How to watch House of the Dragon and what is it about?

The new prequel to Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon will premiere on HBO on August 21

House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

After months of anticipation, the prequel to Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon is scheduled to premiere on HBO on August 21.

Given the world-wide success of the original franchise, fans are incredibly excited about the new spinoff series, whose first season will consist of 10 episodes in total. That might also be because, although there are reportedly at least three other spin-off shows in the works, House of the Dragon is the only one that has officially been given the green light by the network. 

Audience members will be delighted to know that George R. R. Martin himself (whose book series A Song of Ice and Fire is the basis for both shows) has actually approved of the spinoff series himself. 

"I've seen a rough cut of the first episode and I loved it," George wrote on his blog in December of last year. "It's dark, it's powerful, it's visceral... just the way I like my epic fantasy." 

Created by Martin and Ryan J. Condal, the new prequel is specifically based on portions of George's 2018 novel Fire & Blood.

What is House of the Dragon about?

Plot-wise, the story takes place two hundred years before the events chronicled throughout the eight seasons of Game of Thrones. The series specifically focuses on the House of Targaryen and explores the events that led to the "dance of the Dragons," a civil war and the family's battle of succession. 

Whereas the original series progressed in real time, this new spinoff production will span more than 30 years so you can expect multiple actors to play the same character at different ages. 

Speaking of actors: a ton of new faces will star in the prequel, including Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen, who was chosen by a council of lords to succeed his grandfather as the fifth king of the Seven Kingdoms.

Emma D'Arcy, on the other hand, takes on the role of King Viserys' firstborn child, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, a dragon rider who expects to become the first queen regnant of the kingdom. 

Alas, as is always the case in George's fantasy worlds, the heir presumptive to the Iron Throne is the younger brother of King Viserys and uncle to Princess Thaenyra, Prince Daemon Targaryen (played by Matt Smith). 

Watches will also get to know Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower, the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower, the most beautiful woman in the kingdom; her father Otto (Rhys Ifans), who is the Hand of the King and a political rival to Prince Daemon; and Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, the head of House Velaryon known as the "sea snake" given his expertise on the water.

Clearly, there will be a ton of characters and family lines to keep track of, as was the case on Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

How to watch House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon, the prequel to Game of Thrones, is scheduled to premiere on HBO this Sunday night, August 21 at 9pm EST. Moving forward, a new episode will debut on the network every Sunday night at the same time. The season finale will air on October 23. 

The show will also be available to stream on HBO Max at 9pm each Sunday night. So, if you can’t catch the series live, worry not! You’ll be able to watch it at your own time on the streaming platform.

Do I need to watch Game of Thrones to understand House of the Dragon?

Although House of the Dragon takes place in the same fantasy world of Game of Thrones and is based on the same series of books, you do not have to watch the former to understand the latter. 

House of the Dragon is a prequel so, if you haven’t yet caught up on the phenomenon that was Game of Thrones, you might actually want to binge watch that after the ten episodes of the new production air. 

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.