The first season of House of the Dragon ended with another major ratings record. But what are the differences between the television series and George RR Martin’s novel?
Starting and ending well, the first season of House of the Dragon brought glory and honor to HBO. Yet the story, just as it happened (to some extent) for Game of Thrones, is taken from a novel, titled Fire and Blood and written by George RR Martin. The first episode captured ten million viewers, while the season finale garnered nine more. An important step for the network, even if the TV series has already been renewed well in advance for a second season.
But what are the differences between a novel and a television series? Because one fact is certain: there are differences and those who read the novel first may have realized this over the episodes. Let’s find out what they are.
House of the Dragon, how the story changes between novel and TV series
Anyone is aware that a story, if taken from a novel and brought to the big and small screen, will inevitably have to adapt to needs. And House of the Dragon has also undergone changes, some more significant than others. Showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik had to streamline the whole “historical” part of Fire and Blood by turning it into dialogue between the characters; other passages, on the other hand, have only been suggested so as not to weigh down the story. Audiences have now understood that House of the Dragon serves to tell the story of what happened to the Targaryen family, why there is talk of a civil war, and why it answers to the name of The Dance of the Dragons.
One of the first major changes is to Viserys Targaryen’s character. In the novel, he is intended as a sort of filler, an empty character who does not have a strong impact on the plot. In the series, however, he is played by Paddy Considine who gave him great depth and made him much more human. A flawed man, of course, who made several mistakes and yet went down in history as the peaceful king, who never wanted to get his hands dirty. George RR Martin also praised the actor for giving his character a complexity that was not present on paper.
Another in-depth passage in the TV series despite the book concerns the Daemon-Rhaenyra-Criston love triangle. In the Fire and Blood novel, the moment Daemon seduces his niece is only hinted at, but in House of the Dragon it is clearly shown.
Another difference concerns the skin color of the Velaryon family. Black actors were cast in the TV series, which made the allegations against Rhaenyra and the fact that she had her first three children with a man other than her husband, Laenor Velaryon, even more significant.
From Larys Strong to the absence of Daeron Targaryen
A character who appeared sporadically in Fire and Blood is Larys Strong, who instead in House of the Dragon shows all of his devious loyalty to Alicent. A character who acts in the shadows and who is not afraid to prove his true nature in the eyes of the queen. Played by Matthew Needham, he immediately turns out to be a perfect predecessor to Varys and Littlefinger in Game of Thrones.
One detail easily noticed by fans concerns Daeron Targaryen, the fourth child Alice has from Viserys. Or at least that’s what happens in the novel. The queen gives birth to Aegon, Helaena, Aemond and finally Daeron. However, he does not appear in the television series. Why? The response was also George RR Martin: according to the writer, Daeron exists, but he was raised by the Hightower in the Old Town and is not included in the plot of the first season. Another untapped human aspect in the TV series concerns the friendship between Rhaenyra and Laena Velaryon, portrayed by Martin in her novel.
Last difference, but rather interesting to better understand his character, concerns Alicent. In the novel, this woman is described as unscrupulous, ready to do anything to place her son on the throne. In House of the Dragon, however, Viserys speaks of Aegon the Conqueror shortly before his death, but Alicent misunderstands and believes he means their son. And this prompts her to usurp the throne of Rhaenyra, crowning her son King of the Seven Kingdoms.
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