House of the Dragon‘s first season reveals that the world of Game of Thrones is so much bigger than just its most famous houses, families, and wardens. Long before Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, other lords and their kin made lasting contributions—-both good and bad—to Westeros. That included the houses that played monumental roles during the first Targaryen civil war, known as The Dance of the Dragons. If you’re only familiar with George R.R. Martin’s world of ice and fire through the original HBO series, though, they’re all new to you. Let us introduce you to House of the Dragon‘s new houses so you can enjoy the prequel spinoff without having to figure out who everyone is.

But beware: this post contains major spoilers for House of the Dragon‘s first season.

Spoiler Alert
New House of the Dragon Houses; Jump to House Hightower // House Velaryon // House Strong // House Beesbury // House Cole // House Westerling // Other New Houses From House of the Dragon // Named (But Not Yet Seen) Houses

Major New House of the Dragon Houses

House Hightower
Ollie Upton/HBO

The most significant Great House not to factor into Game of Thrones’ story was House Hightower of Oldtown along Westeros’ southwest coast. But the family plays a central role on House of the Dragon.

House Hightower is one of the most ancient, most powerful, most respected families in the Realm. It gained its great wealth through shipping and trade. The family’s name and sigil both refer to the Hightower, a tall castle and lighthouse it built in the center of Oldtown. Their position as lords of the city also contributed to their standing in Westeros. Oldtown is home to the maesters’ Citadel. It was also where the High Septon resided before the Faith of the Seven’s leader relocated his seat to King’s Landing.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Ser Otto Hightower, noted by Daemon Targaryen as a fellow second son, served as Hand of the King during the end of King Jaehaerys’ reign. Ser Otto essentially ran the kingdom as the Old King’s health declined. He then continued in the position under King Viserys I. The widowed Otto also brought his young daughter Alicent to court with him. She tended to the elderly Jaehaerys before his death and (initially) became friends with Rhaenyra Targaryen. But that was just the start of the family’s rise.

Alicent married King Viserys, and they had three children together. (Or four, depending on whether or not the show ultimately introduced their third son.) After years of animosity with Rhaenyra, the “Greens” as Alicent’s faction became known as conspired to place Alicent’s oldest son, Aegon Targaryen, on the Iron Throne, usurping Rhaenyra’s claim as Viserys’s named heir.

House Velaryon

Like House Targaryen, House of the Dragon‘s House Velaryon is an old noble family of Valyria. But unlike the Targaryens, Velaryons were not dragonlords. Instead, they were great seafarers whose family’s head is known as the Lord of Tides. House Velaryon rules over the island of Driftmark just west of Dragonstone in Blackwater Bay. They are the oldest and most loyal bannermen of their Valyrian kin, but House Velaryon actually came to Westeros before the Targaryens.

They also provided most of the royal fleet for House Targaryen. No surprise then that master of ships on the Small Council essentially turned into a hereditary one for Velaryons. Just as it did with the title of lord admiral.

Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon‘s Lord Corlys Velaryon is known as the Sea Snake. He is Westeros’ most famous and celebrated sailor. He traveled to places no other person in the Realm ever had. His famed exploits also made his family so rich they surpassed even the Lannisters in wealth for a time. The Sea Snake used that money to build House Velaryon a new seat of power, the castle known as High Tide. Corlys is also the husband to The Queen Who Never Was, Rhaenys Targaryen. And along with House Hightower and House Targaryen, House Velaryon will play the biggest role on House of the Dragon. And it will contribute greatly to the Dance of the Dragons fighting for Queen Rhaenyra.

House Strong

House Strong of the Riverlands traces its lineage back to the First Men. They also have a long history with House Targaryen in Westeros. Ser Osmund Strong served as Aegon the Conqueror’s fourth Hand of the King. Osmund also was in charge of the completion of King’s Landing and its great walls. A Strong also served in King Jaehaerys’ Kinsguard. ( Though that didn’t end well.) And it was Jaehaerys who named House Strong—whose sigil is a white field with a blue, red, and green stripe running down the center—lords of Harrenhal. That’s where Jaehaerys held his Great Council to name his heir.

Lord Lyonel Strong was King Viserys’ master of laws in House of the Dragon before replacing Otto Hightower as Hand of the King. But he wasn’t the only member of his family to play a significant role during the show’s first season. His eldest son, Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong was the real father of Rhaenyra’s first three children. But he died alongside his brother during a fire at Harrenhal, a fire his younger brother, Larys the Clubfoot, started. This House has certainly had a fascinating time so far on House of the Dragon.

New House of the Dragon Houses; Jump to House Hightower // House Velaryon // House Strong // House Beesbury // House Blackwood // House Bracken // House Cole // House Westerling
House Beesbury

House Beesbury is a minor noble house that also traces its founding back to the First Men. Sworn bannermen of House Hightower in the Reach, the family’s seat of Honeyholt sits north of Oldtown. Their sigil features three yellow beehives on a black and yellow striped field.

On House of the Dragon, Lord Lyman Beesbury served as master of coin under King Viserys. Lord Beesbury previously held the same position under King Jaehaerys, despite some of his ancestors ending up on the losing end of trials by combat with Targaryens. That included one where King Jaehaerys himself killed Ser Baxton Beesbury.

Beesbury was the first death during the Dance of the Dragons. Criston Cole murdered Lord Lyman when Beesbury refused to go along with seating Aegon on the Iron Throne.

New House of the Dragon Houses; House Hightower // House Velaryon // House Strong // House Beesbury // House Cole // House Westerling // Other New Houses From House of the Dragon // Named (But Not Yet Seen) Houses
House Cole

House of the Dragon made clear how small and unimportant House Cole was in Westeros during this era. Princess Rhaenyra had no idea who Ser Criston Cole was. Even the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard knew little about the family. The knight’s shabby armor also made clear his family is not a rich one.

House Cole, a former noble family, comes from the Dornish marshes of the Stormlands and swears allegiance to House Dondarrion. The family sigil is 10 black pellets—mostly likely pieces of coal that gives the house its name—against a scarlet field. Not much more is known about the Coles. But House of the Dragon will reveal why Westeros will never forget the name of this new Game of Thrones house.

House Westerling

House Westerling of the Crag in the Westerlands is a name that readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire know well. In the books, Robb Stark didn’t marry Talisa like on Game of Thrones. He married Jeyne Westerling, despite her family being the “ principal bannermen” of House Lannister. That ancient noble house, whose sigil is six white shells on a beach, also often married Lannisters.

At the start of House of the Dragon, Ser Harrold Westerling served as Lord Commander of King Viserys’ Kingsguard. But he ended the season by walking away from the green council. Alicent then replaced him as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard with Criston Cole. But Ser Harrold faces a tough decision now. His house, sworn to the Lannisters, will fight for Aegon in the coming war. But will he instead ally with Rhaenyra? We’re in uncharted waters with the character, who in the books was dead before the war started.

Other New House of the Dragon Houses

House Blackwood

House Blackwood of Raventree Hall is an ancient family who once ruled as kings of the riverlands during the Age of Heroes. Its sigil depicts three black ravens above a white weirwood tree on a red field.

They aligned with Aegon during his Conquest against their own king, Harren the Black. Since then, the house has served as loyal bannermen to House Tully. However, they can amass an even bigger army than their lord. And while the blood of the First Men flows through them, they merged their family with the Andals. But unlike most everyone else outside of the North, they have never given up the old gods, who they still worship.

House Blackwood is best known as the longtime bitter rivals of House Bracken. We see the feud between the new houses play out on House of the Dragon.

House Bracken

House Bracken of Stone Hedge traces their roots back to the First Men. During the Age of Heroes, they ruled as kings until overthrown by House Blackwood, who they claim hired sellswords to defeat them. Their sigil features a red stallion against a yellow field. They are also loyal bannermen to House Tully, but like the Blackwoods can put together an even larger army than the Tullys.

Their conversion to the Faith of the Seven after they merged their family with the Andals only added to the deep enmity between their family and House Bracken.

(Note: We met members of House Bracken on Game of Thrones, but only in very minor roles.)

New House of the Dragon Houses; House Hightower // House Velaryon // House Strong // House Beesbury // House Cole // House Westerling // Other New Houses From House of the Dragon // Named (But Not Yet Seen) Houses
House Wylde

The noble House Wylde of Rain Town resides in the Stormlands where it swears fealty to House Baratheon. Lord Jasper Wylde served as master of laws for King Viserys and plotted with the “green council” to install Aegon on the Iron Throne. He now serves the same role on the new King’s small council.

House Caswell

House Caswell is known as the Defender of the Fords, because Bitterbridge castle sits where two rivers meet in the Reach. The family’s sigil is a yellow centaur with bow on white.

Lord Caswell was a friend of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen at court. After falsely swearing allegiance to Aegon he tried to escape King’s Landing to warn her. Lord Larys Strong caught him, and Otto Hightower had Lord Caswell hanged.

House Cargyll

A noble house of the Reach, House Cargyll’s sigil is believed to be a golden goose on “ bendy sinister black and red.” Two members of the family, identical twins Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk, served on Viserys’ Kingsguard. Ser Erryk had been Aegon’s sworn protector, but defected to Rhaenyra’s side because he did not believe Aegon was fit to rule.

Ser Arryk stayed on to serve Aegon despite his brother’s pleas. We will have to see how these decisions impact the new Game of Thrones house.

House Darklyn

The noble House Darklyn of Duskendale traces its lineage back to the First Men, when it ruled as petty kings in the crownlands. From its keep the Dun Fort, it still presides over the town of Duskendale and its lands.

The house was one of the first to oppose Aegon the Conqueror and also one of the first to bend the knee to him. Ser Steffon Darkyln served on the Kingsguards of both Jaehaerys and Viserys. He was on Dragonstone protecting Princess Rhaenyra when Viserys died. He then swore to serve on her Queensguard.

New House of the Dragon Houses; House Hightower // House Velaryon // House Strong // House Beesbury // House Cole // House Westerling // Other New Houses From House of the Dragon // Named (But Not Yet Seen) Houses
House Marbrand

The noble House Marbrand of Ashemark is a major house of the Westerlands where the Lannisters rule. The family calls Ashemark near Tumblestone its home. The sigil of this Game of Thrones house is a burning orange tree.

Ser Lorent Marbrand of Viserys’s Kingsguard was with Rhaenyra on Dragonstone when her father died. He swore to serve her over Aegon.

House Celtigar

The ancient House Celtigar of Claw Isle calls the coast of Crackclaw Point in the Narrow Sea home. It has long sworn fealty to Dragonstone and House Targaryen and even shares some Valyrian blood with the dragon lords. The Celtigar sigil features red crabs on white.

Lord Bartimos Celtigar serves as a fierce and loyal member of Queen Rhaenyra’s black council.

House Staunton

House Staunton is a noble house of the crownlands in Game of Thrones‘ world. The family calls Rook’s Rest home. Lord Simon Staunton serves on Queen Rhaenyra’s small council.

Named (But Not Yet Seen) Houses

Daemon Targaryen sent ravens to seek support for Queen Rhaenyra. That includes sending ravens to House Massey and House Bar Emmon, both noble houses in the crownlands.

New House of the Dragon Houses; House Hightower // House Velaryon // House Strong // House Beesbury // House Cole // House Westerling // Other New Houses From House of the Dragon // Named (But Not Yet Seen) Houses

This post originally published on August 22, 2022.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at  @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.