HBO wants to adapt another story George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished yet

HBO is sending in the cavalry.
HBO is sending in the cavalry.
Image: HBO
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Critics and fans blamed much of the critical decline of HBO’s Game of Thrones on the fact that the TV show had outpaced the rate at which author George R.R. Martin could write the books on which it was based.

So, naturally, HBO is planning to do that all over again.

Variety reported yesterday HBO is developing a series based on Martin’s Tales of Dunk and Egg, a series of novellas that takes place 90 years before the events of Game of Thrones. There is just one problem: Martin is not finished writing the series, just as he hadn’t yet completed the A Song of Ice and Fire books before HBO started turning those into Thrones.

In 2014, when Thrones was in its fourth season (of eight total), Martin blogged that he still maintained the TV rights to Tales of Dunk and Egg, but left the door open to selling them to HBO at some point down the road. But, in 2017, as Thrones was nearing its end, Martin blogged that he didn’t want anyone to adapt Tales of Dunk and Egg for precisely the reason Thrones was receiving criticism at the time:

We’re not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I’d love that, and so would many of you. But I’ve only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don’t want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I’ve finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we’ll do a tv show about them…but that day is still a long ways off.

That HBO is now developing a Dunk and Egg series means Martin must have either changed his mind and allowed HBO to use its characters for a series—or that he came to the conclusion he will never finish writing it. HBO declined to comment. Martin has not addressed the news on his blog.

Fans are still eagerly waiting for Martin to publish The Winds of Winter, the sixth of seven planned novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Martin originally expected to finish that book in 2016. He has since given up on providing a concrete timeline. “No, sorry, still not done, but I do inch closer,” he blogged in November.

Despite the divisive ending of Thrones, it’s no surprise HBO wants to make more content related to one of the most lucrative pieces of intellectual property in television. It has already green lit at least one prequel series: House of the Dragon, based on Martin’s book Fire & Blood, which tells the history of the Targaryen dynasty seen in Game of Thrones. Another prequel series that was to take place 10,000 years before the events of Thrones made it as far as shooting a pilot episode before HBO decided to scrap it.

Other possibilities for eventual prequel series include a show about “Robert’s Rebellion”—an infamous civil war that is referenced in Game of Thrones but only seen in brief glimpses—as well as adaptations of three novellas that each take place hundreds of years before the events of Thrones: The Rogue Prince, The Princess and the Queen, and The Sons of the Dragon.

There are ample completed Martin stories set in Westeros for HBO to adapt that would not require them to extrapolate the narrative like they’d have to for Dunk and Egg. That story, however, does focus on just two characters—Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, Egg, who later becomes King Aegon V—and is far simpler than the sweeping narrative told in Game of Thrones. So HBO likely would not have as much difficulty bringing a conclusion to the story as it did with Thrones.

Still, it is a curious decision, and one that goes directly against the wishes of the author as recently as four years ago. HBO is not going to let much stand in the way of making more shows set in the Game of Thrones universe now that it is owned by AT&T, which has demanded the cable network increase its output.