The epic fantasy saga “Game of Thrones” based on the books of the writer George Martin has become a pop culture phenomenon – even those who have not watched the series have most likely heard of Lannister, Stark and Targaryen. The twisted plot with many characters, frank scenes of sex and violence, medieval cruelty, amazing costumes and, of course, dragons, riveted millions of viewers to the screens. Each new season surprised with more and more high-quality special effects and plot twists, so expectations from the finale were high. But the eighth season disappointed many, to the point that petitions appeared on the Internet demanding that the ending be reshot.
This was not hidden from the television that broadcast it – HVO, which immediately organized a sequel. In fact, not exactly a continuation, but a so-called sequel – a series in which the action takes place centuries before “Game of Thrones”. Two episodes have already been released, which were so successful – they surpassed the first two episodes of INT in terms of viewership, that they have already announced the second season.
The series is called “Dragon House” and was the most anticipated premiere of the year. It is an adaptation of George Martin’s book “Flame and Blood”. Ten episodes are planned for its first season, and the action takes place about 170 years before the events of Game of Thrones, when the Targaryen dynasty rules. At the center of events is the Dance of Dragons, as the civil war between the two branches of the Targaryen family is called. The bloodshed left half the kingdom in ruins, ruined dozens of noble families, and nearly buried the ruling dynasty.
The first season of “Dragon House” covers a period of about 30 years. Therefore, it is no coincidence that two different actresses play the roles of the two main heroines – Princess Rainira and Queen Alicenta. Some as young, the others at a more mature age.
What is the Dance of Dragons?
The conditions for a civil war appeared during the reign of King Jaehairis. While he rules, Westeros experiences a rare period of calm, but his robust health sparks a serious dynastic crisis. Jaehairis outlived almost all of her children, including her two heirs. Prince Aemon dies in a battle with pirates and Prince Bailon dies of an unknown illness.
After Baelon’s death, Jaehaerys convenes the Great Council – the assembly of all the Lords of the Seven Kingdoms. Fifteen candidates claim the throne, but only two have a real chance – Rhaenys, Aemon’s eldest daughter, and Viserys, Baelon’s eldest son. The Great Council meets for two weeks and elects Viserys as successor.
However, the decision of the Great Council sets a precedent – now the crown must be passed down only through the male line. However, Viserys breaks the rule. His wife died without bearing him a son. Then he named his only daughter, Reynira, as heir.
The king married a second time. And his new wife, Alicenta Hightower, gave birth to three healthy boys. However, Viserys is in no hurry to change his mind, and his daughter Rhaenyra doesn’t quite understand why she should part with her dream of a royal crown for her half-brothers. At first, she tries to befriend her stepmother Alicenta, but it is short-lived.
At one point, the royal court split into two factions – the “blacks” supported Princess Reynira, and the “greens” supported Queen Alicenta and her eldest son. It was these two groups that later started the civil war.
King Viserys is a good man but a bad ruler. For some time he managed to maintain peace in the family, even giving Rhaenyra as a bride to one of the noble families of Westeros. But time goes on, Rhaenyra and Alicenta’s children grow up, and with them the tension in the royal court. After Rhaenyra’s son stabs Alicenta’s son in the eye, the king separates the two factions. The queen remains in the capital, and Rhaenyra receives Dragonstone, the Targaryen ancestral castle.
This royal decision proved fatal. After the death of Viserys, not a single supporter of the princess remains in the capital of King’s Landing – those who are there are promptly put to death, and Alicent’s cronies crown her eldest son.
But Rhaenyra also asserts her claim to the throne. She is declared the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, and declares her half-brother and stepmother traitors and rebels.
Initially, the opponents try to resolve the differences peacefully. As George Martin writes, “the first battles of The Dance of Dragons are fought with ravens, quills, parchment, threats, promises, decrees, and treaties.” But soon the first blood is spilled – one of Rhaenyra’s sons dies and the country collapses into the abyss of civil war. This is most likely how the first season of “Dragon’s House” will end.
The composition of the authors of the series is quite intriguing against the background that “Game of Thrones” – undoubtedly one of the top series of the last decade, disappointed with its last season. There was even a petition on the Internet to remake the episodes, which were created by David Benioff and DB Weiss. Of course, this was not done, but both of them are not in the “Dragon House” team.
Their place is taken by Miguel Sapozhnik and Ryan Condle. The former directed most of the battle scenes in Game of Thrones, including the famous Battle of the Bastards. Condle is the writer of the series “Colony”, a bright devotee of “A Song of Ice and Fire” and an old friend of George Martin.
It was Martin who suggested that Condle take on the “Dragon’s House”. He, for his part, respects the original source and tries to make the series appeal primarily to fans like himself. Consults regularly on all matters with George Martin and keeps him informed of everything that happens on set.
An impressive budget
The first season of “Dragon House” cost 200 million dollars – 20 million per episode. For comparison, the budget of one series of “Game of Thrones” in the first season is about 6 million dollars and only by the eighth season it reaches 15 million.
The big budget unties the hands of the creators and allows them to shoot a much more ambitious and spectacular story. At least a dozen fire-breathing dragons are fighting on the side of each of the warring factions.
Quality original source
One of the main problems of the last seasons of “Game of Thrones” is precisely the lack of quality primary source. George Martin just doesn’t get around to writing the final books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, so the authors are looking to get out on their own.
But in the particular case of Dance of the Dragons, that cannot happen. The entire conflict from beginning to end is described in “Flame and Blood”.