Movie Reviews

House Of The Dragon Season 2: 25 Biggest Book Changes

MAJOR SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 2, episode 2.


Summary

  • House of the Dragon season 2 diverges from the source material with major narrative changes and character developments.
  • New character Cregan Stark isn’t as fleshed out as his book counterpart, while characters like Aegon II have original developments.
  • Season 2 introduces new characters like Alyn of Hull and Hugh with different storylines, making for intriguing twists in the plot.


House of the Dragon season 2 makes significant changes to the source material, ranging from minor character details to major narrative alterations. The Game of Thrones prequel is based on the book Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin, a “fictional history” text that examines House Targaryen’s history centuries before the main series. House of the Dragon is composed of just a portion of the book, focusing on the pivotal civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons, where Rhaenyra Targaryen and Aegon II Targaryen both made claims to the Iron Throne, resulting in a conflict of succession.

Given the nature of the source material, House of the Dragon’s writers are met with the challenging task of filling in several blanks, particularly with characters’ interpersonal relationships and internal struggles. The House of the Dragon cast does a phenomenal job of bringing these Targaryen figures to life, as they aren’t as well-defined and complex in the book. Many aspects of the characters are original to the TV series, and season 2 also sees timeline changes and more drastic omissions of certain elements of the book.



25 Jacaerys & Cregan Stark’s Friendship Is Skimmed Over

Jacaerys & Cregan Grow Into Great Friends In Their Time Spent In Fire & Blood

It’s recounted that they form a quick bond, hunting, drinking, and training together


House of the Dragon season 2 opens with Jacaerys Velaryon’s delegation in the North with Cregan Stark, Lord of Winterfell. The scene is relatively brief, essentially offering a tease of Cregan Stark as a character to be brought back later on, and a significant aspect of Fire & Blood is left out. In the book, Cregan and Jacaerys hit it off, with the prince reminding the Northern lord of his late younger brother. It’s recounted that they form a quick bond, hunting, drinking, and training together, which sets up important aspects of Cregan Stark’s motivations for later on.

24 Cregan Teases The White Walkers

Cregan Stark Adds More Game Of Thrones Continuity

Cregan and Jacaerys looking across the far North at the top of the Wall in House of the Dragon


House of the Dragon has already tied itself to Game of Thrones with the Aegon’s Dream prophecy, and season 2 continues this trend through Cregan Stark. Atop the Wall, he warns Jacaerys that there’s a greater threat in the North beyond the Wall: death. This change suggests that in House of the Dragon’s timeline, some vague idea of the White Walkers was more apparent and that noblemen in Westeros sought to prepare for it. Cregan also claims that King Jaehaerys and his dragon, Vermithor, visited the Wall and wouldn’t travel further, which is new to the show.

23 Sara Snow Isn’t In House Of The Dragon

Jacaerys’ Northern Love Interest Is Cut From The Show

Jacaerys Velaryon House Of The Dragon Episode 10 Harry Collett

In Fire & Blood, Sara Snow is a bastard daughter of Lord Rickon Stark, Cregan’s father, who’s introduced when Jacaerys travels to Winterfell. There, he allegedly falls in love with her, marries her, and sleeps with her, breaking his betrothal to Baela Targaryen. This is one of the moments in Fire & Blood that has questionable legitimacy, with different accounts saying she never existed and that Jacaerys wouldn’t betray Baela. The possibility is also introduced that they slept together but never married. House of the Dragon omits this entirely.


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House of the Dragon season 2, episode 1, “A Son for a Son” introduces Lord Cregan Stark, but the return to Winterfell and the Wall is a letdown.

22 The Pact Of Ice & Fire Is Omitted

Jacaerys & Cregan Form A Pact In The Book

Jacaerys Velaryon and Cregan Stark standing atop the Wall in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1

Furthering Jacaerys and Cregan Stark’s friendship, in Fire & Blood, the two form a pact of brotherhood called the Pact of Ice and Fire. While Cregan Stark has already vowed to support House Targaryen due to his father swearing fealty years prior, this pact furthers the allegiance between House Stark and House Targaryen throughout the war. In the series, Jacaerys seems to leave upon hearing news of Lucerys’ death, and this pact isn’t mentioned. Cregan Stark offers Rhaenyra 2,000 men, but it’s unclear to what extent he and Jacaerys bonded.


21 Alicent & Criston Cole’s Relationship

Alicent & Criston Have A Romantic Connection

Criston Cole and Alicent Hightower in her bed chamber in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1

Criston Cole becomes Alicent’s sworn shield in season 1, following the divide between him and Rhaenyra. In season 2, it’s revealed that the pair have formed a romantic relationship, which is original to the show. The series established some precedence for it in the opening episode, as Alicent is shown to be attracted to Cole from the start. In the context of House of the Dragon, it makes sense, especially given the complicated feelings both have regarding Rhaenyra.

20 Aegon’s Involvement As King

Aegon Is More Kind As King Than Anyone Expected


In season 1, Aegon demonstrated apathy toward any semblance of responsibility, but his coronation hinted that the power of the throne would go to his head. However, season 2 shows some other sides of the character that aren’t drawn from Fire & Blood. First, Aegon is shown to have genuine interest and love for his son, Jaehaerys, and there’s a naive part of him that wants to help the common folk. Aegon is immature and is undoubtedly horrible in some ways, but this creates an essential difference between him and Joffrey from Game of Thrones: Aegon isn’t nearly as sadistic.

19 Larys Strong Schemes With Aegon

Larys Is Already On The Small Council In Fire & Blood

Larys Strong in House of the Dragon

Following Aegon’s sequence in the throne room, Larys Strong pulls him aside for his marquee scheming behavior. He suggests to Aegon that he may not want to look “pliable” like Viserys and that one of the reasons the late king was seen that way was due to the influence of Otto Hightower. The plot hints that Larys will continue to gain influence with Aegon as Otto is pushed away, though, at this point in Fire & Blood, Larys Strong already sits on the small council as Master of Whisperers.


18 Alyn Of Hull Is Introduced Differently

Alyn Saved Corlys Velaryon From The Wreckage In Season 1

Corlys Velaryon and Alyn of Hull walking together in House of the Dragon season 2

Alyn is also known for having Valyrian silver hair like Lord Corlys

Alyn of Hull is one of the new characters in House of the Dragon season 2, and he’s introduced in episode 1 with some notable differences from his book counterpart. First, Alyn’s story is tied back to Corlys Velaryon’s disappearance late in season 1, where the Lord of the Tides was considered dead. It’s revealed that Alyn was the one who pulled him from the wreckage, which doesn’t happen in the book. In Fire & Blood, Alyn is also known for having Valyrian silver hair like Lord Corlys, but is bald in the show.


17 Hugh Lives In King’s Landing

Hugh Is From Dragonstone In Fire & Blood

Hugh speaking in the Red Keep throne room in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1

Hugh is another new character introduced in Aegon’s throne room scene, requesting advance payment for the smiths of King’s Landing. The smiths are working on scorpions, the ballista-like weapons used to fire at dragons. In Fire & Blood, Hugh is a smith’s bastard living on Dragonstone, and his story is tied to Rhaenyra and the Black faction. His changed location could imply further shifts to his narrative in the series unless he makes his way to Dragonstone at some point in season 2.

16 Rhaenyra Demands Aemond Targaryen

In Fire & Blood, Daemon Is The One Who Demands Vengeance

Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) holding back tears in House of the Dragon season 2
Image via HBO


In House of the Dragon, Rhaenyra returns after finding Lucerys’ remains, entering her council room, and declares that she wants Aemond Targaryen dead in return for murdering her son. This is a significant change to the entire Blood & Cheese operation, as Rhaenyra isn’t specifically complicit in any part of it in the book. In Fire & Blood, she receives a letter from Daemon Targaryen stating, “A son for a son,” and he carries out the deed through Mysaria in King’s Landing. Of course, Rhaenyra still didn’t know what Daemon would do to make an attempt on Aemond’s life.

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15 Daemon Is Still In Dragonstone

Daemon Leaves For Harrenhal Earlier In The Book

Daemon Targaryen spends most of House of the Dragon episode 1 in Dragonstone, awaiting Rhaenyra’s return after Lucerys Velaryon’s death. He mentions that he should be “bending knees at Harrenhal.” At this point in the book, Daemon had already captured Harrenhal from Lord Simon Strong, as he was sent to claim the castle when Lucerys and Jacaerys were sent to delegate. Daemon remaining in Dragonstone allows for more dramatic tension between him and Rhaenyra before he sets out on his mission for the season.

14 Mysaria Doesn’t Hire Blood & Cheese

Mysaria Is Far Less Complicit In The Show’s War Crime

Mysaria in House of the Dragon


In Fire & Blood, Mysaria is still established in King’s Landing, and Daemon sets up Blood & Cheese through her rather than going himself. She organizes the operation on his behalf, whereas in the TV show, Mysaria only provides Daemon with information in return for her freedom. There are differences with Mysaria in season 2, with her character being changed from the book to seem more sympathetic. Making Daemon and the assassins the most at fault for Blood & Cheese certainly helps Mysaria’s case.

13 Blood Is Still In The City Watch

Blood’s Backstory Is Different In The Show

Ser Erryk (Elliott Tittensor) and Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) hire Cheese to assassinate Jaehaerys in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1
Image via Max


Blood is introduced at the gates of King’s Landing, recognizing Daemon as the previous commander of the City Watch. He’s shown to be a member of the gold cloaks, allowing Daemon into the city and using his status as a soldier to escort Daemon to Cheese. In Fire & Blood, Blood was a butcher who was previously a member of the City Watch. Blood had a horrible past of his own in the book, having beaten someone to death, causing his removal from the Gold Cloaks.

12 Aegon & Helaena Only Have 2 Children

Maelor Is Absent In House Of The Dragon

Jaehaerys sleeping in his room in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1
Image via Max

In House of the Dragon, Aegon and Helaena are only shown to have two children together, Jaehaerys and Jaehaera. This simplifies the Blood & Cheese conflict when Helaena is captured, as they only have one male to choose from, though the pair of assassins have trouble telling the difference. Helaena also has a younger son, Maelor, in the books, and he’s the one Helaena chooses for them to kill. However, they still end up killing Jaehaerys despite her wishes.


11 Helaena Gives Up Jaehaerys

Helaena Offers Herself Up In Fire & Blood

Helaena is forced to point out which of the two babies is the male heir, and the traumatized Targaryen queen points directly at Jaehaerys. While Blood thinks this may be deception, Cheese can tell she isn’t lying. Helaena’s choice isn’t explicitly explained, but it seems that she already knows Jaehaerys’ fate, and knows to point at him. Before pointing to a child in Fire & Blood, Helaena tells the assassins to take her instead, which doesn’t happen in the show, with her instead offering up her valuable necklace.


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10 Alicent Isn’t Present For Blood & Cheese

Alicent Is With Criston Cole During Blood & Cheese

Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) shocked after hearing the news of the murder of her grandson, the heir to the throne in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 1
Image via Max

Alicent missed out on the Blood & Cheese action on the TV show, while her book counterpart is tied up and forced to watch as it happens. This is because the show version is with Criston Cole, which Helaena walks in on after escaping the scene with Jaehaera. There are significant changes to Blood & Cheese in House of the Dragon that tone down the brutality, with Alicent’s absence being one of them.

9 Blood’s Torture Is Expedited

Aegon Kills Blood In House Of The Dragon

Aegon and Blood in House of the Dragon


House of the Dragon season 2, episode 2, opens with the fallout from the Blood & Cheese event. The two assassins fled the keep during the event, but Lord Larys Strong works his resources and has Blood captured and imprisoned. In Fire & Blood, it takes the character days to give up his contractors, but the TV version releases Daemon Targaryen’s name instantly. While his book counterpart eventually died from the torture, the show sees Aegon II arrive to personally avenge his son, bludgeoning Blood for a quick but painful death.

8 Cheese Is Confirmed Dead

Fire & Blood Never Confirmed If Cheese Was Caught

Cheese in House of the Dragon


The instance of Aegon commanding the ratcatchers in King’s Landing to be executed is true to the source material. After being unable to find Cheese, this is his solution, though it’s never confirmed whether the assassin was actually killed or whether he’d gotten away. House of the Dragon sees Cheese among the hung ratcatchers, confirming that Aegon’s plan succeeded in achieving his desired vengeance at the cost of dozens of other innocent lives. Ser Otto’s response to this in the book is that he brings one hundred cats into the Red Keep to deal with their rat problem.

7 Blood & Cheese Is Purposefully Pinned On Rhaenyra

Blood & Cheese Is Used As Propaganda By The Greens

Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon


Blood & Cheese becomes a matter of propaganda in House of the Dragon, as Ser Otto realizes some good may come of the situation if they can pin the event on Rhaenyra. Of course, Rhaenyra was somewhat complicit in the event, but the Greens vastly overstated her involvement for the purpose of turning noble houses against her cause. This tactical move is original to the show and ties to how Blood & Cheese is conveyed in Fire & Blood. The event is drastically more violent in the book, which could be due to how the Greens decided to present it.

6 Aegon Removes Otto As Hand In Private

In Fire & Blood, Aegon Demands Otto’s Badge In The Throne Room

Otto Hightower speaking with Criston Cole and King Aegon in House of the Dragon season 2 episode 2


Aegon is shown growing fed up by Otto’s inaction in episode 1, culminating in his removal as Hand of the King in episode 2. Otto berates his grandson with insults about his foolishness until Aegon gets fed up and demands that he remove his badge, instead giving it to Criston Cole. This plays out in a much more public setting in the book, as Aegon has Otto’s badge removed in the throne room. By this time in Fire & Blood, Otto has also put several key plans into action that affect the Dance in the long term, but this isn’t shown in the TV series.

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