Warning: Warning! House of the Dragon
Which blonde dragon-rider, if any, will be the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms’ Seven Kingdoms? The heart of this question is House of the DragonIt is the Game of Thrones prequel that tells the story of how a civil war—often called the Dance of the Dragons—pitted Targaryen against Targaryen nearly 200 years before the events of Thrones.
Westeros’ succession rules are complex and somewhat fungible. A king might decide to hand over a woman heir to a man. However, another king could upend the tradition just one generation later.
If House of the DragonIn the beginning, King Viserys (Paddy Considine), has no male heir. And after his newborn baby boy dies in the first episode, his courtiers pressure him to name the person who will follow him on the Iron Throne: His nasty brother Daemon (Matt Smith) or his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock at the beginning of the series, Emma D’Arcy later). Over his council’s objections he picks Rhaenyra, even though that means breaking the tradition of barring women from the Iron Throne.
The second episode reveals another potential heir. After the death of his wife during childbirth, Viserys remarries and has a son with Rhaenyra’s best friend, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey, then Olivia Cooke). It is possible that the baby may claim the crown. You need to understand your family’s relationships in order to comprehend the drama. However, all these blondes can be merged. The Targaryen family tree is admittedly complicated—though compact thanks to the family’s penchant for incest.
Continue reading: The Ultimate Guide to the Game of ThronesFamily Tree
The family tree is as it appears in the second episode. House of the Dragon. For the sake of clarity, we’ve only included the relevant children in terms of the line of succession.
Illustration by Lon Tweeten, TIME; HBO
Daenys “the Dreamer” Targaryen
Daenys Targaryen, who came to be known as Daenys the Dreamer, had a vision that the city of Valyria—where all the dragonriders once resided—would be consumed in some apocalyptic event. Aenar, her father, saw the vision and decided to move his family to Dragonstone. Daenys’ vision came to pass, and the Targaryens became the last remaining dragonriders in the world.
Continue reading: Targaryen’s Dreams: Why They Are Important House of the Dragon
Aegon “The Conqueror” Targaryen
Aegon Targaryen unified the Seven Kingdoms, Westeros, through the support of Rhaenys & Visenya, his sister-wives.
Although the Targaryens intermarried in order to preserve their bloodline, it could have serious consequences. Cersei warns in Game of ThronesThe gods flip the coin when a Targaryen becomes a Targaryen. While some people are monster-makers, others make great leaders. That was the case for Aegon’s two sons. Aenys Targaryen was a fine leader, but his brother Maegor “The Cruel” Targaryen murdered him.
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Aenys had a somewhat unfortunate name. (Though, in fairness, it’s pronounced “Ennis.”) But he overcame that to become a kind ruler until his brother killed him in cold blood. He married Alyssa Velaryon, a descendent of the one other Valyrian family that survived the downfall of that city—though crucially Velaryons are not dragonriders. However, Velaryons were able to become major players in the game by allies with Targaryens.
Jaehaerys “The Old King” Targaryen
Maegor ruled for just six years before he died—his council found him impaled on his own Iron Throne. (Ouch!) (Ouch!)
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Aenys’ son Jaehaerys then inherited the throne. He was married to his sister Alyssane. This is not a great thing for obvious reasons but it seems that the two of them were in fact very much in love. The two were meant to be married, but instead they got together. Jaeherys’ rule was a golden age for Westeros. He built roads and sewage infrastructure—all the things a king does when he’s not busy burning people to a crisp with his dragons. Jaehaerys and Alyssane had 13 children together, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll just talk about the few who were vying for the throne.
Aemon was Jaehaerys’ first son to survive into adulthood. Jocelyn Baratheon was his wife, but she wasn’t a Targaryen. He was also his aunt. Aemon, however, died before his father and left behind Rhaenys Targaryen, his daughter. Aemon’s younger brother Baelon became the heir.
Baelon married his sister and they had two children, Viserys Targaryen and Daemon Targaryen. Baelon died of a “burst belly” (perhaps a burst appendix) before his father passed away. Jaehaerys is now without any apparent heirs.
Rhaenys “The Queen Who Never Was” Targaryen
Eve Best, Princess Rhaenys Valaryon House of the Dragon
As the child of Jaehaerys’ eldest son Aemon, Rhaenys (Eve Best) theoretically should have been the first in line for the throne. Because Westeros was a very sexist land, however, they refused to let a woman rule over them. Jaehaerys was wary of an uprising and called for a council to determine who would inherit the Iron Throne. The council picked Baelon’s eldest child, Viserys, over Rhaenys, who came to be known as “the queen who never was.”
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Paddy Considine is King Viserys Targaryen House of the Dragon
Viserys weds his cousin Aemma, who has Rhaenyra Targaryen. They are unable to conceive male heirs. The first episode House of the DragonAemma is killed in childbirth when Viserys forces her against her will to undergo a C-section. The couple’s son also dies. Viserys, who has no obvious heirs, eventually names Rhaenyra the next on the line for the throne.
Viserys marries Alicent Hightower in the second episode. Together they have a son named Aegon II Targaryen. Aegon II, merely by existing, is a threat to Rhaenyra’s rule.
Matt Smith plays Prince Daemon Targaryen House of the Dragon
Daemon Targaryen is a legendary, but bloodthirsty, warrior who secretly lusts after the Iron Throne. Viserys’ councilors fear that Deamon might take drastic action to usurp the throne from Viserys or even Rhaenyra. Daemon was married to his wife for strategic reasons, but he hates her. He appears to be unlikely to challenge Rhaenyra and Aegon II for the right spot on the throne, as he was at the start of the series.
Corlys “The Sea Snake” Velaryon
Steve Toussaint is the author Game of ThronesPrequel House of Dragon
Known as the the Sea Snake, Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) was a fabled sailor who marries Rhaenys Targaryen—a rare love match in Westeros’ history. Together, they have Laenor (Matthew Carver early in the show, John Macmillan later) and Laena Velaryon (Nova Foueillis-Mosé early, Savannah Steyn later). Corlys pressures Viserys into marrying Leana when she’s still a child, but Viserys chooses to wed Alicent Hightower instead. They will be important allies for various Targaryens, however.
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Olivia Cooke plays Alicent Hightower House of the Dragon
Alicent is the child of Otto Hightower, (Rhys Ifans), and Hand to both King Jaehaeryss and King Viserys. At the beginning of the show, she’s a woman of the court who largely keeps Rhaenyra Targaryen company. But Otto encourages Alicent to comfort King Viserys after his wife’s death and become invaluable to the ruler. Viserys falls for Alicent Hightower and the two have Aegon II.
Continue reading: The Hightower Family: Who are they?House of the Dragon
Milly Alcock House of the Dragon
Viserys ignores Rhaenyra for long, hoping to replace her with a male heir. Rhaenyra, when he finally names Rhaenyra next in line for throne is met with skepticism by a kingdom that would rather see her halfbrother as King than have to submit to a Queen. Even though she is not interested in marrying, there are certain marriages that could be vital to her success for the throne.
Aegon II Targaryen
Aegon II Tarrayen arrives at the right moment to cause more chaos in the kingdom. The lords are asking why Rhaenyra’s Iron Throne should pass to Rhaenyra, when Rhaenyra finally has a child.
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