Will we learn more about Rhaegar in the next book? Why did he take almost a year to join the fight against the rebels, or why did he kidnap Lyanna?
You will learn more, but I can't promise it'll be in the next book. Keep reading.
Is there a closer relationship between the children of the forest and the Others than there might seem to be?
Possibly, possibly. It's a topic that will be developing as the story continues, and so I can't say much more right now.
At the end of A Storm of Swords we learned that Jon Arryn was poisoned by Lysa at the instigation of Littlefinger, but who ordered the death of Ser Hugh of the Vale? Cersei? Littlefinger?
It could very well have been either of the two, that's for you to decide. But, it could also just have been a Gregor thing. He's a murderous brute, and really needs no reason to kill someone.
If Doran and Mellario had discussed the reasons for why he wanted to send his children away, why did she leave?
It wasn't a good marriage. They married because of an attraction to something new and exotic. Sometimes, attraction happens when you least expect it. He was a prince of a distant country, and shew as a woman full of life, who was very appealing, who came from a very different culture. When she comes to Dorne, she finds that there are customs that are different from those of Norvos, especially regarding the fostering away of children to others. This wasn't a political marriage, nor a magical one, it was simply an example of human nature. Sometimes relationships start on a good foot: you become acquainted, there's a great sexual attraction, you establish a relationship, you marry... and then in four or five years you realize that you don't really have anything in common, that at best you've made a mistake and are in a situation that doesn't have any easy solution in a society such as that of the Seven Kingdoms, where divorce simply isn't common. This is an example that it's not only marriages of convenience that fail, but even the marriages for love can fail.
Sometimes the marriages of convenience in the Seven Kingdoms come out well and those that are for love don't. Sometimes a couple loves one another, and then at some point they don't. There are marriages that also develop out of nothing more than lust (laughs). There's no guarantee that things will go well and the consequence of this is that disappointments develop and you end up estranged, each person going their own way. There's some bitterness from Mellario about this, because as Prince of Dorne, Doran has been able to stay with his children and she has had to leave them.
There's a story in the books about a horn that can raise krakens from the deep. Will we ever see a kraken?
(Martin looks surprised by the question.) Possibly.
Regarding the dead direwolf and her pups: was this a sign from the gods, or from the three eyed crow? Some also see some symbolism in the way the direwolf died, with a stag's antler in her throat presaging a Stark-Baratheon conflict.
Man, that's something that's for the readers to figure out. If it's a symbol that I've carefully worked in there in a subtle way, it's because I'm trying to be suggestive, to make people think. If you see it and start wondering about it, that's on purpose. But I'm not going to start singing out, "It's a symbol! It's a symbol!" Each reader has to read it and decide for themselves what the symbols are and what they mean. That's part of what you do in a complex work of art, one that's deliberately structured and is relatively ambiguous, so that each reader can drawn their own conclusions.
There seem to be Lannisters and Freys under every rock, while the Starks are very scarce. Does Ned not have any distant relatives who could reclaim Winterfell?
The Starks do have distant relations, but the problem is how to define what you mean by "relations". You have some like the Karstarks, who are their own family and is basically a house founded by a son of House Stark, but this was more than a thousand years ago. And the Starks have certainly married other families. For example, it's mencioned in the books that when Robb believes Bran and Rickon are dead, he has a conversation with his mother Catelyn soon after he's married Jeyne. He neds an heir and it's too soon for him to have a child yet. And so he tells her he needs an heir, and Catelyn replies that there are near relations. There's a relation in the Vale, from an aunt (in the sense of a female relation in general, not necessarily of the previous generation) of yours. That's your closest relative. To that, Robb says that there's someone much nearer to him in terms of blood, and Catelyn insists these relations in the Vale are the nearest. They're both discussing a topic without being explicit about it.
So there's different relations between different characters, and the problem is that the validity of the aspirations of certain characters to rule can lead to war over questions like this. If they say they're heirs because they're related two generations back, someone else may argue they have a better connection three generations back but through someone who was nearer to the throne, and so on. Because of problems like this, about who had more right to the throne, there have been wars in the Seven KIngdoms.
It's true that in recent times, the Starks have become quite scarce. There's not many of them in the present generatons. Some may say it's because Ned's siblings died. Brandon died before he had sons, and Lyanna is also dead, and Benjen joined the Night's Watch which means he doesn't have descendants either. It might also have to do with their father, Rickard, who was an only son and I'd have to go back to my notes to see why he was the only child -- and really, I'm speaking from memory, so that may not be quite right. At home I have my notecards, my family trees where I keep this information, because unlike some other people I can't remember everything.
It's also true that there are many more Lannisters. It also has to be taken into consideration that the North has had frequent revolts and other such problems, that there have been rebel lords in the past, that they've dealt with the Kings-beyond-the-Wall, and the revolt of Skagos, and everything else that's occured in the last hundred years. All of these things are a reason for why there aren't so many Starks in the present as there were in the past.
Jaqen refers to the Red God, and elsewhere to the god of fire. Is he referring to R'hllor? When we see Arya being educated by the Faceless Men, R'hllor doesn't seem to be particularly important to them.
(George thinks for a moment) Well, remember when Jaqen names him: he had very nearly burned to death recently...
Could you give us any information concerning the moonsingers that were key to the founding of Braavos?
As you know, they were slaves who fled from Valyria and they found a place as far away from Valyria that they could get. What basically happened was that a Valyrian fleet, which was rowed by slaves, was taken over by the slaves after they mutined. And they decided to get as far away to the north as they could, sailing through the narrow sea to find a refuge. The founded Braavos and kept the city secret for about a hundred years. For those first hundred years, practically no one knew of the city's existence. Because the city is founded by slaves, it's not a homogenous population, there were slaves from all sorts of different places with different ethnicities, different homelands, different customs, different religions. So they create a new religion, one with one god that can be applied to all the other fatihs and is tolerant of all the other faiths. Braavos has people of all kinds, all ethnicities and colors, so there's no standard appearance for a Braavosi because it's a conglomerate of differnet people. In the case of the Lyseni, they do have distinct ethnic features because it was a Valyrian colony: it was only and entirely Valyrian, so the Lyseni have common features with the Valyrians. It's another religion, the moonsingers, and they basically continue to follow this religion that I discussed, that's very tolerant and open. They were very important in the founding and early history of Braavos, but they still exist to this day. Beyond that, I don't expect they'll have much importance to the present story.... and where's Elio when I need him?
During Robert's rebellion, what brought a simple smuggler like Davos to take sides in the war by helping Stannis and the starving garrison at Storm's End?
(George laughs) Because he had onions! And so he thought to himself: "Where can I sell these at the best price? If I take them to King's Landing they'll pay me the price of onions, but i I take them to people duing of hunger they'd certainly pay me better."
Were Varys and Illyrio aware of the betrothal contract that Prince Doran and Ser Willem Darry had made? And why didn't Darry or someone tell Viserys about this agreement before his death?
To the first question: no. As to the second, Viserys was an immature child when it was decided, and he wasn't ready for the information.
Arthur Dayne has been presented as the quintessential chivalrous knight. How could he support the atrocities of Aerys, that even Jaime was horrified by?
Well... keep reading.
Could you tell us some of the family words for those families we haven't seen yet, for example the words of House Frey?
I'd have to see whether I've created those words, I can't remember off-hand. I've a mountain of notecards at my home where I put down all this information. You have to realize I've made up more than 400 houses, and I haven't created words for all o them yet. I make them when I need them. Where's Elio when I need him?
Could you tell us something of what happened in the relationship between the first Daenerys, Daemon Blackfyre, and the prince of Dorne?
Despite Daemon and Daenerys being in love, her brother the king, Daeron the Good, was more concerned with matters of state than matters of love. There had been many years of fighting with Dorne, and failure to bring them into the Seven Kingdoms while not being able to keep them from harassing the Seven Kingdoms. So he realized that where violence failed, perhaps marriage could bring an end to hostilites and so he uses his sister to make an alliance with the prince of Dorne. It's a political marriage, pure and simple, a convenient marriage to guarantee a union between Dorne and the Seven Kingdoms. And also, he prefers to give his sister to the prince of Dorne over a bastard bother with whom he'd already had a few clashes and whom too many people were looking one as a legitimate claimant to the throne or rightful king. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, and helps lead to Daemon becoming the first Blackfyre Pretender.
In A Dance with Dragons, we learn more about Brandon Stark and his interest in women, similar to Robert's. Did Brandon have any bastards as well?
It'd be an exaggeration to say that Brandon died before he could have children. It's established in the books that he was no virgin. He could very well have left behind some little Snows in the various places he visited. But what's absolutely clear is that he had no legitimate children.
The Targaryens saved themselves from the Doom of Valyria by going to Dragonstone with their dragons. But there are other Valyrian descendants in other places that don't seem to have dragons. Were the Targaryens the only ones?
Yes. It's safe to say that the Targaryens were the only nobles with dragons who escaped the destruction of Valyria,.
Now that we know how the "Meereenese knot" played out, what was the problem with this? For example, was it the order in which Dany met various characters, or who, when, and how someone would try to take the dragons?
Now I can explain things. It was a confluence of many, many factors: lets start with the offer from Xaro to give Dany ships, the refusal of which then leads to Qarth's declaration of war. Then there's the marriage of Daenerys to pacify the city. Then there's the arrival of the Yunkish army at the gates of Meereen, there's the order of arrival of various people going her way (Tyrion, Quentyn, Victarion, Aegon, Marwyn, etc.), and then there's Daario, this dangerous sellsword and the question of whether Dany really wants him or not, there's hte plague, there's Drogon's return to Meereen...
All of these things were balls I had thrown up into the air, and they're all linked and chronologically entwined. The return of Drogon to the city was something I explored as happening at different times. For example, I wrote three different versions of Quentyn's arrival at Meereen: one where he arrived long before Dany's marriage, one where he arrived much later, and one where he arrived just the day before the marriage (which is how it ended up being in the novel). And I had to write all three versions to be able to compare and see how these different arrival points affected the stories of the other characters. Including the story of a character who actually hasn't arrived yet.
Why did Melisandre seek out Stannis? Did she see him in her flames and decided to seek him out on her own, or is she on a mission on behalf of the red priests? It doesn't seem at any point as if the latter is the case, when you compare to Moqorro who has been sent out by the priesthood.
You're right. Melisandre has gone to Stannis entirely on her own, and has her own agenda.
Dragonstone is basically a volcanic island and because of this, the deeper you go into its caverns, the hotter it is... but could there be something of ancient Valyrian magic in its depths that accounts for this heat?
If you look at how the citadel of Dragonstone was built and how in some of its structures the stone was shaped in some fashion with magic... yes, it's safe to say that there's something of Valyrian magic still present.
We see marriages that are almost always between families seeking to ally themselves to one another. Given this context, it always seemed strange that the marriage of Tywin Lannister was to a first cousin, and even stranger when you consider how pragmatic and ambitious Tywin was. Or was it truly a love match?
Noble houses usually make marriages of convenience to build alliances. As a matter of fact, it's a common practice not only among the noble class, but also among the middle class and even among peasants: If somebody has a piece of land, he marries his daughter with somebody who has an even bigger piece of land, in the hope that all that land will belong to his grandchildren some day.
It could be love, but there is another clear motive, which is to reinforce the family's bloodline. The Targayren are the extreme example of that policy: they only marry within the family to keep the purity of the blood, and that way you avoid the problem of having several candidates for the throne or the rule of the family. If you have a generation of five brothers and each of them has several children (sons?), after two or three generations you could find yourself with thirty potential heirs: there could be thirty people named Lannister or Frey, and that produces confict, because all of them are going to get involved in hereditary fights for the throne. That's what originated the War of the Roses; An excess of candidates for the throne, all of them descendants of Edward III. Laking a heir (like Henry VIII) is just as bad as having too many of them. If you have five sons and you want to avoid that kind of problem, maybe it's not such a bad idea to marry the firstborn girl of the oldest son with the third son (or with the firstborn of the third son?), and that way you avoid fights and the bloodline remains united, so maybe that was the purpose of Tywin's marriage. Maybe it was Lord Tytos' idea, or maybe even Tywin's grandfather's idea, it depends on which was the exact time in which the marriage alliance was brokered, but I would have to check my notes because I can't remember.
Is there any chance we'll see Valyria?
Well.... there may be. Not a great chance, mind you. The question is, is it going to be a look at Valyria now, or Valyria in the past?