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More Targaryen Descriptions

[Note: The following is a compilation of several mails from GRRM to Amok regarding his continuing project of depicting notable Targaryens of the past.]

Visenya is a year or two older than Aegon, Rhaenys a year or two younger. They share his silver-gold hair, but theirs is worn long. Visenya often braided her hair or bound it up in rings, while Rhaenys wore hers loose and flowing. Both are warriors and dragonriders in their own rights, but their personalities are much different. Visenya is both stern and sensual, more voluptuous than her sister, more passionate, but with a dark and unforgiving side. Rhaenys, the younest of the three, is slender and graceful, playful, with a mischievous aspect to her personality than Visenya lacks. Rhaenys is the flirt, Visenya the seductress. Although they share their brother Aegon between them, they compete for him too, each in her own way.... The sisters would be likely to wear jewels and clothing that reflected the dragon and fire motifs...

I might also add that Visenya is the most likely of the two to garb herself as a warrior, and when so garbed, she would wield the Valyrian longsword Dark Sister, whose slender blade is designed for a woman's hand


Your speed never ceases to astonish me, Roman.

Visenya and Rhaenys are excellent. I cannot believe you did them so quickly.

I'm thinking I will give you Aegon the Unworthy's four Great Bastards next: Bittersteel, Bloodraven, Daemon Blackfyre, and Shiera Seastar. The four would make a great group shot, once you've done them all.

Bloodraven first, since I've already described him in "The Sworn Sword." The natural son of King Aegon IV by his sixth mistress, Lady Mylessa ('Missy') Blackwood, Brynden Rivers is an albino, with milk white skin and white hair, worn long. His eye is red -- the one he still has, the right. At the Battle of the Redgrass Field, his left eye was put out by Bittersteel when they dueled. He seldom wears an eye patch, but prefers to display his scar and empty socket to the world.

On the right side of his face, over his throat and extending up to his cheek, he has the red winestain birthmark from which he gets his name. The birth mark is said to look somewhat like a raven drawn in blood. However, the likeness is hardly exact. Dunk thinks the birthmark just a splotch. It is more a suggestion of a raven shape, like a Rorschach ink blot.

His colors are "scarlet and smoke," smoke being a sort of dark grey streaked and mottled with black. Because his skin is very senstive to the rays of the sun, he frequently goes about cloaked and hooded.

His sigil is a white dragon (one-headed) with red eyes. (Elio has a version of it, I believe). He is a shade under six feet tall and very thin, gaunt, with a grim unforbidding aspect and a sinister reputation as a sorcerer and spymaster. Although he bears the Valyrian blade Dark Sister than once belonged to Aegon's Visenya, his favorite weapon is a tall bone-white weirwood longbow. He is an expert bowman. His longbow is weirwood, and should be white.


The first and greatest of the Blackfyre Pretenders was the natural son of Daena Targaryen, sister, betrothed, and (briefly) wife to King Baelor the Blessed. Baelor never consummated the marriage, and had it dissolved when he ascended the Iron Throne. Daena and her two sisters were thereafter kept in a comfortable confinement in the Red Keep, in what became known as the Maidenvault. Despite her guards, however, Daena became pregnant and give birth to a strong, healthy son, Daemon. She refused to divulge the name of his father, and thereby became known as "Daena the Defiant." It was not until many years later, when the boy was a squire and bested a score of other squires in a tournament melee, that King Aegon IV (Princess Daena's cousin) acknowledged him as his own, and presented him with Blackfyre, the Valyrian steel blade of Aegon the Conquerer and all the Targaryen kings thereafter.

Targaryen on both side, Daemon had all the hallmarks of his house; the silver-gold hair, the deep purple eyes, fine features of almost inhuman beauty. Daemon's friends and supporters often remarked on how much he resembled Aegon the Conquerer (or at least his likeness, since none of them had ever seen Aegon in the flesh), and indeed there was a certain similarlity, though Daemon wore his hair long, flowing down to his shoulders in a silvery-gold mane. He went clean-shaved, with neither beard nor mustache. Daemon looks every inch the warrior; broad shoulders, big arms, a flat stomach, but he was also a man of considerable charm. I'd give him a warm smile. He made friends easily, and women were drawn to him as well.

As a bastard, Daemon Blackfyre bore the arms of House Targaryen with the colors reversed: a black three-headed dragon on a red field. Thus he became known as "the Black Dragon." His armor would be ornate and costly, all black and red plate, and his warhelm was distinctive, with batlike steel "dragon wings" on the sides.


His real name was Aegor Rivers, and he was the natural son of King Aegon IV by his fifth mistress, Lady Barba Bracken. Younger than Daemon Blackfyre, older than Bloodraven. Bittersteel was also a warrior, and looked the part. He was only half Tagaryen, so he got the purple eyes, but his hair was black. As a adult he wore a beard, cropped very short, little more than a shadow on his face and jaws. Somewhat of a Conanesque look to him, but not the Frank Frazetta Conan and definitely not the Arnold Conan, more the Barry Windsor-Smith version, or the one described by REH -- he is tall and well made, but lean and lithe as a panther. And angry. No smiles here. Bittersteel was pissed off all his life, and had a special loathing for Bloodraven and his mother, who had displayed his own mother as the king's favorite.

His armor is well-made but plain, no nonsense grey-steel and black rings. His helm bears a horsehead crest with a horse's mane flowing down behind. His shield has a grey longsword displayed bendy sinister, witha a black dragon's head above and a red horse's head below, both facing out. The field is white.

[Note: The above heraldic description is incorrect, presenting an early idea that GRRM had for the shield which he later changed. The correct arms can be found here.]

If you are going to include the Great Bastards in a group shot, Daemon and Bittersteel should both be taller and more imposing than Bloodraven, the scrawny one of the lot.


Thanks for the look, Roman.

Stunning work, as always... but I can see why some people might be objecting. He is very pretty, yes, but maybe a shade soft-looking, compared to, say, Aegon the Dragon, whom he supposedly resembled.

On the other hand, you could argue that you simply drew him as a very young man. That portrait could easily pass for Daemon at sixteen or seventeen, I think, but maybe not as the man he was when he died on the Redgrass Field.

If the portraits of the three Great Bastards are intended to represent the same time period, Daemon needs to be considerably older. Daemon was two years older than Bittersteel, and five years older than Bloodraven, but in the portraits he looks much the youngest of the three. Of course, they could simply represent different time periods... and Daemon did die young, while the other two lived on well into middle age.

Maybe you could leave this one as Young Daemon and do another of him as he would have been on the Redgrass Field.

Targaryen Kings

[Note: The following information was sent to Amok for his contribution to the Fantasy Flight Games artbook.]

These are all Targaryens, of course, so there should be a strong family resemblence from portrait to portrait. All of them (except as noted) will have the purple eyes and silver-gold hair for which House Targaryen is noted. All of them should be wearing crowns... the same crown in many of the pix, though it will change once or twice along the way, as noted.

The hard part will be making each of the kings an individual, despite the similarities, and evoking each one's character through facial features, pose, clothing, background, and other elements in the portrait.

Here's the lineup:

AEGON I. Aegon the Conquerer. The prototypical Targaryen. A warrior, tall, powerful, broad shouldered. Very charismatic and commanding. Should be shown in his battle armor, perhaps a shirt of black scales, greaves, gauntlets, a flowing cloak. His sword in hand (Blackfyre, a Valyrian steel blade). His hair cut short, no longer than the bottom of his ears. His crown is a simple circle of Valyrian steel set with big square-cut rubies.

AENYS I. A weakling. As tall as his father Aegon, but softer looking. Slender, weedy, dreamy. Paler eyes than Aegon, more lilac than purple. His hair curled and perfumed, all in ringlets, falling to his shoulders. A silky beard and mustache, sort of a "Three Musketeers" look, coming to a point. Dressed in velvet robes, the same lilac as his eyes, with cloth-of-gold lining and an ermine collar. Gold rings and gemstones on long, slim fingers. A different crown; this one is all gold, much larger and more elaborate. No armor. Instead of a sword, he holds a wine cup in the portrait: gold, encrusted with gems. His smile should be somehow tenuous, nervous, anxious to please.

MAEGOR I. Maegor the Cruel. Another warrior. A big man, even taller than his father Aegon, bull-like, heavy shoulders, thick neck, huge arms. On the heavy side, but more massive and square than fat. Nothing soft about him. Short hair, short beard that follows the jawline. Angry, suspicious eyes, scowling mouth. Just looking at him, you know this man is hard and brutal. No wine cup here; it's the sword again. His armor is more elaborate than Aegon's. Instead of a shirt of scale, he wears a breastplate, covered by a surcoat that displays the Targaryen three-headed dragon, red on black. He looks as though he has just come from battle, and his armor and cloak show dints, tears, bloodstains. He wears Aegon's steel-and-ruby crown, not Aenys's elaborate one.

JAEHAERYS I. The Old King. The Conciliator. Jaehaerys reigned for fifty-five years. Let's show him late in his reign as an old man, as that is how he is best remembered. Wise and dignified. Despite his years, still unstooped, but his face and hands are wrinkled, and his long white beard reaches to his waist. Dressed in flowing robes of black and gold. His crown is a simple gold band set with seven gemstones of different colors. In his hands, instead of sword or wine cup, he holds a quill pen for writing.

VISERYS I. A plump and pleasant king, raised during a time of peace and plenty. Round-faced, smiling, jolly. In his forties. No beard, but a bushy silver-gold mustache. Wearing the Jaehaerys crown, with the seven stones. Looks as though he would be great fun at a party, always telling jokes. Clad in silk brocade, dark purple.

AEGON II. A strong resemblence to his father, Viserys, but in him the playful look has been replaced by a certain petulance. A sullen look to the eyes, a pouty mouth. Holds a dagger in his hand, testing the point against his finger. Clad in armor, but he does not look like a warrior. No beard, and only a faint wispy hint of a mustache. Wears the steel-and-ruby crown of Aegon the Conquerer.

AEGON III. The Dragonbane. Clad all in black, even to his gloves. A three-headed dragon on a golden chain around his neck. Pale, lean, unsmiling. A very somber look. He looks sad, marked by the grief he carries with him. It is hard to picture him smiling. A short beard, but no mustache. His crown is a slender gold band, no ornament.

DAERON I. The Young Dragon. Only fourteen when he ascended to the throne. A warrior and conquerer. Young, clean-shaved, very handsome, long hair. Clad in an elaborate suit of gold-and-black plate, with his sword in his hand. Smiling, self-confident, very charismatic. The Alexander the Great of Westeros. He should probably be shown outdoors, with the red mountains of Dorne in the background, and his army, horses, tents, etc. Wears the Aegon crown, the steel and rubies.

BAELOR I. Baelor the Blessed. Baelor the Beloved. The septon king. No sword or armor here, only a septon's white robes tied off with a rope belt. A young man, in his early twenties, but very thin (from repeated fasts) and frail looking, with a gentle, almost beatific smile (think Jesus). One hand raised in blessing, the other holding a holy book (black leather, with a seven-pointed star stamped on the cover in gold leaf). His long hair and beard remind one of Jesus too, although Baelor's are the typical Targaryen silver-gold color. Wears a crown of flowers and vines.

VISERYS II. Came to the throne quite late, when he was in his fifties. Clean-shaved, with long hair, a prominent nose, bushy eyebrows, a shrewd and calculating look about his mouth and eyes. Coins in his hand. He wears the simple crown of Aegon III Dragonbane.

AEGON IV. Aegon the Unworthy. He began his realm when he was young and handsome, and ended it old and corrupt. To provide some variety in the portraits, let us go with the older Aegon. By the end he was bloated, fat, corrupt. His eyes almost lost in the fat of his face, his legs too weak to support his belly, his mouth small and mean. His clothing should be silk and satin, bright and rich, and he would have lots of gold and gemstones about him; a chain, rings, etc. A big beard, meant to help hide his round cheeks and double chin (it doesn't). The Henry VIII of Westeros. His crown is a new one, huge and heavy, red gold, each of its points a dragon's head with gemstone eyes.

DAERON II. Daeron the Good. A thoughtful face, pale, dignified, kindly Not a warrior by any means; round-shouldered, with thin legs and a small pot belly. His face has a certain quiet strength, though, and his eyes are clear and full of resolve. In his forties. In his hands is a parchment treaty. Wears his father's elaborate dragon crown.

AERYS I. Bookish. Spindly and stooped, his robes rich and elaborate but soiled, as if he has forgotten to change them. Long straight hair, long thin face, long thin mustache, long pointed beard. In his hand is an old scroll, and other books and scrolls are visible in the portrait. His eyes red-rimmed from reading. The dragon crown is atop a pile of books, as if he has forgotten to put it on.

MAEKAR I. There's an excellent depiction of a younger Maekar in THE HEDGE KNIGHT graphic novel. As king, Maekar would look much the same, only older. A certain weariness about him, but strength as well. Armored, with a spiked mace in his hand (blood on one of the spikes). His crown is black iron and red gold, sharply pointed. His surcoat shows his personal arms; the Targaryen three-headed dragon, four times (two above, two below).

AEGON V. Aegon the Unlikely. Egg of THE HEDGE KNIGHT, grown up. Show him as a man in his thirties, with his hair falling to his collar. Tall, slender, a slight smile. Large, thoughtful eyes, very deep purple. His hand resting on a map of Westeros. Wears the simple crown of the Dragonbane. Handsome, strong yet somehow kindly, approachable.

JAEHAERYS II. Amiable, clever, sickly (he died young). Pale and frail, with very large purple eyes. Shoulder-length hair, a silky beard, a tired smile. One arm concealed by the drape of his cape. Wears Maekar's crown.

AERYS II. The Mad King. Only in his forties when he died, but he looked much older. Very thin (he was afraid of being poisoned) and gaunt, with wild, tangled hair past his shoulders, and fingernails almost a foot long (he would not allow blades in his presence, even to cut his hair and trim his beard). Wears the big, elaborate crown of Aegon the Unworthy.

VISERYS III. The Beggar King. No crown. Perhaps he should be shown in tattered beggar's robes and cloak.

DAENERYS I. Daenerys Stormborn. No description necessary, I assume. Show her wearing the three-headed dragon crown she was given in Qarth, as described in A CLASH OF KING. Might be good to include the three dragons in the picture. Show them very young, as hatchings, one in her lap, one wrapped around her arm and shoulder, one flying just above her.

And that's it.

Concerning Theon

Theon won't be in A FEAST FOR CROWS, but that's not to say he won't turn up again in some future volume. He's not dead... though at times he wishes he were.

Concerning the Crakehalls

Mr. Martin, I find the Crakehall family very interesting. It's one of many tidbits that make me want to know more. Will we learn more about House Crakehall in future volumes?

You'll see a few glimpses of Strongboar in FEAST, for what it's worth.

Concerning the Great Bastards

[Note: The following is a mail sent to Les Dabel, of Dabel Brothers Productions, as part of their preparation for adapting an excerpt from "The Sworn Sword" in the second edition of the Hedge Knight graphic novel. Included at the end is a follow-up.]

Do you have LEGENDS II? There's a detailed description of Bloodraven, aka Lord Brynden Rivers, in "The Sworn Sword." He is the most distinctive of the three, an albino with a red winestain birthmark on his neck and cheek that looks (vaguely) like a raven in flight.

Daemon Blackfyre and Bittersteel, aka Ser Aegor Rivers, are both bastard sons of King Aegon IV (the Unworthy), although Daemon is Targ on both sides, while Bittersteel's mother was a Bracken. Bloodraven is also the king's bastard, by yet another mother.

At the time of the Redgrass Field, Daemon Blackfyre was 26, and his twin sons Aegon and Aemon, who squired for him, were 12. Bittersteel was 24, and Bloodraven 21. This was about thirteen years before "The Hedge Knight." Daemon was very much a Targaryen, albeit bastard born. He had the silver-gold hair, the purple eyes. He looked heroic; tall, muscular, handsome, wide shoulders, flat stomach. A great warrior. Clean-shaven, wears his hair long, like Marvel's Thor. Can be charming and charismatic too, with a winning smile. He used the arms of House Targaryen on his battle standards, but with the colors reversed: a black three-headed dragon on a red field. He'd bear the same sigil on his shield. I can imagine him in gorgeous, ornate plate armor, red and black, black dragon wings sprouting from his helm.

Bittersteel is also imposing in appearance, but since his mother was not a Targ, he does not have the coloring. He has the purple eyes, but his hair is black. A close-cropped beard, hardly more than a shadow. Somewhat of a Conan look to him; not the Frank Frazetta Conan, and definitely not the Arnold Conan, but more the Barry Windsor-Smith Conan, lean and lithe and hard. And angry. Handsome in a dark brooding way, but pissed off at his bastard's lot in life. No smiles here. No-nonsense grey steel armor with a horsehead crest on the helm. His white shield has a grey longsword displayed bendy sinister, with a black dragon's head above and a red horse's head below, both facing out.

Bloodraven is described in "The Sworn Sword," so I won't repeat that here. He's tall and wiry, but sscrawny compared to his magnificent half-brothers. Although a good swordsman, his main weapon is the bow; he has a tall longbow made of weirwood, and fires white weirwood arrows fletched with raven feathers. He is also, by repute, a sorcerer. Sharp features, vaguely sinister.

Also, Bloodraven and Daemon Blackfyre wield swords of Valyrian steel, as does Ser Gwayne Corbray of the Kingsguard, also prominent in the battle.

You did not have to draw any Valyrian blades in "The Hedge Knight," but now you're got a plethora, it seems. They all have certainly similarities -- the color ranges from smoky grey to almost black, the ripples in the steel -- but each one is unique as well. Bloodraven carries Dark Sister, Corbray has Lady Forlorn, and Daemon fights with Blackfyre, the sword of Aegon the Conquerer and all the Targaryen kings that followed him.

Blackfyre should be somewhat larger and darker than the other two, and its design needs to suggest flames.


Don't bother working up those arms for Bittersteel, I've already changed them. Came up with a much cooler image...

So here's Bittersteel: a winged red stallion on a golden field. Only the horse has big black dragon wings instead of the usual Pegasus-style feathered angel wings, and he's snorting fire.

Concerning the Dance of the Dragons

Hi, short question. Will we find out more about the Dance of the Dragons in future books?

The first dance or the second?

The second will be the subject of a book. The first will be mentioned from time to time, I'm sure.

Gregor and Kafka

Did you ever read the classic book The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka? In the book the main character is a 'monster' by the name of Gregor.

Yes, I've read Kafka.

I was wondering if that book had any effect on when you named Gregor Clegane who is a monster in his own right.

Sorry, no.

Keep up the great work. I love books 1-3 and i cant wait for AFfC. :)

I'm still at work on A FEAST FOR CROWS. However, I have recently added a sample chapter to my website. That's the place to look for updates on completion and publication.

Keep reading.

Review in the Washington Post

Just wanted to share some great news. GRRM, my big retrospective collection from Subterreanean Press, got a terrific review today in the WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD. "... the most ambitious volume ever to come from an American specialty press" and "... one of the most important -- and generous -- single-author collections of recent years" are my favorite bits, but there's lots of other good stuff as well.

The entire review can be found online here.

Beauty and the Beast

I don't know if this would be of any interest to ICE & FIRE readers, but there's a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fan site that has recently collected a bunch of posts that I made to the old GEnie B&B topic back in the early 90s, discussing various aspects of the TV show and my work for it. Lot of behind-the-scenes stuff there, and a few thoughts about violence, action, television, etc.

It's at this page if you're curious. You might find some there that reflects on ASOIAF.

Blackwood-Bracken Feud and Coinage

[Note: Edited for brevity. The beginning relates to the heraldry fiddlings mentioned in the previous mail, when it was decided to modify Bracken somewhat.]

Ancient enemies?

The feud between the Brackens and the Blackwoods goes back to the Age of Heroes. Both Houses ruled the riverlands as kings at various times. They were also divided by religion; the Brackens went over to the new gods, while the Blackwoods remained with the old.

We saw the update on your site about the coins. Do hope those are successful. The "sepp" looks quite interesting, although we contacted the fellow at and he said that that was his own invention as you haven't really settled on anything in that regards.

He coined the term "sepp," which I didn't really like. We've agreed in future to call it a "star." Since the stag and dragon are known for the symbols on the obverse, this one should be as well.

Initially he set out to make a copper penny, but the coin he ended up with wound up being too large and heavy for a penny, in my estimation. Also, once I paused to consider, it struck me that the coinage was just too simple if it was copper/silver/gold and only one coin of each metal. I mean, for comparison, look at the real British system, of old:

An odd-numbered coin denomination is rather strange, but you're right about the craziness of the (old) British system. Much livelier than a simple decimal system.

Yes indeed. And much more medieval. It occurs to me too that Westerosi coinage is probably more complex than actual British medieval coinage, since the Seven Kingdoms were actually seven kingdoms once... and presumably each king minted his own coins. So expect to see references to halfpennies, threepennies, stars, and groats popping up in future books.

The Faith of the Blackwoods

[Note: This message relates to various heraldry fiddlings that were being worked upon. The message has been edited for brevity, focusing on the interesting thematic statement made.]

If not, maybe we could suggest a weirwood by making it a white tree on a black eschutcheon. The Blackwoods are one of the few southron worshippers of the old gods, after all.

Concerning Grey Worm

My name is Morgan, and I'm helping Amok (the Russian artist) with exact original English translations to get his cards right for the Fantasy Flight Games cards.

Hello, Morgan. Nice to "meet" you.

FFG has asked him to do a character card for Grey Worm (a potentially cool character, btw). Anyway, since there is very little description of Grey Worm himself (there is lots for a standard Unsullied), I wanted to ask you if his 'race' or physical description will become important in later books. I can easily see his heritage being a factor somewhere along the line, and I want to help Amok get things as accurate as possible.

I have no plans for Grey Worm's race or personal history to become important at this time, though I do reserve the right to change my mind. Sometimes the muse plays strange tricks on me.

If Grey Worm's physique is important (or will be), what would you like to tell about his description??

And if not, I'll pass on the word to Amok, and he can use his creative juices to the fullest.

Grey Worm is young, late 20s or so. As a eunuch, his face would be very smooth, with no trace of facial hair. No beard, mustache, stubble, etc. He's a soldier, so he's fit, but he would not have a bodybuilder's physique. I see him a square, solid guy, maybe a bit on the stocky side, medium height, short brown hair. The Unsullied are trained to be very clean, so his uniform and gear, while plain and without ornament, would be immaculate. A serious looking face, on the edge of solemn. The Unsullied do not display much emotion.

In the new book I mention that his bronze cap has three spikes, arranged front to back in descending height, to mark him as an official. Ordinary unsullied have only one spike on their helms. He'd have a quilted tunic, a short sword, and three spears.

The Kingslayer’s Value as a Hostage

Not sure if I should be doing this as most boarders I know at Ran's ezboard site suggest we do not mail you until AFfC is finished but I am curious to know something. If I am being a bother feel free to disregard this message.

Many people feel that the Kingslayer had little to no value as a hostage while he was at Riverrun. I tend to disagree. My question is, if Cat had not freed the Kingslayer would the Red Wedding still have went ahead and if it did, would Ser Brynden still be in a good position having the Kingslayer as a bargaining tool?

"What if" questions are hard to answer. No one really knows.

Lord Tywin had not shown much tendency to be cowed by his enemies holding hostages... but Jaime was special.

Also. Did Ser Loras kill Ser Emmon and Ser Robar in a fair fight?

A red rage, more like it. Not a formal duel or anything like it.

I hope you are doing fine and that AFfC is going well.

It's coming more slowly than I'd like. Thanks for the patience.

Concerning Direwolves

Question: Can direwolves and regular wolves mate and breed viable offspring?

Presumably. Wolves and dogs can interbreed, after all. So can chihuahuas and Great Danes.

The Stark Family

Did Ned Stark have any uncle or aunt?


I asume that important families like the Starks would keep in touch with their greatuncle and greatuncle's grandkids; cousin and 2nd cousin and 3rd cousin and so forth. So there would be a lot more Starks around than just the 7 we saw (like the Freys or Lannisters).

There are probably some descendants of offshoot branches from the family tree floating around the north, most likely in White Harbor and Barrowton.