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Who’s who in ‘House of the Dragon’? Here’s our guide to the key characters

A man in a metal jousting armor
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

“Game of Thrones” introduced audiences to the various houses, great and small, that populate the lands in and around Westeros — starting with the Targaryens, Starks, Baratheons and Lannisters. Set almost 200 years before the events of the flagship series, “House of the Dragon” depicts the ancestors of well-known houses and familiarizes viewers with lesser-known clans as they orbit around the Seven Kingdoms’ seat of power, the Iron Throne.

At the outset, “House of the Dragon” is primarily focused on members of House Targaryen, the current ruling family, and their closest allies. But the “Game of Thrones” prequel series boasts an expansive cast of characters, often with names that are barely distinct from somebody just as significant. Here’s a guide to those we’ve met and expect to play a key role in the series.

Whether you’re new to Westeros or making a long-awaited return, here’s everything you need know about the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel, updated weekly.

House Targaryen

A noble family of Valyrian descent who left their homeland before its collapse. The clan of dragon-riders became the first ruling house of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros thanks to a successful conquest led by King Aegon Targaryen; the family ruled over Westeros for almost 300 years. In order to keep their bloodlines pure, Targaryens often married their siblings or cousins. (“Game of Thrones” fans know how that played out.) One of the most well-known houses in the franchise, the Targaryens are still prosperous when “House of the Dragon” begins, but peaceful times do not generally translate into eventful television.

Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine)

A man with long white hair wearing a crown and an ornate outfit
King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) rules the Seven Kingdoms when the story begins HBO’s in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)
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The current ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and the fifth Targaryen king to sit on the Iron Throne. Viserys was chosen by the Great Council to succeed his grandfather, King Jaehaerys Targaryen, over his elder cousin, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, because he was the king’s oldest male descendant. Afflicted with a mysterious ailment.

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith)

a man in uniform leaning on his sword
Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) has his eye on the Iron Throne.
(Ollie Upton/HBO)

King Viserys Targaryen’s younger brother and presumptive heir — or so he believes. A formidable warrior, Prince Daemon serves as the commander of the City Watch of King’s Landing. The prince has his eye on the Iron Throne, but key figures do not believe he’s fit to rule.

Rhaenyra Targaryen (young: Milly Alcock, adult: Emma D’Arcy)

A blond princess in a castle
Emma D’Arcy as the adult Rhaenyra Targaryen in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

King Viserys Targaryen’s first-born child, who rides a dragon named Syrax. She has grown up watching her father wish for a son to secure his succession. After her mother’s death, Viserys names Princess Rhaenyra his heir, breaking from the established Targaryen tradition of male succession. Married to Laenor Velaryon, with whom she has a certain understanding.

Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best)

a woman with long white hair standing near an armored guard
Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) is “The Queen Who Never Was.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

King Jaehaerys Targaryen’s grandchild who, as his oldest living descendant, had a claim to the Iron Throne. Since the Great Council passed her over, she has been known as “the Queen Who Never Was.” Princess Rhaenys is the cousin of King Viserys Targaryen, who inherited the crown instead. She is married to Lord Corlys Velaryon.

Aegon Targaryen (younger: Ty Tennant, older: Tom Glynn-Carney)

a boy in armor holding out his arms while facing his instructor
Aegon Targaryen (Ty Tennant) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Gary Moyes / HBO)

King Viserys Targaryen’s first child with his second wife, Lady Alicent Hightower. Some consider Aegon a preferable heir because he is King Viserys’ eldest male descendant. He is named after Aegon the Conqueror, the dragon-riding ruler who conquered most of Westeros and was crowned the first Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. Aegon is a popular Targaryen name — even “Game of Thrones’” Jon Snow’s true birth name is Aegon Targaryen.

Helaena Targaryen (younger: Evie Allen, older: Phia Saban)

a brunette woman sitting next to her blonde daughter
Helaena Targaryen (Evie Allen), right, with her mother, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

Second child of King Viserys Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. Sister of Aegon and Aemond, half-sister to Rhaenyra. Seems to like bugs.

Aemond Targaryen (younger: Leo Ashton, older: Ewan Mitchell)

a boy in armor swinging his practice sword at his instructor
Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Gary Moyes / HBO)

Third child of King Viserys Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. His brother Aegon and nephews Jacaerys and Lucerys Velaryon tease him about not having a dragon.

Baela Targaryen (younger: Shani Smethurst, older: Bethany Antonia)

two girls peering over a shelf
Sisters Baela (Shani Smethurst), left, and Rhaena Targaryen (Eva Ossei-Gerning) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

Eldest daughter of Laena Velaryon and Daemon Targaryen. Rhaena Targaryen’s older sister. Her dragon’s name is Moondancer.

Rhaena Targaryen (younger: Eva Ossei-Gerning, older: Phoebe Campbell)

Younger daughter of Laena Velaryon and Daemon Targaryen. Is very aware her father actually pays attention to her sister Baela. Rhaena’s dragon egg has not hatched.

“House of the Dragon” will delight fans with a new, engrossing chapter in the saga — one that matches and at times improves on its predecessor.

House Hightower

An old and powerful noble house whose ancestral home is in Oldtown — where the Citadel is located — in the region known as the Reach. The Hightowers are known for their wealth and are affiliated with the Tyrells, a house “Game of Thrones” fans are likely more familiar with.

Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans)

a man in a cloak standing near a crowd
Ser Otto Hightower serves as the Hand of the King.
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

The Hand — or lead advisor — of King Viserys, loyal to both his king and the realm. Ser Otto does not believe Prince Daemon Targaryen is fit to be King Viserys’ heir, and their dislike is mutual. Father of Alicent Hightower. Viserys dismisses him from his position on the small council after suspecting Otto’s judgment is affected by his personal interests.

Alicent Hightower (young: Emily Carey, adult: Olivia Cooke)

a noblewoman with a neutral expression
Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

Once a close friend of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Alicent is Ser Otto Hightower’s daughter and grew up in the Red Keep. Described as one of the most attractive women in all of Westeros, she is King Viserys Targaryen’s second wife. Her relationship with Rhaenyra has more than cooled over the years.

House Velaryon

The Velaryons are a noble house that, like the Targaryens, hail from an old Valyrian bloodline. The influential family is a key ally of House Targaryen, so their prosperity — and family trees — are intertwined. The Velaryons also boast the biggest navy in Westeros. Although House Velaryon is extremely wealthy and powerful during the time of “House of the Dragon,” they don’t even appear in “Game of Thrones.”

Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint)

a man with long white locs
Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is known as “The Sea Snake.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

Westeros’ most famous seafaring adventurer, also known as “The Sea Snake.” Thanks to Lord Corlys, the Velaryons are a powerful house that is said to be richer than the Lannisters. Lord Corlys is married to Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, and they have two children: Laena and Laenor Velaryon.

Laenor Velaryon (young: Theo Nate, adult: John Macmillan)

a woman cradling an infant with her husband at her side
Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan) with their newborn son Joffrey in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

The son of “the Sea Snake,” Lord Corlys Velaryon, and “the Queen Who Never Was,” Princess Rhaenys Targaryen — meaning he and his sister Laena Velaryon are very Valyrian. A dragon-rider who fought alongside Lord Corlys and Prince Daemon in the war for the Stepstones. Marries the Realm’s most eligible bachelorette — Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen — with an understanding that they are free to (secretly) indulge in their true interests outside of their vows.

Laena Velayron (child: Nova Mosé-Foueillis, young: Savannah Steyn, adult: Nanna Blondell)

a woman illuminated by torchlight
Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

The daughter of Lord Corlys “the Sea Snake” Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys “the Queen Who Never Was” Targaryen — meaning she and her brother Laenor Velaryon are descended from two noble Valyrian Houses. Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys unsuccessfully tried to arrange a marriage between young Laena and King Viserys after his wife died in childbirth. Grows up to become a formidable dragon-rider and marries Daemon Targaryen.

Jacaerys Velaryon (younger: Leo Hart, older: Harry Collett)

two boys in armor standing next to each other
Brothers Lucerys (Harvey Sadler), left, and Jacaerys Velaryon (Leo Hart) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Gary Moyes / HBO)

Eldest son of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon. Brother of Lucerys and Joffrey Velaryon. Suspects his biological father is Ser Harwin Strong, the Commander of the City Watch. His dragon’s name is Vermax.

Lucerys Velaryon (younger: Harvey Sadler, older: Elliot Grihault)

Second son of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon. People have noticed he and his brothers Jacaerys and Joffrey did not inherit their parents’ Valyrian features and instead resemble a certain Commander of the City Watch.

Joffrey Velaryon

Third son of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon. Named after his father’s late lover, Joffrey Lonmouth. Considering what happened to Joffreys Lonmouth and Baratheon, should probably consider avoiding weddings.

House Lannister

One of the oldest and richest of the Great Houses of Westeros, the Lannisters rule over a western region known as the Westerlands from their ancestral seat of Casterly Rock. The Lannisters are associated with golden hair, twins and their unofficial House motto of always paying their debts.

Tyland Lannister (Jefferson Hall)

Twin brother of Lord Jason Lannister. The more politically minded Ser Tyland serves on King Viserys Targaryen’s council.

Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall)

a man presenting a spear as a gift
Lord Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) has his eyes on Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen.
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

Twin brother of Ser Tyland Lannister. Jason is the Lord of Casterly Rock and appreciates the luxuries of his station. Tries to seek Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s hand in marriage.

Others

Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel)

a male knight kneeling
Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) is a formidable knight.
(Gary Moyes / HBO)

A common-born knight of Dornish descent who first made an impression on Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen when he defeated Prince Daemon in a tournament. Princess Rhaenyra chooses Ser Criston to fill a vacancy in the Kingsguard because he is the only candidate with actual field combat experience. His affections and loyalty to the Princess eventually grow into simmering resentment and hostility.

Larys Strong (Matthew Needham)

a man sitting with his hand on his cane
Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) in “House of the Dragon.”
(Ollie Upton / HBO)

The younger son of Lord Lyonel Strong, who served as King Viserys’ Master of Laws before he is promoted to Hand of the King. Larys is a close and calculating confidant of Alicent Hightower — perhaps with an agenda of his own. Ser Harwin Strong is his older brother, but familial love appears to be a foreign concept to Larys.


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