Game of Thrones adapted George R.R. Martin’s (sigh…still unfinished) A Song of Ice and Fire series. But HBO’s prequel spinoff isn’t based on those novels. House of the Dragon begins two centuries before Robert Baratheon asked Ned Stark to serve as Hand of the King. Unlike with the original hit show, though, we already know a great deal about the Dance of the Dragons that will take place in House of the Dragon thanks to the 2018 book Fire & Blood. It’s part one of Martin’s (planned two-part) history of House Targaryen.
However, it’s not the only source we have for the civil war that pitted dragon against dragon. Even that prequel has prequels. Here is a rundown of the books that House of the Dragon is based on.
What Is George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood About?
For millennia Old Valyria ruled over much of Essos. House Targaryen was only a minor dragonlord family of the empire’s 40 ruling noble houses. But things changed twelve years before the “Doom of Valyria” killed all the other dragonlords in 114 BAC (Before Aegon’s Conquest.) Fire & Blood begins the Targaryen story in Westeros with those events and is the main book that House of the Dragon will be based on. But exactly happens in this Game of Thrones prequel book?
Lord Aenar Targaryen, to the bemusement and scorn of the other Valyrian rulers, moved his family to the empire’s most western outpost of Dragonstone. His daughter Daenys had a prophetic dream about Valyria’s end. When it came true a dozen years later the Targaryens stood as the only remaining dragonlords in the world. But they did not use “fire made flesh” to take over Westeros for another century. That’s when Aegon and his two sisters brought fire and blood to the Realm. The book that takes its name from the words of House Targaryen covers the first half of the family’s three centuries-long dynasty in the Seven Kingdoms.
Fire & Blood covers the family’s story starting from Aegon’s reign and then following the five kings that came after him. It then ends with the Targaryen civil war the Dance of the Dragons, which House of the Dragon will bring to life. The Game of Thrones prequel book concludes halfway through the reign of the seventh Targaryen ruler in Westeros, the one who ascended to the throne when the war finally ended. We won’t name that person for those hoping to avoid spoilers for the show. But that monarch’s reign marked the final time anyone saw a dragon until Daenerys Stormborn.
Is House of the Dragon Based on Any Other Books?
Fire & Blood—presented as in-world history from Archmaester Gyldayn—is the most complete source we have for both House of the Dragon and the first half of House Targaryen’s reign in Westeros. But House of the Dragon may not be based on only one book; there are a few other sources that we could see come into play.
Before its release, fans of A Song and Ice and Fire learned about that civil war and its major participants from other official sources. The most important is the 2014 compendium The World of Ice & Fire. This book covers tens of thousands of years of Westeros’s history. That includes a large section on House Targaryen’s reign spanning every ruler from Aegon until Aerys II, the Mad King. However, that section is just a fraction of what Fire & Blood reveals.
Written by Martin along with Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, The World of Ice & Fire is also presented as an in-world history from Maester Yandel. The Maester wrote it for the benefit of the newly crowned King
Joffrey Tommen. (Joffrey’s name is actually written over.) However, readers already knew some aspects of the Dance of the Dragons prior to that book’s release. Martin previously shared tales about some of the war’s major figures in short story collections the author contributed to.
And as though that’s not enough, A Wiki of Ice & Fire covers all of the lore and history known about A Song of Ice and Fire. The website is part of Westeros.org, run by The World of Ice & Fire co-writers Garcia and Antonsson.
All of Martin’s companion books are canon. And A Wiki of Ice & Fire is an invaluable, meticulously curated source. But sometimes the maesters’ “writing” these histories have conflicting sources. In some instances all we officially know is that no one in Westeros officially knows what happened. House of the Dragon will seemingly give us some answers to the war’s greatest mysteries, though. Martin said the show will not tell all three versions of events from the civil war’s primary historical sources.
Are There White Walkers in Fire & Blood?
The original Long Night ended in Westeros before the birth of dragons halfway around the world in Valyria. The forces of ice and fire never crossed paths during House Targaryens rule on either continent. For thousands of years most people believed the White Walkers were simply an old wive’s tale. It wasn’t until Daenerys Stormborn flew beyond The Wall on Game of Thrones that a dragonlord saw the dead.
House of the Dragon‘s story doesn’t involve White Walkers in anyway. But considering how many dragons will die roughly 170 years before the Night King returns, the ice lord’s presence will loom over everything. More dragons would have helped dealing with wights, even if they couldn’t harm the Night King himself.
Does House of the Dragon Have Anything to Do with The Winds of Winter?
No, not at all. Well, at least from a story point of view it doesn’t. The prequel show is yet another project requiring time and focus from George R.R. Martin. Which means it’s one more project slowing him down from finishing a book that is long, long, long overdue.
And since he plans on releasing part two of Fire & Blood, which could someday lead to another HBO series, technically everything he does is related to The Winds of Winter. But we’re going to try and enjoy House of the Dragon anyway and see how it lines up with the Fire & Blood book. At least we don’t have to worry about it running out of source material.