‘The Winds of Winter’ Update

TWoWGeorge R. R. Martin revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that he would neither be writing a script for HBO’s Game of Thrones this coming season (as he has in each previous season), nor be visiting the set.  He announced that he would honor travel obligations that had already been scheduled, but otherwise was focusing primarily on finishing the sixth book of A Song of Ice and Fire (on which Game of Thrones is based), The Winds of Winter.

This isn’t exactly news of how close he is to finishing the book, but it does indicate that he’s starting to take the idea of HBO catching up to him more seriously.  As Season 5 of Game of Thrones, premiering in 2015, will likely cover the majority of the material in A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, story material from Martin’s as yet unpublished The Winds of Winter may start appearing as early as Season 6.

The threat of the show catching up with the books may be even greater, depending on how much of the story published in the books to date HBO ends up discarding.  The Wertzone has a great summary of recent casting announcements as well as speculation on what they might mean for Season 5:

There is also some surprise at a lack of any indications that characters such as Euron and Victarion Greyjoy, Young Griff or Jon Connington will appear this season, although it is possible that further announcements will be made down the line. It is also possible that Season 5 will see the most drastic changes yet to GoT‘s story, as entire plots and subplots from the novels are discarded.

As a reader of the books who feels that Game of Thrones has improved upon the story in many ways, I have to say I’d be perfectly fine with the idea of cutting, for instance, Quentyn Martell and Jon Connington out of the story.  They were late additions that, so far, anyway, seem to add little beyond unnecessary complications to an increasingly bloated story.  The Greyjoys might still have a role to play, given their possession of a certain horn, which will likely end up being somewhat vital to the plot, however.

It will be interesting to see how things progress.

New Info on ‘The Winds of Winter’ by George R.R. Martin

In a recent interview with SmarterTravel.com, George Martin described the plot of the beginning of the sixth novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter:

ST: One of the dominant themes in the first five books, in fact probably the tagline for the whole series so far, has been that winter is coming. By the end of A Dance with Dragons, winter is no longer coming, it’s finally here. What can you tell us about the book you’re writing now, The Winds of Winter?

GRRM: Well, I’ve posted a preview on my website, so you can read one chapter there, and there will be another chapter in the paperback of A Dance with Dragons when that comes out in the summer. So, you’ll get two free chapters. After that, it’s going to be awhile.

Obviously, I’m going to continue the story. There were a lot of cliffhangers at the end of A Dance with Dragons. Those will be resolved very early. 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.

Martin also told the interviewer a little about what he knew of certain main characters’ fates before writing the novels, and some more about what to expect in the next book:

ST: After what happened to Ned in A Game of Thrones and then Robb in A Storm of Swords, I find myself reading your books with this sort of pleasant pit of dread in my stomach.

GRRM: (Laughs)

ST: And yet, if Ned hadn’t died it becomes an entirely different series. The same with Robb. How early on did you know what was going to happen to those two characters in particular? Or were their deaths something that developed as you went along?

GRRM: I knew almost right from the beginning. I know the major beats of the story and who’s going to live and who’s going to die—the ultimate end of all the major characters. There’s a lot of fine detail that I discover along the way in the writing. For some minor characters I may make it up as I’m writing. So, if a major character is going to battle with his six friends, I don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen to all six friends when I sit down to write it. But the major players and the major lives or deaths or life-changing events have all been planned from the beginning.

ST: Along those same lines, a lot of people think you killed Jon at the end of A Dance with Dragons. You do have a history of doing terrible things to the Starks, but my gut says he probably survived. Would you care to comment on that?

GRRM: (Laughs) I will not comment on that.

ST: With Jon effectively out of the picture as Lord Commander, though—even if he lives—I’m not sure I like the Wall’s chances of holding back the Others now that winter has come. Is it safe to assume that we’ll be seeing them move south of the wall in The Winds of Winter?

GRRM: Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but you’re definitely going to see more of the Others in The Winds of Winter.

New Character Shots from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2

George R. R. Martin has posted a number of great-looking still photographs of many of the characters from Season Two of HBO’s series Game of Thrones on his LiveJournal “Not a Blog” recently.  Here they are collected in one place for your viewing pleasure.  All images are copyright Helen for HBO.

Epic Hype

I just came across a post over at OF Blog of the Fallen from back in December, in which Larry commented on why a number of books would not be included in his year-end “best of” list for 2011.  Many of the books on the list were the biggest epic fantasy releases of 2011, and I was surprised to find how neatly in sync with my own feelings a few of his comments were:

Joe Abercrombie, The Heroes (it was a dull and tedious read replete of the same old tired clichés that I’ve seen executed better by other authors; happened to be my least favorite work by him)

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Fear of the Unfinished Series

I never thought I’d be one of those people who balked at starting a new fantasy series simply because the author hadn’t yet finished it, but I’ve discovered recently that I have become exactly that.  I think it clicked for me this afternoon, when I was reading an update on Scott Lynch’s acclaimed Gentlemen Bastards Sequence over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.  Lynch readers have been waiting for the third book in the series, The Republic of Thieves, since 2007.  After some delay, it is now expected to be published in June 2012, five years after the second novel.  It is perhaps unfair of me to use Mr. Lynch as an example of my hesitation, because the delay between his books is reportedly due to very real, very serious personal problems of the author to which we should all be sympathetic.  That said, while Lynch’s case is a different matter entirely, it brought to mind for me the feelings of hesitation I’ve experienced lately over beginning a new, long genre series that remains unfinished.  I’m not talking here about the unfortunate criticism of writers who tend toward lengthy delays between books, like the inappropriate rage that has been launched at George Martin.  I’m talking about the internal process of an individual reader, deciding whether or not to commit to an unfinished story, particularly one whose ending doesn’t even seem to be in sight.

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‘Ice’ Should Be Cooler Looking

OK, total geek rage issue: was anyone else disappointed by the portrayal of Ned Stark’s greatsword “Ice” in HBO’s Game of Thrones series?  Seeing this iconic image (click to enlarge) of Sean Bean as Ned from Season One again brought this back to mind for me.  It’s a thought I had the first time I saw the promo photos, but it’s obviously not a terribly important criticism, and the fact that I’m able to focus on something so minor actually demonstrates the quality of the production.  The sword in the show is a beautiful weapon, but it doesn’t look like Ice to me.  I always thought of Valyrian steel weapons as being a little more ornate, a little more alien in design.  They’re supposed to be ancient, after all, forged by imperial dragonriders centuries ago.

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Fantasy Rules of Magic Errata

io9’s impressive chart of the nature and rules of various magic systems in fantasy fiction’s most popular series (click the image to the left for a full-sized version) has been one of the most-linked fantasy topics in the last few days.  This being Geekus, I thought rather than just repost the link, I’d take the time to obnoxiously point out a few errors I saw in the Rules.

1.  In the Lord of the Rings entry, the section on hereditariness implies that the Maiar and Ainur are two separate, mutually exclusive sets of beings.  In fact, “Ainur” is an umbrella term that encompasses all of the angelic, godlike begins subservient to Illuvatar, or Eru, the One: the Valar are the higher choir, if you will, and the Maiar are the servants of the Valar.  All existed before Creation, and in fact the Valar and Maiar are merely those spirits who chose to enter the world they had created; other Ainur chose to remain outside of it.

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Two More Seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ on HBO

Winter-is-coming.net is reporting an unconfirmed rumor that HBO has purchased two more seasons of their successful adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones.  Filming on the second season, which adapts the second novel of the series, A Clash of Kings, is ongoing, with a scheduled premiere date of April 2012 in the US.  The third and fourth seasons HBO has reportedly picked up will probably comprise a two-part adaptation of the lengthy third book of the series,  A Storm of Swords,  generally thought to be the best volume of the story so far.

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A Conversation of Ice and Fire

I just now finished A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.  I know, I know: what the hell kind of a geek are you, you ask.  And you are right to do so.  Most fantasy fans worth their salt finished ADWD shortly after its release, Bill included.  But it had been a couple of years since I had read any of the previous books, particularly the lackluster A Feast for Crows, and I knew that a re-read was in order if I was to get the most out of the long-awaited sequel.  We all spent six years waiting for it, after all, so it occurred to me that I should make the most of the experience.  The book came out this August.  I spent much of the late summer and autumn rereading the series, and due to work and other pursuits I didn’t finish until just the other day.

Rather than post a review at this late stage, I thought it would be a more interesting idea to have a spoiler-filled conversation with Bill about it and post it here.  The result is a mixture of excitement and frustration, always laced with anticipation for the series’ final two books.

This conversation is spoiler heavy.  That’s right, HERE BE SPOILERS.  Read on at your own risk.  If you’re in for some sweet, juicy spoilers, meet us back here after the jump.

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Fantastical Travel Posters

There have been a slew of travel posters inspired by fictional places from science fiction and fantasy universes popping up online lately.  The first ones I remember seeing were these Middle Earth posters.

More recently, an artist named Kevin Cook created a set of posters inspired by George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which have a more modern aesthetic and are available here.

Yesterday, io9 reported the release of a trio of Dune-inspired travel posters, which may be the most stylish yet.

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