'Game of Thrones' Prequel: George R.R. Martin Reveals New Details About the Old Westeros

In the final season of Game of Thrones, the army of the living dispatched the Night King and his undead minions in relatively short order, all in the span of a single episode, "The Long Night." For HBO's planned Thrones prequel, however, the White Walker threat may loom considerably larger and longer.

Author George R.R. Martin, the A Song of Ice and Fire architect responsible for creating the world of Westeros and beyond, has opened up with new details on what to expect from executive producer Jane Goldman's Thrones prequel, currently in production on a pilot episode. It was already known that the untitled successor series would take place thousands of years before the era of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and the others — but now, Martin has a few additional details to share.

For one thing, even without the familiar characters from Game of Thrones proper, there should be some familiar names at the very least. "The Starks will definitely be there," Martin tells EW, which should come as no surprise, given the show's apparent focus on "the Age of Heroes," populated at least in part by a legendary hero named Bran the Builder, an ancient Stark and the namesake of eventual king Bran the Broken (Isaac Hempstead Wright).

The North's ancient nemeses will be along for the ride as well, according to Martin: "Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they're called in my books, the Others — and that will be an aspect of it." Whether the audience's appetite for more White Walker action is still active after their straightforward defeat in "The Long Night" remains another question entirely.

House Stark may be present, but the Lannisters? Not so much. Martin notes that Casterly Rock, the ancestral home of Cersei (Lena Headey), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), will be an active part of the Thrones successor series, but with House Casterly in charge. In Martin's established lore, a legendary trickster named Lann the Clever swindles the Casterly family and wins the Rock, establishing House Lannister for generations to come. As it stands, there's no word on casting for Lann the Clever, though there are hopes within the fandom that Naomi Watts, the most recognizable star of the new Thrones cast, could play the part.

In perhaps the biggest change between the Game of Thrones successor series and the original drama, the Seven Kingdoms are no more. Instead, there are dozens of petty kingdoms in play, signaling an even more chaotic landscape than the one featured in David Benioff and Dan Weiss' Iron Throne-focused drama. 

"We talk about the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros; there were Seven Kingdoms at the time of Aegon’s Conquest," says Martin. "But if you go back further, then there are nine kingdoms, and 12 kingdoms, and eventually you get back to where there are 100 kingdoms — petty kingdoms — and that’s the era we’re talking about here."

In addition to Watts, the untitled Game of Thrones prequel (which Martin suggests could be called "The Longest Night") stars Josh Whitehouse, Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, Jamie Campbell Bower and Miranda Richardson. HBO's Casey Bloys has previously said the prequel won't arrive until "at least a year" after Game of Thrones' ending, and more recently was less specific about exact timing.

"We're shooting the pilot in June. You can do the math and figure out when it would be on the air," he told THR in May. "What I'm not doing is working backwards by saying, 'This has to be on the air by this date.' We want to do the best show possible. This is a pilot, so we're doing it the old-fashioned way, which is shooting a pilot. My expectation is it will be great and we'll move forward and it'll move along on a regular TV timetable. I don't want to speculate any dates."

Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for more coverage.