To the casual TV viewer, the game of thrones started with the first episode of, well, Game of Thrones... all the way back in 2011. But for fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, the fight for the Iron Throne has actually been going on for hundreds of years. HBO has created an entire animated special about it for its latest Blu-ray release, but I got a chance to see it for myself on the big screen. Let’s just say it made me want Viserys back on the show so bad.
The season seven Blu-ray of Game of Thrones features a storybook-style animated history called Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms, which explains what happened in Westeros before Game of Thrones began. The 45-minute animated film starts with the Doom of Valyria, moving through Aegon Targaryen’s conquest of the Seven Kingdoms all the way to Robert’s Rebellion. Several actors from the show tell parts of the story as their respective characters, including Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), and Aiden Gillen (Petyr Baelish). Each chapter represents what happened to one of the kingdoms during Aegon’s Conquest. In some ways, it feels like a template for storylines that could frame at least one of the Game of Thrones spinoffs. There’s a lot to go on.
As someone who isn’t well versed in A Song of Ice and Fire, Conquest & Rebellion was quite educational. It’s true that fans of the show often miss plot points and details that book fans are well familiar with, and this special shed light on a lot of things I’d wondered about but didn’t really get. Like how the Baratheon family came to be represented by a stag, how Dorne avoided being conquered, or why the Seven Kingdoms were so resentful at the idea of having another Targaryen ruler. It was informative but accessible, and never condescending. The art is also really something special. It’s simple, but that actually works in its favor.
However, the best part of Conquest & Rebellion has to be Harry Lloyd returning as Daenerys’ brother, Viserys Targaryen. He bookends the animated film, introducing the Targaryen dynasty and closing out with the story of how he and Daenerys escaped. But, contrary to what I previously thought, he’s not performing it as a wise and bitter ghost. For some reason, he’s voicing it as if the character is still alive, waiting to cross the Narrow Sea and reclaim his throne. It’s kind of brilliant. Viserys pops in at random times through the animated film to add some spice to other people’s stories—this includes a rather heated exchange with Sansa Stark, where he basically chides her family for surrendering to his. It’s so bizarre, it almost sounds like he stopped their recording session to go: “Girl, please.”
The whole thing takes on this hilariously tongue-in-cheek tone when Viserys ends it ferociously swearing to come and take the kingdom back from Robert Baratheon. Honey, it’s not going to go the way you think. Either that, or this is a Sixth Sense situation, and Viserys is a ghost who doesn’t know he’s dead. I see dead Targaryens.
Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms is on the Blu-ray for Game of Thrones season seven, now available. Some people have been sharing the film on YouTube, and HBO has released select clips online.