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.
Almost a year ago, George R.R. Martin revealed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that he was contemplating a twist to the story of a character—and a group of characters connected with them—that he had never contemplated before and which, more notably, was something HBO’s Game of Thrones could not do because of choices the show had made that precluded it:
In one intriguing new wrinkle, Martin says he just came up with a big, revealing twist on a long-time character that he never previously considered. “This is going to drive your readers crazy,” he teases, “but I love it. I’m still weighing whether to go that direction or not. It’s a great twist… But it’s nothing I’ve ever thought of before. And it’s nothing they can do in the show, because the show has already—on this particular character—made a couple decisions that will preclude it, where in my case I have not made those decisions.”
The fandom was abuzz with it—it sparked several threads on our forum, for one—as people puzzled over who it might be. As I recall, at the time speculation was centering on Sansa Stark because of signs that the show was going to diverge heavily from her storyline in A Song of Ice and Fire (as it indeed did). However, a brand new interview with George from IGN revisits the topic and reveals some significant new information:
We’d be remiss not to note that the popularity of the Wild Cards series of superhero stories has continued unabated, so much so that Random House Audio has signed on to continue the release of audio books of the original series of shared-world anthologies that started it all. As reported by George R.R. Martin at his “Not a Blog”, Random House started with the third volume, Jokers Wild, after the first two volumes had been released earlier by Brilliance Audio.
Random House’s first entry features a pretty noteworthy cast of readers: Pam Grier (Jackie Brown, Smallville, Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Guild), and Ron Donachie (Game of Thrones) are among the contributors.
More recently, George has noted that Aces Abroad —the fourth volume in the series, expanded with two newer stories—has just finished recording, and it has an even larger cast including Selma Blair (Hellboy), Adrian Paul (Highlander), and Armin Shimmerman (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Deep Space 9). Shimmerman will be reading the parts of the joker Xavier Desmond, and as it happens Aces Abroad is best known for George’s interstitial “From the Journal of Xavier Desmond”. This should be quite good! Next to get the audio treatment will be the fifth book, Down & Dirty.
In related news, GRRM has shared that the latest book in the new Wild Cards series, High Stakes, will be published in hardcover by Tor on August 23rd. George has also pointed to the latest Humble Book Bundle for fans interested in getting two of the more difficult to acquire Wild Cards novels, Deuces Down and Death Draws Five, as well as other works by the likes of the great SF writers Alfred Bester (a personal favorite of mine), Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Roger Zelazny. The Humble Bundle uses a “pay what you want” model, though certain levels are required to get certain works. Best of all, those who pay can decide how to divide up their contribution between the publisher, the Humble Bundle group, and a selection of three worthy charities.
Colony, a new science fiction series that premiered on the USA Network last month, is going to recieve a special screening of two episodes at George R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Following the two episodes, the co-creator of the series Ryan Condal will be taking the stage with George R.R. Martin himself for a Q&A that will be moderated by IGN’s entertainment editor Terri Schwartz.
All well and good—this should be a great experience for those who manage to get into the screening! But for those of us not so lucky, it happens that IGN shall be broadcasting the Q&A tonight at 1930 Pacific / 2230 Eastern / 0330 GMT (Friday) via their Periscope Channel. Schwartz has put out a call for questions to GRRM and Condal regarding science fiction and fantasy, Colony, and of course A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones:
George R.R. Martin’s “Not a Blog” features the announcement of the the anticipated 2017 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar.
As noted by GRRM’s assistant Raya Golden, French SF/F artist Didier Graffet (for those keeping track, that’s the third French artist whose work will grace the calendar series, joining Marc Simonetti and Magali Villeneuve) will be handling art duties this time around. Graffet’s work has been featured in several past editions of Spectrum, and has been a nominee for the World Fantasy Award while also winning the Ravenheart award at the 2013 David Gemell Legend awards.
We’ve known about Graffet’s involvement since last year, but never had a chance to see any of the works in progress so this first look at the cover is quite impressive! Raya’s post also features another, unrelated piece of art to give a taste of what’s to come. Graffet’s website features an extensive gallery of his work, for those who want to see more.
Subterranean Press, one of the premiere small publishers in the SF/F world, has been noted for their handsome limited editions of George R.R. Martin’s works—not just A Song of Ice and Fire, but also books such as Dying of the Light and Fevre Dream—has stepped once more into the breach by producing a limited edition of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Featuring Gary Gianni’s gorgeous artwork from the wide release—but augmented by new end-papers, richer paper and binding, and eight of the interior illustrations presented in color (as shown here)—the lettered edition sold out immediately (doubtless fueled in part by the fact that the books would be custom bound, a first for Subterranean), while the limited edition of 750—priced at $295—is still available.
For the die-hard fans of GRRM, the Dunk and Egg novellas, or Gary Gianni’s work, this seems like a genuine must-have!
As George sometimes does at the close of a year, he set to writing a long, contemplative post listing down notable personal events for the previous year. Unlike these other times, however, that long post was lost to the ether thanks to an apparent glitch with Livejournal. Dispirited, GRRM said he’d try to give a “Cliff’s Notes” version of his post afterward, and over the past day he’s done so. For many fans, of course, the primary topic of interest was the status of the highly anticipated sixth novel in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, The Winds of Winter.
George’s final post in his “Cliff’s Notes” round up of the past year was indeed on The Winds of Winter, and it was a long and frank discussion of what’s happened in the novel. The brief version is that while GRRM aimed to finish by the end of the year, the deadlines for getting the book out in time for the sixth season of Game of Thrones have come and gone. He believed at the start of the year he could finish by Halloween, and that was incorrect; he also believed in August that he could finish by January, and that too was incorrect.
GRRM describes in some detail why the progress has been fitful at best, and admits that the pressure of a specific deadline (something he eschewed with his novels prior to “A Song of Ice and Fire”) proved a particular burden, and so going forward he intends to write without a specific deadline in mind—it will be finished when it is finished, and not before. He notes there are dozens of chapters completed, and hundreds of pages done, but “there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still… and that’s if the writing goes well.”
At the end, Martin tackles the elephant in the room, whether season 6 of Game of Thrones will “spoil” the novel. The answer? “Yes and no.” He explains in some detail that the show’s many divergences will mean that there’ll be events and characters depicted that will be very different—perhaps entirely different—from his own plans, and he includes a lengthy list of characters who are dead in the show who live on in the novels, and another lengthy list of characters who have never appeared on the show, all of whom may have important roles to play in the novels. It seems clear that the novels and shows will continue the trend of diverging significantly from one another.
The post closes (besides a small post-script confirming that this was his last “Cliff’s Notes” post), with the following:
With the holidays fast approaching, we thought that there might be some who are scrambling for last-minute gift suggestions. And what better way to give some suggestions, than to share what we’d give to various characters from A Song of Ice and Fire?
Far away from home, Arya could use something to help her find her way back to Westeros… so how about The Lands of Ice and Fire map collection?
After a long delay in continuing our series of videos discussing the Dunk & Egg novellas collected in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. This episode discusses “The Mystery Knight” in detail:
One big note of apology: as we started filming rather spur-of-the-moment, and as I’ve gotten a little bit rusty, forgot to check that the focus was absolutely perfect ... and so half the video is, alas, a bit fuzzy. Won’t happen again, but for those who find it problematic, feel free to consider it a podcast while you browse the web!
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”:
At last, the Android version of the A World of Ice and Fire app, published by Random House as the official reference app for the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, is finally available in all international Google Play stores! Linda and I have worked with Random House, filling it with much of its content (besides our entries, there’s also a good deal of art!). And on top of all that, the app contains a number of the chapters from The Winds of Winter which George R.R. Martin has previously revealed to the public.
The Android version of the app is named “Game of Thrones Guide” for search engine reasons, but it’s the same app as the iOs A World of Ice and Fire, simply on a different platform. Downloading it is free, and includes the TWoW samples, but additional content covering all the books in the series are an in-app purchase. Do give it a look!
UPDATE: Despite our understanding that it is rolling out globally, and not just in the U.S. and a few other areas, it seems it’s not actually out everywhere just yet. At least one report from India of it being unavailable there. We’re checking with Random House about the timeline to see it rolled out everywhere, but we will say we were reminded of this fact because it was now available in Sweden where it hadn’t been before.
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).
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.
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!
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: