The first season of House of the Dragon has become well known for its time jumps, as it begins with the declaration of Viserys I (Paddy Considine) as heir to King Jaehaerys I Targaryen (Michael Carter) and ends with Viserys’ children Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy) and Aegon II (Ty Tennant and Tom Glynn-Carney) in competition for the Iron Throne. Unlike its predecessor Game of Thrones, which took a more straightforward, linear approach to telling its story, House of the Dragon spanned nearly twenty years total in its first season. While series co-creator and Fire & Blood author George R.R. Martin has already shared his thoughts on the limits of streaming TV in telling these epic, sprawling stories, he has also recently shared that he wanted the series to start even earlier.
Fire & Blood, the novel on which House of the Dragon is based, begins nearly 100 years before Viserys I is named as heir, starting with Aegon I’s conquest of Westeros and his rule over the seven kingdoms. The book also details the reigns of Aegon I’s successors King Aenys I, King Maegor I, and King Jaehaerys I before reaching the starting point of the series.
In a recent interview with his publisher, Penguin Random House, Martin didn’t say that he would have gone as far back as Aegon I, but he did say “I would have began it like 40 years earlier with the episode I would have called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’ in which Jaehaerys’s two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive. And we see the friendship, but also the rivalry, between the two sides of the great house. You know, Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth and then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir. Is it the daughter of the older son who’s just died or is it the second son, who has sons of his own and is a man and she’s just a teenage girl?”
Martin goes on to admit that he “was the only one who was really enthused” by the idea of starting the series earlier. Seeing as twenty years of story is already a large chunk of time for only ten episodes, it’s not a surprise that House of the Dragon showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik didn’t want to start the series starting before Viserys’ reign. If the end goal of season one remained the same, preparing us for the Dance of the Dragons, then starting the season 40 years earlier likely would have necessitated even more time jumps and actor recastings.
You can watch the full interview with George R.R. Martin below.
After the season 1 finale, Condal told Deadline that “the time jumps and recasts, they are done. We tell the story in real time from here forward. The actors are playing these characters until the end. We’re not recasting anybody. We’re not making any huge jumps forward in time. We are now in the Dance of the Dragons, and we’re gonna tell that story.”
So if you hated the time jumps this season, then hopefully you can find comfort in knowing that they are done for now, and it could have been much, much worse if George R.R. Martin had gotten his way.