If you’re a Game of Thrones fan eagerly tuning in for the prequel series House of the Dragon, you’ve got plenty of time to kill between episodes. But all week long you can satisfy your need for fantasy and historical dramas with these alternate streaming options.
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Martin was inspired by real history when creating the world of Westeros, and there are plenty of parallels in shows based on actual historical figures. The royal family depicted in The Crown is less violent and ruthless than any in House of the Dragon, but their familial and political intrigue is just as intricate. Creator Peter Morgan chronicles the life and historical influence of the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II across her entire reign, with lavish production values and an ever-changing cast in seasons that span decades.
Seasons 1-4 of The Crown are streaming on Netflix ($9.99+ per month).
As seriously as shows like House of the Dragon take themselves, they might just be better off with a bunch of jokes and songs. That’s what you get in Galavant, a delightfully silly musical comedy about the title character (Joshua Sasse), a somewhat buffoonish knight on a quest to take out an evil king and save a kingdom. With music by Disney veteran Alan Menken, the songs are spot-on musical parodies, while the story and characters cleverly spoof the epic fantasy genre.
Season 1-2 of Galavant are streaming on Hulu ($6.99+ per month after a 30-day free trial).
The characters in The Great are real historical figures, but the story bears only slightly more resemblance to actual history than House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones do. Elle Fanning stars as Catherine the Great, in a heavily fictionalized take on the life and reign of the 18th-century Russian empress. Creator Tony McNamara uses Catherine’s life as a jumping-off point for a satirical take on the absurdity of monarchy, featuring court intrigue that rivals the antics of the Targaryens, albeit much funnier.
Seasons 1-2 of The Great are streaming on Hulu ($6.99+ per month after a 30-day free trial).
After a failed attempt to adapt author Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels in the 2007 movie The Golden Compass, His Dark Materials gives the story more room to breathe. That allows creator Jack Thorne to fully explore Pullman’s fantasy world, which is grounded in an alternate version of England, before branching out into parallel dimensions. Pullman uses magic to tell a story of complex political dynamics, and the show incorporates his social commentary into a sweeping adventure about a young girl caught up in a universe-spanning conspiracy.
Seasons 1-2 of His Dark Materials are streaming on HBO Max ($9.99+ per month).
Martin’s novels were inspired by 15th-century British history, and The Last Kingdom goes back further, adapting Bernard Cornwell’s series of historical novels set in ninth-century Britain. They tell a sprawling tale of battles between Saxons and Vikings, fierce warriors slaughtering each other over patches of fertile land. The characters’ religious beliefs are not too far removed from the mystical practices in Game of Thrones, and the sudden, violent changes in power dynamics are familiar as well. The frequent bloody battles mean that no character is safe, and death comes swiftly to even the most vital players.
Seasons 1-5 of The Last Kingdom are streaming on Netflix ($9.99+ per month).
Taking familiar elements from fantasy stories often geared toward children and adding an adult-oriented edge, The Magicians is set at a school for magic users where the students learn that a mystical realm from a series of books is both real and highly dangerous. These students of magic are much less wholesome than Harry Potter, and fans of Martin’s edgy take on fantasy material should appreciate this show’s similarly dark spin on other fantasy staples, adapted from the novels by Lev Grossman.
Seasons 1-5 of The Magicians are streaming on Netflix ($9.99+ per month).
The intrigue among aristocratic families in House of the Dragon often resembles a soap opera, and Reign takes that one step further, turning the life of Mary, Queen of Scots into a full-on nighttime soap. It may not be historically accurate, but it’s a fun combination of period piece and CW teen soap, starring Adelaide Kane as Mary, beginning when she’s just 15. Conniving teenagers scheming for power is a hallmark of Martin’s work, and Reign incorporates that into a show about sexy young people in gorgeous costumes.
Seasons 1-4 of Reign are streaming for free with ads on CW Seed.
Different types of fantasy worlds come together in Shadow and Bone, based on the bestselling book series by Leigh Bardugo. It’s actually based on two related Bardugo series set in the same world, so time is split between the sword-and-sorcery realm of Ravka and the more steampunk-style urban setting of Kerch. These and other regions are set apart by a dangerous magical barrier known as the Fold. The multiple locations and storylines will appeal to Martin fans, while the variation in types of fantasy keeps things fresh.
Season 1 of Shadow and Bone is streaming on Netflix ($9.99+ per month).
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Robert Jordan’s fantasy series The Wheel of Time is a 14-book saga that rivals Martin’s work, in both popularity and scope. The TV series starts from the beginning, with Rosamund Pike as a sorceress searching for the reincarnation of an ancient figure who may either save or end the world. She gathers five young people from a small village, all with the potential to be the powerful mage known as the Dragon Reborn. The show captures the intricate world-building and expansive storytelling of Jordan’s books, anchored by Pike as the world-weary magical priestess.
Season 1 of The Wheel of Time is streaming on Amazon Prime Video ($8.99+ per month).
Henry Cavill plays the title character in this fantasy series based on the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, which were previously adapted into a very popular video game franchise. Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia is a sort of monster hunter whose destiny is intertwined with that of a princess and a sorceress. Cavill brings his action-hero talents to the role, while also providing Geralt with some smoldering emotional depth. He broods and fights, sometimes simultaneously. The vast world of The Witcher has spawned additional spin-off movies and series alongside the main series, with more to come.
Seasons 1-2 of The Witcher are streaming on Netflix ($9.99+ per month).