Warning: The following contains spoilers for House of the Dragon “The Rogue Prince,” which aired Sunday, August 28. If you’re not caught up yet, check out our spoiler-free Episode 2 review.
House of the Dragon may be set in the world of Game of Thrones but its focus on King’s Landing and the ruling Targaryens makes for a much different and less sprawling story than the original mothership show. So where are all the Seven Kingdoms families we’re familiar with from the previous saga? The Starks? The Lannisters? Tullys, Arryns, Baratheons, and all the rest?
Well, the simple answer is…most of them are out there, ruling over their particular domains. With the Red Keep as its main hub, House of the Dragon may need these families to come to us rather than us traveling to them over in their far off realms. That being said, we’ve already seen a few of these familiar Houses.
Game of Thrones Houses
In the premiere episode, “The Heirs of the Dragon,” we saw Lord Rickon Stark, Warden of The North, pledge his allegiance to Princess Rhaenyra when she’s named King Viserys I’s official successor, promising to defend the rights of the princess as heir to the Iron Throne. Rickon Stark was played by David Hounslow.
As established on Game of Thrones, the Starks are one of the oldest families in Westeros and have held the leadership seat in the north for centuries so their lordship is no surprise. Also keep in mind that we’re coming off a hundred years of relative peace so these ruling Houses will only travel to King’s Landing for big all-company events.
Also, as shown right at the beginning of “The Heirs of the Dragon,” at the Great Council of 101 AC, the Starks were among the few Houses who supported Rhaenys Targaryen over her first cousin Viserys.
The Lannisters, as Wardens of the West, are presumedly at Casterly Rock, being rich and arrogant with all their gold. In the premiere, a Tournament rider can be seen wearing Lannister colors and emblems when Prince Daemon is selecting his opponent. Likewise, the Lannister Lion is among the decorations in the arena.
Also among the riders are representatives of House Stark, Baratheon, Tyrell, Bolton (boooo!), Tully, and Tarly along with less familiar realm clans like Mallister, Darklyn, Lefford, Corbray, and Cole.
We met yet meet some actual Lannisters, however, as the House of the Dragon season progresses.
Wardens of the East – aka The Vale – the Arryns play an important part in House of the Dragon.
From Game of Thrones, we’re familiar with Robert Baratheon’s Hand, Jon Arryn, as his death kicked off the story of Game of Thrones, and with his widow, Lady Lysa Arryn (nee Tully, Catelyn’s sister), since she got seduced and murdered by Littlefinger. In House of the Dragon, King Viserys’ wife, the Queen, is Aemma Arryn (played by Sian Brooke). She dies giving birth to baby Baelon, who also perishes soon after.
Yes, top Targaryens wed women of the Vale to strengthen allegiance, but whereas Viserys came to love Aemma Daemon never loved Lady Rhea Royce of Runestone. Which is why he took Mysaria (played by Sonoya Mizuno) as a mistress…and then attempts that petty-but-dangerous Dragonstone stunt where he claims she’s with child and he intends to take her as a second wife.
The Baratheons are a major House in Westeros during this time as well as the ruling faction in Storm’s End. In the first episode, Julian Lewis Jones plays Lord Boremund Baratheon as he competes in the Tournament and asks for the favor of Princess Rhaenys, calling her “The Queen Who Never Was.” He and his son Ser Borros Baratheon are unhorsed and defeated by Prince Daemon. Lord Boremund is then present again at the end when Princess Rhaenrya is named heir to the Iron Throne.
House of the Dragon Houses
Let’s meet a few of the new (old) Houses on House of the Dragon that are way more important to this particular story than the families on Game of Thrones.
The Velaryons are a big House. The actual richest in all of Westeros at this point, even more so than the Lannisters. With a Seahorse as its sigil, House Velaryon rules over the Isle of Driftmark, which is actually right next to the Isle of Dragonstone, in Blackwater Bay neat King’s Landing. Lord Corlys Velaryon — aka the Sea Snake — is King Viserys’ Master of Ships on the small Council, and husband of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen. These two families are connected very tightly through this marriage, which is why Corlys, after the death of Queen Aemma, offers his young daughter Lady Laena Velaryon to Viserys as his next wife. With, obviously, an even closer spot next to the Iron Throne as a desire in his own mind (as well as royal offspring in the future).
The Velaryons are also a nice reminder that not only were the Targaryens not the only surviving House from the destroyed Old Valyria, but that not every Valyrian House had dragons, or were dragonriders. House Velaryon, as Corlys explained to Prince Daemon during their meeting at the end of “The Rogue Prince,” had to find their success at sea and by conquering the waters. Corlys’ strengths resides in his fleet of ships and his ability to traverse the open ocean, which is why protecting the Stepstones (a chain of islands that connects Essos to Dorne in Westeros) from The Crab Feeder and his pirates is so important.
Previously, the main families from the Reach that we followed were the Tyrells of Highgarden and the Tarlys of Horn Hill. House Hightower, of Hightower in Oldtown (where the Citadel resides), is a major player in House of the Dragon as Ser Otto Hightower (played by Rhys Ifans) is Hand of the King and his daughter Alicent (right now played by Emily Carey) is Princess Rhaenya’s best friend.
Well, she was her best friend until the end of “The Rogue Prince” when King Viserys names Alicent as his next wife and future Queen of Westeros. In the wake of Queen Aemma’s death, Otto pressured his own daughter to start visiting the grieving king under the guise of friendship and comfort. It became more clear in the second episode that Otto’s designs were for her to seduce King Viserys, over the course of months, until she held his heart in her hands. Metaphorically. This plan, though not filled with murder, was a total proto-Littlefinger move.
King Viserys’ decision to name Alicent as his intended wife spurned both Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenyra, who had just come to accept that her father had to remarry and never thought it would be to her best friend.
Oh, one final mention. Ser Gwayne Hightower, Alicent’s brother, competed in the Tournament in the first episode. Daemon picked him as an opponent, to irk Otto, and unhorsed Gwayne by…killing his horse.
At this point in history, House Strong rules Harrenhal in the Riverlands (The Riverlands itself has no one central House at this point). Lord Lyonel Strong, played by Gavin Stokes, is on King Viserys’ Small Council as Master of Laws. Lyonel often bends the king’s ear, offering sound strategical advice (that Viserys’ often ignores).
In the first episode, Lord Lyonel was opposed to Viserys naming Princess Rhaenyra as his heir and in the second episode he once agan played straight-shooter and told Viserys that he should marry Lady Laena Velaryon.
Ser Critson Cole, played by Fabien Frankel, may be from a lesser, minor House — as House Cole of the Dornish Marches are in service to House Dondarrion (remember Lord Beric?) from the Stormlands — but he made a quick name for himself by defeating and humiliating Prince Daemon in the Tournament in the premiere episode. Post-victory, Cole asks for the favor of Princess Rhaenyra.
In “The Rogue Prince,” Critson Cole, after the peaceful passing of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Ryam Redwyne, Cole is selected by Rhaenyra to become a Kingsguard member, noting that of all the candidates he was the only one with actual battlefield experience .
House Beesbury, of the Reach, is represented on the Small Council. Lord Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson) of Honeyholt sits as Master of Coin.
Ser Harrold Westerling, played by Outlander and Preacher’s Graham McTavish, is a member of the Kingsguard. In the first episode he’s seen watching over Princess Rhaenyra as she returns from her flight atop her dragon Syrax. In the second episode he accompanies Otto Hightower to Dragonstone for a confrontation with Prince Daemon. House Westerling of the Sunset Sea is actually from the West and holds the fealty to House Lannister.