‘House of the Dragon’ Review: It’ll Let You Love ‘GoT’ Again

Heavy is the pinnacle that wears the crown. The opening moments of HBO’s Home of the Dragon see Viserys Targeryen inherit monumental accountability when he is topped Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. It is becoming that a lot of the present’s first season, which kicks off this Sunday, revolves round a king who struggles to reside as much as his predecessor. It is the precise burden shared by Home of the Dragon itself, which has to observe Recreation of Thrones, probably the most celebrated TV exhibits of all time.

Solely time, and the following seasons it brings, will inform if Home of the Dragon can scale that wall. However after watching the primary six episodes, it is clear Home of the Dragon no less than has a shot. It is glorious TV, a fantasy drama that does not require Recreation of Thrones fandom to take pleasure in. 

Simply as importantly, Home of the Dragon offers Recreation of Thrones followers burned by that present’s controversial remaining season motive to like the world of Westeros once more.

Home of the Dragon streams on HBO from Sunday, Aug. 21. The present begins 172 years earlier than the demise of “The Mad King” Aerys Targaryen and the delivery of Daenerys. Chronicling the height and ensuing fall of the Targaryen Dynasty, Home of the Dragon relies on Fireplace and Blood, a quantity of fictional historical past George R.R. Martin wrote on the Targaryens. Yep, Martin wrote a 900-page e book on the Targaryens. Nope, we’re by no means getting Winds of Winter

A lot of Recreation of Thrones centered on the combative homes of Westeros vying to grow to be the dominant clan. In distinction, Home of the Dragon is all in regards to the internecine battle generated by totally different Targaryens all laying declare to the identical Iron Throne. It begins with such a contest. Within the opening minutes of Home of the Dragon, following the demise of Jaehaerys, the Nice Council holds a vote on succession that pits Prince Viserys towards his cousin, Princess Rhaenys. 

Viserys wins as a result of the lords of Westeros will not settle for a girl as ruler. That does not cease him, later within the opening episode, from naming his daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen as his successor. Viserys was evidently a progressive man for his day — however the state of affairs is difficult when he remarries and his new spouse offers delivery to a son, Aegon. Viserys says the arrival of his son modifications nothing, however an ominous query looms: If Viserys died, who in Westeros would assist a girl’s declare to the throne over a person’s? 

The connection between Viserys and Rhaenyra is a spotlight, largely due to the actors that painting them. Paddy Considine is robust in his position as a good man turned common king, a fellow who struggles to stability the wants of his household and Westeros concurrently. However the shining star of Home of the Dragon’s opening episodes is definitely Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra. She’s obtained an enchantingly expressive face — a easy squinting of the eyes or a pursing of the lips can betray the vary of feelings that accompany king’s courtroom politics.

You may discover, should you peruse Home of the Dragon’s Wikipedia web page, that Alcock performs “younger Rhaenyra Targaryen” — she’s one in all two individuals who play the character. The place Recreation of Thrones went extensive, spreading its focus amongst totally different households all through the continent, Home of the Dragon goes lengthy. There are gaps of time in between episodes that modify from months to years. That is sensible, because the e book it is based mostly on spans 300 years of historical past, in comparison with the a lot shorter timespan depicted in Martin’s A Music of Ice and Fireplace novels.

Even after six episodes of the present, Home of the Dragon’s scope remains to be mysterious. It is clearly constructing to The Dance of the Dragons, a Targaryen civil warfare that is well-known in Ice and Fireplace lore. However when it will get there, and the way a lot additional the present delves into the 172 years of historical past that separates it from Thrones, is tantalizingly unclear.

The quicker tempo of Home of the Dragon helps it really feel totally different from Recreation of Thrones, which is useful. Comparisons with Recreation of Thrones are unfair. Thrones was well-known for advanced characters, heartbreaking surprises and lavish set-piece battles, every of which took years to construct to. Followers who weren’t disenchanted by the present’s controversial remaining season can have excessive expectations for Home of the Dragon, and followers who had been disenchanted will demand one thing excellent to win them again. 

However as unfair as these comparisons are, they’re additionally inevitable. As the primary episode of Home of the Dragons completed, I requested myself whether or not it was as charming as Recreation of Thrones’ first. I puzzled if any character was as compelling as Ned Stark, or if politics inside the king’s small council would attain Littlefinger-versus-Varys ranges of intrigue. 

That modified midway by way of the second episode. As an alternative of reminiscing in regards to the Starks and the Lannisters, I grew to become completely targeted on the Targaryens. Home of the Dragon might by no means be the subsequent Recreation of Thrones however, from the six hours I’ve seen, it appears to be like poised to no less than step out of the enormous shadow its predecessor casts. That is an achievement any king — or queen — might crow about.    

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