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More House of the Dragon delves into the mysteries of the Targaryens’ past, the less it seems to play out in the same universe as Game of Thrones. While the series may be a prequel to Game of Thrones, it becomes clear that the show’s creative team likes to deviate from the original, closed-loop HBO series in favor of a story that’s still going on in George RR’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Martin. According to Martin’s own account, his books have a longer and much more complicated ending.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, all of A Song of Ice and Fire, and the first eight episodes of House of the Dragon.]
The division between House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones is more about themes and feelings than plot, at least for now. In House of the Dragon Episode 8, “The Lord of the Tides,” the show delved even deeper into Aegon the Conqueror’s royal prophecy, which suggests that a Targaryen must sit on the Iron Throne to save Westeros from a frozen and deadly threat looming in the north. guard.
As important as this prophecy is to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, who know where the story is going and that The Others are on their way, its impact on House of the Dragon is much more direct. The prophecy is an animating force for the characters of the series. Each person who interacts with it does so in a very different way, letting the ideas of fate, fortune, and destiny shape their world and decisions in unique ways.
For Viserys, the prophecy is a final legacy to be passed on, a king’s duty to guard his realm and people. For Rhaenyra, it’s a lifelong sword of Damocles, a menacing responsibility she bears as she heads for the Iron Throne. To Alicent, and perhaps to her children, it’s a misunderstood warning, a last-minute sign that Viserys may have changed his mind about who should really rule the empire after his death.
Long before this prophecy manifests in Westeros, it guides the hands of all who hear it and directs them to shape the events of history. While Game of Thrones never managed to achieve such a complicated relationship with the premonitions in his story, the idea that a premonition could shape the action is key to Martin’s books. In A Song of Ice and Fire, as with many fantasy series, it often matters less whether a prophecy is true or not, and more how the threats or promises it carries guide the decisions of the people it is about.
But the relationship between House of the Dragon and its predecessor show is more than just thematically weak at this point. According to House of the Dragon showrunner, Ryan Condal, the addition of Aegon’s prophecy is one that came from Martin himself, and given the number of different times Martin has written versions of this prophecy (or similar) in A Song of Ice and Fire, its doubling is here certainly seems important. And if it matters, then it must mean that the end of the series can’t be the same as HBO’s Game of Thrones where it hardly mattered.
The White Walkers’ invasion of the HBO series was a brief affair, mostly equating to an episode-long battle in Winterfell in the death of Westeros’ coldest and darkest season. Few main characters have ever been put in real danger, the south was never involved, and the biggest, most existential threat in the series was dispatched with just a jab from a dagger that we now know belonged to King Viserys. It was anticlimactic to say the least, but House of the Dragon gives us our final example that it probably isn’t the fate intended for the conflict in the book either.
After all, if the only way to save the Seven Kingdoms is for a Targaryen to unite them and sit on the Iron Throne, then things must change, as the throne and most of Westeros played no part in the Long Night, and not a single Targaryen actually sat on the Iron Throne. Instead, it seems that this points to an eventual future where Jon Snow is revealed as a Targaryen and eventually rules the kingdom, or that Daenerys can grasp reality firmly enough to liberate the realm from The Others before things go wrong. Or maybe even someone else. Anyway, it looks like the ending of Martin’s saga will be different from the events we saw in HBO’s Game of Thronesand that the Long Night in the books could be much longer and darker.
There’s no way of knowing exactly how Martin’s book series will end, or what elements it will or won’t change from the HBO series. But at least it looks like House of the Dragon is heading more towards the ending that fans of A Song of Ice and Fire expect than the one that disappointed many in 2019. It doesn’t hurt to know that either House of the Dragon gets as many episodes as it takes to finish its story, unlike its predecessor.