George R. R. Martin Wanted ‘House of the Dragon’ Story to Start 40 Years Earlier
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1 & George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood.]
The writers of House of the Dragon rewound the clock to 172 years before the birth of Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). But George R. R. Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire books on which both HBO shows are based, would have turned back the hands of time even further.
In a Penguin Random House Q&A, Martin said that the House of the Dragon writers had “a lot of spirited discussions” about when to start chronicling House Targaryen’s downfall.
One writer, for instance, wanted to start the prequel series with the scream of a dying Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke), wife of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), as she perished during childbirth. Another of the HBO show’s scribes wanted to start with the death of Viserys, which viewers didn’t see until close to the end of the first season.
But Martin had another start point in mind: “The other possibility we discussed — which was actually my favorite, but nobody liked it except me — I would have began it much earlier,” he said. “I would have began it, like, 40 years earlier, with an episode I would have called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’ in which Jaehaerys’ two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive. And we see the friendship, but also the rivalry, between the two sides of the great house.”
That chapter of the Targaryen saga had its own succession crisis, as Martin recapped: “Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth, and then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir. Is it the daughter of the older son who’s just died, or is it the second son, who has children of his own and is a man, and she’s just a teenage girl?”
Martin did acknowledge some narrative challenges to that idea, however. “Then you would have had 40 more years, and you would have had even more time jumps, and you would have had even more recastings,” he said with a laugh. “And yeah, I was the only one who was really enthused about that.”
House of the Dragon’s first season had recasting and time jumps aplenty as it covered 28 years of Westeros history — a time span Martin previously calculated, per Winter Is Coming. But showrunner Ryan Condal told Deadline this month that the recasting and time jumps are “done.”
“We tell the story in real time from here forward,” Condal added. “The actors are playing these characters until the end. We’re not recasting anybody. We’re not making any huge jumps forward in time. We are now in the Dance of the Dragons, and we’re gonna tell that story.”
House of the Dragon, Streaming now, HBO Max