The Targaryens are platinum blonde, and most of them are quite crazy. The "mad king" Aerys was a constant reference in the "Game of Thrones" (GoT) series, being the father of Daenerys Targaryen, one of the main characters, who descends into madness at the end.
The multiple award-winning TV saga had its last season in 2019. Its much-awaited finale proved disappointing for many fans, who thought the ending fell far short of expectations. Now however, there seems to be some consolation in sight, because the "House of the Dragon," (HotD), which starts this Sunday, narrates the history of the Targaryen dynasty.
Three centuries before the story of GoT begins, the Targaryens held the Iron Throne and power over the seven kingdoms of the fictitious continent of Westeros.
At the time, King Viserys, one of the sane Targaryens, a level-headed and kind-hearted regent, took an unpopular decision following a dramatic twist of fate. He declared his daughter Rhaenyra as his successor to the throne, despite a number of potential male successors and the fact that the kingdom had never had a woman ruler in its history.
Added to the mix is Viserys' diabolical brother, Daemon, who was up to no good and whose existence proved what became a dictum in Westeros: When a Targaryen is born, the gods throw a coin to decide whether the newborn will be crazy or not.
A civil war ensued after the struggle for power in the House of Targaryen, replete with swords and fiery dragons, proclaiming the end of the clan and its dragons. Or not quite — in the "Game of Thrones," Daenerys Targaryen was gifted three dragon eggs on her wedding.
A familiar setting
GoT fans will feel at home in the "House of the Dragon," with its characteristic bloodbaths and surprising twists. In HotD, just as in GoT, the Iron Throne sits in the Great Hall of the Red Keep in King's Landing; the courtiers sit at the massive stone table, making crucial decisions and conjuring devious plots.
This time, it's not Dubrovnik, Croatia, that provides the backdrop to the story, but rather Cornwall and Derbyshire in England, as well as Caceres, Spain, the fortress of Monsanto in Portugal and Los Angeles.
Martin is the co-producer of HoT. He also worked with scriptwriter Ryan Condal on the new series. Miguel Sapochnik, a GoT veteran, directed the episodes.
A bevy of good actors
The series also boasts reputed actors, some of whom will be known to series junkies. Matt Smith, the title figure in "Doctor Who," plays Daemon Targaryen. He played the role of the young Prince Philip in the Netflix series, "The Crown," based on the British royal family.
The key figure of Rhaenyra is played by Emma D'Arcy. The 30-year-old considers herself non-binary and has appeared in the British miniseries "Wanderlust" and the streaming comedy series "Truth Seekers."
Rhaenyra: Queen of the seven kingdoms?
George R.R. Martin is satisfied with the cast. "I've seen all ten episodes now (albeit in rough cuts), and I love what I've seen," he wrote on his website, saying the "cast and crew have done some magnificent work."
"Hot D is all I hoped it would be; dark, powerful, visceral, disturbing, stunning to look at, peopled with complex and very human characters brought to life by some truly amazing actors," he added.
Apart from humans, 17 dragons make their appearance, spewing their deadly fire on the command of "Dracarys." Thus, the civil war, which determines the plot of "House of the Dragon," goes down in Westeros' history as a "Dance with Dragons," the name of Martin's fifth novel in the original "Song of Ice and Fire" series that provided the basis for "The Game of Thrones."
"House of the Dragon" starts streaming on August 21 on HBO and HBO Max. In Germany, viewers can watch the first episode on the night of August 22 on Sky and WOW tv.
This article was adapted from German by Manasi Gopalakrishnan.