George R.R. Martin, author of the fantasy book series that inspired Game of Thrones, has shared a few new details about the upcoming prequel to HBO’s most successful show to date. And now we can all get a much better idea about what to expect.
What is the prequel about?
The yet-untitled-prequel will take place thousands of years before the events we witness in Game of Thrones. You read that right: thousands. 5,000 years, to be more specific.
According to HBO’s official website,
“Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend, only one thing is for sure: It’s not the story we think we know.”
So, there’s not going to be any Ned or Jon or Rob or Jamie. They weren’t even close to being born. Hell, it’s even before the time of dragons, centuries and centuries before the Seven Kingdoms we all know and love were founded. As George R.R. Martin told Entertainment Weekly,
“We talk about the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros; there were Seven Kingdoms at the time of Aegon’s Conquest. But if you go back further then there are nine kingdoms, and 12 kingdoms, and eventually you get back to where there are a hundred kingdoms — petty kingdoms — and that’s the era we’re talking about here.”
That means no Lannisters either. The prequel will instead focus on what in Martin’s world is known as “The Age of Heroes:” a legendary past filled with major historical figures who went on to establish the houses we meet during Game of Thrones.
So, what about dragons? And what is this about the Starks? Martin has indeed confirmed that “the Starks will definitely be there,” interestingly enough, though we don’t yet know exactly what political role they hold on a divided land. As for the dragons, well, since they haven’t arrived in Westeros during the prequel’s timeline, don’t expect to see them at all. But that doesn’t mean we won’t get to meet other fantastic beasts—some familiar, some new. “Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” Martin said. “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”
So yeah, we’re getting mammoths instead of dragons. Count me in.
As for the Lannisters, it’s still not clear whether we might actually see their origin story. According to the series’ canon, the Lannisters come from a single figure dating to the prequel’s timeline; a man known as Lann the Clever. As the legend goes, before the Lannisters owned Casterly Rock, the land was occupied by its original owners, the Casterlys. Lann is said to have swindled Casterly Rock from them, establishing his own line there. Let’s hope we get to see all of this—it would give us an interesting insight to where Tywin, Cersei, Jamie, and Tyrion come from.
Who is going to star in the prequel?
The cast is vast, much like in Game of Thrones. It was announced that Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible) will headline the show as a “charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret,” alongside Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth) and Denise Gough (Monday). Many others have been confirmed as well, including Josh Whitehouse (Poldark), Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans), Sheila Atim (Harlots), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia), Toby Regbo (The Last Kingdom), and Alex Sharp (How to Talk to Girls at Parties). The most recent additions include Marquis Rodriquez (Manifest), John Simm (Strangers), Miranda Richardson (the Harry Potter films), Richard McCabe (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams), Dixie Egerickx (Summerland), and John Heffernan (Dracula).
But, like with Game of Thrones, there won’t really be a “protagonist,” according to Martin. It’s more like an ensemble story featuring multiple important characters, all of whom have a special role to play in the plot.
“I hesitate to use the word ‘lead,’” Martin claimed. “As you know for Game of Thrones, we never even nominated anybody for lead actress or lead actor [for an award] until recently; it was always for supporting [categories] because the show is such an ensemble. I think that will be true for this show too. We don’t have leads so much as a large ensemble cast.”
What will the prequel be called?
There’s no official title yet, but Martin has claimed his top choice would be to call it The Long Night. However, since that was the name of the third episode in season 8 of Game of Thrones, that might prove difficult. Similar names are being thrown around as potential candidates within the production team. “I heard a suggestion that it could be called The Longest Night,” Martin pointed out, “which is a variant I wouldn’t mind. That would be pretty good.”
Who is in charge of the prequel?
As you might expect, George R.R. Martin is deeply involved in the project, acting as creator and potential writer, and executive producer alongside Jane Goldman, with the latter also serving as showrunner. The pilot episode, which is currently being filmed in Northern Ireland, will be directed by SJ Clarkson (The Defenders, Jessica Jones), who’s also executive producing with Martin and Goldman.
When is the prequel coming out?
Well, with Game of Thrones barely finished, don’t expect the prequel to come for a while still. Consider that there’s not a pilot episode yet, and we need that before HBO even commissions a full series. So, don’t hold your breath.
That being said, the fact that the pilot is already being filmed is a good indication that things are moving forward quickly, so we can expect that the show will come within two years—if all goes well. Let’s hope they take the time to polish any rough edges and make the prequel worthwhile, though. Fans deserve quality, after all.
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