Ryan Condal Pitched A Very Different George R.R. Martin Adaptation Before House Of The Dragon

"House of the Dragon" has taken the world by storm. It has proven to be more than just a successor to "Game of Thrones," HBO's flagship series based on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels. The prequel is based on the Dance of the Dragons civil war, which divided House Targaryen forever. Adapted from Martin's "Fire & Blood," which explores the complete history of the Valyrian noble house, the series focuses on the inevitable war of succession between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Prince Aegon Targaryen for the Iron Throne.

George R.R. Martin handpicked screenwriter Ryan Condal to helm "House of the Dragon." While the writer currently serves as showrunner on the series, it wasn't the only "Game of Thrones" prequel he wanted to work on — Condal made a pitch of his own to HBO, based on a story from Martin that he loved best.

Two men making their way through Westeros

Ryan Condal had been a fan of Martin's fantasy novels since his college years — he credited the author's prose with teaching him more than "reading screenplays" ever did. He pitched HBO an idea from Martin's "Dunk and Egg" prequel novellas, which begin 90 years before the events of "A Song of Ice and Fire." 

The story follows the adventures of a lowly hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, a highborn trickster, Prince Aegon "Egg" Targaryen (the younger brother of Maester Aemon Targaryen), who grows up to become King Aegon V, also known as "Aegon the Unlikely." Condal explained his love for the prequel during an interview with The Wrap.

'I was a super nerd for George R.R. Martin's world'

Condal was a bit of a nerd for the world of Westeros long before the "Game of Thrones" series came out. His enthusiasm for the fantasy novels was no secret, and he loved the "Dunk and Egg" prequel novellas so much that he pitched an adaptation for it to HBO two years before he got the job as showrunner on "House of the Dragon."

Here's what he had to say:

"I still, frankly, love the idea of that story as a counterpoint to the original 'Game of Thrones' and to what we're doing, because it's more of a 'Lone Wolf and Cub.' It's more of 'The Mandalorian' versus the original 'Star Wars' where it's just two guys making their way through this very complex and dangerous and highly political world that aren't necessarily political themselves, which I always thought was interesting as an adventure tale to tell in Westeros."

In 2021, Variety announced that a potential adaptation of "Dunk and Egg" was in early development at HBO, with Martin confirming (via his blog) that Steve Conrad would serve as showrunner if it went to series. The writer also revealed that Conrad was "determined to make a faithful adaptation of the stories," much to his relief since the world of "Dunk and Egg" was very "precious" to its creator. If it's anything like "House of the Dragon," fans will be thrilled.