Welcome back, GAME OF THRONES fans! The brevity of our last roundup was just a set-up for the deluge of news we got this fortnight, from a premiere date (finally) to new travel locations to a look at the GAME OF THRONES prequel series.

Season 8 News Nuggets

Rejoice! We’re finally getting some tangible season eight news! HBO announced the premiere date for the final season, after months of dragging out the coveted information: April 14 is the big day, so set your DVRs and prepare to call out sick from work on Monday the 15th. The announcement was paired with an actually substantive trailer, too. Jon, Sansa, and Arya visit the Winterfell catacombs where the voices of Lyanna, Ned, and Catelyn Stark haunt their minds. But the parents’ aren’t the only statues in the crypt: the living children see themselves represented in stone, too. The distinctive blue icy air of the White Walkers encroaches behind them. Cut to black.

We also got the first footage of season eight during the Golden Globe Awards. The HBO sizzle reel gave us barely a few seconds of the new season, but it certainly packed a punch. First, we see the Night King riding his ice dragon, which is undeniably cool no matter which side you’re on.

Then we see Daenerys’s dragons leading an army into something, presumably battle. And more notably, we see Sansa Stark tell Dany, “Winterfell is yours, your grace.” It’s not necessarily surprising to find out that the two women will meet in the final season, but it is jarring to see Sansa giving over what she fought so hard to win back.

Hark! A Loophole!

The question on everyone’s mind (I assume) when it comes to season eight plot points is the incest. It was the closing twist of season seven, and we know that season eight will revolve around the Jon/Dany relationship. Jon’s moral righteousness and Dany’s quest for the throne will be thrown into chaos by the results of their union. But there might be a bit of a deus ex machina waiting for us if Esquire‘s theory is right.

Turns out, incest is illegal and the children thereof illegitimate in Westeros except if the relevant parties are Targaryens. In his new book Fire & Blood, George R.R. Martin explains the legitimacy of generations of Targaryen rule despite the clear inbreeding, and, as the Esquire piece puts it, “Incest between Targaryens is very legal & very cool.” How convenient.

Dubious Distinctions

GAME OF THRONES may not have won any awards last weekend, but it did receive honors from some unexpected sources. GoT can add entomology to the list of disciplines that it has altered forever, with three new beetle species getting their names from the Targaryen dragons. A researcher from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln named three of his eight new discoveries drogoni, rhaegali, and viserioni. Brett Ratcliffe has said that, yes, he is a fan of the show, but mostly he wanted to draw attention to the field of entomology and give beetles the old GAME OF THRONES bump. Mission accomplished, professor.

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Fiery beetles Gymnetis drogoni, Gymnetis rhaegali, and Gymnetis viserioni. Courtesy of Brett Ratcliffe via AP.

Though it is still the most-streamed show on Comcast, GAME OF THRONES has passed on the title of the most pirated show. In fact, it didn’t even crack the top ten, according to TorrentFreak. After six years at number one, GoT has passed the mantle on to THE WALKING DEAD, which had held the number two spot since 2014.

I had hoped that this could be the one place that we don’t have to talk about Donald Trump, but I guess we can’t always get what we want. President Trump revived his GoT-inspired promo poster during a Cabinet meeting at the White House to menacingly announce that the sanctions on Iran would return. GAME OF THRONES is a great role model when it comes to international relations.

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Yeah. That happened. Courtesy of Esquire.

GAME OF THRONES Prequel Takes Shape

The blurred discussions of a GAME OF THRONES prequel are starting to take form, with the full cast of the first, still untitled series making its debut. As previously reported, Naomi Watts and Josh Whitehouse will star, and they will be joined by Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, Jamie Campbell Bower, Sheila Atim, Ivanno Jeremiah, Georgie Henley, Alex Sharp, and Toby Regbo.

Campbell Bower’s casting is curious since he appeared in the notorious unaired GAME OF THRONES pilot back in 2010. He played Night’s Watch ranger Ser Waymar Royce but was unable to film the reshoots because of Starz’s short-lived CAMELOT. (To quote Julia Roberts, “Big mistake. Huge!”) Campbell Bower won’t be reprising the role since the timelines of the two shows do not overlap, but he must have made quite the impression on Martin and Co. in that one episode to be invited back so many years later.

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Jamie Campbell Bower in CAMELOT. The aesthetic is certainly there. Courtesy of Starz.

A Fantasy World Where Woman and POC Exist

The GAME OF THRONES prequel series seems to be diverging from its predecessor in terms of representation on- and off-screen. Jane Goldman has been helming the project, and JESSICA JONES director S.J. Clarkson will direct the pilot. By contrast, only one of the nineteen directors and two writers on GAME OF THRONES were women. With Ackie, Atim, and Jeremiah as series regulars, the GAME OF THRONES prequel will also be significantly less white than GoT.

Perhaps this is an indication that the series will take place in Essos rather than Westeros, where black people don’t exist I guess. This theory supports new reports that the series will shoot in the Canary Islands, off the coast of North Africa, in the spring. The island of Tenerife, which supposedly offers a 35% tax break to film crews, is home to an active volcano and beautiful beaches. Vanity Fair posits that it could easily stand in for the Summer Isles or Old Valyria.

Food & Wine

On to my favorite portion of GAME OF THRONES news: anything related to eating or drinking. Los Angeles restaurant Lately will host a five-course GAME OF THRONES dinner on January 19. The event is in partnership with chamber music group Salastina, which will perform compositions from the show. Chef and GoT superfan Becky Reams devised the menu: a fire and ice aperitif; octopus, squid ink tagliatelle, sea broth, Thai chile, and grains of paradise from Braavos; and a Red Wedding-inspired course, whatever that means. There are only 40 seats available and they’ll run you $175 per person. Costumes are encouraged.

In other “gourmets with too much time on their hands” news, vigneron Thibault Bardet of Bourdeaux cultivated a real-life Dornish wine. Bardet made use of the vivid detail of Martin’s books to determine how the wine would taste given the climate and terrain of Dorne. Such a wine did not already exist, so he made it himself. He describes it as”fruity, powerful but easy to drink, and [with] intense dark color.” He sourced the grapes from sandy soil like that of Dorne — summer 2016 in Bourdeaux did the trick. He created two wines from his research: Dornish Wine Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux Red 2016 and The Imp’s Delight St.-Emilion Red 2016, the latter named after Tyrion Lannister’s retirement fantasy.

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In the words of Tyrion Lannister, “I drink and I know things.” Courtesy of HBO and Vignobles Bardet, respectively.

For a more stateside option, Cudahy, Wisconsin will host a GAME OF THRONES pop-up bar later this month. Winter is Coming, as it’s called, is decked out with a smoking and glowing dragon, handcrafted Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, and even an Iron Throne.

Fun & Games

Enterprising FORTNITE player Assasin-of-Eire has built Castle Black in the game’s creative mode. The Night’s Watch fortress is fully decorated, interior and exterior, including everything from the Great Hall to the Lord Commander’s Quarters to the top of the wall. I don’t know how FORTNITE works, but if you do and you want to check out Castle Black for yourself, Assasin-of-Eire provided the code 4484-1802-8529.

If you are more a tangible person than a digital one, McFarlane Toys has you covered. The company released images of their first line of GAME OF THRONES figures, starting with Daenerys, Jon, Arya, the Night King, and ice dragon Viserion. Each character comes with the relevant accessories, like Dany’s map markers and Jon’s dragonglass daggers. The human figures are modeled from digital scans of the actors themselves. They will be available in April.

Stars, They’re Just Like Us

That is, if you’ve developed your own app or if you’ve auctioned off a tea date for charity. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) will promote her app Daisie, a social network for young artists, at St. Andrew’s University next month. Williams developed Daisie to give young creatives a safe space for collaboration, growth, and networking. “Before Daisie, success in the creative industries has been wholly dependent on luck and ‘ins’ to the industry,” Williams said.

“Daisie introduces a new way into the creative world, through connections made organically and the natural development of your skills, propelling individuals to the next level.”

Meanwhile, Kit Harington is doing the Lord’s work and allowing one lucky person to join him for tea and a show. The sweepstakes is a benefit for Mencap, a non-profit benefiting people with learning disabilities and their families. Entries start at $10 with larger sums earning prizes like signed photos and a personalized voicemail from Harington for $5,000.

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  1. […] were spoiled with season eight news last time, but we haven’t gotten much these last two weeks. Benioff and Weiss promise that we will get […]

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