Five things to know about 'Game of Thrones' prequel 'House of the Dragon'

Take a trip back 200 years to Westeros, when the Targaryens sat on the Iron Throne

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Power, violence, betrayal and of course, dragons.

House of the Dragon, a prequel to the hit show Game of Thrones, has been released on HBO Max, with viewers in the UAE able to watch it on OSN+ from today, August 22.

House of the Dragon is set 200 years before Game of Thrones and chronicles the tumultuous events that mark the beginning of the end for the most powerful house of the realm: the Targaryens.

From fickle premonitions, wavering alliances and brutal action including sword fights and fire-breathing dragons, here are five things to keep in mind about the new show.

What is 'House of the Dragon' about?

Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon'. Photo: HBO

The show is based on the second half of Fire & Blood by George R R Martin, which details the lead up to the Targaryen civil war.

King Viserys I Targaryen has ruled the Seven Kingdoms for nearly 26 years and names his firstborn, Princess Rhaenyra, as his sole heir.

He is vehemently challenged by his brother Daemon Targaryen and the councilmen of Westeros who firmly believe that a woman cannot sit on the Iron Throne.

Matters are further complicated when Alicent Hightower, Princess Rhaenyra's childhood best friend, marries King Viserys and later conceives a son, Aegon.

As tensions escalate, Princess Rhaenyra refuses to back down and is resolute in claiming her birthright, no matter the consequences.

Who is in the cast?

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. Photo: HBO

One of the most challenging aspects of watching Game of Thrones was remembering the names of the characters, understanding their relationships with one another and their apparent motives. To better prepare you for the show, here are the main characters and the actors who play them.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen: Current king of Westeros.

Emma D'Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra: King Viserys’s firstborn and, initially, sole heir to the Iron Throne.

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower: Daughter of the Hand of the King, Princess Rhaenyra’s childhood best friend who later marries Rhaenyra’s father King Viserys.

Prince Daemon Targaryen: King Viserys's younger brother and Princess Rhaenyra’s uncle, who has his own claim to the Iron Throne.

Otto Hightower: Hand of the King and a highly political character who questions many of the decisions he’s forced to make.

Lord Corlys Velaryon: Head of House Velaryon and Princess Rhaenyra’s confidant and mentor.

Princess Rhaenys Targaryen: Wife of Corlys, who passed the throne to her male cousin King Viserys.

There's plenty more dragons

Scene from season 4 of Game of Thrones. The dragons are growing up.
CREDIT: HBO

During Game of Thrones, dragons were game changers. As viewers learnt, control a dragon and you can rule the Seven Kingdoms. However, there were only three dragons that fans were able to see and only one epic fight featured between two dragons, during GoT's eight seasons.

In House of the Dragon, however, there are reportedly up to 17 dragons, which makes sense given that the Targaryens run the Seven Kingdoms. Plus, with a civil war brewing, we can only hope for more epic battles on the ground and in mid-air.

Women in power

Milly Alcock as young Rhaenyra and Emily Carey as young Alicent. Photo: HBO

While Game of Thrones had women in positions of power, such as Cersei Lannister, Sansa Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen, House of the Dragon is set earlier in the Westeros timeline, where patriarchy has a firmer hold on society.

The theme of how this affects the women in the story will be most evident with Princess Rhaenyra. She is someone who never expected to be heir, but when her father chooses her to be his successor despite societal norms, Princess Rhaenyra becomes at odds with herself and her womanhood.

'Game of Thrones' Universe

In this photo provided by HBO, Kit Harington portrays Jon Snow in a scene from the seventh season of HBO's "Game of Thrones." Piracy is a long-running and even routine issue for Hollywood, whether it’s street vendors hawking bootleg DVDs on street corners or video uploaded to file-sharing sites like Pirate Bay. Now cybercriminals are also putting embarrassing chatter and other company secrets at risk. Separately from HBO’s recent run-ins with hackers, upcoming “Game of Thrones” episodes have leaked several times, and it is TV’s most pirated show. (Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO via AP)

Game of Thrones was a pop culture phenomenon and a turning point for the high fantasy genre. To capitalise on the show’s mainstream success, HBO has four other spin-offs already in development, including the only sequel centred around Jon Snow, with Kit Harington already attached to the project.

Scroll the gallery below to see images of how the 'Game of Thrones' characters changed from season 1 to 8:

Updated: August 22, 2022, 6:41 AM
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