Here’s everything George R.R. Martin has said about House of the Dragon Season 2

Jessica Cullen
Here's everything George R.R. Martin has said about House of the Dragon Season 2: George R.R. Martin with the House of the Dragon poster in the background

George R.R. Martin just unpacked his thoughts about the first few episodes of House of the Dragon Season 2, sharing his praise and hinting at some issues, too.

House of the Dragon Season 2 has already caused a divide between fans of the book and the TV show. Some events (such as Blood and Cheese) have deviated from the source material, which is always a risky move when it comes to Game of Thrones fans.

As such, it’s a huge deal to find out what the creator himself, George R.R. Martin, thinks of House of the Dragon’s new season. He already teased some thoughts back in a December 2023 post on his website, but a new July 2024 entry serves as a complete breakdown of his Season 2 viewing experience so far.

Here are all the main points from George R.R. Martin’s analysis of House of the Dragon Season 2, with his thoughts on the cast, storyline, and the season’s biggest problem so far.

First two episodes of House of the Dragon Season 2

In his post, Martin explained that he’d been able to get a sneak peak of House of the Dragon Season 2 last year, watching Episode 1 (‘A Son for A Son’) and Episode 2 (‘Rhaenyra the Cruel’).

He described the opening episodes as “a great way to start the season,” paying particular attention to ‘Rhaenyra the Cruel’. As far as Martin is concerned, he agrees that Episode 2 could stand against some of the best-rated Game of Thrones episodes.

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in her Small Council

“The directing was superb,” he wrote. “Alan Taylor directed the first episode, and Clare Kilner the second. Both of them did a magnificent job. And I cannot say enough about the acting.

“‘Rhaenyra the Cruel’ has been getting great reviews, for the most part,” he continued. “A lot of the fans are proclaiming it the best episode of HotD, and some are even ranking it higher than the best episodes of Game of Thrones. I can hardly be objective about these things, but I would certainly say it deserves to be in contention.

“I will just say that I really really liked ‘Rhaenyra the Cruel,'” he concluded. “I liked it in London the first time I saw it, and I liked it even more on second watching. I hope you did as well. Maybe it even made you cry.”

Emma D’Arcy’s performance

Martin only gave brief mention of Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in the first episodes of House of the Dragon Season 2, but had plenty of praise for D’Arcy’s subtle performance.

Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen

“Emma D’Arcy has only one line in ‘A Son for a Son,’ but they do so much with their eyes and their face that they absolutely dominate the episode; her grief for her slain son is palpable,” he wrote.

Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon II

Martin also had positive things to say about Glynn-Carney’s performance. According to the creator himself, Glynn-Carney brought new life to Aegon.

Tom Glynn-Carney as King Aegon in House of the Dragon, sitting in his Small Council meeting

He wrote: “Tom Glynn-Carney brings Aegon alive in ways we have not seen before; he’s more than a villain here, he shows us the king’s rage, his pain, his fears and doubts. His humanity.

The depiction of Aegon has been a topic of discussion among fans, too. Since the premiere of Season 2, many have praised the actor for making Aegon a character that many fans could have at least a little sympathy for, which isn’t something often said about Targaryen kings.

Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower

Martin agrees with fans that Otto Hightower is a highlight, applauding Rhys Ifans for his award-worthy performance.

Otto Hightower is proving to be a fan-favorite character for Season 2, with many viewers even going so far as to make fancams out of his best moments.

Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower in House of the Dragon

“Rhys Ifans has been splendid as Otto Hightower every time he has been on screen, but he exceeded himself in ‘Rhaenyra the Cruel,'” he said.

“His scene with King Aegon and Criston Cole after the ratcatchers are hanged just crackles with wit, tension, drama, a performance that cries out for awards attention.”

Phia Saban’s “powerful” take on Helaena

No House of the Dragon cast member gets more praise from Martin for their work in Season 2 than Phia Saban, who plays Helaena Targaryen.

Season 2 has seen the lowest of lows for Helaena. After the first episode brought about the horrific Blood and Cheese attack that ended with the decapitation of her firstborn son, Helaena’s tale has been a tragic one.

But Martin has nothing but praise for Saban, declaring her performance as “wrenching, powerful, and heart-breaking.”

Phia Saban as Helaena during the Blood and Cheese scene

He also noted that much of her story was a deviation from his source material. When Season 1 was released, he praised the show’s version of King Viserys as having “much more depth” than the written iteration. Here, he says the creative team have “done the same thing” with Helaena.

“In the book, she is a plump, pleasant, and happy young woman, cheerful and kindly, adored by the smallfolk,” he explained. “A dragonrider since the age of twelve, Helaena’s greatest joy in life is to take to the skies on the back of her dragon Dreamfyre.

“None of the strangeness she displays in the show was in evidence in the book, nor is her gift for prophecy. Those were born in the writers’ room… but once I met the show’s version of Helaena, I could hardly take issue.

“Phia Saban’s Helaena is a richer and more fascinating character than the one I created in Fire & Blood, and in ‘Rhaenyra the Cruel’ you can scarcely take your eyes off her.”

Other House of the Dragon cast members

Martin praised other members of the House of the Dragon cast, too, with mentions for Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Fabien Frankel, and Eve Best.

These stars, “and the other regulars were wonderful as well,” he said.

He also referred to the fight between Arryk and Erryk in Episode 2, writing: “The Tittensor twins were terrific as the Kingsuard twins, and their climactic swordfight is right up there with the Mountain and the Red Viper of Dorne, and Brienne’s fight with Jaime Lannister.”

Blood and Cheese’s infamous dog moment

Martin also had much to say about the infamous Blood and Cheese episode, starting with his admiration for the addition of the much-discussed dog-kicking moment.

“I am… ahem… not usually a fan of screenwriters adding characters to the source material when adapting a story. Especially not when the source material is mine. But that dog was brilliant,” he said.

House of the Dragon Season 2: Cheese's dog sits and looks up at his body

“I was prepared to hate Cheese, but I hated him even more when he kicked that dog. And later, when the dog say at his feet, gazing up… that damn near broke my heart. Such a little thing… such a little dog… but his presence, the few short moments he was on screen, gave the ratcatcher so much humanity.

“Human beings are such complex creatures. The silent presence of that dog reminded us that even the worst of men, the vile and the venal, can love and be loved. I wish I’d thought of that dog. I didn’t, but someone else did, I am glad of that.”

Blood and Cheese’s “complicated” issues

Martin was careful when discussing Blood and Cheese, hinting that he had issues about how the TV show’s depiction deviated from the book.

The Blood and Cheese storyline caused a lot of discussion after it aired. Its on-screen take was vastly different from how the moment played out in the book House of the Dragon is based on, and many fans argued that the show’s version could have been more brutal.

Sam C Wilson and Mark Stobbart as Blood and Cheese in House of the Dragon Season 2

Martin acknowledged the backlash, but also mentioned that the problems might be worse for those familiar with the book’s storyline.

“The only part of the show that is drawing criticism is the conclusion of the Blood and Cheese storyline,” he said. “Which ending was powerful, I thought… a gut punch, especially for viewers who had never read Fire & Blood. For those who had read the book, however…”

He quickly shut himself down, teasing that he might unpack his thoughts on Blood and Cheese (and other issues) down the line.

“Well, there’s a lot of be said about that, but this is not the place for me to say it,” he added. “The issues are too complicated. Somewhere down the line, I will do a separate post about all the issues raised by Blood and Cheese… and Maelor the Missing. There’s a lot to say.”

For more House of the Dragon, check out our guide to the Season 2 release schedule. You can also check out our House of the Dragon Season 2 review, plus our guides to Rook’s Rest and the Seven Kingdoms.