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Latest update on ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel series reveals it won’t include any Lannisters

Ever since the epic Game of Thrones came to an end, we've all been wondering what we could sink our teeth into next to somehow replace the void left in our hearts and homes. There's been a distinct lack of Westeros and its drama every Sunday in our worlds ever since the show aired its final season, and there's nothing quite like it to get hooked on instead. What's a forlorn fantasy fan to do? Easy: get hooked on the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series, of course.

Yes, it's coming, but there have been scant details released about what kind of show it may even be whenever it finally debuts. According to HBO, the series will "chronicle the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour." There's one sentence in the description here that may send chills down your spine: "It's not the story we think we know."

Recently, author and executive producer George R.R. Martin opened up to Entertainment Weekly about what we can expect out of the upcoming prequel, which is in the preliminary stages of production right now in Northern Ireland.

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Though both HBO and Martin himself have previously revealed several tasty tidbits of information about the show and what viewers can expect, such as the fact that it takes place around 5,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones as we know it, Martin was happy to share a few more hints about what we might see when this series finally hits TV.

For one, Martin shared that Westeros is actually divided into around 100 kingdoms at the time of the prequel. If you felt the kingdoms during the original show's time period were hard to keep track of, you might be feeling a little trepidation right now. They're "petty kingdoms," Martin says, that were formed before the nine kingdoms and even the 12 before that. Westeros may be something of a lawless, Wild West during this time period, which might make for even more severe drama and infighting than we're used to.

Another curious detail Martin felt comfortable with sharing is that, strangely enough, the Lannister family won't be showing up at the beginning of the prequel. While Casterly Rock is there, it's occupied by the Casterlys, the area's namesake. The story goes that the Casterlys actually had this land stolen out from under them by Lann the Clever, who ended up founding House Lannister. Martin didn't clarify whether or not this tale will play out in the prequel, but it would certainly make sense if that were the case since we're taking thousands of years before Game of Thrones during the time period in which it appeared in on HBO.

HBO/Helen Sloan

But while there aren't any Lannisters early on, there are Starks as well as their loyal dire wolves. According to Martin, they'll "definitely be there," as well as their enemies (and everyone else's): the White Walkers. However, in the books, they're known as The Others, he reminds us, and they'll be an important part of the story alongside mythical creatures like mammoths and dire wolves. We could be looking at a series with plenty more animals and critters from throughout Westeros than ever before, which is definitely an intriguing thought to ponder. What other kinds of animals were there? The prequel does predate dragons, unfortunately, but that doesn't mean there won't be other cool stuff roaming the world.

Perhaps one of the most interesting new facts Martin shared about the show is the notion that it may not simply adopt the Game of Thrones moniker. The author himself has suggested the simplistic "The Long Night" in the past, and while Martin still prefers this name, there's another in the running: "The Longest Night." That way, it could still be set apart season 8's third episode which was also called "The Long Night." Martin called it a "variant he wouldn't mind," noting it would be "pretty good." Game of Thrones: The Longest Night has a great ring to it – but Martin hasn't confirmed whether or not he'll be going for a subtitle or not.

In terms of who will actually be on screen carrying out these new storylines, the show will likely star a trio of female protagonists: Academy Award winner Naomi Watts, Colette's Denise Gough, and Naomi Ackle. Other confirmed stars include Life on Mars' John Simm, Marvel's Luke Cage's Marquis Rodriguez, Wallander's Richard McCabe, and Harlots' Sheila Atim.

Martin refers to the tale, which seems as though it will feature some pretty big names in the entertainment business, as an "ensemble story" because of it.

"We don’t have leads so much as a large ensemble cast," Martin explained. So we can at least surmise that everyone involved will play an "equal" role in terms of the narrative, if we're understanding him correctly.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this entire prequel business is the fact that, according to Martin himself, this is just one of three series that are currently "still moving forward nicely." To date, there have been five Game of Thrones "successor shows" in development, he said, noting his dislike for the term "spinoffs."

So while this one he's lovingly referring to as The Long Night will seemingly include all the details he divulged to Entertainment Weekly, we're still very much at a loss for what the other two will be about. Martin suggests picking up a copy of Fire & Blood and "coming up with [your] own theories."

Currently, Martin is still at work on the sixth book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, entitled The Winds of Winter. While he hasn't set a date for that entry in his lengthy set of books, he also hasn't given us a date for the impending prequel, either. It would probably be difficult for him to at this point, given that he's an extremely busy man.

Martin has his hands in plenty of things right now, so it's not as if this prequel series is the only project on his plate. He's also hard at work on a video game. Elden Ring is an upcoming action role-playing game he's working in tandem with From Software and Bandai Namco to bring to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2020. Writing a book, producing a series, and working on a game? That's a lot for a whole team of people to do, let alone one man.

Unfortunately, that means as with most things related to Game of Thrones, we'll be waiting around for quite some time for any real progress to be made. But even though bringing all these things to fruition will undoubtedly take some time, we can rest assured: it will all have Martin's stamp of approval. Luckily, he usually sees fit to update us on what he's working on over at his official blog, too.

And at the very least, it looks like he knows how things could potentially play out, and that's good enough to quell that powerful Thrones thirst for most of us — at least, for a while.