The Citadel

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

So Spake Martin

January 2001

Brienne of Tarth
Submitted By: LindaElane

I very much enjoy the character of Brienne! A great portrayal of a strong woman with heart! Her athletic skill exceeds any existing female, but in fantasy writing, things can be exaggerated for the author's purposes, correct? At any rate, I thought her great physical strength was effective as part of her character.

I am fond of Brienne as well, and have a lot more in store for her. I'm glad that you've enjoyed the character.

Some people say that she suffers from giantism and other physical abnormalities, and is possibly not genetically a woman. They say she must be close to seven foot or perhaps past it. However, I often bring to mind the passage that describes her as "six foot of freckled, frowning, horse-toothed disapproval".

Am I out of line to claim that Brienne is likely six foot six or under, citing the "six foot" description?

I would go crazy if I measured all of my characters to the inch. Brienne is well over six feet tall, but not close to seven, no. Certainly not above it.

Actually, I think it is unrealistic to specify heights to an inch. Hell, even if real life I don't know =exactly= how tall anyone is except maybe a few close friends. When we meet people, we perceive them in general terms -- tall, short, of medium height, huge, fat, skinny, what have you -- and not in terms of inches and pounds. We frequently perceive them as they relate to ourselves.

Just off the top of my head, I would say Brienne is taller than Renly and Jaime and significantly heavier than either, but nowhere near the size of Gregor Clegane, who is the true giant in the series. Shorter than Hodor and the Greatjon, maybe a bit shorter than the Hound, maybe roughly the same height as Robert.

I'll admit that I am fond of her character and identify with her as a woman. Theories such as "she really has XXY chromosomes" are something I would like to ask about. Could you state that she is female?

She is female.

This is the Middle Ages. They don't know about DNA. Their knowledge of genetics revolves around theories about a person's "blood."

If I start worrying about Brienne's chromosomes, the next step is trying to figure out the aerodynamic properties of dragons, and then the whole thing falls apart. Brienne is a huge, homely woman, a freak of nature by the standards of her own world and times... they can't explain her, and neither should I.

PS - - Go Giants!

Thanks for the good wishes, but... sigh...

Thanks for your note, as ever.

The Iliad’s Influence
Submitted By: Gregor

Thank you for your swift and concise reply to my Romeo and Juliet. I was wondering then, did you draw inspiration from the Illiad, particularly the Siege of Troy, when you drew up your saga of the War of the Usurper? Thank you very much for your time!

I draw inspiration from everywhere, like most writers. But THE ILIAD was not a direct influence, by any means.

Romeo and Juliet’s Influence
Submitted By: Gregor

Hello Mr Martin, sorry to take up your time, but I was looking at some of the parallels between the Ned and Ashara saga and the Romeo and Juliet play, and I was wondering if you had consciously drawn the story of Eddard Stark and Ashara Dayne directly from the Shakespeare play??

Sorry, but no.

Maelys the Monstrous and Summerhall
Submitted By: Lucas

Well, in A Storm of Swords it was mentioned by Catelyn that something momentous happened there--Barristan slew the last of the Blackfyre pretenders, Maelys the Monstrous on the Stony Steps at Summerhall. Also, when there is a mention during the discussion of raising the stone dragon, one of the Florents asked if they had "learnt nothing from Summerhall". It's a very intriguing mention, and since Dunk and Egg were there, I was wondering if we would ever see that written into a sounds very intriguing. I presume that the events must revolve around Aegon V, Ser Duncan the Tall and the last of the Blackfyre pretenders.

You're confusing two different events.

Ser Barristan slew Maelys on the Stepstones, the island chain where the War of the Ninepenny Kings was fought. It had nothing to do with Summerhall.

Littlefinger’s Promotion
Submitted By: Jeff

Littlefinger was named Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount of the Trident. The Freys got Riverrun. Are the Freys therefore bannermen to Littlefinger, or do they now have a "great house" status owing direct allegience only to the King. Ran and I have been trying to figure this one out and are stuck.

Technically speaking, the Freys are now bannermen of Petyr's yes... assuming that Tommen and Joffrey are regarded as legitimate kings, entitled to make such dispositions.

In practice, it remains to be seen how deferential the Freys will be.

Take care, and good luck writing A Dance with Dragons.

I'll need it...

Writers Review Interview

[Note: The following interview is made available through the Internet Archive. The precise date, beyond January 2001, is unknown.]