The Citadel is an archive of information for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
New to the series? Read our spoiler-free review of A Game of Thrones.
[Note: This link is to a lengthy forum thread in which various reports are made of Martin's reading and follow-up Q&A.]
[Note: There's a couple of small errors in this report, but on the whole it's a thorough recounting of Martin's reading from his original Westerlands material for The World of Ice and Fire.]
I thought I would share some of my experiences from ConQuest 44 this past weekend in Kansas City. All in all it was a fun conference with lots of quality writer workshops and wonderful presentations. There were lots of enthusiastic fans – some in some pretty nice costumes! But it was a small enough gathering making for easy access to the dealers’ tables. I was fortunate enough to get to meet and talk with Both GRRM and the fabulous John Picacio!
On Friday, I was looking at some of the art in the exhibit room and John walked up to me, hand held out, and introduced himself. He had most of the prints from his famous Song of Ice and Fire Calendar, and even the original pencil drawing of my favorite, Arya. My wife and I ended up buying the print, which we took to get properly framed yesterday. To show you just how incredibly nice John is, he said if I got a mailing tube he would pack it for me for the plane trip back. On Sunday, while the other panelists are waiting to start their program, John is carefully rolling my Arya print while explaining how to care for it. I got to see one of his other presentations on cover art for sci fi and fantasy books. He lamented the state of the art, where generic packaging aimed at the masses is taking the place of work done by true artists. He encouraged us to use our dollars and our voices to encourage quality art on books to be able to continue. John is up for a Hugo award; all of you who are eligible, please vote for him. When I said good bye to him on Sunday I told him that it was great when the most talented people are also the nicest. Do yourself a favor and check out his art at http://www.lone-boy.com.
Late Friday Afternoon, I first saw GRRM just standing by the conference registration table. I walked up to him and said hello and he shook my hand. I said “You know, we were on the same Sword and Laser podcast last summer.” He looked at my name tag and said “Oh we were, we were.” I asked him if he knew of my book and he said that he did and that he had it. Then he called his lovely wife Paris over and introduced her to me and my wife saying “This is the fellow who wrote Game of Thrones and Philosophy.” He also introduced us to his “minion” Jo, who was really nice (I later got to talk to her and she told me the whole story of how she met and became great friends with Paris). Then he reached into his pocket and gave me a Westeros coin! He then posed for pictures. Later that evening, at one of the many parties, I found him seated on a couch and knelt beside him. We talked for probably a half hour – about football, the tv series, and he even asked me questions about my book. I told him I had read his vampire novel Fevre Dream long before I started the SOIAF series, and he said they were working on turning it into a movie. Let’s hope that happens! I asked if he was going to read us something from The Winds of Winter and he said “Oh, I have several things in mind “ wanting to keep it a surprise.He was so gracious; it’s truly wonderful when you get to meet your heroes and not only don’t they disappoint you, but they actually exceed your expectations.
We went to all of GRRM’s presentations (of course!). The first, on Friday, with some other authors and with John, was the aforementioned “State of the Art.” John showed various book covers and George and the other fine writers commented on them. On Saturday morning there was the autograph session and we got him to sign several of our favorite books. Later that afternoon, he read (for nearly an hour!) from the forthcoming World of Ice and Fire. The book contains a history of the Seven Kingdoms written by various maesters. He read us the account of Aegon’s conquest and it was fantastic. The dragons burning Harrenhal, the gathering of the swords of the conquered used to make the Iron Throne, and many many other significant moments. By the way, he said that he was planning on writing more Dunk and Egg stories (this came up in the Q&A), but that his main concern was first finishing ASOIAF. I know all the fans were glad to hear this. Lastly, on Sunday morning there was “90 minutes with GRRM.” I had no idea what this was going to be. It turned out to be a showing of the “Blackwater” episode that he wrote for the show from season 2. He frequently stopped it to tell funny and informative background stories about the episode and the actors. One example was that he said that he didn’t write the scene with Bronn and The Hound – it was added by the show front runners -- but that he really liked that scene. During the Q&A someone asked “So what did Pod do?” In “Blackwater Pod saves Tyrion by stabbing the fellow who had slashed his face, and since we had just seen that, George said “He stabbed him with his sword.” Everyone laughed, because the crowd knew that the person was asking about what Pod had done with the (ahem) ladies in season 3that pleased them so. Finally George said, “Well he stabbed them with his sword!”
Finally, if I may, I’d like to mention two authors who I enjoyed meeting – John Horner Jacobs and David J. Pederson. And I’ve attached a picture of me with John and one with George. I look at them often to remind myself that this was not a dream.
My notes from GRRM's reading and Q&A from yesterday:
Before the reading he talked about all the things he has going on. There is a new Wild Card book in the works as well as an "Old Mars" anthology. The latter will contain stories about Mars with the canals and Martians and such. He also talked about the Lands of Ice and Fire book and the perils therein. He was initially told he wouldn't have to do any work on it but when the maps were blown up there was too much open space that needed to be filled. He also had to "head East" and create some terrain as well as cities. He indicated that it goes Far East but not to the Uttermost East. He imagined he would hear complaints about that.
Lastly he talked about The World of Ice and Fire that he has been working on with Elio and Linda. He's always wanted to explore the history of the world but it can't always come up in the narrative of the books, such as Littlefinger's interest of Aegon II's trade policy. This book can fix that and he has Elio and Linda who know more about Westeros as anyone. The Worldbook will be told by different maesters and will reflect their personality. Info that would be major spoilerish will be someone how blocked out. Something like a large ink stain covering up the events at Summerhall. With that, explaining that he doesn't want to read too many chapters from Winds, he had something else and we would be the first people to hear it. Or not...
The History of Aegon's Conquest
The history begins by explaining that there is controversy about the beginning of Aegon's reign. The years before are slated as BC= Before Conquest and the ones after are AC= After Conquest. However, there is a 2 year span from when Aegon landed in Westeros at the Blackwater and when he was crowned in Oldtown by the High Septon. Debate continues as to when the new calendar should begin.
In Valyria, there were two score rival houses that contested for power. House Targaryen, however, was not considered a powerful house. Daenerys the Dreamer, the daughter of the head of House Targaryen, foresaw the Doom and convinced her father to leave Valyria. Her father, Aenar, took his family to Dragonstone along with 5 dragons. In Valyria, this was seen as weakness. The Doom happened 12 years after Aenar left for Dragonstone.Maegon, his brother Aerys, and Aerys' sons, Aelyx, Baelon, and Daemion
The Targaryens ruled Dragonstone for the next 100 years, which were called the Years of Blood.. 4 of the dragons died on Dragonstone leaving only Balerion. However two eggs hatched and Vhagar and Meraxes were born. "Gaimon" the Glorious ruled after Aenar and was followed by Maegon, his brother Aerys, and Aerys's sons Aelyx, Baelon, and Daemion. In 27 BC, Aegon the Conqueror was born to Lord Aerion Targaryen, the son of Daemion, and Lady Valaena of House Velaryonand . He later married both his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys. This was considered unusual although there was precedent for it. The histories often said that Aegon had never stepped foot on Westeros before the Landing but there is evidence that he traveled to the south and may have even visited Lannisport.
Around that time there had been wars in the Riverlands and the Reach. The two most belligerent rulers were Black Harren, ruler of the Iron isles and Argilac the Arrogant. Harren was nearing completion of his vast castle and was said to be looking for more conquests. Argilac had grown afraid of Harren and so proposed an alliance with Aegon. It is believed he wanted to create a buffer zone between him and Harren. He offered the hand of his daughter in marriage as well as dowry lands. However, many of those lands were in fact in the possession of Harren the Black. Aegon refused and instead offered the hand of his best friend and bastard brother, Orys Baratheon. Argilac took this as a grave insult and had the hands of the envoy cut off. He sent them to Aegon with a message of "These are the only hands you will receive". Aegon called his banners and took counsel with them and his sisters. When they were done ravens flew to every ruler in the 7 Kingdoms. He informed them that "There will be only one king" and that those who bent the knee would keep their lands and titles. But those that did not he would destroy.
The size of the force that departed Dragonstone is belived to have been 3,000. Others believe it could have only a few hundred. They landed at the Blackwater, a place where a hundred kings of old had lain claim to. No kings ruled from there now, only a few petty lords lived nearby who were ruled by Harren and they loved him little. Aegon sent his sisters to nearby Rosby and Stokeworth and the castles surrendered without bloodshed. Darklyn of Duskendale and Mooton of Maidenpool did fight. Orys led the army while Aegon rode Balerion high in the sky. They won an easy victory.
Aegon's eldest sister was a warrior more comfortable in ringmail than in silk. She wielded a Valyrian steel sword called Dark Sister. She was described as having a harsh beauty and was reputed to have dabbled in sorcery. His younger sister Rhaenys was all that Visenya was not. Playful and curious, interested in music and poetry. However, she loved to ride her dragon Meraxes and spent twice as much time riding than her siblings. She surrounded herself with comely young men and there were whispers that she entertained men while Aegon was with Visenya. Yet Aegon spent ten nights with Rhaenys for every one with Visenya.
Aegon himself was seen as an enigma. He was a solitary person whose only friend was Orys. He was a great warrior who wielded a sword called Blackfyre but only rode his dragon for battle or travel and never entered tourneys, He remained faithful to his sisters and left governance in their hands and only took command when necessary . While he was harsh with those who defied him, he was generous to those that bent the knee.
After the Landing, a wooden motte and bailey was built on one of the hills overlooking the Blackwater. He named Daemon Velaryon Master of Ships, Tristan Massey Master of Laws, and a Celtigar as Master of Coin (Thank you Boiled Leather for remembering that for me!). Orys Barathon he called "My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand" and Orys became the first Hand of the King. Visenya would crown Aegon and Rhaenys hailed him as king. The lords and knights cheered him but the small folk cheered the loudest.
In the Seven Kingdoms, the kings raised their banners and made alliances. Dorne would offer an alliance to the Targaryens but only as equals. Little King Ronnel Arrys also offered an alliance. Aegon did not reply to either. All waited to see where the Targaryens would march. Daemon Veraryon would lead the fleet north and were met in battle by the Arryns. He would die in battle. (This portion was like a fog of war, so much info that it was hard to write it all down. I know I missed some). Orys Baratheon would be battered in battle. Aegon and Balerion burned Harren's sons in their longships and they would all die. Rebellions began to spring up. The Sistermen rebelled, followed by then by Riverlords. Edmyn Tully of Riverrun led his forces to Aegon and other greater houses followed: Mallisters, Brackens, Blackwoods, Freys among others. They all marched to Harrenhall and it was besieged. The walls were enormous and it was to have an unlimited supply of water and vast stores of provisions.
Aegon arrived and proposed a parley with Harren. Maesters were present and recorded the conversation.
Aegon:" Yield now and I will name you Lord of the Iron Isles. I have 8,000 men here"
Harren: "What are 8,000 men? I have walls!"
Aegon: "I have dragons."
Harren: "Stone will not burn"
Aegon: "At nightfall, your line will end"
Harren offered a vast reward to the man who slew the dragon. Aegon climbed onto Balerion and flew high into the sky. He descended with great speed and landed behind the walls. Balerion unleashed his fire. Stone may not burn but wood, thatch, and MEN did. Stone did crack, though, and the great towers soon looked like candles. Harren and his line did indeed end. Swords, blackened and bent were sent by cartloads to the Landing.
While Harren's men had rebelled, Argilac's men stayed loyal. He would vow that he would not die in his castle like a suckling pig with an apple in his mouth, but in battle. He led his army out into the field. Visenya scouted from the sky and informed Orys of Argilac's movements. As the armies drew close, a great storm came upon them. His men advised him to wait but he had the advantage of two to one and the rain was blowing into the faces of the Targaryens. Argilac advanced and began the Battle of the Last Storm. Argilac's knights charged but were slowed by the mud. They finally broke though but faced Rhaenys on Meraxes. The dragon was just as deadly on the ground as in the air. In the confusion, Argilac was thrown from his horse and found himself face to face with Orys Baratheon. Both took a wound but soon Argilac would get his wish and would die in battle. His death would signify the end of the battle.
At Storm's End, Argilac's daughter Argella would declared herself Storm Queen and defiantly barred the gates. However, her men were not so eager to die and presented her to Orys chained and naked. Orys treated her gently. He removed the chains and gave her his cloak as well as food and wine. He would take the arms and seat words of House Durrandon for his own, and married Argella.
In the Vale, Queen Sharra Arryn plotted her next move, She was said to be beautiful and sent her portrait to Aegon with talks of marriage. Her only demand was that her son Ronnel would be named Aegon's heir. Aegon did not reply. King Torrhen Stark also called his banners.
King Meryn Gardener and King Lorren Lannister assembled a huge army of 55,000 and marched towards Aegon. The three dragons gathered at Stoney Sept. The allies had 5 times as many men as Aegon did, including many more lords and knights. Meryn Gardener commanded the most men so he demanded command of the vanguard. Jon Mooton of Maidenpool, the first lord to come over, was given command of the Targaryen army. The narrative comments more than once that the field was quite dry that day. The allies charged and started to break the Targaryen lines. The dragons took to the air and began to set the field aflame on all sides, especially downwind of the allies while Mooton was upwind. Of the allies, 4,000 died in the fire while 10,000 men suffered burns. Other thousands suffered wounds. Of the Targaryens less than 100 were lost while Visenya took an arrow to the shoulder. King Meryn of Highgarden and his sons died in the battle but King Lorren Lannister escaped. He was caught the next day and so bent the knee. Aegon kept his promise and raised Lorren up and named him Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West. Aegon flew to Highgarden and the castle was surrended by Steward Harlen Tyrell. Aegon named him Lord of the Reach and Warden of the South. They began to journey to Oldtown when news came from the North.
Torrhen Stark had raised a large army (30,000) and had crossed the Neck. Aegon marched with an army half again that size. The Starks waited at Moat Cailin and took counsel. Torrhen's bastard brother, Brandon Snow, offered to sneak into the Targaryen camp and kill the three dragons. Instead, Torrhen sent three maesters to meet Aegon across the Trident. Torrhen would bend the knee and would be forever nown as "The King Who Knelt".
The siblings would split up with Visenya flying to the Vale. She would land in the Eyrie's inner courtyard. Queen Sharra would come out to find her son Ronnel with Visenya and he wouild ask her, "Mother, can I go fly with the lady?" Sharra would yield and Ronnel would get to fly with the lady twice.
Rhaneys would journey to Dorne but would find keep after keep empty except for women and children. When asked where the men went, the Dornish would just reply "away". She would finally journey to Sunspear and would only find the Princess of Dorne, Mirram Martell. She was 80, fat, blind, and almost bald. Argilac the Arrogant would call her the "Yellow Toad of Dorne". Mirram would tell Rhaenys that she would not fight nor kneel. She told her to leave and return at her peril. Rhaenys warned that if she left, she would return with fire and blood. Mirram answered with words of House Martell.
Aegon had gone to the greatest city in Westeros, Oldtown. There the High Septon resided. He prayed for seven days and was answered by the Crone. He was warned that if they fought, Oldtown would fall. The ruler of Oldtown, Banfred Hightower, was a cautious man. He listened to the high Septon and soon Oldtown yielded. In the Starry Sept, Aegon was anointed in oil and proclaimed Aegon, First of His Name, King of the First Men, the Andals, and the Rhoynar. Because the maesters were there at the coronation, this date is considered the correct date. Many thought that Aegon would choose Odltown as his capitol or perhaps Dragonstone. He surprised them by choosing his small fort as his new capitol, King's Landing. And from there he would rule from an uncomfortable seat called the Iron Throne.
GRRM stated that there will be different narratives in the Worldbook. He mentioned a dwarf jester of Viserys I named Mushroom who was around for some mayhem. There will also be a septon who will angrily refute many of Mushroom's wild claims. "Poison!? He didn't die of poison, he died in his sleep!"
In the Q&A he said he's not sure if he will expand the history of ASoIaF once the books are complete. He's not sure what he will want to do by then.
He said that LOVES to write about Arya's adventures in Braavos. He said he could write whole novels about. That received a huge applause until he joked that maybe he could put off Winds to do so.
He WILL collect the stories of Dunk and Egg into one book. I then asked if the story of Maekar's death (Egg's father) against an outlaw lord would be found in the Worldbook. He replied no, that will eventually make it into the Dunk and Egg stories. In the Worldbook the story of Maekar's death would be a SPOILER!!!
He doesn't think there is enough material to make a book with all the songs from the novels.
And no, LF will not ever be a POV.
George RR Martin reading: George did indeed read from The World of Ice and Fire, a lengthy excerpt concerning Aegon's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, with some character info on the Targaryen siblings and a little history of the line from its Valyrian exit to the Conquest. The best parts were some of the more detailed ones, such as the fall of Harrenhall, the Final Storm (the Targaryen conquest of the Storm Kings), and the Targaryen sibling character sketches (Aegon was nearly as mysterious to his era as he was to the Ice & Fire era, Rhaenys was his favorite sister-wife but she may have dabbled with other bed-mates, etc.) He also said that the conceit (at least in their minds, not sure that it will be a formal part of the book) being used is that Linda and Elio are writing from the perspective of one arch-maester and George is writing from the perspective of another, more opinionated one.
He read for nearly the entire hour so only took one question: will there be more Dunk & Egg stories? Yes, he said, in fact there is one being done for a short story collection and then these four will be collected into a single volume together (although do not expect that for several years).
I caught up with George briefly afterwards and asked him if he considers this to be like his Silmarillion. He laughed and said probably not, especially since Tolkien had many songs in The Silmarillion. I suggested maybe it was time he wrote some and he laughed again and said perhaps he should.
A couple more details from Day One now that I've slept a bit :)
--George mentioned the maps book in passing and said, despite repeated fan requests, there will never be a full world map...he used his often-cited reasoning that folks in the Middle Ages didn't have full world maps, or at least accurate ones, so why should the folks of Westeros?
--The Aegon's conquest section began with the Targaryens leaving Valyria and the reason why. It then followed the line, briefly and quickly, through the settlement of Dragonstone. It also covered Aegon's landing at Aegon's Fort/King's Landing and the various ways in which each of the Seven Kingdoms was, or was not, subdued. IIRC, the submissions of Harren the Black, Argelac the Arrogant (the last of the Storm Kings), the Lannisters, the Gardeners, the Arryns, the Martells, Oldtown, and the Starks were all given a bit of explanation, with more detail being spent on the battles for Harrenhall and Storm's End, as well as the unique way in which submission of the Arryns was achieved and the lack of conquest of Dorne. The Dorne passage included an awesome description of how the Dornishmen all faded away in front of the armies of Aegon's sister (forget which one), leaving only the 70-ish years old Princess of Dorne to openly defy the Targaryen and her dragon.
--He also mentioned which other sections he had done, but of course they've escaped me now...I think the original Dance with Dragons has a section, as well as some information on Aegon's peacetime policies and some history on the rule of his sons Aenys and Maegor the Cruel.
--The book will include some information on the Dawn Age and the Age of Heroes (presumably by Linda and Elio), but George pointed out that even in the age of the books these were long-distant times with little in the way of accurate information.
--George said that though this seemed like a somewhat easy task, basically collecting money while everyone else did most of the work, it hasn’t been quite like that. The information is background information that the people in the books know (just like we know about Thomas Jefferson without having to recap all that name means and implies) but that doesn’t directly come into the story or the characters’ discussions. In short, it exists and is fairly easily put forth, rather than being created from whole cloth. The problem is that he’s always been a big believer in show not tell and writing this sort of historical material in an appropriate voice requires mostly telling and very little showing.
--Francisco is correct re: the timing of the Dunk and Egg book. The new one will be in an anthology that won’t be out until later this year and that anthology holds the rights for a full year…then the D&E rights revert and the collection can be published.
Genre in Film and TV Panel: This was my favorite panel as it was basically GRRM, Melinda Snodgrass, and Michael Cassutt just shooting the breeze. They talked a bit about various shows and why they may have failed (Terra Nova, V, Life on Mars) and what kind of shows seem to be working now as genre fare (GOT for one). They were not confident that SyFy's recent announcement of a Blake's 7 remake will stick, mostly due to lack of confidence in that channel to do it right. They also enthusiastically brainstormed the idea of Beverly Hills 90210 with dinosaurs in it, so be prepared for that to hit the screen near you soon. Michael Cassutt was really cool and really funny, he had George in honest-to-goodness giggling fits on at least three occasions with his wisecracks. The dinosaur schtick also led George to tease us that despite dinos often being done wrong and used as ineffective window-dressing (Terra Nova, looking at you), fellow New Mexico writer Victor Milan's upcoming Dinosaur Lords trilogy from Tor does the "big, f-ing lizards" right. I've been hearing about this series off-and-on for a bit, so this added to my interest.
So, he confirmed Dangerous Women anthology for the publication later this year? Could you remember what's the name of the last Storm King?
On the anthology, I believe so... keeping in mind lots of events between Friday night and now. :) The last Storm King was Argilac the Arrogant, who was conquered by Orys Baratheon, King's Hand to Aegon. Orys joined his line with the Storm Kings' by taking Argilac's daughter as his wife.
That's the Princess of Dorne rather than a king's sister. Who is mocked as the Yellow Toad, but... she's pretty badass, let me tell you. ;)
... yes, she is a tough toad! In the excerpt, she basically sits alone in an empty throneroom and tells Aegon's sister (who rode in on a dragon, mind you) to get lost.
This is so cool! I actually find myself wanting this "World" book more than the next installment. Also, very interesting about Orys being the first Hand. Any other details that come to mind? What was the "unique" method of forcing Arryns to submit?
While I'm definitely pumped, I think I'd vote for Winds of Winter myself. :) George was right when he said this was a lot of telling, rather than showing. The best sections were when the telling gave way to a bit of showing (conquest of Harrenhall, etc.)...that's definitely his strength. What I'm really interested in is how the whole will come together; remember that George was really reading from a sidebar article and there will be a bunch more "stuff" in the book itself.
The Arryns (also at this time ruled by a young boy and his regent mother) sent a massive army to the Bloody Gate and then high-tailed it into the Eyrie. But Visenya Targaryen simply rode her dragon up into the courtyard of the Eyrie and the regent rushed outside to see the young king seated on the dragon and begging her for a ride. The Arryns surrendered and the king had his ride.
Martin spoke on a number of topics for the Q&A, although a lot of it wasn't new as people asked many of the usual questions. However, he did reveal that for Game of Thrones season 3, Morocco will be added to the filming locations, and it will stand in for Slaver's Bay. There most interesting question was about what Meera and Jojen Reed know about the Tower of Joy. George said that the Reeds might know something about it. GRRM also noted to one question that he thinks Victarion is "dumb as a stump".
so at miscon 2012, george r.r. martin read not one but two chapters from winds of winter!
he also answered a pressing and important question: what word did brienne of tarth scream in feast for crows?
[Note: I've redacted the The Winds of Winter chapter reading report. You can read it at the forum, along with other chapter reading reports.]
anyway after he finished reading the chapters, he opened the floor to some discussion about the plot of asoiaf, and some amazing genius girl said: you know my friends and i were debating this pretty heavily in the lobby just today, brienne screams “one word” as she is being hung by lady stoneheart’s men in a feast for crows - what was the word?
george turned the question on the audience and asked if anyone had figured it out - we shouted all kinds of dumb stuff, “jaime”, “sapphires”, etc. but some other genius in the second row said “sword”!
george confirmed that the word brienne screamed was “sword”; lady stoneheart gave brienne the choice of either swearing her sword to her or being hung, saying “sword or noose”, and as brienne was being hung she screamed “sword”
the questions moved on for some time, but then a girl asked “well what about podrick payne? he was getting hung with brienne!” and george confirmed that brienne had made the decision to swear her sword to stoneheart in order to save the innocent podrick payne from the noose
Well, just came back from TIFF. George was great!
No, I didn't have a ticket. I went down to TIFF and asked everyone if there were rush seats - no - or an overflow room - no - and looked very sad and sorrowful. And in the end 2 different TIFF people actually offered me tickets. For free.
And when I went into the room the front 5 or 6 rows were for the public, and then about 10 rows for sponsors, then back rows and the balconies for the public. I asked if there were any single seats and ended up smack dab in the middle, basically in front of George, and in the 3rd row. Beauty! Always have faith!
If you listen to the CBC interview which you'll see the link for under General ASOIAF, much of what he said was repeated tonight. He admitted Tyrion was his favourite, and if he was having dinner with 3 characters, they would be Tyrion, Maester Aemon and then he thought of Arya, but feared she would throw food at him, so he'd go with Dany, because she's hot!
[Redacted description of a partial reading of a chapter from The Winds of Winter.]
As for his reading style, George reads well with feeling. He doesn't do voices or accents but his voice rises and falls with passion and emphasis.
Couple of stories from George, maybe you've seen them already.
The Wall is filmed in a quarry in Ireland. There's basically this huge cliff, and the section used for the wall is painted white. There is a working elevator built to go up the side of the cliff (I mean, the one in the book and show). The quarry drops towards the centre where there is a lake where water collects. The first time there, GRRM looked up the side of this huge cliff and asked someone what the depth was from the top of the cliff to the bottom of the quarry, and was told "400 feet". And he said he looked up again and said, "Shit, I made the wall too high."
He also said from the beginning the 2 actors they knew they wanted were Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean. No one was asked to read for Tyrion, Peter was the one. Other actors read for Ned, in case Sean couldn't accept their offer because of conflicts.
George said that artists have trouble with Dragonstone because they draw it like a normal castle with dragon statues adorning the walls. It is the only castle in Westeros built by the Valyrians and they had a powerful magic which could liquify stone and shape it how they want. (Inspiration for Stone-made-soft in the Long Price perhaps?) So Dragonstone is literally shaped as a dragon with doorways opening in their mouths.
The Westeros network consists of several different sites, including a forum and a wiki, for all your A Song of Ice and Fire needs.