‘House of the Dragon’: Is the ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel Based on a Book?

TL;DR:

  • House of the Dragon is a prequel to HBO’s Game of Thrones.
  • The prequel series is based on George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood.
  • House of the Dragon turns events described in Fire & Blood into a fully-fledged story.
Matt Smith and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon,' which is based on events outlined in George R.R. Martin's book, 'Fire & Blood.' They're both staring toward the camera, and Rhaenyra looks unhappy.
Matt Smith and Milly Alcock in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon just made its debut on HBO, and Game of Thrones fans are diving right back into the world of Westeros. The prequel series is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, and it explores the history of House Targaryen. But does House of the Dragon pull its story from a book? Its narrative is based on events described in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood — but there’s a twist.

‘House of the Dragon’ delves into the history of Westeros

Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon focuses on the ancestors of the characters we know and love — specifically, those who reigned before House Targaryen fell, sending Daenerys and her brother into exile. The events of the show depict the long and complex history of Westeros, which George R.R. Martin has outlined throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as in other works he’s published.

But is House of the Dragon based on a book, or does HBO’s prequel deliver an original story? The answer is a bit of both. Although the show is, indeed, drawing from George R.R. Martin’s writings, it takes a portion of a book and dives more deeply into it.

Is ‘House of the Dragon’ based on a book?

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HBO’s House of the Dragon is based on events described in Fire & Blood, George R.R. Martin’s book that details the history of House Targaryen. Fire & Blood was published back in 2018, and it serves as a companion to the A Song of Ice & Fire series.

But unlike A Song of Ice & Fire, Fire & Blood isn’t written as a story. Instead, it contains many different tales, all weaved together as a historical text. The book jumps from one point in time to the next, covering hundreds and hundreds of years — and describing them from a distance rather than through the eyes of the characters involved.

And that’s where House of the Dragon differs from the book it’s based on. Rather than adapting Martin’s work word for word, the series takes pieces of Fire & Blood and expands upon them.

How HBO’s prequel series differs from George R.R. Martin’s ‘Fire & Blood’

Although House of the Dragon is based on the events laid out in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, it differs from the book in one significant way.

Fire & Blood outlines the lengthy history of House Targaryen in a manner that’s more akin to a historical text, while HBO’s prequel takes one major event — the Dance of the Dragons — and turns it into a fully-fledged story.

Rather than describe the Targaryen’s backstory through a third-party narrator, the show throws viewers directly into the Targaryen civil war, offering the perspectives of all the major players involved. So, anyone considering picking up Fire & Blood shouldn’t expect an identical experience reading the book and watching the prequel.

That said, the HBO series could cover more of the Targaryens’ history if given the chance. Speaking with Collider, showrunner Ryan Condal emphasized how many stories the source material offers:

“There is really 300 years of Targaryen history to explore, and there are many stories within there that are really fascinating. There’s the story of the conquest, the story before the conquest, the Targaryens leaving Old Valyria. You have a tale like this, where the Targaryens have dragons and are in power. And then, there are also stories where the Targaryens no longer have dragons, but are still in power.”

With that in mind, House of the Dragon could have a long lifespan.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/PT every Sunday.

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