Regardless of how fans felt about the final season of Game of Thrones, the ending to such an iconic, long-standing series inevitably hits hard. However, House of the Dragon Season 1 plans to give fans even more content based in the fantastical world of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy-verse.
The series will primarily give us a richer understanding of the House Targaryen. Set 200 years before the first season of Game of Thrones, we’ll see the culture that shaped Daenerys. We’ll also get the context that caused the contentious civil war: The Dance of the Dragons.
So here’s everything we need to know about House of the Dragon and the magical continuation of the Game of Thrones universe.
The Targaryen Family in the Game of Thrones Series
Before we dive into what House of the Dragon will cover, let’s talk about the Targaryens we already know and love (and absolutely hate).
The Targaryens are a force to be reckoned with, and characters from the other kingdoms recognize that power (and the unstable insanity that comes with it). Cersei Lanniester famously said “whenever a Targareyen is born, the Gods flip a coin,” referencing the historical mental instability of Daenerys’s bloodline.
As the series went on, the few Targaryens we had in the beginning of the show dropped like flies.
First and foremost, we had Daenerys, the Khaleesi of the Dothraki tribe and Mother of Dragons. If someone has any sort of awareness of the Game of Thrones franchise, they would recognize Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.
We then had Viserys, played by Harry Lloyd, her truly despicable brother who handed off his sister as a bride to Khal Drago (Jason Momoa) in exchange for an army. The very Khal he essentially sold her to poured molten gold over his head because he threatened the Khaleesi (the title of a Dothraki warlord’s wife).
Not such a pleasant way to go.
Later, we discover that Maester Aemon (played by Peter Vaughan), a member of the Night’s Watch, was actually a Targaryen. He was none other than the brother of the Mad King, Aerys II (David Rintoul).
Finally, we believe that Daenerys is the sole surviving Targaryen. However, in a plot point deeply contested by fans, we discover she isn’t alone. Bran Stark reveals that Jon Snow is the son of Daenerys’s brother, Aegon. That makes her lover her nephew.
While this reveal definitely feels significant simply because Daenerys has been making out with her relative, it plays a role in the succession of the Targaryen throne. We originally believed that Daenerys would take the throne, but Jon’s heritage actually makes him next in line for the Iron Throne as reigning Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
An important factor in Daenerys and Jon’s rise to power is their ability to ride dragons. Jon rode Rhaegal, while Daenerys rode with Drogon. This ability proved vital when facing off against the dragon that used to be hers: Viserion. The Night King slayed the mighty beast and brought it back as an undead ice dragon.
Just as Dany and Jon used the dragons to their advantage, we’ll see how dragons play a significant role in the Targaryen rise to power in House of the Dragon. Even if you hadn’t read the book, it’s rather obvious that the mythical creatures will play a significant role in the show, given the title of the series.
What the House of the Dragon Will Be About
Game of Thrones has such an expansive (and complicated) mythology and history to understand. It can feel rather overwhelming at times, especially if you haven’t read the books.
Each house and kingdom has their own culture and government to analyze. This series plans to give us more context for the House Targaryen, specifically covering the Targaryen family politics.
George R.R. Martin’s book Fire and Blood, which Bantam Books published in 2018, serves as the source material for the series.
The events of the book begin 200 years before Game of Thrones starts. We’ll get a chance to see how dragons strengthened the Targaryen’s hold on political power. But we’re also promised a bird’s eye view on the beginning of the end of the Targaryen’s hold on the kingdom. We know from Game of Thrones that the tensions boiled over into bloodshed during the country’s civil war. This war was named the Dance of the Dragons.
We also know the cause of the Dance of the Dragons. After King Viserys I Targaryen passed, the family fights over who should rise to power in his stead. The firstborn, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, expects that the birth order dictates that the throne is hers to occupy. She presumes she will become the very first Queen to take her place on the Iron Throne. However, her uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen, acts as the heir presumptive. He expects the kingship will pass on to him. Once it is announced that the throne does indeed get passed to Princess Rhaenyra, the in-fighting begins.
And family squabbles can quickly turn deadly and destructive when the two warring figures can both ride dragons.
Both Daemon and Rhaenyra possess great skill as dragon riders, and we expect these talents to play a large role in the Dance of the Dragons.
Once the civil war begins, it marks the beginning of the end of Targaryen rule, as it ushers in the Mad King. Eventually, it all ends with the death of the Mad Queen.
We hope that this series will bring us directly up to speed until the beginning of Game of Thrones. Hopefully it includes not only the Dance of the Dragons, but Robert’s Rebellion and the Battle at the Trident.
House of the Dragons Production
So when and how did we get to a point where a spin-off series became a viable possibility? As early as November 2018, we started to expect a spin-off series when George R.R. Martin hinted that “a potential spin-off series would be solidly based on material in Fire & Blood.” In September of the next year, we found out that Martin and Ryan J. Condal were close to a pilot order from HBO for a series that “tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen.” The next month, House of the Dragon got a straight-to-series order instead.
Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik (who happened to win an Emmy Award for his direction of the Battle of the Bastards episode) got chosen as the showrunners for the series. They chose Sapochnik to direct the series premiere along with future episodes.
In January 2020, we got word from HBO’s President of Programming Casey Bloys that the writing process was underway. The projected premiere of the project was set for the year 2022.
Principal photography for the show began in April 2021. Most of the filming took place in the United Kingdom. The last week of April filming happened in Cornwall, England. Production List confirmed that some parts of Season 1 were filmed in both California and Spain.
In February 2022, we finally got word from HBO that production had wrapped on House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon Cast and Creators
As previously mentioned, Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik will act as showrunners for House of the Dragon. Another returning face from working of Game of Thrones, Ramin Djawadi will compose the score.
Let’s take a look at the cast and a brief explanation of the character they’ve committed to portray.
- King Viserys I Targaryen, played by Paddy Considine. Viserys I acts as the fifth king to the Seven Kingdoms. The council of lords chose him to succeed his grandfather, Jaehaerys I Targaryen, as the king. Many know him as “a warm, kind, and decent man.”
- Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, played by Emma D’Arcy. Princess Rhaenyra lays claim to the throne as King Viserys’s firstborn child. She possesses great skill as a dragon rider.
- Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, played by Milly Alcock.
- Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith. At King Viserys I’s death, Daemon acts as heir presumptive on the Iron Throne. He is the younger brother to the late king, and Princess Rhaenyra’s uncle. Daemon also demonstrates skill as a dragon rider and is an unrivaled warrior on the battlefield.
- Lady Alicent Hightower, played by Olivia Cooke. Referred to as the “most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms,” she is the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower.
- Young Lady Alicent Hightower, played by Emily Carey.
- Lord Corlys Velaryon, played by Steve Toussaint. Called the “Sea Snake” and the most famous seafarer of Westeros, he acts as the lord of House Velaryon.
- Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, played by Eve Best. Nicknamed the “Queen Who Never Was” as she never assumed the throne after her grandfather’s death, she’s also wife to Lord Corlys and a dragon rider.
- Ser Criston Cole, played by Fabien Frankel. The common-born son of the Lord of Blackhaven’s steward, Criston sets himself apart as a skilled swordsman.
- Mysaria, played by Sonoya Mizuno. A dancer that entrusts herself to Prince Daemon as an ally.
- Ser Otto Hightower, played by Rhys Ifans. Otto serves King Viserys as the Hand of the King. He’s Alicent’s father, and bitterly opposes Prince Daemon.
Just like Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon has more characters than you can count. These characters are just the main cast. Recurring characters include Jefferson Hall as Lord Jason Lannister and his twin Ser Tyland Lannister, Graham McTavish as Ser Harrold Westerling, Gavin Spokes as Lord Lyonel Strong, Bill Paterson as Lord Lyman Beesbury, and many more in House Targaryen and beyond.
House of the Dragon Season 1 Trailer
Released on May 5, HBO Max gave us our first sneak peek at the series with the House of the Dragon trailer.
Consider us excited.
House of the Dragon Season 1 Release Date
As the trailer promises, we will receive House of the Dragon on August 21, 2022. This first season will have ten episodes, sharing the format of the original Game of Thrones.
But will we only get 10 episodes? Or is there more stories for us to explore beyond one season? Casy Bloys, HBO’s chief content officer, confided in Variety that we might have a second season.
Unlike most Netflix Originals, we won’t get all 10 episodes dropped at once. We’ll get one episode a week of House of the Dragon each Sunday. If they follow the same schedule as Game of Thrones, they’ll each drop at 9pm EST/PST.