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House Of The Dragon Showrunners Reveal Key Book Details That George R.R. Martin Wanted In The Game Of Thrones Prequel

Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen I in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

House of the Dragon is less than two weeks away from arriving on HBO with the first new content set in the world of Westeros since Game of Thrones ended in 2019. Although set nearly 200 years before the events of that show, the prequel is also based on the works of George R.R. Martin, so there will definitely be some parallels. As it happens, Martin had some requests about some details from his Fire & Blood book for showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal to include.

It’s no secret that Game of Thrones made some changes and took some liberties with the A Song of Ice and Fire novel saga that inspired the series, to the point that Martin has said that he wished he had stayed ahead of the show with the books. (At the time of writing, fans are still waiting on the sixth book, and GOT surpassed the point of the fifth book several seasons before the end.) He even shared that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss considered cutting one of the Starks back in the early days. So, what details did he want to be sure were included in House of the Dragon from Fire & Blood?

According to Insider, George R.R. Martin had three requests: bright heraldry, colorful dragons, and King Jaehaerys Targaryen II. Miguel Sapochnik explained why the author was set on seeing Jaehaerys included in the show, saying: 

David and Dan and skipped over Jaehaerys for reasons of clarity that he really didn't understand. He had a bee in his bonnet about it. He wanted us to right that wrong.

Game of Thrones obviously had to cut a fair amount of details from the books in order to fit into a TV show, but apparently George R.R. Martin wasn’t a fan of King Jaehaerys II being cut from the Targaryen lineage for the show. It is understandable why Martin would have expected that Benioff and Weiss would include this particular Targaryen; in the books, Jaehaerys II was the father of Aerys II, a.k.a. the Mad King who was father of Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys. He’s not that far back in the line from Dany. 

My big question is how exactly Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal could add Jaehaerys II back into the Targaryen lineage. He was king well after the timeline of House of the Dragon, which is just a few generations after the dynasty began. Jaehaerys I was king before Viserys I (played in the show by Paddy Considine), so there will be a Jaehaerys… but many generations before Jaehaerys II. 

Will the opening credits include a timeline of the Targaryen dynasty, like how the Game of Thrones credits followed a map of George R.R. Martin’s world? I could see that as a subtle way to bring in Jaehaerys II, although it would also spoil the whole point of the line of succession that seems central to House of the Dragon. We can only wait and see at this point. Luckily, Martin’s other two requests are a little bit easier to imagine. 

Although Dany’s Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal had fairly distinct colors when they were younger, they were a little hard to tell apart in later seasons. In fact, I remember not being 100% sure at first that Viserion was the dragon killed by the Night King or Rhaegal was the dragon killed by Euron Greyjoy. (You can revisit all eight seasons streaming now with an HBO Max subscription.)

That evidently won’t be the case with House of the Dragons’ creatures with different sizes, shapes, and colors, which also fits with Fire & Blood, where the colors are specifically mentioned. As for the heraldry, Ryan Condol explained why Martin had some ideas about that:

It's such a time of high decadence and peace and wealth and prosperity for the realm. Everybody would really festoon themselves in their house colors and be proud of them as they marched into the tournament.

Well, House of the Dragon may begin in a time of “decadence and peace and wealth and prosperity” in Westeros, but I think that it’s very safe to say based on the trailer that the peace won’t last very long. The line of succession for King Viserys is going to cause some problems when faced with choosing between his firstborn child and his younger brother as heir. Since his firstborn was a princess rather than prince, the situation is a lot stickier for him at this period than if his firstborn had been a boy.

Fortunately, the wait for House of the Dragon is nearly over. (The same may not be said for George R.R. Martin’s long-delayed sixth book, called The Winds of Winter.) The new show premieres on Sunday, August 21 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO in the 2022 TV premiere schedule

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.