I saw a blog post from George R.R. Martin that a Game of Thrones prequel series which adapted certain elements from his Targaryen history book Fire & Blood might be moving closer to production at HBO soon. And I said to myself, “Oh, that’s interesting,” because as far as we knew, the only Thrones prequel that was anywhere near to production was The Long Night, which had actually begun casting and is suspected to be coming out 2020 or later. But according to GRRM, we might be getting news about a Fire & Blood Targaryen prequel sooner than expected.
“Oh wow, I better get put together a blog post about this for the coming week,” I said, not knowing that less than a day after I read that post, a trailer would premiere showing us a small tease of what a Fire & Blood series would perhaps look like.
The teaser tells us of the Doom of Valyria, with the Targaryens leaving for Westeros with three dragons. Aegon Targaryen and his two sisters use the dragons to turn their island – Dragonstone – into a seat fit for a king. Turning his eyes to Westeros, he plans to conquer the seven squabbling kingdoms, and make them one.
I do want to say something about the animation here, because it probably looks odd to the outside observer. On the DVDs for the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones, there was bonus material explaining some of the more in-depth lore and history that was relevant to whichever season it was with. These were animated to resemble illustrations and were narrated by the characters. It felt like the characters from the show were reading you a history book about the show. And I thought they were really cool and wonderful. It’s clear that with this teaser trailer, they were going for something similar – but the animation being of a higher quality takes away some of the charm. The 3D images look weird – the dragon flying above Valyria and the mining carts – they look just a little too good, to the point where they begin to clash with the simpler illustration style (which they’re still kind of using for the rest of the trailer, except now it’s colorized.)
But of course, this video was narrated by Harry Lloyd, who played Daenerys’ brother Viserys in Season 1. And that’s awesome.
To my disappointment (but probably no one else’s) it appears all but certain that the series will adapt Aegon’s conquest of Westeros, the first section of the book. GRRM rightly points out in his blog post that anyone who’s read the book Fire & Blood can tell you it has material enough for “dozens of shows,” and he’s mostly right about that. It chronicles about 150 years of Westerosi history, told from the perspective of a Maester trying to consult historical records to put together a single, historically accurate record of events.
Overall, I’d prefer that the show chronicle The Dance of Dragons, rather than Aegon’s Conquest. If you’d forgotten the probably three times the Dance of Dragons was mentioned in the seventy-odd episodes of Game of Thrones, there’s a pretty thorough dive on YouTube, but to summarize, it was a civil war between two different Targaryen factions which both laid claim to the Iron Throne. Taking place about 130 years after Aegon’s conquest (so about 165 years before A Game of Thrones), it’s also called “The Dying of the Dragons,” because it was a time of violence and tragedy for the Targaryens and their dragons alike. It’s got a lot of vibrant and interesting characters, some truly spectacular moments, and it has all the hallmarks that made Game of Thrones what it is. Plus, there is a lot of Dragon-on-Dragon fighting – which if you’re not sold on that alone, I don’t know what to tell you. (To be fair, the tumbnail of the teaser video seems to show two dragons fighting… so would that indicate the Dance of Dragons instead of the Conquest?)
I can appreciate why they’d focus on the Conquest – it’s got all of our favorite houses: Baratheons, Starks, Lannisters. There’s a certain comfort in familiar names, where the Dance of Dragons has fewer of those, focusing on the conflict between the Targaryens and a Targaryen off-shoot, the Velaryons, who have no real impact on the main Ice and Fire series. The other houses that would be familiar to viewers have a far less significant role in the Dance of Dragons. But the Dance of Dragons, while not having the same level of family-name-recognition, more closely resembles the political intrigue that made Game of Thrones a global success in the first place.
(One thing I will admit is that one thing that makes that part of Fire & Blood what it is is the disputed historical accounts. The process that our narrator goes through of sifting through all the information he has to make a single story is great. There are accounts from knights and lords, but a not insignificant amount of his information comes from a book written by Mushroom, the queen’s fool. All these different stories from different perspectives, pieced together into an assumed truth… it’s what makes Fire & Blood [particularly the Dance of Dragons] such a unique entry in the series, and it’s something I don’t imagine can translate to TV.)
But I’m digressing here; there’s a lot of great stuff in Fire & Blood, and I’m sure an Aegon’s conquest series has a lot of potential. And we don’t necessarily know that the whole show would just be the conquest – it could be a Tagaryen anthology series, where every new season is a new generation of the Targaryen family! Wouldn’t that be something? I haven’t been this excited for Game of Thrones since…
Let me just leave it at “I haven’t been this excited for Game of Thrones in a while.”
Update: wow, I scheduled this last night for 12:30 today, and about an hour or half an hour before it went live, a second teaser, also depicting Aegon’s conquest, dropped on YouTube.
What would you like to see in a Game of Thrones prequel?