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House of the Dragon Makes One Much Needed Lore Change to Game of Thrones

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“It was very important for Miguel and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen,” Condal told EW. “We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show but we didn’t want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.”

Condal subsequently came to the realization, with Martin’s advice and blessing (Martin is a co-creator on House of the Dragon), that the Velaryon family provided a conduit to create a more inclusive vision for Westeros than the nearly all-white cast of Game of Thrones. Condal also revealed that Martin initially toyed with the idea of making the Velaryons Black conquerors from a western land before changing his mind and having them also hail from old Valyria.

“Once we had that idea, it just felt like everything fell into place,” Condal said.

And, truthfully, it seems an astute update. It doesn’t break Game of Thrones continuity which established (like its source material) that Westeros is a variation on medieval European history with the complexion to match, but the shift allows the more multicultural realm of Essos to provide a second major family who doesn’t appear identical to the Targaryens. And it also reflects our modern world so much better in what is still ultimately a fantasy realm.

Like the Targaryens, the Velaryons fled Valyria before the Doom, an apocalyptic, volcanic-like destruction that wiped that rich and magic-based civilization from the world. But according to Velaryon family history, they arrived in Westeros generations before the Targaryens, setting up a seat of power on the island of Driftmark, opposite where the Targaryens initially settled with their dragons: Dragonstone. The Velaryons never rode dragons like the Targaryens but instead found their power at sea, eventually building the ships that would carry Aegon the Conqueror’s armies to the Westerosi mainland.

By the time we reach the events of House of the Dragon, Lord Corlys Velaryon is arguably the second most powerful man in Westeros after King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine). Prior to his current station, Corlys led a life of high adventure and exploration, sailing nine times to the far east and bringing back the only living Westerosi reports of distant locales like Asshai of the Shadow Lands. (HBO is also currently developing another prequel series, The Sea Snake, about these younger seafaring adventures with Rome’s Bruno Heller.) But by the time we find Corlys in the new series, he is an older man and husband to Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), the woman who under different circumstances should’ve been Queen of the Seven Kingdoms given her seniority over Considine’s Viserys.

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