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SYFY WIRE House of the Dragon

George R.R. Martin explains why HBO needs 4 seasons to tell the 'House of the Dragon' saga

According to the co-creator of House of the Dragon, it will take four seasons to tell their story right.

By Matthew Jackson
Tom Glynn-Carney in House of the Dragon Season 1 Episode 8

As you may have noticed by now, House of the Dragon is structured a bit differently than its predecessor series, Game of Thrones, most noticeably in the way the new series handles time. Created by Ryan Condal and George R.R. Martin, and based on Martin's own book Fire & Blood, the new series is not just a prequel, but an important piece of history that informs what the world of Game of Thrones will become more than a century later. It's also a bit more laser-focused on a single branch of Westeros nobility and the key events that inform their lives.

That focus, and the show's particular emphasis on the Targaryen civil war known as "The Dance of the Dragons," means that House of the Dragon has built time jumps into the series to keep its narrative tightened on the major events informing that struggle. Where Game of Thrones might have just jumped to a different continent for an episode or two to tell its story, House of the Dragon leaps forward in time a decade or so, showing us Targaryen children growing up, and Targaryen leaders passing on. 

Writing on his "Not a Blog" this week, Martin mused a bit on the reasons for this structure, noted that there are plenty of other subplots within Fire & Blood that the show could explore if it had the time. That's not the nature of modern television, though, which he and Condal were keenly aware of as they crafted the show's structure. 

George R.R. Martin

"If House of the Dragon had 13 episodes per season, maybe we could have shown all the things we had to 'time jump' over… though that would have risked having some viewers complain that the show was too 'slow,' that “nothing happened," Martin said. "As it is, I am thrilled that we still have 10 hours every season to tell our tale. (Rings of Power has only 8, as you may have noticed, and my AMC show Dark Winds is doing 6 episode seasons). I hope that will continue to be true. It is going to take four full seasons of 10 episodes each to do justice to the Dance of the Dragons, from start to finish."

As House of the Dragon viewers might have noticed by now, Season 1 of the series has been largely devoted to setting the table for the Dance of the Dragons struggle to come, laying out all the various claims to power within the Targaryen and Velaryon families and exploring how each of the major players into the people they're going to be when the fighting begins. That leaves three more seasons to tell the story of the war itself, which could mean a couple of additional minor time jumps just to get the younger characters to the correct age when the war is at its height. It's a slightly more efficient way to tell a story than Game of Thrones and its latter-day escalations, but of course, House of the Dragon had the advantage of knowing how the story ends before a single episode aired.

Martin also reiterated is support for other fantasy series that certain circles have set up as House of the Dragon's rivals, namely The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and went so far as to list off the other fantasy series he hopes the current crop of shows can pave the way for, including some unadapted classics. 

"I want Tad Williams, I want Joe Abercrombie, I want Patrick Rothfuss, I want a good adaptation of Le Guin’s Earthsea books, I want Alan Garner, I want Robin Hobb… oh, the list is long, I could go on and on… and would if I did not have a zillion other things to do," Martin said. "Most of all, I want Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber. I will never understand why Corwin and his siblings are not starring in their own show. And hey, if epic fantasy continues to do well, maybe we will finally get that. A boy can dream."

House of the Dragon airs Sundays on HBO. 

Looking for more fantasy? Stream the entire Harry Potter saga on Peacock right now.