"House of the Dragon" returns with more fire and blood

"House of the Dragon" returns next week after a strike-related delay in Hollywood and promises more of the blood, fire and power struggles that "Game of Thrones" fans love.

The 8-episode second series launches on June 16. It plunges fans back into the mythical continent of Westeros, set almost two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones.

It was postponed for several months due to the long strike last summer related to the pay and conditions of Hollywood writers and actors.

"House of the Dragon" opens with Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) fighting for the throne of her late father, King Viserys, against her half-brother Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney).

"It's a deeply immersive world, and I think that while it's exciting and full of spectacle at times, I hope it's the characters' relationships that keep people coming back for more," showrunner Ryan Condal told AFP.

The first season was a huge hit. When the first episode aired in 2022, it drew nearly 10 million viewers in the US alone - a record for an HBO original series.

Condal explained that it was "darker and more solemn" than Game of Thrones, whose dark humor and biting sex and violence made it a cultural phenomenon.

He sees it as a metaphor for the rivalry between nuclear powers.

"You've got these two superpowers, the black and the green. They each have nuclear weapons - dragons - on their side," he says.

The difference, he adds, is that "dragons are intelligent. They are living beings with thoughts and feelings of their own. And just because a person rides a dragon doesn't mean the dragon will always do exactly what he wants and desires."

The series remains centered around the central Targaryen family, but Condal said a number of new characters from less privileged backgrounds are being introduced this season.

"A lot of the humor that appeared in the original series came through the clash of cultures of people who are not upper class intersecting with the upper class," Condal said.

Fans can also expect more shocking moments from Daemon, played by Matt Smith, loyal to his queen but also obsessed with the throne.

"Daemon always remains the most mercurial and unpredictable character, but hopefully there will be a few more of those in the series," Condal said.

He said a third season is already in the works but remains in the writing stages. | BGNES