House of the Dragon — out next week on HBO Max and Disney+ Hotstar — serves as a precursor and the first spin-off to the critically-acclaimed Game of Thrones TV series. Showrunner and co-creator Ryan J Condal, known for 2016’s Colony, finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he tries weaving a dark fantastical tale based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire and Blood” novel. Fret not, as he is joined by Thrones veteran Miguel Sapochnik, who directed some notable Game of Thrones episodes, including season six’s “Battle of the Bastards.”
Set 200 years before the events of A Song of Fire and Ice, the new Westeros series seats you through a history lesson focused on the Targaryen family. A prosperous kingdom tarnished by age-old ideas and customs of patriarchy, where women are deemed unfit for the Iron Throne. This kicks off a succession crisis in the House of the Dragon, where the emperor Viserys I (Paddy Considine) is forced to choose between his brother and blood daughter as the heir, setting a feud within the family. “Our story, in many ways, is about the overthrow of a very, very ancient patriarchy, and that is one of the main things that drew me to House of the Dragon because that is a story that is very resonant and very important today,” said Eve Best, who plays Rhaenys Valeryon, in an interview.
House of the Dragon will also make use of time jumps to convey its decade-spanning story, highlighting where the characters fit in this world. The king’s daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen and her childhood friend Alicent Hightower will first be introduced as teenagers, played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey respectively. The series will then skip roughly 10 years ahead, clearing the stage for Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal) to take over. Lore-wise, Alicent serves as a third contestant to the throne, but the creators want you to be informed about her character and motivations. “From my perspective, people are expecting Alicent to be the villain of [House of the Dragon], but there’s so much more to it,” said Carey.
“I have no shame of being a villain — in the sense, if you hate Alicent and have a strong informed opinion of her, then ‘Sure, amazing!’ That means I’ve done my job well. But there’s so much more to these two women and I think that’s why it was important to bring them in younger to show how they become the women they’re expected to be,” she added.
With that, here’s everything you need to know about the Game of Thrones prequel spin-off series, House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon release date and time in India
In the US, House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, August 21 at 9pm ET on HBO and HBO Max. The Game of Thrones prequel series can be streamed on HBO Max wherever the platform is available.
House of the Dragon episodes
The 10-episode first season is slated to conclude on October 24. Here’s the full weekly schedule —
|Episode Title||Release Date||Director||Writer|
|The Heirs of the Dragon||August 22, 2022||Miguel Sapochnik||Ryan J. Condal|
|The Rogue Prince||August 29, 2022||Greg Yaitanes||Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 3||September 5, 2022||Greg Yaitanes||Gabe Fonseca, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 4||September 12, 2022||Claire Kilner||Ira Parker, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 5||September 19, 2022||Claire Kilner||Charmaine De Grate, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 6||September 26, 2022||Miguel Sapochnik||Sara Hess, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 7||October 3, 2022||Miguel Sapochnik||Kevin Lau, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 8||October 10, 2022||Geeta V. Patel||Eileen Shim, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 9||October 17, 2022||Claire Kilner||Sara Hess, Ryan J. Condal|
|House of the Dragon episode 10||October 24, 2022||Greg Yaitanes||Ryan J. Condal|
House of the Dragon cast
Considine — best known for Peaky Blinders — plays King Viserys I Targaryen, the fifth emperor of the Seven Kingdoms. While not considered an overly strong-willed ruler, he was not pliable or indecisive in his decisions. One of them being the point of conflict in House of the Dragons, as he is unable to pick between his brother and his blood child, who happens to be a woman. Turns out, that 19 years before said events, Viserys inherited the throne from King Jaehaerys Targaryen under similar conditions, despite his older cousin Rhaenys having the stronger claim. So, there might be a sense of guilt and shame, which he intends to correct before succumbing to his death.
D’Arcy is billed second on this list as Princess Rhaenyra, the firstborn child and rightful heir to the spiky seat. That’s how she was brought up from the age of eight, with the power to ride dragons and big dreams of becoming the first queen regnant, a female monarch. Plans are put to rest when her uncle Daemon Targaryen challenges her claim to the throne. As someone quick to anger, Rhaenyra was not one to back down from a challenge either, culminating in the iconic Dance of the Dragons civil war within the family — as referenced in Game of Thrones.
Matt Smith — fresh off Morbius — assumes the role of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the younger brother to King Viserys. Think of him as the heir presumptive to the Iron Throne, whose position gets displaced by the birth of an heir — similar to The Northman. As one of the most experienced warriors of his time, Daemon is quite selfish. The only reason he even supported Prince Viserys’ claim to the throne decades ago was that it would make him next in line to be the ruler. Upon learning that Rhaenyra is being considered for the position, he challenges her and the age-old customs.
Those who’ve read the book Fire & Blood will know that Rhaenyra and Daemon’s paths will take a surprising turn — one that’s straight out of the Targaryen playbook — thanks to House Hightower.
Lady Alicent Hightower, raised in the Red Keep, became part of the king’s inner circle when her father Otto was named chief advisor, the Hand of the King. Cooke portrays the grown-up version of this character, known as the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms and — spoiler alert — eventually marrying her best friend Rhaenyra’s father, the King. Her nature changes throughout the show, as she goes from one pregnancy to the next in rapid succession, threatening Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Throne. “It is not ideal,” says Cooke in an interview. “It doesn’t leave room for a nourishing friendship to continue after that.”
Carey portrays young Alicent, who is described as a precocious teenager, helping out the ailing King Jaeharys Targaryen. As a child, she was best friends with Alcock’s young Rhaenyra, before splitting away by ambition as she caught Viserys’ eye in the later years — eventually leading to marriage and tension. “Rhaenera and Alicent are put together by circumstance, but they’re as close as you can get to being sisters without actually being sisters,” Carey said in an interview relating to her relationship. “I think what makes them so close is that they are complete polar opposites in how they perceive the world around them.”
Keeping her in check would be Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man) as Ser Otto Hightower. Alicent’s father served as Hand of the King to both kings: Jaehaerys and Viserys Targaryen, and was considered a man of great learning in his time.
Best plays Princess Rhaenys Velaryon aka “The Queen Who Never Was,” after being forced to surrender the Iron Throne to her younger cousin Viserys. The House of the Dragon trailer suggests that over time she has gotten used to this idea of patriarchy, as we see her calling it “the order of things.”
In House of the Dragon, she is stuck in an oddly frustrating position, where she is one of the top-ranking royals in court, but has nothing to do. “It is a very, very strong patriarchy. The men are in charge: decision-making, adventuring, ruling. The woman’s role at court is pretty limited – they seem to be relegated to serving wine and trying to survive dangerous childbirth,” Best noted in an interview.
Steve Toussaint plays Lord Coryls Velaryon, building a reputation for being one of the finest sailors in Westeros, earning himself the nickname “Sea Snake.” As husband to Rhaenys, he has established Velaryon as one of the most feared and well-respected households in all of Westeros, by building up loathsome amounts of riches through voyages. Toussant had this to say about his character in an interview: “He prefers to be on the battlefield. It’s much simpler: You’re trying to kill me, I’m trying to kill you. That’s it. There’s no grey area and I think he likes that.”
Frequent Alex Garland collaborator Sonoya Mizuno dons the role of Mysaria aka Lady Misery. A dancer hailing from Lys, Mysaria becomes the most trusted ally to Prince Daemon Targaryen, who eventually turns her into his mistress of whisperers (spy), gathering intelligence from informants in the Seven Kingdoms. “My character veers quite far away from the character in the book,” Mizuno notes in an interview. “That is both liberating and a challenge for me and the director. Liberating in the sense that we had more free rein, but also it still had to have a kind of framework.”
House of the Dragon synopsis
Here’s the official synopsis for House of the Dragon from HBO Max:
The reign of House Targaryen begins. House of the Dragon, the prequel to Game of Thrones, is coming to HBO and HBO Max on August 21. Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the series, which is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen.
Paddy Considine (HBO’s The Third Day and The Outsider), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint (It’s a Sin, Doctor Who), Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Fabien Frankel and Rhys Ifans to star. Additional cast members include Milly Alcock, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Emily Carey, Harry Collett, Ryan Corr, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Graham McTavish, Ewan Mitchell, Theo Nate, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson, Phia Saban, Gavin Spokes, and Savannah Steyn.
Martin and Ryan Condal serve as co-creators on the series. Miguel Sapochnik and Condal are showrunners, and the pair also serve as executive producers along with Martin, Sara Hess, Jocelyn Diaz, Vince Gerardis and Ron Schmidt. Clare Kilner and Geeta Vasant Patel also direct the series. Greg Yaitanes is director and co-executive producer. Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi scored the series.
House of the Dragon trailer
HBO Max unveiled the first teaser for House of the Dragon in October last year, setting the tone and offering brief glimpses at the main characters. The trailer gave a closer look at the Iron Throne, which looked pointier with swords welded into the ground around it. “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did,” an unseen speaker uttered as a Targaryen woman stepped towards it.
Released on May 5, the official teaser trailer showed D’Arcy in her full costume for the first time, as the grown-up version of Rhaenyra Targaryen. This is also where the plot details were shared in a digestible manner, as we see King Viserys naming his daughter as the heir to the kingdom. Prince Daemon takes issue with that and starts conspiring against the ruler, while Lady Alicent is advised by her father Otto that she has the “determination to win it” and overthrow Rhaenyra’s position.
Ahead of its San Diego Comic-Con panel, HBO dropped the official trailer for House of the Dragon, going deeper into the lore after Daemon challenges King Viserys’ decision. Questions are raised as to whether a woman should be allowed to sit on the Iron Throne, with even Rhaenyra’s childhood friend Lady Alicent trying to prevent her ascension. Brief shots of war and combat are also seen, indicating a prelude to the Dance of the Dragons.
House of the Dragon review
At the time of publishing, there’s no word on when the first reviews are expected. Going by earlier HBO Max releases, reviews usually drop two days before release.
House of the Dragon poster
Here’s the official poster for House of the Dragon from HBO: