Last night, A Song Of Ice & Fire (aka: Game of Thrones) author George R. R. Martin visited the 92nd Street Y to debut his new GOT companion book, The World Of Ice & Fire. Told from the perspective of a maester attempting to chronicle the history of Westeros and its outlying nations, the book covers the early inhabitants of Martin's world to the arrival of the First Men and goes into great detail regarding the histories of the families represented in the "current day" of Martin's novels. While the book itself may be too much of a tome for casual watchers of the show, it's a fantastic companion to rabid fans of Martin's novels, who've gone to obsessive levels trying to unlock the mysteries as yet unsolved in the chronology of the story.
Though he was tight lipped about anything to do with his forthcoming novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, a hatless and bolo tie-less Martin was game to answer a few fan questions; here's some of what stuck with us.
The Targaryen's are super important. Though he didn't come right out and say it, the tone and direction of much of last night's conversation veered toward the fiery family, both in their origins in Martin's world, as well as their important dominion over dragons. Fans already know what an important and distinctive character Daenerys has and will continue to be; certain theories on Jon Snow's parentage also point to a Targaryen connection. Martin revealed that another text similar to this companion—which he referred to as a "GRRM-arillion," a nod to Tolkien's posthumously published text that details everything to do with the worlds he created—would go into more detail about the Targaryen family, including their special bond with dragons. Asked, for example, if a human sacrifice were needed to create a dragon, Martin again was coy, telling the audience to stay tuned.
Some "mistakes" are intentional. While a character's eye color changing from book to book may just be an oversight, Martin revealed that there are certain inconsistencies within his novels that are placed there intentionally. The conceit of each chapter being narrated by a different character allowed the author some flexibility; while the same events are discussed by multiple characters, they are often recounted in different ways, with details changing depending on who's doing the telling. "There are, in the books, deliberate inconsistencies, where I'm using the device of the unreliable narrator or using a point of view structure where two people remember something that happened in very different ways and may not be remembering it accurately," Martin revealed. "Because there are these other mistakes, some of my readers tend to assume that these things are also mistakes when they're not. They're me being very clever!"
He's not happy with the Iron Throne on television. An important part of Martin's new companion book are the fantastic illustrations made by some of the biggest names in fantasy art. In many cases, Martin worked in tandem with illustrators to make super accurate renderings of the people, things and places he'd imagined in his mind. Of these, his vision for the Iron Throne may be the most important. In the books, the throne dominates the room, towering above everything; having been made from a thousand blades of Aegon the Conqueror's vanquished foes, its meant to be jagged, asymmetrical and downright perilous to sit upon. Though Martin was disappointed with the now iconic version for television, he admits that bringing the "monstrous uncomfortable chair" to fruition would have been more or less impossible. In the new book, an illustration created by Marc Simonetti best realizes the author's vision.
Hodor's name may be important. A fan in the audience questioned Martin on how he came up with the name for the Stark's "simple" stableboy, whose real name is actually Walder. It seemed an innocuous question, but Martin dodged it, telling the audience to "keep reading" for more about how the gentle giant came to utter the one word that doubles as his nickname. Is his servitude to the Starks, specifically, an important clue? Did something in his past inform his current state?
George R. R. Martin has never had pizza from Staten Island. The author grew up just across the water in Bayonne, NJ and has said before that the "exotic mysteries and wonders" of the nearby island served as a type of inspiration. Granted, Martin now lives in New Mexico; but for a guy who'll describe every meal down to the last Locust, it's surprising that he hasn't yet been seduced by the call of the borough's excellent pizzas. To his credit, he had stopped in New Haven on his way to the event to sample their offerings; he also named dropped Lombardi's. George, next time can we recommend a trip to Lee's or Denino's?
Check out the full Q&A here for other insight into Martin's creation.