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

The Lion and the Rose Guide

Another episode of Game of Thrones draws to an end, and we have a full recap, review, and book-to-screen breakdown—plus a bonus video—available over at the “The Lion and the Rose” episode guide!  And if that’s not enough for you? The A Song of Ice and Fire forum is already filled with discussion, so why not join the conversation?

An Update on Dunk and Egg

George R.R. Martin has updated “Not a Blog” with a lengthy post discussing the status of the Dunk & Egg novellas, set about 80 years prior to the time of the novels. Besides the fact that the fourth novella is partially complete but on hold for now, Martin notes he already has a fifth story roughed out in his head, with a prospective title of “The Village Hero” and its setting being the Riverlands. Perhaps more saliently for many who have patiently been waiting for the A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms collection of the first three novellas is the explanation from Martin that the collection will arrive some time in 2015. But it won’t just be a straight-up collection: it will be richly illustrated by award-winning (and, frankly, legendary) artist Gary Gianni. Well-known for his work bringing Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Solomon Kane, and others to visual life, as well as many other pulp figures, most recently Gianni provided the artwork for the 2014 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar.

According to Martin, Gianni’s pitch for illustrating the collection is far beyond the initial handful of illustrations originally envisioned, and instead will feature much more artwork. Very exciting, for fans of Gianni’s work, as well as for fans of the novellas. Martin does not that some foreign language editions of an unillustrated version of the collection have already been published, but the English-language edition will have to wait until 2015 while Gianni finishes the work.

Below, a bit of speculation on “The Village Hero”.

Geography of Ice and Fire

I recall reading in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien a letter where Tolkien responded to a query from an admirer hoping for more extensive maps. He remarked on how he received a great number of requests, all asking after the special interests of the requesters: botanists wanted detailed descriptions of mallornx and niphredil, archaeologists desired information on metallurgy and ceramics, musicians wanted musical notations and tunes, and so on. One thing that he noted among them were the desire from some to have more “geological indications” on the maps, rather than place names.

Doubtless there have been fans of A Song of Ice and Fire who have wondered all these things, and more… but I must admit that I never thought that the geology of the world of Ice and Fire would get such attention as it’s received from Generation Anthropocene, a group-blog hosted by Stanford University. Featuring researchers and writers working together to write about the ways that humanity impacts the geology of the world. Their latest work is something of a light-hearted diversion from their more serious study, as they’ve examined the geology of Westeros in tremendous detail. Drawing on details drawn from the novels, they’ve attempted to backward-construct the geological history of the world as far back as 500 million years prior to the present. It’s all quite a heady read, pointing out things that Martin himself—who, so far as I know, has no geological training to speak of—likely created in haphazard fashion, but which can be explained by the very learned academics at Generation Anthropocene.

Very much recommended for idle reading, simply to marvel at how much can be made out of passing background details!

Game of Thrones Gets 2 Year Renewal

In an impressive turn, HBO has skipped the usual “Lets wait 2-3 weeks” to announce renewal following news that Game of Thrones smashed ratings expectations in its debut this yea.

And even more impressively, HBO has confirmed what everyone pretty much knows: this show is good to go for at least 2 years, with season 5 and 6 now locked in place. This follows recent news prior to the premiere that executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss had renewed their contracts with HBO for two more seasons.

The full press release can be found below

Game of Thrones Smashes Ratings Record

EW has the scoop as always: last night’s premiere airing of “Two Swords”  reached the 6.6 million mark, and with repeat airings moved up to 8.2 million. That’s an amazing feat, a rise of over 20% from last year’s 6th episode.

Quite the climb for the show, and it seems quite likely that it could well continue to climb as it proceeds this year.

Two Swords Recap and Analysis

The first episode is done, and our guide to “Two Swords” is now online, with a detailed recap, some thoughts on the qualities of the episode, and a look at the adaptation from the perspective of translating the book to the screens. Still a bit sparse on images from this season—apologies for that, something we hope to correct soon!

Besides our own review, there’s a great deal of discussion over at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum, which we highly recommend for fans (there’s sections for those who have not read the novels at all, but be vigilant about not peeking too much at other threads).

Discussing the New Excerpt

Following up on our Season 4 impressions video, Linda and I have finally gotten around to posting a video discussing the new excerpt that GRRM posted on his official site. It’s lengthy, and a little rough around the edges as we’ve fallen out of practice with the whole filming deal, but we do cover a lot of ground both regarding the setting, the events, and the characters. Plus, lots of comments from viewers on the video itself, and some interesting thoughts, so be sure to check them out!

You’ll find the video below:

Season 4 Impressions

We’ve been so busy these last weeks—with getting things ready for this new season, arranging the new server setup to handle the traffic load that we expect this season, and so on—that the thought of writing a season 4 early impressions piece, based on our viewing of the first three episodes (courtesy of HBO), never really crossed our minds. It was what we had done in past seasons, certainly, but each season seems to leave us busier and busier.

However, we had enough requests for our impressions that we decided to throw something together… but unlike the previous, written ones, this is a video that we’ve thrown up on Youtube. You can find it over at our Feature page, along with a great deal of other features we’ve done over the years, or you can see it below. These are basically spoiler-free general impressions, where we mull over various things that we felt were worth mulling over. For those who want hardcore spoilers, this will likely just be an exercise in frustration, so beware!

ImagineFX Releases Game of Thrones-inspired Issue

ImagineFX, a leading fantasy and science fiction art magazine published in the UK, has revealed its May 2014 issue, featuring a spectacular depiction of Daenerys Targaryen by Mélanie Delon.

Delon provides a step-by-step breakdown of the work that went into the piece (the magazine is filled with tutorials for fellow artists), while Grzegorz Ruthkowsk does something similar with a battle sequence drawn from A Song of Ice and Fire. Best of all, a brand new interview with George R.R. Martin will be featured in the magazine.

The magazine can be purchased on newstands as well as via ordering at the ImagineFX site, where both print and digital copies are available.

BBC One Looking for Cosplayers

Are you in the area of London? Do you have a great Melisandre, Arya, White Walker, Cersei, or Drogo costume? BBC One needs someone just like you to help them out! They’ll be filming a piece on Game of Thrones, with Charles Dance on board as a guest, and they’d love to have some cosplayers on hand who can dress up and help them convey something of the story.

Would-be cosplayers are needed in London for Monday, March 31st—yep, short notice! If you’re interested, see below for contact details:

Featurettes in HD

We’ve previously reported on exclusive featurettes for season 4 of Game of Thrones that Verizon and Comcast released, but it looks like HBO has now put them up on the official Youtube channel in 720p quality. Definitely worth a look, but beware spoilers (especially in the weapons and fighting video):


New Chapter From The Winds of Winter

And as GRRM teased yesterday, the chapter is now on-line. For those who want to see discussion of it, you’re welcome to visit the dedicated discussion thread over at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum.

Please, no spoilers in comments here, for those who choose not to read it!

UK to Simulcast Game of Thrones

Well, this is a fascinating development: Sky has announced that every episode

the premiere episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones will air simultaneously with the premiere airing in the US. That means diehard fans in the UK will be able to watch it at 2AM, if they feel like it, right at the same time as fans in the US. The usual 9PM Monday airing will also take place, for those who prefer their prime time television at prime time.

[Edit: It’s come to my attention that I was off the mark on this—initial reports that all episodes would be aired at 2 AM appear to be incorrect, only the premiere will be simultaneously aired with the US airing.]

This may be a publicity stunt, or perhaps dipping a toe into the water to see what would happen—and if it works, it’d be a clear response to piracy of the episode in the UK. The economic arguments have been undercut somewhat: streaming packages offering Sky Atlantic, including the £15 monthly Sky Go and the £4.99 (introductory) price on NOW TV, are available without needing a full TV package. The other most common argument after that, however, was the fact that many die-hard fans want to be able to take part in the conversation after a new episode as soon as possible. They may not stay up to 3AM watching an episode, but there are many who’d get up a bit earlier in the morning to watch the show so they could immediately leap on to the forums, or at least be very happy to have the episode waiting for them when they get back from school or from work. Sky Atlantic’s 9PM airings prevented that, however, and the wait was simply too long…

But it may be that the future will invalidate that argument as well. It will be very interesting to see if this makes a dent in illegal downloads of the premiere of Game of Thrones in the UK, which was ranked as the country with the fourth highest illict downloads of the show last year.

Stockholm Premiere Contest

April 2nd will see the first episode of Game of Thrones receive a red carpet premiere in Stockholm, and in collaboration with HBO Nordic we’re offering fans the chance to be a part of it—and besides that, a chance for fans to attend a special fan event planned for the 6th of April. The winner of the competition will receive not one, not two, not four, but ten tickets to bring their friends along with them to the premiere; all other prize winners will receive pairs of tickets to the fan event.

See below for full details (in Swedish!), including instructions for how to enter the competition. Please bear in mind that the subject of the email should be exactly the same as noted below—makes it much easier for us to sort through entries!

GRRM Teases New Preview Chapter

George R.R. Martin has revealed over at “Not a Blog” that a brand new preview from The Winds of Winter will soon be up at his official website, replacing the current sample (do we have to say that following that link leads to spoilers?) Martin teases the fact that it’s in fact a chapter he’s written long ago, prior to any of the previous sample chapters, but it’s a chapter he’s rewritten many times indeed. He notes that it’s a chapter that very few have seen to date—his editors, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, Parris, a few others (*ahem*) number among them—and goes even further to tease it by revealing the name at the top of the chapter… which we’ll put in spoilers below:

A Pop-up Guide to Westeros

Game of Thrones merchandising is burgeoning, to say the least, and this has led to the occasional oddity (like mini football helmets) and things you’d otherwise not expect them to make. Case in point? The newly released Game of Thrones: A Pop-up Guide to Westeros (Order: HBO Store, Amazon UK). I admit, the last pop-up book I owned featured the Transformers—not the new ones from the Michael Bay movies, the old Hasbro Transformers of the 80s. But a look around suggests that pop-up books aimed at fannish culture are certainly a thing, and the designer of this particular book—Matthew Reinhart—has cut a niche for himself bringing his abilities to the world of geek culture with Star Wars, DC comics, and… x80s Transformers, too; it’s a small world!

Benioff and Weiss in Vanity Fair

A lengthy interview with executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss—the longest I think I’ve ever seen—covers a huge range of topics, from the origins of their acquaintance to their current work on the unannounced season 5 (it’s happening, no need to wait for HBO to make it official). It’s insightful. Here’s an excerpt related to working from the template of a published series, and having the author on hand:

I read an interview with John Irving where he said he always knows the ending when he starts a book and he makes a beeline for it. I guess it helps center your brain.

Dan Weiss: It helps lend a sense of constructedness. Martin Amis always talked about the control tower. He talked about the reason he didn’t like William S. Burroughs—who I actually liked a fair bit once upon a time—but Amis didn’t like William S. Burroughs because he would read his books and feel like there was no one in the control tower. One of the things that made Breaking Bad so powerful, for me, was I’d never felt that somebody was more on the job, in the control tower, than on that show. Everything little thing I was seeing was there for a reason and would come back into play in some surprising but retroactively inevitable way, shape, or form.
It’s an advantage to have the books. Even if you stray from them, you have a blueprint. You don’t have to bend to the will of the fans, if they are screaming for something to happen. You’ve got George R. R. Martin.
David Benioff: Well, it’s a little complicated, because we have the five books, but then we don’t have anything beyond that, because he’s still working. It’s sort of an unusual position in terms of adaptation because, you know, we’re catching up. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. And we’ve talked to George. The lucky part is that George works with us and he’s a producer on the show. Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up, and where exactly that would be. As you were saying before, if you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we sat just down with him and literally went through every character and said, “So what’s the destination for Daenerys? And Arya?”
Did you feel like he knew? Or was he figuring it out?
Dan Weiss: In some case he had very definite ideas, and in other cases he had left those story lines more open, for the time being.

There’s more to be found over at Vanity Fair, including a fascinating bit discussing the influence of Anthony Mann, Roman Polanski, Akira Kurosawa, and Andrei Tarkovsky on the visual style of Game of Thrones; getting to watch an original, well-preserved 35mm print of Ran would indeed be something special.

Interview with Rory McCann and Maisie Williams

Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with a number of the actors involved in Game of Thrones, to talk about the journey so far, and perhaps to draw out a few hints about what’s to come. First up in this interview series—leading up to and into the next season—I had the pleasure to talk with Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane), the latter of whom I’ve never had the pleasure of interviewing before. We have a chance to talk the joys of Vine, the pleasures of Iceland, and how their characters get along as season 4 commences.

Interview

Maisie, many people have mentioned you as a very impressive actress. Do you have any method you use, or have you just picked things up since you started the show?

Maisie: When all this started and I was cast as Arya, it was sort of because I “was” Arya and that kind of thing. When you’re that age, you’re not really acting, I guess, so you try to find someone who is similar to the role. Since then, I’ve worked with some fantastic actors and actresses, and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve watched and learned how people make it more natural. At the beginning, I wasn’t too worried about what I was doing, and I try to keep to that because it worked then, and I hope it works now.

How does it feel not to get to act with Sophie?

Maisie: I still see Sophie all the time when we’re filming. We crossover a lot this season, actually, as we were filming at the same time a lot of the time. It was really great to see her at the hotel and things. I was in New York recently and she was shooting a film there, and we both went to a fashion show together. We still do loads of great things. She’s doing fantastically, and we get on so well. It’s great to also have that escape of hanging out together, because most of the scenes we do on the show are really, really intense so it’s nice to just go home and make stupid vine videos and things like that.

To read the rest of the interview, visit our Features!

Verizon Reveals Two Featurettes

VerizonFIOS has a couple of exclusive videos up touting the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. The first is misnamed—it claims to be about the Red Wedding but is in fact about the wedding feast scene for the marriage of Joffrey and Margaery—while the second is a great look at the weapons and fight training. Note that the latter definitely is spoilerish in its way:

 

Two More Trailers

These are shorter promo pieces, half a minute long each, but they offer more tantalizing glimpses from the upcoming 4th season:


World of Ice and Fire App Update Arrives

It’s been in the work for a few months, and at last, those of you with iOS or Android devices have a good chance (regional availability aside) to get a hold of the latest update to the World of Ice and Fire app (not the same thing as the forthcoming The World of Ice and Fire book), also known as the Game of Throens Guide for Android devices (Order: iTunes, Google Play). It’s a very substantial update, including dozens of new character entries, and scores of entries for many of the locations in the Lands of Ice and Fire maps. Especially all those new, never-before-mentioned locations found on the map of Essos, all taken straight from notes and details GRRM shared with us.

And for more casual fans who aren’t so interested in entries and the accompanying art? A Tyrion chapter from The Wind of Winter is included in the app, which is free to download (info packs—detailed entries that carry the app through the various books of the series—must be paid for as in-app purchases, but are unnecessary to get the excerpt).

Now, there’s lots of questions surrounding the app and its availability, so we’ll try and answer them below.

Opening Night at Power Games

That Game of Thrones is a global phenomenon is without a doubt. It appears in scores of foreign markets, has events around the world where actors are eagerly sought after as guests, and the fan base reaches to some of the remotest places in the world. So it’s no surprise that the exhibitions of the show’s props and costumes have ranged widely, across both hemispheres. Usually, these have been specifically tied to promoting the TV show, but in at least one case they have been used for quite a different purpose: educational. At Stockholm’s Royal Armory, Sweden’s oldest museum and part of the royal palace complex (which happens to be one of the largest royal palaces still in use as a royal residence), a new exhibition titled Power Games (Maktspel) was launched last week exploring depictions of power in television and cinema. Set alongside costumes and artifacts from Sweden’s 16th century were costumes from the films Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age as well as Game of Thrones.

Linda and I were invited by the armory to take part, and so off to beautiful Stockholm we went! You can read more about what saw at the exhibit, and what’s in store for visitors, over at our Features page.

Another Trailer Hits Youtube

HBO has been on a tear with releasing content in the lead up to the April 6th premiere of Game of Thrones. After the NYC premeire, this new trailer was streamed—but now you can get it in all its 720p goodness via Youtube:

More to come, we’re pretty sure!

Benioff, Weiss On Board for 2 More Years

James Hibberd scores another exclusive, revealing that David Benioff and Dan Weiss have renewed their contracts with HBO, setting them on course to run the show through a prospective sixth season. As Hibberd puts it:

“Though HBO has not yet officially renewed the show for a fifth year, Thrones is the premium cable network’s most-watched series (averaging 14.3 million viewers last season across all the network’s platforms) and is second only to The Sopranos as its most popular show of all time. Recently the producers told EW they suspect Thrones will conclude after seven seasons.”

So, just to emphasize, a two year contract renewal is not a guarantee of a sixth season… but at this point it seems that, short of some catastrophe happening to HBO or the production, a sixth season is all but assured.

And then Weiss and Benioff will be up for contract renegotations again… and so, too, will a number of actors, we suspect, as six year option contracts are pretty normal in TV.

UK Fan Contest: Win an Iron Throne!

Week 3 challenge posted below!

Fans in the UK have a lot of reasons to be excited about Game of Thrones this season… not least that it’s now more accessible than ever thanks to NOW TV! The streaming service has all three past seasons available for streaming now, and will be airing season 4 within 24 hours of the US premiere date. Viewers can sign up on a month-to-month, no-contract basis, and besides Game of Thrones will have access to many other programs on demand and live showcasing a selection of Sky’s very best program offerings.

To help get the word out, NOW TV and Westeros.org are pleased to announce a contest series. The prize? An iron throne of your own, of sorts—one much more comfortable than the one Joffrey is sitting on. Approved by HBO, these numbered, limited edition Iron Throne seat backings will allow you to rule the Seven Kingdoms from the comfort of your own home.

Open to UK fans, the contest will run over three weeks, with one winner selected each week. See them below:

Week 1: DONE. Thanks for all the entries, and congratulations to the lucky winner!

Week 2: DONE. Thanks for all the entries, and congratulations to the lucky winner!

Week 3: Every ruler must have their words. Share with us your house motto , whether here in Comments (via Facebook) , on Twitter, or on Google Plus, and get a chance to win an Iron Throne!

 

A Peek at Season 4 Costuming

We’ll have more on costuming soon, once we’re done with our report from Stockholm’s Royal Armory and its Power Games exhibition, but Time Warner Cable has a special feature on season 4’s costumes, courtesy of HBO. You can see it below. Among other things, I believe it gives us the first, absolutely official glimpse at Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Mace Tyrell:

Fourth Trailer Hits the Web

A lot of new shots here, a few new bits of dialog, and at least one very, very interesting scene (see if you can guess which one we mean), can now be found over at the official Game of Thrones Facebook page.

Visually stunning work, as usual!

Game of Thrones NYC Red Carpet

Thanks to Facebook Live, fans can now watch the red carpet as the premiere of season 4 takes place in New York City! Cast members are present in plenty, and have been answering questions put to them by fans. And most importantly of all, a brand new trailer will debut during the stream:

World of Ice and Fire Completed

Although George announced his completion of work on The World of Ice and Fire (Pre-order: Amazon US, Amazon UK) in a post on Not a Blog last week, Linda and I have held off a similar post because our side of things wasn’t yet quite done: a sidebar we felt was important needed adding, an afterword needed tweaking, and GRRM’s Iron Islands material needed trimming…

But now all that is done, and outside of art approvals, final copy edits, and the like, Linda and I are essentially done as well. From 2004, when the subject of such a book was first broached while having dinner with George and Parris in Santa Fe, to 2006 when bidding among publishers finally led to our signing a contract with Bantam in 2006, it’s been a long effort—not a continuous one, mind, after the initial discussion, outlining, and the very first draft, as the bulk of the work waited until A Dance with Dragons was more or less done and George had more time to consult. Consult he did, and he made a number of contributions which, as Tolkien before him said, “grew in the telling”. Some of these narratives have since been published in partially abridged form—“The Princess and the Queen” in Dangerous Women (Order: Amazon UK), “The Rogue Prince” in the forthcoming Rogues (Pre-order: Amazon UK).

More from Vanity Fair

Following the big reveal of the April issue of Vanity Fair having an Annie Leibovitz-photographed feature on Game of Thrones, Vanity Fair has busily been releasing material from the shoots and interviews to whet the appetite. Most notably? This extended interview with George R.R. Martin. Lots of interesting tidbits therein, including his apparent hope that the production slow its tempo a bit by taking time off for a prequel series (as Spartacus did) or a split season (as many, many shows are currently doing these days). Executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss also get an extended interview piece, focused on the production side of things.

There have also been some excellent videos released with the cast members from the Leibovitz shoot, featuring everything from advice actors would give to their characters to what other characters they might want to play: