The Citadel

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

So Spake Martin

Correspondence with Fans

Ibben and Armor

Though Im sure you dont remember me we have corresponded a number of times and Im a great fan of your ASOIAF series. It is truly a modern masterpiece :)


But on to the questions lol Im sorry to bug you man, but gotsta ask! Hope it doesnt interfere with FFC

1)Ibben. Ibben has been a pet interest of mine for some time. I even have an EzBoard with an Ibben Theme. I was wondering when or if we would see Ibben or atleast learn more about them. It truly fascinates me. Does Ibben have a major city? Are they feudal as well? Do they have a king? Armies? What kind of soldiers do they field? Ever been to war with Westeros? And so forth.....

The major city is the Port of Ibben. The Ibbenese are a little far from Westeros to war with them, I think. They do have colonies on the mainland of the eastern continent, but mostly they live on a cold, mountainous, Iceland-sized island (and a couple much smaller ones) in the Shivering Sea. If you consider Westeros to be where the British Isles are in the real world, Ibben would be... oh, about where you might find Finland. But an island. The Shivering Sea has a large whale population, and many of the Ibbenses are whalers. They chew blubber and light the Port of Ibben with whale oil lamps. As to whether the action will ever go there... I don't know. Probably not.

2)Armor. Ive noticed that outside of Westeros and even in Dorne people use bronze armor pretty frequently. I was wondering about the metal working skills of these people. They use iron/steel in weaponry but use highly inferior armor.

The Dornish use a lot of copper, but mainly for ornamental purposes. It's very pretty flashing in the sun. As pretty as gold, but cheaper.

Understandably it is far lighter than platemail or something but It strikes me as a little wierd. An army armored in bronze going against an army in iron will inevitably lose... Sorry to nitpick, so tell me to shut up if Im out of line hehe

Dornish fighting tactics differ from those of the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. Saladin's warriors were pretty lightly armored when they went up against Richard the Lion Hearted and his Crusaders, but still did pretty well.

3)I am under the strong impressoin you openly indicated Dany would be traveliing east to Asshai and the Shadow lands, possibly to invade Westeros from the other side even... Everyone tells me im wrong, it doesnt fit into the time frame etc etc. Did you or did you not want us to get that impressioin by a)introudcing Quaithe b)the whole to go west you must go east under the shadow etc etc prophecy... c)Bran saw dragons in Asshai. Perhaps Danys dragons in the future? I doubt real dragons are in Asshai now or the whole magic leaving the world thing wouldnt have happened....

Sorry, these answers will need to wait for future books.

The Process of Making Valyrian Steel

I hope all goes well with you and this finds you in good health. I was just wondering if you could settle something for me in relation to Valyrian steel and I I just wondering if I have taken you up correctly on the matter. I belive I'm right in saying it differs from say Mithril (from LOTR) in that it is not a material which in itself bears advantageous properties but rather ordinary steel which has been subjected to a process (the physical manipulation of the steel combined with spells) which embues it with the desired elements.

Yes, that is correct. You don't mine Valyrian steel (actually, you don't mine any steel), you make it.

What I'm less sure of is whether Valyrian steel ever exists as a raw material.

It does not.

I believe it doesn't but only as a finished blade, what I mean is that it is the actual process of making the sword from run of the mill steel which gives us a Valyrian weapon rather than Valyrian steel being made beforehand and then this product being used to make an item.

The closest real life analog is Damascus steel, but Valyrian steel is a fantasy metal. Which means it has magical characteristics, and magic plays a role in its forging.

Thanks for taking the time from your no doubt over burdened schedule to read this none too clear mail. May I take the opportunity to thank you for the enjoyment you've already given me and say I wait with eager anticipation for A Feast For Crows and The second Dunk & Egg tale.

I'm at work on both. Thanks for your enthusiasm, and your patience.

Sansa’s Memory

[Note: This mail has been edited for brevity.]

. . . this is an inconsistency with ASoS more than an outright error. In ASoS, Sansa thinks that the Hound kissed her before leaving her room and King's Landing. In ACoK, no kiss is mentioned in the scene, though Sansa did think that he was about to do so.

Well, not every inconsistency is a mistake, actually. Some are quite intentional. File this one under "unreliable narrator" and feel free to ponder its meaning. . .

Computer Games

A quick question for you: Are there any plans to release computer/console games based on your books? I think they would lend themselves very well to a number of different genres. There's a game newly out on the PC called Medieval: Total War, which is an action/strategy game based on 400 years of European history from 1071 onwards. Playing this title the other day, I couldn't help but feel how exciting it would be to play a game involving similar gameplay mechanics based on the Westeros world.

I have had a few inquiries from game developers about rights to the series, so there is a possibility. At the moment, however, we're just talking. It's too early to know if anything will come of it.

A Feast for Crows Reading

For those who may be passing through New Mexico next weekend, I wanted to mention that I will be reading from A FEAST FOR CROWS at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. The reading is scheduled for Friday evening at 6:30 pm.

I will read at worldcon in San Jose as well... but for that one I'll choose a different chapter. The Bubonicon chapter(s) will not be anything I've read before.

Bubonicon is a small, friendly con, well worth attending. Details can be found through the link on my website.

Concerning Howland Reed

I hope this finds you in good health and that the book is going well. I thought I'd take advantage of a lull in the normal busy day to ask you a few question about A Song Of Ice And Fire if I may.

You can ask, but don't count on answers. I like to keep my hand hidden till it's time to play my cards.

I'm curious about a few matters concerning Howland Reed (with a name like that I always think he should be a Blues performer) During the Robert's rebellion was Howland the only Crannogman to play a part? Did Howland fight by Ned's side throughout or was accompanying him to the Tower of Joy a one off?

No, he was part of the northern host through the war.

Traditionally would the Crannogmen have considered the Stark of Winterfell to be their Overlord or was Howland's aid because of his friendship with Ned?

Greywater is sworn to Winterfell.

Does Howland know who Jon Snow's mother is?

The Shadow knows.

And finally just how much does it cost to hire a Faceless Man? (I've got a supervisior who is really buging me)

More than you could afford, I fear.

Keep reading.

A Feast for Crows Cover

But I have one (with 3 parts) that I HAVE to ask. Bantam has A Feast For Crows listed along with cover art....

A. Is that the actual cover?
B. If so, is that Jaime Lannister?
C. What castle is that in the background? (Guesses right now are either King's Landing, Riverrun, or Casterly Rock)

I haven't seen the actual cover yet, but the rough sketch I saw some months ago did indeed feature Jaime in front of King's Landing.

Swedish Translations

Any word on whether Swedish translations will be resuming any time soon?

Doesn't look good on that front. Sales were not as robust as my publisher had hoped, and they have dropped the series. Too many Swedes buying the English editions, I guess... that's a danger in Scandinavia, as in the Netherlands. Unless another publisher steps forward, I think we're done in Sweden.

Amazon Synopsis

My question is, do you support what it says here, is this synopis real, or approved by you? Or just something Amazon made up? I'd really appreciate some clarification about this. It sounds great but the spelling errors (Starfell, Danerys) don't seem too "Martinish" or whoever does your synopsis normally.

Don't believe anything you read on Amazon... about plot details, page count, release dates, any of it. I don't know where they get this stuff.

Tyrion’s Parentage

This shall be short. I of course love the series and everything else you've done (which I am tracking down and reading) and I wish you only the best on the rest of the books. Take your time and don't worry about us the readers, we can wait.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm writing FEAST as fast as I can, but quality comes first.

Just a quick question that has been bugging me and others on the board for a bit. I find no weight to the argument but some believe Tyrion to be half Targaryen. This may be from too much idle time but I am of the belief that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." I can't imagine him to be but if he is I don't expect a definite answer. Just a clue would be nice.

I prefer to give clues in the books, not in letters. Nice try, though...

Tommen’s Reign

Will Tommen rule as Tommen I of House Baratheon, or Tommen III (?) of House Lannister?

Tommen the 1st.

The current numbering dates to Aegon's Conquest; the kings of the predecessor kingdoms don't count. It was the same in England after the Norman Conquest. Edward Longshanks was Edward I, and never mind all the Saxon Edwards who had come before 1066.

Eastern Cities and Peoples

I am sixteen years old, and I big fan of your works, especially the Song of Ice and Fire series. I have a few questions to ask you about the series, if you'd be kind enough to answer them...

1) Is the series based in any way on the events leding up to the Battle of Hastings? Various themes (different leaders vying for a throne, the appearance of a comet in the sky, bastards becoming great leaders) seem to be echoed in your story.

I did not have Hastings in mind especially, but I suppose there might have been some subconscious influence. The comet was actually more drawn from the Bard's in JULIUS CAESAR, as well as the ones actually in the sky as I was writing.

2) Where exactly are the cities of Yi Ti and Asshai in relation to Qarth? Are they on the same continent, or across the Jade Sea?

Yi Ti is to the south east of Qarth, generally, across the Jade Sea.

3) What are the approximate populations of King's Landing, Qarth, Asshai and the Port of Ibben?

Populations were largely a matter of guesswork in such times.

4) What exactly are the Shadow Lands? Do any significant civilizations exist there, or are they simply a barren waste?

Keep reading.

5) About the two men Arya saw conspiring to restore Dany to Westeros in GoT--one is obviously Illyiro, but who is this other? My friend seems insistent that you confirmed that it is Varys, but IIRC, Varys is hairless while the man Arya saw had a beard.

Varys was a former mummer.

Could you clear this up, or will we find out later?

It was Varys.

6) Where exactly to the Jogos Nhai live? On he eastern coninent, the continent to the south, or across the Jade Sea? Are they from such cities like Kayakayanaya that you mentioned in GoT?

There will be more maps in future books, but there always need to be mysteries beyond the hill as well...

Bastards as Lord Commanders

It's been said that a bastard can rise high in the NW (i.e. Cotter Pyke commanding Eastwatch). But have there ever been any bastard Lord Commanders before Jon?

Yes, undoubtedly.

Social Structure, Moat Cailin, and More

I am a large fan of your work, and have been for a while now. :chuckles: in fact, I have introduced my brother and friends to your series with good results. Regardless, I have some questions I would like to ask, if you don't mind. I did try to go through 'so spake martin', but since it was so long, I can't promise that I am accidentally not repeating a question.

Anyway, here I go.

1) In ASOIAF, we hear a bit of using boats to move armys, both among the iron men and with Dany. However, I was wondering why no one tried this in the past. For instance, instead of fighting up the neck, why didn't any of the andal kings try to land north of the moat? Or land an army at gulltown, behind the bloody gate? Or at sunspear instead of fighting through the dornish marches? This has just been something I am curious about, and I hope there is an answer.

Who says it hasn't been tried in the past? The Seven Kingdoms have a very long history, and I haven't mentioned all of it... nor will I.

2) Is it possible that we may see a few scenes of peace at the end of the series? Some of my favorite scenes are just the relatively peaceful parts at the beginning of AGOT.

Yes, it is possible.

Also, if you do write more on Westeros after ASOIAF ::Crosses fingers:: Is it possible we might get a look at some of the decedents of the present characters? As in seeing the world a generation or two later?

Maybe. That's a long ways off.

3) Also, I don't quite get Renlys motivation for being king. When he is at KL, he seems more than willing to let Ned take control, even though it means Stannis or Joff will be king. However, alter on he claims the kingship and seems quite adamant about holding on to it. I understand the theory that he likes to be king simply because it was 'shiny' and he liked being the center of attention. However, in some of his conversations with Cat, I get the idea that he really thinks he deserves to be king, and that he will be a great king.

He does. Renly was not modest.

) I am also a bit curious as to the social structure of westeros. I understand the seven high lords, and the slightly lower lords (ie. Boltons, Karstarks, Freys etc.). However, do these lords also have sub lords below them? Lords who maybe raise 10 or 20 men for the Karstarks?

Yes, it is a feudal system. The lords have vassals, the vassals have vassals, and sometimes the vassals of the vassals have vassals, down to the guy who can raise five friends.

5) I have also wondered a bit about moat cailin. Normally, who is lord over the moat? Who is there? I suppose its possible it is just abandoned, but that seems foolish when one considers how key a fortress it is. Is there normally a trusted lord stationed there with a garrison to guard it?

It's a ruin. No one is there. The north has not been attacked in hundreds of years.

6) This question relates a bit to 5..but.. hey. How do the great houses, besides the lannsiters of course, make there money. Is it all through the trading of goods?

Taxes and customs duties.

7) Also, what exactly does the tittle 'warden of the (Blank)' mean. In book one, Robert or Ned say something along the liens of it being honorary except in a time of war. But, so far in the series, we have seen little significance in regards to the title. Do the houses who are wardens have some control over the great houses who are not wardens? IS that why the riverlords seem to simply follow the northern lead?

The wardens are supposed to defend their regions against invaders. In theory, at least, they are each the supreme general for their region and therefore preventing any disunity of command.


I am a fan of book series "A Song of Ice and Fire" and I also have purchased your recently re-released short story book "A Song for Lya." I just wanted to ask you a simple question about your writing, specifically "A Song of Ice and Fire." Where exactly did you get the idea for this book?

Hard to say. Ideas come from all over. In the case of this series, the first chapter came to me when I was in the middle of writing a different novel entirely, so vividly that I put the other book aside to write this one.

I know that some authors had dreams that inspired them, or used historical events to help them get an idea about a story. I just wanted to know what your own personal motivations for writing this series and everything else you write.

I have drawn on all this at various times in my career.

I am actually planning on writing a fantasy book in the future, after having a dream. I hope that hearing words from a professional writer will help fuel my writing.

Good luck with that, and thanks for your kind words.