GRRM held a short question and answer session afterwards and I think I will include what I gleaned from it here . . .
He is still writing AFFC. When he delivers it to his publisher, notice will go up on his website immediately (So I would say please don't write him to ask when it is coming out...that slows him down. ) The book will come out in England 2-3 months after he delivers it to his publisher and in the States 6 months after (sorry other countries...I don't know when it will be coming out for you ;( )
During Q & A, GRRM revealed what seemed to be the major reason for the five year gap. He said that he realized something. He had to deal with the reaction to Oberyn's death in Dorne. He thought of different ways that he could handle things. He could have just summarized what happened, without talking about it very much, but he did not want to do this. He could have decided that for some reason there was no reaction, or a delayed reaction, but the reasons he could come up for to do that did not make sense. So, he finally realized that the story needed to be told.
Someone asked him what RR stood for and he said "my middle names". Of course he has a great delivery so the room found that quite funny. He said he had been writing professionally since 1971. When he checked into a hotel as "George Martin" he was asked if he was the Beatles manager. I had never realized their manager had that name, and that was one reason he kept the RR. So much for folk who think he imitates Tolkien....
He was asked how he could remember all the details as he wrote several books over the years, since things are so complex. He replied "Maybe I have a trick head. I forget people in real life". Of course everyone understood. He can't remember folks he sees at conventions, etc. (Well...erm...he recognized me. Guess he has seen me enough). He explained that it was difficult because he had not done anything like this before and was now in his fifties. Previously his longest work was a single 450 page novel.
An anecdote that I thought was funny, still on the subject of memory. GRRM said that he sometimes forgets details, eye color may change, etc. He said that his dutch translater once caught the fact that he changed the gender of a horse. Heh. He said he was happy if he could just remember the horse's name and color, and does not have organized charts which keep track of the names of all horses.
And of course there are the people who want exact details. "They were long on the road" was the example he gave. He said he keeps things like distance and time deliberately vague. But someone would write inevitably write in and ask "How long were they on the road?". He just does not have rules for measuring the speed of a latent swallow, according to GRRM.
. . .
GRRM explained, as I said above, that the chapter he would be reading was one of seven from a Prologue of about 200 pgs in length.
Q: When AFFC is going to come out?
A: It is going slow, but I hope to finish it before the end of the year, so it should be published several months later.
Q: And how long is it going to be?
A: Certainly not as long as ASOS. Perhaps about ACOK length.
Q: How many books are there going to be in the series?
A: I still hope it is going to be six, but it may as well be seven. It depends how the story will flow. I am not going to force anything.
Q: There was a preview of AFFC posted on Amazon.co.uk. How much it has in common with what is really happening in the book? I am asking because there were some unexpected things happening in it.
A: It has some in common. I send it more than a year ago and I could change my opinion in some matters. Remember that the chapters I read at the conventions also aren't the final versions. I can change my opinion there as well.
Q: Are you definitely going to write more Hedge Knight stories.
A: Yes, there is a deal made for the second story in the anthology Legends 2. I hope to write several stories and put them together in a book.
In Tuesday there was a meeting in some bar which was supposed to be meeting with local fans, but not many of those showed up. There were some fans form Poland who knew ASOIAF, but they didn't yet read ASOS. One of them mentioned that his favorite character is Robb. Poor guy. GRRM said only that he have some surprises coming.
GRRM's speech was in Thursday evening. It was titled "Bat Durston, the Bard and Me". I believe it is already known. he told abut his career as a writer, mentioned that he wrote science fiction, fantasy and horror from the very beginning and doesn't think there is any great division between those genres. He added that in seventies science fiction was fashionable genre whilst fantasy was considered somewhat quaint and archaic. He also said that he wrote some science fact articles for Analog. It ended with his famous furniture theory: The furniture rules. Where you have spaceships in the story, it is SF, when you have dragons, it is fantasy, and when you have vampires, it is horror, even if the story itself is basically the same.
At the midnight tea party with GRRM which lasted two hours into the night (he is really wonderful guy. It was scheduled only for one hour) there was a lot of questions asked. There are some of them:
Q: You often kill off your characters. Why?
A: I often like to kill one of the main character at the beginning, to establish that I play for keeps. Nobody is safe! It is not the first time I did it. I admire Tolkien, but I think he made a mistake returning Gandalf to life.
Q: Your characters are paricularly well-drawn and people care for them astonishingly much. Which character you like the most and which perhaps the least?
A: My favorite character is Tyrion. He is perhaps the most like me and his chapters are the easiest to write. I don't really dislike any of my characters. When I write, I become them to some extent and it wouldn't be possible for me to despise them.
Q: Isn't it very difficult to write from the point of view of character that is less intelligent than you? I mean, you must ask yourself: How stupid this character can really be?
A: I don't think any of mine characters is really very stupid. It would be certainly dfficult to write from the point of view of someone like Hodor.
Q: Are you going to return to your science fiction universe? I know that you have unfinished SF novel Avalon.
A: I have several unfinished novels. I love my science fiction universe and I would like to return to it, but I am afraid it is a little bit dated. There are no such things as personal computer, Internet or nanotechnology in it. The question it: Do I write it into the new stories, risking lack of consistency, or does it stay as it was? I also had at some point a deal for second Tuf book, but nothing came of it. Still, who knows?
Q: Do you give your books to read to some friends, and do you change things when they say you they don't make sense?
A: I do. I especially want them to seek out discrepancies. They do, but still some mistakes slip through. There was a matter of Targaryen dynasty when had to change brother of one kings into an uncle, because a fan wrote to me that the dates aren't consistent. He was right. Sometimes the eyes of some character change color, and my Dutch translator wrote to me an a mail tahn one of the horses changed sex between AGOT and ACOK.
Q: Do you know how the story is going to end, or are you making it all up as you come?
A: Yes, I know the end. I know the basic outlines of the story, but not necessarily all the details, because it would take fun out of writing.
Q: What do you think about open ended series?
A: I think it is all right in, say, detective stories, when you have a detective resolving still new cases, but each story can stand alone. A fantasy series should have an ending. I may return to Westeros, to write stories set in the distand lands, as Braavos and other free cities, in the past, or in the future (important! It shows that Westeros does have a future), but ASOIAF will end.
Q: How your day of work looks like?
A: I rise in the morning, I start the computer and I answer e-mails (a lot of e mails) I have a coffee, I start to write and I have second coffee. In in the best days, after hours the coffee is cold, because I went to Westeros and forgot about it. But it is only on the best days. Usually it is more tough.
Q: Do you strive for originality in your stories?
A: I think originality is overrated quality. Consider H, G. Wells who has come with the whole idea of time travel. It was terribly original, because nobody did it before him. Then came another person who wrote about time travel into the past. It was also very original, because Wells wrote only about travel into the future, but he was already working on the second story of the whole edifice. The came another person who wrote about time paradoxes, and it was also original, but it was already the third story. Today we are all working on the forty seventh story and we can only add new details to the things invented by others. That is why I think the quality of the story takes precedence before originality.
There was a lot more, but I think those are the most interesting.
When I heard 'im talk saturday (yay! still psyched about that) he explained that when he started to write the 4th book (now pushed back to fifth) after the gap, he turned out to be writing hundreds of pages of mainly flashback sequences, people sitting around saying "remember when xx happened". He couldn't manage to make the connection in a good way, so that's why he removed the 5 year gap in favor of aFfC. This, incidentally, also cost him 6 months of writing time which were ditched, which explains some of the lateness of the book.
[Note: Having solicited questions to ask GRRM, Jasper says he asked only one, concerning whether Sword of the Morning was a familial office or a unique epithet for Ser Arthur Dayne.]
GRRM: "There have been other Swords of the Morning."
I went Sunday, and of course I was present when GRRM was being interviewed(by the dutch translator of his books) and we were allowed to ask questions. He'd said several things about AFFC that were new to me:
First of all, the prologue will be different from the prologues of the previous books. In stead of one viewpoint, there will be several, from characters at different places. This prologue will be longer than the previous ones, and be divided into sections.
When he told us of AFFC, he explained the whole 5-year gap thing, and that instead of five years, AFFC will begin seconds after ASOS' ending. Well, that of course we knew already, but then he said there will be some overlap; some of the scenes in AFFC will take place before or during the ending of ASOS.
When I asked him which of the places we never saw before, he is going to show us, he said that there will be quite some scenes on the Iron Islands, and also Braavos and Dorne. I am not sure if he meant that these scenes will take place in AFFC or simply in the following books.
Someone asked (again) if he could tell us if Ned was Jons real father or not, and GRRM answered that he will not reveal it (of course) but that the whole mystery about Jons parentage will be made clear somewhere in his book, not in AFFC, but perhaps in the last book, or even the book before that.
GRRM still wasn't sure whether he would write 6 or 7 books. He still hoped to be able to finish it in six, but couldn't promise anything. He also told that writing about the Red Wedding was very hard to him. It was in fact the last he had written of ASOS; he first wrote everything that came after it, the whole ending, and only then about the Red Wedding itself.
He said that in his original plan (when he wanted to write a trilogy) the Red Wedding would take place in book one, and Dany's landing in Westeros in book two. Now he says that Dany's arrival in Westeros will take place in book 5, A Dance with Dragons.
GRRM also talked about series with no apparent ending. He said that while the Wildcards were such a series, those were meant to be so, everytime another adventure, but that when you have a fantasy-series that keeps on going, with the end getting farther and farther away, that's a bad thing. I woder if he thought about Robert Jordan when he said this. It was mostly in response to the question when his series would end.
[Note: The following is futher information Harren provided after seeing discussion concerning the Iron Isles and Dorne.]
About the overlap-thing, IIRC GRRM first mentioned that AFFC will slightly overlap ASOS(or/and some scenes might even take place before ASOS ending), and at the end he told that there will be some scenes on the Iron Isles, Dorne and Braavos, that in response to my question; I asked if he is going to show us places we haven't seen before. So the Dorne/Iron Isles thing does not necesary take place in the overlap, perhaps not even in the book, because when he answered my question I wasn't sure if he meant that those scenes would take place in AFFC, or somewhere in the rest of the series. He did say something like "quite some scenes on the Iron Islands" or something like that, which makes me think that there must be a POV sometimes visiting/staying on the Iron Isles.
[Note: Calibandar's reference to "Ted's point" is in regards to the immediately previous report by Teddy Mormont]
To return to Ted's point, about Dorne and the Iron Islands, I recall now that Martin said that it did indeed overlap, I believe he said we'll see what happened in these two parts (his words were "and" , not "or" so both will be shown) there during the end of SoS.
Another details from the elf fair that proably interests most of us here: GRRM not only said there will be no gap, but also said parts of AFFC set in Dorne and the Iron Islands overlap with ASOS. That should have impact on the speculations about the new POV. It must be someone in Dorne unless the Theon POV is revived and the prologue is set in Dorne.
[Note: The information immediately below is a response to probing concerning the exact wording with which Mr. Martin conveyed the information mentioned above.]
I believe GRRM said parts of AFFC overlap with the previous book after explaining about the end of the gap idea and mentioned the Iron Islands and Dorne. So the plural can refer to both these aeras combined.
GRRM said at the fair that he will start to work on the second Dunk and Egg story after he finished AFFC. So this can't be the main reason for the delay. I didn't understand the title clearly, but I think it is going to be named "The Sworn Sword".
[Note: The following reports come from the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands, where Martin was involved in being interviewed and answering questions afterwards, taking part in a panel with other authors, presenting a lecture, and a signing.]
I was at the Fantasy Fair this afternoon where GRRM had a lecture, not about ASOIAF btw, so you didn't miss a thing that you couldn't have read somewhere else ( it was a recap of Science Fiction books from the 50's to the 80's). At the end it became worthwhile after all, because we could ask some questions. A question was posed about ASOIAF of course, about the storyline and release date.
He stated that it was "definitly behind schedule" and then started to proceed with some reasons, which most of us here know, about the Dance for Dragons, 5-year gap thing, and how that initially delayed things and how flashbacks would never work. Still, it became apparent that things hadn't been going all that well but GRRM didn't give a date. Yet. At the end someone else asked about a specific release date (again) and GRRM said that "I really have no idea. There's no way of saying right now, might be in Spring 2003, might not. It's a big book".
There was another question about the number of books, if he could keep it to seven, a question most of us here must have heard posed a hundred times before. And again, GRRM said he'd keep it to six, while Parris, stepping up, said that it would definitly be seven. Which I think means that it *will* be seven books, because I don't see any reason why she would be so adamant about over and over (unless they're being Impish again and again).
[Note: This report and the following one are recaps of answers GRRM gave to various questions during Archon, rather than verbatim quotes of his answers.]
1) Would it be exceptional for a junior member of the Kingsguard to be made Lord Commander over Brothers who have worn the white for a longer time? Or is the Lord Commander position something chosen solely on ability?
The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is picked by the king. Seniority might play a part, but ability would also be considered.
When was Jon Snow born in relation to the Sack of King's Landing? Around the same time, a month earlier or later?
GRRM stated that he would have to look at his noted to be able to answer but doubted he would answer this question anyway. ;)
What's Hardhome? It's on the map of the area beyond the Wall, but it's never mentioned in the book.
Hardhome is the closest thing that the Wildlings have to a city.
Did Tywin Lannister's campaign against the Reynes and Tarbecks play a part in him being named Hand of the King?
A: It played a small part. Aerys and Tywin knew each other from their youth. Aerys was 19 when he took the throne and wanted a young court, not a bunch of old men around him. Jahaerys was 39 when he died.
Where did the idea of the Red Wedding come from?
A: It is loosely based on the "Black Dinner" from Scottish history. The king invited the sons of his dead rival to a dinner. He feasted them and then had a final dish served to them, with a single drum playing in the background. The dish was a black bulls head, which was the symbol of death. The sons were then executed.
In regards to the conversation about the dire wolves and the Starks the point was made (I forget by whom) that Lady was dead and Sansa still alive to which I replied that Sansa wasn't really much of a Stark anymore. IIRC (this is a little hazy), at this point GRRM kind of leaned back in his chair, smiled and said something to the effect of "A very astute observation." (Note: I was hoping someone else would bring this up as I didn't want to do any hornblowing... since Terra brought it up, but didn't recall the wording I felt the need. If anyone remembers his words differently I'll gladly recant.)
The next Wild Cards book will be an anthology of stroies set all across the Wild Cards history. Unfortunately due to other obigations the Great and Powerful Turtle will not appear.
Discovered on the way down that GRRM played any number of RPGs earlier in his career - many of them from Chaosium (so dammit get over to Storm's board to comment on my attempts to adapt the Chaosium system to ASoIaF - no you don't have to know the system to comment!). Wild Cards is, in fact, based on Super World characters.
GRRM is interested in putting together a source book but probably not before AFfC and possibly not until later still. Didn't really comment on whether or not it would be on line with a good version (my words, not his) of the Big White Book or something on line with Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of the Land/Middle Earth.
.... Glenn Cook was also present at the show. He resides in the St Louis area and, judging from his booth in the dealers room, actually runs a bookstore. I managed to find a couple of the Dread Empire books and got him to sign them and my Black Company books. He wasn't very talkative as he had other customers but he did say that he planned on revisitng the Black Company but that he has four or five other things that he has to do first. While I was talking to Cook, Robert Jordan stopped by to peruse his wares. I hung around long enough to greet him and introduce myself and to see what he was buying - picked up at least one Orson Scott Card book (couldn't tell of it was Ender's Shadow or Shadow of the Hegemon).
Gareth and I made it to the Opening Ceremoy where George was the Toastmaster. He introduced all of the guests, doing a real good job of mixing in humor. Some of the more notable guests were Steve Jackson, David Cherry, and the lucious Virginia Hey. Another guest was Jack Stauffer from Battle Star Galactica. When he heard that George had worked in the TV industry, he wrapped himself around George's knee and begged for a job!
George finally got to Robert Jordan and informed the audience that he had an announcement. George stated that he would like to address the Internet rumors regarding the fact that he and RJ had never been seen together. He announced that he was in fact Robert Jordan!!!! RJ had been listening and snuck up behind him. A surprised George said, "Oh, hi!"
.... The reading was of course great and afterwards, as Terra mentioned, George stood in the hallway with us and answered questions. I posed a number to him and he answered a bunch. One he didn't but was kind of interesting was when I asked him who was the crown prince: Duncan or Jahaerys? He said something like, "Which time?" Huh?!? He then said we would have to RAFO.
[Note: Immediately below is a brief description of GRRM's "near-death experience". See this report.]
.... George was very gracious during the meal, telling stories and answering questions. He told us one about being stuck in a bad cold spell and being almost out of gas while looking for a friend's house. He made it to the house and spent the night. The next day they tried to leave and barely made it out of the driveway before the car ran out of gas!!
Terra covered a lot of the conversation. He was amused at who some of our favorite characters were. He remembered talking to the 3 of the cute girls from BwB at Worldcon and who they all liked: One liked Theon, one liked Jaime, one liked Sandor. He was exasperated that none of them liked nice, sweet Samwell!! I brought up the dead direwolf with the antler in the throat and asked if it was an omen. He said it certainly was, but the whole concept was debatable. Did the sign mean it was destined to happen? Or did the reaction to it MAKE it happen, i.e. Cat's urging Ned to go South, Nymeria attacking Joffrey, etc. Another subject was guest rights. He mentioned the time the Tyrion came to Winterfell and Robb met him with bare steel across his lap. That meant that there was no guest rights for Tyrion. God, we talked about so much, I hope I can remember everything!
[Note: Edited for brevity,]
... Then my partner and I went to get a bite, thinking we'll make it to the Opening ceremony in time. Wrong. We got back after Martin had spoken. Apparently, Jordan made a short speech when he was introduced. You all should ask Trebla or Gareth to report it, since I wasn't there. But it's funny.....
.... Next morning, grabbed the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. Went to Martin's reading and met Hauberk (already with Trebla and Gareth) in the hallway. There were roughly 30 people, I think. Was in heaven for an hour. The room was reserved for anohter function (very minor and unimportant, not worthy of mentioning) so we had to vacate after Martin was done reading. Martin held court in the hallway answering questions while the child-care room right next door was doing sing-along with The Lion Sleeps Tonight and American Pie. People asked questions for about half hour.
... Off we went to dinner. Had to wait 5 minutes for large table. Took pictures outside of restaurant while waiting. Then we had a barbecue dinner. Good stuff.
Dinner conversation highlights:
1. Martin lamented that this group has no pretty ladies.
2. Trebla (?) mentioned that some board members would really love to see more of Bronze Royce, and Martin commented on the preculiarity on how some readers will become attached to a character who had so little screen time and pratically no dialogue. He related a story from the Wild Card, where he had to kill a supporting character that has been in 5 scenes and had one line of dialogue "Where's the food?" He received quite a few angry fanmails about the death of that character.
3. Martin mentioned that he had a SF show written and the pilot shot, but the plot was stolen (unproven, of course) by Sliders. Basically, his concept was a multiple universe setting like the one Sliders' has, "except that the show is intelligent," said Martin.
4. Martin said that he can't see the books being adapted to a movie. A TV miniseries, maybe, but even then it's unlikely. But perhaps short stories like Hedge Knight can be made into a movie that can stand on its own.
5. Two new books in the Wild Card series will be coming out. One novel and one anthology, I believe.
6. A short discussion on Stannis' slaying of Renly. Martin just sat and listened. I made the point that killing someone on the battlefield is different from assasinating someone in their sleep, and Martin asked "Is it really? Are you saying that you would not have participating in the attempted bombing of Hitler? Instead, you'd prefer to kill him in battle where he'd have a fair chance in fighting?"
7. Short discussion on the significance of the wolf to the Stark kids. Martin made a rather assertative comment about the significance of Lady's absence in Sansa's life. Though I can't recall the exact wording.
8. Martin said he'll be attending Wis Con. Woohoo!
9. Martin recalled a near-death (okay, not THAT near) experience in Wisconsin when he was attending Wis Con in the late 70s.
10. Seems like ArchCon is Martin's regular stomping ground. He was their first Guest of Honor 25 years ago. He's been to all but last year's.
... Oh, I forgot who, but someone asked me to ask Martin about Bronn (Amryc?), whether he'll live till the end of the series. Martin said he can't answer a question like that. Sorry!
.... The interview was held at 2pm on Saturday. We went to that one after lunch. Martin introduced Jordan, and he repaid Jordan for his quip during the oepning ceremony. I'll post both parts since Trebla hasn't come on to post yet.
In the Opening Ceremony, Jordan got up and he started saying that his mother had had some mental illness issues with manic depressive disorder. He went on to say that he had inherited her depressive mood swings and that he's been fighting it on and off for years now. Once in a while, when he's in the depressed mood, he'll write and later on, publish the work under the pseudonym of George R R Martin (because his real name is actually George B B Martin, of course). Hah.
So in the interview session, Martin got up and said that it's true that he didn't write the Song of Ice and Fire, that it was actually Jordan who wrote it. That's why Jordan didn't have time to actually write the WoT, and instead, the WoT was written by David Eddings. Muwahahahahah.
Okay, so the interview went on. The interview was about Jordan. I mean, it was all him. Very little Martin. So I don't think I'll repeat the majority of it. The pertinent part is that Jordan said he had planned the WoT series to be 5 books (I did a good job not to scoff), but the story has its own mind and can't be contained (again, I didn't laugh). Martin said that he had the same problem. He had originally planned that GoT and CoK to be one book.
Other than that, it was about Jordan. Not even mostly about his series. Just himself. The highlight is that he served in the Vietnam war and he was, apparently, quite an efficient soldier. It did a job on his psyche, it seems. One thing he mentioned was that there was a picture that his friend took of him, where he was sitting on a log eating his ration, with 3 or 4 dead bodies around him. One of them was a guy with half his brain blown off by a grenade or something. Quite gruesome.
At the end, Jordan said there's a poll on Motley Fool (not sure if he's making it up or not) asking:
Which event will take place first?
1. Robert Jordan finishes WoT series
2. GRRM finishes SoIaF series
3. Obscure reference I didn't catch
4. Heat death of the universe
and the poll has #4 leading 5:1 to all other choices.
Well, I couldn't really get in any info about Dorne except to say that we will see more about in A Feast For Crows. But I was able to ask some other questions and did get some info.
Question 1: It is noted on occasion that members of the Kingsguard have led armies. Specifically, Prince Lewyn, Jon Darry, and Barristan Selmy in the War of the Usurper and Selmy again in the Balon Greyjoy rebellion. Is this a normal happening or a rarity?
Answer: It has happened quite a bit throughout history. The fact is, Kings are more likely to trust the Kingsguard and their loyalty than the High Lords who will be looking out for themselves.
Question 2: What made Balon Greyjoy believe that he could successfully rebel against Robert considering his limited strength.
Answer: Balon Greyjoy did not believe that many of the Lords would answer Robert's calling of the banners because he was still viewed as an Usurper.
Question 3: It had been stated that Howland Reed would come out in The Winds of Winter, which is the 5th book. Will he still come in the 5th book (A Dance with Dragon)?
Answer: He will appear eventually.
GRRM also revealed that aFoC will hopefully span the next 5/6 years so that aDwD can begin where he expected it to do so all along.
He also heavily suggested that characters that will spend their time learning in the next 5/6 years will not feature very much in the next book. But all current POVs will appear. So one can assume that we wouldn't get more than one or two Arya/Bran chapters.
This reporter believes the new PoV is that was not revealed is in fact Brienne. GRRM first reported that he struggled with the idea that there was a five year gap but that important events occured within that time period. So, he decided to scrap the five year gap and push A Dance with Dragons to be the fifth book. The Winds of Winter will be the sixth book. Parris is betting that the series will extend to a seventh book but Martin still wants to keep it to six.
But, I digress, the main reason he struggled with the gap was that important events could not be related via flashback BUT would have to be if there was a gap. In fact, he said that the unrevealed PoV was the main reason for this. This makes me believe that the new PoV is Brienne because she had taken Oathkeeper and was actively searching for Sansa. Also, I have repeated asked him for a Brienne PoV and when he announced that there was a PoV that he was not going to reveal - he looked my way.
[This report and the two following it contain SPOILERS concerning the next book. While these are relatively benign, skip over them if you're extremely squeamish about spoilers.]
The 4th Book will be A Feast For Crows, and will cover what would have been the five year gap. Some POV's -- who George said will be "learning" during the five year gap -- will have only one or two chapters.
The first of the new POV's is -- Cersei! A great chapter where she is awoken and informed of Tywin's death. It's obvious from her POV that Tyrion terrifies her -- and that's even before she learns of Tywin's death. She asks Jaime to take over as Hand, and he refuses. It's pretty clear that their relationship has changed in his eyes. Cersei decides to name Kevan Hand, thinking he'll be easy to control. Others will have more detail, but that's the essence of it.
The second Chapter he read was Tyrion's. It covers Tyrion's sea trip to Pentos, where he ends up at Illyrio's compound. Good stuff, but the end of that chapter was where a bunch of stuff came together. Without going into the detail, it amounts to Illyrio offering Tyrion Casterly Rock if he will throw in with Danys. And of course, we didn't get to hear Tyrion's response.
The identity of the other new POV is something he's keeping a secret for now, but he did say its a character with a story to tell that really can't wait. My money is on the Hound.