Dragons are coming. House of the Dragon, HBO's Game of Thrones prequel, draws nearer and nearer, like the Night King north of the wall as he marched for Westeros.
But this isn't about him.
House of the Dragon is set almost 200 years before Game of Thrones, with a completely different cast of characters, different battles (personal and physical) and an unfamiliar Westeros that viewers will soon get to know.
House of the Dragon has what later seasons of Game of Thrones did not have: Source material. Martin outlines the basic events of Targaryen history in Fire & Blood, but this isn't your average adaptation.
Fire & Blood has an all-encompassing narrative narrator: Martin himself. During the years covered in House of the Dragon, a lot of these histories clash (Mushrooms is particularly colorful), and the possibility create a new one entirely using Martins' work, as Thrones eventually did.
The premieres of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), wife Aemma (Sian Brooke), daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), brother Daemon (Matt Smith), and cousin Rhaenys (Eve Best) are both chock-full of dragon-blooded Targaryens.
The Targaryen rule of Westeros began with Aegon I, who conquered the seven kingdoms with his dragons and his sister-wives. House of the Dragon drops Aegon, crediting him for bringing his family to power. Visenya is also mentioned in the book Aegon's sword, which she wields as Daemon Targaryen.
Maegor, Visenyas' son who did not have the strongest claim to the throne, eventually forced his way onto it, and was so bloodthirsty as a ruler that he became known as Maegor the Cruel, is mentioned strategically in House of the Dragon, since Maegor set the standard for Targaryen-on-Targaryen warfare.
Cersei tells Ned Stark that the Targaryens wed brother to sister for generations in order to maintain their bloodlines pure. This is true and very much alive in the era of House of the Dragon with all kinds of relatives either married or displacing strangely flirty vibes.
The Targaryens faced opposition to this practice from the Faith, the majority Westerosi religious sect. Many Septons and their followers have declared Targaryen marriages invalid and abominable, leading to escalated conflicts, conflicts, and unstable regimes, but this was before Exceptionalism, an actual doctrine that basically states that Targaryens are exempt from the same laws as other humans because they are supposedly closer to the gods. Let them have a little incest as a
Prominent Game of Thrones families like Baratheon, Stark, Lannister, and others are alive and well in the Age of House of the Dragon, but don't expect to see much of them. Instead, the Targaryens keep close company with houses like Velaryon and Hightower, bloodlines that were less involved in rule and court prior to Game of Thrones (for reasons that may or may not be revealed).
The Velaryons are related to Old Valyria, a volcanic craze that lasted until the beginning of this series, but they are also the father of Visery, who is still denied rule. This will haunt everyone when Viserys names Rhaenyra as his heir.
The Hightowers are the first major family in House of the Dragon, starting with Lady Alicent (Emily Carey; Olivia Cooke) and her father Otto (Rhys Ifans), who is the heir to the throne. In Episode 1, Otto Hightower makes his grander plans all but explicit. And as the trailers show, Alicent is about to fall into the trap of Viserys' daughter Rhaenyra, who is the heir to the thron
The Viserys rule sets up the Dance of Dragons, a major Targaryen civil war, and tensions are simmering from the start. House Targaryen is a ticking time bomb (dragon egg? ), and this series will ignite it sooner or later.
Martin writes that the Dance was a war unlike any other ever fought in the Seven Kingdoms. Much of the slaughter took place on water, and especially in the air, as dragon fought dragon with tooth and claw and flame. It was a war of intrigue, murder, and betrayal, fought in shadows and stairwells, council chambers, and castle yards with knives and lies and poison.
House of the Dragon will air on HBO on August 21.