We finally have some details about the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series. HBO has announced that the new show will depict a period of time in the series’ history known as the Age of Heroes.
So what exactly is this Age of Heroes? What do we know about it, and what does that tell us about where HBO is taking this series? Here’s what you need to know.
It’s about 10,000 years before the events of the show
The Age of Heroes is a period of time long before any of the events of the HBO series; it’s about 10,000 years in the past.
The era begins when the First Men and the Children of the Forest form a Pact. This ends a long war and brings about many years of peace between them.
The Age of Heroes lasts about four thousand years, ending with the Andal Invasion; the Andals invade Westeros and end up killing just about all of the First Men.
Many houses trace their origin to this period, including House Stark
After the signing of the Pact, the First Men began to expand their territory. It was during this time that many houses were formed. According to the book The World of Ice and Fire, during the Age of Heroes, the First Men “[forged] the seeds of the kingdoms that are the ancestors of the Seven Kingdoms we know today.”
One of the houses that trace its origins to the Age of Heroes is House Stark; according to legend, Bran the Builder founded it and also built the Wall during this time. In Game of Thrones, Bran Stark is named after him.
Lann the Clever, the founder of House Lannister, also lived during this era.
The Long Night
Probably the most noteworthy period within the Age of Heroes is what came to be known as the Long Night, a winter that lasted for an entire generation. During this time, it is said that the First Men and the Children of the Forest fought the White Walkers, who emerged as a threat for the first time.
According to legend, a hero named Azor Ahai was able to defeat the White Walkers with his sword, Lightbringer. A prophecy states that Azor Ahai will be reborn again, and so many fans believe that either Daenerys Targaryen or Jon Snow is actually Azor Ahai reborn.
By the end of the Long Night, the White Walkers were driven back North, and a Wall was constructed to keep them out. Thousands of years later, that Wall remains standing at the beginning of Game of Thrones.
It’s shrouded in mystery
What’s especially noteworthy about the Age of Heroes, though, is how little we know about it for sure.
In Westeros, there are lots of tales told about the Age of Heroes and the great men who lived during this time. But nobody is really sure how much of what they know about it is true and how much is just a story. The book The World of Ice and Fire explains:
Did such heroes once exist? It may be so. But when the singers number Serwyn of the Mirror Shield as one of the Kingdsguard — an institituion that was only formed dring the reign of Aegon the Conqueror – we can see why it is that few of these tales can ever be trusted. The septons who first wrote them down took what details suited them and added others, and the singers changed them – sometimes beyond all recognition – for the sake of a warm place on some lord’s hall.
This gives HBO a tremendous amount of wiggle room to tell whatever kind of story they want. This is as opposed to an event like Robert’s Rebellion, which we know all about and wouldn’t give the showrunners much room to write what they want.
We’ll see the true origin of the White Walkers
We mentioned that the Age of Heroes saw the White Walkers emerging as a threat for the first time, and that’s evidently something that we’ll see on the prequel series.
In its announcement, HBO said that the show will reveal the “true origin of the White Walkers.” This was surprising to hear since fans thought they already knew this origin; an episode of the show revealed that the Children of the Forest created them to fight off the First Men.
However, there’s apparently more to the story than that. In general, HBO says that this prequel is “not the story we think we know.”
It will reveal “mysteries of the east” and “Starks of legend”
HBO’s announcement also notes that the show will reveal “mysteries of the East.” This could be referring to a number of things, but a strong possibility is that it’s talking about Azor Ahai. After all, this legend comes from Asshai, which is located East of Westeros.
Plus, the announcement states that the show will reveal “Starks of legend.” This would seem to confirm that the series will go into the origin of House Stark. There also seems to be a strong possibility that Bran the Builder will be a major character.
A possible title
What might be the title of this show? Well, George R.R. Martin recently teased that he wants to call it The Long Night. This obviously confirms that the generations-long winter and the battle against the White Walkers will be the main storyline of the show. Martin isn’t sure The Long Night will end up being the title, though; he thinks HBO will want to incorporate Game of Thrones into the series’ name.
There is not yet an air date for the Game of Thrones prequel, but HBO previously stated that it would not premiere until at least 2020, one year after the finale of the original show.
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