The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore

So Spake Martin

Correspondence with Fans

Heraldry in Westeros

I might mention . . . that the rules of heraldry are a good deal more flexible in the Seven Kingdoms than they became by the late Middle Ages in the real world. There are no "laws" of heraldry per se, no college of heralds for enforcement, no formal regulations about cadency and differencing. So individual knights and lords have a certain amount of freedom to bear what shields they prefer and play around with their house sigils... or not, as the case may be. Thus Big and Little Walder, at Winterfell, quarter the arms of their mother's and grandmother's houses on their shields and surcoats, though they could just as lawfully wear the Frey towers unadorned. All three sons of Mace Tyrell are entitled to bear the Highgarden rose, and sometimes do... but when two or more of them are fighting together on the same field, you will often see Ser Garlan (the second son) with two roses on his shield, and Ser Loras (the thirdborn) with three. There is also the case of the harper/knight Pearse Caron in "The Hedge Knight," who chose to ride in the tourney with his personal emblem (a harp) on his shield, and the Caron nightingales on trappings and surcoat, and of course Raymun Fossoway in the same story, who births the green-apple Fossoways when he breaks with his cousin.

Robb Stark did something akin when he rode out of Winterfell in A GAME OF THRONES; you may recall that his shield bore a wolf's head, not the running wolf that appears on the Stark banners. Some of the old Kings in the North also had their own personal variants, undoubtedly, though I haven't yet decided what they were.

This sort of stuff happened all the time in the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages, where heraldry was unregulated and very much a matter of individual choice. It was only later that everything became formalized.

Regarding Sansa

Your question re Sansa...

The way I see it, it is not a case of all or nothing. No single person is to blame for Ned's downfall. Sansa played a role, certainly, but it would be unfair to put all the blame on her. But it would also be unfair to exonerate her. She was not privy to all of Ned's plans regarding Stannis, the gold cloaks, etc... but she knew more than just that her father planned to spirit her and Arya away from King's Landing. She knew when they were to leave, on what ship, how many men would be in their escort, who would have the command, where Arya was that morning, etc... all of which was useful to Cersei in planning and timing her move.

Ned's talk with Littlefinger was certainly a turning point, though I am not sure I would call it =the= turning point. There were other crucial decisions that could easily have changed all had they gone differently. You mention Ned's refusal of Renly, which was equally critical. And there is Varys to consider, as well as the minor but crucial player everyone forgets -- Janos Slynt, who might have chosen just to do his duty instead of selling the gold cloaks to the highest bidder.

So... all in all, I suppose my answer would be that there is no single villain in the piece who caused it all, but rather a good half dozen players whose actions were all in part responsible for what happened.

Hope that helps.

(And let me add that I am always astonished to be reminded how fiercely some of my readers argue these points. It's gratifying to know I have readers who care so much, although if truth be told sometimes I get the scary feeling that you people know these books better than I do... )

Re: Greyjoy Fleet

[Summary by Kay-Arne Hansen: Anyway, I asked how big the Iron Fleet was. And this was the answer he came up with. I do not recall how many major lords Balon has under him, but I think we speak about a fleet counting perhaps a thousand ships. (but only small ones :)

Oh yeah, this is just before he goes touring - hence the comment about his rush.]

No time for a lengthy answer. I leave town tomorrow and there are a million things to do.

In brief, though... the Iron Islands can float a lot more than a hundred ships. Each of the major lords probably commands that any.

However, it is important to remember that the longships are smaller and simpler than the fleets that Joffrey and Stannis warred with on the Blackwater. The former are Viking longboats, more or less; for the latter, think Venetian/Byzantine dromonds of war.

Several Questions

Are those purple amethysts in Sansa's hairnet the same type of purple amethyst in Cressen's chamber?

No comment.

When the Shadow emerges from Melisandres womb, it is described as looking like "the man who'd cast it." Does this mean "who would" (Cortnay) or "who did" (Stannis).

"who had"

On the Legends Bulletin Board, in response to my question regarding the stretch of time of "A Song of Fire and Ice," you have a small typo in your answer. You reply "there will be a stretch of five or year" between ASoS and ADwD. Please clarify.

Five or six years

Also, if I swear on my honor (admittedly I'm not Ned) could I persuade you to tell me who the new viewpoint will be in ASOS?


Davos will be included, yes.

Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk

[Summary from Kay-Arne Hansen: I asked him if he had read 'Norwegian Kingssagas' by Snorre Sturlasson, and explained that I thought so on the basis of Sansa's story about Ser Arryk and Ser Erryk seeming to be the equivalent of the brother kings Alrik and Eirik, and went on to make suggestions about other possible 'inspirators' from the 'Kingssagas'.]

Ah... well... a fascinating theory, but...

I did take a semester of Scandinavian history back my sophomore year in college, which was.... hmmmm... around about 1967-8. I read a couple of Icelandic sagas during the course, and found them thoroughly compelling, but after the passage of thirty years I confess I no longer recall the titles or the names of any of the characters. It may be that chunks of them, buried in my subconscious, somehow surfaced during A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE... but it seems a long shot.

Ser Arryk and Ser Erryk were inspired by the twin knights of Arthurian myth, Sir Balon and Sir Balin, who appear in Mallory.


Nice try, though.


[Summary from Kay-Arne Hansen: I asked about a timeline for Robert's rebellion.]

I have rough notes on all of this, but it's nothing I want to publish just yet.

I may include a Timeline as an appendix in a future book, but I need to work on it some more and fill in some details before it would ready to publish.

New Characters in A Storm of Swords

Oh, and would you be willing to reveal who will be the characters in ASOS? I remember we knew who the characters of ACOK would be well before the book came out.

Well, mostly the same viewpoints as in CLASH, but I will be dropping Theon Greyjoy and adding Sam Tarly and <DELETED>

However, I'd rather you did not tell 'em about <DELETED>...


Hodor and the Crypts

After rereading both AGOT and ACOK I was wondering about one question: Why was Hodor not afraid of the crypts under Winterfell at the end of ACOK? In AGOT Hodor was very afraid of the crypts, he wouldn't take Bran down there, but in ACOK he stayed with Bran and Rickon in the crypt for quite a while, how did he stay there if he was so afraid?

Hodor was only afraid of the crypts =at that specific time.=  Not before and not after.

Rhaegar and Elia

[Note: This is something that I've known about for many years, having a copy of a copy of the message forwarded to me by a third party. However, recently I discovered details of the source of the information, including an approximate date for when Martin provided his response.]

<< Who is the couple celebrating the birth of a son that Dany sees in her vision in the wizard's palace in Qarth? Can you tell us? Is it Rhaegar and someone? Or is it the original Aegon (the Conqueror?) >>

Rhaegar and his wife, Elia of Dorne.

The battle order…

You see, when Tyrion was set to lead the van (and I presume this means vanguard), he found himself on the _left_. But isn't the vanguard the _foremost_ units of an army?

Usage varied... but most often, the vanguard or van was the foremost division (or "battle," as they were called) of a medieval army in the =line of march.= However, when the army actually deployed for battle, the van would generally be on the left.

There are enough exceptions to this to make the issue confusing. Sometimes the van would be placed on the right rather than the left. If the host was attacking, the van would sometimes indeed be the shock unit, the first to smash into the enemy... but when the army was drawn up in a defenseive array, that obviously did not apply. It also depended somewhat on the size of the army and how it was organized; i.e. how many "battles" or divisions.

Various Pronunciations

I was just wondering how you pronounce some of the charcters names in A GAME OF THRONES.

Is the 'ae' in many Targaryen names pronounced 'ay' ?

yes, in most cases

For example, is Maester 'Master' (like normally pronounced) or is it 'May-ster' or is it 'My-ster') or something else?


And what about Cersei? (I say Seer-see)


Is Lysa - Lee-sa or Ly-za?


Is Benjen benjen or Ben-yen?

Ben - Jen

Is Tyrion 'Tee-re-yon' or 'Ty-REE-yon' or something else?


Targaryen Ages

You're the second person to raise this issue of the ages of the various Targaryens from Daeron I through Daeron II. Some keen-eyed fan also pointed it out on the message board (here if you're interested in checking it out).

There's no good answer, except that I goofed. I worked out the ages (roughly) forward from Aegon II through the "present" of A GAME OF THRONES, but never thought to work them out backwards as well. It does indeed seem that they don't add up right, and that I am going to have to fiddle with the Targaryen succession. How, I don't know, but I'll make some change.

Targaryen Succession

[Note: This mail is a response to the exchange depicted in this mail.]

If Viserys II (reigned 171-172) is a younger brother of Aegon III, rather than one of his sons, I believe the ages of the kings that follow will work better.

ASoIaF Outline

[Note: Sent in October of 1993, this letter to one of Martin's agents, Ralph Vicinanza, provides a glimpse of GRRM's original conception of the A Song of Ice and Fire series at the point where he had completed about a dozen chapters in A Game of Thrones. It is a very substantially different narrative than what eventually came to be published.]

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