Tuesday, 5 October 2021

HBO release teaser for GAME OF THRONES prequel series HOUSE OF THE DRAGON

HBO have unveiled the first teaser trailer for House of the Dragon, their prequel spin-off from Game of Thrones.

The series begins almost 200 years before the events of the original series and depicts a time period when House Targaryen is secure on the Iron Throne, with King Viserys I ruling over a land of plenty and peace. King Viserys has raised his daughter Rhaenyra to be his heir and the lords of Westeros have accepted her as such...until the king remarries and has more children, which throws the line of succession into doubt. With different factions feuding for the throne and the king's volatile and ambitious younger brother, Prince Daemon, also in play, the stage is set for war...a war where both sides possess dragons.

The trailer opens with Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) venturing down some stairs with a lit torch. He arrives on a moonlit beach, where he meets his niece Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy). We cut to an array of candles illuminating what appears to be the skull of Balerion the Black Dread, the greatest of the Targaryen dragons. Balerion died only a few years before the events of the series.

We then see Lord Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Lord of Oldtown and the Hand of the King, clutching his symbol of office, followed by King Viserys himself (Paddy Considine), sitting on the Iron Throne and clashing the hilt of one of House Targaryen's Valyrian steel blades. This is probably Blackfyre, since Dark Sister is in the keeping of his brother Daemon. Viserys, being a peaceable king, never wielded Blackfyre in battle and probably only uses it for ceremonial occasions, like Ned Stark with Ice.

The camera then cuts back many years to the very young Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), sitting on the Iron Throne, and then to a tourney, with a Targaryen knight in black (possibly Daemon) besting a foe in single combat. The camera then cuts to Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), the Lord of the Tides and the the master of Driftmark, an even larger island in Blackwater Bay then Dragonstone. By the time of Game of Thrones the family has become relatively weak and obscure, but in this time period they are one of the richest and most powerful houses in Westeros, rivalling the Lannisters, due to their control of the Seven Kingdoms' maritime trade. Corlys is the most famed naval explorer in the world, having travelled to far Asshai, Yi Ti and the Thousand Islands. One of the most powerful lords in the Seven Kingdoms, he choices to back Princess Rhaenyra by offering her the hand of his son in marriage.

Subsequent scenes show Corlys arriving at the Red Keep with his infamous wife, Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), who was once in line for the Iron Throne but passed over due to her gender. Suffice to say this makes her unhappy with tradition and keen to see her prospective daughter-in-law succeed to the throne.

The camera cuts to the Lady Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), a dancer from the far east who arrives in the Seven Kingdoms as a paramour to Prince Daemon and quickly rises high in his confidences to become his unofficial spymaster, and prospective Lady of Whisperers.

The scene then cuts to Lady Alicent Highertower (Olivia Cooke) clutching a dagger during what appears to be an important meeting; members of the Kingsguard including Ser Harrold Westerling (Graham MacTavish) and Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) are present behind her. I'm not 100% sure on this, but one of the other actors might be David Horovitch (Grand Maester Mellos), and the actor on the left hand side of the screen might be Jefferson Hall (who is playing both Lord Jason Lannister of Casterly Rock and his twin brother Tytos). This scene is interesting because it shows Harrold Westerling apparently being alive later in the timeline than is the case in the books.

The action then cuts to a tourney where knights bearing the arms of House Cole and House Tarly clash in the joust, whilst Princess Rhaenyra watches on. Notably, Rhaenyra is wearing red in this scene, indicating it might be the famous tourney where Rhaenyra wears red and black, leading to her faction for the throne becoming known as "the blacks," whilst her enemies wear green.

The scene then cuts to a sword fight between a white-haired young warrior and unknown assailant. The location is unclear, though it bears a slight resemblance to the Eyrie (the absence of the Moon Door and the fact the stairs are facing in the opposite direction suggests this is not the case). This is most likely a variation on the fight between Prince Lucerys Velaryon (one of Rhaenyra's sons) and Prince Aemond Targaryen at Storm's End, though Aemond himself does not seem to be present. The other fighter is possibly a retainer.

The trailer then ends with someone approaching the Iron Throne. Although the Red Keep set is almost identical to the one from the later series (although it has been moved from the Titanic Studios in Belfast to the Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden), with a different window, the Iron Throne itself is different, much spikier and more obviously covered in swords and blades, with other melted blades surrounding the throne. It's clearly the same throne, but the Red Keep's Health & Safety Department clearly get their hands on it at some point and file it down to the simpler design seen later.

HBO have also announced additional casting for the series: Wil Johnson (Outlander) as Ser Vaemond Velaryon, Lord Corlys's younger brother; John Macmillan (The Nevers) as Ser Laenor Velaryon, the only son of Lord Corlys; Savannah Steyn (Intergalactic, The Tunnel) as Lady Laena Velaryon, the only daughter of Lord Corlys; and Theo Nate (Time) as the younger version of Ser Laenor Velaryon.

Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon, as the show now seems to be called, will air on HBO and HBO Max in 2022, probably somewhere around Easter or early summer.

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