House of the Dragon: when is the Game of Thrones spin-off released? What is it about?

George RR Martin and Ryan Condal are dragon us back to Westeros with a new series about the Targaryens starring Paddy Considine.

Game of Thrones' dragon

Those itching to know more about House of the Dragon – HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off – are in luck, as the broadcaster has revealed three more big names who’ll be joining the cast.

Advertisement

The Crown’s Matt Smith, Vanity Fair’s Olivia Cooke and Wanderlust’s Emma D’Arcy are set to star in the eagerly-awaited fantasy drama, with filming expected to begin in the near-future.

Set roughly 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon stars Paddy Considine as King Viserys I – a good leader whose reign still starts a deadly civil war.

While fans shouldn’t expect any Game of Thrones characters to return in the upcoming prequel, there’ll definitely be appearances from various deadly dragons as teased by the show’s first-look concept art.

Here’s everything you need to know about House of the Dragon.

When will the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon be on TV?

Currently, this is some way off – but HBO has confirmed that the series will begin production in 2021, so it could be that we’ll get a better sense of when House of the Dragon will be completed around then.

In an interview with Deadline, President of HBO Programming Casey Bloys estimated an air date sometime in 2022, but couldn’t be any more specific than that.

However, we do already know where the 10-episode series will air in the UK – Sky Atlantic and NOW TV, the same place that aired Game of Thrones, with the broadcaster re-upping its deal with HBO after House of the Dragon’s announcement.

To catch up, you can watch Game of Thrones seasons 1 – 8 on Amazon Prime today or on NOW TV when it becomes available. You can also buy the DVD boxset for seasons 1-8 on Amazon for £99.99.

Who’s in the House of the Dragon cast?

Paddy Considine (Getty)
Paddy Considine (Getty)

Paddy Considine has been announced as the series lead King Viserys I, a King whose reign ended up causing the Targaryen-vs-Targaryen civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons when he left behind two rival claimants for the throne.

“Viserys was chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal,” an official statement said.

“A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy, but as we’ve learned from Game of Thrones, good men do not necessarily make for great kings.”

While in December, HBO revealed that Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) and Emma D’Arcy (Wanderlust) had joined the spin-off’s cast.

Cooke, who is best known for her roles in Vanity Fair and Bates Motel, is set to play Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Otto Hightower – the Hand of the King. “She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace a keen political acumen,” HBO teases.

Meanwhile, Smith will play Prince Daemon Targaryen – King Viserys’ (Considine) younger brother and heir to the throne. “Daemon is a peerless warrior and a dragon rider who possesses the true blood of the dragon,” a statement reads. “But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…”

Also joining the cast is Emma D’Arcy, an up-and-coming actress best known for starring in Wanderlust and Truth Seekers, who’ll be playing Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen – the king’s first-born child.

“She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragon rider,” HBO writes. “Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything…but she was not born a man.”

Other cast are currently unknown but we’re probably looking for platinum blondes OR people with some solid wig experience. And whoever they are, we’re sure they’ll be hitting up Emilia Clarke for some dragon-riding tips soon…

We do know that a casting call went out in February 2020 for key roles of Aegon and Visenya Targaryen, as reported by Knight Edge Media, which could suggest a role for flashbacks given that these figures existed many years before Viserys took the throne.

We can give a quick rundown of these two new characters here. In Westerosi history, following the death of Viserys I (Considine) there was a clash between two rival factions of the royal Targaryen family, led by Rhaenyra and Alicent. Viserys’ daughter Rhaenyra had been named as the dead King’s heir – however, his second wife Alicent thought her son should rule instead, with all of Westeros splitting allegiances between the two groups.

In other words, yes these are some pretty key figures in the story, and we can’t wait to see who ends up being cast.

Will any Game of Thrones characters return to House of the Dragon?

Game of Thrones

Probably not – unless the Night King or some Children of the Forest make a cameo.

The series is supposedly set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, meaning that none of the characters we’ve grown to know and love would appear.

However, if the series does adapt the period in Westerosi history that it’s rumoured to, we will see the ancestors of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons and other families that we’re more familiar with. Depending on exactly how much ground is covered we could also see original Westerosi conquerors Aegon, Visenya and Rhaenys Targaryen, as hinted by early casting announcements, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

And there is one familiar face that we might seen again – that of famously large dragon Balerion the Black Dread, Aegon’s mount whose skull resided in the dungeon’s of King’s Landing throughout most of Game of Thrones, and who was “historically” ridden by King Viserys I at one point.

Though he might have a little bit more skin on his bones this time…

What will House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones’ prequel, be about?

episode-64-1920
 

Based on Considine’s character description, it seems likely that the Targaryen Civil War – known as the Dance of Dragons – will be the focus of the prequel. EW seems to think so, and recent casting rumours suggest that key Dance of Dragons figures will be the main female leads, adding credence to the theories.

Thrones author George R.R. Martin said: “For what it’s worth, those who have read Fire & Blood will realise it contains enough materials for a dozen shows.

“I can say that there will be dragons. Everyone else has said that, so why not me?”

While the specific plot details are yet to be nailed down, we do know that the Targaryen family will be front and centre throughout.

Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, said after the show’s announcement: “The Game of Thrones universe is so rich with stories. We look forward to exploring the origins of House Targaryen and the earlier days of Westeros along with Miguel, Ryan and George.”

We’ve gone into a bit more depth about potential storylines here…

Who’s making House of the Dragon?

George RR Martin, who wrote the original A Song of Ice and Fire book series that Game of Thrones is based on, has been working on the series with Ryan Condal, the creator of sci-fi TV series Colony. 

“[The series] has a script and a bible, and both of them are terrific, first rate, exciting,” Martin said.  “They’re the work of Ryan Condal.”

“He’s a helluva strong writer, and a huge fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, Dunk & Egg, and Westeros in general. I’ve loved working with him, and if the Seven Gods and HBO are kind, I hope to keep on working with him for years to come on this new successor show.”

Director Miguel Sapochnik will also serve as co-showrunner with Condal, and has been tapped to direct the first episode as well as several others, having previously helmed prolific Game of Thrones chapters including Battle of the Bastards and Winds of Winter.

Regular Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman reportedly worked on an earlier version of the idea that has now been shelved.

To catch up, you can watch Game of Thrones seasons 1 – 8 on Amazon Prime today or on NOW TV when it becomes available. You can also buy the DVD boxset for seasons 1-8 on Amazon for £99.99.

Advertisement

Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.