While HBO’s House of the Dragon once assured fans that it will stay faithful to its source material, a lot of the characters’ stories were changed, especially Alicent Hightower’s. Based on George R.R. Martin’s novel, Fire & Blood, the prequel series focuses on the rise and fall of the House Targaryen, and the imminent civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons.
The story is told from different perspectives, and unlike the straightforward approach in the novel, the series needed to make several adjustments in order to convey its objectives. The first season of House of the Dragon showed numerous alterations in the portrayal of various characters. Alicent, the daughter of Ser Otto Hightower and second wife of King Viserys I Targaryen, was much less wicked than expected.
Alicent’s Portrayal In House Of The Dragon
Given the critical situation that took place in the second episode, when Viserys announced his marriage plans, Alicent and Rhaenyra’s ages were altered to establish that they grew up together. This would turn out to be one of the conflicts in Rhaenyra’s story as the unexpected marriage will tear down their friendship.
From the first few episodes alone, viewers can conclude that Alicent is more of a puppet than a villain. Emily Carey, the actress who plays young Alicent, said that the character is a product of a patriarchal society that surrounds her. This is evident in the way Otto Hightower uses his power to manipulate Alicent into obeying his orders, one of which is seducing the king.
In the third episode, Otto makes a proposal to wed Rhaenyra and her two-year-old brother Aegon to put an end to all the controversies. King Viserys thought this was a ridiculous idea, although unbeknownst to him, it is more of a self-serving proposition than a general concern.
The book tells otherwise; it was Alicent who made this suggestion, and Viserys being the paranoid king that he became, accused his wife of desiring to secure her own blood on the Iron Throne. This proved to be one of the several incidents that established Alicent as an antagonist. The series, however, shifts the villain’s spotlight on her father.
Now Everyone Thinks She’s Not The Villain
House of the Dragon painted the character a more sympathetic color, showing that Alicent did not entirely want to cause a rift in her friendship with Rhaenyra. Some fans would compare her presence in the show to Game of Thrones Cersei Lannister, but she is undoubtedly less conniving than the queen herself.
Indeed, all this tension building up between the Targaryens was initiated by Otto himself as he wants his own blood to climb up the throne using Alicent as easy collateral.