While on screen in Westeros the hottest fight for the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones Season 8 is between Daenerys Targaryen and The Character Formerly Known As Jon Snow, Real Westerosi Hero™, in the real world there's another fight for the Iron Throne that's just as hotly contested. HBO has commissioned no less than five Game of Thrones prequels, from five different writers, in hopes of finding the best heir they can. But news today concerning that Game of Thrones fifth prequel (which previously was unconfirmed by HBO) shows why it might be the ringer in this competition.
Originally, HBO announced there were four spinoffs, all prequels, that were being worked on in an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle twice. The writers for each of these were pretty big names too, and two were openly working hand in glove with George R.R. Martin to develop their proposals and script treatments. Jane Goldman (of the Kingsman and X-Men franchises) and Carly Wray (HBO's The Leftovers & Westworld, AMC's Mad Men) were the ones working with Martin, while Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island) and Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, A Knights Tale) were going it alone.
Then Martin let slip via his NotABlog there was a fifth, mystery prequel that had been commissioned that he was also working with. But who? And why was HBO not telling anyone?
It turns out, the reason they kept it under wraps was due to who was writing it: Bryan Cogman, who has been a writer on the Game of Thrones series, and the number two behind David Benioff and Dan Weiss, since the beginning.
He's also one of their most prolific script writers, and was responsible for some of Game of Thrones' best episodes. Season highlights include (but are not limited to): Season 1's "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things," Season 2's "What Is Dead May Never Die," Season 3's "Kissed by Fire," Season 4's "The Laws of Gods and Men," Season 5's "Kill the Boy," Season 6's "The Broken Man," and Season 7's "Stormborn." He is currently slated to write the second episode of the final season.
According to Entertainment Weekly, who broke the news:
Cogman developed the project by working closely with author George R.R. Martin, who cryptically referenced the existence of an additional unconfirmed prequel on his blog months ago. Since GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have declined to be involved with the prequels (and with Martin already involved two of the other four), Cogman is arguably the next-best possible addition to the prequel squad from the show's current creative team.
So for fans who worry that the new prequel might not have the same flavor and feel of the one airing now, fear not. At least one of the contenders comes in with a pedigree tied to the show, as well as some of the best writing credits of the run. Doubtless, if his gets the green light, we will see many of the same names return to work on his production.
Of course, there are no details about which part of Westerosi history his series will focus on, but we know from previous reports that Martin preemptively declared parts of the recent past off limits, including Robert's Rebellion and the events leading up to Game of Thrones, as well as the Dunk and Egg novellas and Aegon the Unlikely's reign as king.
With the details that we now know about Jon's parentage, including the marriage of Rhaegar and Lyanna, and the "Prince that was Promised" prophecy that came about due to events during Aegon The Unlikely's reign, was can see why Martin felt that revisiting those eras would be too closely linked to the present show.
But anything else in Westerosi history is up for grabs, including the Dance With Dragons Civil War era, which seems to be the going favorite era to focus on among fans. As to who wins the chance to be the next writer to fill the Iron Throne, that remains to be seen. May all five writers have good fortune in the wars to come.