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George R.R. Martin Would Have Set The Beginning Of House Of The Dragon Even Further In The Past

In only a few short years, author George R.R. Martin has become one of the most recognizable names in television. His time in Hollywood kicked off decades ago, but he really reached mainstream fame beginning in 2011 thanks to the HBO adaptation of his "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series. Titled "Game of Thrones," the program became nothing short of a pop culture phenomenon throughout its first few seasons on the air. By the time it concluded in 2019 with Season 8, it lost much of that prestige, but it did little to expunge Martin adaptations from TV.

Fast-forward to 2022, and HBO viewers got their first look at "House of the Dragon": a prequel series focused on House Targaryen, detailing how it almost completely wiped itself out by the time "Game of Thrones" rolled around. From the moment the first season concluded, it was near-unanimously agreed upon that it was a success, proving that Martin's creations remain bankable material for television programs. Although, just because Martin is responsible for the stories behind these projects doesn't mean he approves of every creative decision they take.

For instance, George R.R. Martin recently revealed that he wishes the beginning "House of the Dragon" flashbacks took place even further back in the timeline than they ultimately did. Here's his reasoning behind this idea.

Martin has an interesting idea for flashbacks 40 years earlier

If there's one thing "House of the Dragon" loves, it's time jumps (even though they messed with the pacing a great deal). The series slides audiences around the timeline on more than one occasion throughout Season 1, using flashbacks to provide context for important events and character decisions later on in the story. However, according to George R.R. Martin, there was a storytelling opportunity to go even further back in time via flashback — roughly 40 years or so — that the "House of the Dragon" team didn't catch. Martin titles this hypothetical episode "The Heir and the Spare," and truth be told, the concept sounds pretty interesting.

Martin's pitch would put the focus on King Jaehaerys and his sons, Aemon and Baelon, showcasing the siblings' friendly yet competitive relationship. Then, things would take a tragic turn. "Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth, then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir," Martin explained in an interview with Penguin Random House, noting that the thrust of the story from there would come down to Jaehaerys deciding if he should make Aemon's daughter or Baelon his heir, hence the title of the episode — one would become the heir, while the other would get stuck as the spare.

Of course, as George R.R. Martin himself admits, this idea presents its own set of challenges. Not only does it create more narrative ground to cover through flashbacks, but it means more recasting of various actors, making it a whole production unto itself. Sure, it's intriguing on paper, but at the end of the day, "The Heir and the Spare" was just a tad too much for "House of the Dragon."