode 2: "Rhaenyra the Cruel" (2024).
  16. Unknown author (Unknown date). House of the Dragon S1 | Character Descriptions. Warner Bros. Discovery. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  17. Unknown author (Unknown date). House of the Dragon S2 | Character Descriptions. Warner Bros. Discovery. Retrieved June 5, 2024.

Notes[]

  1. Otto Hightower is stated to be in his 50s in the script for "The Heirs of the Dragon;" therefore, he was born between 53 and 62 AC.
  2. In "A Son for a Son," Daemon Targaryen and Otto Hightower mention that days have passed since Viserys Targaryen and Lucerys Velaryon's deaths. Unlike the first season, no major time jumps are expected; therefore, House of the Dragon: Season 2 takes place in 132 AC.
  3. The Great Council at Harrenhal was held in 101 AC according to "The Heirs of the Dragon."

External links[]

Preceded by Hand of the King (I)
101 - 116 AC
Succeeded by
Preceded by Hand of the King (II)
126 - 132 AC
Succeeded by


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