House of the Dragon is based on the novel Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin. The series tells the story of the Targaryen civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons. It begins by briefly showing Jaehaerys I choosing his grandson Viserys as his heir. However, Martin thinks the series should have started even earlier.
‘House of the Dragon’ begins with a brief prologue
The House of the Dragon premiere opens with Jaehaerys I Targaryen’s decision to appoint Viserys his heir over Rhaenys Targaryen. The series then jumps forward to when Viserys’ eldest child Rhaenrya is 14 years old. However, the show’s initial scene is an important part of the narrative.
“I love prologues. I thought to ground people in the new world we needed some kind of epic opening that would give people footing to understand where they were,” co-showrunner Ryan Condal said in a featurette.
“And I just kept coming back to the Great Council because it was really substantial event that had happened before our time but really set in motion a lot of the things that we were going to see over the course of our story.”
George R.R. Martin thinks ‘House of the Dragon’ should have began with the story of Aemond and Baelon
In the first episode, House of the Dragon shows the death of Queen Aemma and Prince Baelon. Viserys also appoints Rhaenyra his heir. However, George RR Martin would have preferred to see House of the Dragon kick off earlier in the timeline.
“I would’ve begun it like 40 years earlier, with an episode I would’ve called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’” Martin told Entertainment Weekly. “Jaehaerys’ two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive, and we see the friendship but also the rivalry between the two sides of the great house.”
“Then Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth, then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir,” Martin continued. “Is it the daughter of the son who’s just died, or the second son who has children of his own and is a man where she’s a teenager?”
The daughter Martin is referring to is Rhaenyrs Targaryen, and the second son is Aemon’s younger brother Baelon. In the end, Jaehaeyrs chose Baelon as his successor, but he died of a burst appendix before he could ascend the throne. Jaehaerys was then faced with the decision seen in the first scene of House of the Dragon — Would Rhaenys or Baelon’s son Viserys become his heir?
Martin’s idea would have required more time jumps
For his part, Martin doesn’t seem upset about where House of the Dragon ultimately ended up beginning the story. The prequel already had to have quite a few time jumps to get to the start of the Dance of the Dragons by the end of season 1.
“You could’ve presented all that stuff, but then you would’ve had 40 more years, and even more time jumps and recastings. I was the only one who was really enthused about that,” he told EW. “There are many ways you can approach these things and if you do it well, it can work.”
All episodes of House of the Dragon are currently streaming on HBO Max.
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