The season finale of House of the Dragon is rapidly approaching, and the show is getting far better fan response than anyone expected, following the disastrous final season of Game of Thrones. The rivalry between Rhaenyra and Alicent keeps gripping the audience as the Greens and the Blacks form their teams and plot to determine who will ascend the Iron Throne.
While viewers enjoy the familial tension, book fans have asked questions about the story developments since the series made significant changes from the source material. Fire & Blood was written as a history rather than a narrative, giving the writers a lot of leeway in interpreting events and filling in the gaps. However, some of the changes they made have not gone over well, with book fans taking to Reddit to share their frustration.
The Pacing Is Too Fast
In Fire & Blood, 26 years pass between Viserys becoming king and his death, while the official “Dance of Dragons” only lasts two years. However, House of the Dragon has forced two and a half decades into just eight episodes. This causes problems with character development, as trastamara123456 explains: “How I am suppose to care about characters like Laena or Harwin dying when they’ve essentially been glorified extras and they are dying next episode?”
Laena had three different actresses, yet barely had any screen time and no time to develop a personality. Likewise, Harwin had a few sweet moments with his sons, but his entire relationship with Rhaenyra was skipped over. The rapid pace makes it difficult, if not impossible, for fans who haven’t read the book to know about or care for anybody beyond the main five characters.
So Many Time Jumps
In addition to disliking the pacing, fans have a particular grievance with the way the show is moving time. As Redditor twtab puts it, “The time jumps are a lazy way of never having to explain anything.” The time jumps allow the writers to throw in major events for shock value, but then they time jump again, so they don’t have to show any consequences for them.
This is particularly true for the show’s more violent moments. Criston Cole beats a man to death in the middle of wedding festivities, but the audience never sees the recuperation, if any. Then, with another time jump, Alicent overrules the king and physically assaults the heir to the throne, but viewers do not witness what happens to her since another time jump disrupted that tense moment. By using more intense time jumps than even the book had, the writers eliminated the most interesting parts.
In the book and in the show, Daemon Targaryen is a captivating character, but Redditor crimsonpaths worries that Daemon’s apathy to the people around him will distort the series’ message, explaining, “they removed all capacity of love that he had in the books and when blood and cheese happens it’s not gonna be ‘war makes people do terrible things’ it’s gonna be ‘look evil guy did another crime.'”
Book fans know Daemon as a morally-gray character, adapting and changing allegiances depending on what best suits him, but his show counterpart is considerably less nuanced. He seems to antagonize Viserys just for fun, and he doesn’t seem to love any of his wives, despite that being a significant part of his character in the book. Because of this, he seems like a “bad person” instead of a complex and interesting one.
The Greens And The Blacks
In Fire & Blood, the rival groups supporting Aegon or Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne become known as the Greens and the Blacks because of the dress colors of Alicent and Rhaenyra at a tourney. However, as Redditor MaNGleDHouSe explains, “So much of this [in the show] feels like it relies on foreknowledge of the source material to justify its execution.”
Understanding the two sides as the Greens and the Blacks is something fans have to figure out for themselves, as it hasn’t been properly shown on screen. While Alicent arrived at Rhaenyra’s wedding in green as an act of social warfare, Rhaenyra has yet to claim her color. Without knowing the book, the colors’ significance is unclear.
Favoritism Toward Rhaenyra
While Fire & Blood gives validity to both sides of the conflict, many fans feel the show is strictly focused on Rhaenyra as the Daenerys-like hero. As Redditor MaNGleDHouSe explains, “The show very much feels like solely Rhaenyra’s story and a Targaryen fluff piece at the expense of chronicling a legitimately complex and morally ambiguous civil war.”
One of the central messages readers get out of the Dance of the Dragons in Fire & Blood is how pointless it all was. Blind ambition on both sides caused the destruction of the Targaryen line and led to their downfall. Yet, with the focus on Rhaenyra, the war feels inevitable, with fans set up to root for Rhaenyra to defeat the wicked Hightowers.
Alicent Attacks Rhaenyra And Luke
Alicent’s character has been the most changed from the book so far, especially after Aemond lost his eye. As Informal-Counter-767 explains, “It made a moment that was rather heartbreaking into a spectacle of Alicent ‘losing her mind’ … NO ONE would side with her here!”
In the book, she asks for Luke’s eye, but drops it when Viserys tells her to. In the show, both Alicent and Cole override the King’s orders and actively try to attack the royal family. By taking such extreme actions, Alicent becomes more of a villain in the audience’s eyes through a confrontation that was largely fabricated.
Laenor Survives… And What That Means For His Dragon
Laenor is one of the characters from Fire & Blood that was actually better characterized in the show, but his fake death was something many fans couldn’t accept. Redditor Perjunkie explains, “I wouldn’t mind if Laenor returned and had a role in S2, but dont do it at the expense of Addam.”
The Addam in question is a future character who is supposed to claim Laenor’s dragon, which can only happen if it doesn’t have a current rider. This caused an uproar because the only solution fans can figure is that Laenor will take on the other character’s role, which fundamentally changes its meaning.
Criston Cole Killing Joffrey
Criston Cole kills Joffrey Lonmouth in all versions of the story, but the circumstances are completely different, and the consequences should be as well. Liam_ice92 argues, “In the show, he absolutely should have been arrested for murder. At least in the books it happened at a tournament, so it’s left kind of ambiguous as to whether he intended to kill Joffrey or not.”
In the book, Cole is overly violent in tournaments, which results in serious injuries for both Harwin Strong and Joffrey. In contrast, House of the Dragon has him snap during the first day of the wedding celebrations, killing the close associate of the groom in the middle of the dancing. His continued status at court makes no sense.
Daemon Killing Rhea
Nobody disputes that Daemon hated his wife, but the show’s choice to have him kill her seems like a weak attempt to villainize his character. Redditor alteredestiny puts it, “ambiguity is better. The show makes Daemon out to be more of a over the top villain along the likes of Bolton or Geoffrey. As opposed to the more dynamic character he is in the books.”
In Fire & Blood, Rhea fell from her horse and suffered for nine days before succumbing to her injuries. House of the Dragon suggested that Daemon came precisely to kill Rhea, spooking her horse and leaving her to die until she goaded him into killing her with a rock. Showing Rhea’s death so clearly fundamentally changes how the audience responds to Daemon.
Perhaps one of the most controversial changes the show has made involves Laena’s death. As MatrixNinja101 explained, “[In the book] It’s a sweet and highly emotional scene carrying a lot of weight. But nope, we don’t get that, we don’t get Rhaenyra Laena friendship, we don’t get anything all because the writers wished for more shock value.”
In Fire & Blood, Laena tried to fly one last time but collapsed, at which point Daemon carried her back inside and mourned her alongside Rhaenyra. Changing her death so much eliminated Rhaenyra’s friendship with Laena, Laena’s love for Vhagar, and Daemon’s love for her. The writers seemed so focused on making Laena “badass” that they eliminated the canonical reasons that fans should miss her.
NEXT: What Each Character Is Supposed To Look Like in House Of The Dragon, According To The Book