House of the Dragon showrunner explains why Blood and Cheese is so different from the book

House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

House of the Dragon season 2, episode 1 has brought probably the most horrifying thing you'll see all summer to the screen – Blood and Cheese

But, HBO's adaptation of the awful event is pretty different to how it plays out in George R.R. Martin's Fire and Blood, and showrunner Ryan Condal has explained why some of those big changes were made. The following will get into major spoilers for the episode, so turn back now if you're not up to date! 

In the episode, a guard named Blood and a rat catcher named Cheese are tasked by Daemon with killing Aemond, in revenge for Aemond and Vhagar murdering Lucerys in the season 1 finale. It's left ambiguous, but it also seems that Daemon instructed them to kill any son they found if they couldn't find Aemond, which is what leads to Blood and Cheese instead targeting young Jaehaerys, the heir to the throne. While the grisly killing is being committed, Helaena flees with her other child to her mother Alicent's bedroom, and she tells the queen dowager of Jaehaerys's death. 

But, in the book, Alicent is directly involved in the harrowing scene and is forced to watch as Blood and Cheese torment Helaena. They force Helaena to choose which child she wants murdered. Helaena has a third child named Maelor in the book – and ultimately, Helaena chooses Maelor for death as he's so young she reasons he probably won't understand what's going on. Blood and Cheese, though, kill Jaehaerys instead, after taunting Maelor with the knowledge that his mother wants him dead.

"The first season, in the book, like that story would take place over more than 30 years. And it's just if we tried to do that, we would have to recast every character in the story and it would have been even more difficult to produce and dramatize than what we had," Condal told Decider of the change. "So it just means that, you know, Helaena and Aegon's kids and Rhaenyra and Daemon's kids are just younger in this than they would have been in the original story." He added: "So it just means that Maelor didn't exist in this time."

House of the Dragon continues weekly on Sky and NOW in the UK and HBO in the US. For even more on the show, check out our pieces on: 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.