The first House of the Dragon trailer has been released, giving the best look yet at the story and characters of the House Targaryen-centric Game of Thrones prequel. Game of Thrones ended in 2019 in controversial fashion but, for all the division and backlash, that was far from the last time HBO would be taking viewers to Westeros. Across its near decade-long run, Game of Thrones became one of the biggest TV shows of all time, so naturally there are a lot of spinoffs on the way, the first of which is House of the Dragon.
Set two centuries before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon puts the focus on the Targaryens. Whereas in Game of Thrones the Targaryens were a faded dynasty, with just a few surviving members scattered to the farthest reaches of the land, this will show the house in its prime. Westeros is ruled by a Targaryen King and will be for the foreseeable future from this point, and House of the Dragon will have 17 dragons, a stark contrast to the three Daenerys Targaryen had.
Still, all is not quite right in the realm. Where there are Targaryens, there is fire and blood – and in House of the Dragon, that’s between the family itself. Westeros will be plunged into a civil war known as the Dance of the Dragon, which is what the first House of the Dragon trailer is beginning to tease, as well as establishing its setting and plot.
17. Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen
The House of the Dragon trailer opens up with perhaps the biggest name among its cast: Matt Smith. The Doctor Who alum is playing Daemon Targaryen, one of the key figures in the Dance of the Dragons. Daemon is the brother of King Viserys, and will eventually become the husband to Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (who just so happens to be his niece). At this point in the timeline, Daemon is one of the greatest and most experienced warriors in Westeros, but that’s accompanied by a hot-headedness and violent streak. Daemon has a difficult relationship with his brother, and an even more difficult one with the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, a rivalry that will span the years and factor into the civil war.
16. Daemon & Rhaenyra Targaryen
The presence of Daemon continues in the House of the Dragon trailer, this time alongside his niece/future wife, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). It’s hard to tell exactly where the pair are but, given Rhaenyra is the Princess of Dragonstone and the vast expanse of water ahead of them is presumably Blackwater Bay, then it’s likely they’re on Dragonstone – the seat of House Targaryen in Westeros from the days of Aegon the Conqueror. Much of the Dance of the Dragons will be about Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship – not only romantically, but moreso in terms of politics and war as the plot and scheme to fight against those who oppose them, and this is probably one such scene.
15. House Of The Dragon’s Timeline: 200 Years Before Game Of Thrones
When the Game of Thrones prequel was first announced, initial log-lines suggested it was 300 years before the main show, a timeline that didn’t quite add up for the Dance of the Dragons. HBO is clearing that up now, with the House of the Dragon trailer instead establishing it as “200 years before the fall of the throne.” It’s unclear if that means specifically the defeat of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which led to the fall of the Targaryen dynasty (in 283 after Aegon’s Conquest), or the destruction of the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones’ series finale (305 AC). The Dance of the Dragons itself takes place around 129-131 AC, so approximately 170-years before Game of Thrones, but with flashbacks and earlier stories in the timeline then it could well be closer to 200.
14. A Targaryen Dragon (Balerion The Black Dread?)
The House of the Dragon trailer has little in the way of actual dragon action, likely for a couple of reasons. Firstly, that’ll require extensive CGI, so there’s probably nothing there to show off yet. Secondly, assuming the first season is largely build up, then it’ll be later seasons that are more dragon heavy. Still, dragons will indeed appear, and there’s a tease of one in the trailer – or at least its skull. While hard to be certain, this may well be the skull of Balerion the Black Dread, the greatest of all Targaryen dragons, flown by Aegon the Conqueror himself. Balerion died in 94 AC, before the events of House of the Dragon take place, but does have a connection to King Viserys. As a prince, he was the last of Balerion’s dragonriders, so it would make sense to show him. Balerion’s skull also appeared in Game of Thrones, so there’s a further link there.
13. The Hand Of The King, Otto Hightower
The House of the Dragon trailer next moves on to the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (played by Rhys Ifans). Otto served as Hand of the King to Jaehaerys I, and continued in the role when Viserys assumed the Iron Throne. Incredibly arrogant and intelligent in equal measure, Otto aims to use his position to further the status of House Hightower, and in particular his daughter, Alicent (who becomes Viserys’ Queen). Otto’s actions will see him form a great rivalry with Daemon, but also butt heads with Viserys on occasion, making him one of the key players and schemers in the build-up to and events of the Dance of the Dragons.
12. Paddy Considine’s King Viserys I Targaryen & A Valyrian Steel Sword
As Daemon’s narration in the House of the Dragon trailer gets to “Kings,” the footage comes to the ruler of Westeros himself, King Viserys I Targaryen. Portrayed by Paddy Considine, Viserys is generally seen as a decent man whose reign is largely prosperous and peaceful. The larger issues stem from his decree of the line of succession, naming his daughter, Rhaenyra, his heir and not changing it even when he has a son with Queen Alicent, which is what ultimately leads to the Dance of the Dragons following his death. The focus in this shot, though, is on the sword wielded by Viserys, which appears to be Blackfyre, one of the great Valyrian steel swords of House Targaryen, wielded by Aegon the Conqueror himself. The sword eventually passes to Aegon II, so while there’s no mention of Viserys using it, it would make sense for it to be in his possession.
11. Milly Alcock As Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
The timeline of House of the Dragon will seemingly span well over a decade, which is evidenced by the casting of actresses to play younger versions of both Rhaenyra and Alicent. One of those is Milly Alcock, who appears in the House of the Dragon trailer as young Rhaenyra, with the Iron Throne behind her. With a younger version of the character (Rhaenyra could be around her mid-teens here), then the Game of Thrones prequel can show key events that are long before the civil war, but factor into the brewing tensions and rivalry between Rhaenyra and Alicent.
10. Daemon, Rhaenyra, And A Sense of Foreboding For Targaryens
A decent portion of House of the Dragon may well be Daemon and Rhaenyra stood together, looking foreboding, as this shot in the trailer suggests. Once again it would appear as though they’re on Dragonstone, though exactly what they’re looking at is unclear. This does at least seem to be later in the timeline, presumably at the point where Rhaenyra and Daemon are a couple. As tensions build over in King’s Landing, then the pair will be looking at, waiting for moves against them while plotting their own.
9. A Targaryen Battle: Daemon vs Criston Cole?
One great aspect of the House Targaryen-centric story is getting to see much more of them in action, including their great armor and weapons, which looks superb in the House of the Dragon trailer. The faces of the combatants in this shot aren’t shown, but the fight could well be between Daemon Targaryen and Ser Criston Cole, one of the finest knights in Westeros who will become Lord Commander of Viserys’ Kingsguard. The clues here are the weapons being wielded: the person in the Targaryen armor is seemingly using the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister, which belonged to Aegon’s sister-wife Visenya, and at this point has indeed passed to Daemon. The person he is fighting is using a morningstar, and and at the tourney to mark Viserys’ ascension, it’s recorded that Criston defeated Daemon with a morningstar, with the latter wielding Dark Sister.
8. Corlys Velaryon, The Sea Snake
One of the key characters in House of the Dragon who isn’t a Targaryen is Corlys Velaryon, aka the Sea Snake (Steve Toussaint). The Velaryons are, like the Targaryens, a house that origined in Valyria that has made it over to Westeros. As his nickname suggests, Corlys is a renowned sailor whose great adventures will remain the stuff of legend centuries later, and which may even spawn another Game of Thrones spinoff, with HBO said to be developing one based around his Great Voyages, where he journeyed across the world and returned with incredible wealth. A rich and powerful man, Corlys weds in the Targaryen family by marrying Rhaenyrs, the granddaughter of Jaehaerys who many felt should have become Queen. Later, though, one of his sons will marry Rhaenyra, and he’ll also work closely with Daemon.
7. House Velaryon & A Targaryen Banquet
The rest of House Velaryon makes its arrival in King’s Landing, seemingly at a feast held by King Viserys. It’s likely that Corlys’ children are with him, including son Laenor (who marries Rhaenyra) and daughter Laena (who marries Daemon). Next to him is Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), known as the Queen Who Never Was. Both Corlys and Rhaenys will play important roles in the Dance of the Dragons, but their power and allegiance will also be felt in the build-up to it.
6. Mysaria, Daemon’s Mistress of Whisperers
Next up in the House of the Dragon trailer is Lady Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), a lover of Daemon Targaryen from Lys who is also his mistress of whisperers. That potentially makes Mysaria one of the most fascinating characters in House of the Dragon. After all, a key strength of Game of Thrones lay in its scheming and machinations, and characters such as Varys – the Master of Whisperers – was integral to that. Mysaria can serve a similar function to the story here, but have an even more personal involvement because of her ties to Daemon.
5. Queen Alicent Hightower (& The Catspaw Dagger From Game Of Thrones?)
Olivia Cooke’s Queen Alicent Hightower interrupts proceedings, bursting into the room looking panic-stricken, though it’s unclear at what. Judging by the fact she is holding up a weapon, though, then it seems likely a crime has just been committed using it – perhaps to one of her sons. In the rivalry between her children and Rhaenyra’s, her son Aemond loses an eye thanks to a slash from a dagger, and this could be set just after those events. Even more intriguing, though, is that the dagger, with its jewel-encrusted hilt, looks a lot like the catspaw dagger from Game of Thrones. That’s the weapon used in the assassination attempt on Bran Stark, and later by Arya when she kills the Night King. The dagger, which has a Valyrian steel blade and dragonbone hilt, was linked to the Valyrians by its appearance in a book Sam Tarly read at the Citadel, so viewers could be seeing more of its story here.
4. A Tournament Held By House Tarly
A great tourney is held in Westeros, with many houses being represented. Though tourneys aren’t uncommon, the House of the Dragon trailer does feature both Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra. This could mean it’s the Tourney of 111 AC, held to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Alicent and Viserys. This is an event where the seeds of distrust and even hatred were truly sown, and where the warring factions of the Dance of the Dragons – the greens and the blacks – got their names. Alicent dressed in green, while Rhaenyra wore the red and black of House Tagaryen. The most prominent banner is that of House Tarly, which suggests this takes place at Horn Hill, which would be a change to that Tourney, which is set at King’s Landing. Similarly, Alicent’s dress is more blue than green, so it could be a different tournament. The earlier shot in the trailer of Criston Cole and Daemon Targaryen suggested seeing the tourney of 104 AC, held to celebrate Viserys’ ascension. Later shots show members of House Cole and House Tarly in the joust, which at least likely means Criston is a participant.
3. House Stark Appears In House Of The Dragon
While House Stark was central to Game of Thrones, it’ll take a backseat in House of the Dragon. Indeed, because the Starks are far removed from King’s Landing, they don’t have a huge involvement in the story until later on, when the pact of Ice and Fire unites them and the Targaryens during the Dance of the Dragons. Still, the Starks will be appearing in House of the Dragon, confirmed by a brief glimpse of that iconic direwolf sigil during the tourney.
2. A Fight Between Rhaenyra & Alicent’s Children?
A fight breaks out in King’s Landing in the House of the Dragon trailer, although it’s not immediately obvious who the combatants are. Based on age and appearance, then this is presumably a fight between the children of Rhaenyra and Alicent. Alicent’s kids all have traditional Targaryen features, which fits with the person on the right, who has that trademark blonde hair. The other looks nothing like a Targaryen, but that is rather the point – it’s strongly rumored, if not confirmed, that Rhaenyra’s children weren’t fathered by Laenor Velaryon, but Harwin Strong. He was a knight who was close to Rhaenyra, and his strong features and dark hair are a much better match for her children.
1. The Iron Throne (Which Looks Different To Game Of Thrones)
While House of the Dragon is a different show to Game of Thrones, the end goal remains the same: the Iron Throne. The ruling seat of Westeros is once again a prize to be coveted and fought for, as reminded by its appearance in the House of the Dragon trailer as it’s looked upon by Rhaenyra, who believes herself the rightful heir to it. The Iron Throne itself looks a bit more like the books here; it’s still not the gargantuan monstrosity of George R.R. Martin’s novels, but it’s bigger, spikier, and more intimidating and imposing than it appeared in Game of Thrones, suggesting a more faithful take on it. That the House of the Dragon trailer ends on the Iron Throne before the sigil of House Targaryen confirms that this is, ultimately, what it’s all about.
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About The Author
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James is Screen Rant’s Movies Lead Editor, having started out as a writer for the site back in 2019. A Sports Journalism graduate, James quickly realized that supporting Sunderland AFC was painful enough without writing about it, and so decided to talk a load of rubbish about movies and TV instead. Formerly the TV editor at WhatCulture, he has a particular love of Star Wars (The Last Jedi was great), Game of Thrones (season 8 was good), and Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling…never mind) – y’know, all that really niche, nerdy stuff. Spending most of his days editing articles about or writing on movies and shows, James likes to really get away from work and unwind by, er, watching movies and shows. He’s fuelled by pint-sized cups of tea, peanut butter, more tea, and a quiet, constant anger (like the Hulk, only not green, or strong, or big).
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