House of the Dragon: Game of Thrones Prequel Trailer Breakdown

Rhaenyra Targaryen, Corlys Velaryon, Matt Smith’s amazing blond wig - the gang’s all here in the very first House of the Dragon trailer.

House of the Dragon Game of Thrones prequel trailer
Photo: HBO

It’s been far too long since TV viewers got to spend time in Westeros. Thankfully, we will all be returning soon. Today HBO Max revealed an official teaser for House of the Dragon, the first of many planned Game of Thrones spinoffs. Check it out below.

This story is a prequel that picks up roughly 200 years before the events of the epic HBO series. The Targaryen dynasty is on its fifth king of the Seven Kingdoms. They’ve got all the dragons they could want and things are going great in Westeros. Surely, no petty family squabble over succession could possibly ruin such a great thing! Unfortunately for the Targaryen family, George R.R. Martin kind of lives for this shit. 

House of the Dragon is set to cover a major event in Westerosi history known as the Dance of the Dragons. This is when a crisis of succession leads to an enormous civil war that devastates the continent and kills off a large percentage of House Targaryen’s dragons. And those dragons are pretty important, you see. As the voiceover in the teaser indicates “Gods, kings, fire, and blood. Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did.”

Though this teaser is only just over a minute long, it packs quite a bit of exciting imagery within it. Let’s break down exactly what it is we’re seeing here, using Martin’s prequel text Fire & Blood as a guide. 

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House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Ser Otto Hightower

Ser Otto Hightower

Fans of Game of Thrones should immediately recognize the pendant on the chest of this unseen character. That is worn by the “Hand of the King” who is essentially the King of the Seven Kingdoms’ chief of staff. Some Hands of the King are more historically significant than others and the House of the Dragon will depict a particularly important one. Though we don’t see his face, this character is certainly Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans).

The Hightowers hail from Oldtown in The Reach, one of the biggest and most powerful cities in the Seven Kingdoms. In fact, before Aegon I’s arrival on the continent and the creation of King’s Landing, Oldtown was THE city in Westeros. As such, the Hightower family that rules Oldtown is extremely powerful. Though Otto’s brother is the Lord of Oldtown, Otto has been a mainstay of King’s Landing for years. He is a deeply political man who counts the king’s brother Daemon as his biggest rival. His daughter is also quite attractive and may or may not catch the eye of King Viserys I.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - King Viserys I

King Viserys I

Ah yes, King Viserys I: the head honcho. Viserys I (Paddy Considine) is the fifth king of the Targaryen dynasty. He seems to be doing a decent job but that might just be because his reign followed that of his grandfather Jaehaerys I – perhaps the greatest king Westeros ever had. Viserys’s biggest “sin” is his love of his daughter Rhaenyra. Viserys is grooming her to be Westeros’s ruling monarch despite the precdent of patrilineal succession being set under Jaehaerys’s reign.

The prominent inclusion of Viserys’ sword in this shot might not be a coincidence. All Targaryen kings through Aegon IV wielded Aegon I’s Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre. Should someone hypothetically nab that sword in a civil war it would lend an air of legitimacy to their claim.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Rhaenyra Targaryen

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy). This may be the closest this story has to a “main character.” Rhaenyra is the apple of her father King Viserys’s eye. In fact, for much of her youth she was pretty much the apple of everyone’s eye. Known as the “Realm’s Delight”, Rhaenyra has a very positive approval rating in the Seven Kingdoms. She is Viserys’s only child from his marriage to Queen Aemma of House Arryn. She appears to have a clear path to the Iron Throne … unless her father does something crazy like say, get remarried.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Daemon Targaryen

Daemon Targaryen

Here we have Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen. Daemon (Matt Smith) is the king’s younger brother and therefore Rhaenyra’s uncle. In the war to come, Daemon will be one of the most important players. He is an excellent warrior but also a bit unbearable. Otto Hightower hates him and Viserys himself isn’t too taken by him. His niece certainly loves him though. Perhaps a bit too much. 

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House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Daemon Targaryen v. Ser Criston Cole

This may not be a particularly important moment but it does serve as a reminder that the Targaryen fashion sense is so rad. This also, however, could be a fateful duel between Daemon Targaryen and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), the latter of which loves a morningstar and who will play an important role in the palace intrigue to come.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Corlys Velaryon

Corlys Velaryon a.k.a. The Sea Snake

Now THIS guy is very important. This is Corlys Velaryon a.k.a. The Sea Snake (Steve Toussaint). Think of him as House of the Dragon’s Tywin Lannister, that is to say: the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms who does not sit on the Iron Throne. House Velaryon dates its lineage back to Old Valyria just like the Targaryens. As such the two families are quite close, with Corlys even marrying Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best).

Even beyond his family’s power, however, Corlys is a particularly impressive man. He is a prolific sailor and adventurer who has traveled all over the world, bringing many riches back home with him. Should a civil war break out, he would be a very important ally to win.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - The Velaryon

Speaking of Velaryons, here is the whole crew. It’s unknown who is who here but the following actors have been confirmed to be a part of the Velaryon family:

– Wil Johnson as Ser Vaemond Velaryon – Younger brother to Coryls Velaryon and commander in the Velaryon navy –
John Macmillan as Ser Laenor Velaryon – Son of Corlys Velaryon and  Rhaenys Targaryen   
– Savannah Steyn as Lady Laena Velayron – Daughter of Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen 
– Theo Nate as Ser Laenor Velaryon – Son of Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen

I believe we’re seeing the adolescent Ser Laenor to Corlys’s left. His wife Rhaenys is also accompanying him.

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House of the Dragon on HBO Max - The Iron Throne

This is a conspicuous shot of the Iron Throne – the thing that each character is striving for and the thing that also no longer exists, thanks to Drogon.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Lady Mysaria


Here we see Sonoya Mizuno (Devs, Ex Machina) as Mysaria, Daemon’s Mistress of Whisperers and also just his mistress. Mysaria is pretty rad. She’s a dancer from the Free City of Lys in Essos who caught Daemon’s eye. She comes to serve a pretty important role in the Dance of the Dragons and is involved with at least one unbearably cruel act. Much of Westeros comes to know her as “Lady Misery.”

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Lady Allicent Hightower

Lady Alicent Hightower

Told you Ser Otto Hightower’s daughter was attractive! This is Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooker), who will soon catch the king’s eye. Here, however, she appears to be in distress. She’s running through the court in Maegor’s Holdfast and holding what could be the same Valyrian dagger that caused so much strife in Game of Thrones. What events could this cursed thing have set in motion here? It’s hard to say but it may involve her son Aemon losing an eye.

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Tourney at Horn Hill

Remember how much fun the jousting episodes were in Game of Thrones season 1? So much can happen at a tourney. It’s a fun place for highborn and commoners alike to take in some sweet violence. It’s also dramatically fertile ground for many schemes to take shape. Based on the heraldry of a red archer on a green field, this tournament is being held in Horn Hill, home of House Tarly (yes, as in Samwell Tarly). The two participants in this particular joust appear to be Ser Criston Cole again and a House Tarly knight.

In Fire & Blood, the events that set the Dance of the Dragons in motion begin at a tourney in King’s Landing. Alicent Hightower is adorned in green and Rhaenyra Targaryen in black, so when the factions eventually divide they are known as the “greens” and the “blacks.”

House of the Dragon on HBO Max - Duel

At first glance this appears to be a simple training session. But then it becomes clear that these two combatants really hate each other. We are likely seeing here a skirmish between one of Lady Alicent’s sons and one of Lady Rhaenyra’s. You might think that the blond-haired boy is Rhaenyra’s son but curiously all of her and her blond husband Laenor’s kids come out with jet black hair. He almost looks a little bit more like Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr). Interesting.

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House of the Dragon will premiere in 2022 on HBO and HBO Max.