House of the Dragon ★★★★★
George R. R. Martin, Ryan Condal
Starring Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, Rhys Ifans, Emma D'Arcy, Eve Best
Game of Thrones redeems its lacklustre ending with a prequel series full of the schemes, gore and incest that made it so beloved. House of the Dragon puts HBO rightfully back on the Iron Throne of fantasy dramas.
Set an age before the events of the original phenomenon, House of the Dragon accounts the events leading to the great Targaryen Civil War as the royal family of dragon riders begin to tear themselves apart from the inside. When King Viserys (Paddy Considine) unexpectedly names his daughter Rhaneara (Milly Alcock/Emma D'Arcy) as the heir to the throne, traditional loyalists begin to plot against his decision and all those with a claim ready themselves for battle.
Though the theme music and the ultimate goal of The Iron Throne for our characters is familiar, it helps to welcome us back into the world of Westeros with open arms. The fact the players change but the game remains the same makes it just as fun to work out who's going to do what next to improve their position of power. Of course, the prequel retains the shock value and stomach-churning scenes of its predecessor, once again giving you that uncomfortable (horror but you can't look away) feeling that some fans crave.
The cast itself fit in perfectly to the outstanding array of characters we are used to and no-one seems handpicked for their star power to draw attention away from the story. Praise has to be given to the main four leads who carry the heavy material with ease. I particularly enjoyed Matt Smith's portrayal of Prince Daemon, a character who ranges from a villain we love to hate to a hero we love to love, never knowing which way he's going to go next.
Comparisons can easily be drawn to Amazon's fantasy epic The Rings of Power, but where that show took a long time to reestablish a world we already know, House of the Dragon wastes no time, all the while toppling various dominoes leading to an unspoken catastrophic declaration of war we know is coming right from the start.
A second season was already announced after the first episode's premiere so it's safe to sat House of the Dragon is a huge hit. The stage is now set for a battle unlike any other and I can't wait to see more epic, fantasy, Machiavellian mayhem drenched in dragon breath, Thrones is back baby!
House of the Dragon available now on NowTV and HBO Max