House of the Dragon, the first of many Game of Thrones spinoffs to battle it out in pre-production for a green light from HBO, will officially grace our screens this Sunday. It’s been three years since the controversial finale of Thrones, and this prequel is hurtling us back to not just the world of Westeros itself—but 200 years in the past.
The power-jockeying of Game of Thrones may have been hard enough for viewers to keep track of the last go-around, so this time, House of the Dragon is mainly sticking to the drama of one royal family. The Targaryens—the dragon-riding house that conquered and united the Seven Kingdoms—are our sole focus. They may be ancestors of Game of Thrones protagonist Daenerys Targaryen, but House of the Dragon doesn’t require any knowledge of the past eight seasons to enjoy. It certainly helps, but new viewers should be able to squeak by with just a little help. For those uninitiated or viewers who need everything they need to know in one place, we’ve got you covered.
Who are the Targaryens?
Aegon the Conqueror, a dragon-rider who conquered all of Westeros and established rule over the Seven Kingdoms, placed the Targaryen family name on the Iron Throne. His descendent at the start of the story, King Viserys, is left without a male heir. So, he is forced to choose between his brother, Daemon, and his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra. Sides are most definitely taken leading up to what will become a bloody civil war that ends the “Age of Dragons” and becomes the story told in Game of Thrones. To put the Targaryen family in context with Thrones, King Aerys II (AKA the Mad King), whom Jaime Lannister murdered at the beginning of the original series, was the last Targaryen king. Daenerys, the woman who brought dragons back to Westeros, was the last Targaryen.
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Before the Dance: An Illustrated History with George R.R. Martin | House of the Dragon (HBO)
Is Anyone Else Important to the Story?
Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and his daughter, Alicent, are the second-most powerful family in King’s Landing. They not only have the king’s ear, but his trust—and they are beginning to make political moves. Often dressed in green, the Hightowers act as ancestors of Thrones‘s House Tyrell, as the families eventually marry into one another. The Tyrell name is shared by Olenna and Margaery during the events of Thrones. It’s helpful to know that the Hightowers are sharing the same character traits and ambitions in House of the Dragon.
House Velaryon, the last remaining group of the volcanic city in the East that birthed dragons, is also a major player here. Corlys Velaryon, known as the Sea Snake, is the leader of the largest fleet in Westeros. His wife, Rhaenys, is also King Viserys’ cousin. Similar names like Princess Rhaenyra and Rhaenys, don’t help in making this story easier to understand, plus the incest, of course. Neither does a significant jump in time that replaces some of the main actors with older counterparts.
A Final Content Warning
Though HBO has promised to remove any sexual violence from the world of House of the Dragon, the prequel series is still full of graphic, bloody battles, awkward sex scenes, and all the nasty ailments that come with living in an age without proper medicine or science. Game of Thrones was never a show for the faintest of hearts. House of the Dragon is no different. If you’re down with the brutal, epic fantasy elements that made Thrones such a success, however, you’ll find it again in House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon premieres on HBO and HBO Max Sunday, August 21, 2022, at 9 p.m. EST.
Josh Rosenberg is an entertainment writer living in Brooklyn, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day; his work can be found at Spin, Insider, Vibe, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.
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