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House of Dragons vs. Rings of Power (and a touch of Wheel of Time)

Mercurius

Legend
While the shows are quite different, and certainly George RR Martin and his world and JRR Tolkien and his world are strikingly distinct from each other, even to non-fantasy fans, presenting archetypes of two major locus points of epic fantasy, it is hard not to compare them, if only for their matching release dates (more or less). And I will take one very specific feeling I have, which is in reverse:

With each new episode of House of Dragons, I find myself liking the series more and more. With each new episode of Rings of Power, I find myself liking the series less and less.

That's it in a nutshell. If that's (more than) enough for you, move on. If you're curious why, read on.

Now I have my complaints with House of Dragons. Mainly, I don't find myself loving any of the characters - not like Tyrion, certainly, or the other series-stealing Lannisters, or even really the various Starks, and countless other terrific characters, primary and secondary, that made Game of Thrones so great. I like some of the characters; Daemon certainly charismatically dominates every scene he's in, and I care about Rhaenyra and her fate, and feel for King Viserys. There are lots of good characters, but few (or no) great ones. Yet. In truth, HOD has made me realize just how good GOT was (and yes, especially the first five or six seasons), mainly due to the characters and their arcs. There was a character for every flavor, every appetite. And each of them had a distinct arc over the course of the series.

Which brings me to a second, and related, complaint. What happened to the humor? And it isn't only the lack of Tyrion, but any number of witty characters in GOT. HOD has no humor - it is all red and black, dragons and smoke. To some extent that's OK - that's probably deliberate. But the lack of a balancing levity and wit is notable.

Some of this can be addressed as the series unfolds, though I've seen little sign of much humor emerging. That's OK, it is still very good already - and could become even better.

Now Rings of Power is a bit different. I'm more of a Tolkien than Martin fan, and enjoy the literary world of Middle-earth more than that of Westeros. So in a way, my standards are set higher - or rather, I'm more sensitive to dissonance and disappointment. Am I disappointed? On one hand, no, because I didn't expect much. As I said in the (+) thread, it is neither as good as a hoped, nor as bad as I feared; or at least that is how I felt after the first two episodes. Now the latter half of that sentence is becoming less true.

But the problem is in reverse of HOD: With each passing episode, my interest dwindles away. Sure, there are some nice visuals, and I want to see how various elements unfold. But the writing and characters and plotting--meaning, everything else other than the visuals--is just poor. None of the characters are likable, except for maybe one or two, if we rate "tolerable" on the scale of likability. The dialogue and plotting is pedantic, ponderous, and tediously boring. Really, I think Erik Kain of Forbes summed up some of my feelings quite well.

Like Kain, I would have been happy with "expensive fan fiction" done well. While I'm a quasi-Tolkienista (e.g. I've actually read The Silmarillion - actually several times), I'm not rigid about everything being perfectly canonical. I would have been happy with a well-made "in the spirit of" series. But it isn't well-made (yes, IMO, if you need me to qualify that with a recognition of my own subjectivity). Or rather, the visuals are well made, but as Kain said, "the problem is everything else." Meaning, what I hoped for was even just a loose homage to Tolkien (which we're getting) with strong characters, acting and plot (which we're not).

Can Rings of Power get better and re-capture my fading interest? Maybe. I mean, I'll keep watching it - if only because its (sorta, kinda, not really, but just a tad) Tolkien-esque. But early returns are not promising.

In a way I find it comparable to The Wheel of Time, perhaps not coincidentally another Amazon series. WOT also has the feeling of "in the spirit of" Robert Jordan rather than a loving recreation of Jordan's world and story ala Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. But I find Wheel of Time's weaknesses more forgivable, mainly because it has no precedents, and thus is a first dive into Jordan's world. It felt like a rough draft - and this was perhaps at least partially--if not largely--due to the time it was filmed. Meaning, I'll be more stringent in my judgment with season 2, hoping that it will consolidate and increase its strengths, while working out its kinks.

On the other hand, Peter Jackson looms large over Rings of Power, and presumably the show-runners realize this, so are constantly putting in bits that clearly are meant to deliberately remind us of Jackson's first trilogy. But it ends up feeling a bit cheap, like they're overly relying on reminding us of how good Jackson's films were (again, LoTR - I will not speak of The Hobbit), rather than focus on making a good and distinct series.

So again, in summary, HOD started well and keeps getting better - or at least my interest deepens. ROP started a bit shaky, and has not improved one bit and even seemingly gotten worse - or at least my interest becomes a bit weaker.
 

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Argyle King

Legend
I feel similar.

Both are kinda meh to me, but where HoD seems to be somewhat improving (or at least giving me enough to want to watch) Rings is losing me.

But both have managed to keep my attention longer than Wheel of Time though. I struggled to get through the first episode of Wheel of Time.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Well summed up. I feel very much the same, except, I do prefer Westeros to Middle Earth. I think it was Martin's writing that got us those great characters, which I think Tolkien mostly lacks in his writing. The new writers for HotD are doing ok, but they are just not killing it. RoP started out interesting but has left me, once again, bored of the rings.
 

I'm enjoying both (all three, really), but I think I'm more invested in the characters of Rings of Power. I like watching the rakish Prince Daemon because I know there's a powder keg that's about to explode there and Matt Smith brings more charisma to the role than I expected. I cheer when Rhaenyra sticks it to the patriarchy. But I'm watching it for the scenery and the history more than the characters. It's not like I get more excited when a certain character is on screen, like might have occurred with my favorite characters in GoT.

But with Rings of Power, the Durin-Disa-Elrond scenes in Khazad-Dum bring me such joy. I care about those characters and cannot wait until the parts with them come up again.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Really, I think Erik Kain of Forbes summed up some of my feelings quite well.
I think he does make some good points in that and I agree that the best things going for RoP are the interactions between Elrond and Durin and the other newly created characters.
I can definitely see how interest in RoP may be waning. I'm dealing with that a little myself. I'm finding the Galadriel/Númenor scenes pretty tedious at this point and they really do grind on me. By comparison, HoD is capable of getting my ire up by the various injustices characters inflict upon each other (like by that goon Sir Criston "I boned the princess now I'm gonna get all huffy because she won't run away with me" Cole).
 


Mercurius

Legend
Well summed up. I feel very much the same, except, I do prefer Westeros to Middle Earth. I think it was Martin's writing that got us those great characters, which I think Tolkien mostly lacks in his writing. The new writers for HotD are doing ok, but they are just not killing it. RoP started out interesting but has left me, once again, bored of the rings.
I hear you re: Martin and Tolkien, though to some degree it is like comparing Charles Dickens and Thomas Pynchon...very different times, contexts, and styles of writing.

I love Tolkien mostly for the depth and beauty of his world-building and mythology - to me he remains unsurpassed. Martin's world is also great, but not as much to my liking - perhaps simply a matter of style, although a lot of it has to do with the numinous beauty of Tolkien's world where Martin's is darker and uglier, but also because of the depth of Middle-earth.

But in terms of characters and dialogue, Martin is on an entirely different level - or at least I generally prefer more immediate, relatable characters. LotR--and of course more so, The Silmarillion--is written as an epic poem or myth, whereas GoT is very much a modern novel. In a way, Tolkien is more of a pure fantasist, dealing with archetypes and myths, whereas Martin is a humanistic novelist using fantasy trappings as context, but not as "the thing itself."
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I hear you re: Martin and Tolkien, though to some degree it is like comparing Charles Dickens and Thomas Pynchon...very different times, contexts, and styles of writing.

I love Tolkien mostly for the depth and beauty of his world-building and mythology - to me he remains unsurpassed. Martin's world is also great, but not as much to my liking - perhaps simply a matter of style, although a lot of it has to do with the numinous beauty of Tolkien's world where Martin's is darker and uglier, but also because of the depth of Middle-earth.

But in terms of characters and dialogue, Martin is on an entirely different level - or at least I generally prefer more immediate, relatable characters. LotR--and of course more so, The Silmarillion--is written as an epic poem or myth, whereas GoT is very much a modern novel. In a way, Tolkien is more of a pure fantasist, dealing with archetypes and myths, whereas Martin is a humanistic novelist using fantasy trappings as context, but not as "the thing itself."
Well, to be fair, if you start a thread HotD vs. RoP you are gong to have to compare writing even if they are different styles. Though, I think its worth noting that HotD lacks great characters in the same way that RoP seems to lack its grandeur. Both are being written without their originators at the helm.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Rings of Power is fast losing me. This latest episode... yeesh. "Elves are coming to take your jobs?" Seriously? I'll give it one more episode to drastically improve, but then I'm out.

Y'all have convinced me to give House of the Dragon a try, however.
 
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Mercurius

Legend
Well, to be fair, if you start a thread HotD vs. RoP you are gong to have to compare writing even if they are different styles. Though, I think its worth noting that HotD lacks great characters in the same way that RoP seems to lack its grandeur. Both are being written without their originators at the helm.
I hear you, though there's a difference between comparing the writing styles of the two authors who inspired TV shows, and the TV shows themselves. As to the former, my point is simply that it is a bit of apples and oranges. Two very different writers, styles, and intended and actual writing.

And yeah, as I said in the OP, I agree that HotD lacks great characters, but the acting is pretty good. RoP lacks both great characters and, for the most part, good acting, though it is hard to tell how much of that is the writing and plotting.

Is GRRM not at all involved in HotD? I thought he was at least a consultant.
 

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