Dear reader, be aware that this opinion piece contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.
Of course, I am talking about the long-awaited prequel of the most successful fantasy series of all time! The world of Game of Thrones will return with Fire and Blood in late 2022. The title of the new show will be House of the Dragon and, oh my, dragons will rage!
When I first heard about HBO’s plan to make a show out of the Dance of Dragons, which is the name that was given to the Targaryen civil war by the Maesters of the Citadel of Oldtown in Westeros, I was very surprised. Because why would HBO, catering to the entertainment industry of the West, create a series telling a story not about a fantasy drama like Game of Thrones was, but tell the story about an absolute tragedy. For this is what the Dance of the Dragons is about and the story of House of the Dragon will be. It is not a drama but a very dark tragedy filled with incest and murder where in the end no one is left alive. So why would HBO Max produce a show like that? Let me explain:
Prior to the release of the first Teaser Trailer earlier this week, HBO Max announced that there will be seventeen dragons in total throughout the course of the five planned seasons. To remind everyone, Daenerys Stormborn (the one with the silver wig) had three dragons in the course of eight seasons and some of those seventeen dragons will be as big as Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal. For instance, there will be Caraxes the blood wyrm or Vhagar, the last dragon alive who was born during the conquest of Aegon I.
And why am I talking about dragons and throwing these names at you? Well, in the new show, as Daemon Targaryen clearly states in the trailer, dragons made the Targaryen family who they were and who they would become: Gods, Kings, Fire and Blood. Dreams didn’t make us Kings. Dragons did.
And yet again, why should we even care about the show? Because everything we needed to know about the world of Westeros we learned on Game of Thrones. Considering the ending of season eight with which many fans were displeased and did not feel worthy of Game of Thrones, but more like a Hollywood ending where awesome CGI replaced brilliant dialogue. Besides, we were given a resolution with startled minds and plot holes and nothing that made us hold our breath until the last minute. But the new show House of the Dragon could give us exactly what the ending of Game of Thrones could not.
Because this time around, from beginning to end the plot is known. When you have read Fire and Blood, a Targaryen History, like the producers of the show, you will know where the characters are heading, what their fates will be and what the focus points must be. And one of these focal points are dragons because they are the ultimate weapon to win the throne in the world of Westeros.
Another main point to think about though is the fact how Game of Thrones always managed to create a reflection, brutal parallels to the real world, the one we live in. Shakespearean phrases like Anyone can be killed, No one can protect anyone, Kings can bleed too, and the realisation that in fact no character is safe from dying, haunted us from season one onwards.
And while the world of Game of Thrones is sugar-coated with fantasy, dragons, witches and knights, it is what’s beneath this caramel crust that appealed to so many readers and viewers and is exactly what the new trailer of House of the Dragon gives us as well.
As it seems, after the worldwide disappointment of season eight, HBO understood what to do. With this new trailer they gave every disappointed (and some depressed) Game of Thrones fan exactly what Westeros was always about: A brutal world, our world, sugar- coated with silver wigs and dragons.
In the opening of the trailer, we learn that a dynasty rules Westeros long before the events in Game of Thrones take place. Everybody who knows Game of Thrones front and back will remember the references to the Targaryen dynasty that ruled over three hundred years with fire and blood. And this is exactly where House of the Dragon will commence.
‘Dinasty’ is of course a word we are all familiar with. It is a word that sparks other words in one’s mind such as royalty, power, wealth but above all: Family. And as Westeros is ruled by many different families in seven kingdoms during the times of Game of Thrones Westeros was ruled by the dynastic and all-powerful family, Daenerys’s ancestors: The Targaryen family in House of the Dragon.
As the trailer continues, we see another image, the one of a young Princess Rhaenyra who will be one of the main characters. She experiences a fate worse than her descendant Daenerys. She will see her entire power crumble, her legacy fall apart in front of her eyes, most of her children die, and she herself will be devoured by a dragon in seven bites.
But in this trailer we see a young princess glowing with power. Her headdress and her jewellery remind the viewer of Roman or Byzantium jewellery, which is a clever connection to our real history, as these ancient Empires too were ruled by families who spilled more blood than we can ever imagine. And while in Game of Thrones we find ourselves in a very unstable, indebted kingdom, House of the Dragon will begin during the golden age of an Empire that stands undefeated in wealth and power because of one family and their dragons.
And as in most stories dragons are not just dragons but usually stand for something deeper and in the world of Westeros they do as well. In the history of our world, many western historians argue that there were only ever three great Empires that ruled over the greatest parts of land and sea, for a long time undefeated: First, the Roman Empire and their military superiority, second, the Venetian Empire and their sea power and third, the British Empire and their colonies. All the others were just shadows in comparison to the accumulating wealth and power on an unimaginable scale built on exploitation, destruction and spreading misery on an equal level.
And just like the Romans, the Venetians and the British, the Targaryen family is just the same. Their power, money and wealth are built on countless dragons through their centuries long reign, exploiting other families, raining fire on castles, turning them into ovens, baking the families inside, turning armies into ashes or threatening opposing parties with the mere shadow of a dragon flying above. Everyone pays taxes, pays homage, is a slave to the Targaryen family, for when you wake the wrath of the dragons, fire and blood will come for you.
Of course, all of this sounds very horrible now. Why would I want to watch a show like this, when I could just as well turn on the news and watch corrupt politicians hold on to power or watch billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk battle each other and see one of them becoming the new Emperor of our modern world? Because, fact is, as in real history, every Empire eventually crumbled and had to fall apart and the same happened to the Targaryen family.
And this is what the show House of the Dragon will be about. It might even be something much more haunting, something more human than Game of Thrones. Because in Game of Thrones everything was about who gained the most power? Who understood the game? Who would establish a dynasty to last a thousand years? Who would create a better world? But House of the Dragon, if done right, will give us something much more vulnerable. We will be given a dynasty already established, superior in every way and watch it falling apart due to mistakes of vengeful and power-hungry characters. None of the characters will hope for a better world because that world is beginning to burn all around them. It will give us a taste of what happened to the Romans, to the Venetians, to the British and will eventually happen to the consumerist Empire of Europe and America, that is the West today.
It will be a story of the inner political struggles of the Targaryen family. When brother turns on sister, family on family, dragon on dragon. We will see them trying to hold it all together as it all crumbles around them, as every Kingdom and Empire has fallen apart in our world. But maybe a show like that is exactly what we need at the beginning of the 2020’s? To see an all-powerful dynasty with a clear hierarchy break into pieces? And the all-powerful dragons and their masters can do nothing to prevent it. The message of George R.R Martin’s Dance of the Dragons that will be the show House of the Dragon is clear: Every Empire, every superior family will eventually turn to ashes.
Because what happens when dragons rise? What happens when dragon meets dragon in the sky, when fire catches fire? Flames will consume the world below and an Empire will burn. So, get ready for House of the Dragon. Because whether you will watch the show or not, sooner or later something very similar will happen to our world with or without dragons: Fire and Blood will consume us all and considering the time we live in, a post pandemic life, an economy deeply wounded, the world catching fire not because of dragons but because of climate change, House of the Dragon might become a reflection or let’s say a distraction of the world we live in. It will be one we can enjoy because thankfully it will be sugar- coated with silver wigs, and, I think I haven’t mentioned them yet, dragons!
House of the Dragon will air in late 2022.
In case you have not watched the trailer yet, here it is:
Title Image: House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra Targaryen, HBO Max