It’s only been a couple of months since Game Of Thrones limped off the stage of our collective obsession, to the cries of disappointment from longtime fans and schemes to make the showrunners synonymous with “bad writers” in Google searches. But on the off chance that there are still hardcore fans eager to plunge back into Westeros—only, you know, thousands of years before anyone we care about exists—George R.R. Martin has a couple of sparingly informative details he is now happy to share with folks who agree that it’s not the people that make a story, but the rock outcroppings that surround them.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the author reveals a few details about the upcoming spinoff/prequel series coming to HBO sometime next year. We already knew it starred Naomi Watts and Josh Whitehouse (among many, many others) and that Jane Goldman will serve as showrunner, along with Jessica Jones and would-be Star Trek director S.J. Clarkson helming the pilot. But did we know how many little idolated kingdoms Westeros would be broken into prior to this? We did not.
Here’s what we’ve learned about the series’ actual story, which is currently filming in Northern Ireland: The Seven Kingdoms were only that many around the time of Aegon’s Conquest. “But 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—petty kingdoms—and that’s the era we’re talking about here,” Martin says, presumably while scanning a to-do list on his phone that just reads, “Maybe finish book?” So good news: Even more names of places to try and learn, only to forget and become hopelessly confused by the geography about 2 hours into the narrative.
Also, while there won’t be any Lannisters, due to that family not yet rising to power (“The Lannisters aren’t there yet, but Casterly Rock is certainly there; it’s like the Rock of Gibraltar,” says Martin. “It’s actually occupied by the Casterlys—for whom it’s still named after in the time of Game of Thrones”), the other big name in Westeros will be repped. “The Starks will definitely be there.” And despite a distinct lack of dragons (which, boo to that), Martin hopes other creatures will pick up the CGI slack. “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 says. “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.” We will accept a massive mammoth fight as apology for the dragon thing.
Martin also admits that his preferred original title for the show, The Long Night (what with its narrative being the lead-up to the confrontation with the White Walkers that ultimately gains that name), the use of it as an episode title for season eight kind of put the kibosh on it. Nonetheless, he holds out hope for a slightly modified iteration: “I heard a suggestion that it could be called The Longest Night, which is a variant I wouldn’t mind,” he says, perhaps not realizing many viewers also think of the final season in those terms. Still, Naomi Watts, right?