[Summary: In response to questions posed by Mike. Mike asked, (1) whether there will be any changes in POV characters in the next book, (2) does Martin have the ending of the series in mind or does he leave himself room to change the storyline as it unfolds, and (3) was it a conscious decision to paint things in grey, killing off good guys, etc.]
Thanks for your questions, and all the kind words about A CLASH OF KINGS, which are much aprreciated.
To your questions:
(1) Yes, I will be making additions (and subtractions) to the lineup of POV characters in each volume,
(2) I know how the series goes from here in broad strokes, but not necessarily all the small details. Yes, I have an end envisioned, but getting from here to there is half the fun.
(3) Definitely a conscious decision. Both as a reader and a writer, I prefer my plots to be unpredictable and my characters to be painted in shades of grey, rather than in blacks and whites.
I am not completely certain how long a period of time A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE will cover. There will be a gap of about five or year between the end of A STORM OF SWORDS and the beginning of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, but overall... well, we'll have to wait and see.
"The Hedge Knight" is set about a century before A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
I am always pleased to see websites devoted to fantasy in general or my books in particular, but would rather not get involved directly. I don't want to spoil the fun the fans have discussing theories, and would also rather not be influenced by the discussions.
It is nice to see people reading the books with such care, however, and getting so passionate about the characters.
The Wars of the Roses have always fascinated me, and certainly did influence A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, but there's really no one-for-one character-for-character correspondence. I like to use history to flavor my fantasy, to add texture and versimillitude, but simply rewriting history with the names changed has no appeal for me. I prefer to reimagine it all, and take it in new and unexpected directions.
The changes are very minor -- mostly a few typos we caught in time to correct for the US edition, after the British edition had already gone to press.
Also the US edition will have one map the UK edition lacks, and updated versions of the older maps.
The seven new gods of the Andals are the Father, Mother, Warrior, Smith, Maid, Crone, and Stranger.
The old gods of the First Men and the children of the forest are nameless and numerous.
Other gods are worshipped elsewhere in the world - the Drowned God of the ironmen, the Black Goat of Qohor, the Great Shepherd, the horse god of the Dothraki - and R'hllor, the god of Flame and Shadow, worshipped in Asshai and the east, who assumes more importance in A CLASH OF KINGS.
[Summary: In a response to Arion214 asking why Bran did not appear at the feast in Winterfell early in _A Game of Thrones_.]
Pam, thanks for your post, and all the kind words about A GAME OF THRONES and "The Hedge Knight."
As to your question about Bran... well, he =is= present at the banquet, of course. Jon doesn't mention him, that's true, but of course there are hundreds of others who are present as well that Jon also fails to mention... and Bran is an everyday familiar sight to Jon, who is likely more curious about the guests... the king and queen, their children, the Lion and the Imp.
That's one explanation, anyway.
The other one is that the author just slipped up and neglected to mention him.
But either way, he =was= there, definitely. There's even a moment in A CLASH OF KINGS when he thinks back on that feast.
[Summary: In response to a thread speculating on authors who should be included in a second LEGENDS anthology. As a note, Robert Silverberg (editor of Legends) stated from the onset that he had no particular plans to do a second volume, but was interested in hearing from the posters about potential authors.]
Jack Vance, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, and Poul Anderson.
Did I mention Jack Vance? IMNSHO, Vance's Dying Earth was one of three seminal creations from which all modern fantasy has sprung, the other two being Tolkien's Middle Earth and Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age.
The real shame is that there wasn't a LEGENDS ten years ago, so that it could have included a Fafhrd/Mouser story from Fritz Leiber and an Amber story from Roger Zelazny.
Yes, ultimately Egg will become king, but that's a long and winding road, and the subject for many a later story... which I hope to write after I finish all the millions and zillions of words I've still got to write for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
The Targaryens have heavily interbred, like the Ptolemys of Egypt. As any horse or dog breeder can tell you, interbreeding accentuates both flaws and virtues, and pushes a lineage toward the extremes. Also, there's sometimes a fine line between madness and greatness. Daeron I, the boy king who led a war of conquest, and even the saintly Baelor I could also be considered "mad," if seen in a different light. ((And I must confess, I love grey characters, and those who can be interperted in many different ways. Both as a reader and a writer, I want complexity and subtlety in my fiction))
Lastly, some fans are reading too much into the scene in GAME OF THRONES where the dragons are born -- which is to say, it was never the case that all Targaryens are immune to all fire at all times.
Good question, Jason. The proper use of magic is one of the trickiest aspects of writing fantasy. If badly done, it can easily unbalance a book.
In my case, one of the things I did was go back and reread the Master, J.R.R. Tolkien. Virtually all high fantasy written today, including the work of most of the authors in LEGENDS, in heavily influenced by Tolkien.
Rereading LORD OF THE RINGS, it struck me very forcefully that Tolkien's use of magic is both subtle and sparing. Middle Earth is a world full of wonders, beyond a doubt, but very little magic is actually performed on stage. Gandalf is a wizard, for instance, but he does most of his fighting with a sword.
That seemed to be a much more effective way to go than by having someone mumbling spells every paragraph, so I tried to adapt a similar approach in A GAME OF THRONES.
[Summary: sandrews asks if Duncan from the Hedge Knight fathered a family, is the family existant at the time of the books, why Aemon Targaryen did not appear in the story, and whether Dany has any kin in Lys because of Aerion Brightfire's exile.]
The answers to (i) and (ii) will have to wait until I write more stories of Dunk and Egg, or possibly until later volumes in A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
As to (iii), well, Aemon was at the Citadel in Oldtown, studying for his maester's chain. He had no part in the story I was telling in "The Hedge Knight," so I saw no reason to drag him on stage.
Lastly, (iv), well, Aerion Brightfire did not stay in Lys all his life, only a few years. He may have fathered a few bastards there, which would mean Dany has "relatives" of a sort in Lys... but they would be very distant relatives, from the wrong side of the blanket.
I'll probably tell some more stories about Dunk and Egg one of these days, but most likely not for a few years. I still have thousands of pages in my current series to write first.
I hate "What Has Gone Before" summaries. Instead, I tried to write the opening chapters of A CLASH OF KINGS in such a way as to jog the readers' memories of all that happened in A GAME OF THRONES. There's also the geneologies to help keep things straight.
In broad terms, the action in A GAME OF THRONES and its sequels is definitely informed by the War of the Roses, one of my favorite historical periods. It's not a one-to-one correspondence, however; I had considerable fun playing with expectations and mixing things up, and the characters grew more from my own head than from history.
Yes, the series was originally a trilogy, but it has grown... to four initially, but now I am inclined to think it will be longer than that. What can I say? It's a BIG story, and a cast of thousands.