Since the series finale of 2019’s “Game of Thrones”, there’s been an epic fantasy shaped hole in the hearts of fans everywhere. So many of us longed to return to the royal lands of Westeros, to bear witness to the intriguing and eternal struggle for power amongst the Great Houses. At long last, we’re finally going to get our hands on one of HBO’s first spin-off series from “Game of Thrones”. Enter the “House of the Dragon”!
Whether you’re a longtime follower of George R.R. Martin’s books and shows, or a newcomer, “House of the Dragon” is definitely a series you should be looking out for. It’s a whole different era, with characters who have lived long before the Ned Stark, Cersei Lannister and even the Mad King Aerys II.
With the official trailer finally dropping, there’s no better time than now to learn your lore and get the down low on everything you need to know before the show drops this August!
1. The Downfall of House Targaryen
In “Game of Thrones”, we’re constantly hearing about how House Targaryen was once the greatest power Westeros had ever seen until bit by bit, their dynasty fell apart. Sure the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen was the last ruler in the line but he was not the main cause. No, it was a terrible civil war between members of the Targaryen family that tore their kingdom apart and forever weakened their hold on the Iron Throne. This civil war, set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones”, and would come to be known as the Dance of the Dragons. So expect to see all the delicious court intrigue and power-plays we’ve come to expect from its predecessor here. Now, let’s meet the dragons of this civil war.
2. The Dragons in the Dance
The dragons in the Dance of the Dragons are referring to two key players here: Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, played by Emma D’Arcy and Prince Aegon II Targaryen, played by Tom Glynn-Carney. The ruler of Westeros at the time was the benevolent and just King Viserys I Targaryen who had two potential successor, his oldest daughter from his first wife, Rhaenyra and the eldest son from his second wife Alicent Hightower, Aegon II. So when the Viserys I passed, Rhaenyra was meant to take the Iron Throne as its first queen but due to the patriarchal laws of succession, Aegon II stole that right from her. Aegon II assumed the Iron Throne only to be met by Rhaenyra challenging his claim through her many supporters.
Based on official the trailer, it seems Aegon’s mother, Alicent Hightower, played by Olivia Cooke, will be serving as the main antagonist to Rhaenyra this season. With her position, we’ll see her and Rhaenerys vie as the first lady of Westeros. We’ll probably only see Aegon II take on a more prominent role in future seasons.
3. The Starks, Lannisters and Baratheons Join The War
Due to the fact that this war is taking place years before Robert’s Rebellion, unfortunately we won’t get to see cameos of Sean Bean’s Ned Stark, Mark Addy’s Robert Baratheon or the magnificent Charles Dance’s Tywin Lannister.
That being said, we will see their ancestors taking part in this upcoming civil war. The faction of Aegon II, the Greens, has the support of Ser Tyland Lannister and Lord Borros Baratheon. Meanwhile, Rhanerys’ faction, the Blacks, have the support of Lord Cregan Stark, the Warden of the North. We’re excited to see how the history of our beloved characters’ ancestors played a part in sowing the seeds of future wars to come as seen in “Game of Thrones”.
4. Get Ready for a lot of Fire-Breathing Action
One the many things fans loved about “Game of Thrones” was its glorious depiction of how dragons factored into combat. How their daunting size, insatiable appetite and fire-breath brought a whole new dynamic to warfare. They were essentially living weapons of mass destruction! It took a while but we eventually got to see them grow into their full potential in the later seasons.
In “House of the Dragon”, you’ll get to see these beasts in action much sooner and more frequently. According to the books, there were 20 living dragons before the civil war. With the potential that there might be a few more we don’t know about too. So yes, expect to see a whole lot of dragon-on-dragon battles between Aegon II’s faction with Rhaenyra’s. Rhaenyra herself will also be riding into battle!
5. The Death of the Dragons
Beyond their amazing capabilities in war, the reason why the birth of Daenerys’ three dragons were seen as a miracle is because of the effects of the civil war. It nearly killed off every single damn dragon that the Targaryens had! By the time of the events in the first season of “Game of Thrones”, they were all thought to have been extinct by that point. You see the Targaryens came from a race of powerful dragonriders known as Valyrians, who ruled one of the most powerful empires in history. Then, they were all wiped out in an event known as the Doom of Valyria, the Valyrians along with their dragons. Luckily the Targaryens predicted this event and left early to the Westerosi island of Dragonstone. In its wake, the Targaryens and their dragons were seen as the greatest power in the Known World…until they brought about their own doom.
6. Doctor Who’s Matt Smith plays a Dragon-Riding Badass
Growing up, we were major fans of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who. The British actor brought such charm, wit and gravitas to the iconic Timelord. Of course now, he’s better known for his role in “Morbius” as the dancing, shirtless Milo. In “House of the Dragon”, though, he plays the role of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the brother of Viserys I and husband to his niece, Rhaenyra. In the book “Fire and Blood”, Daemon is depicted as a mighty warrior who is devoted to seeing Rhaenyra ascend the Iron Throne. He also partook in one of the greatest dragonrider duels in the history of Westeros, the Battle Above Gods Eye. If the show manages to capture that battle accurately, it is going to be utterly wild!
7. Miguel Sapochnik will be running the show
Near the end of every season of “Game of Thrones”, you can always count on one man to ensure that it ends on a high note. That man is the legendary Miguel Sapochnik. He is the director responsible for famed battles such as the Battle of the Bastards, the Siege of King’s Landing and of course…the Massacre at Hardhome. Good God, just thinking about the episode “Hardhome” makes us weak in the knees. The scale, the cinematogaphy and the pacing, all masterfully done. So when we heard that Sapochnik and creator George R.R. Martin are producing “House of the Dragon” together, we were sold! So for those worried about D.B. Weiss and David Benioff somehow ruining the show, you can rest easy. They’re not here.
8. The Series already has a Clear Ending
For all you “Song of Ice and Fire” purists out there, don’t worry. The show won’t devolve into some semi-authentic, semi-head-canon mess. Martin has already chronicled the events of the show in his epic novel “Fire and Blood”, which by the way is an amazing read from start to finish! Some fans of “Game of Thrones” attributed the waning quality of the series to the lack of source material to draw from seeing that Martin has not released his follow-up book “The Winds of Winter”, which should have been the main inspiration for Season 6 onwards. Leaving Weiss and Benioff to pick up the pieces with a few plot beats from Martin. With “Fire and Blood” completed and Martin co-creating the show with Ryan J. Cordal, it seems like we’re in good hands.
Be sure to catch it on HBO Go when it hits on the 22nd August this year!