Tom Blythe as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Baird Gray in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

When Does ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Take Place?

It is almost time to jump back into the world of the Hunger Games. So when does The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes take place in the series’ timeline?

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The original Hunger Games books and movies focused on Katniss Everdeen. It started with the 74th annual Hunger Games, where Katniss and Peeta Mellark were the tributes to the games from District 12. Katniss and Peeta survive the Hunger Games, but it puts them in the crosshairs of the most powerful person in Panem—President Coriolanus Snow. The series ends with Snow’s downfall and the abolishment of the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel to Katniss’s story, but how far in the past does it take place?

When does The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes take place?

Songbirds and Snakes is told from the perspective of one character, Coriolanus Snow. Instead of being the aging fascist patriarchal figure we know from the original stories, Coriolanus is an 18-year-old schoolboy. He, along with his classmates, are tasked with being the first mentors in the 10th annual Hunger Games. Using these facts as markers in the timeline, Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years before the rest of the Hunger Games series.

As the story take place in the past, yet with important characters still featured, we can see a progression in the world of Panem. It is a key turning point from when the games began to what it eventually becomes before finally ending. The war where District 13 separated from the rest of Panem is still a part of recent memory. It only ended ten years prior. When we ask ourselves how something like the Hunger Games could exist, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes provides the answer. The 10th Hunger Games is almost primitive, especially when compared to what we see in the later games. Even though there is violence and terrible acts in the other games, there is a certain level of brutality by the players and game makers in the 10th Hunger Games. Think of Songbirds and Snakes as the villain origin story for both Snow and Panem.

(featured image: Lionsgate)

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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.