The Citadel

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

So Spake Martin

Correspondence with Fans

News Tidbit

A bit of news that may interest some of you -- my editors at Bantam have decided that they =will= include a preview chapter from A STORM OF SWORDS in the U.S. paperback edition of A CLASH OF KINGS, presently scheduled for publication in September.

The chapter they have chosen in the first Sansa section in A STORM OF SWORDS, where Sansa dines with Margaery Tyrell, meets her grandmother, and hears a fat fool sing "The Bear and the Maiden Fair."

Some Questions

Mr. Martin, I'll venture to ask a few questions on behalf of your other mad, information-starved fans:


Do you intend to provide the more important characters with birth years? (i.e. controversies about Renly's and Edric Storm's, Benjen's and Tyrion's ages, etc). A bunch of children have their ages noted in Appendix to ACOK... But none of the adult characters, alas.

With such a large cast, it would be impossible to provide ages for everyone, and even doing just the major players would be difficult. I do try and nail it down in my own private notes where the ages are important, but in most cases it really doesn't matter whether someone is thirty three or thirty eight.

How did Ned manage to become such a paragon Northener and a close friend of Lyanna's if he spent his time in the Vale from age 8 to 18? Or did he return home at some point(when?) and was just visiting Jon Arryn prior to and after the tourney at Harrenhal?

He was fostered, not exiled. Yes, certainly he returned home. Less frequently the first few years, when he would have been performing the duties of a page and then a squire, more often and for longer periods later. During his "squire" years (he wasn't a squire in the strict sense, since he wasn't training for knighthood, but he was acting as one), he would also have accompanied Jon Arryn on many travels out of the Vale. And once he reached the age of sixteen he was a man grown, free to come to go as he liked... which would have included both time at home and in the Vale, since Jon Arryn had become a second father. The same was true of Robert, who divided his time between Storm's End and the Vale after reaching manhood, not to mention dropping in on tourneys and whatever choice fights he could find.

"I was his lord...My right, to make his match" says Lord Hoster about Brynden. Does it mean that the lord can force anyone under his rule to marry whomever he wishes? Can the people in question legally break the commitments made for them by the lord (i.e. promises, betrothals) and what penalty can the lord visit on them for this? What if they just refuse to exchange the marriage vows, etc?

They can indeed refuse to take the vows, as the Blackfish did, but there are often severe consequences to this. The lord is certainly expected to arrange the matches for his own children and unmarried younger siblings. He does not necessarily arrange marriages for his vassal lords or household knights... but they would be wise to consult with him and respect his feelings. It would not be prudent for a vassal to marry one of his liege lord's enemies, for instance.

Nebula Ballot

I am delighted to report that A CLASH OF KINGS has been nominated for a Nebula Award by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The final ballot in the novel category is:

George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings (Bantam, Feb99)

Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky (St. Martins Press, Feb99; Tor, Jan00)

Maureen McHugh, Mission Child (Avon Eos, Dec98; Eos, Nov99)

Sean Stewart, Mockingbird (Ace, Aug98; Ace, Mar00)

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Seven Stories Press, Nov98; Warner Books, Jan00)

Ken Macleod, The Cassini Division (Tor, Jul99)

Status of A Storm of Swords

The book's still not done, but I'm getting awfully close. Another couple of weeks should do it, I hope.

It looks as though it will be the longest volume to date.

Clans of the North and the Valelords

[Summary: This is the text of an AOL Instant Messanger chat between Flayed Man and Mr. Martin, concerning both reputed mountain clans in the North and the attitudes of the valelords towards the Starks]

Flayed Man: mr martin please answer this for me.. in north while it is being invaded by ironborn and possibly by BOB, there are resistant factions and you once said that there are "mountain clans". and in north there are mountain clans yes?

GeoRR: in the mountains northwest of Winterfell, yes

Flayed Man: and they remain loyal to starks? since they fight for their land and north? like scottish clans loyal to their kings?

GeoRR: yes, they are loyal to Winterfell... at least they have been loyal in the past

Flayed Man: finally (i know you are busy and all) as of your personally thinking the lords of vale they are friendly to starks and tullys as if they are brothers and there are lords who are "itching" to get pieace of lannisters and want to help robb. Also tell me how friendly are they with robb right now (how the lords of vale feel about robb).

GeoRR: The lords of the Vale are numerous. As with any large group, their views vary.

GeoRR: "Brothers" overstates the case, but certainly Ned made friends during his years in the Eyrie... so did Robert, however, so some of the Vale houses would be just as well disposed toward Baratheon as toward Stark.

GeoRR: Do some of the them want to join Robb? Certainly. Most notably Bronze Yohn Royce. Others, however, want no part of the war, and some may even favor the other contenders.

Tyrion’s Future

I hope you're a little kinder to Tyrion in the future! He's my favorite character, but he somehow seems to (undeservedly) get the shortend of the stick on a regular basis. Fortunately his wits compensate for all the ill luck you seem to throw his way. Sorry... I just hadto speak my mind.

Well, I'm fond of Tyrion as well... but I am afraid his travails have just begun. Of course, that's true for all of them. Things will get a lot worse before they get better, I fear.

Good News and Bad News

The Good News: A CLASH OF KINGS has received enough nominations to appear on the Nebula Award preliminary ballot. The members of SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) are now voting to decide which five or six books will make it onto the final ballot and become Nebula nominees. You are all welcomed to keep your fingers crossed.

The Bad News: I have not yet delivered A STORM OF SWORDS to my publishers. However, I am getting very close now, and I hope it will not be much longer.

Technology in Westeros

There is an aspect of a SOI&F (and all high/medieval fanatasy) which has me puzzled. Why is there so little technological procees? The Starks have been medieval lords and kings for millenia, and it seems that there is very little chance of Westeros ever progessing beyond a medieval society. Is this becuase the existence of magic inhibits or precludes linear technological progress?

Oh, I wouldn't go that far.

I don't know that "linear technological progress" is necessarily inevitable in a society. In fact, if you look at our real world, it only happened once. Other cultures and societies existed for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years without ever experiencing major technological change.

In the specific case of Westeros, the unpredictable nature of the seasonal changes and the harshness of the winters must play a role.

I do think that magic perhaps makes development of the scientific method less likely. If men can fly by means of a spell, do you ever get the Wright Brothers? Or even daVinci? An interesting question, and I'm not sure I know the answer.

Influence of the Wars of the Roses

Is it true that you based A Song of Ice and Fire off the War of Roses?

No, not really. Certainly I wanted to give my series a strong grounding in real medieval history, rather than in other fantasy novels, but I drew on a whole number of sources and periods. The Wars of the Roses, yes, but also the Hundred Years War, the Crusades, the Norman Conquest... you name it.

Hobb and Vance

First off, I want to congratulate you on how...what's a good word...anxious you've made everyone by not revealing the newest character addition for A Storm of Swords. One question (no, I won't ask who it is as much as I want to know), do you plan on revealing the character's identity before the book is released, or are you going to stay quiet and let the first blabber-mouth announce it when they get it?

I'll be staying quiet, so I guess the reveal will go to the aforementioned blabber mouth.


Robin Hobb is very good. Her Assassin's Apprentice series was excellent, but I think the current Liveship Traders is even better. And if you haven'r tried him, there is always Jack Vance, whom I regard as the greatest living fantasist. Try any of the Dying Earth series, or the Lyonesse trilogy. Superb stuff.

News Bits

I thought I might pass on the word that the U.S. paperback release of A CLASH OF KINGS has been pushed back to September. It was originally scheduled for February, a year after the hardcover release, but the hardcover edition is still selling very strongly, so Bantam decided to keep it on the racks a while longer.

Readers who can't afford the hardcover edition might check out some of the British bookstores on the web. The British mass market paperback has been out for several months.

I am still working on A STORM OF SWORDS. I am on the home stretch, I'd like to think, and hope to finish and deliver it soon. My publishers are ready and waiting. (Today I got a phone call from my American editor and an email from my Dutch editor, so the readers aren't the only ones asking.) The publication wheels are rolling; on both sides of the Atlantic, my publishers have started work on the covers, and the artists (Jim Burns in the UK and Stephen Youll in the USA) are at work on paintings. They tell me that the Burns painting will feature a swordfight, and the Youll a funeral; both based on scenes from the book.

I will drop another note to all the webmasters when the book is done, just to keep you up to date. In the meantime, I would appreciate if you could ask the fans to stop sending me so many emails asking when the book will be released. I appreciate the interest and all the kind words, but the last thing I need just now is a lot of email to answer. Please understand -- I am not asking the fans to stop writing, just to lay off for a short time while I finish the novel. Once the beast is penned, some of the stress will be off, and I will enjoy getting and answering email again... although I will no doubt continue to be as dilatory as ever in responding to it.

Thanks for your help.

I have also been getting questions about personal appearances during the next year. Bantam will likely be sending me on a promotional tour for A STORM OF SWORDS, but I don't know what dates or cities that will involve. I will be travelling to Germany in October; I plan to appear at a con in Leipzig, to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair, and to do a signing at a shop in Berlin. I will also be in Chicago over Labor Day for the World SF Convention. Rivercon in Louisville, Kentucky in July is a strong possibility, and Westercon in Honolulu over July 4th is a definite. I will be doing readings at most of these cons.

I hope 2000 is a great year for all of us. (It's 300 in the Seven Kingdoms. I thought maybe all the magic should stop working on account of the Y3C spell bug, but then I thought, nah).

Baratheons and Targaryens

[The response to this mail concerns a question about a statement Renly makes (quoted by myself and included in Martin's response) about justification for the Baratheon claim to the throne after the rebellion.]

"Oh, there was talk of the blood ties between Baratheon and Targaryen, of weddings a hundred years past, _of second sons and elder daughters._"

Ummmm... I think you are putting a lot more weight on this slender branch than it can bear. Renly was a carefree and careless soul, and he was speaking in broad generalizations here. He cared almost nothing about the legal basis of his brother's claim, as the context makes clear; so far as he was concerned, the only thing that mattered was the size of your army.

The Borgias

HarperCollins UK just sent me some copies of an advertising supplement they did in the GUARDIAN newspaper. It includes a "Timeline" of landmarks of SF and fantasy through history, and they included A GAME OF THRONES (they had better, they publish it over there).

The best part, though, is the capsule description, wherein they call ASOIAF "the 12 CAESARS of fantasy literature, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias."

I must say, being compared to Suetonius certainly beats being compared to David Eddings, but my various part is "CHARACTERS SO VENOMOUS THEY COULD EAT THE BORGIAS!" With ketchup or hot sauce, I wonder?

Land Ownership and Marriage in Westeros?

I am under impression, that unlike in historical middle ages, the land estates in Westeros are neither splitted among several children, nor combined. Basically, the heir inherits all and if another title comes their way, it goes to a hetherto landless sibling. Am I right?

More or less. Holdings are seldom divided. Nor are they combined, as a rule, although one person could concievably hold more than one title. The other major factor is the current lord -- if one decided to do something unusual with his estates, that would carry weight. (Might also cause disputes, though)

Yet being a landless son of a noble family doesn't prevent one from marriage (as it did in the middle ages). So, is a lord in Westeros bound by law and custom to support his relatives with a designated portion of his income?

No. Some do (the Freys, the Lannisters). Some don't (Gregor Clegane with Sandor). Some put their excess relatives to work (the Freys again) in the castle, or give them vassal holdfasts (the Starks and Targaryens).

And if so, why aren't excessive relatives shunted into the Faith, Citadel, etc. in order to concerve the family fortune?

Some are. The Freys again. The Tyrells as well.

Also, what about dowries?

What about them?

And what's the difference between landed knights (Ser Gregor Clegane) and very small lords (i.e. Lord Baelish the Elder)?

The title. A lord has greater powers of rulership over his domain (the power of pits and gallows, it was called in some medieval cultures) Lord would generally be considered the more prestigious title. A knight is (or was) a fighting man, however; that title has its own specific martial and religious meanings -- and in a culture that reveres the warrior, its own prestige. Not all lords are knights.

A landed knight could concievably have greater holdings than a small lord.

The Tooth and the Tyroshi

First; did Ser Forley Prester send any part of his 4000 men at the Golden Tooth to Ser Stafford Lannister at Oxcross, in order to augment his host? Or were they all kept at the Tooth by Prester?

That's much too big a garrison for a small castle like the Tooth, so I expect that he sent many of them down to Ser Stafford. Blooded veterans to help train the raw green levies... of course, that didn't work out too well...

Second; what did Robb do with the Tyroshi sellsword who dipped his banners at Riverrun?

I don't know what Robb did with him... but =I= forgot all about him, I blush to admit.

Now that you've reminded me... I imagine he kept most of them with him when he went west. Having just marched through the westerlands when they were on the other side, they would have had a certain value.

I also would expect that he suffered some desertions... these men were not bound to him by oath or ancient loyalty, and there was plenty of plunder to be had...

There's at least one Tyroshi outlaw in the riverlands in SOS... good chance he was a deserter, although whether it was Jaime or Robb that he deserted, I couldn't tell you right now...