Oh, Game of Thrones. Where did it all go wrong?
As someone who has rewatched the series dozens of times and read every word of the books, I’d say HBO made the mistake of thinking David Benioff and D.B. Weiss could adapt George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic in the first place.
Despite starting extremely strong, the writing quality of the series suffered as the writers moved away from the source material — naturally resulting in an ending that is nonsensical and infuriating for fans who have been following the story for years.
But HBO had the opportunity to start anew with a prequel series written none other by both Martin himself and the immensely talented Jane Goldman (known for X-Men: Days of Future Past, Kick-Ass, Kingsman series, etc.). The show would have been completely original (no written source material) and had the potential of ushering in a new era of Game of Thrones content accessible for all.
Then, it got cancelled.
Instead, we will get “House of the Dragon” in 2021, that will tell the backstory of House Targaryen and be completely meaningless to audiences who have not watched all 73 episodes of the original series (63.5 hours total).
It’s unapproachable for those who aren’t already fans, the story has plenty of source material (an entire volume titled “Fire and Blood,” with another rumored to be on the way) so nothing in the series will be new to followers of the story, and it suffers from a seemingly confused premise. Because the backstory of the house involves hundreds of years of history, it’s not clear how the writers will be able to develop and flesh out the many characters involved while faithfully telling the story. And despite the writers this time around having a clear idea of how the story will end, it leaves little room for the traditional Game of Thrones twists and turns to be incorporated.
So why is this being made?
Dragons. I can almost guarantee the CGI mainstay of the original series is the only reason this prequel was given the green light. It’s unfortunate, as there is way more to Game of Thrones than just dragons (i.e. compelling characters, political intrigue, unconventional storytelling and more) and reducing it to just that is disrespectful to the saga as a whole.
With the cancellation of the clearly more intelligent and thought-out prequel full of original story and characters, it appears HBO is not willing to take a risk on something with artistic merit. Instead, they seem more interested in going with Game of Thrones’ most marketable quality — big, over-the-top, explodey dragon action sequences. But that’s not what made the series good in the first place, and it won’t make House of the Dragon good either.
If all of this news turns you off to Game of Thrones forever, I say good. Instead, read the books.
Unlike the show, the story in the books is consistent and planned. Unlike the show, the characters have authentic arcs and are not recklessly killed off. And unlike the show, the books will have an ending that won’t be rushed and will reward the patience of fans.