George R.R. Martin is keen for the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon to be more successful than the hotly-anticipated Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power. Set 200 years before the events of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, which became the Game of Thrones TV show, House of the Dragon tells the tale of the final days of the legendary dragon riding House Targaryen. It’s also based on one of Martin’s books, Fire and Blood. Starring Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, the show will lead up to the ‘Dance of Dragons’, the civil war that tore the Targaryen dynasty apart, and is set to release on August 21st.
In the other corner is Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is set in the world of J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Estimated to be the most expensive television show ever made, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and concerns the events of Middle Earth’s Second Age. With a cast of relative newcomers, including Morfydd Clark, Owain Arthur and Robert Aramayo, the show will cover such legendary events in Tolkien’s folklore as the rise of Sauron, the forging of the nine rings and the fall of Numenor. Coming slightly later in the year than House of the Dragon, Amazon’s televised foray into Middle Earth is scheduled for a September 2nd release, although this does still mean that the year’s two biggest fantasy shows will be premiering within the same fortnight.
While the competition is certainly fierce, Martin would be happy to see House of The Dragon outperform its rival. When The Independent asked Martin about Rings of Power at the Santa Fe Literary Festival, he was initially keen to downplay the rivalry, stating that he hopes “both shows succeed”, but also describes himself as “competitive enough” and wants House of the Dragon to “succeed more”. Specifically, he wants the Game of Thrones prequel to pick up more awards, stating that “If they win six Emmys […] I hope we win seven.” Read the full quote below:
“I hope both shows succeed. I’m competitive enough. I hope we succeed more. If they win six Emmys, and I hope they do, I hope we win seven. But nonetheless, it’s good for fantasy. I love fantasy. I love science fiction. I want more shows on television.”
While Martin is certainly optimistic about his show’s success, the odds are certainly stacked against it. For one, the astronomic price tag attached to Rings of Power means that the resources pumped into this production far outstrip House of the Dragon, as it is estimated that Amazon spent $462 million on the first season of Ringsalone. This is more than double the budget of House of the Dragon’s first season. Similarly, the negative press that surrounded the final season of Game of Thrones means that disappointed fans might be nervous to return to Westeros, although Martin has spoken very highly of the material he has seen so far.
On the other hand, House of the Dragon does sport a more recognizable cast of stars and is likely drawn from more reliable source material. While the Thrones prequel is based on a single book, Rings of Power’s story is cobbled together from Tolkien’s appendices, as their $1 billion purchase of the rights didn’t give them control of any of the the author’s books. Therefore, House of the Dragon might prove to have a more cohesive narrative, although considering how much of an investment Rings of Power has proven to be, it can be assumed that Amazon have put as much effort into the plot as possible.