Game of Thrones prequel set later than initially believed, but still no Targaryens or Dragons, George R. R. Martin reveals


You may have noticed George R. R. Martin is doing quite a lot of press lately, with the publication of Fire & Blood, his first volume on the history of House Targaryen. In a few of these interviews, he’s been more forthcoming than usual, revealing the upcoming prequel will be set later in the timeline than we originally thought, and suggesting that Aegon the Conqueror might have been preparing for the White Walkers all along.

EW‘s interview with Martin about the just released Fire & Blood is a wonderful read throughout, but it’s the prequel talk that got our attention the most. When asked about how different Westeros will look in the spin-off, reported to take place 10,000 before Game of Thrones, Martin begins by clarifying we shouldn’t take that date as gospel:

“‘10,000 years’ is mentioned in the novels,” he concedes. “But you also have places where maesters say, ‘No, no, it wasn’t 10,000, it was 5,000.’ Again, I’m trying to reflect real-life things that a lot of high fantasy doesn’t reflect. […] They’re still in the stage of ‘my grandfather told me and his grandfather told him.’ So I think it’s closer to 5,000 years.”

So there you have it! Showrunner Jane Goldman’s Long Night-set prequel will take place a mere five millennia before our main story. Getting back to the question, though, Martin agrees Westeros will look quite different: “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. We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series.” As for Goldman, Martin is full of praise: “[She] is a tremendous talent. She flew into Santa Fe and we spent a week talking about her ideas. She’s going into territory that I haven’t explored very much in the books. I’ve hinted about them. But she’s a major writer, I love her work.”

The interview’s got a few exciting tidbits for book readers as well, such as Martin admitting they may find more than a Targaryen retrospective in Fire & Blood—they may get hints as to the future of A Song of Ice and Fire that he says are “definitely important”, though of course he isn’t eager to share what they are: “I’m not going to flag them. Readers will have to find them and puzzle out whether they’re hints or red herrings.”

In the same vein, on the video above, exclusively published on Esquire, Martin lends credence to a popular theory about Aegon the Conqueror’s reason for taking Westeros and uniting it under his banner: “There is a lot of speculation that in some sense he saw what was coming 300 years later, and wanted to unify the Seven Kingdoms to be better prepared for the threat that he eventually saw coming from the north—the threat that we are dealing with in A Song of Ice and Fire,” Martin coyly suggests.

So, did Aegon the Conqueror see the White Walkers coming?


  1. I’m thrilled about this. North and Beyond, is my favorite subject.
    I don’t care much about the Targs and Dragons. But I do hope we will get Asshai. That’s very intriguing to me.

  2. The cinic in me wonders whether he is suggesting that his new book will contain clues for the last two books of ASOIAF merely to bump up sales. I hadn’t planned on reading it, but the suggestion it may contain clues is wheedling my resolve not to buy the book. I have too many books on my “to read” pile before adding another huge tome.

    It’s also not a surprise to me that the timeline ha shifted to a time when the Valyria was on the rise. For the show to properly inherit the themes of GOT, I feel it needs to span more than just Westeros and will likely include Essos and Valyria too. I have to say, I much prefer it that way.

    The ways in which they are going to present a drastically different period of time (as drastic as the difference between us and the ancient Egyptians), does intrigue me. I’m a bit wary, but feel I’ll probably have to suspend disbelief a little.

  3. Very possible Aegon to have been sees the drawings on that Dragonstone cave that the COTF carved in the rock..Maybe this have been his information about the upcoming threat of the WW and the motivation for his conquering of Westeros..for to have all those Houses united against the common enemy ..This is what Danny and Jon are trying to do now that the WW threat is a reality ..Aegons character and values reflects to them now ..George is hinting very well that Jon and Danny will become Azor[male] Ahai [female]and will united together for to face the common threat ..creating the Lightbringer/Prince That Was Promised ..aka their child..Thats just what i think about George hints there.

  4. Che:
    The cinic in me wonders whether he is suggesting that his new book will contain clues for the last two books of ASOIAF merely to bump up sales.

    Judging by what Elio said on, I would say so. Also, there is nothing in F&B to suggest this, or Aegon’s actions after he took the throne.

    I hadn’t planned on reading it, but the suggestion it may contain clues is wheedling my resolve not to buy the book. I have too many books on my “to read” pile before adding another huge tome.

    Ditto. 😀

  5. So basically the “time” and (what will be the true) events of the period will be the same but the time of the period is just not exactly correct. It was a long time ago in land not far away is generally what needs to be known.

  6. I wonder if he will finish Dunk & Egg before or after Fire and Blood 2, because it’s a bit the same period. I really want to know how they both died. I wonder if he will reveal that in Fire and Blood 2 or if he will be vague about that because he wants to reveal it in Dunk & Egg.
    And I also wonder if he will reveal more about the ancestors of the present non-Targaryen characters who are mentioned in Dunk & Egg.

  7. 1) Well, with just a 500-year gap, the storyline of a socialite with a secret sounds more feasible. With the previously reported timeline of 5000 years, someone posting earlier had mischievously asked if the prequel was before fire was invented. With 5000 years there was a risk that “the reality/look” would be so different it may not capture the same viewer base. I suppose the 7 kingdoms will have lots of infighting/competition both between them and within each kingdom.

    2) GRRM’s publishers are doing the right thing to market this book now – especially if it is just average. It is not only the holiday season it syncs with GOT getting its marketing going for the GOT holiday merchandise as well. And as the marketing for the new season also comes alive. Excellent time to have something related to this “same world” come out.

    3) It is not surprising there are no dragons in the prequel. They are expensive (we are told!) and HBO is not crazy – they must have considered the possibility of a less successful series. And anyway many of the current GOT fans find these dragons really boring/silly. Some love them but the cost/payoff may not be worth it.

  8. So far there has been no hints of Aegon’s making the Conquest about uniting Westeros against the Others.

    The books in fact told us a different tale. The Others were defeated by the first men and t, he children of the forest without dragons.

    Second. The NW decline started with the Targs conquest. Back in Aegon’s days the lord commander had 10000 swords at his call. Three hundred years later Jeor Mormont has less than 1000 men and only three castles manned. A millennial order reduced to nothing in three centuries.

    Besides, there’s already a Targ in the books fully involved in the fight against the Others and no, it’s not Jon.

  9. So it’s not 8,000 or 10,000 years, still, 5,000 years is a loooong time! It’s a long time considering that a Westerosi’s lifespan is similar to a human lifespan. I don’t expect the prequel to be visually rich. They’ll have to compensate for there being no fine linens, no sophisticated ironwork, no huge castles and no glasswork.

    The different tribes of the Freefolk should be interesting, though. I’d love for them to take it far out to the east past the Red Waste and the Bone Mountains. I want to see the Mountains of the Morn and the Shadow Lands. Anyway, seems they’ll stay in Westeros…which I don’t find especially interesting. Maybe they’ll change my mind…but I doubt it. Bring on the shit ‘n twigs.

  10. My city’s library has 82 copies of Fire & Blood, all of which are on hold, except 1. No digital copies, though.

  11. Anon: no huge castles

    If it’s during the life of Brandon the Builder Stark, like it sounds like it should be, then the castles should begin to take shape. I don’t think they’ll be in huts for the entirely of the series, if it last multiple seasons.

    I’m not convinced they’ll stick to just Westerosi land area either. Actually, I’m leaning more towards them not. What little we’ve had for casting hints seems to indicate a rather diverse group. As I’ve mentioned before in these prequel threads, The Long Night covered their entire world so it wouldn’t be surprising if they had other locations.

  12. Clob,

    It would help to make it more interesting and offer more diversity of characters. Everyone in a different straw and sticks house. Wearing different color loincloths.

  13. Mango,

    And I meant everyone in the story will be basic not just the other lands. Even the Westerosi will be in loincloths and stick homes.

  14. Mango,

    There were many civilizations quite relevant. There’s the ghiscari empire with his legions. The precursors of the unsullied.

    Then there is the Empire of Dawn who dwarfed valyria. And many tales in essos speak of how this empire faced the long night. It was saved by the hero Hirkoon who wielded a sword called lightbringer.

    And depending on the time frame we may see the Boltons and Starks at full war. We may see the Iron born raving Westeros. Maybe Lann the clever taking Casterly Rock from the Casterly.

    There are many possibilities.

  15. Eonwe,

    Sounds fascinating! I do not know much on the history. But I see you are suggesting this might be interesting!

    And I wanted to say thanks for your comment on GRRM’s remarks that the Targs came to help organize for the Others. It does not make sense to me and your comment gave a well informed response. GRRM is playing games, I think.

    The Targs came 300 years early and made no attempt to set up defensive lines with their dragons along or beyond the wall. They do not reinforce the NW. The dragons die. They arrive then kill and conquer the Westerosi and take no action directed at the Others.

    My thought was that he was implying that Daenerys’ real purpose was to fight the Others. Of course, I also already thought that so may be that is why I am thinking that is what he is implying. Confirmation bias…..

  16. Mango,

    We won’t see people in loincloth. The Long Night was a winter that spanned a whole generation. People were born in winter and die of old age knowing only winter.

    The first men wielded bronze weapons and armors and built stone forts in circular shapes.

    The wall was built right after the long night and is a remarkable architectural work.

    Then we have Winterfell and Storm’s End. The oldest castle of Westeros built by Brandon the builder. Or so the legends say.

  17. Mango,

    Of course Dany’s purpose since A Clash of Kings is to fight the Others. We have those vision in the House of the Undiying.

    But we also have another Targ who is already preparing against the Others. Bloodraven.

    About the hints of Fire and Blood. Alysanne leaked part tell us much. Her dragon refused or was unwilling to cross the wall to the north.

    We know that the Wall has spells who stop the Others, wights and Cold Hands to cross it.

    Ice (the lands of always winter) cannot cross this magic barrier. But neither can fire (the dragons from the lands of the long summer).

    That’s quite telling.

  18. Mango,

    I would expect wildlings furs and maybe bronze armors like those who wears the Thenns in the books. Maybe we’ll see the bronze armor of the Royces?

    In Essos we may see something different. Maybe iron weapons and armours. Valkyria it’s still in her beginnings. The two powers are the empires of dawn and ghiscari. Then we have the andals who still lived in Essos and the rhoynar living across the Rhoyne.

    None of the free cities exist. The dothraki haven’t crossed the mountains and the sarnor cities rules the lands that the dothraki later would claim.

  19. I remember that he said several years ago that Fire and Blood will be published after Dream of Spring.

    And here we are, with Fire and Blood even before The Winds of Winter. And it’s only part 1. Lol

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  20. Eonwe,

    The big point of the prequel is it’s revealing truths to the story (ASOIAF) we think we know. History aka “his story,” is told by the victors, the rulers. There will be some facts that get turned on their heads. It shouldn’t stop the enjoyment of the current story, though. Those people are acting on what they know.

  21. Clob,

    From your lips to the gods’ ears. And yeah, I imagine there’ll be castles but with pretty basic structures, maybe like the broken tower that Bran fell from? The Wall is some impressive engineering. I wonder if he built low scaffolding then filled it with water, let it freeze, then built scaffolding on top of that, and so on. I have a feeling there was only a tiny bit of magic involved, but lots of hard work by smallfolk. I hope they cover that, and that they do go all over the world map.

  22. Eonwe,

    Sounds right; but Winterfell was probably a simple “fort”, like you say, maybe with the underground passages. Most of the stuff we see is probably later additions.

  23. Mango: What was the light like during the long winter? Sounds cold and dark.

    I know, right? It’ll take technical mastery to depict that cold, primitive, colourless world onscreen. I’m sure they’re up to the task, I just can’t quite see it yet.

  24. I’d love it, if they go ahead and make that miniseries (or series), “Valyria”, if they’d touch upon this issue. Maybe the Valyrians knew all along that the events in “A Song Of Ice And Fire” may come to pass someday and trasnferred that information through generations. It would be interesting to follow-up on this idea about Aegon The Conqueror trying to prepare the Seven Kingdoms for the eventual onslaught of the White Walkers we are due to see next year in the last season of “Game Of Thrones”…

    Could it be that the Doom Of Valyria was brought on by the Night King and The Others, trying to strike a pre-emptive blow against the only people that had the power to stop him?! It’s clear that the dragons, the White Walkers and the magic that powers them must be linked aka the same thing that keeps Jon Snow’s and Beric’s batteries going as well as animates the Night King and White Walkers…etc
  25. Jane Goldman would be wise to forge her own path. I’d very much like to see the Targaryens and the dragons that come with them but at the same time, what an interesting world to explore. To banish(not entirely defeat) the white walkers without help from the dragons is so interesting and I can’t wait to see how they did it, I know we got pieces of info on how it went down but to see it unfold through their perspective and not through someone else’s and also countless years of misinformation, now that would be a delight.

    Also looking back Daenerys’ dragons(aside from the fact that they’re back into the world after 300 years) they didn’t drive or affect the narrative till late S3 or early into S4. Plus HBO is smart to separate the ‘Fire’ of ASOIAF, if they decide to move forward with the Doom of Valyria prequel series then that could come after this one which is mostly ‘Ice’.

  26. loco73,

    Explained already by Septon Barth in AWOIAF. The 14 flames were controlled by valyrians spells and when they failed “KABOOM” those volcanoes at the same time.

    An I doubt that Valyria was preparing for another Long Night. Valyria is Martin’s Númenor. And empire that it’s corrupted and falls. The valyrians conquered new lands everytime they run short of slave’s for mining the 14 flames. That’s why the andals went to Westeros seeking to scape the Dragon lords.

  27. The Dothraki say that Ghost Grass will take over all the other grass in the world and that’s how the world will end. There’s “Ghost Grass” labelled on the world map, on the shores of the “Shadow lands”. I always thought that Ghost grass sounded like White walkers. Mountains of the Morn is also fitting… And those Five Forts are like the Wall. And, why does the Shadow Lands look all blackened like Valyria, as if a volcano erupted out there, or something.

  28. Eonwe,

    Years ago (I’m interested in history but not an expert) I went to a talk about henges and the speaker said remains (as in rotted bottoms of pieces of wood underground) had been found of wooden henges. Of course they (the wooden hinges) didn’t last above ground so we got “Stone Henge” rather than “Wood Henge” – as a comedian in the audience remarked. (Mentioning this because of the remark about possible primitive stone forts).

  29. Because I’ve been on the planet er-um a goodly while the mention of “Valyria” makes me think sometimes of the character “Valeria” in a parody of a horror film when I was even younger than I am now Carry on Screaming. The late Fenella Fielding played Valeria. I’ve said before FF reminded me a little of the actress who played “Vanessa” in Penny Dreadful though of course FF didn’t have problems with a British accent being British – that may have been one of the reasons I couldn’t take PD seriously – I kept thinking of Carry on Screaming.

  30. Che,

    All his books in the world of Westeros have many clues .. like dunk and egg stories and world of ice and fire! Also the series themselves have lots of clues ( brans visions, patch face, similar wording for things to connect them etc) it’s nothing new and has nothing to do with bumping up prices!

  31. Eonwe:

    Explained already by Septon Barth in AWOIAF. The 14 flames were controlled by valyrians spells and when they failed “KABOOM” those volcanoes at the same time.

    An I doubt that Valyria was preparing for another Long Night. Valyria is Martin’s Númenor. And empire that it’s corrupted and falls. The valyrians conquered new lands everytime they run short of slave’s for mining the 14 flames. That’s why the andals went to Westeros seeking to scape the Dragon lords.

    Like I remember all of that…it’s already been years since I read it…

  32. Very, very interesting that Alysanne’s dragon wouldn’t cross the Wall. So the events of the “wight hunt” will happen differently? I can’t decide if Stannis becomes the NK & brings down the Wall at the Nightfort or if Euron undergoes a “dragonglass procedure” to become a “God” with a limitless army that will always follow his command? If Euron, I can see a scenario where he uses the Horn to claim his dragon & brings down the Wall at Eastwatch (similar to the show) to let his army through.

    Or how about a combination of the two? Stannis becomes the Night King at the Nightfort & ventures out North of the Wall to rally his army. Euron claims a dragon and kills Young Griff. Thus becoming the 3rd dragon head in his mind. He joins the Jon & Dany coalition in a hope to woo Dany. They go on the rescue mission to Hardhome or the wight hunt (either or a combination could work).

    Euron & his dragon (Viserion) are brought down by Stannis (The Night King) over the sea, just outside of Eastwatch, on the return trip. They had to take the Dragons over the sea because they wouldn’t cross the Wall… To everyone’s horror, they see Stannis/the Night King raise Viserion from the sea. Thus we have our prophecy fulfilled of a great stone beast breathing shadow fire, rising from the sea by a smoking tower… The Night King proceeds to burn down Eastwatch & the Wall just like in the show…

    Too tinfoil?

  33. Aegon the Icedragon,

    There is no Night King in the books. No Other commanding the rest.

    Book Night King is a legend about one of the earlier LC of the Watch. He found a female other North of the wall and slept with her, giving her his soul. Then he named himself King of the Wall and ruled until the Stark king of the era and Joramun, the king beyond the wall, joined forces and defeated him.

    The wall will fall differently and I doubt we’ll see a Wight Hunt in the books.

  34. Alba:
    I’m thrilled about this. North and Beyond, is my favorite subject.
    I don’t care much about the Targs and Dragons. But I do hope we will get Asshai. That’s very intriguing to me.

    I am with you here, I am not concerned about the dragons or even the Targs. This news gets me more excited for the prequel based upon that too.

  35. Eonwe,

    I know there isn’t a NK in the books yet or maybe never will be. In that case D&D took it upon themselves to make a “big bad guy” to give Jon a direct nemesis. How do you think GRRM responded to that? We got a glimpse of the NK early on in the show, when GRRM still was more directly involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if he told D&D that there would be a new NK. They just took a different path to revealing him than GRRM will do in the books. My money is on Stannis or Euron. And I can see either bringing down the Wall. Whether via Horn or Dragon. I don’t know how it could be done (maybe through Mel) but I’d love to see a POV from within the Others.

  36. …D&D took it upon themselves to make a “big bad guy”…

    The show, since it will soon come to an end (zing!), of necessity has a smaller and shorter narrative than do the books. Creating a single “big bad guy” helps the viewer understand the White Walkers / wights / Army of The Dead are an implacably evil and destructive force. They cannot be treated with, they cannot made to go away by mere force of arms.

    GRRM has yet to show otherwise in the books, but he may not have a Night King of his own; his Others may be more like the Borg, a collective with no single leader. I doubt very much he will give any Other a P.O.V. treatment, but who knows? That could be amazing!

  37. Tensor the Mage, Not Exactly King of Night Vision Himself,

    Yeah, I have my doubts about GRRM giving us a NK as well. Especially an Other POV which I agree would be amazing. I just keep coming back to that Dany vision of facing a blue eyed king who cast no shadow and his army armored in ice (or something like that) at the Trident. Now GRRM has warned us not to trust prophecy but that one seems very telling with some serious foreshadowing. We’ll just have to wait and see (if ever) what surprises GRRM still has in store for us.

    My personal wish is for Mel to have a crisis of confidence and somehow get turned to the side of Ice. Her internal struggle with the change could be very intriguing and could even grant us some reasonings for why the Others do what they do. We may find that they’re not purely evil. What if there was a pact made (a bride or King promised) that actually ended the Long Night and they are returning to collect on that debt? Still a lot of amazing potential stories to tell in the books.

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