The Targaryen family’s storied past will soon unfold onscreen in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. It’s based on Fire and Blood, George R.R. Martin’s history of the Targaryen dynasty. But which era and which monarchs will the series bring to life? And when will it premiere? Here’s everything we know about the show so far.
#HouseOfTheDragon, a #GameofThrones prequel is coming to @HBO.— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) October 29, 2019
The series is co-created by @GRRMSpeaking and Ryan Condal. Miguel Sapochnik will partner with Condal as showrunner and will direct the pilot and additional episodes. Condal will be writing the series. pic.twitter.com/9ttMzElgXm
Outlander‘s Graham McTavish is the latest performer to join the cast. He didn’t get a big announcement from HBO though. He confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter following leaked set photos that showed him in costume. It’s still unknown who he’s playing. We wouldn’t be surprised if he has an important role. But in Westeros no one is ever guaranteed to work there for long.
He is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. FIRE & BLOOD readers him as Ser Criston Cole. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON viewers will know him as FABIEN FRANKEL. https://t.co/hnLdrf0myw pic.twitter.com/fuf6gIAzCr— George RR Martin (@GRRMspeaking) April 15, 2021
George R.R. Martin and HBO have announced Fabien Frankel will play Ser Criston Cole. Frankel has a Kevin Bacon-esque connection with the original series. He starred alongside Emilia Clarke in Last Christmas. He’ll be taking on a much bigger role on House of the Dragon though. Criston Cole is one of the most important figures of the Targaryen civil war. From HBO’s announcement: “Of Dornish descent, Ser Criston is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honor and his preternatural skill with a sword.”
That only hints at Cole’s oversized legacy and how his actions reshaped the Realm forever. As Martin writes, “He is a challenger, a champion, cheered by the commons, beloved of the ladies. He is a lover (or is he?), a seducer (or is he?), a betrayer (or is he?), a breaker of hearts and a maker of kings.” He’s definitely one of the show’s major characters.
Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers), and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) will all be major players in Westeros. Cooke will play Alicent Hightower, the second wife to King Viserys I. She schemed to have her son seated on the Iron Throne. D’Arcy will play Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the would-be queen who was her father’s named successor. And Smith will play the “Rogue Prince,” Daemon Targaryen. Visery’s younger brother was a hero to some, a villain to others, and ultimately husband to his niece Rhaenyra.
These are arguably the three biggest roles on the series, with each playing a major part in the Civil War that tore house Targaryen apart.
The show’s first officially announced cast member was The Outsider‘s Paddy Considine. He will play King Viserys I, the Targaryen ruler who foolishly did not anticipate the war of succession that would follow his death.
These are the official descriptions for each character:
Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen: Viserys was chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy, but as we’ve learned from Game of Thrones, good men do not necessarily make for great kings.
Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower: She’s the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.
Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen: The king’s first-born child. She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything…but she was not born a man.
Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen: The younger brother of King Viserys and heir to the throne, Daemon is a peerless warrior and a dragonrider who possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…
Joining them in them in important roles will be Steve Toussaint (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,) Eve Best (The King’s Speech, Nurse Jackie), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider-Man), and Sonoya Mizuno (Ex Machina, La La Land).
The official character descriptions convey just how important each will be to the story:
Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon aka “The Sea Snake”: The lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen, “The Sea Snake,” is the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros. He built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world.
Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon: A dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Queen Who Never Was” was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favored her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male.
Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower: The Hand of the King, who loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king’s brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne.
Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria: She came to Westeros with nothing, sold more times than she can recall, and could have wilted…but instead she rose to become the most trusted — and most unlikely — ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne.
HBO will begin production for House of the Dragon in 2021. And they confirmed in December 2020 that the show will arrive in 2022.
The news also came with new art work for dragons.
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) December 3, 2020
The series is based on part one (of an announced two) of George R.R. Martin’s extensive Targaryen family history, 2018’s Fire & Blood. HBO said in a press release that the prequel is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones. That’s when Aegon the Conqueror united six of the seven kingdoms under his rule, launching a nearly three-century dynasty.
While we thought that might mean House of the Dragon would be an anthology series, the show will instead focus on the first Targaryen civil war, known as “The Dance of the Dragons.”
That war, roughly 130 years after Aegon stepped foot on what became King’s Landing, contributed to the extinction of dragons, House Targaryen’s greatest source of power. No one saw another dragon until Daenerys hatched three nearly 150 years later.
George R.R. Martin co-created the series with Ryan Condal (Colony, Hercules). Condal will write for the show and also serve as joint showrunner with veteran Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik.
Sapochnik led some of the biggest, most famous episodes on the original series. His résumé includes “Hardhome,” “The Winds of Winter,” “The Long Night,” and “Battle of the Bastards,” which earned him a directing Emmy. He will direct House of the Dragon‘s premiere and additional episodes.
One area we know the prequel will live up to the original series will be in the music department. Emmy-wining Game of Thrones‘ composer Ramin Djawadi will return to Westeros to score House of the Dragon.
The Canceled Prequel
The series is unrelated to the other Game of Thrones prequel that HBO passed on. Unlike House of the Dragon, which received a straight-to-order pickup, that series actually shot a pilot. Known unofficially as Bloodmoon, it was set thousands of years earlier, during the mysterious era when Westeros’s Age of Heroes descended into the first Long Night.
We know a lot less about that time period than we do House Targaryen’s time on the Iron Throne. Yet we still know more about that cancelled prequel than we do House of the Dragon. So far.
Which is why we’ll keep updating this post with new information when it comes available.
Featured Image: HBO
Originally published on July 29, 2020, with updates on December 11, 2020 and February 2, and April 16, 2021.