Initial Thoughts on House of the Dragon

Let’s be super clear – everyone is watching House of the Dragon. And so, with that said, I thought I’d jump on the mayhem and tell you what I think so far of the cold-blooded chaos.

Yes. Yes, HBO did crash attempting to shove that impossible boulder up that impossible hill. I would love an estimate of just how many terabytes of data they were able to throw before it all collapsed. But apparently, the outage wasn’t enormous, and was extraordinarily contained. But even so, just that one building alone is a LOT of streaming.

Look, yes, I know, I haven’t touched Game of Thrones in any way, shape, or form even during the height of the dragon chaos. I’ll explain why. The books are some of the only books on my bedside table. (Want a full list? House of Leaves. Full GoT series. And the last one? Readers of my blog should easily be able to name this one. One hint. “Suprasubliminal and that.”) So, if I have been such a huge fan of the books, why on earth would I not cover the GoT shows? Well, by the time I started reading the books, I think the show was already on season 3 or 4, and it was already starting to turn in the wrong direction. Full-on Pear-Shaped would be where it ended up. And so I have never seen a single episode.

But! Then came the House of the Dragon! These shows aren’t based on books (I mean, there are references from the GoT to the historical past of the series. But not a ton. And so this is a wide open canvas for the stories to explore, and all while paying homage to what will come. It’s a pretty interesting time for new characters to investigate Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos.

Thoughts on the Series the House of the Dragon

Not sure if you are filled in on how House of the Dragon connects over to the Game of Thrones series or not. But basically, the beginning of the Game of Thrones, will align to be 190 years prior to the beginning of the House of the Dragon series. We can see, with the start of the House of the Dragon series, that we’ve been dropped into a tumultuous period of the history of Westeros. In the years preceding this new show there was a period of the Faith Militant Uprising that only ended when the current reigning King Maegor I died of unknown circumstances. Which meant, that the only remaining son of the previous King, Jaehaerys I came to power. So, we watch as Jaehaerys pulls together the council in order to choose the next heir to the throne. Now, the two different Targaryens that have the best claim to the throne (there were over a hundred with a claim) were his grandson, Viserys, and his granddaughter (grandniece, blech) Rhaenys. They are literally both grandchildren of his, so they technically have an equal claim on the throne. Seeing as though there has never been a Queen in Westeros, the council selects Viserys to become the new ruler. And voila, Viserys I he becomes.

And with the that backdrop taken care of – King Viserys I Targaryen is ruler. We also have Prince Daemon Targaryen, the brother of Viserys, who happens to be a vaunted warrior. And then there is Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen who thinks she’ll be the next in line to rule the seven kingdoms. Right? But if you were paying close attention to the history of the Targaryens (I wasn’t! I had to flip back through the Fire and Blood series in order to remind myself of half this stuff.) then you know that the question here will be the same one in the original GoT books and series. Who will maintain control of the throne of the Seven Kingdoms after Viserys I. Because ultimately, in the Fire and Blood series it is this moment that resulted in a massive civil war that destroyed the Targaryen family.

We see that one side of the rift for the kingdom will be behind Visery’s oldest son by his second wife, Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke). And we will also that there is another alignment behind Viserys’ daughter – Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy)… I mean, did you think she wouldn’t make a play for the kingdom? She was the one that opened the series on a dragon. So. Yeah. There are your factions. The awesome news? With 10 dragons, and a family of dragonriders, the Targaryens are going to give us a show for our money. Battles in the sky and on the ground, as well as all the standard GoT blood and intrigue the oozes out of the shadows.

The Books vs. the Series

Can I please make a quick plug here for literacy? The Game of Thrones TV series is probably good… until it isn’t. I can’t say, because I literally don’t know. But I will say this, the GoT novels are some of the most densely packed mythos I’ve ever laid my hands on. If you get a chance, do yourselves a favor and check the books out of the library. Heck, the app Libby on Android and iOS will let you check out the audio books from your local library. I am on book five of the Expanse Series (which I adore… hate HATE the series, but the books are gloriously good) and I generally flip seamlessly between the audio book, to physical copies, to epubs when sitting in the mechanic waiting room. I spend so much time in the car, in waiting rooms, and in bed, that I want the ability to flip between editions that work for all of those environments. And similarly… I have hard copies of the GoT, I have electronic editions, and I have audio book versions for those car rides. (I know that Prime has Kindle Unlimited which whisper synchs between audio and electronic editions, and I hear that it’s great. So, if that is a solution for you, check it out.) Personally, takes me 10 seconds in any edition to move from medium to medium. Regardless! Read. Read these books. They are just so unbelievably dense. After I finish the Expanse, I plan to re-read the GoT books through to the end of what’s been published. I’m hearing that Martin thinks book 6 and 7 will be 3,000 manuscript pages. I think the sum total of pages in books 1-5 are just over 4,000 pages. Think all 9 Expanse books are 4,500 pages or so (It reaches out, It reaches out, It reaches out…) so they are nothing compared to the GoT books when the series is finished.

REGARDLESS, the Game of Thrones books are so dense. So immersive. With so many family connections. So many political motivators. So many intriguing details that fester and culminate into this plot or this intrigue. It’s like if you took The Lord of the Rings, and folded the metal of that book, then refolded it, and folded it again, until have a Damascus steel instead. No, I’m not saying Martin is better than Tolkien. But I am saying that it’s a totally different style. A totally different reading experience.

Regardless… read the books. And let me know if you are watching the series, and what you think of it after the first episode.

Edited by: CY