'House of the Dragon' creator says he has 'felt the responsibility to make a good show'

Although the world of daggers and dragons may seem familiar, the 'Game of Thrones' prequel promises a fresh take

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The fight for the Iron Throne is almost upon us.

With House of the Dragon set to have its premiere on August 21 on HBO and simultaneously across the Middle East on OSN on August 22, fans are keen to find out as much as they can about this earlier version of a world they know so well.

The prequel is set 200 hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones and is based on George RR Martin’s book Fire & Blood, which details the lead-up to the Targaryen civil war.

Written as a series of events as opposed to a detailed narrative, Fire & Blood provided the blueprint for a story that creators Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik could use to take audiences back to Martin’s rich and detailed world of political treachery and fantasy.

“I think the structure of the events that take place are already in place in the book,” Sapochnik tells The National.

“It’s like the Titanic. You know it’s going to sink, the question is what happens on the way down. I don’t think there were any restrictions placed on us in terms of how we did those things, just as long as they existed within the framework of the book itself.”

The trailer for House of the Dragon gave audiences a glimpse of a world they recognised.

One notable difference in the trailer when compared to the world of Game of Thrones was the amount of silver-haired Targaryens and an increased number of dragons. Unlike Game of Thrones, audiences will be able to see a time when Targaryens ruled the Seven Kingdoms unopposed and learn how the great dynasty fell victim to its own lust for power.

“In the original series, it felt very much like the state of the realm was past its heyday,” says Condal.

“When you see this (House of the Dragon) world it feels like you’re walking into Rome at the shining height of its power and glory. I think that changes the storytelling landscape in a big way.”

The story centres around Princess Rhaenyra, who is named the sole heir to the Iron Throne by her father King Viserys, despite major opposition from the councilmen of Westeros and her uncle Daemon Targaryen — who don’t believe that a woman can or should rule. Princess Rhaenyra is also opposed by her childhood best friend, Alicent Hightower, who has married her father and conceived a son.

Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon'. Photo: HBO

Martin’s book and the trailer reveal that House of the Dragon will in many ways be a domestic story.

It is the tale of a family feud, with the Targaryens attempting to define who will be next in the line of succession and rule from the Red Keep in King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms.

Condal says the goal "from the onset" was to render a faithful adaptation of Martin's book. “And, to present something that fit into the tonal landscape of the original series but also do something that was new and interesting and had something specific to say about this world.”

Over eight seasons of violence, war, love, heartbreak, lust, intrigue and dragons, Game of Thrones changed television forever.

Although the series set the bar high for fans on what to expect from creators, writers, directors and actors, some were unhappy with various aspects of the final season when it ended in 2019.

“I certainly think that we have felt the responsibility to make a good show but the important thing really is to focus on what we are doing and not what has been. The truth is all stories come to an end,” says Sapochnik.

“What we have to do is tell a good story, and what you hope is, in the telling of the story, that people will find it interesting or engaging.”

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Updated: August 28, 2022, 7:35 AM
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