Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen standing and reading a book in House of the Dragon season 2

George R.R. Martin Has a Clever Trick To Make ‘House of the Dragon’ Unpredictable for Book Fans

Well played, George R.R. Martin!

Don’t you just love it when you’ve read the book and can lord the knowledge of the plot over those who haven’t? Unfortunately for Fire and Blood book readers, House of the Dragon on HBO is still going to surprise (or shock?) you, thanks to George R.R. Martin.

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The author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, which Game of Thrones and its spinoff are based on, released Fire and Blood back in 2018, a book that told the history of House Targaryen, as a sort of prequel to his ASOIAF series. And many of the book readers already know the overarching plots and themes of what will happen in House of the Dragon, which is based on this book.

In fact, even before the promos of HOTD season 2 episode 1 dropped, book fans were already upping the anticipation for the events of the chapter “Blood and Cheese,” claiming it to rival the despair of the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones

However, the actual scene went on quite differently than in the book. While this disappointed some fans who wished the show hadn’t deviated from the books, others were assured that this change had author George R.R. Martin’s blessin, since he is also a creator on the show.

Rhaenyra and Daemon at Dragonstone, facing each other in House of the Dragon

So does this mean the show is going to surprise book fans, too? Well, this definitely happened in Game of Thrones, which deviated quite a bit from the books, of which Martin has yet to finish writing (sigh!) the final two: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. So maybe Bran does end up on the Iron Throne in the books too, but how it happens might be different than what we saw in the highly criticized season 8 of the HBO series from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

What’s more, this could very well be true for House of the Dragon, too, chiefly because of the built-in unpredictability of the book Fire and Blood.

In Fire and Blood, Martin uses the narrative trope of an unreliable narrator telling the story of what happened during the Dance of the Dragons. It takes the form of a scholarly treatise by one Archmaester Glydayn, who recounts his version of the events of the war between the Blacks and the Greens, as well as citing several other people as sources, such as the court fool Mushroom, Septon Eustace, Grand Maester Orwyle, and Grand Maester Munkun, among others.

Martin, in an interview about Fire and Blood last year, explained how using unreliable narrators allowed him to incorporate multiple versions of the same events into the story. As a writer, one can be confused which version would be best, but this way, he could have more than one version and leave it to the reader to believe one of them.

This means that while Fire and Blood readers might know roughly what could happen next in the story, which version of the events is finally adapted onscreen in House of The Dragon is going to be a surprise they’ll only uncover with the rest of the non-readers! 

Furthermore, with Martin on board as a creator, the showrunners could make major changes for cinematic effect while keeping the endgame the same—like they did with this one scene where Helaena runs down a corridor to Alicent, instead of Alicent being in the room with her already, as was in the book.

Well played, Ser Martin! This unpredictability is going to be fun!

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Jinal Bhatt
Jinal Bhatt (She/Her) is a staff writer for The Mary Sue. An editor, writer, film and culture critic with 7+ years of experience, she writes primarily about entertainment, pop culture trends, and women in film, but she’s got range. Jinal is the former Associate Editor for Hauterrfly, and Senior Features Writer for Mashable India. When not working, she’s fangirling over her favourite films and shows, gushing over fictional men, cruising through her neverending watchlist, trying to finish that book on her bedside, and fighting relentless urges to rewatch Supernatural.