Published date23 August 2022
Publication titleSignal
IS it, somehow, only three-and-a-bit years since the last episode of Game of Thrones aired? The extravagant fantasy show based on George R.R Martin’s ongoing, long-running, how-is-the-next-book-not-out-yet (11 years and counting, George) ‘‘A Song of Ice and Fire’’ novels managed to achieve a rather remarkable double. Firstly, in the age of splintered audiences and intense competition for leisure-hour eyeballs, it became a show so huge that seemingly everyone you knew was watching and talking about it; a true television juggernaut. Then, somehow almost more spectacularly, it stumped up with an ending that was such a disappointment to so many of its fans that it crashed almost instantly out of the collective cultural consciousness. It was almost as if everyone had made an unspoken agreement to pretend that the whole thing had never happened

But while the wheels might have come off a bit at the end there, one group of people very definitely did not forget about all that interest, and more importantly the squillions of dollars that came along with it: television executives. As some of all those real-life children that got named “Daenerys” back in the day start nearing their 10th birthdays, HBO have been quietly beavering away on any number of spin-offs (by some counts, as many as eight), hoping that we might all yet be as interested in the going-ons in Westeros as once we were.

And so here’s House of the Dragon, first of that large stable out of the gate and on to our screens. Telling a story first set out by Martin in his prequel “history” book Fire and Blood, it turns the clock back the best part of two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, when dragons were relatively plentiful and the Targaryen family — the eponymous house, and the ancestors of Game of Thrones’ dragon queen Daenerys — ruled over a rather more united Westeros than the one we saw in Game of Thrones. Are we here to see orderly transfers of power and even-handed, non-eventful kingdom administration, though? No! And just as well, since things are about to get messy.

Paddy Consedine rules the land as King Viserys, a monarch in the midst of a stable reign who really only has one major headache; the lack of a son to act as heir to the kingdom. His 15-year-old daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) is in rude health, but is regarded — even by herself — as something of a family spare part, because the idea of a woman on the throne is regarded as essentially an abomination by most of the...

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