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Sunday, May 26, 2024
The Observer

What to expect from the new ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel

Mana Gorecki | The Observer
Image sources: Ollie Upton and HBO

With the season finale of “Game of Thrones” (GOT) approaching its third anniversary, HBO has finally announced the premiere date of its spinoff series “House of the Dragon” with severalimages of the characters and a teaser trailer on their official website.

“House of the Dragon” is the first in a series of planned spinoff TV shows based on George R. R. Martin’s acclaimed “ASong of Ice and Fire” series and will expand the vast lore of Westeros. The prequel takes place 200 years before the original series and details a war known as the “Dance of the Dragons.” Like its predecessor, the series follows internal power struggles in Westeros as different factions vie for the iron throne. But this time, the stars of the show aren’t Jon Snow and the Stark family. Instead, “House of the Dragon” focuses on the ancestors of Daenerys Targaryen — the Targaryens — a fearsome clan of dragon-riders and the royal family of Westeros.

The ”Dance of The Dragons” was only vaguely mentioned in “Game of Thrones” or the books, but its events were outlined by Martin in his 2018 novel “Fire & Blood” which details the history of the Targaryen family from their conquest of the seven kingdoms to their eventual downfall in Robert’s rebellion approximately 18 years before the first season. According to “Fire & Blood,” the “Dance of the Dragons” was a war of succession between Aegon II Targaryen and his half-sister, Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) after the death of their father, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine). Rhaenyra is originally named heir to the throne by her father but is passed over in favor of her half-brother Aegon. Thanks to the schemes of Aegon’s mother and grandfather, Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) and Lord Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) respectively, a devastating conflict between the kingdoms is triggered by the siblings.

Oh, and did I mention the dragons?

While dragons are all but gone by the time of “Game of Thrones,” the prequel series takes place when the Targaryen dynasty still had the fire-breathing beasts which will undoubtedly play a major role in the battles of the Targaryen’s aptly named war. In Game of Thrones, the extinction of the dragons is still a mystery, but “House of the Dragon” will most likely show fans how the powerful animals went extinct and caused the Targaryen’s eventual fall from power.

Martin, who is credited as series co-creator, wrote in his blog that he has been working closely with the show’s crew. It is likely that many details from “Fire & Blood” will be changed to better fit an on-screen adaptation much like the original “Game of Thrones” novels were. This adaptation factor makes it hard to predict exactly what will happen in “House of the Dragon,” but I certainly expect many of the elements that made the original show a worldwide sensation: intrigue, sex, murder and epic battles.

It would be impossible for me to write about “House of the Dragon” without at least mentioning the notorious final season of “Game of Thrones” which was universally panned and soured the opinion of many fans. Almost overnight, “Game of Thrones” went from a culturally-defining highpoint of the 2010s to a total disappointment and an excellent example of bad writing. With this new series, HBO has the chance to reignite popular interest in Martin’s universe and rehabilitate their image in the eyes of fans and critics alike.

“House of the Dragon” premiers August 21 and will be available for streaming on HBO Max. It stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, Fabien Frankel and Rhys Ifans. The show is directed by Miguel Sapochnik.