Streaming on Sky Atlantic / Now TV
Reviewed by Matt ‘Hand of the King’ Adcock (@cleric20)
How do you like your politically charged fantasy?
If you answered ‘tasty – with plenty of spicy situations, intrigue, violence, treason, naked bums, simmering rage and kick ass dragons’, then oh boy are you about to be happy…
Here we go then with a time-rewind to Westeros some 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. We get to join the action in the ninth year of King Viserys (Paddy ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ Considine) Targaryen’s reign. Things in the kingdom are a bit tense, the king is ill, and he doesn’t have a male heir although does have cool daughter - Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), but it’s pointed out that “there has never been a queen on the Iron Throne”.
Step forward cocky pantomime baddie Prince Daemon (Matt ‘acting like he’s cos-playing a Game of Thrones character’ Smith) who wants to be king elect. Luckily the current queen is pregnant and about to give birth – many fingers are crossed for a male baby and Viserys has such a good feeling about it that he puts on a celebratory tournament where the knights of the realm joust and take to hand-to-hand combat for some patented GOT extremely gory demises.
pick a side... each comes with a free dragon!
It's only a minor spoiler to say the birth of the new heir doesn’t exactly lead to a glorious new succession plan the king was hoping for – cue Daemon thinking he’s an evil shoo-in for the crown. But, being an absolute bell-end, he parties a bit too hard over the death of his nephew which doesn’t go down very well. Add to the mix some pot-boiling stirring by the King’s Hand, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) and his Cersei-like daughter Alicent (Emily Carey) and the fuse is well and truly lit for another 7 episodes of carnage. By the end of this first hour, we’ve met plenty of the main characters, and heard tales about some who will no doubt turn up later in the series – my favourite being the reference to a salty self-appointed Prince Admiral of the free cities who is called ‘Crab Feeder’ due to his penchant for, well, feeding his enemies to crabs!?
But perhaps given the name of the show we get to see some very impressive dragons. Oooooh here be dragons alright and they are fine beasties indeed, apparently there are no less than 10 kicking about and I for one can’t wait to see them in battle. In proper Game of Thrones style the seeds of political, lineage, and civil squabbles are well sown – I can’t confirm or deny if Westeros is in the throes of a ‘Westxit’ vote but having a blonde-haired loony overseeing political chaos and an unhappy populace doesn’t sound that far-fetched alas…
House of the Dragon is sublime – Game of Thrones fans (even if jaded by the unpopular ending of the main series) should definitely give this a look. Based on this first episode we could be in for a prequel series every bit as awesome as GOT was at its best. Let’s hope that the mooted sequel ‘Snow’ can also step up and deliver because it looks like fantasy fans are going to have a great time what with the rival Lord of the Rings ‘Rings of Power’ hitting in September too…
Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(5 - Fire will reign…)