HBO is developing 4 (now 5) pilot scripts that all take place in the world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Since the initial news was based on rumor and not an official announcement from HBO, Martin took to his blog over the weekend to clarify the following:
- These are pilot scripts for new shows.
- They originally had 4 show ideas, but ended up writing pilot scripts for 5 shows.
- All 5 are not expected to be produced into a full series. (Unless all 5 pilots end up being of stunning caliber.)
- None of the shows feature major characters from Game of Thrones, so they’re not technically spin-offs.
- None of the shows take place after the events of Game of Thrones; they’re all ideas from the history and mythology of the series.
- The Dunk & Egg short stories are not the subject of the shows. Neither is Robert’s Rebellion.
The Dunk & Egg stories and the dramatic events of Robert’s Rebellion have long been favored by series fans as natural spin-off material, and their confirmed absence plus the other parameters (no Game of Thrones: The Next Generation for us!) creates an interesting puzzle. What 5 stories does the history of Westeros (and the World Beyond) contain that could sustain 5 entire television shows? Does the history of A Song of Ice and Fire contain that kind of variety?
The World of Ice and Fire companion book contains massive amounts of history for Westeros, Essos, and other lands, as well as some history of the developed peoples on this planet. (So much so that a lot of it had to be cut, hence new entries continually making their way out into the world as separate stories.) Here are 5 ideas that could conceivably be used as the foundation for new television series’, without impinging on the events, tone, or necessity of Game of Thrones.
Rome, But Magic: Valyria
Many of the societal systems and ruling families that undergird both Westeros and Essos stem from ancient Valyria, a mighty empire (well, “Freehold”) that ruled over this region of the world with magic and ferocity. The pitch for this show would be tremendously simple: “Rome, but magic.”
A show about Valyria would be dramatic, arcane, shadowy, and explosive. It would be a richly complex examination of the hubris of a society at its peak, and would give Game of Thrones viewers an entertaining reason as to why “current” Westeros is such a garbage heap without requiring that they make explicit connections to the characters and plots of the show.
Daenerys, But The Whole Show: Nymeria the Warrior Queen
The story of Nymeria the Warrior Queen may have been originally folded into the pitch for a show about Valyria, but it’s easy to see how Nymeria’s story could grow into its own show.
What we know so far: Nymeria is a princess of Rhoyne when it is conquered by Valyria. Being a bit of a Wonder Woman, she takes the Rhoynish people and flees west to the Summer Isles, founding the Isle of Women in hopes of creating refuge for the Rhoyne. Her epic does not end there. Events push her and the Rhoyne (and “ten thousand ships!” as the legend goes) further west to Dorne, where she allies with the Martell family and proceeds to unite/conquer the Dornish kingdom under her rule.
Queen Nymeria’s tale is complex, and we’ve only gotten hints of it here and there. (We don’t really know WHY she heads to Dorne, or what transpires on the Isle of Women.) If Game of Thrones was only the scenes with Daenerys, you’d be close to matching the tone that a show about Nymeria would have. Watching Nymeria rise from The Conquered to The Conquerer would be quite thrilling to watch, just as Daenerys’ war-making tend to be her more engaging scenes in Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones, But With More Dragons: The Dance of the Dragons
The Targaryens once fought a civil war, sparked by a battle over succession to the throne, known as “The Dance of the Dragons”. It was a war that was smaller in scope than what has been occurring in the Game of Thrones series, but it has lots and lots and lots more dragons. It also contains really interesting threads to the present-day series and some results that may act as wish fulfillment for GoT fans, like a Stark meting out justice and not dying, and Lannisters getting what’s coming to them.
Readers have already gotten a large 30,000 word account of this battle via “The Princess and the Queen” from the anthology Dangerous Women, but Martin says there’s still 50,000 more words, at least, to tell of this war. A television series could cover that, and be a perfect showcase for the general lunacy of the Targaryen line both before and after.
A Pirate Queen Discovers How Weird the World Really Is: The Black Pearl
A Feast For Crows very briefly introduced us to Bellegere Otherys, the Braavosi pirate queen known as “The Black Pearl”. She leads her pirate ship Widow Wind from port to port for ten years before settling down, marrying a Targaryen, and producing heirs. And any pirate that can survive in the murder-happy environment of Martin’s fiction for ten years then marry into the Westeros’ royal family without consequence has got to be someone very exceptional and well-deserving of what may be the only “fun” television series you could possibly produce in Martin’s fictional world.
As if Bellegere’s personal life wasn’t interesting enough, a series like this could also be used as a “monster of the week” showcase, with the Widow Wind exploring the myriad of strange locales located at the edge of the Known World. There could even be a running arc that reveals the history of whatever may exist west of Westeros, across the vast uncharted Sunset Sea….
An Anthology or Genealogy Show
A successor show to Game of Thrones need not be entirely soaked in a single historical moment from Martin’s mythology. An anthology show could be just as interesting, providing standalone stories that hop from the ghost grass in Asshai one week, to the mysterious Land of the Winged Men, or the mysterious labyrinths of Ibben… Similarly, the show could follow the lineage of one of the legends from the Age of Heroes, following their offspring as the eras change around them, as Long Nights emerge and are beaten back, as entire magical species wither away, as their namesake Westerosi Houses rise and fall….
The fictional history within George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is now so complex and detailed (and getting more so by the year) that it feels as if we’re only scratching the surface of potential shows that could be borne from the existing supplemental material. If we can’t get Dunk & Egg (and if we’ll eventually get Robert’s Rebellion via Game of Thrones itself, seemingly), then what from A Song of Ice and Fire should be depicted next?