Who are the Targraryens?
The current ruling family of Westeros are the Targaryens.
Without getting into too much detail, the Targareyns and their dragons conquered Westeros and united the lands under their rule. The Targaryens are known for three things.
Firstly, the Targaryens like to centralise power. They do this by inbreeding. The term ‘sister-wife’ is common in the Targaryen family. This allows the family to maintain their pale–blonde features and their ability to ride and bond with dragons. Certain Targaryens can also withstand heat and high temperatures.
That's the other thing they’re known for. Dragons. They are the only family that know how to control and ride dragons.
Finally, the family is thought to be affected by something called ‘Targaryen madness’. This is presumably due to all the inbreeding. Some Targaryen’s display erratic and often violent behaviours believed to be associated with this madness (*cough* Daemon *cough*).
What is a ‘Westeros’?
The two countries featured in George R.R Martin’s book series are Westeros and Essos (West and East).
Westeros is where most of Game of Thrones, and presumably House of the Dragon, takes place. It has eight main regions ruled by different families.
The North: ruled by House Stark and Lord Rickon Stark. Though prominent in Game of Thrones it is unclear how much of them we'll see in House of the Dragon.
The Vale: ruled by House Arryn. Game of Thrones fans would remember The Vale mostly due to the castle with the ‘Moon Door’ which was just a big ol’ hole. We’ve already seen an Arryn in House of the Dragon, Queen Aemma Arryn.
The Riverlands: ruled by House Tully. This was Caitlin Stark’s house in Game of Thrones, they’re not likely to feature much in House of the Dragon.
The Westerlands: ruled by House Lannister and Lord Jason Lannister. A very important family in Game of Thrones and we’re sure to see more of them in House of the Dragon. It’s confirmed we'll meet Jason and his brother Tyland in House of the Dragon.
The Crownlands: ruled by the royal family, this area covers King’s Landing and the Targaryen’s other major keep, Harrenhal.
The Reach: ruled by House Tyrell. Fans would remember the Tyrell’s playing a prominent role in Game of Thrones and King Joffrey’s reign. It’s unsure if we’ll see much of the Tyrells this time, however, The Reach is also home to the Hightower family who are going to be very important.
The Stormlands: ruled by House Baratheon and Lord Boremund Baratheon. Another prominent family from Game of Thrones, we’ve already seen a few Baratheons in House of the Dragon.
Dorne: ruled by the Martells and Prince Qoren Nymeros Martell. Though part of Westeros the Martells never kneeled to the Targaryen’s and hence still use royal titles; prince and princess. Dorne will play a pivotal role in House of the Dragon.
So what about Essos?
Essos is the easternmost continent. The area we are most familiar with from Game of Thrones is the western half, a region called the Free Cities.
This is a group of nine city-states. They trade frequently with Westeros making them quite wealthy. They also often deal in slaves which was what put them at odds with Daenerys Targaryen.
In House of the Dragon we’ve heard that the merchants and leaders of the Free Cities are propping up the pirates attacking the Stepstones, a group of islands towards the south end of Westeros. The Master of Ships, Corlys Velaryon, wants to fight back against these pirates potentially leading to war with the Free Cities.
Who are these old men on the small council?
The King of Westeros (in House of the Dragon that’s King Viserys I) is advised by a group called the small council. Each member of the council controls a different portfolio, kind of like parliament.
The small council is (currently) made up of:
Prince Daemon Targaryen: Viserys' brother and leader of the city watch.
Ser Otto Hightower: knight of House Hightower and Hand of the King. Being the hand of the king makes Otto the second most powerful man in the realm. A bit like the deputy prime minister or vice president. In Game of Thrones Ned Stark and Tyrion Lanister both held the position of hand of the king.
Lord Corlys Velaryon: nicknamed the ‘Sea Snake’ and Master of Ships, he controls the king’s naval army. Corlys is the richest man in Westeros and currently married to the king’s cousin Princess Rhaenys Targaryen.
Grand Maester Mellos: Maesters are Westeros’ answer to scholars and doctors. Mellos is the leader of the maesters and serves as the royal family's healer.
Lord Lyonel Strong: Lord of Harrenhal and Master of Laws, sort of like the Attorney-General. Lyonel has two sons, Harwin and Larys. We learned in Game of Thrones that Harrenhal is said to be cursed so we can expect some misery to befall the Strongs.
Lord Lyman Beesbury: Lord of Honeyholt and Master of Coin, basically the treasurer.
Why is the throne so sharp?
The Iron Throne is the literal seat of power for the ruling family. It’s allegedly made of thousands of swords surrendered to the Targaryens who conquered Westeros.
There is a myth that rulers who cut themselves on the iron throne are not fit to lead. We saw this in Game of Thrones when King Joffrey regularly injured himself on the throne.
For the keen eyed viewers wondering why the design changed from Game of Thrones to House of the Dragon, apparently under King Aerys II (the king before Robert Baratheon) many of the swords were removed because Aerys kept cutting himself on the throne.
Is there more I should know?
Probably! But without spoiling everything we’ll leave it there. Check back next week to find out more and read our weekly recaps to stay across everything happening in House of the Dragon.
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