George R.R. Martin shares his thoughts on the Game of Thrones spin-off discussion

MartinWhile showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have currently nixed it, and HBO programming president Michael Lombardo gave a flat-out “No” to the idea, rumors and ideas for a potential Game of Thrones spin-off still surround the series. Due to the discussions, Entertainment Weekly reached out to A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin to get his input on the possibility of spin-off.

According to EW, the author confirms that “there have been no meaningful discussions about what projects might follow Game of Thrones.”

However, Martin did offer his own opinion on what spin-off might work, if one is made in the future. The author reportedly told EW, “The most natural follow-up would be an adaptation of my Dunk & Egg stories.”

The Dunk & Egg novellas tell the story of a poor hedge knight and a mysterious boy who becomes his squire, and of their adventures traveling around Westeros many years before the time of Game of Thrones.

“Each of the novellas could easily be done as a two-hour stand-alone movie for television; that would probably be the ideal way to do them, rather than as an ongoing weekly series,” Martin tells EW.The Hedge Knight & and its sequels are lighter [in tone] than A Song of Ice and Fire, more in the realm of action/adventure.”

Though HBO and the showrunners are denying a spin-off or connected show at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising if another series from the Westeros world was commissioned eventually. Despite its pedigree, Vinyl isn’t the hit HBO was hoping for, and HBO’s Sunday nights will be barren in a couple years when Game of Thrones signs off for good.

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    1. This is nothing he hasn’t said already or that HBO hasn’t said already; they’ve conversationally gone, “hey, maybe we can do prequels after this is over?” — Martin said “I dunno”, and HBO + D&D said “there’s no way in hell we could start production on a second series while the first one is still under production, we’re nearly killing ourselves producing 10 episodes of “Westeros material” per year, one way or another.

      Part of me kind of hopes they could have an ongoing Dunk & Egg miniseries/series of TV movies of a sort. Add in other stuff.

      There are currently three novellas and Martin said he planned roughly 12 in all.

      But like, there are time jumps, and stuff happens “off screen” between the first and second when they spend time in Dorne — the Great Spring Sickness happens entirely “off-screen” in the novels; basically their version of the Black Death which ravages Westeros. So maybe they could show a bit more off-screen material.

      Personally, I want a five season long Dance of the Dragons prequel — like, years from now, after Dunk & Egg.

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    2. Right. His other unfinished series. Those three novellas are hardly a season worth of material -hence why he says they would work better as movies instead of an ongoing weekly series.
      So a six-hours follow-up to Thrones? Don’t bother.

      I’d prefer a Fevre Dream adaptation.

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    3. I’m probably in the minority, but I’d prefer the ‘Dunk and Egg’ tales to a Robert’s Rebellion prequel. But as it stands, there are only 3 of them.

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    4. I’ll die laughing if HBO makes a “Dunk and Egg” series and get to She-Wolves of Winterfell before George does.

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    5. I would really enjoy seeing an adaptation of Dunk and Egg, although I don’t know how that would play with critics and general audiences.

      Kinda wish they would go back to the times of the first men, andal invasions, first long night, etc. Those periods are so undocumented that viewers, even booker reader fans, wouldn’t know what was going to happen with the characters or the major events. You could essentially create your own world and your own story to be told, with the end point being whatever the writers and producers decide. You could still have you own various set of characters that you follow throughout the series.
      With many of the prequel ideas, while I would love to see them adapted as well, you wouldn’t get that freshness of the story and world building, and you would know the general fates of all the major characters. I guess they would face the same pitfalls of any other prequel series.

      I especially dont see them doing Roberts Rebellion, at least not as an entire series to itself.

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    6. Dunk and Egg would be enjoyable, I’d like that.

      I really hope we don’t get a Robert’s Rebellion adaptation, it’s much better as it is, woven into the narrative of the show.

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    7. D&E really only works as movies, not as a series. Could be great fun though, kind of like “A knight’s tale” in Westeros

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    8. I’d go for “The Princess and the Queen”, GRRM’s novella about the Targaryen civil war called the “Dance of the Dragons” 170 years before GoT.

      It has everything:
      betrayal, lots of intrigue, plot twists, interesting characters, wars, battles, all kinds of dragon fights, and more death and blood loss than GoT.

      Only one thing it has not: a happy ending.
      The few characters that survive are physically and mentally broken.
      This might be a problem for some watchers. ^^

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    9. Dragonwolf:
      Only one thing it has not: a happy ending.
      The few characters that survive are physically and mentally broken.
      This might be a problem for some watchers. ^^

      Hey, Cregan Stark does pretty well for himself.

      Ron Snow:
      I would really enjoy seeing an adaptation of Dunk and Egg, although I don’t know how that would play with critics and general audiences.

      I don’t see why it wouldn’t be popular. They’re fun adventure stories. People who favour the more cynical/nihilistic interpretations of ASOIAF would probably be annoyed, I guess, since GRRM makes his idealism a lot more apparent in D&E. The unfinished nature of the property would present adaptational challenges, though, particularly in that you’d never be able to do later stories with the character without recasting.

      Kinda wish they would go back to the times of the first men, andal invasions, first long night, etc. Those periods are so undocumented that viewers, even booker reader fans, wouldn’t know what was going to happen with the characters or the major events. You could essentially create your own world and your own story to be told, with the end point being whatever the writers and producers decide. You could still have you own various set of characters that you follow throughout the series.
      With many of the prequel ideas, while I would love to see them adapted as well, you wouldn’t get that freshness of the story and world building, and you would know the general fates of all the major characters. I guess they would face the same pitfalls of any other prequel series.

      I think the big issue there is that if they were greenlighting a spinoff they’d want to be able to make use of the familiar houses, iconography, etc. Go too far back and your ability to capitalize on the success of GOT is pretty limited.

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    10. ore,

      Veep and Silicon Valley are comedies. HBO’s doing reasonably well on that front. That article is more referring to HBO’s recent issues with developing drama series. No hour-long drama series that they’ve launched since Game of Thrones debuted in 2011 has become a real hit. The first season of True Detective was probably the closest, but then the second season declined in both ratings and critical acclaim. Its future is currently up in the air – no one knows if and when it will return.

      Westworld has been mired in development hell for years. That show was ordered to series in the fall of 2014 with the announcement that it would air in 2015, but it never did, and it still doesn’t have a premiere date (though HBO claims it will air this year). If you read the stories about the nightmares that production has gone through, it’s strains credulity. That’s a shame, because the premise sounds amazing and what little footage we’ve seen looks great. Hopefully it will air one day.

      The Leftovers had an extremely polarizing first season before recovering with a second season that was widely acclaimed. However, the ratings took a nosedive, and while it was renewed, the upcoming third season will be its last.

      HBO was banking big on Vinyl being its next massive hit drama series. But reviews were lukewarm, it debuted to under a million viewers (terrible, considering how expensive that show was), and eventually the showrunner was let go.

      And that’s not even counting all the problems that HBO has had with projects like Steve McQueen’s Codes of Conduct and a Lewis & Clark miniseries that made it deep into production before they were shut down. Right now, in the drama pipeline, HBO basically just has The Deuce, which is a David Simon project (The Wire, Treme, Show Me a Hero) starring James Franco. All of David Simon’s shows have been critically acclaimed – but none of them have drawn large viewership numbers. HBO’s hoping this will break the mold.

      Basically, Game of Thrones is almost single-handedly keeping HBO’s drama slate afloat right now. Luckily, as the most-watched series in the network’s history, critically acclaimed, and now an Emmy juggernaut, it covers a lot of holes. But if it’s going to end in the next two years, then HBO needs to create a new drama hit that can replace it – and they need to do it fast.

      That’s probably part of the reason why the potential for a spinoff set in the same world is so attractive.

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    11. Jared,

      The Dark Tower would have been nice at HBO….but you are right, they need a new series…

      They have had a hello of a run; Game of Thrones, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome, The Sopranos….

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    12. If HBO needs a replacement for GoT … There’s two finished epic fantasy sagas that could work if the licensing issues can be worked out.

      The Dark Tower cycle by Stephen King, or Wheel of Time by the late Robert Jordan & Brandon Stephenson.

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    13. Jared:
      ore,

      HBO was banking big on Vinyl being its next massive hit drama series. But reviews were lukewarm, it debuted to under a million viewers (terrible, considering how expensive that show was), and eventually the showrunner was let go.

      Basically, Game of Thrones is almost single-handedly keeping HBO’s drama slate afloat right now. Luckily, as the most-watched series in the network’s history, critically acclaimed, and now an Emmy juggernaut, it covers a lot of holes. But if it’s going to end in the next two years, then HBO needs to create a new drama hit that can replace it – and they need to do it fast.

      I’m not surprised “Vinyl” ratings were low. IMHO, it rates as the biggest pile of shit ever from HBO. Full of coke snorting morons and low life dickheads! No idea how it was an expensive series to make? Probably most of that was the fee paid to Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter! No idea either why HBO has renewed it for a second season with such low ratings 🙁

      HBO have a winner with GoT and ought to spin it out with prequels or other stories from GRRM such as Dunk and Egg, the Targaryen dragon wars, etc.

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    14. If you want good look at (GOT, Black Sail, The Tutors and Vikings) that type of show sells (Rome) could have gone on a long time had it been done now.

      The fantasy adventure shows work because they captivate an Audience that spans many generations of people, even the old swash buckling shows did well. If HBO wants to keep Milking the Westeros World they should IMO look at is The Beginning perhaps The first men or Valyrian start to destruction then the Conquest of Westeros.

      If they wanted to get away from GOT I would look at Andre Norton-Dragon series.

      I think people like this type of show because its fresh each time vs the remakes Hollywood keeps spitting out.

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    15. How about GRRM finish writing the Dunk and Egg stories before he sells them to HBO? That would be nice, albeit a complete fantasy.

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    16. Chuck,

      The Dark Tower would have been great at HBO. But yeah, now that they’re making the movie with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, it seems that ship has sailed. I have high hopes for the film, however.

      HBO hasn’t been making shows for as long as some networks, but personally I think they have the best library of great dramas (and comedies) of any channel. If I could only watch one network’s catalog for the rest of my life, it would be HBO. Game of Thrones has a lot to do with that, of course, but so do all the other shows you named, and many more besides.

      They’ll be all right. With exception of Game of Thrones, they’re just in a bit of a dry spell right now, hit-wise. But they were in the same boat after The Sopranos ended, and they made out OK.

      Josh L,

      Aren’t the adaptation rights to The Wheel of Time held by some two-bit company that doesn’t have the capacity to make the series? Red Eagle Entertainment, I believe it is. I seem to recall that they aired some god-awful joke of a pilot on FXX a few years ago – in the dead of night with absolutely no promotion – solely so that they could hold on to the rights before they reverted to the original holders. It only covered part of the prologue, and Billy Zane was involved.

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/fxx-pilot-airing-at-130-773110

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    17. Black Raven: I’m not surprised “Vinyl” ratings were low. IMHO, it rates as the biggest pile of shit ever from HBO.Full of coke snorting morons and low life dickheads!No idea how it was an expensive series to make? Probably most of that was the fee paid to Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter!No idea either why HBO has renewed it for a second season with such low ratings

      HBO have a winner with GoT and ought to spin it out with prequels or other stories from GRRM such as Dunk and Egg, the Targaryen dragon wars, etc.

      Music licensing fees, probably. And paying all of that top-of-the-line talent. And period piece production values.

      As for why Vinyl was renewed … pretty much every HBO show gets a virtually automatic second-season renewal, regardless of the ratings. Part of that is because it’s a way to amortize costs after so much was spent on development. I guess it also helps them project an aura of success and delineate them from the broadcast networks, which – until recently – had no problems yanking new shows from the air after only a few episodes).

      In the case of Vinyl, I’ve heard that a lot of the people involved had pay-or-play contracts. I don’t know if that’s actually the case, but if it’s true, they were going to get paid an exorbitant amount of money even if HBO canceled the show. HBO might as well pay them that money to make a season of television, and see if they can salvage something from the show under new management.

      HBO has only had a few true one-and-done shows in their history. John From Cincinnati and Tell Me You Love come to mind. Shows like Luck and The Brink only aired one season, but actually received second-season orders … only to later have those orders rescinded at a later date. In the case of Luck, it was allegedly because too many horses died during the filming of the show. I don’t know what happened with The Brink. Maybe HBO just didn’t have that much confidence in where the show was going. Theoretically, they could do the same with Vinyl if the second season doesn’t turn out well. But my guess is they’ll let it air for a year or two more, then shuffle it off the air quietly. Like The Newsroom.

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    18. A Robert’s Rebellion mini series is the most logical spin off. You could do it in 6 or 8 episodes. I am amazed it’s not already in the works.

      Dunk & Egg would be cool I guess.

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    19. Robert’s Rebellion happens too close to the events of the show and we know too much about it and obv the fates of the major characters for it to be worth doing imo. Maybe something could be made of Dunk and Egg, but HBO would again face a situation where they’d catch up with GRRM and end having to go ‘off book’ if they wanted to keep making a show or movies with it.

      I don’t expect this to be a popular idea, but I think the way to do it would be to jump forward about 50 years from where GoT ends. That would let HBO maintain some continuity with the show (keeping the House sigils, re-using some of the costume designs, sets, etc.), while not being completely hemmed in by the events in the show like a prequel series would. You could even have a few characters from GoT still kicking around in their old age if you wanted.

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    20. Robert’s Rebellion would be a bad idea for a new show — that story is woven into GoT/ASOIAF; more is revealed of the past as you go forward; a prequel would do nothing more than tick boxes. Like the Clone Wars from Star Wars I think it’d be a mistake to ever show at length. Some things are better left in the imagination.

      Dunk and Egg I’d be very intrigued to see, but the series is unfinished and HBO would simply end up fulfilling GRRM’s work for him (again).

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    21. Yeah, he’s right, Dunk and Egg would work in a movie form, but that’s not how you get a success on the size of Game of Thrones. You need to add the political intrigue surrounding the Targaryens and while the stories have it, it’s very difficult to understand for a regular watcher, because the characters change from each story to the next. I don’t know, it’s difficult to make.

      The Robert Rebellion idea is stupid. While the story is amazing, we’ll know all the secrets, all the deaths after the ending of Game of Thrones… who wants that?? While it would be cool to see a young Ned, Robert, Cersei, Rhaegar… it would get old very fast.

      What other option? The Dance of the Dragons… It’s interesting but it has a huge problem: all the main players are horrible, unlikable people. GOT is nothing to the crimes of that civil war, if you read the Princess and the Queen, you end up hating everyone :)). So, it would need huge rewrites… the story as we have it now is mainly a lot of battles, you can’t afford something like that.

      Aegon’s conquest doesn’t work, because you know which houses survive, you know he wins… at least with that civil war, they’re all Targaryen 🙂 any of them could win.

      Prequels are very hard to make.

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    22. “…with many more planned.” … Thank you for a good laugh in the morning EW. Unless GRRM is the Highlander, D&E series is not going past the current three books if Martin wants to finish ASoIaF.

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    23. Robert’s Rebellion – No. GoT viewers will already know the story. Who wins, who loses, who survives, who dies, most of the hows and whys as well. So, no. Not interesting enough for a big audience outside the fervent ASOIAF fans – many of who might not like it anyway because it doesn’t agree with their headcanon.

      Dunk & Egg – 3 novellas out of planned 12 finished so far. Need I say more? 😀 I like the stories but they lack the scope and depth, the intrigue and brutality of GoT. They’re nice little snapshots of Westerosi history, told from the sidelines. Nice “background reading” for any ASOIAF fan, but I doubt they’d interest the mainstream HBO viewer enough. (I personally would love to see Dunk & Egg.)

      Dance of the Dragons – I haven’t read the stories but have spoiled myself by watching the History & Lore animations and general interwebby spoilage. GoT has had a couple of references (Shireen reading!) but not spoiled it like Robert’s Rebellion to the casual viewer. OK, this has intrigue and brutality, but the scope is still a Targaryean civil war in the Seven Kingdoms. No Essos dimension, no White Walker Long Night end-of-the-world ice apocalypse threat. And, as someone above pointed out, all the main protagonists are petty horrible people. Plus lots and lots of expensive CGI dragons.

      CotF/First Men/First Long Night/Andal invasion – material scattered throughout the main ASOIAF series plus The World of Ice and Fire “history” book (which I haven’t read). GRRM hasn’t fully written any of the stuff. 😀 Some mentions in GoT (Old Nan’s bedside stories! clicketly clik!). Again, even casual viewers would know the first Long Night didn’t last, that’s why GoT is about averting the second one. The Andal invasion has some potential, but would there be enough familiar houses to interest and engage the casual viewer, who are the majority and provide HBO with the moolah with their subsciptions.

      HBO would probably love to keep mining their gold vein, at least until something else comes along. My best bet is some sort of a sequel. Fifty or seventy years on, so that some of the GoT survivors are still alive as old people (to provide continuity) but it’s a whole new story. A whole new story that GRRM hasn’t started and therefore cannot have not finished. I don’t know the details of GRRM’s and HBO’s deal, who owns the rights to what. (I believe GRRM still owns the rights to Dunk & Egg.)

      My personal opinion is that spin-offs seldom live up to the original series. GoT is D&D’s baby, their magnum opus, they’ve put their everything into it, their cast and crew have put their all into it. It’s unique. A spin-off would be a corporate decision, with different showrunners, different cast and crew. I doubt the “magic” would be there.

      Sometimes you just have to let go of a beloved show and everything associated with it when all is said and done and the story is finished. In 23 more episodes. (Jeez, I’m getting GoT withdrawals even now, thinking about it! ha ha!)

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    24. talvikorppi,

      I don’t agree. It ‘d be a spin off without a single major member of the Game of Thrones cast. Does that even really constitute a spin off? It doesn’t need Benioff or Weiss to be successful, just a good showrunner with solid ideas on how to adapt that particular source material they’ve decided to cover. It’s not the same thing and frankly, I don’t think Game of Thrones has any bearing at all on how successful or not Dunk and Egg (for example) would be. What Game of Thrones would do is give them a built in audience. Other than that? Nothing. It’s not the same story, not the same characters, not even the same tone. It’s basically a new piece of fiction simply set in the same world.

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    25. orange:
      talvikorppi,

      I don’t agree. It ‘d be a spin off without a single major member of the Game of Thrones cast. Does that even really constitute a spin off? It doesn’t need Benioff or Weiss to be successful, just a good showrunner with solid ideas on how to adapt that particular source material they’ve decided to cover. It’s not the same thing and frankly, I don’t think Game of Thrones has any bearing at all on how successful or not Dunk and Egg (for example) would be. What Game of Thrones would do is give them a built in audience. Other than that? Nothing. It’s not the same story, not the same characters, not even the same tone. It’s basically a new piece of fiction simply set in the same world.

      I’m sorry, I don’t understand what your “it” refers to. Dunk & Egg?

      I think potential Dunk & Egg series is very much dependant on the GoT audience who wants more of the same. I just don’t feel it has the same strong appeal beyond the hardcore fans. I’d watch it if it was well-made, but I’m a fan. I love the three Dunk&Egg stories.

      However, I agree with GRRM, each could be a 60-90 minute standalone. And let’s not kid ourselves here. GRRM needs to finish the main series, the one the TV show GoT is based on, before he goes off to write other unfinished series.

      He’s not my bitch but he does have a contract with his publisher. He’s been paid quite a bit of money to deliver the final 2 (or 3 or 4 or whatever) books but he’s broken every deadline, diddying about with Dunk&Egg and Targ history. He’s not a professional writer anymore. He writes as a hobby. I enjoy his writing, and enjoyed it more when he had to limit and hurry himself to earn a living. A Storm of Swords is a masterpiece.

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    26. talvikorppi:
      OK, this has intrigue and brutality, but the scope is still a Targaryean civil war in the Seven Kingdoms. No Essos dimension, no White Walker Long Night end-of-the-world ice apocalypse threat.

      I don’t think it’s a prerequisite that any followup property have the same scope. That’s pigeonholing ASOIAF into a single type of story; besides which, the “Essos dimension” of ASOIAF is one innumerable viewers regularly complain about, so I doubt they’d miss it here.

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    27. Sean C.: the “Essos dimension” of ASOIAF is one innumerable viewers regularly complain about, so I doubt they’d miss it here.

      Fans complain about it, but there is no evidence that the viewers do. On the contrary, all the evidence points to Daeny’s story and plotlines being very popular with the viewers.

      talvikorppi: Robert’s Rebellion – No. GoT viewers will already know the story. Who wins, who loses, who survives, who dies, most of the hows and whys as well. So, no. Not interesting enough for a big audience outside the fervent ASOIAF fans – many of who might not like it anyway because it doesn’t agree with their headcanon.

      The problem is that there is not a story there, just plot. Robert’s Rebellion sets up where characters are at the onset of the Song story: that is instrumental in who Jon, Daeny, Tyrion, etc., start of being as people. When we get the ultimate “damned-if-you-do-or-don’t” hooks, we will look back on everything that happened from Season 1 to the zenith and (hopefully) see why they push the buttons that they do. There will not be anything comparable for Robert’s Rebellion: the closest there is to anything like this is Jaime’s decision to kill Aerys, and that seems to be Jaime remaining who he is (a Lannister first and foremost) rather than having evolved in anyway. Sure, Ned Stark is changed by it: but it’s the climax that changes Ned, not a changed Ned that affects the climax. Ditto that for Robert.

      And even the plot would be dull. There are no outstanding “mysteries” to that plot: there is no “who is Jon’s mother?” or “what are the White Walkers/R’hllor really doing?” or “how long will it take for the Westerosi to accept that the White Walkers are back?” or “what are the Tree Gods up to doing?” or “how is Daeny’s anti-slavery crusade going to pay dividends?” or anything link that. Insofar as plot does interest the audience, it is these things that interest them. So, with no story, and with no outstanding mysteries in the plot, Joe and Jane HBO Subscriber are not going to watch.

      GRRM has the right of it: the Dunk and Egg series might work because they are actual stories in and of their own right. I’ve never read them – although I’ve known about them for years, I’ve never actually seen a copy! – but if it’s the type of story that cable TV viewers like (i.e., the Thrones type), then it could work.

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    28. With such a richly constructed framework of a world and it’s history to work with, if GRRM would consent to it, a World of Ice and Fire anthology series would be kinda cool; each episode (or two, two parters at the most) would be their own little self contained stories set in the past of Westeros and Essos, with glimpses of the Westeros of The First Men, the Andal Conquests, Valyria during it’s history, etc…

      They could have stories about specific characters who are only barely mentioned in the books and other source materials, or go in depth into some of the more notable historical figures from the World of Ice and Fire.

      Just my two cents.

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