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

Introduction

House-Greyjoy-Main-Shield.PNG

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

Intro

Blood_Orange_GroveSarah_Morris

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 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

Introduction

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!

Intro

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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Blood of the Conqueror, Conclusion: A Last Mad Act

Editor’s Note: I want to thank everyone for reading this series and for being loyal readers to this blog for so many years. For over 3 years now, I’ve dedicated most of my creative energy and thought to GRRM’s world, and I thank him for creating a world that I’ve gotten to play in. However, it’s time for me to refocus my energy on my own works of fiction that I’ve put on hold. As a result, this will be the last A Song of Ice and Fire essay that I’ll write before George RR Martin announces the completion of The Winds of Winter.  Once again, thank you so much for reading my essays, and please stick around the blog as our other writers: SomethingLikeaLawyer, Militant_Penguin, MattEiffel and MasterRooseman have lots of great stuff coming your way in the coming months! All the best – Jeff (BryndenBFish)

Spoiler Warning: This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter

Introduction

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Artwork by Tomasz Jedruszek

Aerys Targaryen must have thought that his gods had answered his prayers when Lord Tywin Lannister appeared before the gates of King’s Landing with an army twelve thousand strong, professing loyalty. So the mad king had ordered his last mad act. He had opened his city to the lions at the gate. (AGOT, Eddard II)

At long last, Aegon’s Crusade for the Iron Throne would come to King’s Landing at the close of The Winds of Winter. With victories at Storm’s End and against the Tyrells at Westerosi Agincourt and new friends in Dorne, the Reach and the High Sparrow, Aegon would turn towards the great city. The city, though, won’t be easy to take. Even if Aegon showed up to the city with the full strength of the Golden Company, Dorne and the Golden Company’s friends in the Reach, King’s Landing would be nigh impregnable. Behind the strong walls of King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister and her loyalists could withstand a conventional siege or storming of the walls. And though taking King’s Landing was of tantamount importance to the young dragon, his parallel goal was to continue his campaign for legitimacy by enshrining himself in good optics.

In a certain light, Aegon’s coming struggle to take King’s Landing and the Iron Throne finds a strange parallel to that of the victorious rebels of the rebellion which brought down the young dragon’s alleged father and grandfather. Robert’s Rebellion saw many battles fought across Westeros, but to achieve ultimate success, Robert had take King’s Landing and then unite a fractured realm. The former was achieved when Tywin Lannister treacherously sacked the city. The latter was accomplished by Robert’s personality and his marriage to the beautiful Cersei Lannister.

If Aegon’s invasion of Westeros is a pale imitation of Robert’s Rebellion, we’re likely to see something of a mirroring effect of victory after victory in the field for the Young Dragon in The Winds of Winter. But like Robert Baratheon, Aegon would need more than victory on the field to secure his throne. And if Aegon were to take the Iron Throne, he would need to then quickly pacify the realm with good governance and a marriage.

So, towards the end of The Winds of Winter, I expect the young dragon will turn at last to the great city, and it’s here that we’ll see the conflagration of several major point of view characters from A Song of Ice and Fire and the culmination of Aegon’s crusade for the Iron Throne.

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Guest Spot on Radio Westeros Episode 28

Hello everyone!

I recently had the good fortune to guest star on Radio Westeros for their podcast on Robert Baratheon and Robert’s Rebellion. It just dropped today, so check it out! You can find it here on their main site, or here on YouTube. And if you like their work and want to help them create new content, consider supporting them on their Patreon.

If you haven’t got enough Robert’s Rebellion, you can always check out my contributions to the Tower of the Hand e-book, Hymn for Spring, on Amazon.

I hope everyone enjoys it. I know I had a lot of fun writing and recording.

-SLAL

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Blood of the Conqueror, Part 9: Dragon or War?

This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter

Introduction

Aegon VI Sigil by Thasiloron

Artwork by Thasiloron

A dragon has returned to Westeros, but not the dragon my father was expecting. Nowhere in the words was there a mention of Daenerys Stormborn… nor of Prince Quentyn, her brother, who had been sent to seek the dragon queen. (TWOW, Arianne I)

A Dance with Dragons closes Dorne with Doran Martell believing that his Targaryen Restoration Conspiracy was nigh close to success, but when we meet Doran Martell in The Winds of Winter, we see a man beginning to realize that everything has gone wrong. Daenerys Targaryen and Quentyn Martell had not arrived from Essos. Instead, Jon Connington had purportedly returned with Aegon Targaryen and ten thousand Golden Company sellswords with no word of Quentyn.

But who was this Aegon? Was he truly the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia of Dorne? Or was a sellsword’s ploy? Was the lord who accompanied him actually Jon Connington? And even if the boy was indeed Aegon Targaryen and the man, Jon Connington, did they possess any hope of winning against the power of the Lannisters and Tyrells? These questions have dominated fan-discussion over Aegon, but they were also questions that Doran Martell was asking.

Prince Doran needed to send someone into the Stormlands to provide him a clear picture of what was happening to his north. Unfortunately for the Prince of Dorne, there were few people he could send. He could not send someone who was unfamiliar with his secret machinations to restore the Targaryens to the Iron Throne, and most of those individuals who knew of the plot were dead, missing or incapacitated. In fact, Doran Martell had only one person he could send who was alive, present, able of body and read in on his plan: Arianne Martell.

Reluctantly, Doran Martell prepared to dispatch his only daughter into a chaotic war zone to gather intelligence on this dragon. Armed with seven ravens, Arianne’s orders were to head north and dispatch a raven back to Doran telling him of all she saw. At the end of her journey lay two men who desperately needed Dorne to side with them against the Iron Throne. Arianne’s job was to determine whether these men were who said they were and whether they had a chance against the Iron Throne. Her final raven would contain only one word: “dragon” or “war”.

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The Ultimate Winds of Winter Resource (Updated May 2019)

Introduction

Welcome to the ultimate Winds of Winter resource! The intent is to create the most thorough and complete resource of everything that George RR Martin, his editors and those in the know have said or written about The Winds of Winter with updates as they become available. Further, my intent is to have something that stands in contrast to the mountain of clickbait news articles about The Winds of Winter. 

To better organize all of the information, I’ve categorized things as follows:

  • Writing Progress
  • Released Sample Chapters (and where to find them)
  • Winds of Winter chapters that GRRM has read at conventions/appearances
  • Winds of Winter chapters that are known to exist but have not been released or read at conventions
  • Unconfirmed but probable POV characters
  • Plot Points that GRRM or his editors have confirmed
  • Miscellaneous information

So, buckle in, this is going to be a lot of information!

Spoiler Warning: Everything past this point will contain spoilers for The Winds of Winter.

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Heirs in the Shadows: Righteous in Wrath

Introduction

In the first three pieces in this essay series, we have looked south, to grand seats in the heart of Westeros.  We have considered the seat of pre-Conquest kings, a holding intimately connected with the politics of King’s Landing, and an ancient castle in the heart of the Riverlands. Yet this focus should not presume that above the Neck there are no likewise ambitious young pretenders, and those who would see certain individuals rise to the great holdings of their ancestors. Dustin and Ryswell, Bolton and Manderly, Karstark and Umber, all have demonstrated political ambitions worthy of any southron court, and the Northern pretender in question today is no exception.

The seat discussed in this essay has as much ancient significance to the North as Darry does to the Riverlands, and has been at the center of as much politicking over its next heir as Rosby has been. While not so grand as Casterly Rock, the holding nevertheless remains important to the Starks of Winterfell, its lands prominent – and eagerly eyed – in the North.  Indeed, the struggle for control of this seat provided the young Prince of Winterfell with an early political education; the failure to answer the question may lead to the seat being claimed by the Prince’s favored candidate.

Welcome to the next installment in a new series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, Heirs in the Shadows. In this series, BryndenBFish and I will examine a number of individuals who may press blood claims to different Westerosi seats, and the arguments and tactics various plotters will use to install their chosen pawns in these places. Part 1 of this series focused on Tyrek Lannister, a young lion possibly held by Varys as a future puppet Lord of Casterly Rock under Aegon VI. Part 2 argued for the noted Stark loyalist Olyvar Frey as the future Lord or regent of the Crownlands seat of Rosby. Part 3 identified two different men who could serve as the once-mentioned bastard Darry cousin and possible future Lord of Darry.  Part 4 will examine a Northern seat currently without an heir, and a young man of its blood who could become the next lord of this Stark vassal House.

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