'House of the Dragon' Season 2 Opens on Major Change From the Book

The opening scene of the season is surprisingly contradictory to the source material, but this may be a case where our questions are answered later in the season.

House of the Dragon is unique among adaptations, as it is based on a "fictional history book" with unreliable narrators, meaning it contradicts its source material all the time. While fans have come to expect a certain amount of mystery and subversion from the series, the Season 2 premiere takes this further than ever. Fair warning: there are spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 2, Episode 1 ahead.

The season begins with Jacaerys Targaryen's (Harry Collett) visit to the North to negotiate with the young Lord of Winterfell, Cregan Stark (Tom Taylor). The scene is brief, but exciting – we see Jace and Cregan at The Wall, riding the lift to the top to look north toward the Haunted Forest. Along the way, they discuss the war brewing to the south and weigh it against the issues in the north, including the impending winter and the threat of the white walkers. As fun as this scene is, it makes some of the most drastic changes to the story yet.

In George R.R. Martin's book Fire & Blood, Jace's visit to the North is described by three primary sources – the Grand Maester, a Septon, and the court fool, Mushroom. Mushroom told chroniclers some salacious tales which I won't spoil here in case they become relevant later this season, and the Septon claimed that Jace spent his whole visit at Winterfell trying to convince Cregan to give up the old gods and worship The Seven instead. That leaves Grand Maester Munken's account, which seems more plausible.

Munken wrote that Jace and Cregan "took a liking to each other... They drank together, hunted together, trained together, and swore an oath of brotherhood, sealed in blood." His account mentions only Winterfell, and says nothing about the two of them traveling north to The Wall. It's worth remembering that The Wall is very far from Winterfell – between 16 and 22 days' travel by land, and at least a full day's flight by dragon, according to information assembled on World Anvil. That makes it unlikely that Jace and Cregan would go north for such a brief visit, and if they did, it was almost certainly on the back of Jace's dragon, Vermax.

That would be an easy way to illustrate their fast friendship, as earning enough trust to mount a dragon is a serious feat. It would also imply that the two of them were discussing more than the war for the Iron Throne. House of the Dragon has made. the prophecy about the white walkers a centerpiece of its plot since the series premiere, but so far it has been a well-kept secret for Targaryen monarchs and their heirs only. If Jace shared that information with Cregan, that would also tell us quite a bit about the secrets of Westerosi history.

(Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO)

The contradictions do not end there. In their brief scene, Cregan and Jace discuss their ancestors Torrhen Stark and Aegon the Conquerer. Jace remarks that the two of them met and negotiated "right here," but that is not true based on everything we've ever heard in the books. Fire & Blood tells us that Torrhen and Aegon met at the River Trident, where Torrhen surrendered without a fight and gave his crown to Aegon. It then says that Aegon visited the North six times during his reign, but never visited The Wall.

On top of that, in this scene Cregan seems to have a more active role at The Wall than any Lord of Winterfell we've ever seen before. He speaks as if he commands The Wall himself, and says that he can't spare any men from Winterfell when he might need them to defend the icy megalith. This would be surprising since, just 175 years later, Ned Stark doesn't believe white walkers exist at all, and The Wall has deteriorated to a tiny force of untrained men.

As it is, it seems likely that we haven't seen the last of the North for this season. Jace's time there could be shown later on in flashbacks, especially when it becomes more relevant to the main series. Until then, fan theories will evolve and fans will be holding their breath, hoping for more answers. House of the Dragon airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and Max.