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House Of The Dragon Fans Aren't Happy With A Big Change From The Book

This was supposed to compare to the Red Wedding!?

No sooner did House of the Dragon fly back onto TV screens before the fandom complaints blazed up in yet another wildfire of backlash. The latest gripe has to do with a pivotal scene in the Season 2 premiere, which left fans of the book extremely underwhelmed. Amid the controversy, showrunner Ryan Condal explained why the series had to make such a big change, which unfortunately left a highly anticipated moment feeling a bit watered down.

The Season 2 premiere wasted no time in adapting one of the most infamous scenes in George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel Fire & Blood. Known among fans as the “Blood and Cheese” scene, the brutal event follows two hired assassins — named Blood and Cheese — as they sneak into the Targaryen castle and murder King Aegon’s young son. In the books, this moment is impossibly traumatic, as the assassins force Queen Helaena to pick one of her sons for them to kill in front of her. Helaena begs them to kill her instead, but eventually relents and points to her younger son Maelor. Instead, Blood and Cheese kill her other son Jaehaerys, and leave Maelor with the knowledge that his mother was willing to have him killed.

It’s such a shockingly sadistic moment that it’s been held up as the prequel book’s version of Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding. But... it didn’t really hold up on screen. The show erased Maelor as a character, so Blood and Cheese made Helaena point out which of her identical twins was a boy, and killed him. Fans complained the quicker-than-expected scene removed a lot of the gravitas from the book.

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After the scene aired, showrunner Ryan Condal explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the condensed timeline of the show was why the Blood and Cheese scene was altered.

“The book covered 30-plus years, and we crunched it down to 20,” Condal said. “One of the side effects is you have: Rhaenyra and Daemon’s children are much younger than they were in the book, as are Helaena and Aegon’s children. They haven’t been together long enough to have two generations of kids. So Maelor does not yet exist, and we only have the twins.”

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“So working from that place, we just wanted to try to make Blood and Cheese a visceral television sequence,” Condal continued. “We decided to tell it from their point of view and make it like a heist gone wrong. Whereas in the book, it’s depicted purely from Helaena and Alicent’s perspective. Blood and Cheese come upon Helaena, and she’s sort of the third act of their story. The idea was to build suspense and dread as they’re looking for Aemond, whom Daemon names as the target, and then you put two criminals into a situation with gold in front of their faces and things can go wrong.”