Ten episodes make up Season 1 of House of The Dragon, which will be broadcast on NOW TV and Sky Atlantic. The spin-off, which centres on the Dance of the Dragons, takes place roughly 200 years before the War of the Five Kings.
The first authorised spin-off of HBO’s massively popular Game of Thrones is called House of the Dragon. The new series takes place about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Under the rule of the Targaryens, Westeros has had peace and prosperity. Still, the uncertainty surrounding the heir apparent to King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) threatens this happy historical period.
Viserys is certain that Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke), his devoted wife, will give birth to a male heir deserving of the Iron Throne, but what if she doesn’t? The next male Targaryen, Viserys’s brash brother Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), might inherit the throne, or Viserys could defy tradition and designate his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) as his heir.
If you’ve wondered whether “House of the Dragon” is based on real-life events because of the political intrigue and uncompromising depiction of conflict and violence, we’ve got you covered.
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Is House of the Dragon Based on a True Story or a Book?
The plot of “House of the Dragon” is partially based on George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel “Fire & Blood,” a prequel to Martin’s ongoing epic fantasy saga “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which served as the inspiration for HBO’s hugely successful television series “Game of Thrones.” As a result, “House of the Dragon” might be considered a forerunner to “Game of Thrones.” Dragons, magic, and other supernatural components make it clear that the expansive “Game of Thrones” universe is not based on a real-life narrative.
However, Martin drew from actual history as he created different aspects of the fiction. For instance, “A Song of Ice and Fire” is partially based on the Wars of the Roses, the 15th-century civil war fought between House Lancaster and House York, both of which were cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, to determine who would rule England in the future. History would refer to the Targaryen civil war as the “dance of the dragons” and, more ominously, “the dying of the dragons” in “House of the Dragon.” Martin said that he took some inspiration from the Anarchy, a time in English history, during the San Diego Comic-Con in 2022.
Martin said, “My books are fantasies, obviously, but I do follow history a lot. I get inspirations from history. And then I take elements from history, and I turn up to eleven, or obligatory ‘Spinal Tap’ reference, or to 111.”
Another English civil war, known as the Anarchy, also involved Normandy. Between 1138 to 1153, Empress Matilda, the nephew of King Henry I, and Stephen of Blois engaged in this particular war of succession. Its name comes from the total breakdown of law and order that occurred during this time.
Martin briefly discussed the relationship between “Game of Thrones” and the Wars of the Roses before going into great length on how the Anarchy affected “House of the Dragon” in response to a question about why the universe of “Game of Thrones” looks anti-queen.
According to the co-creator, “This show [House of the Dragon] was based on an earlier period in history called The Anarchy when Henry I, then the King of England, when his only legitimate son drowned while trying to cross the English Channel, he was left with only one legitimate heir, his daughter Matilda. He named her his heir, made all the Lords of the kingdom swear their fealty to her, and then some years later he died, and most of the Lords in the kingdom forgot about that. Here comes her cousin Stephen who crosses the Channel, steals the Treasury, and gets himself crowned king, and you entered a period called The Anarchy where Matilda, or Maude as she was known, and cousin Stephen fought for two decades. It was horrible and bloody.”
— HBO (@HBO) August 21, 2022
Martin also said, “That was the inspiration there; I don’t think Westeros is particularly more anti-woman or more misogynistic than real life and what we call history.”
Fire & Blood is more descriptive than narrative, unlike the books in “The Song of Ice and Fire” series. From the viewpoint of Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel of Oldtown, Martin penned it in the style of an in-world history book. Fire & Blood, Being a History of the Targaryen Kings of Westeros, was the unfinished history book Archmaester Gyldayn penned in the “Game of Thrones” reality.
Its first volume spans the period from Aegon I’s conquest until Aegon III’s reign. According to semi-canon sources, Archmaester Gyldayn lived during Robert I Baratheon’s rule. This wasn’t always the case, but Martin changed it since he intended Book 2 to encompass the whole of the Targaryen dynasty.
When writing about the dance of the dragons, Archmaester Gyldayn consults four main sources: the narratives of Grand Maester Orwyle, Grand Maester Munkun, Septon Eustace, and court jester Mushroom. The Grand Maester Orwyle, who eventually became imprisoned by those who supported Queen Rhaenyra, served King Aegon II Targaryen (the eldest son of Viserys I and Alicent Hightower).
While he was detained in the dark cells, he composed his memoirs. When composing “The Dance of the Dragons, A True Telling,” Grand Maester Munkun significantly referenced Orwyle’s works. The Reign of King Viserys, First of His Name, and the Dance of the Dragons That Came After by Septon Eustace is a sombre and a little ponderous history, but it is prejudiced in favour of Aegon II over Rhaenyra.
A small performer named Mushroom entertained Viserys, Rhaenyra, Aegon II, and Aegon III. His (unknown scribe’s) testimony is full of “little but ribald tales and gossip, piling stabbings, betrayals, seductions, and debaucheries one atop the other.” Although Martin used historical events as inspiration for his work, ultimately, “House of the Dragon” is not based on actual events.