6:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': The Vast Potential of a 'Fire and Blood' Prequel
Aegon's Conquest. The Dance of the Dragons. The reign of Maegor the Cruel. The rise of Jaehaerys the Wise. All of these are critical events that helped shape the world of Westeros as Game of Thrones fans know it — and all stand at the edge of live-action adaptation, based on reports of a new developing pilot written by author George R.R. Martin and Colony co-creator Ryan J. Condal, based on Martin's recent novel Fire and Blood.
In what would become the second Game of Thrones prequel series to reach the pilot stage, a Fire and Blood series (and for the sake of ease, let's refer to it as such) would land closer in time to the timeline of David Benioff and Dan Weiss' recently concluded adaptation of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels than the pilot from Jane Goldman. Goldman's series remains untitled, but will tell a story about the Seven Kingdoms long before they were ever known as the Seven Kingdoms, chronicling the Age of Heroes and very likely the first ever battle against the White Walkers. Fire and Blood, meanwhile, was a fictional history book about the kings of House Targaryen who reigned for nearly three centuries, and formed the backbone of the Seven Kingdoms as Thrones viewers know them.
The possible ramifications of a series tracking the Targaryen reign from start to finish are staggering, to undersell it. It provides a massive canvas for HBO, one upon which so many different political and literal battles can be painted in — you guessed it — fire and blood. The Targaryens' hold over Westeros was not always peaceful or easy, often thanks to their own personal failings. (You know what they say about newborn Targaryens and flipped coins, don't you?) In fact, over the course of their reign, conflict often came from within the Targaryens' own ranks. See: the Dance of the Dragons, a Targaryen civil war that's rumored to be at the heart of this series. Taken entirely on its own, the Dance of the Dragons could provide a rich tapestry for a series, no doubt about it; Martin has written about it extensively both in Fire and Blood as well as in the veritable in-world encyclopedia The World of Ice and Fire. But the even greater sweep of Targaryen history, what's already logged in the first book of Fire and Blood as well as what's still left unwritten for a hopeful sequel, leaves the mind racing at the possibilities of what could head to HBO beyond that one civil war.
Among the topics a Fire and Blood prequel could cover, depending on the scope: Aegon's Conquest, which itself is so rich it could populate an entire series spanning several seasons. But there are so many who followed in Aegon's footsteps, from the aforementioned Maegor, whose wicked rule inflicted so much pain upon his kingdom; Maegor's successor, Jahaerys, who brought peace to the realm for a time (perhaps not the most high-octane fuel for this series, though why not spend a few episodes dealing with a peaceful Westeros? Have we not earned it, after that grim ending for Daenerys?), and Baelor the Blessed, responsible for that great King's Landing structure Queen Cersei so viciously destroyed in season six's finale.
If the series chronicles the entire Targaryen reign (a big if at this point) then a final rush of Fire and Blood would delve into territory many Game of Thrones fans have longed to see on screen, but never truly expected: Robert's Rebellion, the war that tore the Seven Kingdoms apart and ended the Targaryen stranglehold forever. Should Fire and Blood extend throughout the centuries and take almost an anthological approach to its material, then a final season — or even a final couple of seasons — could eventually bring us familiar characters like Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark, Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar Targaryen and the Mad King Aerys himself — maybe even ending with the births of Daenerys Targaryen on Dragonstone and Jon Snow at the Tower of Joy. That would be a nice way to bring things full circle, wouldn't it?
If Fire and Blood were to reach Robert's Rebellion (again, note the size of the if), it would likely spend time dealing with some of Martin's other most celebrated Westeros warriors: Dunk and Egg, also known as Ser Duncan the Tall and King Aegon V Targaryen, the subjects of a series of prequel novellas that have not yet concluded. Their story will eventually end at Summerhall, the Targaryen summer home that mysteriously burned to ash some time before Game of Thrones' events; it was the subject of "Jenny's Song," featured in the final season of Thrones.
But the potential for Fire and Blood could span beyond both these proposed beginnings, middles and endings. For one thing, while Aegon's Conquest kicked off the Targaryen reign in Westeros, this is a series that could finally answer one of the most mysterious events in Thrones lore: the Doom of Valyria, the overnight fall of the empire from which the Targaryens are descended. On the omega side of the line, Daenerys Targaryen died at the end of Game of Thrones, but the man who was supposed to sit on the Iron Throne by birthright — Jon Snow — is alive and well, reigning beyond the Wall. The talk at the moment is Game of Thrones will not be sequelized, but Fire and Blood would not get to such a point for many, many years from now — enough time for minds to change? Maybe.
Look, it's an exciting time, so forgive the mind for wandering. Whatever the series entails, it's clear that the subject matter Martin and Condal are dealing with is vast and furious, full of limitless possibility. As the creator of this world, Martin's credentials require no further review. Condal is a lesser-known entity, but those who watched the criminally underrated and tragically canceled Colony on USA Network can vouch for that science-fiction drama's unbelievably brutal and realistic depiction of family conflict amidst a high-concept war. The massive Game of Thrones audience may not know Condal's work yet, but take the word of someone who watched every single minute of the Bowman family's struggle to survive an alien-occupied world: this is a writer who knows how to play fair with the reality of war, and that means a well-trodden track record of fire and blood in his own right. Put another way: bring back Colony. Put another way: if Colony can't return, Condal's ascension to Westeros is a consolation prize worth its weight in Valyrian steel.
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