House of the Dragon Review: The Era of “Fire and Blood”
This review discusses the details of the plot, no major spoilers are ahead.
The return of Westeros, dragons, and those who will rightfully ascend the iron throne; House of the Dragon begins with the Targaryen Dynasty at its peak with more than 10 dragons under its yolk. Set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” the prequel sets course to tell the beginning of the fall of House Targaryen. The dance of the dragons will begin.
Based on George R.R. Martin’s novel “Fire and Blood”, written from the perspective of Westerosi historian maesters.
To set the scene is, to begin with, understanding the legacy of the Targaryens; a move from Valeriya to Westeros. In short, due to a dream of a doomed occurrence, they land at Dragonstone, and a century later an exploration and conquest begin. The defeat of the Houses of Westeros occurs and the swords of the enemies conquered create the infamous Iron throne.
The prequel series is set to introduce three generations of Targaryens.
Showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Saponchik, who recently dropped their positions for season two, set the season’s tone by opening grisly violence, royal plotting, and medieval pageantry. The showrunners wanted to build on the pace of the first season as a slow burn and a picked-up narrative to present itself in season two. As seen from the season one finale, there sure is to be a much quicker pace as the plot for vengeance had begun.
There is familiarity and a difference in the feel of “Game of Thrones” to this first season. Violence, story-building, a little hint of incest, and the whispers of “A Song of Ice and Fire” and “The Prince that was Promised” laid the foundation for a complicated game to be played.
The difference is the focus of the Targaryen story, one where the family slowly tears each other apart.
Now, who is best suited as heir? The debate of an heir is a focal point of the series. As in episode one and leading to the season’s finale, who will rightfully sit on the throne reveals itself as a complicated matter.
We open the season with Viserys Targaryen, played by Paddy Considine, and Rhaenys Targaryen, played by Eve Best, placed at the center of the decision of who will sit on the throne and continue the lineage. Two cousins, one throne. But because the Council ruled that a woman cannot be named heir to the kingdom, it obviously falls to Viserys Targaryen.
Nine years into Viserys’ reign, we meet our protagonist of the story, the daughter of the king, the young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen played by Milly Alcock. A passionate girl driven by a desire to live a low-profile life filled with adventures and freedom. Her friend Alicent Hightower, a pious and quiet girl played by Emily Carey, tries to keep her childhood companion in check.
But with such thematic importance of a male heir, there is still a plot of others having the desire to know who in the future will one day sit on the throne. The unfortunate lack of a male heir, due to a complicated childbirth, resulted in the loss of a mother and brother to Rhaenyra. Now the question of succession arises.
With pressure and whatever possible male contenders are left, the realm reveals itself to have a new heir, Rhaenyra Targaryen.
As such responsibility falls to the young Princess, now a new period is set to usher in as a woman is now named heir. This sparks the beginning of a beautifully complicated webbing of ambitions and personal matters intermixed on who has the upper hand and power in a game of ruling.
Season one focuses on an overview of 20 years. The season is split into two different periods of the characters’ lives and stories, adding further to the character’s narratives. This also means a new switch of actors.
An adult version of Rhaenyra, now played by Emma D’Arcy, finds herself as a mother and still devoted to her position as heir. Her standing as heir has complicated itself. Alicent, now played by Olivia Cooke, is a Queen and a mother who is adamant about keeping her duties and plots in line. Such plots include keeping anyone that was “tainted” by Rhaenrya, such as the character Ser Criston Cole, played by Fabien Frankel, in her inner circle.
But a family drama, one that imposes the beginning of the war, rings itself prominently into the second half of the first season. Destined bloodshed of vengeance for the anointed glory of the throne. Simply begun by a simple crossing of a line of morality.
This ultimately draws on the intrigue of seeing the family through a different lens. A once-joined family that divides itself into two sides. The “Greens” and The “Blacks”. This opens opportunities to see a plethora of characters who are characterized by the environmental family feud.
Such as Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, the brother of Viserys; a man of malevolent and immoral character having a dedicated preservation of his family.
Actors such as Ewan Mitchell, Tom Glynn-Carney, and many others deliver memorable in-depth performances in their roles in displaying a character’s complexity in such environments.
The added mixes of romantic ties, influences, and sly plotting ignite a much-seen tension. The first season is an adventure in itself. The promise of more dragons contributes to more thrill of amusement and display of power.
The high ratings and reviews from episodes one through ten prompted it to do great in meeting the expectations of viewers after “Game of Thrones” success.
With the success of the first episode, it's no wonder that it got renewed for season 2, two days before the second episode aired. House of the Dragon is now set to be in pre-production for its second season. Filming is set to start in early 2023 and is reported to air sometime in 2024.
All 10 episodes of House of the Dragon are now available to stream on HBO Max.