House of the Dragon showrunner talks making Succession but with dragons

Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith in House of the Dragon
(Image credit: HBO)

Get ready for dragons. Lots of dragons. House of the Dragon takes place in Westeros hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones. The Targaryen family are at war with themselves, fighting over who shall be heir to the Iron Throne. 

Sound familiar? Another HBO series deals with a family squabbling over an inheritance: Succession. Unsurprisingly, co-showrunner Ryan Condal tells SFX magazine in the new issue of the magazine, featuring Andor on the cover, that calling House of the Dragon "Succession but with dragons" isn't too far from the truth. Here's a snippet of our Q&A with the writer.

SFX: When you were creating this older version of Westeros, how much did you reference what had been done in Game of Thrones? Obviously it’s a different time period, but presumably it still needs to feel like the same world?

Ryan Condal: That’s one of the trickiest things that we had to contend with. This is a medieval world, which means time moves more slowly than it does in our time – if you went and dialed the clock back 200 years from today, the cities we’re living in would look very, very different. But in this setting, things like castles have been standing for centuries or even millennia, and they don’t change much – maybe they fall into greater disrepair over time, but the landscapes essentially look the same. And while the technology changes, it changes very slowly – the types of weapons that they use, how they use them and their armor, those things [are more constant].

The one big change that we made was fashion. Even in medieval times, if you look at the way a soldier dressed in 1100 versus 1300, there’s a huge difference there. That’s one of the things that we played with, but even when you do that, you’re still paying homage to the design of the original show, because it has to look like it lives in the same universe.

Game of Thrones featured a lot of families of similar stature, but the Targaryens are very much the headliners here. Should we be expecting Succession with dragons?

Yeah, I think that’s actually a great metaphor, and the things we referenced in the [writers'] room the most were The Crown and Succession, just as tonal analogs and as shows that we, the writers, were really enjoying and immersed in. The original Game of Thrones is really the War of the Roses, so it’s the Yorks and the Lancasters [played out] with the Starks and the Lannisters – two separate families that never liked each other in the first place going at it. This, however, is the Dance of the Dragons. It’s a civil war that happens within a singular family, which in a way makes it much more engrossing and tragic, because you see people who are blood relatives turning against each other and going to war.

But this is a family squabble that affects an entire continent...

Yeah, definitely. George [RR Martin] had it right when he said in A Feast For Crows that, "When the nobles go to war, it’s the small folk who suffer." In this case, I think it’s when the Targaryens go to war, everybody suffers.

That's just a snippet of the long-read, available in the Andor issue of SFX Magazine, available on newsstands from Wednesday, August 10. For even more from SFX, sign up to the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.

Richard is a freelancer journalist and editor, and was once a physicist. Rich is the former editor of SFX Magazine, but has since gone freelance, writing for websites and publications including GamesRadar+, SFX, Total Film, and more. He also co-hosts the podcast, Robby the Robot's Waiting, which is focused on sci-fi and fantasy.