The ‘House of the Dragon’ Author Reveals How the Unreliable Narrative of ‘Fire and Blood’ Influenced the Series

'House of the Dragon' Writer Reveals How 'Fire and Blood's Unreliable Narrative Shaped the Series
'House of the Dragon' Writer Reveals How 'Fire and Blood's Unreliable Narrative Shaped the Series

The source material is what makes House of the Dragon better than the last few seasons of Game of Thrones. But the series based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood is not just another adaptation. The beauty of the series is that the book is written in the form of a scholarly essay by a character named archmaester Gyldayn, who uses information from many different sources, including septons, masters, and even a guy named Mushroom.

Most of the time, these stories are at odds with each other, which makes the archmaester Gyldayn an unreliable narrator. Ryan Condal, who created the show with Martin and co-ran Season 1 with Miguel Sapochnik, has used the unreliable narrator to make the show stand out. Recently, one of the show’s writers and executive producers, Sara Hess, talked about how this helped them tell their own story.

As part of his series A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin tells the history of the Targaryens in the books Fire and Blood. Hess says, “He makes it clear in the book that it is not a reliable story. So, no one in that book knows what really happened.” Because the creators don’t know what happened, they are able to tell their own version of the story.

“It’s three different reporters saying what they think might have happened, and they contradict each other. This gives us a lot of freedom as adapters because we don’t know what happened.” The latest episode, “We Light the Way,” is a great example of this.

In it, Ser Criston Cole snaps and kills Ser Joffery, the Knight of Kisses, during the dinner, which even avid book readers found surprising. In the books, this happened during the tournament that King Viserys had planned.

The creators also used this incongruity to show that the show was patriarchal. “One of the ideas we ran with when we started thinking about it was that history is written by the winners, that history is written by men,” said one of the creators.

Hess said, “It’s just men talking about what they think happened, and they’re probably wrong.” Even the biggest fans of the books have been surprised by the twists and turn in House of the Dragon.

In Episode 4, “King of the Narrow Sea,” Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Daemon (Matt Smith) get close, but Daemon pulls away because he doesn’t trust Rhaenyra’s story. When both choose to tell a story that serves their own goals, the audience is left in a place where they know more and don’t know more.

Also, in the books, Daemon teaches Rhaenyra how to seduce Ser Criston, which was left out of the show. “It’s great that we have the spine and the story and the characters and all those things there, but within that, there’s a huge amount of freedom to tell our own story, which is great,” says Hess.

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Arun has three years of experience as a content writer, lives in Panipat, Haryana, and is pursuing a postgraduate degree in English literature. He is proficient in writing, editing, proofreading, content strategy, and cricket watching. Word from Arun: “Overpower. Overtake. Overcome.”