Who is Laenor Velaryon in House of The Dragon and how is he a dragonrider?

A Velaryon riding a dragon?

Theo Nate as Laenor Velaryon in House of The Dragon
(Image credit: Warner Media/HBO/Future)

Major spoilers ahead for episode 3 of House of The Dragon - and beyond!

Episode 3 of House of The Dragon saw the writers up the ante, after the slower and more methodical pace of episode 2. After Corlys defied King Viserys to team up with delightfully wicked Daemon Targaryen to overthrow the ghoulish crab feeder, the foundations for the first battle of the series were set. Characters have been introduced slowly, to allow viewers to get to know them, and offering room for character development. One character who has lurked in the shadows for 2 episodes, got his moment to shine in episode 3. This left fans asking who exactly is Laenor Velaryon, and how did a Velaryon manage to ride a dragon? Read on to find out.

The newly introduced House is both ancient and noble - to see where Laenor fits in, we have a House Velaryon family tree to compliment our similar who's who guide of House Targaryen - including Viserys's new wife Alicent Hightower. And of course, with all the talk of dragonriders after episode 3, we delve into how many dragons are in House of The Dragon, and answer your other burning dragon-related questions.

Who is Laenor Velaryon in House of The Dragon? 

Ser Laenor Velaryon is the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best). Born in 94 AC he is heir to the family’s Driftmark home, and in episodes 1 and 2 was portrayed by a child. He is a teenager by episode 3 - heralding a change in actor. 

Laenor has one sister - Laena - whom their father Corlys attempted to marry to King Viserys in episode 2, despite her only being 12-years-old. His mother Rhaenys was at one time first in line to the Iron Throne, but when her father Prince Aemon Targaryen, and the eldest son and heir of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen died in 92 AC, Rhaenys was passed over as heir. 

She was replaced by Jaehaerys's second son, Baelon. Had Rhaenys made it to the throne, it would’ve been passed to Laenor - he was denied his claim largely due to his mother being passed over for being a woman. Despite Rhaenys and Corlys continuing to fight for Laenor’s claim, following Baelon's death in 101 AC Viserys was handed the throne, and Laenor lost out again. 

Who plays Laenor Velaryon in House of The Dragon? 

In episode 3 of House of The Dragon, Laenor is played by Theo Nate. However, in episodes 1 and 2 as a child, he was played by Matthew Carver. As an adult he will be played by John Macmillan

As an up and coming actor, Theo Nate’s only previous acting credit is “a friend of Stevie’s” in the critically acclaimed BBC drama Time, starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham. In an interview with EW, Steve Toussaint - who plays Laenor’s father Corlys - spoke about the relationship the two characters have as father and son. 

He said “Laenor is basically everything that Corlys would want from a son, except for one predilection," although he refused to expand on exactly what predilection - viewers need to stay tuned to find out. He continued "I think that's that age-old thing sometimes with parents trying to live a child's life for them. I think Corlys is guilty of that” hinting that Corlys is trying to mould Laenor into something he isn’t. 

How is Laenor Velaryon a dragonrider? 

Laenor Velaryon can ride a dragon because his mother Rhaenys was a Targaryen before she married a Velaryon. The Targaryen blood allows him to be recognised as a dragonrider

Dragonriders are individuals with the ability to bond with and mount a dragon. The magical ability that allowed this, began with the ancient Valyrians - the Targaryens were the only surviving house of ancient Valyrian dragonlords, leaving them the last known dragonriders in the kingdom. Dragons are never able to be tamed, but can be trained with the right magic. 

Dragons can be trained to respond to basic voice commands, but need to be trained quickly - if they aren’t, they will rapidly destroy anything they come into contact with. A dragon will only bond with and choose one rider at a time - they will be loyal to that rider while they remain alive. Once a rider dies, the dragon will allow another human to take their place. 

The command "Dracarys" is used to summon the dragon to breathe immediate fire on whatever is before it - the term is old Valyrian for "dragonfire". 

Who rode Seasmoke?

Laenor Velaryon rode Seasmoke. Fans watching episode 3 initially mistakenly believed Laenor went to battle on Caraxes - Daemon’s dragon, as Seasmoke hadn’t officially been introduced in the show.

However, Laenor is definitely riding Seasmoke, as they have bonded and chosen one another. Seasmoke is a pale, silver-grey dragon, who is still very young when Laenor rides him into the battle at Stepstones. Being not yet fully grown made him more nimble in the air during the battle, offering him and Laenor an advantage. 

Of his dragon brothers, he was a similar size to Tessarion, who was roughly three times smaller than Vermithor - both were considered less fearsome. No dragon compared to Belarion the Black Dread - the largest dragon ever born, whose skull sits prominently at the Red Keep. 

Is Laenor the father of Rhaenyra’s children? 

Officially, Laenor is the father of Rhaenyra’s 3 children. Their 3 sons were named Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon. However, it was widely rumoured that the children were a result of Rhaenyra’s multiple affairs.

The book also recounts how the pair - who are also cousins - don’t spend much time together, and that Laenor instead took a series of male lovers. Although it remains to be seen how true the series will stay to the books, Rhaenyra actually ends up marrying another cousin - the evil Daemon. To find out whether her marriage with Laenor will be included, viewers will have to stay tuned. 

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.