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George R.R. Martin Confirms This Fan-Favorite Family Will Return for the Game of Thrones Prequel

Since Game of Thrones ended its eight-season run, fans have had time to dwell on questions about what’s to come in future spin-offs. Fortunately for the fandom, George R.R. Martin is spilling deets — and he says the Game of Thrones prequel will include Starks and White Walkers. And, well, that’s not all he said, either. In a telling new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin served up the inside scoop on everything, from the casting to a potentially new title for the prequel series.

Up until now, information about the prequel has been limited. We know it will likely air in 2020 at the earliest but could easily see a 2021 premiere date. There’s an understanding that the prequel will take place roughly 5,000 years before the events  in Game of Thrones. And we know the prequel is currently filming in Northern Ireland. So, when EW got the chance to chat with Martin, they dug a bit deeper to find out more about the families, creatures and kingdoms featured in the upcoming series.

“The Starks will definitely be there. Obviously the White Walkers are here — or, as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” Martin revealed. As for dragons? Well, the prequel predates them. But, promised Martin, “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”

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GIF: HBO/Giphy. HBO/Giphy.

Dragons won’t be the only element of GoT missing in the prequel, naturally. The Lannister family doesn’t rise until later, although they will be represented in one way. “The Lannisters aren’t there yet, but Castlery Rock is certainly there; it’s like the Rock of Gibraltar,” said Martin, elaborating, “It’s actually occupied by the Casterlys — for whom it’s still named after in the time of Game of Thrones.”

A few other interesting notes? There are a lot more kingdoms. Like, 100. In GoT, there were seven, but, according to Martin, “if you go back further then there are nine kingdoms, and 12 kingdoms, and eventually you get back to where there are a hundred kingdoms.” They’ll be what Martin calls “petty kingdoms,” but still… it stands to reason there’s the possibility of much more chaos, war, squabbling and grabs for power with so many kingdoms fighting for dominance.

As for whether any leads will emerge from those kingdoms, Martin insists this is “a large ensemble cast.” While Naomi Watts, Naomi Ackie and Denise Gough seem to be grabbing the most headlines among the stars cast in the prequel, it will also feature Josh Whitehouse, Sheila Atim, Jamie Campbell Bower, Georgie Henley, Ivanno Jeremiah, Tony Regbo and Alex Sharp.

Oh, and Martin noted what could be a tiny tweak to a detail fans thought they already knew about the prequel: its name. While the prequel has been publicized as The Long Night, there’s a bit of behind-the-scenes back-and-forth going on since that was also the title of an episode in GoT. Per Martin, though, it’s possible it will be adjusted slightly to The Longest Night, which he considers “pretty good.”

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