House of the Dragon: Where do dragons come from? A history of dragons in Game of Thrones explained

Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon is returning fans to a Westeros where dragons reign.

Set almost 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon will explore the self-destruction of Daenerys Targaryen’s ancestors and their dragons.

The new series, which premiered in August to impressive reviews from critics and fans, will feature at least 17 dragons throughout its planned seasons.

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But where do the dragons in House of the Dragon come from? How did people manage to tame them? And why are the Targaryens the only house which has dragon riders? Here’s everything you need to know.

A history of dragons in Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon (HBO)
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The creation of dragons in Game of Thrones

There are a number of myths about the creation of dragons, but not one clear origin story of the mystical creatures in the works of George R.R. Martin.

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We know dragons were prolific hundreds of years ago in an ancient city called Old Valyria, on the continent of Essos where Daenerys spends the first six seasons of Game of Thrones.

As a side note, Valyria is the location of the opening sequence to House of the Dragon, and King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has made a scale model of the city in his quarters, as it is the origin of House Targaryen.

Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) showing Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) his model of Old Valyria in House of the Dragon (HBO)

The Valyrians claimed dragons sprang from the Fourteen Flames – a ring of volcanoes which circled the ancient city.

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While the people of Qarth, where Daenerys spends Season 2 of Game of Thrones, believe dragons burst from a second moon in the sky which cracked like an egg.

Another interesting theory is that dragons were created by Valyrian bloodmages who bred creatures called wyverns with firewyrms.

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Balerion the Black Dread was thought to be the last living thing from Old Valyria (Credit: House of the Dragon, HBO)

Dragons and dragonriding in ancient Valyria

However the dragons came to be, they became strongly bonded to the Valyrians, who tamed them over centuries.

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It is thought the Valyrians managed to do this by using dragon horns or through blood magic – which is similiar to how Daenerys first hatches her dragon in Game of Thrones Season 1.

With the use of these unstoppable weapons of war, the Valyrians carved out a powerful empire called the Valyrian Freehold.

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However, one day it all came crashing down with an apocalyptic event known as the Doom of Valyria. It is unknown what caused the cataclysm, but volcanos erupted and filled the air with fire and ash – killing almost all the people and dragons.

However, one family of dragonlords escaped the Doom, after a woman named Daenys Targaryen had a prophetic vision 12 years before it happened.

The Targaryens fled Valyria and brought five dragons with them to Dragonstone, the island to the east of westeros which is the seat of House Targaryen in House of the Dragon.

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Dragons on Dragonstone and Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros

House Targaryen lived on Dragonstone for a century after the Doom of Valyria, during which four of the five dragons died. Balerion the Black Dread was thought to be the last surviving dragon from Old Valyria.

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Other dragons were hatched from eggs on Dragonstone, however, including Vhagar and Meraxes.

In this time, Aegon Targaryen – King Viserys’ great great grandfather – decided he wanted to rule Westeros. He conquered the continent with Balerion and his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys riding Vhagar and Meraxes.

It was with the flames of Balerion the Black Dread that Aegon forged the Iron Throne from the swords of his enemies. He was the first king of the Seven Kingdoms and is known as Aegon the Conqueror.

House of the Dragon starts with the fifth Targaryen King in his line, Viserys I.

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What happens between House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones?

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Without giving away too many spoilers, it’s clear there is a huge event before Game of Thrones which resulted in dragons becoming almost extinct.

In Season 1 of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen receives three petrified dragon eggs which no one ever expect would hatch.

Dragons had not been seen in Westeros since the reign of King Aegon III when the last tiny, sickly dragon died.

House of the Dragon will explore how, 200 hundred years before Daenerys, the Targaryen civil war tore her family apart and nearly destroyed all the dragons.

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