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House of the Dragon is the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel about the Dance of the Dragons. That’s the name of a bloody civil war among House Targaryen that took place approximately two centuries before the original series. 

The story is based on George R. R. Martin’s Westeros history book Fire & Blood. And it’s the last major event that involved dragons and dragonriders — because this is the reason dragons went extinct before Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) hatched her three in Game of Thrones. Here’s a look at what it takes to be a dragonrider in House of the Dragon, and the 10 most powerful creatures that are part of the story.

House of the Dragon dragons
‘House of the Dragon’ | HBO

What it takes to be a dragonrider in ‘House of the Dragon’

In the lore of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the Valyrian Freehold in Essos was ruled by dragonlord families who used magic to tame dragons and exert power over them. One of those families was the Targaryens, who were the only ones to survive a mysterious event known as the Doom of Valyria.

This event wiped out the city, including every person and dragon in it. The only exception being the Targaryens — who managed to survive because they moved with five dragons to Dragonstone just before the event occurred. 

A dragonrider is someone who is able to bond with and mount a dragon. But dragons only bond to one rider at a time — and only Valyrians are able to do this. Since the only surviving house of the Valyrian dragonlords was House Targaryen, they are the last known dragonriders.

10. Moondancer — Ridden by Baela Targaryen

Lady Baela Targaryen (Bethany Antonia) is the daughter of Prince Daemon (Matt Smith). She rides Moondancer, a young dragon described as pale green, small, and very fast. Moondancer remains at Dragonstone with Baela for the majority of the first two years of the Dance of the Dragons. 

9. Dreamfyre — Ridden by Helaena Targaryen

Dreamfyre is the oldest she-dragon in Martin’s novels, a slender, pale blue creature with silver markings, silver crests, and blue wings. She’s ridden by Helaena Targaryen (Phia Saban), the daughter of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) and sister-wife of Aegon II. Dreamfyre is kept in the great Dragonpit near King’s Landing. 

8. Vermax — Ridden by Jacaerys Velaryon

Prince Jacaerys Velaryon (Harry Collett) — the son of Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan) — rides Vermax, a thriving dragon who grows larger every  year. 

By the time the Dance of the Dragons begins, Vermax is big enough to ride. This allows Jacaerys to be a messenger for his mother, flying north on a successful mission to treaty with Jeyne Arryn the Lady of the Eyrie, Desmond Manderly, the Lord of White Harbor, and Cregan Stark, the Lord of Winterfell. Prince Jacaerys also uses Vermax during the Battle in the Gullet. 

7. Tessarion — Ridden by Daeron Targaryen

Daeron Targaryen —  the youngest of Queen Alicent’s (Olivia Cooke) sons and the brother to Aegon II and Aemond — rode Tessarion. The dragon is known as the Blue Queen, and has the colors of cobalt and copper.

6. Balerion — Ridden by Aegon the Conqueror

Balerion or “the Black Dread” was a dragon of House Targaryen ridden by King Aegon I during the Conquest. Named after an ancient god of the Valyrian Freehold, Balerion was born in Valyria and was one of the dragons that Aenar Targaryen brought with him when he fled to Dragonstone to survive the Doom of Valyria. He was ultimately the last dragon to see the Freehold in its prime.

Balerion’s scales and wings were black. So was his fire, but there were occasional swirls of red. He was so powerful that his flames could melt steel and stone, as well as fuse sand into glass. His teeth were as long as swords, and his jaws were large enough to swallow a hairy mammoth. Balerion was willful, and “not a beast to trifle with” according to the Wiki of Ice and Fire.

But it was Balerion’s wingspan that was truly a sight to behold. It was so large that the shadow alone could engulf entire towns when he flew overhead.

While bonded with King Aegon, Balerion was involved in the war in the Disputed Lands and the conquering of the Seven Kingdoms. According to the song, Balerion helped forge the Iron Throne at the end of the war by melting the swords of Aegon’s fallen enemies.

During the reign of King Jaehaerys in 93 AC, Viserys Targaryen claimed Balerion. But by that time he stopped growing. Balerion eventually died of old age, less than a year after Viserys claimed him as his mount.

5. Meleys — Ridden by Rhaenys Targaryen

Meleys is known as the Red Queen, and she’s ridden by King Viserys I cousin, Rhaenys Targaryen (Emily Best). She is an old dragon, with scarlet scales and pink membranes on her wings. Her crest, horns, and claws are as bright as copper.

She was considered one of the swiftest dragons in Westeros in 75 AC, and was fearsome in battle. But she eventually grew lazy and could no longer outpace they other dragons at the top of this list.

4. Sunfyre — Ridden by Aegon II

Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) is in a fight for the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon, and he is the rider of Sunfyre the Golden. Described as the most “magnificent” dragon to ever fly in Westeros, Sunfyre is fierce and powerful with golden scales that shine in the sunlight.

3. Vhagar — Ridden by Visenya Targaryen/Aemond Targaryen

Vhagar is one of the three legendary dragons who first conquered Westeros, along with Balerion and Maraxes. She is originally ridden by Visenya Targaryen, and in the Dance of the Dragons she is the largest dragon alive.

Eventually, Vhagar is flown by the second son of King Viserys and the younger brother of Aegon II,  Aemond “One Eye” Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell).

2. Syrax —  Ridden by Rhaenyra Targaryen

At the age of seven — in 104 AC — Rhaenyra mounted her dragon for the first time and named her Syrax after a Valyrian goddess. The implication was that Rhaenyra was her first rider. 

Syrax is described as a “young” dragon with yellow scales at the time the princess mounted her. She was both huge and formidable, but not as fearsome or experienced in battle as Prince Daemon’s dragon Caraxes. 

Syrax was kept in chains and extremely well fed, but she hadn’t hunted for years when the Dance of the Dragons began. She did, however, lay “several” clutches of eggs during Viserys’ reign. And one of those eggs was given to Rhaenyra’s step-daughter Rhaena. It is also implied that the dragons of Rhaenyra’s sons were all hatched from eggs that Syrax laid. 


‘House of the Dragon’ Will Have a Controversial Relationship Just Like ‘Game of Thrones’

1. Caraxes — Ridden by Daemon Targaryen in ‘House of the Dragon’

Caraxes was a “formidable huge” red dragon who was both massive and lean, while being quite “battle savvy.” He was first claimed by Aemon Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone in 72 AC. Because the Dragonkeepers considered him to be the fiercest of all the young dragons in the dragonpit, Caraxes received the nickname “Blood Wyrm.”

After Prince Aemon was killed, his nephew Prince Daemon — aka the Rogue Prince — claims Caraxes as his mount. A major player in the Dance of the Dragons is Prince Daemon and Caraxes. Fans should expect to see this dragon and dragon rider regularly throughout the series.

House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, August 21 on HBO.