Only a few episodes into House of the Dragon, and already so much has happened. Thanks to Ryan and Miguel spoiling us, we have seen a lot more dragon action than we did in Game of Thrones, but what really keeps us hooked on the show is the political intrigue that threatens to implode Westeros’ political system completely.
The Rogue Prince, like last week’s episode, primarily adheres to the original material but also deviates significantly from Fire & Blood. These are the 10 Biggest Differences Between Fire & Blood and House of the Dragon Episode 2. Without further ado, let us jump right in. And because there will be plenty of such, consider this your spoiler alert before reading any further.
Ser Criston Cole’s selection for the Kingsguard was based on merit, not an infatuation
Ser Criston Cole was sent to court by King Viserys Targaryen to pleasure his daughter Rhaenyra, according to Gyldayn, the “author” of the time, in Fire & Blood, despite the fact that it is impossible for it to be a “accurate history” because it is based on the recollections of maesters and courtiers. Ser Criston earned the princess’s favour during the Heir’s Tourney in the first episode, which in the novels served as the Tourney for Viserys’ ascent, therefore the portrayal of how he came to the princess’s attention is largely accurate.
However, the process through which he joins the Kingsguard differs significantly. According to Fire & Blood, Cole was chosen as Rhaenyra’s sworn shield following the tournament, and he served the princess for a full year before being named as Ser Ryam Redwyne’s replacement.
Since George R. R. Martin likes to spread out his fights across years, Ryan & Miguel are not going to get that type of time, it appears that this order of events has been inverted in House of the Dragon to make the plot easier to follow. Ser Harrold Westerling, the newly appointed Lord Commander of the White Swords, is pleading with the King to appoint a replacement at the start of episode 2.
Rhaenyra advises that her father send the dragons after the Council responds to Lord Corlys Velaryon’s request to take the Stepstones with passivity, and Otto Hightower promptly suggests a mission “better suited to the princess’s talents” as a result. In order to select a deserving successor for the Kingsguard, Viserys decides to send Rhaenyra with Ser Harrold. He also warns his daughter that this replacement will also serve as her sworn shield, thus she must make a careful choice.
She makes a great choice in choosing Criston because he has relevant fighting experience and is not just a tourney knight. Though Rhaenyra does argue that this is for her father’s safety, you can tell she is smitten with Ser Criston since her eyes do turn to him when she has to make a choice. However, unlike what Fire & Blood would have you believe, this is not a decision made out of indulgence.
King Viserys’ sculpture of Valyria proves that a lot more is known about the Freehold than previously believed
Towards the end of Heirs of the Dragon, we found out a rather peculiar detail about the hobbies and interests of King Viserys; he was into sculpting! Well, more like getting stonemasons to create sculptures of the plans that he drew up, but still, it shows the King as having an architectural spirit which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What is far more intriguing is what he is building in his chambers; we only got a cursory glance at the monstrous structure in episode 1, but thanks to the brand new opening for House of the Dragon- which retains the Game of Thrones opening song, by the way- and Viserys’ meeting with Alicent in episode 2, we can now safely say that the sculpture is in fact a model of the ancient city of Valyria.
This is a big departure from the books because in Fire & Blood, and most other accounts of the Freehold written by the maesters, it is claimed several times that knowledge of ancient Valyria was lost with the Doom. And yet, we see Viserys with several texts open on his sculpting table which indicate otherwise. The fact that he says he only ponders over the histories and gives instructions to the stonemasons is another hint that knowledge about Valyria existed in relative abundance, as opposed to what the maesters tell their lords and kings.
It is also possible that Viserys’ plans include things he saw in his dreams, for we know the King to be a dragon dreamer and him thinking of Valyria right before the events of the Dance is rather poetic, given that the Targaryen civil war ostensibly finishes what the Doom couldn’t; removing the presence of dragons from this world entirely. Since Viserys’ love for sculptures is not mentioned anywhere in Fire & Blood, we think it’s safe to say that the model of Valyria he creates in House of the Dragon is a major departure from how we saw and perceived Targaryen Kings before the dragons danced on our screens.
Lord Corlys Velaryon proposes the match between his daughter and Viserys, not Grand Maester Runciter, who is absent from the show
Some of the biggest changes made to the show come with the portrayals of House Velaryon which- surprisingly enough- resides on King’s Landing for the moment. Well, most of everyone who is really important in the house and its patriarch, but you get our point, right? Anyway, if we were following the timeline laid down by Fire & Blood to a T, we would not have seen Lord Corlys or Princess Rhaenys at the Capital at all, considering we are already in the 9th year of Viserys’ reign and they left before it had even begun.
But apart from still being a member of the Small Council- albeit a somewhat fiery one at that- Lord Corlys also has another major difference from his Fire & Blood counterpart in that we can see his ambition in play, in real-time. As a man who has charted all the known seas of the world, filled his coffers with gold that he found through sheer grit, and built an entirely new seat of power all by himself, Lord Corlys has an air of grandeur about him that he has truly earned. But what sets apart Steve Toussaint character from his book counterpart is that he is far more direct in taking what he desires; and what he desires, clearly, is a way into the royal family.
In the books, at the Great Council of 101 AC, Corlys used all his wealth and influence to try to buy as much favour as he could for his son Laenor’s claim (pronounce: Lay-Naur) to no avail and ended up quitting the Small Council in protest. When King Viserys was approached with the delicate subject of marriage- following Queen Aemma’s death- Grand Maester Runciter proposed a match between him and the Lady Laena Velaryon.
The match made perfect sense- it would heal the rift between House Targaryen and Velaryon, bind their bloodlines closer together, and project strength to the rest of the realm at a time when the Triarchy was wreaking havoc in the Stepstones. However, Runciter is entirely absent from the events of Fire & Blood, so the onus of broaching the subject falls upon Lord Corlys himself, which is a beautiful change of pace frankly because it shows you just how cut-throat royal politics could be. The fact that Corlys offered up his 12-year-old daughter in the name of consolidating strength is all you need to know about how the medieval world used to work.
It also fits perfectly with all the accounts that describe the Sea Snake as an ambitious man who isn’t afraid to take what he wants, because you can see that while Corlys is thinking of the best course for the realm to take, he wants his fingerprints all over it. It just goes to show you that even the characters you love on House of the Dragon are going to be more grey than black-and-white, and we personally love it. Oh, and speaking of Lord Corlys’ daughter…
Laena’s age when the proposal is made is accurate, but everything else is not
In the books, Lady Laena Velaryon was 12 years old when a match was proposed between her and King Viserys Targaryen. The show has kept this fact constant, giving us a rather awkward courting scene between the two, but other than the age, Viserys’ interactions with Laena are entirely created for the purposes of the TV show. In Fire & Blood, when Laena was 12, she was living at Driftmark with her parents, not at King’s Landing; and she is older than Rhaenyra by a good 5 years.
The match was proposed in the second year of Viserys’ kingship, not the 10th, and was rejected without even so much as a conversation between the two parties, or so we can assume from the ponderings of Archmaester Gyldayn (pronounce: Arch-May-Stir). By contrast, the TV show goes so far as to make the proposal in person, from the side of the parents, and even dives into the territory of child marriage, which was sadly a prominent feature of medieval society.
The show opts to take a show don’t tell approach with Lady Laena, because in Fire & Blood, the maester of Driftmark recounts her reaction to Viserys’ rejection as being tepid at best because what the Lady was more interested in flying than boys. This is corroborated by the fact that the only conversation Viserys and Laena have with each other is about Balerion the Black Dread and the other Targaryen dragons, before Viserys coaxes the truth of the matter from Laena- her parents had already prepped her for the conversation she was supposed to be having with her prospective husband.
Viserys is a genuinely good person and is clearly perturbed by the idea of marrying Laena, even though his advisors- including Mellos- tell him that it is the best possible course of action he can take; politically speaking, of course. Otto Hightower is not one of these people, understandably, but still.
It appears as though Ryan and Miguel have opted to switch the ages and roles of Laena and Laenor, as he would appear to be the elder sibling and Lord Corlys’ heir besides; in Fire & Blood, Laenor was the younger sibling, born 3 years before Rhaenyra’s birth. All of this was done to make filming House of the Dragon a bit easier, we’re assuming, but it still stands out as a big difference from the books, especially given the fact that by the time she was 12, Lady Laena was not in search of a mighty dragon for her steed; she had already found her.
Laena Velaryon is not Vhagar’s dragonrider in House of the Dragon; yet
One of the biggest reasons for choosing Laena as a prospective bride for Viserys was not simply the fact that she was the best political choice; she was also the best traditional match for the King. After shifting to Dragonstone 12 years before the Doom of Valyria, the Targaryens grew extremely close to the other Valyrian families in the vicinity. This especially included Driftmark, with the Velaryons having a long history of marrying into the Targaryen family and vice-versa.
In fact, Aegon the Conqueror’s own mother was a Velaryon, and the Small Council position of Master of Ships was filled by Velaryons so often in the first century of Targaryen rule that many considered the post hereditary. So politically speaking, marrying Laena would not just have reconciled the Iron Throne with its navy, but also reconciled two Valyrian houses that had been allies for literal centuries. And from a 0traditional standpoint, Viserys’ marriage to Laena would have projected immense strength to the realm, because by the time she had turned 12, the Lady Laena would take as her mount none other than the mighty Vhagar; the oldest living Targaryen dragon by this point, and also the largest.
Being a dragonrider was one of the biggest reasons Laena was considered as the perfect match for Viserys, who himself had been the last rider of Balerion. Curiously enough, Laena Velaryon is not a dragonrider in the show yet. In fact, she doesn’t even know where Vhagar is, which is surprising given the fact that she was known to roost at the Dragonmont when the Dragonpit became too small to hold her.
It works out in our favour either way, because now it is possible that we might see her claim the mighty Vhagar in front of our very eyes, which will truly be a sight to behold. In fact, this might just be how Vhagar is introduced to House of the Dragon, but we’ll have just to wait and watch for now. The reason why mention this separately is because Lady Laena’s closest bond is not with her parents of her suitors, but with Vhagar.
The she-dragon is an important aspect of her personality and characterization, so it was surprising to see her without Vhagar, especially given the fact that episode 2 takes place 6 months after episode 1. But, as we mentioned just a moment ago, this means we might get to see Vhagar getting claimed twice on House of the Dragon, and that is about as exciting as things can get for us.
The dragon egg Daemon “stole” is revealed to have belonged to the late Prince Baelon Targaryen
One of the most disturbing scenes in the entire Game of Thrones franchise came in the first episode of House of the Dragon, when we saw the Westerosi version of a Caesarean Section being performed on Queen Aemma Arryn in hopes of saving the prospective heir to the realm. The death of both mother and child less than a day apart is one of the greatest tragedies of King Viserys’ life; he had prayed for his son Baelon’s birth since before he became king, and now that he finally had a male heir, he lost him in less than a day.
But what makes this loss even more hurtful are the actions that Viserys’ brother Daemon takes in the wake of his nephew’s death. In episode 1, we are shown that though Daemon did grieve for Aemma and Baelon, he styled his late nephew “heir for a day”, which is a grievously insulting thing to say about the recently-deceased, let alone your own blood. Though we did not hear him say it, it is heavily implied that he did speak the words that led to his banishment from the capital.
Towards the end of Heirs of the Dragon, we saw Daemon take his lover Mysaria somewhere on Caraxes’ back, and in The Rogue Prince, his destination was revealed to have been Dragonstone. However, it appears as though Daemon didn’t just take his harlot with him, he also took a dragon’s egg; specifically that of the said heir for a day, Prince Baelon. See, after squatting at Dragonstone for 6 months with no response from Viserys, Daemon decided to elicit one by returning to King’s Landing and taking the egg Rhaenyra had picked out for her late brother.
This is important expositional detail because in the books, it is made to seem as if Viserys lost his cool because his brother tried to replicate Targaryen custom with a commoner. Fire & Blood tells us that Viserys was enraged when he learned that Daemon had impregnated his lover, who was now pregnant, and intended to give her a dragon egg to place in the child’s cradle. We are never told the explicit details of the brothers’ quarrels, or where the egg came from; for all we know, Daemon could have just taken it from a lair in the Dragonmont.
House of the Dragon builds on that speculative nugget of information by adding the detail of the egg having belonged to Prince Baelon, which drives the nail deeper into the coffin of Viserys and Daemon’s dying relationship. It also provides a good emotional explanation for Viserys’ reaction, because we are told from both Fire & Blood and House of the Dragon that he does not desire confrontation until he cannot avoid it.
Viserys was fine with allowing Daemon to use Dragonstone as his base- the seat that rightfully belonged to Rhaenyra- until he crossed the line and used Baelon’s memory in his twisted games. It’s a wonderful psychological layer that reveals the tumultuous relationship between the brothers and also gives weightage to the inevitable breakdown in relations that the Weeks Ahead trailer showed us glimpses of. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of the egg, let’s also address the prospective mother in question.
Mysaria isn’t actually pregnant in House of the Dragon, whereas she was in Fire & Blood
The other reason that Viserys sends Otto to Dragonstone to deal with Daemon is Mysaria herself. So far, what we’ve seen of her tells us that she is a Ros-type figure; someone who is very good at running things for high lords and does not lack for ambition. What she does lack is a fertile reproductive system, which is one of the biggest changes from book-to-show because in Fire & Blood, Mysaria actually does get pregnant with Daemon’s child.
It is said that after the Rogue Prince takes over Dragonstone for his own seat, he impregnated his lover and got her with child, which is why he wanted to present her with a dragon’s egg. King Viserys, however disapproves of everything about this situation and commands Daemon not only to return the egg he took, but to send Mysaria away, which he does, putting her on a ship bound for her homeland of Lys. But during her journey, Mysaria loses the babe due to a storm, which causes Daemon’s demeanour to “harden” more than it already was.
This is in stark contrast with what happens in Episode 2 because, for starts, Mysaria is not pregnant. In fact, she can’t get pregnant, and the entire ploy of marrying her in accordance with Valyrian custom and presenting her a dragon’s egg in accordance with Targaryen custom was Daemon’s way to get his brother off his butt and into the field of action for once. He was doing pretty well at picking apart Otto Hightower’s haughty air of arrogance, until Rhaenyra arrived and demanded Daemon return her brother’s egg.
It is only after the people who arrived from King’s Landing depart that we learn Mysaria has “taken steps” to ensure she never gets pregnant even by mistake. Daemon viewed this entire scenario as an amusing prank, to put it very simply, but for everyone else involved, it was not nearly as funny. And yes, there is still the possibility that Mysaria might actually just be pregnant, because we are repeatedly told that the blood of the dragon is special, and simple logic dictates that this uniqueness extends to all other bodily fluids as well.
Do you guys not recall the conspiracy theories that were running rampant about Dany being able to bear children again thanks to Jon’s magic seeds before Season 8 ruined everything or is it just us? But putting all that aside, it is very telling that Daemon taunted his brother with a seditious without even informing his unwitting accomplice what he was doing. One wonders just how much you can trust this dashing Rogue Prince after all.
Lord Corlys Velaryon quits the Small Council because Viserys rejects the match with Laena
In just 2 episodes, House of the Dragon has given us a very clear portrait of King Viserys Targaryen; he is a kind man, an honest man, a good man, but he is not fit to be a ruler and is ruled more by emotional than an iron will to rule. His Hand, Otto Hightower, knows this and expertly manipulates him into choosing Alicent as his new bride. While all the other members of Viserys’ Small Council- including Lyonel Strong – suggest that the King marry Laena as he must fulfil his duty to the realm, Otto says that when his own wife had passed, he couldn’t even think of remarrying out of duty, thus planting the seed of Viserys marrying Alicent in his King’s mind.
The Hightowers are shown to use such subtle, empathetic manipulation on all the important Targaryen royals so far, and it seems to work as well, because at the end of the episode, Viserys chooses not to marry out of duty, but- as Fire & Blood puts it- “for love”.
And it is this decision- not the Great Council passing over Rhaenys or Viserys putting off the trouble in the Stepstones- that causes Lord Corlys Velaryon to leave his seat on the Small Council. This event was bound to happen sooner or later, given the fact that the episode has just set up a major conflict that we will see unfold in episode 3, but the manner in which it happened is very different from the books. In Fire & Blood, Corlys resigns even before Viserys’ reign begins, and well before he gets into the 10th year of his reign.
He does not broach the subject of marriage with Viserys, and neither does he directly pressure the Crown to take care of the Triarchy and their crabfeeder; he is simply not involved. By contrast, House of the Dragon has kept him right in the middle of political intrigue in the Seven Kingdoms, which is actually an improvement in our opinion because it makes a lot more sense. Having said that, with Lord Corlys finally taking his leave, the action is going to ramp up, and so will the drama, because…
The cracks in Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship are appearing already
One of the biggest changes from Fire & Blood to House of the Dragon continues to be the dramatic gift that keeps on giving because it appears as though relations between Rhaenyra and Alicent are about to break down before Viserys is even wedded to the latter. In Fire & Blood, the relationship between the Realm’s Delight and her new stepmother is completely different to what it is shown to be in House of the Dragon.
There, Rhaenyra and Alicent are mentioned as having been on amiable terms at best, and cultivating a real relationship only after Alicent married Viserys. Alicent is also 9 years older than Rhaenyra there, so it makes sense that the young queen-to-be, who was 9 or 10 years old when Viserys re-married, would be okay with her new step-mother kissing her and naming her daughter on her wedding day.
That particular scene is going to be much more awkward and skin-crawling in House of the Dragon because of the equation that Ryan and Miguel have given Rhaenyra and Alicent. The two ladies are shown to be constant companions at court, with the implication being that they practically grew up with each other. However, we know that Otto Hightower desires to tie his family to the royal lineage, and so he places Alicent in a precarious position; he basically asks her to seduce Viserys, which is only mentioned as speculation in Fire & Blood according to the many sources that Gyldayn referred to.
In the books, the conflict between princess and good mother start cropping up when the latter starts producing male children that can definitely displace Rhaenyra as the heir to the Iron Throne. In the show, that distant has already started appearing, as Viserys has been firmly entranced by Alicent’s beauty and “considerate nature”, to the point he even asks her to keep their meetings from Rhaenyra.
Viserys can see Corlys’ ambition plainly but is blind to Otto’s, and that is what is going to tear apart the Targaryen family during the course of House of the Dragon. The way that Rhaenyra fled from the Small Council chamber at the end of the episode is all you need to see to know that these two friends are never going to be the same again. And honestly, if you were in Rhaenyra’s shoes, wouldn’t you feel the same way? Exactly. Moving on to our last major difference from book to show, it revolves around the character after whom the episode was titled.
Daemon and Corlys will launch their War for the Stepstones around 110-111 AC; the same time in which Daemon relinquishes control of “his kingdom” in the books
The House of the Dragon timeline, as we’d mentioned in our previous differences video, is a bit all over the place, so it makes sense that an entire conflict will most likely begin and end in the same year that it was “formally concluded” in the books. In Fire & Blood, after Viserys finds out about Daemon and Mysaria’s dragon egg-involving shenanigans, he commands his brother to return to his lady wife Rhea Royce in the Vale but instead, Daemon strikes up a partnership with the spurned Lord Corlys Velaryon and launches a private war for the Stepstones.
For nearly 2 years Daemon burnt the holdings of the Triarchy in the Stepstones while the Sea Snake’s fleets reclaimed the Narrow Sea for Driftmark, with his coronation occurring in 108 AC. He would rule his “kingdom” for some 3 odd years before growing bored of it and leaving it behind to fall into squalor. Since House of the Dragon follows a much more truncated timeline, they’re going to begin the War in the 10th year of Viserys’ reign, which is closer to when Daemon leaves ruling the Stepstones to other sellswords.
From this, we can also infer that the TV version of the War for the Stepstones is going to be much shorter, possibly lasting less than a year all things said. This might not seem like a major difference to you, but it is a far more intimidating fact that Daemon and Corlys will be able to conquer islands held by 3 ruling powers in less than a year then the 2 years it took them to get it all done in the books as it will prove Daemon’s prowess as a commander, a warrior-king, and a true dragon. Episode 3 is most likely going to focus on this very conflict that we have described, and it will be very intriguing to see how they handle the War and Daemon’s consequent kingship, short-lived as it will be.
The Rogue Prince continues the trend of adaptive perfection that House of the Dragon has slipped itself into. While the story changes were numerous, and in some cases significant, as always, Ryan and Miguel have managed to make it work without sacrificing the essence of George R. R. Martin’s world. Yes, it was a relief to find out that Mysaria will potentially not have a miscarriage in a ship and equally annoying that we still haven’t gotten to see Vhagar yet, but that’s just how storytelling works, you guys, and we’re not here to complain about any of it; on the contrary, for the first time in like 3 years, we can finally say we are very much looking forward to the next episode of something Game of Thrones related; and that is a good feeling.