HBO hasn’t been shy about trying to take the heat away from Amazon’s very popular Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere, including a literal and figurative scorcher of a battle scene in last night’s episode. But it turns out House of the Dragon’s third episode, “Second of His Name,” has an arguably more important element, at least for Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin—it finally matched his vision for something the original series messed up.
That something is the royal hunting party, which Viserys went on last night to celebrate the second birthday of his son Aegon, and which Robert Baratheon went on in season one’s sixth episode, “A Golden Crown”—which turns out to have been Martin’s least favorite scene in the entirety of Game of Thrones, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibbard. And he should know, as he wrote the 2020 book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, an in-depth history of the making of the series, in which Martin told him:
“Where we really fell down in terms of budget was my least favorite scene in the entire show, in all eight seasons: King Robert goes hunting. Four guys walking on foot through the woods carrying spears and Robert is giving Renly shit. In the book, Robert goes off hunting, we get word he was gored by a boar, and they bring him back and he dies. So I never [wrote a hunting scene]. But I knew what a royal hunting party was like. There would have been a hundred guys. There would have been pavilions. There would have been huntsmen. There would have been dogs. There would have been horns blowing—that’s how a king goes hunting! He wouldn’t have just been walking through the woods with three of his friends holding spears hoping to meet a boar.”
If you watch the two episodes, there is a marked difference between how the shows handle the events, just like there’s a marked difference between the shows’ budgets—$20 million per episode for House of the Dragon, as opposed to $6 million per episode when Game of Thrones was just starting out. So it’s understandable why Thrones wouldn’t have been able to match the pageantry of Dragon, but it was still something that was clearly bugging the author a full nine years later (and apparently more than anything that happened in season eight). Martin hasn’t commented on the new scene yet, but he surely must be pleased, which is nice. He’s had a rough time of it lately.
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