Game of Thrones‘ Westeros wasn’t a great place for anybody to live during the eight seasons of the show, and the plethora of badass female characters didn’t mean that kingdoms embraced women as leaders or warriors, with some exceptions. House of the Dragon will take viewers back to Westeros in a completely different era, but some things remain the same. A Song of Ice and Fire and Fire & Blood author George RR Martin explained why the kingdoms in his fictional world of Westeros weren’t too keen on women getting ahead.
House of the Dragon will face the issue of women having (or not having) power head-on, as it is rooted in a chaotic time for the Targaryen family in which King Viserys I intends to give his daughter Princess Rhaenyra the throne. Others believe Viserys’ brother, Daemon, should rule, as a woman had never sat on the Iron Throne to that point. George RR Martin spoke during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con about that and noted that his books are not any more unkind to women than real-life history was:
Unfortunately, the female characters getting overlooked or punished disproportionately to the men is fairly true to history, according to George RR Martin. That doesn’t especially bode well for the women of House of the Dragon, but then, as the author said, he takes “inspiration from history.” Perhaps the fictional kingdoms will be somewhat kinder – or at least less oppressive – to characters like Rhaenyra and Rhaenys, since they have dragons.
Of course, the powerful women of Game of Thrones certainly didn’t all get happy endings in positions of power despite all of their struggles, even if they made it to the final season. For all that they were arguably both villains by the end, Cersei and Daenerys both died horribly. Sansa went through at least seven hells before she was ultimately crowned Queen of the North. Arya left her family after spending most of the series trying to get back to them.
When it comes to House of the Dragon, it appears that Rhaenyra Targaryen will face her own trials in order to protect her place as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. The new series will not depict sexual violence, which may not be what viewers and HBO Max subscribers might have expected after Game of Thrones. Still, considering that George RR Martin based Fire & Blood on a period of time known as “the Anarchy,” viewers should probably expect plenty of suffering to go around.
Just how the new show compares to Game of Thrones remains to be seen. The original series came to a divisive end that many criticized, but it’s still a safe bet that House of the Dragon will be a major success for HBO. George RR Martin had a rave review for the first episode after seeing a rough cut in 2021, although he admitted that he’s not an objective party to speak on it.
House of the Dragon premieres on HBO on Sunday, August 21st at 9:00 pm ET. It’s one of many new shows headed to television in the coming weeks, so be sure to be keeping tabs on what’s ahead as more anticipated shows premiere.