House of the Dragon is on the way to HBO as the first Game of Thrones spinoff to receive a series order, and the news that production is officially starting in 2021 is enough to get the fandom buzzing again. House of the Dragons will be set during the age of the Targaryen dynasty and based on the fictional history presented by George R.R. Martin in Fire & Blood. Now, thanks to a first official look at the series and other confirmed details about the show, we can look to book lore to fill in some blanks.
And for those who haven't read the 700+-page book about the history of the Targaryens, I have you covered. First, though, take a look at the image that had me consulting my copy of Fire & Blood:
While the art for the dragon in the image on the left certainly intriguing, it's the image of the dragon on the right that got me thinking about Targaryen lore. It's not a full-body look at one of the dragons from House of the Dragon, but it's enough to show that this will be a fearsome beast with red scales and spikes, with some black markings as well.
This look at the head of the dragon, combined with what we can guess of the House of the Dragon timeline, suggests a major Fire & Blood character will make an early appearance in the spinoff. Read on for my best speculation about what this particular dragon means for the Game of Thrones spinoff, but beware! Spoilers ahead for George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood book.
The Identity Of The Dragon
Based on the red color and bared teeth of this dragon, the odds seem pretty good that House of the Dragon will identify this creature as the male dragon known as Caraxes. George R.R. Martin's Blood & Fire mentions two fierce red dragons, both of which are alive during the same timeline, but I would say that the evidence points toward Caraxes. The book's best description of Caraxes' appearance says:
His mount was blood-red Caraxes, fiercest of all the young dragons in the Dragonpit. The Dragonkeepers, who knew the denizens of the pit better than anyone, called him the Blood Wyrm.
Caraxes was later described in the book with a little more detail as to his disposition, as he "especially was fearsome, and no stranger to blood and fire." He was also a dragon with a very important part to play in what is arguably the beginning of the end of the Targaryen dynasty, more than a century before Robert's Rebellion dealt the crushing blow.
The Rider Of Caraxes
Caraxes was actually ridden by two Targaryens in the pages of Blood & Fire. First, by Prince Aemon Targaryen and then later by Prince Daemon Targaryen. Although the original description of House of the Dragon indicated that it would be set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the first official casting announcement narrowed down the era to significantly closer to the Game of Thrones timeline.
Now, things get a little complicated with the inbred Targaryen family tree as we figure out timeline with regard to Aemon, Daemon, and Caraxes. The Outsider's Paddy Considine was cast as King Viserys Targaryen for House of the Dragon, and this Viserys predates Harry Lloyd's monstrous Viserys from Game of Thrones by more than a century. In Fire & Blood, Viserys I is the nephew of the late Aemon and brother of Daemon.
As Paddy Considine's Viserys is already king, I think it's safe to say that Aemon, Caraxes' first rider, is long dead, with Viserys' brother Daemon as Caraxes' rider in the present. And if Daemon is riding Caraxes in House of the Dragon, viewers are in for something intense and probably pretty epic.
Why Caraxes And Daemon Are Important
If we assume that the red dragon is Caraxes, Prince Daemon is Caraxes' rider, and Paddy Considine's King Viserys is going to be the Ned Stark of House of the Dragon when it comes to longevity, then Blood & Fire tells us that we're in for a Targaryen vs. Targaryen version of Game of Thrones' War of the Five Kings. Called the Dance of the Dragons, the bloody civil war saw two Targaryens claim the Iron Throne, and Daemon with Caraxes fought for the claim of his wife/niece Rhaenyra.
Since there is a reason why Fire & Blood is 700+ pages long (and the Dance of the Dragons takes up a lot of them), I won't get into the nitty gritty details of the Targaryens and their civil war. Let's focus instead on one of the most game-changing events of the Dance of the Dragons: an aerial battle over the Gods Eye lake between Daemon on Caraxes and his nephew Aemond Targaryen on the much larger dragon Vhagar. They engaged in a battle that would frankly be epic to see unfold on HBO:
Caraxes dove down upon Vhagar with a piercing shriek that was heard a dozen miles away, cloaked by the glare of the setting sun on Prince Aemond's blind side. The Blood Wyrm slammed into the older dragon with terrible force. Their roars echoed across the Gods Eye as the two grappled and tore at one another, dark against a blood-red sky.
And that's only a little piece of the battle! All things considered, the pieces fit for the first look at House of the Dragon to be Caraxes as the mount of Daemon, which should mean that the Dance of the Dragons and battle above the Gods Eye will happen at some point on the HBO series.
With Viserys I still alive and king when House of the Dragon begins, I have to assume that the civil war won't break out too early on. It's possible that House of the Dragon more or less follows the format of Game of Thrones, with Viserys I as the spinoff's version of Robert Baratheon the the Dance of the Dragons as the spinoff's War of the Five Kings.
All of this said, I could be wrong about Caraxes and Daemon. There actually is another red dragon that participated in the Dance of the Dragons war by the name of Meleys, known as the Red Queen. Meleys was ridden by Rhaenys Targaryen, who had once been a candidate for the Iron Throne. Still, Rhaenys and Meleys are minor players compared to Daemon and Caraxes, and my money is on them.
Unfortunately, we may be in for a long wait before we get many hard answers about House of the Dragon, so Fire & Blood speculation might have to hold us over. I'm just hoping that George R.R. Martin finishes The Winds of Winter at some point in the foreseeable future! As for Game of Thrones, you can find the full series streaming on HBO Max now. For some options set elsewhere than Westeros, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.