House of the Dragon complete refresher: Who are these people and what do they want?

House of the Dragon has a lot of silver-blonde characters with similar-sounding names. We guide you through it before the season 2 premiere:
Photograph by Liam Daniel/ HBO
Photograph by Liam Daniel/ HBO /

The second season of House of the Dragon premieres this Sunday, June 16, on HBO and Max. We're about to return to Westeros after two years away, and we're going to be dropped right into the middle of a malestrom.

You may have forgotten exactly who is mad at whom and why sometime over the past 20 months. That's where we come in. Before the premiere tomorrow, here's our complete guide to every important character on House of the Dragon, what they were doing at the end of the first season, and what we can expect from them in the new one:

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon season 2 /

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) — Team Black

Rhaenyra Targaryen may be the closest thing House of the Dragon has to a main character. The heir apparent to the Iron Throne for most of her life, Rhaenyra is now embroiled in a war of succession with her younger half-brother Aegon Targaryen, who thinks to usurp the throne she considers her birthright. Thus begins the Dance of the Dragons, one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of Westeros.

To be fair, Rhaenyra was trying to keep a lid on things getting out of hand at the end of season 1, but after Aegon's brother Aemond killed her son Lucerys, all bets seem to be off. Rhaenyra and her followers, called the Blacks, are going to war with Aegon and his followers, called the Greens. Expect to see a lot of Rhaenyra for the rest of the series.

I should also mention that Rhaenyra is a dragonrider. She rides the dragon Syrax.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) — Team Black

Rhaenyra's mercurial husband Daemon was the wild card of season 1. He's an ambitious, often violent man who should be in his element now that war is afoot in Westeros. At the end of season 1, he wanted to fly to Harrenhal to establish a military toehold in the Riverlands on behalf of his wife. We expect him to head there in season 2.

In addition to being Rhaenyra's husband, Daemon is also her uncle. They have two small children together: Aegon III and Viserys II. Among Targaryens, this isn't considered especially weird. Go figure.

Daemon is also a dragonrider. He rides Caraxes.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

King Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) — Team Green

Let's flip over to the Green side of things and get to know Rhaenyra's main rival, her own half-brother, King Aegon. Unlike Rhaenyra, Aegon is actually sitting the Iron Throne, since he was in King's Landing when their father King Viserys died. He's didn't especially want the job — Aegon is something of a callow, sullen man given in indulging his vices — but his mother Alicent and grandfather Otto talked him into it.

But now that he's actually on the throne, Aegon may take a stab at trying to rule, and he certainly won't stand for his half-sister contesting his claim.

Aegon rides the dragon Sunfyre, who we'll see up close for the first time in season 2.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) — Team Green

Alicent Hightower is the mother of King Aegon and his siblings, the former queen of the late King Viserys, and the former best friend of Rhaenyra Targaryen, with whom Alicent's family is now at war. Alicent has been torn in 30 different directions from early on in her life, and that will continue in season 2. Does she support her son's claim to the throne unquestioningly even if it means the deaths of Rhaenyra and her supporters? Does she advise him to be lenient, or even to avoid war altogether? And will she even be listened to now that Aegon officially sits the Iron Throne? She's a ball of anxiety and things are only likely to get worse.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) — Team Green

Otto Hightower is Alicent's father and the grandfather to King Aegon. Unlike Alicent, Otto is pretty sure of where his loyalties lie: he wants to ensure that Aegon (and Aegon's son, who is of Otto's own line) remains on the throne, and that Rhaenyra is defeated. He's a veteran statesman with a steady hand, although his careful, cautious brand of diplomacy and leadership may rub the headstrong Aegon the wrong way.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) — Team Green

Aegon's younger brother Aemond is one of the more intense characters on the board. He lost his eye during a childhood scuffle with his nephew Lucerys Velaryon, whom he killed once they'd both grown up a bit. Actually, Luke's death was partially an accident — Aemond was riding his enormous dragon Vhagar at the time, and the ancient dragon kind of took it upon herself to chomp the younger man to bits — but it looks to all the world like Aemond killed Luke on purpose, which is all that matters. The divide between the Blacks and the Greens grows harder to bridge by the day.

And that's likely fine with Aemond, because he's a character who wants to prove himself as a warrior, a leader, and a Targaryen. He's got a violence streak, so a war should be the perfect way to do that.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Ser Criston Cole — Team Green

The Kinsguard knight Ser Criston Cole is King Aegon's protector in chief, and also a repressed weirdo with a colorful past. Many years ago, Criston Cole had a brief fling with a young Rhaenyra Targaryen, but it ended spectacularly badly, and now he's dedicated himself to hating her for the rest of his life. Since he'll jump at any opportunity to fight Rhaenyra, he's one of the most enthusiastic supporters of King Aegon's claim to the Iron Throne.

House of the Dragon season 2 Phia Saban (Helaena Targaryen)
Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO /

Queen Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban) — Team Green

Helaena Targaryen is the wife of King Aegon Targaryen, which makes her Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. She's also King Aegon's sister, because again, that's how Targaryens roll.

Although she's queen, Helaena doesn't seem particularly interested in power, or in her husband. She's quiet, kind and a little odd, sometimes seeming to have visions of the future. She and Aegon have two young children together: the twins Jaehaerys and Jaehaera.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) — Team Black

Back to Team Black for a minute, Corlys Velaryon is the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms, the head of the largest navy in Westeros, and a key advisor to Rhaenyra Targaryen. Earlier in life, Rhaenyra was married to Corlys' son Laenor (who died...sort of, it's a long story), and a couple of Rhaenyra's kids are Corlys' grandchildren. And Corlys' late daughter Laena married Daemon Targaryen and had two daughters with him. Those girls are now Rhaenyra's step-children.

Although he's trying not to be so focused on his legacy, Corlys would still like his blood to one day sit the Iron Throne, which means Rhaenyra is the only reasonable choice when it comes to someone for him to back in this war. He's got a lot of family in this fight.

House of the Dragon Episode 10 /

Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) — Team Black

Many years ago, Corlys' wife Rhaenys Targaryen was once in line to be queen herself, but after being passed over, she put those dreams away and focused on her family. Now Rhaenys sees Rhaenyra Targaryen, another woman and her first cousin once removed, aspire to rulership only to have her ambitions threatened by a usurper. This seems to have brought up feelings in Rhaenys she'd thought buried, and she's committing herself to helping Rhaenyra. On her dragon Meleys, Rhaenys could be a huge help indeed.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) — Team Black

Jacaerys Velaryon, or Jace, is the eldest surviving son of Rhaenyra Targaryen, her heir apparent, and a dragon rider; his dragon is named Vermax. Rhaenyra has dispatched him as a diplomat to treat with Lord Cregan Stark of the North and Lady Jeyne Arryn of the Vale; it's his job to bring them into the war on his mother's side. He's engaged to his cousin Baela Targaryen (there's that Targaryen quirkiness again) and he just lost his brother Lucerys. This teenager has a lot on his mind, but is fundamentally a good egg who wants to do his family proud.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Baela Targaryen (Bethany Antonia) — Team Black

Speaking of Baela, she's Daemon Targaryen's daughter by his late wife Laena Velaryon, and is now Rhaenyra's step-daughter. Beala rides the dragon Moondancer, who we should be seeing more of in season 2. Compared to her sister Rhaena, Baela is a bit more assertive and hungry for glory.

Baela is engaged to Jace, who is both her second cousin and her step-brother...and soon to be her husband. I don't think the Targaryens have a family tree. I think they have a knot.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell) — Team Black

Rhaena Targaryen is Daemon's other daughter. Unlike Baela, she does not have a dragon to call their own, although she wants one. She's the quieter and more demure of the sisters. Like many people in Rhaenyra's close circle, she's currently on the island fastness of Dragonstone.

House of the Dragon Episode 10 /

Erryk Cargyll (Elliot Tittensor) — Team Black

Two minor characters you may not remember from season 1 are Erryk and Arryk Cargyll, twin brothers who are both knights of the Kingsguard. When King Viserys died towards the end of season 1, they were faced with the choice of which of his two heirs to support: Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen or King Aegon Targaryen. Erryk, who had been guarding King Aegon for a while and didn't think much of his moral character, decided to flee King's Landing and seek our Rhaenyra on Dragonstone. He's now in her service. Arryk remained in King's Landing to serve King Aegon.

House of the Dragon Episode 9 /

Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor) — Team Green

Arryk Cargyll is Erryk's twin brother. I have no idea why their parents named them "Arryk" and "Erryk," which are pronounced remarkably similarly. Maybe it seemed funny at the time.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) — Team Green

Finally, we have a pair of spymasters working against each other in the shadows. Larys Strong, aka the Footman, is from a powerful family that has a claim to the enormous castle of Harrenhal in the Riverlands. He's now the heir to Harrenhal after killing his father Lyonel and brother Harwin in season 1. His motives are hard to parse out, but he seems to want influence and power, and is courting numerous members of King Aegon's royal family, particularly the king's mother Alicent Hightower, to get it.

And he isn't actually known as the Footman. But he is a huge foot man, as anyone who watched his sharing session with Alicent from season 1 will remember.

House of the Dragon season 2 /

Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno) — Team Black

Unlike Larys, Mysaria is common-born. She became a powerful information broker in King's Landing thanks to her cunning and guile. She was trading information to Otto Hightower until not long ago, but after Larys Strong burned down her house in order to eliminate her as a potential rival, she's probably not feeling very generous towards the Greens.

And those are most of the main characters we were acquainted with in the first season of the show, accepting the ones who died. We'll also meet a lot of new characters in season 2, but let's take it one long post at a time:

Every new actor joining House of the Dragon in season 2 (and who they're playing). dark. Next. Every new actor joining House of the Dragon in season 2 (and who they're playing)

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and Twitter account, sign up for our exclusive newsletter and check out our YouTube channel.