That Game of Thrones franchise you like has come back in style, with a record-smashing series premiere for House of the Dragon paving the way for a swift season two renewal. The promise of a full additional season of stories about the Targaryens is wonderful news indeed for the Westeros faithful—but before you get too excited, there’s still plenty of fire and blood to deal with here in season one.
Speaking of which: let’s talk about Fire & Blood. George R.R. Martin’s fictional history text provides the spine for House of the Dragon, chronicling the reign of the Targaryen kings from Aegon’s Conquest and onward. (A second book is planned but not yet written or published; it’s set up to conclude the story of the Targaryens with a closer look at the Mad King’s dark reign.) Given the nature of the novel, Fire & Blood is an invaluable resource for understanding House of the Dragon, but also a deeply dangerous one. Reading the full book will tell you what lies ahead for Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) and the rest of the cast, with their full series arcs laid bare across a few hundred pages of text.
Of course, Fire & Blood won’t tell you everything about what’s coming up in House of the Dragon. Faithful readers were caught off guard by the series premiere’s Song of Ice and Fire name drop, as the Targaryens’ knowledge of the White Walker threat has yet to be revealed in Martin’s work. What’s more, the show takes its cues from the book, but has already demonstrated how much it can and will expand upon the text. Look no further than Queen Aemma’s death in the premiere as an example. One of the most disturbing scenes ever rendered in the greater Game of Thrones universe, sprang forward from just a handful of words:
In other words, creative license is in full effect here. What’s more, Martin’s role as a hands-on executive producer provides showrunners Ryan J. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik the opportunity to infuse their show with even more Targaryen secrets than what’s found in the book. But some major beats (such as character deaths, of which there are several) are likely to remain intact from book to screen. Read with caution, in other words.
With all that sprawling preamble out of the way, if you’re curious about details from Fire & Blood that can inform the show, but don’t want to know absolutely everything, then look no further. Here are a few key moments from House of the Dragon’s second episode that gain added value with the help of Martin’s books.
Age of the Queen
Much of “The Rogue Prince” centers on Viserys’s decision of who to marry following the death of his wife. He ultimately selects Hand of the King Otto Hightower’s daughter, Lady Alicent, as the next queen of Westeros. It’s a shocking choice for everyone in the room, and a hard pill to swallow for the audience, given the significant age difference between Viserys and Alicent. Earlier in the episode, Viserys says his daughter is 15 years old, and it’s not a big leap to think Alicent is similarly aged.
Here, we run into one of the most significant changes from the book yet. As written in Fire & Blood, Alicent is roughly ten years older than Rhaenyra. The show closes that gap significantly, heightening Alicent and Rhaenyra’s friendship to a place never quite achieved in Martin’s book — and setting up an even steeper fall, as a result.
The change in age also changes a key component of Alicent’s backstory. In the book, she was close with the previous king, Jaehaerys the Wise, keeping him company in the final years of his life. Alicent was even present during the Old King’s death, reading to him as he died. It’s unclear if House of the Dragon will offer its own spin on Jaehaerys and Alicent’s relationship, but so far, it hasn’t.
A Strong of Ice and Fire
Toward the end of the episode, Viserys seeks guidance from Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spoke), the Master of Laws. Lord Strong is a rare example of a political operator who actually cares more about the rule of law than his own power.