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House of the Dragon: HBO release date, cast and more for the Game of Thrones prequel

House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones prequel
(Image credit: HBO)

Fire and blood will rain down again soon in House of the Dragon, HBO's Game of Thrones prequel about the Targaryen dynasty.

Winter already came and went on Game of Thrones, which concluded its eight-season run in May 2019. But HBO naturally didn't want to let go of the biggest show in its history. Even before GOT ended, the network began developing five potential Game of Thrones spinoffs. They landed on one: House of the Dragon. And recent reports have confirmed that the show is moving forward with a casting call. 

House of the Dragon had a bit of a winding road to existence. HBO first selected an entirely different project for a spinoff, set during the time of the Age of Heroes. But after filming a pilot starring Naomi Watts, that project was scrapped. 

Then, HBO made a surprise announcement that it had gone ahead and ordered 10 episodes of House of the Dragon. The series is based on George R.R. Martin's fantasy novel "Fire & Blood," which chronicles the House of Targaryen's rule, beginning with Aegon I Targaryen's conquest of Westeros some 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.

Writer Ryan Condal (Colony) and Game of Thrones veteran director Miguel Sapochnik will serve as co-showrunners. Sapochnik directed blockbuster Game of Thrones episodes, including Hardhome, The Long Night and the Emmy-winning Battle of the Bastards. 

Here's everything we know about House of the Dragon so far.

House of the Dragon release date

House of the Dragon does not have a release date. 

HBO announced the series order in October 2019. In late July 2020, the first rounds of casting began. But that still leaves a lot of steps: filming, editing, visual effects. The latter may take a significant amount of time, since a Targaryen-focused series will have to include dragons. 

"My guess is sometime in 2022," HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys told Deadline in January 2020.

He added, "Obviously it’s a big, complicated show."

If it's anywhere near as complicated as Game of Thrones, consider this: Season 8 required nine months of filming, then took nine months until its premiere. If House of the Dragon follows a similar timeline, then we're looking at a release date circa March or April 2022. That would actually make a lot of sense, since almost every season of GOT premiered in those months.

House of the Dragon cast

HBO has begun building the House of the Dragon cast. Multiple media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, confirmed the rumors of a casting call first circulated by fan blogs like Redanian Intelligence and the Wertzone.  

Additionally, the NSFW site Recapped claims that HBO is casting two female leads for House of Dragons. According to their unconfirmed report, the two roles are Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower. They're key figures in the Targaryen civil war called Dance of the Dragons. Rhaenyra is King Viserys I eldest daughter from his first marriage, who believes she should be her father's heir. Alicent is the king's younger second wife, who wants her son to rule. It's a literal game of thrones.

House of the Dragon plot

House of the Dragon is set several hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones. It's based on Martin's novel "Fire & Blood," which chronicles the rule of House Targaryen from the beginning. The story recounts Aegon I Targaryen's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

Based on the casting call that we mention above, it seems House of the Dragon will focus on a particular part of the Targaryen history. But there's a ton of story to draw from. Martin's Fire & Blood covers a few hundred years of Targaryen history. He said in a blog post, "For what it's worth, those who have read 'Fire & Blood' will realize it contains enough materials for a dozen shows."

One of the shows could cover Aegon's fiery, two-year campaign to take over Westeros using the ultimate weapon: his dragon Balerion. (You may have seen Balerion's huge skull in the dungeons of King's Landing on Game of Thrones.) At Aegon's side are his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, and their dragons. These women are also his wives, since Targaryens are notorious for incest.

Meanwhile, the outmatched Westeros rulers include Torrhen Stark, king in the North, and Loren I Lannister, king of the Rock. It's during these battles that the combatants burn down Harrenhal.

But Martin has previously hinted on his blog that House of the Dragon will cover another seismic event: the Dance of the Dragons. 

"If you'd like to know a bit more of what the show will be about … well, I can't actually spill those beans, but you might want to pick up a copy of two anthologies I did with Gardner Dozois, 'DANGEROUS WOMEN' [Tor Books, 2013] and 'ROGUES' [Bantam Spectra, 2014], and then move on to Archmaester Gyldayn's history, 'FIRE & BLOOD,'" Martin teased.

Fans immediately picked up on the fact that Martin's novellas in those two anthologies are set before and during the Dance of the Dragons, a bloody and brutal Targaryen civil war that takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. (That's a little more than a century after Aegon I's conquest.)

And the casting call, if reports are true, would confirm the speculation.

King Viserys I's death sets off a struggle for succession between his daughter from his first marriage, Princess Rhaenyra, and his son from his second marriage, Aegon II. Princess Shireen Baratheon recounted this story in a fifth-season episode of Game of Thrones. 

"Brothers fought brothers, dragons fought dragons," she reminded her father, Stannis. "By the time it was over, thousands were dead."

As Shireen noted, the conflict took its toll on the Targaryens, as almost all of their dragons died in the war. The beasts remained extinct for a century and a half, until Daenerys Targaryen hatched her three dragons in Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon trailer

House of the Dragon does not have a trailer yet. 

HBO could include a mention of the series in the network's look-ahead teaser for the fall or for 2021.