The Dragon House is about to fly away. The Game of Thrones prequel is expected to premiere this weekend. While the end of Game of Thrones was a disappointment to almost everyone, HBO is betting that fire and blood will turn those bad memories to ashes.
In fact, House of the Dragon has reviews and has a good 85% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Winter has already come and gone in Game of Thrones, which ended its eight-season run in May 2019. HBO wanted to continue working on the most popular series in its history, so the network began developing several potential spin-offs. They moved forward with one: the House of the Dragon.
The idea was suggested by writer George R.R. Martin himself, who also recommended Ryan Condal to be the head writer and showrunner. Veteran Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik also served as co-showrunner. Martin’s blessing and participation should come as a relief to fans, as he hasn’t been involved much in recent seasons of GOT.
As the first sequel to one of the biggest TV sensations of recent years (and arguably the last installment of a true monoculture), House of the Dragon should fill big boots. While many elements from the original show were carried over, significant changes were made to make the prequel stand out.
Here are the seven most important things to know before watching House of the Dragon. And be sure to check out our guide on how to watch House of the Dragon. (will open in a new tab) so you can see all activities.
What is the Dragon House about?
House of the Dragon is based on several of Martin’s writings, most notably the historical volume Fire and Blood. It chronicles the exploits of the Targaryen family over the centuries, beginning with the Fall of Valyria and Aegon I Targaryen’s conquest of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The plot of the series is also based on the short stories The Princess and the Queen and The Outcast Prince.
The first season focuses on the events leading up to a specific stage in Targaryen history: the Dance of the Dragons. A bloody and violent civil war pits various members of the Targaryen family and their dragon companions against each other.
When does the House of the Dragon take place?
House of the Dragon takes place around 129 AD. (after the conquest of Aegon) and almost two centuries before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen and other events in the Game of Thrones.
The show also features flashbacks to key figures’ childhoods, as young actors portray Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alycent Hightower. Additionally, the trailer lists at least one scene taking place at the Great Council of Harrenhal in AZ 101. The assembly of the lords of Westeros decided who would succeed Jaehaerys I as king among his four surviving grandsons (Reynis, Viserys, Daemon and Emma). They chose Viserys, to the fury of Rhaenys. More on this below.
Who are the main characters?
Like Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon has elements of sprawl. We will continue the rundown of this character down to the 10 most important roles.
Should I watch Game of Thrones?
Watching Game of Thrones is not necessary to understand and enjoy House of the Dragon. As a prequel set hundreds of years before GOT, it has no common characters.
Fans of the original series will find it easier to get some of the references and their meaning, such as the Iron Throne, the Citadel, and various noble houses such as the Lannisters and Baratheons.
If you’ve seen the entire Game of Thrones and want to rewatch some of the episodes before House of the Dragon, here are five episodes we recommend.
“Winter Is Coming” (Season 1, Episode 1): A pilot table setting that explores Daenerys Targaryen and how her existence threatens the reign of King Robert Baratheon. It also features the politicking, ambition, alliance building, and backstabbing that will also feature in the House of the Dragon.
Fire and Blood (season 1, episode 10): the birth of the dragons Daenerys Targaryen.
“Dance of the Dragons” (Season 5, Episode 9): Daenerys rides Drogon for the first time, and Princess Shirin Baratheon tells the story of the Dragon Dance civil war to her father Stannis.
“War Spoilers” (season 7, episode 4): “The Loot Train Robbery” is the location of a terrifying and deadly dragon attack. Lots of fire, lots of blood.
“Beyond the Wall” (Season 7, Episode 6): Not only is there a bit of dragon riding, but there is also dragon death, which must happen several times during the civil war.
While the series finale, The Iron Throne, is a portrait of the toxicity that seems to run in the veins of the Targaryens as Daenerys goes berserk with power, we can’t recommend rewatching it. It will just open up old wounds.
How long will the series run?
Game of Thrones ran for eight seasons, which roughly matches Martin’s (unfinished) books. “House of the Dragon” has no analogues.
The civil war in Dance of the Dragons has been going on for about two years, and maybe the show is in no hurry to cover it. He can break each year into separate seasons, or split them in half and tell his story over four seasons. However, when this story is completed, The House of the Dragon may become an anthology of other Targaryen tales.
As Sapochnik told Entertainment Weekly (will open in a new tab)“We chose a story almost like Star Wars: Episode IV. This is New Hope. We can go back, we can go forward. There are many possibilities. Think of something”.
What has changed since the books?
(Image credit: HBO)
One of the biggest differences between House of the Dragon and Martin’s works is that Corlis Velaryon is black.
In the books, references to Velaryons indicate that they have pale skin, silver hair, and purple eyes. The showrunners wanted the cast to be more diverse and inclusive, and with Martin’s blessing, they changed the race of the family.
“Now the world is very different from what it was 10 years ago, when [Game of Thrones] it all started. It’s different than it was 20 years ago when Peter Jackson directed The Lord of the Rings. These types of stories need to be more inclusive than they’ve traditionally been,” Kondal told EW. (will open in a new tab). “It was very important to Miguel and me to create a show that wasn’t just another bunch of white people on screen, to put it bluntly.”
In fact, Kondal said that Martin almost wrote the Velaryons as a Black Noble House.
“A long time ago, when he thought this world, [Martin] I myself considered the idea of making the Velaryons a race of blacks with silver hair, who, in fact, came from the other side of the ocean and conquered Westeros, Kondal noted. such a harsh picture. I just thought, “Well, why can’t we do a version of this now?”
Why is the Iron Throne different?
(Image credit: HBO)
One of the first things that GOT fans will notice, unlike the original show, is the size of the Iron Throne. The one in “House of the Dragon” is much larger and scarier, which better matches how it was described in Martin’s books.
Earlier, the author said, “I have repeatedly stated in the book that the Iron Throne is huge… huge. He towers over the room like a huge beast, and he’s ugly, he’s asymmetrical. It was assembled by blacksmiths, not craftsmen and experts in a furniture factory.”
The Game of Thrones version was scaled down due to budget and practical considerations. But the Dragon House had no such barriers.
“I must say, this is one of the most enjoyable processes, because there were no restrictions on how we did it,” Sapochnik explained. (will open in a new tab). “Rather, we developed it and then worked backwards.”
As for how and why he’s changed by the time Game of Thrones takes place, well, as the showrunners point out, a lot can happen in 200 years.