Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings are two of the biggest fantasy franchises in the world. Now, two spinoff prequels — House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power — are launching on streaming platforms within weeks of one another.
As the multi-million live action prequels go head-to-head, which one is for you? Choose your fighter…
How do I watch them?
House of the Dragon: Releasing to Sky Atlantic/NOW from 22 August.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Releasing to Prime Video from 2 September.
What’s the format?
House of the Dragon: Live action, 10 episodes.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Live action, eight episodes.
Who are the creators?
House of the Dragon: Ryan J. Condal and George R.R. Martin.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: JD Payne and Patrick McKay.
Who stars in it?
House of the Dragon: Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen and Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower top the bill of a huge ensemble cast.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Game of Thrones’ Robert Aramayo as Elrond, His Dark Materials’ Morfydd Clark as Galadriel, Years and Years’ Maxim Baldry as Isildur, and Lenny Henry lead a notably diverse ensemble cast.
What’s the story?
House of the Dragon: It’s a prequel, set 200 years before the Game of Thrones series, based on creator Martin’s Fire & Blood novel. It’s the beginning of the end of House Targaryen — so yes, you can expect dragons, gruesome deaths and lots of sex. (Brother/sister incest unconfirmed.)
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Pre-dating the storylines depicted in the movies by thousands of years (in case you hadn’t noticed, J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t do things by halves), this series is based on the expansive history of Middle-earth. It also boasts the title of the most expensive TV show ever made. (Luckily, they got it signed off ahead of the cost of living crisis…)
Any signs of trouble?
House of the Dragon: Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season was largely met with disapproval by the global fanbase. Can this prequel redeem it?
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Legal reasons mean the series is not a continuation — or linked to — Peter Jackson’s hugely successful film franchise, but is intended to ‘evoke’ those films.
What are the expectations?
House of the Dragon: There’s still more than enough adulation for Game of Thrones to make this must-see TV — with many expecting it to lead to a wider reboot of the franchise. A Jon Snow spin-off is reportedly in development.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Five seasons are already approved — so it’s just as well that early preview footage has been met with wide approval by hardcore Tolkien fan groups. Which is probably a good thing after the disappointing Hobbit trilogy.
Taken from the August/September 2022 issue of Rolling Stone UK. Buy it here.