Living in the current age of digital entertainment and boundless content creation, it would be fairly difficult to imagine any television series or film, reasonably successful to start with, that would not want to repeat or at least bank upon the success story of the original. Entire franchises have been made out of rather modest entries that owe their success to a successful original or first entry, rightfully labeling the 21st century as the age of remakes, spin-offs and sequels, most of which turn out to be mindless rehashes and cash grabs milking on the regard for the original. While all of these notions have mostly sustained for most of the prequels/spin-off bases, the most notable and recent one being Peter Jackson’s exploration of the middle Earth saga in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy of films, if there is something that can challenge that notion, it would be the now much talked about ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel.
An interesting fact, something that also verifies what I said in the opening lines, is that at least four individuals, including one from the production department of ‘Game of Thrones’, apart from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, had pitched for different ideas about the way forward for the series, involving ideas about a prequel set in ancient times, out of which HBO chose this one, albeit with a completely different party, but not without George R.R. Martin’s serious and comprehensive involvement. So, read on to find out everything we know about this already much awaited series.
The creation of the prequel spin-off can be credited to Jane Goldman and George R.R. Martin himself, who is currently in the process of writing his sixth book in his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, titled ‘The Winds of Winter’. The duo will also serve as executive producers for the show, with Martin being increasingly appreciative of the talent that Goldman is. Jane Goldman is credited with the screenplays of popular films ‘X-Men: First Class’ and ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, along with serving as co-producer and writer for several big budget Hollywood productions. The current showrunners of ‘Game of Thrones’ have chosen to stay aloof from the spin-off show for now, not returning to any role in the new series as of now, instead choosing to focus on the final season.
Other executive producers include James Farrell, Jim Danger Gray, Daniel Zelman, Chris Symes, and Vince Gerardis, who is also currently co-executive producing ‘Game of Thrones’. SJ Clarkson (‘The Defenders’, ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Jessica Jones’, ‘Life on Mars’) has been hired to direct the pilot episode.
The major source for all the synopses floating around the internet currently is an Entertainment Weekly interview with George R.R. Martin wherein he spilled details about the possible plot of the prequel spin-off. He (GRRM) described it as, “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. And only one thing is for sure: From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend — it’s not the story we think we know.” What we do know for sure is an estimated time period when this story will be set: 5000-8000 years before the current predicament of Westeros and Essos that we see in ‘Game of Thrones’ today.
While we are considering what possibly the plot could be centred on, we can be almost certain that Aegon’s conquest is out of the window, since the events of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the setting up of the Iron Throne by Aegon the Conqueror are separated by a gap of roughly 300 years. This most definitely temporally precedes that. Perhaps the most obvious clue about what the series would primarily focus on lies in GRRM’s insistence to name the series ‘The Long Night’, significantly hinting towards the popular folklore in the current series about the longest and coldest winter that Westeros ever faced, marked by the descent of the Others on the known world that threatened the peace treaty between the First Men and the Children of the Forest.
However, we will explore the central theory and the ones surrounding it in greater detail in the next section. But before we head into the possible theories for the spin-off series, I sincerely think it would be a good idea if you take a slight detour and give this article about the map of ‘Game of Thrones” and the history of the known world a read. With that done, let’s head to the list of possible theories on what storylines from the time of the first men the prequel show would focus on.
The Age of Heroes: The Pact and Disruption
The narrative for the prequel is rumoured to begin around, if I am to put it this way, during the first white walker invasion on the lands of men from further up North, the land of forever winter (the current North of the Wall). Now this opens up two very interesting perspectives albeit with varying chances. The first would be that if an invasion by the Wights and White Walkers or the Others as they are called in the books, is forthcoming, even the prequel series could pan out like the main show, but with lesser time dedicated to the war between the alliance of the first men and the children of the forest, and the others, the war itself having an obvious outcome, since well, ‘Game of Thrones’ happens as we all know.
The war would in fact be pivotal to deciding the course of the narrative, since it’s the very first revelation that can be derived from GRRM’s statement. It could pan out the way as stated, or in a different fashion: like the show either beginning while the first men have already been in long drawn battle against the others, or with the war not being the focus itself, getting done in an intermediate season finale.
The other perspective would mean that the age of heroes imposed upon the Westerosi landmass by the peace treaty between the First Men and the Children of the Forest would, as the narrative says, be plunged into darkness, until they unite again and drive the others beyond what would come to be the wall, which in itself opens up some other possibilities that we will talk about shortly. Now there is a slight probability, but the narrative might just dip into exploring the conditions that led to the pact being enforced in the first place, a la the children of the forest creating the Night King storyline, played in quick retrospect.
The First Long Night and its End
George R.R. Martin has been in talks with the makers wherein he has stressed upon his desire to name the show ‘The Long Night’, after the coldest and darkest winter ever faced by the world of men. So we already know that this is going to be pivotal to the prequel as explained above. While having established the role that the war itself, called the Battle for the Dawn, could come to play with respect to the show, the prequel is also rumoured to dip a little bit further into the origins of the white walkers and the Wights too in a more elaborate manner, while having briefly addressed that during the Children of the Forest episode in ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4.
To add to that, as the long night would draw to a close, as has been the case with the current series, a new world order is bound to arise that would be a major shakeup as the White Walkers are driven beyond the wall by the victorious alliance of Men and the Children, opening up new possibilities for all the then noble houses of Westeros, as the continent would begin shaping itself up akin to how we know it to be in ‘Game of Thrones’, with the establishment of the wall and beyond, the free folk with a king-beyond-the-wall (Joramun), the setting up of the Night’s Watch and the settlement of the North; something I am most looking forward to.
The First Starks
Since the timeline of the show primarily coincides with this period, it is an intelligible guess that one of the major players on the show could be Brandon Stark, the very first Stark, famously known during the age of heroes as Bran the Builder and credited with building the Wall and building and settling Winterfell, along with a handful of other Westerosi landmarks including Storm’s End castle in the Stormlands. His reputation in the then world is legendary, so I really see no valid reason why he would not make the cast. Besides, what’s anything ‘Game of Thrones’ without a Stark!
The First Lannisters
This is going to be interesting. Since we are looking at the houses that prevailed back in the day and the now famous ones, it would again be an intelligible guess that the origins of one of the major players currently, the Lannisters, would be a part of the show, since Bran the Builder and Lann the Clever are credited with having played a major part in the creation of the new world order. Curiously enough, the seat of House Lannister, Casterly Rock, came into their possession just as the house came into existence through con. Lann the clever is credited with infamously swindling the castle from the then reigning House Casterly overnight, something that could be really interesting to see in the show especially since the legends associated with it are, well, bold. So much for Lannisters always paying their debts.
‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ have gathered a lot of high regard among medieval tales for the increasingly complex and intertwining narratives owing to the sheer number of players involved, with none of them, even the major ones, being safe at any given point of time. It would therefore be reasonable to assume that apart from the Starks and the Lannisters, there would be a host of other houses inhabiting Westeros. The names that initially come to mind are House Dayne from Dorne (to give you an idea: Ned Stark and Howland Reed kill Ser Arthur Dayne from the house in question in that flashback whence Jon is revealed to be the son of Lyanna Stark and Rheagar Targaryen), House Reyne from Castamere, the prosperous House Gardener that would basically a substitute to the Tyrells from the current show, since they occupied Highgarden before them, and House Durrandon, filling in for the Baratheons from the current show as residents of Storm’s End.
Moving away from Westeros and its houses, I suspect Essos to have an even larger role in the narrative in the prequel show. While the Targaryens came around much later, the freehold of Valyria had been established around the same time. Its origins, time of flourishing before the doom, and the doom itself form great choices for possible storylines. Considering the first one, the prequel show could take on how the sheepherders that were the Valyrians before they learned to tame dragons, giving rise to one of the strongest houses in the known world — the Targaryens. The dragons have been an extremely popular part of the current show, so I see no logical reason why the makers would want to leave that out: introducing the possibility of an origin story for the first dragon eggs discovered in the region, and the mystical East’s involvement in that. As their dominion over the continent spreads, a number of other narratives came into play while certain existing ones were upset, as with the Andals.
It is part of the legend that the Andals descended upon Westeros and waged war against the first men after they were driven away from Andalos as the Valyrian dominion and old over the continent strengthened with the dragons, before the doom that is. Not only that, one could reasonably assume as is the tradition of the current ‘Game of Thrones’ season slate, that the great war between the Andals and the First Men for the establishment of the faith of the New Gods and for the Andals to find a home could find a slot for a season finale or pre-finale, and in the process, establishing them as one of the primary antagonists on the show. However, there are conflicting accounts as to when the Andal invasion actually happened, so we will have to wait to see how that pans out.
Mysteries of the East: Asshai and Yiti
The Eastern part of Essos beyond the Bone Mountains and the Red Waste hasn’t received much attention in the currently ongoing ‘Game of Thrones’ except a red priestess hailing from there, but we can expect the prequel to reverse that, since the time under question was, so to say, much more mystical and turbulent than the current one in Westeros. Even the great Wall separating the North and Beyond was constructed and bound through magic for crying out loud.
However, given the primary cities in the East, Asshai and Yiti were both considered strongholds of dark magic, home to numerous witches, wizards, and shadowbinders, being cities “where the sun never shone” and mentioned in texts as housing creatures like the Basilisks, they still might be too out of tune with the “realistic” tone that ‘Game of Thrones’ is famous for; something that the makers would reasonably want to retain. In that, they are better left off as mythical lands, only marginally explored. I also accept that is the pragmatic me talking: part of me really, really thinks the visuals alone on this, if the makers could pull it off, could be out of this world, quite literally. Plus, especially since we are predicting dragons to be a part of it, Asshai and the shadow lands could have a major partaking in it.
Game of Thrones Prequel ‘Bloodmoon’ Cast: Who is in it?
The current ‘Game of Thrones’ can be fairly credited with making stars out of relatively lesser known actors, reviving careers and multiplying the stardom of some well-known ones, especially the top billed actors on the show including Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey. So, it was almost certain given the reputation of the show and the ensemble award it has picked up year after year that the casting department had quite a task to do, and quite a reputation to live up to. From certain confirmations and early reports of the casting directors being neck deep in the process, it would seem that things are looking quite good as of now.
The first confirmed cast member was Oscar nominee Naomi Watts as broken by the channel early in January this year. While Watts is already a bonafide star, her headlining of the cast is strongly backed up by GRRM, and as a fan of the show currently, I couldn’t be more thrilled looking at the credibility she brings to the slate. Her character has been described as “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret”. The news of her being signed on was almost immediately followed by Josh Whitehouse joining the cast in an unspecified role. As of now, apart from the two headliners, a diverse cast of talented individuals have been announced by HBO to star in the pilot episode itself, including Naomi Ackie, Jamie Campbell Bower, Ivanno Jeremiah, Alex Sharp, Toby Regbo, Miranda Richardson, Marquis Rodriguez, John Simm, Richard McCabe, John Heffernan, and Dixie Egerickx.
Game of Thrones Prequel Release Date: When will ‘Bloodmoon’ premiere?
The makers have confirmed that the prequel spin-off series wouldn’t air any time before at least one year after the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ would air on HBO. Educated guess would place the show’s premiere date to be somewhere in the fall of 2020. Given ‘Game of Thrones’ seriously awe inspiring run at the Emmys, it would not be too much of a longshot to predict that Goldman and the showrunners would be eyeing the trophy too. Whether they seize the nominations window or not for the ceremony next year is really anybody’s guess right now.
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