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‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel: What Is the ‘Age of Heroes,’ Exactly?

HBO hit is getting a new prequel show set thousands of years before the current series, taking place in a time of legend and magic

Although 2019 will mark the end of the current series of “Game of Thrones,” it won’t be the only story HBO has to tell in Westeros.

The network is also working on a prequel show, which will be run by screenwriter and producer Jane Goldman. She’s developing a story with George R. R. Martin, author of the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” on which “Game of Thrones” is based, but don’t expect any of your favorite characters to show up. Instead, the new prequel will delve into the legendary past of the continent of Westeros and beyond, jumping thousands of years into the past.

The brief description of the show explains that it’ll be set (at least partially) during the Age of Heroes, a period of Westerosi history that’s not well understood. In the lore of “Game of Thrones,” the Age of Heroes is mostly myth, legend and story — as Samwell Tarly tells Jon Snow in the book, most of the stories from that period were written down thousands of years later.

That means we know very little of what actually happened during the era. The Age of Heroes is believed to have begun around 10,000 years before the events of the show, starting with a pact forged between the First Men, the group of humans who first migrated to Westeros, and the Children of the Forest, the magical creatures who lived on the continent. Before that, the First Men and the Children were openly at war; “Game of Thrones” showed us that the spooky undead White Walkers were created by the Children as a weapon to fight the First Men, in fact.

Eventually, though, the First Men and the Children reached a truce, and peace reigned. Since there are no strong records of when anything happened, events are a bit sketchy, but the Age of Heroes might have lasted as much as 4,000 years. It’s more or less when the Seven Kingdoms as they’re seen in the show began to form. During that time, a lot of the Great Houses, the families we’ve come to know and love (or hate) on “Game of Thrones,” were founded. They included the Starks, who were supposedly founded by Bran the Builder, the guy who built the Wall, and the Lannisters, who say they’re descended from Lann the Clever, a trickster who hoodwinked the Casterly family into giving up their castle (and the Lannisters’ future ancestral home), Casterly Rock.

In “Game of Thrones,” most magical and legendary creatures are pretty much gone: we’ve only seen a few Children of the Forest and giants, for instance. Expect there to be a whole lot more magic flying around in the Age of Heroes, though, as well as magical creatures and peoples. It’s very likely the prequel show will be a little more fantastical than the mostly grounded era of Westeros we’ve seen so far.

The Age of Heroes also comprises of the Long Night, supposedly the worst winter ever in Westeros, which lasted a generation. During that time, the White Walkers made their major invasion of Westeros, marching south and killing tons of people, while also raising them from the dead as an army — exactly like what’s happening in “Game of Thrones” at the end of Season 7. The White Walkers were repelled in a massive throw-down called the Battle of the Dawn that saw the First Men uniting with the Children of the Forest and other magical folk like the giants to defeat the White Walkers.

The prequel show could easily encompass the building of the Wall, the creation of the Night’s Watch, and plenty of backstabbing and politicking as people try to become kings and queens in Westeros. From the show description, it also sounds like the East will play a role, which includes the places in Essos we’ve seen in “Game of Thrones.”

And that almost definitely means that Valyria, an Essos city ruined in the time of “Game of Thrones” by an event called the Doom, but from which Daenerys’ House Targaryen originally hails, will come up as well. Valyria was an empire before it was destroyed, so it could potentially be a major power in the world during the Age of Heroes. Oh — and those folks have dragons.

With so little actually defined about the Age of Heroes, though, the prequel should could be about anything. And from the description, it sounds like it means to dispel a lot of the myths of Westeros as they’ve come up in “Game of Thrones” so far. That could very well mean that everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes is wrong.