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What to expect when starting House of the Dragon

Photo by mauRÍCIO SANTOS on Unsplash

*Contains minimal spoilers for the first couple of episodes*

House of the Dragon, the show adaptation of the book Fire and Blood, by the author of The Song of Ice and Fire, also known as Game of Thrones, was released on Aug. 21. While the book is set 300 years before the Song of Ice and Fire series, the show focuses on the civil war between the Targaryen family set about 150 and 200 years prior. While a bit early to make a definitive comparison, here is how the two shows compare so far.

Three years after a very underwhelming finale, audiences return to Westeros, this time when the Targaryen family and dragons rule the kingdom. Audiences will recognize a lot of the locations that were seen in Game of Thrones, such as King’s Landing, and familiar houses such as the Starks and Baratheon are mentioned in the show.

House of the Dragon’s story follows the beginning of the fall of the Targaryen empire. King Viserys I is without an heir and decides to break a century-old tradition and names his daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen as his heir. However, his Brother Daemon Targaryen wants the throne for himself and takes up arms against the king.

Here lies the first big difference from its predecessor. House of the Dragon focuses mainly on internal house conflicts, while Game of Thrones, had both internal and external house conflicts which made for a more entertaining and complex dynamic. That isn’t to say House of the Dragon isn’t entertaining, but two brothers fighting feels much smaller in scale than a whole kingdom.

Since the show focuses on the Targaryen family, it leaves a lot fewer characters compared to Game of Thrones. More specifically, likable characters the audience could connect with or root for. Characters at the level of Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark are missing from House of the Dragon, which leaves one feeling like an outsider rather than part of the story.

Rhaenyra, played by Milly Alcock, has by far, stolen the show. She has an energy similar to Daenerys in Game of Thrones; her performance is outstanding and seems like she will play an important role in the episodes to come.

Another notable difference to Game of Thrones is that the House of the Dragon, as the name implies, is full of dragons. In Game of Thrones, audiences had to wait seasons to see the dragons fully grown near the end of the show, and that was only to see three. In House of the Dragon, it’s expected that there will be at least 15 dragons in the first season alone, and they’re incorporated from the get go.

The fame of Game of Thrones undoubtedly follows House of the Dragon with some high expectations. It seems to be matching them so far as the premier had 10 million viewers, the biggest in HBO’s history, and has reached 20 million since then. The show’s budget is also in its favour. Season one of House of the Dragon had a budget of nearly $200 million, with about $20 million per episode, in comparison, the budget per episode in Game of Thrones season one was about $6 million. After drawing a large number of viewers, the show has then announced a second season, with the release date still unknown.

Overall, audiences can expect the complexity of a fantasy politics game full of treason, twists, and gore that Game of Thrones fans are familiar with. While it’s too early to properly compare the first couple of episodes to a completed series, the microcosm of the Targaryen family drama makes the story’s parameters feel a little narrower to that of Game of Thrones. That being said, the money being thrown at this plus instances of great acting and lots of dragons make this a promising series.

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