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New Peek at House of the Dragon


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On 5/7/2022 at 5:22 PM, The Dragon Demands said:

I just spent my whole Saturday looking through teaser trailer reaction videos from YouTube channels that ARE NOT hardcore Game of Thrones / ASOIAF channels, and haven't read the books (for the most part). Mainstream channels, not things that usually cover this. 

I was fascinated when the first teaser came out, and reactions from this kind of source were not only positive, but generally asked intelligent questions. So I wanted to get a "feel" for what kind of reaction this got, and more importantly what kind of questions people unfamiliar with the source material had. Fascinating because I can't "unlearn" that I've read Fire & Blood, sometimes it's hard to tell what might confuse people. Like when we'd examine Google Trends after episodes (what searches spiked on A Wiki of Ice and Fire after this? "Rhaenyra Targaryen" and what else?)

To be honest, though all were positive, the questions they asked ran a spectrum:

  • MAJOR professional TV review channels, even if they read the books, are better informed and asked reasonable questions. Blind Wave is a good example.
  • Smaller channels who haven't been following this asked questions that could easily be answered by a google search, such as "is this based on a book and is that book done?" (yes, Fire & Blood)....which isn't bad on their part, it it's a key takeaway that the "mainstream news sites" are so disinterested in reporting on House of the Dragon after Game of Thrones Season 8 that they're barely reporting on the prequel. The public has been left shamefully uninformed. 
  • There's always fringe reactions that were insultingly ignorant and jumped to bizarre conclusions...thankfully none of the big ones. Nothing over 3,000 views or anything and they might not reflect general trends. One bizarrely insisted, even against current assumptions, that "well this prequel will be good, because it isn't based on a book GRRM wrote, when slavishly following his story from printed books through Season 8 ruined the show; hopefully TV writers can improve this because it's not a book" ...when they famously didn't have finished books for Season 8, and Fire & Blood IS a finished book (albeit a history book outline) (I'm not making this up). Another one struck me in that she kept mockingly saying "this sounds awful...why are they acting like having a woman on the throne can never happen? We already saw Cersei and Daenerys!"...only to then within the video acknowledge it's a PREQUEL by asking how long ago it was (I watched over two dozen reviews, NO ONE ELSE brought this up, she's just an idiot). 

What questions did they ask?

  • THE top question was "is this based on a book? and is that source material finished?" -- they were very nervous about this. Because the news media didn't even try to examine what went wrong with Game of Thrones, a sort of meme or assumption has spread that "the show got bad because they ran out of books, Martin should have finished them, it's his fault"....ignoring that they abandoned finished books from Season 5 onwards. I don't even think this is willful ignorance: I think a LARGE number of casual viewers were...simply never INFORMED about this, by major news sites who just stopped "reporting" on it. They think Game of Thrones failed because the book series was unfinished. This is THE question that gets asked, far above any other recurring question. So we need to stress "Yes, there's this book called Fire & Blood" so that A- they watch the show without fear, B - they buy Fire & Blood.
  • A LOT of people kept asking "how long ago is this?" Even though this FIRST TEASER stated in a titlecard, "200 years ago".  This highlights the importance of slowly and clearly explaining this in every promo material that goes out. As one would to a child.
  • I was worried that because they mention "King Viserys" in dialogue, people would get confused with Daenerys's brother, "Viserys" (Viserys the Third).  Hardly anyone did. A handful, but more than one of the stupid reactions...actually asked "wait, is that the Mad King?" (because they can't tell two white haired kings standing in front of the Iron Throne apart). Then again these were the same people who kept asking "how long ago is this?" Other stupid questions were even "what, they're not starting with the Targaryen Conquest?" and "wait, this isn't Robert's Rebellion?" (I need to stress these were fringe reactions with less than one thousand views, I'm just sharing them out of amusement). 
  • When they quickly namedrop characters named "Stark" and "Baratheon", many quickly remarked that they wondered what this prequel era's Starks and Baratheons are up to; understandable, as they're familiar names.
  • Many people casually remarked on "who are those black Valyrians?" and who are those guys [the Hightowers]?" etc., because they're two Houses that were simply never introduced in Game of Thrones itself. Multiple people didn't even think the TV-Velaryon seahorse sigil looked like a seahorse (it's a heraldic one with a horse head); remarking "why is that lion sigil blue? they're not Lannisters", "why is their dragon sigil drawn weird, is that a wyvern?" etc. etc. It's a god-damned real sea-horse! It introduced these new groups but didn't slowly introduce their names (though this time they DO have him say "I, Corlys Velaryon"...so the VERY casual viewers who kept the subtitles on reacted with, "oh, they're called "House Velaryon"?)...but this is a short teaser just setting up the main Targaryens, much less Velaryons/Hightowers. 
  • The trailer didn't attempt to convey in words the names of many characters so I think we can forgive confusion about who everyone is. Walking in blind. People of course recognized Matt Smith, and quite a few recognized Rhys Ifans, actually. I'm surprised that more than one recognized Olivia Cooke ("hey, she was in Ready Player One"). Result though was that a couple of them assumed Daemon was Rhaenyra's brother or cousin or something (not his uncle) who got passed over for a girl, based on the angry looks he keeps shooting at Young Rhaenyra. 
  • I'm not sure if they understood that the younger and older versions are the same characters before and after time skips. I never saw a video that overtly assumed they were different. 

I thought there would be more questions. But then again, it's just a teaser. 

My major takeaway is that any attempt at doing videos talking to non book readers about this needs to start with slowly and clearly saying "This is the story of a major civil war within two rival branches of House Targaryen, 200 years before Game of Thrones, as told in the finished book Fire & Blood".

I haven't watched any trailer reactions, but I've been reading a lot of YouTube comments, and there are a few trends I've noticed.

For starters, there definitely are a lot of people who are excited for the show. There are book fans who are happy to see the Dance adapted (including some bots encouraging people to read FnB lol), and there are plenty of people who miss GOT and think the trailer looks promising. There are also a bunch of people who are saying the trailer has convinced them to give the GOT universe another shot. A lot of people are begging HBO to take their time and "not rush this," and are expressing relief that D&D aren't involved anymore. The people who are salty over Rings of Power are openly hoping HOTD with crush and humiliate Amazon in ratings. People are also raving about the music score.

There are a few common complaints though:

  • Lots of comments complaining about wokeness and a feminist agenda (boy, are they in for a surprise)
  • Almost as many people saying that GOT left a sour taste in their mouth and that HBO should let the franchise die
  • Poor lighting
  • Worse wigs
  • Appears too similar to GOT
  • The cast isn't as "pretty" as GOT
  • A feeling of pointlessness, since we know that house Targaryen ends in atrocity, without even playing a pivotal role in defeating the White Walkers (along with the wigs and lighting, this is the complaint I find the most valid)
  • Not as prevalent as the other complaints, but there are some expressions of fantasy fatigue
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24 minutes ago, IFR said:

I haven't read the source material. I know from the original series that the Targaryens originate from Valyria, and are white with distinct platinum hair. We go back a couple of hundred years and see most of the other Valyrians with distinct platinum hair. Makes sense, since this phenotype had already been established for Valyrians.

But then we randomly see a few black people with platinum hair. To me, this seems pretty conspicuous. Even in real life, it's very unusual for a black person to have platinum hair. I had to look it up, but apparently, the Melanesians are the only group of black people in the world born with blond hair. This is a distinctive feature.

To just have some black Valyrians show up with no explanation given would certainly draw attention to itself for me, and be distracting.

And since you mention this is a change from the books, it's pretty clear the intention behind the change was not motivated principally for the purposes of story, but to add diversity. Now if the writers can use this change to better the story in interesting ways, maybe add richness to the lore (as someone already mentioned), then that's a welcome change. But to just randomly have this kind of deviation and leave it to the viewers that they better provide their own explanation or they're being racist is lazy and presumptuous and I would say shoddy writing.

This change does effect the lore to no small degree. ASoIaF established the Velaryons as very close cousins to the Targaryens - their defining trait in ACoK when Davos first encounters Lord Monford Velaryon is that they provided brides for three Targaryen princes. They are one step away from royalty themselves.

Since the Targaryen looks in the show don't reflect their Velaryon ancestry (assuming they are all black as seems to be the case) this marriage would be by default unusual and thus more akin to Prince Harry marrying Meghan Markle than, say, Elizabeth Windsor marrying Philip Battenberg.

It makes the Targaryens less elitist, less focused on 'purity of blood' and is thus quite a substantial change. It will also encourage interpretations viewing the Velaryons as outsiders and upstarts, adding a racial dimension to the rejection of Rhaenys and Laenor as monarchs that clearly isn't there in the book. Even if the show doesn't make that explicit, it will be implicitly there since the audience does live in a racist world.

Corlys Velaryon is the epitome of nobility and greatness in the books. He is the most famous man of his generation, the richest lord in Westeros, a man more than well-suited to be the consort of a queen. He neither looks like an outsider nor is he one.

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On 5/7/2022 at 5:39 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

I’m not going to pretend to know much of anything about British politics, but I do know that Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were/are considered ideological allies. Yet even the people who hate Reagan don’t seem to despise him anywhere near as much as people around the globe hate her. Like, gay men with AIDS like Reagan more than the average person likes Thatcher. The US has a pretty strong libertarian tradition (the philosophy, not the party), so that likely plays a role here, but I can’t help but think there’s some gender bias as well.

Rhaenyra’s really only a pampered princess in TPATQ. George played down this persona in FnB, and she’s noticeably less vicious than the men around her. Rhaenyra doesn’t even execute Alicent, and unlike 14-year-old Dany, she never feeds anyone to her dragon.

Aegon’s brokenness is another reason why I think it would be a good idea to end with the return of Viserys—the fiesty, clever brother who preserved his family as they stumbled from one idiocy to another. Or maybe they could have Baela and Rhaena taking Aegon under their wing, helping him rule. That could be a bit more of a “girl power” ending.

Rhaenyra did have her enemies brutally tortured, when she took Kings Landing- but they had it coming and that would be normative.  Alicent was spared because she was a woman.

In general, I think Rhaenyra was more sinned against than sinning.  

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On 5/8/2022 at 12:47 AM, Lord Varys said:

While that certainly is true, George certainly has a tendency to have a broader variety among men than among women. It is good, for instance, that Aegon II is petulant, incompetent man-child and not some kind of awesome warrior-king. But for variety we do have Aemond and Daeron at his side, just as we have Daemon.

And if you look at all the princes in the books it is a kind of letdown that both Aenys' sons and Jaehaerys I's elder sons are all great and perfect princes. Aemon and Baelon are super guys, and Aegon the Uncrowned and his brother Viserys are also all fine warriors and knights-to-be. There are no eccentricities there, not even so much a hint of 'Targaryen madness' nor of the physical and mental frailties they could have suffered from.

The only non-conforming Targaryen woman is Visenya. All the others could just as well be common noblewomen - that their are royalty or even dragonriders doesn't change anything.

In context, though, the character of Rhaenyra certainly had the potential of being exceptional simply because of the framework of the plot (which originally, in the appendix of AGoT, indicated that she was the usurper, the one who couldn't suffer the idea that Aegon was following their father). She is defying the rules and leads one faction in a devastating civil war. One can make a case that she should have been more like a female version or Daeron I, Aegon I, or perhaps even Maegor the Cruel than just a normal/average woman. Rhaenyra could have had female warriors in her employ (like Alysanne had a female bodyguard), she could have had women on her council, etc. And while it is good to see the likes of Rhaena, Aerea, Alyssa, and Baela (even Saera) in the book they are all failures who cannot be warriors or really openly defy gender rules or take their lives into their own hands. I mean, we have another character like that with Daena the Defiant (and perhaps other Targaryen women further down the road) and folks certainly had good reasons to imagine that a dragonrider would have had more freedoms and more ways to express herself and influence politics than a dragonless princess.

And the problem with title of 'The Princess and the Queen' just is that it doesn't finish the story of the queen nor is it, in the end, really a conflict between the two women. That's just a small part of the larger story and their story isn't even at the heart of the novella.

If that's Criston Cole and Harwin or Joffrey - and I'm not really bothering with the actors these days - then the setting was changed, since this really seems to be indoors rather than on the tourney ground out in the open.

Another instance of overdramatisation, since tourney injuries can be ignored or explained away more easily (think of Gregor's madness during the Tourney of the Hand which had no consequences) than a brawl or outright attack in the throne room or wherever that scene takes place.

Alysanne isn't so much a ruler but a ruler's consort and first/principal adviser. She certainly shapes policy to a very large degree ... but mostly behind the scenes as the person who either puts an idea in Jaehaerys' head or the person who forces him to go through with something.

How little actual power she had can, I think, best be drawn from the rather pitiful scene where she speaks to the Archmaesters of the Citadel and they all nod and smile and then basically tell the queen to go fuck herself because they won't change anything.

If she had had real power there, then there would have been female students at the Citadel - and eventually female maesters in Westeros. And it context it is a pity that this didn't actually happen for a time. If Rhaenys/Visenya or Alysanne had insisted that a daughter or other close female relation of theirs wanted to be a maester ... then, well, this should have happened. That is the power of royalty. In fact, one imagines that even Alicent Hightower could have pulled that one off - combining in her person the power of House Targaryen as well as the power of the Hightowers of Oldtown.

'Pampered princess' to me means in this context that Rhaenyra never had to fight for anything (until she had). She was her daddy's favorite and he spoiled her, much more, one imagines, than Jaehaerys spoiled Saera, and that shaped her personality. She should be portrayed and act as if the world revolved around her, belonged to her, and nothing would ever change that. When her father forces her to marry Laenor, for instance, the way to depict her wouldn't be to show her being afraid but very angry that her father dared to take something away from her she viewed as her own.

The vibe you get from the girl in the teaser is that she is pretty little doll which is used as a pawn.

How to deal with Viserys' story is one of the big mysteries in the show. The other is the disappearance of Aegon II. If they show what he does on Dragonstone then they spoil the surprise. If he is absent all that time he is simply not really an important character.

But they should take the risk of turning him mostly into a puppet/absent guy, so that the focus can remain on Alicent.

They also could show Viserys' survival and give him a story of his own in Essos, creating tension about if and how he is going to be united with his family. It would also need only minor tweaks in the plot to help him make an impact in the Dance, say, by moving the role the Arryn navy plays at the end of the war to Viserys and Alyn.

They could also give him an interesting love story with Larra and have him show his political talents by convincing the Rogares to enter into the war on his mother's side and perhaps even sway the rulers of Lys in some public speech to follow their example. Since that would all happen in the wake of the Gullet this would be no small feat at all.

Originally, I thought George wanted Viserys to be the Arya of the Dance era - that he would have a pretty big journey all on his own until he was reunited with his brother. That is something the show could do easily enough without much changes - say, by having disguise himself in Lys and having some adventures of his own before he ends up with the Rogares. Hell, one could even turn this into a rather interesting courtship scenario where a disguised Viserys meets and befriends the most beautiful Larra Rogare before she actually knows who he is.

If Dany does crash and burn in the books, it looks like Westeros will never have an Elizabeth I/Catherine the Great/Maria Theresa/St. Olga type figure.  The best that any woman can hope for is to exercise influence as a consort.

Given Martin’s own political outlook, that seems curious to me.  It’s as if he can’t contemplate a woman ruling successfully in her own right in a pre-modern society.

Visenya was not a feminist, although her sister had some interest in the rights of women.  One would have thought that their demonstration of ability would at least have persuaded other Targaryens that women had a use to the dynasty over and above being party planners.

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36 minutes ago, SeanF said:

If Dany does crash and burn in the books, it looks like Westeros will never have an Elizabeth I/Catherine the Great/Maria Theresa/St. Olga type figure.  The best that any woman can hope for is to exercise influence as a consort.

Given Martin’s own political outlook, that seems curious to me.  It’s as if he can’t contemplate a woman ruling successfully in her own right in a pre-modern world.

 

Was there a great Viking queen? Because I find it likely that Asha at least will end up on the Seastone Chair, probably as Theon’s heir. That might be how most of the women achieve power by the end of the series—Sansa will probably be Jon or Bran’s heir, maybe Edmure’s child will be a daughter, and hell, who knows, maybe little Joy Hill will be Tyrion’s heir. Tywin’s nephews all seem to be dropping like flies. (Granted, Cersei is technically the Lady of Casterly Rock, and the Westerlands have had a lady paramount before, as has the Vale).

 

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12 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Was there a great Viking queen? Because I find it likely that Asha at least will end up on the Seastone Chair, probably as Theon’s heir. That might be how most of the women achieve power by the end of the series—Sansa will probably be Jon or Bran’s heir, maybe Edmure’s child will be a daughter, and hell, who knows, maybe little Joy Hill will be Tyrion’s heir. Tywin’s nephews all seem to be dropping like flies. (Granted, Cersei is technically the Lady of Casterly Rock, and the Westerlands have had a lady paramount before, as has the Vale).

 

Warfare can certainly drive big social changes.  It’s a paradox that hyper-masculine, warrior societies can place women in positions of real power, because so many of the men get killed.

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On 5/7/2022 at 1:38 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

I think this is probably what GRRM was going for, and I agree that Alysanne is his idea of a good ruler. (The inclusion of Jonquil Darke—who is basically Brienne—makes me think that Sansa is being primed to be an Alysanne-type figure, especially since her arc has been focused less on politics and more on networking. I think that she’ll probably play a similar role for her brothers when they’re reunited at Winterfell). Then there are some women who men believe have the right temperaments to be good queens—Rhaenys, her granddaughter Rhaena, even Myrcella.

Interestingly, I think Criston looks a bit like Robb in his promo poster.

I concur, Alysanne does seem to be Martin's ideal of what a leader should be. She is the most trusted adviser of Jaehaerys at the time and in my opinion definitely would have ruled wisely alone, if a bit ahead of her time and a  lot more progressive than the times would have permitted. However it is a male dominated, patriarchal society and a young kingdom considering it's been just 100 yrs since Aegon made it a single one so Alysanne but lay the groundwork along with the exception that's Dorne when it comes to women in position of real power, so we can eventually see Dany, Cersei and eventually Sansa in ruling positions, though obviously some were highly contested.

 

Handsome as Robb, yes. I do have a hard on for Ser Cole from the poster! :D also for Corlys and the way Steve looks rocking those clothes and wig.

 

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4 hours ago, IFR said:

I haven't read the source material. I know from the original series that the Targaryens originate from Valyria, and are white with distinct platinum hair. We go back a couple of hundred years and see most of the other Valyrians with distinct platinum hair. Makes sense, since this phenotype had already been established for Valyrians.

I must have missed something. When do we go back a couple hundred years and see all these other Valyrians, besides the Targaryens (which we already know from the original series)? How did we established a phenotype for a whole population from one single house who only married between themselves mostly. 

To my knowledge there is only a sole family you know of as of right now as show only viewer: the House Targaryen. There are no “other Valyrians” the TV has never introduced until now, and the new ones are the Valeryons. You may generalize the phenotype for the whole Valyria based on the Targs alone but that’s an assumption you make I think. 

I my opinion the established diversity of population of Essos as a whole continent works more than enough if there really are questions of casting. 

I must say also that I wouldn’t consider you a representative of “the casual viewer audience” once you start to dig deep into the universe to establish phenotypes of houses never introduced or old universe populations that were never presented on screen before. So my point about them not necessarily having to give explanation I believe still stands.

Look, if you’re bothered by them implementing diversity in casting and deviating from the books, as a hard core reader, I’d understand where you’re coming from, though I would never agree. Acting is a job and opportunity should be given to everyone who is qualified and can do the job awesomely regardless of color.  I have no doubt the actors and actresses hired can do it. But the diversity comment you made when you’re not even a book reader, doesn’t make sense to me so I’ll stop here with my wall of text.

Gotta say the Black of Hair may be right about the Pearl clutching about to come though. I’m definitely in his team now! :D

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FWIW, the Velaryons were presented on screen before by HBO -- just in the Blu-ray history and lore segments written by GoT writers: 

Obviously, HBO's property, they can change things they've established as they please, especially when it's something in an ancillary product. (Said video also includes the correct seahorse sigil, which for whatever reason became the mythological hippocampus on this show.... grr. #FixTheSeahorse)

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On 5/7/2022 at 6:47 PM, Lord Varys said:

The only non-conforming Targaryen woman is Visenya. All the others could just as well be common noblewomen - that their are royalty or even dragonriders doesn't change anything.

Strange we should come to such different conclusions while reading the same book, Lord Varys. Then again diversity IS the spice of life. 

If you permit a different view here’s who I consider gender non-conforming Targ women:

Saera Targaryen- she’s lustful and defiant she doesn’t really want marriage and never goes down meekly when faced with a different standard as male have their fun before marriage while women do not. While one can put down her acting out as a rebellious nature she’s definitely more than that. In the end she can be found in the house of pleasure in Lys rather than conforming or accepting the Silent Sister fate, wha family and society deemed punishment for her.

Alyssa Targaryen (daughter of Jaehaerys and Alysanne)- always following around Baelon and Aemon, wears boys clothes and likes to ride and duel rather like Arya, she would have chosen Balerion for a Dragon if the dragonpit masters wouldn’t have opposed her. They tried to tame her but they couldn’t and the only reason she’s fitting the mold is because she loves Baelon. In the end she does marry him and she’s enjoying her life but one wonders if she wouldn’t have loved him… would she have been another Arya(?)

That’s two out of 5 living daughters if I’m not mistaken from J&A core family only Daella and Maegelle both are in fact the meekest lambs. I don’t remember the 5th one unfortunately. And I can’t think of any others now I’m on my phone, but I’m sure I had more initially in mind when I read your original post.

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52 minutes ago, TormundsWoman said:

I must have missed something. When do we go back a couple hundred years and see all these other Valyrians, besides the Targaryens (which we already know from the original series)? How did we established a phenotype for a whole population from one single house who only married between themselves mostly. 

To my knowledge there is only a sole family you know of as of right now as show only viewer: the House Targaryen. There are no “other Valyrians” the TV has never introduced until now, and the new ones are the Valeryons. You may generalize the phenotype for the whole Valyria based on the Targs alone but that’s an assumption you make I think. 

I my opinion the established diversity of population of Essos as a whole continent works more than enough if there really are questions of casting. 

The World of Ice and Fire indicates a few things:

  • Incest was practiced by all dragonlords to keep bloodlines pure. I would assume that marriage between dragonlord families was ok, too.
  • Besides family members, House Velaryon was the house that Targaryens turned to the most to find spouses out of all the houses in Westeros.
  • In Lys it's mentioned that the Valyrian blood still runs strong, and it's another place where Targaryens have looked for potential marriage partners.

So seeing as how the books basically equate 'strong Valryian blood' with the Targaryen appearance, I'd say that generally the Velaryons would also look the same. 

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It’s going to be weird to see what the spoiler policy will be like for this series. In addition to the story being finished on page, HBO did that animated Dance that Ran linked above, and Joffrey mentioned Aegon II feeding Rhaenyra to his dragon in GOT. There definitely are people who read the wiki before watching the show (I’m that way too, since it lets me enjoy the journey more if I know the ending, as strange as that sounds), so I’m curious how people are going to react when they read the summary and find out that everyone besides Corlys, Alicent, and the youngest children—who probably won’t get much screen time—die. The Red Wedding was sad, sure, but most of the main characters were still alive and kicking at that point, so there were still people to root for. Hopefully the audience falls in love with Corlys like HBO is banking on. It’s all going to be very interesting to see.

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4 hours ago, TormundsWoman said:

Look, if you’re bothered by them implementing diversity in casting and deviating from the books

I am not bothered by diversity being implemented; what I care about is that it is implemented in a way that makes sense.

I like The Great, which is a historical comedy that is virtually a pure fabrication. That's the identity it establishes from the start, and I don't care in the slightest if diversity is arbitrarily employed to satisfy some quota that was handed down from corporate headquarters. It works for the tone of the show.

On the other hand, take a property like Shogun. I love the book. There's a show adaptation in the works. If for the purposes of diversity, it was thought that there were too many Asians and it wasn't heterogenous enough, and so they made Tornaga a black man, or it was thought that too many of the roles for women were subservient and so Toranaga was cast as a woman, I would be aghast.

It fundamentally disrupts the logic of the story for no better reason than to diversify. Some people champion the idea that diversity should be foremost in consideration, and storytelling second. If diversity comes at the expense of storytelling, so be it. I am not such an individual. I think storytelling should always be the foremost consideration. If diversification can enhance the story, then by all means do so.

The Great and Shogun are two polar ends of this philosophy of diversification. House of the Dragon is not a history show, but a fantasy show set in a fantasy world, so the world can be whatever is written. But in the writing of the show, an internal logic is developed. If every Valyrian we have seen before and we do see is white with platinum hair, except for this random couple of characters who are black with platinum hair, that draws attention as to why this would be. Similar to if we randomly saw a Targaryen with blue hair - I would want an explanation. It is not satisfying to throw random stuff into a story without explanation.

Maybe you consider this clutching peals. I don't care what kind of fidelity the show has to the source material (which I haven't read, but intend to). All I care about is a good story that makes sense on its own, and making this kind of change would not make sense within the internal logic of the Game of Thrones and House of Dragon world we've been presented thus far. That is, unless a good explanation is provided by the show.

4 hours ago, TormundsWoman said:

Acting is a job and opportunity should be given to everyone who is qualified and can do the job awesomely regardless of color.

I disagree. If Daniel Day Lewis turned out to be the best actor for the role of Martin Luther King Jr., regardless of how awesome he is, he shouldn't be cast in that role if the intent is to make a serious drama. If Tony Leung or Gong Li absolutely nailed the role of Adolf Hitler, it would be a mistake to cast them in a serious drama about Nazi Germany. 

Diversity is a worthwhile objective, but it should be achieved intelligently. If you want people of color to be cast, then make roles in the story for them that work in the story itself.

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4 hours ago, TormundsWoman said:

Strange we should come to such different conclusions while reading the same book, Lord Varys. Then again diversity IS the spice of life. 

If you permit a different view here’s who I consider gender non-conforming Targ women:

Saera Targaryen- she’s lustful and defiant she doesn’t really want marriage and never goes down meekly when faced with a different standard as male have their fun before marriage while women do not. While one can put down her acting out as a rebellious nature she’s definitely more than that. In the end she can be found in the house of pleasure in Lys rather than conforming or accepting the Silent Sister fate, wha family and society deemed punishment for her.

Alyssa Targaryen (daughter of Jaehaerys and Alysanne)- always following around Baelon and Aemon, wears boys clothes and likes to ride and duel rather like Arya, she would have chosen Balerion for a Dragon if the dragonpit masters wouldn’t have opposed her. They tried to tame her but they couldn’t and the only reason she’s fitting the mold is because she loves Baelon. In the end she does marry him and she’s enjoying her life but one wonders if she wouldn’t have loved him… would she have been another Arya(?)

That’s two out of 5 living daughters if I’m not mistaken from J&A core family only Daella and Maegelle both are in fact the meekest lambs. I don’t remember the 5th one unfortunately. And I can’t think of any others now I’m on my phone, but I’m sure I had more initially in mind when I read your original post.

Oh, there is certainly variety among Jaehaerys' daughters. They are all individuals, aside from, perhaps, Viserra and Gael, who we never really know as people. But they either succeed or fail within the confines of proper behavior of their sex. Yes, Alyssa is a tomboy who very much enjoys riding both Baelon and Meleys, but that's basically it. She trains with her brothers, but she isn't allowed to be a female knight (or otherwise a professional warrior who accompanies her brother-husband into battle) nor is she taken to war as a dragonrider by her father, the king, when they burn the Dornish ships.

And Saera becoming a whore and brothel owner is the very embodiment of failure. She defied the strict rules a princess had to live by ... and as a consequence became a fallen woman. There is nothing heroic about that. I mean, perhaps Saera is happy as a whore in Lys and Volantis, but it is quite clear she would have enjoyed it much more if she had been allowed to sleep around as a princess at court - like she did until she was discovered.

What I meant was in general a more self-determined life at court and with their family - say, another Targaryen warrior princess/queen, a shrewd politician who sat on the council and lived her life as she saw fit, a dragonrider who openly defied the king and he had to placate her because he couldn't afford to lose her dragon, etc.

It is all just very conventional.

As for the Valyrians:

They are purple-eyed and platinum-blond as a race in the books. The highborn nobles of Volantis and Lys all look like that (e.g. the Rogare family we meet in FaB as well as Aegon IV's last mistress, Serenei of Lys, Lysono Maar, etc.) as do the slaves the Lyseni breed in their pillowhouses.

And the Velaryons are famous for their distinct Valyrian looks, too. They effectively are Targaryens without dragons with about as much variety among them in the looks department as the Targaryens themselves. Alyssa and Daenaera Velaryon were both chosen as brides for (future) kings because of their distinct Valyrian looks which were considered to be the epitome of beauty (very distinct in young Daenaera in FaB).

Changing that changes what the family is in greater context of the story - the very much interrelated cousins of the royal family.

If - as many of us have suggested - the Hightowers or Strongs were turned into a black family this wouldn't have had the same effects of the story because neither family is, at the time of the show, as interrelated with the Targaryens as the Velaryons. I guess I'd have gone with the Strongs, Criston Cole, and the Grand Maester as black/non-white characters, but definitely not the Velaryons.

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5 hours ago, Ran said:

FWIW, the Velaryons were presented on screen before by HBO -- just in the Blu-ray history and lore segments written by GoT writers: 

Obviously, HBO's property, they can change things they've established as they please, especially when it's something in an ancillary product. (Said video also includes the correct seahorse sigil, which for whatever reason became the mythological hippocampus on this show.... grr. #FixTheSeahorse)

Unfortunately the animated featurette was based on Princess and the Queen so they didn't know that Rhaenyra's first three sons all have dark hair

#FixTheSeahorse

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5 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

It’s going to be weird to see what the spoiler policy will be like for this series. In addition to the story being finished on page, HBO did that animated Dance that Ran linked above, and Joffrey mentioned Aegon II feeding Rhaenyra to his dragon in GOT. There definitely are people who read the wiki before watching the show (I’m that way too, since it lets me enjoy the journey more if I know the ending, as strange as that sounds), so I’m curious how people are going to react when they read the summary and find out that everyone besides Corlys, Alicent, and the youngest children—who probably won’t get much screen time—die. The Red Wedding was sad, sure, but most of the main characters were still alive and kicking at that point, so there were still people to root for. Hopefully the audience falls in love with Corlys like HBO is banking on. It’s all going to be very interesting to see.

It's a god damned nightmare on the TV wiki, I'll tell you that. We've been talking through how to proceed but it is difficult.

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59 minutes ago, The Dragon Demands said:

Unfortunately the animated featurette was based on Princess and the Queen so they didn't know that Rhaenyra's first three sons all have dark hair

#FixTheSeahorse

Wasn’t The Rogue Prince out by this point too though? That’s where we first learned about the boys’ appearances. 
 

 

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1 hour ago, The Dragon Demands said:

Unfortunately the animated featurette was based on Princess and the Queen so they didn't know that Rhaenyra's first three sons all have dark hair

#FixTheSeahorse

And Rhaenys is called "the Old King's sister". I guess they meant Viserys, but I'm not sure as it was never expanded on. 

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3 hours ago, IFR said:

If every Valyrian we have seen before and we do see is white with platinum hair, except for this random couple of characters who are black with platinum hair, that draws attention as to why this would be.

All the Valyrians seen in the show are immediate family members.  For most casual viewers a black Valyrian won't be this crazy thing because the show barley delved into Targaryen history, lore etc. Unless you're a book reader and married to the lore, the majority of viewers won't question it. 

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