Game of Thrones may be ending in 2019, but the song of ice and fire will continue. HBO has greenlit a prequel series about Westeros’ Golden Age of Heroes, helmed by Jane Goldman (the Kingsman series, Kick-Ass) and A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin. This age spans thousands of years, and there’s no way a show is going to be able to cover all of it. So, here’s what we think this new show could be about — and furthermore, should be about.
First, a little history lesson about the Age of Heroes — what little we know about it, anyway. This era in Westeros’ history is vast and vague, with bits and pieces of knowledge spanning its 4,000 years. While some of the details we do have about it come from the ASoIaF series, most of the information we have on the Age of Heroes comes from Martin’s companion book, The World of Ice and Fire. And even though Martin is the creator of that world, much of his companion guide is presented like recollections of real ancient history — sometimes unreliable, and often open to interpretation.
An image showing the First Men and the Children of the Forest agreeing to the Pact. Image: Bantam
The Age of Heroes started around 10,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It began with the Pact, an alliance between the First Men and the Children of the Forest, where the Children surrendered most of the land in Westeros in exchange for a promise that the First Men wouldn’t chop down their sacred weirwood trees. This era saw the rise and fall of kings and empires, eventually leading to the big noble houses of Westeros, like the Starks and Lannisters. For a while, things were peaceful — well, apart from the palace intrigue, internal squabbling, and wars. It’s actually during this time that we got the rules of hospitality, which you better know as those things Walder Frey broke because he was a jerk.
Then came the Long Night. You know, that whole “Winter Is Coming” thing Ned Stark loved to chat about before losing his head. A story told to Bran when he was bedridden from his fall, the Long Night was the story of a winter that lasted for a generation, bringing the White Walkers (also known as the Others). In ASoIaF, the Long Night is assumed to be myth, a ghost story to tell kids, but we know it actually happened. Since, you know, it’s happening again. During the original Long Night, the White Walkers invaded, leading to lots of sadness and death. Eventually, they were beaten back at the Battle for the Dawn, thanks to the Night’s Watch...and possibly Azor Ahai, the legendary hero who was said to have wielded Lightbringer.
I think this is the most ideal place to start the series. At the Battle for the Dawn. The end of the Long Night. Around 8,000 years before Game of Thrones. And I’ve got good reasons.
First, you’ve got all the major players. Brandon the Builder — or someone like him, as there is a belief he’s not a single person but rather a conglomerate of Stark legacies mashed together into one figure — creating House Stark and the Wall. His buddy Durran Godsgrief building Storm’s End. Azor Ahai fulfilling his prophecy with Lightbringer. And...the original Night’s King.
In the show, the Night’s King is a dude the Children of the Forest turned into the first White Walker because they were kinda stupid. But in the books, he was the 13th Commander of the Night’s Watch who fell in love with an Other and took over the undead army, being defeated by the Starks and the King-Beyond-The-Wall after a several-year rampage. His title would probably have to change, and the timeline skewed a bit. But, it’s not the first time a TV adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire has had to alter its own history. Remember how Jon Snow’s supposed to be 14 years old, and Daenerys 13? Gross.
Second, having the new series set around that time period would let us explore an unknown yet critical piece of Game of Thrones history: the Old Empire of Ghis. I know plenty of people, myself included, who were sad to learn we wouldn’t be getting a Game of Thrones spinoff about Valyria — particularly the infamous Doom of Valyria, my absolute favourite unsolved mystery in the entire A Song of Ice and Fire canon. But it makes sense why they wouldn’t do a show during that time. There’s no way HBO could afford the CGI for all those dragons.
An image depicting the fall of Old Ghis at the hands of Valyria. Image: Bantam
Placing the show after the Long Night means we could see Valyria’s predecessor. Old Ghis is a powerful but mysterious empire in Essos that created many of the land’s iconic architecture, like the great pyramid in Meereen, and formed the slave trade and fighting pits Daenerys fought so hard against. Plus, if we focus some on Old Ghis, we could also learn more about the Shadow Lands, like Asshai, Melisandre’s dark and mysterious homeland, which is rumoured to be the birthplace of Valyria’s dragons. But, in true Martin fashion, that isn’t so much a fact as it is a suggestion that may or may not actually be true.
And here’s the final reason why starting the show at the Battle of the Dawn makes the most sense. Because it would essentially act like a continuation of Game of Thrones, but set thousands of years in the past. Assuming our heroes are able to defeat the White Walkers by the end of season eight, Game of Thrones will end on a Reconstruction that we won’t get to see. We’ll likely see the few remaining survivors hug it out as they prepare for a new era of peace and prosperity, but what will actually come of it? In this show, we’d be on the tail end of the previous White Walker invasion and see how Westeros suffered and recovered from such a tragedy. A new show, with a familiar continuity.
The new Game of Thrones prequel is currently in the early pilot stages. And if it’s approved (which it mostly likely will be), it isn’t set to arrive until 2020 at the earliest. In the meantime, we’ve still got one more season of Game of Thrones. Winter is here...or at least it will be in 2019. Better bundle up.