It may be set in the same fictional world, but House of the Dragon is going to be very different from Game of Thrones.
The latter series, which begins several hundred years after the events of House of the Dragon, stuck to a strict structure for the majority of its eight seasons. Despite telling a story that was heavily impacted by events from the past, Game of Thrones went out of its way to avoid using flashbacks.
The popular HBO series only began to break that rule when it absolutely needed to in its fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. House of the Dragon, meanwhile, is taking a very different approach to its own multi-generational story.
Start From the Beginning — According to The Hollywood Reporter, there are going to be multiple time jumps throughout the first season of House of the Dragon. The upcoming Game of Thrones prequel will begin when its two leads, Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, are still teens. However, around its debut season’s halfway point, House of the Dragon will then jump ahead 10 years to when Rhaenyra and Alicent are young adults.
This will be the biggest jump, but there will apparently also be several other multi-year gaps. While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Ryan Condal, House of the Dragon’s co-showrunner, explained why the series’ creative team chose to use such a fractured structure for its first season.
“This is how you tell this story correctly,” Condal said. “We’re telling a story of a generational war. We set everything up so by the time that first sword stroke falls, you understand all the players.”
Embracing Time Jumps — This House of the Dragon detail is surprising, especially considering how differently Game of Thrones approached its timeline issues. That said, the show’s source material does encourage it to embrace a segmented structure.
Unlike Game of Thrones, which is based on a series of largely linear novels, House of the Dragon is based on Fire & Blood, essentially a fictional history book detailing the various highs and lows of House Targaryen. While Fire & Blood still features more than its fair share of compelling stories, it also explores its conflicts from a pulled-back, historical perspective.
So it’s easy to see why Condal and company chose to stay true to the time jumps presented in Fire & Blood when adapting House of the Dragon. The Dance of the Dragons, which is the Targaryen civil war that House of the Dragon will depict, was a conflict many years in the making before it finally broke out. Viewers will need some background information, but no one wants to get buried in minutia.
The Inverse Analysis — As is the case with many of the conflicts that have unfolded in George. R. R. Martin’s fictional world, the Dance of the Dragons is a war that pulls in members from multiple families and generations. It’s a conflict that could lose some of its dramatic power if the build-up were shortened.
By allowing the series’ timeline to stay true to Martin’s original source material, House of the Dragon not only has a strong chance of nailing its depiction of the Dance of the Dragons, but it could end up feeling even more comprehensive and dramatic than Game of Thrones.
House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, August 21 on HBO.