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Monday, October 3, 2022

With House of the Dragon, George RR Martin finally has the series he wanted

Over the five years that executives at HBO they were carefully considering a worthy successor to the series Game of Thrones, George RR Martin didn’t stop pushing one idea: his own story of the rise and fall of the Targaryen family, dragon riders, narrative set nearly 200 years before the events of game of Thrones. And House of the Dragon arrived.

In the HBO troops there was a certain reluctance to create a series that, like the original, dealt with a dispute over the Iron Throne. Two writers assigned to work on the Targaryen concept appeared and disappeared, but Martin did not want to give up the project.

Then, after HBO shot -and rejected- an isolated pilot episode of the prequel to game of Thrones, Martin’s persistence won out. At the end of 2019, The House of the Dragon (the house of the dragon) got the order to become serial. Its creator is Martin, along with Ryan Condal.

George RR Martin says he could have done 12 seasons of "Game of Thrones."  Photo EFE

George RR Martin says he could have done 12 seasons of “Game of Thrones.” Photo EFE

A risky bet, which turned out well

The House of Dragonsfirst derived series, detachment or spinoff, from game of Thrones, premiered on Sunday August 21 and the bet that HBO made with it was high. A success could prove the viability of the Thrones Cinematic Universe. And, only in the United States, 9.9 million people watched it.

In a conversation late last month, George RR Martin, the man who over the past three decades has meticulously constructed the Thrones universe in his various books, discussed why he was drawn to this idea, his ambitions for future spinoffs and how his developing books will depart from the controversial ending of game of ThronesTV series.

What follows are edited snippets of our conversation.

-Two writers worked on developing your Targaryen story and got nowhere. What made him keep insisting on her?

-I didn’t want to leave her. There was a lot of material already written and had everything I thought we needed for a successful succession series. She had all the intrigue around the Iron Throne. He had the great houses in dispute. He had dragons – lots of dragons – and battles and betrayals.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, in "House of the Dragon."  HBO Max Photo via AP

Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen, in “House of the Dragon.” HBO Max Photo via AP

-The House of the Dragon has thematic coincidences with Game of Thrones: the family rivalry, the fight for the throne. In what aspects is it different?

game of Thrones and my book version, Song of ice and fire, are, in a way, classics of high fantasy in the style of Tolkien and many, many writers who followed him. However, it is true that, in a sense, I am deconstructing those tropes, those myths, things that were his hallmarks. But I also follow them to some extent.

The House of the Dragon it is more of a historical fiction with some dragons. It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy.

The controversial ending of Game of Thrones

-It’s been a little over three years since Game of Thrones ended in a way that disappointed many fans. What did you think of the ending?

-One of the things regarding the last seasons of the series was: How many seasons was it going to have? and the producers they spent years saying they wanted to end in seven seasons. Well, seven became eight because season eight is actually the second half of season seven, like one long season.

But to me I never thought that seven or eight seasons were enough. I campaigned for 10 seasons, and we could have gotten to 12. There is enough material – and there will certainly be more when I finish these last two books – to sustain 12 seasons.

But I lost that battle and we were left with eight. I think one of the biggest complaints about those last few seasons is not only that it happened – although there are complaints about that – but also that it happened too suddenly, without being prepared for it. If we had had 10 or 12 seasons, I think that would have been better.

A scene from "Game of Thrones", a landmark of the series.

A scene from “Game of Thrones”, a landmark of the series.

-Taking into account the reaction that there was, what is your degree of concern, about the new series, with respect to people being too tired to return to the Thrones universe or delight in going back to draw daggers no matter what? what happened?

-I usually see people’s comments online, and sometimes they send me emails directly. I am also concerned about something similar regarding my book. As you know, winter winds it will come out very, very late: the last book was 11 years ago and people are very angry about it. But how many people?

The House of the Dragon and any other landslide that is to come, and winter winds when it comes out, they are going to have to face an immediate reaction and some resistance from people who don’t want to give them a chance even.

-Let’s say that The House of the Dragon is a success. What would be your ideal ambition in that case? A whole fleet of Thrones-type series?

-Well, we are developing other spinoffs. is heJon Snow’s sequel series, and the rest are all prequels. This The ten thousand ships, about the warrior princess Nymeria, which takes place about a thousand years before and is about the arrival of the Rhoynar in Dorne. It is an epic similar to the Odyssey.

There are the nine voyages of Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Serpent. That would take us to places in the world we’ve never seen.

We have some animation series underway, one of them set in Yi Ti, which is basically the fantasy version of Imperial China or the Far East. We have a great script for that. Obviously, not all of these shows that we’re developing are going to make it to the air, but I hope that a number of them will.

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, in "House of the Dragon".  HBO Max Photo via AP

Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, in “House of the Dragon”. HBO Max Photo via AP

The models you admire

Is there a model you admire? Something like Marvel?

-Yes, I like what Marvel is doing because I like the variety of programs. Another model that I find interesting is the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. That show spawned a number of spinoffs: for example, Rhoda, about the friend. Phyllis also had her own comedy.

And the one that really got me excited was Lou Grant. They took a character from a sitcom and turned him into the lead in a serious news series. Taking the character from a comedic role and making him the center of a serious show is an amazing thing. I would like to see a whole range of programs from us.

-Before House of the Dragon was greenlit, HBO filmed a full pilot for a series that takes place 1,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Ultimately the project was cancelled. What was wrong?

-Well, I didn’t see the pilot. For whatever reason, it hasn’t been taught to me, so I don’t know. It was, in a way, more of a challenge because in that case, they were really going way, way back in the past. In my books, the Long Night is mentioned here and there, but it is a very old event that people tell stories about: it is like the Garden of Eden or a biblical flood.

I remember when we started to develop that I said, “You guys are going way back; if they decided to make a prequel The Sopranos they would talk about the etruscans, the ancestors of Tony Soprano. They could even talk about cavemen.”

-Tell me about your level of intervention in The House of the Dragon compared to your degree of participation in Game of Thrones, the original series.

I am much more involved The House of the Dragon that in the last seasons of game of Thrones. Now, for the record, I got very involved in the first few seasons of that series.

Seasons 1 to 4, I mean; I not only wrote a script, but especially in seasons 1 and 2, I gave my verdict in all the castings. She read the other scripts. She visited the set. But as the years passed, that intervention was less and less.

-Your next books will separate from the television series?

Much of this whole story occurs to me as I write it. I always knew that once the series got beyond my books – which I honestly didn’t anticipate – it would start to go in directions the books weren’t going to go.

Now, as I write the books and they get further and further and longer, the ideas come to me and the characters take me in directions that go even further than where the series went.

So I think what the public is going to find is that when they come out winter winds and then, hopefully, spring dream, my end will be very different. Then it will be up to the readers and viewers to decide which one they like best and discuss why.

Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones.

Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones.

When will the books be finished?

-No comment. I get in trouble every time I talk about it. I mean, if I go back 10 years, I’m like, “Oh, I should finish next year.” And then the following year he was gone. And then: “George lied to us.”

I’m not good at predicting these things. And some of it depends on how many other interrupts there are and all that. Now I am in a quite appropriate situation, so I am optimistic. But I’m not going to make any predictions.

Source: The New York Times

Translation: Roman Garcia Azcarate


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