‘House Of The Dragon’ Isn’t Just A Worthy Successor To ‘Game Of Thrones’ — It’s Way Better
— Updated on 29 August 2022

‘House Of The Dragon’ Isn’t Just A Worthy Successor To ‘Game Of Thrones’ — It’s Way Better

— Updated on 29 August 2022
Garry Lu
WORDS BY
Garry Lu

Don’t worry… this is a spoiler-free House of the Dragon review.

Stalwart fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones who stuck it out until the bitter end have every right to treat its prequel with suspicion. Setting aside the luxury of an exorbitant budget to deliver (inconsistently lit) spectacles, the final season was an insult to audience loyalty, an insult to George R.R. Martin’s meticulously crafted mythology, and an insult to general storytelling principles. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with House of the Dragon, which marks a stunning return to form for the fantasy franchise.

Think about everything you loved about Game of Thrones when it originally aired back in the 2010s. Maybe it was the unravelling of character intentions beat by beat, line by line. Or the Machiavellian schemes to improve one’s position on the ladder of chaos. Definitely the realpolitiks (Gods, the realpolitiks were epic). And definitely the incredibly detailed world-building. All this and more have been spun to perfection and masterfully woven into the very fibres of House of the Dragon by showrunners Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik.

RELATED: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Spin-Off Series About Jon Snow Currently In Development

In fact, those of you particularly keen on the latter will be relieved to hear there aren’t any egregious departures from the source material (or lack thereof, in the case of the rudderless season 6). Quite the opposite. This is a rich exploration of the fictitious history which set the foundation for Thrones; and a wet dream for the punters out there who whiled away the hours between season breaks by watching the Blu-ray special features on a continuous loop and trawling dedicated Wikis.

Set 200 years before the events we binged/re-binged, dissected, and debated ad nauseam, House of the Dragon depicts foreign conquerors turned virtually unchallengeable dynasty – House Targaryen – at the height of their glory. That is, until the Targaryen civil war that pits sibling against sibling, dragon against dragon, immortalised in the lore as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ and examined extensively in Martin’s self-styled chronicle Fire & Blood.

The first episode poses an age-old dilemma that monarchs have grappled with since the dawn of time: securing a line of succession. The all-too-kind-natured King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is in need of a male heir and, due to gender dynamics that require zero further explanation, he’s unwilling to name his eldest child, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock for now; Emma D’Arcy when the character eventually ages). As a result, Viserys’ mercurial younger brother and peerless warrior, Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), enjoys a status as heir presumptive. But this soon changes and thus the wheels begin turning in a familiar motion.

RELATED: HBO Burned Over $42 Million On A Failed ‘Game Of Thrones’ Prequel

This recurring conflict between the correct choice and the volatile choice is the engine that powers Martin’s mythology. It’s also something that’s well understood by Condal and Sapochnik; deftly navigated via the onscreen performances and writing featured in House of the Dragon.

From Paddy Considine to Australia’s own Milly Alcock, binge fodder fixture Matt Smith to character actor extraordinaire Rhys Ifans, the cast members gracefully flirt with character intention to bring their respective roles to life. As an audience, you’re fully invested right from the jump — shaking your head at disapproval when Considine’s King Viserys fumbles as a leader, fascinated by the political machinations of Ifans’ Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King, torn between loving and loathing Smith’s entirely excessive Prince Daemon Targaryen. Side note: anyone who didn’t think Matt Smith could pull off playing a Targaryen was dead wrong… the man knocks it out of the fucking park.

Free from the obligation of establishing a universe completely from scratch, the series is allowed to dive straight into the meat of the story without being hampered by any exposition aside from what’s absolutely necessary. There’s ample real estate to examine the human element. There’s ample real estate to provide a singular arc with the attention it deserves. The looming threat of whitewalkers and diversity of setpieces are occasionally awesome, sure, but in the context of a chapter within the A Song of Ice & Fire saga such as this, they’re worthless distractions.

RELATED: ‘House Of The Dragon’ Is Better Than ‘Game Of Thrones’, According To Critics

House of the Dragon Review

If nothing outlined in this review has convinced you it’s worth revisiting Westeros, perhaps the fact House of the Dragon is a prequel will. Where the final season of Game of Thrones fell apart, of course, was ultimately a lack of consistency and direction, given they’d officially run out of pre-existing literature to define the story’s true north; and quite frankly a lack of care once Disney waved a three-film contract under David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’ noses (which has since been scrapped).

The nature of a prequel limits outrageous deviations from the good old days. You know, everything preceding the later stages of Thrones. The blueprint is very clearly mapped out. Fates are sealed. It’s practically carved in stone. Plus with intervention from George R.R. Martin himself, who personally had a hand in creating House of the Dragon as opposed to delegating the responsibility, it’s almost as if HBO’s latest undertaking can’t fail. Here’s to hoping…

Whatever the case, House of the Dragon is scheduled to premiere via HBO and HBO Max next week on August 21st (US). Here in Australia, you can catch the hotly-anticipated spin-off via Binge and Foxtel Now starting from August 22nd.

Check out the trailer below.


Now that you’ve read the House of the Dragon review, check out our explanation for why HBO’s The Rehearsal might be the greatest television series of all time here.

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Garry Lu
WORDS by
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]

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