‘House of the Dragon’ Reviews: Here’s What Critics Are Saying (2023)

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The reviews are in for HBO’s highly anticipated House of the Dragon.

The review embargo was lifted Friday for the Game of Thrones prequel, and its initial notices are largely positive, with critics calling the fantasy drama “a magical miracle” and a worthy successor to the original series, which became the most Emmy-winning drama of all time. Yet, there are also several mixed reviews, and at least one outright negative take that declared the prequel has “uniformly dull” characters.

Here are key excerpts from some of the most prominent early reviews.

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The Guardian calls the show a “roaring success” and wrote, “House of the Dragon looks set fair to become the game of political seven-dimensional chess that its predecessor was, designed to reward diehard fantasy fans in full measure without alienating the masses that will propel it to the top of the ratings. … In short, all is as it was in GoT’s heyday. Fun, propulsive, looking great and sounding passable. And that, after the bizarrely poor finale to what had been a roaring success of a show, is a relief.”

The Wall Street Journal likewise states, “The unnervingly violent, unwaveringly self-important Dragon is a success dramatically, as captivating as any season of Game of Thrones. … The characters, on the other hand, are many, distinct and given depth by the people portraying them. … Only the first six episodes were made available for review, but those chapters establish a very convincing world and its people. Even the dragons do a good job of portraying real dragons, though they’re used rather sparingly during the early efforts to conquer the empire of Viserys from without and undermine it from within.”

The BBC writes, “From the outset, this is a darker, more solemn, more sophisticated piece –one that lacks the broad, accessible strokes of early Game of Thrones, or its vibrant, colourful characters. There is not a Joffrey to hate here, or a Tyrion to root for. These people are complex in ways that can often make them opaque and challenging, perhaps even unlikeable. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting. … It’s pure Games of Thrones – just not in the way you remember.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s take is mixed, heralding the show’s production elements and performances by Milly Alcock and Matt Smith, yet opining that the show is weighed down by focusing on the Targaryens compared to the more expansive scope of the original series: “It’s disconcerting to seeHouse of the Dragonbecoming less distinctive and more beholden toGame of Thronesas it goes along, when it ought to be the opposite. There’s a lot that’s impressive in the first six episodes, but it’s as safe as a show with incest, gore and horrifying depictions of childbirth could possibly be. It needs to find its own voice, though if that voice remains this Targaryen-y, winter may be coming for my once burning curiosity.”

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The New York Times is similarly mixed, offering, “It is Game of Thrones as Masterpiece Theater. … That seriousness of purpose doesn’t translate into engaging drama, however. There’s a lot of sitting around tables and talking about the troubles of the kingdom, which would be fine in moderation. But the characters are flat, stamped out on Martin’s production line of medieval fantasy types. And when the show ventures into the field for battle or romance, the filmmaking feels rote as well, but without the overlay of zippy special effects that Game of Thrones offered.”

The Chicago Sun-Times writes, “With quality direction and cinematography, strong writing that combines political intrigue, family melodramatics and some impressively nasty twists and turns, and powerful performances from a cast that includes a number of familiar and well-decorated and mostly British veterans along with some greatly talented relative newcomers, House of the Dragon has the gravitas and visceral gut-punch effectiveness of a series that could be with us for a very long time. (The score from Ramin Djawadi, who did GOT as well as Westworld, is also nomination-level great.)”

The L.A. Times writes that the show “recaptures the power, grandeur of the original” while adding that “House of the Dragon has a depth of understanding of its female characters that GoT took years to find. … It’s a strong setup for all manner of familial treachery — preferably atop a dragon.”

EW praises Smith and Alcock’s performances and says the show gets off to a bumpy start, yet improves greatly along the way: “The first introduction of the grown-up characters is flat-out stunning, establishing palpable and sorrowful consequences for earlier decisions. And the sheer number of childbirth scenes would be a running gag if the show didn’t render them, with vivid detail, as a genuine medical horror.Dragondoesn’t soar immediately, but noHousewas built in a day.”

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IGN concludes, “House of the Dragon’s premiere marks a strong, well-cast start to the Game of Thrones spinoff. This feels very close to its predecessor in tone and content, but immediately establishes a struggle for power around an amiable, weak-willed king, and vivid new characters to fight those battles. We also have dragons, inbreeding and resentment. It’s good to be back in backstabbing Westeros.”

Rolling Stone has a negative take, calling the characters “uniformly dull” and saying, “Palace intrigue, and questions of succession and legitimacy were, of course, a huge part ofGame of Thrones, but far from the only part. And they were only sometimes even close to the most fun part of a given stretch of that series. Building a whole show around this subject, and filling it all with a gang of mostly dour Targaryens, gives the whole project the air of theStar Warsprequels, which vastly expanded the role of the self-serious Jedi knights without also making room for the humanity and humor of a Han Solo type.Game of Throneshad a rueful sense of humor to go along with its violence and mind games, and highly quotable characters like Tyrion and Cersei. None of that wit or energy is present here.”

The Verge likewise writes, “House of the Dragon’s yet another hyper-violent tale of swords and sorcery that you’ve undoubtedly heard before. … Within the first episode or two, a surprising number ofHouse of the Dragon’s power players are revealed to be so two-dimensional and narrow-sighted that it’s often difficult to believe them as the legendary figures of the past the show wants them to be.”

Whereas CNET calls the show “terrific” and writes, “The faster pace of House of the Dragon helps it feel different from Game of Thrones, which is helpful. … House of the Dragon may never be the next Game of Thrones but, from the six hours I’ve seen, it looks poised to at least step out of the giant shadow its predecessor casts. That’s an achievement any king — or queen — could crow about.”

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Decider dubs the show better than the original and a “magical miracle”: “House of the Dragonmanages to soar beyondGame of Thronesstraight out the gate. The new HBO seriescaptures the grandeur ofGame of Thrones‘s later seasons, the elegant interpersonal drama beloved in the earlier ones, and puts its female characters front and center like never before. You needn’t be wary about returning to Westeros.House of the Dragonisn’t good; it’sgreat. … It feels moreGame of Thronesthan evenGame of Thrones. The show is full of details that will delight hardcore fans and also expands on the mythology of Martin’s universe in huge ways.”

Uproxx calls the show a “worthy successor” and says “the biggest disappointment, although that’s too harsh of a word, is the lack of a Tyrion Lannister-like breakout character. … House of the Dragonis well cast, but there’s no one who immediately pops with as much charismatic gusto as, say, Pedro Pascal’s Oberyn Martell. … Otherwise,House of the Dragondoesn’tbreak the wheelbut it gets more right than wrong. … It may not match the highs ofGame of Thrones, but with the way the show is structured, it’s doubtful that it will sink to the lows, either.”

The New York Post summarizes, “Aside from having questionable wigs, House of the Dragon is well done for what it is: a pulpy political fantasy that makes you want to keep watching. And it manages to learn at least one key lesson from GoT: Its sex scenes are more tastefully filmed, depict nudity of both women and men — and the former mostly appear to be having a good time, too. It remains to be seen whether wider audiences can get over their ire with the GoT ending, or if this will be a more niche show for hardcore fans. But, it should set many viewers on fire.”

House of the Dragon premieres Sunday night on HBO and tells the story of a civil war that ripped apart Westeros nearly 200 years before the events in Thrones. The series is from author George R.R. Martin (based on his book Fire & Blood) and co-creators and showrunners Ryan Condal (Colony) and Miguel Sapochnik (Finch).

The series stars Paddy Considine (Peaky Blinders) as King Viserys Targaryen, Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) as Alicent Hightower, Emma D’Arcy (Wanderlust) as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as Prince Daemon Targaryen.

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FAQs

What does George RR Martin think of House of the Dragon? ›

In an interview with GQ, Considine revealed that House of the Dragon author and series creator Martin was impressed with his portrayal of the character. Considine said that Martin's response to his acting as Viserys was laconic but meaningful.

Did House of the Dragon get Cancelled? ›

House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel series, has officially been renewed for season 2 — even though the show's creators had already been talking about another installment for weeks as if it were a sure thing.

Is House of the Dragon successful? ›

HBO's House of the Dragon has found its core audience! A new report by Variety reveals that the fifth episode, 'We light the Way,' drew 3% more viewers than Episode 4, 'King of the Narrow Sea. ' Furthermore, Season 1 of the Game of Thrones prequel series is currently averaging 29 million viewers per episode.

Will There Be House of the Dragon Season 2? ›

House of the Dragon season 2 has been confirmed by HBO and will return in the UK on Sky and NOW. The new season has started production, but filming isn't expected to end until summer 2023. That means fans can probably expect to see House of the Dragon season 2 in 2024.

Does George RR Martin approve of House of Dragon? ›

George R.R. Martin joked about one of the more controversial aspects of House of the Dragon, making it clear he does not endorse it. House of the Dragon is the story of the Targaryen dynasty and all of its political drama. Famously, however, the Targaryens also practice extreme degrees of familial intermarriage.

Does grrm have anything to do with House of the Dragon? ›

George R. R. Martin is one of the producers of the new Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.

Do people like House of the Dragon? ›

The review embargo was lifted Friday for the Game of Thrones prequel, and its initial notices are largely positive, with critics calling the fantasy drama “a magical miracle” and a worthy successor to the original series, which became the most Emmy-winning drama of all time.

Who does Alicent Hightower marry? ›

Ignoring all advice from his council, Viserys choose Alicent as his wife. They married in 106 AC, despite the whispers of people who believed that the Hand had risen above himself.

Is the House of Dragons based on a true story? ›

House of the Dragon is loosely based on a real historical event – a bleak interlude in English history between 1135 and 1153 known as the Anarchy.

Is House of Dragons a flop? ›

The spinoff to HBO's megahit Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, is doing very well. Not only did 10 million people tune into the premiere, 10.2 million people stuck around this past Sunday for the second episode.

How is House of Dragon doing? ›

After the prequel series set records for the most-watched debut episode in HBO's history, viewership continued to rise to nearly 30 million. House of the Dragon has already been renewed for a second season and has even seen additional upticks in viewership following every episode thus far.

Why is House of Dragon popular? ›

One reason House of the Dragon is working so well is because it's doing what it took Game of Thrones perhaps even longer to accomplish, it's creating fan-favorite characters out of its cast almost instantly, and some clear villains you love to loathe.

How many years will House of the Dragon cover? ›

In specific, The Hollywood Reporter revealed in July that The Dance of the Dragons, the Targaryen civil conflict that House of the Dragon will depict, is currently expected to only span about three or four seasons.

Did daemon and Rhaenyra love each other? ›

In the show, there isn't any romantic love between them. Daemon uses Rhaenyra for her position, and by being the first man to be intimate with her, he ensures that no other man would want to marry her. In the books, however, Rhaenyra was in love with Daemon and ​had​​ always been besotted with him.

How many seasons will the House of the Dragon have? ›

For an in-depth Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) story, the duo revealed that they have an ending in mind and a plan for the show to run a certain number of seasons, which sources saying that three to four seasons are plotted so far.

Will House of the Dragon be better than Game of Thrones? ›

Introducing a more focused narrative that adheres to the source material, House of the Dragon executes crucial elements better than Game of Thrones. Fans of Game of Thrones have been eagerly awaiting the prequel series House of the Dragon ever since it was announced.

Will mushroom be in House of the Dragon? ›

House of the Dragon will not have mushrooms, but its story is still important. fire and bloodThe Game of thrones Prequel that new HBO series Dragon House It's a history book on the universe.

Why do the dragons look different in House of the Dragon? ›

According to Ryan Condal, perhaps the biggest reason for the "House of the Dragon" dragons looking and acting so different from Daenerys' dragons, aka her "children" — Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion — in "Game of Thrones" is that they were not born of magic like their HBO predecessors.

Who does Rhaenyra marry in the books? ›

In the book Fire and Blood, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen does indeed marry Ser Laenor Velaryon. The pair go on to - officially at least - have three sons.

How old is GGR Martin? ›

How old is Rhaenyra? ›

Milly Alcock, who plays young Rhaenyra, is 22. As of the mid-season time jump, Rhaenyra is aged up to 27, then—as of episode 8—to 33. Emma D'Arcy, who plays the older Rhaenyra, is 30.

How many people watched the House of the Dragon? ›

Episode 1 was watched by nearly 10 million people across all platforms when it debuted — HBO's biggest series premiere ever — while Episode 2 reached 10.2 million.

How popular is House of the Dragon? ›

House of the Dragon has been a stellar performer since its debut, averaging 29 million viewers across platforms (including linear) in the U.S. Because of the way Nielsen captures its weekly numbers, only the first three hours of availability on HBO Max on Sunday night go toward the show's total.

Where was House of the Dragon filmed? ›

Plasencia, Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain

This walled city with its old cobbled streets is in the peninsula's western region. Its scenery was used for Kings Landing, an essential area in both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.

Did Viserys sleep with Alicent? ›

The intercourse between Alicent and King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is not intended to be the stuff of fairy tale romance. The intimate scene highlights their wide age gap, his frailty due to a mysterious dermatological condition, and her obvious unhappiness with this particular matrimonial obligation.

Who married daemon? ›

In the seventh episode of the blockbuster HBO series, Prince Daemon marries his own niece, Princess Rhaenyra. The incestuous romance had been building for some time. Before a 10-year time jump occurred in the show's sixth epsode, Daemon took a young Rhaenyra to a brothel in King's Land where the two got intimate.

Why did daemon sleep with Rhaenyra? ›

Daemon seduces Rhaenyra in such a way to cast aspersions on her virtue so that Viserys has no choice but to let him wed his niece, Targaryen style.

Who is mushroom in House of the Dragon? ›

Mushroom is described in Fire & Blood as “a three-foot-tall dwarf possessed of an enormous head.” He was the court fool of the Targaryens during the Dance of the Dragons and, according to himself and others, was well liked by both sides and thought too “simple” to repeat the sensitive information he heard — a clear ...

Who was the king at the beginning of House of the Dragon? ›

If you watched any one of the eight episodes that have aired so far of HBO's House of the Dragon, chances are high that you've witnessed King Viserys Targaryen in a state of decay.

What happens to Rhaenyra Targaryen in the books? ›

However, she was confined to her chambers in the last year of her life, and in the books, she goes insane and dies during an outbreak of Winter Fever in 133 AC. Prince Daemon marries Rhaenyra following the death of his second wife, Laena Velaryon, and they have three children.

Is House of Dragon written by Martin? ›

Fire & Blood writer George R. R. Martin has shared how long House of the Dragon should last to tell the story of the Dance of the Dragons properly.

Did GRRM help with season 8? ›

According to a report from TVLine, author George R.R. Martin recently gave an interview with The New York Times where he clarified that he was not involved in the final few seasons of Game of Thrones.

Did George RR Martin write Elden ring? ›

But no, he only wrote the movie's story while Henry Selick handled directing duties. Many Martin fans seemingly made a similar mistake and erroneously assumed he had co-written the plot of Elden Ring, seemingly because the game's trailer said its world was “created by” Miyazaki and Martin.

How much of Game of Thrones did George RR Martin write? ›

He has written the scripts for the eighth episode of the first season, the ninth episode of the second season, seventh episode of the third season and the second episode of the fourth season. It was originally planned that he would write one episode per season of the show.

How many seasons will there be for House of the Dragon? ›

For an in-depth Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) story, the duo revealed that they have an ending in mind and a plan for the show to run a certain number of seasons, which sources saying that three to four seasons are plotted so far.

Will House of Dragons follow the book? ›

For the most part, yes, House of the Dragon follows the books but not the ones you might think. It's honestly a little more nuanced than a yes or no answer. Unlike the HBO series Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon doesn't pull its story from a novel but rather from a history book called Fire & Blood.

What is George R.R. Martin's net worth? ›

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Martin's net worth is approximately $120 million.

Why didnt George Martin leave Game of Thrones? ›

Popular on Variety. George R.R. Martin told The New York Times that he was kept “out of the loop” during the last four seasons of HBO's “Game of Thrones,” a mistake that “House of the Dragon” co-showrunner Ryan Condal did not want to make during the development of the upcoming prequel series.

How old is GRR Martin? ›

Will Asoiaf ever be finished? ›

However, with A Song of Ice and Fire series evolving into the biggest and most ambitious story he has ever attempted writing, he still has two more books to finish as of 2022.

Who broke the Elden Ring? ›

The first event was the breaking of the Ring itself. The Ring was broken by Queen Marika the Eternal after the death of her son Godwyn. By destroying the Elden Ring, which acted as a connection to both the Greater Will and the Golden Order, the Greater Will's influence on the Lands Between was greatly diminished.

Is Elden Ring the best game ever? ›

With over 12 million copies sold worldwide, Elden Ring has become one of the most popular games ever played. Elden Ring has been out for almost two months and is considered by a lot of gamers to be the best game ever made.

Is Elden Ring successful? ›

The figures were revealed in a recent Bandai Namco financial report. Those sales are from launch until the end of June this year – so even more copies have been sold after the end of that period. These are very impressive numbers, and they make Elden Ring one of the most successful games of the year.

Is dothraki a real language? ›

The Dothraki language is a constructed fictional language in George R. R. Martin's fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. It is spoken by the Dothraki, a nomadic people in the series's fictional world.

What does George R. R. Martin think of Game of Thrones? ›

George R.R. Martin optimistic about House of the Dragon

Martin is nominally involved with the new show and has seen some advance episodes, which puts him in the mind of watching Game of Thrones for the first time years ago. “It was magical,” the author said. “It was like: here are my characters, they've come to life.

Will The Winds of Winter ever be released? ›

That is great news for everyone who is eager for this novel to finally come out. The estimated date is November 2023 which is a little over a year. It has been 11 years since the last novel, A Dance with Dragons and there is still one more novel after that.

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