The Citadel

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

So Spake Martin

Correspondence with Fans

Cities in Westeros

[Note: This is an excerpt from a mail concerning a recent addition to the heraldry files. For the arms of House Myre, Lord Rossart, and House Shett, please look at the Heraldry section of the Citadel.]

I think you once said that the Myre arms (ten nooses) had some special significance, but what that is escapes me. Was it commemorating a day ten men were hanged, perhaps?

Something like that, but I haven't fleshed out the story yet.

Similarly, you mentioned that you changed House Stonehouse's arms (which had a torch) because Lord Rossart, the pyromancer Hand of Aerys, took a torch as his personal sigil. We could toss that into the personal arms section. I'm guessing it's something like a hand of some hue holding a torch lit with wildfire, on red or perhaps flame.

I visualized a simple image of a torch, burning with normal fire colors... but I think I like your suggestion better. A pyrcomancer =would= prefer wildfire's jade flame.

Also, looking at the new Vale houses, House Shett is listed as being lords of Gulltown, although we already have House Grafton as that. Some sort of shared control?

Sure, why not. Gulltown is either a very big town or a small city, plenty large enough for two Houses.

We are hoping to differentiate between towns, cities, and castles on the new maps, which has got me thinking about such things. There are five cities in Westeros: King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown, and White Harbor. But the first two are much bigger than Lannisport, which is in turn much bigger than the last two.

Shields of the North

[Summary: This is a conversation between Mr. Martin and Ser Benjen through AOL's Instant Messanger service. It has been edited for clarity.]

SerBenjen: May I ask you 2 questions?

GeoRR: sure

SerBenjen: Thanks. How long were the Targaryens on Dragonstone before they invaded?

GeoRR: a couple hundred years

[Note: Skipping ahead for clarity.]

GeoRR: Well, there are lots of new characters... you met some of them in the four chapters... you sure you heard the name right?

SerBenjen: That's how they spelled it. I just thought it sounded a bit odd.

GeoRR: New characters in ASOS include...hmmm... the Queen of Thorns, the Magnar of Thenn, Tormund Giantsbane, Ser Garlan Tyrell, Queen Margaery's cousins, the sellswords Daario Naharis, Brown Ben Plumm, and Mero the Titan's Bastard, the singer Tom o' Sevens, the outlaws Lem Lemoncloak, Jack-Be-Lucky, and Anguy the archer, the black brothers Small Paul, Satin, Owen the Oaf, and Sweet Donnel Hill, a Dornish paramour named Ellaria Sand... many more...

Shields of the North

In the North: Lake, Condon, Fenn, Marsh, Slate, and Harclay...

These all look great too. Including Harclay, which is just what I intended. I am trying to keep the northern shields significantly simpler, to underline the fact that the northmen aren't into the whole chivalry thing as deeply as the southrons. That's the reason for Lake, Marsh, Fenn, Slate, etc. -- simple names, simple shields.

House Brune

[Note: This is an excerpt from a mail concerning a recent addition to the heraldry files. For the arms of House Brune and those of Ser Lothor, please look at the Heraldry section of the Citadel.]

In a message dated 6/3/00 5:08:43 AM Mountain Daylight Time, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) writes:

For House Brune (listed under King's Landing) . . . is this the senior branch to Lothor Brune's new knightly house? Or is Lothor taking on a personal addition to his chosen arms?

Lothor is actually a distant cousin (read: poor relation) to House Brune. When he receives knighthood after the battle, however, he reassumes the house arms differenced by the addition of his own achievement vis a vis the Fossoways.

Maps in the Series

In a message dated 6/1/00 8:43:49 AM Mountain Daylight Time, Green Gerg writes:

<<One interesting note -- we will have two different sets of maps this time.

Fascinating....all the more reason for diehards like myself and the board people to snap up both editions.... It's been difficult for me at times to visualize the Free Cities in relation to each other and Westeros, so for myself, I can say I'm thrilled to see even a partial Eastern map.

It =is= a partial map, though, and I fear that the Free Cities aren't on it. I will include them in a future volume, probably A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

Release of A Storm of Swords

Ran and others on the AOIAF board are fairly confident that the proofing etc. on ASOS will be finished quickly enough for the July 2000 release date touted by Amazon UK. Do you think it'll be out in England in July?

Yes. HarperCollins has been cracking the whip at me relentlessly, and pushing everything at an amazing pace. The typesetting's done, and I am just about finished with the galleys. Jim Burns finished the cover painting ages ago.

In fact, the British hardcover has a sales ranking of 132 on Amazon.UK the last time I looked, and it's still six weeks away from pubdate.

One interesting note -- we will have two different sets of maps this time. On GAME OF THRONES, Harper used the Bantam maps. With CLASH OF KINGS, however, Harper's pubdate was so much earlier than Bantam's that they didn't get the updates in time, so only Bantam had the new maps. To avoid that this time, Harper will be doing its own maps.

Both sets of maps will be based on my originals, of course, but different artists will be cleaning them up and re-rendering them for publication, so they should have a somewhat different look. There will be four maps: updated versions of the North and South, with new places and details added, and new ones of the Wall and environs, and a part of the eastern landmass.

As for my vacation... I'll be going to Westercon in Hawaii over 4th of July. I hope to be dug out from under my then.

After Renly

In aCoK, when Renly learned of Stannis besieging Storm's End, he rushed over there with his horse - which comprised of both Storm's End and Reach horse, right?

Right. Most of the horse, anyway. He left some.

And I assumed the Storm's End foot was left behind with the Reach foot, back at Bitterbridge, right?

Right again.

So, when Ser Parmen Crane and that Florent were sent out after the foot, and never returned, it was because Loras et al appeared there first. What I'm wondering is what happened with the Storm Land portion of the infantry at Bitterbridge. We hear that Randyll Tarly 'seized the stores' and put a great many Florents to the sword, but what about those Storm Lords who remained to lead their infantry contingent? Were they captured, disbanded, or convinced to join against Stannis? Was there a battle?

Most of the actual storm lords went with Renly. They were horsed, after all -- knights and high lords -- and they wanted a share of the glory of smashing Stannis. The foot at Bitterbridge was left in the hands of lesser lords, younger sons, captains, serjeants, etc. It was definitely the less glamorous division.

It would be hugely overstating to say there was a battle, but there was definitely much confusion and conflict when word reached them of Renly's death. At that point -- and in the days that followed, as rival envoys began to arrive -- Renly's foot ceased to be a whole and became more a gathering of feudal levies, each of which had to make its own decision as to what to do now. Presume some fighting. Presume that a lot of people just decided this might be a swell time to go home. But most of them ultimately wound up with the Tyrell/Lannister alliance.

Crane and Florent are presently captives at Highgarden, by the way.

Tyrion’s Daughter and the Myraham

It's been bugging me for a while, so I have to ask... 1) Is Marei (the girl at Chataya's) Tyrion's daughter by Tysha (my only evidence is that she is about the right age, green eyes, and silver-blonde hair)?

If she was Tyrion's daughter, I'd hardly be likely to reveal it in a letter. Sorry.

2) Will we ever see the sea captain's daughter again? I am referring to the one that Theon was unkind to after having had his way with her.

Well, the MYRAHAM and its captain appear briefly in A STORM OF SWORDS. Beyond that I sayeth not...

3) Will you write more Dunk and Egg stories soon?

I want to. It's a matter of finding the time. Right now I have none.

Dragon Lore

Hello! Hope things are going well with you, and that the wild fires are far from where you live.

Far enough that I haven't been evacuated, but still too close for comfort.

Speaking of fires, while discussing Daenerys and her dragons with some other fans, a question arose. How long does it take a dragon to "mature"?

Good question.

In what place, if any, has there been an accumulation of dragonlore?

Valyria. The Citadel. Dragonstone. Probably some of the Free Cities as well. Maybe Asshai in the far east.

I'm exited to read Storm of Swords, and I hope I get the chance to catch a book signing or reading somewhere in my area (DC).

Looks like I'll be touring in November, but I don't know what cities they'll send me to.


I have just a wee little question that I hope you can help me work out. If not, that's fine, I realize you're a busy man. In your series of A Song of Ice and Fire, what is the difference between a sellsword and a freerider?

Sellswords are mercenaries. They may or may not be mounted, but whether ahorse or afoot they fight for wages. Most tend to be experienced professional soldiers. You don't have a lot of green young sellswords -- some, sure, but not many. It's a profession a man tends to chose after he's tasted a few battles and learned that he's good at fighting.

You get more sellswords on the eastern side of the narrow sea than you do in Westeros. The Free Cities have made heavy use of mercenaries for centuries, to fight their endless wars in the Stepstones and the Disputed Lands. Over there many of the mercenary soldiers are organized into long-established sellsword companies, or free companies -- the Brave Companions are an example of such, though an especially unsavory one. You'll meet two more sellsword companies in A STORM OF SWORDS, the Stormcrows and the Second Sons. And there are others. The Golden Company is the largest and most famous, founded by one of Aegon the Unworthy's bastards. You won't meet them until A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

Freeriders... well, that term is both broader and narrower. Narrower in that it excludes foot soldiers. You need a horse to be a freerider. Otherwise broader.

Freeriders are mounted fighters who are not part of a lord's retinue or feudal levy. Some are veterans, sure, but also green and untrained recruits, farm boys on ploughhorses, men dispossessed by the fighting, a very mixed bag. They don't as a rule collect wages. Some fight for plunder, of course. Other to perhaps to impress a lord or a knight , in hopes of being taken permanently into his service. For many it is simply a means to survive. If the war sweeps over your village, your house is burned, and your crops stolen or destroyed, you can hide in the ruins and starve, flee to the nearest city for refuge, take to the woods as an outlaw (the ones who do that are oft called "broken men")... or you can saddle your horse, if you're lucky enough to have one, and join one army or the other. If you do, you're a freerider. Being part of an army at least gives you a better chance of being fed.

There are all sorts of freeriders, ranging from wandering adventurers who are virtually hedge knights (lacking only the knighthood) to the aforementioned farm boys on drays. Most are used as scouts, outriders, foragers, and light cavalry.

Obviously, there is some overlap between the two terms. A mounted man who fights for pay could be called either a freerider or a sellsword.

Both terms carry a certain stigma in Westeros. Sellswords are said to have no loyalty, and freeriders no discipline.

POVs and the Red Viper

I was wondering if you could tell who is the primary POV in ASOS? For example, Ned was the primary one in AGOT and Tyrion in ACOK.

Arya has the most chapters, but some are short. Tyrion or Jon may actually have more pages, I haven't counted. I don't think in terms of "primary POV."

Why is Oberyn Martell named the Red Viper? For being a warrior of renown? It's a cool nickname though.

The whole story is related in ASOS, but in brief, he fought a duel over a woman when he was young, his opponent died of his wounds, and thereafter it was claimed that he had poisoned his sword.

And lastly, why didn't Lord Tywin ever remarry after his wife died? Surely he would have had ample opportunities to do so? Thanks.

Maybe he didn't want to.

Re: Congratulations!

I heard through Ran that A Storm of Swords is finished. That has to be a great feeling, and we're all really looking forward to it, particularly after the four "teaser" chapters some of us received. Anyway, here's hoping you have a well-deserved vacation scheduled.

Vacation? What's that? HAH. No, now I've got the editing, the copyediting, the proofreading, plus my taxes to do (I took an extension to finish the book), plus a couple of other LONG overdue projects that have been squeaking, plus... sigh... it's a sad sad story.

I am going to Hawaii in July for Westercon. I will vacation then. Meanwhile, I do appreciate the congratulations. It did feel at times as if King Kong were on my back, and he's only just climbed down.

You should know that even after all this time, we're still debating things like who was behind the assassination attempt on Bran. Not to mention trying to figure out the four weddings, four trials, and two funeral.

The problem with all this speculating is that some of you are bound to guess the answers before I reveal 'em... and others may even come up with better answers than I do. Well, those are the risks one takes with such a project.

I will tell you that ASOS will resolve the question of Bran and the dagger, and also that of Jon Arryn's killer. Some other questions will =not= be resolved... and hopefully I will give you a few new puzzles to worry at.

I should caution that the four trials aren't necessarily the sort of thing a 20th century American would call a trial. Don't expect Perry of House Mason to be showing up to argue fine points of law.

Thanks again for providing all of us with a truly first-class tale and for telling it so well.

You are most welcome. Thanks for the continued interest and enthusiasm.

Various ASoIaF Questions

I assume that the Night's Watch does not pay the Black Brothers any wages in coin for their service - they get their provisions for free, after all.

What I was do the Brothers pay the whores in Moletown? Since they're not using coin, do they pay in naturalia filched from Night Watch' stores?

I guess some women so far north would choose such a life (given that life is relatively harsher than farther south), even if they are not paid in coin...

A lot of the Mole's Town transactions are paid by barter, certaintly, but there is coin at the Wall... not much, though, especially these days... (see following answer). Some coin comes north with the highborn brothers... someone like Ser Waymar Royce undoubtedly arrived well heeled, and I imagine families send gifts and such as well... and there's trade that goes in and out of Eastwatch...

Second; do the Night's Watch receive funding and resources from Winterfell, the crown, or both?

Some from both, certainly... but traditionally the main support of the Watch has come from the Gift, a broad belt of land immediately south of the Wall, which the Watch owns. There is more about this in ASOS. The northernmost half of this was "Brandon's Gift," the southern half "the New Gift." Historically the Watch farmed the former (the stewards) and taxed the latter.

Of course, the decline in the size of the NW and the depopulation of the Gift have both have huge impacts... again, there's stuff about this is SOS.

Third; How are the would-be septas and septons of the Faith trained for their calling? Is there some academy/religious center they can go to (perhaps the Great Sept in KL), or are they trained by local septas and septons?

Both, I imagine. Some local septons are not very well educated (like priestsin medieval Europe), but there are great centers of religious training, and the Great Sept of Baelor would certainly be preeminent among them.

Fourth; where (vis-a-vis Westeros) is the Port of Ibben?

The Port of Ibben is on Ibben, a large island nation in the Shivering Sea, the polar sea that lies north of the big continent where you find the Free Cities, the Dothraki Sea, Qarth, the fleshmarts of Slaver's Bay, etc. Yes, I will do a map one day... but not in SOS. If you visualize Westeros as a big Britain and the eastern continent as mainland Europe, Ibben is kind of up where Finland would be... except there's no Scandinavia, nothing north of the Baltic except ocean.

A Storm of Swords Completed

You cannot imagine how much it thrills me to be able to tell you all that A STORM OF SWORDS is finally finished.

The manuscript is being xeroxed at Kinko's even as I type, and should be winging its way to my various editors, publishers, and agents by tomorrow.

I do feel as though as I have given birth to a wooly mammoth -- this is a BIG beast, with a nasty disposition, and pretty damned hairy too. It weighs in at 1521 manuscript pages, some 350 pages longer than A CLASH OF KINGS. There are 79 chapters, a prologue, =and= a epilogue.

I fear I lied about the four weddings and the funeral. Now that I am done, I see there are four weddings, =two= funerals, and a wake. Four trials as well. And three dragons, four bears, many mammoths, an unkindness of ravens, and a turtle of unusual size. More battles, swordfights, and deaths than I can count, but two births as well, just to remind us all that life goes on.

There's plenty more work after this, of course; editorial revisions, copediting, proofreading,correcting galleys, notice to mention the maps and the appendices, to which I must now turn my attention. But the mammoth is at least on its feet; the rest is just a matter of polishing up its tusks.

Thank you all for your patience, and your continued enthusiasm. I hope you'll feel the book was worth the wait.

The Red Fork and the Blackwater

How much time passed between Lord Tywin's "retreat" from the Red Fork and the "Battle of the Blackwater"? At what point between these events did Catelyn's last chapter occur?

Sigh. Obviously you are not a fan of my policy of deliberate vagueness about things like times and distances. I do hate to be pinned down...I will say, however, that Catelyn's final chapter takes place =before= the Battle of the Blackwater. As do the first few chapters in A STORM OF SWORDS...