“A gripping start to the prequel series. The pieces are all in place for the Game Of Thrones to start once again.” It is time to finally visit the House Of The Dragon!
For those not in the know, ‘Game Of Thrones: House Of The Dragon’ is a prequel series set almost 200 years before the main show. Based on the novel ‘Fire & Blood’ by George R.R Martin, the series depicts the beginning of the fall of House Targaryen. For non-fans, this won’t mean too much. But for the fans of ‘Game Of Thrones’, it will be something that they will sink their (Dragon) teeth into with relish. This is what the fans (myself included) have been waiting for. It is a solid start for the series and one that we can see becoming an obsession to watch on a weekly basis.
EPISODE 1: THE HEIRS OF THE DRAGON
The series begins with a voiceover describing the events before the show starts. And the text on the screen informs us that the events are almost two hundred years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. In the last years of the old king, Jaehaerys Targaryen, some tragic events befell his eldest two sons, Princes Aemon and Baelon. With the question of succession wide open, the king convenes the great council. This is where the lords of Westeros choose the future ruler of the realm. The succession is between Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and Prince Viserys, two of Jaehaerys’ grandchildren. By the law, a male heir will come before a female one, and as such, Viserys is chosen.
NINE YEARS LATER
The story now moves forward nine years, with Viserys seated upon the iron throne. His kingdom is under threat from the Triarchy, an alliance of the free cities of Essos to obtain the region of Stepstones. Viserys also has to contend with the destructive behavior of his younger brother, Daemon, the commander of the City Watch. The brutal methods of himself and his Goldcloaks against the criminals of the city are giving the high council great cause for concern. Especially with Ser Otto Hightower, the hand of the king. Daemon has been given the position of the Goldcloaks Commander as it is the easiest position to keep an eye on him and his activities.
TROUBLE IN WESTEROS
A tourney is being held in the city in celebration of the birth of Viserys and his wife Aemma’s baby, which the king is convinced will be a boy and thereby, his heir despite his daughter Rhaenyra being his first-born child. But tragedy strikes at the heart of the Targaryens once again. Daemon, so sure of winning the tourney is defeated by Ser Criston Cole, making the Prince prove to everyone that he is a sore loser. And a devastating personal loss brings the players fully onto the board. The battle for the iron throne in the future is on. The pieces are firmly in place. The Game Of Thrones has started.
This really is what we’ve been waiting for. It is a slow burner for sure but the episode sets up the story perfectly. We already know that this is the beginning of the destruction of House Targaryen and the pieces are already firmly in place on the board. But once again, it is the skill of the player to get themselves into the best position. And some are on the board in innocence while many are there by scheming and plotting their moves far ahead. It is great to watch great actors such as Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, and Graham McTavish having fun in their respective roles.
None more so than Ifans. Although only a small part of things in this opening episode, his character of Ser Otto Hightower will be one to watch. Considine relishes playing the king Viserys, all smiles and unconcerned one minute, tough and unrelenting the next. But one feels that we are watching a character that won’t see the final credits at the end of the first season. Reminiscent of Sean Bean and Mark Addy in the original season of Game Of Thrones.
MATT SMITH AND EMMA D’ARCY
But by far the two lead characters will be Matt Smith as Daemon and Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra throughout the series. Smith as Daemon is suitably sleazy, nasty, and scheming. If we were to combine Tyrion, Cersei, and Jamie Lannister together, we could conceivably come up with a character such as Daemon. Daemon has traits from all three of the Lannister children. And he has the same ruthless streak running through him from the start. We can see how his mind works from the first time we see him. And we can deduce his ultimate aim from that first meeting alone.
Emma D’Arcy has the unenviable task of being the character the viewer will be following all the way through the series. But she pulls off playing Rhaenyra with style. We can see from the start that Rhaenyra has a rebellious side to her. But she also is kind, loving, and a devoted daughter to her father, the king, and her pregnant mother, Aemma. At times, she comes across as a wide-eyed innocent. In others, she can see that manipulation and an ill wind are blowing into Westeros. And she has the honor of speaking the word ‘Dracarys’ in the first episode. Her character arc will be interesting to follow.
Without a doubt, this first episode of ‘Game Of Thrones: House Of The Dragon’ is one that is enjoyable as well as dropping us all back into the land of Westeros again. The set designs, visual effects, and even the theme tune are all familiar to us from the start. Yes, although changed slightly, the classic theme is present throughout the opening episode and end credits. Ramin Djawadi again scores the episodes and his fingerprints are all over it. And gives us a warm and familiar feeling from the outset.
Of course, the surnames of some of the characters will elicit a smile on the face of the fans. Fear not, The Targaryens are joined by such familiar surnames as the Hightowers, The Arryns, The Redwyne’s The Valaryons, The Baratheons, and of course, The Lannisters and the Starks. The series wouldn’t feel right without them and we are right at home among the throngs of the great hall. A gripping start to the prequel series. The pieces are all in place for the Game Of Thrones to start once again. And by the end of it, there will be much blood and death spilled in the streets of Westeros. This first episode sketches out the storyline we will be invested in for the next ten weeks in great style. Winter may not be coming just yet but the House Of The Dragon is here. And it is terrific.
“Game Of Thrones: House Of The Dragon” is now available to watch across the world. Check your local listings for details.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!