‘House of the Dragon’ review: Worthy ‘Game of Thrones’ successor is an excellent fantasy series in its own right
If you’re worried about House of the Dragon after getting burned by the final season of Game of Thrones, don’t be. HBO’s epic new series is excellent through and through, juggling memorable characters, high fantasy, and intense emotions with practiced ease. You’ll be sucked in faster than you can say “Dracarys.“
Set almost 200 years before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon is a prequel series that focuses on the Targaryen dynasty at the height of its power. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) rules over a peaceful Seven Kingdoms, but trouble looms on the horizon. With no sons to his name, the issue of Viserys’s successor is of utmost importance. Will he make his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra, his heir, placing a woman on the Iron Throne for the first time in Westerosi history? Or will he name his brother, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), instead? This dilemma sets the stage for a familial struggle of epic proportions. It’s a conflict that evolves from episode to episode, bringing in new players, new surprises, and new devastating deaths. But what else would you expect from a show set in Westeros?
The questions of succession and who gets to sit on the Iron Throne have already been covered at length in Game of Thrones. However, in House of the Dragon, this same question gets put under a microscope. Whereas Game of Thrones followed several families in their quests to retain power, House of the Dragon fixes its sights on just one: the Targaryens. Other families — such as the Hightowers and the Velaryons — figure into the Targaryens’ story as well, but they’re linked to the Targaryens through marriage, creating one big, silvery blonde family with a lot of issues.