George R.R. Martin was in London in November. It was his turn to meet with his British editor to talk about The Winds of Winter, the sixth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantastic saga on which Game of Thrones was based. It was due to be published at the end of 2015 and, to the despair of fans, it remains absent from bookstore shelves (and still has no release date).
But, taking advantage of the fact that he was close to the sets where House of the Dragon is filmed, he paid a visit to the sets and spoke with Ryan Condal, the showrunner with whom he developed this prequel focused on the dynastic battle of the Targaryens two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones. That he advanced? That the new episodes will be “very dark.”
“I had planned a visit there months before, but the writers' strike prevented it, and instead I stayed in Santa Fe, working on The Winds of Winter and walking the picket lines,” G.R.R. has written. Martin on his personal blog through which he informs his fans both about his life and the way in which his works are progressing. “All I have to say is… for the love of God!”, He admitted about the dimensions and the care with which the sets of The House of the Dragon are made.
“I have worked intermittently in television and film since 1986, when I joined the writing team for the revival of The Twilight Zone,” he said, and he still remembers “the rush of watching how they built Stonehenge in the studio behind” the office for an episode he had written. And, despite experiences like this or having visited the Game of Thrones filming in Belfast, Scotland, Morocco and Malta, which “were also incredible,” he had never seen anything like what was built for the prequel.
“Nothing can compare to the Red Keep and Dragonstone sets they did at the Leavesden studios in London. “They were huge, dazzling and so real that I felt like I had gone through a time portal to the medieval Westeros,” he explained of the experience. “I love castles and I have visited dozens of real medieval castles, fortresses, keepes, and none of these real castles can measure up to our Red Keep,” she said.
In addition to doing series tourism, he also met for two days with Ryan Condal and the rest of the writers involved (Sarah Hess, Ti Mikkel, David Hancock and Philippa Goslett) to discuss how they intended to approach the third and fourth seasons. Already at the time, Martin had explained that he envisioned House of the Dragon as a series of four seasons of ten episodes each. What pleased him most, however, was being able to take a look at the first cut of the first two episodes of the second season.
“Of course, I can't be completely objective when talking about anything that adapts my own work, but I have to say that both episodes were simply great. Dark Very dark. They make you cry. I didn't cry but one of my friends did. “They are powerful, emotional, heartbreaking, they break your heart,” she said of the episodes.
His statements also come at the right time: HBO has already started the promotional machinery around The House of the Dragon, which has to return in the summer. “Mistakes were made in the hours after Viserys' death. We have to go to war. Many will die,” warned the first teaser for the second season, led by Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, Emma D’Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen.
In parallel to this prequel to Game of Thrones, the universe of G.R.R. Martin has more projects in development at HBO and one that has already received the green light: A knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, which takes as reference the stories of Dunk and Egg, important characters in the history of Westeros and who existed a century before Daenerys' coronation. Dunk ended up becoming Lord Commander of the Kingsguard while Egg took the Iron Throne as Aegon V.
The project that arouses the most expectation, for the record, is possibly the series focused on Jon Snow that Kit Harington has proposed to produce for HBO. It is the only sequel in development to Game of Thrones and was the idea of Harington, who is interested in reprising the character of the bastard of Winterfell, who turned out to have royal blood, both Targaryen and Stark.