The Game of Thrones prequel series
Heard about the Targaryen-lead Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon? We’re about to spill some serious tea on everything from the main characters to their deadly dragons…
The conclusion of Game of Thrones left a huge, dragon-shaped void in most of our lives. Even if it was the worst ending to an otherwise amazing series. But with a GoT prequel getting the greenlight, we’re already counting down the days for HBO’s next TV epic, House of the Dragon.
Although it’s still in the early stages, there are a few key details that have been made official. And some others that we’re just enjoying theorising.
SPOILERS: The following contains some spoilers from the book Fire & Blood, as well as other published works from George R.R. Martin.
What will the Game of Thrones prequel series be about?
The House of the Dragon prequel series is based on George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood. It will tell the story of House Targaryen (a.k.a. the House that gave us the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen) and take place 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.
The series tells the story of a turbulent period for House Targaryen; one that set sibling against sibling and dragon against dragon. The point of contention: who should rule on the Iron Throne, of course.
“If you’d like to know a bit more of what the show will be about… well, I can’t actually spill those beans,” Martin teased in his blog. “But you might want to pick up a copy of two anthologies I did with Gardner Dozois, Dangerous Women and Rogues, and then move on to Archmaester Gyldayn’s history, Fire & Blood.”
For those of you who haven’t read (or don’t plan on reading) any of those. Dangerous Women is “about the Dance of the Dragons. The vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.”
Rogues chronicles “the early life, adventures, misdeeds, and marriages of Prince Daemon Targaryen,”. He was considered “one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of Ice and Fire”.
Finally, the novel Fire & Blood, released in November 2018, is the first novel of a two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. According to the book’s description on Martin’s site: “Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen. The only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria. Took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire & Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror. The creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens. Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.”
Have any cast members been confirmed for House of the Dragon?
Not only have HBO now published the names of four of the lead characters, they’ve also confirmed who they’re set to play in the series.
Paddy Considine (The Third Day) as King Viserys Targaryen. 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.
Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) as Alicent Hightower. She’s the daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.
Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers) as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. The king’s first-born child. She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything…but she was not born a man.
Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as Prince Daemon Targaryen. The younger brother of King Viserys and heir to the throne, Daemon is a peerless warrior and a dragon rider who possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air.
Which other characters might we see in House of the Dragon?
Knowing that the series will be based on Martin’s book, Fire & Blood, here are some of the other characters that may make an appearance in House of the Dragon.
Ser Laenor Velaryon – Married his reluctant cousin Rhaenyra, who remarked to her father, “my half-brothers would be more to his taste.” His dragon was named Seasmoke.
Rhaenys Targaryen and Lord Corlys Velaryon – Parents of Laenor Velaryon. She was known as The Queen Who Never Was because she was passed over as heir to the throne in favour of her uncle. Corlys was known as “The Sea Snake,” because of his prowess at sea.
Harwin Strong (aka “Breakbones”) – son of Lord Lyonel Strong and heir to Harrenhal, he was Rhaenyra’s lover while she was married to Laenor.
Princes Jacaerys “Jace,” Lucerys “Luke,” and Joffrey “Joff” Velaryon – Rhaenyra and Laenor’s children, though rumoured to have been fathered by Strong because they had dark hair like Strong, while cousins Laenor and Rhaenyra both had the Targaryen light silver/gold hair. The boys’ dragons were, respectively: Vermax, Arrax, and Tyraxes.
King Aegon II (129–131 AC) – Viserys I’s eldest son by Alicent, married his sister. His dragon was named Sunfyre, “the Golden.”
Helaena – Aegon II’s sister-wife, had three children with Aegon. His dragon was named Dreamfyre.
Twins Jaehaera and Jaehaerys and their younger brother Maelor – the offspring of Aegon II and Helaena.
Blood and Cheese – hired killers who murdered Jaehaerys in front of his mother, sparking her descent into madness.
Mysaria – a prostitute who served as Daemon’s mistress of whisperers in Flea Bottom. The prince impregnated her, but she lost the child during a voyage to Lys to escape Viserys I’s anger over Daemon’s attempts to give the child a dragon egg, per Targaryen custom.
Aegon III (131–157 AC) – the son of Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen, he ruled after his uncle Aegon II, and at a very young age, married his cousin Jaehaera, who died young. His rule marked the end of the Dance of Dragons. He had five children by his second wife, Daenaera Velaryon. As a child, he grew melancholy after escaping a naval attack by mounting his dragon, but leaving his brother Viserys behind and believing that he had died. The brothers reunited later in life. His dragon was named Stormcloud.
Mushroom – a fool in the courts of Viserys I Targaryen, Aegon II Targaryen, Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Aegon III Targaryen. His accounts of his days at court teemed with tales of debauchery and scandal.
Dragonseeds – Nettles, Hugh the Hammer, and Ulf the White were purportedly bastard Targaryen offspring. They each claimed dragons and fought for Rhaenyra, though Hugh and Ulf later switched allegiance.
Prince Qoren Martell – Dornish ruler who supported the Triarchy (an alliance of the Free Cities of Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh) in a war for the Stepstones against Prince Daemon Targaryen and Lord Corlys Velaryon.
What about the dragons?
We may not see any of the characters mentioned above (and thus, nor will we see their dragons). But of the characters HBO have confirmed, expect to see some spectacular dragons in the new prequel series.
Here’s a bit of history on the three main creatures.
King Viserys I and his dragon, Balerion – his dragon was especially notable: Balerion, the Black Dread, who King Aegon I Targaryen rode back during the Conquest of Westeros. Born in Valyria, Balerion was the last living dragon to have seen the Freehold, which the Targaryens left 12 years before the Doom. He was black-scaled with black wings and even black fire, which burned so hot that it melted the stone towers of Harrenhal (you saw the ruins in Game of Thrones when Arya Stark served as cupbearer to Tywin Lannister). Balerion died at around 200 years old in 94 AC, less than a year after Prince Viserys claimed him and while the prince was still very young; therefore, it is unlikely that House of the Dragon will show Balerion alive unless the writers change the story or in flashback.
Daemon Targaryen and his dragon, Caraxes – his dragon was named Caraxes, but was also known as the Blood Wyrm for his red scales.
During the Dance of the Dragons, Caraxes was ridden by Daemon when he assaulted Harrenhal, and due to their fearsome reputation, Simon Strong surrendered the castle immediately. Later on, Caraxes killed and was killed by Vhagar, last of the three original Targaryen dragons and largest living dragon during the civil war, in the Battle Above the Gods Eye.
Rhaenyra and her dragon, Syrax – Rhaenyra’s dragon, Syrax, had yellow scales. She was huge and formidable, but not as fearsome or experienced in battle as Caraxes.
In King’s Landing, Syrax was kept within the walls of the Red Keep in a stable in the outer ward that had been emptied of horses and given over for her use. She was kept in chains and exceedingly well-fed. The chains were long enough to allow her to move from the stable to yard but kept her from flying off riderless. The three other dragons belonging to the blacks were kept in the Dragonpit along with Dreamfyre.
Any familiar locations we’re likely to see in House of the Dragon?
Much of the drama takes place in King’s Landing and Dragonstone. But the fighting and bloodshed primarily happen in the Riverlands (led by House Tully at Riverrun). Many of the bloodiest battles occur around Harrenhal and The God’s Eye.
- King’s Landing – the capitol
- Dragonstone – House Targaryen’s family home
- Driftmark – House Velaryon’s family home
- Dorne – The southernmost kingdom in Westeros, it was not under Targaryen rule during the Dance of the Dragons.
- Oldtown – kept safe the Targaryen riches during the Dance of the Dragons
- Lys – one of the Free Cities of Essos; known for its brothels
- The Stepstones – the broken land bridge between Dorne and Essos
- Harrenhal – the massive fortress above God’s Eye, melted by Balerion the Dread.
Who’s working on the prequel behind the scenes?
There’s a slew of talented directors and producers working on the new Game of Thrones inspired series.
Martin and Ryan Condal (Colony, Hercules) are the co-creators. Miguel Sapochnik and Condal will be showrunners. The pair will also serve as executive producers along with Martin, Vince Gerardis, Sara Lee Hess and Ron Schmidt.
Sapochnik (who is credited for directing six Game of Thrones episodes) won Emmy and DGA honors for ‘Battle of the Bastards’. He was nominated for another Emmy in 2019 for directing ‘The Long Night’ and won the Emmy for Best Drama Series as an executive producer for the final season.
Clare Kilner (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness) and Geeta V. Patel (The Witcher) will also direct the series. Greg Yaitanes (Banshee, House) is Director and co-executive producer.
When is it due to air?
HBO programming chief, Casey Bloys, told select media outlets at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January that viewers could expect to see it on screen sometime in 2022. Although, with COVID-19 restrictions, nothing is set in stone.
However, we do already know where the 10-episode series will air in the UK: Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. The same place that aired Game of Thrones, with the broadcaster re-upping its deal with HBO after House of the Dragon’s announcement.
What does George R.R. Martin think of it all?
The GoT prequel series has Martin’s seal of approval. In fact, in response to news of the series pickup, he wrote on his blog, “House of the Dragon has been in development for several years (though the title has changed a couple of times during that process). It was actually the first concept I pitched to HBO when we started talking about a successor show, way back in the summer of 2016.”
Although 2022 is a while off, we couldn’t be more stoked for the new GoT-inspired offering. The Long Night is over; now the long wait begins. But remember…
Dragons are coming.
What do you think about HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon? Are there any actors or actresses you’d like to see in the next cast announcement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
Discover the Game of Thrones ending that we all deserved HERE
Read IMDB information about House of the Dragon HERE.
Squid Game – Review
The Players and Games
On 17 September 2021, South Korean, Netflix series Squid Game was released. Unbeknown to many including writer and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk, this nine-part drama quickly became the most talked about and watched show around the world.
The extremely well written, staged and thought-out show is a mix of ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Battel Royal’ all rolled into one. To make an intense and binge-able series from start to finish.
The series can be watched with subtitles or dubbed. We would suggest watching it subtitled as some of the dubbed voiceovers don’t quite match up to the characters and you can lose some of the intensity in the scenes. With both options, however, you will still be able to get a good handle of the story, as you follow hundreds of money-poor contestants take on the deadly childhood games.
SPOILERS: If you haven’t watched the whole of Squid Game yet. Stop reading here as we are about to review the players and the games, with some hefty spoilers added in.
All dressed in green tracksuits the players are the focus of the story, and the costuming made sure they did just that. In Screen Rants video Squid Game: 15 Things You Missed, we find out that Dong-hyuk wanted the players in school uniforms. But after realising they would have to wear shorts and skirts, he went with the PE style tracksuits in green, the opposite colour to red on the colour wheel… to make sure the blood stood out.
The game starts with 456 players, but there are eight main characters, who we are invited to find out more about within the story.
Seong Gi-hun (player 456)
The very first player we are introduced to is gambling addict Seong Gi-hun, Played by actor and successful model Lee Jung-jae. Gi-hun lives with his mother, bets all her money on horses, has a lot of debts, and gets his own daughter’s birthday gift from an arcade game. Which cleverly links to the boxes they use for coffins, within the game.
Gi-hun, is a great main character because through his lies and bad habits, his narrative is written to show that he has a compassionate side too, which you can relate to.
Kang Sae-byeok (player 067)
The next character we meet is Kang Sae-byeok, portrayed perfectly by model Jung Ho-yeon, in her first ever acting role. The character arc of the strong, independent, pickpocket, is so interesting and endearing to watch. She goes from depending on herself to becoming part of a team and putting her trust in others.
Her back story is of wanting money to help her brother leave an orphanage and to move her mother from North to South Korea. This puts her in a very sympathetic light which urges us the viewer to root for her.
Cho Sang-woo (Player 218)
The next player we are introduced to is Cho Sang-woo, this complex character played by popular TV actor Park Hae Soo. His own story and mannerisms are what make him such an interesting and confusing character who one minute you like, for example when he helps the team out in tug-of-war game or the other minute you despise especially after the stunt he pulled with Ali, in the marble arena. This makes him one of the best characters to have in a show like this as he is unpredictable, like we saw at the end of game six.
Oh il-Nam (player 001)
The heart and soul of the team… or so we thought! Was Oh il-Nam player 001- we should have known!
One of the smartest players in the game was expertly played by actor and writer, Oh Young-soothe. The likable old man had us going all the way to the end and even made some of us cry in the marble game making the twist at the end of the series even better.
Jang Deok-Su (Player 101)
All good games need a villain, luckily there were a lot within the 456 players, but none were as bad as actor Heo Sung-tae’s portrayal of tatted Jang Deok-su.
Player 101, comes in hitting one of the female players and leaves being dragged down by another one! His well-written character had us shouting at the screen and hoping for a worthy death, and after his betrayal to Han Mi-nyeo before tug of war, she served him the cruel departure from the game we had all hoped for.
Abdul Ali (Player 199)
After saving Gi-Hun in the red light, green light game. Abdul Ali showed not only his strength but his love and trust in others which unfortunately would also become his demise…Thanks to snaky Sang-woo.
Actor Anupam Tripathi took his first big TV role and ran with it becoming one of the most loved characters in the series. Even getting a barrage of meme’s made for the character following his wrongful and underhanded death.
Han Mi-nyeo (Player 212)
Due to the copious amounts of death and blood, it’s always wise to have a little comic relief. Han Mi-nyeo’s character was certainly that, with her frequently used catchphrase of ‘I’m good at everything, except for the things I’m not’. Portrayed by Californian born actress Kim Joo-ryeong, the loud and obnoxious character really gave the competitive edge to the game, especially in the honeycomb games when she cheated, using a lighter to melt the candy! Her character, however, did get a little grating at times.
Ji-yeong (Player 240)
Our biggest issue with this character was that there was simply not enough screen time! Played by Lee Yoo-mi in her first major role, the character of Ji-yeong captured our hearts in just three episodes. Particularly as we got to know more about her harrowing backstory if only there was a way that both Ji-yeong and Sae-byeok could have left the marble arena together!
The main part of the story of Squid Game, is the six schoolyard games, which the players must play and win to get their hands on the life-changing sum of money.
Game 1: Red Light, Green Light.
The aim of the game is not to move when the ‘creepiest doll in history’ is looking, otherwise you are eliminated, and in this game, this doesn’t just mean out! When the ‘creepy doll’ isn’t looking you need to run as quick as you can and try and cross the line within the time frame. Sounds easy right? Not when you realise if you move… you die!
Red Light, Green Light is where the players realise what kind of game they are involved in and where we lost over half to the players too!
The schoolyard set and creepy doll voice just add to the tension of this game, which is also amplified by the visuals of the game in play accompanied by the switch over to the Front Man as he watched the game through monitors whilst listening to the song ‘Fly me to the moon’.
Game 2: Honeycomb/Dalgano Candy
To be safe in this game you need to successfully cut out a shape from Honeycomb, without damaging or breaking the shape. The only tool you are given to help you is a needle.
At the beginning of this game, we truly see the back-stabbing side of Sang-woo, as he realises what game it is, as the players start to pick their shape, before knowing what they need to do.
In the know, Sang-woo goes for the easiest shape, a triangle, and neglects to warn the others as Gi-Hun walks over to pick the hardest shape, the umbrella. This game separates the cheaters from the thinkers as Mi-nyeo and Deok-su use a lighter and Gi-Hun uses his brain and licks the shape free.
The climbing frames, bright colours, childish music and gunshots provide the perfect setting to make this whole scene completely unnerving for the players and the viewers.
Game 3: Tug of War
In teams of ten, it’s time for the players to play Tug of War. The main basis of this game needs no introduction, but instead of being pulled into a pile of mud like the classic game… you get pulled to your death.
Due to the Dr, Player 111, and his extra gameplay with some of the guards. (That involved selling body parts) Deok-su and his team know what game was coming up and managed to put together a team of strongmen to win their heat. Unfortunately, Gi-hun and his team didn’t have the same knowledge and in turn looked to have a weaker team than others. Luckily Il-Nam and Sang-Woo had solid gameplay ideas which saved the team.
The setting for Tug of War, took a bit of a dark turn and away from the schoolyard setting. With yellow and grey platforms set in a pitch-black room. Within this game, we lost half the players.
Game 4: Marbles
With this series, we all had the fear that at one point out favourites would be pitted against each other but not this early! Asked to pair up the players thought they would be playing together in teams like the last game, but that was not the case.
In the game of Marbles, the pairs were left to decide for themselves what game they wanted to play, with the loser being eliminated!
Probably one of the hardest games to watch as most pairs were playing a game of chance. If you were anything like us, we were hoping there was going to be another twist where some of the characters would survive in pairs but instead, we lost some big players and learned who were not to be trusted.
Having two games back-to-back where we lost half the players each time really helped keep the momentum of the story.
Game 5: Glass Bridge
To start this horrifying game of chance, the players had to pick their order, before knowing what the game was which led to a very tense moment where Gi Hun, almost went first. His indecisiveness helping him hugely here.
The aim of this game is for the remaining players to make their way across the glass bridge hopping from glass square to glass square, hoping to land on the tempered glass, rather than the normal glass which would break instantly sending them plummeting to their death.
Again, set in a pitch-black room with a few lights this game was intense! But it did however whittled the players down to three and showed Sang-woo’s ‘do anything for the money’ character again.
The added glass blasts at the end of the game also added an extra twist of tension as front runner Sae-byeok got severely injured.
Game 6: The Squid Game
With only two players left after Sang-woo eliminated Sae-byeok with a dinner knife, it was on to the final game and namesake of the series, Squid Game.
This game is divided into attacker (Gi-hun) and defender (Sang-woo). The attackers’ objective is to reach the “home” square marked on the opposite side of the field, while the defender’s purpose is to block them and push them out to win.
However, let’s be honest we saw very little gameplay as it ended up in a fight between the two finalists. The end of the game was gripping to watch, particularly with the knives in play and Gi-huns indecisive personality. Just as we think it’s all over, rather than putting his foot in the home square Gi-hun tries to get an injured Sang-woo to walk away from the game so they can both survive, giving up on the money.
But it a massive twist Sang-woo picks up the knife from the floor and instead of killing Gi-hun, like we anticipated, he kills himself. This was a great call from writer Hwang Dong-hyuk as it was unexpected and gave us a little extra from Sang-woos character. However, we can’t help but think that maybe it would have been a bigger twist if Sang-woo did kill Gi-Hun and won the games as no one was routing for him.
What do you think about our thoughts on the players and games within Squid Game? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out book to movie adaptations coming soon HERE.
Read IMDB information about Squid Game HERE.
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