House of the Dragon: What you need to know before watching the Game of Thrones prequel

House of the Dragon, the long-awaited prequel to Game of Thrones, is approaching more than three years after the original series finale.

It promises a lot of the same beats: massive battles, political intrigue, sex (mostly incestuous), fire-breathing dragons, some fantasy gibberish and, of course, a bunch of insanely similar names to remember. .

If you suspect that you will have a hard time telling your demons from your daerons, or your rheenys from your rheenir, this article is for you.

We must emphasize that you can absolutely blindly watch the series and expect it to make sense even if you have never watched it. Game of Thrones. But some basic knowledge can help make the complex and dense world of Westeros more understandable.

So, the essentials.

What is the “House of the Dragon”?

First, a brief history lesson.

Approximately 300 years before the events Game of ThronesThe continent of Westeros was conquered by Aegon Targaryen, later known as Aegon the Conqueror.

The Targaryens were aliens from a land called Valyria that was destroyed by a mysterious natural disaster. They were distinguished by platinum blond hair, inbreeding tendencies and, most importantly, the ability to tame and ride dragons.

The regular human armies of Westeros stood no chance against the dragonriders, and so Ægon successfully united six of the continent’s seven disparate kingdoms under his rule, with a seventh to follow.

From the surrendered swords of his enemies, he created the iconic Iron Throne.

House Targaryen continued to rule Westeros uninterruptedly for nearly three centuries, until the so-called “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen was overthrown in a rebellion. Aerys’s two surviving children, Viserys and Daenerys, fled across the sea and dreamed of reclaiming their family’s crown; Daenerys’ desire to do this was one of Game of Thrones’ key plot threads.

End of history lesson.

As you already understood, the Targaryen house is the title Dragon House. The prequel takes place almost 200 years earlier. Game of Throneswhen the Targaryens were at the height of their power, and revolves around a bloody civil war.

The main characters of the story are the ancestors of Daenerys.

Brand new characters

Good news for those who have never watched Game of Thrones, or whose memories of the characters and plot of this show are hazy, it doesn’t matter. Because this series is set much earlier in the timeline, there won’t be any returning characters to keep an eye on; none of the cast members of the original series have yet been born.

Then no familiar faces. But experienced viewers will recognize a bunch of names. The Starks, Lannisters, Arryns, Freys and Tullys are all there among other powerful families.

The setting should also be nostalgic, as King’s Landing and Dragonstone serve as the Targaryens’ main centers of power.

Expect some key differences from Game of Thrones, although. Most importantly, dragons are still everywhere and they are being sent into battle. There will be nearly 20 different dragons in the prequel series, most of which are related to a different rider.

There are also a couple of important families that didn’t appear in Thrones.

House Hightower, located in the Old City, is one of the most powerful in the kingdom. Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King, will play a key role in Dragon Houselike his daughter Alicent.

(If you missed Thrones, The Hand of the King, as the name suggests, is the right hand of the ruler. In the original series, the different hands tended to take on most of the control while their kings focused on less taxing pursuits.)

Another new family to keep an eye on is House Velaryon, which is based on an island called Driftmark. Like the Targaryens, the Velaryons are of Valyrian origin; you will notice that many of them have the same characteristic platinum hair.

Velaryons are known for their maritime power and wealth, which gives them great influence. Lord Corlys Velarion, nicknamed the Sea Serpent, would be a key influence in Dragon House.

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Miscellaneous source material

Game of Thrones was based on an unfinished series of novels by George R. R. Martin called Song of Ice and Fire.

The show began as an adaptation but veered more and more away from the books as it progressed, and eventually showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss ran out of source material.

For the last few seasons, the pair have been creating their own plot instead of adapting Martin’s work (he hasn’t finished the novels yet). The author outlined his intended ending to Benioff and Weiss, but they were forced to chart their own path to get there.

This awkward situation was to the detriment of the show, and Thrones The final season ended up disappointing so many viewers.

There are grounds for both optimism and pessimism. Dragon House.

On the plus side, the source material is complete this time around. The prequel is based on Fire and blooda spin-off book by Martin that tells the story of House Targaryen.

On the negative side Fire and blood written much more dryly than Song of Ice and Fire novels, almost like a history book. This means it lacks the artful prose and especially the dialogue that was in the earlier seasons. Thrones often taken right off the page.

So showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik know the grand scheme of their entire story, which is part of Dragon House; they won’t have to improvise the ending. But they need to turn a relatively dry book into something compelling on screen.

Spoiler: What to expect from the plot?

We have already mentioned the fast, standard premise for Dragon House: it will tell the story of the brutal civil war of the Targaryens, known in the universe as the Dance of the Dragons.

If you want a more specific presentation, read on. But if you want to go to the show blind stop now. As we dive into the details, we’ll spoil a few key plot points and character motivations that I suspect will form the basis for much of the first season.

Again: if you don’t want to go into the first season with a pretty good idea of ​​how its plot will unfold, stop now.

Right then.

At the beginning of the show, King Viserys Targaryen sits on the Iron Throne, but the identity of his rightful heir is unclear.

The king has only one surviving child, Princess Rainier, and no sons. And since men were given preference over women in the line of succession, Viserys’ brother, Prince Daemon, considers himself the rightful heir.

There is tension. Viserys put an end to this by officially naming Rhaenyra as his successor.

Things get complicated again when, after the death of his first wife, Viserys remarries. His new, much younger bride is Alicent Hightower, daughter of the King’s Hand, Ser Otto Hightower.

Viserys and Alycent have four children, including three sons. The eldest is called Aegon II, after the Conqueror.

Two factions of Targaryens appear, each with its own supporters in different kingdoms. They were nicknamed the Greens and Blacks, colors derived from the dresses known to be worn by Queen Alycente and Princess Rhaenyra, respectively, at a great feast.

The Greens support the landing of Aegon, son of Alycente, on the Iron Throne after the death of Viserys. Black supports Reinier’s statement.

Sneaky political shenanigans take place, and when Viserys finally dies and Rhaenyra is still his named heir, the two factions begin a bloody war for the throne. Dragon dance.

If a Dragon House follows at the same pace as Game of Thrones, I expect the events described above – and a host of other things we haven’t mentioned – to take up most of the show’s first season, with the provocative incident of Viserys’s death occurring in later episodes. But this is just a guess.

Of course, this is just a dramatization, and the war that follows is the essence of the story. You can expect massive battles, dragon fights and, I’m afraid, lots of close family members going to bed with each other.

If you want to know how things will develop ahead of time, you can always check Fire and blood. But we’ll leave it at that.

Are you excited about Dragon House? Send us your thoughts! @Sam Clench | samuel.clench@news.com.au

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