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House Of The Dragon - What We Know So Far

Ever since the beloved and wildly popular HBO series "Game of Thrones" — with its spectacular visual artistry, compelling world-building, and complex inter- (and intra-) familial drama — wrapped up in 2019, fans of the show, as well as the George R. R. Martin books on which it was based, have been clamoring for more stories like it. The keen interest in returning to Westeros only grew more fervent in the wake of the poorly-received series finale that left viewers wanting better. HBO teased viewers for more than two and a half years with the promise of a prequel series that follows the Targaryen family's grip on the Iron Throne and the power plays by the family to control that dynasty.

For a long time, concrete details about "House of the Dragon" were hard to come by. A July 2020 report from Insider offered fans essential "House of the Dragon" production details. At the time, we learned the "Game of Thrones" prequel would be based on Martin's novel "Fire and Blood," and it was originally to intended be set 300 years before its parent series. We also knew Martin would be involved as an executive producer and that Ryan Condal ("Rampage") and director Miguel Sapochnik ("Game of Thrones") would join him as co-showrunners. Additionally, Insider reported Sara Hess ("Orange is the New Black") would serve as the series' writer.

In late March 2022, curious fans got a much-anticipated update about "House of the Dragon." The update included new information about the prequel's cast and crew, as well as the release date, August 22.

Who is in the cast of House of the Dragon?

Warner Media's March 30 press release confirming the "House of the Dragon" release date also provided a comprehensive list of characters and the actors playing them, including Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, and Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, plus Eve Best and Emma D'Arcy as Princesses Rhaenys and Rhaenyra Targaryen. The series apparently won't feature any Starks, Snows, or Baratheons, but there will be at least two Lannisters in the mix: twins Tyland and Lord Jason (Jefferson Hall). 

"House of the Dragon" also introduces some new families. King Viserys' Hand, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), and his daughter, Alicent (Cooke), join the fold, as do the Velaryons. The Velaryon clan includes Lord Corlys (Toussaint), his son Ser Laenor (John Macmillan and Theo Nate), his daughter Lady Laena (Savannah Steyn), younger brother Ser Vaemond (Wil Johnson), and nephew Jacaerys (Harry Collett).

Fabian Frankel ("The Serpent") plays swordsman Ser Criston Cole, and Sonoya Mizuno ("Ex Machina") is Mysaria, a sex worker who becomes a trusted friend to Prince Daemon Targaryen ("Doctor Who" alum Matt Smith). Milly Alcock from "Upright Meg" and Emily Carey ("Wonder Woman") appear as the younger versions of D'Arcy's Rhaenyra and Cooke's Alicent. Rounding out the cast is "Outlander" alum Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling, an honorable member of the Kingsguard, and Ryan Corr as Ser Harwin "Breakbones" Strong, "the strongest man in the seven kingdoms."

What is the plot of House of the Dragon?

Although no concrete plot details about the series were made public prior to the show's release, in George R.R. Martin's own words, "Fire and Blood" covers the seven "Targaryen kings from Aegon I ("The Conquerer") to the regency of Aegon III ("The Dragonbane"), along with their wives, wars, siblings, children, friends, rivals, laws, travels, and sundry other matters ... Oh, and there are dragons too." Warner Media's March 30 press release included an equally simple logline for the prequel series' first season: "Based on George R.R. Martin's 'Fire and Blood,' the series, set 200 years before the events of 'Game of Thrones,' tells the story of House Targaryen."

Critical reviews of the source material are mixed, with The Times calling it "a masterpiece of popular historical fiction," but Publisher's Weekly saying the novel was "dramatic" and "salacious" before concluding that "there are entertaining snatches of dialogue and detailed depictions of battles, but they only last a few pages before a return to brisk summary." However, drama, salaciousness, brilliant writing, and battle scenes were the key elements in making "Game of Thrones" so popular and successful, so we can probably expect them to follow from "Fire and Blood" to "House of the Dragon" with similar success. 

What we saw in the teaser for House of the Dragon

HBO Max released a teaser trailer for "House of the Dragon" in October 2021, revealing that the series will not take place 300 years before "Game of Thrones," as originally intended, but 200 years, instead. The teaser, with a runtime of just over one minute long, also offers a quick glimpse of the Hand of the King (Rhys Ifans), a shot of King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) on the Iron Throne holding the sword known as Blackfyre, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) moving worriedly through a crowd holding a dagger, and Rhaenyra and Daemon (Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith) standing on a beach. 

We also get a quick flash of Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon looking pensively off into the distance, and we see his entire family making a grand entrance into some high-profile occasion. There are also shots of sword fights and a jousting tournament, and we see one of the Targaryen princesses walking slowly towards a much bigger and scarier Iron Throne.

Smith's voice is the only actor's heard in the teaser, rasping out "Gods, kings, fire, and blood. Dreams didn't make us kings — dragons did." We don't get any dialogue between characters or other exposition, but the quick visuals show enough intense and beautifully shot moments to take viewers through Season 1 – and hopefully beyond.

The official trailer for House of the Dragon

The first official trailer for HBO's "House of the Dragon" delivers on the explosive cutthroat narrative behind the Targaryen legacy and deadly civil war. It opens with an older Rhaenyra now played by Emma D'Arcy overlooking the cliffs of Dragonstone. The heir to the Iron Throne after her father King Viserys (Paddy Considine) is currently the ruling princess of Dragonstone — a location viewers will recognize as Daenerys' refuge in "Game of Thrones" Season 7 and where Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Dany ride dragons together in Season 8. We also see Rhaenyra's gold dragon Syrax flying over King's Landing with the princess on her back.

Viewers also find ancestors from House Stark and Baratheon pledging their loyalty to King Viserys in the throne room. After that, we're treated to a staggering, jagged, and book-accurate Iron Throne showcasing the "thousand blades of Aegon's enemies" that were supposedly melted down by dragon giant Balerion the Black Dread. The trailer appropriately ends in a roar of dragon fire frightening an awestruck Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), enticing audiences to return to Westeros.

What's on the official poster?

HBO officially released the first poster for "House of the Dragon" promising a reign of dragon fire when the series premieres August 21st on HBO Max. The striking poster shares the first look at heir to the Iron Throne and dragon rider Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) with her enormous companion Syrax. Don't let her young age fool you; Rhaenyra has been sailing the skies atop Syrax since she was only 7 years old. Her Valyrian features mirror Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), with whom she also shares a fierce destiny and a determination to rule Westeros. 

The poster also includes our first look at a freshly forged Iron Throne (created under orders from Aegon the Conqueror) and Rhaenyra's royal red and black Targaryen gown. The image also features flecks of hot sparks falling around with Syrax's mouth glowing a fiery orange. The menacing dragon foreshadows the devastating Targaryen civil war, the Dance of Dragons, which the series centers on. 

Will Balerion the Black Dread be in the series?

Speaking of Balerion, will the Black Dread be one of the many dragons featured in the new prequel series? Fans of "Game of Thrones" will remember Balerion's giant dragon skull that Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) decimates with her dragon-killing weapon. What they may not know is that the Black Dread was once ridden by King Viserys when he was a young prince. In the image above, Aegon I rides Balerion across the sea to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. The enormous beast goes on to melt down the many swords of Aegon's enemies with his deadly dragon fire and, according to in-universe folklore, that's how Aegon I created the prized Iron Throne. The legendary tales of Balerion also say that because of his gigantic size, he was able to swallow entire towns whole.

According to "The World of Ice and Fire," Balerion unfortunately died of old age in 94 AC (AC meaning "After Conquest," referring to Aegon I). The new series will begin around 129 AC when the Targaryen civil war started. Therefore, it's unlikely we'll see Balerion in "House of the Dragon" at first, but we've seen possible flashbacks in the trailer (at the 47 second mark, we return to castle Harrenhal during an emergency meeting of The Great Council — an event that occurs in 101 AC), so it's possible the Black Dread may return in Viserys' memories. 

Does George R.R. Martin approve of the series?

The author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series gives his seal of approval and then some by even citing "some improvements" to his original source material. The beloved author says he's seen "rough cuts of nine of the 10 episodes, and I continue to be impressed. I cannot speak to the SFX, many of which are not in yet, but the look of it is great, and the acting, the directing, and writing are first rate." 

As for the changes, he states: "For all you book fans, it is my story. Sure, there are some changes from 'Fire & Blood' — we could not present three alternative versions of every major event, not and keep our sanity — but I think Ryan Condal and his writers made good choices. Even some improvements. (Heresy, I know, but being the author, I am allowed to say so)." Now, even the most dedicated and passionate fans can breathe an easy sigh of relief knowing it doesn't look like they'll have to relive a disappointment akin the original series finale anytime soon. 

Where was the series filmed?

Entertainment Weekly confirmed "House of the Dragon" would be filming in England instead of Northern Ireland like the original "Game of Thrones" series. However, the news that the prequel series would be filming in the notable Leavesden Studios in Watford was even more revealing. The production site is famous for other iconic Warner Bros. projects like the "Harry Potter" series and more recently, "The Batman" film. 

"House of the Dragon" also returned to film at singular "Game of Thrones" locations in Spain. Watchers on the Wall shows the production crew returning to Cáceres and Trujillo which both served as King's Landing locations for "Thrones" Season 7 and will again for the new series. Cáceres also served as Oldtown — where Sam trained to become a maester — which "House of the Dragon" could also potentially return to. Additionally, Watchers' reports the series filmed in Portugal and Cornwall, England, and the Cornwall shoots featured a few esteemed "House of the Dragon" cast members

Who composed the series' score?

"Game of Thrones" series composer Ramin Djawadi was confirmed to return to Westeros and compose the score for the highly anticipated "House of the Dragon." Djawadi is responsible for chilling and thundering pieces like "Light of the Seven" and "Dracarys" which are often rewoven and reworked throughout the series to highlight the development of beloved characters like Cersei and Daenerys. He also composed the immediately recognizable intro music – certainly, one of the most iconic TV theme songs of its era — and will surely create a fiery new anthem for the prequel series.

Currently, Ramin Djawadi's work can be heard on HBO's "Westworld" Season 4 where he puts his own unique twist on hits like Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman." He's also responsible for "The Eternals," "Iron Man," and "Pacific Rim" scores which elevate the emotional core of the films with his rousing accompaniments. 

What is the source material for the series?

One of the main reasons this particular show was produced instead of any of the other "Game of Thrones" spinoffs in development is because of the solid foundation laid out by George R.R. Martin's "Fire & Blood." The sprawling prequel novel chronicles the Targaryen dynasty from Aegon I the Conqueror to the Dance of Dragons civil war that ripped the royal family apart by fire, blood, tooth, and claw. Martin's book is the blueprint for HBO's newest dragon-packed series and could serve as a worthy successor to the original groundbreaking show.

The "House of the Dragon" is also a reedited version of Bryan Cogman's (story editor on "Thrones") rejected spinoff series that HBO chose not to produce. Cogman wrote the "Game of Thrones" series' bible and was often referred to as the "keeper of mythos" on set. He ended up writing 11 episodes over the series' run including standouts like "Kissed by Fire," "What Is Dead May Never Die," and "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms." Even though Cogman's spinoff didn't make it to production, it's safe to assume he left an equally solid foundation for the hotly anticipated prequel. 

Did the Game of Thrones creators return?

After a poorly received final season of "Game of Thrones," even the most hardcore fans are cautious to return to Westeros. According to its many detractors, Season 8 rushes character arcs of the series' most important characters — Daenerys' near-instant pivot to her "Mad Queen" phase being the worst offender — and doubled down on spectacle instead of substance. Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who adapted the HBO hit from George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, found themselves met with massive backlash. Fans were so outraged by the final season that a petition was formed to remake it entirely, which has since amassed nearly 2 million signatures.

The season was so rejected by fans that Martin himself felt compelled to comment and cited the toxicity he felt from negative fans: "I don't understand how people can come to hate so much something that they once loved. How has everything become so toxic?" Martin has also recently promised his ending will be "quite different" than the show's and is even a credited co-creator and executive producer on "House of the Dragon." With the author himself pulling the dragon by the reins, fans have a good reason to be optimistic.

Who directed the series?

While D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are creating new content at Netflix, Emmy-winning director Miguel Sapochnik returned to Westeros on a full-time basis. Sapochnik famously directed the jaw-dropping brutality of "Game of Thrones" Season 6's "The Battle of the Bastards" as well as Season 8's feature film-length episode "The Long Night," which showcases the surviving heroes battling against the undead White Walkers. For "House of the Dragon," Sapochnik directed multiple episodes as well as acted as co-creator and executive producer. 

"House of the Dragon" also features notable television directors Greg Yaitanes, Clare Kilner, and Geeta Vasant Patel. Yaitanes ("The Old Man," "Castle Rock") helmed the second and third episodes in addition to the finale, while Kilner ("Snowpiercer," "Claws") tackled Episodes 4, 5, and the penultimate entry. Patel ("The Magicians," "Marvel's Runaways") directed Episode 8, leaving Sapochnik the premiere, Episode 6 and Episode 7 (via IMDb). Co-creator Ryan Condal served as writer with George R.R. Martin (who returned to write for the first time since Season 4 of "Thrones"), Sara Hess, Charmaine De Grate, Gabe Fonseca, Kevin Lau, Ira Parker, and Eileen Shim. This fresh crew ensured "House of the Dragon" would indeed have a "different tone" from the original series. 

Who are the dragon riders?

The Targaryen sigil has three heads; "The House of the Dragon" has three main dragon riders. King Viserys, Rhaenyra, and Daemon daringly climb the respective backs of Balerion, Syrax, and Caraxes and rain fire down upon their enemies. Though Viserys never takes flight on another dragon after the death of Balerion, Rhaenyra and Daemon will provide plenty of fiery sky scenes in the prequel.

Daemon's dragon, Caraxes, is something of a different beast from the aforementioned other two flying fire lizards. Nicknamed the "Blood Wyrm," Caraxes was first tamed by Aemon Targaryen I. The red dragon is described in the books as the "fiercest of all the young dragons in the Dragonpit" and "fearsome, and no stranger to blood and fire." With Caraxes at Daemon's disposal and when the Dance of Dragons begins, we can certainly anticipate an onslaught for anyone who gets in his way, including his niece, the pure Valyrian Rhaenyra. As Barristan Selmey (Ian McElhinney) once stated to Daenerys on the original "Game of Thrones" series, "King Jaehaerys once told me that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land."

What can we expect from the story?

In the book, the Dance of Dragons is a brutal civil war that viciously pits family against family and dragon against dragon for the Iron Throne. The war nearly wipes out the entire Targaryen family, leaving only three (well, four if you count the one the rest of the known world isn't supposed to know about) alive by the time of the events depicted in "Games of Thrones." After King Viserys dies, the kingdom is divided on future rulership with everyone plotting their own secret scheme and playing a conniving game of thrones. Viserys names Rhaenyra his heir, but as the trailer states, "Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne." Daemon, the younger brother to Viserys, believes he is the rightful ruler and is willing to burn as much as it takes in pursuit of his legacy. The conflict between the two ultimately ensures the fatal Dance of Dragons will unfold. 

What about the spinoff starring Naomi Watts?

Before there was "The House of the Dragon," HBO confidently planned to move thousands and thousands of years away from the world of Westeros as we knew it. The origin prequel, dubbed with many nicknames like "The Long Night" and the seemingly official "Bloodmoon" would explore the roots of the sinister zombie-like beings, the White Walkers. It was also intended to dive into the magical lore of the Children of the Forest who help Bran in Season 4 of "Game of Thrones." 

This first attempt at a prequel series, "Bloodmoon," was set to star Naomi Watts and the pilot written by Jane Goldman (Disney's live action "The Little Mermaid," "Kingsman: Secret Service"). It was unfortunately cancelled after HBO spent a reported $30 million on the first episode when former WarnerMedia entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt viewed the episode (via IndieWire). In Greenblatt's account, "When I saw a cut of [the pilot] a few months after I arrived, I said to [HBO boss Casey Bloys], 'This just doesn't work, and I don't think it delivers on the promise of the original series.' And he didn't disagree, which actually was a relief." 

Are there other Game of Thrones spinoffs in development?

Recently, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that a Jon Snow spinoff is in development at HBO with Kit Harington reprising his role. This brings the grand total of other "Thrones" spinoffs currently in development (excluding "House of the Dragon") to eight possible new series. According to Deadline, there are three live-action series being explored including "10,000 Ships," "9 Voyages" aka "Sea Snakes," and "Flea Bottom." Additionally, a "Dunk and Egg" prequel series was announced with Steve Conrad ("Wonder") set to write the pilot. Amanda Segel ("Person of Interest") will write the first episode of "10,000 Ships" while Bruno Heller (HBO's "Rome") helms the Sea Snake premiere. Hopefully these will have better fates than "Bloodmoon" and they'll follow "House of the Dragon" to HBO.

Three animated series have also been announced though George R.R. Martin gives words of caution to fans anticipating all the spinoffs making it to air. The television writer is no stranger to unaired pilots and though his lips are sealed tight, he gives several tidbits and other possible titles on his blog. With eight potential spinoffs in various stages of development, it's safe to say we won't have to worry about leaving Westeros any time soon. 

Are there any connections to the original series?

While we won't see any "Game of Thrones" characters alive in "House of the Dragon," they'll certainly be there in spirt. There are already striking parallels between Dragonstone residents Rhaenyra and Daenerys from their shared Valyrian features to their fiery determination and resilience. The envious and entitled Daemon eerily embodies Viserys III's vile spirt, and his silver blonde hair is reminiscent of the pompous prince. 

The sea snake Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and his wife Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) will also conjure memories of similar characters like Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) and Cersei Lannister. The sea snake commands the largest naval army in Westeros while the Targaryen princess was also denied the Iron Throne because of her gender. Rhaenys is a dragon rider who is surely angry about being dubbed "The Queen Who Never Was." She'll command her dragon, Meleys also known as "The Red Queen," in the Dance of Dragons while the sea snakes origins will also be further explored.

Fans can also look forward to returning to familiar locations like King's Landing, Harrenhal, Dragonstone, and possibly Oldtown and Dorne if the novel "Fire & Blood" is any indication of what's to come. 

Will we see the Doom of Valyria?

"Game of Thrones" fans will remember the harrowing adventure Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) took through the ruins of Valyria in Season 5 of "Game of Thrones." This mysterious location may have a significant influence on "The House of the Dragon" due to its deep connection with the history of the Targaryens. The prophesied disaster is the reason for the Targaryen's initial landing on Dragonstone and alliance with Valyrian decedents the House Velaryon of the island Driftmark.

Though not much is known about the catastrophic event, we know many of the great city of Valyria's precious secrets, like magic, were forever lost in the Doom. The devastating eruption consequently sent Essos into chaos and gave the Dothraki an opportunity to claim an abundance of land surrounding the Dothraki Sea. The ruinous event was so powerful it even killed dragons and is the reason why there are so few left in Westeros. Could "The House of the Dragon" eventually revisit this critical point in Westeros history?