‘House of the Dragon’ May Be a Harder Adaptation Than ‘Game of Thrones’


A game of thrones would be unfilmable. And that was almost it. A fantasy tale with a sprawling cast, inhumane magic and unbelievable violence, the first book in George RR Martin’s epic saga took 15 years to reach the screen, survived a failed pilot, and only then grew into the juggernaut that won more Emmys than any other drama series in TV history.

Now the foundation has been laid for a successful show in the thrones universe. As a prequel series House of the Dragon approaches, makers and audiences know what King’s Landing looks like and how a thrones show is supposed to feel, but that doesn’t mean the new show will have it easy.

Really, House of the Dragon could prove to be an even trickier adjustment than thrones. Here are five key reasons why:

1. Almost every character’s name sounds the same

The TV Tropes encyclopedia has a “pretty rigid rule” called the One Steve Limit, which explains that “no two characters in a fictional work…should have the same first name, or even similar sounding names.” But George RR Martin does not abide by this statement. He likes to repeat the names of characters in his books — which carries a certain amount of truth, given the way parents (monarchs in particular) name their children in the real world. Fathers call their sons “Jr.”, popular athletes inspire new names, and apparently every congressman is named Mike or John.

However, in a TV show already steeped in fantastical stories, that repetition can be confusing. The Game of Thrones occasionally show changed character names to solve this problem: Asha became Yara because of its resemblance to Osha, while Robert Arryn became Robinthough his character in the book is actually named after King Robert.

But DragonMartin’s creators seem to be committed to Martin’s original character names. When co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik came up with the idea of ​​making tweaks, his co-showrunner, Ryan Condal, responded, “We can not,” according to an Hollywood reporter story.

So get ready for a multi-character show called Viserys; multiple characters named Joffrey; a Daemon and a Daeron; a Laenor and a Laena; a Rhaenys, a Rhaena and a Rhaenyra; and an old Jaehaerys, a young Jaehaerys, a Jaehaera, and a Jacaerys. There are also too many characters whose names start with “Al” to list here, as well as a young Aegon not to be confused with the other young Aegon, not to be confused with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror.

And that’s not even counting all the dragons, many of them names also looks the same. “All dragons have weird names with Xen in them!” actor Emma D’Arcy, who plays the adult version of Rhaenyra, said in the THR story.

Good luck tracking without a flowchart. Note that I said flowchart and no family tree because, well, the Targaryen family tree is almost too gnarled to understand, which makes reason number two.

2. Almost everyone is related

unlike throneswhich brought many different Westerosi houses into conflict, Dragon is much more focused. The Starks and Lannisters, Tyrells and Martells, Arryns and Tullys, and Greyjoys and Baratheons are all present in this story, but only as peripheral figures orbiting the central Targaryen star.

So many of the show’s main characters will look the same physically, with the classic silver Targaryen hair. They will also all be married to each other, because a show about Targaryens is by definition also a show about incest. Dragon marriages between siblings. It will have marriages between cousins. It will have marriages between a niece and her uncle, and a cousin and his aunt.

Incest was so ingrained in Targaryen’s custom that, before the show’s events, King Jaehaerys even helped develop a new doctrine within the Faith of the Seven, the dominant religion of Westeros. The so-called Doctrine of Exceptionalism explained that the scandal of the Seven against incest did not apply to the Targaryens.

thrones dabbled in incest with Jaime and Cersei but, like the rest of the non-Targaryens in Westeros, treated it as taboo. (Actually, cousin marriage is practiced across the continent. It’s really only sibling marriages that cause conflict.) Now, Dragon has the double difficulty of getting the audience to understand, firstly, that the practice is acceptable for the main characters, and secondly, how all the characters relate to each other.

3. There isn’t that much story to customize

The thrones show is adapted from (for now) the first five books of the A song of ice and fire saga, which spans more than 4,200 pages and spans about three years of events in the timeline of this fictional world. For comparison, House of the Dragon‘s story stems from only about 250 pages from the Fire & Blood accompanying book. And instead of three years, that material spans three decades.

So while thrones had about 1,400 pages of source material per fictional year, Dragon will have an average of less than 10 per year. Granted, those pages are disproportionately devoted to the three-year period of the Dance of the Dragons, but that’s still an extreme disparity.

Dragon reportedly aims for just an arc of three or four seasons, rather than thrones‘s eight, but will need a lot more new material to shape his story than thrones was needed (at least before that series moved beyond the plot of the still unfinished books). Martin could help fill those gaps, given his reportedly big involvement with the new show. On the other hand, we have already seen the potentially catastrophic drawbacks when a thrones show needs to invent itself rather than sticking to the familiar outlines of a pre-existing story.

4. The customizable story doesn’t have much dialogue

Another major difference between the two source texts is their purpose and construction. The ASoIaF series is a narrative series of stories; Eat Drink, on the other hand, is intended as a historical tome. So while the former allows for accurate narration and shows readers the thoughts, observations and dreams of the characters, the latter shows only the “objective” rendering of a history text. (More on that alleged objectivity in a moment.)

That gap is most glaring when analyzing dialogue — or the lack of it. I flipped to 10 random pages A game of thrones and averaged 11 lines of dialogue per page (ranging from a low of three, in a section when Arya is isolated, to a maximum of 20, when Tyrion chats with Bronn). When I did the same with the show-relevant parts of Fire & BloodI averaged only 1.5 lines of dialogue per page, with only one real conversation in the sample.

Easy said, thrones could get most of its dialogue straight from the source text. Dragon will have to reinvent almost all of his conversations from scratch.

That does not mean that Dragon is doomed to pompous speech; not every memorable line of thrones came from Martin’s pages. Littlefinger’s “Chaos is a ladder” speech was coined for the show, because we never observe his and Varys’ private debates in the books. “Tell Cersei; I want her to know it was me’ was also new, as was Tyrion’s ‘That’s what I do; I drink and I know things.”

But it’s definitely an extra level of difficulty for the new show. This customization would be tricky enough, even without having to make every conversation out of all the stuff.

5. The source story is not really objective

The Eat Drink The book is constructed as a kind of meta-joke. The front page states that the story was written by a character living in Westeros called Archmaester Gyldayn, and was only “transcribed by George RR Martin”. While readers read everything in the ASoIaF books as holy, the images in Eat Drink technically coming from a character in the universe – with his own flaws and biases and interpretations – who could be wrong on some points.

Gyldayn even admits his limitations within the text. As Eat DrinkThe fictional writer explains early in his story about the Dance of the Dragons that much of the story “happened behind closed doors, in the confines of stairwells, council chambers and bedrooms, and the full truth of it will probably never be known.” There are some first-hand accounts—one from a septon, one from a collection of maesters, and one from a court jester named Mushroom—but offer only limited perspectives: if the writer wasn’t in the room, he can’t be sure of what happened inside.

And even these memories “do not always agree on specifics, and sometimes their accounts contradict each other considerably,” Gyldayn continues. The septon will say that character A has seduced character B, while Mushroom reverses the order and says that BA has seduced, or the sources will point out different perpetrators for a mysterious murder, or they will attribute different motivations to a surprising decision.

As with Martin’s repeated character names, this story detail again parallels the real world. Ancient historians did not have the same approach to accuracy as their modern counterparts. As the 19th-century German historian Wilhelm Ihne wrote of Roman analysts like Livy and Dionysius: “Each writer whimsically and almost arbitrarily told what seemed most likely to him, without the slightest basis for his claims, and without even pretending that reliable information to have.”

So how will? Dragon translate that uncertainty to the screen? In theory it had some kind of rashomon structure, but Condal told: Weekly entertainment that the show is intended to give “the objective account” of the story.

That approach holds both promise and danger. The good news is that the blurriness gives the show’s creators flexibility in their adaptation — they can always tweak details and attribute the differences to a gap in the history book, rather than an actual change in the canon. The bad news is they may have more trouble promoting a cohesive story, with strong and sensible character arcs, because every time Eat Drink‘s sources disagree, the show will have to decide what actually occurred.

We’ll learn the answers soon enough. House of the Dragon premieres in less than a week, with all manner of incestuous Aegons on the way.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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