For fans of Game of Thrones, Tuesday, Oct. 29, was a day of whiplash. Mere hours after the long-gestating prequel spinoff set 10,000 years in Westeros' past was dead in the water, HBO announced a brand new prequel was a go. The new show, which has been greenlit to go "straight to series," will be set much closer to the events of the original Game of Thrones. Beginning 300 years before Ned Stark's fateful trip to King's Landing, it will track the rise and fall of the Targaryen dynasty. This Game Of Thrones spinoff, called House Of The Dragon, sounds like everything fans could want.
Like the scrapped pilot for the other series, author George R.R. Martin worked with House of the Dragon's writer Ryan Condal (best known for the sci-fi series Colony) to create it. Unlike the other pilot, though, which Martin called "The Long Night," this one has published books behind it.
House of the Dragon is based on Martin's Fire & Blood, which tracks the history of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros. This means the series will be like the first half of Game of Thrones, in that the writers will be adapting Martin's work instead of creating from whole cloth based on some of his ideas.
Some of these stories will be familiar, especially to fans who own the Game of Thrones Blu-ray editions. The original series would include little hand-drawn shorts covering the backstories and histories that the show couldn't take the time to fill in. Several of these included tales from the Targaryen reign, including the civil war known as "The Dance of Dragons."
The show will also feel familiar to fans, as, unlike the canceled pilot, this one has continuity behind the camera. Miguel Sapochnik, who fans might remember as the director behind some of the series' greatest episodes ("Hardhome," "The Winds of Winter," "The Battle of the Bastards," to name a few) has been named co-showrunner along with Condal. He will also direct the House of the Dragon pilot, as well as "additional episodes."
If this all feels rather sudden, it should. Game of Thrones and "The Long Night" went through HBO's years-long development process. House of the Dragon was rumored to have been pulled from where it had been shelved less than six weeks ago, on Sept. 15. While "The Long Night" labored for over a year to present a pilot for approval, this is getting made sight unseen.
But there are reasons for that. Both the original Game of Thrones and "The Long Night" were risky ideas. In the case of the former, the channel hadn't done fantasy. In the case of the latter, the synopsis read like "GoT minus GoT," all of the politicking and magic with none of the pricey CGI dragons or Targaryen wigs.
But in time it took to make "The Long Night" pilot, HBO found it's "GoT Minus GoT." Succession is sometimes referred to as Game of Thrones In SUVs, and that's not totally wrong. Meanwhile, the channel is lacking in Dragons and Targaryens.
From that angle, House of the Dragon isn't just the easy, safe pick that needs no pilot stage; it's the smart one. And chances are fans will tune back in droves.