When asked about the hardest decisions made during the early development of House of the Dragon, Martin said the biggest one was where to begin the story. Fire & Blood, the book that HOTD is adapted from, began with Aegon’s conquest of Westeros. Aegon’s sons eventually became kings as well, with their own challenges and power struggles.
All in all, there is a little over a century of Targaryen history in Westeros before Viserys became king that was skipped over in House of the Dragon. Martin said there were many “spirited” discussions in the writer’s room as to how much of this story would be left out. “One of the big issues with all of these writers was where to begin,” Martin said. “Do you begin with Aegon’s conquest, that’s a long time ago. Well you saw the show, you saw where [showrunner Ryan Condal] began. He began with 101, with the great council. Where the lords vote on Jaehaerys’ heir.”
George R.R. Martin wanted House of the Dragon to start earlier in history
During these early discussions, which began as far back as 2017 according to Martin, many of the writers wanted to kick off House of the Dragon later then the Council of 101. One writer wanted the story to begin with the death of Aemma Arryn, while another wanted to open with Viserys’ death. Martin, naturally, wanted to start the show all the way back in the middle of the reign of King Jaehaerys’ 55-year reign.
“The other possibility that we discussed, which was actually my favorite possibility, but nobody liked it except me (laughs). I would have began it much earlier. I would have began it like 40 years earlier with an episode I would have called ‘the heir and the spare’ in which Jaehaerys’ two sons Aemon and Baelon are alive. And we see the friendship but also the rivalry between the two sides of the great house.”
If Martin’s plan was put into place, there could have been a full season before we even got to the events of season 1. With HBO eager to recapture the action-packed intensity of Game of Thrones, it’s impressive the showrunners were able to make a full season that’s mostly setup.
House of the Dragon season 1 is available now on HBO Max.