So you’re ready to return to Westeros, but you need to get your bearings.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. The “Game of Thrones” spin-off series, “House of the Dragon,” will premiere Sunday, August 21 at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max. Set about 200 years before the events of ‘Game of Thrones’, it follows the Targaryen family (the ancestors of Daenerys and Jon Snow) through civil war. The prequel also sheds some light on why Dany and Jon end up as the last Targaryens left standing, and why Dany’s trio of dragons were the last three in a world that used to be full of them.
Here’s everything you need to know about ‘House of the Dragon’.
This show is based on George RR Martin’s book “Fire & Blood”, which describes the (fictional) history of the Targaryens. This gives the show more leeway to fill in some character motivations that are bare bones on the page. It also means that since these events are in the “past” of this world, if you want to know how these characters will eventually die (or in some cases disappear to be presumed dead), we won’t spoil their fate – but that information is there if you choose to look it up.
The base story is a civil war between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother, Aegon II, over which one of them will succeed their father, Viserys I, to the throne. So again, just like “GoT”, this is a conflict over who will sit in the awkward pointy chair. But this puts sister against brother, and dragon against dragon.
Remember how messy the war got on “GoT” when Daenerys brought in her dragons? In this both sides have the beasts. But the show won’t throw the war on us right away, it will follow the events that preceded it. It starts with Viserys (Paddy Considine) on the throne musing on his line of succession, before Aegon II is even born, when Rhaenyra is just a young teenager (played by Milly Alcock in the first few episodes and Emma D’Arcy after a time jump ). Expect lots of palace intrigue and political scheming. And expect it to span a larger time span than “GoT”, with more time jumps than the previous show had.
This is the world of Westeros with many familiar images from “Game of Thrones”, but instead of jumping to all corners, let’s focus on King’s Landing (and some Dragonstone) and the silver-haired, incestuous Targaryen family. You can also expect a lot more dragons. Daenerys’ three dragons were a “Game of Thrones” novelty that everyone oohed and ahh about. In this age of Westeros, dragons are a dime a dozen.
The main players
The key figures are King Viserys I (Considine); his scheming brother Daemon (Matt Smith) and the king’s daughter, Rhaenyra (Alcock and D’Arcy), who is a little at close to her uncle Daemon, who tries to be the first woman on the Iron Throne long before her descendant, Daenerys.
Outside of their immediate family, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) is the Hand of the King – he is the king’s closest advisor and hates Daemon. His daughter – Alicent (played by Emily Carey Young and Olivia Cooke after a time jump), who starts out as Rhaenyra’s friend – will be a pivotal character in the evolving Civil War. And Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is also a powerful ally to some of these characters.
“House of the Dragon” premieres Sunday, August 21 at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.