'House of the Dragon’ has a behind-the-scenes book. Here are 5 things we learned.


Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen stare at each other.

Can't stop thinking about House of the Dragon? Well, have we got the book for you! Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon: Inside the Creation of a Targaryen Dynasty by Gina McIntyre offers an in-depth look behind the scenes of House of the Dragon Season 1, from the very beginning of the writing process to the shoot itself.

The book, from Insight Editions, is chock-full of stunning concept art, on-set photography, and storyboards of pivotal Season 1 moments. Interviews with the cast and creative team also flesh out the making-of process — and reveal some fun behind-the-scenes facts along the way. While House of the Dragon: Inside the Creation of a Targaryen Dynasty is overflowing with these tidbits, we've narrowed it down to five of our favorites to give you a taste of what you can expect from the book. But trust us, there's a lot more where these came from.

1. George R.R. Martin originally wanted to start House of the Dragon decades before its main characters were even born.

The Targaryen family stands in front of a Targaryen banner.
We almost got more time with Jaehaerys. Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

If you weren't a fan of House of the Dragon's many time jumps between episodes, you may want to breathe a sigh of relief, as there was almost an even bigger time jump right at the beginning of the series. That's because in the early stages of outlining House of the Dragon, Fire and Blood author Martin imagined that the show would open not with the reign of Viserys Targaryen but with his predecessor, King Jaehaerys. At this point, Rhaenyra and Alicent wouldn't have been in the picture at all.

By starting the show before Rhaenyra and Alicent were even born, Martin hoped to emulate the BBC's I, Claudius, a mini-series about the Roman Emperor Claudius that begins with events that took place before Claudius was even born. However, HBO and House of the Dragon co-creator Ryan J. Condal felt that it would be best to introduce the show's main players right away. The creative compromise ended up being the short prologue showing how Jaehaerys convened a Great Council to help him name his successor.

2. Concept artists drew from the real world to design House of the Dragon's dragons — including aircraft.

A red dragon arches its neck.
What inspired Caraxes's design? Credit: Courtesy of HBO

House of the Dragon features far more dragons than Game of Thrones ever did, including ancient beasts like Vhagar and distinctly colored dragons like Syrax, Caraxes, and Seasmoke. To bring these glorious creatures to life, HBO turned to concept artists Constantine Sekeris and Kirill Barybin. Sekeris and Barybin drew reference from Game of Thrones's Drogon for their designs, but also on elements of our world — some more surprising than others.

As the oldest dragon, Vhagar was based in part on aging reptiles. Daemon's dragon Caraxes, with his more slithery form, was inspired by dragons from Chinese folklore. For Rhaenyra's swift mount Syrax, Barybin turned not just to nature but to aircraft. Specifically, the Concorde, a retired airliner that was able to travel at twice the speed of sound. Mix the shape of the Concorde with a snake and — ta da! — you get Syrax.

3. The very first scene filmed for House of the Dragon came from episode 7, "Driftmark."

The Targaryen and Velaryon families stand together dressed in mourning clothes.
One of the first scenes filmed for "House of the Dragon." Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

Originally, Condal and co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik had planned to shoot House of the Dragon's episodes in chronological order. However, complications arose when the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the construction of the massive Red Keep set — a key element of almost every episode. Condal and Sapochnik decided to start the shoot with "Driftmark" instead, as it takes place at Corlys Velaryon's castle. The very first scene ever shot for the show was the argument between Rhaenys and Corlys over which of their descendants would inherit the castle of High Tide.

Starting with the seventh episode proved a challenge in terms of establishing the show's cinematography, which Sapochnik and cinematographer Fabian Wagner had planned on gradually shifting throughout the season to position us more in the characters' perspectives. Throughout filming, they had to determine where in the arc of the season this episode's look should be. Similarly, the actors had to situate themselves at one of the season's most emotionally heightened moments just to start off the shoot.

4. Which deleted scenes didn't make it into House of the Dragon?

Alicent Hightower rests her head on Rhaenyra's shoulder; the two hold hands.
There are more young Rhaenyra and Alicent scenes out there. Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

Several scenes shot for House of the Dragon didn't end up making it into the final cut of the season. McIntyre's book details some of the deleted scenes, as well as the reasons they were excluded. A few of the scenes involved the younger versions of Alicent and Rhaenyra, including an emotional scene where Alicent comforts Rhaenyra after her mother's funeral and a later argument between the two about Alicent marrying Rhaenyra's father. The show's second episode also featured Ser Criston Cole's induction into the Kingsguard, where Viserys and Rhaenyra share a bonding moment. As for why it was cut, Condal explained, "It felt tonally wrong to include a 'win' for Rhaenyra before Dragonstone," where she confronts Daemon.

5. Fabien Frankel used a familiar song to prepare for an intense Criston Cole scene.

Criston Cole kneels in a garden, pressing the point of a knife to his stomach.
An emotional moment calls for an emotional song. Credit: Ollie Upton/HBO

One of the most important moments of the season for Criston comes towards the end of the fifth episode, after he's just killed Laenor's lover Joffrey. He goes to the godswood and prepares to die by suicide, but Alicent arrives and stops him. From that point on, they are inseparable allies.

Since the scene is free of any dialogue, Fabien Frankel, who plays Criston, asked director Clare Kilner if they could play music while he did the scene to help him lock into the performance. He chose Max Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight," a song that has been used in several movies, including Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Shutter Island, and Arrival. Most recently, the song appeared in The Last of Us episode 3, during Bill and Frank's final day together. It's an emotional cheat code that never fails to make me cry, so Frankel chose well.

Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon: Inside the Creation of a Targaryen Dynasty is now available for purchase.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a Comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published