In a new interview with fellow fantasy writer David Anthony Durham on the RandomHouseBooks.com website, Martin said he would have picked a different starting point in the story for the series.
“One of the writers wanted to begin it later, with Aemma dying. Skip the Great Council, skip the tournament, a scream sounds out, Aemma is dead, that’s where you begin,” Martin said in the interview. “That was one possibility. Another of the writers wanted to begin even later than that, with Viserys dying. But what happens there? Then you have to present all that material in flashbacks or dialogue, that becomes challenging, too. But we discussed all these possibilities.”
Martin’s preferred starting point, which he claims, “No one liked except for me,” covers earlier Targaryen history.
“I would’ve begun it like 40 years earlier, with an episode I would’ve called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’” Martin said. “Jaehaerys’ two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive, and we see the friendship but also the rivalry between the two sides of the great house. Then Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth, then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir. Is it the daughter of the son who’s just died, or the second son who has children of his own and is a man where she’s a teenager? You could’ve presented all that stuff, but then you would’ve had 40 more years, and even more.”
Ultimately, the TV series begins with the Great Council convened by King Jaehaerys Targaryen (Michael Carter) to decide whether his heir should be Princess Rhaenys (Eve Best), the daughter of his eldest son, or Prince Viserys (Paddy Considine), the son of his second son.
Martin, who has long experience in film and television, said there’s no right or wrong answer on where to begin.
“There are many ways you can approach these things,” he said, “And if you do it well, it can work.”