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HBO’s ‘House of the Dragon’ Prequel Idea Has Some Flaws, To Say the Least

Not the biggest fan of a show about the Conqueror, I have to tell you.

Viserys and Daemon Targaryen have their weekly family therapy session in front of the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon

Even if production has officially started on season 2 of House of the Dragon, as announced on the show’s official social media channels, there’s still a long way to go before we can dive back into the nationwide bloodbath that will be the Dance of the Dragons

On the one hand, this is very sad, because I would very much like the new season of House of the Dragon to materialize on my laptop right about now. On the other hand, it’s great news for my mental stability—it gets to stay with me a little longer before leaving forever the second Aemond Targaryen and Alicent Hightower are back on my screen.

With probably more than a year to go before we hear those familiar opening credits notes again, we have plenty of time to dissect every single piece of news coming out of HBO regarding the future of not just House of the Dragon, but the entire franchise inspired by George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire—because yes, Game of Thrones crashed and burned and we were all there to witness it, but at the same time, we can’t help to tune in for more. At least I can’t.

A couple of weeks ago it was revealed that season 2 of House of the Dragon is likely to have eight episodes rather than the 10 episodes season 1 had—which means that scripts needed rewriting and events needed rearranging from season 2 to a possible season 3. Considering that production is officially underway now, it’s safe to assume that most of those issues have been smoothed out—we’ll have to wait for the actual episodes to judge whether or not this was for the best.

The piece of news currently making the rounds is that HBO might be considering ordering a prequel to House of the Dragon, focusing on yet another pretty pivotal character in Westeros history.

So what would this House of the Dragon prequel be about?

According to Variety, HBO is considering ordering a series about the very beginning of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros—covering the reign of King Aegon I, more famously known as Aegon the Conqueror. 

As his moniker suggests, he was the one who flew from Dragonstone to the continent of Westeros, dethroning most of the then-ruling kings and turning them into Lords under the banner of House Targaryen. This was the feat that started the Targaryens’ three centuries of rule and that Aegon—the first of many, and also the reason why every Targaryen after him wants a kid named Aegon, and why the name is considered to be a good omen—accomplished with the help of his two sister-wives, Visenya and Rhaenys, and their three dragons. 

Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, displaying his usual unhinged behaviours in House of the Dragon
Queen Visenya is a particularly fascinating figure, with several Targaryens taking her as an inspiration—like Daemon, who also wields her Valyrian sword Dark Sister (HBO)

Aegon’s own mount, the infamous Balerion the Black Dread—the largest dragon the world has ever seen—is the one who melted the swords of the new king’s enemies with dragonfire to create the Iron Throne. While we have of course had a chance to see Queen Visenya’s mount already in the first season of House of the Dragon, by the time Aemond Targaryen claims her, Vhagar is the oldest of all living dragons, and the most battle-hardened. She conquered a continent, that’s no small thing—and that’s where all the jokes about fighting Dorne came from in the aftermath of Lucerys’s demise above Storm’s End.

Variety reports that the project is in its very early stages, meaning that “no writer is currently attached, though sources say the search is underway as HBO is keen to move forward and get it into development.” The network is also throwing around ideas of possibly introducing the show with a feature film, though nothing has of course been decided as of now.

What does Henry Cavill have to do with it all?

Since the project is barely there as of right now, there is of course no way of knowing who could potentially play three of the most infamous figures in Targaryen history. And yet, the Internet seems to have already decided on who would be the perfect Aegon: none other than Henry Cavill. We can all see why, I’m sure; that white Witcher wig does work for him.

Fan pleas for Cavill to take up the ancestral Targaryen sword Blackfyre and join the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire have been surfacing for some months now, even though the actor himself has already denied them. And I think that’s a good thing—this is a man made to play a Baratheon if I ever saw one, especially if one looks at the House’s book-accurate descriptions. If there is a role for him in this possible prequel, it is that of Orys Baratheon, the founder of the line. 

Geralt of Rivia in all his imposing stature, as he is played by Henry Cavill in Netflix's The Witcher
Like, sure, he does look like a Targaryen, but trust me, Henry Cavill is a Baratheon. There’s no way around it (Netflix)

But honestly, Cavill shouldn’t be involved in a story that explores the Targaryens rising to power—and that’s because he’s made to play the man who brought them all down. Give Henry Cavill a warhammer and an antlered elm and make him play a young Robert Baratheon in the middle of his Rebellion. I said what I said, and I’m not taking constructive criticism on this.

Would a show about Aegon the Conqueror be effective?

To be honest, a show about Robert’s Rebellion might have actually been a better choice. Yes, the show was titled House of the Dragon so that it could cover other parts of Targaryen history besides the Dance, and the Conquest is certainly a pretty important part of the family’s history. But—there’s a but.

The Conquest is simply not intricate enough for your usual Game of Thrones-type show. There isn’t much political intrigue, just a lot of flying around the continent and either asking people to bend the knee or raining fire down on them all to force them to bend said knee. 

Issues start to arise as soon as Aegon I dies, because of course they do whenever everyone’s favorite spiky chair is concerned, but most of the Conqueror’s reign is dedicated to shaping six of the seven kingdoms—actually seven out of eight—into a unified realm after having conquered them.

That isn’t to say that the story wouldn’t have its moments—the Fields of Fire, in which all three conquerors unleash their dragons on the armies from the Reach and the Westerlands, are definitely one of the most brutal massacres to ever have happened in Westeros. There’s the bloodless surrender of both the North and the Vale, the latter achieved by Queen Visenya. And of course, the Dornish resistance and the fate of Queen Rhaenys and her mount, the dragon Meraxes. 

Vhagar sleeps at Driftmark before being claimed by Aemond Targaryen on House of the Dragon
By the time the events of the Dance roll around, Vhagar is the last surviving creature that has lived through the time of the Conquest (HBO)

The addition that we saw in House of the Dragon of Aegon dreaming the Long Night and deciding to conquer Westeros to present a unified front against the White Walkers would also surely lend some more depth to the story.

Still, I don’t think it would make for an engaging show, which is not the same as saying that I wouldn’t be ready to press play should it ever be produced and aired—at least not in the way Game of Thrones has gotten us used to. It could be good material for a movie, though. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what HBO decides.

(via Variety, featured image: HBO)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.