House of the Dragon Episode 1: Reviews, how to watch Game of Thrones show in the UK

House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel series, is finally here.

Set 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon returns fans to a Westeros just as bloodthirsty and treacherous – but with a lot more dragons.

Episode 1 was released at 9pm on Sunday (August 21), with hardcore viewers in the UK staying up until 2am to watch, and others waiting until a sensible time on Monday (August 22).

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The reviews are in for the first episode of House of the Dragon, ‘The Heir of The Dragon’. Here’s what critics and fans had to say.

Syrax is Rhaenyra Targaryen's (Milly Alcock) dragon in House of the Dragon, HBO
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House of the Dragon Episode 1 reviews from critics

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“It’s good to be back in backstabbing Westeros,” said IGN, declaring the premiere a “strong, well-cast start to the Game Of Thrones spin-off” which feels “very close" to its predecessor but “not in a Season 8 way”.

The Guardian’s four star review describes the episode as “as it was in GOT’s heyday. Fun, propulsive, looking great and sounding passable”.

Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) stand before the skull of Balerion the Black Dread in House of the Dragon, HBO.

Giving it three stars, the Daily Telegraph praised Matt Smith’s “spoiled, narcissistic and gleefully violent villain” in Daemon Targaryen, but said the episode was “not desperately gripping” and needed some “Tyrion-style wit”.

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AV Club called the House of the Dragon premiere “bloody” and “brutal”, but said: “ So far, there are no characters as instantly appealing as Arya Stark or as funny as Tyrion Lannister.”

While Den of Geek awarded the episode four stars, highlighting the “superb” acting, particularly by an “excellent” Matt Smith – with the reviewer describing one scene as “one of the most upsetting things I’ve seen on television”.

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Empire has given the entire Season 1 of House of the Dragon three stars, writing: “It makes an admirable attempt in its first few episodes. But... it has not escaped the shadow of its predecessor.”

And, awarding the show four stars, the BBC’s Stephen Kelly described the season as a “rich, textured work, sharply written and handsomely directed”.

House of the Dragon: Game of Thrones fans’ reaction to show

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Despite mixed reviews of the ending of Game of Thrones, fans have rallied to watch House of the Dragon.

The internet went wild when Rhaenyra Targaryen uttered the immortal line “dracarys” – the iconic Valyrian word used by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones to command her dragons to breathe flame.

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Meanwhile, Matt Smith has both impressed and repulsed as the divisive Prince Daemon Targaryen. “Every single time he’s on screen he steals the show,” wrote one Twitter user, while another summed it up best in a tweet: “I’m sorry, Daemon ain’t s***. But he’s a bad b**** and I stan.”

Fans reacted with shock to a gruesome birth scene, awe to a reference to the White Walkers and A Song of Ice and Fire, and expressed support for Rhaenys Targaryen, a victim of the patriarchal society.

Finally, one fan wrote: “This is the Game of Thrones I used to love, what a spectacular comeback 10/10 first episode.”

How to watch House of the Dragon in the UK? NOWTV free trial details

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House of the Dragon is available to watch on Sky and NOWTV with an Entertainment Pass.

You can sign up for a seven day free trial on NOWTV, with the Entertainment Pass starting from £5 a month.

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Each episode will be released weekly on Sunday at 9pm in the US – which is about 2am on the Monday in the UK.

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