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Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, whose House Targaryen history tome Fire & Blood is now hitting screens as HBO and Max’s House of the Dragon, isn’t directly involved in writing the series, which is now in its second season. But he’s been watching, and so far he’s really liking it—with one new addition that he loved so much, he wishes he’d thought of it himself.

If you’re not caught up on House of the Dragon season two, which is about to unveil its fourth episode on Sunday, spoilers follow.


Fans of Fire & Blood all knew that Blood and Cheese—assassins hired by Daemon Targaryen to infiltrate the Red Keep—were going to pop up early in the show’s second season. Daemon’s instructions are to murder Aemond Targaryen, the Team Green young adult responsible for the death of Rhaenyra’s son Luke in the season one finale. It’s payback, trading “A Son for a Son,” as the season premiere episode title goes. But when the ratcatcher (Cheese, played by Mark Stobbart) and the swordsman (Blood, played by Sam C. Wilson) get inside the castle, they can’t locate Aemond. Instead, they grab the next in line to the throne: King Aegon II’s son, just a toddler, and saw his little head off. It’s grim, it’s a PR disaster for Team Black, and it’s yet another gruesome rung on the ladder toward all-out war in Westeros.

But there’s a new character involved: Cheese’s loyal dog. Cheese is not a nice guy, and he’s certainly not always nice to his four-legged companion. But we see just how connected they are when—in the second episode, “Rhaenyra the Cruel”—Aegon orders all the ratcatchers employed by the crown to be publicly executed. Blood didn’t know Cheese’s name, you see, so the king figured he’d better just exterminate all of them to make sure he got the culprit. As ratcatcher-adjacent friends and family spot their loved ones dangling high above King’s Landing, and react with anguished cries, we see one particularly sad face. A furry one.

In his glowing review of the first two episodes, posted on his Not a Blog, Martin gave a special shout-out to House of the Dragon‘s writers for incorporating that new detail. “The show added a brand new character,” Martin wrote. “The dog. I am… ahem… not usually a fan of screenwriters adding characters to the source material when adapting a story.  Especially not when the source material is mine.  But that dog was brilliant. I was prepared to hate Cheese, but I hated him even more when he kicked that dog.  And later, when the dog [sat] at his feet, gazing up… that damn near broke my heart.  Such a little thing… such a little dog… but his presence, the few short moments he was on screen, gave the ratcatcher so much humanity.  Human beings are such complex creatures.  The silent presence of that dog reminded us that even the worst of men, the vile and the venal, can love and be loved.”

Martin also added: “I wish I’d thought of that dog. I didn’t, but someone else did. I am glad of that.”

New episodes of House of the Dragon arrive Sundays on Max and HBO.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest MarvelStar Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.



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