All the adaptations make changes with respect to the original work, but in some cases they are more noticeable than in others. With ‘The house of the dragon’ there is one that is standing out powerfully in the first season of the HBO Max series, to the point that could become a major problem for the future of the series.
Beware of spoilers from here, both from the series until now and from the book ‘Fire and Blood’.
The change in question affects Viserys, the king of Westeros played by Paddy Considine. It has long been clear that his health is quite delicate and Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) did not hesitate to affirm at the beginning of ‘Iluminamos el camino’ that he was going to be alive for a short time. The reason is the illness she suffers from, which Considine had no problem revealing on the West of Westeros podcast.
He suffers from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones too. He is not really old, he is still a young person. Unfortunately, that has taken over his body. It’s kind of a metaphor for being a king, the stress and pressure that he puts on you and what he does to you physically and mentally.
Perhaps some viewers have assumed that Viserys dies at the end of the fifth episode, but the truth is that the advance of sex makes it clear that he is still alive and reigning. Of course, his physical deterioration has not stopped going further and now he even wears a mask to hide the effects of leprosy on his face.
This decision is somewhat problematic, since in the sixth episode there will be a significant jump in time of 10 years, so the credibility of the fact that Viserys is still alive begins to be questionable. Sure he’s the king and he’ll get the best possible care, but medical science cannot be said to be very advanced in Westeros…
Also, his inevitable death plays an essential role in the story, because it is what triggers the Dance of the Dragons, a civil war of the Targaryens to see who was the new king of Westeros. In the books, Viserys doesn’t contract the disease that kills him until two years before his death, so the departure from Martin’s idea is quite large.
If you are curious to know what happens to the character in the books, at one point Viserys slips and cuts his hand on the Iron Throne. The cut becomes infected and Viserys only recovers after having two fingers amputated. However, he never regains his strength and just two years later he dies while taking a nap.