I am not completely certain how long a period of time A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE will cover. There will be a gap of about five or year between the end of A STORM OF SWORDS and the beginning of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, but overall... well, we'll have to wait and see.
"The Hedge Knight" is set about a century before A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
You see, when Tyrion was set to lead the van (and I presume this means vanguard), he found himself on the _left_. But isn't the vanguard the _foremost_ units of an army?
Usage varied... but most often, the vanguard or van was the foremost division (or "battle," as they were called) of a medieval army in the =line of march.= However, when the army actually deployed for battle, the van would generally be on the left.
There are enough exceptions to this to make the issue confusing. Sometimes the van would be placed on the right rather than the left. If the host was attacking, the van would sometimes indeed be the shock unit, the first to smash into the enemy... but when the army was drawn up in a defenseive array, that obviously did not apply. It also depended somewhat on the size of the army and how it was organized; i.e. how many "battles" or divisions.
I am always pleased to see websites devoted to fantasy in general or my books in particular, but would rather not get involved directly. I don't want to spoil the fun the fans have discussing theories, and would also rather not be influenced by the discussions.
It is nice to see people reading the books with such care, however, and getting so passionate about the characters.
The Wars of the Roses have always fascinated me, and certainly did influence A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, but there's really no one-for-one character-for-character correspondence. I like to use history to flavor my fantasy, to add texture and versimillitude, but simply rewriting history with the names changed has no appeal for me. I prefer to reimagine it all, and take it in new and unexpected directions.
The changes are very minor -- mostly a few typos we caught in time to correct for the US edition, after the British edition had already gone to press.
Also the US edition will have one map the UK edition lacks, and updated versions of the older maps.
The seven new gods of the Andals are the Father, Mother, Warrior, Smith, Maid, Crone, and Stranger.
The old gods of the First Men and the children of the forest are nameless and numerous.
Other gods are worshipped elsewhere in the world - the Drowned God of the ironmen, the Black Goat of Qohor, the Great Shepherd, the horse god of the Dothraki - and R'hllor, the god of Flame and Shadow, worshipped in Asshai and the east, who assumes more importance in A CLASH OF KINGS.
[Summary: In a response to Arion214 asking why Bran did not appear at the feast in Winterfell early in _A Game of Thrones_.]
Pam, thanks for your post, and all the kind words about A GAME OF THRONES and "The Hedge Knight."
As to your question about Bran... well, he =is= present at the banquet, of course. Jon doesn't mention him, that's true, but of course there are hundreds of others who are present as well that Jon also fails to mention... and Bran is an everyday familiar sight to Jon, who is likely more curious about the guests... the king and queen, their children, the Lion and the Imp.
That's one explanation, anyway.
The other one is that the author just slipped up and neglected to mention him.
But either way, he =was= there, definitely. There's even a moment in A CLASH OF KINGS when he thinks back on that feast.
[Summary: In response to a thread speculating on authors who should be included in a second LEGENDS anthology. As a note, Robert Silverberg (editor of Legends) stated from the onset that he had no particular plans to do a second volume, but was interested in hearing from the posters about potential authors.]
Jack Vance, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, and Poul Anderson.
Did I mention Jack Vance? IMNSHO, Vance's Dying Earth was one of three seminal creations from which all modern fantasy has sprung, the other two being Tolkien's Middle Earth and Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age.
The real shame is that there wasn't a LEGENDS ten years ago, so that it could have included a Fafhrd/Mouser story from Fritz Leiber and an Amber story from Roger Zelazny.
Yes, ultimately Egg will become king, but that's a long and winding road, and the subject for many a later story... which I hope to write after I finish all the millions and zillions of words I've still got to write for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
The Targaryens have heavily interbred, like the Ptolemys of Egypt. As any horse or dog breeder can tell you, interbreeding accentuates both flaws and virtues, and pushes a lineage toward the extremes. Also, there's sometimes a fine line between madness and greatness. Daeron I, the boy king who led a war of conquest, and even the saintly Baelor I could also be considered "mad," if seen in a different light. ((And I must confess, I love grey characters, and those who can be interperted in many different ways. Both as a reader and a writer, I want complexity and subtlety in my fiction))
Lastly, some fans are reading too much into the scene in GAME OF THRONES where the dragons are born -- which is to say, it was never the case that all Targaryens are immune to all fire at all times.