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

Skin Trade Optioned

As revealed by George R.R. Martin at his “Not a Blog” site, his award-winning novella “The Skin Trade” has been optioned by Cinemax—sister company of HBO—and a pilot script is being written by writer and producer Kalinda Vazquez. Vazquez’s experience includes working as a staff writer on Prison Break, and as a producer on shows such as Nikita and Once Upon a Time. “The Skin Trade” is a well-regarded horror novella by Martin, featuring a cowardly werewolf and a no-nonsense detective who are drawn into a supernatural investigation. As Martin remarks, there always seemed to be potential for a TV series in the basic concept, and he notes that the creation of his Doorways pilot was an unexpected result of his pitching “The Skin Trade” as a TV show back when he was a screenwriter for television.

Also noteworthy is the fact that this deal with Cinemax is cited as being partly due to the efforts of Mike the Pike Producttions, who optioned the novella almost six years ago. Sometimes it’s a very long road forward for literary properties. As GRRM indicates, it’s no certainty that it will go into production at this time, but it’s a big step forward.

Game of Thrones at New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con is presently under way, and it has featured a bevy of notable Game of Thrones content—not least a panel with actors Natalie Dormer, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Finn Jones where they dicussed their roles on their show and offered some hints of what was yet to come. Here’s a video of the proceedings, courtesy of Emergency Awesome:

The convention was also filled with Game of Thrones-licensed memorabilia, figures, and more. Our friends at Dark Horse Comics revealed a number of their upcoming releases, including a resin statue of the Night’s King, a Varys figure, and this extremely impressive limited edition depicting Daenerys and Drogon from season 4. We have a review sample of that particular piece, and the size of Drogon crouched on its base is quite remarkable!

Also featured at the convention were McFarlane Toys, who will be releasing their mini-figure sets next year. These will come in “Blind bags”, meaning that collectors will buy bags containing random figures (or, if they’re really dedicated, they can go for whole cases of figures)—not unlike the Funko blind bags of mini-Pop! figures. However, McFarlane Toys is going beyond this to also create suitabel dioramas where one can display these figures, as with the Iron Throne set, or special add-on sets like the Stark and Lannister banner construction kit. Or this upcoming “Attack on the Wall” diorama, featuring a giant:


The Hedge Knight Approaches

A little over a week ago, we had the pleasure of revealing some exclusive artwork from the forthcoming
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
collection compiling the three Dunk & Egg novellas set in the past of Westeros. That book is now set to be released exactly one week from now, on October 6th.

However, we thought we’d note that it’s not just the book-proper that will be available: an audio book is also waiting in the wings. What’s particularly interesting about this one is that the book features a narrator who we believe has never read any of the ASoIaF material previously, the actor Harry Lloyd. Best remembered by Game of Thrones fans for his first season role as Prince Viserys, Lloyd’s a talented actor who has appeared in a number of film and television projects, including Wolf Hall, Manhattan, The Theory of Everything, and more. Linda and I had the pleasure of meeting him and joining him for dinner last year in Stockholm, and we can only say that we know he’ll provide a fantastic performance. Certainly, the preview at Amazon sounds excellent!

Game of Thrones Popular at the Emmys

This Sunday, the Emmy Awards were handed out, and Game of Thrones (and HBO in general) proved very popular. The show tallied up a total of 12 wins this year at the Emmys, handily breaking the 9 win record set by The West Wing set in 2000. While eight of those awards were in the Creative Arts categories, the show carried four major awards at the Primetime Emmys: Outstanding Supporting Actor for a visibly-surprised Peter Dinklage,  Outstanding Director for David Nutter and “Mother’s Mercy”, Outstanding Writing for David Benioff & Dan Weiss for the same episode, and the big one, Outstanding Drama. Coincidentally, Sunday was also George R.R. Martin’s 67th birthday, so it was quite the present.

Critics and pundits would weigh in on the results, such as Alan Sepinwall for HitFix, James Poniewozik for the NY Times, and Andy Greenwald for Grantland.

Exclusive: The Art of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Courtesy of Random House, we’re happy to present a few never-before-published examples of Gary Gianni’s artwork for the forthcoming A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, a collection of the three “Dunk & Egg” novellas which introduced fans of A Song of Ice and Fire to the eponymous characters and their adventures in the Targaryen-ruled Seven Kingdoms almost a century prior to the events of the novels.

Gary Gianni needs very little introduction for anyone familiar with comics or SF/F illustration, but suffice it to say he’s one of the great illustrators working today, famous for his renditions of characters such as Solomon Kane and Conan the Barbarian from the oeuvre of Robert E. Howard, as well as his well-known eight-year run on the venerable Prince Valiant comic strip. He also provided the art the 2014 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar. For A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, Gianni actually insisted on producing a tremendous number of illustrations rather than just doing one or two per story, with the end result being over 160 new pieces of art. By way of comparison, our own The World of Ice and Fire had over 170 images! You can see a selection of the art for the book below:

Game of Thrones at the Creative Emmys

For those keeping track, Game of Thrones has added to its bevy of Creative Arts Emmys: nominated fo 16 awards, it took home 8 of them. Bear in mind, in some of those categories there were several Game of Thrones entries, most notably the Cinematography in a Single-Camera Series category which featured six nominees, four of which were from Game of Thrones (HBO sister show Boardwalk Empire‘s season 5 premiere actually won there, however).

This continues the show’s tremendous run in creative arts and production categories, which is understandable given both the expense, the complexity, and the terrific amount of talent involved behind-the-scenes in producing the visuals, effects, stunts, and more. With the 2015 Emmys, the show has been nominated for 88 awards so far, of which it has won 19 so far. More Emmys are pending for the Primetime Emmy awards airing on the 20th, while FXX will broadcast last week’s Creative Arts Emmys on the 19th.

For the full list of Emmy nominees, see here.

Spanish Publisher on Winds of Winter

The publisher of the A Song of Ice and Fire series in Spain, Alejo Cuervo (who is also an editor, bookseller, and a genuine lynchpin of SF/F fandom in that country) caused a bit of a stir when remarks he made in an interview made the rounds. In brief, the news reports indicated he had “confirmed” the publication of The Winds of Winter in 2016. However, it bears noting that his actual words indicate something different: that the intention or plan is to publish it in 2016, but then he admits that there’s the possibility that something unexpected (a meteorite, in his example) could happen to prevent it from happening.
This is not, exactly, news: George R.R. Martin’s reduction of his touring schedule and various statements he has made indicate that he, too, is hoping to finish the book for release next year. It’s no shock that plans at publishing houses the world over are being formulated with this aim in mind. But it bears repeating that while optimism is a good thing, the fact is that until the book is actually finished, no one can give a confirmed publication date for the book. When will we know it’s done? GRRM will tell us so.

Until then, stay optimistic, but don’t take a 2016 date as being set in stone. The book needs to be done first, and right now it isn’t done.

On a related note, Alejo invited us to Barcelona to present The World of Ice and Fire in the Gigamesh store (one of the finest SF/F bookstores in Europe) and is Osuna, and we had some terrific conversations with him. Frankly, if the Locus Awards were genuinely a global award, Alejo and his Gigamesh publishing company could well be considered among the best genre publishers around. We were amazingly impressed by the genuine devotion to producing (or bringing into translation) the best science fiction and fantasy available, and the stories of Alejo Cuervo’s efforts to forward fandom and the genre in Spain were eye-opening. We’ve been swamped of late, but one of the first videos we plan to make when we get back into it will be about our journies this past year promotiong The World of Ice and Fire, and we’ll have a lot to say about Alejo, Gigamesh, Barcelona, and Osuna.

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

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.