Farewell to the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire Blog

Hi everyone,

So, a few days ago, I made the decision to leave WordPress altogether and create a new blog on SubStack (https://bryndenbfish.substack.com). Why choose SubStack? Because it is easier to write essays, analysis and theories as well as eventually promote my forthcoming book The Cautioner’s Tale.

It was not an easy decision to leave WordPress. I’ve loved writing about A Song of Ice and Fire on here, loved all the interaction I’ve had with so many of you. And on a selfish level, I look at the statistics around this blog and know that millions of people have clicked on the blog, read it, commented and many of you have subscribed. I’m grateful for all of your eyeballs, your wonderful comments and your love of the work here.

For those of you who have been following this blog on WordPress for years now, you may have noticed a dearth of posts of late. There are several reasons for this, but the most important reason is … this platform has become untenable as a User Interface for doing longform writing. The new block features that WordPress integrated made doing writing extraordinarily difficult.

So, it’s a bittersweet ending to this blog which has been a major part of my life for a long, long time now, but it’s time to go. The sweet part is that I’m not done writing. I’ve got more to say, and I’d love if you all joined me at my new blog:


Join me there. It’s free. Don’t worry. I’m not going to charge you for reading my writing. I’m not that good of a writer

Thank you so much, and onto better things!

Love to all of you,

Jeff, better known as BryndenBFish

Thank you for reading. I invite you to come to my new blog at SubStack and also follow me on twitter. Additionally, I invite you to listen to the NotACast podcast: a podcast I co-host with esteemed human being PoorQuentyn!


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The New and Improved Ultimate Winds of Winter Resource (as of September 2020)

This post is no longer located at WordPress. It’s now on my SubStack. Come and find it there!


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Sowing the Greyjoys Into the Narrative: How GRRM Patchworked the Ironborn into ASOIAF



In 1993, George RR Martin wrote to his agent about an exciting new proposal for a trilogy of books. Before getting to the meat of his proposed plot, he talked about his writing process:

As you know, I don’t outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it. I do, however, have some strong notions as to the overall structure of the story I’m telling, and the eventual fate of many of the principle characters in the drama.

This writing process had served him well in the past as Martin was a commercially-successful author by the early 1990s. GRRM thought that they would serve him well for this new story he was working on known as A Song of Ice and Fire. And for a while, those “strong notions” and “not outlining” led GRRM into fascinating and unexpected directions in A Song of Ice and Fire. New POV characters came to the fore, new storylines emerged and the overall story evolved well-beyond the original pitch letter in exciting new directions. But there were hiccups too.

We started to see those hiccups when we analyzed the torturous process by which Dorne and the Dornish POVs entered the narrative, and we’re going to see it again today with the Ironborn.

Originally, there was no Euron, Victarion, Asha, Aeron or even Theon in the pitch letter. These characters either weren’t important to mention in the pitch letter or didn’t exist at all. Importantly, most – perhaps all – of their backstory didn’t exist either. So, how did these characters and their culture rise from nothing to fever pitch by the start of The Winds of Winter?

That’s the question we’ll answer today as we’ll chart how George RR Martin rethought some of his pitch letter ideas and then expanded his cast of POV characters to include Theon Greyjoy. And in the process of writing Theon’s POV chapters, GRRM introduced extensive worldbuilding and backstory. And all of that worldbuilding and backstory then became the springboard by which George RR Martin further expanded his cast of POV characters and angled the narrative towards the endgame of A Song of Ice and Fire.

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Water-Gardening House Martell Into ASOIAF: How GRRM Integrated Westeros’ Most Mysterious Great House Into the Main Narrative



Artwork by Sarah Morris, Fantasy Flight Games

Arianne Martell’s second Winds of Winter chapter closes with her orienting House Martell north towards Aegon and the Iron Throne. Concurrently, Quentyn Martell lays dying in the east, having gone to receive the full dragon experience and getting it. House Martell had joined the main plot of A Song of Ice and Fire.

But originally, if George RR Martin thought of House Martell at all, it was as an appendix entry, a house that helped set the parameters of the backstory. House Martell was always floating off-screen, always in the margins of the narrative. So, how did Dorne rise to such prominence in the narrative?

Today, we’re going to chart the course how House Martell unexpectedly became one of the most prominent houses in the narrative and how GRRM took backstory seeds from A Game of Thrones and the introduction of a secondary character from A Storm of Swords and bloomed these seeds into the narrative garden (in the desert) by A Feast for Crows and a jungle come The Winds of Winter.

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Economics of Westeros II

Part 2: Proposals to the Crown

By K.w. Dent

In part 1 of this essay series, I used Keynesian economics to define the major economic problems facing Westeros. The major issues characterized in part 1 were the lack of a central liquidity vendor, major debts, ineffective demand cycles, inefficient population distribution, and instability in the Riverlands. In part 2, I will make proposals to address these problems. 

 I will suggest the effects of these proposals to the Westerosi economy through the methodology of the 3 equations model, which is a modern expansion on Keynesian thinking that will more accurately reflect why and how these proposals will be beneficial to the Westerosi economy. So, what is the 3-equations model?

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Economics of Westeros

Part 1: An Analysis of Economic Problems Facing Westeros

by K.w. Dent


Image result for michael klarfeld westeros
Westeros by Michael Klarfeld

Westeros has been economically stagnant for thousands of years. Since the Age of Heroes the infrastructure, finances, and prosperity of the realm have crawled along with only incremental advances that benefit the populous. So, what disease is Westeros suffering from?

In this essay, I will define the economic problems facing Westeros and provide policy proposals that will lead to a more optimal steady state for the Westerosi economy. In Part 1 of this essay series, I will begin by using Keynesian Demand Economics to explore the more systemic issues facing the economy of the Seven Kingdoms. 

To achieve that end, in Part 2, I will build on Keynesian Economics by using the 3-equations model to provide context for economic implications on policy. Both of these models will portray why and how certain policies will move the economy of Westeros to a more optimal steady state.

But before we get to the problems facing Westeros, let’s take a brief look at the history of the methodology.


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The Monster Who Wasn’t There: The Adaptation of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones

This essay contains Winds of Winter spoilers from a George RR Martin interview and a released sample chapter towards the end. So, beware, spoiler-averse!


Image result for tyrion books vs show

“I am Hugor Hill, a little monster. Your little monster, if you like. You have my word, all that I desire is to be leal servant of your dragon queen.” (ADWD, Tyrion III)

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 5 “The Bells”  has ushered in a wave of controversy over Daenerys Targaryen burning King’s Landing after its surrender. While much of the controversy has focused on whether the necessary plot foundation and character groundwork for the event exists for Dany or even whether the act will occur in the books (I think it will occur in the books too for reasons I outlined back in 2015), there’s an under-analyzed aspect of the event in need of unpacking: namely, the character and role of Tyrion Lannister in the affair.

Tyrion Lannister is a fan-favorite character and viewed as one of the “good guys” on the show. But in the books, Tyrion is more ambiguous. A Game of Thrones has Tyrion’s darkness emerging at a few points, but it mostly stays in the background. But just prior to the publication of A Clash of Kings, author George RR Martin was interviewed by Amazon.com and stated:

Interviewer: “Do you have a favorite character?”

Martin: “I’ve got to admit I kind of like Tyrion Lannister. He’s the villain of course, but hey, there’s nothing like a good villain.” – Amazon.com Interview with GRRM, 1999

Tyrion’s Clash arc finds more darkness emerging in Tyrion, but it’s not until A Storm of Swords that this darkness comes roaring out. Thereafter, in A Dance with Dragons, we find Tyrion’s darkness festering into nihilism and self-loathing, resulting in monstrous acts and evil desires/thoughts.

But the version of Tyrion found in Game of Thrones is different, changed. The monster who emerges at the end of A Storm of Swords, who may have always been there in the books, is gone.

Tyrion in the show has most of his character flaws and evil deeds airbrushed from the narrative. While his murderous turn at the end of ASOS is retained in the show, there are two major story changes which undercut Tyrion’s plot resolution in Season 4. And when his arc progresses into Essos in Season 5, his character state, plot actions and even his underlying motivations are altered significantly from the source material as a result.

All of these changes have had consequences, undercutting the character of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.

And the fallout from the adaptation of Tyrion Lannister was felt most acutely in the destruction of King’s Landing.

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The Broken Country: Politics and Warfare in the Wake of Catastrophe, Part 2: Marriage, Lands and Allies


File:T Jedruszek BringersOfDread.jpg

Artwork by Tomasz Jedruszek

Westerosi politics has a passing resemblance to the politics of late medieval Europe. Mortaring the politics of Westeros is the concept of marriage, marriage alliance, heirs and family. And though the North considers itself separated out from the flowery politics of the South, the truth is that as George RR Martin has advanced the story of Westeros, the North has become more three dimensional, more political. And who better to help readers flesh out the complexity of northern politics than an immortal, skin-changing vampire: Roose Bolton.

As we talked about in part 1, Bolton rule of the North was designed by Tywin Lannister to be undercut down the road by Tyrion and Sansa. But Roose Bolton had an ally on his side: time. If the Leech Lord could secure the North politically, he could defend himself and his claim to the Wardenship of the North all the while working to achieve his true aim: to become King in the North.

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The History behind the George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood (And some tantalizing new clues about The Winds of Winter)

At long last, George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood, Volume One is here. And, though some fans were disappointed that it wasn’t The Winds of Winter, others rejoiced at having new material to read and talk about. New theories and ideas arose, while others saw parallels to the main series.

But how that material came to us is full of surprising turns and twists. And fans wonder whether Fire and Blood will help Martin in completing his long-awaited Wild C … The Winds of Winter. In that light, I reached out reached to Elio Garcia Jr and Linda Antonsson, George RR Martin’s co-authors of 2014’s The World of Ice and Fire, for an exclusive interview and peek behind the curtain.

And … I also learned some new things and rumors about Winds from others in the process.

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The Broken Country: Politics and Warfare in the Wake of Catastrophe, Part 1: Double-Crossing the Double-Crosser


Image result for Lannister Bolton sigil

The north is hard and cold, and has no mercy. (ASOS, Catelyn III)

The North was in ruins. The North is in ruins. The king was dead. His armies decimated. Half the country was under foreign occupation. And the Starks, the ancestral rulers of the North, were dead, fled or captives of hostile houses. The Ironborn Invasion, the savagery of the Bastard of Bolton and above all the Red Wedding had despoiled a whole region of its king, its lords, its lands, its armies and its people. Injustice reigns in the North. But despite all the horrors visited on the region, despite it being a broken country, there was hope, a hope that wrongs would be righted and that justice would return.

Hello! And welcome to a brand new monthly series analyzing northern politics and winter warfare in the wake of the Red Wedding. In this series, I’ll be covering the major, middling and minor players, their plots and their conspiracies set in the North. We’ll be taking a deep-dive into all of this, because if anything, the North is an intriguing mess. Shifting alliances, vengeance and claims to Winterfell and the North present readers of A Song of Ice and Fire with a chaotic and enticing plot that starts in A Storm of Swords and takes off in A Dance with Dragons.

To kick things off, I wanted to talk about a theory about a subtle double-crossing that starts in A Clash of Kings, bounds its way into A Storm of Swords and sees some ramifications in the northern plotline from A Dance with Dragons. Tywin Lannister conspired with Roose Bolton and Walder Frey to betray the Starks and end Stark independence, but that may not have been the only betrayal he planned. In fact, Tywin Lannister seemed to be planning another betrayal against those he conspired with.

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