You Don't Need to Be a "Game of Thrones" Expert to Watch "House of the Dragon"

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HBO's much-anticipated prequel to "Game of Thrones," new series "House of the Dragon," is here, three years after the original show aired its divisive final season. The prequel series has been heavily promoted as an extension of the "Game of Thrones" world, but can you watch "House of the Dragon" even if you're not a "GOT" aficionado?

The most likely answer is twofold: yes, you can definitely tune into "House of the Dragon" without watching "Game of Thrones," but you'll probably get more out of it if you've viewed "Game of Thrones" first. "House of the Dragon" does take place in the same universe as "Game of Thrones," but it's set centuries earlier. It's not based on a novel in George R.R. Martin's original A Song of Ice and Fire series, but instead it takes from "Fire and Blood," a companion book narrating the rise and fall of House Targaryen. Since it's a prequel (and a relatively distant one at that), not a sequel, it's not as if there are plot threads or characters from "Game of Thrones" that you need to be up to speed on before tuning into the new show.

Much like the Marvel TV shows on Disney+, for example, many add-ons to franchises are made to stand on their own, despite being part of a bigger, interconnected universe. Right now, there's arguably no pop culture universe more interwoven than the MCU. Despite this highly linked storytelling, each Marvel show is also watchable solo. Sure, you might miss a few references or hints, but in general, you can enjoy each one as an individual installment that tells its own, complete story.

The same is the case with "House of the Dragon." Yes, it gives us the backstory of House Targaryen, the major power players who are nearly extinct by the time "Game of Thrones" picks up but whose "right" to the throne forms a major piece of the story. Knowing what the eventual fate of this family (and of the kingdom overall) ends up being will certainly add some emotional heft to the events of "House of the Dragon." For viewers who are just tuning in for the first time now, the new show truly plays out as an original, epic fantasy about a royal family of dragon riders and the civil war that their power struggles create.

Sign up for HBO Max now to watch "House of the Dragon" when it premieres on Aug. 21, 2022.