The creator of Game of Thrones confirmed on Monday that the upcoming prequel series will not feature any characters from the Targaryen family, and perhaps no dragons either.
George R.R. Martin, the author behind A Song of Ice and Fire, gave an in-depth inverview with Entertainment Weekly on Monday. Martin's books inspired the HBO fantasy epic, and they include details about his fictional world stretching far beyond the shores of Westeros and thousands of years back in time, so readers likely knew already that they would not see any silver-haired dragon riders in this new series.
The prequel, which has the working title The Long Night, tells the story of the first time the White Walkers emerged from the far north and went to war with men. Many have said that the series takes place 10,000 years before the events of GoT, though Martin's fictional histories rely on unreliable accounts from imperfect historians.
In The World of Ice and Fire, he noted that scholars in his world place the Long Night anywhere from 10,000 to 5,000 years back in history.
In this interview, he finally settled the score.
"It's closer to 5,000 years," Martin confirmed.
This time line confirmation streamlines the history of Martin's world quite a bit, and may actually answer some longstanding questions for fans. In his story, scholars date the beginnings of Valyria back 5,000, meaning that it rose up not long after the Long Night. This could explain the reference Sam found to a "dragonsteel blade," as Martin also confirmed that Valyrians were in their very early stages at that time.
"Westeros is a very different place," he explained. "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."
In The World of Ice and Fire, Valyria was a "freehold" -- a republic of sorts, perhaps most closely analagous to Rome in its heyday. It ruled over much of the world, though not Westeros, until about 400 years before Game of Thrones began. The whole civilization was made possible by magical bonds to dragons, though whether that will play a role in this series is unclear.
As for the mighty House Targaryen, they will almost certainly be absent from this prequel. The World of Ice and Fire notes that the Targaryens were not a powerful house in the Valyrian Freehold. Their rise to power began after the Doom of Valyria, when the last remaining dragon riders flew to Westeros and conquered the entire continent.
Martin has written about his dynasty extensively in his latest book, Fire and Blood, which comes out on Tuesday, Nov. 20. It is the first part of a two-part fictional history detailing House Targaryen's 300 years on the Iron Throne.
As for The Long Night -- or whatever it may come to be titled -- the show begins filming in February, with Naomi Watts in the starring role. Martin serves as an executive producer while screenwriter Jane Goldman will be showrunner. So far, the show has only a pilot order, though chances seem good that HBO will take it all the way to series.