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16th September 2022

House of the Dragon review: It’s finally hatched!

Brutal, spicy, and beautiful: HBO’s House of the Dragon is exactly what Game of Thrones fans have been waiting (and hoping) for!
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House of the Dragon review: It’s finally hatched!
Photo: HBO

Three years after the last season of Game of Thrones (GOT) aired, HBO finally released the series’ much-anticipated prequel House of the Dragon (HOD). It is both comforting and exciting to find ourselves back in the artistically beautiful (yet unapologetically brutal) cinematic universe based on George R.R. Martin’s literary phenomenon, A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-); due to the arguably anticlimactic GOT finale, some hard-core fans were sceptical when the new series was announced. Fortunately, we are in for a nostalgic treat: gruesome deaths, hedonistic orgies, scheming, the familiar opening credits, and, of course, dragons ensure the seamless transition between the two series.

HOD starts in medias res, nearly two centuries before the Daenerys saga. We get to see the fall of the Targaryen dynasty, the house of the platinum-blonde dragon-riders who ruled the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros until The Mad King was betrayed and killed by Jamie Lannister (a.k.a. “The Kingslayer”).

The new protagonist, Princess Rhaenyra (portrayed by Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy), is a strong-willed and ambitious heir to the throne, but her succession is challenged because of her sex. No queen has ever sat on the Iron Throne, and the court intends to keep it that way. Those who watched GOT might remember that Rhaenyra’s gruesome faith has been revealed to us already (some spoilers to follow below), but the events leading up to that point are yet to be screened. We can expect that sibling rivalry and the battle of the sexes will be at the centre of HOD‘s future storyline. 

The cast, including Matt Smith (The Crown (2016-)) and Rhys Ifans (The King’s Man (2021)), is phenomenal, and the actors’ synergy elevates HOD from most series of the past three years. On the other hand, the CGI feels dated and cheap compared to GOT and the new Lord of the Rings prequel series The Rings of Power (Amazon Prime).

Although HOD is not for the easily offended or the faint-hearted, I suggest you start watching it if you want to be a part of pop culture history. After all, Game of Thrones (2011-2019) certainly made history by becoming the most watched television show in the world. However, the question is whether House of the Dragon can follow its predecessor’s footsteps and sit on the Iron Throne of IMDb, or if it will burn to the ground like King’s Landing…We shall see.

New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere every Monday at 2 AM GMT on HBO Max/HBO Go, Sky Atlantic, and Now TV.

Milly Alcock (Rhaenyra Targaryen) in House of Dragon (2022)


Game of Thrones easter eggs, possible House of the Dragon plots:

1) S1 E7: “The Targaryens wed brothers and sisters for three hundred years to keep bloodlines pure.’

2) S3 E4: ’Rhaenyra Targaryen was murdered by her brother, or rather his dragon. It ate her, while her son watched. What’s left of her is buried in the crypts right down there.”

3) S4 E3: “King Robert was strong. He won the rebellion and crushed the Targaryen dynasty.”

4) S5 E6: “The Targaryens are famously insane.”

5) S5 E9: “It’s the story of the fight between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon for control of the Seven Kingdoms. Both of them thought they belonged on the Iron Throne. When people started declaring for one of them or the other, their fight divided the kingdom in two. Brothers fought brothers. Dragons fought dragons. By the time it was over, thousands were dead. And it was a disaster for the Targaryens as well. They never truly recovered.”

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