‘House of the Dragon’: How Is King Viserys Targaryen Related to Daenerys Targaryen?

House of the Dragon will be the first Game of Thrones prequel to premiere on HBO. Based on George R. R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, the prequel takes place two hundred years before the original series. And it will tell the story of a bloody civil war among House Targaryen known as the Dance of the Dragons. 

One of the main characters in the new series is King Viserys Targaryen, played by Paddy Considine. Obviously, he’s related to Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. The question is: how?

House of the Dragon star Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen
Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen | Ollie Upton/HBO

Who is King Viserys Targaryen in ‘House of the Dragon’?

King Viserys is the fifth king of the Targaryen dynasty to rule the Seven Kingdoms. He is the grandson of one of Westeros’ great kings — Jaehaerys I (aka The Conciliator). But it’s his refusal to abide by the male-heir succession precedent set forth by his grandfather that plants the seeds for the family’s civil war.

Viserys has a younger brother named Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) who is the heir presumptive. But instead of choosing Daemon, Viserys names his eight-year-old daughter Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) as his heir. 

Rhaenyra Targaryen is a dragon rider who is the oldest child of Viserys and his first wife Aemma Arryn. She grew up assuming she would eventually be crowned Queen of Westeros, but not everyone supports her claim.

King Viserys’ second wife Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) supported the claim of her son Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), and she works behind the scenes in an attempt to help him win the throne.

How is King Viserys related to Daenerys Targaryen?

With a family tree teeming with incest — one of the most infamous Game of Thrones plotlines — it can be extremely difficult to figure out how the Targaryens are related. For centuries, they were married off to brother, sister, aunt, and uncle to keep the blood of the dragon “pure.” The best explanation is that King Viserys is Daenerys’ distant uncle. 

When Viserys names his daughter as his heir instead of Daemon, the prince leaves King’s Landing in anger. But his desire to reign and be the heir defines his entire life. To achieve his goal, he eventually returns and marries Rhaenyra and supports her claim to the throne. 

However, that marriage is a big reason why some of the lords of Westeros don’t support Rhaenyra’s claim. Eventually, Daemon and Rhaenyra have three children — Aegon “The Younger” Targaryen, Viserys Targaryen, and Viserys I Targaryen. And it’s Aegon the Younger who eventually ascends to the Iron Throne after the Dance of the Dragons.

The Targaryen Civil War in ‘House of the Dragon’ doesn’t end the family’s reign

The entire Game of Thrones timeline is measured around the reign of House Targaryen. It’s defined as BC (Before Conquest) and AC (After Conquest), with the first year AC being when House Targaryen was crowned. 

After Aegon the Conqueror, 16 kings and queens would sit on the Iron Throne — the last being Daenerys Targaryen. Some were peaceful and others were tyrants. But one thing has remained constant throughout the family’s entire history — “Every time a new Targaryen is born, the gods flip a coin.” 

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

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