The night is dark and full of terrors… but it also contains joy. For even after next year’s final season of Game of Thrones, HBO’s time in Westeros will continue! Indeed, fulfilling months of speculation, HBO has selected one of its five developing treatments for a Game of Thrones spinoff.
When these competing projects were first announced well over a year ago, even with creatives as impressive as Bryan Cogman and Brian Helgeland, we personally always had the best feeling about Jane Goldman offering her considerable writing talents to Westeros and in a series that she was personally developing with Martin. It appears HBO agreed.
The announcement of the spinoff came Friday afternoon from a confident HBO that revealed that the series is based on a story created by Martin and Goldman, and which Goldman will oversee as executive producer and potential showrunner, assuming the pilot is picked up to series. As aforementioned, it is technically a prequel to the events of Game of Thrones, but whereas most prequels attempt to tell stories directly tied with what audiences like and enjoy (i.e. how Anakin become Darth Vader, how does Gandalf know Bilbo, and what was Han Solo’s Kessel run, exactly?), this series will be set in the distant past… as in THOUSANDS of years ago during the Age of Heroes.
For those not well read in their Westerosi history, the Age of Heroes was the time when Bran the Builder constructed the Wall and founded House Stark, the Kings of Winter, at Winterfell; it is the age in which the Casterlys, for whom Casterly Rock was named after, were swindled and cheated out of their mountainous fortress by Lann the Clever (who birthed the House of Lannister); it is the time when the First Men, before the Andals, and the Children of the Forest lived in harmony. However, this is eventually broken by the coming of the Long Night—a generation of winter—and a war that informed the modern world.
In some sense, it is an interesting choice to visit that era, since in many ways it must end similarly to Game of Thrones with the coming of the White Walkers.
The official synopsis is as follows:
The series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.
It remains unclear where Goldman’s pilot order leaves the other pilot pitches at HBO. The premium cable network was developing five treatments—all prequels set in different eras of Westerosi history—including with Max Borenstein, Carly Wray, and the aforementioned ones from Hegeland and Cogman overseeing separate series. HBO has previously signaled that they were likely only going to greenlight one to series, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee the death of the other four projects. In fact, a pilot order unto itself does not guarantee a series order.
Still, Goldman always seemed like a strong choice. Her credits include some of the most creative and subversive adaptations in comic book history. Partnering with Matthew Vaughn, she co-wrote Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. She also co-wrote with Vaughn the high-fantasy film Stardust. Although that was a lot less violent and adult than Game of Thrones, it was still fairly dark in its sense of humor and showed a higher sense of magic than has been thus far depicted on Game of Thrones… which might be perfect for the Age of Heroes. Goldman also wrote the screenplay for The Woman in Black.