Tag Archives: A Song of Ice and Fire

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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Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Political Analysis, ASOIAF Speculation

Iron Bends: The Surprising Flexibility of Stannis Baratheon

The following essay is used with permission from the Tower of the Hand e-book “A Hymn for Spring” featuring essays by fellow Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire writer SomethingLikeALawyer, Steven Attewell from Race for the Iron Throne, Stefan Sasse from the Boiled Leather Audio Hour, Aziz and Ashaya from the History of Westeros podcast, Amin Javadi  from A Podcast of Ice and Fire,  John Jasmine, Marc Kleinhenz and Alexander Smith from Tower of the Hand.

It’s a real good book if I do say so myself!


File:HBO Stannis broods on Dragonstone.png

Artwork by HBO

A large part of the success of A Song of Ice and Fire comes through George R.R. Martin’s ability to write compelling characters with complex motives. In the books themselves, the thoughts, words, and actions of the POV characters are windows into the plot, setting, and, most of all, the personality and values of other characters in the series – and easily one of the more controversial of these characters is Stannis Baratheon. He inspires love by some, hatred by others, and fear by most of the other characters in A Song of Ice and Fire.

But if there were a point of agreement between Stannis’s supporters and detractors alike, it would be that he is inflexible. Throughout the narrative, the stern Lord of Dragonstone is spoken of as being an excellent commander but also of being brittle and inflexible.

“Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He’ll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he’s copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at, but not worth all that much at the end of the day.” – Donal Noye (ACOK, Jon I)

Noye’s sentiment is shared by others.

“The man [Stannis] is iron, hard and unyielding.” – Petyr Baelish (AGOT, Eddard XIII)

“They are quite a pair, Stannis and Renly. The iron gauntlet and the silk glove.” – Varys (AGOT, Eddard XV)

This one will never bend, she thought. – Catelyn Stark (ACOK, Catelyn III)

His eyes were sunk in deep pits, his close-cropped beard no more than a shadow across his hollow cheeks and bony jawbone. Yet there was power in his stare, an iron ferocity that told Asha this man would never, ever turn back from his course. – Asha Greyjoy (ADWD, The King’s Prize)

Even Davos Seaworth, the one character who unconditionally loves Stannis, considered his king and friend to be inflexible.

Davos held up his gloved hand. “My fingers will grow back before that man bends to sense.” (ACOK, Prologue)

Within the Song of Ice and Fire fan community, Noye’s analogy of Stannis Baratheon as iron has gained a lot of traction – even Stannis’s fair share of fan-admirers mainly hold to Noye’s perspective. Readers admire his tactical and strategic acumen and view his actions in saving the Night’s Watch from wildling invasion favorably. But many also hold to the belief that the would-be king is inflexible and stubborn to his cause’s detriment.

Even those who think that Stannis is more flexible don’t see this transformation taking place until sometime in A Storm of Swords. The running theory of this group seems to be that once Davos convinced Stannis to put the horse in front of the cart and rescue the realm from wildling invasion, the would-be king became more willing to bend to make alliances in the north.

But I think that Donal Noye, Catelyn Stark, and the fans who view Stannis as unyielding iron have an incomplete view of the man. While I think that Stannis is, indeed, hard and strong, the brittle and breaking aspect of the metaphor is lacking. I think that he is much more flexible than the characters in – and fans of – Ice and Fire give him credit for. And I hold that this flexibility goes farther back in the timeline than previously thought.

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Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Character Analysis

Blood of the Conqueror, Bonus Essay: The Turncloak

Editor’s Note: This was originally going to be one of the featured essays from the series, but I ended up scrapping the idea as the series grew from a 5-part series to a 12-part series. However, after finishing a first draft of my own manuscript for my own book, I thought I might now publish this essay as a bonus to the main series. I hope you enjoy! 



Artwork by Romik Safarian

“So I am a coin in the hands of some god, is that what you are saying, ser?”

“No,” Ser Barristan replied. “You are the trueborn heir of Westeros. To the end of my days I shall remain your faithful knight, should you find me worthy to bear a sword again. If not, I am content to serve Strong Belwas as his squire.” (ASOS, Daenerys VI)

Of all the knights of Westeros, none seem quite so true as Barristan the Bold. From figures as far apart as Stannis and Renly Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Ned Stark, Daenerys Targaryen,  Tyrion Lannister and even Varys the Spider, Selmy’s reputation as a true knight shines bright. More than that, Barristan’s renown and honor lends significant political advantage to whatever king he serves.

However, does Barristan’s reputation gel with the reality? More importantly, does Barristan’s past actions provide a pathway for how his story will play out in The Winds of Winter and beyond? In this essay, I’d like to tackle these issues in the context of what I see as Barristan’s coming Winds of Winter arc.

Though many fans believe that Barristan will die during the Battle of Fire, I think that GRRM has something much more narratively fulfilling in mind for Barristan than a death on Meereenese battlefield: namely, a massive conflict over his loyalties spurred forward by his guilt over his service to a bad king, his nostalgia for a “good” Targaryen prince and the changing character dynamics of the queen he serves and a boy binding up the wounds of bleeding Westeros.

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Filed under ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF Political Analysis

Blood of the Conqueror, Part 8: To The Spears

This essay contains minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter


House Martell

Artwork by Narwen Illustrations

“It is an easy thing for a prince to call the spears, but in the end the children pay the price. For their sake, the wise prince will wage no war without good cause, nor any war he cannot hope to win.” (ADWD, The Watcher)

From his vantage point overlooking the Water Gardens, Doran Martell looked at the children at play in the pool below. To his side lay a letter from King’s Landing informing the Prince of Dorne that his brother was dead at the hands of Gregor Clegane. All around him, overripe blood oranges ominously fell from trees, giving off a sickly-sweet odor as they split open upon impact. While Doran watched, Dorne was angry — angry at the recent death of Oberyn Martell, angry at the murders of Elia Martell and her children at the end of Robert’s RebellionDoran Martell knew all this, and yet from all appearances, he did nothing. 

The reality, though, could not have been more different. Doran Martell was doing something to avenge his lost loved ones, but the prince could not seek the immediate vengeance that his family and countrymen wanted. The Prince knew that if Dorne went to war against the Iron Throne, they would lose, and if they lost, it would be the children who would suffer.

However, events had finally shaped up to the point where Doran Martell felt that he had his chance to truly strike a blow for vengeance all the while avoiding deaths like those of his sister and her children so many years before.

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Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF Political Analysis

The Ultimate Winds of Winter Resource (Updated May 2019)


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.

Writing Progress

This question comes up a lot on /r/asoiaf as well as any other fan-sites. People want to know how far along GRRM is in writing TWOW. Here’s what we actually know:

    • GRRM cancelled appearances at San Diego Comic Con and the World Fantasy Convention to focus on writing The Winds of Winter. He will also not write an episode for Season 6 of Game of ThronesNotablog, 3/27/2015

      Having The Winds of Winter published before season 6 of Thrones airs next spring “has been important to me all along,” says the best-selling New Mexico author. “I wish it was out now. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about how quickly I can finish. But I canceled two convention appearances, I’m turning down a lot more interviews—anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done.” – Entertainment Weekly Interview, 4/4/2015

Released Chapters

Theon I (This chapter is now also available in the World of Ice and Fire app)


Artwork by Marc Fishman

Release Date: December 28, 2011

Brief Summary by A Wiki of Ice and Fire: Though reportedly isolated and secluded at the crofters’ village, Stannis is actively preparing for the looming battle against the Boltons. Stannis received the Braavosi banker Tycho Nestoris and the two signed a contract, Stannis is planning on sending the banker back to the Wall so he does not get caught up in the fighting.

Stannis is made aware of Arnolf Karstark’s planned treachery due to the message Jon Snow gave the banker. Stannis has Arnolf, his son Arthor and three grandsons arrested and plans to execute them, though whether their death will be quick beheadings or by fire depends on their willingness to confess. Stannis is preparing his position to battle the coming vanguard of Roose Bolton’s army led by Hosteen Frey. Stannis is sending Ser Justin Massey to escort “Arya Stark” (actually Jeyne Poole, though this is unknown to Stannis) back to the Wall to reunite the girl with her brother Jon Snow in gratitude for Snow warning him to amass the northern mountain clans rather than march straight into the Karstarks’ plans.

Stannis also orders Massey to go with Tycho Nestoris to Braavos, where Massey will use the money given to him by the Iron Bank of Braavos to hire sellsword companies until he has a force no less than twenty thousand strong, and then sail back to Westeros. Stannis also gives orders that if he is slain in the coming battle, Massey is still to do as instructed, with the intention of using the army to place Shireen on the Iron Throne.

Stannis also plans to have Theon Greyjoy executed, hoping to gain favor with his northern allies by exacting justice for the murders of Bran and Rickon Stark.

Cool, Additional Info About TWOW, Theon I

Arianne I (This chapter is now also available in the World of Ice and Fire app)


Artwork by Elia Fernandex

Release Date: January 8, 2012

Brief Summary by A Wiki of Ice and Fire: Arianne Martell is traveling towards Ghost Hill with her companions: Daemon Sand, her new sworn sword, Elia Sand, her bastard cousin, Jayne Ladybright, Joss Hood and Ser Garibald Shells. Ellaria Sand has left Sunspear to go back to Hellholt, her father Harmen Uller’s seat, with Loreza. Dorea Sand remains at the Water Gardens, hidden among all the children, and Obella Sand is dispatched to Sunspear as a cupbearer. Ellaria’s Sand Snakes are now scattered, so as to better to survive the carnage.

Arianne and her group travel for two days and two nights, and Arianne starts to reminisce. She thinks about how she and Daemon Sand, once so close, grew apart after Doran Martell had refused to let Daemon marry Arianne. She thinks about Spotted Sylva, Drey and Garin, and about how one of them must have betrayed her. She misses her friends, and she misses Arys Oakheart as well, more than she expected. She believes he charged into Areo Hotah’s axe because he could not live with what he had done. All of Arianne’s friends have suffered because of her plot, except for Darkstar, Ser Gerold Dayne, who fooled Arianne with his good looks. Obara Sand has been sent to hunt Darkstar down, and Arianne is convinced that her cousin is up for the task, especially since Areo is with her, but Daemon warns her that Darkstar could kill Obara just as easily, when she confides in him.

The second day of their journey, they move at a more sedate pace, and Arianne commands Daemon to tell her all he knows about Jon Connington, but all he can tell her is information Arianne has already learned from her father. What Daemon tells her does leave her thinking, and that night in her tent she reads the letter Jon sent to Prince Doran, informing him that Aegon Targaryen, Elia Martell’s son by Rhaegar Targaryen, is still alive, and asking for the help of Dorne. But Prince Doran has his doubts, Arianne knows as well. He was expecting a dragon to return to Westeros, but this is not the one he was waiting for. They have not heard anything about Daenerys Targaryen and Quentyn Martell, and Prince Doran worries. Two Dornish armies have amassed, and one word from Arianne will make them march.

On the third day of their journey, they reach Ghost Hill, where they sup with Lady Nymella Toland and her two daughters, and here Arianne learns that Griffin’s Roost, Rain House, Crow’s Nest, Mistwood and Greenstone have fallen to the Golden Company with certainty, and there are rumors about Tarth, Cape Wrath and half the Stepstones having fallen to them as well. Lady Valena Toland also tells that there are elephants in the rainwood, and Arianne takes this to mean that Quentyn has not yet returned. Lady Nymella and Valena go on to discuss the fighting on the Stepstones.

Lady Nymella´s youngest daughter, Teora Toland, has a different opinion. She has dreamed about dragons, and everywhere the dragons danced, people died.

That night, Arianne tries to seduce Ser Daemon, but he resists, so they talk instead about whether or not Aegon could truly have survived. Arianne voices Doran´s wishes, but her answers to Daemon´s questions do not truly reflect her feelings inside. She wishes that Quentyn had returned, but cannot stop thinking how silly “King Quentyn” sounds, nor how silly Quentyn riding a dragon would be.

They continue their voyage on a ship called the Peregrine, where Arianne and Daemon discuss Viserys Targaryen, the Beggar King. Arianne wonders why Daenerys allowed Viserys to be killed by her own husband, Khal Drogo.

When she tells Daemon that Daenerys is the Mad King’s daughter, wondering if she has the taint as well, Daemon answers:

“We cannot know. We can only hope.”

Cool, Additional Info about TWOW, Arianne I

  • Arianne I (along with Arianne II – See below) were originally intended for publication for ADWD.

    What’s happened is, I’ve decided to move two completed chapters, from Arianne’s POV, out of the present volume and into THE WINDS OF WINTER. This is something I’ve gone back and forth on. Arianne wasn’t originally supposed to have any viewpoint chapters in DANCE at all, but there’s this… hmmm, how vague do I want be? VERY vague, I think… there’s this event that would of necessity provoke a Dornish reaction. – Notablog, 6/27/2010

Ser Barristan I (This chapter is now also available in the World of Ice and Fire app)


Artwork by Marc Fishman

Link to Fan-Recollection of Reading (This chapter was read at Worldcon 2013. A fan-summary can be found in the link.)

Release Date: October 29, 2013

Fan Recount by /u/GeekyMathProf: This chapter was mostly a discussion of battle plans, in the battle between Meereen and Yunkai. Barristan was on Dany’s silver mare, preparing for battle. He talked about what the different groups were going to do. Barristan then gave a pep talk to the boys he had trained to be knights who were about to fight in their first fight. He talked about how everyone fears and that is normal. It was a nice pep talk, and very well-written. I’m sorry I don’t have it memorized. The chapter ended with the line “May the warrior protect us all. Sound the attack!”

Cool, Additional Info about TWOW, Barristan I

  • Barristan I (along with Barristan II – See below) was first read by GRRM at Boskone on 2/18/2013

Tyrion II (This chapter is available in the World of Ice and Fire app)


Artwork by Jamga

Link to Fan Recollection for those who don’t have the app. (But seriously, get the app!)

Release Date: March 20, 2014

Brief Summary based off A Wiki of Ice and Fire: Tyrion Lannister and the Second Sons are a few miles away from the main fighting around Meereen. The Ironborn have landed and are fighting their way towards Meereen. The dragons are being ominous. Viserion is lighting corpses on fire and eating them midair while Rhaegal ominously circles the Iron Fleet’s battle at sea with the Slavers. The Windblown turn their cloaks and attack the Yunkish. The Second Sons turn their cloaks at the end of the chapter after Jorah Mormont kills a messenger from the Yunkish High Command. Tyrion picks up a white dragon piece from the cyvasse table at the end of the chapter. It’s veined with the Yunkish messenger’s blood.

Cool, Additional Info about TWOW, Tyrion II

  • TWOW, Tyrion II was first read by GRRM at Worldcon in August 2013.
  • This chapter was released before Anne Groell ever edited any of it.

Mercy (Arya I) (This chapter is now also available in the World of Ice and Fire app)


Release Date: March 26, 2014

Brief Summary from A Wiki of Ice and Fire: A girl named Mercy, short for Mercedene, wakes up after having dreamed of wolves and blood. She is in Braavos, where the day is hidden in a chilly fog. She is going to perform in a play tonight at the Gate, where an envoy from Westeros will come and watch a performance. Izembaro, the King of the Mummers, will not tolerate her being late. After scrubbing and shaving her head, so as to better keep the wigs on her head, Mercy rushes to the Gate, where she finds Big Brusco painting the sign for tonight’s play: The Bloody Hand, written by Phario Forel. The Bloody Hand features characters such as the fat king, played by Izembaro, the boy king, and the demonic dwarf, played by Bobono. Mercy’s character is a young, sweet maiden who will be raped and murdered by the dwarf.

Izembaro reminds them all that there will be many important people in the audience tonight, so they must be magnificent. Less than an hour is left before the shows starts, and Mercy spends her time helping the other mummers with their costumes, sticking the horn back on the Stranger, finding Izembaro’s crown in the privy, finding needle and thread so the gown of the queen can be sewed back up, lacing up Bobono’s fake cock, which is to be used for the raping scene, finding Izembaro’s boar spear, helping Big Brusco into his boar costume, checking the knives used for the play, and pouring wine for Lady Stork.

By then, the pit is already very full. The Westerosi envoy has arrived as well, accompanied by the Black Pearl of Braavos. Mercy’s friend Daena tells her that the Black Pearl descends from a Targaryen King, but Mercy states that the term “Brown Pearl” would be more fitting, due to her skin colour. They speak about the sigil of the envoy, and Daena points out that the envoy’s guards have lions for their sigil. Then, Mercy sees a familiar face. She points him out to Daena, telling her she thinks he’s fair to look upon. Mercy goes in search for him, pretending towards the other mummers that she’s off to practice her lines for the play – it’s the first time she’s gotten lines in a play, and everyone expects her to be nervous to get them right.

The man Mercy is looking for is found guarding the entrance to the envoy’s seating with another lion guard. The guards are discussing the length of their stay, claiming that “if he returns without gold – from the Iron Bank – , the Queen will have his head”. Mercy approaches Rafford as the play begins. When they turn out not to understand Braavosi, Mercy speaks to them in broken Common Tongue, telling them that “Izembaro said to please the lords”. His companion is disgusted by the thought of sleeping with a girl so young, but Rafford sees no problem. Mercy takes him back to her little room a few blocks away from the Gate, warning him they have to hurry, otherwise Mercy will miss her rape in the second act. She teases him that he could be a mummer, and that she could teach him a line to say. Once in her room, Mercy slides her finger down the inside of Raff’s thigh, but when Raff insists she unlace him, Mercy tells him he’s bleeding. Rafford doesn’t understand, but he starts to bleed heavily, and calls for Mercy to get a healer. Mercy insists that the healer will only help those who come to him. When Rafford tells her that he can’t walk, and she’ll have to carry him, Mercy happily thinks to herself “See? You know your line, and so do I.”

“You think so?” Arya Stark asks Rafford the Sweetling, as she takes the blade from her sleeve. She kills him, whispering “Valar Morghulis”. Knowing that this will be the end of Mercy, Arya realizes she’ll miss Daena, Izembaro and Bobono, but that there is no time to think about that now. Mercy still has some lines to say in the play, and she must not miss her own rape

Cool, Additional Info about TWOW, Mercy

  • “Mercy” had a pretty interesting publication history.

    I mentioned that this chapter had quite a history. It’s true. The first draft was written more than a decade ago. Originally, it was intended to be the opening Arya chapter after the infamous “five year gap,” her first appearance in A DANCE WITH DRAGONS as initially conceived. Then it was supposed to be a part of A FEAST FOR CROWS, after I abandoned the five year gap and split the books. Then it was going to be the concluding Arya chapter in A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. But it seemed more like an opening chapter than a closing one, so shortly before ADWD was published my editor and I agreed to remove it from DANCE and shift it over into WINDS. – Notablog 3/27/2014

Alayne (Sansa I)

Release Date: April 2, 2015

Brief Summary:

Sansa Stark operating under the guise of Alayne plans tourneys, meets Harry the Heir, interacts with Myranda Royce, Ser Lyn Corbray, Ser Harry Hardyng. Littlefinger schemes against Bronze Yohn Royce and makes plans to manipulate the grain market.

Cool, Additional Info about this Sample Chapter: 

Arianne II

Release Date: 5/10/2016


Princess Arianne Martell travels through the rainwood to Mistwood and Griffin’s Roost. Along the way, she hears rumors of what’s going on throughout the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. When she arrives at Griffin’s Roost, she discovers that Storm’s End has fallen to Aegon and Jon Connington, and that the two are marching out against a Tyrell army descending on Storm’s End from King’s Landing.

Winds of Winter Chapters that GRRM has Read at Cons & Other Events


GRRM reading TWOW, Victarion I at tiff in 2012.

One of George RR Martin’s favorite pastimes is attending fan conventions. He’s been known to attend several conventions a year. He also speaks at several of these conventions as well. One of the cool things that George likes to do is read sample chapters for upcoming books. Prior to A Dance with Dragons, George RR Martin read 13 chapters from Dance prior to its publication.

Keeping with this tradition, GRRM has continued to read sample chapters from The Winds of Winter. Here are all the sample chapters with summaries of TWOW chapters that GRRM has read.

Victarion I


Link to George RR Martin Reading It

Link to Fan-Recounting of Reading

Release Date: 3/16/2012

Partial Transcript/Summary (Credit to /u/icedune21 for originally compiling the info here:

The Noble Lady was a tub of a ship, as fat and wallowing as the noble ladies of the green lands. Her holds were huge, and Victarion packed them with armed men. With her would sail the other, lesser prizes that the Iron Fleet had taken on its long voyage to Slaver’s Bay, a lubberly assortment of cogs, great cogs, carracks, and trading galleys salted here and there with fishing boats. It was a fleet both fat and feeble, promising much in the way of wool and wines and other trade goods and little in the way of danger. Victarion gave the command of it to Wulf One-Ear.

“The slavers may shiver when they spy your sails rising from the sea,” he told him. “but once they see you plain they will laugh at their fears. Traders and fishers, that’s all you are. Any man can see that. Let them get close as they like, but keep your men hidden belowdecks until you are ready. Then close, and board them. Free the slaves and feed the slavers to the sea, but take the ships. We will have need of every hull to carry us back home.”

“Home,” Wulf grinned. “The men’ll like the sound o’ that, Lord Captain. The ships first – then we break these Yunkishmen. Aye.”

The Iron Victory was lashed alongside the Noble Lady, the two ships bound tight with chains and grappling hooks, a ladder stretched between them. The great cog was much larger than the warship and sat higher in the water. All along the gunwales the faces of the Ironborn peered down, watching as Victarion clapped Wulf One-Ear on the shoulder and sent him clambering up the ladder. The sea was smooth and still, the sky bright with stars. Wulf ordered the ladder drawn up, the chains cast off. The warship and the cog parted ways. In the distance the rest of Victarion’s famed fleet was raising sail. A ragged cheer went up from the crew of the Iron Victory, and was answered in kind by the men of the Noble Lady.

Victarion had given Wulf his best fighters. He envied them. They would be the first to strike a blow, the first to see that look of fear in the foemen’s eyes. As he stood at the prow of the Iron Victory watching One-Ear’s merchant ships vanish one by one into the west, the faces of the first foes he’d ever slain came back to Victarion Greyjoy. He thought of his first ship, of his first woman. A restlessness was in him, a hunger for the dawn and the things this day would bring. Death or glory, I will drink my fill of both today. The Seastone Chair should’ve been his when Balon died, but his brother Euron had stolen it from him, just as he had stolen his wife many years before. He stole her and he soiled her, but he left it for me to slay her.

All that was done and gone now, though. Victarion would have his due at last. I have the horn, and soon I will have the woman. A woman lovelier than the wife he made me kill.

“Captain.” The voice belonged to Longwater Pyke. “The oarsmen await your pleasure.”

Three of them, and strong ones. “Send them to my cabin. I’ll want the priest as well.”

The oarsmen were all big. One was a boy, one a brute, one a bastard’s bastard. The Boy had been rowing for less than a year, the Brute for twenty. They had names, but Victarion did not know them. One had come from Lamentation, one from Sparrow Hawk, one from Spider Kiss. He could not be expected to know the names of every thrall who had ever pulled an oar in the Iron Fleet.

“Show them the horn,” he commanded, when the three had been ushered into his cabin.

Moqorro brought it forth, and the dusky woman lifted up a lantern to give them all a look. In the shifting lantern light the hell-horn seemed to writhe and turn in the priest’s hands like a serpent fighting to escape. Moqorro was a man of monstrous size – big-bellied, broad-shouldered, towering – but even in his grasp the horn looked huge.

“My brother found this thing on Valyria,” Victarion told the thralls. “Think how big the dragon must’ve been to bear two of these upon his head. Bigger than Vhagar or Meraxes, bigger than Balerion the Black Dread.” He took the horn from Moqorro and ran his palm along its curves. “At the Kingsmoot on Old Wyk one of Euron’s mutes blew upon this horn. Some of you will remember. It was not a sound that any man who heard it will ever forget.”

“They say he died,” the Boy said, “him who blew the horn.”

“Aye. The horn was smoking after. The mute had blisters on his lips, and the bird inked across his chest was bleeding. He died the next day. When they cut him open his lungs were black.”

“The horn is cursed,” said the Bastard’s Bastard.

“A dragon’s horn from Valyria,” said Victarion. “Aye, it’s cursed. I never said it wasn’t.” He brushed his hand across one of the red gold bands and the ancient glyph seemed to sing beneath his fingertips. For half a heartbeat he wanted nothing so much as to sound the horn himself. Euron was a fool to give me this, it is a precious thing, and powerful. With this I’ll win the Seastone Chair, and then the Iron Throne. With this I’ll win the world.

“Claggorn blew the horn thrice and died for it. He was as big as any of you, and strong as me. So strong that he could twist a man’s head right off his shoulders with only his bare hands, and yet the horn killed him.”

“It will kill us too, then,” said the Boy.

Victarion did not oft forgive a thrall for talking out of turn, but the Boy was young, no more than twenty, and soon to die besides. He let it pass.

“The mute sounded the horn three times. You three will sound it only once. Might be you’ll die, might be you won’t. All men die. The Iron Fleet is sailing into battle. Many on this very ship will be dead before the sun goes down – stabbed or slashed, gutted, drowned, burned alive – only the Gods know which of us will still be here come the morrow. Sound the horn and live and I’ll make free men of you, one or two or all three. I’ll give you wives, a bit of land, a ship to sail, thralls of your own. Men will know your names.”

“Even you, Lord Captain?” asked the Bastard’s Bastard.


“I’ll do it then.”

“And me,” said the Boy.

The Brute crossed his arms and nodded.

If it made the three feel braver to believe they had a choice, let them cling to that. Victarion cared little what they believed, they were only thralls.

“You will sail with me on Iron Victory,” he told them, “but you will not join the battle. Boy, you’re the youngest – you’ll sound the horn first. When the time comes you will blow it long and loud. They say you are strong. Blow the horn until you are too weak to stand, until the last bit of breath has been squeezed from you, until your lungs are burning. Let the freedmen hear you in Meereen, the slavers in Yunkai, the ghosts in Astapor. Let the monkeys shit themselves at the sound when it rolls across the Isle of Cedars. Then pass the horn along to the next man. Do you hear me? Do you know what to do?”

The Boy and the Bastard’s Bastard tugged their forelocks; the Brute might’ve done the same, but he was bald.

“You may touch the horn. Then go.”

They left him one by one. The three thralls, and then Moqorro. Victarion would not let him take the hell-horn.

“I will keep it here with me, until it is needed.”

“As you command. Would you have me bleed you?”

Victarion seized the dusky woman by the wrist and pulled her to him. “She will do it. Go pray to your red god. Light your fire, and tell me what you see.”

Moqorro’s dark eyes seemed to shine. “I see dragons.”

GRRM concluded his reading there, but he read the chapter at Miscon in 2012 where a fan recounted the conclusion of the chapter:

  • After he shows the horn to the three deckhands, the dusky woman bleeds his wounded hand/arm into a bowl. Then Victarion takes that blood and rubs it into the horn and murmers to it softly “My horn…dragons…”
  • Then he fingerbangs the dusky woman. No sex. He says he doesn’t like to bust a nut before battle (my phrasing).
  • The dusky woman helps him put his armor on, he gives a rousing speech to the crew and they set sail towards Meereen.

Tyrion I


Link to Fan-Recounting of Reading

Release Date: 4/6/2012

Fan Summaries:

Summary 1: Tyrion seems to be in quite a good mood, he was joking a bit with Plumm and tried to convince him to change sides to Dany. Throughout the chapter you hear “thumps” as the rotten and sick bodies that are sent from the Yunkai trebuchets land on the walls/buildings of Mereen. This sets the mood for the whole chapter. The leaders of the Second Sons, Tyrion, Penny and Jorah are waiting to attack and which side to attack for. The overall atmosphere among the commanders in the Second Sons felt very tense, they lash out at Tyrions wits and Tyrion is sort of the comedic relief for Plumm. Tyrion thinks for himself that the only way to stay alive (and be relevant to Plumm) is just to keep winning cyvasse. They discuss the pieces and draw parallells to the dragon piece and Dany’s dragons on the battlefield. My interpretation is that Tyrion simply sees Dany as a way to survive and an escape from slavery. He does not describe the first time he saw a dragon. I think Penny was crying in a corner (maybe someone could correct me on that). The chapter ends with Tyrion winning the cyvasse game 6 turns in advance and Plumm disregarding a messenger. The messenger finally tells Plumm of the massive amount of ships in the bay and Jorah points out that they aren’t Yunkish or volanteese ships, but kraken ships with targ banners.

Summary 2: Chapter opens with Tyrion and Brown Ben Plumm playing cyvasse and listening to the Yunkish trebuchets throwing corpses over the walls. They have a lively conversation, with Tyrion discussing how you can tell which trebuchet is launching based on its sound. Tyrion seems to be in much better spirits and back to his old, insufferably witty self. The meat of this chapter is that Tyrion (while slowly beating him at cyvasse) floats the idea of Brown Ben returning to Dany’s service and freeing Daario and the other hostages. Brown Ben seems very concerned with the money the Yunkish lords are wasting and doesn’t immediately reject the idea. Someone spots sails on the horizon and they think the Volanteens have arrived, but Jorah Mormont spots the Krakens on the sails and says they are also flying dragon banners.

Ser Barristan II


Artwork by Urukki Saki

Link to Fan-Recounting of Reading

Release Date: 2/18/2013

Fan Summary:

His gut feels twisted from nervousness as he rides through the gates. He knows that the feeling will go away when time slows down in the chaos of battle. Dany’s horse is easily outpacing the lads and the rest of the cavalry; Barristan is pleased because he intends to outrun the Widower and strike the first blow. The Yunkai’i are totally unprepared and Barristan closes in on the Harridan, the largest of the trebuchets. The stormcrows take up the cry, “Daario!” and “Stormcrows, fly!” Barristan thinks that he will never again doubt the valor of sellswords.

There are only thirty yards between the horse and the Yunkai’i legions by the time any defense is mounted. The air fills with arrows. A squire for the stormcrows is killed, and a bolt pierces Barristan’s shield. There are three horn blasts and the pitfighters emerge from the gate behind them.

Barristan glances back to see the pitfighters. There are about two hundred of them, but they make enough noise for two thousand. One woman stands out, wearing nothing but greaves, sandals, a chainmail skirt, and a python. Barristan is a bit shocked and, watching her breasts bouncing around, thinks that this day is sure to be her last. The pitfighters are mostly shouting “Loraq!” and “Hizdar!” but some do call out “Danaerys!” Larraq is hit in the chest with an arrow, bringing Barristan’s attention forward, but the squire keeps the banners held high and shakes it off.

Barristan has reached the Harridan, but a Ghiscari legion six thousand strong has lined up to protect the huge trebuchet. They are six ranks deep — the first rank kneels and holds their spears pointing out and up, the second rank stands and holds their spears out at waist height, and the third rank holds the spears out on their shoulders. The rest have small throwing spears and are ready to step forward when their comrades fall.

Barristan knows that a maester’s chain is only as strong as his weakest link, and identifies the companies of the Yunkish lords as the weakest of his immediate foes, certainly weaker than the slave legions. In particular, Barristan targets the Little Pigeon and his herons. The slaves chosen to be herons were freakishly tall before they were put on stilts, and wear pink scales and feathers and steel beaks. But Barristan sees that they will be blind because of the dawn rising over the city, and like to break ranks easily, so Barristan turns away from the legion guarding the trebuchet at the last minute and heads for the herons.

He cuts the head off of one of the herons and his lads join the fray. Dany’s horse knocks a heron into three others and they all fall over. In a moment, the herons are scattering and running away, led by the Little Pigeon himself. Unfortunately for the Little Pigeon, he trips over the fringes of his bird armor and gets caught by the Red Lamb. The Little Pigeon begs for mercy, saying that he will fetch a large ransom. The Red Lamb just says “I came for blood, not gold” and knocks in the Little Pigeon’s head with his mace, splattering blood all over Barristan and Dany’s silver horse.

The unsullied begin marching through the gates, and Barristan sees that the Yunkai’i have missed their chance to effectively launch a counterattack. As he watches more of the slave legions get slaughtered, mostly those who were chained together and could not retreat, he wonders where the sellsword companies like the treacherous Second Sons have gone. The unsullied finish lining up outside the gates, implacable even when one of their own number falls with a crossbow bolt to the neck.

Tumco draws Barristan’s attention to the bay, asking “Why are there so many ships?” Barristan remembers that yesterday there were twenty, but now there are thrice that many. His heart sinks when he reasons that the ships from Volantis must have arrived, but then sees that some of the ships are crashing together.

He asks Tumco, whose young eyes can see more clearly, to identify the banners. Tumco says “Squids, big squids. Like in the Basilisk Isles, where sometimes they drag whole ships down.” Barristan replies, “Where I’m from, we call them krakens.”

Realizing that the Greyjoys have arrived, his first thought is “Has Balon joined with Joffrey, or the Starks?” But he realizes that he’s heard that Balon is dead, and wonders if this has something to do with the Balon’s son, the boy who was a ward of the Starks. He sees that ironmen are coming ashore, fighting the Yunkish, and says, surprised, “They are on our side!” The sellswords did not come to meet his charge because they were already preoccupied with the ironborn!

Barristan is almost gleeful. “It’s like Baelor Breakspear and Prince Maekar, the hammer and the anvil. We have them! We have them!”

The Forsaken (Aeron I)

GoT: Driftwood Crown by JenZee

Artwork by JenZee

Link to Fan-Recount of the Reading

Release Date: May 30, 2016


  • It’s Aeron, and GRRM called us all sick motherfuckers for cheering so loud and hard for a Greyjoy chapter
  • Aeron is covered in lice and fleas
  • Another mute in the service of Euron
  • “Your place is where I want you” – Euron to Damphair
  • Euron licked Aeron’s spit after Aeron spit at him
  • Lots of talk about the various gods
  • Aeron loved Asha most of all of Balon’s children
  • Aeron thinks about Asha marrying Victarion to consolidate power
  • Falia Flowers appears & says she is to be one of Euron’s salt wives. She says she is Euron’s ‘love’ & thus safe
  • Aeron just learned that Victarion is on his way to Dany
  • Falia Flowers says her and Daenerys will be “as close as sisters”
  • Fuuuuck further confirmation Euron was a molester. Asks Aeron if he was praying to be chosen or be passed by
  • Aeron calls Euron a “demon in human skin”
  • Lots of religious figures there, including Red Priest and some warlocks from Qarth, one saying Pree repeatedly
  • Euron wearing iron crown with shark teeth on it
  • Euron doesn’t care about keeping the Shield Islands, that’s for the new lords to deal with
  • Euron forcing Aeron to drink shade-of-the-evening again
  • Damn good visions to analyze in this chapter
  • Lucas Codd sitting in a place of honor
  • “Words are wind, but blood is power” – Lucas Codd
  • Euron’s got some fancy new armor with runes and glyphs…Aeron says it’s made of Valyrian steel!
  • Euron had Falia Flowers tied to the prow with Aeron
  • Euron is in Shields, sails out to sea, DAMPHAIR is his captive at bottom of Silence. Some really messed up stuff.
  • Oh, Pyat Pree was a captive of Euron that kept saying “Pree, Pree”, he had no legs.
  • Euron sacked islands near the Arbor. Redwynes are coming west against Euron,  Leyton Hightower is sending ships against Euron down the Mander
  • Oh and uh, Euron admitted to killing 3 of his brothers, including Balon.
  • One last memory: DAMPHAIR was captured immediately after talking with Victarion about raising the isles against Euron. Minutes it seemed.
  • Euron impregnated bastard daughter of Shield Lord. She thinks she’ll be his salt wife, but ends up with her tongue cut, lashed to ship
  • Aeron tells her something like, “Take heart, girl. We’ll all be feasting in the Drowned God’s hall soon.”

Cool Additional Stuff About This Chapter

  • GRRM completed this chapter sometime before July 2010. Link
  • GRRM had originally offered the choice of reading this chapter or Arianne II at Worldcon 2011. Arianne was chosen instead. Link

Unreleased Confirmed Chapters/POVs

I’ll table the unreleased chapters & add some notes below as information is much sparser on these than the released/read chapters.

POV Where did GRRM say this? When?
Arianne III GRRM’s notablog   7/27/2010
Jon Connington GRRM’s notablog   7/27/2010
Bran Stark ADWD Manuscript at Cushing Library at Texas A&M  4/27/2011
Daenerys Targaryen GRRM’s notablog 5/12/2012
Davos Seaworth Deeper than swords lecture Texas A&M University 3/22/2013
Prologue ComicCon 2014 8/1/2014
Theon Greyjoy GRRM’s notablog 1/2/2016
Areo Hotah GRRM’s notablog  5/11/2016
Cersei Lannister Balticon 2016 5/29/2016
Aeron Greyjoy GRRM’s notablog 6/13/2016
Asha Greyjoy John Oliver’s Last Night Tonight 6/4/2014
Melisandre of Asshai Guadalajara Book Festival 12/2/2016
Arya Stark Interview with TLOIAF Illustrator Jonathan Roberts 4/22/2016

Some cool additional info on these unreleased chapters

  • **GRRM hasn’t officially confirmed that Dany would return as a character. However, in the linked notablog entry, he said:

WINDS OF WINTER. Yes, I’m working on that too. At the moment, I am writing about the Dothraki. More than that, I sayeth not, you know I don’t like to talk about this stuff.

“So Mago is not dead in the books. And, in fact, he’s going to be a recurring character in Winds of Winter. He’s a particularly nasty bloodrider to one of the other Khals that’s broken away after Drogo dies.”

If you’ll recall from Dany’s last chapter from ADWD, she encounter Khal Jhaqo whose chief bloodrider is Mago. So, I’m calling Dany confirmed

  • In 2010, GRRM stated that he had a partially-written chapter that would serve as a bridge between Arianne II and III. This is likely a Jon Connington chapter as Connington is the only POV in the Stormlands who could serve as the connecting glue for these two chapters. Additionally, GRRM stated that Arianne III was “entirely unwritten” at that point, but we’ll call it a confirmed POV chapter here as GRRM did say it would be written at some point for TWOW.
  • ***I’m calling Davos “confirmed” on account of GRRM saying the following at his “Deeper Than Swords” lecture around the 56 min mark:

    Interviewer: Can you think of instances in seeing these portrayals, the actor’s take that gave you a new perspective?

    GRRM: When Osha comes back in the books, it’s possible, I haven’t actually gotten to it yet that she will be influenced by what I’ve seen, that I will write a more interesting character.

Though he hadn’t written about Osha yet, the only real possibility of POV interacting with Osha would be Davos who is currently en-route to Skagos to retrieve Rickon Stark.

  • **** When asked if the chapter he read at Balticon was his only Damphair chapter, GRRM said “No.”
  • In his TWOW mega-post, GRRM mentioned that he was re-writing a Theon chapter.
  • At Balticon 2016, GRRM stated that he had left a Cersei chapter on his desk before coming to Balticon stating “I really shouldn’t even be here” to laughter.
  • During an appearance at the John Oliver show, GRRM skyped in and was shown working on something on his computer. Upon further examination, this turned out to be a previously-unconfirmed Asha chapter seemingly detailing out the opening moves to the Battle of Ice.
  • At the Guadalajara Book Festival, GRRM reported:

    “I don’t plan to set any scenes in Asshai – at least not in the present book, but you may find out a little bit about it in future books. We do have one character who’s been there, of course, and that’s Melisandre. So, in the chapters from her thought, you may occasionally have her think back to her time in Asshai.

  • Jonathan Roberts, author of The Lands of Ice and Fire indicated in 2016 that he received a batch of unpublished Arya Stark TWOW chapters to help in his crafting of his map of Braavos before the publication of The Lands of Ice and Fire in 2012.

At present, the following POV characters have not been explicitly confirmed to return in TWOW. However, it’s likely that most-if-not-all of them will return as POV characters:

  • Jaime Lannister
  • Brienne of Tarth
  • Samwell Tarly
  • Jon Snow

Plot Points from TWOW that GRRM has confirmed

  • George RR Martin will open TWOW with two huge battles – the Battle of Winterfell and the Battle of Meereen.

    “I’m going to open with the two big battles that I was building up to, the battle in the ice and the battle at Meereen—the battle of Slaver’s Bay. And then take it from there.” – Smart Travel Interview 3/6/2012

  • In an interview with a French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, GRRM said that The Winds of Winter would start with 13 POV perspectives but that number would decrease by the end.

    What about the sixth book

    GRRM: I am juggling. In the first book we have seven POV characters. In the sixth, there are 13 I think. But near the end, I have less POVs. – English Translation from Le Nouvel Observateur, 08/08/2014

  • All of the POVs will be returning: “All the characters [are in the book],” he promised. “I’m going to start pulling the threads back together in this one, I hope.” – MTV interview, 10/2/2012
  • The  number of POVs will be declining throughout TWOW. GRRM does not intend to add any more POVs. In fact, the number of POVs is about to decline. “Take your bets,” GRRM warned. Worldcon, 9/3/2012
  • GRRM further crystalized this point by talking about dovetailing POVs in TWOW:

    “The way my books are structured, everyone was together, then they all went their separate ways and the story deltas out like that, and now it’s getting to the point where the story is beginning to delta back in, and the viewpoint characters are occasionally meeting up with each other now and being in the same point at the same time, which gives me a lot more flexibility for killing people.” – Rolling Stone, 8/21/2014

  • In the embedded video, GRRM stated: “There will be plenty of deaths. Plenty of deaths! Including some viewpoint characters.”
  • The books that Jorah Mormont gave to Dany in AGOT will be important to Tyrion’s storyline in TWOW.

    Martin is good at keeping secrets, but he does offer up one tidbit—a reminder that the royal Daenerys Targaryen was given the histories of her world as a wedding gift but neglected to read them. “But you know who does know a lot of that?” he says coyly. “Tyrion.” – Vulture Magazine, 801 Minutes with George RR Martin. 11/4/2014 (Link courtesy of Yolkboy)

  • Some very interesting things are going to be going on in the Vale. – Elio & Linda interview with Illustrating Westeros
  • A lot of stuff will happen at the Wall – Entertainment Weekly Interview, 6/26/2014 
  • There will be more betrayals & marriages – Entertainment Weekly Interview, 6/26/2014
  • Daenerys will embrace her “fire & blood” Targaryen mantra – Entertainment Weekly Interview, 6/26/2014
  • Tyrion and Dany will intersect:

    “Tyrion and Dany will intersect, in a way, but for much of the book they’re still apart. They both have quite large roles to play here… they’re both coming home.” – Entertainment Weekly Interview, 6/26/2014

  • George RR Martin refused to confirm that Jon Snow was dead.
  • GRRM hinted that the giant wolfpack in Westeros (Nymeria’s) is a checkov’s gun, waiting to go off. – Mashable Interview w/ GRRM, 11/16/2014 h/t Watching_Closely
  • We’ll find out where whores go in TWOW; we’ll be seeing Willas & Garlan Tyrell “pretty soon.” – Skype interview with Croatian fans (2/1/2015)
  • Characters dead in Game of Thrones will have an impact on the plot of ASOIAF
  • We’ll see Highgarden and Casterly Rock, but not necessarily in The Winds of Winter. 
  • We’ll likely see Bran in TWOW.
  • In an interview with a Portuguese Newspaper, GRRM revealed that he was writing about Arya in mid-2013.
  • Jon Snow’s parentage might come out in The Winds of Winter, but if it doesn’t, it will come out in A Dream of Spring
  • At ConQuest in May 2015, GRRM revealed some more tidbits for The Winds of Winter
    • Mercy’s identity is out the window. Link
    • “And by gone I mean that following that chapter Mercy can no longer have that identity obviously.” Link
    • We will see more of the Mad Mouse in TWOW. Link
    • Really cool: GRRM will hope to resolve issues with Robb’s Will & Jon’s legitimacy. Link
  • GRRM apparently told David Benioff and Dan Weiss that Shireen will burn in TWOW
  • Stannis is alive in the books. Link
  • A number of characters dead in the show will survive in the books. Link
  • GRRM figured out a way to kill a character in TWOW while at Hamburg, Germany, Summer 2015

    “There’s this character, which I always knew that they will die, from the moment of their introduction to them was doomed to die. But I did not know how they would die. Since last night, I know it. Maybe it was Hamburg, no idea.” Link

  • In his mega-post, GRRM talked about the characters that had died in the show but were alive in his books. Link

    Just consider. Mago, Irri, Rakharo, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyat Pree, Pyp, Grenn, Ser Barristan Selmy, Queen Selyse, Princess Shireen, Princess Myrcella, Mance Rayder, and King Stannis are all dead in the show, alive in the books. Some of them will die in the books as well, yes… but not all of them, and some may die at different times in different ways. Balon Greyjoy, on the flip side, is dead in the books, alive on the show. His brothers Euron Crow’s Eye and Victarion have not yet been introduced (will they appear? I ain’t saying). Meanwhile Jhiqui, Aggo, Jhogo, Jeyne Poole, Dalla (and her child) and her sister Val, Princess Arianne Martell, Prince Quentyn Martell, Willas Tyrell, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Lord Wyman Manderly, the Shavepate, the Green Grace, Brown Ben Plumm, the Tattered Prince, Pretty Meris, Bloodbeard, Griff and Young Griff, and many more have never been part of the show, yet remain characters in the books. Several are viewpoint characters, and even those who are not may have significant roles in the story to come in THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING.

  • ASOIAF and GoT will have similar endings for some character, but not for all. – GRRM Comment Last Year (Winds of Winter), 1/3/2016
  • GRRM was planning a major twist in TWOW in early 2015. He confirmed in early 2016 that he decided to go ahead with the twist stating that it will involve a character “dead in the show, alive in the books.”
  • David Benioff and Dan Weiss stated that GRRM told them that Hodor’s name was a future plot-point and derived from “hold the door” in the below making-of video below
  • Dorne will feature a lot in The Winds of Winter (Link courtesy of /u/SenatorSkeltor. Thanks!)

    You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER? Quite a lot, actually.

  • At Balticon, GRRM mentioned that Arya would get her first period soon and that he would visit Arya/Gendry again.

    My friend asked him about Gendry and Arya meeting back up and when will Arya get her moonblood to which GRRM answered “soon”… and GRRM had an interesting response to Arya and Gendry meeting back up. I will let her tell you the answer. But I do know he said of Arya and Gendry that, “I’ll visit them again.” – So Spake Martin, 5/29/2016

  • In December 2016, when asked about “The Forsaken”, GRRM reported that there were a lot of dark chapters in TWOW:

    “Yeah, that is a dark chapter. But there are a lot of dark chapters right now in the book that I’m writing. It is called The Winds of Winter, and I’ve been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming. Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fills the world, so this is not gonna be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters [are] in very dark places…In any story, the classic structure is, ‘Things get worse before they get better,’ so things are getting worse for a lot of people.”

  • We will learn more about the Order of the Green Hand in future books. – GRRM, notablog comment, “Five in a Row”, 11/24/2016
  • GRRM has no comment about whether Daenerys or Tyrion will retire as POV characters once they meet. – GRRM, notablog comment, 2/8/2017
  • Characters dead in the show but alive in the books have parts to play in The Winds of Winter:

    Not at all. If they are alive in the books, they are alive in the books, and may well turn up again. Irri (and Jhiqui) is still serving as Dany’s handmaid, Rakharo remains one of her bloodriders, Mago will definitely show up again. You will learn the fate of Pyat Pree in WINDS. The Thirteen are still one of the factions contending for power in Qarth. You may see more of Alayaya and Chataya as well, and you will definitely hear more of Jeyne Westerling.

  • Rickon will appear in TWOW. – Con Report, 8/20/2017
  • “After Catelyn Stark’s resurrection, she became Lady Stoneheart who became a vengeful and merciless character. In the Sixth book, I  continue to write her. Lady Stoneheart is an important character for the entirety of the series.” – GRRM Interview, Chinese Edition of Esquire. 
  • When asked if Dany will burn the Water Gardens and the children in TWOW, GRRM responded, “Uh … no.” – GRRM, notablog comment, “FIRE AND BLOOD is on the Way”, 4/30/2018
  • Elio Garcia Jr indicated in 2017 that GRRM has a detailed family tree for House Dayne that he’s retaining for The Winds of Winter. (Link courtesy of @LiesandArbor on Twitter)

The below links came through a comment on /r/asoiaf by /u/feldman10 of Meereenese Blot Fame. So, thanks and all credit to him!

  • The Others and the True North will be appearing in TWOW

    “You’re definitely going to see more of the Others in The Winds of Winter… What lies really north in my books—we haven’t explored that yet, but we will in the last two books.” – Smarter Travel Interview with GRRM, 4/1/2012

  • Dany will return to Westeros, though whether this will occur in TWOW or in a later volume is ambiguous

    When he envisioned the series as a trilogy, he wanted the Red Wedding to take place in Book 1 and Dany’s return to Westeros in Book 2. When the series was expanded to 6 books, and shortly after he completed ASOS, he said “the next book, A Dance With Dragons, will focus on the return of Daenerys Targaryen to Westeros, and the conflicts that creates” – SSM, 4/20/2002

  • Howland Reed: “He will appear eventually.” (source)
  • Green Men and Isle of Faces: “The green men and the Isle of Faces will come to the fore in later books.” (source)
  • Casterly Rock: We will see it (source).
  • The fate of Tyrek Lannister will be revealed. – Event Horizon Chat Interview w/ GRRM, 3/18/99
  • We’ll visit Highgarden & meet up with Willas & Garlan Tyrell in TWOW (Willas source) (Garlan source)
  • Gendry, Hot Pie, Nymeria, Rickon, and Shaggydog will all be at least mentioned: (source)
  • Bronn will definitely be back. (source)

Miscellaneous Info on TWOW

  • The battles that were supposed to end ADWD (Battle of Fire, Battle of Winterfell & Battle of Storm’s End) were cut for a variety of reasons per GRRM’s editor, Anne Groell:

    Why did you believe it was a wise decision to cut the three major battles from ADWD?

    ANNE: Yes, the battles. Structurally, it would have been nice to have them. But there were two severe and real limitations. First, there are only so many pages you can actually physically bind between covers, and less than a handful of binderies out there who are actually capable of handling the larger books. When we wrapped ADWD—minus the battles—it was 1513 pages in manuscript. To include the battles… Well, we’d physically not have been able to bind it. We would have had to split it into two books, which would have felt even less satisfying. And it would probably still not be published yet, as he would STILL be writing. So we had to make a call to get the best book possible out of what actually existed at the time, which is what we did. Despite the lack of the battles, I am still really happy with it. And I know a lot of other people were, too.

  • An exclusive painting by Magali Villeneuve will be featured in the ASOIAF 2016 Calendar set to be released in July 2015.
  • GRRM asked David J. Peterson for Dothraki translations for The Winds of Winter in 2013. – Link courtesy of /u/AerysIITargaryen

    Kyle: Now that the Dothraki look like they’re about to take the forefront in the books again, do you have this sense that George is gonna take [the language creator’s book] and he’s gonna make sure that the words he has now in [TWOW] are gonna match up now with what you’ve created?

    David J. Peterson: He’s actually asked me for a series of translations for The Winds of Winter, which I gave him. But that was a while ago


I hope the work present herein has been completely comprehensive and satiates your appetite for TWOW at least for the moment. What have I missed? I want to make this as comprehensive as possible, so comment below and link me to things that GRRM or his editors or anyone in the actual know said or wrote about The Winds of Winter.

Thanks for reading. I invite you to follow me on twitter at @BryndenBFish. Additionally, PoorQuentyn and I have an ASOIAF Re-Read Podcast called NotACast where we analyze every chapter in ASOIAF one chapter a week. Come listen to us on itunespodbaysoundcloudgoogle play, everywhere you get your podcasts!


Filed under ASOIAF Resource, Uncategorized

Dances with Wolves: Analyzing the Martial Language of Sansa’s Story

Today, we are joined by a very special guest glass_table_girl for an analysis of Sansa Stark and how she has used courtesy to survive so far, and how she’s weaponizing it for the future. – BryndenBFish


in_the_gardens_of_eyrie_by_bubug-d6j8w82In the gardens of Eyrie by bubug

Every fan can recite the trademark phrases from Sansa’s storyline, such as “courtesy is a lady’s armor” or “women’s weapons.”

Despite these metaphors, Sansa’s storyline through the lens of fighting and warfare goes unexplored, and ignores motifs that contrast with other characters to highlight the themes in both Sansa’s storyline and the progression of her character.

tl;dr: Sansa’s storyline is defined in language that equates her learning to warfare. Throughout her story, she accumulates an arsenal while playing defense, pivoting to an offensive position in her first TWOW chapter with the act of “dancing,” which the books establish to be a metaphor for violence or fighting. By framing Sansa’s education in martial language, the story establishes her learning as becoming a warrior—in a different sense.

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Filed under ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF Political Analysis

Blood of the Conqueror, Part 7: Agincourt

This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter



Artwork by Donato Giancola

In little room confining mighty men,

Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.

Small time, but in that small most greatly lived

This star of England: Fortune made his sword;

By which the world’s best garden be achieved,

And of it left his son imperial lord. (Henry V, Act V)

Much as the Battle of the Trident decided Robert’s Rebellion and the Battle of Redgrass Field decided the First Blackfyre Rebellion, so too will a titanic battle in the Stormlands determine the fate of the young dragon’s crusade for the Iron Throne. The original plan had been to gain a foothold along the coast of Westeros and await Daenerys Targaryen, her army and her dragons to arrive, but to the men of the Golden Company, this was no time for caution. They had won battle after battle and likely gained a powerful ally in Mathis Rowan. Momentum was on their side, and there existed the possibility of winning the Iron Throne outright without the help of the dragon queen. But the young dragon would need to prove his mettle against a real foe. Fortunately, he would have that opportunity.

The men of the Reach had finally awoken to the threat of Aegon. Mace Tyrell and the cream of Westerosi chivalry was marching on the young dragon at Storm’s End. They had numbers, advanced armament and training on their side. Even with the numbers that Mathis Rowan would likely add to the young dragon’s cause, Aegon and the Golden Company were outnumbered. However, they had a plan to confront the chivalry of the Reach. It wasn’t an honorable plan, but it was a plan that would assure the destruction of the Tyrell army and an open road to King’s Landing. In a similar way, this battle would resemble one of Europe’s most famous battles.

In 1415 CE, Western European chivalry died an ignoble death on a muddy field in Northern France. Heavy cavalry and its associated knightly virtue had long dominated Western European warfare, but they met a brutal end against the English Army at Agincourt. There, skilled English archers with their deadly longbows and bodkin arrows decimated the ranks of ineptly-led French heavy cavalry and changed the face of warfare forever.

The Battle of Agincourt has yet to see a parallel in A Song of Ice and Fire, but I believe that the Westerosi version of this battle is coming in The Winds of Winter. Jon Connington and Aegon had won early victories, but they would need to confront the flower of chivalry on the field, and they would have to fight dirty to win.

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Filed under ASOIAF Military Analysis, ASOIAF Speculation