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There's a moment in the House of the Dragon trailer that makes it clear no woman will take the Iron Throne without a fight. While it seems like Westeros is a particularly difficult place for women to, well... exist, let alone rule, the man behind the story says there's nothing that you wouldn't find in a history book.
George R. R. Martin was joined by co-showrunner Ryan Condal and the House of the Dragon cast — Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Graham McTavish, Milly Alcock, and Emily Carey — at the San Diego Comic-Con Hall H panel Saturday to discuss the anticipated Game of Thrones spin-off.
The prequel series begins with the friendship between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, daughter of King Viserys I (Considine) and heir to the Iron Throne, and Alicent Hightower, daughter of the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). (Alcock and Carey first play Rhaenyra and Alicent, respectively, in their younger years before D'Arcy and Cooke take over the roles as adults.) It's the falling out of this friendship and the birth of Viserys' son in the proceeding years that fuels the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war that erupted within House Targaryen over the matter of succession.
Smith plays Prince Daemon Targaryen, Rhaenyra's uncle and another heir to the throne; Toussaint plays Lord Corlys Velaryon, head of House Velaryon and the most famed nautical adventurer in Westeros; Best plays Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, Corlys' wife who was once passed over for the throne because of her gender; Frankel plays Ser Criston Cole, a handsome Dornish fighter; and McTavish plays Ser Harrold Westerling, a member of the Kingsguard and Rhaenyra's bodyguard.
Ollie Upton/HBO Milly Alcock's Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen stands before the Iron Throne in 'House of the Dragon.'
When asked why Westeros is so against having a queen on the Iron Throne, Martin said that the answer is similar to why women have traditionally been kept out of high-ranking positions throughout history.
"I get inspiration from history, and then I take elements from history and I turn it up to 11," the fantasy author said. "Games of Thrones is, as many people have observed, based very loosely on the War of the Roses. [House of the Dragon] is based on an earlier period in history called the Anarchy."
Martin cited the life of Henry I, who was left with one illegitimate child, whom he named his heir. Once he died, her claim to the throne was challenged by her cousin and civil war broke out. Sounds pretty similar to the synopsis of House of the Dragon.
"I don't think Westeros is particularly more anti-woman or more misogynistic than real life and what we call history," he said.
House of the Dragon premieres on HBO this Aug. 21.
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