[Note: This is a German language interview, with Martin dubbed over in German. However, it does show a bit of his miniatures collection and home, so may be of interest even if you don't know the language.]
[Note: Recorded at this year's past Worldcon, the interviewer asks GRRM to comment on match-ups involving a number of his characters versus a number of Tolkien's characters. Of note are a couple of details which are of relevance to the series, such as Martin's stipulation that Jaime Lannister is one of the greatest swordsmen in the history of the Seven Kingdoms and his indicating yet again that the Ned Stark of the novels isn't really a great warrior, that his talents lie elsewhere. This fits past notes from Martin where he indicated Ned's strength lay as a commander, and his indicating Ned was a competent swordsman rather than a great one.]
My notes from GRRM's reading and Q&A from yesterday:
Before the reading he talked about all the things he has going on. There is a new Wild Card book in the works as well as an "Old Mars" anthology. The latter will contain stories about Mars with the canals and Martians and such. He also talked about the Lands of Ice and Fire book and the perils therein. He was initially told he wouldn't have to do any work on it but when the maps were blown up there was too much open space that needed to be filled. He also had to "head East" and create some terrain as well as cities. He indicated that it goes Far East but not to the Uttermost East. He imagined he would hear complaints about that.
Lastly he talked about The World of Ice and Fire that he has been working on with Elio and Linda. He's always wanted to explore the history of the world but it can't always come up in the narrative of the books, such as Littlefinger's interest of Aegon II's trade policy. This book can fix that and he has Elio and Linda who know more about Westeros as anyone. The Worldbook will be told by different maesters and will reflect their personality. Info that would be major spoilerish will be someone how blocked out. Something like a large ink stain covering up the events at Summerhall. With that, explaining that he doesn't want to read too many chapters from Winds, he had something else and we would be the first people to hear it. Or not...
The History of Aegon's Conquest
The history begins by explaining that there is controversy about the beginning of Aegon's reign. The years before are slated as BC= Before Conquest and the ones after are AC= After Conquest. However, there is a 2 year span from when Aegon landed in Westeros at the Blackwater and when he was crowned in Oldtown by the High Septon. Debate continues as to when the new calendar should begin.
In Valyria, there were two score rival houses that contested for power. House Targaryen, however, was not considered a powerful house. Daenerys the Dreamer, the daughter of the head of House Targaryen, foresaw the Doom and convinced her father to leave Valyria. Her father, Aenar, took his family to Dragonstone along with 5 dragons. In Valyria, this was seen as weakness. The Doom happened 12 years after Aenar left for Dragonstone.Maegon, his brother Aerys, and Aerys' sons, Aelyx, Baelon, and Daemion
The Targaryens ruled Dragonstone for the next 100 years, which were called the Years of Blood.. 4 of the dragons died on Dragonstone leaving only Balerion. However two eggs hatched and Vhagar and Meraxes were born. "Gaimon" the Glorious ruled after Aenar and was followed by Maegon, his brother Aerys, and Aerys's sons Aelyx, Baelon, and Daemion. In 27 BC, Aegon the Conqueror was born to Lord Aerion Targaryen, the son of Daemion, and Lady Valaena of House Velaryonand . He later married both his sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys. This was considered unusual although there was precedent for it. The histories often said that Aegon had never stepped foot on Westeros before the Landing but there is evidence that he traveled to the south and may have even visited Lannisport.
Around that time there had been wars in the Riverlands and the Reach. The two most belligerent rulers were Black Harren, ruler of the Iron isles and Argilac the Arrogant. Harren was nearing completion of his vast castle and was said to be looking for more conquests. Argilac had grown afraid of Harren and so proposed an alliance with Aegon. It is believed he wanted to create a buffer zone between him and Harren. He offered the hand of his daughter in marriage as well as dowry lands. However, many of those lands were in fact in the possession of Harren the Black. Aegon refused and instead offered the hand of his best friend and bastard brother, Orys Baratheon. Argilac took this as a grave insult and had the hands of the envoy cut off. He sent them to Aegon with a message of "These are the only hands you will receive". Aegon called his banners and took counsel with them and his sisters. When they were done ravens flew to every ruler in the 7 Kingdoms. He informed them that "There will be only one king" and that those who bent the knee would keep their lands and titles. But those that did not he would destroy.
The size of the force that departed Dragonstone is belived to have been 3,000. Others believe it could have only a few hundred. They landed at the Blackwater, a place where a hundred kings of old had lain claim to. No kings ruled from there now, only a few petty lords lived nearby who were ruled by Harren and they loved him little. Aegon sent his sisters to nearby Rosby and Stokeworth and the castles surrendered without bloodshed. Darklyn of Duskendale and Mooton of Maidenpool did fight. Orys led the army while Aegon rode Balerion high in the sky. They won an easy victory.
Aegon's eldest sister was a warrior more comfortable in ringmail than in silk. She wielded a Valyrian steel sword called Dark Sister. She was described as having a harsh beauty and was reputed to have dabbled in sorcery. His younger sister Rhaenys was all that Visenya was not. Playful and curious, interested in music and poetry. However, she loved to ride her dragon Meraxes and spent twice as much time riding than her siblings. She surrounded herself with comely young men and there were whispers that she entertained men while Aegon was with Visenya. Yet Aegon spent ten nights with Rhaenys for every one with Visenya.
Aegon himself was seen as an enigma. He was a solitary person whose only friend was Orys. He was a great warrior who wielded a sword called Blackfyre but only rode his dragon for battle or travel and never entered tourneys, He remained faithful to his sisters and left governance in their hands and only took command when necessary . While he was harsh with those who defied him, he was generous to those that bent the knee.
After the Landing, a wooden motte and bailey was built on one of the hills overlooking the Blackwater. He named Daemon Velaryon Master of Ships, Tristan Massey Master of Laws, and a Celtigar as Master of Coin (Thank you Boiled Leather for remembering that for me!). Orys Barathon he called "My shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand" and Orys became the first Hand of the King. Visenya would crown Aegon and Rhaenys hailed him as king. The lords and knights cheered him but the small folk cheered the loudest.
In the Seven Kingdoms, the kings raised their banners and made alliances. Dorne would offer an alliance to the Targaryens but only as equals. Little King Ronnel Arrys also offered an alliance. Aegon did not reply to either. All waited to see where the Targaryens would march. Daemon Veraryon would lead the fleet north and were met in battle by the Arryns. He would die in battle. (This portion was like a fog of war, so much info that it was hard to write it all down. I know I missed some). Orys Baratheon would be battered in battle. Aegon and Balerion burned Harren's sons in their longships and they would all die. Rebellions began to spring up. The Sistermen rebelled, followed by then by Riverlords. Edmyn Tully of Riverrun led his forces to Aegon and other greater houses followed: Mallisters, Brackens, Blackwoods, Freys among others. They all marched to Harrenhall and it was besieged. The walls were enormous and it was to have an unlimited supply of water and vast stores of provisions.
Aegon arrived and proposed a parley with Harren. Maesters were present and recorded the conversation.
Aegon:" Yield now and I will name you Lord of the Iron Isles. I have 8,000 men here"
Harren: "What are 8,000 men? I have walls!"
Aegon: "I have dragons."
Harren: "Stone will not burn"
Aegon: "At nightfall, your line will end"
Harren offered a vast reward to the man who slew the dragon. Aegon climbed onto Balerion and flew high into the sky. He descended with great speed and landed behind the walls. Balerion unleashed his fire. Stone may not burn but wood, thatch, and MEN did. Stone did crack, though, and the great towers soon looked like candles. Harren and his line did indeed end. Swords, blackened and bent were sent by cartloads to the Landing.
While Harren's men had rebelled, Argilac's men stayed loyal. He would vow that he would not die in his castle like a suckling pig with an apple in his mouth, but in battle. He led his army out into the field. Visenya scouted from the sky and informed Orys of Argilac's movements. As the armies drew close, a great storm came upon them. His men advised him to wait but he had the advantage of two to one and the rain was blowing into the faces of the Targaryens. Argilac advanced and began the Battle of the Last Storm. Argilac's knights charged but were slowed by the mud. They finally broke though but faced Rhaenys on Meraxes. The dragon was just as deadly on the ground as in the air. In the confusion, Argilac was thrown from his horse and found himself face to face with Orys Baratheon. Both took a wound but soon Argilac would get his wish and would die in battle. His death would signify the end of the battle.
At Storm's End, Argilac's daughter Argella would declared herself Storm Queen and defiantly barred the gates. However, her men were not so eager to die and presented her to Orys chained and naked. Orys treated her gently. He removed the chains and gave her his cloak as well as food and wine. He would take the arms and seat words of House Durrandon for his own, and married Argella.
In the Vale, Queen Sharra Arryn plotted her next move, She was said to be beautiful and sent her portrait to Aegon with talks of marriage. Her only demand was that her son Ronnel would be named Aegon's heir. Aegon did not reply. King Torrhen Stark also called his banners.
King Meryn Gardener and King Lorren Lannister assembled a huge army of 55,000 and marched towards Aegon. The three dragons gathered at Stoney Sept. The allies had 5 times as many men as Aegon did, including many more lords and knights. Meryn Gardener commanded the most men so he demanded command of the vanguard. Jon Mooton of Maidenpool, the first lord to come over, was given command of the Targaryen army. The narrative comments more than once that the field was quite dry that day. The allies charged and started to break the Targaryen lines. The dragons took to the air and began to set the field aflame on all sides, especially downwind of the allies while Mooton was upwind. Of the allies, 4,000 died in the fire while 10,000 men suffered burns. Other thousands suffered wounds. Of the Targaryens less than 100 were lost while Visenya took an arrow to the shoulder. King Meryn of Highgarden and his sons died in the battle but King Lorren Lannister escaped. He was caught the next day and so bent the knee. Aegon kept his promise and raised Lorren up and named him Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West. Aegon flew to Highgarden and the castle was surrended by Steward Harlen Tyrell. Aegon named him Lord of the Reach and Warden of the South. They began to journey to Oldtown when news came from the North.
Torrhen Stark had raised a large army (30,000) and had crossed the Neck. Aegon marched with an army half again that size. The Starks waited at Moat Cailin and took counsel. Torrhen's bastard brother, Brandon Snow, offered to sneak into the Targaryen camp and kill the three dragons. Instead, Torrhen sent three maesters to meet Aegon across the Trident. Torrhen would bend the knee and would be forever nown as "The King Who Knelt".
The siblings would split up with Visenya flying to the Vale. She would land in the Eyrie's inner courtyard. Queen Sharra would come out to find her son Ronnel with Visenya and he wouild ask her, "Mother, can I go fly with the lady?" Sharra would yield and Ronnel would get to fly with the lady twice.
Rhaneys would journey to Dorne but would find keep after keep empty except for women and children. When asked where the men went, the Dornish would just reply "away". She would finally journey to Sunspear and would only find the Princess of Dorne, Mirram Martell. She was 80, fat, blind, and almost bald. Argilac the Arrogant would call her the "Yellow Toad of Dorne". Mirram would tell Rhaenys that she would not fight nor kneel. She told her to leave and return at her peril. Rhaenys warned that if she left, she would return with fire and blood. Mirram answered with words of House Martell.
Aegon had gone to the greatest city in Westeros, Oldtown. There the High Septon resided. He prayed for seven days and was answered by the Crone. He was warned that if they fought, Oldtown would fall. The ruler of Oldtown, Banfred Hightower, was a cautious man. He listened to the high Septon and soon Oldtown yielded. In the Starry Sept, Aegon was anointed in oil and proclaimed Aegon, First of His Name, King of the First Men, the Andals, and the Rhoynar. Because the maesters were there at the coronation, this date is considered the correct date. Many thought that Aegon would choose Odltown as his capitol or perhaps Dragonstone. He surprised them by choosing his small fort as his new capitol, King's Landing. And from there he would rule from an uncomfortable seat called the Iron Throne.
GRRM stated that there will be different narratives in the Worldbook. He mentioned a dwarf jester of Viserys I named Mushroom who was around for some mayhem. There will also be a septon who will angrily refute many of Mushroom's wild claims. "Poison!? He didn't die of poison, he died in his sleep!"
In the Q&A he said he's not sure if he will expand the history of ASoIaF once the books are complete. He's not sure what he will want to do by then.
He said that LOVES to write about Arya's adventures in Braavos. He said he could write whole novels about. That received a huge applause until he joked that maybe he could put off Winds to do so.
He WILL collect the stories of Dunk and Egg into one book. I then asked if the story of Maekar's death (Egg's father) against an outlaw lord would be found in the Worldbook. He replied no, that will eventually make it into the Dunk and Egg stories. In the Worldbook the story of Maekar's death would be a SPOILER!!!
He doesn't think there is enough material to make a book with all the songs from the novels.
And no, LF will not ever be a POV.
[Note: Maureen Ryan has a good summary and index here.]