House Of The Dragon: All you need to know ahead of season premiere

House Of The Dragon: All you need to know ahead of season premiere

Winter has FINALLY returned! After hints, teasers, casting calls and COVID-19, the long-delayed first Game Of Thrones spin-off is set to breathe new fire into the fantasy franchise: All you need to know about HBO’s House Of The Dragon

  • From Monday evening long awaited Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon is set to unpick the fraught, fractious and undeniably incestuous lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s distant relatives 
  • While anticipation rapidly builds, one hopes an early thaw doesn’t put a dampener on the expectations of those still recovering from the arguably rushed climax of its predecessor 
  • The HBO series was created by Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and is based on his sprawling 2018 book Fire & Blood – a comprehensive history of the House Targaryen 
  • Set 200 years before the bloody battle for the seven kingdoms depicted in Game of Thrones, House Of The Dragon will document the events leading up to Martin’s fictionalised War of Succession 

After hints, teasers, casting calls, an unprecedented pandemic and a somewhat disappointing end to one of the biggest shows in recent history, winter is once again upon us. 

From Monday evening long awaited Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon is set to unpick the fraught, fractious and undeniably incestuous lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s distant relatives. 

While anticipation rapidly builds, one hopes an early thaw doesn’t put a dampener on the expectations of those still recovering from the arguably rushed climax of its predecessor – but what can we expect from the new show?

With £16million spent on each of its ten one hour episodes, one would expect rather a lot. The HBO series was created by Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and is based on his sprawling 2018 book Fire & Blood – a comprehensive history of the House Targaryen. 

Winter is back: From Monday evening long awaited Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon is set to unpick the fraught, fractious and undeniably incestuous lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s distant relatives

Set 200 years before the bloody battle for the seven kingdoms depicted in Game of Thrones, House Of The Dragon will document the events leading up to Martin’s fictionalised War of Succession – a battle for the throne that is ominously referred to as the Dance of the Dragons. 

The bitter power struggle, documented in the final two chapters of Martin’s novel, serves as the connective tissue linking House Of Dragon to Game Of Thrones by drawing attention to the plight of the Targaryen clan and detailing why only two family members – Daenerys and doomed brother Viserys – survived the cull.

With eight generations separating the new show from Game Of Thrones, one can expect little else in terms of back story, and those hoping for a glimpse of ancient Lannisters and Starks may well be disappointed. 

In accordance with the author’s text, it will focus solely on the origins of dragon queen Daenerys and the relatives who helped build the ultimately flawed Targaryen empire. 

Here we go: While anticipation rapidly builds, one hopes an early thaw doesn’t put a dampener on the expectations of those still recovering from the arguably rushed climax of its predecessor – but what can we expect from the new show?

Excitement: With £16million spent on each of its ten one hour episodes, one would expect rather a lot. The HBO series was created by Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and is based on his sprawling 2018 book Fire & Blood 

However building a cast to create the fictional universe in which it is set proved a challenge in itself, despite HBO green-lighting the series following the enormous success of Game Of Thrones over a six season run. 

With auditions beginning midway through the global coronavirus pandemic, it was October 2020 before celebrated British actor Paddy Considine signed on as King Viserys I Targaryen, the fifth king of the Seven Kingdoms.

Matt Smith’s involvement was confirmed that December, with the actor taking a prominent role as Prince Daemon, the power hungry younger brother of King Viserys and Heir presumptive to the kingdoms of Westeros. 

Incredible: The dragons return as the sequel will focus on House Targaryen and their reign in Westeros 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones

Drama: Set long before the bloody battle for the seven kingdoms depicted in Game of Thrones, House Of The Dragon will document the events leading up to Martin’s fictionalised War of Succession

Addressing his role, Smith admitted he’s keen to do something entirely independent of Game Of Thrones, while still appealing to the same loyal fanbase. 

He told Sky News: ‘I suppose that Thrones left a huge cultural footprint, and we’re never going to be able to lay the same one, but we’re trying to do something original and something new and something that feels like it speaks our own.’ 

However Considine, whose character plays a pivotal role in shaping the fortunes of House Targaryan, admitted the expectations surrounding the show had played on his anxiety. 

He said: ‘I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit, but I can’t take that on. Maybe I’m not as wise as I thought I was, but, you know, it was already a phenomenon that existed, so I wasn’t getting into something blindly, you know?

‘But at the same time, I might be a bit naive in thinking I just do the work and let it speak for itself and then everyone will leave me alone.’ 

Man man: Matt Smith’s involvement was confirmed in December 2020, with the actor taking a prominent role as Prince Daemon, the power hungry younger brother of King Viserys and Heir presumptive to the kingdoms of Westeros

Ambitious: Emma D’Aarcy portrays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the first-born child of King Viserys, who, by virtue of her family’s incestuous bloodline, hopes to become the Seven Kingdoms’ first Queen regnant

Moving on: Smith recently admitted he’s keen to do something entirely independent of Game Of Thrones, while still appealing to the same loyal fanbase

Emma D’Aarcy portrays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the first-born child of King Viserys, who, by virtue of her family’s incestuous bloodline, hopes to become the Seven Kingdoms’ first Queen regnant. 

Taking another prominent role in the forthcoming show, Olivia Cooke will play Lady Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower and referred to – somewhat uncharitably – as the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms.

Fans can also expect an appearance from Welsh star Rhys Ifans as Alicent’s father Ser Otto Hightower, while Millie Alcock will play a young Rhaenyra Targaryen. 

Completing the cast are Sonyo Mizuno, who will play Mysaria, Prince Daemon’s lover, and Eve Best and Steve Toussaint, who will portray married royals Princess Rhaenys Velaryon and Lord Corlys Velaryon.

The Velaryons are a notable change from Martin’s text, with the adaptation depicting them as wealthy Black rulers.

Taster: The first teaser trailer was released in May 2022, with HBO releasing the official trailer for House of the Dragon two months later

Old times: The kingdom of Westeros is depicted hundreds of years before the events laid out in Game Of Thrones 

Thirst for power: Viewers can expect several multi-year jumps throughout House of the Dragon, with four different characters trying to claim the throne

Helping create the series are show-runners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, a former director on Game Of Thrones, and he admitted there was a definite need to diversify the cast.  

‘It was very important for Miguel and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen,’ he told Entertainment Weekly. ‘We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show, but we didn’t want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.’

Viewers can expect several multi-year jumps throughout House of the Dragon, with four different characters trying to claim the throne.

Sapochnik explained: ‘There’s the king, his brother, the king’s daughter and her best friend. Then the best friend becomes the king’s wife and thereby the queen.’

‘Essentially the story is, what if your best friend hooks up with your dad?, which wouldn’t exactly raise eyebrows with the Targaryen’s who are use to incest.’

Starring role: British actor Paddy Considine plays King Viserys I Targaryen, the fifth king of the Seven Kingdoms.

Toned down: Sara Hess, a writer and executive producer on the upcoming prequel, has confirmed the show will not ‘depict sexual violence’ against women – despite a show-runner previously saying otherwise

All change: The Velaryons are a notable change from George RR Martin’s text, with the adaptation depicting them as wealthy Black rulers

A writer and executive producer on the upcoming prequel has also confirmed the show will not ‘depict sexual violence’ against women – despite a show-runner previously saying otherwise.

‘I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,’ writer and executive producer Sara Hess told Vanity Fair. ‘We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.’

‘I think what our show does, and what I’m proud of, is that we choose to focus on the violence against women that is inherent in a patriarchal system.’  

She added: ‘There are many “historical” or history-based shows that romanticize powerful men in sexual/marriage relationships with women who were actually not of an age to consent, even if they were “willing.”  

‘We put that onscreen, and we don’t shy away from the fact that our female leads in the first half of the show are coerced and manipulated into doing the will of adult men.

‘This is done not necessarily by those we would define as rapists or abusers, but often by generally well-meaning men who are unable to see that what they are doing is traumatic and oppressive, because the system that they all live in normalises it. It’s less obvious than rape but just as insidious, though in a different way.’

Going woke: Non-binary actors, a new dynasty of powerful black characters and roles that are ‘sexually fluid’ and ‘androgynous’ feature prominently in the new show 

Heating up: However the dragons remain, with the show set at a time when they dominated the skies of Westeros

Aiming high: House Of The Dragon hopes to breathe new fire into the Game Of Thrones franchise, with a Jon Snow spin-off expected to follow 

Sapochnik previously claimed they approached the matter ‘carefully, thoughtfully and [we] don’t shy away from it. If anything, we’re going to shine a light on that aspect. You can’t ignore the violence that was perpetrated on women by men in that time. It shouldn’t be downplayed and it shouldn’t be glorified.’

When the blockbuster fantasy drama Game Of Thrones first aired more than a decade ago, it became known almost instantly for its violent bloodlust and frequent, gratuitous nudity.

From the very first episodes of Martin’s eight-season epic there were graphic sex scenes, stories of rape and incest and even gory depictions of child murder.

But 11 years later, times have changed – even in the fantasy land of Westeros. For House Of The Dragon, the hotly anticipated prequel to the original series, has gone fully woke, according to Hollywood insiders.

Gone are the risqué scenes of full-frontal nudity and violence that shocked and delighted audiences in equal measure. In their place are non-binary actors, a new dynasty of powerful black characters and roles that are ‘sexually fluid’ and ‘androgynous’.

Iconic: Emilia Clarke as flawed Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen in HBO series Game Of Thrones 

Disappointing: House Of The Dragon comes three years after the final episode of Game Of Thrones, which prompted more than a million people to sign an online petition demanding it be remade  

In this new era, more than one woman battles for the show’s Iron Throne – the seat of power that controls the disparate regions of Westeros.

And rather than subjecting female actresses to sexual violence, new post-MeToo storylines are instead designed to showcase the ‘power’ of women by featuring gory scenes of childbirth.

A Hollywood executive linked to the new series told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The original show was made before the MeToo era. Graphic sex and nudity had never been seen on television like that before. But this new series had to take on board that we live in different times. 

‘The sex is handled very differently and there is far less of it. There is way more diversity. Game Of Thrones had only a couple of black characters, and one of those was killed off in chains.’

Unhappy fans: Hosted on Change.org, the petition had the critical title: ‘Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers’

Speaking out: Martin later defended Game Of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as the petition to remake the eighth season reached 1.3 million signatures 

House Of The Dragon comes three years after the final episode of Game Of Thrones, which prompted more than a million people to sign an online petition to see the final season remade ‘with competent writers’. 

Martin later defended Game Of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as the petition to remake the eighth season reached 1.3 million signatures.

The author claimed the pair work in a different medium to him, and had a massive undertaking as they only had eight hours to complete the final season, while his last two books will ‘fill 3000 manuscript pages between them’.

Writing on his Not a Blog website on Monday, he said: ‘They had eight hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them.’

Coming soon: House Of The Dragon airs from 22 August on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW

Hosted on Change.org, the petition had the critical title: ‘Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers’.

Its authors said: ‘David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on.

‘This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!’

Martin has written five books in a planned seven book series, but the fifth book was published nearly eight years ago, and it has long been the topic of discussion among fans who wonder when the last two books will debut. 

The first book, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996, followed by 1998’s A Clash of Kings, 2000’s A Storm of Swords, 2005’s A Feast of Crows and 2011’s A Dance With Dragons. 

Fire & Blood, a book that outlines and details the history of House Targaryen, was released on November 20, 2018.

House Of The Dragon airs from 22 August on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW. 

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