Why Game Of Thrones Fans Should Read George R.R. Martin's Fire And Blood Before House Of The Dragon Season 2

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Season 1 finale
(Image credit: HBO)

Warning: GIGANTIC SPOILERS AHEAD for the Season 1 finale of House of the Dragon, called "The Black Queen."

The dance of the dragons officially began in the Season 1 finale of House of the Dragon, with Rhaenyra crowned as queen and Aemond making sure that fire and blood are inevitable by causing the death of her son. The second season is sure to ramp up the intensity as the two Targaryen factions face off, but fans may have a long wait before the next episode debuts. Fans of the Game of Thrones spinoff can, however, get some details on what happens next with a little help from George R.R. Martin and his Fire & Blood book. After the Season 1 finale, I’d say that fans should definitely check it out during the break. 

Admittedly, I felt the opposite way about encouraging HOTD fans to read Fire & Blood not too long ago, as the series premiere left me wishing that I had never picked up a copy of Fire & Blood, which I’d read back in 2018 before there was any clue that a portion of it would be adapted into an HBO spinoff. That's no longer the case for me after watching "The Black Queen," so read on for some reasons why you should check out the book, and how House of the Dragon changed my mind about it. 

Otto, Alicent, and Ser Criston in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

Fire & Blood Is A History Book

Unlike the A Song of Ice and Fire novels that inspired Game of Thrones, Fire & Blood is an in-universe history book about the Targaryen dynasty with no point-of-view characters to confirm how certain events happened. The text was compiled by Archmaester Gyldayn more than a century after Aegon and Rhaenyra were both crowned, and he draws on a variety of sources, which means unreliable narrators and contradictory accounts. 

So, even ASOIAF experts who have read Fire & Blood cover to cover more than once can’t say for sure how certain events went down or will go down in Season 2. In fact, the Season 1 death of Lord Beesbury alone was recorded three different ways in the book.

Yes, Fire & Blood will spoil you rotten on the big points of what happens, who dies, who lives, and who wins, but as a reader, I can say that knowing Luke would die in the Season 1 finale didn’t ruin the episode for me in the slightest, and Emma D’Arcy’s performance during Rhaenyra’s miscarriage hit hard even though I was aware that the queen wasn’t about to give birth to a healthy child. 

Daemon and Rhaenyra in King's Landing in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

House Of The Dragon Isn't 100% Following Fire & Blood

Even with Fire & Blood providing multiple different accounts of the same incidents, House of the Dragon doesn’t always just pick one and adapt it to the letter. Readers knew that Daemon’s return from the Stepstones would ultimately lead to his second exile, but not how the show would tell the story of what happened with Rhaenyra in between, and the finished product was a combination of the Fire & Blood sources.

So as much as the book is full of spoilers, the show also is able to deliver a lot of surprises, and changes to the source material aren’t as big a deal in House of the Dragon as they were in Game of Thrones since Fire & Blood draws from unreliable narrators. Now, have I been a fan of all the changes? No, but the book has made me more invested in the characters and seeing what brings them to make their dangerous decisions.

Daemon, Rhaenyra, Rhaenys, Jace, Luke, Rhaena as the Blacks in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO)

The Book Fills In Some Details

While the show makes changes to the book, the time constraints of just ten episodes also mean that House of the Dragon (with its many time jumps) can’t include every single detail, and Fire & Blood fills in some blanks. If you’re wondering whether Rhaenyra’s stillborn child was a boy or a girl and what name she chose, you can find it in George R.R. Martin’s lore. If you want to know why on earth Rhaenyra would name a son Aegon when there was already a boy in the family named Aegon, Fire & Blood has a (pretty funny) reason for it.

Even if you don’t want to be spoiled on what happens next after Luke’s death, you could technically just read Fire & Blood up to a certain point in the “The Dying of the Dragons” chapter and still get a lot out of the book. After all, the earlier generations of the Targaryen family tree had plenty of drama as well, and the history book tells their stories too. You can also learn the origin of Vermithor (who debuted in Episode 10 after appearing in the trailer) and more of the Targaryen dragons, the bloody history of Daemon’s Valyrian steel sword, and more. 

Daemon confronting Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon Season 1 finale

(Image credit: HBO)

The Wait For Season 2 Could Be Very Long

The unfortunate truth is that Fire & Blood may be the only source for Targaryen stories for quite some time. Although Ryan Condal recently told Variety that Season 2 will begin shooting early in 2023, the showrunner didn’t specify whether the new episodes will be available next year or in 2024. If you want answers sooner rather than much, much later, then Fire & Blood can provide – whether you only read up to Rhaenyra’s coronation or finish the whole text. 

Is Fire & Blood a perfect book? I’d say no, on the whole, partly because of the abundance of Targaryens with the same name and partly because it took some time to adjust to all the incest, but the regret I felt about reading it after the series premiere has turned into a desire to read it again in the wake of the finale. If you’re not afraid of spoilers – and there are BIG spoilers for what comes next if you read the whole thing – then it’s worth checking out. 

The finale already established that some of what readers may think they know about what comes next might not happen as expected, and that’s something interesting and engaging to think about during the potentially long wait for more. At least one thing is probably safe to say about when House of the Dragon will premiere Season 2: it will probably be before George R.R. Martin publishes The Winds of Winter

You can always just revisit the ten episodes of House of the Dragon Season 1 streaming via an HBO Max subscription, and find some dragon-free viewing options in our 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.