George R.R. Martin’s Juggernaut World of Westeros Continues to Thrive with HBO’s Smash Hit House of the Dragon

By Erin Poche, Editor

Unless you’ve just returned from a summer sabbatical in the Artic, you’ve probably heard about the wildly successful new HBO series House of the Dragon. No prequel fantasy drama has been more hyped—wait, except maybe, Tolkien’s The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime. Amazon spent an estimated $1 billion on this prequel to the massive The Lord of the Rings franchise, making it the most expensive show ever.

Variety reported in April that each of the ten episodes of House of the Dragon cost around $20 million. That’s on top of the $100 million in marketing already spent. And, with 10 million viewers watching the season premiere alone—it’s clearly working.

The fantasy face-off between the two shows is a draw right now. However, viewers have shown a preference for HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel.

Game of Thrones Backstory

A Song of Ice and Fire series
A Song of Ice and Fire Series

If you’re new to the GOT World and a glutton for 1,000-page fantasy books about platinum blonde mad king dragonriders, you’re in for a treat.

Likewise, if you’re wondering what the order is for A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the Game of Thrones book series the eight-year HBO drama was based on, it goes like this: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons. The five novels are out right now, with supposedly two more on the way.

Theoretically, because rumor has it, Martin just signed a $10 million development deal with HBO. This is good news for television fans, bad news for fans still anticipating The Winds of Winter, the end of the GOT/Song of Fire and Ice series.

It’s complicated, yes. And you might remember the season eight GOT finale that aired in 2019 was a tad ill-received by fans and critics. Both HBO and Martin received a huge backlash over the season-ending; minor things like who was crowned king and several other flaming details. Some readers are still fuming that Martin failed to complete the saga before starting Fire and Blood. He’s been busy, folks! And we can’t fault him too much since he did create the Targaryen dynasty, aka House of the Dragon.

House of the Dragon Explained

The House of the Dragon aka Fire and Blood
The House of the Dragon

Now to confuse you further,The House of the Dragon is the prequel to the original GOT series and takes place nearly 200 years before the events in the Game of Thrones. The House of the Dragon ‘HOTD’ is based on Fire and Blood, which reads more like a history book than fantasy fiction. From the first chapter, Martin’s masterful storytelling takes weirwood root. His mega-plots and character-building worlds propel the fascinating phantasm universe where kings are made alongside dragons who rule the sky. And for GOT fans, it’s exciting to see how the original families and kingdoms interacted in the early Westerosi realm. That being said, it is much different from his other books.

So, if you want to read the complete history of the Targaryen Dynasty, beginning with Aegon the Conqueror, read Fire and Blood. It’s only about 750 pages. For an abbreviated version that starts with the HBO drama, read the World of Ice and Fire. It’s a shorter summary that begins with King Viserys I and his daughter Princess Rhaenyra.

Narrative of House of the Dragon based on Queen Maud
Queen Maud or Empress Matilda

Martin admitted to framing his narrative about the princess to another famous English queen in history, Queen Maud or Empress Matilda. Her father chose Matilda as his heir to the English throne. But in 1135 Stephen of Blois claimed that his uncle had changed his mind on his deathbed. The Barons believed his story and crowned him King. Safe to say, this was not okay with Matilda, whose ruthless longing for the throne divided the country and created a 19-year civil war known as the Great Anarchy. Sound familiar?

Another fun fact for history buffs—Martin framed the Games of Thrones books on the historic War of the Roses between two competing royal families under the royal House of Plantagenet, Lancaster and York. By the way, Empress Matilda received some redemption when her son followed Stephen, becoming King Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet kings.

HOTD reviews and feedback are already so positive, the show has been renewed for a second season.

How long can this prequel go on, you may ask?

A Dance of the Dragons
Dance of the Dragons

If they had begun with Aegon the Conqueror, the first dragon king of Fire and Blood, the series might have had as many years in the running as GOT. However, the bloody struggle for the Iron Throne, known as the Dance of the Dragons, takes place from 129-131 AC. (AC means after Aegon), halfway through the book.

With his $10 million development deal, it’s doubtful HBO is letting Martin go anytime soon. And whether it’s books or television, thankfully, the wild ride into Martin’s world continues.

House of the Dragon: HBO's smash hit
House of the Dragon