(Pocket-lint) - With House of the Dragon set to premiere on 21 August, HBO added all eight seasons of the original Game of Thrones series to its HBO Max streaming service in 4K with support for HDR 10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.
Those who are obsessed with the show will know House of the Dragon is set to chronicle the bloody civil war that erupted following the death of Viserys I, who will be played by Paddy Considine in the new HBO Max series. Viserys named his eldest daughter Rhaenyra as heir following the death of his first wife. But his second wife believes the throne should be passed to her sons. A conflict arises between these two women and forces every house in Westeros to choose a side. It inflicts a mortal wound on the Targaryen Dynasty, an impact that can be traced 170 years later to the original Game of Thrones series.
Watching the original series, which debuted in 2011 on HBO, will most definitely help you to prepare for House of the Dragon. The prequel series is releasing on HBO Max in the same premium formats on 21 August 2022, hitting Sky in the UK on 22 August.
To help you and save you time, Pocket-lint has compiled a list of four must-watch Game of Thrones episodes that will get you up to speed as much as possible. In addition to those four episodes, we've suggested some reading: A novella, a short story, and a pseudo-history book, all written by George RR Martin. (He penned the fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, from which Game of Thrones is adapted.)
Finally, we recommend you watch an animated special feature from the original Game of Thrones series. Between all that, should be prepared for all the Fire and Blood coming in House of the Dragon.
What to watch before House of the Dragon
Game of Thrones - Season 1 Episode 1: Winter is Coming
Reason: You get acquainted with all the Houses of Westeros.
House of Dragon is set in 129 AC, while Game of Thrones is set 298 AC. But the families that make up the major houses of Westeros are still present. Despite the show being set 170 years before the events of the original series, the families mostly have the same priorities, too: The Lannisters care about money; the Starks care about their honor; and the Targaryens care about the Iron Throne. While there are exceptions, those exceptions are more impactful.
Of course, another reason to watch is to get your first glimpse at the dragon eggs Daenerys receives as a wedding present.
Game of Thrones - Season 1 Episode 10: Fire and Blood
Reason: Dragons are born.
When Daenerys (played by Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones) hatches her eggs in the finale of the first season, it marks the first time a dragon had been born in 150 years. It also seemed like Dany stumbled into some type of a formula that may have helped hatch the dragons, as she placed the eggs in Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and then joined them while it burned. Hopefully, House of the Dragon will show a little more of the magic behind how dragons are born.
Perhaps we'll also learn why the Targaryens couldn’t breed more of them for 150 years.
Game of Thrones - Season 5 Episode 9: The Dance of Dragons
Reason: Shireen explains the Dance of Dragons, and Daenerys rides Drogon.
We have to include the episode that shares its title with the civil war featured in House of the Dragon.
In this episode, we get to see Daenerys become the first person to ride a dragon in a century and a half, which is something we should all get more accustomed to ahead of House of the Dragon. But the real reason to watch this episode is it best explains Dance of Dragons in the original series. Shireen reads a history on the war and has conversations about it with her father and Davos ahead of the grisly fate that awaits her.
Season 6 Episode 9: The Battle of the Bastards
Reason: Watch Dany’s dragons at war, plus The Battle of the Bastards.
This is one of the most exciting episodes of Game of Thrones, and it should set your expectations for House of the Dragon. This episode marks the first time that we see the truly destructive force of dragons, as Dany finds her people in Mereen besieged by a larger army that stands absolutely no chance once the dragons are set free. Meanwhile, The Battle of the Bastards also provides one of the most thrilling looks at what a large-scale battle looks like in Westeros - something we didn’t see nearly enough of during the series. With a larger budget, and a story featuring numerous battles larger than the one seen in this episode, hopefully, we see much more of what this episode gave us in House of the Dragon.
The Dance of Dragons (animated feature)
Reason: Shireen narrates the entire events of the Dance of the Dragons, culminating in a tale about two Targaryens fighting on their dragons high in the sky.
This animated feature was included in the Blu-Ray for season 5 of Game of Thrones. It’s narrated by Kelly Ingram, who played Shireen Baratheon in the original series. It also features Pedro Pascal (who played Oberyn Martell) and Conleth Hill (who played Varys) as voice actors. It's a 20-minute-long video. You can catch a copy of it on YouTube, above.
What to read before House of the Dragon
The Princess and The Queen
Reason: The Princess and The Queen is a novella by George RR Martin that shows how the relationship between Princess Rheanyra Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower devolved to the point of a civil war.
Rheanyra will be played by Emma D'Arcy and Milly Alcock in House of the Dragon. She is named her father's heir, but her father remarries to Alicent Hightower, who will be played by Olivia Cooke. Alicent goes on to have two sons with the King, which eventually leads to an atmosphere of constant conflict between the two families living within the Red Keep. Eventually, every member of the court has to take a side, while the aging King clings steadfastly to a pact that has fallen apart.
The Rogue Prince
Reason: The Rogue Prince is a short story by George RR Martin that centers around the aftermath of Daemon Targaryen being skipped over in the line of succession.
Matt Smith will play Daemon in House of the Dragon. He is heir to the Iron Throne - until his brother Viserys (with the help of his Hand, Otto Hightower) decides that Daemon is too big of a wildcard to trust with the Iron Throne. This leads to Rheanyra being named heir. Predictable Daemon disagrees with this idea and sets off to establish his own kingdom in a chain of islands off of the coast of Dorne known as the Stepstones.
Fire and Blood
Reason: Fire and Blood is a history of the Targaryen Kings written by George RR Martin.
It’s written from the point of view of a Maester writing down the events decades later - so not everything in it can be considered to be an absolute fact. It will tell you just about every major event that happens during the Dance of the Dragons. If you are a reader who would like to know more about what happened before Game of Thrones, this is the book for you.
How to watch Game of Thrones in 4K HDR with HDR 10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos
The upgraded epsiodes are available now. You need to be on the ad-free premium tier to stream them on HBO Max. It costs $14.99 per month to subscribe.