Game of Thrones fans have something new to look forward to, as it looks like a second prequel series is about to get the green light from HBO - this one based on the story of the Targaryens that was laid out in George R.R. Martin's book Fire and Blood. Of the multiple prequel series that were in development by the time that Game of Thrones came to a (disappointing) close, one is already filming (working title: Blood Moon), and a second is now said to be about to get a pilot order from the network.
This hasn't been officially confirmed by HBO, so there is no guarantee that it will actually make it to screens. Even if the Targaryen prequel series is about to get the go-ahead, that still means months (and likely years) of filming before finding out if it will receive a full series order.
However, there are a few things that are already known about the particular area of Game of Thrones lore that it will deal with. The same sources that revealed that it is about to enter the next stage of development have described the upcoming series as being "set 300 years before the events in Game of Thrones and tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen." Martin's own blog posts in May also point fans toward his book of Targaryen history, Fire and Blood, so it looks like this series will be all about the rise and fall of Daenerys' house - which will be new territory for anyone who hasn't read Fire and Blood.
When The Targaryen Prequel Is Set
It's not entirely clear when this new prequel series would be set, despite the fact that reports include a timeframe of "300 years before Game of Thrones." Game of Thrones takes place around 300 AC (the prologue is in 297, and the opening scenes are in 298, for a little more specificity), which would put 300 years prior smack dab at the time of Aegon's conquest. In many ways, this would make perfect sense; however, Aegon's Conquest doesn't necessarily fit the description of the "beginning of the end for House Targaryen." That more accurately describes the Dance of Dragons (a Targaryen vs. Targaryen civil war) that took place over the years around 130 AC.
Therefore, there are a few possibilities for an exact timeline. The series could be exactly 300 years prior to Game of Thrones, and tell the story of Aegon's conquest - in which case, the "beginning of the end" would simply mean the beginning of the Targaryen rule of Westeros. Alternatively, the series could span over a hundred years; not an easy feat, but it would be interesting to see a series that covers a longer span of time in less detail, much the way that Fire and Blood covers more time than A Song of Ice And Fire, but in a very different way. Finally, it's very possible that the 300 years comment isn't a literal one at all. The tagline of Fire and Blood is "300 years before Game of Thrones, dragons ruled Westeros," and it's very possible that it's simply this line that is being referenced because the series draws from Fire and Blood.
What Happened In Westeros During Fire And Blood
Whichever particular point in Targaryen history will be the focus of the new prequel series, there is little doubt that Fire and Blood will be the source material. Martin's blog posts directly reference the book, and it would be a particularly odd decision on the part of HBO to create a Targaryen history series and not use this massive tome of Targaryen history to fill in the blanks. However, Fire and Blood does cover a huge span of time, so there's a lot to draw from.
The book opens with Aegon's conquest, along with his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys, and their three dragons. The conquest isn't entirely straightforward, as there are various pockets of resistance (and of course, Dorne), but it's clear how it is going to end. Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys become the rulers of Westeros, after a few major battles, including the destruction of Harrenhal. However, Dorne remains stubbornly independent, and fights back for many years, during which war Rhaenys is killed (along with her dragon). Aegon's rule ends with his death in 37AC.
Following Aegon's death is a brief period of unrest, as Aegon's son Aenys takes the throne, but struggles to hold on to Targaryen values against the Faith Militant. He dies shortly after (of illness), and his brother Maegor ascends - he who would become known as Maegor the cruel. Maegor's reign wasn't long, and it was excessively bloody (and involved an impressive number of wives, even for a Targaryen) before he died on the Throne (in a way that was also fairly excessively bloody). From here, the throne passes to Aenys' son, Jaehaerys. The fifth Targaryen King ruled for over fifty years, and it was a peaceful reign... but the downside of this peace was that he was left with a vast number of heirs.
Fire and Blood then goes on to cover the Dance of Dragons, a civil war that nearly tore the Targaryens apart. While the Dance is extremely complicated, at its core it is a war of succession. It begins as Rhaenyra and Aegon II duke it out over the throne, with the rest of the Targaryens falling in behind one or the other (the sides being known as Blacks and Greens). As the war continues, alliances become more and more complex, families are torn apart, and a huge number of Targaryens die in the process. It's not just human Targaryens that suffer, either. At this point in history, many of the family are dragonriders, and the battles of the Dance of Dragons also take place in the sky. Many good warriors and some of the largest and most powerful dragons are killed in aerial battles. By the end of the civil war, both Rhaenyra and Aegon II are dead, along with many others, and the throne is taken by Aegon III. Still a child, he has a regency council, and this written history of the family ends as Aegon III reaches his majority and begins his rule.
The Targaryen Prequel Is Likely About The Dance Of Dragons
With so much material to draw from, it's possible that the upcoming prequel series could cover any part of Fire and Blood's narrative, but the most likely candidate is the Dance of Dragons. This is the plan according to EW, which is generally a reliable source when it comes to Game of Thrones rumors, but it's also the choice that simply makes the most sense.
Aegon's conquest could be interesting, but the most popular elements of Game of Thrones involved political intrigue rather than big battle scenes. Fans may joke about it and create memes about it, but Game of Thrones was loved for having such a sprawling cast of characters, and one where anyone could die. Aegon's conquest, while incredible, would be comparatively extremely war-driven and straightforward, which isn't what Game of Thrones fans are looking to see. The Dance of Dragons, on the other hand, contains all the same elements that made Game of Thrones so popular: politics, scheming players seeking power, subterfuge, trickery, and a good dollop of sex and romance. And, of course, let's not forget the dragons. The Dance of Dragons has the potential to expand on dragon lore significantly, and to include aerial battles involving multiple dragons at a time. That's the kind of spectacle that would definitely get people watching.
The Dance of Dragons would also allow the show to start to delve into the history of the other houses of Westeros, including whose side they chose, and which allegiances were formed (that were still echoing through time to the events of Game of Thrones itself). Of course, the fact that this is the obvious choice may mean that HBO wants to go a different direction, and fans will just have to wait until the series is officially announced to find out more.