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Collected entries from Westeros: Updates, All Sorts of Weird Stuff: News and Blood of Dragons: Announcements.

The Wars to Come Hits Series High Despite Piracy

The premiere of “The Wars to Come”—our written review is still forthcoming, but we’ve posted our usual video review (some minor audio and editing glitches—new workflow, new camera!—but those are brief)—has not only become the highest rated premiere episode of Game of Thrones;, but the highest rated episode, period, with nearly 8 million viewers. As Variety notes, that’s about 800,000 more than its second highest rated episode, “Mockingbird”. And across the pond, Sky Atlantic in the UK reported that their airing on Monday was also their highest rated episode ever, with 1.6 million viewers in the overnight rating.

More Pyrrha GoT Jewellery
Pyrrha Martell Ring

Just in time for the start of the 5th season, Pyrrha has expanded their collection of officially licensed Game of Thrones jewellery. Matching rings have joined the previously existing talisman necklaces, two new styles of necklaces have been added, one featuring the heraldic devices on a rounder talisman and one featuring them on a proper shield. The latter matches well with the new shield cuffs, though if you want something slimmer (and a bit kinder to the wallet, admittedly!) for your arm the new ID bracelets with house words on might be just the thing. Most of the pieces are available in either sterling silver or bronze, though the shield cuffs seem to be available only in silver. Its just too bad that not all the houses that they’ve done so far get represented in each of the collections, though likely it comes down to what has been popular so far. Still, we would have loved to see some more Martell pieces.

Season 5 Impressions

For those who’ve been asking, various thing in real life have led to this coming out later than intended… but here it is at last, our early impressions of season 5. As noted at the start, we’ve already provided some views on the first episode, but this covers the three additional episodes that were included in the screener package. It’s a long piece, but in a lot of ways it barely scratches the surface, as there’s a lot of story packed into season 5.

You can find the feature here in our Features page.

Coins of the Realm

The terrific Shire Post Mint, who’ve been creating A Song of Ice and Fire-related, George R.R. Martin-licensed coinage for years, have come up with another fun project after their last Kickstarter to create actual gold dragon coins proved a great success. This time, instead of aiming at the high-end collectors who go crazy for authenticity, Tom Maringer and company have launched a Kickstarter to make coins/tokens with a bit of A Game of Thrones flair, suitable a variety of games (but they’re particularly suited to Fantasy Flight Games’ Game of Thrones Living Card Game)  and other houses.

Featuring a wide array of subjects—from ancient royal houses to modern great houses to foreign powers—the coins are a treat for any collector or gamer who can make use of them. The Kickstarter has just 9 days to go, and is still just shy of its goal, so we definitely recommend checking it out and giving it your consideration.

For more ASoIaF coins from the Shire Post Mint, see here!

Three New Promos

People have been hoping for a third and final full length trailer ahead of the premiere of season 5 of Game of Thrones on April 12th, but it looks unlikely at this point. However, the powers that be at HBO have smiled down on eager fans and released not one but three new promo spots, shorter but with a handful of new glimpses of scenes that fans haven’t yet seen before. The first is called the Future Promo , featuring Littlefinger with some rather ironic words:

And the second is the Sinners Promo, featuring Jonathan Pryce’s zealous septon:

And finally, the Enemy Promo, which features only one new shot at the very start, we think:

The Mountain to Crush Philadelphia

Not literally… but figuratively? Sure thing. Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson—best known for playing Ser Gregor Clegane in season 4, as well as matching legendary feats of strength as one of the world’s strongest men—is coming to Philadelphia for the newly-inaugurated Philadelphia Renfaire on May 16th and May 17th. It’s a rare chance to meet the big man from Iceland, and for those who want to see how they size up the Renaissance Faire has some exclusive VIP packages that give fans the opportunity to meet him, to work out with him, and even to fight alongside him in a special short film!

For more information on tickets and details on the special events focusing on Thor, see here. And while you’re at it, check out the wanted poster about his presence on the premises (including the claim that he’s wanted for horse theft, a deed committed by lifting up a horse and carrying it off. I could well believe he could pick up a fair-sized horse.)

 

 

GRRM Talks Winds of Winter, Captain Cosmos

A brief but excellent interview with George R.R. Martin—hot on the heels of his release of a new sample chapter from The Winds of Winter—discusses his efforts on that book (and why it’s taken so long), a major twist that he’s deciding on (and whether the TV show can replicate it or not), and a series in development with HBO that’s currently having its pilot script written.

Absolutely worth checking this one out, not least for the key piece of information that GRRM is making all efforts to have The Winds of Winter published before season 6 of Game of Thrones airs.

New Winds of Winter Excerpt

Ah, George R.R. Martin has finally posted a chapter from The Winds of Winter that Linda and I had the pleasure of reading a couple of years ago. Suffice it to say, it contains spoilers! In fact, we’re not even naming the character in question, for those who’d rather not know.

You can read the chapter here.

No GRRM Script for Season 6

At the San Francisco premiere of Game of Thrones, Access Hollywood asked George R.R. Martin a few questions. The first? Whether he’d write a script for the sixth season… and the answer is, “No”:

Note that this statement comes less than two weeks after GRRM commented on Livejournal that he was at that time “wrestling” with the same question. So it looks likely that he settled on an answer pretty much around the time that he decided to remove some appearances from his schedule.

A Visit to the Westerlands

George R.R. Martin revealed on his Not a Blog that he had decided to go and update his book samples pages at his official site with a new The World of Ice and Fire sample… but it’s not quite a sample from the book: “The Westerlands” is in fact George’s original write up of Westerlands history, one of a number of such write-ups he did as his contribution for the book. Due to size constraints, Linda and I then worked with our editor Anne Groell to compress it down to fit the book.

Now, one note of caution: this is an unedited, unpublished text. In fact, purusing it, it’s a very close match for the original text George sent, before we turned it around with some comments pointing out some continuity issues. George is aware of them and will doubtless incorporate them in the future if he decides to publish it, but in any case there are differences between the two texts because we incorporated those necessary changes and fixes into TWoIaF. Some have asked us if we can at least consider all details not contradicting the books and TWoIaF as “canon”, but I’d again underline the fact that this isn’t really a published text. Until it’s in a fixed format—as in, published in a book or an anthology—it’s not canonical, as all unpublished details are entirely subject to change at George’s whim. I’d guess very little of it will change if George did decide to publish it, beyond those things already fixed for The World of Ice and Fire, but that’s where it stands.

In any case, go read it!

Supreme Tweeter Approaches

As we mentioned in our Stockholm exhibit report, Linda and I had the opportunity to meet Harry Lloyd, the actor who brought Prince Viserys to life during the first season of Game of Thrones. One of the topics of discussion was an exciting personal project that Harry and his partner Jayne Hong had been working on for the last while, a sort of mockumentary about what happens when the dictator of a certain notorious Asian country turned out to be your biggest fan….

The Supreme Tweeter web series is set to launch on April 1st. The day after, April 2nd, Harry will be at Reddit’s offices to take part in a Ask Me Anything which will start at 3PM Eastern time. Should be a great opportunity for fans to ask him about the project, as well as Game of Thrones (ask him about the cameos from GoT-connected people, and kill two birds with one stone!) and all the other things he’s been involved in over the years (such as The Theory of Everything, Wolf Hall, Manhattan, and Doctor Who).

Watch the Red Carpet

The US premiere of season 5 is just about to start in San Francisco… but before that, there’s a star-studded red carpet to keep an eye on, with many of the show’s cast and crew members on hand for the celebrations. HBO has kindly provided a live stream of the event for those who’d like to watch vicariously! Also, they promise a special, new behind-the-scenes video at the end of the stream, so that’s something worth watching:

Telltale’s Episode 3 Trailer

Telltale Games has announced the release of episode 3 of their Game of Thrones narrative adventure game, titled “The Sword in the Darkness”. The game will release starting tomorrow, March 24th for PC and Playstation, the 25th and 26th for other console and mobile devices. Here’s the trailer below:

A bit of a young Drogon, eh? Interesting.  We’ve a trip planned tomorrow, as it happens, so we won’t be able to review this for a couple of days. Until then, here’s our reviews of episode 1 and episode 2.

Impressions and Commentary on the Season 5 Premiere

After attending the world premiere of Game of Thrones season 5 at the Tower of London, Linda and I have written up some brief impressions. We also created a video discussing one particular aspect of the first episode, “The Wars to Come”, which we thought was pretty noteworthy. You can find it below:

GRRM on Season 5, Cancelling Appearances

George R.R. Martin has been quite loquacious these past few days on his “Not a Blog” personal site, to the point that the media has been taking notice of his remarks. Among them have been his reiteration of his intention (but not his promise) to have the A Song of Ice and Fire series completed in seven books, his struggle to decide whether he’ll be providing a script for season 6 of Game of Thrones (he passed on writing a script for season 5), his thoughts on the “how many seasons” question, and even some passing remarks on a once-proposed feature animated adaptation that he passed on prior to HBO coming into view.

Most recently, however, George’s post on cancelling his attendance to the World Fantasy Convention and San Diego Comic-Con, stating that he simply had too many things to do. It’s worth noting that these weren’t the only events on his schedule (though as he notes, SDCC was never noted as an official appearance), and in particular it seems like he’s still set to appear at conventions and fairs where he’s a Guest of Honor. Still, freeing up some time and space in his schedule sounds like something he feels will be helpful to him given the various tasks he’s dealing with.

But all that said, it’s the last note in his post that has caused wild speculation:

EW Features Game of Thrones

It’s that time of year again, when the intrepid James Hibberd provides us all the scoops that his deep access to the show (this time featuring some ten days worth of set visits and interviews in multiple locations) can provide. This week’s issue—available on newstands, and soon available for digital download—features an enormous thirty pages worth of coverage, and EW and Hibberd have been kind enough to give a few samples.

Of particular note is today’s release of ruminations on just when the show ends, in which it’s made clear that seven years may well be on the table… but so might eight years, or nine years, or even ten, if HBO could have its way. And Hibberd suggests the possibility that seems the likeliest, at this juncture the eight-seasons-in-all-but-name option:

“Perhaps the most likely outcome for the end of Thrones is having an extended, split-run seventh and final season — where more episodes are ordered than Thrones’ usual 10, but half air one year and half air the next. This would get HBO another “season” without having to renegotiate with the cast since all the episodes are technically part of the seventh round they’re already optioned for. AMC employed this strategy with the final seasons of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but HBO used this technique first with the sixth and final season of The Sopranos, which consisted of 21 episodes instead of the usual 13. Additionally distributing the final two hours beyond HBO with some sort of theatrical run for fans who want to see it in the theater wouldn’t be surprising, either. “

That sounds about right. Read the rest, it’s worth it, and dig around for some of the other new, exclusive coverage, such as these video interview gems and some exclusive first looks

Game of Thrones to Simulcast Fifth Season

This is absolutely amazing, really—and unprecedented outside of, I don’t know, the Olympics: HBO and its sister networks and broadcast partners around the world will be simulcasting the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Not just the premiere episode (although that episode, it seems ,may air even more widely), but every single episode of the season. What does this mean? That means when it airs at 9PM Eastern on Sundays, it will air at the exact same time in all participating countries and territories. So for fellow HBO Nordic subscribers, for example, will have the pleasure of hitting bed early to then wake up at 3AM to watch it at the same time as fans in the U.S. Fans in Asia will be watching it in the morning. And more.

Full details in the press release below:

New Season 5 Trailer Launched

Apple’s latest event proved a very surprising location for a big reveal—the official announcement of HBO Now... and the unexpected launch of the second Game of Thrones season 5 trailer. This is a very meaty trailer, and confirms one particularly controversial speculation of ours as having been on the right track:

Currently away from home, but we’ll see if we can’t get our screen caps and commentary up tonight.

 

HBO Confirms Streaming Service in April

The rumors have been out there… and are now confirmed with HBO’s press release announcing it’s HBO Now service to launch in April (just in time for Game of Thrones season 5—coincidence? Don’t think so!)

Here’s the full details:

Coster-Waldau Interviewed in Stockholm

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister) was in Stockholm on Friday to help HBO Nordic ring in the opening of the Game of Thrones exhibit, which meant a bevy of interviews by various Scandinavian media outlets. We ourselves arrived too late in the day for the panel interviews, but fortunately at least one English-language interview came out of it thanks to Sverige Radio PP3, a culture and music program on P3 radio. We’ve embedded the interview below—bear with it a few seconds, it opens up in Swedish and then the interview and Nikolaj agree that their respective grasps on one another’s language is poor enough that English will work better:

Last Chance for Hugo Nominations

In January, nominations opened for the 2015 Hugo Awards, which will be presented at the Worldcon in Washington, Sasquan. The ballots will close on March 10th, so if you’ve yet to nominate but are eligible to do so, best get cracking. Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading List is always a good place to start reviewing some of the literature from last year… but we’ll focus on things connected to GRRM, one way or the other:

George is again each eligible this year for Editor- Short Fiction, thanks to Rogues, and co-editor Gardner Dozois is eligible several times over due to other collections and anthologies he’s edited in the previous year. And speaking of Rogues, all the stories therein are individually eligible in their respective categories. The Locus list linked above notes several of them, by writers such as Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, and Scott Lynch, but it’s worth noting that Martin’s novelette “The Rogue Prince” is also eligible. (And as to Best Editor - Long Form, Jane Johnson of HarperCollins Voyager and Anne Groell of Random House should be perennial nominees.)

Also eligible, of course, would be Game of Thrones in the Dramatic Presentation - Short Form category; we’d recommend nominating “The Watchers on the Wall”, the spectacular Neil Marshall-directed penultimate episode, and GRRM’s own contribution, “The Lion and the Rose”.

Season 5 Titles Revealed

While Linda and I were out to Sweden’s beautiful capital of Stockholm for the Game of Thrones exhibit’s opening gala—more on that tomorrow, but there’ll be photos, possibly some video, and a few odds and ends—it looks like Spoiler TV scooped everyone (again—they often get ahold of these earlier than most) with the titles of the first four episodes of the highly-anticipated fifth season. We’ll put it below the cut, for those who want to avoid the possible spoilers inherent in the titles (as well as brief log lines for the first three episodes):

On the Sand Snakes

According to the Huffington Post, an uproar about the casting of the Sand Snakes, the daughters of Prince Oberyn Martell by various women. The recent Weapons of Dorne video which gave many fans their first really clear look at the actors in costume made a few on Twitter realize that the characters did not really look very much like the characters described in the books… but the outrage isn’t about that, but rather by the fact that all the characters are “white”.

Unfortunately, this says more about reader myopia than it does the show’s casting. The outrage is based on the reading of the Dornish as being “another race” than the people you’ll find in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, but in fact that divides in Westeros are not really racial but ethnic in nature, largely about culture and not skin color. According to George R.R. Martin, this is how he envisioned the Dornish when he created them:

The Weapons of Dorne

Not sure how we missed this one, but a few days ago HBO released a video on its Youtube channel concerning the weaponry we’ll see in Dorne. Narrated by weapon master Tommy Dunne, who points out a few very specific weapons, there’s at least one somewhat spoilery piece of information contained therein (well, besides the fact that we’ll see Dorne this season):

Despite Michelle Clapton’s protest, it certainly seems the “nipples” on that leather armor of Obara Sand’s will be pretty obvious on film. Doubtless, as she said, it’s an artifact of the moulding process, but the association’s pretty clear.

As to the spoiler?

Season 5 Poster and Sneak Peeks

Courtesy of HBO, we now have the official poster for season 5…. and it’s quite a sight to behold, to say the least.

Featuring Tyrion Lannister’s familiar figure at the bow of a ship or boat surrounded by mist, the familiar (and increasingly-large) figure of Drogon, Daenerys’s great black dragon, hovers into view. It’s very eerie, and a very tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come for Tyrion, a glimpse that confirms speculations following the release of the trailer for the upcoming season. Season 5 will premiere on April 12th in the US, April 13th in the UK.

Speaking of tantalizing glimpses, HBO’s “The Sight” campaign—somewhat controversial among fans, for its randomly distributed, extremely short, and mobile-only focus—has come to an end with two (randomly distributed) sneak peeks at brief scenes from the upcoming season. You’ll find them below the cut, as the official Game of Thrones channel very kindly had mercy and posted them online:

2016 Song of Ice and Fire Calendar Details Revealed

Thanks to a Facebook update by artist Magali Villeneuve—one of the many artists contributed beautiful artwork to The World of Ice and Fire—we see that Random House has released some official information (including a cover image)  regarding the 2016 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar (Pre-order: Amazon.com). Due for release on July 28th, there’s one particularly interesting detail about her work on the calendar:

And, as a special treat, one of Villeneuve’s twelve gorgeous, dynamic paintings depicts a scene from The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth novel in A Song of Ice and Fire.

That should be quite interesting, especially if it were to be from a chapter that no one has gotten a glimpse of yet.

Win a Visit to Game of Thrones Stockholm Exhibition!

Thanks to HBO Nordic, a score of lucky followers (that’s 20!) of Westeros.org will get a chance to attend the Game of Thrones exhibition  in Stockholm, Sweden on March 6th, a day before it opens to the general public! The famed exhibition—which has never been in Stockholm before—contains props and costumes from all five seasons of the hit fantasy series, as well as interactive installations. Should be a fun, exciting occasion.

To enter, just comment on this post in the Facebook comments—or tweet us with the tag #GOTSTHLM—and answer this question:

What house motto is your favorite, and why?

This contest runs through the 27th.

NOTE: This contest pertains only to entry to the exhibition. Transportation and accommodations are not provided.

Blurays, Awards, and More

A good deal has been going on in the world of Game of Thrones, starting with the release of the Season 4 Bluray/DVD set in the U.S. and U.K. (Order: US Bluray, US DVD, UK Bluray, UK DVD), with a great deal of pomp and circumstance—especially in the UK, where the promotional push included an elaborate, pop-up restaurant installation created by The Wandering Chef for HBO UK:

At the same time, the Writer’s Guild of America awards saw Game of Thrones‘s writing staff nominated in two categories: best drama series, and best individual episode for George R.R. Martin’s “The Lion and the Rose”. While neither award went to Game of Thrones, it was an occasion for some interviews with George R.R. Martin. Access Hollywood learned from him that he’d recently met with the main writers of the show to discuss their plans for season 6, and teases the appearance of the Sand Snakes:

Discussing the Season 5 Trailer

Although we’ve a gallery of screencaps with comments up following the season 5 trailer released, we decided that we should also put together a video discussing what we see in the trailer with a bit more depth. You can find it below:

Watch a Day In the Life

HBO’s half-hour special, Game of Thrones: A Day in the Life, highlighting the multi-national production, has just aired and HBO has gone ahead and placed it online. See it here:

Screencaps and commentary to follow in the coming days.