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So… Is House of the Dragon Worth Watching?

Opinion

Sure, the Game of Thrones finale left a bad taste in your mouth. But Westeros is calling once again.

preview for Meet the Cast of “House of the Dragon”

Fantasy series about the medieval ages always have a tightrope to walk. Genuinely, which aspects of this awful and brutal time in history are actually worth repeating? Bloody and testosterone-fueled, the era yielded fantastical stories of kings and conquests, sure. But it was also a nasty place where death occurred a little too frequently, and aged lords would take 16-year-old brides.

For the royal Targaryen family at the center of House of the Dragon, the long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel series, those girls may also be your cousin or sister. I’m sorry to report that the amount of incest that made Thrones fans gag every time Jon Snow and Daenerys kissed (or Jaime and Cersei) has certainly not ceased. Neither has the violence or bloodshed. It doesn’t make for the easiest watch. It’s almost comical that the prequel series, which debuts its first episode on HBO this Sunday, was intended to be a jumping-on point even if you hadn’t watched Thrones. I wouldn’t know where to find an audience for content like this anywhere outside of Thrones fans.

Yet, even with George R.R. Martin’s insistence on including every ugly aspect of this time in history down to the most disgusting detail, he’s still one of the greatest world-builders the fantasy genre has ever seen. He hasn’t even finished the damn books and Westeros is still up there with Middle-earth and Hogwarts.

House of the Dragon‘s characters are as layered and politically cunning as their predecessors, but this time, there’s a fully realized story to back them up. The ailing King Viserys is without a male heir, presenting the realm with a fantastic opportunity to head into a civil war. The scope of the tale is also a little more nuanced, dealing with the schism of one royal family, rather than a danger to the entire realm, like an army of the dead.

Some of House of the Dragon’s role players may feel like analogues of popular characters from before, but if it works, it works. The Daenerys stand-in, Milly Alcock’s Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, is full of defiant facial expressions, scoffing at the fancy men in power—easily becoming the most entertaining character on screen. She’s the obvious heir to her father’s throne, but self-interested parties surrounding the King’s council are working their political magic to try and place themselves in the seat of power instead.

Over the six episodes granted to the press by HBO thus far, the series has moved with excellent pacing. Rest assured, the pieces are falling into place for a massive clash in Westeros. George R.R. Martin’s chessboard feels as fresh as the War of the Five Kings from A Song of Ice and Fire, too. Sure, House of the Dragon is absolutely just more Game of Thrones, but it’ll have you feeling like you’re back in Season One of the last decade’s biggest TV event. Aren’t you excited to dive back into this world and share theories with friends and family every week again? Sure, the Game of Thrones finalemay have left a bad taste in our mouths, but I, for one, am ready for my next meal.

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House of the Dragon | Official Trailer | HBO Max

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