Everything you need to know about “The House of the Dragon”

So, you’re ready to return to Westeros, but you need to get your bearings.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. The “Game of Thrones” spin-off series, “House of the Dragon,” premieres Sunday, August 21 at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max. Set approximately 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones”, it follows the Targaryen family (the ancestors of Daenerys and Jon Snow) through a civil war. The prequel also explains why Dany and Jon end up as the last Targaryens standing, and why Dany’s trio of dragons were the last three in a world filled with them.

Here is everything you need to know about “The House of the Dragon”.

The parcel

This show is based on the book “Fire & Blood” by George RR Martin, which tells the (fictional) story of the Targaryens. This gives the show more leeway to fulfill certain character motivations that are bare bones on the page. It also means that since these events are in this world’s “past”, if you want to know how these characters will end up dying (or in some cases disappear to be presumed dead), we won’t spoil their fates – but this information is available if you choose to search for it.

King Viserys (Paddy Considine) in “The House of the Dragon”.
Emma D’Arcy as an older version of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen after a time jump in the series.
Photography by Ollie Upton/HBO

The basic story is a civil war between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother, Aegon II, in which one of them will succeed their father, Viserys I, to the throne. So, again, much like “GoT,” it’s a dispute over who will sit in the uncomfortable pointy chair. But it pits sister against brother and dragon against dragon.

Remember how messy the war was on “GoT” when Daenerys brought her dragons? In this one, both sides have the beasts. But the show won’t launch war on us immediately, it will trace the events leading up to it. It will begin with Viserys (Paddy Considine) on the throne pondering his line of succession, even before Aegon II was born, when Rhaenyra is just a young teenager (played by Milly Alcock in the early episodes and Emma D’Arcy after a time jump). Expect plenty of palace intrigue and political intrigue. And expect it to span a larger time frame than “GoT,” with more time jumps than the old show.

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), one of the main characters in ‘House of the Dragon’.
Photography by Ollie Upton/HBO
Matt Smith wearing a helmet holding a sword.
Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, a main character in “House of the Dragon”.

The world

It’s the world of Westeros with plenty of familiar “Game of Thrones” visuals, but instead of jumping around every corner, we’re focusing on King’s Landing (and some Dragonstone) and the silver-haired, incestuous Targaryen family. You can also expect to see a lot more dragons. Daenerys’ three dragons were a novelty in ‘Game of Thrones’ that everyone Oh and ahhh more. In this time of Westeros, dragons are a dime a dozen.

The big players

The key characters are King Viserys I (Considine); his scheming brother Daemon (Matt Smith) and the king’s daughter, Rhaenyra (Alcock and D’Arcy), who is a bit too close to her uncle Daemon, and who tries to be the first woman on the Iron Throne long before her descendant, Daenerys.

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) in the throne room with her father, King Viserys (Paddy Considine).
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) in the throne room with her father, King Viserys (Paddy Considine).
Photography by Ollie Upton/HBO
Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) in “The House of the Dragon”.
Courtesy of HBO
Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) in “The House of the Dragon”.

Outside of their immediate family, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) is the hand of the king – he’s the king’s closest adviser and hates Daemon. Her daughter – Alicent (played by young Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke after a time jump), who begins as Rhaenyra’s friend – will be a pivotal character in the developing Civil War. And Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) is also a powerful ally to some of these characters.

“House of the Dragon” premieres Sunday, August 21 at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.

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