Apparently, author George R.R. Martin was wrong about the name of HBO’s officially untitled prequel series set thousands of years before Game of Thrones. In a recent blog post, Martin, who penned the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books on which Game of Thrones is based, let slip the show was called The Long Night. That name comes with a huge number of lore implications for the story. Now he’s walked back that reveal in another post, presumably after some pushback from HBO.
In the first post, Martin confirmed that Naomi Watts had been cast in the show, which is being run by Kingsman and Kick-Ass writer and producer Jane Goldman and co-created by Martin. He dropped the name of the show, which HBO hadn’t revealed, but which corresponds to a major event in Game of Thrones history: specifically, the creation of the White Walkers. Apparently that was a tidbit that HBO wasn’t ready to fully confirm.
Martin wrote in another post on November 5 that HBO had told him the upcoming series is still untitled. “HBO has informed me that the Jane Goldman pilot is not (yet) titled THE LONG NIGHT. That’s is certainly the title I prefer, but for the moment the pilot is still officially UNTITLED. So… mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.”
Still, the idea that Martin thinks the show is, or could be, called The Long Night probably means the speculation that comes along with that name is still valid.
The Long Night refers to a time around 8,000 years before the current events of the show, during what’s known in Game of Thrones lore as the Age of Heroes. It was specifically a very long winter–the world of Game of Thrones has weird seasons that can last years, and the Long Night lasted even longer. According to the Starks’ servant Old Nan, “There came a night that lasted a generation, and kings shivered and died in their castles even as the swineherds in their hovels. Women smothered their children rather than see them starve, and cried, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks.”
What was extra awful about the Long Night was the arrival of the Others, or White Walkers, for the first time in Westeros. Descending from the North, the White Walkers led an army of the dead that, Nan says, routed armies, swept through castles and towns, and showed no mercy. According to Westerosi legend, it was only when an unknown figure called the Last Hero sought out and allied with the magical folk called the Children of the Forest that the White Walkers were defeated.
Setting the Game of Thrones prequel in the Age of Heroes already suggested the Long Night would be its subject matter, and Martin leaking the title is further confirmation the show is likely to cover a lot of that legendary ground. From what we’ve already seen on Game of Thrones, the prequel series is likely to upend fan expectations by showing a truer version than the stories that were passed down around Westeros. From previous rundowns of the premise from HBO, we also know that the series will deal with a few legendary figures, specifically Bran the Builder, the founder of House Stark (who also built Winterfell and the Wall), and Lann the Clever, the founder of House Lannister.
There are also the Children of the Forest, who we know from Game of Thrones Season 6 were the original creators of the White Walkers. The Children made the first of the undead creatures in response to the original humans to settle Westeros, the First Men, basically kicking them off their land and cutting down their forests. The Long Night created an uneasy truce in the wake of that conflict.
Finally, we’re likely to see some interesting things going on across the Narrow Sea in the prequel, as well. The generation-long winter didn’t just befall Westeros, it impacted the entire world, and the eastern civilizations have their own legend about what happened. That’s the story of Azor Ahai, the hero in the Lord of Light religion, who used the glowing sword Lightbringer to battle “the darkness.” It’s not clear what exactly that means, or whether Azor Ahai and the Last Hero are one and the same.
Martin didn’t reveal any other information about the show when he let the name slip, but he did write that there still are other Game of Thrones prequels in “active development.” Without revealing any potential stories for the other shows, he mentioned that “the readers among you might want to grab a copy of Fire & Blood,” his upcoming book, when it’s released on November 20. That story is also a Game of Thrones prequel, but goes back through the 300 years before the original books to detail the history of the Targaryen family–another fascinating time in Martin’s world, filled with intrigue, war, and dragons.
Meanwhile, we do know that Season 8 of Game of Thrones made at least one cast member cry, and that it’ll have the biggest and most brutal battle in the series’ history. There was also a least a short time when showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss were considering trying to make three standalone movies out of the final season. And while there aren’t too many details out there about what to expect from the end of Game of Thrones, a recently released tie-in video game might hold some clues.