Review: ‘House of the Dragon’: Excellent show, by itself or as a prequel

HBO’s new series “House of the Dragon”, a prequel to HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones” and an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s book “Fire and Blood”, is absolutely great. The effects and action are good, but even better are the characters, their motivations, and their stakes, perfectly encapsulated by the actors.

The show tells the story of the Targaryen family and their descent into civil war. They are after control of the Iron Throne and by extension the land of Westeros. We didn’t think the first season of “Game of Thrones” could be topped, especially by a prequel show. But alas, it was, thanks to the immediate action and drama. Compared to “Game of Thrones”, dragons were commonplace, which fed off the hype of dragons in the original series. Also, the years in between episodes gave the illusion of a grand, sprawling history. 

The reason the show works so well is that it is not caught up in being a prequel; it is a standalone story of human self-interest, politics, and power. The events that take place are crucial to the “Game of Thrones” universe but are also able to stand alone as a captivating tale.

The actors’ and actresses’ performances were by far the best part of the show. Namely, Paddy Considine as King Viserys I blew it out of the water. The performance was Emmy-worthy. His anger, heartache, and deterioration were channeled beautifully by Considine and fed off everyone else’s performances.

Because the show takes place over a large period of time, casting changes were common during this season. For example, Milly Alcock, who played the younger Rhaenaera Targaryen, complemented the older, disillusioned Targaryen Princess well, played by Emma D’arcy. However, the changes were a shock to many viewers, who felt as though a crucial period in the characters’ development was undermined. Despite this, the characters all felt as though they had a legitimate place in the world of Westeros. 

The CGI, mainly in effect to bring the dragons to life, is excellent, even putting the billion-dollar Amazon show “The Rings of Power” to shame. There are a few spotty CGI moments, but none are jarring enough to take viewers out of the moment.

All in all, HBO’s House of the Dragon is an amazing show well worth watching, whether you’ve seen Game of Thrones or not. It is one of the best fantasy shows we’ve ever seen.