Fire and Blood

House of the Dragons photos reveal our first look at a Westeros legend

It’s also our best look yet at Matt Smith’s terrible Targaryen wig.

HBO is returning to the world of Game of Thrones next year with the launch of the prequel series House of the Dragon. Set 300 years before the events of Thrones, the new series is based on George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, which charts part of the history of House Targaryen’s rule over Westeros.

House of the Dragon is expected to depict the infamous Targaryen civil war known as “The Dance of the Dragons,” and today, HBO has shared the first images from the fantasy series.

Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon.HBO

Our First Look — HBO released three images from House of the Dragon online today — offering our first official looks at five of the show’s key characters.

Featured in the images are Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower. The images don’t reveal much about the show itself, but they do provide an idea of what the characters will look like in the series and what to expect from the costumes in House of the Dragon.

Predictably, the costumes all bear design similarities to those worn in Game of Thrones (especially Smith and D’Arcy’s). And the images work as a way to introduce viewers to a number of characters who will play important roles in the events of the series — and the larger history of Westeros.

Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon.HBO

The Players — At the center of “The Dance of the Dragons” are two figures: D’Arcy’s Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother, Aegon II Targaryen (not yet cast in House of the Dragon). Rhaenyra is chosen by her father, Viserys Targaryen, to take over the Iron Throne after he dies, but when Aegon II (Viserys’ son with Olivia Cooke’s Alicent) makes a play for the throne, the two Targaryens go to war with each other.

But Rhaenyra and Aegon II aren’t the only characters who are important to “The Dance of the Dragons.” Both characters have notable supporters on their side, and that’s who most of the characters featured in these images are.

Smith’s Daemon is the moody and temperamental uncle and second husband of D’Arcy’s Rhaenyra, who also happens to be a legendary fighter and dragonrider in his own right. Cooke’s Alicent is the second wife to King Viserys I Targaryen (Rhaenyra’s father) and a politically shrewd woman, while Ifans’ Otto is the father of Cooke’s Alicent and the hand of the king to Viserys Targaryen. Otto maintains a bitter rivalry with Smith’s Daemon.

Lastly is Toussaint’s Corlys Velaryon a.k.a. “The Sea Snake,” the most legendary nautical adventurer in Westeros history, who controls the largest navy in the world. During “The Dance of the Dragons,” Alicent and Otto both support Aegon II’s claim to the Iron Throne, while Daemon and Corlys support Rhaenyra’s claim.

Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon.HBO

The Inverse Analysis — It’s worth noting that there are a number of notable House of the Dragon cast members not featured in these images, who we’ll likely have to wait a bit longer to see in costume.

Like Game of Thrones, the series promises to feature a sprawling and massive ensemble cast — one full of memorable and morally complex characters. Hopefully, it’ll also manage to stick its landing better than Thrones did.

House of the Dragon is expected to premiere on HBO in 2022.