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Lord Varys

How should 'House of the Dragon' go?

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Considering that we'll get at least ten episodes of this thing, I'd like to ask you all what you would want/think/hope they would focus on. I take it a given that they will start with the Great Council and the reign of Viserys I, building slowly up towards the Dance of the Dragons - which might then start at the end of the first season, or perhaps only after the second season (which I'd actually prefer, considering the war as such covers only 2+ years).

I'm also not operating under the assumption that they are going to cut character or combine them.

A change I could see and would actually prefer is if the characters were aged up, meaning Rhaenyra is not only born in 97 AC, but a couple of years earlier, meaning she would not be that young when her father takes the throne, could have children earlier, meaning her sons won't be that young when the Dance starts (although I'd say Aegon the Younger and Viserys should remain as young or only slightly older than they are in the books). That would mean that Rhaenyra's older sons could play a more active role during the war and would be not as ridiculously young as they are in 120 AC during the Vhagar scene.

As for plotlines I'd expect that the personal relationships - that is, the soap opera element - has to be key for the pre-Dance seasons. We have to understand in the beginning how the Velaryons (Princess Rhaenys and the Sea Snake) and Viserys I and Daemon stand against each other, what the stakes of Otto Hightower and Alicent are in the game (i.e. what they want and how they want to achieve it) and how the personal stories led to ever more friction and nastiness. In the early part of the story a powerful framing could be to make Daemon's ambitions a core part of the story, sort of making the story about his fruitless plans to get closer to the throne while having many other characters doing anything in the power to put a stop to those ambitions.

Later on the role of the Strongs - Lord Lyonel, Harwin, and especially Larys (who is going to live into the Dance) - should also be portrayed in detail - especially so we can understand Larys Strong's motivations and actions later in the war.

Criston Cole and Rhaenyra should also be a (or perhaps even the) core element of the early seasons, as well as Viserys-Alicent, Alicent-Rhaenyra, and the relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent's children.

To make things more interesting it could be interesting if Daeron the Daring and Jacaerys Velaryon actually became friends and if Helaena also either very much liked Jacaerys or his brother or at least got along with them much better than her brothers.

Insofar as background characters are concerned, I'd say Marilda of Hull and her sons should play a much bigger role, meaning we should see they already when either Corlys or Laenor fathers the boys and they are born. That would mean the audience should at least know them all pretty well by the time they come forth as potential dragonriders.

To introduce many of the various later players during the Dance one could use Rhaenyra's progress through the Riverlands and the Westerlands in the years before her marriage.

To strengthen the Stark element one could actually go through with this secret marriage between Jacaerys Velaryon and Sara Snow, having a Stark lady of sorts at Rhaenyra's court after Jace dies in the gullet. One could make this even a variation of the Duncan-Jenny theme, with Jace and Sara having a child which, due to their mother's low birth, cannot inherit the throne (or because she is a girl). George could even introduce such things in FaB II by having Sara Snow show up there having a fatherless child.

Any other ideas?

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9 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I take it a given that they will start with the Great Council and the reign of Viserys I

I wouldn't take it as a given at all. It's a possibility, but it would be a risky choice.

Starting as early as the Great Council would imply that you'd need several actors to interpret the protagonists of the story. Rhaenyra was 4 during the Council, 8 when declared the heiress of the realm, 14 when the factions of greens and blacks appeared, 23 at the year of the Red Spring. You'd need at least four different actresses to cover that. And that's just one character. Aegon II, Aemond, Helaena, Jace and the rest would all have to be born during the course of the series, and reach adulthood within a few episodes while changing actors in the process.

I guess it could be done, but it would be very difficult to make it work. I think it's most likely that the writers will go for an easier approach and will start the series at a much later date, perhaps compressing events and showing some backstories in flashback.

The casting process will give us many clues about how they are planning to approach the matter.

9 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I'm also not operating under the assumption that they are going to cut character or combine them.

Not a likely assumption, IMHO

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The only reason to start with the end of Jaehaerys's reign is if you get someone amazing to play Jaehaerys in his last years. If you can get Ian McKellan,  Derek Jacobi, Ben Kingsley... sure, I could see it. Otherwise, it just establishes some of the early personalities to watch out for (Daemon, Alicent, Otto, Corlys, Rhaenys) while complicating the casting situation. 

Well, there's one other reason, I guess: if you want to keep flexibility on how far the show runs, you set it further back from your end point. I think HBO's go ahead has basically committed them to giving the show a minimum of three years, and they'd like to see if they could get more. A successful Great Council-focused story could make them confident in saying fine, plan for five seasons, and then they can spend the following year on details of Viserys's reign followed by three years to cover the Dance.

In theory you could even cover the Great Council events in a half season and do a mid-season jump forward as well, I suppose.

So I can see it, but I'm not sold that it's necessary. You could just as well start long after Jaehaerys's passing and into the reign of Viserys I. It may be an easier and more natural start point.

I do agree with THB that there'll be characters cut or compressed together, somewhere.

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1 minute ago, The hairy bear said:

I wouldn't take it as a given at all. It's a possibility, but it would be a risky choice.

George said to read both TRP and TPatQ to get an inclination what the thing is about, so...

1 minute ago, The hairy bear said:

Starting as early as the Great Council would imply that you'd need several actors to interpret the protagonists of the story. Rhaenyra was 4 during the Council, 8 when declared the heiress of the realm, 14 when the factions of greens and blacks appeared, 23 at the year of the Red Spring. You'd need at least four different actresses to cover that. And that's just one character. Aegon II, Aemond, Helaena, Jace and the rest would all have to be born during the course of the series, and reach adulthood within a few episodes while changing actors in the process.

That's why I indicated that Rhaenyra has to be aged up from the start. And you don't have to give us the passing years and stuff like that. It could all happen in a decade or so. Time has to pass, sure, but not necessarily as much as in the book - or at least not visibly as much. Nobody is going to give us dates, anyway. And there is the potential for carefully planned jumps ahead in time.

Also, the focus of the early part of the story would rest with the adult characters. The children - both Alicent's and Rhaenyra's - should not play meaningful/important roles before what's the year 120 AC in FaB. In fact, it might be a good idea to move a lot of the actual buildup for the Dance in the 120-129 AC period, where the people would be pretty old already. There is no reason why everything has to happen in the same year.

One could certainly show the children before that - but they would be pre-teen children then, not crucial roles.

1 minute ago, The hairy bear said:

I guess it could be done, but it would be very difficult to make it work. I think it's most likely that the writers will go for an easier approach and will start the series at a much later date, perhaps compressing events and showing some backstories in flashback.

Flashbacks could work for some things, although I see not much reason for them if they were not to start with the Dance. If they do focus a lot of Daemon his exploits are far too numerous to tell most of them via flashback - that would be both irritating and confusing.

And the crucial thing is to make the war as such work. They do have to make it convincing why this family rips itself apart. If they don't deliver on that front the show will be a failure, because dragons or not, people will want to know why brothers and sisters are killing each other.

1 minute ago, The hairy bear said:

Not a likely assumption, IMHO

Oh, I meant the family members, not the secondary characters. One could, perhaps, cut one of Rhaenyra's older sons, but I they all have very interesting death scenes. And Aegon II needs all his children since we want to see Maelor being ripped apart, Blood and Cheese, and the cousin wedding at the end.

2 minutes ago, Ran said:

The only reason to start with the end of Jaehaerys's reign is if you get someone amazing to play Jaehaerys in his last years. If you can get Ian McKellan,  Derek Jacobi, Ben Kingsley... sure, I could see it. Otherwise, it just establishes some of the early personalities to watch out for (Daemon, Alicent, Otto, Corlys, Rhaenys) while complicating the casting situation. 

Oh, I think they could actually do the Great Council by cutting Jaehaerys I entirely. Just make it a council run by the Hand (Ser Otto Hightower) instead.

The reason I think why the Great Council should be there is to introduce the whole succession issue as such - as well as the fact that it is (as per Gyldayn) the root of the Dance of the Dragons. It also contrasts competency and good will (the desire to settle the issue peacefully) with the ill will of the parties involved that will cause the Dance.

Having Jaehaerys I and Archmaester Vaegon there certainly would be the icing on the cake, but I think this makes sense conceptually.

Starting early in the reign of Viserys I would work pretty well, too, but it would lack the portrayal of the fact that a succession war is not necessarily inevitable. It also can serve as a background to introduce many lordly players, especially if they ignore the age and the exact amount of time that passes between the Great Council and the Dance.

2 minutes ago, Ran said:

In theory you could even cover the Great Council events in a half season and do a mid-season jump forward as well, I suppose.

Regardless how you do the Great Council in such a setting, carefully planned jumps ahead in time could work very well. There are some crucial things in the first couple of years of the reign of Viserys I - Daemon's exploits, Aemma's death, the investiture of Rhaenyra, and the king's second wedding (many of which you could fit very closely together) - but there is no reason why one could not jump ahead in time from the second wedding - or merely the announcement of the wedding - to the anniversary tourney of 111 AC. We don't need to see the births of Alicent's children.

From there on things can be tight again for a time - Rhaenyra-Daemon, the progress, the plans for Rhaenyra's wedding, the falling-out between her and Cole (who also has to feature as her knight back when she is still a child) - but after the wedding we could jump ahead again to, say, the birth of Joffrey Velaryon and Daeron the Daring, followed by Daemon-Laena, the menage a trois they seem to have with Rhaenyra to finish the thing with 120 AC.

There also needs to be time enough for the Laenor and Harwin stuff, to be sure.

I could them see taking the first season to Rhaenyra's wedding which could be a decent finale, and the second one then to the death of Viserys I -

2 minutes ago, Ran said:

I do agree with THB that there'll be characters cut or compressed together, somewhere.

Sure, but I think the core family tree should not be messed with. Whether there are two Corbrays or just one or how many daughters Borros Baratheon has is of less importance. Messing with the Targaryens would also affect at least some of the dragons, and that wouldn't work so well. Not to mention how many Caltrops there are or how many Lads we are going to see.

An interesting thing could be to cut Rhea Royce and replace her with Jeyne Arryn, allowing Daemon and her to finally dissolve/annul their marriage rather than just killing Daemon's first wife.

How to deal with far-removed and effectively insignificant story lines like the Westerlands-Ironborn thing is also an interesting question.

I think really playing up the Triarchy and Daemon's issues with them could be great considering those would be new locations and a new plot that could really provide a great climax in the Gullet.

A way to make this fit better with the overall story could be to move the war with the Stepstones during Daemon's marriage to Laena, giving the twins a 'birth in battle' and having some good dragon action with Laena and Daemon fighting in the war.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

George said to read both TRP and TPatQ to get an inclination what the thing is about, so...

The Rogue Prince ends with Viserys' death, so the last part of the story will certainly be there. I don't think we should take George's statement as meaning that the entirety of the novella will be included.

2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That's why I indicated that Rhaenyra has to be aged up from the start. And you don't have to give us the passing years and stuff like that. It could all happen in a decade or so. Time has to pass, sure, but not necessarily as much as in the book - or at least not visibly as much. Nobody is going to give us dates, anyway.

I don't think the deeper problem can be solved by aging Rhaenyra "a couple of years".

"The dates" issue will be impossible to ignore due to the age of the kids. If they start at the Great Council, the series would include four pregnancies by Alicent, five by Rhaenyra, and two by Laena. It's eleven births of characters that will be significant, and with the circumstances surrounding the birth that will be critical to the story (birth order, parenthood, ...). Of course we don't need to see all the births, but whenever any of those kids appear onscreen the viewers will inevitably get an idea of how much time is passing.

2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

carefully planned jumps ahead in time could work very well.

They'll probably have to resort to that one moment or another. But it's also risky. I remember the time jump in Rome was heavily criticized.

 

2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

One could certainly show the children before that - but they would be pre-teen children then, not crucial roles.

Although Alicent would be Rhaenyra's main antagonist, Aegon II should have to appear now and then to visualize that he is the rival to Rhaenyra's claim. The episode at Laena's funeral, when Jace and his brothers attack Aemond would be important too. But other than that, I agree, they'd be no crucial roles.

And still, with the genealogy as complex as it already is (Viserys, Rhaenyra and Daemon all have children from two different marriages), I can't help but thinking that the casual viewer will be scared away if the actors keep changing. How are they supposed to follow track?

2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

we want to see Maelor being ripped apart,

Do we really want to? :eek:

 

 

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44 minutes ago, biosnake20 said:

In a perfect world HBO would want this show to run for at least 4 seasons if not more I would think.

I agree. But I think the worst case scenario if it doesn't hit is three seasons with a hurried-up Dance in the final year.

The optimist in me would be happy to see more seasons if they wanted to do the Regency as well. But we'll see.

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29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

The Rogue Prince ends with Viserys' death, so the last part of the story will certainly be there. I don't think we should take George's statement as meaning that the entirety of the novella will be included.

The death of Viserys I is also mentioned/happens in TPatQ. And the name of this show is supposed to be 'The House of the Dragon', not 'The Dance of the Dragons', meaning the focus seems to be not strictly on the war, but, especially, on the family dynamics of said house. Which, in a show culminating in the Dance of the Dragons would mean the reign of Viserys I is at the center of the story. At least for the first (couple of) season(s).

29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

I don't think the deeper problem can be solved by aging Rhaenyra "a couple of years".

That certainly would resolve a actress problem. I could see Rhaenyra being played by only two actresses, just like they did with Octavian in Rome. One from the Great Council to her wedding, and then another starting with her being a mother.

One could also have some child actress playing her in the first couple of episodes if they really want her as a very young child in the first season.

29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

"The dates" issue will be impossible to ignore due to the age of the kids. If they start at the Great Council, the series would include four pregnancies by Alicent, five by Rhaenyra, and two by Laena. It's eleven births of characters that will be significant, and with the circumstances surrounding the birth that will be critical to the story (birth order, parenthood, ...). Of course we don't need to see all the births, but whenever any of those kids appear onscreen the viewers will inevitably get an idea of how much time is passing.

They will get a feeling that time has passed, not necessarily how much time. And that doesn't have to be mentioned. It would also not be clear how much time would have passed exactly when, especially when the children's ages are not mentioned. Aegon II's children's ages could remain completely unspecified, for instance.

29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

They'll probably have to resort to that one moment or another. But it's also risky. I remember the time jump in Rome was heavily criticized.

The final one, sure, since the plan originally was to end the second season with the Battle of Philippi. But the first season covers nearly ten years, starting with the end of the war in Gaul. That is a lot of time and it works fine.

29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

Although Alicent would be Rhaenyra's main antagonist, Aegon II should have to appear now and then to visualize that he is the rival to Rhaenyra's claim. The episode at Laena's funeral, when Jace and his brothers attack Aemond would be important too. But other than that, I agree, they'd be no crucial roles.

I really don't know how this could be handled well, considering the age gap and Aegon the Elder's overall insignificance for most of the time. Instead, it seems very reasonable to me to play this up as a thing mostly between Alicent/Cole/Otto and Rhaenyra/Daemon (after they are married), with their children being, for the most part, the victims of the poison and hatred their parents feed them. There could be scenes where the children bond and get along, only for their elders to do everything in their power to rip them apart. This thing has to be a tragedy to work, not something where there are clear villains (essentially since there are no heroes to be found, anyway).

How to deal with Aegon II is an interesting question, anyway. If they go with the Mushroom picture he would be a very unpleasant person even as a youth.

Trying to make him and Rhaenyra the lead characters during the Dance is not going to work if they stick to George's story - Rhaenyra would be hiding in her solar for weeks and months after Luke's death, and Aegon II is going to be a drug addict and missing in action for most of the war (if they want to surprise Rhaenyra and the audience on Dragonstone).

Instead the main core cast for the Dance should be Alicent, Aemond, Otto, and Cole (for the first half), with Jacaerys, Daemon, and Corlys being the main Black characters. Rhaenyra would only become a really important character after the Gullet

29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

And still, with the genealogy as complex as it already is (Viserys, Rhaenyra and Daemon all have children from two different marriages), I can't help but thinking that the casual viewer will be scared away if the actors keep changing. How are they supposed to follow track?

By not making it about the children but their parents while they are still around. The time to properly introduce Aemond as a character would be when he claims Vhagar, the time to introduce Daeron when he goes to Oldtown (and perhaps earlier, if they make him and Jace buddies). The time we see Daemon's girls as proper characters would be, perhaps, during some sort of ball or feast shortly before Viserys I's death.

And the younger children don't need to be characters at all, aside from Aegon the Younger (for whom they would need a very good child actor if they don't age him up). Viserys could have a couple of scenes, perhaps at a war council or so, where he asks very poignant questions or makes a good suggestion, indicating that this boy is smart. But aside from that the time for him to be a character is after he comes back during the Regency era (assuming they ever do that).

A good way to keep this entertaining could be to not make it that obvious that the coming civil war will be between those Blacks and Greens, but more between Daemon Targaryen and whoever he aligns with and another faction - or that the Velaryons might finally do something to topple Viserys I. Laenor Velaryon also could have had plans to not be a meek prince consort aside a queen regnant. He could have plans to become king himself.

Something like the marriage between Rhaenyra and Daemon or the marriage between Aegon and Helaena could come as massive surprises, because the writers were building up other scenarios - say, Aegon the Elder and Rhaenyra or Jacaerys Velaryon and Helaena.

29 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

Do we really want to? :eek:

Well, it is one of the better shock moments. And I did not mean we have to see in detail, just that this Bitterbridge episode is one of the better scenes George described in detail. I'd hate it if they cut something like that or merged it with Blood and Cheese. It is the kind of thing that can illustrate the madness and arbitary barbarity of war.

38 minutes ago, Ran said:

I agree. But I think the worst case scenario if it doesn't hit is three seasons with a hurried-up Dance in the final year.

The optimist in me would be happy to see more seasons if they wanted to do the Regency as well. But we'll see.

How many seasons do you think the Dance as such could/should have?

I'd say 2-3 season for Viserys I would be fine, and then 4-5 seasons for the Dance as such. One certainly can condense the war much easier than the buildup if we talk about character development and such. Many campaigns do not even involve any Targaryens.

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I expect the first season being a lot like game of thrones first season. (Hbo will play it safe).

It will start at the year 128 showing 5 episodes of the grudge between Green and Blacks and introducing the main characters. (They can give the necessary historic information in conversations like they did with robert's rebellion in season 1 ).  It will probably end with Blood and Cheese being the "Episode 9 Moment" and setting up the start of the war for season 2.

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1 hour ago, J.O. said:

I expect the first season being a lot like game of thrones first season. (Hbo will play it safe).

It will start at the year 128 showing 5 episodes of the grudge between Green and Blacks and introducing the main characters. (They can give the necessary historic information in conversations like they did with robert's rebellion in season 1 ).  It will probably end with Blood and Cheese being the "Episode 9 Moment" and setting up the start of the war for season 2.

That would make some sense if the show was called 'The Dance of the Dragons', but it is not. We can, at this point, not assume they will rush this thing.

I mean, sure, the main series also sort of starts in medias res and we have a lot baggage from Robert's Rebellion and the reign of the Mad King to unpack as the story unfolds, but this is not the case for the Dance of the Dragons. There is no dethroned branch of the royal family in exile, plotting their return, no disguised hidden child whose eventual revelation will bear (at least some) fruit.

Also, unlike the main series we really don't have a Realm exploding there, not many courts with their own ambitions and plans and retinues of secondary characters. We just have a divided House Targaryens and their principal allies.

That narrows the overall scope of the story and should give them time to focus more on character development than to move the plot forward.

Edited by Lord Varys

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As for the core characters I'd say the crucial characters for the first half of the reign of Viserys I would be:

- Viserys I

- Prince Daemon

- Alicent Hightower

- Otto Hightower

- Princess Rhaenys

- Corlys Velaryon

- Rhaenyra Targaryen

That's actually it.

Later Lyonel, Harwin, and Larys Strong would replace Otto Hightower, while we would also see Laenor and Laena Velaryon in crucial roles.

Even with Alicent's four children eventually being added, this is a pretty small ensemble compared to that of GoT. Especially we will lose the Velaryon siblings, two of the Strongs, and eventually Viserys I.

Everybody else would secondary or tertiary characters, i.e. people that would be featuring, guest stars until they eventually are old enough to be part of the main cast (all the children).

How and in what capacity the Westerosi lords can be included in such a story in a meaningful way I really don't know. One could easily enough flesh out Otto's family some more (although George never bothered to give us the name of his father, brother, or even all of Alicent's brothers), and Tyland Lannister as Master of Ships certainly could be fixture in the show in the years before the Dance starts (although I'd have no idea what to do with that character).

But the lords who only choose sides when the war starts - the Starks, Arryns, Baratheons, Tullys, and Greyjoys - not to mention all those men and women who only rise to prominence during the fighting would not have much of a place before the fighting starts - sure, Grover Tully could show up, the father of the Lannister twins, too, young Cregan Stark and his father, possibly even some Tyrells - but as the story stands the Dance of the Dragons is essentially only a civil war between two factions, neither of which actually properly prepared for.

Meaning I see little potential for various lords to do stuff aside from suck up to the royals, try to throw their sons at the unwed Rhaenyra, and their daughters, perhaps, at the unwed Aegon the Elder, hoping that they won't go with an incest thing there.

If we get the Stepstones campaign Daemon could have some notable names among his armies, that way one could see more of the great houses at an earlier point.

But the setup of the war as given by George has them to be completely surprised by the coup, with both sides not having secured crucial allies while everybody awaited Viserys I to die, explaining why the dragonriders have to do their errand runs.

As for the way to tell it:

Would you guys like it if they actually kept the history book fiction as a narrative frame, meaning we would have a narrators voice interjecting from time to time and giving us the conflicting accounts (Daemon-Rhaenyra-Cole, ways of death of Beesbury, etc.). That could be fun and is often used as a narrative technique in at least one episode of a show where characters retell events in the past.

They couldn't do that for the entire thing, of course, but it would work nice with the most interesting scenes that contradict each other.

Pinning it down to just one scenario wouldn't make all that fine of an adaptation, considering that the actual depth of FaB as a book comes from the fact that there are many contradictory accounts.

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27 minutes ago, Hodor the Articulate said:

At this point, all I want is for them to give more dimensions to the main players, like Cersei got in GOT (in the early seasons, anyway).

If they take their time there is a lot of potential there. I mean, there is potential to make this a tragedy. Rhaenyra and Alicent could actually be best friends before they become mortal enemies. It could even be Rhaenyra who helps to hook up Alicent with her grieving father. Then one could have their original rift not be one born from animosity but principle - Alicent simply believing that now that she has sons they should come first, and that only going worse and worse as the children grow up when it slowly become more and more personal. In fact, something like that could also explain why Rhaenyra does spare Alicent's life when she is in her power - something that's really an oddity in the book.

The Cole-Rhaenyra thing also has potential to be complex (if they portray him right he could be like book Littlefinger would be if he were a great knight), as does the menage à trois with Laenor, Rhaenyra, and Harwin (and Rhaenyra's various favorites).

If one took time and effort to make Viserys I and Daemon into living, breathing characters (which would depend on fleshing out what made them so close as children and youths that Viserys I constantly forgives Daemon his many slights).

Character development during the actual Dance I cannot see on many fronts. Most would be about people being hardened and made more paranoid, cruel, and unforgiving by the events they suffer through and witness. Not to mention that, unlike the main books, essentially no character has some of learning curve or arc. One could spend time with Benjicot Blackwood, say, but that would just be a variation of Arya.

What should be a pretty big focus during the Dance is Nettles' back story and the role she plays in Daemon's life - there has to be some explanation as to how and why he suddenly grows himself a conscience or decides to give up his pursuit of power to be with his daughter and/or lover (FaB doesn't really develop on that front at all, having Daemon rediscover the charms of Mysaria - likely one of the most corrupt women he could possibly have a relationship with - before he goes on his mission to Maidenpool).

But show Cersei would be a very bad example for a character with depth - she was inconsistently written from the start, and one never actually knew or understood what she wanted or what she was about.

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22 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

the name of this show is supposed to be 'The House of the Dragon', not 'The Dance of the Dragons', meaning the focus seems to be not strictly on the war, but, especially, on the family dynamics of said house. Which, in a show culminating in the Dance of the Dragons would mean the reign of Viserys I is at the center of the story.

Honestly, I think the reason why the show is called "House of the Dragon" instead of "Dance of the Dragons" it's not that they want to focus a lot on the family dynamics before the war. The main reason, I'd bet, is that this name allows them to continue the show with the regency and further if the show is a huge success.

As I see it, the show could be named the "Dance of the Dragons" even if the first or the two first seasons were only the prelude of the war.

22 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

How many seasons do you think the Dance as such could/should have?

I'd say 2-3 season for Viserys I would be fine, and then 4-5 seasons for the Dance as such. One certainly can condense the war much easier than the buildup if we talk about character development and such. Many campaigns do not even involve any Targaryens.

What I think we are likelier to get is 1 season for Viserys I, and 3 seasons for the Dance as such.

Call me a pessimist, but I believe that HBO is banking on the series because there's plenty of war, and dragon battles. They know that an adequate backstory has to be presented, but they'll want to hurry the beginning of the actual fighting. The writers will also want a huge cliffhanger for the end of season 1, and the death of Viserys qualifies. There are not huge game-changing moments before that.

My bet:

  • Season 1: ends with the death of Viserys I
  • Season 2: ends with the fall of KL
  • Season 3: ends with Rhaenyra's death.
  • Season 4: ends with Aegon's death.
22 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Trying to make him and Rhaenyra the lead characters during the Dance is not going to work if they stick to George's story - Rhaenyra would be hiding in her solar for weeks and months after Luke's death, and Aegon II is going to be a drug addict and missing in action for most of the war (if they want to surprise Rhaenyra and the audience on Dragonstone).

I think that it'd be particularly interesting and 'new' that the two "leaders" of each faction are incapacitated at the early stages of the war, and others have to step in. That's how I'd portray it, anyway. But I'd keep showing them: a grieving mother and an agonizing drug addict can still be interesting characters.

I'd definitely want to surprise the viewers with Aegon at Dragonstone.

 

20 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

As for the core characters I'd say the crucial characters for the first half of the reign of Viserys I would be:

- Viserys I

- Prince Daemon

- Alicent Hightower

- Otto Hightower

- Princess Rhaenys

- Corlys Velaryon

- Rhaenyra Targaryen

Yeah, that would be it. In the first episodes, they should be presented as three separate groups: the Targaryen family (Viserys, Daemon and Rhaenyra), the Velaryon cousins (Corlys and Rhaenys), and the upstarter newcommers (Otto and Alicent).

 

15 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Character development during the actual Dance I cannot see on many fronts. Most would be about people being hardened and made more paranoid, cruel, and unforgiving by the events they suffer through and witness.

I think that out both Daemon and Aegon II could have the most interesting arcs during the war. Daemon could increasingly be detached from Rhaenyra, and also abandon his older blood-thirsty self. Perhaps in connection with him meeting Neetles. And I'll make Aegon II change from an hedonist who initially didn't really want the throne to a bitter power-hungry sadistic.

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Personally, I'd prefer Aegon II start out an unambitious whoremonger who dies broken in body and spirit both to prefigure the rise of Aegon III and to show that the Dance was really pointless. The leaders (Aegon II, Rhaenyra, etc.) die disillusioned and despairing, the followers that would have made better rulers than either are all dead (Daeron the Daring, Rhaenys), and the survivors are all either mediocre or traumatized.

That, and among other things, I'd prefer Criston Cole to actually live up to his reputation in-setting as one of the best and worst of the Kingsguard.

Oh, and for Helaena to get the chance to actually do something. (I find GRRM's habit of taking a women out of the narrative by having her passively grieve while male characters get to act on their grief very annoying, especially in this case since Rhaenyra and Helaena got hammered with it.)

Finally, if I were a bold man I'd actually expand the Targaryen family tree by keeping Prince Aegon (son of Baelon) alive and maybe giving Aemma Arryn a twin brother or sister.

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Honestly, I think the reason why the show is called "House of the Dragon" instead of "Dance of the Dragons" it's not that they want to focus a lot on the family dynamics before the war. The main reason, I'd bet, is that this name allows them to continue the show with the regency and further if the show is a huge success.

I'm pretty sure nobody is going to make plans to adapt the Regency material, especially not as a sort of pointless appendix to a show about the Dance. I mean, it is like we would only get AFfC-type novels after ASoS until the series was over. All buildup and buildup and no resolution, and a lot of time focused on the minutiae of day-to-day bickering and plotting.

There isn't even any narrative point to the Regency material in FaB. It literally doesn't go anywhere - sure, some people die, but none of the plots that were introduced after the Dance (Alys Rivers and her son, Unwin Peake's machinations, the surviving dragons, etc. are resolved - not even the Rogare story is told to its proper end, meaning the birth of Naerys and the end of the marriage of Viserys and Larra).

George apparently didn't even bother to write some sort of epilogue or paragraph at the end of FaB to explain why Gyldayn is concluding his first volume on the Targaryen history at that particular point. It is clear that there is no narrative reason for this, but conceptually George should have invented one.

If a show titled 'The House of the Dragon' would give us 4-5 seasons on the kind of pointless plotting that dominantes the aftermath of the Dance, with essentially no climaxes then this is not going to be a success.

The Regency stuff can be adapted once George gives us the conclusion of this story - that is, FaB II. After all, if it were a success the show would not just stop when Aegon III turned sixteen - because that would be the moment where the fun began. Now one could see that guy actually do some ruling, and not being a pawn the entire time. But without FaB II we would have another GRRM show spoil another GRRM book series (or ruin it, by pulling stuff out of their asses).

If you ask me, they should call it a day and end this show with the coronation and wedding of Aegon III (after the Hour of the Wolf) and then start a new run of a show about the reign of Aegon III's reign which could then start with the Regency and which could, eventually, culminate in Daeron's Conquest.

2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Call me a pessimist, but I believe that HBO is banking on the series because there's plenty of war, and dragon battles. They know that an adequate backstory has to be presented, but they'll want to hurry the beginning of the actual fighting. The writers will also want a huge cliffhanger for the end of season 1, and the death of Viserys qualifies. There are not huge game-changing moments before that.

There is sufficient battle/war material for the reign of Viserys I with the whole Stepstones thing. And one could always invent stuff about some war with Dorne. In fact, this could also help to establish the glory of House Targaryen while they were ruling with their dragons. To get a feeling for what the Dance does to the kingdom one has to first learn what it means to have them.

2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

My bet:

  • Season 1: ends with the death of Viserys I
  • Season 2: ends with the fall of KL
  • Season 3: ends with Rhaenyra's death.
  • Season 4: ends with Aegon's death.

There would not even be remotely enough material for an entire season between Rhaenyra's death and Aegon II's death. It is just a single battle and a lot of plotting and talks. Not to mention no dragons.

And rushing through from the beginning to the fall of KL would essentially put nearly all the interesting stuff of the Dance in just one season.

As I think I pointed out elsewhere already, the Dance has very bad plotting and pacing for a novel or TV series. Most great feats and interesting battles take place during the first half of the war, not the second. Especially those involving dragons.

2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I think that it'd be particularly interesting and 'new' that the two "leaders" of each faction are incapacitated at the early stages of the war, and others have to step in. That's how I'd portray it, anyway. But I'd keep showing them: a grieving mother and an agonizing drug addict can still be interesting characters.

But it is rather pointless to build up some sort of rivalry between Aegon and Rhaenyra when they - especially Aegon - don't really shape the events of the war to a meaningful degree.

And Aegon cannot be an interesting drug addict character if they keep Aemond as regent, since for that Aegon really has to be completely out of the picture, unable to answer yes-or-no questions - else they would have likely used him to put an end to Aemond's stupid Harrenhal plan.

2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I'd definitely want to surprise the viewers with Aegon at Dragonstone.

Then Aegon II would essentially be a completely absent character during the Dance, and there would be no character growth. Instead we could at best get some sort of transformation (which could actually be highlighted by having pre-Rook's Rest Aegon be played by a different actor than the guy we meet on Dragonstone.

2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Yeah, that would be it. In the first episodes, they should be presented as three separate groups: the Targaryen family (Viserys, Daemon and Rhaenyra), the Velaryon cousins (Corlys and Rhaenys), and the upstarter newcommers (Otto and Alicent).

Not sure if there would even be three groups. The Hightowers would be on team Viserys I.

It is a rather limited setting, meaning there is no need to think they have to cut or merge crucial characters. We are never going to go to the Wall or Dorne in that show.

2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I think that out both Daemon and Aegon II could have the most interesting arcs during the war. Daemon could increasingly be detached from Rhaenyra, and also abandon his older blood-thirsty self. Perhaps in connection with him meeting Neetles. And I'll make Aegon II change from an hedonist who initially didn't really want the throne to a bitter power-hungry sadistic.

Daemon needs a bloodthirsty self for there to be some meaningful change - something which could only work if they focused on him in really great detail before - and on his earlier relationship with Rhaenyra.

George's material doesn't give any indication he was ever close to Rhaenyra during the Dance, anyway, considering he is fucking Mysaria even before he meets Nettles. Unless they are going to change all that to give him some coherent or meaningful story, I don't see how one could give Daemon a meaningful arc.

I mean, you can ask yourself what the narrative point of the Mysaria affair after the Fall of King's Landing is supposed to be? What could draw Daemon to this woman which is about as old as he is, and much more corrupt than he ever was - is he rewarding her with sex for how she dealt with Aegon II's brat?

Even if Nettles were just Daemon's daughter and not his lover I don't see how such a guy would suddenly throw away his life and abandon all his children to the mercy of the likes of Mysaria and Rhaenyra.

For Aegon II to change we would not only need to see him change, but he would actually have to be remarkably different before the war - which he is not in George's book. The only change in Aegon II is that pain seems to have made him more cautious (perhaps because he wants to avoid more pain) but the character is exactly the same before and after the war. A way to change that would have to him get along with/not loath Rhaenyra before the war - something that could also explain why he would not be king (which in FaB seems to be either just propaganda - which I happen to believe - or, worse, cowardice - meaning he wanted to be king but feared his mother's and grandfather's plan was not exactly sound). Because as soon as he is king he immediately behaves like a tyrant and bosses everybody around.

If one wanted Rhaenyra's end and her conflict with her brother to be more meaningful one could also have Rhaenyra feed Alicent to Syrax piece by piece and/or have her give Helaena the same treatment TV Cersei gave the septa - until she is finally kill or throws herself to her death in the moat. But that would be a massive change, too. In the book, Aegon II is just the same spiteful little brat he was in the beginning of the war when he feeds his half-sister to his dragon. His character didn't change - he wanted to see her dead at the beginning of the war, it just took him a while to get there.

Where there is potential for development is Aemond. He could start as a somewhat timid boy who only develops courage and trains as a warrior after he has lost his eye and claimed Vhagar. And a large focus of his story later on should be on his relationship with Alys Rivers - who really seems to have had a tremendous effect on him.

1 hour ago, The Grey Wolf said:

Personally, I'd prefer Aegon II start out an unambitious whoremonger who dies broken in body and spirit both to prefigure the rise of Aegon III and to show that the Dance was really pointless. The leaders (Aegon II, Rhaenyra, etc.) die disillusioned and despairing, the followers that would have made better rulers than either are all dead (Daeron the Daring, Rhaenys), and the survivors are all either mediocre or traumatized.

I don't think either Rhaenys or Daeron the Daring would have been good ruler. Daeron is explicitly described as a follower, unable to rein in men who should and would submit to a prince of his rank if he the mettle for command. And Rhaenys - as flat and insignificant a character as she is in the book - is also described as a fiery and hot-headed person whose husband may have hidden his two bastard sons because he feared his wife would deal with them rather harshly (possibly like Rhaena dealt with Androw) if she had ever learned how he had betrayed her.

1 hour ago, The Grey Wolf said:

That, and among other things, I'd prefer Criston Cole to actually live up to his reputation in-setting as one of the best and worst of the Kingsguard.

I actually think he did. He was a loyal KG and great knight in his youth and became an ambitious war monger when the Hightowers recruited him for their coup.

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@Lord Varys

I said "better" for a reason. Rhaenys, Daeron, Corlys, Addam, Helaena, Tyland, etc. are all much better people who would probably make much better rulers than Aegon II or Rhaenyra. Hell, even Alicent and Otto would be better.

As for Criston Cole, I meant more that I'd prefer him to have a more dramatic death and that he win at least one dramatic victory before that.

As things stand, I don't find the Dance to be anywhere near as violent as it should be.

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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53 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Lord Varys

I said "better" for a reason. Rhaenys, Daeron, Corlys, Addam, Helaena, Tyland, etc. are all much better people who would probably make much better rulers than Aegon II or Rhaenyra. Hell, even Alicent and Otto would be better.

I don't know. Otto had likely a decade (or at least a couple of years when it became that Viserys' health was deteriorating) to prepare his coup. Yet he failed miserably. Alicent takes charge during one crisis, but never does anything of note and it seems that whatever good sense she has is clouded by her own hatred (she could have come up with the Great Council idea or the 'let's split up the Realm' idea when they staged their coup, not only when her side was losing the war).

Daeron and Rhaenys may or wouldn't have been good rulers from what we get, and it seems clear that Helaena wasn't up to the task, either. Corlys and Tyland would have been pretty good, one images, but they were lacking the royal blood.

53 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

As for Criston Cole, I meant more that I'd prefer him to have a more dramatic death and that he win at least one dramatic victory before that.

But being a Kingsguard doesn't mean you have to win and fight many battles. Cole like Jaime is a great knight who becomes corrupt and ugly when he presumes to play at politics/involve himself in matters that are too large for him. But being a great Kingsguard doesn't mean you fight in many battles or duels.

But for what it's worth it could be good to see Cole saving Viserys I or Rhaenyra from some kind of assassination attempt in the show, or do some other great feat to underline the fact that he is really some kind of super knight. Could also be that he saves them from some kind of accident - let's say they do some kind of Caligula-style spectable - a ponton bridge across Blackwater Bay (it would be really insane from Dragonstone to KL) and the king or Rhaenyra fall in the water and nearly drown and the Cole saves them or something of that sort.

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@Lord Varys

Re rulers: Being better than Aegon II or Rhaenyra I is a low bar to clear would be my point. Also, for what it's worth, Otto is described as a methodical man of great learning so I'm inclined to believe his ineffectiveness during the Dance has more to do with him being fired before he could do much more than anything else.

Re Cole: Having him perform actual heroics would be nice (though it reminds me of the fact that Ryam Redwyne was a no-show in F & B). Also, I am of the opinion that it would be better if his death were somehow connected to Rhaenyra (because their relationship gets no closure in canon).

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How the seasons will be:

Season 1: from the last years of viserys to blood and cheese.

Season 2: from the war in the riverlands to battle of rook rest and aemond is named protector of the realm.

Season 3: the war continues. Battle of Lakeshore ( I think they will make Jason Lannister to live up to this battle). The dragonseeds story. Battle of the Gullet. 

Season 4: Rhaenyra takes Kings Landing. Aemond napalms the riverlands. Butcher's Ball. Aegon II arrives to dragonstone. Battle of Tumbleton I.

Season 5: Rhaenyra ruling KL. Addam Velaryon escapes, Corlys imprisioned. Aegon II fight with Baela. Battle Above the God's eye. Riots in KL, the dragonpit attack. Rhaenyra leaves KL. Battle of Tumbleton 2.

Season 6: Rhaenyra escapes to Dragonstone and her final days. Aegon II goes to KL. Battle of the Kingsroad. Hour of the wolf. Aegon III coronation.

 

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