As war looms closer in House of the Dragon, the noble houses of Westeros are already beginning to choose sides in the rivalry for the Iron Throne between Rhaenyra and Aegon Targaryen. The shifting political alliances and ever-expanding cast of characters can be hard to keep up with, particularly since so many weren’t featured in Game of Thrones. To help you keep track of the various houses — and how they fit into the inevitable Targaryen civil war — we’ll be updating this house and character guide throughout the season.
[Ed. note: The following contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 5.]
“Fire and Blood”
The royal house of Westeros. Their ancestral seat is Dragonstone, though they rule out of King’s Landing. Their sigil is a red three-headed dragon over a black field.
The entire show is about House Targaryen, so this is probably the one house you don’t need help keeping straight (or at least we’d hope). We’ll still go over the bullet points here, though, just in case.
When House of the Dragon begins, Viserys I Targaryen is King of Westeros after a Great Council had voted for him to succeed his grandfather Jaehaerys. Following the death of his wife Aemma Arryn and their newborn son, Baelon, Viserys Targaryen named his daughter Rhaenyra as his heir, displacing his brother, Daemon Targaryen, from the line of succession. Viserys later chooses to marry Alicent Hightower, with whom he has a son Aegon, creating a crisis of succession that sets off the first Targaryen civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons.
House Targaryen are pureblood Valyrians, and Viserys brokers a political alliance with one of the only other Valyrian houses, Velaryon, when he commands Rhaenrya to marry her second cousin Laenor Velaryon. Despite this — and the fact they’re related — Daemon still pursues a marriage with his niece Rhaenyra.
“We Light the Way”
The rulers of Oldtown, where the Citadel is located. They hold fealty to House Tyrell of Highgarden. Their sigil is a white tower topped by flames on a gray field.
Of all the newly prominent houses in House of the Dragon, Hightower is one of the most important to keep your eye on. The house is headed up by Lord Hobert Hightower, whose younger brother Ser Otto was Hand to King Viserys I Targaryen for much of his reign. It’s Otto who encourages his daughter Alicent to get close to the king after the death of his wife Aemma, leading to Alicent and Viserys’ marriage and their son Aegon. Though, as a result of Otto’s behind-the-scenes machinations, Viserys dismisses Otto as his Hand.
After some convincing from her father, Alicent decides to fight for Aegon to be named Viserys’ heir. She all but declares war when she appears at Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding feast wearing a green dress.
Otto also has a son, Ser Gwayne Hightower, who participated in the Heir’s Tournament in the series premiere.
Hightower holds fealty to House Tyrell, but they also have several vassals of their own: Bulwer, Costayne, Cuy, and Beesbury, whose lord, Lyman, serves as Viserys’ Master of Coin.
“The Old, the True, the Brave”
The rulers of Driftmark, an island in Blackwater Bay. Their seat is High Tide, an island-castle off Driftmark’s coast. Their sigil is a silver seahorse over an aquamarine field.
House Velaryon is one of the oldest (and wealthiest) houses in Westeros, with a Valyrian bloodline as ancient as House Targaryen — as its current lord, Corlys “the Sea Snake,” loves to remind Viserys. The Velaryons are a Valyrian house, originating from Essos’ Valyrian Peninsula. Corlys is married to Viserys’ cousin, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, dubbed the Queen Who Never Was after she was passed over as Jaehaerys’ heir. Together, Corlys and Rhaenys have two children, Laena and Laenor. Though Laenor is not a member of House Targaryen, he is the rider of the Targaryen-bred dragon Seasmoke.
Corlys, also known as Lord of the Tides, served as Viserys’ Master of Ships and commands the Royal Fleet. His younger brother, Ser Vaemond Velaryon, serves as commander of the Velaryon navy. However, after Viserys rejects marrying the 12-year-old Laena in favor of Alicent Hightower, Corlys leaves his post on the King’s Council and aligns himself with Daemon Targaryen in the war against the Triarchy. After the war, Viserys decides to marry Rhaenyra to Laenor to broker a political alliance with House Velaryon, which by then had taken over the Stepstones.
A noble house of the Riverlands that holds fealty to House Tully. Their seat is the Harrenhal. Their sigil is a tripartite of blue, red, and green converging around a fist on white field.
House Strong is ruled over by Lord Lyonel Strong, who acts as Viserys’ Hand after previously serving as his Master of Laws. His youngest son is the quiet schemer Larys Strong, and the oldest is Ser Harwin Strong, who is often called Breakbones and known as the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms.
House Strong’s seat is Harrenhal, which hosted Jaehaerys I Targaryen’s assembly to choose an heir. But between Harrenhal’s alleged curse and the fact that the seat was held by House Whent when Game of Thrones began, things already aren’t looking great for House Strong’s future in House of the Dragon.
Stewards to House Dondarrion at Blackhaven, a castle in the Dornish Marches. Their sigil is ten black circles on a red field.
We met the hunky Ser Criston Cole in the series premiere when he defeated Daemon Targaryen in the Heir’s Tournament — a loss made more spicy by the fact that Cole is common-born. Criston’s father is the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven, but despite technically being called a noble house, House Cole is largely looked down upon in noble society for their “low-born” status. Cole’s Dornish ancestry probably doesn’t help matters either.
While serving in the Kingsguard, Criston becomes very close with Rhaenyra, and the pair consummate their relationship prior to her engagement to Laenor.
The rulers of the Vale. They hold fealty to House Arryn. Their seat is Runestone. Their sigil is black circles over an orange square, surrounded by runes on a white field.
Proud descendants of the First Men, House Royce holds fealty to House Arryn and has a vassal of their own, House Tollett. Rhea Royce, the Lady of the Vale, was the first wife of Daemon Targaryen, although the two loathed each other. Following Rhaenyra’s engagement to Laenor, Daemon murdered Rhea in order to clear the way for his plots to marry Rhaenyra and claim Runestone for his own. However, Rhea’s cousin Ser Gerald Royce knows Daemon killed Rhea, and will likely challenge Daemon’s inheritance.
House Royce was also moderately featured in Game of Thrones, with its then-head Lord Yohn Royce playing a key rule in liberating Winterfell from the Boltons and electing Bran Stark to the Iron Throne.
A noble house of the Westerlands that holds fealty to House Lannister. Their seat is the Crag.
Ser Harrold Westerling is a long-standing member of the Kingsguard, having begun his service under Jaehaerys’ rule. He currently serves as the sworn shield to Rhaenyra Targaryen. In Game of Thrones, the only time House Westerling popped up was when they surrendered their seat to Robb Stark. However, in the Song of Ice and Fire books, this house played a much more prominent role, with Robb marrying Jeyne Westerling rather than Talisa Maegyr, as he did in the series.
“Hear Me Roar!”
The rulers of the Westerlands. Their seat is Casterly Rock. Their sigil is a golden lion on a crimson field.
House of the Dragon has given us another set of Lannister twins this season: Tyland and Jason, who, fortunately, are not in an illicit incestuous relationship. As befitting members of one of Westeros’ Great Houses, both men hold important roles in the kingdom. After Corlys Velaryon left King’s Landing to fight in the War of the Stepstones, Ser Tyland took over as Master of Ships. His brother Jason serves as the Lord of Casterly Rock. During the royal hunt on Prince Aegon’s second nameday, Jason attempted to win Rhaenyra’s hand but was promptly shut down.
This season has also seen brief appearances by a few other Lannisters. The twins were joined at the royal hunt by their widowed mother Ceira and Brett, a relative whose exact connection to the family is unknown.