7:36am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': How George R.R. Martin's 'World of Ice and Fire' Could Inspire the Successor Shows
When Game of Thrones ends, it almost certainly won't be long until a new chapter of Westeros begins. With that said, there will be no new beginnings for Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) or any of the other fan-favorite figures from the Emmy-winning series.
Over the weekend, author George R.R. Martin provided an update on the four developing Game of Thrones spinoffs, beginning with the fact that he doesn't like the word "spinoff." He prefers "successor show," and what's more, there are five such shows in the works, not four as previously reported. More than that, Martin provided some key details on what the Thrones successor shows won't focus on: Robert's Rebellion and Dunk & Egg, two of the most popular prequel pitches within the fandom — and perhaps even more importantly still, all five of the developing pitches are set before the events of Game of Thrones.
"None of these new shows will be 'spinning off' from GOT in the traditional sense," Martin writes, "where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set in Westeros."
In that regard, Martin offers another clue, that he has spent time with the successor show writers "discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire." It's the first of those two books that provides the most comprehensive details about the realms within and beyond Westeros, a massive text co-authored by Martin and Westeros.org founders Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson.
Written from the perspective of a maester of the Citadel named Yandel — a clever story-protecting mechanism, as Yandel can only weigh in on what's officially known about the history of the world within the world itself (in other words, no "Jon Snow is a secret Targaryen" spoilers) — The World of Ice & Fire contains sprawling stories about old Targaryen kings, and dives even deeper into the past, extending far beyond the Seven Kingdoms and into lands thus far unmentioned on HBO's Thrones.
If Martin and the successor show scribes are considering a closer look at the World of Ice & Fire, then it behooves us to do the same. Here are just a few areas of that world and moments in history that could provide the spine for the four — scratch that, five; what a time to be alive — potential Game of Thrones successors.
The Dawn Age and the Age of Heroes
The blanket term of the earliest known point in Ice and Fire history, the Dawn Age refers to the period of time in which Westeros was settled by the First Men, the Andals and the Rhoynar. There are epic stories about warriors ravaging the lands destined to one day become the Seven Kingdoms, including an ancient war between men, the Children of the Forest and the White Walkers.
Also featured during this time: the Age of Heroes, in which ancestors of classic Thrones families including the Starks and Lannisters first thrived. In The World of Ice and Fire, Maester Yandel writes: "Names such as Brandon the Builder, Garth Greenhand, Lann the Clever and Durran Godsgrief are names to conjure with, but it is likely that their legends hold less truth than fancy. Elsewhere, I shall endeavor to sift what grain can be found from the chaff, but for now it is enough to acknowledge the tales."
Elsewhere, you say? Sounds like a great title for a successor show.
The Legend of Nymeria
Based on Martin's blog post, we won't see Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) again once Game of Thrones ends. But what about the proud warrior who provided Arya with the name for her direwolf Nymeria all the way back in the earliest days of the series? Now that's somebody who could provide the backbone for a successor show.
As it stands, Princess Nymeria of Ny Sar is already the subject of one of the most compelling segments of the World of Ice & Fire, in which the men and women who lived along the great Essos river called the Rhoyne were forced out of their lands due to a devastating war. Nymeria led the refugees away on ten thousand ships, searching for freedom far away from the grips of Valyria, the ancient civilization from which the Targaryens are descended.
The chapter, "Ten Thousand Ships," sees Nymeria and her people sailing through a variety of lands — the Summer Sea and the Basilisk Islands, as two examples — before finally reaching familiar territory: Dorne, a kingdom unlike any other in Westeros, thanks in large to Nymeria and her hard-fought warrior ways. The journey to and subsequent war for Dorne lasts several years, providing fodder for seasons upon seasons of a Nymeria spinoff — er, successor show. Still getting used to the lingo.
Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) and the Dothraki people are an important part of the Game of Thrones fabric, riding through the far reaches of Essos without fear of other more advanced civilizations — including one civilization that has yet to be featured at all on Thrones.
Further east beyond the holy city of Vaes Dothrak lies a mountain range known as the Bones, a fitting name given Maester Yandel's description: "The bones of men, the bones of horses, the bones of giants and camels and oxen, of every sort of beast and bird and monster, all can be found amongst these savage peaks." Those who are foolish enough to brave the Bones and lucky enough to survive the trek (however unlikely) may find themselves in one of the oldest lands in the known world: Yi Ti.
"A fabled land even in the Seven Kingdoms, Yi Ti is a large and diverse country, a realm of windswept plains and rolling hills, jungles and rain forests, deep lakes and rushing rivers and shrinking inland seas," writes Yandel. "Its legendary wealth is such as to allow its princes to live in houses of solid gold and dine on sweetmeats powdered with pearls and jade. Lomas Longstrider, awestruck by its marvels, called Yi Ti 'the land of a thousand gods and a hundred princes, ruled by one god-emperor.'"
He continues: "Those who have visited Yi Ti as it is today tell us that the thousand gods and hundred princes yet remain… but there are three god-emperors, each claiming the right to don the gowns of cloth-of-gold, green pearls and jade that tradition allows to the emperor alone. None wields true power; though millions may worship the azure emperor in Yin and prostrate themselves before him whenever he appears, his imperial writ extends no farther than the walls of his own city. The hundred princes of whom Lomas Longstrider wrote rule their own realms as they please, as do the brigands, priest-kings, sorcerers, warlords and imperial generals and tax collectors outside their domains."
In other words, Yi Ti is fraught with the same political tensions found all through Westeros, with its own rich history and cultural customs. Add to that an outsider's perspective in the form of Lomas Longstrider, and you could be looking at a corner of Ice and Fire that could potentially inspire its own set of successor shows some day.
Westeros and Essos are the two confirmed continents in the known world of ice and fire, but there's a potential third continent in the mix: Sothoryos, essentially an Africa analogue, largely uncharted even by Maester Yandel's reporting: "Slavers, traders and treasure hunters have visited Sothoryos over the centuries, but only the boldest ever venture far from their coastal garrisons and enclaves to explore the mysteries of the continent's vast interior. Those that dare more oft than not set forth into the green never to be seen again."
"We do not even know the true size of Sothoryos," he continues. "Qartheen maps once showed it as an island, twice the size of Great Moraq, but their trading ships, venturing farther and farther down the eastern coats, were never able to find the bottom of it. The Ghiscari who settled Zamettar and Gorosh believed Sothoryos to be as large as Westeros. Jaenara Belaerys flew her dragon, Terrax, farther south than any man or woman had ever gone before, seeking the boiling seas and steaming rivers of legend, but found only endless jungle, deserts and mountains. She returned to the Freehold after three years to declare that Sothoryos was as large as Essos, 'a land without end.'"
The little that is known about Sothoryos makes it sound like an uninviting place to live, if an action-packed setting for an adventure story. Among the many creatures in this land are man-eating crocodiles and fish, the giant snakes that give the Basilisk Isles their name, and massive apes so big that they tower over even "the largest of giants, so powerful they can slay elephants with a single blow." Perhaps the most frightening monsters in Sothoryos are the wyverns, "those tyrants of the southern skies, with their great leathery wings, cruel beaks and insatiable hunger. Close kin to dragons, wyverns cannot breathe fire, but they exceed their cousins in ferocity and are a match for them in all other respects save size."
At the heart of Sothoryos, or at least the heart of what's known of Sothoryos, lies an ancient city called Yeen. It is absolutely horrifying, as Yandel describes it: "A ruin older than time, built of oily black stone, in massive blocks so heavy that it would require a dozen elephants to move them, Yeen has remained a desolation for many thousands of years, yet the jungle that surrounds it on every side has scarce touched it. ('A city so evil that even the jungle will not enter,' Nymeria is supposed to have said when she laid eyes on it, if the tales are true.) Every attempt to rebuild or resettle Yeen has ended in horror."
A show of hands for everyone interested in Yeenmerican Horror Story as one of the successor shows? Okay, can't see you from this side of the screen, so sound off in the comments below with your take on this place, and the other corners of the World of Ice & Fire that could provide fodder for the upcoming Game of Thrones successor shows.