TV & Movies
Everything To Know About The Game Of Thrones Prequel House Of The Dragon
The series will be close “to the original show in tone” — but with more dragons.
Minor Fire & Blood book spoilers ahead. Game of Thrones fans, let’s take it back — not back to that contentious GoT series finale, but 300 years before the events of the series ever happened. This is the setting where the new GoT prequel will take place, covering the House Targaryen’s history as explored in George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood book. That is certainly a daunting task due to the family’s lengthy history, but recently released photos and details from House of the Dragon point to one specific chapter in the Targaryens’ story so far.
The period in question will prove to be pivotal in eventually shaping the lives of familiar GoT characters like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. Several levels of great-, great-, great-, great-relatives separate the generations, though, so you may want to follow along with a Targaryen family tree (this one that DeviantArt user Maryon B. shared with Vox might help make sense of the many complicated connections as you look ahead toward House of the Dragon’s release).
In the meantime, here is everything we know about the HBO series so far — from its cast to its trailer, release date, plot details, and more.
House Of The Dragon Trailer And Release Date
A little over a month before the House of the Dragon premiere on Aug. 21, HBO released the official trailer for the Game of Thrones spinoff. Teasing an epic tale of alliances, betrayals, and dragons, the preview offers fans their first glimpse into the characters’ fight for the Iron Throne.
Earlier, HBO Max had released a teaser trailer of the House of the Dragon. It revealed new footage and characters, hinting at how their towering ambitions can lead to full-out war.
Previously on Oct. 5, HBO Max dropped the first teaser for House of the Dragon. In addition to hinting at plenty of dark, royal drama to come (“Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did.”), the teaser also clarified the series timeline a bit, revealing that the show will follow the titular Targaryens “200 years before the fall of the throne.”
House Of The Dragon Plot
In a press release, HBO vaguely announced that the GoT prequel would tell “the story of House Targaryen,” based on Fire & Blood. Because Martin’s book covers a lot of territory, it wasn’t immediately clear how the series would tackle its sweeping take on the Targaryens.
In the behind-the-scenes trailer that dropped on July 18, co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik assured fans that the upcoming series wouldn’t just be a retread of the original show. “It wasn’t just a prequel for prequel’s sake, there was actually a reason to tell this story,” Condal said.
“The idea of going back to Westeros was almost too much of a challenge,” Sapochnik said, adding “It really was seeing it through a different perspective that interested me.”
In an Aug. 19 New York Times interview, Sapochnik also assured fans that House of the Dragon will be close “to the original show in tone” — with more fire-breathing, obviously. “It deals with the Targaryens and their dynasty, so it’s accessible in that respect. It has more dragons in it. People will say they don’t like dragons and they’re not watching it for the dragons, but they do like the dragons, they help,” he said.
At San Diego Comic-Con on July 23, Condal told Deadline that the series begins “at the absolute pinnacle of the dynasty’s wealth and influence. The most dragons they’ll ever have. It’s before the bloom comes off the rose.”
Series author Martin teased a key way House of the Dragon differs from GoT proper: It is based on the anarchy period in world history, whereas Game of Thrones took inspiration from the War of the Roses, per Deadline.
Who Is Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen?
One of the series’ lead characters, Princess Rhaenyra, portrayed by Emma D’Arcy, is King Viserys’ firstborn daughter. She is described as “a dragonrider” and “of pure Valyrian blood.” Her description concludes, “Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man,” which hints at a potential conflict with the heir to the throne: her uncle, Prince Daemon.
In July 2021, HBO announced that Milly Alcock would portray a younger version of the princess, suggesting the series would provide a sweeping look at the generations of this very complicated family. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sapochnik described Rhaenyra as “the most important role in the show, in many ways.”
Within the world of the show, the princess has been nicknamed the Realm’s Delight. However, instead of conventional domestic work, Rhaenyra rides dragons and serves as her father’s cupbearer. She’s able to enjoy the usual freedoms typically afforded to male heirs, a phenomenon that particularly interests the princess because she’s “obsessed with masculinity,” as D’Arcy explained to Entertainment Weekly. She’s very close with her uncle Daemon, but relationships aren’t necessarily her strong suit as D’Arcy noted. “She really presses relationships, often to the point where they cannot continue, and then she fulfills the prophecy again.”
Who Is Prince Daemon Targaryen?
Portrayed by The Crown’s Matt Smith in a silver wig, Prince Daemon is King Viserys’ younger brother. “A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon,” the press release states. “But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air.” (Book spoiler: The prince and princess do ultimately marry and continue their own branch of the Targaryen line, including Aegon III.)
The characters think it’s a god’s flip of a coin that decides what side of madness a Targaryen will succumb to when they’re born. Smith told Entertainment Weekly that Daemon’s coin “hasn’t quite hit the ground yet.” He’s essentially the family’s most skilled warrior, welding the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister and his gargantuan blood-red dragon, Caraxes. Like his rider, Caraxes is surly and untrainable.
Who Is Lord Corlys Velaryon (“The Sea Snake”)?
Steve Toussaint stars as Lord of House Velaryon, a member of “a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen.” Nicknamed “The Sea Snake” for his impressive nautical skills, “Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world.”
He’s traversed further than any explorer before him (which may be explored in the rumored Sea Snake prequel series), and that is why he boasts such a fortune, having amassed enough riches to help House Velaryon stand among some of the wealthiest families in Westeros. He’s considered Lord of the Tides and Master of the Driftmark, and Toussaint told Entertainment Weekly, “No one wants to f*ck with him.” He went on to explain that while the Targaryens control the skies, the seas are commanded by the Velaryons.
His fearlessness comes from his amassed power and political alliances — he’s married to Rhaenys Targaryen, the cousin of King Viserys. However, his marriage remains one of his bigger motivations, according to Toussaint. “But of course he has this huge ambition. This idea of legacy, it’s a big deal for him,” he said. ”Sea Snake and his wife are the ones you most root for because they’re actually about love.”
Who Is Princess Rhaenys Velaryon?
Velaryon’s dragon-riding wife, Rhaenys (played by Eve Best) is described as “The Queen Who Never Was,” since assuming her role as heir to the throne was precluded by her being a woman. That honor went instead to her cousin, Viserys.
While talking to Entertainment Weekly, Best described a scene between Rhaenys and her niece Rhaenyra that seemed to sum up her character’s experience: “Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.” No one knows this truth better than Rhaenys, a woman born when the Targaryens had several claimants to the throne. Unfortunately for the powerful house, too many top contenders met their demise, and all the inbreeding complicated the lineage.
Rhaenys, the wife of revered explorer Lord Corlys Velaryon, had the strongest blood claim to the throne. Nevertheless, a council deemed that the throne couldn’t pass to a woman or through a woman to her male descendants, leaving Viserys as the next best choice.
Who Is King Viserys Targaryen?
Speaking of the king... Paddy Considine will play Viserys himself, “a warm, kind, and decent man [who] only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy.” Though, as HBO teased, “good men do not necessarily make for great kings.”
Under Viserys’ rule, the country has seen more than 70 years of peace. The skies are filled with dragons, and nearly every Targaryen has one to mount, but the thirst for victory has caused those around him to push the king toward conflict. Viserys is, however, more interested in peace — he doesn’t even ride a dragon anymore, despite once mounting Balerion the Black Dread, formerly bonded with Aegon Targaryen, the conqueror of Westeros.
King Viserys is aware of his family’s potential to destroy the world, and he’s very concerned with being remembered as a peaceful king. However, as Condal explained to Entertainment Weekly, “We’re watching a period of time where every man has been trained for battle since birth, but battle doesn’t happen. That pent-up energy leaks out between the cracks and starts to wear on itself where you almost need the release of war in order to keep the whole thing from boiling over.”
Who Is Otto Hightower?
As hand of the king, Otto Hightower, played by Rhys Ifans, is in a pretty important position (it’s one that Tyrion Lannister would hold much later). He “loyally and faithfully serves” his post but is worried about Daemon, who he sees as “the greatest threat to the realm.”
Ifans described his character to Entertainment Weekly as “an astute, high-functioning political creature.” It may be why he’s so worried about Daemon ascending to the throne. It’s his belief that Daemon will become another tyrant like Maegor the Cruel, who ruled with an unbridled abandon.
Who Is Alicent Hightower?
Olivia Cooke plays Alicent Hightower, Otto’s daughter and “the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms.” Being raised in the Red Keep kept her close to major players in the king’s world, and “she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.” In the books, her closeness to the king eventually grants her a place of her own in the ruling family. Emily Carey will play a younger version of Alicent, HBO revealed.
Cooke told Entertainment Weekly that Alicent has essentially been “hermetically sealed in the kingdom,” which is what helped her initial bond with Rhaenyra. Despite their friendship, Alicent is “quite an anxious rule-follower in comparison to how free and mischievous Rhaenyra is.” Cooke continued, “When you realize that you haven’t been nurtured in the way that Rhaenyra has — her best friend that she’s seen grow up, have everything given to her, and had the unbridled love of her father — that is a real tough pill to swallow.”
Cooke also mentioned that Alicent is scheming and operates as a woman always whispering into a powerful man’s ear. She stated that those women have “never been positively written about. So the fun was to try to find the nuance.”
Who Is Mysaria?
As described by HBO, Sonoya Mizuno’s Mysaria “came to Westeros with nothing, sold more times than she can recall, and could have wilted... but instead, she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne.” According to fan site Westeros.org, Mysaria was a dancer who would go on to assume a major intelligence role for the Targaryen family.
Who Is Ser Criston Cole?
Fabien Frankel plays Ser Criston Cole, a “Dornish ... common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword.” Though Frankel is new to the GoT family, he did previously work with one of the franchise’s biggest stars, Emilia Clarke, in the holiday-rom-com-fantasy Last Christmas.
Who Else Will Be On House Of The Dragon?
In September 2021, HBO added several more cast members to the lineup. Ryan Corr will play Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong, “the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms.” Jefferson Hall will portray twins Lord Jason Lannister and Tyland Lannister, the latter of whom is “a crafty and calculating politician.”
David Horovitch will play Grand Maester Mellos, “a voice of reason and trusted advisor to King Viserys.” Graham McTavish’s Ser Harrold Westerling is another important figure for the king, apparently, described as “a paragon of chivalry and honor” who serves on his guard.
Bill Paterson will play Lord Lyman Beesbury, Master of Coin for the council under King Viserys. And finally, Gavin Spokes and Matthew Needham will play Master of Laws Lyonel Strong and his son, Larys, respectively.
Then, in October 2021, the streamer added four more players, including Wil Johnson as Ser Vaemond Velaryon, navy commander and younger brother to the “Sea Snake.” John Macmillan, Theo Nate, and Savannah Steyn will play Ser Laenor, Ser Laenor, and Lady Laena, the sons and daughter of Corlys and Rhaenys.
“The biggest sets I’ve ever been on, the biggest locations I’ve ever been on, the biggest crews I’ve ever seen,” said Condal in the behind-the-scenes trailer. “It’s staggering.” It certainly sounds as though there’s room for innumerable people in this new fantasy epic.
This post will be updated as more information on House of the Dragon becomes available.
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