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House of the Dragon early review: 7 things we learnt from the first episode of the Game of Thrones prequel

Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, seems to be the puppet master so far and is definitely one to be wary of. And don’t get us started on the series’ main act, Rhaenyra Targeryen. We’re getting strong Arya Stark-style feminist vibes from this one.

It perfectly captures the essence of Game of Thrones

In just one episode, House of the Dragon gave us every bit of intrigue that made us fall in love with the Seven Kingdoms in the first place – politics, inter-family conflict, heart-breaking betrayals and twists at every possible turn.

It hasn’t taken long to show that it’s not one to censor many things either. Fair warning – the first episode came in strong with its fair share of gratuitous sex scenes and unsettling images, so it’s more than fair to assume that the rest of the show will be no different.

We finally witness House Targaryen at the height of its power

In Game of Thrones, we heard on multiple occasions about the great Targaryen dynasty, which ruled the Seven Kingdoms for hundreds of years. Of course, they did so through a mix of respect and a healthy dose of fear, but seeing it for ourselves was better than any stories we’ve heard before.

So you can imagine our excitement after seeing so many platinum-haired Targaryens alive and in charge. They seem to be well-respected too, especially given how we saw the ancestors of Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon, two pivotal characters in GoT, swear their loyalty to young Rhaenyra. Then again, hard not to respect someone when her family controls more dragons than we can count.

Get ready for an emotional rollercoaster

The first episode did a great job of introducing the characters – and even though we know that nobody is safe, it was hard not to get attached to them almost immediately.

This makes us incredibly scared for what’s to come. *Spoiler alert* – The first episode already delivers a fairly significant character death in Queen Aemma Arryn. Although it’s definitely one that we saw coming, the way the entire scene pulled at our heartstrings definitely left a mark and made us wince more than once.

Unfortunately, sexism is alive and well in Westeros

The events of the first episode leave King Visaerys without a son. And after his brother and heir-apparent Daemon tests his patience for the last time, the King decides to strip him of his title and officially name his first-born daughter Rhaenyra as the next in line for the Iron Throne.

Judging by the civil war that’s about to break out, this decision won’t go down very well with many people. In fact, most of the trailers and teasers for the series feature a prominent line from Rhaenys Targaryen, dubbed the “Queen Who Never Was”, telling young Rhaenyra that “men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne.” Yikes.

The good thing is that Rhaenyra doesn’t seem to be the kind to shy away from toppling the patriarchy. From the off, we hear her tell her mother that she would rather be known as a brave knight than be seen as just a royal babymaker. If that doesn’t scream future Queen, then we don’t know what does.

Expect some characters to get *ahem* closer than you’d like them to

Remember when Cersei Lannister tried to justify her romance with her twin brother by mentioning that the Targaryens had been wedding siblings for hundreds of years? Well, we very well may see that firsthand.

Despite being set up as clear rivals for the throne, Rhaenyra and her uncle Daemon seem to have some warm feelings for each other. And if THAT makes you uncomfortable, it’s nothing compared to Ser Otto Hightower sending his young daughter to comfort the recently widowed King in his private chambers. Ugh.

House of the Dragon episode 1 airs on HBO and HBO Max on August 21, 2022 and will be available to watch in the UK on Sky and NOW TV.

For more content from Glamour UK Commerce Writer Denise Primbet, follow her on Twitter @deniseprimbet and Instagram @deniseprimbet.

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