When is House of the Dragon set and is it a sequel or prequel?

Your burning HOTD questions answered

a still of Matt Smith holding a dragon's egg in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

As audiences switch on in their millions, we share what year House of the Dragon is set in and whether it's a Game of Thrones prequel or sequel.

The month of August marked an important moment for loyal Game of Thrones fans as House of the Dragon finally arrived on screens. Juicy details of the upcoming series have come out in dribs and drabs since the spin-off was confirmed in late 2019 - from the all-star House of the Dragon cast depicting the House of Targaryens and House of Velaryon to House of the Dragon filming locations. And another source of information that people want to know about is what time period the new series is set in.

We've done the research and shared the specific years in which series one of the House of the Dragon takes place in and where this sits in the wider franchise timeline.

When is House of the Dragon set? Time period explained 

The events in House of the Dragon are set during 129 - 131 AC, approximately 170 years before the events of Game Of Thrones took place (which was between 298 and 305 AC).

It's possible the show will start as early as 120 AC. Also known as the Year of the Red Spring, this was a momentous one in Viserys' time as King, including the deaths of Rhaenyra's husband, Laenor Velaryon, and the Hand of the King, Lyonel Strong. These events would help lead to the Dance of the Dragons, so could be a good starting point. Or, it could pick up around 128 AC, in the last year of the King's life, allowing him to die at the end of season 1 to kick the war into motion.

Author George R R Martin uses two terms to define time in the Game of Thrones universe - Before Conquest (BC) and After Conquest (AC). After Conquest - of which House of the Dragon is set in - refers to the time when the House of Targaryen have conquered Westeros (with their dragons) and the Seven Kingdoms are united under one ruler.

Is House of the Dragon before or after Game of Thrones?

House of the Dragon takes place before Game of Thrones. The series delves into the reign of the Targaryens before they were ousted from power in 280 AC by King Robert Baratheon (assisted by the House of Stark).

The first season of Game of Thrones began much later timewise - around 298 AC - with Robert Baratheon still King and a surviving Daenerys Targaryen turning 18.

Is House of the Dragon a sequel or prequel?

Whilst House of the Dragon is released after the original Game of Thrones series, the show is considered a prequel - not a sequel - because the storyline and time period takes place before the events of Game of Thrones.

Author George R R Martin confirmed House of the Dragon's prequel status in a post on his website. The synopsis reads: "Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen - the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria - took up residence on Dragonstone. 

"Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart."

House of the Dragon is based on the Game of Thrones book Fire & Blood: the Targaryen Civil War by Martin - which is also known to fans as the Dance of Dragons.

Fire and Blood by George R.R Martin (Paperback) - £4.50 | Amazon

Fire and Blood by George R.R Martin (Paperback) - £4.50 | Amazon

"A masterpiece," hails The Sunday Times. The tale of the Targaryens’ bloody rule is explored in this George R.R. Martin prequel. Perfect reading for Game of Thrones fans.

Do you need to watch Game of Thrones before House of the Dragon? 

No, you do not need to watch Game of Thrones before watching House of the Dragon. As it is set over a century before, it is a story in its own right and will make sense without having watched Game of Thrones.

However, it might enhance your experience of watching the prequel if you have some insight into the characters and the settings.

Alternatively, you could read the book, Fire & Blood, to get a good understanding of the storyline before watching.

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.