7 Reasons ‘House of the Dragon’ Is So Much Better Than ‘Rings of Power’

House of the Dragon and Rings of Power premiered within just a few days of each other. And, of course, that means we have to compare the HBO prequel series and the Amazon Prime original — that are based on two of the most popular literary fantasy franchises of all time — to each other. Those comparisons were demanding to be made! 

But if we’re being honest, this was quite an easy task because House of the Dragon is so much better than Rings of Power. Here are seven reasons why.

House of the Dragon stars Milly Alcock and Paddy Considine
Milly Alcock and Paddy Considine in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

1. ‘House of the Dragon’ respects the source material

Considering the divisive and controversial ending to Game of Thrones, it’s impressive that House of the Dragon beats out Rings of Power in the category of respecting the source material.  

The world created by George R. R. Martin comes to life at the height of House Targaryen’s power. And so far, it’s exceeding expectations. Martin found inspiration from the history of our own world while creating the Westeros history in his novels, and it’s full of complexities and nuance.

The political war is intriguing to watch, with few people in the series being purely good or purely evil. And the story playing out on screen is making Martin’s book Fire & Blood an even better read than we originally thought.

On the flip side, Rings of Power is marketed as being part of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe, and it’s supposedly based on the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. But its connection to the world that Tolkien built and the characters he created feels almost non-existent. 

2. ‘Rings of Power’ failed with its on-screen world-building

When you consider attention to detail, the world that Tolkien built in his books was far superior than the world in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. But on-screen, the results are completely opposite.

House of the Dragon‘s attention to detail in its world-building has been impressive, with each noble house’s sigil meticulously carried throughout the entire production. That includes the costumes, the props, and the set design as a whole. 

Viewers can instantly distinguish the independent citizens of Dorne from the mannered houses of The Reach. And every location — from the Free Cities to the grass sea of the Dothraki — has its own distinct look and customs.

Rings of Power has put a beautiful world on the screen filled with seas, mountain ranges, caves, and plains that makes it easy to tell where those millions of dollars were spent. But they barely showed viewers the Elves, Dwarves, Humans, and Harfoots in the first two episodes. And there are so many characters and locations that it’s almost impossible to keep it all straight.

3. ‘House of the Dragon’ is filled with political intrigue

Our favorite part of Game of Thrones was the political intrigue and the fight for power among the warring families, and that is literally what House of the Dragon is all about. The politics and in-fighting among House Targaryen is the center of the action, with all of the players trying to strategize and outmaneuver each other.

Over in Middle-earth, all of the different races have their own systems of government, which are usually monarchies. In Rings of Power, all of these societies are fighting a great, looming danger. Which essentially cuts out any of the political struggles or intrigue that makes House of the Dragon so good.

4. Does ‘Rings of Power’ have an audience?

In the era of streaming, it’s incredibly difficult to know how many people are really watching these shows. But it appears that House of the Dragon has a much bigger audience, which makes it better than Rings of Power

HBO announced that more than 25 million people watched the House of the Dragon pilot, including 10 million live viewers. Those live viewer numbers have continued to increase over the first three episodes, according to Deadline. And the reviews and audience feedback, so far, have been quite positive.

On the other hand, Amazon has been cryptic when it comes to the size of the audience that Rings of Power is getting. They claimed that 25 million people worldwide took a look at the first episode, per Variety. However, they are not allowing fans to submit user reviews on Amazon Prime. And, there has been an entire group of online content creators making bank with videos criticizing the series.

5. ‘House of the Dragon’ made us forget about ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8

Both House of the Dragon and Rings of Power are following up maligned projects in their respective universes. Game of Thrones infamously dropped the ball in its final season, which created numerous skeptics ahead of House of the Dragon. However, the first few episodes of the prequel have been so good that fans have literally forgotten what happened three years ago.

After the disappointing The Hobbit trilogy — which should have never been stretched out to three movies — Rings of Power has been another severe disappointment for Tolkien fans. 

6. There are too many characters in ‘Rings of Power’

House of the Dragon immediately introduced viewers to all of the lead players, and gave them distinct personalities and characteristics. Despite everyone having platinum blonde hair, fans instantly recognized the flawed King Viserys (Paddy Considine), the strong-willed Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy), and the villainous rogue prince, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith).

Rings of Power has a much larger ensemble cast, with a number of different races and settings. There are so many characters that it’s almost impossible to connect with any of them. What’s more, Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo) aren’t anything like the characters we fell in love with in Peter Jackson’s trilogy.

7. The story is so much better in ‘House of the Dragon’

There is nothing more important to a TV show than the writing. And when it comes to story, House of the Dragon blows Rings of Power out of the water. The family dynamics leading up to the Targaryen civil war have been fascinating to watch, like a game of chess with every player making a strategic, calculating move. 

Rings of Power, however, has attempted to create a story based on appendices. And we are in Middle-earth at a time when evil was supposedly eradicated (it’s not). There’s no central quest in the story, or clear focus at all. The first episodes have a “wait-and-see” vibe. And we’re not sure if we are willing to wait to see more episodes.

House of the Dragon airs Sunday nights on HBO and is now streaming on HBO Max. Rings of Power is now playing on Amazon Prime.

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