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

Max Von Sydow Joins the Cast

As Variety reports, the venerable Swedish actor Max von Sydow—the list of credits for the actor is very long indeed—is taking over the “three-eyed raven” role originated in the fourth season by Struan Rodger. As Variety notes, much like the Ian McShane casting, this role is relatively brief in screen time, but it will be important—in his case, Sydow’s role will be described as a “major” one.

Given that Isaac Hempstead Wright has admitted he’d be back for season 6 after a 1 season hiatus, it looks like we’ll be seeing how Bran has gotten along beneath the weirwood with his new mentor.

EW Scoop: Ian McShane Joins Cast

Like the title says, EW has the exclusive revealing that Ian McShane—best known for his role as Al Swearengen in Deadwood (one of the finest TV shows ever made, by the by)—will be joining the cast for season 6 in a role described by EW as having a “relatively small amount of screen-time during the season” but that the ” character is of key importance.”

Let the speculation begin.

HBO Execs Expect More than 7 Seasons

The news ran wild last night with the report from the Television Critics’ Association summer session panel where HBO executive Michael Lombardo spoke about Game of Thrones and remarked the following:

“Seven-seasons-and-out has never been the [internal] conversation. The question is: How much beyond seven are we going to do? Obviously we’re shooting six now, hopefully discussing seven. [David & Dan] feel like there’s two more years after six. I would always love for them to change their minds, but that’s what we’re looking at right now.”

On top of that, when asked about potential prequels, Lombardo expressed strong willingness to further delve into the Game of Thrones story once the main series was done.

New ASoIaF App.

HarperCollins Voyager has launched a new A Song of Ice and Fire iOS app, with a very particular aim: easing viewers of Game of Thrones into reading the novels, by offering maps and samples of text which pair up with scenes they’ll have witnessed across the show’s first five seasons. It’s a very interesting move, and we’ve already seen some very positive feedback from those who’ve tried it.

Voyager has been able to make the app available in most of the world, with the exception of the U.S., Canada, and the Philippines. You can go here to the iTunes store to check it out, as it’s free of charge. For those in the U.S., there’s always the official A World of Ice and Fire app for iOS (named A Game of Thrones Guide for Android), although that is much more of a reference companion.

Game of Thrones Game Returns This Week

The latest episode of the Game of Thrones game from Telltale Games is just around the corner, with a release date of July 21st on PC, Mac, and Playstation 3-4, XBox versions on the 22nd, and iOS/Android on the 23rd.

Titled “A Nest of Vipers”, the episode looks to feature pit-fighting action with Asher, young Lady Mira visiting Tyrion Lannister in his cell, and a significant amount of Ramsay Bolton’s nastiness. And speaking of Asher, an image released by Telltale Games serves as a bit of a spoiler regarding where his story takes him…

Calendar Preview

The 2016 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar (Pre-order) is due out by the end of the month, but previews have been making their way onto the internet in conjunction with this past San Diego Comic Con where a limited number of the calendar was released early.

The first of the previews came from Random House itself, with an embedded look at the calendar that provided the first reveal of the scene from The Winds of Winter that would be among the artworks from French artist Magali Villeneuve, whose work graced our The World of Ice and Fire: a moment from one of the TWoW chapters GRRM released on his website last year.

Following that, io9 had an exclusive reveal of a number of the new pieces from Villeneuve—Tommen before the Iron Throne is particularly choice, not least because it captures the enormity of the throne as intended by Martin and as conceptualized by fellow French artist, Marc Simonetti. A little bird has told us that the artist for the 2017 calendar has already been selected, so it’s a matter of time before that’s revealed.

And for those who missed it, later in the year some more artwork will be coming by way of the official coloring book, which will feature a bevy of contributing artists (including the great John Howe).

Extended Downtime Tomorrow

With the latest stable release of the Invision forum software—to version 4.10—we have decided that we can now finally get the forum upgraded. The upgrade will bring many new features, not least of which is a responsive skin design which should allow users on mobile devices to easily use the forum with all the features they’re used to on desktops without having to download separate software (such as Tapatalk).

However, because this is a substantial upgrade, it will require changes to the database in the process. This means that it will very likely take, at minimum, 8 hours to complete the whole process… and given the size of our database, it could be easily twice as long (or, indeed, even longer).

So this Tuesday, at around 9AM GMT/ 5AM EST / 2AM PST, we will shut down the forum to begin the upgrade process. Updates on the process, if and when we can provide them, will be made available via our Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts.

We do not expect to need to take down the wiki or Westeros.org website while the forum is being upgraded, but it is possible that that, too, will be required, so please bear with us.

Exclusive Reveal of the Coloring Book Cover

A little under a month ago, we reported that Random House was going to publish George R.R. Martin’s Official A Game of Thrones Coloring Book, a work containing 45 original black-and-white illustrations with the intention that fans and devotees of the novels can color them in themselves. We now have the pleasure of revealing the cover, courtesy of Random House:

There’s quite an impressive list of artists involved, all of them following the brief of drawing inspiration from the A Song of Ice and Fire series (rather than from HBO’s Game of Thrones, the TV adaptation of said series). With GRRM presumably somewhat involved in the process, this means at least some of the images and scenes depicted are likely to hew relatively closely to how he himself imagines it… though in black-and-white, of course, rather than in color! Among involved artists are Yvonne Gilbert, John Howe, Tomislav Tomić, Adam Stower and Levi Pinfold.

The book has been given a tentative release date of October 27th.

Rogues Takes Locus Award

While we were away to Archipelacon, the 2015 Locus Award winners were announced in Seattle. Our many congratulations to George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois for Rogues taking Best Anthology, and to Joe Abercrombie whose story in that same anthology, “Tough Times All Over”, won Best Novellette. And of course a tip of the hat to the great John Picacio who won Best Artist—very well-deserved!

Upcoming Appearances—GRRM and Westeros

For those in Europe, here’s some news regarding George R.R. Martin’s appearances starting this weekend, as well as our own!

First up, George will be in Hamburg for the Harbourfront Literature Festival, where he’ll be reading a chapter from The Winds of Winter, and likely to be answering questions as well. Despite early reports that this event would be livestreamed, this event is apparently not being streamed at all. It’s not impossible there’ll be an after-the-fact video from the event (as there have been with a number of GRRM’s public speaking events), but we’ve no information as yet whether that will be the case.

From there, George is off to Stockholm—and so are we! On Tuesday, the SF Bokhandeln bookstore has invited George to speak at the Royal Armoury. Although this event is sold-out, it’s worth noting that SF Bokhandeln’s three branches—Stockholm, Malmö, and our own Göteborg—will all offer livestreams to customers who could not attend the event. So far as we know, there will be no internet-wide stream, but again, there may be post-event videos. And for those in Stockholm, prior to the event—at 5PM—Linda and I will be at the bookshop to sign copies of The World of Ice and Fire, for those who want us defacing their copies!

After that, we’re all off to Åland for Archipelacon, the SF/F convention (sold out, alas!) where George is Guest of Honor, and his partner Parris is the Fan Guest of Honor. The convention has posted its schedule, and there’s a deal of interest for fans—we’ll share the highlights below:

Reactions from London Screening

HBO UK teamed up to invite fans, media, and more to a special screening of the final episode of season 5, “”. Sounds like a deal of fun was had by those who attended. In the video below, you’ll see and hear some of the reactions as the episode rolled and its shocking turns came onto the screen:

The season is now available for download in Digital HD in the UK, which is part of the reason for the event. Fans can download individual episodes or the entire season through retailers such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, blinkbox, Wauki.tv, and XBox Video. BT TV and Talk Talk TV can also buy and watch through their set-top boxes.

11 Reasons to Read the Books

With season 5 completed (see our episode guide on the final episode for some of our thoughts), there’s a lot of discussion about what the show did right or wrong this season, interviews with various members of cast and crew, and more. But Random House—publishers, through their subsidiary Bantam, of all things A Song of Ice and Fire—asked us to provide a list of 11 reasons why fans of the show might want to give the books a try if they haven’t already!

You can find the article here.

Mother’s Mercy Episode Guide

An initial update on the finale to season 5 can be found at our episode guide for “Mother’s Mercy”. As usual, we’ve run through the book-to-screen adaptation, and have included the post-episode extra videos that HBO usually releases. However, we haven’t watched them and can’t vouch for whether there may be spoilers in those videos, so view them at your own risk.

We’ll have a video review up some time tomorrow, and perhaps the written review as well.

Game of Thrones Season 5 Sweepstakes

Our friends over at Dark Horse have launched a special sweepstakes ahead of the finale of Game of Thrones, and you can read about all the details here!

The new Game of Thrones RT to Win Sweepstakes has arrived! Join in the celebration of Sunday's Season 5 finale with a…

Posted by Dark Horse Comics on Friday, June 12, 2015

A bevy of terrific Game of Thrones items - including figurines, busts, Bluray sets, and more—can be unlocked if enough fans retweet this tweet. With each unlocked level, there’s an additional chance for participants to win one of the prize packages! At present count, the contest already has 425 retweets, so well on its way to unlocking the last level.

The sweepstakes are open only to residents of the U.S., and certain other strictures apply, so bear that in mind! Full details, including all applicable rules and limitations, can be found here.

Coloring Book in the Works

Apparently, coloring books aimed not at 5-year-olds but at adults are actually a thing. Who knew? While the idea may sound a little odd to some, the Los Angeles Times reports that Bantam (publishers of A Song of Ice and Fire, The World of Ice and Fire, and the forthcoming A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, as well as the A Song of Ice and Fire calendars and other related works) has commissioned artists to create a book containing “45 original black and white illustrations, inspired by characters, scenes, locations and other iconic images” from A Song of Ice and Fire.

The book, which can be pre-ordered, will feature art from an impressive list of names: Yvonne Gilbert, John Howe, Tomislav Tomić, Adam Stower and Levi Pinfold. Though the book is named George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones Coloring Book, we clarified with Bantam and they indicated that the art will solely be based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

The book is tentatively scheduled for release on October 27th of this year.

The Dance of Dragons Episode Guide

We’ve posted our episode guide for the latest episode, “The Dance of Dragons”, as quickly as we could. Lots of controversy over the depiction of Stannis Baratheon in this episode, to say the least! Our episode guide currently only contains our book-to-screen breakdown, and video extras from HBO. Suffice it to say, we’re going to try and get a review video out ASAP.

HBO has also provided its usual preview, this time for the season finale, “Mother’s Mercy”. You can see it below:

Own the Game of Thrones Astrolabe
Astrolabe

Over the five seasons of the show, the title sequence has surely become one of the most recognizable on TV, and not just because of the theme music. The visuals, too, have taken on a life of their own and several homages have been created over the years. A key feature of the visuals is the astrolabe and this summer a replica of that will be available from Insight Collectibles as part of a collector’s edition package with the popular pop-up book Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. The astrolabe is described as follows :

“The astrolabe stands over 13 inches high and is fully articulated, with moving rings that dynamically replicate the oscillating movement of the astrolabe seen in the Game of Thrones intro sequence. The astrolabe is supported by a stand that features the sigils associated with the four Great Houses of Westeros, Stark, Lannister, Targaryen and Baratheon. Each sigil is highly detailed, from the coat of the Stark direwolf to the talons of the Targaryen dragon.”

In addition to the astrolabe and the new edition of the pop-up book, Insight Collectibles is also releasing a set of Deluxe Stationery Sets for Houses Stark, Targaryen and Lannister and a set of Hardcover Journals for Houses Baratheon, Lannister, Stark and Targaryen.

Edited to add: We don’t yet have a specific release date for any of these products beyond “this summer”. The astrolabe (with the pop-up book included) will retail for $495.00 and the stationary sets for $34.95.

Martin and Waldrop Story on Starship Sofa

A pleasant surprise here, as podcast Starship Sofa proudly reveals that its 389th episode features “The Men of Greywater Station”, a science fiction novelette by George R.R. Martin and Howard Waldrop.  As host Tony C. Smith notes, the novelette has never appeared on-line before, so it’s quite the coup for the Hugo Award-winning podcast.

And yes, it’s no coincidence that “Greywater” appears in the title. GRRM is well-known for certain words, phrases, and names cropping up in a multitude in his works.

Season 6 Filming Locations in Spain Confirmed

As brought to our attention by Spanish fansite Los Siete Reinos, at least two new locations in Spain are lining up for filming in season 6, which starts filming this July but the Spanish segment appears set for September and October. According to Barcelonan paper La Vanguardia, HBO has apparently confirmed that the Catalonian city of Girona will be used in filming—its famous cathedral being cited as one location of particular interest—as well as the Valencian medieval town of Peñsicola which is known for retaining many medieval and Renaissance buildings and structures. James Hibberd of EW adds that other locations may be used in Spain, though those have as yet to be confirmed (in particular, James Hibberd notes that there’s no word whether Seville, the main site for filming Dornish scenes, has not been confirmed as a filming location at this time).

Both Los Siete Reinos and La Vanguardia speculate that Girona would serve very well for Oldtown and the Citadel, citing the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter, the edifice of the cathedral, and so on. Peñsicola is more of a mystery, although Spanish fans are tentatively suggesting it could serve for Casterly Rock. In support of this, note that the Wikipedia article notes that Peñsicola is sometimes known as the “Gibraltar of Valencia”, thanks to being a prominent fortified peninsula, and George R.R. Martin has often likened Casterly Rock to the actual Gibraltar, while at the same time he has noted that Casterly Rock will appear in future A Song of Ice and Fire novels.

It’s certainly as good a guess as any.

Hardhome Episode Guide

We’ve gone and updated our episode guide for “Hardhome” with our book-to-screen breakdown—the analysis and video review, as well as the recap, will take a day or two more to get out. We’ve also added HBO’s videos (just two, this time around; usually it’s been four videos) for the episode in the Extras section.

Also, HBO’s released the trailer for episode 9, “The Dance of Dragons”. It’s worth watching, to say the least!

Finale Title, Details Released

HBO has been sitting tight on releasing information on the finale of season 5, but it has now sent out a press release. See the details below, including the brief logline regarding the events of the episode:

Episode #50: “Mother’s Mercy” (season finale)

        Debut: SUNDAY, JUNE 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

        Other HBO playdates: June 14 (11:30 p.m., 2:00 a.m.), 15 (10:30 p.m.), 16 (9:00 p.m., 1:50 a.m.), 17 (2:25 a.m.), 18 (10:00 p.m.), 19 (9:00 p.m.), 20 (10:30 p.m.) and 26 (8:00 p.m.)

        HBO2 playdates: June 15 (9:00 p.m.), 19 (2:30 a.m.), 20 (2:45 p.m.) and 21 (8:00 p.m.)

  Stannis marches. Dany is surrounded by strangers. Cersei (Lena Headey) seeks forgiveness. Jon is challenged.

        Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss; directed by David Nutter.

 

Reviewing The Gift

Following the airing of “The Gift”, we managed to get up the book-to-screen breakdown in our episode guide.

Since then, we’ve released two other parts of the guide. First up is our video review, which you can see below:

Last night, we also provided our written analysis of the episode, which touches some points that we didn’t cover in the video. You can find that here. The primary thing left is now our complete recap, which we’ll definitely do, but that particular part of our regular episode guide raises a question.

Sons of Winter Released

Just a few days ago, we posted about the trailer being released for the fourth entry in Telltales Games’ Game of Thrones adventure, titled “Sons of Winter”. Now that episode’s available on Steam. We’ll be playing through it and giving it a review—as well as a brief look back at episode 3, which we weren’t able to review due to time constraints—in the coming days.

The Gift Episode Guide

Another episode done, just three to go to wrap up the fifth season of Game of Thrones. We’ve now updated our episode guide for “The Gift” with our book-to-screen breakdown of the episode, as well as HBO’s post-episode videos which include an appearance from GRRM discussing the poisoner’s art as depicted by Oberyn Martell and his bastard daughter Tyene Sand.

Our video, written analysis, and detailed recap of the episode will follow in the next few days; we currently hope to get the video out first, this time around.

HBO has also released the preview for the next episode, “Hardhome”, which you can see below:

Red Nose Day Mockumentary Released

We posted about  the Coldplay/Game of Thrones Red Nose Day special “mockumentary” that aired last night, and now today Coldplay’s official Youtube channel as released the full piece. Filled with actors from the show and quite a bit of humor (some quite broad, some razor-sharp), it’s a fine way to spend slightly less than a quarter of an hour:

Highlights include Emilia Clarke going all out on a reggae piece, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau crooning the first romantic ballad concerning incest in Coldplay’s career, a creepy trio in Ewan Rheon, Charlotte Hope, and Alfie Allen, and of course Liam Neeson (yes, him) providing narration. Definitely a must-see!

Sons of Winter Trailer

Telltale Games has released a teaser trailer for the fourth episode in their Game of Thrones

Looks like it’ll be fun!

Coldplay and the Game of Thrones Musical Mockumentary

Today sees the airing of Red Nose Day, NBC’s charity event that will run from 8PM to 11PM eastern time. Packed with celebrities, the reason it has some special relevance to fans of Game of Thrones is the fact that a dozen members of the show’s cast will be on hand to take part in Game of Thrones: The Musical, a mockumentary-style spoof in collaboration with Coldplay. The internet near exploded with humor when Peter Dinklage first appeared in a teaser singing about all those who’ve died and the few who’ve survived, as seen below:

This was promptly followed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau performing “Closer to Home”, Jaime’s ode to Cersei, which you can see below:

 

Talking The World of Ice and Fire in Spain

We’ve not yet had time to fully write up our wonderful visit to Spain to promote the Spanish-language release of The World of Ice and Fire by Gigamesh, but at least we thought we should share some of the interviews and photos from our events in Barcelona and Osuna.

In Barcelona, we had the great pleasure of speaking before a packed room of fans at Gigamesh’s amazing bookstore (easily one of the finest SF/F bookstores—with added attention to games and comics besides—we’ve ever visited, right up there with Sweden’s own SF Bokhandeln). This was live streamed, and you can see it below:

But before that happened, we managed an interview with the extremely amiable Javi Marcos of the Podcast de Hielo y Fuego.  The interview was done on behalf of Spanish fan site Los Siete Reinos, who’ve released the first part of the interview in written form (in Spanish). But they’ve gone the extra mile. Not only have they released the original, English-language audio of the interview, but they’ve released a dubbed version as well! Javi “dubs” himself (hah), while his partner-in-podcast Carlos handles dubbing me and the fan we know as Lady Ashara (who gave us a lovely necklace and bracelet featuring the arms of our mutual favorite house, the Daynes of Starfall) handling dubbing Linda.

Fans curious about some of the details we cut from the world book due to space constraints may find this one particularly interesting, as we drop a few tidbits of information.

Our other visit was to Osuna, and though I’m not sure our presentation of the book or the separate interview we did for it have been released, Gigamesh has released some terrific photos of the visit we and their team had there. More about Osuna in particular later, when we’ve some more time!

All in all, it was a fantastic visit and a terrific opportunity to meet some of the world’s most dedicated A Song of Ice and Fire fans, and Linda and I are already trying to figure out when we’ll be able to make another visit to Spain.

Debating Sansa

The closing event of “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” has stirred huge amounts of controversy among the viewership, as a lead character is subjected to a chilling, horrifying act of sexual violence.

For my part, this led to about 3 hours worth of discussion on Twitter with fellow fans of the novels who responded much more negatively than I did. It was AngryGOTFan who suggested we each do short videos discussing our respective views. And so Linda and I have a short video, not so much praising and defending the scene, because we had and still have issues with how it actually came about, but rather responding to some particular critiques which we took issue with.

Rather than linking the videos here, I’d recommend fans go visit AngryGOTFan’s website and watch both of the videos.

For those who want more in-depth, written discussions of the topic that share something of our view on the issue, see Amanda Marcotte’s piece at Raw Story, and Laura Bradley’s article at Slate.

And for those who missed it, we have posted our video review of the episode, which you’ll find in the episode guide, but we’ll embed it below at the point where we discuss the final segment of the episode:

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken Episode Guide

After much tiring work at a late hour, the book-to-screen breakdown—as well as HBO’s video extras for the episode—are now live on the “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” episode guide. The rest—the written analysis and the video review, will come out in the next day or two.

We’ve also included the short preview for episode 7, “The Gift”, courtesy of HBO.