If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’re probably equal parts thrilled and devastated that the series will reach its epic conclusion in 2019. Thankfully, there’s solace to be found in the fact that the creators have already green lit a much discussed prequel, tentatively referred to as The Long Night. It’s been a bumpy road to confirming the pilot – with five different potential spin-offs considered – and the final storyline is markedly different from expected. To begin with, it takes place 8,000 years before Game of Thrones – generations before the Targaryens and their dragons came onto the scene.
So, what will the focus of the plot be? So far, it’s only been confirmed that it will take place during the Age of Heroes. A short recap for those who are less familiar with George R. R. Martin’s universe: this epoch in Westerosi history spanned nearly four millennia, beginning with a peace treaty between the Children of the Forest and the First Men (the ancestors of both the Northmen and wildlings) and ending with the Andals conquering most of Westeros and introducing the God of Seven. It’s usually referenced in Game of Thrones for one of two reasons: it’s when the White Walkers were created (as seen in one of Bran Stark’s flashbacks) and the era of the Long Night, a winter that lasted for an entire generation and brought the Walkers south.
Not surprisingly, the key characters in this period of Martin’s mythology tend to be heroes – including Bran the Builder and Lann the Clever, whose descendants founded House Stark and House Lannister, respectively. It’s also worth noting that magical creatures were omnipresent during this period of Westerosi history – from wizards known as Greenseers to armies of giants – so expect many more fantastical twists in the prequel’s storyline. Diehard Game of Thrones fan should prepare themselves for plenty of surprises, with HBO teasing: “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.”
Where the series will resemble Game of Thrones, however, is in its ensemble cast, which will be led by a number of strong female characters. It was recently confirmed that Oscar-nominated actress Naomi Watts will play a key role in the form of a “charismatic socialite” with a terrible secret. Also appearing will be Burberry model Josh Whitehouse, best known as Hugh Armitage in Poldark. So far, no details have been released about his character in the series, but stay tuned as the pilot goes into production. As for who’s developing the show? George R. R. Martin has joined forces with Kingsman: The Golden Circle’s Jane Goldman to write and produce, so the drama is in safe hands.