The Citadel

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

So Spake Martin

Correspondence with Fans

Separation of POVs

[Summary of initial mail by Min: Is it true that POV-characters have to be physically apart?]

Look at GAME OF THRONES -- there are plenty of places there where two or even three differenet POV characters are together in the same place at the same time. It's only later that they scattrer. There are no hard and fast "rules" for this. I use the POVs I need to tell the story... and I want each POV to have his or her own story within the story as well, i.e. to change and grow and develop.

Great Councils and the Law

1. Could Ned's evidence about the bastardy of Cersei's children have convinced a Great Council, such as gave Aegon V his crown? Is this evidence completely unequivocal in the context of this fantasy world (it wouldn't be in our own)?

Having just given a real life deposition in a court case in which I am a witness, I can tell you that no evidence is "completely unequivocal," either in Westeros or the USA. Lawyers will argue about anything.

And the Great Council is a very rare event. Westeros has no equivilent of a Parliament meeting at regular time. If Ned had been able to establish his authority as regent and summon a Great Council... well, the lords would have presumably heard the evidence and decided...

2. Was Littlefinger saying the truth, when he told Ned that Tyrells and Redwynes would rise against Stannis's succession?

No comment.

3. Do members of one Great House have a legal right to arrest and judge members of the other? I.e. was Catelyn's abduction of Tyrion, given all the incriminating evidence, legal?

It was a bit dicey. A lord administers justice in his own lands. Catelyn would have had a much stronger claim if she had taken Tyrion in the north. Even in our own world, there are always dangers in taking on the rich and powerful, regardless of the legality of your auction or how much evidence you have... and the high lords of Westeros are a deal more prickly about their honor.

Bronn’s Age

And on an unrelated note, just how old is Bronn? The age thing has reared its ugly head on one of the discussion boards. ;)

Bronn is in his early to mid 30s, I'd imagine.

Aerys’s Kingsguard

I was wondering about the kingsguard at Aerys' death, I know that Jaime Lannister, Oswell Whent, Gerald Hightower, Arthur Dayne and Barristan Selmy were in the kingsguard, who where the other two? Was one Prince Lewyn of Dorne?


The other was Ser Jonothor Darry, brother to Ser Willem.

House Greyiron

House Greyiron is the house of Urron Redhand, the older ruling dynasty of the Iron Islands, wiped out by the Andals. House Hoare is the house of Harwyn Hardhand and Harren the Black, that Aegon the Conquerer wrote an end to.

Bywater, River Kings, and Dornish Heraldry

Jacelyn may not have been knighted until Pyke, but he did have a surname, which implies he had noble/knightly ancestors somewhere back there, though his might well have been a cadet branch fallen low in the world. I don't think this was established either way.

A question that crops up concerning the two old River King dynasties -- is it wrong to assume that one of them was the line of the final River Kings, ended by the ancestors of the Storm King Arrec, and that the other (as Theon recollects in his first chapter in Clash of Kings) is the line ended by the old King of the Iron Islands whose slaughter of the then River Kings sons led to the naming of the Bloody Keep?

A logical assumption, and maybe half true. There were actually more dynasties in the riverlands than these two... but so far I've only come up with two names. The riverlands have been much warred over. The Mudds were the last of the First Men to rule the Trident, I seem to recall; it was Andal invaders who put an end to that line.

Is there any particular reason why the Dornish arms tend to be so . . . macabre?

A violent history. Particularly the mountain houses, who lived by raiding across the borders into the marches, feuded with each other endlessly, and were the first to face any invaders.

The Kingsguard

1) Barristan Selmy stated in AGoT, that he fought beside Prince Lewyn of Dorne. How was Lewyn related to Doran Martell and was he the seventh Kingsguard who was replaced by Jaime at Harrenhal?

Lewyn was an uncle to Doran Martell. He was a Kingsguard, and died fighting on the Trident.

2) What would happen if a Kingsguard is seriously crippled, thus that he is unable to protect the king anymore?

With seven Kingsguard, there are usually enough who are young and strong to allow older members to serve our their lives with honor.

3) Kingsguards may not have a wife or children, but does this also include a vow of chastity?

In theory, yes, but at least one Kingsguard was executed for sleeping with a king's mistress, and many others have doubtless had "lapses."

4) Does the oath of a Kingsguard include to serve _whoever_ is the king, even if the new king rebelled against the old one, or did Jaime and Barristan _choose_ to continue their service as Robert was crowned?

The oaths did not envision rebellion, actually. Robert pardoned Barristan and Jaime, and they accepted the pardon and continued to serve.

5) Why were men like Meryn Trant, Boros Blount, Preston Greenfield and Arys Oakheart ever accepted as White Swords? Nobody thinks much of their skill.

Sometimes the best knights are not eager to take such stringent vows, and you have to settle for who you can get. Other factors also enter into the choices -- politics, favoritism, horse trading, rewards for past service, etc. It's a plum appointment for a younger son, or a knight from a minor house. Less so for the Great Houses. Also, Robert had five vacancies to fill all at once, an unusual situation -- imagine the nominations we might get if six of the nine members of the Supreme Court all died within a few months.

Institutions like the Kingsguard change over time. The original Knights of the Garter were warriors all, the strongest, bravest, deadliest men of their time, with an average age under thirty. The present Knights of the Garter are octagenarians, and their parades are processions of wheelchairs and walkers.

House Smallwood

House Smallwood reminds me of another question. I noticed a couple of the men up on the Wall are from noble houses, but not knights. Are these fellows who commited crimes or otherwise disgraced themselves before knighthood? Or, in the case of the Smallwoods at least, are they followers of the old gods like the Blackwoods?

The Smallwoods don't follow the old gods, no. But many houses have junior branches, cousins of the lordly lineage who branched off generations back. They have the name, but not the wealth, nor the castle... and they won't necessarily be knights.

River Kings

[Short extract from an e-mail which is something of historical interest as far as the setting goes]

. . . the Mudds and Fishers were two dynasties of River Kings, who ruled the lands around the Trident in ancient times, but were destroyed in wars by the Storm Kings or Ironmen.

Date of The Hedge Knight and Tyrion’s Age

[Markus' summary of his question: "Well, I finally asked Mr. Martin to confirm the date of THK, and pointed out that Mormont's history lecture in ACoK was a bit confusing. I also asked him about Tyrion's age, but he didn't answer that."]

The key word in my "about a hundred years" is "about."

"The Hedge Knight" takes place around 208-209, as you surmise. I have the exact year in my notes, but I don't have them to hand at the moment.

Mormont's dialogue -- and the dialogue and thoughts of other characters, for that matter -- needs to be understood =as= dialogue. When we talk, we tend to be imprecise about such things, saying something happened "in the sixties" or "at the turn of the century," or that World War II was "fifty years ago." It's no different in the Seven Kingdoms.

And that goes for distances as well as dates. A phrase like "a thousand leagues" is not meant to be a precise measure of distance, only the equivilent of "a million miles away," ie, "a very long way."

The Arryns and the Hightower

[Excerpt from a mail, concerning why the Arryn moon-and-falcon is so strangely stylized and the Hightower's of Oldtown]

-- Arryn. That's complicated. It has to do with a cover that you likely never saw; the =first= cover of the US hardcover, a painting by Stephen Youell that appeared on the ARCs but was scrapped in favor of the silver foil before publication (though it was used for the Swedish edition, of all things, so maybe you =have= seen it, if you have run into the Swedish edition). The scene it illustrates is Catelyn's meeting with Ser Brynden at the Bloody Gate. In the painting, Brynden is carrying a staff with an Arryn banner on it. My text had mentioned the Arryn "moon-and-falcon" but given no details, so Youell came up with the sigil as you see it. Then later, when we decided to put the sigils in the appendix, Virginia Norey did the designs... but on Arryn, she felt compelled to stick with Youell's version, since it was already "canon." By the time it was decided not to use the Youell cover, the Norey drawings were already done, so there we were. Which is a long way of saying... no, the Arryn sigil is not at all what I had originally imagined. When I was writing the book, in my head I saw a sky blue field with a large round full moon in its center, and a blue falcon soaring upward outlined against it. However, having appeared in the appendices of two books, and on the cover of the Swedish edition, the current version would seem to be "it."

As for the broader questions you raised...

The Hightowers can be legitimately referred to as being "of Hightower" or "of Oldtown," either one. Hightower is their castle/keep, the tallest structure in the Seven Kingdoms, and one of the oldest, a massive stepped tower with a great beacon on top, to show ships the way to port... kind of like the Pharos of Alexandria, but larger, an inhabited castle as well as a lighthouse. It stands in the center of Oldtown; the city grew up around it. And Oldtown =is= old, thousands of years old as opposed to King's Landing, which is only three hundred. Until Aegon's coming, it was the major city of Westeros. The Hightowers are one of the oldest families in the Seven Kingdoms.

You will learn more about the maesters and the Citadel in future books.

Citadel Entry Requirements

What I would like to know; -What are the criterions for being allowed into the Citadel for maester education? Could a dwarf in his late twenties like Tyrion be allowed in?

You'll learn more about the Citadel in future books.

In brief, however, there's no age requirement... nor any other sort of requirement, actually. The Citadel is very loosely structured, and open to all. That doesn't mean that all become maesters, however. Oldtown is full of aging novices and acolytes who have never finished forging their chain (or in some cases, never begun)... the Seven Kingdoms equivilent to the eternal grad student of our world.


Firstly, thanks for that very thorough response on the tournaments and knightood. Fascinating. In particular given the notes about _Ivanhoe_ and its influence -- I've only witnessed the A&E production of it, although maybe about time I read it. Seems it might be ripe for ideas.

IVANHOE is well worth a read, although the style is very old fashioned, of course. Still it has some fabulous characters and scenes, and so far as I know the definitive portrayal of a medieval tournament, both melee and joust.

It has been filmed three times that I know of. The recent A&E production had some good moments, as did the older Sam Neill version... the CLASSIC version, however, is still MGM's 50s version, starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, and George Sanders. The jousts are wonderful, Liz is radiant, and George Sanders steals the film as Bois-Gilbert. You should definitely rent that one and have a look.

Tourney Rules

Interesting question about the different tourney rules as seen in "Hedge Knight" and the novels.

It was not so much a question of some king changing the rules, as you venture, as it was of the rules themselves being very variable. Medieval tourneys were never governed by a single set of rules or rulesmakers, like NCAA football or major league baseball or even (shudder) boxing. In essence, every tourney had its own rules. The lord or king who was staging the event would usually choose the format of the tournament in the broadest sense, and then appoint a "master of the games" to run the event and make all the "fine print" decisions.

The earliest tournaments were melees for the most part, fought over miles of woodland by teams of knights. It was a battle, in essence, though with blunted weapons (usually). The lists came much later, and the formalized joust as we know it through IVANHOE and other popular sources. But even then, there was no standardization. Sometimes they still fought as teams; fifty Scots riding across a field at fifty English. Sometimes they had very elaborate pagaents, like one "Tournament of the Golden Tree" in which a team of champions had to defend said tree against all comers, each trying to snatch a leaf (the gold leafs were gold leaf, so to speak).

In the real world, heralds eventually assumed a great deal of responsibility for tournaments as time went on, and by the 15th and 16th century things were getting rather formalized... not just in tourneys, but in regards to all the forms of knighthood and heraldry. Before that, however, you had much more diversity.

In the case of the Seven Kingdoms, basically I am going with the earlier more diverse model. Over the six books (and whatever additional Dunk & Egg stories I write), I mean to show a nice range of tournaments.

Of the ones so far... well, the Hand's tourney at King's Landing was put together hastily, on Robert's whim, and so was relatively small, which allowed the single-elimination tilting format, which your opponents are chosen simply by the luck of the draw, and only one champion remains at the end. I also used the free-for-all last-man-standing style of melee, which did not exist in the real world so far as I know (melees were mock battles fought by teams), but which I thought offered juicy possibilities for a fantasy book.

At Ashford, instead of the single elimination, I went with your basic IVANHOE champions-against-challengers format, which suited the story better (I wanted Dunk to have to risk all he had going up against one of five champions, rather than simply drawing an opponent by lot, and maybe catching a break. If the champions are as formidable as the Fair Maid's were at Ashford, the challengers face a much more difficult task than if they stand to draw any foe in the field). And I confess, I have always loved the scene in IVANHOE where the Disinherited Knight rides down the line and knocks down all five Norman shields, and wanted to do my version thereof.

Renly's little tourney was pure free-for-all melee again, because it was a very impromptu affair. The all-against-all format, with its quick alliances and betrayals, allowed me to show both some of the popular feeling against Brienne and her own quite formidable skills.

Joffrey's little tourney was really more an exhibition of jousting.

. . . the great tournament at Harrenhal during the year of the false spring, the tourney where Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Stark as queen of love and beauty. That was a much bigger tourney than either Ashford or the Hand's tourney. The IVANHOE format again, champions and challengers, but longer, with more challengers... and with a seven-sided team melee in the ancient style. (A lot happened there at Harrenhal. If I ever wrote the prequel book some readers keep asking for, I could probably set the whole thing during those ten days.)

As to your questions regarding the participation or non-participation of sellswords, squires, freeriders and the like, again, I don't see that as the difference as being chronological so much as geographic. The Reach is the heart of the chivalric tradition in the Seven Kingdoms, the place where knighthood is most universally esteemed, and therefore the place where the master of the games is most likely to devise and apply stringent rules. In Dorne and Storm's End and the riverlands and the Vale, things are perhaps a little less strict, and north of the Neck where the old gods still reign and knights are rare, they make up their own rules as they go along.

This has real world parallels as well. In the high middle ages, France was the apex of chivalry. German, English, Italian, and Spanish knights followed the fashions the French chevaliers set, although they did not always get them right. And if you went further afield still, to places like Scotland, Hungary, and Georgia, customs diverged even more.

The personalities of the sponsoring lords and their master-at-arms are another factor. Robert Baratheon was not a great respector of old traditions, and he would hardly have wanted a "knight's only" tournament to honor Ned, who was not a knight. Lord Ashford of Ashford, on the other hand, was trying to curry favor with Baelor Breakspear, the preeminent tourney knight of his time.

As to trial by combat... yes, the Trial by Seven was very much a special case. It was originally an Andal religious ceremony, and even at the time of the "The Hedge Knight" they hadn't fought one for a hundred years (or whatever I said).

Loras’s Shield

That note about Loras and Garlan carrying three and two roses respectively when fighting together is rather interesting. I suppose that means that Garlan took part in the tournament at Bitterbridge? The lack of mention of him at all suggests that he wasn't.

No, Ser Garlan wasn't at Bitterbridge. Loras must just have decided to use the three-rose shield that day. I don't see Garlan as being as much a glory hound as his kid brother, so tourneys are not his thing.