However pissed off some of us book readers are at George R.R. Martin for never finishing "A Song of Ice and Fire", the book series behind "Game of Thrones", it was just too difficult to stay away from "House of the Dragon". I haven't read the book the new show is based on, "Fire and Blood", it just sits up on my shelf. I've read shorter versions of "The Dance of the Dragons" though in several of his other books.
The first season has been rather slow. If you weren't a fan of particularly the first 4 seasons of "Game of Thrones" and the books behind it, it would have been rather hard to stay awake at times. It did also have some really great scenes though, and the actors did very well to make you like or hate their characters. Maybe they have altered the characters a bit too much though. It's easy to like the Blacks and it's very easy to hate the Greens. Maybe a bit too easy. In most of GRRM's stories most characters are rarely entirely good nor entirely bad, they are often both.
The decision to use black actors for the Velaryons was a bit controversial. Both the Targaryens and the Velaryons came out of Valyria. They are all supposed to be "albinos" with blonde hair. If nothing else the change makes it easier to tell them apart in the show and all things considered it's a change that is easy to live with. Much easier than the change they made to let Laenor escape on a boat. In the books Laenor is killed, and Daemon is blamed for having ordered his death. I think this change felt wrong and not very GRRM.
We obviously got some dragon scenes, and while some of the scenes were great, I thought especially most of the flying scenes were rather unconvincing. It was the same in "Game of Thrones", so apparently they haven't learned any new CGI tricks since then.
You can't mention this show without talking about childbirths and screaming women. One time had been okay, but then it started to become a bit of a joke. I have honestly lost count, but sometime after the 3rd bloody childbirth scene it became fucking ridiculous. Yes, we get the point and I think we already got it after the scene in episode 1. It's like they have replaced all the cool porn and torture scenes from "Game of Thrones" with screaming women giving birth.
The show had a few time jumps. They ruined the flow a bit, but the swap between the actresses who play younger and older versions of Rhaenyra and Alicent, was done quite well. Some of their children didn't look one bit like their younger selves though, and some of the male characters didn't age a bit after 20 years. King Viserys was a different story. It was impressive how they managed to make him literally rot more and more from episode to episode.
The new show has already spawned some hilarious memes and that is perhaps what we needed most after the end of "Game of Thrones". Some great memes about murder and incest. Targaryens are always guarantee for both.
I know the big lines of the story, so I guess I'm not in for any real big surprises along the way, but even for the slow pace, it's always nice to be back in Westeros. Game of Thrones "stole" 10 years of my life after all, and while this new show isn't quite on the same level, I bet most viewers will be back for more dancing dragons whenever Season 2 comes out. I know I will.