Game of Thrones prequel: what can we learn from the first images?

The first stills from House of the Dragon, the new series within George RR Martin’s fantasy universe, promise more of the same but also a tease of something new

Game of Thrones currently has a bit of an image problem. The sense that George RR Martin will never actually complete his saga has taken all the fun out of reading the books, and the dismal Crayola scribble of a final season has obliterated the reputation of the TV series.

But HBO knows how easily pleased we are. Game of Thrones might have hurt us again and again, but it knows that it only has to throw us a few scraps and we’ll come crawling back for more. And the first of these scraps has just arrived, in the form of some official House of the Dragon photographs.

House of the Dragon is, of course, HBO’s first attempt at creating a kind of Westeros MCU. It’s a Game of Thrones prequel, set 300 years in the past and revolving around the madcap adventures of House Targaryen. It’s being co-showrun by Ryan Condal (best known for writing a film where The Rock wore a wig and another film where The Rock had a giant monkey for a best friend), and it stars the likes of Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Rhys Ifans. And now, ahead of its premiere next year, we finally get to see what it’s actually going to look like. So, what can we learn from the House of the Dragon’s pictures? Let’s take a look.

undefined

This is the most classically Targaryen picture of the lot. It’s the one that looks like the messy aftermath of a semi-ironic Emilia Clarke cosplay party. It’s the one where you realise that every single member of House Targaryen has looked identical for centuries, and that the whole clan is probably horribly inbred, and that there’s a good chance that the reason why Daenerys turned into Dragon Hitler at the end of Game of Thrones was because she suffered from a severe genetic deficiency. It’s the one where you think “Ooh, who is that sexy young lady?” and then realise that it’s actually Matt Smith.

Smith and Emma D’Arcy are playing Prince Daemon Targaryen and Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, respectively. She’s upset about not being a boy, he’s probably a lunatic. Here they are, dressed impractically for their day at the beach.

undefined

This is a slightly more interesting photo, because neither of the characters are wearing wigs that look like fire hazards in the making. Also, good news for anyone who might be dreading the sexual politics of House of the Dragon, because Ifans is actually playing Olivia Cooke’s father and not her husband. This automatically makes him about 50% less creepy than this image might first suggest.

Ifans’ character is named Otto Hightower. As you can see from his brooch, he is the Hand of the King. According to the press notes, he thinks that the biggest threat to House Targaryen is Daemon Targaryen. This means – and this is pure speculation on my part, but I bet I’m right – that he will be executed in the penultimate episode of the first season. Meanwhile, Cooke plays Alicent Hightower, “the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms”. This seems unlikely, because you try sighing “Oh Alicent” in the throes of pleasure. Anyway, here they both are, dressed impractically for their day at the beach.

undefined

Finally, we have the most exciting picture of the lot. According to HBO, Toussaint is playing Lord Corlys Velaryon; the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros. He has amassed the largest navy in the land, and boasts a fortune greater than even the Lannisters. But that isn’t why the picture is exciting. It’s exciting because Lord Corlys is Black.

A Black main character in a George RR Martin property. Who thought this day would come? Until now, the best any non-white character could expect from a Game of Thrones casting was a peripheral role as a slave girl or a soldier whose penis had been lopped off. But Lord Corlys is a man of great authority. It’s proof that Westeros does contain Black people, albeit only 300 years ago. And the fact that there aren’t any now suggests that some form of deeply troubling ethnic cleansing has taken place in the intervening years. But forget that for now. Lord Corlys looks fun. Here he is, dressed impractically for his day at the beach.

  • House of the Dragon will premiere in 2022

Contributor

Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Game of Thrones season seven trailer and premiere date revealed
An initial look at the penultimate season of HBO’s hit fantasy drama, which returns this summer, suggests dark times ahead

Guardian staff

10, Mar, 2017 @11:03 AM

Article image
Naomi Watts to star in Game of Thrones prequel series
Oscar nominated actor will play a ‘charismatic socialite’ in the prequel which takes place thousands of years before the hit show

Guardian staff

30, Oct, 2018 @8:27 PM

Article image
What's the next Game of Thrones? All the contenders for fantasy TV's crown
The saga of the Seven Kingdoms may be bowing out, but it has opened the floodgates. Here’s your guide to the next big heroes

Sarah Hughes

01, Apr, 2019 @2:43 PM

Article image
After Westeros, a new TV epic from Game of Thrones author
Wild Cards, a 1940s superhero alien fantasy series to be adapted for television by George RR Martin’s co-creator

Dalya Alberge

13, Aug, 2016 @9:57 PM

Article image
Game of Thrones' days are numbered – so how will it end?
HBO has announced that there will be just two more seasons of its fantasy mega-hit Game of Thrones. But with such a sprawling cast, can they create a satisfying climax – and what might it look like?

Graeme Virtue

01, Aug, 2016 @2:46 PM

Article image
Game of Thrones: the women of Westeros

Some women wield power in Game of Thrones, but life for all of them is insecure and terrifying, writes medieval historian Helen Castor

Helen Castor

31, Mar, 2014 @5:56 PM

Article image
Tales of Tyrion: what could a Game of Thrones spinoff series look like?
George RR Martin has been talking up the prospect of a spinoff for the HBO hit, and there’s a lot of material to choose from. Here are five possible directions

Ben Child

18, Nov, 2016 @8:31 PM

Article image
Five ways Game of Thrones has improved on George RR Martin's books
George RR Martin fans should not worry that Game of Thrones might throw up spoilers for forthcoming books. The TV show has repeatedly shown that it can add to the literary experience

Ben Child

27, Mar, 2015 @11:34 AM

Game of Thrones: in pictures

Gallery: As HBO's adaptation of George RR Martin's fantasy novels begins on Sky Atlantic, we take a look behind the scenes

15, Apr, 2011 @12:09 PM

Article image
Game of Thrones season seven: tense trailer promises a 'great war' is coming
The first full look at the seventh season of the hit fantasy drama teases yet more conflict in Westeros to come this summer

Guardian staff

25, May, 2017 @12:57 AM