How we got to the Dance of Dragons
Get ready for a wild ride. Obvious spoilers for both Game of Thrones and mild spoilers for House of the Dragon could pop up, but the idea is to help fans figure out where the series will be starting off and how it connects to GoT, beginning with the main cast.
King Viserys Targeryen I
Viserys I is the head and King of the Targaryen dynasty at this present stage, which is 130 AC (Aegon’s Conquest), so this is both 130 years after Aegon began his conquest of Westeros, and 169 years before the events of Game of Thrones, so unfortunately if you were looking for a cameo from any of the old cast, that is extremely unlikely.
King Viserys I, being played by Paddy Considine. He’s a lazy, incompetent king who would love nothing more than to waste days away drinking and partying than ruling, which is why he delegates a lot of his work to the small council. He hates his children and family fighting, so they all put on a façade around him to make it seem like things are going smoothly.
Rhaenyra Targeryen, The Realm’s Delight
Rhaenyra, who will be the series lead, is being played by Emma D’Arcy, as well as young Rhaenyra being played by Milly Alcock. We’re getting flashbacks, people! Wouldn’t have minded a couple more of those in the last show! Rhaenyra is the first and oldest child of King Viserys, and has been named his heir since she was a small child. This went directly against how Viserys himself was crowned, but during the moment of naming Rhaenyra, there were no male claimants to oppose her, and the common folk loved her, so it went without issue. This lasted only a short time, however.
Daemon Targaryen, The Rogue Prince
Daemon is the younger brother to Viserys, and is everything that Viserys is not. He is a master swordsman who grew the King’s Landing City Watch into what it is today. He’s waged many wars in the eastern islands known as the Step Stones, wields the ancient Targaryen sword Dark Sister and is the all-around perfect anti-hero for this story. He’s been pissed off at Viserys about Rhaenyra jumping him in the line of succession since it happened, but keep watching the series to see how this unfolds.
Rhaenyra was Viserys’ first and only child by his first marriage; however, Viserys did remarry a young woman named Alicent Hightower (who you haven’t been introduced to yet if you haven’t read the books, they rule Oldtown, where Sam went to study for 10 minutes and there was a giant lighthouse). Curiously enough, her father is the King’s Hand, Otto Hightower. This marriage resulted in 3 children, sons Aegon, Aemond, and a daughter, Helaena. Per IMDb, the children aren’t in many episodes, so we’ll omit summaries on them. Just keep in mind that Rhaenyra is what is standing in the way of Alicent’s children from the Iron Throne.
Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake
Corlys Velaryon is the Lord of the Tides, the name for the patriarch of the Velaryon dynasty, a Valyrian (very creative in naming these guys George) house that has been in Westeros longer than the Targaryens. While the Targaryens rule the sky, the Velaryons rule the seas. These two families have been allies ever since the Targaryens first came to Dragonstone, and it is staying that way in this part of the story.
Corlys married Viserys’ sister, Rhaenys, and had a son and daughter, Laena and Laenor. Rhaenyra married Laenor and produced 3 sons, so the Velaryons will finally have their blood sitting on the Iron Throne. Or so Corlys and company thought. Laena also married Daemon, Viserys’ brother and had children as well.
This brings us up to speed on the main players for House of the Dragon. Now let’s examine the different sides for the Dance of the Dragons, and where the series will likely begin.
SPOILERS BELOW – SUCCESSION AS WELL AS THE GREENS AND THE BLACKS
A Question of Succession
If you remember the ending for Game of Thrones, you will remember that with Jon Snow being a Targaryen, the question of Daenerys’s claim to the throne came into play, with Jon being the last remaining son of the Heir to the Iron Throne, Rhaegar Targaryen, making his claim stronger than Dany’s. Dany is the younger sister to Rhaegar, and in Westerosi culture, the male will always be the better claimant to the throne or the House than a female. Does that make it right? Certainly not, but it seems that George RR Martin took a leaf out of another George’s pamphlet, this George being Lucas. The more you compare the Dance of the Dragons to A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, the more similarities you find. “It’s like poetry. It rhymes.”
As established, Dany and Jon are both claimants to the Iron Throne (In the books Aegon, Rhaegar’s firstborn, has “resurfaced” but we’ll ignore that) which causes a biiiiiit of a conflict. Now let’s paint the picture with the Dance of Dragons.
King Viserys I, who himself was chosen to sit on the Iron Throne over a number of other claimants in a great council, in large part due to being male, had one daughter by his first marriage, Rhaenyra. Viserys did, however, remarry, a young woman named Alicent Hightower. This marriage resulted in 3 children, sons Aegon, Aemond, and a daughter Helaena. Confused yet? Just wait.
Rhaenyra at a young age was named the Heir to the Iron Throne by her father and was received with cheers. Rhaenyra was nicknamed The Realm’s Delight and all the peasants loved her. One person, who did not love this, was Viserys’s brother, Prince Daemon, The Rogue Prince, played by Matt Smith. He was extraordinarily pissed off and actually left King’s Landing for a time. This question of inheritance came up a lot, especially with Viserys having other sons by way of Alicent.
Rhaenyra’s children also raise some questions. She is married to Laenor Velaryon, with whom she has 3 sons. In the show, the Velaryons are Black, which in my opinion is a great way to show that the Rhaenyra’s children aren’t actually Laenor’s, but they are bastard boys who were fathered by Harwin Strong. In the book Fire and Blood, this is shown by the boys all having brown hair and facial features similar to Strong’s, which is in direct dispute to both Rhaenyra and Laenor having typical Valyrian blonde/silver hair. In the show it will be a lot more distinctive, being that the boys will have an completely different skin tone than Laenor.
This question of legitimacy for the heirs of the Iron Throne will be great ammo for Alicent and her oldest son, Aegon’s claim to the throne. Alicent’s view is that the male always comes before the female, and true-born sons should be the ones to inherit the kingship. So, it will eventually come down to Rhaenyra vs Aegon.
Alicent and Aegon’s faction were called the Greens, due to Alicent wearing a green dress at a great tournament celebrating her and Viserys’s 5th wedding anniversary. Rhaenyra wore the traditional Targaryen colors, black and red, coining her faction the Blacks. Let’s sort out the factions.
Queen Rhaenyra and her sons, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Valeryon
Prince Daemon Targaryen
Corlys Valeryon and his wife, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen
Alicent Hightower and her father, Otto Hightower
Aegon Targaryen, the claimant, and his brother, Aemond
Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
What to expect in Season 1 of House of the Dragon
So we’ve got the background, the sides, and some other key pieces of information. Now what should we expect in season 1, especially with a finished story already set?
With Viserys appearing in all 10 episodes of Season 1, I wouldn’t expect Dragon fights just yet. Seaon 1 seems primed to sow a lot of seeds of resentment between the Greens and the Blacks, with Viserys trying to make both sides happy. There will be “Strong” hints towards Rhaenyra’s children’s legitimacy, and Daemon will be causing all sorts of ruckus either with the City Watch or with his brother. Rhaenyra and Daemon eventually do marry during the Dance, but I don’t think they’re together yet at the start of the show. Keep an eye out for them starting to fall for each other.
With flashbacks set to play a role, expect to see the scene of Rhaenyra first being declared heir. The Great Council choosing Viserys as the king is incredibly likely, with his grandfather, King Jaehaerys being rumored to appear for one episode. This show should be taking its time unfurling all of these plots, especially with the backlash of rushing the last 2 seasons of Game of Thrones.
All in all, it is VERY exciting to get back into Westeros with a finished product to go off of. Happy Dancing!