is among the most anticipated TV shows of 2022 – it is a prequel it will do. While blockbuster takes place in King’s Landing, which we all remember, the citizens of the city are completely new to us. It takes place about 200 years before Game of Thrones begins, and there are no familiar faces to cling to.
This can make it difficult to get to House of the Dragon at first. There are so many new characters and so many complex relationships that it can be a little overwhelming at first. This list of key Targaryens should help make sense of the chaos. Note that they exist House of the Dragon Episode 1 spoilers below.
Aegon the Conqueror
Aegon Targaryen is not depicted in House of the Dragon, but his fresh legend is often mentioned. Aegon, often referred to as Aegon the Conqueror, was the first king of Westeros. He married both of his sisters, Rhaenys and Visenya (yes, his sisters). All three had dragons which they used to unite the seven kingdoms of Westeros by force. Using the swords of his fallen enemies, Aegon had his dragon forge the Iron Throne.
If you delve into the A Song of Ice and Fire lore, you’ll notice the terms BC and AC. This is Before the Conquest and After the Conquest. For example, Rhaenyra Targaryen was born in 97 AD.
King Jaehaerys I Targaryen
King Jaehaerys Targaryen is only seen briefly in House of the Dragon, but he is an important Targaryen to know. You saw him in the opening vignette of the premiere episode of House of the Dragon, where Jaehaerys called a council of Westerosi lords to vote on who should succeed him. He is played by Michael Carter, who, fun fact, played Jabba the Hutt’s lackey Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi.
Only the fourth Targaryen ruler of Westeros, Jaehaerys, was a great king in A Song of Ice and Fire lore. “The empire Jaehaerys inherited was impoverished, war-torn, lawless, and riven by division and distrust, while the new king himself was a green boy with no experience of governing,” wrote George RR Martin in Fire and Blood. Despite these inauspicious beginnings, Jaehaerys would reign for 55 years, a period marked by peace and prosperity.
Jaehaerys married his sister Alysanne Targaryen, which was apparently fashionable at the time. Both of their sons died leaving no direct successor.
King Viserys I Targaryen
King Viserys is perhaps the most prominent character in House of the Dragon, especially in the opening episodes. He is the grandson of Jaehaerys Targaryen and was the winner of the aforementioned competition to determine Jaehaerys’ successor. His main competitor in this vote was Rhaenys Targaryen, who is the cousin of Viserys and the granddaughter of Jaehaerys.
King Viserys’ father was Baelor Targaryen, who was heir to the throne until his death from appendicitis, which explains why Viserys named his newborn son Baelor in Episode 1.
“The reign of King Viserys I is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Targaryen power in Westeros,” Martin wrote in Fire and Blood, though he also noted the king’s faults. “I must say that King Viserys I Targaryen did not have the strongest of wills; always kind and eager to please, he relied heavily on the advice of the men around him and more often than not did as they ordered.”
King Viserys is played by Paddy Considine, who you may have seen in Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum, The World’s End and HBO’s The Outsider.
Queen Aemma Targaryen is Viserys’ first wife and the mother of Rhaenyra Targaryen. Before she married into royalty, she was Aemma Arryn, making her a distant relative of Jon Arryn, whose poisoning precipitated the events depicted in Game of Thrones.
Aemma’s marriage to Viserys has suffered great misfortune. She became pregnant several times, but miscarried. Only one healthy child was born: Rhaenyra. Two boys were born, but both died in their cribs. Aemma died giving birth to the second, Baelor. Although her death was a natural consequence of childbirth in Fire and Blood, in House of the Dragon it is caused by Viserys instructing Grandmaster Mellos to perform a C-section on Aemma in hopes of saving the child.
Actress Sian Brooke plays Emma Targaryen. In addition to several television credits, including Eurus Holmes in Sherlock, Brooke is also a prolific actress on the British theater circuit.
A Targaryen demon
Arguably the biggest star in House of the Dragons is Matt Smith, who plays Daemon Targaryen. Smith played the Doctor for four years in Doctor Who and recently played Prince Phillip in The Crown.
Daemon Targaryen is the younger brother of Viserys Targaryen and begins House of the Dragon as heir to the Iron Throne. However, as we see in episode 1, Viserys decides that his daughter Rhaenyra is the more suitable heir, thereby denying Daemon’s traditional right to become king.
Daemon is married to Rhea Royce. The Royces are a big Vale family; Game of Thrones fans will remember Yohn Royce as a key figure in the Vale following Littlefinger’s murder of Lysa Arryn.
Daemon is something of a mix between Jaime and Tyrion Lannister. He is a respected warrior, but like the “goblin” Tyrion, rightly or wrongly, he is considered a black mark in the family. He is known to regularly visit holiday homes and has distinctly rebellious traits.
Rhaenys Targaryen is “the queen that never was”. She claimed the right to become queen because she was the eldest grandson of King Jaehaerys, but was rejected by the lords of Westeros when they voted en masse for Viserys instead.
Rhaenys is the daughter of Aemon Targaryen – the Night’s Watch master Aemon’s namesake in Game of Thrones. Rhaenys is portrayed as a goofball in Fire and Blood, known for her spirit, beauty and ability to ride dragons. She is married to Lord Corlys Velaryon, who is a prominent member of the Small Council in Fire and Blood. Although the Lannisters were known for their wealth in Game of Thrones, in this era it is the House of Velaryon of Lord Corlys that earns the most in Westeros.
Rhaenys is played by Eve Best, best known for her role as Eleanor O’Hara in Nurse Jackie. Steve Toussaint plays Lord Corlys.
It should be noted that in Fire and Blood, the vote to establish Jaehaerys’ successor was essentially between Viserys and Laenor Velaryon – Rhaenys’ son, not Rhaenys herself. In the book – this may not be important in the series – both House Baratheon and House Stark were supporters of Rhaenys’ claim to the Iron Throne.
King Viserys may be the central character of the first season of House of the Dragon, but the main character is Rhaenyra Targaryen. As mentioned, Matt Smith is probably the most prominent actor coming to the show. Milly Alcock, who plays Rhaenyra for much of the first season, may emerge as House of the Dragon’s biggest star.
Rhaenyra is the only surviving child of King Viserys and Queen Aemma Targaryen. After the death of Baelor, who only lived for about 10 hours, Viserys declared Rhaenyra the rightful heir to the throne. When the show begins, she is a young woman, only 14 years old. But Rhaenyra grows quickly as House of the Dragon progresses, becoming a compelling force in her own right.
The older Rhaenyra is played by Emma D’arcy, who had a prominent role in the 2020 film Seekers of Truth. Nine generations separate Rhaenyra and Daenerys Targaryen: Rhaenyra is Daenerys great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother.
Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more
View all photos