Yesterday, HBO announced a straight-to-series order of a show based on George R.R. Martin’s fictional-history book on House Targaryen entitled “Fire and Blood.” The show will have a ten episode first season. The title? House of the Dragon. HBO also released a promotional poster with its Targaryen logo (unlike the one above that I designed myself) and a promise that “fire will reign.” That’s all the news we have so far – no release date, no cast, no filming locations.
HBO canceled the “thousands of years ago” series loosely based on the events of the Long Night. The pilot that the network has in the can will likely never see the light of day.
I completely understand HBO’s decision here. House of the Dragon will have: 1) completed source material to draw upon, 2) recognizable kingdoms, houses, and names, and 3) dragons. To summarize, the reign of House Targaryen is a much more interesting, and more detailed, period of Westerosi history than the Long Night.
The Star Wars prequels have made me eternally skeptical of the concept of a prequel, but that doesn’t mean that a prequel can’t succeed. For example, Better Call Saul is an excellent show. Arguably, it is a more consistent show than Breaking Bad. We know where Jimmy/Saul is headed, but the story compensates for this by diving deep into its characters.
House of the Dragon may not even have many built in spoilers that people know about. Show-only folks probably only know a few things about Targaryen history off the top of their heads: Aegon conquered Westeros, and a war called the Dance of Dragons killed most of the dragons. Within that space, there is a lot of room to maneuver plot-wise.
The Dance of Dragons is so complicated that even people who have read all the history materials might be confused as to all that went down. Aegon’s Conquest is comparatively straightforward, but beyond the “we know Aegon wins” ending, there are enough twists and turns to surprise people.
As for characters, that was always Game of Thrones’ biggest strength. Game of Thrones was at its weakest when it sped up the pace of its plot. If House of the Dragon builds itself on character, even if that means the story slows down, it could be an excellent show.
House of the Dragon could be really good, maybe even better than Game of Thrones considering how the latter didn’t quite stick the landing at the end. Its production team has to internalize the lessons of why the last two seasons of Game of Thrones dropped in quality. The team also needs to learn the lessons of what can make a prequel successful from prequels such as Better Call Saul. I’m optimistic.
(C) 2019 D.G. McCabe