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House of the Dragon: The Game of Thrones prequel is heading to HBO and HBO Max
The final season of Game of Thrones may have been polarizing (to put it mildly), but the show was a global phenomenon based on a beloved series of books. And it spent the better part of a decade racking up awards, including 59 Emmys. Now, HBO and its premium streaming service HBO Max are hoping to tap back into that fan excitement with a Game of Thrones prequel: House of the Dragon.
There’s a lot to keep straight in the world of Westeros, with a huge catalog of backstory and worldbuilding. So, before the show premieres, here’s a rundown of what to expect, from what it’s about, to where it fits in the Game of Thrones timeline, to who’s involved, and more. Read on for everything we know about House of the Dragon.
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What is House of the Dragon about?
Based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood novel, House of the Dragon takes place within the Game of Thrones universe.
According to HBO, the Game of Thrones prequel series “tells the story of House Targaryen,” which has already fallen by the start of Game of Thrones, with the young Daenerys Targaryen seeking to regain her family’s throne.
HBO has revealed little else about the plot of the series, and the official teaser doesn’t reveal much, though conflict does appear to be brewing.
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Fire & Blood has received mixed reviews since its publication in 2018 and is often seen as a dry, fictional history rather than an engaging novel in its own right. As such, it may well be only a jumping-off point for the series rather than acting as strict source material. The trailer certainly gives the impression of a show very similar in tone and style to Game of Thrones.
Then again, it could be a faithful adaptation. HBO is leaving itself a lot of room to surprise us either way.
How does it tie into Game of Thrones?
It’s hard to say exactly how much House of the Dragon will tie into Game of Thrones, if at all. It takes place very much in the same fictional world of Westeros, but it also takes place “200 years before the fall of the throne.”
For non-Game of Thrones fans, the fall of the throne refers to the events of that series. And unlike other fantasy epics like The Lord of the Rings, characters in Westeros generally seem to live lives comparable to those of humans in the real world. In short, these will be new characters with new stories. It’s like looking back to the early 1800s from today’s point of view.
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Having said all of that, there are sure to be some connective threads. Game of Thrones was a series deeply invested in history. The conflicts over the Iron Throne — and power over the Seven Kingdoms — were rooted in deep-seated family rivalries and historical power struggles. We hear characters literally telling stories about some of the characters who will appear in House of the Dragon.
We also see the same governmental structures. A character list provided by HBO includes the Hand of the King, the Small Council, and a Grand Maester. These are all still positions within the government at King’s Landing throughout Game of Thrones.
Characters also include members of the Lannister family, who eventually betray the Targaryen’s and usurp the Iron Throne. It would be surprising if the seeds of that conflict weren’t planted in the Game of Thrones prequel, or at the very least foreshadowed.
When and where can I watch House of the Dragon?
The 10-episode House of the Dragon series will premiere on August 21, 2022, according to a tweet shared by the official HBO Max account.
New episodes will air on HBO and be available to stream on the cable network’s streaming service HBO Max.
Game of Thrones aired on Sunday nights and is largely seen as one of the last water-cooler shows, with viewers buzzing about last night’s episode on Mondays at work. HBO appears to be going the same route with House of the Dragon, giving it Game of Thrones’ old time slot.
HBO also hasn’t revealed whether it plans to produce future seasons. Fire & Blood does have a planned second part, so there is likely plenty of source material to draw from if season one proves to be a success.
House of the Dragon was co-created by series author George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal. Miguel Sapochnik and Condal serve as showrunners, and the two executive produce alongside Martin, Vince Gerardis, Sara Lee Hess, and Ron Schmidt.
Sapochnik, who directed standout Game of Thrones episodes “The Battle of the Bastards” and “The Long Night” will also direct. He is joined by fellow series directors Clare Kilner, Geeta V. Patel, and Greg Yaitanes.
Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are not officially involved with the new prequel series.
In front of the camera, House of the Dragon boasts a stacked cast. Below is a list of confirmed actors and the characters they’ll be playing:
- Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen
- Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower
- Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen
- Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon aka “The Sea Snake.”
- Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon
- Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King
- Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria
- Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole
- Milly Alcock as Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
- Emily Carey will play Young Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Otto Hightower
- Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin “Breakbones” Strong
- Jefferson Hall as twins Lord Jason Lannister and Tyland Lannister
- David Horovitch as Grand Maester Mellos
- Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling
- Matthew Needham as Larys Strong
- Bill Paterson plays Lord Lyman Beesbury
- Gavin Spokes is Lord Lyonel Strong
- Wil Johnson as Ser Vaemond Velaryon
- John Macmillan as Ser Laenor Velaryon
- Savannah Steyn as Lady Laena Velayron
- Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon
Wasn’t there another Game of Thrones prequel?
House of the Dragon is the second attempt to revive Game of Thrones at HBO.
One of many previously announced Game of Thrones spinoffs, an untitled project was cancelled after shooting a pilot back in 2019.
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That project was also a prequel, but it was set 5,000 years before the original series. It was said to tackle the descent from the Golden Age of heroes in Westeros and less concerned with the events directly preceding Game of Thrones. Rumored to be titled Bloodmoon, the show had some big names among its cast, including Naomi Watts.
HBO almost immediately announced House of the Dragon following the cancellation, leaving many wondering what the fate of other Game of Thrones spinoffs may be. So far, House of the Dragon is the only one officially a go.
What to expect from House of the Dragon
HBO has kept its cards pretty close on House of the Dragon. The Game of Thrones prequel doesn’t look to be straying too much from what we’ve come to expect already, but it’s certainly hard not to wonder what the show has in store.
We do get a few hints from the official teaser, most excitingly the sound of dragons growling and what looks like a sleeping dragon shrouded in smoke. House of the Dragon takes place before the extinction of dragons in Westeros, and several characters in the new series are listed as “dragonriders.” We won’t know in what capacity dragons appear until HBO releases more footage, but for now, these hints are promising. (In contrast, Game of Thrones launched at a time when dragons were thought extinct forever. They returned only at the end of season one.)
We also hear a voice speak the words “Gods, kings, fire, and blood,” suggesting that just because the war for the throne won’t take place until Game of Thrones, power in Westeros may not be a settled matter. We know from Game of Thrones that the Targaryens have felt historically entitled to power, and the line “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did” suggests we will be getting a taste of that.
That’s what we know so far about the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
It’s still a good ways off, so we’re likely to learn more in the coming months. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date as more details become available.
For now, we’ll just have to look forward to August 21.
If you want to watch Game of Thrones ahead of House of the Dragon, all eight seasons are on HBO Max, which is where you’ll be able to watch the new show too. You can click the link below to sign up.