House Of The Dragon Trailer Breakdown: Who Are These New Characters?

This morning, HBO released the first official look at "House of the Dragon." The arrival of another HBO fantasy series set in the same world as "Game of Thrones" can only mean one thing: a whole slew of new characters with complicated backstories that viewers may have trouble keeping track of in the early going. On the bright side, it was only a matter of time before initial "Game of Thrones" viewers first went from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters and their respective Houses being thrown at them, to turning characters like "Tyrion Lannister" or "Daenerys Targaryen" into household names. On the other hand, perhaps fans became a little too comfortable in naming their own children after a main character who would go on to become, well, a ruthless and slightly insane dictator who was A-okay with some aunt/nephew incest. Obviously, mistakes may have been made.

This time around, however, let's get off to a good start by taking a deep dive into the new cast of characters that will become the focus in "House of the Dragon." Set 200 years before the events of the original series and based on author George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood" book, there is still quite a bit of historical background, familial ties, and "Game of Thrones" connections for viewers to be aware of so we can hit the ground running once the series finally premieres. Read on for all of that and more in this trailer breakdown for "House of the Dragon."

Meet the New Boss...

Centuries before Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and Ned Stark (Sean Bean) overthrew the Mad King Aerys Targaryen in a glorious revolution preceding the events of "Game of Thrones" Season 1, the Targaryens had established a dynasty in Westeros that united all Seven Kingdoms into one — primarily through their superior strength in arms and the living, breathing cheat codes known as dragons. "House of the Dragons" will follow an ensemble cast that spans several different Houses and locations, but two of the major leads will be Matt Smith's Prince Daemon Targaryen and Emma D'Arcy's Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. In classic "Game of Thrones" fashion, the two are set up to be rivals over the line of succession.

Daemon Targaryen is "the younger brother to King Viserys and heir to the throne. A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air..." This last part alludes to the madness inherent within the Targaryen family and their preference for keeping bloodlines "pure" through incestuous marriages, which certainly provides clues as to Daemon's temperament and some disturbing parallels between him and, centuries later, Daenerys.

Rhaenyra, meanwhile, is described as "the king's first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything... but she was not born a man." Much like Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), or Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) from "Game of Thrones," Rhaenyra's assigned gender at birth is the only "flaw" holding her back from reaching her full potential, according to the social norms of her House. Nonetheless, she plays a pivotal role in the "Fire & Blood" book and her actions eventually help pave the way for the cataclysmic Targaryen civil war known as "The Dance of Dragons."

Fire and Blood

The Stark family words were "Winter is Coming," the Lannisters had "Hear me Roar!" (not "A Lannister Always Pays His Debts," as is typically assumed both in real life and in-universe), and the Targaryens, ever a dramatic bunch, chose "Fire and Blood." Paddy Considine portrays King Viserys Targaryen, the fifth king to rule Westeros in the Targaryen dynasty. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Daenerys' slimy brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd), who appeared back in Season 1 of "Game of Thrones," shares the name of his ancestor but the two have little else in common. As opposed to the later ineffectual Viserys, King Viserys inherited a long period of peace from the previous king during the "golden age" of Targaryen rule.

Viserys is described as "...chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather's legacy, but as we've learned from Game of Thrones, good men do not necessarily make for great kings..." He's all but confirmed to play a similar role as King Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark did in "Game of Thrones," serving as a harsh lesson on the kind of moral fiber it takes to be an effective ruler in the world of Westeros.

The Sea Snake

Have you got a handle on House Targaryen? Good, because "House of the Dragon" is about to throw a whole new family at you. Corlys Velaryon is portrayed by Steve Toussaint, a casting that is likely creating a stir for all the wrong reasons. The source material never specified exactly how House Velaryon looks aside from sharing general Targaryen features (blonde hair and purple eyes, the latter of which were left out of the HBO adaptation), but Toussaint's casting will add some sorely-needed diversity to a fantasy realm that really has no excuse to be otherwise.

Corlys is "Lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen. As 'The Sea Snake,' the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world." The reference to the Lannisters, by far one of the richest Houses in "Game of Thrones," speaks volumes regarding the social status of this previously-unseen family. The Valyrians were an ancestor family to both Targaryens and Velaryons, responsible for the existence of Valyrian swords in "Game of Thrones" (such as Ned Stark's "Ice," which he is eventually beheaded with and is subsequently melted down into two swords for Jaime Lannister and Brienne) and the most famed civilization in the world. The royal ancestry makes Velaryon a natural marriage suitor for Targaryens, but this could also have dire ramifications down the line.

Knives Out

The trailer features a surprising lack of Olivia Cooke's Alicent Hightower, but her one clear moment of action comes with some fascinating "Game of Thrones" possibilities. First, some background: Alicent is "the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen." This naturally brings to mind someone like Natalie Dormer's Margaery Tyrell, another formidable and politically-savvy woman raised with the express purpose of marrying her way into power for the benefit of her House. Otto Hightower is played by Rhys Ifans and is described as "the Hand of the King, who loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne."

But that dagger in Alicent's hand has already started to get speculation rolling, as it certainly appears to be the very same dagger that was used in an attempt on Bran Stark's (Isaac Hempstead Wright) life in the first season of "Game of Thrones" and eventually made its way into the hands of his sister Arya (Maisie Williams), which she used to kill the Night's King and end the threat of the White Walkers forever. How did Alicent first come into possession of this blade and what is she so frantic about in the above scene? We'll have to wait and see.

The Mysterious Mysaria

Sonoya Mizuno is probably one of my favorite "Hey, I've seen her before!" actors in recent memory, appearing in "Ex Machina," "La La Land," "Annihilation" (as the disturbing mirror-alien), and Netflix's "Maniac" series. She'll next appear in "House of the Dragon" as Mysaria, who "...came to Westeros with nothing, sold more times than she can recall, and could have wilted...but instead she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne." In the "Fire & Blood" series, she's a sex worker from the Free City of Lys in the far east, eventually moving to Westeros where she becomes Daemon Targaryen's trusted companion.

The original "Game of Thrones" featured a number of sex worker characters, though the series didn't always avoid criticism and backlash over how they were ultimately treated. It'll be interesting to see how "House of the Dragon" navigates these waters, as it's already obvious that there will be just as much of a focus on female characters. Mysaria suffers quite a bit in the "Fire & Blood" book despite gaining prominence as Daemon's unofficial "mistress of whisperers" (essentially the same role as Varys, played by Conleth Hill in "Game of Thrones"), so it remains to be seen how much liberty is taken when it comes to crafting this character in live-action with an actor as talented as Mizuno on board.

A Familiar "Friend"

Is it cheating to include the Iron Throne in a character breakdown? Yes. Am I going to do it anyway? Also yes. The Iron Throne became a wildly recognizable symbol of "Game of Thrones" and for very good reason, serving as the centerpiece to many of the show's absolute best monologues and symbolizing the increasingly fruitless pursuit of power. It may have been melted down in a bizarre moment of meta self-awareness on the part of Dany's dragon Drogon in the finale, but "House of the Dragon" covers a period of history when the Iron Throne looked a little different ... and slightly more attuned to its description in Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series.

The Targaryens have a history of flaunting extravagant displays of their power and wealth — after all, have you seen King's Landing? The Iron Throne is no exception. Described in the books as such a genuinely perilous chair to sit upon that many rulers have literally cut themselves on it (fun fact: one king is actually believed to have been killed by it!), the frankly absurd number of swords in Martin's version would never have worked in live-action. In a neat nod to this minor complaint among hardcore fans, however, it seems that "House of the Dragon" is attempting to make the prop closer and closer to its original conception. The additional swords along the Throne help lend a primal and more ancient air to this new series, mixing familiar iconography with the new in what's hopefully a sign of things to come with the show overall.

"House of the Dragon" comes to HBO Max sometime in 2022.