What book is House of the Dragon based on? Fire and Blood book changes
What George R R Martin book is House of the Dragon based on? **WARNING: Contains spoilers for House of the Dragon**
The prequel to Game of Thrones has finally arrived.
House of the Dragon will tell the story of House Targaryen at the height of their powers until an argument about who will succeed King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) explodes.
Will Viserys choose his roguish brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) or his daughter Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy, Milly Alcock) to sit upon the Iron Throne?
And even if he chooses one, will the realm truly back his decisions?
The House of the Dragon cast also stars Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower, Olivia Cooke and Emily Carey as Lady Alicent Hightower, Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, Eve Best as Princess Rhaenys Velaryon, Fabien Frankel as Ser Criston Cole, and Sonoya Mizuno as Mysaria.
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However, while Game of Thrones may be based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, what is House of the Dragon based on?
What book is House of the Dragon based on?
House of the Dragon is based on the fictional popular history book Fire and Blood.
The book, which was released in 2018, charts the history of House Targaryen from the arrival of King Aegon I Targaryen (AKA Aegon the Conquerer) in Westeros to the early days in the reign of King Aegon III Targaryen.
This historical account contains six volumes, available as follows:
- The Targaryen Conquest - King Aegon I Targaryen conquers the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
- The Peace of the Dragon - King Aegon I Targaryen rules over Westeros.
- The Sons of the Dragon - The reigns of Aegon’s sons, King Aenys I Targaryen and King Maegor I Targaryen, followed by the early reign of Aenys’s own son, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen.
- Heirs of the Dragon - The last years of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen’s lengthy reign and the succession debate that follows it.
- The Dying of the Dragons - The civil war known as ‘The Dance of Dragons’ that develops over the succession of King Viserys I Targaryen.
- Aftermath — The Boy King and His Regents - The early reign of King Aegon III Targaryen.
The television series House of the Dragon covers at least the volumes ‘Heirs of the Dragon’ and ‘The Dying of the Dragons’.
These volumes were previously partially released through two of George RR Martin’s novellas.
The Rogue Prince, released in 2014, charts the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen and the debates regarding who will eventually succeed him, with candidates including the eponymous rogue Prince Daemon Targaryen, who is played by Matt Smith in the series.
This novella chronologically precedes another novella, The Princess and the Queen, which was released in 2013.
The Princess and the Queen charts the conflict known as 'The Dance of Dragons’ and examines the Targaryen civil war that forms out of the conflict between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Queen Alicent Hightower.
Considering how dense these novellas and matching volumes are with events, we can likely expect them to carry on into further seasons.
What does the series House of the Dragon change from the book Fire and Blood?
Episode 1 - The Heirs of the Dragon
In the first episode, The Heirs of the Dragon, the final choice for the lords of Westeros at the Great Council deciding who will succeed King Jaehaerys I Targaryen is brought down to Viserys Targaryen and his cousin Princess Rhaenys Targaryen.
In the book, Rhaenys had already been eliminated as a potential contender due to her sex – to the anger of King Jaehaerys’s sister-wife Queen Alysanne Targaryen – but was vying for her son Laenor Velaryon to succeed due to his rights through her.
Less a change but more of an omission is that Viserys’s wife Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) was actually from House Arryn, despite having the royal blood of House Targaryen and therefore resembling them too.
Viserys also appears older at the time of his being selected as heir to the Iron Throne, being 26 years old in the book and even being known as The Young King when he succeeds two years later.
At the time of his second marriage, Viserys is also not yet 30 years old.
While less of a change, the series has expanded on the friendship between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Lady Alicent Hightower. This is no doubt to create greater tensions when the pair eventually fall into discord later in the series.
Alicent is also nearly 10 years older than Rhaenyra in the book, whereas here they are depicted as being similar in age. Alicent was 17 in the book, while Rhaenyra was even more of a child at seven-years-old.
The series has also so far excluded the rumoured source of Ser Otto Hightower’s hatred of Prince Daemon Targaryen – that he took the virginity of Alicent.
The book acknowledges that this could be a false rumour made up by one of the “sources” in the fictional history, Mushroom.
In the episode, Prince Daemon does suggestively ask for Alicent’s favour at the Tourney where he is defeated by Ser Criston Cole.
Could the series build on their connection in future?
The precocious Alicent had also cared for the dying King Jaehaerys in his final days by reading to him in his chambers.
Ser Criston Cole is also seen defeating Prince Daemon at the Tourney that occurs on the day Queen Aemma is due to give birth, but in the book, Cole had defeated Daemon at the Tourney for Viserys's ascension and had already been named to the Kingsguard by the time of the events later in the episode.
The exact circumstances of Queen Aemma giving birth to her baby Baelon, and both of their subsequent deaths, are depicted in less graphic detail in the book too, noting the Queen's death while giving birth and baby Baelon dying a day later.
In the show, we see Viserys agree to a caesarian section being performed on a conscious and resistant Aemma in an attempt to save the baby's life and she dies on a bed of blood. However, baby Baelon dies shortly afterwards.
Aside from these choices – often for streamlining or more dramatic purposes – the episode is largely in keeping with what is written in George R R Martin's Fire and Blood.
Episode 2 - The Rogue Prince
There have been a number of adaptational changes in the second episode of the series, The Rogue Prince.
In the book, Mysaria was actually pregnant in the book and after King Viserys intervened, Prince Daemon sent her back across the Narrow Sea to Lys but she miscarried on the way due to a storm, causing Daemon’s heart to harden even further with Viserys. Prince Daemon also then returned to the Vale of Arryn and to his estranged wife, Lady Rhea Royce.
In the book, Princess Rhaenyra was also not noted to have been responsible for Prince Daemon standing down and returning the egg. The series has given her more involvement in this story.
Additionally, Princess Rhaenyra and King Viserys remain older in the show than in the books. Rhaenyra was still a young girl in the book, while Viserys was still considered 'The Young King', not yet 30!
The series has certainly fleshed out the discord over the dragon egg but kept much of the detail of how King Viserys passed over a chance to mend bridges with House Velaryon to instead marry Lady Alicent.
The impact of King Viserys’ engagement to Lady Alicent and the shock and horror of Princess Rhaenyra is original to the show as the two young women have been brought closer in age and with a deeper friendship with the series adaptation.
Finally, in the book, Ser Criston rose to his post among the Kingsguard before the death of Queen Aemma.
Episode 3 - Second Of His Name
In the third episode, Second Of His Name, the timeline of events has slightly shifted when compared to the book Fire and Blood.
In the book, Queen Alicent gives birth to Prince Aegon after Prince Daemon defeats the Crabfeeder.
In the book, the war with the Crabfeeder is regularly financed by the Crown despite its being considered a private war and the series instead fleshes out the events of the war and what happens with King Viserys’ support of Prince Daemon. Prince Daemon does indeed slaughter the Crabfeeder himself. No mention is made of Ser Laenor or Ser Vaemond’s roles in the war, however.
Ser Vaemond Velaryon is Lord Corlys' nephew in the book, but here he is his younger brother and doubts the tactics of Prince Dameon.
Meanwhile, Queen Alicent’s issues with Prince Aegon supplanting Princess Rhaenyra are new for the series and add greater complexity to her character who is endlessly encouraged by her father Ser Otto here. In the book, Queen Alicent is always out for securing her son's advancement.
Elsewhere, Princess Rhaenyra is shown to be upset at the marriage of Alicent to King Viserys here due to her own feelings for her former best friend but in the book, she initially is at peace with the marriage - until later.
Finally, the age changes for King Viserys, Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent remain.
Episode 4 - King of the Narrow Sea
There were a number of changes in the fourth episode of House of the Dragon when adapting Fire and Blood.
By this point in the book, Alicent had already begun pushing Viserys to name Aegon as his heir and Ser Otto joined her, prompting his dismissal as Hand as Viserys would not change his mind. This occurred before the Daemon-Rhaenyra scandal.
Alicent and Rhaenyra had also already fallen out and factions began to form around them.
The series also gives a definitive version of events surrounding Rhaenyra’s virginity as the fictional history of Fire & Blood gives multiple accounts to explain what happened between Daemon and Rhaenyra and why Viserys fell out with his brother once again.
In one version, Rhaenyra and Daemon were caught in bed together and she wanted to marry him but Viserys refused. Another, which is closer to the series, saw Daemon smuggle Rhaenyra out of the city to show her how to pleasure a man, watching prostitutes and also practising for a time with him. This was all done so she could seduce Ser Criston but, in this version, she approaches Criston and he is horrified by her attempts to seduce him with what she has learned.
Additionally, Daemon is also exiled from the Seven Kingdoms entirely and not sent to the Vale in the book, so he returns to continue battling in the Stepstones.
It is after the scandal in the book that Rhaenyra’s betrothal becomes a hot topic and it is Alicent that pushes for her to be married to Aegon but Viserys puts this down to her ambitions. Rhaenyra also has taken up her seat at Dragonstone before it is settled.
The King and the Small Council also agree that the best strategic marriage would be for Rhaenyra to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon, the son of Lord Corlys Velaryon and Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, so this is accurate to the book.
Episode 5 - We Light the Way
There are a number of adaptational changes when comparing House of the Dragon episode 5 to the book Fire and Blood.
In the book, there is no suggestion that Daemon was responsible for Lady Rhea’s death but it is made clear that he would have benefited from this. Rhea’s fall also sees her linger in agony after trying to stand and she eventually dies in great pain. Daemon's attempts to claim her inheritance are swiftly shut down in the book by Lady Jeyne Arryn, however, and he is told he is not welcome in the Vale. Rhea’s death also occurs after Rhaenyra marries Laenor in the book.
The series fleshes out the marriage negotiations for Rhaenyra and Laenor and notes that there are some reservations about Laenor’s sexuality but also that these are dealt with pragmatically by all involved.
We are shown here that it is Alicent discovering the truth about Rhaenyra’s secret sexual liaisons that prompts her to turn against her old friend and take on the Hightower colour of green in her dresses. Once again she had fallen out with Rhaenyra much earlier in the book and had also herself pushed for her son Aegon to marry Rhaenyra instead of Laenor but was shut down by Viserys due to her ambition. Much of the scheming and ambition here rests with Otto but by the end of the episode, Alicent appears closer to her book counterpart as she has steeled herself against Rhaenyra and her inheriting the throne.
The end of Criston and Rhaenyra’s romance is accurate to one of the accounts of the book on why he eventually hated her. In one account he suggested they run away together but she neglected him out of duty, earning his scorn. The other account saw them never consummate their romance despite Rhaenyra’s attempts to seduce him but Criston rejected her due to his vows, prompting her to seek solace with - and lose her virginity to - Ser Harwin Strong. The series also fleshes out how Criston went on to switch sides from being loyal to Rhaenyra to loyal to Alicent.
In the book, Viserys is much younger and his health is much better at this point; in the series, he is middle-aged and ailing quite badly. There is no nosebleed and collapse at the wedding in the book.
In the book, the death of Ser Joffrey occurs in the tourney after the wedding and he had worn the favour of Laenor, while Ser Harwin had worn Rhaenyra’s favour. This rejection of Criston by Rhaenyra saw him wear Alicent’s favour and go on to beat the Queen’s brothers, Ser Harwin and then kill Ser Joffrey. The event certainly displeased Viserys in the book but Alicent took Criston as her personal guard thereafter. There was no Alicent interrupting a suicide attempt by Criston in the book.
Episode 6 - The Princess and the Queen
There were a number of changes in House of the Dragon episode 6 when comparing it to the book Fire and Blood.
In the book, as Laena and Daemon had married without the permission of Viserys after he killed her other suitor (a Sea Lord from Braavos) and they fled to the Free Cities to escape his wrath. It was after their exploits away from Westeros that they returned to the Driftmark to raise their family and Daemon becoming a father reconciled him to Viserys. As Rhaenyra was already at nearby Dragonstone, the couples of Rhaenyra and Laenor and Daemon and Laena were close, with Rhaenyra and Laena having a close friendship. Laena was nursed by Rhaenyra as she underwent her difficult lengthy labour and she collapsed trying to leave to mount Vhagar when Daemon carried her back to her bed where she died.
The depiction of Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage, their lovers, the paternity of their children and the reactions at the court of Alicent and her supporters are much like the book, although Rhaenyra was already often at Dragonstone. The rivalries between Alicent’s and Rhaenyra’s sons are also accurate to the book.
So far, the series has omitted the third son of Viserys and Alicent, Prince Daeron Targaryen, who was born at a similar time as Rhaenyra had Joffrey.
The paternity of Rhaenyra’s children is confirmed here despite being only heavily implied in the book. Jacaerys is also shown to be more or less aware of the truth but the book does not suggest this.
There was not another clash between Ser Criston and Ser Harwin in the book that saw the latter lose his role as the head of the City Watch and depart King’s Landing. There were also no scenes of Lyonel trying to resign over his son’s behaviour as depicted here.
The deaths of Lord Lyonel Strong and Ser Harwin Strong occurred later in the book and after other events (and deaths) yet to be depicted.
The book does not offer a firm answer as to who set the fire to kill Lord Lyonel and Ser Harwin at Harrenhal, with Larys Strong being considered one of the potential culprits. Others included Prince Daemon - out of a desire for Rhaenyra, Lord Corlys - as punishment for Ser Harwin cuckolding Ser Laenor, or even King Viserys himself to silence the rumours about his grandchildren. The series settles on Larys so he can advance his position and tie himself closer to Alicent who wanted her father Ser Otto back at court and as Hand of the King, although here she only learns of Larys’ actions after the fire and is also conflicted about what Larys has done.
Episode 7 - Driftmark
A number of changes were made comparing the book Fire and Blood to House of the Dragon episode 7.
In the book, Lady Laena Velaryon had died on Driftmark and so her children and she had been there the whole time. Rhaenyra’s sons and Daemon’s daughters had been raised closely together as the former were at Dragonstone, and the latter nearby on Driftmark.
The large gathering for a funeral on Driftmark was not for Lady Laena in the book and was instead for her brother, Ser Laenor.
Following the deaths of Laena and Laenor in the book, Lord Lyonel Strong and Ser Harwin Strong were killed in the fire at Harrenhal. In the series, this took place in the previous episode.
In the book, Viserys and Alicent had a third son named Daeron who is absent here.
The continued presence of Ser Harrold Westerling is a change, as if the series had followed the book timeline, the character would have died during the time jump.
Princess Rhaenys Targaryen is shown to explicitly be aware of the paternity of Rhaenyra’s children while Lord Corlys is shown not to care regardless in the pursuit of his own ambition.
Lady Baela and Lady Rhaena Targaryen were not present in the book when Aemond lost his eye and were not involved with that story directly.
The story of Prince Aemond losing his eye and the subsequent debate is accurate to the book but Queen Alicent’s outburst and violent confrontation with Rhaenyra are original for the series.
In the book, the loss of Aemond's eye prompted King Viserys to make the ruling against slander of Rhaenyra's children as bastards, but he also ruled that Alicent and her children return to King's Landing, while Rhaenyra and her children should remain on Dragonstone. In the book, this pleased Daemon as he would be near her on Driftmark.
The series explicitly shows Rhaenyra and Daemon make love and orchestrate their eventual marriage through the fate of Ser Laenor. While their speedy marriage in the book is noted as suspicious, this makes it explicitly planned in advance.
In the book, Ser Laenor was killed by Ser Qarl while attending a fair in Spicetown and quarrelled around merchants.
The book offers a number of rumoured scenarios regarding the fate of Ser Laenor. One suggests that Daemon paid Ser Qarl to kill Ser Laenor and helped him escape in a ship before killing him too. Another scenario is that Ser Qarl grew jealous after Ser Laenor found a new lover, prompting them to quarrel and Ser Qarl killing Ser Laenor and fleeing.
The series invents an escape for Ser Laenor as he faked his own death and escaped across the Narrow Sea with his lover Ser Qarl, while Westeros believes he is dead and Rhaenyra widowed. The book appears to genuinely portray Ser Laenor’s death.
In the book, Daemon and Rhaenyra's marriage occurred after the deaths of Lord Lyonel Strong and Ser Harwin Strong at Harrenhal and Ser Otto Hightower had returned to King's Landing.
Episode 8 - The Lord of the Tides
There were a number of book changes when adapting Fire & Blood for House of the Dragon episode 8.
The time jump between the previous episode and this one skips over another controversy in the book: Rhaenyra and Daemon naming their first son as Aegon, which was considered a slight by Alicent as her own eldest son is already a second Aegon to the original Aegon the Conquerer.
The show has entirely omitted the third son of King Viserys and Alicent: Prince Daeron Targaryen.
The show has not yet named the children of Aegon the Elder and his wife Helaena, named in the book as Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen, Princess Jaehaera Targaryen, and Prince Maelor Targaryen.
In the book, Aegon had already fathered two bastard children: one by a girl whose virginity he won in an auction on the Street of Silk and the other by one of his mother's maidservants.
In the book, Lord Corlys caught a fever and was near death, unlike the show where he is wounded in battle on the Stepstones.
Ser Vaemond Velaryon is once again depicted as Lord Corlys's brother here instead of as his eldest nephew as he is in the book.
In the book, Ser Vaemond is killed when Rhaenyra sends Daemon to kill him. It is in response to this that Ser Vaemond's family heads to King's Landing to petition the King for justice. The King immediately hears these claims in the book as he is sick but mostly fat and unfit. It is after this meeting that Viserys stumbled and cut his hand on the Iron Throne, falling gravely ill after and his death was feared. Rhaenyra called her own maester, Gerardys, to come and help the King, and he does so by amputating two of his fingers. This saves the King's life.
In the book, Viserys holds a feast to celebrate his recovery and the Greens and Blacks come together. The feast here is depicted as accurate to the book, albeit omitting toasts from Ser Otto and Prince Daemon to each other. In the book, this conflict did not get physical but in the show does.
Also in the book, Grand Maester Mellos - who was killed off in the time jump between episodes 5 and 6 - died sometime after the feast, prompting a debate over who should replace him and the Blacks and Greens clashed until the Citadel at Oldtown selected Grand Maester Orwyle.
In the book, Viserys grows ill and leaves matters to Ser Otto before taking to his bed but all after the feast.
In the book, Viserys' last visit is from Princess Helaena and her children before he goes to bed and dies peacefully in his sleep. Rhaenyra had already returned to Dragonstone and was preparing to give birth to her third child from her marriage to Daemon.
In the book, Viserys' death occurs two years after the judgement on Driftmark's succession and the feast following his recovery.
The series gives Alicent a more prominent role in the ruling of the kingdom during Viserys' sickness.
The series adds an added tragic element as it genuinely appears as though Rhaenyra and Alicent could be about to achieve a reconciliation before a misunderstanding by Viserys tees Alicent up to once again battle her stepdaughter.
Episode 9 - The Green Council
There were a number of changes when adapting Fire and Blood into House of the Dragon episode 9, The Green Council.
The continued story of Alicent believing that King Viserys told her that Aegon should succeed is original for the series.
In the book Fire and Blood, Ser Harrold Westerling had already died prior to these events and had already been replaced as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard by Ser Criston Cole.
Princess Rhaenys Targaryen was not present in King's Landing for the death of King Viserys and the subsequent accession and coronation of King Aegon II Targaryen in the book, meaning her scenes including the big climactic moment with her dragon Meleys are original for the series.
In the book, in the most likely reading of events, Lord Lyman Beesbury is described as having had his throat slashed at the Green Council by Ser Criston Cole.
Lord Larys Strong was present at the Green Council in Fire and Blood as he was the Lord Confessor and Master of Whisperers. In the book, Lord Larys suggested they all swore a blood oath to honour their plan. All of Lord Larys' scenes in this episode are invented for the series - including THAT scene with Alicent.
The storyline of Lord Larys and his sexual response to Queen Alicent during their private audiences is original for the series.
Ser Erryk Cargyll was already on Dragonstone with Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen when her father died in the book Fire and Blood, with the series having him present in the city and acting out a role similar to Ser Steffon Darklyn in the book by rebelling to support Rhaenyra and escaping King's Landing with Viserys' crown. In the book, Ser Erryk was already the sworn protector of Rhaenyra, not Aegon.
Grand Maester Orwyle is portrayed as at least more neutral in the book and at most as slightly combative in Rhaenyra's favour, compared to the series where he advocates her murder.
In the book, Alicent is less conflicted and sympathetic to Rhaenyra, arguing that the Princess will kill Alicent's children and they must move against her. Ser Criston also slams Rhaenyra and Daemon as likely creating a palace of depravity should the Princess take the throne and how the realm would be cursed if her bastard son Prince Jacaerys Velaryon took the throne after her.
The conflict between Alicent and Ser Otto over their past and how to proceed surrounding the succession is an invention for the series.
In the book, Aegon is not keen to steal the throne from Rhaenyra but is only convinced by Ser Criston who warned him that his half-sister would kill Alicent's children and Aegon's own.
In the book, the coronation also saw Alicent crown her daughter Helaena as the new Queen Consort of the Seven Kingdoms and bow to her.
The working relationship between Ser Otto Hightower and Mysaria is original for the series, as is Larys' attempts to kill the White Worm.
The series confirms rumours in the book that Aegon had fathered a number of bastards, with the show even highlighting one small child. Whether these children will amount to further importance in the show remains to be seen.
House of the Dragon has only introduced us to two of Aegon and Helaena's children so far but in the book they have three: Jaehaerys, Jaehaera, and Maelor.
Episode 10 - The Black Queen
There were a number of changes when adapting Fire and Blood into House of the Dragon episode 10, The Black Queen.
In Fire and Blood, Daemon is definitely the figure encouraging conflict while Rhaenyra seeks a diplomatic solution but the book never shows Daemon physically abusing Rhaenyra in their arguing.
As the addition of Aegon’s prophecy is original to the series, the conversations surrounding this between Rhaenyra and Daemon are new for the series.
In the book, Ser Otto Hightower does not visit Dragonstone with terms and no page is given to Rhaenyra from Alicent. Grand Maester Orwyle travels to Dragonstone with terms before having his chain removed and it is given to Maester Gerardys. It is in this scene in the book that Rhaenyra outrightly rejects Orwyle's terms and gives a message to him for Aegon saying she will take her half-brother's crown or his head.
In the series, Rhaenyra is even more concerned with avoiding war than in the book but is continuously pushed into conflict here.
The series depicts Rhaenys as being the one to convince Lord Corlys Velaryon into joining the cause of Rhaenyra which is not shown in the book.
In the book, Prince Aemond Targaryen wilfully kills Prince Lucerys Velaryon when he pursues him on Vhagar but the series depicts Vhagar as killing Lucerys independently and Aemond is horrified about what happened.
In the book, it is Ser Steffon Darklyn who delivers the crown to Rhaenyra on Dragonstone and not Ser Erryk Cargyll. Ser Erryk was already acting as Rhaenyra’s personal protector on Dragonstone.
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