Game of Thrones is over. The HBO series based on George RR Martin’s books is one of the most successful series in television history. Despite the clumsy finale, GOT fans got their expectations and excitement raised when a spin-off prequel series to the series titled House of the Dragon was announced. Will House of the Dragon rise to the challenge to lure back GoT fans into this world of bloodshed, politics, sex, and grandeur? Let’s find out !

The HBO series is set almost 172 years before the death of The Mad King (Aerys Targaryen) and the birth of Daenerys. It uses George Martin’s Fire & Blood as its material to give us a historical overview of the Targaryen dynasty. With a bigger and better spectacle, the lost love for Westeros is set to return with House of the Dragon. The show centres around complex relationships and is a closer and more intimate look at the Targaryen family. It warrants your attention from the first scene and entices you with a familiar background score, lighting, violence, and of course, sex.

House of the Dragon opens with Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, struggling to bear a male heir. With no hope left after he loses his wife and his newborn son to death, Viserys must address the matter of his successor. In the moment of grief, he must decide if he wants to name his rather impulsive brother, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) or his daughter, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Molly Alcock) to the Iron Throne. This internal conflict results in a chain of events that threaten the realm and the dynasty.

Episode one is more focused on establishing the characters than jumping into the action. Where Game of Thrones was a battle to win the throne between different realms, House of Dragon is a drama focused more on internal family conflicts. Since it is a prequel to GoT, a lot of the exterior politics does not make their way into the subplot. Hence, House of Dragon relies heavily on family drama and has a more personal and nuanced narrative than GoT. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, sometimes the closed room drama, within the hallways of Red Keep, can be overbearing.

The grandeur of the sets is unmissable. The biggest compliment one can give to House of the Dragon is that it feels like GoT’s initial seasons. There is enough drama to keep you hooked with the new and better VFX, only adding to the visual experience. The dragons are bigger and grander than ever before. There seems to be a huge chunk of the budget devoted to just this !

Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the two most memorable episodes of GoT, “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Long Night”, has co-directed House of the Dragon, alongside Ryan Condal. That explains the amount of violence you witness in the first episode itself. For a GoT regular, this might not be surprising, but for new fans, this might be unnerving.

Another thing which works for HOTD is the performances. Rhaenyra (Alcock) and Daemon (Smith) are characters that demand your attention. The duo's dynamics on the show keep things interesting. Alcock is unbelievably versatile, right from her first scene. From being a rebellious princess to sharing the responsibility of the crown, Alcock shines as Rhaenyra. There is a certain level of strength and vulnerability she brings onscreen which will make her one of the most talked about characters in HOTD.

Max, on the other hand, is deliciously cunning as Daemon. He’s one of the best things in the first episode and I can only imagine it gets better with the follow-up episodes.