Fire & Blood

When does 'House of the Dragon' take place? 'Game of Thrones' prequel timeline, explained

“Dreams didn’t make us kings — Dragons did.”

HBO is returning to the world of Game of Thrones next year with the launch of House of the Dragon. The highly-anticipated series is based on Fire & Blood, a book by Thrones author George R. R. Martin that details the first 140 years or so of the Targaryen dynasty. Specifically, House of the Dragon is set to focus on the famous Targaryen civil war known as “The Dance of the Dragons.”

While the first House of the Dragon trailer features plenty of locations and symbols that will likely be familiar to Game of Thrones fans as well, the series will exist largely separately from its HBO predecessor. That’s because, as its prequel status suggests, House of the Dragon is set nearly two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones.

But when exactly does House of the Dragon take place? And how does it connect to the story of Game of Thrones?

House of the Dragon’s timeline explained

Before diving too deep into the show’s timeline, it’s important to note that the history of Westeros — the nation in which most of Game of Thrones takes place — is divided into two sections: before Aegon I Targaryen’s Conquest of Westeros (BC) and After (AC).

With that in mind, House of the Dragon is expected to start sometime around 129 AC, when the Dance of the Dragons first begins. That means House of the Dragon is set nearly 130 years after House Targaryen first took control of Westeros, which, in turn, places it around 170 years before the first season of Game of Thrones.

When Targaryens Ruled

The skull of Balerion the Black Dread.HBO

When House of the Dragon begins, House Targaryen still rules (fairly) securely over Westeros. Robert’s Rebellion, which saw familiar Game of Thrones figures like Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon successfully oust the Targaryen family from the Iron Throne, won’t happen until 150 years or so after the events of House of the Dragon.

There are also a number of dragons still alive and kicking at the start of the series. Indeed, where Game of Thrones began with both the Targaryens and their dragons all but extinct, House of the Dragon starts with the family near the height of its powers. As a result, House of the Dragon has the chance to present casual fans with a somewhat different power structure than the one they became familiar with over the course of Game of Thrones’ eight seasons.

Of course, that won’t last forever, as the Dance of the Dragons does have a lasting and negative effect on House Targaryen. In fact, the civil war results in the deaths of most of the world’s living dragons — with the species going extinct just 24 years or so after the end of the Dance of the Dragons. That extinction isn’t permanent though, as Game of Thrones fans already know.

Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) standing alongside Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) in the House of the Dragon trailer.HBO

The Inverse Analysis — There is a lot House of the Dragon can do to set itself apart from Game of Thrones, and its time period will play a huge role in helping it do just that. By focusing so intently on one of the most important periods in the history of House Targaryen, the prequel series has the chance to explore one of the most interesting and storied royal families that have ever populated George R. R. Martin’s detailed fantasy world.

Plus, the series’ setting also means it can give viewers something Game of Thrones never did — and that’s some thrilling dragon vs. dragon aerial battles. You know, just in case the series didn’t already seem intriguing enough.

House of the Dragon premieres on HBO Max in 2022.