Skip to content
Home » house of dragon: episode 1 review

house of dragon: episode 1 review

  • Reading time: 5 Minutes
  • 922 Words

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

This post contains heavy spoilers for House of Dragon: Episode 1. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly suggest that you stop reading here

More than 3 years after Game of Thrones ended (May 19, 2019) HBO tries to please the mass with the House of Dragon, a prequel to the events of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones is based on the books by George R.R. Martin, which I highly recommend you to read if you haven’t so far.

And it seems like they try to do things right again this time. House of Dragon is based on another book by Martin, called Fire & Blood*, which is a good read to get started in Westeros.

Medieval politics

On thing I liked about Game of Thrones, beside its nature of solemnly pleasing the thirst for simple entertainment by providing violence, sex and fantastic looking fantasy, was the game played in the series. I couldn’t imagine a better name for a series that displays the power game of influential lords, kings and even brothel owners (i’m looking at you little finger) so well. Aided by the amazing characters Martin created, Game of Thrones catched my breath rather by its twists and intrigues than by its beheadings, display of rape or other controversial scenes. House of Dragon seems to pick up where Game of Thrones stopped in about Season 5 or 6. And not only does House of Dragons provide the perfect setting for it, by portraying the Dance of Dragons, a civil war during the reign of House Targaryen of the Seven Kingdoms. It provides the perfect Characters. And that is awesome.

When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or lose

With a budget twice as big as GoT budget per season and presumably 17 new dragons in the show, someone could have feared that House of Dragon just delivers a remix of the tasteless good looking stew season 8 of Game of Thrones brought us. And so much I can say: the CGI dragons look stunning in House of Dragon. But you know what? It doesn’t matter.

Photograph by Courtesy HBO

Yes, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (played by Milly Alcock) landing with her Dragon at King’s Landing, or shouting Dracarys with an ear-pleasing accent, gave me goosebumps. But it doesn’t matter too much. It is only the cherry on top of the great dialogues and behind the back actions the episode has. While King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) still moans the death of his wife and new born son in childbed, his brother Daemon, portrayed by Matt Smith, whom I loved in the Crown, pledged a toast on the “heir for a day”, mocking the death son and celebrating himself being the the first heir to the throne now. And as if that wasn’t enough drama for one episode, the kings hand, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) is willing to sell his daugther to the king during the moment of despair. He sends his daughter Alicent (Emily Carey) into his room, with the only goal of making himself the father of a kings queen. In moments like these, the phrase every Game of Thrones or Song of Ice and Fire fans knows comes to mind: “When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or lose”.

Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

House of Dragons sees it viewers capable of noticing

I also appreciate the series not trying to hint the viewer at every small detail. At first only Aemma Arryn dies, after they had to cut the baby out of her belly in a very bloody and messy scene. Shocked from the images and painful screams, one can easily oversee at first what happens after it: The baby is shown, held by Grand Maester Mellos, and one can faintly hear the baby choke followed by the Maester looking down with fear. At the funeral the worry becomes certainty, as the camera moves down from the wrapped corpse of the former queen, to a small wrapped bundle. Rhaenyra tells her dragon to burn the corpses with the all famous valyrian word Dracarys (Dragon Fire)

In House of Dragons we get promising tragedies

With the tragedies unfolded in only this first episode, House of Dragon leaves me only wanting more. I can see the Arya Stark like struggle of Rhaenyra, now named heir of her fathers throne. A girl battling with consequences of being a woman in a world where crowns get passed to male heirs. Daemon despising his brother overlooking him as possible hand, as he tries to keep him out of the council with every move. The whole kings council discussing possible followers to the thrones, until the king bursts in anger, reminding them that he just lost his wife and child. Scenes like those are what made Game of Thrones so enjoyable to watch. Scenes like those are what produces the shocking moments, the red weddings, the moments where I am so much more touched by the shown, rather than when just another body part gets cut off. And I can’t wait to see more of it.

Feel free to buy the books if you haven’t read them yet and want to support me:

*marked links are affiliate links. You support me if you buy something after clicking on them. It won’t increase the price you pay, I just get a small share of it.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.