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June 2001

Readers and Realism
Submitted By: sandorclegane

I want to thank you so much for your series, which i have read several times with great enjoyment. A Storm of Swords is in my opinion the single finest volume ever published in the fantasy genre, and I have long been an avid reader of epic fantasy.

Thanks for the kind words.

I can't wait for the next installment!! :-)

Fall 2002, I hope.

Anyway... my question. My younger brother is also an avid fantasy reader.... perhaps not so much as myself, but he does read quite a bit. He has read the first three volumes of your series, and enjoyed them greatly.... but won't re-read them. His standard response when I pester him, and tell him that he gains much more understanding of the subtleties of the story with each reading, is: "Why should I re-read it? All that happens in this series are that bad, terrible things happen to good people. If you're good, then you either die or you're destroyed."

You might point out that the story isn't finished yet. If all the problems are solved in the first chapter, there's nothing left for chapter two.

Do you find that people are not so much interested in the realism of the series, and want a "happy ending?"

Some people, sure. But thankfully there are also many thousands who prefer a more complex, adult, and realistic flavor of fantasy. What can I say? Tastes vary. Some people like to eat at McDonald's.

Personally I think that Robb Stark dug his own grave, and I didn't shed too many tears. Same with Eddard to a certain extant - why did he have to be so hard-headed??

If he had been otherwise, he wouldn't have been the man he was.

History is full of people who made similar mistakes.

But my brother points out that everyone from Winterfell is dead - I tell him that's not certain. We don't know what happened with Old Nan, for instance.

Most of the women and children from Winterfell are still alive, though they are not in a good place by any means.

He points out that Ygritte is dead. And the Old Bear (my brother ignores me when i tell him that Jon Snow couldn't have been made lord of the night's watch without Mormont's death, so this had to happen). And the Onion Knight's sons.

The Onion Knight has three surviving sons.

Is this a frequent response? Or do most of your readers appreciate the gritty realism, and the knowledge that in this series, anything can happen at anytime....?

Some do. Some don't. The ones who do read me. The ones who don't find other books to amuse them.

Thanks for your time! And thanks for many hours of enjoyment!!!!

You're welcome. Keep reading.

SF, Targaryens, Valyria, Sansa, Martells, and More
Submitted By: Bastard of Godsgrace

"The Stone City" was actually one of the best SF stories I ever did. Nice that it's still remembered. I published it myself in NEW VOICES I, which perhaps doomed it to obscurity. To tell the truth, I don't recall what a Damoosh looked like. A Hrangan Mind, on the other hand, I remember very well... but whether I will ever bring one on stage, I don't know.

As to whether I'll ever finish AVALON... well, perhaps. Hard to say. Just now I am not looking past A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, which is likely to occupy me for five more years at least.

Let me answer some of your questions about the fantasies...

[Note: Some time later, in separate correspondence, GRRM described Blackfyre as a hand-and-a-half sword rather than a greatsword.]

Targaryen bastards have been given a number of different names over the years. The Blackfyres are one specific branch, descended from Daemon Blackfyre, a bastard son of Aegon IV the Unworthy by one of the three sisters that Baelor the Blessed imprisoned in the Maidenvault. Blackfyre was also the name of Aegon the Conquerer's greatsword, a fabled blade of Valyrian steel passed from king to king... until Aegon IV chose to bestow it on Daemon instead of his legitimate son, Daeron, whom he suspected was actually fathered by his brother, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight. Some felt that the sword symbolized the monarchy, so the gift was the seed from which the Blackfyre Rebellions grew. None of this is in the books as yet, but it will be revealed gradually in future volumes.

The Freehold of Valyria is correct. Valyria at the zenith of its power was neither a kingdom nor an empire... or at least it had neither a king nor an emperor. It was more akin to the old Roman Republic, I suppose. In theory, the franchise included all "free holders," that is freeborn landowners. Of course in practice wealthy, highborn, and sorcerously powerful families came to dominate.

[GRRM is asked about Sansa misremembering the name of Joffrey's sword.]

The Lion's Paw / Lion's Tooth business, on the other hand, is intentional. A small touch of the unreliable narrator. I was trying to establish that the memories of my viewpoint characters are not infallible. Sansa is simply remembering it wrong. A very minor thing (you are the only one to catch it to date), but it was meant to set the stage for a much more important lapse in memory. You will see, in A STORM OF SWORDS and later volumes, that Sansa remembers the Hound kissing her the night he came to her bedroom... but if you look at the scene, he never does. That will eventually mean something, but just now it's a subtle touch, something most of the readers may not even pick up on.

[Note: Compare the remarks on Nymeros Martell to this later statement.]

You ask about names. Several different questions here. Maege Mormont is called Mormont because no one knows her husband's name, or even if she has one. There is all the talk that she beds with a bear. She prefers to keep her own counsel. Most of the ladies of Westeros do change their names when they wed, although usage varies. If the wife's family is significantly higher born than the husband's, she may use his name little, if at all. The Dornish have their own customs. The full surname of the ruling house of Dorne is Nymeros Martell, and the ruling pricesses keep that in its female form. They do not take the name of their consorts.

Bastard names are given only to bastards with at least one parent of high birth. So the bastard child of two peasants would have no surname at all.

Thus a bastard name like "Snow" or "Rivers" is simultaneously a stigma and a mark of distinction. The whole thing with bastard names is custom, not law.

The highborn parent can bestow the usual name, a new one of his/her own devising, or none at all. Most legitimate sons of bastards keep the bastard name, but there are cases where a later generation fiddles with it to remove the taint. There's one such case that you will meet in the next book, a minor character descended from a Waters (a bastard name along the shores of Blackwater Bay) whose great grandfather changed the name to Longwaters for just that reason.

Maester Aemon is doubly sworn, to both Citadel and Night's Watch. That is true of the maesters at Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower as well.

[GRRM is asked about Shae being in Tywin's bed.]

I won't comment on the Tyrion / Tywin issue. Perhaps future volumes will throw more light on it.

Estermont and the Stepstones
Submitted By: dirjj

Hey Mr. Martin, I met you at the signing in Menlo Park.

I recall. Come to Philadelphia and we can meet again. Or failing that, San Jose next year.

I usually don't ask question of you, because whatever question I have is usually on the message boards, but I've got two for you.

1. Soon after Tyrion comes out of his coma, he and his father are talking about fighting on the Stepstones. I didn't know that the fighting was so widespread. But anyhow, isn't the Stepstones where House Estermont resides?

No, not exactly. The Stepstones are islands in the narrow sea, beyond the Broken Arm of Dorne. House Estermont also has its stronghold (Greenstone) on an island, but not one that is part of the chain.

and if so, we see in the indexes that some stayed with Stannis, while others went to Joffrey. Is there some sort of civil war going on in that house?

Well, divided allegiances... I wouldn't say a civil war. They have blood ties to both Stannis and Joffrey. Some went one way, some the other, rather like the sons of Lord Swann, but they aren't killing one another.

Keeping a foot in both camps during rebellions was actually a fairly common ploy of some medieval families, in order to ensure that the family holdings were not wiped out should the wrong side win.

2. The appendix shows Galbart Glover as Master of Deepwood Motte, but Robetts infant son as the heir. From this, I would assume that Galbart is both wifeless and childless? Is this true, or was a mistake made in regards to the Master of Deepwood Motte?

I'd need to consult my notes to be sure, but off the top of my head I believe Galbart is a widower, and childless. He may very well have designated his brother's son as heir while that condition endures.

Military Questions
Submitted By: HAL9000

I'd like to ask you a few more questions related to A Song Of Ice And Fire: Are the archers from the eastern continent generally more skilled than their Westerosi counterparts?

No, though they have different fighting styles. Horse archers are more common in the east.

How about their bows? (effective/theoretical range, strength, etc.)

The best bows are made of the golden wood from the Summer Isles. The Summer Islanders are probably the best archers in my world.

I presume the mounted mercenaries from the eastern continent aren't as heavily armored as the Westerosi knights? What about their skills and discipline compared to the Westerosi knights?

It varies. Some of the sellsword companies are very disciplined, and some are nothing but rabble joined together in search of loot. At one end there would be the Golden Company, at the other the Brave Companions. The Second Sons and the Stormcrows are in the middle.

What is the general composition of the Westerosi armies? My impression is that the knights or mounted men represent the back-bone of their armies.

They are certainly the most feared component, yes.

What is the relative composition of archers (or horse-archers), infantry and cavalry?

Infantry outnumbered cavalry by a considerable margin, but for the most part we are talking about feudal levies and peasant militia, with little discipline and less training. Although some lords do better than others. Tywin Lannister's infantry was notoriously well disciplined, and the City Watch of Lannisport is well trained as well... much better than their counterparts in Oldtown and King's Landing.

Will they be able to support their armies with larger groups of archers (say, thousands of archers) in an effort to withstand or prevent attacks from flying dragons?

If they can find thousands of archers... depends on the season, of course...

Dany's planned invasion of Westeros looks very interesting from a military standpoint. Do you perchance model battles, tactics or campaigns in ASOIAF after historical battles or campaigns, or do you mix ideas from different battles/campaigns?

I make it up as I go along. Mix and match actual battles from history, but with a certain amount of imagination and invention thrown in.

Have you studied the campaigns of, say, Hannibal, Caesar, Napoleon, Scipio Africanus or Alexander the Great?

To a certain extent, yes. I wouldn't call myself an expert, by any means, but I've read all the biographies, I've got a lot of Osprey books, and I have read Keegan and Norman Dixon and Fletcher Pratt.

Will Dany continue to strengthen her 'army' of mercenaries and Unsullied by adding more cavalry and archers? I read in one of your officially published emails that a larger merc group will appear in A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. Is this group related to Dany? (I guess this is a potential spoiler-question, so I understand that you might not be willing to answer this question.)

You'll need to wait and see.

I'm a bit concerned about Dany's skills as a commander. To succeed with the invasion of Westeros, I believe she will need a lot of sound military advice (both tactically and strategically). What's your thoughts on this issue?

She will need counsel, yes... she will also need to learn to tell the good counsel from the bad, which is perhaps the hardest task of all.

The Effects of Winter
Submitted By: Ser Jaime

I'd like to greet you on behalf of our group of Russian fans of your work, and to thank you sincerely for your wonderful books. Special thanks from me personally, as a great lover of Medieval history and lore - it is so rare a thing to see such a beautiful and vivid image of Medieval world in literature. Thank you again:).

You're most welcome. I appreciate the kind words. Are you reading the books in English or in Russian? In either case, I am glad you're enjoying them.

But I'd also like to ask you a couple of questions - of course, if it doesn't take away too much time and attention. The first and main of these questions we've been discussing for some time now, and weren't able to come to a clear answer by ourselves. It's the question of agriculture in the North. From what we've seen in the books so far, it looks like even in summer the snow covers most of the lands in the North, and it surely does cover all in winter, doesn't it?

I wouldn't say that snow "covers most of the lands" in summer. Rather than they have occasional summer snows. It never gets really hot in the north, even in summer, but it's not icy and snowing all the time either.

Winter is a different tale.

But quite a lot of people are living there. What do they eat?

A lot of food is stored. Smoked, salted, packed away in granaries, and so on. The populations along the coast depend on fishing a great deal, and even inland, there is ice fishing on the rivers and on Long Lake. And some of the great lords try and maintain greenhouses to provide for their own castles... the "glass gardens" of Winterfell are referred to several times.

But the short answer is... if the winter lasts too long, the food runs out... and then people move south, or starve...

Are there some areas without snow, which are suitable for agriculture, or are there significant temperature changes inside the "bigger seasons"? To grow a harvest, at least a couple of months' time of warm temperature (15-20 degrees by Celsius) is needed. Is it available in the North?

Sometimes. It is not something that can be relied on, given the random nature of the seasons, but there are "false springs" and "spirit summers." The maesters try and monitor temperature grand closely, to advise on when to plant and when to harvest and how much food to store.

And what happens when a winter comes - five, six years long?

Famine happens. The north is cruel.

Surely, the import of grain from the South alone can't cover the North's needs. And, by the way, does it snow in the South during the winter?

Yes, some times, in some places. The Mountains of the Moon get quite a lot of snow, the Vale and the riverlands and the west rather less, but some. King's Landing gets snow infrequently, the Storm Lands and the Reach rarely, Oldtown and Dorne almost never.

My second question is a small one, and probably quite stupid:). Perhaps, that's just a problem of language, but nonetheless... What is the origin of a term "hedge knight" and why are those people called so? I couldn't find any analog of this term is history, so the word must be a Westeros peculiarity. Why "hedge"?

The term does occur in history, and not just for knights. Hedge teachers, hedge poets, hedge wizards... basically they are itinerants who have to sleep in the hedges as often as not, since they don't have a roof over their heads. I have seen the term used most frequently in Irish history, which is where I swiped it.

Comments and Questions
Submitted By: Arakasi

Mr. Martin I would just like to say how much I've enjoyed your series A Song of Ice and Fire. I think it's the best writing out there now in the realm of Fantasy writing by a long shot. Your books have a sense of realism and honesty that can be sometimes brutal, but always keeps the reader on his toes. Like I've heard you say before, it makes the fans react differently when they can know anything can happen at any time.

I think the best books are the ones that keep the readers wondering what will happen next.

Thanks for the kind words.

I was checking online and was surprised to find out that people could actually get in touch with an author of your calibre. So here I am. :) The only Fantasy Author who I had met previously was Dave Duncan a few years ago. So on to my questions.

1. The first two books in the series, despite being full of harsh intrigue and sublety as SOS, seemed to have moments of joy for the good guys (Starks, Baratheons) but SOS to me lacked any of those same moments. Was it because you needed to wrap up some plot threads for the five year gap?

No, not really. The story has its own momentum. This is really one long story, just as Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS was, so the division into books in some ways is almost arbitrary. STORM was the darkest volume, but I wouldn't say it was joyless.

2. Was it difficult to you when you wrote Dany's scene with the slavers in SOS? Was that one of the moments where the character spoke to you and changer their direction? Cause for me that act of Dany's seemed out of character. I know she dislikes slavery, but she must have killed an awful lot of innocent people there, plus her motives to me seemed suspect. Yes she freed the slaves, but she also got a large army for nothing. And right after she left the slavery started up again.

Dany is still very young. She has lessons to learn. That was one of them. It is not as easy to do good as it might seem, no matter how noble your intentions.

3. When Lysa lost her virginity to Petyr, Littlefinger was drunk. Did the state he was in cause him to believe that he actually slept with Catelyn? Because of his numerous claims throughout the series that he took both of the Tully girl's maidenheads. I always suspected that he was lying through his teeth deliberately, but now I kind of think that Littlefinger thinks the deed actually happened, at least in his mind.

I think that's quite likely, yes.

I'll let you get back to writing Dance with Dragons, and have yourself a merry christmas and a great new year. Thanks alot for creating such a wonderful world that all of us can enjoy. By the way I've converted several people to your books, with more to come. :)

Then keep up the good work, by all means.

Maester Chains and Valyrian Steel Links
Submitted By: b. b. elgin

Hopefully this is indeed the address for George R. R. Martin. If not, please ignore my incoherent ramblings.

Right address. Sorry for the delay responding. I do get a lot of emails.

First off, of course, thank you for writing the excellent books in A Song of Ice and Fire. I have enjoyed them immensely. Your books are currently vying with Tad Williams's Otherland books for my favorite current work of speculative fiction. Suffice it to say that your books are winning. :)

Thanks for the kind words. I like Tad's work as well, thought I haven't read his Otherland series yet, so that's good company to be in.

I hope that work on A Dance with Dragons is progressing well and that you are enjoying your work.

Enjoying? I don't know... I enjoy having written, but writing can be painful. But I am making progress.

Now the question. Do maesters fully forge the links of their chokers from raw metal, or do they take strips of existing metal and forge it into the links?

When he said a maester "forges" his chain, it is more metaphorical. They do study metals, but that doesn't necessarily include training as blacksmiths.

I had assumed the former, but the latter would be simpler. I ask, of course, because of the link of Valyrian steel in Maester Luwin's chain. Did he know the spells, or did he take an existing strip and beat it into shape?

He studied magical tomes and histories, and mastered enough of the arcane lore to impress an archmaester into granting him a link. He did not necessarily have to make the steel himself.

I thought that this was a simple enough question, that it might not be a major spoiler for being a maester, but still would give me food for thought.

Here 'tis. Nourishment enough for awhile, I hope.

Keep reading.

Historical Influences
Submitted By: Ser Loras

Firstly I'd like to apologize for wasting your time, reading this email; and I often think that you must be St. Job reborn... Where do you find the patience to read and answer to all your fans?

Patience is not the problem. There's just too few hours in the day. Try as I might, I do find myself falling further and further behind. I still have letters in my box from 1998. Sigh. But I plug away when I can...

[Edited for clarity after this point. Ser Loras's question concerning whether GRRM borrows from history, particularly Spanish history, received the reply below.]

Well, yes and no. I have drawn on a great many influences for these books. I do use incidents from history, yes, although I try not to do a straight one-for-one transposition of fact into fiction. I prefer to mix and match, and to add in some imaginative elements as well.

Most of my borrowings, however, come from English and French medieval history, simply because I am more familiar with those than with the heroes, legends, and traditions of other countries. The Wars of the Roses, the Crusades, and the Hundred Years War have been my biggest influences... oh, and some Scottish history as well, such as the infamous Black Dinner that inspired my own Red Wedding. This isn't a matter of choice so much as it is one of necessity. I don't have any other language besides English, and there's a paucity of good popular English language histories about medieval Spain, medieval Germany, and the like. I was in Germany last fall, and looked everywhere for good reference books about the medieval Holy Roman Empire, which would be treasure trove, I suspect. There are a ton of them that looked likely... but all in German.

And in about a week I will be travelling to Spain, coincidentally enough, where I plan to search for some good popular histories as well. Whether I will find any I can read, however... well, it's doubtful.

As to your specific question, I have seen the film version of EL CID, of course, and the Osprey book about the Reconquest is on my sheld. Good, but not nearly detailed enough.

Also, the fight between the Baratheon brothers for the throne is similar to the one held by the Trastamaras: Pedro el Cruel (Peter the Cruel), King of Castile and León and his brother Enrique (Henry). Again, am I close?

I know a little more about that one since it impinged on the Hundred Years War, and there are plenty of references for that in English. As a matter of fact, I collect miniature lead and pewter knights in 54mm scale, and I have figures of both Pedro the Cruel and Enrique the Bastard in my collection.

More... I see a lot of Henry IV of Castile in Robert Baratheon, if I am right, you will now what I mean...

Sorry, Henry IV is not a fellow I know much about. If Robert is modelled on anyone, it is more Edward IV of England... though as usual, I rang in some changes.

Also, could Don Beltrán de la Cueva be similar to Ser Loras Tyrell. I mean, their histories do not fit perfectly but Don Beltrán (First Duke of Alburquerque) was reputed to be the best knight of Castile by then, and his sexuality raised many questions.

Again, don't know him. Wish I did. If I could find a good book...

and lastly, there could be a parallelism between Aegon the Conqueror, and the spanish "conquistadores". Let me explain: Hernán Cortés for example, with less than a hundred men conquered the Aztec Empire... (Dragons=gunpowder?)

I know about Cortez, but Aegon the Conquerer derives more from William the Conquerer.

I would love to become more familiar with Spanish history. Can you recommend any good English language popular histories? I stress "popular." I am not looking for academic tomes about changing patterns of land use, but anecdotal history rich in details of battles, betrayals, love affairs, murders, and similar juicy stuff.

Thank you very much for your time, and I await with illusion for a reply.

I hope you didn't wait too long. Here 'tis.

Keep reading.

Matters of Honor
Submitted By: Maia B.

Mr. Martin, please forgive me for disturbance. An interesting argument cropped up, one that only you can resolve.

Ahhh, but I don't like to resolve arguments, I prefer to stir them up. <G>

Namely: One of the posters claims that if Tyrion had been a honorable man (such as Ned), he would have used his position as the acting Hand to open the gates of KL to Stannis and would have subsequently testified against Cersei and Joff (if they got a trial, that is). He would have done so, because: "a lawful succession, and justice for the murders of Robert and Ned and many others should have been the major priority for a man of honor and responsibility". Would such a course of action be considered honorable and "right" in Westerosi society?

By whom? Westeros doesn't have the Gallup poll. This is a sort of question people would need to decide for themselves, just as in real life. Two thousand years after the assassination of Julius Caeser, people are still debating whether or not that was an honorable act. Dante put Brutus and Cassius in the lowest level of hell for what they did, right next to Judas Iscariot, but Shakespeare wrote that Brutus was "the noblest Roman of them all."

So argue on.

Now, Ned is dead and we will never know for sure unless you tell us, but what would his options as a honorable man be if he found himself brother to Cersei and son to Tywin?

Ned had his own siblings, and his own moral quandries. I don't know that he'd care to get involved in hypothetical ones.

I find it hard to believe that he would have accepted the position of acting Hand while knowing all the facts, but assuming that he learned about incest and Robert's murder only when he was already acting Hand in KL, would he have opened the gates to Stannis (with all implications)?

Probably would have tried to treat with Stannis first, work out some terms.

Well, the above mentioned poster also claimed that once Stannis had KL, Westeros would have shortly been at peace, because everyone except for Tywin would have flocked to Stannis as their rightful king, but I guess that we'll learn the truth of it in ASOS...

I don't know if the series will ever reveal the "truth" of things that never happened, only of those that did.

But keep reading, and some of these things may be resolved eventually.

Dorothy Dunnett and Samwell
Submitted By: cteresa

It was not too long (though I only came to that opinion after reading it) and I have no idea how you do it, but with that huge character list, it's still amazingly easy to remember who is who, who did what and what is going on.

Glad to hear that. I try, but to tell the truth sometimes I have a hard time remembering all of them myself.

[About often seing ASOIAF English-language books in Lisbon]

Very interesting. I had no idea. I assume these are English copies? So far as I know, I am not published in Portugese. In Spanish, yes, but not Portugese.

Speaking of which, I am about to leave for three weeks in Spain. I am a guest at a festival called Semana Negra, held in Gijon in early July. Unfortunately, I will not be able to visit Portugal this trip, as much as I would love to. But if there are fans there who would like to meet me, they should come up to Semana Negra.

Does Sam still have the horn that Jon found with the obsidian?

Yes.

And is the lord of Horn Hill really Sam's father? (I like Sam very much, BTW)

Well, so far as anyone knows. Why wouldn't he be?

Is Barristan, for his personality and for being a member of the Kingsguard and keeping the king's secrets, a good witness about Varys influence over Aerys?

A witness, certainly. A good witness? Well, there were things he was not privy to, and of course he saw events from his own standpoint.

About some characters being named Lymond and other possible references to Dunnett's books

The books are full of homages, but not, alas, to Dunnett. Sorry. I have read only a little of her work, though I have heard so many good things about her that I do want to read more.

Questions About the Faceless Men
Submitted By: p.fitz's girlfriend

I wonder if I might ask you a question concerning your remarkable series.

You can always ask. I make no promises about answers...

Anyway to the purpose of my communication I am intrigued by the Faceless Men and was wondering if you could give any further info on them.

I will, but not in a letter. Keep reading the books.

I know I am not alone in this as my boyfriend tells me there is much speculation on the discussion board he uses that a good half a dozen characters may be Faceless Men or indeed the same Faceless Man.

Some of my readers have livelier imaginations than I do. Well, I won't comment, except to say that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

While I suspect we will learn move in future books are there any crumbs you could throw me in the meantime. I wonder about such points as whether they are an organised group a guild or secrete society if you will; or just a combined term for individuals possessed of the same type of skills. Are they purely assassins or do their interests go further.

Here's your crumb: they are very old, their interests go further, they originated in Valyria before the fall, and their core organizing principle is religious.

Are Faceless Men born or made, I suppose I mean do they need to posses some physical or mental attribute above and beyond the reflexes, balance, aptitude for killing one would expect of a skilled assassin. Could anyone possessing the requisite skills be a Faceless Man or is it a trade that is passed down in families.

It is passed down, but definitely not in families.

How long have Faceless Men been in existence.

Thousands of years, if their traditions can be believed. Longer than Braavos itself.

How long does it take to train as a Faceless Man, is the training formal taking place in some sort of academy, or, is it by way of apprenticeship. Basically could you tell me anything to curb my curiosity.

You'll need to wait for the next book to learn more.

The East
Submitted By: Casper Marie

I do have a few questions. Is the Smoking Sea where Valyria used to be before the Doom?

Well, partly. Valyria is still there, as you can see from the maps. But it wasn't always on an island.

Was the Doom related to dragons, i.e., did the Valyrians lose control of some of the dragons, or was there some sort of civil war fought with dragons much like occurred later in Westeros?

No comment.

Finally, will there be new maps in ADWD? I love the maps and would like to see where the Free Cities, Yi Ti, Asshai, and the Shadowlands lie.

Yes, there will be new maps in every volume. Which ones depends on where the story goes.

Is Yi Ti farther east than Asshai/Is there anything known to be east of the Shadowlands?

You'll need to wait and see.

The Martell Name’s Inheritance
Submitted By: TrackerNeil

Thanks for writing A Song of Ice and Fire. It's simply terrific, which I'm sure you hear all of the time but I felt nonetheless moved to say. I enjoy it as much as if not more than the Lord of the Rings.

That's high praise indeed. Thanks.

May I ask a clarifying question about Dornish succession? It's been said that in Dorne women have the same inheritance rights as men; therefore, first-born daughters inherit their parents' titles. However, in most of Westeros, women take their husbands' names, and so do the trueborn children they produce. How, then, does the Martell name continue? If Arianne Martell is heir to Doran, won't she become a non-Martell when she marries, and won't her children and heirs bear the name of her husband? Doran's mother ruled Dorne, and yet he bears the name Martell? Can you clarify this?

Actually the name "Martell" has used by the other (non Dornish) characters is an oversimplification. If you look in the appendix, you'll see that the ruling prince of Dorne is Doran Nymeros Martell. The ruling family always uses this formulation, to signify the union of Mors Martell with Queen Nymeria of the Ten Thousand Ships.

A ruling princess of Dorne would =not= take the name of her consort. And some of the major Dornish lordlings also follow this custom, in imitation of the ruling house.

Many Questions
Submitted By: Krafus

I wrote to you once last summer to congratulate you on ASOIAF, but after reading ASOS, I just had to do it again (not to mention that I came up with more questions :-)

That's life... there are always more questions...

ASOS kept up your tradition of attention to details, amazing and realistic characters, and no dumbing down of violence or sex or ugly details to please younger audiences. Jaime's POV was a fantastic addition - I had been wondering if we was a hopelessly corrupted man or just one who'd lost his way. "That boy had wanted to be Ser Arthur Dayne, but somewhere along the way he had become the Smiling Knight instead." I think that was incredibly poignant and revealing about Jaime, and it was those words that convinced me that Jaime had been had started out as a good man who grew corrupted along the way.

The Jaime sections were very challenging, but I enjoying writing them. Complex characters are always the most interesting.

Another thing I very much like about ASOIAF is the amazing size of the cast of characters. Sometimes, a character seen in one book will pop up in another without warning. For me, the best example was Anguy, the archer in Beric Dondarrion's band, who, from his skill with a bow, I believe to be the Anguy who won the archery contest at the Hand's tourney (am I right?)

Yes. Good catch.

And now (surprise, surprise), the questions. 1- With time and effort (say, the five years between ASOS and ADWD), can Jaime learn to fight left-handed, like Quorin Halfhand did?

He's going to have to find out, I suspect.

2- Now that Tywin Lannister is dead, will it be Kevan or Cersei who will assume control of House Lannister (and the throne)? I'm assuming that Jaime cannot because he's in the Kingsguard and seems to want to remain there. Whether it's Kevan or Cersei, there's bound to be trouble. Cersei is shortsighted, quick to take offense, and very protective of her children (I think that's why she had a knight of the Kingsguard try to kill Tyrion), whereas Kevan was used to taking orders from his older brother.

Sorry, that's another you'll need to wait for the next book to resolve.

3- After five years, will Daenerys's dragons have grown large enough to be ridden?

Yes.

4- Did the Targaryens own a family sword made of Valyrian steel, like Ice or Brightroar or Longclaw?

Several.

And if yes, what was it named and what happened to it - Rhaegar had it on the Trident, maybe?

The most famous of them was named Blackfyre. It was long lost by Rhaegar's day, however.

Or, if you can't tell right now, will we find out about it in a later book?

Yes.

5- Will we know in time, with certainty, the identity of Jon Snow's parents (I don't believe Edric Dayne's tale)? Personally, I really hope he's Lyanna and Rhaegar's son, despite looking so much like Eddard.

Jon's parentage will be revealed eventually, yes.

6- Since Tyrion is going to the Free Cities (and one of Varys's contacts there likely being Magister Illyrio), is it a possibility that he might hear of and hook up with Dany and her dragons (he's fascinated by dragons, if I remember well)?

It's possible.

7- Rhaegar is described by Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah Mormont as being melancholy and noble and honorable. That hardly strikes me as the kind of man who'd cheat on his wife, especially at such a public event as the tourney at Harrenhal. So why did he did he choose Lyanna as queen of love an beauty?

Good question.

8- When Arya says she "dreamed" of finding her mother's corpse, did she actually take over the body of her lost wolf Nymeria, the way Jon and Bran sometimes do?

Yes.

9- It's not really a question, but I've noticed a great similarity between ASOS and Lord of the Rings - the two Sams, Samwell Tarly and Samwise Gamgee. In particular, in each series, a Sam made a desperate attack on a hopelessly superior force (an Other and the huge spider Shelob) to protect a defenseless companion (Gilly and her baby and the bound Frodo). Would you care to comment?

There are a number of homages to LOTR in my book. I am a huge Tolkien fan.

By the way, I hope Jon Snow isn't ASOIAF's Frodo. Jon's my favorite character, and I wouldn't want him to end up like Frodo, sick and scarred inside from his burden.

He's taller than Frodo.

10- Have you begun writing A Dance with Dragons? And if yes, when will it be coming out?

The next book will be out in fall, 2002.

11- Is ASOS selling well? Better than ACOK and AGOT?

Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.

12- Do you have plans for more stories set in Westeros aside from ASOIAF and The Hedge Knight? I'd really like a story about Robert Baratheon's war to unseat Aerys or one centering on the great tourney at Harrenhal - with Rhaegar's POV, if possible, to learn what made him choose Lyanna instead of his own wife as queen of love and beauty.

I want to do more Dunk and Egg stories. Beyond that, I don't know.

Thank you for taking the time of reading this, and, I hope, answering it :-)

Keep reading.

The Kingsguard in the Dance of the Dragons
Submitted By: p.fitz

[P.fitz notes: Hi Ran I asked GRR about the civil war "The Dance of the Dragons" why the Kingsguard had split, if whole Kingsguard had split between the two factions or just one of the Twins who took a opposing side to the rest of his brothers ("Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk who died on one another's swords..." p 65 AGOT Voyager paperback Bran's second chapter).]

The Kingsguard split. At the times, the laws of succession were less well established, and there was dissent as to which claimant had the best claim, the elder daughter or the younger son.

Targaryen Polygamy
Submitted By: Jonathan

First off all I want to thank you for the one of the best fantasy novels I ever read. Then I would like to ask one question: In the SOS Jora Mormont told to Dany that Aegon The Dragon had two wives and she could take two husbands. The question is if there were any other precedents of polygamy among Targaryens besides Aegon the First.

Yes, there were.

Maegor the Cruel had eight or nine wives, I seem to recall, though not all of them were simultaneous. He beheaded a few of them who failed to give him heirs, a test that all of them ultimately failed.

There might have been a few later instances as well. I'd need to look that up... (or make that up, as the case might be).