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 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.
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.
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 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.
[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.
Tyrion has been trained at arms, insofar as he could be in view of his handicaps. And he always goes into battle well mounted, well armored, leading men, with a personal protector close at hand (Bronn on the Green Fork, Ser Mandon on the Blackwater). Nonetheless, he is wounded in one battle and nearly killed in the other. He can hold his own in the chaos of battle, for a time at least, but that does not mean he is an especially skilled fighter... that distinction belongs to his brother.
The reasons most authors frown on fan fiction are legal. If you do not defend your copyright, legally the case can be made that you have abandoned it, and you lose all ability to protect your work.
I also think that doing fan fiction is bad training for any aspiring writer. With the world and the background all provided, the writer does not learn to create these things for himself. Fan fiction is to fiction as paint-by-numbers kits are to painting.
Of course, it is very flattering when someone likes your world so much that they want to write stories in it, and you hate to douse any fan's enthusiasm... but ultimately it's a bad idea, for both fan =and= pro.
[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."
[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.
[Summary: The post replied to asked for some pronunciation information]
Rhaegar = Ray Gar
maester = may ster
No, I'm afraid the author has little say about selecting an artist either. That is the province of the publisher's art director, and to a lesser extent the editor.
Michael Whelan would have been a brilliant choice, of course, but just about the time that A GAME OF THRONES was heading into production, he decided to take a two-year hiatus from cover assignments in order to do some original paintings for galleries.
He may be back to doing covers again now, but once a series has begun with a certain artist, publishers prefer to stick with him, in order to maintain a certain continuity of look. In the case of my series, that means all the future covers will likely be done by the present artists -- Steve Youell in the US and Jim Burns in the UK.
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.