Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon will be here in two days, and being one of the most anticipated TV shows of 2022, everyone is talking about it. HBO is doing quite well in feeding the fiery flames of hype, pushing the meter high up to unprecedented levels, at least for a section of fans. There’s still a large section of the fandom that is skeptical about the upcoming prequel, maintaining a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ attitude, ever since the controversial Game of Thrones final season aired. After all, how do you trust a franchise that betrayed your feelings, ruining a show for you that you followed dutifully for an entire decade?
In this particular feature, we will have a look at what the O.G. creator, George R. R. Martin, thinks about everything that has happened at HBO and with the Game of Thrones franchise ever since the show last aired. After all, if you’ve been a fantasy fan for a really long time, you would know all the imaginary ‘battles‘ and ‘who’s stronger‘ debates you’ve had in your head can be validated (for the most part) by the source; the writer themselves.
House of The Dragon begins in 101 AC, when King Jaehaerys Targaryen is still on the Iron Throne and the Targaryen empire is at the pinnacle of power and prosperity, something that we might get to see in episode 1. A neat and fresh approach, similar to the merry beginnings of Game of Thrones in some ways, with a lot more dragons, and Targaryens.
Martin has often called his style of writing somewhat similar to the act of gardening, all the characters are his “kids” and he loves them dearly. He has been in the TV business for a long time, and he only began writing novels again in the 1990s, tired of his screenplays not making it to the TV screens. So he was a bit cautious when he began working with David Benioff and D. B. Weiss on the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones, as his kids were being “adopted” for the first time in a really long time. And the first glimpse of Arya (Maisie Williams) balancing on one foot at the top of a flight of stairs while talking to her father, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), did put a smile on his face.
Thereafter, Martin gave more and more control of his work to the showrunners, and they made significant changes in the show from his books (for eg. absence of Lady Stoneheart). As the show’s popularity rose, Martin’s involvement slowly became reduced until after Season 4, whence he was largely kept out of the loop. In the most recent and the last episode of the Official Game of Thrones podcast before the premiere of House of The Dragon, Martin said:
“By the time I met David Benioff and Dan Weiss and we did Game of Thrones, I was actually in the beginning of that far more experienced as a television writer than either of them. Not so much with Ryan and Miguel, they’ve both done huge amounts of television.”
When you take out the main factor that keeps your show going, there are going to be consequences, which Game of Thrones faced during the end of its run. Yes, Martin did not have any written material for the showrunners to follow for the later seasons, but he had a lot more experience than the two, and keeping him mostly on the edges of a series he created not only sounds unfair but also disastrous.
Taking inspiration from Martin’s own thesis on “the benefit of hindsight”, something he explained briefly in the podcast in context of the big errors in real history, House of The Dragon’s showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik had a kind of a headstart. Both of them were part of the original show, and they have a rough idea of what works, and what does not. Also, all three of them, Condal, Martin, and Sapochnik have repeatedly confirmed that everything in the series has only been done after Martin himself okayed it. Martin is pretty much into the loop, one of the many reasons why he has been pushing the idea that House of The Dragon is a very faithful adaptation of his work.
In Martin’s own words, he is the kind of novelist who “has this idea that they’re gonna see their work translated faithfully to the screen, and then when it’s changed they don’t understand why, they get upset and angry about it and all that.” He flew to New York to beg HBO executives to extend Game of Thrones for a couple more seasons due to the very same reason. So far, he has been very happy with everything he has seen in the first season of House of The Dragon.
So whether you like it or not, House of The Dragon, along with the black Velaryons, outrageous wigs, all of that has been approved by George R. R. Martin himself, even though you may have issues with its accuracy with Fire & Blood. An adaptation of “Anarchy“, with the “benefit of hindsight“, is right on your doorstep, with an excited and anxious Martin waiting for the first episode to finally hit the audience, and it is up to you if you prefer a more faithful storyline, or a more faithful appearance.
House of The Dragon is coming to HBO Max sharp at 9 PM ET on August 21, 2022.
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