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'House of the Dragon' review: Ghoulish and spooky 'Game of Thrones' prequel could set viewers on fire

Violence is brutal and relationships are creepier than ever. Welcome to House of the Dragons, a spin-off of Game of Thrones.

Considering that 'GoT' was the biggest show in the world that he aired from 2011 to his 2019, the stakes are high.The widely deridedending.

"House of the Dragon" (premiering August 21 at 9pm on HBO) is far from a classic, but juicy drama, palace intrigue and audience-pleasing GoT nostalgia It is a highly addictive series full of. .

Set 172 years before Daenerys' birth and given Westeros by 'inheritance'. We're sticking with the drama of her ancestry, the silver-haired, dragon-riding, incest-happy Targaryen.

Based on George R.R. Martin's bookFire&Blood, House of the Dragon's main conflict isthe civil war between Princess Raenira and her half. His younger brother, Aegon II (not yet born at the start of this show), is vying for who will take the throne. House Targaryen is the power to rule Westeros in this era, his player, but the current king, the sane ruler Viserys I (Paddyconsidain), must name his successor.

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in "House of the Dragon." Behind her, Paddy Considine as her dad, Viserys I, sits on the throne.
Photo by Ollie Upton / HBO

Fans looking for characters to catch and cheer for The way the original show gave us Starks is going to be disappointing.The Targaryens are a bunch of prickly weirdos, the show's relationships are all straight out of the Groomers R Us, and the middle-aged men and a young girl you've known for years who are often blood relatives to boot.Dragons and battles and politics all work well, but the only thing that made 'GoT' get so many viewers It wasn't.

Viserys I's prime contenders for the crown are his young daughter Raenira her Targaryen (Millie her Olcock in the first few episodes, and Emma her in later episodes after her jump). 's Darcy plays her). However, the king's advisors fear this will cause chaos, as it is against the norm for a woman to rule. We mostly see her sprinting with her father Otto (Rhys Effans), the Hand of the King, her friend Aricent Hightower (Emily Carey, and later Olivia Cooke). increase. Rhaenyra also has an uncomfortably flirtatious dynamic with her uncle her Daemon (her Matt Smith landscape-chewing, oozing menace). 

The incest of twins Jaime and Cersei Lannister was nasty in 'GoT', but at least they were the same age, and the show also offered plenty of tastier romance to counter it. Seeing Damon, who is about to turn 40, flirting with his young teenage niece is unsettling and sure to raise eyebrows.

Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in the first few episodes of "House of the Dragon."
Photo by Ollie Upton/HBO
Matt Smith wearing a helmet holding a sword.
Photo courtesy Ollie Upton / HBO
Olivia Cooke as older Alicent Hightower, left, and Emma D'Arcy as older Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in "House of the Dragon."
Photo courtesy Ollie Upton / HBO

As the king's brother, Daemon is another contender for the throne, but most people (including Otto, who hates him) think it's going to be a disaster. (Unsurprisingly, he delivers many scenes that are vulgar, gruesome, or just plain fun.) And when the king finally has a baby boy, the question of his succession becomes even more complicated.

Like "GoT," "House of the Dragon" features many characters plotting in rooms and brutal action scenes. At times, the writing is almost comically heavy-handed. In one episode, a pregnant woman likens childbirth to a battlefield. The scene then alternates between her labor going awry and a battlefield where the men lash out. "GoT" wasn't a nuanced show, but it didn't leave viewers scratching their heads like this. Rhaenyra's and Alicent's actress swaps are also jarring. Both pairs perform well, but the drastic change in age is less noticeable, so the switch is unnecessarily distracting. 

Graham McTavish on a horse.
Photo by Ollie Upton / HBO
A dragon
Courtesy of HBO
King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen) chat in front of a dragon skull in "House of the Dragon."
Photo Courtesy of Ollie Upton / HBO

For better or worse, "House of the Dragon" is narrower than "GoT". If you get tired of Jon in the freezing cold, you can always count on GoT to change scenes to different characters and families. Without, the primary location (with a few exceptions) is King's Landing.

Aside from the questionable wig, "House of the Dragon" is well done on its own: a pulpy political fantasy that makes you want to keep watching. And from "GoT" at least he can learn one important lesson. Its sex scenes are more tastefully shot and feature both female and male nudity.

It remains to be seen if more viewers will be able to overcome their anger with the "GoT" ending, or if this will become a more niche show for hardcore fans. should catch fire.