Billy Oduory looks at all of the important houses in House of the Dragon season 2 and who they fight for…
In George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, on which House of the Dragon is based, the Targaryens are the face of civil war (The Dance of the Dragons), but the bulk of its victims come from all the other houses across the Seven Kingdoms. Towards the end of the show’s first season, House Baratheon chose to fight for the Greens, a decision that led to the first dance of dragons, which ended with Lucerys Velaryon and his dragon Arrax dead at the hands of Aemond’s majestic dragon, Vhagar. This event effectively turned House Baratheon into oathbreakers, and more houses are bound to follow suit as they try to survive the war.
The civil war will reshape Westeros for generations to come, and the standing of each house after the Dance of the Dragons will be determined by the side they choose to fight for. While this is simply a family feud gone too far for the Targaryens, it is a war for survival for every other house. So, whether forced or of their own free will, every major and minor house in Westeros eventually has to choose the side they are willing to die for in the upcoming second season of House of the Dragon.
The second season will also see some previously unknown houses such as the Brackens and the Darklyns make a name for themselves. Some houses will also split during the war, as families turn on each other and smallfolk betray their lords and ladies to make their own stand. Their swords and arrows may not really stand any chance against dragon fire, but they will do most of the fighting in the war and, eventually, it is they who will decide who will sit on the Iron Throne, so here is a look at how each house will fight in House of the Dragon season 2.
“We light the way”
House Hightower was always an important ally of the Targaryens, having ruled Old Town, the first city in Westeros, long before the Targaryens became rulers of the realm. Their seat of power is a tall tower in Old Town where the Citadel is also located, which means they relate closely with the Maesters and the Faith of the Seven. By marrying into House Hightower, Viserys won a strategic alliance for the crown, although he also put the realm in danger as he underestimated the ambition of Otto Hightower.
During war, Hightowers call their banners by lighting a green flame on the top of their tower in Old Town, the same color Alicent chose when she declared war on Rhaenyra. Otto Hightower used his position to turn Viserys’ small council against Rhaenyra, allowing the Greens to usurp Rhaenyra’s throne and give it to Aegon II Targaryen. Having started the war, the Hightowers are “lighting the way” for Team Green to the end. The war will, however, diminish their numbers, eventually undermining their house’s standing in The Reach.
“Winter is coming”
The informal words of House Stark are “The North remembers,” and the Starks always stand by these words by not breaking their oaths. In the first season of House of the Dragon, Rickon Stark, the lord of Winterfell at the time, swore loyalty to Rhaenyra, a promise the Blacks will call upon when Jacaerys flies North to meet with young Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor), the new lord of Winterfell. Cregan Stark, having won his own succession battles in the North, becomes good friends with Jacaerys to form The Pact of Ice and Fire in Fire and Blood which holds throughout the Dance of the Dragons.
While the Starks don’t immediately turn the tide of the war in favor of the Blacks, their support proves vital after the Battle at Rook’s Rest. So, while Cregan Stark will have a role to play in the second season of House of the Dragon, his impact won’t be seen until the end of the season, or probably the third season. In the books, Cregan Stark continues to fight for Rhaenyra’s son, Aegon III, after Rhaenyra’s death, eventually crowning him as the king.
“Hear me roar”
In the first season of House of the Dragon, Jason Lannister approaches Rhaenyra for her hand in marriage, a proposal she refuses, effectively putting her out of favor with the Lord of the West. His meticulous twin brother, Tyland, then finds his way onto the Small Council, as Viserys’ Master of Ships when Corlys Velaryon leaves to fight the Crab Feeder in the Stepstones. Having helped install Aegon II Targaryen on the Iron Throne, the Lannisters are just as invested in Team Green as the Velaryons, but Tyland is a strategic man and his allegiance may change later when it suits him.
Going into the second season of House of the Dragon, the Lannisters lead the West in the war against Rhaenyra’s loyal forces in the Riverlands. In Fire & Blood, Led by Jason Lannister, the Western forces cause significant losses to the black-allied houses in the Riverlands. Jason will play a big role in the second season, but he won’t be as lucky in conquering the Riverlands as Tywin was in Game of Thrones. In Fire and Blood, Jason Lannister is killed in the Battle of the Red Fork after which the strength of House Lannister diminishes significantly.
“The old. The true. The brave”
Being descendants of Old Valyria, the Valeryons, and the Targaryens are tied at the hip. However, Rhaenys tied the fate of House Velaryon to the Blacks when she betrothed her granddaughters Baela and Rhaena to Rhaenyra’s sons, so while she lives, Driftmark and Dragonstone stand together. With the largest fleet in Westeros and the most experienced captain in Corlys, the Velaryons are Rhaenyra’s strongest allies as their forces impose a blockade on the Narrow Sea which cripples King’s Landing making it almost impossible for the Greens to govern.
However, Corlys Velaryon isn’t as invested in Rhaenyra as his wife, and that will make a huge difference after Rhaenys dies in the Battle at Rook’s Rest. In the books, Corlys doesn’t care which Targaryens the Velaryons fight for as long as he keeps his house safe. As the losses of House Velaryon continue to mount in the Dance of Dragons, he loses his fighting spirit and becomes more of Rhaenyra’s hostage than her ally. However, the allegiance of House Velaryon won’t change in the second season of House of the Dragon, so Velaryons are Team Black for as long as Rhaenyra is alive.
“Family, duty, honor”
Being the lords of Riverun, the allegiance of House Tully is vital to the control of the Riverlands which divides King’s Landing and the Westerlands. Old Grover Tully, is the lord of Riverun when Viserys dies, and although he was loyal to the king, Grover is reluctant to fight for Rhaenyra as he is swayed to the Greens. However, after the Greens, led by Prince Daereon, sack the neighboring town of Tumbleton and massacre surrendering soldiers and innocents, the Tullys are forced to align with the Blacks.
Grover’s grandson, Elmo, who, unlike his grandfather, openly supports Rhaenyra, gathers his forces and joins Addam of Hull and his dragon, Seasmoke, to defeat the Greens in the Second Battle of Tumbleton. Elmo’s son, Kermit, later leads the Tullys in battle against the Green-Allied Baratheons in the decisive Battle of the King’s Road, Killing Borros Baratheon and the last of the Green armies. Unfortunately, the Tullys may not be seen in the early episodes of House of the Dragon season 2.
“Ours is the fury”
Known for their spontaneous anger and military prowess, the Lords of the Stormlands have one of the most formidable armies in Westeros, which is why both the Blacks and the Greens scramble desperately for their support at the beginning of the Dance of the Dragons. However, despite his father, Boremund Baratheon, swearing to support Rhaenyra while Viserys I was alive, and being related to Rhaenys Targaryen through his aunt Jocelyn, Lord Borros Baratheon chooses to fight for the Greens.
However, despite being the first high lord to declare for the Greens, Borros Baratheon doesn’t march to any battle for the better part of the Dance of the Dragons because he wouldn’t sacrifice his men to dragon fire. The Baratheons will, therefore, not feature in most of the dragon-fire battles in the second season of House of the Dragon, but they will be a major player behind the scenes. In the books, Borros Baratheon’s first major contribution comes during the Moon of the Three Kings, when he secures King’s Landing for Aegon II. Borros Baratheon later dies at the hand of Kermit Tully in the Battle of the King’s Road towards the end of the Dance of Dragons.
“As high as honor”
House Arryn, The lords of the Vale, is another proud house with a fearsome military reputation. Aemma Arryn, Rhaenyra’s mother, was from the Vale, which is why all Rhaenyra has to do is ask because the Arryns would never abandon one of their own. In The Black Queen (HOTD S01E10), Rhaenyra sends Jacaerys to make a stopover at the Eyrie to ask for Lady Jeyne’s support in the upcoming battle before proceeding to Winterfell.
In Fire & Blood, Jeyne Arryn sends the men of the Vale to Dragonstone to join Rhaenyra’s forces, making them one of the first major houses to strengthen the Blacks. The men of the Vale don’t break their oaths throughout the Dance of the Dragons as they eventually join the Starks and the Tullys in the march on King’s Landing to crown Rhaenyra’s son, Aegon III Targaryen.
Despite swearing fealty to the Tullys, House Strong is a renowned noble house in the Riverlands which has held Harrenhal for over 50 years by the time the Dance of the Dragon starts, so it is not strange that they don’t fight for the Blacks alongside their overloads. Their patriarch, Lyonel Strong, serves as King Viserys’s Master of Laws and later, as Hand of the King, before his death. His eldest son, Harwin, is Rhaenyra’s First Sword and lover, and also the real father of her sons Lucerys and Jacaerys.
In the first season of House of the Dragon, Larys Strong aids Alicent’s cause by killing his own father and brother, and in return, gets his fetish of admiring Alicent’s feet and a seat on the Small Council as the Master of Whisperers and Lord Confessor. In the books, while Larys does Aegon II’s bidding, Daemon defeats his uncle Simon in Harrenhal and while Criston Cole later retakes the castle, Simon and all his children are beheaded as traitors, essentially vanquishing House Strong. Larys Strong’s scheming still plays a big role in the Dance of the Dragons, but his house eventually dies with him when the Blacks come for their revenge.
Hailing from Raventree Hall, The Blackwoods are another proud house from the Riverlands that play a big role in the Dance of the Dragons. They were introduced in the first season of House of the Dragon when young Willem Blackwood killed Jerrell Bracken as they fought for Rhaenyra’s hand in marriage. Claiming to descend from the first men, the Blackwoods still believe in the Old Gods, and as such, keep their oaths, which is why they are one of the first houses in the Riverlands to declare for Rhaenyra.
In the books, the Blackwoods are led by Samwell in the Battle of the Burning Mill where he dies, after which his son Benjicot takes over command of the house’s forces. The Blackwoods are on the front lines in all the battles in the Riverlands, even ahead of their overloads, the Tullys, who only join the war during the Second Battle of Tumbleton. Another notable Blackwood to expect in the second season of House of the Dragon is Samwell’s younger sister Alysanne, who leads a formidable army of archers in all the battles in the Riverlands.
House Bracken are the sworn enemies of the Blackwoods, and the two houses have a long-standing feud that goes back to the Age of Heroes. Unlike the Blackwoods, the Brackens believe in the Faith of the Seven, and, as such, are more aligned to the South, which explains their decision to declare for The Greens in the dance of the Dragons. In the books, Amos Bracken faces Samwell Blackwood in single combat in the battle of the Burning Mill.
Amos wins the single combat, but he doesn’t make it out alive as a Blackwood archer, (most likely Alyssane) kills him, causing confusion in Brackens’ ranks and losing them the battle. Daemon Targaryen eventually forces the remaining Brackens to support the Blacks after threatening Lord Humphrey Bracken into submission.
Criston Cole is the only reason why House Cole becomes significant to the Dance of the Dragons. There is little history about the house in the books apart from the fact that they were stewards of House Dondarion in the Stormlands, which means they answer to House Baratheon. There are no other Coles in the books apart from Criston, making him the most important figure in his entire house. However, the impact that Criston Cole has on the events in the Dance of the Dragons is just too big to be ignored.
After killing Rhaenyra’s supporters in the King’s Guard and the City Watch, Criston Cole becomes the Kingmaker. Ser Criston Cole later becomes Aegon II Targaryen’s Hand of the King, leading the Greens to their biggest victories in the Crownlands and the Riverlands. It is not clear whether more members of his family will join the Greens in House of the Dragon, but that remains to be seen.
Hailing from Dun Fort in Duskendale, House Darklyn has been the dominant force in the King’s Guard for years. In House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra’s head of the Queen’s Guard is Steffon Darklyn, and he comes with the backing of his powerful house. The Darklyns are the Crownlands’ version of the Baratheons, strong and stubborn, but with lots of military experience and knowledge of the security of the Red Keep and the rest of King’s Landing.
Unfortunately, their military prowess doesn’t do The Blacks much good as their seat of power, Dun Fort, is among the first to be sacked by Criston Cole when he becomes Hand of the King. The Darklyns still prove a reliable ally for the Blacks in the Crownlands throughout the Dance of the Dragons.
“Proud to be faithful”
House Stokeworth, based in the Crownlands, is sworn to serve King’s Landing, but the Iron Throne changes hands multiple times during the Dance of the Dragons. In Fire and Blood, Lord Stokeworth is one of the few who remain loyal to Rhaenyra at the beginning of the Civil War, for which he is thrown into the dungeons. However, when Criston Cole becomes the Hand of the King, he starts beheading Black-allied lords, forcing Lord Stokeworth to change his allegiance.
House Stokeworth is therefore forced to march alongside the Crown’s army in Cristone Cole’s battles against other Rhaenyra supporters in the Crownlands and later in the Riverlands. Lord Stokeworth later loses his head for betraying Rhaenyra (albeit unwillingly) while his young son and daughter are swayed between the Greens and the Blacks for the remainder of the war.
The Rosbys are another house from the Crownlands that supports Rhaenyra’s claim at the beginning of the Dance of the Dragons. When Aegon II takes the throne, Lord Rosby is imprisoned alongside Lord Stokeworth for supporting Rhaenyra but later changes allegiance to Aegon II to save his head.
The Rosbys are therefore one of the houses that end up fighting for the crown in the early battles of The Dance in the Crownlands and the Riverlands. The Rosby sigil is seen alongside the Stokeworths in the trailer of House of the Dragon season 2, which we believe to be their bannermen supporting Criston Cole in the Sacking of Duskendale or the Battle at Rook’s Rest.
House Royce of Runestone is the second most important house in The Vale after the Arryns, with lord Yorbert Royce serving as the Lord Protector of The Vale during Viserys’ rule when Lady Jeyne Arryn was still young. Rhea Royce, the Lady of Runestone, is Daemon Targaryen’s wife in the unhappy marriage that ends with Daemon killing her in House of the Dragon season 1.
After Rhea’s death, Lady Jeyne tells Daemon that he is not welcome in the Vale. While Daemon’s actions are sufficient cause for the Royces to declare for the Greens, they don’t go against the wishes of the Arryns in the books, so we expect them to fight for The Blacks in the show as well.
“Beware our sting”
House of the Dragon fans will remember Criston Cole killing Lord Lyman Beesbury, Viserys I’s Master of Coin, in Season 1 for refusing to support Aegon II’s claim. This will come back to hurt the Greens in The Reach because House Beesbury is one of the vassals of House Hightower. Lyman’s grandson, Ser Alan Beesbury proves a major stumbling block for the Hightower army in Fire and Blood as he starts a huge rebellion against The Greens.
Alan Beesbury’s forces keep increasing as he is joined by other Black supporters from the North of The Reach, including House Tarly (Samwell Tarly anyone?), House Rowan, House Costayne, and House Caswell. Lord Caswell is another lord that Otto Hightower executes towards the end of the first season of House of the Dragon. The rebellion frustrates the Hightower advance on the Riverlands, culminating in the Battle of Honeywine where The Greens are victorious.
House of the Dragon features a cast that includes the returning Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Eve Best, Steve Toussaint, Fabien Frankel, Ewan Mitchell, Tom Glynn-Carney, Sonoya Mizuno, Rhys Ifans, Harry Collett, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Phia Saban, Jefferson Hall and Matthew Needham, along with new additions Clinton Liberty as Addam of Hull, Jamie Kenna as Ser Alfred Broome, Kieran Bew as Hugh, Tom Bennett as Ulf, Tom Taylor as Lord Cregan Stark, Vincent Regan as Ser Rickard Thorne, Abubakar Salim as Alyn of Hull, Gayle Rankin as Alys Rivers, Freddie Fox as Ser Gwayne Hightower and Simon Russell Beale as Ser Simon Strong.