Geek Review: House of the Dragon

Geek Review: House of the Dragon (HBO GO)

When House of the Dragon spin-off and prequel series was announced, long-time Game of Thrones fans were hesitant. The cursed last season of Game of Thrones was disappointing, to say the least, but thankfully spin-off showrunner Miguel Sapochnik has left that dumpster fire unscathed, and ready to deliver. 

And deliver, he did. 

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Geek Review: House of the Dragon (2)

Season 1 of House of the Dragon finished with a bang – or a dragon snap to be more apt – and after ten episodes of establishing its core cast, introducing three generations of Targaryens and laying the groundwork for the upcoming civil war, House of the Dragon is proof that prequels can still be an interesting watch, even after you know everything that happens after it.

House of the Dragon, for those unaware, takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen, descendant of the eponymous royal house, and 100 years after the Seven Kingdoms are united by the Targaryen Conquest. The series portrays the beginning of the end of House Targaryen, and the events leading up to the Targaryen civil war of succession known as the ‘Dance of the Dragons’. 

The series is led by an ensemble cast, with Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen; Matt Smith as her uncle slash husband Daemon Targaryen; Olivia Cooke as the princess’ best friend and later on, stepmother Alicent Hightower; Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen; Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower and Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys. 

Geek Review: House of the Dragon (3)

As the show progresses we get introduced to other characters, including Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), Aemon Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), amongst many others who portray our main lead’s allies and children. 

And if you’re wondering how the series has the time to introduce all these characters, it’s because the show speeds through events via time jumps. The first four episodes see our lead Rhaenyra from ages 15 to 17, to an adult in the later episodes. The time jumps rarely came with explanations and skipped some massive developments – like how Rhaenyra and Harwin’s relationship came to be, even though her children’s legitimacy remains a very important thread throughout the rest of the series – but it’s necessary. 

The time-jumping nature of House of the Dragon’s first season allowed the show to cram an emotional saga into 10 one-hour episodes beginning with the teen friendship between Rhaenyra and Alicent, and ending with them plotting a dragon-led war against each other. Though we hope this won’t be the case when the second season comes along, seeing how there’s no reason for it now that the groundwork has been laid. 

Unlike Game of Thrones, the prequel series places less emphasis on worldbuilding. Game of Thrones was a sprawling masterpiece in its earlier seasons, and explored each location in Westeros and Essos and how the varying characters from different parts of the world race for the Iron Throne. In House of the Dragon, the main characters are all already based in King’s Landing, and so much of the fanfare begins and stays within one location. If you’re looking forward to large oceans and beautiful towers with sun that stretches to the great beyond, you’re better off checking out Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power instead. 

To make up for that, House of the Dragon is strongly character driven. Just like Game of Thrones, the characters too are eyeing the throne for themselves, but it’s the complicated relationships they have with each other that make it all the more juicy and compelling. Incest, infidelity, violence and secrecy taint familial relationships and the characters are so wonderfully nuanced that your feelings towards them shift and change as the episodes progress. One minute you hate Alicent Hightower and the next you somewhat admire her for her qualities as a mother. Whilst there’s no villain as evil and great as Lena Headley’s Cersei Lannister, House of the Dragon fans can unanimously agree that Considine’s King Viserys is well loved across the board. 

Considine is an actor who can’t help but draw viewers in that even in moments of selfishness and foolishness, Viserys remains a loveable character that audiences sympathise with. A family dinner where he nakedly begged for peace between his family was moving on a level that neither House of the Dragon or its predecessor is able to reach and replicate. 

D’Arcy’s Rhaenyra is well-meaning and brilliant but her reservedness means outsiders could easily paint her otherwise but no character sees as much growth and change as Smith’s Daemon. For all his intemperate outbursts, violent tendencies and immoral ways, Daemon has easily become a protective and loyal brother, father and husband towards the end of the season. Out of all the Targaryens, he’s likely the most dedicated to the preservation of the family – more than his wife Rhaenyra and his brother Viserys, the people directly in line for the throne. 

The well-written characters and focus on relationships means that House of the Dragon has some pretty heartbreaking deaths and moments that will fuel viewers with varying emotions – anger, love, sadness, you can name it all. Whilst it featured fewer sexual assaults (likely to make up for all the rape depicted in Game of Thrones), House of the Dragon gets physically violent, gory and bloody. 

Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) untimely death was a pain unlike any other. Even though his death is exactly as written in the books, its depiction was so heartwrenching that it physically hurt for fans of the character, or those who have an affinity for Rhaenyra and her children. Our only fear is that the next season will be a whole lot more gorier and painful to watch. 

With season one ending with fans clearly picking their sides – Team Black for Rhaenyra and Team Green for Aegon II – and the ‘Dance of the Dragons’ known to be extremely horrifying and intense, there’s a lot of nursing to be done when season two comes around. 



Season one of House of the Dragon burned naysayers up in flames. With a strong cast, compelling characters and a gripping storyline surrounding the revered House Targaryen, we’re looking forward to an even more explosive season two.

  • Story - 8.5/10
  • Direction - 8/10
  • Characterisation - 9/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 10/10