Everything we know about House of the Dragon, the upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off
What is dead may never die. It's been more than 10 years since Game of Thrones first premiered on HBO, and two-plus years since the zeitgeist-changing fantasy series aired its controversial series finale. But there are more stories left to tell about Westeros, and next year will see the launch of the first planned GOT spin-off show, House of the Dragon. (The first prequel series that was developed, starring Naomi Watts in a story set 10,000 years before GOT, was not picked up by HBO.)
If you're confused by that title or don't know what to expect from the new show, worry not. We have compiled everything we know so far about House of the Dragon. Read on for more information, and keep checking back for updates.
Who has been cast in House of the Dragon?
House of the Dragon's plot will revolve around the Dance of the Dragons, the bloody civil war between competing factions of House Targaryen that took place hundreds of years before the beginning of GOT.
Most of the principal characters in this bloody Dance have now been cast. Emma D'Arcy (Truth Seekers) will play Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, considered a "major rock star role" within the show. Beloved by the lords of Westeros, Rhaenyra was once known as the "Realm's Delight" in her youth, but even so finds it hard to assert her rights as a female heir to the Iron Throne. In July, HBO announced that Milly Alcock will play a younger version of Rhaenyra, so viewers will see her when she was the toast of Westeros.
Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) will play Queen Alicent Hightower, Rhaenyra's stepmother who would much rather see the throne pass to her sons than to Viserys' daughter by a previous wife. Emily Carey will play a younger version of Alicent; the actress tweeted that her version of the character is "the most comely girl in court." Perhaps more importantly, her father Ser Otto Hightower served as Hand of the King under Viserys. That character will be played by Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill).
Paddy Considine (Peaky Blinders) will play King Viserys I Targaryen, father of Rhaenyra and husband of Alicent, whose death sets off their struggle for power. In another major role, Matt Smith (The Crown, Doctor Who) will play Viserys' younger brother Prince Daemon Targaryen, who has always had a soft spot for Rhaenyra. Daemon led the City Watch of King's Landing for a time, and clothed them in the gold cloaks for which they are infamous by the time of Game of Thrones. Daemon also he gained a reputation as "Prince of the City" for his familiarity with the criminals and brothels of the kingdom's capital.
Sonoya Mizuno (Devs) will play Mysaria, who immigrated to Westeros from the city of Lys and became one of Daemon's closest friends and advisors during his Prince of the City days. Steve Toussaint (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) will play Lord Corlys Velaryon, known popularly as the Sea Snake. Famed as the greatest sailor and nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, the Sea Snake is one of the most memorable characters in Fire & Blood. Eve Best (Nurse Jackie, The King's Speech) will play the Sea Snake's Targaryen-descended wife, Princess Rhaenya Velaryon, known as "The Queen That Never Was." Her experience getting passed over in a previous royal succession in favor of a male rival shapes House Velaryon's response to the Dance.
Another casting was announced by author and Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin himself on his blog: Fabien Frankel will fill the role of Ser Criston Cole, a Kingsguard knight who plays a major, major role in the Dance. He once served as Rhaenyra's sworn shield, but spurned her romantic advances for reasons that remain somewhat unclear in the book. Martin's own description of Cole keeps that mystery intact: "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."
What is House of the Dragon about?
House of the Dragon is rooted in Fire & Blood, the 700-page novel Martin published in 2018 detailing the history of House Targaryen, from the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives in Westeros to the disastrous civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. (Martin is also a co-creator of the TV series.) In total, Fire & Blood's story spans about seven generations of House Targaryen, which is a much longer fictional timeframe than the entire run of GOT, much less one season. So House of the Dragon will be more compact, focusing its attention on the Dance of the Dragons in particular.
Without spoiling the details, here's the basic setup of the civil war: It all starts, as many real-life wars did, over a question of succession. Upon the death of King Viserys Targaryen, it was an open question whether the throne should pass to Princess Rhaenyra (who Viserys had always named as his heir) or his eldest son by his second wife, Queen Alicent. The Dance began as a conflict between the so-called "queen's party" (for supporters of Alicent and her son Aegon II) and "the party of the princess" (for Rhaneyra's defenders). The sides were also referred to as "green" and "black," based on the colors Alicent and Rhaenyra had each worn to the most recent royal tournament before hostilities began.
Each side was led by Targaryens, but their armies consisted of forces from Lannister, Stark, and other houses recognizable to GOT fans everywhere. And lest you forget the lessons of GOT, be prepared for some of those supporters to switch sides — sometimes more than once.
Who is making House of the Dragon?
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners who steered Game of Thrones to the screen and oversaw all eight seasons of the original series, have opted not to be involved in the prequels. GOT writer and co-executive producer Bryan Cogman originally developed the concept for House of the Dragon, but has since gone on to an overall deal at Amazon Studios that includes working on the ecommerce giant's upcoming Lord of the Rings series. In their absence, writer Ryan Condal (Colony) and director Miguel Sapochnik will serve as showrunners for House of the Dragon. Emmy-winning composer Ramin Djawadi is returning to score the new series as well. Sapochnik's role in particular should be welcome news to GOT fans, since he directed some of the series' most acclaimed and mind-blowing episodes — especially ones like "Hardhome" and "The Long Night" that involved huge battles. There will definitely be plenty of battles for him to design and depict in House of the Dragon.
When is House of the Dragon coming out?
HBO has ordered 10 episodes for House of the Dragon, similar to the early seasons of GOT. During the 2020 Television Critics Association press tour, HBO boss Casey Bloys predicted that the series would launch in 2022. This February, Bloys confirmed to EW that the series was set to start filming in April, and he wasn't lying.
On April 26, the House of the Dragon Twitter account activated and posted photos of D'Arcy, Toussaint, Considine, Smith, Cooke, and Ifans at the first table read. The show has officially begun production.