Can I watch House of the Dragon without watching Game of Thrones?

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon is taking us back to George R. R. Martin's fantasy realm. (Image credit: Ollie Upton/HBO)

House Of The Dragon has one of the most enviable tasks in television history: following Game Of Thrones. 

Despite the lukewarm response to Game Of Thrones’ eighth and final season, anticipation is still exceedingly high for HBO’s return to Westeros. Which is exactly as it should be, because Game Of Thrones was one of the smartest, most action-packed, immersive, and shocking television shows ever made. More than that, it was also populated with memorable characters that you just fell more and more in love with over the course of each season. 

House Of The Dragon, though, will introduce television fans to a whole new ensemble of characters and actors. This includes Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Steve Toussaint, Emma D’Arcy, Graham McTavish, Bill Paterson, and Rhys Ifans.

There have been some major changes behind the camera, too. Ryan J Condal has been brought in as the writer and executive producer of House Of The Dragon, which he co-created with George R. R. Martin. For those of you who are unaware, Martin is the genius novelist behind the epic fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire, which was adapted into Game Of Thrones

But what if you’re still yet to finish or even start Game Of Thrones? Can you still watch House Of The Dragon? This leads us to the burning question...

Can I watch House of the Dragon without watching Game of Thrones?

Yes. While they’re both set in Westeros, House Of The Dragon unfolds during a different time period to Game Of Thrones. But it should be pointed out that if you have watched Game Of Thrones you’re almost certainly going to have a deeper understanding of the narrative, and get the many, many references that will probably be littered through the show. 

Condal has already been teasing that House Of The Dragon will have a slightly different structure to Game Of Thrones.  During his interview with The Hollywood Reporter back in July, Condal revealed that, partway through this batch of episodes, House Of The Dragon will move ten years into the future. 

"This is how you tell this story correctly. We’re telling a story of a generational war," said Condal. "We set everything up so by the time that first sword stroke falls, you understand all the players."

During the same interview, Martin added that House Of The Dragon will be “powerful,” “visceral,” and “dark,” while he even went as far as to compare it to a “Shakespearean tragedy.” 

When it comes to exactly when House Of The Dragon is set, there’s another question that has been on the mind of Game Of Thrones fans …

Is House Of The Dragon a prequel? 

House Of The Dragon is indeed a prequel. In fact, it is set two hundred years before Game Of Thrones. It will tell the story of how Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), and Prince Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) start a Civil War to take over the throne as King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) nears the end of his reign. 

It’s not just the Targaryens that become embroiled in this fight, though. Several other houses, including the Hightowers, Velaryons, and even the Starks, soon get involved and pick sides. Those who have seen Game Of Thrones will be fully aware that this will probably include plenty of back-stabbing and treachery, as each family looks to move their way into even stronger positions of power. 

Since Game Of Thrones was based on Martin’s previous novels — along with the two which we are still waiting on — you might be wondering whether House Of The Dragon is from similar source material …

Is House Of The Dragon based on a book? 

Technically, yes, House Of The Dragon is based on a book. That novel is Fire And Blood, written by Martin and released in 2018. House Of The Dragon will reportedly cover the last third of the book. 

Fire And Blood tells the story of House Targaryen’s rise and fall. Known as The Dance Of The Dragons, this is regarded as one of the most brutal time periods in the history of Westeros. 

However, Fire And Blood isn’t quite the same as Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series. Unlike the former series, Fire And Blood is essentially a fake history book, told from the point of view of a Maester that is trying to piece together the 150 years of Targaryen kings. This style gives the House Of The Dragon’s crew a lot more leeway to tell the story in their own way.

 We’ll finally start to see how they plan on doing just that when the first of House Of The Dragon premieres on HBO on August 21, 2022, with the UK premiere following on Sky TV's Sky Atlantic and NOW on Monday, August 22.

Gregory James Wakeman

Born and raised in England but now based in Philadelphia, Gregory Wakeman has written for the BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, GQ, and Yahoo Movies UK, all while defiantly trying to keep his accent.