George RR Martin speaks at The Landmark Loews Theatre in Jersey City

George RR Martin speaks at The Landmark Loew\s Theatre in Jersey City
George RR Martin Is Mad He Hasnt Finished Winds of Winter Too
This image released by HBO shows Kit Harington, left, and Emilia Clarke on the season finale of "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay/HBO via AP)

"Game of Thrones" fans knew the prequel wouldn't be the same as the hit HBO show, but they weren't aware until recently it would be missing a key household.

HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel will return to the darkest days in the history of Westeros, when the Age of Heroes gave way to the Long Night. It’s an infamous time seeped in lore and myth, remembered only through legends, tall tales, and larger-than-life figures. All of the mystery makes it an appealing setting for a prequel series, because we don’t know what, if any, stories from that era are real or when they actually took place. And George R.R. Martin just made those possibilities even crazier, because he confirmed the timeline of Westeros is far more compact, and therefore far more interesting, than we thought.

The new prequel — one of five potential projects that stem from the original series — takes place before the events that have shaken "Game of Thrones" viewers in the current series. Author George R.R. Martin confirmed to Entertainment Weekly on Monday that it'll date back "closer to 5,000 years" instead of the rumored 10,000 years.

That means one of the famed household names from the original show won't be making an appearance this time around.

The two races lived together peacefully for roughly 2,000 years, during a legendary time period called the Age of Heroes. That era, full of seemingly conflicting, frequently impossible stories, saw some of the greatest Houses of Westeros come into power, as the Realm as we know it began to take shape. Monumental figures—possibly real, possibly fictional—lived during this era. That includes Bran the Builder and Lann the Clever, founders of House Stark and Lannister. (Read more about Bran’s incredible life and Lann’s mysterious subterfuge at our History of Thrones series.)

"Westeros is a very different place. There’s no King’s Landing. There’s no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens — Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built," Martin told the magazine. "We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series."


Martin told EW that the prequel series will take place 5,000 years before Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros. (For reference Game of Thrones takes place roughly 300 AC, “After the Conquest.”) Previously, the prequel series was thought to be set roughly 8,000 years earlier; this might not seem like a major change, but this is a stunning confirmation of a theory both fans and masters alike have long held. To understand this, you have to understand the previously accepted timeline in Westeros.

HBO president of programming Casey Bloys previously hinted the prequel would feel "very different" since it represents a different time in Westeros, though he added it would still have a classic "Game of Thrones" feel. He confirmed none of the actors from the original cast would appear in the new show.

Sometime between 8,000 and 6,000 BC, the world was cast into darkness during the first Long Night when the White Walkers invaded. Mankind was almost plunged into darkness, until the “last hero” Azor Ahai led men and Children to victory at the Battle for the Dawn. Shortly after the Wall was built by Bran the Builder, and a few years later a Night’s Watch Commander is said to have laid with a woman of pale skin and blue eyes. He is remembered by history as the Night King.

“The series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour,” HBO said in a statement to The New York Times back in June. “And only one thing is for sure: 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 … it’s not the story we think we know.”

Westerosi prehistory covers the time before the First Men came over from Essos, when the Children of the Forest and the Giants roamed the land. The First Men are thought to have come around 12,000 BC (“Before the Conquest”). For 2,000 years mankind is said to have fought with the Children, before the two sides agreed to a peace treaty known as The Pact, believed to have happened around 10,000 BC.

"Westeros is a very different place. …Were dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series."

This truncated timeline could have a major payoff for yet another spin-off too. Martin said the prequel won’t have dragons or Targaryens. The timeline is still messy, but it’s thought the Valyrian sheepherders didn’t find dragons until after the Long Night ended. What if the day ice was defeated in the West fire came to life in the East?

Marin said the updated timeline of the prequel, informally called "The Long Night," is "more realistic."

And if the Age of Heroes was much more recent than we thought, it’s possible prehistory was too. Maybe the Giants were still living in the mainland when the White Walkers came. Did they fight giant ice spiders? Were the Children of the Forest far more involved with mankind for far longer? Are the Reeds their human descendants?

"[Producer Jane Goldman is] going into territory that I haven’t explored very much in the books," Martin added. I’ve hinted about them. But she’s a major writer, I love her work."

It was recently revealed that actress Naomi Watts would have a lead role in the pilot episode. British actor and model Josh Whitehouse will also appear in the new show, Deadline confirmed.

And did Winterfell truly earn its name because it was built on the spot where the White Walkers were defeated? Did Azor Ahai win the Battle of the Dawn alongside Bran the Builder, on the land where the Starks then built their home? Is it called Winterfell because that is literally where winter fell?

Martin has noted there are still other possible prequels in "active development," and reiterated this particular prequel was picked up for a "pilot order" not a "series order."

"I can’t tell you the subject matter of those projects, no, sorry, wish I could," he said in late October, adding Goldman is currently "neck deep" in casting for the prequel.

This corrected timeline means those two moments might have happened much closer to each other than we ever thought, and that changes everything.

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” is set to debut in 2019.

IGN News / 20 Nov 2018 11:47 AM PST George R.R. Martin Is Mad He Hasnt Finished Winds of Winter Too Share. “I wished I finished it four years ago.” By Colin Stevens Though fans of George R.R. Martins novel cycle A Song of Ice and Fire are understandably mad about the long wait for the sixth installment, The Winds of Winter, Martin isnt too happy about it either.

In an interview with EW, after bing asked a question about Fire and Blood (a side book about the history of House Targaryen), he went into fans being upset that its been over seven years since the last novel in the cycle, A Dance With Dragons.

“I know there are a lot of people out there who are very angry with me that Winds of Winter isnt finished. And Im mad about that myself, said Martin. “I wished I finished it four years ago. I wished it was finished now. But its not. And Ive had dark nights of the soul where Ive pounded my head against the keyboard and said, God, will I ever finish this? The show is going further and further forward and Im falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here? Ive got to do this.”

“I just got the [Fire and Blood] copy and… Its been a long while since I had a new Westeros book and nobody knows that as well as I do. I know that just as much as the angriest of my hardcore fans. And I have continued to publish other things. Its not like Ive been on a seven-year vacation. I have Wild Cards books coming out every six months. But not like this, one thats entirely my writing. So to finish a book that Im proud of and excited by was emotionally a big lift for me.”

From the same interview, Martin revealed that The Long Night prequel HBO series will be set about 5,000 years prior to Game of Thrones, meaning many Houses, including House Targaryen, wont be present. HBO has notably cast Naomi Watts in a lead role for The Long Night, with Poldark star Josh Whitehouse cast in a key role.

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