The highly anticipated Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon received glowing reviews from many television critics on Friday, but still has a lot to prove to others.
The new franchise spin-off returns audiences to George RR Martin's fantasy world for a series centered on the bloody civil war within House Targaryen. House of the Dragon, which arrives on HBO Max on Sunday, scored a 76% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the show, a civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons ensues between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and her brother Aegon II Targaryen over who takes the throne after the passing of their father, Viserys l.
Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times said the spin-off "recaptures the power, grandeur of the original. This fresh chapter in the saga of the Seven Kingdoms is reverse-engineered to feed into narratives and family trees that are familiar to 'GoT' devotees."
"It's best to brace now for the genealogy chatter around Houses Targaryen, Lannister, Velaryon and Hightower," Ali added.
By contrast, Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly described the opening scene as "the blandest possible orientation, Epic Fantasy for Dummies" and said the good news is that "the beginning is the worst part."
Brian Lowry of CNN saw the prequel as a "less-addictive game for an earlier throne" but said it was "not bad."
"There are dragons aplenty, but it doesn't produce the sort of character that defined and elevated its predecessor to prestige-TV royalty," Lowry wrote.