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.
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.
Game of Thrones is now available to stream in its entirety on HBO.