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Ways House of the Dragon deviates from Fire & Blood

As a devoted fan of Game of Thrones I was both exhilarated and perplexed by the first season of House of the Dragon, based on George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood. I absolutely loved how the showrunners crafted many thrilling scenes that kept me on the edge of my seat, made me angry-cry, and made me totally fall in love with a villain. (Aemond. Terrible, I know. But Ewan Mitchell plays him so well!)

Although there were some significant departures from the source material, like the romantic relationship between Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, I found these moments tense and uncomfortable in all the right ways. And while some purists might be scratching their heads over the accidental death of Lucerys Velaryon, I thought it added a whole new layer of intrigue to the story.

But what really impressed me about the show was the way it fleshed out minor characters like Lord Corlys Velaryon and Ser Laenor Velaryon, giving them depth and complexity they didn’t have in the book. Overall, I think this first season was a thrilling and entertaining experience for both book fans and newcomers to the world of Westeros, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for season 2!

House of the Dragon. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

The Red Keep and its residents

Having read Fire & Blood, I must say that House of the Dragon did a fantastic job of creating a tense and foreboding atmosphere within the walls of the Red Keep. The show did stray significantly from the source material when it comes to the people who live in the Red Keep, starting with King Viserys I Targaryen. However, Paddy Considine’s portrayal of the troubled king is outstanding, and his descent into madness and despair is heart-wrenching to watch.

The contrast between Viserys in Fire & Blood and House of the Dragon is stark. In House of the Dragon, Viserys is a sickly and feeble ruler who spends his days building models and obsessing over prophecy. In the book, Viserys is depicted as a plump and jolly fellow who loves his wife and daughter and presides over a period of Targaryen prosperity. Despite the differences, the show has managed to capture the essence of the character while adding new layers.

The Dance of the Dragons is a complex and tragic tale, and the show’s first season does justice to the setup. Not to mention the show’s production design and visual effects are outstanding. The intricate details of the Red Keep, the costumes, and the dragons themselves are all breathtakingly beautiful. The show’s cinematography and score also added to the overall epic feel of the story.

House of the Dragon

The Velaryons

It was interesting to see how the showrunners chose to portray Corlys Velaryon and his House. While the changes made to his character may have caused some confusion for book-readers, the changes have allowed for more character development. One notable difference is Corlys’ relationship with his wife, Rhaenys. In the show, their marriage is depicted as mutually loving and respectful, with Rhaenys supporting Corlys in his ambitions and endeavors. This is a departure from the book, where their relationship is more strained due to Rhaenys’ infertility and Corlys’ desire to have an heir. The show’s version of their relationship allows for more emotional depth and creates a more sympathetic portrayal of the couple.

Both in the book and show, Corlys is an ambitious guy, but there are some changes to his character on TV. He didn’t quit the Small Council when his daughter got passed over to become Viserys’ new wife, because he already quit after the Great Council picked Viserys as king years ago.

Corlys and Rhaenys’ children are also different on TV. In the book, Daemon and Laena are supposed to stay at Driftmark after getting married, and Rhaenyra visits them often. Laenor and Rhaenyra don’t spend much time together like they do on the show. Also, in the book Laenor Velaryon is depicted as definitively gay, whereas in the book his sexuality is left more ambiguous.

Image: House of the Dragon/HBO

Death and dying

In House of the Dragon, there are some major differences in the deaths of six important characters compared to the book Fire & Blood. Aemma Arryn (Rhaenyra’s mother) still dies during childbirth, but in the show, Viserys must make a tough choice between killing the mother to save the baby or to let both die. In the book, she dies from complications and we don’t hear about any of this. This decision is based on a similar event in the book, where Alyssa Velaryon sacrifices herself to save her child.

Laena Velaryon’s death is also different in the show. In the book, she gives birth to a deformed child who dies shortly after, and then tries to ride her dragon before passing away. However, in House of the Dragon, the birth takes place in Pentos, and Daemon is faced with the same choice that Viserys was. He chooses to let Laena decide what to do; she commands her dragon Vhagar to burn her alive.

Viserys’ death is also different. In the book, we only hear that he died in his sleep. On the show, his last words are fragmented lines about a prophecy that only Alicent overhears. Not being aware of the specifics, Alicent assumes that Viserys wanted to name his son Aegon as his heir, which sets off a disastrous chain of events.

And let’s not forget about the murder of little Luke Velaryon and baby Arrax, which was, in my opinion, even more tragic on the show as it was in the book. In the book Luke flees, on dragonback, from his uncle Aemond, who chases him and kills him in the air. However, in the show, both Luke’s dragon Arrax and Aemond’s dragon Vhagar disobey their riders, leading to Luke’s death.

Now, let’s talk about the characters. In the books, the second generation of Team Black is far more suitable to rule than Team Green, according to the chroniclers and maesters. Jace is a responsible and honorable individual, while Luke is faithful. On the other hand, Aegon is a gluttonous and lustful sloth and Aemond was a bully. The show has more or less tried to stay true to these personalities.

House of the Dragon Episode 10

Matt Smith saves Daemon’s character in the show

While there are differences between Daemon Targaryen as written in the book and Matt Smith’s portrayal on screen, I find that the actor has really captured the essence of Daemon’s charisma and complexity. Smith’s performance gives Daemon an added layer of depth and vulnerability that isn’t as present in the book, making him a more nuanced and sympathetic character.

I love how Smith has brought Daemon to life as a charming and magnetic figure, but also one who is deeply flawed and struggling with his own demons. His performance captures both the character’s wit and his darkness, and I find myself rooting for him even when he’s making questionable choices. He must also be an Aries.

Image: House of the Dragon/YouTube

I was skeptical at first, but I am actually happy with the deviations. And honestly, if I wanted the story as it was written, I’d put my headphones back on and listen to my audiobook copy of Fire & Blood. It’s going to be interesting to see how the show’s interpretation of the characters diverge from Martin’s original vision as the Dance of Dragons continues to unfold.

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