It’s hard to imagine that it will soon be two years since the infamous final season of Game of Thrones first premiered. However, in just the past few weeks resident network HBO has announced plans for a number of A Song of Ice and Fire spin-off shows.
These announcements come on top of a greenlit House Targaryen prequel House of the Dragon, soon to start production. In mid-January, HBO revealed plans for another prequel, this time based on the novella series Tales of Dunk and Egg. Perhaps the closest Westeros will get to a buddy cop story about a knight, Duncan the Tall, and his squire, young Aegon V, the future king.
There have also been reports that HBO execs are interested in developing a Robert’s Rebellion show too, set just 20 years before the main series. Add to this interest in adapting ASOIAF stories through animation and that’s quite an impressive roster. It seems that HBO is eager to establish its own Game of Thrones cinematic universe, much like the MCU or Disney’s Star Wars.
But is there still a desire for it?
The last season of Game of Thrones still leaves a bitter taste in many avid fans and casual viewers’ mouths. Even within a cycle of quarantines and lockdowns worldwide, many watchers haven’t found the desire to revisit the show in its entirety. So, would a spin-off series continue to rub salt in the wound or help heal them?
Of course, we must remember that a certain pair of writers aren’t associated with any of these projects. Author George R.R. Martin is currently heavily involved with overseeing all of them. New characters in different eras and different parts of the geography may enrich the story world and the source material. Though is it all fruitless?
Does investing yourself in the saga of House Targaryen really matter when we know its tragic end? Fans online have already pointed out their concerns even ahead of production based on character synopsises alone. Reports have begun labeling central character Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) as a “mad prince,” something heavily disputed by readers of the source material, Fire and Blood.
Many folks have also pointed out that this chosen description may be used to justify Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) character turn to the dark side in the main series. Pushing the narrative that the family is riddled with madness (something explicitly disproven in the books) and essentially making Daenerys a genetic ticking timebomb.
All this has to be considered along with the unfortunate fact that Martin has yet to finish writing his primary crop of books. This year will mark 10 years since the most recent novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons, was released. Could working on these new shows be a further distraction for Martin? Can all of his works be adapted to a television screen?
Game of Thrones was repeatedly criticised for its gratuitous use of sex and violence, particularly gendered violence toward its female characters. Are these elements something fans are expected to take as part of that world or something these series could learn to handle more carefully going forward?
Martin himself has said in the past that he disliked the idea of a Dunk and Egg adaptation. He was concerned that the show could surpass the source material, as Game of Thrones ultimately did. Clearly, he had a change of heart and that’s fine. Perhaps with Martin overseeing these spin-offs closely, he can have more control over what makes it onscreen and how.
Reports of wishes to develop his stories into an animated series may be the right approach to take. Whilst it’s unclear which tales HBO wishes to adapt into the medium, animation could offer creative liberties live-action does not. Fans have expressed that they would love the idea of Game of Thrones being rebooted in an animated format.
If Martin ever completes his series then it could certainly be an option to present a more book-accurate tale to audiences with his ending (which is yet unconfirmed). It also wouldn’t be the first time that Game of Thrones stories have been presented through animation.
Special features on Game of Thrones Blu-ray releases included mini-episodes of an animated history of Westeros. These informed those unfamiliar with Martin’s rich source material of the continent’s most notable historic figures and events. They’re narrated by members of the cast such as Harry Lloyd, Conleth Hill and Pilou Asbæk.
What Game of Thrones-inspired show are you excited to see or have you had your fill?
Watch Conquest and Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms below to get an idea of what an animated Game of Thrones series may be like.
This article was originally published 1/29/20.