House of the Dragon - Season 1 Review (2023)

House Of The Dragon is now streaming on HBO Max. The below review discusses some details of the plot, but no major spoilers. See below our spoiler-filled reviews of each episode:

House Of The Dragon: Series Premiere Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 2 Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 3 Review

(Video) House of the Dragon Season 1 Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 4 Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 5 Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 6 Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 7 Review

(Video) House of the Dragon: Season 1 FINALE - Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 8 Review

House Of The Dragon: Episode 9 Review

House Of The Dragon: Season 1 Finale Review

Season 1 of Game Of Thrones’ prequel finished with a bang – or a dragon snap anyway. After ten episodes House Of The Dragon has established its core cast, introduced us to three generations of Targaryens, and laid the groundwork for a civil war that looks set to consume Westeros, as well as the next few seasons of the show. It also brought us a dragon battle: huge lizards dogfighting through a storm before one comes to an abrupt dental stop. In real life it would sound perverse, but in a Game Of Thrones spin-off it’s positively a compliment to note that it has delivered the dragon-related mayhem, family plotting, and murder we hoped for.

(Video) House Of The Dragon - It's Excellent

Set some 200 years before Thrones (meaning there are no shared characters), House Of The Dragon had a huge amount of world-building to do – though viewers at least arrived with a basic understanding of the geography and a sense that all those platinum blondes might have something to do with Daenerys. Sure enough, her Targaryen ancestors are here at the height of their power on Westeros, exercising a near monopoly on the weapons of mass destruction that are dragons and ruling unopposed because the alternative is being toasted to a crisp.

Showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik (who has bowed out of Season 2 ) set the tone with an opening episode that offered grisly violence, royal plotting, and medieval pageantry – and a small blonde girl on a dragon, lest we forget where we’re coming from. The ties to Game Of Thrones were obvious and immediate in those early episodes, down to the reuse of Ramin Djawadi’s iconic theme music. But the brand new cast, and the focus on a family already in power but riven against itself, felt fresher.

That’s not to say it was always smooth sailing. Even the showrunners seem to understand this first season as a slow burn, and recently promised that the next season would pick up the pace. Some episodes dragged, and the shift from the immensely likeable and charismatic Milly Alcock and Emily Carey to Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, as Rhaenyra and Alicent respectively grew up, took a disjointed minute to process. But to the credit of the cast and creators they’ve covered 20-odd years of Targaryen family history without stinting on the requisite plotting and gore. Not bad for 10 episodes.

The show has also faced, mostly with success, its core problem: the Targaryens make less sympathetic leads than Thrones’ Starks. Ned’s family stuck together; circumstances may have divided them but they rarely knowingly took up arms against one another. They also didn’t sleep with one another, leading to, for example, cases where one’s son is also one’s great-nephew. Of course, that’s the entire point. A civil war brews because of House Targaryen’s original sin: when they came to Westeros they fought to preserve their dragon-riding abilities via inbreeding rather than standing up for their women’s right to rule. Otherwise, Rhaenyra would simply take the throne and no one would make a fuss.

(Video) Ben Shapiro Reviews "House of the Dragon" (Season 1)

Paddy Considine is an actor who can't help but draw you in, so his Viserys remained sympathetic.

To overcome the ick factor of the incest, House Of The Dragon has gone out of its way to make at least some Targaryens likeable. Paddy Considine is an actor who can’t help but draw you in, so his Viserys – even in moments of selfishness or foolishness – remained sympathetic throughout. A family dinner where he nakedly begged for peace between his rancorous offspring was moving on a level that neither this show nor its predecessor have often reached. Rhaenyra, whether played by Alcock or D’Arcy, is similarly well-meaning, even if her reserve means that few outside her immediate family realise it. And even Matt Smith’s Daemon is an uncannily shrewd judge of character, for all his intemperate outbursts, violent tendencies, and immoral ways. He may, in fact, be more dedicated to the preservation of the family than either his brother or Rhaenyra, the people directly in line for the throne.

Against that, however, the show makes Alicent’s offspring significantly more grotesque than they were in George R.R. Martin’s Fire And Blood. They weren’t what you’d call nice kids even there, but neither did they show quite the depths of depravity that Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) does onscreen, nor appear quite as outrageously sinister as Ewan Mitchell’s Aemond (points to Leo Ashton too, for making him unbearable even as a kid). Those little shits are matched by Larys Strong (Matthew Needham): schemer, sadist, and foot fetishist. At least that’s an original twist on the basic model plotter.

Not everything has been as clearly laid out. The idea of “Greens,” supporting Alicent, and “Blacks,” supporting Rhaenyra, might have worked better if there had been much sign of House colours being significant at any point before or after Alicent came to dinner in a nice new look. Similarly, the fundamental point of differentiation between the Targaryens (and, OK, their allies the Velaryons) and everyone else is the fact that they have dragons, and that too has been strangely underplayed.

It's not totally absent. House Of The Dragon has faithfully delivered the dragon bit of its promise. But what has been under-examined is what those relations between beast and rider mean beyond mere firepower (pun intended) in a world with numerous dragons and multiple dragon riders. Are they broadly similar for everyone or as different as each person and dragon? Viserys rode old Black Balerion just once, only to be left dragonless when the great beast died. The mere fact of his flight bolstered his claim to the throne, but how much did Balerion’s death then emasculate him? We were first introduced to Rhaenyra proclaiming her love of dragonflight, but she’s barely mentioned it since. Worse, there have been few scenes of riders simply visiting their dragons, or talking to each other about how those relationships work. You don’t even need expensive effects. Wouldn’t some dragon chat have made sense as a way for obvious dragon geek Daemon and self-professed enthusiastic flier Rhaenyra to bond? We need to care as much about dragon deaths as we do about the humans for the coming war to hit as hard as it should, rather than simply having them lurk expensively in the background.

(Video) House of the Dragon Season 1 Review

House Of The Dragon has managed to take Martin's deliberately dry pseudo-history and turn it into a character-led drama.

Perhaps, despite the slow build, that was too much to fit in this season; perhaps it will come. Perhaps, too, the show’s rather frequent and obvious callbacks to Game Of Thrones will ease off now that it’s established its own characters and identity. Djawadi could remix that Thrones theme to give this show its own sense of identity; judging by the rest of his superb score he has many new ideas to give. House Of The Dragon needs to move out of the shadow of its predecessor. It will still be plenty similar enough; the commissioners ensured that when they rejected the reportedly much stranger alternative pilot.

But enough nitpicking. It’s a great time for fantasy when House Of the Dragon, Lord Of The Rings, Wheel Of Time, and The Sandman are reaching the screen, and while we can quibble about detail they’re all generally doing their source material justice. House Of The Dragon has managed to take Martin’s deliberately dry pseudo-history and turn it into a character-led drama that could be every bit as thrilling as Thrones, and that’s impressive in itself. What’s even better is that we will look back on this season – despite the riots and dragon action and sea battles – as the calm before the storm. Next season, the Targaryens go to war. We have around two years before we get to see it, but if they nail the Dance of the Dragons, it’s going to be worth the wait.

Early on it sometimes felt too faithful to its predecessor, but after ten episodes House Of The Dragon has forged its own identity and established itself as a worthy prequel to Game Of Thrones. That’s largely thanks to strong writing, a wildly overqualified cast, and a veritable flock of dragons. More of the same next time, but a little more confidence too. They’ve earned it.


House of the Dragon - Season 1 Review? ›

Early on it sometimes felt too faithful to its predecessor, but after ten episodes House Of The Dragon has forged its own identity and established itself as a worthy prequel to Game Of Thrones. That's largely thanks to strong writing, a wildly overqualified cast, and a veritable flock of dragons.

Is House of the Dragon as good? ›

Audiences and critics alike showered it with praise. Some even considered it better than Game of Thrones. As they're set in the same universe, House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones share many similarities, but also several differences in their execution.

Is it better to watch House of the Dragon first? ›

While either series would make sense independently, the best thing to do is start with Game of Thrones. As it was made first, it is meant to be seen before House of the Dragon.

Did people like House of the Dragon? ›

Many people have found themselves utterly enraptured by House of the Dragon, and for good reason. The characters are fun, the setting is engaging, and the ever-growing tension between the factions has left a lot of fans as worried as Rhaenyra and Alicent.

Is House of the Dragon better than Game of Thrones? ›

Readers: Nearly 40% of readers said “House of the Dragon” was “about the same” as “Game of Thrones,” and 33% of readers said it's “a little worse.” 10% said “Dragon” is “much worse,” and almost 5% think it's “much better.” You can find a full breakdown of reader reactions and votes here.

Why is House of the Dragon so dark? ›

While many believe it is an issue with the cinematography, it is actually to do with colour grading, which is done in post-production. So the dark tone, literally, was a deliberate creative choice on part of the director Miguel Sapochnik.

What disease did viserys have? ›

Leprosy is a slow moving disease

The show has got the speed of the disease correct. King Viserys has lived with leprosy for many decades and the disease has grown very slowly.

Will House of the Dragon spoil Game of Thrones? ›

No matter who survives House of the Dragon, they are long dead before Game of Thrones, so the prequel can't include spoilers. But the reverse is not true. With a few mentions of the Dance of the Dragons, Game of Thrones now contains spoilers for its own spin-off show.

Do I need to know anything before watching House of dragon? ›

But the actual events of House of the Dragon are so far removed that it is still perfectly watchable and enjoyable without any prior knowledge. Everything you need to know to understand House of the Dragon is laid out in the prequel, without relying on viewers having seen Thrones.

Is Daenerys in House of Dragons? ›

House of the Dragon season 2: Emilia Clarke stuns as Daenerys in jaw-dropping video. Game of Thrones fans were in awe of this amazing video featuring Emilia Clarke back in Westeros in House of the Dragon. In 2022, House of the Dragon brought the Game of Thrones universe back to TV screens with a bang (or dragon fire).

Is House of dragon hit or flop? ›

No wonder House of the Dragon broke the internet, buzzed continuously on social media, and created history by becoming the most-viewed TV series with over 9 million viewers (gasps)! There truly is no better way for the fans to show their immense love to the director, cast, and crew.

Is there LGBT in House of the Dragon? ›

HBO's House of the Dragon may be a show full of giant dragons and spooky prophecies, but its decision to spare not one, but two gay characters seemingly destined for death somehow feels even more fantastical.

Does Emilia Clarke like House of the Dragon? ›

Emilia Clarke doesn't watch House of the Dragon, and the Game of Thrones alum explained why she is avoiding the HBO prequel series. House of the Dragon may be raking in the viewers, but someone who isn't tuning in. The Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, is unable to watch the HBO series.

Which series are better than Game of Thrones? ›

Spartacus. If what you're really looking for in your post-Game of Thrones watching life is just people battling each other, look no further than Spartacus. This show, set in the 72 B.C. era Roman Empire, is about gladiators, which means it has blood and violence to spare.

Is Daenerys the best Targaryen? ›

A beautiful badass who doesn't need a saddle to ride a dragon, Daenerys is the best Targaryen we've seen so far on screen. She is the Mother of Dragons. She is the Unburnt. And she will always be our Queen.

How many dragons did the Targaryens have? ›

The prequel series shows us House Targaryen at its strongest, when they had 17 dragons prior to the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. And the dragons play important roles both in the personal and political machinations of House of the Dragon.

Why is everyone in House of dragons blonde? ›

Fans concluded the Targaryen genes were recessive, but when it came to children of a Targaryen male and non-Valyrian mother their first would be born with darker features, while subsequent offspring were blonde.

Why character changed in House of the Dragon? ›

Everyone who was a teenager in House of the Dragon Episode 5 has now been recast in Episode 6. Rhaenyra, Alicent, Laenor, and Laena are all being played by older actors to show they're all grown up now and ready for their own Game of Thrones.

Why is House of the Dragon so blurry? ›

Cinematographer Fabian Wagner blamed HBO's video compression, claiming it added pixelation and darkened colors. After "Driftmark," episode 7 of House of the Dragon, aired viewers once again flocked to social media to express their frustration.

Why is Viserys finger rotting? ›

WHAT DOES VISERYS HAVE? In a recent podcast interview with Entertainment Weekly, Paddy Considine — the actor portraying Viserys — revealed that his character has a kind of leprosy. “He's actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating.

Why does King Viserys not heal? ›

Viserys had a form of leprosy in House of the Dragon.

He's just, unfortunately, got this thing that's taken over his body.

Why did Daemon leave Rhaenyra in the brothel? ›

We know that while the two came close, they never actually did the deed. Daemon, thrown off by his lack of ability to shock Rhaenyra, left her to get drunk and pass out. While Rhaenyra did go on to sleep with Criston Cole — the big problem of the episode — Viserys (Paddy Considine) was made more cautious of Daemon.

How did Joffrey say Rhaenyra died? ›

As Joffrey puts it (a bit too gleefully), Rhaenyra is murdered by her brother's dragon. “It ate her while her son watched," he explains with a grin. "What's left of her is buried in the crypts right down there.”

Was Rhaenyra Targaryen murdered by her brother? ›

Rhaenyra Targaryen is killed by her half-brother Aegon II Targaryen when he cruelly feeds her to his dragon Sunfyre. Don't worry, Aegon II and the Greens don't win the war, though the Blacks ultimately triumph and put Rhaenyra's son Aegon the Younger on the throne.

How did Rhaenyra Targaryen died? ›

Joffrey Baratheon spoils Rhaenyra Targaryen's fate on Game of Thrones. As Joffrey tells us, eventually, Rhaenyra's half-brother Aegon Targaryen will feed her to his dragon Sunfyre. She dies as her son, Aegon III, watches. That's the bullet point version.

Will the Mad King be in House of the Dragon? ›

The new prequel show, House of the Dragon, focuses on the white haired Targaryen family but the Mad King will not feature. This is because Aerys II ruled nearly two centuries after the era in which the new show takes place.

Does Rhaenyra become queen? ›

In Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin, Rhaenyra does indeed take the Iron Throne and become queen over the Seven Kingdoms, however, her reign is short-lived.

How is Daenerys Targaryen related to House of the Dragon? ›

Queen Daenerys Targaryen

But House of the Dragon will chart her ancestors, so we thought she was worth mentioning. Daenerys is Viserys's great-great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter, with her brother also sharing a name with their ancestor.

Are there Starks in House of the Dragon? ›

House Stark

Though they are yet to appear in House of the Dragon, one of the most beloved houses in Westeros, the Starks, feature strongly towards the end of the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.

Why isn t Emilia Clarke in House of the Dragon? ›

HBO's “House of the Dragon” has tens of millions of viewers, but Emilia Clarke is not one of them. Why? “I just can't do it,” she told Variety's Matt Donnelly at the Variety Studio presented by Audible at Sundance. “It's so weird.

Is Daenerys Jon Snow's aunt? ›

In the final moments of the episode, Jon told Daenerys that he is the son of Dany's brother, Rhaegar Targaryen, and therefore her nephew.

Why did House of Dragon fail? ›

With a boring and convoluted plot and too many characters, swingy production values and forgettable performances, House of the Dragon misses the mark in almost every aspect. It fails to recapture what made its predecessor special and feels like an attempt to bank on fans' nostalgia for the original show.

How many seasons will be House of Dragons? ›

It is going to take four full seasons of 10 episodes each to do justice to the Dance of the Dragons, from start to finish.” House of the Dragon is set 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen. Warner Bros.

How many seasons should House of the Dragon have? ›

Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, who wrote the original material for the show in his book Fire & Blood, has previously said that House of the Dragon will need four seasons to appropriately tell the story.

Was Rhaenyra a good queen? ›

Rhaenyra, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms

Rhaenyra has not always made the best political decisions. She left King's Landing to the greens, offended the high lords by scorning their marriage proposals, and made no attempt to make allies over the years, even though she knew many lords would contest her rule.

Is Rhaenyra Targaryen queer? ›

After weeks of major queer vibes between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower — which the actors have confirmed was intentional — House of the Dragons fans finally got what we really wanted, an actual, gasp, gay character.

Who is the non binary actress in House of the Dragon? ›

Emma D'Arcy stars as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon. ' In the interview, D'Arcy opens up about the scale of the show and the stamina required to make it. And the actor, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, also reveals one of the special moments they've had working on the show.

Who is the prettiest Targaryen dragon? ›

Dragonrider: King Aegon II Targaryen

Only seen briefly in House of the Dragon so far, Sunfyre was King Aegon II Targaryen's mount during the Dance of the Dragons and considered the most beautiful dragon to ever live.

Who is the most beautiful dragon in Game of Thrones? ›

Sunfyre had gleaming gold scales, which shone like beaten gold in the sunlight, and pale pink wing membranes. His flames were golden as well. According to Archmaester Gyldayn, Sunfyre was the most beautiful dragon ever seen in the known world.

Who is the most beautiful dragon in House of dragon? ›

Sunfyre (Aegon Targaryen II)

The newly crowned king Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) describes his dragon as the most beautiful in the world: The golden beast has pink-veined wings. But Sunfyre cannot match the size or power of Aegon's brother's mount, Vhagar, reflecting the dynamic of the two boys in real life.

What's the most watched show in the world? ›

1 'The Simpsons'

Will there be a Jon Snow sequel? ›

"Yes, there is a Jon Snow show in development," Thrones author George R. R. Martin wrote on his blog after the news came out. "Our working title for the show is SNOW." In the final season, Snow discovered his name was Aegon Targaryen, that he was possibly an heir to the Iron Throne.

What is the most viewed Game of Thrones? ›

Ok. It's official. Season five was the most watched season of GoT to date, according to official HBO viewership figures, with over 68 million total viewers – an average of 6.88 million per episode.

Who was the most evil Targaryen? ›

Maegor I Targaryen is the third king of the Targaryen dynasty, better known as Maegor the Cruel. He's widely regarded as one of the most wicked Targaryen kings. He takes his throne by usurping his nephew, seizing it immediately after the death of his brother Aenys.

Who was the most handsome Targaryen? ›

Daemon Blackfyre

He was tall, strong, and exceedingly handsome, and was Targaryen in all but name. His skill in combat was so great that Blackfyre was given to him when he was 12, as a mere squire. On the battlefield, he was an avatar of the Warrior himself.

Why doesn t Sansa like Daenerys? ›

Sansa had reason to distrust Daenerys. The Mad King killed her uncle and grandfather, and Sansa was at the mercy of a queen while a hostage in King's Landing. However, she rebuffs the Dragon Queen even when Daenerys risks her life to defend Sansa's home against the Night King.

Who has the largest dragon in Targaryen? ›

Balerion the Black Dread

The largest and eldest of all the Targaryen dragons, Balerion was flown by Aegon the Conqueror and later became the steed of King Viserys I. The black and red mal dragon has died by the time House of the Dragon begins, but his massive skull can be seen on display at the Red Keep.

Why are the Targaryens immune to fire? ›

In fact, Martin outright said as much during a Q&A back in 1999, calling the idea that Targaryens were magically immune to fire a “common misconception.” “TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE!” the author emphatically stated. “The birth of Dany's dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle.

Who was the last dragon before Drogon? ›

For the Targaryen prince sometimes known as "the last dragon", see Rhaegar Targaryen. The last dragon belonging to House Targaryen died young in 153 AC, during the later part of the reign of King Aegon III, who was called the Dragonbane.

What will be better House of the Dragon or Rings of Power? ›

Rings of Power has a generally favorable 71 score across 40 critical reviews, per Metacritic. House of the Dragon is not too far behind with a 69 across 43 reviews. Audiences, however, seem to have more mixed views, though review aggregation websites indicate they favor Dragon more than Rings.

Does House of dragon improve? ›

And you know what? Not only it isn't dull, it is in fact really good. And has improved every episode as the plot thickens.

Is it necessary to watch House of the Dragon? ›

Should you watch Game of Thrones before House of the Dragon? The answer to that, in short, is no. Since the prequel is set so far in the past, it features an entirely new cast of characters.

Is anyone watching House of the Dragon? ›

“House of the Dragon” brought in 9.3 million viewers after airing its Season 1 finale on Sunday, according to Warner Bros. Discovery. This includes both linear viewers who caught the episode during its four airings on HBO's cable channel and HBO Max streams through the night.

Who had more viewers Rings of Power or House of the Dragon? ›

While any comparisons between the two are largely subjective, both shows have received well over 150,000 individual reviews on IMDb in the first weeks after release. In terms of audience's ratings, House of the Dragon triumphed with an impressive 8.7/10, while The Rings of Power managed 6.9/10.

Who is the strongest elf in Rings of Power? ›

Luthien was the most potent elf; in Middle Earth, she was also known as Tinviel. She was able to captivate Morgoth and conquer death because she was the sole offspring of an Elven monarch and the Maia spirit.

Who is the strongest character in House of the Dragon? ›

10 Strongest Fighters In House Of The Dragon, Ranked
  1. 1 Daemon Targaryen Is The Most Dangerous Man In Westeros.
  2. 2 Aemond Targaryen Is A Prodigious Warrior. ...
  3. 3 Ser Criston Cole Is One Of The Kingsguard's Finest. ...
  4. 4 Ser Arryk Cargyll Is An Accomplished Kingsguard Knight. ...
  5. 5 Corlys Velaryon Is Westeros' Most Experienced Soldier. ...
Nov 19, 2022

Why did so many characters change in House of dragons? ›

Ultimately, key roles in the story were recast so that the adult actors could play more mature versions of their characters. “It's what makes this premium HBO content versus the thing we would have been forced to make at a different outlet,” Condal added.

Why is House of dragon changing characters? ›

Everyone who was a teenager in House of the Dragon Episode 5 has now been recast in Episode 6. Rhaenyra, Alicent, Laenor, and Laena are all being played by older actors to show they're all grown up now and ready for their own Game of Thrones.

How many seasons will House of the Dragon need? ›

It is going to take four full seasons of 10 episodes each to do justice to the Dance of the Dragons, from start to finish.” House of the Dragon is set 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen. Warner Bros.

What is the most viewed HBO show? ›

1 Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

The show is based on the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R.R. Martin and was developed for television by David Benioff and D.B.

Is House of the Dragon disturbing? ›

Much like its parent series, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon features plenty of violence and brutality. Fans are used to violence in the cruel world of Westeros, but some Season 1 scenes are still disturbing. House Of The Dragon shows the bloody history of the Targaryen dynasty as the Dance of the Dragons begins.

Did House of the Dragon beat Stranger things? ›

According to the report, the premiere of 'House of the Dragon' has not only surpassed its predecessor 'Game of Thrones' in the numbers game but also beaten this year's biggest hit 'Stranger Things 4' to top the charts.


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