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The Important Way Rings Of Power Challenges House Of The Dragon's Approach To Epic Fantasy

In the battle for fantasy programming on television, epic is the only word to describe it. Streaming juggernauts HBO Max and Amazon Prime have equally popular franchises fighting for dominance, with premieres only weeks apart. Three years after the finale of "Game of Thrones," George R.R. Martin is at it again with a prequel series revolving around the infamous Targaryen clan and Rhaenyra Targaryen's rise to power. With the biggest premiere night in HBO history, it is safe to say that "House of the Dragon," is garnering a sizable following (per Forbes).

"Lord of the Rings" is also getting the prequel treatment in "The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power," which has impressed critics with its stunning visuals. It isn't hard to see why fans and critics alike are comparing the two series. Martin was quite famously inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, who was influential in the fantasy genre (via Variety). But while both are prequels with a massive fanbase, there is one way that the two could not be more different.

Rings of Power has an uplifting point of view

Peter Jackson's interpretation of Frodo's (Elijah Wood) journey with the help of Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) has been the definitive adaptation of the classic story. Amid orcs, Nazg├╗l, and an ever-present Gollum, they still persevere. The triumphant hero winning the day is exactly what creatives behind "The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power" wanted to echo, a theme present in J.R.R. Tolkien's original work.

"[Tolkien] wrote a story about hope, and a little guy succeeding," director J.A. Bayona told SFX Magazine (via Yahoo News). "We always felt that it was rule number one that there needed to be true optimism and love, even in the darkest, scariest moments of the show." Even in escapist fantasy, it seems important that viewers get an uplifting message from the content they are consuming. This is not what anyone is likely to get when catching the latest episode of "House of the Dragon."

George R.R. Martin's universe takes a decidedly different tactic. Though still taking place in a vibrant world, it is hard and full of pain. Ambition rules these characters as they vie for control over The Seven Kingdoms. "House of the Dragon" takes this even further with how women are treated. The first episode demonstrates the reality that women have no autonomy over their bodies, even in childbirth. Certainly, both series have a place in storytelling. But if you're in the mood for optimism, "Rings of Power" may be the better option.