‘House of the Dragon’ ‘Is a Different Animal’ Than ‘Game of Thrones’ According to Star Emma D’Arcy

House of the Dragon is HBO’s upcoming prequel to Game of Thrones, but these are two very different shows. Star Emma D’Arcy (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen) recently teased that the new series is a “different animal” from the original. With a focus on one extremely dysfunctional family.

‘House of the Dragon’ star Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen
Emma D’Arcy | Ollie Upton/HBO

‘House of the Dragon’ is about the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons

House of the Dragon is set approximately two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, during an era when House Targaryen was “at the very apex of their wealth and power.” 

When the series begins, King Viserys is on the Iron Throne. And he names his 8-year-old daughter Princess Rhaenyra as his heir instead of his brother, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith). However, he later marries his daughter’s childhood friend, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke). And they have three sons together — Aegon II, Aemond, and Daeron. 

Alicent believes that Aegon II should be the heir. And after King Viserys dies, both Aegon and Princess Rhaenyra claim the Iron Throne. This is what sparks the bloody Targaryen civil war known as Dance of the Dragons.

The prequel is a ‘different animal’ from ‘Game of Thrones’

House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones do have some things in common. They are both set in the rich, vast fantasy world created by author George R. R. Martin. They both feature bloody battles and flame-throwing dragons. And, they both feature plenty of backstabbing and politicking.

But instead of a number of families battling for power, the prequel focuses on the power struggle among just one family — the Targaryens. 

“Fundamentally, House Of The Dragon is a different animal,” D’Arcy told Empire Online. “I think we’d be really naive if we tried to mimic or emulate Game Of Thrones. I think the thing that’s distinct, and something I love about this season, is that it’s really rooted in the home. It’s domestic, it’s psychological, it’s interpersonal, it’s familial.”

‘House of the Dragon’ is still ‘incredibly thrilling’

Cook agrees that House of the Dragon is much more focused on the dynamics of a singular family compared to many families fighting on Game of Thrones

“It feels more intensely focused on one extended family, rather than many other families,” she explains. “It’s much more nuclear than the other TV show, but still incredibly thrilling and intense and all the things we were excited about when we watched Game Of Thrones.

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Showrunner Ryan Condal adds that House of the Dragon takes place at a time of “greater decadence and influence” in Westeros’ history, and speaks to the prosperity of the region that was essentially diminished once the story got to the events of Game of Thrones.

“That’s why the Iron Throne is dressed up so much grander,” Condal says. “This particular story sees the Targaryens at the very apex of their wealth and power. I think that’s a fascinating story to tell.” 

House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, August 21 on HBO. All eight seasons of Game of Thrones are now streaming on HBO Max.