A Game of Thrones prequel series focusing on House Targaryen appears to be on the way - and this one may well be in anthology format. The series, which currently does not have a working title revealed, is said to be about to get a pilot order from HBO.
While that has yet to be officially confirmed, buzz around the potential series includes that it will be about Targaryen history, drawing from George R.R. Martin's Fire and Blood book (Martin himself hinted as much in a blog post), and that it is described as "set 300 years before the events in Game of Thrones and tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen."
A Targaryen history prequel has some serious promise, of course, but that description is somewhat confusing - which may mean that unlike Game of Thrones, this new series is going to break down the history of this dragon-House into smaller chunks, significantly changing the kind of storytelling fans of the show are used to.
Why The Targaryen Prequel Premise Is Confusing
For anyone who needs to brush up on their Westerosi history, the confusion around the premise of this new series stems from the timeline. 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones is, more or less, the time of Aegon's Conquest. Aegon Targaryen flew from Dragonstone to unite and rule the Seven Kingdoms from 2BC to 1AC (his conquest being the point at which the new calendar began), and A Song of Ice and Fire begins in 297/298 AC. Saying that the prequel will be 300 years before Game of Thrones then points directly at Aegon's Conquest - which is certainly House Targaryen's beginnings as the rulers of Westeros, but is very far from the 'beginning of the end'.
House Targaryen ruled, essentially unopposed, for hundreds of years after the conquest, and in 1AC, were extraordinarily powerful, with huge dragons at their command. In the years after the conquest, they subdued Dorne (with not a little difficulty), built King's Landing, and expanded as a House, with more dragons hatching and finding riders. The 'beginning of the end' for this noble house is a little more complicated. Some would argue that the Dance of Dragons, the Targaryen civil war that took place around 130 AC, marked the beginning of the end for the house. If nothing else, it certainly marked the beginning of the end of the dragons themselves - whose numbers dropped from around twenty to only four during the conflict, after which few dragons were born, and those were stunted and not long for this world. However, the Targaryens continued to rule until Robert's Rebellion in 282AC - an event often referred to as the 'Fall of the Dragons'.
No matter what, whichever 'beginning of the end' is being referred to here, it did not take place 300 years in the past... unless the Game of Thrones prequel intends to do something incredibly ambitious, and tell all of these stories, from the Conquest to Robert's Rebellion. If this is the case, it would be far too much for a detailed series (unless HBO feels like committing to a dozen full seasons or more), but it would be perfect for an anthology.
An Anthology Could Be The Best Choice For Targaryen History
While it may seem like a surprising choice, an anthology format could actually be the perfect way to tell the entirety of Targaryen history on the small screen. A series set up this way would essentially be re-creating Fire and Blood, which would make for easy divisions that follow the book, skipping over some of the quieter parts of Targaryen history and focusing on the really big moments: the Conquest, the Dance of Dragons, the Blackfyre Rebellions, etc. This would build up an incredible story of Westeros history, without having to tell every moment of every King's reign. It could also continue beyond the events of Fire and Blood itself in later seasons, continuing on to some of the stories in The Tales of Dunk and Egg, and expanding on the build up to Robert's Rebellion, essentially filling in the gaps between the conquest and Game of Thrones.
This would ensure that fans' favorite stories are told, but in manageable chunks, focusing on the parts of Targaryen history that hold the most interest for viewers. It would also keep many fans committed, wanting to see how everything would eventually come together in order to reach the start of Game of Thrones itself. Learning more about Jon Snow's parentage, seeing Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark when they were young men, seeing the Mad King in his prime - all of these stories would make for an epic final season, but aren't worth exploring in a dedicated series of their own. This would also create a series totally different to BloodMoon, the other Game of Thrones prequel in development, which is set thousands of years before GoT itself - and while the Game of Thrones fandom is vast, it would be a wise move to make sure that multiple prequels are very different, to avoid burnout on this world.
Problems With An Anthology Format For Game Of Thrones
While it would seem that an anthology format could be the ideal way to explore the history of the Targaryens, it's far from a perfect concept. The biggest issue may be that it would be far more difficult to truly explore some of the complex political scheming of any of the major events in Targaryen history in a single season. Fans of Game of Thrones loved the manipulations and machinations of those in power, and cutting down on that would be a real disappointment. George R.R. Martin's world is incredibly detailed, and condensing it to fit into an anthology may simply not be enough time to do justice to even the major events.
In addition, fans would have to follow the wildly complicated history of Westerosi loyalties and families despite time jumps and with a new(ish) cast each season. This is no mean feat, as Game of Thrones is known for having a cast with a vast number of characters, and Fire and Blood certainly doesn't stint on the number of players either. There's less continuity, as well, and while anthology formats are quite popular at the moment (Black Mirror and American Horror Story prove that fans are happy to see big changes from season to season), the most successful ones aren't telling stories anywhere near as far-reaching as Fire and Blood. An anthology would have to be handled extremely carefully - although that's true of any adaptation of a beloved world. And of course, it may well be that everyone is reading far too much into that description of '300 years prior'; it's worth noting that the tagline to Fire and Blood itself is "300 Years Before Game of Thrones, Dragons Ruled Westeros." The description could simply be referencing the book, not giving a specific setting for the Game of Thrones Targaryen prequel, but only time will tell.