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House of the Dragon: Fantasy drama returns for more blood and fire

The eight-episode second series kicks off next Sunday, plunging fans back into the mythical continent of Westeros, set almost two centuries before the events of "Game of Thrones"

Published: Jun 12, 2024 11:36:25 AM IST
Updated: Jun 12, 2024 02:37:48 PM IST

"House of the Dragon" picks up with Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) vying for the throne of her late father, King Viserys, against her half-brother Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney). Image: Photography Copyright Ollie Upton/HBO

"House of the Dragon" returns next week after a strike-related delay, promising more of the blood, fire and power struggles that fans of the "Game of Thrones" universe have come to expect.

The eight-episode second series kicks off next Sunday, plunging fans back into the mythical continent of Westeros, set almost two centuries before the events of "Game of Thrones".

It was pushed back by several months due to the long strike last summer over pay and conditions by Hollywood writers and actors.

"House of the Dragon" picks up with Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) vying for the throne of her late father, King Viserys, against her half-brother Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney).

"This is a deeply immersive world, and I think, while it can be thrilling and filled with spectacle at times, it's hopefully the connections of the characters that keep people coming back for more," showrunner Ryan Condal told AFP.

The first series was a huge hit, attracting nearly 10 million viewers in the United States alone when its first episode aired in 2022, a record for an original series on HBO.

Condal says it is "darker and more solemn" than "Game of Thrones", whose dark humour and salacious sex and violence made it a cultural phenomenon.

He sees it as a metaphor for rivalry between nuclear powers.

"You have these two superpowers, the Blacks and the Greens. They each have nuclear weapons -- dragons -- on their side," he said.  

The difference, he added, is that "dragons are sentient. They're living beasts with their own thoughts and feelings. And, just because a human is riding on a dragon doesn't mean that the dragon is always going to do exactly what they want and desire."

The show remains focused around the central family, the Targaryens, but Condal said a number of new characters from less privileged backgrounds were being introduced this season.

"A lot of the humour that came out of the original series comes through culture clash of people that aren't from the upper crust intersecting with the upper crust," said Condal.

Fans can also expect more shocking moments from Daemon, played by Matt Smith, loyal to his queen but also obsessed with the throne.

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"Daemon always remains the most mercurial and unpredictable character, but hopefully there are a number of them in the show," said Condal.

He said a third season was already in the works, but remained at the writing stage.