How old are the ‘House of the Dragon’ characters?

Alicent and Rhaenyra from House of the Dragon
Image via HBO Max

House of the Dragon takes place roughly 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, introducing fans to a new ensemble of characters all eager to be about plotting the downfall of the king and sitting themselves, or someone they’ll most profit from, on the Iron Throne of Westeros. But since the show doesn’t explicitly reveal how old each character is beyond the observable guesswork, we’ve consulted George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood novel and the companion book World of Ice & Fire to put an age to the prequel show’s numerous faces.

It might prove to be an intimidating dive going back into the Seven Kingdoms and not recognizing a single person. While House of the Dragon has familiar vistas, like the Red Keep in King’s Landing, or the soaring towers of Dragonstone, jutting out of its mountainside, there isn’t much else to remind you that this is the same fantasy world you fell in love with all those years ago, treacherous politicking and grotesque violence aside.

And since House of the Dragon establishes a lot of character dynamics as early as the first episode, it would do to know how old everyone is in relationship to their peers if we’re to better grasp the psychological human element underlying their actions in the story.

First off, it’s fairly easy to determine when the story picks up Westerosi history. The Dance of Dragons and what led to it covers a huge swathe of history, but since House of the Dragon determines that the show starts 172 years before the birth of Daenerys, you can subtract that from her birth year, 284 AC, and conclude that the show takes place in 112 AC.

That makes the main lead, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), 15 years old when we first see her on-screen.

Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), is 35, though the weight of his seat as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms has increased his wrinkles and given a sunken bearing to his face.

The king’s brother, Daemon Targaryen aka the Rogue Prince, is only younger than him by four years, making him 31.

Lady Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) was born in 88 AC, making her Rhaenyra’s senior by 9 years. As for his father Otto (Rhys Ifans), it is estimated that the Hand of the King was born in 76 AC, making him only a year older than Viserys.

And with them out of the way, we’re left with Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and his wife Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), the Queen Who Never Was. According to the books, the legendary Sea Snake was born in 53 AC, already making him an older gentleman by the time House of the Dragon picks up the story; 59 years of age, to be precise. As for his wife Rhaenys, the Targaryen princess was born in 74 AC, making her 38 years old in the show’s timeline. (Not to be confused with the other Rhaenys Targaryen, sister and wife to Aegon the Conqueror, who was born in 24-25 BC and died in 10 AC.)

There are undoubtedly many more characters in House of the Dragon — dozens of them, in fact — and many more will be making their debut as the show builds towards its first season finale in the coming weeks. But for most of them, history and its curators have not been too keen to keep precise records, and nor has creator George R.R. Martin, for that matter. That’s why we’ll probably have to content ourselves with what we perceive in terms of physical appearance and come up with estimates of our own.

Making matters even muddier is the fact that House of the Dragon is adapting a condensed narrative that takes decades to unfold, with the show’s first season entailing numerous timelines, the most conspicuous of which actually compelled the producers to cast different actors for Rhaenyra and Alicent, with Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke taking over from Milly Alcock and Emily Carey at some point in the forthcoming episodes.

With their arrival, we’re probably going to lose all sense of the chronology of events, unless something particularly outstanding — like the war for the Stepstones, the birth of an heir, or the Dance of Dragons itself — once again shines a light on the year we’re currently witnessing in the history of Westeros, though Game of Thrones fans have never been known to obsess over the matter of birthdates and timelines all that much.