As we’ve noted in our recent Game of Thrones news roundup, Linda and I were away to Northern Ireland this past weekend on a trip sponsored by Tourism NI to see the Winterfell Festival at the beautiful Castle Ward estate that served as a filming location for Winterfell and much, much more. It marks my fourth visit to Northern Ireland, and each time has been a pleasure from the very first visit to look at the set and watch some of the filming with George to the previous visit thanks to Tourism NI to see the beautifully carved Doors of Game of Thrones, and now on to this one.
We’ve captured a lot of photos and video footage from the junket, just over 30 gigabytes. Keep an eye out over the coming days for posts and videos featuring some of the iconic locations, and even actors—we met with Mark Addy and Ian McElhinney when they were there at Castle Ward, and filmed a lengthy interview McElhinney held before an audience that we’ll publish soon.
And as it happens, some of the treasures are still coming—such as the following treat from Boyd Rankin, weaponmaker-extraordinaire responsible for many of the iconic weapons on the show who also served as Mikken on season 1 on the show (he says it was his well-worn, slightly charred leather apron that was cast) . We’ve already shared a couple of photos on our Instagram from seeing Boyd at Castle Ward, featuring an image of the original Longclaw before it was burned, bear’s head-pommel and all, and another of a new memento for us in the form of a knife made for season 4 that was never used…. but this is a bit different.
Boyd happens to have been involved with the show right from the pilot, and was on hand for filming in Morocco where the original meeting and wedding of Daenerys and Drogo was filmed (that’s when Tom McCarthy was directing, and Tamsin Merchant was playing Daenerys). As fans may know, George R.R. Martin had a cameo during the filming, a cameo that was never repeated… and never made it to air, as the Dany role was recast and the whole of her sequences were reshot. There have been one or two leaked photos from the pilot since then, but none has ever shown George in his costume for his cameo…
... until now, that is. Taken by Mr. Rankin, and used with his permission, this is the first time that we know of that anyone outside of the production has seen this:
For those in the UK, I will be appearing at the QED conference devoted to discussions of skepticism, science, and rational thinking. Specifically, I’ve been invited to take part in a panel on October 15th titled “The Science of Game of Thrones”, inspired by the book of the same name by Helen Keen. Keen will be joining us, as well as a number of other panelists. Here’s the full details from the conference site:
Do dragons actually exist? Is it possible to crush a person’s head with your bare hands? What really happened when royal families interbred? How does wildfire win wars? Can you really kill someone with molten gold?
These burning questions (groan) will be bravely tackled by our crack team of Game of Thrones experts.
Join Maesters Helen Keen, Dr Gerardo García, and Elio García as they discuss the science behind the Seven Kingdoms under the skeptical eye of Grand Maester Deborah Hyde. With luck and careful analysis we may at last discover the airspeed velocity of an unladen Westerosi raven.
QED tickets are still on sale, and you can pick yours up today.
We’ve been referring to this for a couple of months as something in the works, but Linda and I are now very happy to join in making the official announcement of the launch of Martin Studies International Network.
What’s that, you may ask? See the press release below to learn more:
The Martin Studies International Network is the first scholarly association devoted to the work of George R.R. Martin. It is dedicated to academics and fans of the worlds created by George R.R. Martin. Its aim is to provide George R.R. Martin’s work with the academic and expert attention it deserves.
The founding members of the Network are active members of the fan and academic communities:
While we’re away up north (north to us, anyways) for our vacation, Linda and I are getting back to doing semi-regular videos about A Song of Ice and Fire, to compliment the Game of Thrones post-episode videos she’s producing for our Episode guides.
The first one—shot on the OnePlus 5 (my first Android phone, after 5 years of my trusty Nokia 920) to make the process more convenient while we’re up here—ends with an unexpected guest star as we discuss.. well, Fire and Blood, which is coming to readers sooner than expected in part because the first volume is practically finished already. Find out how that works below:
Keep an eye on our channel for more videos in the coming days.
Update: We’re pleased to say that we’ve been invited by Casa del Libro to sign at their store at Gran Via 29 prior to the talk. The signing will be from 5pm to 6pm.
Linda and I will be speaking at Espacio Fundación Telefónica, who have kindly invited us with the collaboration of the Spanish publisher of A Song of Ice and Fire and our The World of Ice and Fire, Gigamesh, the organizers of the Celsius 232 convention, and streaming source of Game of Thrones in Spain Movistar+. A few years ago GRRM took part in a similar event.
Fans in Madrid can visit the event page for information regarding the time and details of the event, as well as reserving a free pass. For those who can’t make it, the website will stream the event live.
As always, we’re very much looking forward to visiting Spain. That said, since we’re traveling late Sunday evening, busy in Madrid on Monday, and traveling homeward on Tuesday, Linda’s coverage of the season premiere will likely be delayed and/or be briefer than normal.
Linda and I are off to Eurocon 2016 tomorrow, and looks like we’re leaving at just the right time: we got our very first snowfall in our area today, so the contrast with balmy Barcelona will be quite interesting. We’ve just one panel at the convention: The Influence of European Authors and History in the Work of George R.R. Martin. Joining us will be the esteem Alejo Cuervo, founder of Gigamesh, and our friend Javi Marcos of Los Siete Reinos. For those who couldn’t make it to the con, the good news is that Eurocon 2016 will be streamed in full in association with the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona
In fact, they’ve already got our panel set up, so keep an eye out at 6.30PM (Central European Time):
Besides that, on Saturday we’ll be joining a host of authors and artists (Ian Watson, Adam Roberts, the amazing Enrique Corominas, and more) at an epic signing session at the Gigamesh store (one of the very best SF/F speciality stories in Europe). Should be fun!
There’s a lot of other guests—including Richard Morgan (Altered Carbon, The Steel Remains, Black Man), Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, The Way of Kings), Aliette de Bodard (The House of Shattered Wings), and more—and some very interesting panels on a wide range of topics (some in Spanish, some in English), so do check out the streaming schedule. And if you’re going to the con, do say hello!
ETA: And of course I forgot to mention that the winners of the Premio Ignotus—the awards of the Spanish national SF/F convention, similar to the Hugos—will be announced at the convention. The World of Ice and Fire is among the nominees in the translated work category, thanks to the fantastic efforts of Gigamesh and its translators (as well as Corominas for his amazing cover art).
Today we say Happy 10th Anniversary, Blood of Dragons MUSH! If Elio and I had not met on Elendor MUSH back in 1995 and if we had not decided that we wanted to start a MUSH of our own, Westeros.org would not exist. Of course, the site has grown far beyond our original intentions—which was simply to provide information to players of our game—but it all started with the weird and wonderful hobby of on-line roleplaying.
And if anyone wants to give it a try, we always welcome more converts to the world of text-based gaming. Or “collaborative story-telling” as we sometimes describe it as, because it is a lot more about shaping stories together than rolling dice and beating up monsters. If that makes you curious, try out our web-based guest client to visit Westeros in the time of Baelor the Blesed.
We are currently in the process of a long overdue website update. You have undoubtedly noticed that the layout has changed (and continues to fluctuate somewhat) and we are also reorganising the site somewhat. For our regulars, we wanted to provide a brief overview of what we’ve done so far and what we plan to do within the coming weeks.
We have more or less completed a transition to a more responsive design. There are still elements that do not work on mobile, such as the fixed navigation at the top of the screen and various images, but we’re working to try and sort these problems out. We have also removed the All Sorts of Weird Stuff section of the site; you will now find news at http://www.westeros.org/News/ instead.
Relating to the removal of All Sorts of Weird Stuff we are working on creating a new Gallery at http://www.westeros.org/Gallery/ which will merge the contents from All Sorts of Weird Stuff and the Citadel. We are also creating a new home for the book reviews at http://www.westeros.org/Books/. While we are setting up these new sections and moving data around, you may run into broken links and other problems, but hopefully this won’t take us too long.
As you are likely aware, at the end of S5 we were both left highly dubious of ever watching another GoT episode, both due to the sometimes abysmal quality of the show and the risk of spoilers for the books. We later said we would wait and see if The Winds of Winter would be completed before S6 and then make our final decision. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Since that became clear, we have received a lot of questions about what we mean to do regarding our coverage, as well as a lot of requests for us to continue. Some of the commentators have argued that its important to have a news/commentary source for the show that isn’t just eating up the hype and praising it no matter what. We have talked a lot about this between ourselves, taking all of this into consideration, and ultimately we have come to a decision.
Elio has no interest in watching the show. However, I will bite the bullet, so to speak. In part because of work-related reasons, in part because I do think there’s something to be said for a more critical look at the show than other sites may be offering. That said, the coverage will change, as I do not have the time (or inclination) to make it as complete as what we did for previous years. There will unfortunately not be any recap, which was the most time-consuming part of the process. The actual review format is something I am still considering; I may do a shorter written review and a video review, or I may just do one or the other. The book-to-screen will definitely remain, but the format will change to reflect the fact that the show is passing the books for many storylines.
Finally, I am hoping to open the coverage for each episode with a new section, giving book fans a non-spoilery sense of how potentially spoilery for future books this episode may be. This will then tie into the book-to-screen where I expect more speculation regarding what may or may not be spoilery.
After a very long absence from recording new videos at our Youtube channel, we’ve finally mustered time to resume! We’ve decided to start off with a series of videos discussing A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, and intend to have about four videos in total. The first video we released a couple of weeks ago, and it focuses on the first of the Dunk & Egg stories, “The Hedge Knight”:
And after a bit of a delay, we’ve just published our latest video, focused on “The Sworn Sword”:
For those interested in the wider topic of fictional universes and the fans that adore them, we’d be remiss not to note that BBC Radio 4’s Ben Hammersley leads a program on that very topic. Among the universes? That of “A Song of Ice and Fire”, of course, and Linda and I are quoted therein. For those who’d prefer to read the gist of it all, however, the BBC Magazine has a brief piece drawn from the radio program.
We’re told that a somewhat longer version of the program may appear down the road, as it was made up of a number of long interviews (I believe ours ran for about an hour in total).
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.
Linda and I are very soon off to our very first book tour ever, invited by Spanish publisher Gigamesh to tour for the release of El Mundo de Hielo y Fuego, the Spanish translation of The World of Ice and Fire. We’ll be there for the better part of a week, and very much look forward to meeting fellow ASoIaF fans.
Below is our current schedule of public events:
Back in 2006, GRRM did an appearance in Second Life (he posted about it here and there’s a brief video of it as well). He did a reading and there was a surprise appearance by David Benioff and Dan Weiss, as the event followed not too long after the announcement that HBO would be producing Game of Thrones. Elio and I both created avatars to attend the event and as it happened, we stuck around. Since then, Second Life has developed enormously—not the least visually—and today the MMO is home to a wide array of thriving communities, from fashionistas to fantasy fans. One activity that brings many of its avatars together are events that raise money for various causes. In particular, several events are hosted each year that are part of the Relay for Life and one of these is the Fantasy Faire.
This year, the Fantasy Faire includes a Literary Festival and on Sunday the 26th of April at 6am to 8am Pacific time I will be making an appearance to speak about (and perhaps read from) The World of Ice and Fire.
After much delay—our apologies for that—the Links database has gone live on the site, meaning that any submissions should be quickly and easily dealt with. We will also get to work on adding links to certain types of resources ourselves, but for pure fan sites we will leave it up to just outside submissions for a while. However, one does not have to be the site owner to submit a site, so anyone can ensure that a missing resource is added.
The display is pretty basic at the moment and we will probably develop this a little further, probably adding tags in addition to the categories. If you have any suggestions for other changes, do let us know.