Here’s how you can keep up with the Targaryens, no matter which of the seven kingdoms you find yourself in
Now that the dust has settled on Game of Thrones’ fiery final season, HBO is back with a brand-new spin-off series. House of the Dragon is a prequel show set hundreds of years before the start of Game of Thrones that will chronicle the bloodiest conflicts of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros. The show has been quietly in the works since 2019, after author George RR Martin released Fire and Blood, the novel that this show will use as source material.
The first season will star Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy to name a few. After a certain point in the first season, the story will jump ahead by many years, with different actors taking on the roles of the younger characters at the start. The first episode of season 1 aired on 21 August worldwide, and a subsequent 9 episodes will be released weekly. With all the hype building around George RR Martin’s gruesome and gritty fantasy world again, we don’t blame you for wanting to get your eyes on it. Allow us to get you up to speed with the stories this show will cover (without major spoilers), and how you can watch it.
What is House of the Dragon about?
House of the Dragon will cover the history of house Targaryen in the early years of its reign over the seven kingdoms. Viewers can expect to see everything from dragon riding and bloody battles to the dawn of a civil war that almost cripples the family’s hold over the seven kingdoms.
If you’ve watched Game of Thrones, you’ll most likely remember a certain Khaleesi who made the Targaryen name famous. Hundreds of years before Daenerys began her conquest, however, her ancestors were the longest ruling dynasty the world had ever seen. Starting with Aegon the Conqueror, the man who joined six of the seven kingdoms together and created the iron throne, the Targaryens dominated the landscape of Westeros for generations using dragons and some very questionable marriages.
Season one of House of the Dragon begins in the ninth year of King Viserys I’s reign, about 170 years before the start of Game of Thrones. Viserys I (Considine) was the fifth king of the Seven Kingdoms, and his death caused a succession struggle because his first wife died without birthing a male heir. His firstborn daughter, Rhaenyra (D’Arcy), is named heir to avoid the volatile behaviours of the King’s brother, Daemon (Smith) getting anywhere near the throne. When the King then remarries, produces new heirs and refuses to relinquish his daughter’s claim to the throne, a power struggle brews. This eventually leads to the first Targaryen civil war, also known as the Dance of the Dragons, which is referenced many times in Game of Thrones. It’s safe to assume there will be plenty of drama, exotic names and death before the show reaches those climactic heights, which fans of the books will be especially excited to see.
If you’re a book fan that’s looking forward to seeing things like The Blackfyre Rebellions, it doesn’t look as though they’ll be covered. The Blackfyre rebellions took place in the second half of house Targaryen’s tenure on the throne, and what’s more, George RR Martin will most likely cover these in more detail in his next Fire and Blood novel before HBO adapts it for our screens.
Who’s in charge of the show?
As previously mentioned, HBO is the network developing the show, and it will use George RR Martin’s novel, Fire and Blood Part I as source material. The early seasons will supposedly be used to create a build up toward the Targaryen civil war, but it will be interesting to see how the story is adapted into multiple TV series. George RR Martin will be overseeing the show as an executive producer and has previously said that he was very impressed with the rate of writing, acting and directing he saw from the first roughly cut episodes. He also reassured his loyal book fans that the show will closely follow his story, although he argues that some characters are even richer than they were in his novel.
Some fans of Game of Thrones may be anxious to learn who the showrunners are. Following the success (and controversies) of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and Dan Weiss aren’t at all tied to this project. Instead, Ryan J Condal and Miguel Sapochnik will be filling the showrunning shoes in the first season. Sapochnik is no stranger to HBO’s Song of Ice and Fire projects, as he directed some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed episodes of Game of Thrones, including “Hardhome”, “Battle of the Bastards” and “Winds of Winter”. After the first season, Sapochnik will drop down from showrunner to executive producer, leaving the series in the hands of Ryan J Condal. Condal is a screenwriter and an executive producer who previously worked on projects like USA Network’s Colony.
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How to watch House of the Dragon in the UK: NOW
If you’re a Game of Thrones veteran, you’ll remember the joy of staying up until 2am to watch it air live in the UK. You’ll be glad to know that since 2019, not a whole lot has changed. HBO now has its own streaming service, which is fully operational and has a great catalogue of shows. The only downside? It won’t be launching in the UK until 2025.
In the UK, you can watch House of the Dragon on Sky Atlantic, if you’re a subscribing Sky customer. Episodes air at the same time as they do in the US, meaning if you want to watch them as early as possible, you’ll need to stay up until 2am on Sunday nights/Monday mornings. Alternatively, new episodes will run again on Monday evenings on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.
If you’re not currently with Sky, you can get access to HBO content through its Now subscription service, which was previously known as Now TV. Since Sky and HBO have extended their partnership through 2025, Now will be the only way to watch award-winning shows such as Euphoria, Westworld and upcoming shows like The Last of Us in the UK.
How can I watch House of the Dragon in the US?
If you’re across the narrow sea, you’ve got it easy. A simple subscription to HBO Max will give you full access to House of the Dragon episodes as they air each week, as well as the ability to binge all of Game of Thrones.
HBO will also air the new series on its paid cable TV channel, but again, the timings are yet to be fully confirmed.
How to watch House of the Dragon abroad: A good VPN
If you’re travelling for work, or you’re taking a holiday, and your trip coincides with the release of a new episode of House of the Dragon, you will need a VPN. VPNs are a fantastic way to maintain privacy and your own data while surfing the web. When it comes to streaming services, they’re a very handy tool because they let you bypass geographic restrictions, so you can access content that you’ve lost access to while travelling abroad.
We’ve selected two VPNs that we’d recommend down below.
ExpressVPN is our go-to VPN for streaming. With over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, Express is a fantastic choice for seamless content consumption at high resolutions (even 4K, in our tests). More importantly, Express VPN has been independently audited by PwC to prove that it stores no logs of its user information, making it extremely secure, and easily recommendable. If you subscribe to Express VPN through us, you can even save yourself 49%.
NordVPN, on the other hand, offers our favourite all-round package. Its map-based interface is especially handy when you want to choose what location of the globe to surf from. Nord has also been independently audited to ensure your data won’t be recorded or stored anywhere. Plus, with 24/7 customer support, any issues you run into will be sorted in no time at all, and if not, you can get your money back within 30 days if you aren’t happy.