‘House of the Dragon’: Why George R.R. Martin Chose Ryan J. Condal to Adapt ‘Fire & Blood’

House of the Dragon proved George R.R. Martin‘s Game of Thrones is back on. The series premiere garnered 10 million viewers. Ryan J. Condal adapted Martin’s Fire & Blood, a history of the Targaryen empire for HBO. There’s a story behind why Martin trusted him with his fictional past. 

George R.R. Martin's 'House of the Dragon': Milly Alcock stares seriously
Milly Alcock | Ollie Upton/HBO

Condal and House of the Dragon Executive Producer Miguel Sapochnik were guests on Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast on Aug. 8. They explained how they came to adapt Martin’s Game of Thrones prequel. New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere Sundays on HBO Max.

Ryan J. Condal met George R.R. Martin independent of ‘House of the Dragon’

Nine years ago, Game of Thrones was still on the air and Condal was just a fan. In 2013, Condal was developing the pilot for The Sixth Gun for NBC in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since Martin lived there, Condal reached out to him with no ulterior motive regarding House of the Dragon

Fire & Blood didn’t exist in that time,” Condal said on Hero Nation. “This is going back 9 years now so I don’t think he had written much about the Targaryen history. If he had, there were notes. He had not published anything yet. I just went in as a fan. I love him and his work. Those books have had a huge impact on me both as a fan of science fiction and fantasy and also as a writer. I just knew I was going to be living in his backyard for two months in Santa Fe so I just wanted to look him up and get to know him.”

‘House of the Dragon’ needed someone George R.R. Martin trusted

The Sixth Gun did not make it past the pilot, but Condal and Martin’s friendship did. HBO developed multiple Game of Thrones spinoffs including a pilot on which they passed. Martin wanted Condal for House of the Dragon.

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“We hit it off and we became friendly,” Condal said. “Over this organic relationship formed, he got to know me and got to know my writing and the fact that I adored his books. So when it came around to the time where HBO was looking for spinoff writers and they were trying a lot of things with many different writers, George really wanted somebody who knew his books very well.”

Ryan J. Condal had multiple recommendations

Sapochnik knew Condal from a prior project too. They developed a Conan, the Barbarian series for Prime Video. Sapochnik directed for Game of Thrones and was already in the family, but independent of Martin.

“I had pitched Ryan to HBO as one of the potential writers for a spin off because they had asked me to attach to various different spinoffs,” Sapochnik said. “I knew George only through, literally I’d only ever met him at the Emmys. That was the one time I met him. So the whole thing of us ending up working together and doing this seems a fairly logical conclusion. It made sense because I was attaching to spinoffs that were interesting but in the end, you could see that HBO were looking for anything but Game of Thrones and actually Game of Thrones is what people want. So this seemed like the best bet to move forward.