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This morning, HBO finally released the long-awaited first teaser trailer for House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel series that promises to explore the political maneuverings of House Targaryen a full 200 years before Robert's Rebellion. The footage was brief, but compelling, and if you haven't been following the history of Westeros beyond what was laid out in Game of Thrones, it was also probably very mysterious.
Created by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and writer and producer Ryan Condal (Colony), House of the Dragon is set in the buildup to and in the midst of a key event in the history of Westeros: The civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons, which pits two major Targaryen (and Targaryen-related) factions against one another following the death of a king. Though the drama has already unfolded in Martin's book Fire & Blood, a history of the Targaryens, House of the Dragon marks the first time the story has gotten the big budget HBO epic treatment.
So, in preparation for House of the Dragon's arrival on HBO Max next year, let's take a closer look at the teaser trailer, unpack who the major players are, and examine what role they have to fill in the series. Oh, and it's worth warning you, there are a few SPOILERS for the book Fire & Blood below.
Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen
We begin, appropriately, with the key players from which House of the Dragon takes its name, Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Daemon (Matt Smith) Targaryen, the leaders of one side of the civil war that will come to be known as the Dance of the Dragons. The firstborn child of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), Rhaenyra spent much of her childhood training to become her father's heir, with her uncle Daemon behind her as a key ally (and, in Fire & Blood, her husband at one point). When Viserys passed away, though, his wife Alicent and her supporters staged a coup, leaving Rhaenyra and Daemon to regroup at Dragonstone and form their own, separate, courtly government with Rhaenyra as Queen.
So, the Dance of the Dragons began, and Rhaenyra and Daemon definitely put the "dragons" into the name. Both Rhaenyra and Daemon have dragons to ride into battle, she a huge mount named Syrax, and he a legendary battle dragon called Caraxes. Caraxes, arguably among the last great dragons in history before Daenerys and her trio of children came along, was nicknamed "The Blood Wyrm," so you know he's bringing the heat to the battle.
Though we don't yet know exactly how House of the Dragon will adapt the Dance of the Dragons and the events of Martin's book Fire & Blood, we do know from context and from past versions of Westerosi history that Rhaenyra and Daemon are two of the most important figures in the shaping of the continent as we come to know it at the beginning of Game of Thrones. It may be two centuries before Robert's Rebellion, but the things set in motion here, by these two people, will echo down the decades.
If the Targaryens are the primary family at the core of House of the Dragon, then the members of House Hightower are almost inarguably the second most important group of players in this saga, at least in terms of the early moves that lead to civil war. The teaser's glimpse of Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower seems to prove that, as we see her at court wielding what looks like a familiar catspaw dagger with a Valyrian steel blade.
Alicent is a figure very familiar with the politics of King's Landing. She was raised in the Red Keep, and her father Otto Hightower (played by Rhys Ifans in the series, and glimpsed only by his Hand badge in the teaser) rose through the ranks to become Hand to King Viserys Targaryen. That, plus her intelligence and beauty, is enough to put Alicent in a key position of influence among the Targaryens. In Fire & Blood, she eventually becomes one of the first major figures to move against Rhaenyra and Daemon in the Dance of the Dragons, and her motives and influence will be a fascinating part of House of the Dragon, particularly with an actress like Cooke portraying her.
Lord Corlys Velaryon
Here's Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, a figure who will go down in Westerosi history as the greatest seafarer of his age. Known as the "Sea Snake," he heads House Velaryon, which at the time of House of the Dragon is one of the greatest of the great houses of Westeros. If you've only watched Game of Thrones, you might be wondering how that could be, as the Velaryons are barely mentioned in the series, and Lord Corlys' adventures over the course of the prequel just might go a long way towards filling you in on that.
During the Dance of the Dragons, Velaryon initially takes the side of Rhaenyra, his daughter-in-law by marriage, and throws the considerable military and financial might of his house behind her. Already a key figure of power and influence in Westerosi politics even before the civil war, his involvement in the Dance will make him a pivotal figure in the conflict, and the choices he makes could shape the history of the continent for decades to come.
It wouldn't be a Game of Thrones story without a good spymaster, and Sonoya Mizuno seems set to fill that role as Mysaria, a key supporting figure from the Dance of Dragons era who, like Lord Varys before her, comes over from Lys to play a key role in Westerosi politics within her era. According to Fire & Blood, Mysaria began her influence over various Targaryens as a dancer in King's Landing, where she caught Daemon Targaryen's eye. Though Daemon's father King Viserys didn't approve, Mysaria never lost touch with Daemon, and as civil war broke out she became a key ally.
Though the book never made it official, she was essentially the Mistress of Whisperers (the role Varys filled for various rulers) for Rhaenyra's court during the Dance of the Dragons, and had roles to play in several key decisions and operations during the conflict. We don't know yet exactly how much screentime she'll get in the series, but make sure you pay attention to her movements during House of the Dragon. She's not known as Lady Misery for nothing.
House of the Dragon arrives on HBO Max in 2022.