The eagerly awaited House of the Dragon series has started to receive some early reviews. The first season of House of the Dragon, a prequel to the enormously popular Game of Thrones, will debut on HBO Max on August 21 and consist of ten episodes in all. The TV show will follow the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war that erupted within the ruling Targaryen family two hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, and House of the Dragon will incorporate elements of Martin’s 2018 No. 1 bestseller Fire & Blood. The series, which takes place nearly two centuries before Daenerys Targaryen was born, is centered on King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) and Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), as tensions rise between them as a result of Viserys designating his firstborn daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) as his heir and preparing her to become the first woman to hold the Instead of telling a story that spans all of Westeros, House of the Dragon focuses on a single family that has been torn apart by generations of rivalry for succession and intense but tense ties.
The media has started to publish early House of the Dragon reviews after viewing the first six episodes of season 1 before it was released. With only a few days until its official release, the HBO series appears to have won over critics, as most of their reviews are favorable. Here are a few excerpts:
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian
“By the end of the first hour, all the main pieces are in play, countless political, domestic and actual storms are brewing, old alliances are being broken, new ones formed and treachery is never more than a spear’s length away. House of the Dragon looks set fair to become the game of political seven-dimensional chess that its predecessor was, designed to reward diehard fantasy fans in full measure without alienating the masses that will propel it to the top of the ratings.”
Stephen Kelly, BBC
“It’s a rich, textured work, sharply written and handsomely directed, with a budget that far outstrips season one of Game of Thrones. There are lavish dragon sequences from the start, for instance, while it’s notable that the third episode features an enormous celebratory hunt, full of sets and extras. In early Game of Thrones, a similar sequence consisted of a small group of characters in some woods – a bugbear of George RR Martin, who originally wrote the hunt as befitting of a king.”
Darren Franich, EW
“So the show wants the relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent to take center stage. But the early episodes bungle their dynamic, with an unspecific friendship that’s relegated to the sidelines. The drama heightens when clear battle lines get drawn. The first introduction of the grown-up characters is flat-out stunning, establishing palpable and sorrowful consequences for earlier decisions. And the sheer number of childbirth scenes would be a running gag if the show didn’t render them, with vivid detail, as a genuine medical horror. Dragon doesn’t soar immediately, but no House was built in a day.”
Helen O’Hara, IGN
“It’s been three years since Game Of Thrones ended, and five years since its fandom started complaining bitterly about its final seasons. Spin-off House Of The Dragon therefore debuts to less hype than it might have once had, but really could restore our fascination with Westeros. Immediately, its premiere boasts everything that Thrones did well: an overqualified cast of character actors; backstabbing; sexposition; and lots of dragons.”
Alexander Harrison, Screen Rant
“These descriptions of the key relationships are simplifications, but like the best character dramas, things simultaneously are and are not that simple. Even as audiences watch the political reality tightening around the Targaryens, sealing their fates in amber, it cannot help but feel like everything might be avoided if even one of these pairs could just work through their issues. The time dedicated to developing these conflicts is so judiciously spent that when the first blows finally are struck, it will be enthralling.”
Therese Lacson, Collider
“The courtroom politics and the intrigue of shifting dynamics are enough to keep you hooked, and I found myself hungry for more episodes and eager to know the fate of these characters. While we only knew the Targaryens as a folklorish dynasty seen through the eyes of Daenerys, it’s exciting to see the house when it was at its height. There is enough to love in House of the Dragon that keeps me coming back for more. Between the dragons, the strength of the actors, and the twists and turns of the plot, I’m eager to see where we will be taken next.”
Daniel Fienberg, THR
“House of the Dragon looks like you want a Game of Thrones-adjacent series to look, which comes in no small part from the contributions of director/co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik. Jim Clay’s production design is rich and layered and takes even locations we know to more expansive places, though it’s a hair limited because most of our time is spent in King’s Landing, rather than the whip-around-the-kingdom approach of the original series. Jany Temime’s costumes are ravishing, though again limited because of those same factors. Ramin Djawadi’s score is epic and if it feels like he’s mostly paying homage to himself, who can blame him? And the visual effects, supervised by Angus Bickerton, are exceptional, though I’ll just keep repeating that as great as the dragon effects are, the person-sitting-on-dragon effects are pretty bad.”
Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone
“But the spinoff, unfortunately proves a poor test case for the less-is-more theory when it comes to adaptations of George R.R. Martin’s books. A more streamlined show built around a character as rich as Tyrion, or Arya Stark, could perhaps work smashingly. House of the Dragon, unfortunately, is filled with characters and conflicts that would struggle to hold the audience’s interest if they were just one small element among the many of its parent series. As the only subjects, they’re almost uniformly dull, preventing House of the Dragon from justifying its existence as anything other than a calculated piece of brand extension for the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery.”
After a disappointing season 8 of Game of Thrones in 2019, viewers have been eagerly awaiting season 9, but they are also weary from the disappointing show’s finale. With largely positive reviews, viewers can relax knowing that House of the Dragon seems to return to the same world of allegiances and betrayals, political games, and complex familial ties. According to these reviews, the program seems to immediately return to Westeros, quickly establishing intriguing relationships while incorporating the action of Game of Thrones.
While it’s still unclear whether House of the Dragon will succeed Game of Thrones, the program’s fascinating look into the Targaryen family’s past seems to have made it at least worth a fair shot. The Targaryen civil war storyline has been criticized for not being able to stand on its own, but most reviews commend it for setting up such complex conflicts so quickly and effectively. Overall, House of the Dragon seems to seamlessly reintroduce viewers to Westeros while offering a novel perspective on its intricately entwined noble families.
Source: Mentioned above in each review