The Dance of Dragons: A Guide to the CRIMSON HEART of Westeros' Conflict

With the long-awaited second season of House of the Dragon set to premiere on 22 August, fans and newcomers to the story alike can prepare for a season full of Targaryen fire. The Dance of the Dragons (so called because it was between family members) is set to return in all its complexity with a whole slew of characters to return, fight and die for the Iron Throne. Are you ready to keep track of all the players in the 15 pivotal characters of House of the Dragons?

Painting the Canvas RED: Key Characters to Watch

Lurking in the Shadows: Lord Larys Strong

A plotter in the shadows, Lord Larys Strong (with his master, the Targaryen ruler of Westeros) channelled ambition in season one – shedding blood and salting the battle for power with the fires of his own drive, which registered his presence but masked his true aims because he serves no one but himself. Strong’s return in season two brings more of the underbelly of war to light.

Queen Heleana: Alicent's RED Flame

Now, when the story returns to her later in life, Heleana is one of the players. She sits on the Iron Throne beside King Aegon. She wears the crown. And her greater prominence suggests that here is a queen who might not merely be a spectator to the drama, but perhaps even an actor in some of the wars ahead.

Dragonriders in Love: Baela Targaryen and Jacaerys Velaryon

Baela and Jacaerys are betrothed and both dragonriders too. They are poised on the edge of adulthood and of war. Their part of the Dance is very visible now, as are the characters of the children.

Mysaria: The Enigma Returns

We still know very little about Mysaria’s politics and motives. When she was Daemon’s close companion, she seemed like a friend to the prince, but since then we don’t know much about what she did or who she supported. Her return to the story suggests she might have a crucial role to play in following events.

The Dragons: Westeros' RED Power

The dragons, the progeny of Targaryen tradition, will emerge as more central figures in season two, symbols of might and destruction, bonded as much to their handlers as they are to another, with the violent implications of the mysterious Targaryen bloodline having their parallel in the fires that these flying monsters of war might yet dictate.

A Crescent of Power: Rhaenys and Corlys Velaryon

The sister overlooked for the actual crown is Rhaenys, but she was never overlooked as a power player. Alongside her husband, Corlys Velaryon, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the expertise, and her two granddaughters are in direct line for the throne. Rhaenys and Corlys become major players in the Dance of the Dragons because of all these traits.

Aemond: The One-Eyed Dragon

It’s a thirst for power, and for vengeance, typically represented by the loss of an eye in Aemond’s case. His loss not only sets him on a terrible path, but in the second season it also means he could carry out his relentless ambitions on a grand scale as he flies over Westeros on the back of Vhagar, looking for his revenge. ‘It’s the storm of the century,’ he warns. ‘Blood and fire. For all.’

RED Tides Rising: The Velaryon Influence

He knows exactly what he wants – and how to get it Lord Corlys, with his years of experience and his tactical skill, remains respected and powerful. The Sea Snake will surely prove to be the decisive force in the coming struggles: on the physical seas but also in the murkier and more dangerous political waters.

Ser Criston Cole: The Kingmaker?

From straight-up knight in shining armour to Team Green. No wonder Alicent wants him in the Kingsguard: he’s a brilliant duelist, and a political heavy hitter now.

The Machinations of Otto Hightower

Despite being framed by Hand of the Queen Otto Hightower – the mastermind of Alicent’s rapid rise – it’s a strategic move. Master Florian of Tyroth describes him as ‘the greatest player of all the court games, the most dangerous of all the court liars’. But it’s clear that something is amiss in the upper echelons of Team Green judging by Otto Hightower’s relationship with his grandson, King Aegon.

Rhaenyra Targaryen: The Dragon's Heir

Rhaenyra is the cause of the fight, the one with the right to sit on the Iron Throne who was denied it. She has vowed to reclaim what’s hers by right, taking the form of dragons and their followers, representing promise to her adherents and red death to her enemies.

Understanding RED: The Color of Power, Passion, and Blood

House of the Dragon is awash in red – the colour of domination, desire and blood, and the subtle power that ties almost everything together and catalyses the family feud of the Dance of the Dragons. The pervasive bloodlines enthusiastically embracing House Targaryen tie characters together, but even more unavoidable is the crimson splatter from a dragon’s mouth as she exhales a blast of flame in the sky. It’s the fiery channel that’s always there, the current that flows beneath it and the dear life that flows through the veins.

As for the increasingly crowded dysfunction of House of the Dragon season two, with every unscrupulous bastard linked to all the others via threads of love, loyalty, and betrayal, it is hard to see how anything other than fire and blood could create a tale epic in scale enough to contain it. Red also, of course, being the colour in which they will all end up.

Jun 15, 2024
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