It took a few days, but George R. R. Martin has finally commented on the news of the greenlit prequel pilot based on his expansive world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin goes on to give us an update on his work on the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter. You probably learned not to get too excited about such updates a long time ago (let’s just say you will, yet again, not be disappointed in your disappointment), but he also reveals the fate of the other spin-offs in development. There are a few surprises there!
On his newly revamped Not a Blog, Martin expands on the setting and possible titles of the greenlit pilot. His suggestion confirms our suspicions about its specific setting, based on the reported early synopsis, which pointed us to the darkest era in the Age of Heroes: the Long Night. And that’s exactly the title Martin would choose!
This one really puts the PRE in prequel, since it is set not ninety years before GAME OF THRONES (like Dunk & Egg), or a few hundred years, but rather ten thousand years (well, assuming the oral histories of the First Men are accurate, but there are maesters at the Citadel who insist it has only been half that long). We’re very early in the process, of course, with the pilot order just in, so we don’t have a director yet, or a cast, or a location, or even a title. (My vote would be THE LONG NIGHT, which says it all, but I’d be surprised if that’s where we end up. More likely HBO will want to work the phrase “game of thrones” in there somewhere. We’ll know sooner or later).
As for the production itself, Martin is quick to praise the accomplished Jane Goldman, who will pen the pilot and serve as showrunner if the series is picked up; and just as quick to make it clear his involvement is purely advisory, at least for the time being. Of course, the reason Martin can’t be more involved in this show, or the later Game of Thrones seasons for that matter, is that he’s still hard at work on the sixth book:
All of the news stories about the pilot being greenlit are slapping my own picture up there next to Jane’s, which is very flattering but also a little misleading. […] I’ve consulted with all of the writers on all of the successor shows, and several of them have visited me in Santa Fe for long days of discussion, and we’ve gone back and forth in email, text, and telephone, so I have definitely been involved… but really, the accolades here should go to Jane. She has been an absolute thrill to work with… and my god, what a talent.
[…] (And yes, before you ask, work on WINDS OF WINTER continues, and remains my top priority. It is ridiculous to think otherwise. If I wasn’t busy with WINDS, don’t you think I’d be scripting one or more of these pilots myself? It’s not as if I’ve never written for TV…)
As for the other “successor shows”, as Martin refers to them, they haven’t been shelved just because Goldman’s was greenlit for a pilot… or not all of them have, at any rate:
[Y]ou know that we started with four [shows], and eventually went to five. One of those has been shelved, I am given to understand, and of course Jane’s pilot is now moving to film. But that does not mean the others are dead. Three more GAME OF THRONES prequels, set in different periods and featuring different characters and storylines, remain in active development. Everything I am told indicates that we could film at least one more pilot, and maybe more than one, in the years to come. We do have an entire world and tens of thousands of years of history to play with, after all. But this is television, so nothing is certain.
Though it seems unlikely that HBO would want several Game of Thrones prequels on air at the same time, it’s good to know this wasn’t a “There can only be one” situation. There may have been a competition for which one of the five shows in development got into production first, and one of them may have been shelved, but there are still three other stories in this world which may get to be told some day. If you were disappointed by the Long Night setting of Goldman’s pilot, perhaps your preferred one is yet to come!