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A handy 'House of the Dragon' glossary: places, powers and people you need to know

The latest version of HBO's George R.R. Martin adaptations features a dragon-drop interface.
HBO
The latest version of HBO's George R.R. Martin adaptations features a dragon-drop interface.

If you've decided, after careful consideration, that you're gonna give House of the Dragon a shot, you still might need some help re-orienting yourself to the world of the Seven Kingdoms. It's been a while, after all.

And just as Game of Thrones did, House of the Dragon throws a lot of proper nouns at you, out of the gate.

So if you're feeling the need to brush up your Sunspear, simply clip the list below and save for your records. Keep it handy as you watch.

Warning: This glossary contains a lot of spoilers for Game of Thrones. If you think you might want to go back and watch it, read this later.

PLACES

King's Landing

You remember: The capital of Westeros, the seat of the government, a port city of high culture, great wealth and abject poverty. All those red tile rooftops? Got fricasseed at the end of Game of Thrones? That place.

Note: In House of the Dragon, the skyline of King's Landing is dominated by an enormous domed structure. This is not the Great Sept of Baelor, which figured rather explosively in Game of Thrones — that place won't be built for years to come. No, that's the Dragonpit, home of House Targaryen's many royal dragons.

We saw its ruins in GoT's final season.

The Red Keep

The castle of the King of the Seven Kingdoms, looking out over King's Landing. Contains the Tower of the Hand (the King's chief advisor), the High Council chamber (where the King's advisors bicker and plot) and the great hall that houses the Iron Throne — which looks a bit different than you'll recall. It's pointier. Much pointier.

The Stepstones

A string of islands running across the Narrow Sea separating Westeros (the continent of the Seven Kingdoms) and Essos (the continent of the so-called Free Cities). The Narrow Sea is aptly named, so these islands make for a vital trade route. They'll figure largely in the opening episodes.

Dragonstone

A forbidding, stony island off of Westeros, located near where Blackwater Bay turns into the Narrow Sea. The ancestral home of House Targaryen, seen often in Game of Thrones.

Driftmark

An island very near Dragonstone in Blackwater Bay; home of House Velaryon.

Old Valyria

A volcanic region of Essos that no longer exists. It was once home to a proud people who conquered much of that continent on the backs of their dragons, armed with weapons of Valyrian steel. Hundreds of years before the events of House of the Dragon, however, a volcanic upheaval called the "Doom of Valyria" destroyed the Valyrian peninsula — along with the secret to forging Valyrian steel; only a handful of these weapons remain in the world.

Two families that figure largely in House of the Dragon trace their bloodlines back to Old Valyria — the Targaryens and the Velaryons. That fact will prove important in the series.

MAJOR POWERS

House Targaryen

The ruling family of Westeros that has been in power for over 100 years, tracing their heritage back to Old Valyria. Their family seat is the island of Dragonstone. Platinum-haired, haughty, given to dragon-riding and intermarriage.

House Velaryon

Another proud family of Old Valyria. Also platinum-haired, they are seafarers based on the island of Driftmark.

House Hightower

One of the oldest and most powerful Houses in the Seven Kingdoms, based in Oldtown — home of the Citadel, where advisors, called maesters, are trained in various forms of knowledge.

The City Watch of King's Landing

Soldiers tasked with defending the capital city and the Iron Throne, also known as the Gold Cloaks. They enforce the laws, often in a brutal, thuggish manner. Do not confuse them with the Kingsguard, aka the White Cloaks; these are the noblest knights in the Seven Kingdoms, who serve as the King's bodyguards.

The Triarchy

An alliance between three of the Free Cities of Essos — Myr, Lys and Tyrosh — who, as House of the Dragon opens, have come together with the stated aim of ridding the Stepstones of pirates. The Iron Throne welcomes this news ... at first.

PEOPLE

King Viserys I

The current ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, and the fifth Targaryen to sit on the Iron Throne. As House of the Dragon opens, he's aging, and has yet to produce a male heir. This fact will drive the central conflict of the series, a civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.

King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has got plenty of male hair but no male heir on <em>House of the Dragon.</em>
/ HBO
/
HBO
King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has got plenty of male hair but no male heir on House of the Dragon.

Daemon Targaryen

Viserys' younger brother, a skilled soldier with a fiery temperament. Leads the City Watch of King's Landing. He fully expects to be next in line for the Iron Throne, but the King's advisors deem him too rash and cruel for the role, and jockey to suggest alternatives.

Rhaenys Targaryen

A cousin of Viserys and Daemon who came close to inheriting the Iron Throne instead of Viserys. Rhaenys would have been the Seven Kingdom's first Queen — but a council of Westros's lords chose Viserys instead. She is married to ...

Corlys Velaryon

Leader of House Velaryon and admiral of the Royal Fleet.

Otto Hightower

Hand of the King, a trusted royal advisor whose studied, imperious nature clashes with Daemon Targaryen's brash impulsiveness.

Alicent Hightower

Otto Hightower's teenage daughter, a member of the court who is close friends with ...

Rhaenyra Targeryen

King Viserys' daughter, a skilled dragonrider with a headstrong nature and an impatience for courtly duties. (I know, I know: Rhaenys, Rhaenyra. Two different characters with diabolically similar names. Martin doesn't make it easy for us, but that's why this glossary is necessary.)

(Oh and while I have you: Try and tell me that "Alicent" doesn't sound like the name of a company that offers integrated network solutions. Go on. Try.)

Ser Criston Cole

A handsome knight who attends a royal tournament in celebration of the birth of the King's heir.

Craghas Drahar

Admiral of the Triarchy's forces who, as House of the Dragon opens, is liberating the Stepstones from pirates in a particularly brutal fashion that earns him the nickname "Crabfeeder."

Got all that? I'll be recapping 'House of Dragon' beginning Sunday, if anything is still confusing.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.