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“House of the Dragon” Premiere Marks Return to “Westeros”

"House of the Dragon" Welcome Back to Westeros, the First Episode

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Westeros is back, and a lot of new people want to take the Iron Throne with him. The highest seat of power in the Seven Kingdoms stays with House Targaryen until the end of Game of Thrones, but which Targaryen will wear the crown? And who is going to help them win it?

"house of the dragon"
house of the dragon

In “The Heirs of the Dragon,” the first episode of the House of the Dragon series, we meet a small army of people who have a lot of power over the Iron Throne. As is often the case in the Game of Thrones universe, it takes a while to learn the names and faces of the most important players, and just when you think you’ve got your fan-favorite character figured out, George R.R. Martin and his hit squad of TV assassins do their cruel thing.

So, who are all the people Martin and his friends want you to fall in love with this time so they can kill them in a brutal way in the future? Let’s take a closer look at the newest (and soon-to-be-late) people to move to Westeros.

House of the Dragon: Jaehaerys Targaryen:

Even though he doesn’t have much to do in the show, we should start with Jaehaerys (Michael Carter), who is also known as “The Old King” and is sitting on the throne at the beginning of the first episode. Even though we probably won’t go back to him and his rule, it’s important to note that he was a well-liked figure in all of Westeros. Jaehaerys got the crown when he was very young. His father, King Maegor the Cruel, had been a very cruel ruler, which is why he was called “King Maegor the Cruel”.

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After he became king, Jaehaerys ruled for more than 50 years, making the Seven Realms peaceful and wealthy. The early deaths of many of his children, including sons who were supposed to sit on the Iron Throne, made his personal life sad. In order to choose a new king, Jaehaerys asked the great houses from all of the Seven Kingdoms to speak up.

Viserys Targaryen is the leader of the Targaryens:

Viserys (Paddy Considine), who was sitting on the Iron Throne for the rest of the episode, was the clear choice to take over from Jaehaerys. Viserys is the first name of his name, but not the last. Viserys is the fifth king of the Targaryens. He is a level-headed leader who is smart enough to spot the ambitious power players in his own court but not smart enough to get ahead of them. Think of him as Eddard Stark in a Targaryen suit. Like the late Lord of Winterfell, Viserys will find himself overwhelmed by the dangers that come with sitting on the Iron Throne.

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Daemon Targaryen:

"house of the dragon"
the house of the dragon

Viserys doesn’t have a son, so Daemon, who is also his brother, is his likely heir (Matt Smith). The so-called “rogue prince” has a violent reputation that makes some people think of Maegor. This is how he got his nickname, “rogue prince.” Viserys, Daemon’s one true friend, turns his back on him by the end of the first episode because of how cruel he is and how rude he talks. Daemon’s cruelty will only get worse now that he is no longer in line for the Iron Throne. This makes him a threat to the whole realm and especially to the person chosen to replace him as Viserys’s heir.

House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra Targaryen:

Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), Viserys’ daughter and only child after the deaths of his wife and infant son, is, of course, that person. Rhaenyra has been named the king’s heir, which means she is ready to become the first woman to rule over Westeros. Many people in the realm think this is unlikely and don’t want it to happen. Rhaenyra is similar to Daenerys because of her role in the story and, of course, the dragons. But she also has a bit of Arya Stark in her: she’s a fierce fighter in her own right who can (and unfortunately will) take a lot of pain and give it back in kind.

Rhaenys and Lord Corlys Velaryon:

Rhaenyra and Rhaenys (Eve Best) are easy to mix up because of their names and how they fit into the power structure of Westeros. Before Viserys was chosen as king, Rhaenys was next in line to be king because he was the oldest living descendant of Jaehaerys. She is called “The Queen Who Never Was” because of this. Rhaenys still has a lot of power in Westeros, even though she didn’t get the Iron Throne.

This is because she has a great reputation and is married to Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint). “The Sea Snake,” as he’s called, is the best sailor in all of Westeros, and probably a long way beyond. (His early adventures at sea are already the subject of a spinoff show called “The Sea Snake,” which HBO has not yet given the go-ahead for.

Corlys is a Velaryon, which means he is from Old Valyria like the Targaryens. He is also one of the richest people in all of Westeros. Even without money, he is in charge of the largest fleet in the realm. While the Targaryens are strong in the air thanks to their dragons, Lord Corlys is strong on the seas.

The Small Council’s Members:

"the house of the dragon "
the house of the dragon

The Sea Snake is the Master of Ships and sits on Viserys’ small council. A few other important people also sit at that table. First up is Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), the Master of Laws, who, shockingly, lives up to his name. He’s a rare politician who cares more about well-reasoned peace than about absolute power. Next is Lyman Beesbury (Bill Paterson), who plays Master of Coin. At this point in the story, he doesn’t have much to do or say, but he will play a memorable role in the question of who will succeed Rhaenyra. Then there’s Grand Maester Mellos (David Horovitch), who is another of Viserys’ trusted advisors. He is often seen helping the king heal from the cuts he gets from sitting on the Iron Throne, both real and imagined.

Hightower, Otto:

Otto Hightower, Hand of the King to Viserys (Rhys Ifans), is the most famous member of the council. Otto did more than help the current king. He was also Jaehaerys’ Hand in the last few years of his rule. So, he has a strong opinion about what the realm needs to work well, and from his point of view, that means keeping Daemon as far away as possible from the Iron Throne. Otto is trying very hard to get Viserys to name Rhaenyra as the new heir. This is ironic since House Hightower’s opinion of the princess is likely to change a lot in the episodes to come.

House of the Dragon: Hightower Alicent:

Otto’s daughter Alicent (Emily Carey), Rhaenyra’s best friend and closest confidante have also changed her mind. It’s hard to imagine Alicent and Rhaenyra fighting fiercely against each other, but that’s exactly what happens in House of the Dragon. Saying much more would be too much, but Lady Alicent’s last job in the premiere, which was to visit Viserys after her father Otto told her to do so, tells you everything you need to know for now.

Criston Cole Ser:

As we leave the show’s first episode, there’s one more person we should talk about: Ser Criston Cole is played by Fabien Frankel. He is the Dornish mystery knight who beats Daemon at the tournament and wins Princess Rhaenyra’s favor. The relationship between Criston and the new heir is a key part of the tragic events that are still to come. Even though Criston beats Daemon in battle, the most important thing he does in the first episode is to be kind to the rogue prince. It’s a nice thing to do that goes against not only Criston’s plans to become a knight of Westeros but also the way the whole show treats its main characters.

All the people we just met and talked about in this guide? Most of them, if not all of them, will have sad endings. Game of Thrones had a lot of “Red Weddings” and “Starks getting their heads cut off,” but “House of the Dragon” has a lot of “hold my ale” energy. You might need a guide to remember who’s who in the premiere, but once House of the Dragon is done with these people, you’ll never forget how their stories ended.

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