George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones, would have preferred that the prequel series House of the Dragon begin its narrative 40 years before the first episode. The 2018 film House of the Dragon, which is based on Martin’s book Fire & Blood, tells the story of House Targaryen’s demise. Season 1 focuses on the 30 years building up to the Dance of the Dragons, a House Targaryen civil war that destabilized Westeros. Aemond Targaryen accidentally killed Lucerys Velaryon at the end of season 1, setting off the civil war between Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen of Dragonstone and Queen Alicent Hightower of King’s Landing.
The initial scene of episode 1 took place at the earliest point in the history, even though House of the Dragon depicts 30 years’ worth of events that led up to the start of the Dance of the Dragons. After the passing of his sons Aemon and Baelon, King Jaehaerys Targaryen is compelled to name an heir at the start of House of the Dragon. The Westerosi lords chose Viserys over Jaehaerys’ daughter, Princess Rhaenys, who could have succeeded him as heir. Jaehaerys unwittingly sealed the fate of House Targaryen by giving Viserys access to information about Aegon’s Dream, and Viserys designating his daughter Rhaenyra as heir served as the first significant development prior to the civil war.
Martin claimed in an interview with Penguin Random House that he would have begun writing House of the Dragon 40 years earlier. He talks about how intriguing it would be to learn more about Aemon and Baelon Targaryen’s past, as well as how Jaehaerys would have to struggle with choosing the right person to succeed him as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. See what Martin had to say after the break:
“I would have began it like 40 years earlier with the episode I would have called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’ in which Jaehaerys’s two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive. And we see the friendship, but also the rivalry, between the two sides of the great house. You know, Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth and then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir. Is it the daughter of the older son who’s just died or is it the second son, who has sons of his own and is a man and she’s just a teenage girl?“
How House of the Dragon Would Have Differed Had the Story Began Earlier
Martin’s idea of when House of the Dragon should have premiered is unusual for TV programs, as the Dance of the Dragons’ possibility would have led to a significant cast replacement later on. Due to time leaps, House of the Dragon regularly recasts characters, but if the show began with Aemon and Baelon, it would be before important Targaryen civil war figures like Rhaenyra and Alicent had ever been born.
Starting so early would also require a full adaptation of “Heirs of the Dragon,” a novella from Fire & Blood that describes the deaths of Aemon and Baelon and the ensuing succession crisis. If that were to occur, the story could have been explored in depth for an entire season of the program.
Characters like Aemon, Baelon, and Jaehaerys would have made an impact as the Dance of the Dragons got closer, therefore it would have been fascinating to understand more about their histories. However, considering how far apart the time leaps in Season 1 of House of the Dragon are, adding another 40 years’ worth of time jumps could have made viewers less interested. The story of Jaehaerys Targaryen’s sons, their deaths, and the necessity to settle the Throne’s succession would be fascinating to read more about, but doing so would have made House of the Dragon feel quite different from what it is right now.