With the production of the “Game of Thrones” prequel in the works, winter, at long last, is coming once more. But it may look a little different from what fans of the show are used to.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, George R.R. Martin, the author of the epic fantasy and a producer on the television series, teased some notable tidbits about the highly anticipated prequel, which started filming earlier this summer in Belfast (the production hub for the franchise in Northern Ireland).

HBO previously shared some details about the prequel prior to Martin’s comments; in its press release, the company revealed the series would be set 5,000 years before the wars and conflicts that erupt in Westeros as seen in “Game of Thrones.”


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Instead, the prequel series would trace a massive chunk of ancient Westerosi history during the golden “Age of Heroes,” an era where the mythical First Men and the Children of the Forest lived in harmony, leading up to its “darkest hour.” This descent into darkness is likely a reference to the White Walkers’ first, deadly invasion of Westeros.

Martin’s recent comments give more insight into this early world of Westeros, especially regarding the creatures and characters who roam this realm. Even though some familiar elements remain, it is not the “Thrones” you think you know, according to HBO. Here’s what fans can expect to see (and not see) in the prequel:

1. The Starks

We expect no less than for the pack to survive. The Starks, after all, are the descendants of the First Men, the original inhabitants of Westeros. Of course, we will not get to see fan-favorite Arya wield her little needle, the beloved house in the north will appear on the show. “The Starks will definitely be there,” Martin confirmed to Entertainment Weekly.

2. Direwolves and mammoths

Unfortunately, the prequel covers an epoch that predates dragons and Targaryens. However, before you start shrieking, “Where are my dragons?!” rest assured that the brave and faithful direwolves will return. Additionally, some new creatures — like mammoths — may make an appearance in the prequel.

3. 100 Kingdoms

 Westeros as we know it is divided into Seven Kingdoms. But the land hasn’t always split neatly into these specific territories. As Martin explains: “There were Seven Kingdoms at the time of Aegon’s Conquest. But if you go back further then there are nine kingdoms, and 12 kingdoms, and eventually you get back to where there are a hundred kingdoms — petty kingdoms — and that’s the era we’re talking about here.”


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4. No Lannisters

Like the Targaryens, the Lannisters are out of the picture in the prequel. Even though many of the power-hungry houses that ruled and terrorized the realm are gone, some of their land holdings still remain, like Casterly Rock, the Lannister stronghold in “Thrones.” In the prequel, the Casterlys currently occupy the castle overlooking the coast.

5. A show title, maybe

Martin has called the prequel, “The Long Night,” which is his preferred name for the series. The title refers to the White Walker’s invasion of Westeros, which led to the longest winter ever recorded. However, it is unlikely that this will be the title, perhaps due to the fact that episode 3 in season 8 is also called “The Long Night.” Martin once blogged, “The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT will be shooting later this year.”

The author, however, is open to variations on his chosen title. “I heard a suggestion that it could be called The Longest Night, which is a variant I wouldn’t mind. That would be pretty good,” he says. There is a rumor that the series is called, “Blood Moon,” but there has been no official word from HBO yet.

Nikki Tran is an SFGATE intern. Email: [email protected]

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