The Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes

Sunday, October 16th, 2022

A recent HuffPost Entertainment piece opens with the assertion that the cast of House of the Dragon is visibly less white than its predecessor, Game of Thrones, which is interesting, because the original features large numbers of quasi-Mongols, quasi-Middle Easterners, etc.

Anyway, one of the co-creators recently claimed the “increased” diversity wasn’t intended to appeal to left-wing ideals:

“I think it was not that simple,” Ryan Condal said. “I think the reason that it’s been a successful choice … is because it was thought out. It wasn’t just done perfunctorily or wasn’t just done to tick a box or … to be seen as progressive.”

Condal, who is also a showrunner for the HBO series, then followed up this statement with one that seemed to somewhat contradict his previous remarks.

“It’s 2022,” he said. “It’s a different era than these shows used to be made in. We have an incredibly diverse audience that’s not only across America, but in multiple countries that speak all sorts of different languages, that represent … all the colors under the sun. And it was really important to see some of that reflected up on screen.

“This is a fantasy world. I think if this was a historical fiction piece, it would be a more nuanced discussion. But I think simply because this is a fantasy world, if we believe in dragons, and shape-shifters and [the fictional canines] direwolves, we can believe everybody in the story is not white.”

He’s content to engage with the straw-man argument that detractors are complaining that “everybody in the story is not white,” when the real complaint is that the characters’ ”pure blood” is a key element of the story:

The character Corlys Velaryon (also known as the Sea Snake) in “House of the Dragon” is portrayed by Steve Toussaint, a British actor of Barbadian descent.

Due to this, House Velaryon — a prominent family in the series whose members are pivotal players in the story — is characterized by darker skin and silvery-white, or sometimes dreadlocked, hair. (Not every character with the last name Velaryon fits that description, though.)

This departs from the show’s source material. In George R.R. Martin’s book “Fire & Blood,” the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes.

This has put Toussaint on the receiving end of racist criticism online from Westeros purists.

That is no true Velaryon!

Condal said on “TheGrill” that the decision to make House Velaryon Black was inspired by the family’s unique place in the franchise and something that Martin had said years ago.

“Why we went to the Velaryons in particular was because that felt like the most fantastical race in the show, and it felt like … these were people from a lost continent that we don’t really know that much about,” Condal said.

“We know they all have silver hair, we know they have an affinity for dragons, some of them. And we know they are seen, as quoted in the books and in the show, closer to gods than to men. So what does that all look like?

“And it always stuck with me, this article … where George had talked about, at first when he set out to write these books, considering making all of the Velaryons Black. … Black people with silver hair — and that always really stuck with me as an image.”

Condal also noted that the time period in which “House of the Dragon” takes place is not that far off from the fall of Valyria in the franchise’s lore.

“I said: ‘Well, Valyria was this enormous continent, a very diverse and well-populated nation that fell into the sea. Why couldn’t there have been a line of Black Velaryons in that story?’” he remarked.

“I think if you’re willing to take that first leap of suspension of disbelief, you really come to [the idea that] it feels integrated and intrinsic to the show in a organic way.”

The showrunner also said that having a Black family on the show helps differentiate “people on screen and remembering who’s from what house.” He added that this aids in highlighting the “questionable parentage” of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s very white-looking children, who have the last name Velaryon.

“I think there’s a lot of visual benefits that come along with it,” Condal said. “And because Corlys has such a rich and diverse family line himself, just simply making that one turn on him to cast Steve Toussaint, his entire family becomes then a diverse cast. And it’s a really interesting way to populate the show with a bunch of different faces that you may not have seen in another high fantasy show or in the original series.”


  1. Bomag says:

    Adaptions for the screen are famous for re-writing the thing until it is unrecognizable, so this looks like the same-ol’.

    That being said, arts and entertainment culture today are a racial/ethnic battleground; Whites should stand up for themselves.

    That being said, arts and entertainment culture today are pretty much a ghetto, so I’m not sure it is a hill worth fighting for.

  2. Longarch says:

    I am not a fiction writer by trade, but in theory I have a solution to the problem. A writer who wants to write about white people not only has to describe them as having pale skin and blue eyes — their pallor has to be crucial to the plot. You would have to write a story that is all about the surface appearances of whiteness. That way, if blackwashing were used, the entire plot would have to be rewritten.

    However, if you were to write such a story, you would probably be de-personed or un-personed or banned from patreon and paypal to avoid spreading wrongthink and hate facts. So anyone who wishes to try this tactic had probably secure independent wealth, because after the story goes out, everyone will try to wreck your livelihood.

  3. Bomag says:

    “You would have to write a story that is all about the surface appearances of whiteness.”

    Never thought of such a thing. Tells you how well trained I am.

    I’m imagining a light sensitive pathogen that only attacks darker skin, leading to lots of possible story lines that could explore current social issues. Of course, such a rendering would be immediately burned by today’s mainstream editors; a self-published version would struggle as you indicate.

  4. Jim says:

    “BLACK VALERYONS could be here” he thought, “I’ve never seen this script before. There could be BLACK VALERYONS anywhere.” The cool wind felt good against his bare chest. “I LOVE BLACK VALERYONS” he thought. “It’s 2022. With a Hollywood script, you can do anything” he said to himself out loud.

  5. Bomag says:


    I’m going to use that. Instead of “It was a dark and stormy night”, it’s now: “‘BLACK VALERYONS could be here’ he thought.”

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