Why House Of The Dragon Makes Alicent More Sympathetic Than GRRM’s Book


House of the Dragon writer Sara Hess recently explained why the show makes Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) more sympathetic than George R.R. Martin’s original book. Set generations before the events of HBO’s wildly popular fantasy series Game of Thrones, the prequel show centers on the familial conflict brewing within the heart of House Targaryen following King Viserys I Targaryen’s (Paddy Considine) decision to name his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy) heir to the Iron Throne. With many seeing the king’s selection as an affront to long-standing patriarchal tradition, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) and members of the king’s Small Council enact their plan to anoint Viserys’ son, Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.


House of the Dragon is originally based on a portion of Martin’s book, Fire & Blood, the first of two volumes depicting the history of House Targaryen. Instead of being written as a novel, the book is narrated by Archmaester Gyldayn, a historian from the fictional world of A Song of Ice and Fire. The treatise is compiled using various testimonies from several eyewitnesses resulting in contradictory details and conflicting accounts of events.

Related: House Of The Dragon Season 1 Finale Trailer Breakdown: All Ep 10 Reveals

In a recent interview with THR, Hess detailed why House of the Dragon makes Alicent more sympathetic than Martin’s book, Fire & Blood. When asked about the Queen’s depiction, despite her villainous story arc, the writer explained that Fire & Blood was written by “unreliable narrators” who witnessed events from afar but were not privy to the intimate details between the characters. As a result, the intentions and motivations of the narrative’s primary actors may not be the truth. Read what Hess said below.

I think in her mind, all this was a necessary evil. She’s focused on: “We’re not going to kill Rhaenyra, that’s ridiculous, she’s Viserys’ daughter, he would never have wanted this, I’m not gonna let that happen.” And as far as the sympathetic thing goes, in [Fire & Blood] the history was written by these unreliable narrators and nobody really knows what happened in those rooms. They know the big events that happened historically, but they don’t know what anyone’s intention was. And history is often written by men who write off women as crazy or hysterical or evil and conniving or gold-digging or sexpots. Like in the [book], it says Rhaenyra had kids and got fat. Well, who wrote that? We were able to step back and go: The history tellers want to believe Alicent is an evil conniving bitch. But is that true? Who exactly is saying that? That’s part of the thing we’re playing with in this and in season two.

Can Alicent Remain The Greens’ Voice Of Reason For Much Longer?

Due to the nature of Fire & Blood, the House of the Dragon writers have room to change crucial details regarding the onset of the Targaryen civil war. The book sees Mushroom, a diminutive court jester, reveal Viserys’ death as a murder by poisoning at the hands of Alicent, while the series implies that the King succumbed to his sickness with the Queen still loyal to her husband. Although the book made Alicent to be a primary schemer to place Aegon II on the throne, House of the Dragon finds her to be the only member of the family wishing to spare Rhaenyra and her family’s lives following the coup.

Her compassion may be short-lived, however. With the House of the Dragon season 1 finale trailer showing word of Viserys’ death and Aegon’s appointment reaching Rhaenyra at Dragonstone, the princess will likely feel an overwhelming sense of betrayal, seeking immediate and violent retribution. With peace off the table, Alicent will probably realize that the only way to secure her family’s survival is by destroying her enemies.

Source: THR

Next: Does Criston Cole Love Alicent? HOTD Certainly Wants You To Think So


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