With the new sequel spinoff to Game of Thrones around the corner, aptly titled House of the Dragon, it brings a new perspective and a new era to life from the world of Westeros, and the show’s civil war setting is currently its best difference from the original show. Game of Thrones was revered among critics and viewers alike who watched the show for many seasons over the course of its runtime, and no doubt there are hopes for the same treatment for this new show. That said, the original series had many issues along the way, some of which were glaring.
A new entry into this fantasy world from the well-established lore of author George R. R. Martin carries the same potential, perhaps even more, thanks to its markedly different setting, setting it apart from its predecessor. Whether or not the new show will fix Game of Thrones’ mistakes is still up in the air, but not only does the story present a unique opportunity to revisit this tried and tested fantasy universe with a unique spin, but equally fix some of the storytelling styles of the original. House of the Dragon not only promises viewers a familiar yet unique perspective on the world of Westeros but equally hints at a much better, long-term storytelling angle.
The civil war era setting for the show changes the overall story dynamic entirely, giving an entirely different focal point to the story being told than Game of Thrones had. Equally, the nature of the storytelling and the motivations of the characters make for a much more compelling story, once again thanks to, at least in part, the civil war setting. House of the Dragon, due to the new story it seeks to tell, can fix what Game of Thrones broke.
House Of The Dragon’s Story: The Dance Of The Dragons Explained
The Targaryen Civil War, a period in Westerosi history known as The Dance of the Dragons, taking place 300 years before the events of the original show, tells the story of rival siblings Aegon and Rhaenyra Targaryen as they fought over the Iron Throne. Both vying for ultimate power, the various houses and lords of the Seven Kingdoms fell on either side of the battle lines, supporting one of the claimants to the throne. The politics and intrigue surrounding the war make for compelling storytelling, thanks to the morally grey motivations from both sides of the conflict, as well as their morally grey actions.
In short, the war is perhaps as true to history as a fantasy show can get, not feeling the need to present the audience with good characters and bad characters, but merely characters acting out of their self-interest. This is one of many important distinctions from Game of Thrones, not only providing a unique viewing experience to the audience but also being compelling separate from its connections to the original show. House of the Dragon’s story no longer sees several Kingdoms vying to crown themselves as ruler of the others, but two factions splitting the houses of the Seven Kingdoms down the middle, dragging them into an all-out civil war, all in the name of one Targaryen or another.
House Of The Dragon’s Targaryen Civil War Gives It A Different Focus Than GOT
This power disparity in House of the Dragon compared to Game of Thrones makes all the difference. No longer is there a free-for-all taking place between various self-proclaimed kings, in the War of the Five Kings, splitting the conflict into five separate motivations. Not only will the Lannisters be different from Game of Thrones, but every single house will be, for the balance of power 300 years before the original show was vastly different. Despite being locked in a deadly civil war, House Targaryen very much reigns supreme over the others, and as a result, the other houses exist merely as pawns in the Targaryen game.
Game of Thrones carefully balanced its politics and war, and especially in the earlier seasons leaned much more heavily on the former. House of the Dragon comparatively seeks to tell a story almost exclusively about the latter, and while war is a devolution of politics, linking them inherently, it can be strongly inferred that the planning of warfare, the logistics of it, the strategies, and ultimately the execution of battles will play a much more present role in this upcoming series. Not to mention, House of the Dragon can’t waste its best feature, the abundance of dragons, allowing for spectacles bigger and better than what Game of Thrones ever offered. While the original show suffered from its constant bobbing and weaving between delivering spectacle or politics, intrigue or awe, never quite knowing which of the two should be going on, the setting of House of the Dragon sets up an exciting opportunity to explore both in-depth.
House Of The Dragon’s Civil War Avoids A Game Of Thrones Character Problem
Avoiding the ebb and flow of narrative focus isn’t the only Game of Thrones mistake this new show promises to avoid, however. Despite doing its best to avoid it, perhaps only achieved by the politics of the earlier seasons, Game of Thrones ultimately suffered from its characters eventually playing into the “good” or “bad” categories. Considering that the very nature of a civil war is as political as warfare can get, that inherent intertwining of politics into the overarching conflict is ultimately what provides characters with the morally grey sweet spot that makes them more compelling to an audience.
Game of Thrones not only felt the need to have a primary antagonist, constantly switching from Joffrey, to Ramsay, to Cersei and eventually Daenerys, it constantly had the looming epitome of evil, the Night King. As fun and mysterious as such evil was, this kind of storytelling takes the viewer back to the Tolkien-esque style of good vs bad, whereas House of the Dragon’s civil war promises something much more humanly compelling, two sides of a power struggle waging a war for dominance. House of the Dragon can therefore avoid Game of Thrones’ mistakes, and ensure that the story being told doesn’t simply feature morally grey characters, full of politics and intrigue, but that the story as a whole has a central focal point on a period of Westerosi history that is inherently morally grey.
House of the Dragon’s characters will not only be uniquely intriguing compared to their Game of Thrones counterparts, thanks to their more ambiguous actions and motivations, but it forces the audience to pick a side, without giving them a direct reason to choose a specific one. The audience will be forced to engage directly with the politics unfolding before them, and make their own decision as to who they are rooting for, as opposed to simply seeing a politically shady figure such as Littlefinger and learning to be wary of them. This level of engagement not only trumps Game of Thrones’ politics, but its spectacle, and while some suggest House of the Dragon risks repeating blunders made by the original show, the overall story it seeks to tell is much more compelling. Ultimately, House of the Dragon’s civil war is its best difference from Game of Thrones and solidifies its future as a show that can live alongside its predecessor, and perhaps even surpass it.