The Game of Thrones series finale took up some emotional real estate close to the very end to focus on the noble deeds of dead knights like Jaime Lannister, but hidden among nods to heroes like Barristan Selmy and Arthur Dayne is one entry that Brienne reads about her own ancestor: Ser Duncan the Tall.
The idea hasn’t been talked about for years now, but Duncan’s adventures could make for an excellent Game of Thrones prequel series that takes place long after the one already in production. For all we know, it’s actually happening.
Just after Jon Snow says goodbye to his siblings who are actually his cousins, we get a tender scene where Ser Brienne of Tarth goes through an old tome with entries about every knight that’s served in the Kingsguard. “The Book of Brothers” archive has popped up several times throughout the series. We first saw it in Season 4’s “Two Swords,” when Joffrey Baratheon mocks Jaime Lannister for the short length of his entry.
The responsibility to update the Book of Brothers falls upon the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Now that Brienne has that role, she’s the one to update the records, and she tearfully writes in his accomplishments.
Before doing so, Brienne flips past entries for Ser Barristan Selmy, the older knight who died fighting Sons of the Harpy in Meereen, and Ser Arthur Dayne, the incredible dual-wielding swordsman who died defending Lyanna Stark at the Tower of Joy.
These are excellent callbacks to two of history’s greatest fighters, but the very first entry that we can see Brienne looking at, which appears for only a fraction of a second, is dedicated to Ser Duncan the Tall.
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin confirmed during a public appearance in 2016 that Brienne’s lineage traces back to Duncan the Tall, one of the greatest knights in Westerosi history. He probably also provided the genetics needed to make Brienne so tall and badass, making this a subtle act of fan service connecting the fan-favorite fighter with her tall ancestor.
But it also serves as a reminder that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has clamored for a prequel series about Duncan for years now.
About 90 years before the show and books take place, Duncan the Tall traveled the world with “Egg,” the younger brother to Maester Aemon and future king Aegon V Targaryen. Tales of Dunk and Egg is a series of novellas written by Martin that explores their adventures traveling Westeros as commoners performing heroic deeds. Egg serves as Duncan’s squire, so their dynamic is akin to Arya and the Hound or, more accurately, Podrick Payne and Brienne.
“The most natural follow-up would be an adaptation of my Dunk & Egg stories,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly when talking about Game of Thrones spinoffs back in 2016. “Each of the novellas could easily be done as a two-hour stand-alone movie for television; that would probably be the ideal way to do them, rather than as an ongoing weekly series.”
Martin noted that these stories are lighter in tone than the main series and would feel closer to action/adventure. He said this at a time when HBO wasn’t pursuing any spinoffs of any kind, yet here we are in 2019 with one prequel in active production and several more in early development.
A year later, in 2017, Martin took to his LiveJournal blog to talk further about these spinoff ideas:
None of these new shows will be ‘spinning off’ from GOT in the traditional sense. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel.
If this holds true, then don’t expect spinoffs that take place after the main series like Arya: West of Westeros or Drogon’s Voyage East.
Not only are the Dunk & Egg stories Martin’s favorite choice for a spinoff, but it certainly falls within the realm of possibility as a prequel that does something very different than the original show. (The thematic ties to fan-favorite character Ser Brienne of Tarth are a nice bonus.)
Game of Thrones might have actually teases this prequel spinoff even earlier in Season 8. Back in Episode 2. King Aegon V Targaryen named his son after Duncan the Tall, and Prince Duncan Targaryen comes into focus as a main character in “Jenny’s Song”, the tune sung by Pod in the same episode when Jaime knights Brienne as they prepare for war with the Night King.
Aegon V Targaryen, Ser Duncan the Tall, and Prince Duncan all died at the Tragedy of Summerhall, leaving Aegon’s son Jaehaerys Targaryen to assume the throne. The next ruler to come after Jaehaerys was his son Aerys, the Mad King.
In the tangled tapestry of Westerosi history, Game of Thrones presents a lot of hints that reinforce Brienne’s connection to Duncan, and it’s possible that Season 8 established these far-fetched hints towards a prequel series that’s already in development. Now they just need to cast Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo as Duncan the Tall and Timothée Chalamet as young Aegon.
George R.R. Martin Says The Books Will End Differently To The Series And Much More
Now that Game of Thrones’ series finale has come and gone, even more attention is being paid to author George R.R. Martin. He’s mostly been minding his own business and living his life while the rest of the world harangues him about the final two entries in the series of novels that started it all.
Writing, as everyone should know by now, takes time, but with the Westeros spotlight placed firmly back on him, Martin took to his personal blog to share a few congratulations and an update on his current progress. Martin explained The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are still works in progress, and addressed questions about how much of the book’s events would be similar to Game of Thrones given that parts of the eighth season’s plot were inspired by ideas from Martin’s unfinished work:
How will it all end? I hear people asking. The same ending as the show? Different?
Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.
I am working in a very different medium than David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], never forget. They had six hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them. And of course the butterfly effect will be at work as well; those of you who follow this Not A Blog will know that I’ve been talking about that since season one. There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… so if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet. And yes, there will be unicorns… of a sort…
Book or show, which will be the ‘real’ ending? It’s a silly question.
During all of season eight’s commotion, it became really, really easy to lose sight of just how far away from the source material the show had gotten because of how large and sprawling Game of Thrones became in its own right. It seems obvious to say now, but of course Martin’s novels are going to play out differently. They’ve got to, because a significant amount of important characters are so enmeshed in the story that it can’t really come to a close without their involvement.
Interconnected as they are, Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire are their own separate, different things, and so it’s fitting that they’ll both close out in ways distinct and unique to them. Of course, Martin isn’t going to get into specifics—for instance, if the same person ends up “winning”—which is to be expected.
But in case you thought it was All Books, All the Time from here on out…sorry to break it to you:
I’m still busy. As a producer, I’ve got five shows in development at HBO (some having nothing whatsoever to do with the world of Westeros), two at Hulu, one on the History Channel. I’m involved with a number of feature projects, some based upon my own stories and books, some on material created by others. There are these short films I am hoping to make, adaptations of classic stories by one of the most brilliant, quirky, and original writers our genre has ever produced. I’ve consulted on a video game out of Japan. And then there’s Meow Wolf…
A dream of spring indeed.