It really isn't the best time of year to be a Game of Thrones. The forthcoming seventh season of HBO's hugely successful adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire isn't set to premiere until mid-2017, having been pushed back from its usual April slot, and the series will also have a reduced run of seven episodes, rather than the standard ten. Furthermore, producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have confirmed that the show will wrap up after its eighth outing. That's only two more (shortened) seasons of Game Of Thrones. Fans of the literary source material aren't faring much better either, with the next entry in the series, The Winds Of Winter, still being written by Martin and no word as yet on when the book will hit shelves.
With the end of Game of Thrones now firmly in sight, thoughts have naturally turned to how the franchise can continue once the main story has concluded. Of course, the Lord of the Rings franchise went down a direct prequel route with Tolkien's much loved The Hobbit and Harry Potter has turned to spin-off books with the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
The most prominently discussed option for HBO to pursue, however, has been the concept of a prequel series further exploring the history of Westeros and perhaps even the younger days of some familiar characters. Speaking at the Emmy Awards this weekend however, Martin (who also has an executive producer role on the show) confirmed that talk of such a project is premature, claiming (via TV Guide):
"Well I do have thousands of pages of fake history that have led up to Game of Thrones. At the moment, we still have a show to finish and I still have two books to finish, so for now, that's all speculation."
Although Martin is keen to keep fans' attention of the forthcoming season and his long awaited book, his comments leave the door very firmly open for a prequel at some point in the future and if HBO did decide to go down such a route, there is clearly no shortage of source material for them to plunder.
Martin's "thousands of pages" could lead a potential prequel in a variety of different directions and there is plenty of history fans would likely be keen to see. The White Walkers, Children Of The Forest and Three Eyed Raven had an integral role in Westeros' development and could merit a series in themselves; alternatively, a show set in an age where the dragons roamed wild could be a prime opportunity to exploit one of the show's most exciting elements. An entirely different option would be to focus on more recent history, such as Robert Baratheon's war against the Targaryens, although this was explored to some extent in season six and will potentially feature even more before the show's final episode.
Of course, another question is whether there should be a prequel series at all, or whether Game of Thrones should simply leave its legacy alone and go out on what will undoubtedly be a huge high. The aforementioned The Hobbit trilogy was a success financially but was widely criticized for splitting one book into three movies and it remains to be seen how Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them fares. However, there is a precedent for success: Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul has been almost as critically lauded as its predecessor and continues to be an excellent series in its own right. If Game of Thrones could produce something similar, fans would certainly be up for a return to the land of Westeros.
Game of Thrones season 7 premieres on HBO in summer 2017
Source: TV Guide