All the changes the series is making The House of the Dragon Regarding the original material that adapts to television, they have a single objective: to empower Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock and Emma D’Arcy), the central character of the plot, the successor chosen by King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) to the Iron Throne . The series is playing its tricks very well to give coherence to the character. If she does it to avoid any type of criticism that may be made of her character in the future, as happened to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones (and see that from the beginning they made it clear to us that she was one of those Targaryens who lose their minds) it is only an assumption, but it is clear that the path to empowerment is clear. It is undeniable that it also has to do with offering the character in the television series scenes that are consistent with her age. We already know that Rhaenyra’s age in the series is 15 years old in chapter 2 (King Viserys I kindly informs viewers of his anniversary); then in episode 3, so we don’t get lost, Viserys reveals to us that he is 17 years old. At the exact moment her father, the king, married Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), in the books, Rhaenyra was 9 years old. The maturity that she can have with 17 years is clearly not that of 9 years. In the same way, Viserys has also aged in the series with respect to the book. Viserys is 30 years old when he marries Alicent on paper, but in the HBO Max series he looks a few years older. As they do not specify it, we cannot know how much more, but Paddy Considine’s Viserys is closer to the actor’s 49 years than to the original 30 of the character. As you can see, the ages of the characters influence their behavior or, at least, that is what the creators of the television series have thought. Also think that Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) in the original novel is 16 years older than Rhaenyra, while in the series they try to match his age. So yes, from a narrative standpoint, his actions, his decisions, cater to his ages, but that only explains part of it. The other is explained by the character’s desire for empowerment: he can choose little, but he shows that when he can choose, he does it as far as they let him. That shows character and helps build Rhaenyra’s character. He does it by choosing who he gives and how his virginity: he does it on his way to the Iron Throne (will he ever get there?); in his conduct before the wedding with Laenor Velaryon. His entire character and the entire series revolves around a phrase that Rhaenyra drops to Ser Criston Cole: “The Iron Throne is more important than me.” That is the phrase of an adult woman, of a teenager who clearly has matured for a long time and that she will be able to make better or worse decisions, but that she has done it for a reason. And of a woman in the heart of a patriarchy.
The empowerment thing is not a theory of ours, nor an intuition. The best thing about the series is that it converts the original book, fire and blood, in a complement and not in a bible: it shows us what really happened in Westeros. The book is a history book, which records what happens from sources that are not really reliable: real jesters and septons, all of them interested and with biased views according to their partisanship. All of them men, in a masculine world, in a patriarchy. The vision given in Rhaenyra’s book is that of a capricious princess, a girl princess, not a princess capable of controlling her decisions, much less her body, aware of her future, of her weight. of her legacy. In the book, she is Harwin Strong and not Ser Criston Cole to whom she loses her virginity. Ser Criston Cole is true to her vow of chastity and rejects Rhaenyra when she offers herself to him. She immediately meets Harwin, who comes from a brothel and consummates her desire with him, giving him the same eight as eighty.
In the series Rhaenyra has always been attracted to Ser Criston Cole, in addition to her uncle, with whom she does not consume basically because he becomes impotent when he realizes that he is about to deflower his niece; if not, another rooster would have crowed. The fact is that she is the one who chooses him, perfectly aware of what she is doing: she wants to satisfy her sexual needs. In the book, Daemon trains her niece in the love arts so that she can go with her beloved, a tale very much to the liking of minstrels and septons and of a common people who want to see her as a girl in love. In the series she knows what she does. She is not, for a change, a man who makes the decision. And then she is the one who makes it clear what her role will be in the story with a lowercase and a capital letter. She justifies her festering from that moment on in a better way than in the book.
Another empowering element is in episode 5 in her conversation with her future husband Laenor Valeryon. It is clear that her father has chosen her (well, actually the Hand of the King, but he comes to play the same role within a patriarchy), that she has not had a choice, but it is she who sets the conditions, who is in control of how your marriage will develop. In the book, however, her father, King Viserys, has to threaten to disinherit her and make one of her half-brothers the successor to the throne for her to agree to marry. There she takes away the little control that she may have, a priori, over her marriage. They are small details with importance. Of course she knows that it is her duty to marry a nobleman from a great house, even though he is gay and they have to negotiate the terms of their marriage (mainly because they have to guarantee the succession). “Whatever deal your tastes come to won’t change and neither will mine,” says Rhaenyra. “And what do you propose?” Laenor asks. “May we do our duty to our parents and the kingdom. And then each one eat what he pleases,” replies the princess. It’s a way of controlling, of negotiating how far her destiny can go. Little, but she shows a character that she doesn’t have at this point in the book. At least not yet. With this base, the viewer of the series will find it easier to understand the Rhaenyra that she comes next.