Entertainment Talk

Age of Heroes offers promise and peril for GOT fans

George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones Age of Heroes
A preoccupation with prequels on TV could backfire for George R.R. Martin among his long-awaiting book-reader base. (Photo by Steve Snowden/Getty Images for AMC Networks)

At this point in the summer, Game of Thrones usually captures audiences’ attention with its Sunday premieres. However, with the show on hiatus until 2019, fans are still anticipating the climactic final season.

For now, they can only speculate about the future of this world, both on screen and in print.

This month HBO announced its plans for a possible prequel focusing on the Age of Heroes. GOT author George R.R. Martin and British screenwriter Jane Goldman are at the forefront of this new project.

Goldman, author of the Kingsman movies and X-Men: First Class, and Martin will co-executive produce the new series.

The show’s description reads, “Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, 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’s 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.”

Obviously, the prequel’s setting mean few current cast members would reprise their characters. The possible exceptions are Leaf, one of the Children of the Forest, and, more significantly, the Night King.

The Age of Heroes series could possibly show the Long Night. Fans of the show and books know that long ago White Walkers marched on Westeros, precipitating a decades-long winter.

The Long Night provides showrunners with myriad possibilities, including an in-depth backstory on the White Walkers. The show could depict the construction of the northern Wall designed to keep the White Walkers at bay. Although Season 7 ended with the Wall’s destruction, its longevity remains impressive.

Then there is the White Walkers’ demise which legends attribute to a mythical figure called the Last HeroGOT theorists believe this figure is Azor Ahai, who wielded a sword called Lightbringer.

Many infer that Jon Snow, portrayed by Kit Harington, is the present incarnation of this person. Confirming this legend on screen would be exciting for ardent followers of Martin’s fantasy world.

Additionally, the show teases the possibility of exploring how House Stark and House Lannister rose to power. Bran the Builder and Lann the Clever, who were instrumental in amassing prestige for Stark and Lannister, respectively, could be two of the protagonists.

All of these potential plot points and characters would make for an excellent prequel series. For all of its strong points, GOT has shifted its focus to the battle for survival with humanity against the Night King.

Age of Heroes could make for an exciting show. But fans will have to hope it does not abandon the value of a fitting conclusion in print to A Song of Ice and Fire.

While that saga remains engaging, political intrigue hooked fans initially. In this prospective prequel, the Iron Throne did not exist. The Age of Heroes could return to GOT‘s original appeal by showing the inner workings of royal houses struggling to seize maximum power.

Despite the promise of a prequel, two potential problems stand out. First, it will have to take care to avoid recycling content from the current show. The prequel could just as easily fall into the trap of familiarity, as the battle against the White Walkers could be each show’s endgame.

More significantly, Martin’s involvement could delay the arrival of the final two Game of Thrones novels.

The last novel, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011. Since then, fans have asked Martin about the status of the final two books in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

The Winds of Winter, which is supposed to precede A Dream of Spring, has been pushed off several times. In its stead, Martin will release a book, Fire and Blood, about the Targaryen family this fall.

While a new GOT book is an exciting proposition, it is certainly not what most expected this year. In fact, the last time Martin addressed questions about the next installment, he merely said the book will not release in 2018. He added that completing the novel was his top priority.

However, working on the prequel show will surely keep Martin occupied, delaying The Winds of Winter even more. Depending on his involvement, the penultimate novel may not come out until this show establishes itself. With the show’s potential release in 2020, avid book readers would not be happy.

Book readers know some characters that have died in the show are still alive in the books. In addition, several characters have not been introduced in the HBO series. Finally, Martin wrote in numerous plot lines that a thousand-page book can offer more than an hour-long show.

For those who have stayed with the series since the first installment’s publication in 1996, they deserve an ending to the books. Can you imagine the reaction among Harry Potter fans if J.K. Rowling left the series unresolved after the Half-Blood Prince?

In the end, the Age of Heroes could make for an exciting show. But fans will have to hope it does not abandon the value of a fitting conclusion in print to A Song of Ice and Fire.

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