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Review: Does ‘House of the Dragon’ Right ‘Game of Thrones’ Wrongs?

Is it ‘just the same of Thrones’ or os it something new?

House of Dragon, House of the Dragon season 1, House of the Dragon new season
Credit: HBO MAX

George R.R. Martin’s incredibly popular world of Westeros has found its way back on our screens with House of the Dragon. The show has broken HBO records, with the most-watched debut in the network’s history. But has the Game of Thrones prequel fixed the mistakes of its forbear’s disastrous final season and improved upon its criticisms?

What is House of the Dragon?

House of the Dragon is an American Fantasy series created by George R.R. Martin who broke out with his book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ later adapted into the HBO show Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon is set in Westeros nearly two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones. The series focuses on the Targaryen family, a key player in the tousle for the throne in the original series and whose lineage is mired in incest, intrigue, and fire-breathing dragons. ‘The Mother of Dragons’ Daenerys Targaryen was not only a fan favorite in Game of Thrones but had quite possibly the most controversial character arc in the series. 172 years before her birth, however, House of the Dragon finds itself in the throes of a family civil war of succession known as the ‘Dance of the Dragon.’

The prequel, created by Ryan Condal, follows King Viserys Targaryen and his surrounding family, namely the relationships between his daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen, younger brother Daemon Targaryen and Rhaenyra’s childhood companion Alicent Hightower. Unlike Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon spans a series of decades throughout these characters’ lives meeting them at crucial moments in the stories. But how else does the prequel differ from its predecessor, and how does it improve from some of the show’s weaknesses?

Image: HBO Max

Diversity and Inclusion

It is not controversial to say that Game of Thrones had a serious diversity problem. In a wholly fantastical universe of dragons, magic, mystical prophecies, and ice zombies, the one unimaginable inclusion is the presence of Black and ethnic minority characters. Though glib, it is not entirely untrue. There are of course some diverse characters in the show, both Greyworm and Missandei were prominent BME characters in the series. However, these characters alongside its queer characters represent the diversity problem core to Game of Thrones. The show’s diverse characters were either expendable victims (especially in the case of Missandei or Renly who is one of the few gay male characters in the show) or represent groups historically subjugated in the real world. This is particularly pernicious in the case of the unsullied, an army of former slaves, or the Dothraki army who are coded as violent foreign savages.

The creators of House of the Dragon have seemingly heard and taken these criticisms on board as efforts have certainly been made to become more inclusive. This commitment to diversity comes in the form of the House Velaryon, a respected and noble house in the House of the Dragon universe. Black characters are not only given more screen time but are given greater depth and complexity in their arcs and stories making the whole a must richer and more rewarding experience for viewers of all backgrounds. Though the same can be said for queer stories in House of the Dragon, the series still has a long way to go.

Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

Female Centered Perspective

The oft-maligned problem of Game of Thrones’ final season was the fate of its longstanding protagonist Daenerys Targaryen. As the show approached its conclusion, Daenerys’ character arc took a swift and unexpected turn. In a matter of seconds, the mother of dragons set Kings Landing ablaze – mad with power and spurned by those she felt had wronged her. Though the decision to make Daenerys villainous was not bad in and of itself, the show did not give enough time to this arc, presenting her instead as an irrationally mad and hysterical woman.

Daenerys’ arc is representative of a greater problem the show had of its poor representation of woman and their stories. Often women of Game of Thrones are either objects of male lust and desire, to be ogled at by the viewer (the term sexposition has come to be heavily associated with the show) or its female characters are abused, disempowered, and suffer male aggression. These scenes are often incredibly gratuitous and never framed through the eyes of the victims experiencing it, rather a sympathetic male character forced to watch. In light of this, House of the Dragon has come a long way. Not only does it pay more time and attention to Women’s stories, and their interpersonal dramas but the show frames them in a far better light. While the world of House of the Dragon is just as if not more brutal and barbarous as Game of Thrones, the trauma suffered by women shifts the focus away from male protagonists and spectators into the eyes of its female characters. Both Rhaenyra and Alicent represent the greater complexities afforded to Westeros’ women and are a great step forward for the show.

house of dragon
Credit: HBO MAX / Youtube


It is still early days for House of the Dragon, and little is known about the direction the show will go in its coming seasons. Though the first four or five seasons of Game of Thrones were incredibly promising, the show went through a steep decline in quality in its later seasons. Fans will be remaining hopeful that House of the Dragon does not follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and its commitment to learning and growing from past mistakes as well as introducing more interesting avenues in its writing is certainly promising for the show’s continued success. House of the Dragon has proved it’s not just a Game of Thrones knockoff, lets see if it can see it through to its conclusion.

Written By

Freelance writer and journalist with an MA in English literature. He's been known to cry at sunsets and laugh in the face of ennui. Not lover nor fighter, but a man and barely one that.

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