House of the Dragon: everything you need to know about the Game of Thrones spin-off that everyone's talking about

Winter is coming. Again.

House of the Dragon

Winter is coming. Again.

Promises of Gods, kings, fire and blood can only mean one thing. Yes, House of the Dragon, AKA the Game of Thrones prequel, is finally on its way – and reader, it looks phenomenal.

Set 200 years before the fall of the iron throne, when the Targaryens reigned, the new addition to the GoT franchise stars the likes of The Crown star Matt Smith, Vanity Fair actress Olivia Cooke, and relative newcomer Emma D'Arcy, and is scheduled for release next year.

Based on the Fire And Blood books by George RR Martin, who will also serve as executive producer and co-creator, series one (of many, we hope) will air on HBO Max and chart the rise and reign of Daenerys's ancestors as rulers of Westeros.

Excited? You bet we are. Here's everything you need to know.

What's it about?

As with Game of Thronessomething tells us that the show will go a little off script from the book's original plot, though HBO haven't as yet revealed anything beyond the fact that it will involve 'Gods, kings, fire and blood'. (Which is essentially all we want in a great TV show, tbh.)

The network did, however, treat us to a first-look trailer, which features the ominous voiceover of Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) declaring: "Dreams didn't make us kings; dragons did."

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In typical GoT fashion, the seventy second trailer doesn't give much away, beyond signalling that fans of the franchise will probably love it, and non-fans will probably watch it anyway because really, what else would you be doing with all your friends glued to the TV?

The synopsis for George RR Martin's Fire and Blood book, however, reads: "Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen – the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria – took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart."

Ok, we're officially intrigued.

House of the Dragon release date

Sadly, HBO haven't yet announced a release date beyond promising fans 2022. But with Emily in Paris season two and the new chapter of the Bridgerton series also incoming (we know – different vibe, same watch list), we'll have plenty to tide us over in the meantime.

Who are the House of the Dragon cast?

While they've stayed resolutely tight lipped on just about everything else, HBO have given fans a pretty good run-down on who's who in the Westeros of yore.

Here's what we know so far.

Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen: "The king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man."

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen: "The younger brother to King Viserys and heir to the throne. A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…"

Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Sea Snake”: "Lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen. As “The Sea Snake,” the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world."

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower: "The daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen."

Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower: "The Hand of the King, Ser Otto loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king's brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne."

Where can I get the House of the Dragon book?

If you're not read up on the Fire And Blood book, fear not: you've got plenty of time to read it (and re-read the entire GoT series) before the big release.

Fire And Blood by George RR Martin – £18.99 (HB) | Amazon

Fire And Blood by George RR Martin – £18.99 (HB) | Amazon

A Game of Thrones: The Story Continues: The Complete Boxset of All 7 Books – £65 | Waterstones

A Game of Thrones: The Story Continues: The Complete Boxset of All 7 Books – £65 | Waterstones

More as we have it.

Kate McCusker

Kate McCusker is a freelance writer at Marie Claire UK, having joined the team in 2019. She studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, and her byline has also appeared in Dezeen, British Vogue, The Times and woman&home. In no particular order, her big loves are: design, good fiction, bad reality shows and the risible interiors of celebrity houses.