House of the Dragon is breathing fire into Westeros. The Game of Thrones prequel was ordered to series last year, but news surrounding HBO's next adventure in Westeros has been relatively quiet since the initial announcement. Paddy Considine has become the first actor to join House of the Dragon, and that tells us a fair bit of new information about the show’s timeline and main conflict. Let's dive in.
Considine has been cast in the role of King Viserys Targaryen. In George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood — which is the book the prequel is based on and is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones — Viserys was the fifth Targaryen king and ruled during a period of peace in Westeros. Per HBO’s description, the character is unlike most kings in Westerosi history and espoused kindness.
Viserys was chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy, but as we’ve learned from Game of Thrones, good men do not necessarily make for great kings.
Despite Viserys’ peaceful rule and generosity, however, his time as king laid the groundwork for the Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil war which lasted for two years. It all started when Viserys’ children, Rhaenyra and Aegon II, fought over succession. Prior to Aegon II’s birth, Viserys had been training Rhaenyra to rule Westeros in his place and officially named her his heir.
Viserys’ second wife, Aegon II, and his brothers were not fans of Rhaenyra and her sons. Suffice it to say there was a lot of bitterness and ill will between them. Tensions over who would sit on the throne escalated and a civil war ultimately erupted following Viserys’ death.
It was a bloody, gruesome war that saw the deaths of innocent people, as well as Aegon II and Rhaenyra, who was eaten by her brother’s dragon. The war also led to the extinction of dragons. Considine’s casting tells us that House of the Dragon may be set in the years prior to the civil war, which took place around a hundred years before Game of Thrones.
Viserys didn’t die a brutal death, but his passing can be paralleled to that of King Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark, whose deaths started the War of the Five Kings. In that vein, it’s possible that the prequel series will explore the last years of Viserys’ rule and the tensions between his children. After all, Game of Thrones didn’t immediately kick off with a war and the same will probably be the case for House of the Dragon.
House of the Dragon is expected to debut on HBO in 2022.