Information about HBO’s still-untitled Game of Thrones prequel series has been slowly emerging over the past several months, and we’ve been poring over casting announcements and picking through statements from A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin like a maester at the Citadel. But thankfully, Martin has just revealed some concrete details about the upcoming show that give us a better idea of what to expect when the premium channel returns to Westeros.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin gave a quick rundown of some basic aspects of the upcoming prequel.
Let’s start with the most interesting details. Westeros was divided into seven kingdoms on Game of Thrones (technically it was down to six by the time the finale concluded), but during the time of this prequel, which is set about 5,000 years before the events of the original show, Martin says the continent is split into about 100 kingdoms:
“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.”
A land with so many kingdoms may indicate more political intrigue could be on our way, as more lords and ladies are presumably going to be jostling for power. It could also hint at more action: more kingdoms in such a tight space may easily lead to war.
Though no specific characters from the original Game of Thrones will appear in this prequel, Martin confirmed that the Stark family will be a part of this series, which makes sense. The Starks are one of the oldest houses in all of Westeros, and they were the only house specifically mentioned by name in the official synopsis of this prequel. We’ve been wondering if the show would feature any members of the Lannister clan, but Martin said they aren’t around at this point in Westerosi history:
“The Lannisters aren’t there yet, but Castlery Rock is certainly there; it’s like the Rock of Gibraltar. It’s actually occupied by the Casterlys — for whom it’s still named after in the time of Game of Thrones.”
According to the lore of Martin’s novels, House Lannister was founded by someone named Lann the Clever, who managed to swindle Casterly Rock away from House Casterly in the most ludicrous way possible. Here’s an excerpt from the A Song of Ice and Fire wiki:
Stories differ in the method by which Lann took Casterly Rock from House Casterly. In the most common version, Lann, having stripped naked and coated himself in butter, squeezed through a secret cleft in the stone. Once inside he confused the sleeping Casterlys by whispering threats, howling like a demon, stealing treasures from one brother and placing them in the bedchamber of another, and rigging traps. Thus, he set the Casterlys at odds with one another and convinced them their seat was haunted.
In another version of the tale, Lann used the cleft to fill the Rock with mice, rats, and other vermin to drive the Casterlys out. In yet another he smuggled inside a pride of lions, which devoured Lord Casterly and his sons. Lann then claimed the lord’s wife and daughters for himself. In the most notorious tale, Lann had his way with Casterly maidens while they slept, and nine months later the women gave birth to golden-haired children while insisting they had never slept with a man.
I really hope that first version is the one they choose to go with if they end up depicting this event in the prequel. Not just because the rape-y version wouldn’t be very fun to watch, but because the idea of a naked, butter-drenched dude sprinting through the halls and tricking people into thinking they’re being haunted sounds incredible.
In addition to the Starks (and maybe eventually the Lannisters), Martin says the new show will include White Walkers (which are referred to as “The Others” in his books), direwolves, and mammoths. He also pointed out that, like Game of Thrones before it, this show will also rely on an ensemble cast instead of focusing on a few leads.
This series will be overseen by showrunner Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass), who co-created this prequel with Martin. Here’s the official synopsis from HBO: the show “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.”
Filming is already underway in Northern Ireland, but no premiere date has been set yet.
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