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  1. In Sunspear, the victorious commanders of the combined fleet and army which saw victory on the Stepstones were feted at the command of the Lord Protector of Dorne. Lord Velaryon, Prince Rhodry, and more attended the feast in the Sandship… but it must be said the crowd was thin, with the hall only half-filled. Ser Quinlan Qorgyle, the Lord Protector, carried on as if the feast was was packed to the rafters, and spent much time conversion with Oakenfist. The news from the Stepstones was largely to the good: though there were some lamentable losses, Pentos had ceded its control of the Stepstones. The Unsullied that one of their magisters had used to give Pentos a fighting chance against the united forces of Westeros would be broken up in smaller units and sold elsewhere, thereby preventing their being used in future hostilities by the Free City. As to the disposition of the Stepstones themselves? Neither Westeros nor Pentos would lay claim to it, and instead the Pentoshi agreed that they would cooperate with King’s Landing and Sunspear in efforts to prevent any other Free City attempting to lay claim to it. The problem of corsairs and pirates—who have often found the Stepstones an excellent base of operations—would be considered at some later time. And away to the north, a different sort of arrival took place: a single ship, dispatched from the Stepstones to bear the wounded hero, Ser Sarmion Baratheon, to Storm’s End for his recovery, and thence on to King’s Landing so that word of the victory over Pentos could be borne to the king. Dispatched with letters from Lord Velaryon, Ser Garlan Hunter was selected to deliver them to the king. Word from Storm’s End warned the court of his arrival, and so the sight of the sail on the horizon was no surprise. Ser Garlan was greeted by an escort of gold cloaks led by Ser Jaynard Lydden and a scattering of nobles of the court, who escorted the knight on through the Red Keep and before the Iron Throne. However, neither the king nor his Hand were present; instead, Ser Conrad Arryn, the king’s steward, greeted his fellow Vale knight. Pious King Baelor was at prayer, praying for the safe recovery of the Stormbreaker and giving thanksgiving for the end of hostilities, whilst the Hand had commanded that Ser Garlan should meet with him privately once he was refreshed. In the interim, Ser Garlan reported the basic details to Ser Conrad and the knights and ladies in attendance, informing them of the victory and how it was achieved, of the heroics of Ser Sarmion, and of the losses that were suffered. Word would spread from those in the throne room through the rest of the court, and by nightfall even paupers in the streets had heard that the king’s fleet and Dorne’s army had united to win the Stepstones free of Pentoshi domination (not that that fact would do the paupers much good). Visit the Site!
  2. A curious item out of Gotlands Tidningar caught our eye, as it indicated a production company on Gotland was currently involved in collecting location photos for what we can only assume is early location scouting for season 8 of Game of Thrones. According to Olivia Munck of The Line, a production and location services company in Gotland, over 300 images have been sent to the production in several batches as different environments and places were requested; these include images of the medieval town of Visby, followed by a second batch of Visby photos with a focus on older or more “aged” environments, and then a batch of photos focused on old farmsteads on Gotland (including Kattlunds and Stavgard). Visby, which was the center of Hanseatic League for two centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved medieval town in Scandinavia. Its medieval walls stretch for over 2 miles (3 kilometers), it’s packed with ruins of churches and cathedrals (such as St. Nicolai, where Linda and I held a few talks last year). It’s a beautiful, and quite unique, place, which has for over 30 years hosted the famous Medeltidsveckan medieval festival. The rest of Gotland is also dotted with historical sites and sites of archaeological value, and features some beatuiful vistas (as one can see on The Line’s site). And of course, being in Scandinavia, it’s also known to get a good deal of snow which one supposes might be considered useful for the final season of the series. So, is the production actually going to end up filming in Sweden? Munck was also interviewed by Sveriges Radio after the initial article made the rounds in the press, and there reiterated that she felt the production certainly has some interest in filming there since she doesn’t suppose they would have asked for so many pictures over time if they were writing it off. At the same time, however, she cautioned that nothing was certain at this stage, that no contracts had been signed, and gave it no better than 50/50 odds after citing that Sweden does not have the kind of tax breaks for film productions that Iceland, Spain, Croatia, and other countries where Game of Thrones has filmed previously. According to Munck, after all these photos the next step for the production (if they continued to be interested) would probably be sending someone over to take a look around in person. Visit the Site!
  3. Ambush and Anger

    The ruse to draw out the Unsullied was a success, as the bulk of the Dornish force—strengthened by heavy horse under the command of Ser Sarmion Baratheon, the Stormbreaker—drove into Bloodstone to threaten a fortress and the Pentoshi sellswords and slave-soldiers moved into pursuit. Little did the magisters of Pentos know, however, that this was an elaborate trap. The outriders ahead of the Pentoshi column sent no word of trouble… but they were sellswords, and their company had been suborned with chests of coin by Ser Laurent Dalt, the Keeper of the Sandship. When the column passed beneath a ridge, trusting to their outriders, they were unprepared for the ambush launched by the Dornishmen from the height. Attacking all along the line of march, the Dornish spears and arrows flew while the Unsullied moved with sure discipline to defend themselves. The initial attack of foot and horse combined broke on the Unsullied line, despite being boldly led by the Sand Dog and Prince Rhodry Martell. More success was found when the rearguard of sellswords was attacked by a second wave of Dornishmen under the command of Ser Darion Fowler, who pressed the opponents hard and led to the Unsullied sending some of their strength from the center to reinforce them even as the Unsullied found that their eastern flank was unprotected by the traitorous sellswords who had pulled away from the rest of the host. In response to the betrayal, the Unsullied also extended their line and refused it to guard that flank… Which would prove necessary, as the final part of the trap was sprung when Ser Sarmion Baratheon and the heavy destriers under his command appeared around the end of the ridge and drove straight at the thin Unsullied line holding the flank. The weight of men and armor and horses fell upon the Unsullied and nearly—nearly!—failed. But the Stormbreaker would not be denied, riding fearlessly into the wall of spears and shields. His horse was killed from under him, he was flung from its saddle, but their weight—and that of the scores of horses behind them—succeeded in breaking a gap in the line through which the rest rushed through. The Stormbreaker rose in wrath, hammer swinging to overpower the eunuch soldiers who faced him, and though he took half-a-dozen wounds he fought on with the fury of his forefathers to lead his men to their goal: the Magister Mennio Quaranis, owned of the Unsullied legion. As the Dornish redoubled their efforts along the line, the Unsullied guard about the magister grew too thin. Quaranis, the boldest and most ambitious of the magisters on Bloodstone, was crushed by the warhammer of Ser Sarmion Baratheon, his face beaten to a pulp. Some had thought that with their master’s death, the Unsullied would become purposeless and would refuse to fight on, but that proved false. They formed a hedgehog of spears instead, formidable and frightening, to consolidate their defensive position with support from the sellswords who remained. Ser Laurent and Prince Rhodry, seeing this, sought at first to lead forces around to join Baratheon, but when it became clear that the Unsullied were too disciplined to break their lines a second time this no longer seemed likely. There was confusion among the Dornish in the aftermath, and those who witnessed the commanders claim Prince Rhodry was less than pleased that they did not move toward Baratheon in time, and seemed particularly angered at the famous Ser Tamlyn Toland who had fought beside him through much of the battle, as did Toland’s unfortunate kinsman Ser Garwin who suffered a mortal wound. Who knew the prince could be so desirous to aid the man who had killed his paramour in battle, captured him, and mocked him with the body of his lover? With the Unsullied dug in, the Dornish forces—at the urging of Ser Laurent Dalt—began to withdraw. Ser Garlan Hunter, who rode in the Stormbreaker’s charge, helped Ser Sarmion to a new horse as it became clear that the Stormbreaker’s wounds were serious. Hours later, the Pentoshi forces finally moved, proceeding on to where they had intended to make a camp… And two days after, the Unsullied were still there, seemingly uninterested in the comings or goings of anyone, whether Pentoshi or Westerosi. For some this proved that without a master, and without orders that would allow the other magisters to command them, the Unsullied would simply sit and wait until the end of days if needs be. With a sellsword company abandoning them and the Unsullied no longer fighting, suddenly Pentos’s position on Bloodstone (and the rest of the Stepstones) seems far less tenable. And so Oakenfist, once informed of the victory, sent to the Pentoshi to parley with the intention of demanding terms of surrender. Visit the Site!
  4. Thrones at the Emmys

    This year’s Emmy Awards have concluded and the results featured a few surprises in the acting categories, but the overall picture was as expected for Game of Thrones as it secured a total of 12 Emmys, tying last year’s record. Besides repeating for Best Dramatic Series, the show received direction and writing awards for “The Battle of the Bastards”. The shut out in the acting categories goes against prevailing opinions among entertainment pundits and journalists, but it seems that while the voting constituency (rule changes in 2015 are a big part of why Game of Thrones is now dominant in the drama category) loves Peter Dinklage, his puzzled reaction to last year’s victory moved the voters away from him and instead saw them return to an old stand by (Maggie Smith) and a long-time veteran (Ben Mendelsohn) over the remaining Game of Thrones nominees. Some notable remarks followed the Emmys when interviewers asked the showrunners about the future of the series and the possibility of sequels. According to the Hollywood Reporter: “You might want to ask George about that. It’s a great world George created and a very rich world,” said Benoiff. “I’m sure there will be other series set in Westeros, but for us this is it.” Martin quickly stepped up to the mic: “I do have thousands of pages of fake history of everything that led up to Game of Thrones, so there’s a wealth of material there and I’m still writing more. But at the moment I still have this show to finish and two books to finish, so that’s all speculation for now.” Benioff’s remark reiterates that he and Weiss are done with showrunning for the forseeable future when Game of Thrones wraps up, which is no surprise, but it seems that discussions at HBO are at the point where he seems to have no doubt that some sort of follow-on project is likely. On the other hand, as GRRM says, it all remains speculation until HBO is ready to lock something in. We suspect it’ll be a year or two before we hear of any firm plans for a spin-off series drawing from The World of Ice and Fire or A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Visit the Site!
  5. Pentos and its forces have proved most stubborn, as the Dornish army on Bloodstone finds itself in a stalemate: holding half the island but not being able to push past that, as each day brings the opportunity for reinforcements from Pentos to change the balance of power. Siege and counter-siege, raid and counter-raid, skirmish and even a battle—but at no point have the allies been able to win an advantage, and this is owed almost entirely to the legion of Unsullied that Pentos has used as a stalwart anchor for its forces. Again and again the Unsullied have proved too disciplined and too fearless to be moved by charges, by rains of arrows of spears, and so the Dornish commanders have been in a fury at their inability to turn the tide. Had they three times as much horse as they have, they say, it would be an easy matter—but mounted knights are only a small portion of the force, and they have the hard task of dealing with the mounted sellswords that Pentos has in plenty. Perhaps that was why that a peace banner went out, and now it was the Iron Throne and Dorne sending a company to parley with the Pentoshi in their chief encampment. There, an offer was made to end hostilities… provided Pentos withdrew from Bloodstone, and dropped all claim to the southwestern Stepstones. This proved fruitless, as the magister Mennio Quaranis claimed that in a fortnight turn they would have thrice their number on hand (an exaggeration, and doubly so) and would have no need to negotiate. Their counter-proposal entailed holding on to the entirety of the Stepstones, and that was soundly rejected by Oakenfist and Prince Rhodry both. But something witnessed during that failed parley—not the fact that Mennio Quaranis been the magister to purchase the Unsullied from Astapor, which was already know, but instead the fact that he and he alone could command them—finally gave the allies a possibility to shift the balance in their favor. And so they left the enemy camp, and returned to their own to deliberate. The Dornish put forward proposals to kill or capture Quaranis in the Pentoshi encampment: a maester’s poison in his food, an infiltrator’s knife in the dark, or even a traitor’s if some sellsword could be bought. Others argued that the Unsullied clearly guarded their master closely, as he had commanded them, and would be unlikely to be tricked or distracted from their charge. And so others proposed finding some way to get him from the camp, to ambush him and his companions, but that was far easier said than done when Quaranis seemed to only move with the majority of his Unsullied about him. And so instead something bolder was decided: a deliberate provocation, a large portion of the Dornish force suddenly stabbing northward, drawing a response from Pentos. And then, at the right place and time… an ambush, not with the aim of bringing them to battle or to defeat them directly, but instead with no greater aim than finding the opportunity to cut their way to Quaranis, to capture or to kill him, and so hope (hope, for in the end no one knew for certain what the Unsullied would do when their master was no longer there to lead them) that the Unsullied would be unable or unwilling to act further in the defense of Bloodstone. Even now, preparations are under way. Visit the Site!
  6. Tower of Joy Fan Film

    A fan film project that raised over $15,000 dollars to recreate the tower of joy flashback from A Game of Thrones has successfully completed filming and post-production. You can see “Tower of Joy” below: It’s pretty much a word-for-word recreation of the scene as described in the novel. And there are aerial shots, to. Pretty amazing what can be done with drones and commercially-available digital cameras! read on >>> Visit the Site!
  7. Some say you haven’t really made it in popular culture until Epic Rap Battles of History features you alongside the greatest figures of modern and present history. Well… (Of course, George would never battle Tolkien. He admires his work far too much!) Visit the Site!
  8. Over the course of three years, the novel A Game of Thrones was adapted to the graphic form by writer Daniel Abraham and artist Tommy Patterson. 24 issues in total, it hews very closely to the novel that started off the A Song of Ice and Fire series, not least because Abraham had weekly lunches with Martin during the process during which they discussed adaptation issues. In fact, in an interview, the writer revealed that he had learned of a connection between an early line of dialogue and the end of the series: “There was one scene I had to rework because there’s a particular line of dialog—and you wouldn’t know it to look at—that’s important in the last scene of ‘A Dream of Spring.’” Suffice it to say, many have tried to figure out what the line might be. And for those who haven’t had the chance to read the comic? It turns out that Comixology has you covered because of their massive bundle of an assortment of comics which includes the first four issues of A Game of Thrones, as well as issues of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and the Pathfinder comic based on the roleplaying game setting. The 18 comic bundle is just $2.99 in the US, (2.69 euros in Europe!), and as it happens it’s very likely that the dialog Abraham was speaking of is in one of those first A Game of Thrones issues. For those who have the comics, or get the bundle, feel free to comment below as to which line(s) in the comic are connected to the finale of the A Song of Ice and Fire series! Visit the Site!
  9. Here’s a pleasant surprise: the Spanish translation of our The World of Ice and Fire, El mundo de Hielo y Fuego (published by one of the very best SF/F publishers in Spain, Gigamesh), has been nominated for the Ignotus Award! The full list of the nominees can be found here; amazing to see our names on a list that includes the great John Clute. The premiere Spanish SF/F award, the Ignotus winners are announced at the annual Hispacon Spanish national convention… which, this year, also happens to be this year’s Eurocon. As it happens, Linda and I are likely to go, because we adored our visit to Barcelona last year, but knowing we’ll be in attendance as nominees is kind of remarkable. Many thanks to everyone involved in making this book happen, both in the U.S. and in Spain (especially the team of translators with the thankless task of getting such a massive tome translated, and the inestimable Corominas for his striking covers!) (Thanks to Spanish fan blog el Caballero de la Arbol Sonriente for the tip about the nominations!) Visit the Site!
  10. New Sample Chapters

    Over at his “Not a Blog”, George R.R. Martin has reminded fans that his official website, georgerrmartin.com, is alive and kicking… and if it hasn’t been as updated as it could be, well, he’s been busy. That said, there’s a significant update today as George shares two new sample chapters. The first excerpt is from the 23rd Wild Cards novel, High Stakes. The excerpt comes from Ian Tregillis, who wrote the excellent Bitter Seeds (a dark take on superheroes during WWII) and whose latest book The Mechanical has received rave reviews as the start of a new trilogy in a world where alchemy works and where automatons are nearly human. The other excerpt, of course, is a chapter from The Winds of Winter. It’s one he’s read before, so there have been scattered reports, but he’s never posted it directly to his website. Here’s how George describes its contents: “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. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.” (Coincidentally, Linda and I have returned to doing A Song of Ice and Fire videos between episodes of Game of Thrones, and we just happened to have made our first video a question of the political situation in Dorne in the novels, including information from the two relevant chapters from The Winds of Winter that George released. We’ll embed that video below. Specific discussion relevant to The Winds of Winter, and this excerpt, starts at the 32 minute mark) read on >>> Visit the Site!
  11. At Balticon, George R.R. Martin finished his highly anticipated reading where he offered fans one of three chapters to read: the “Sons of the Dragon” material from The World of Ice and Fire, and two chapters from The Winds of Winter . . . but one of those George has released previously, while the other was one that he had offered to read only once before and fans had turned it down. This time, they chose otherwise. For those who are concerned about spoilers, won’t say anything more here, but you’ll find the discussion thread—with links to various reports—on the A Song of Ice and Fire forum. It even inspired some speculation from us! Visit the Site!
  12. 20 years ago today, the first book in a new fantasy epic was released. Its rather striking-looking hardcover, with a silver-foil wrapper embossed with a throne, made a decent but hardly spectacular debut. Two decades later, it is a different story altogether. When the anniversary edition of A Game of Thrones is released this autumn (October 18), it is likely to sell as well as everything else does these days that is connected to A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones. GRRM has posted about the book’s long journey on his livejournal and in the post he also gives some information about the upcoming anniversary edition. To quote: An anniversary like this requires something special, something more than just a reprint and a new novel. This new edition will be very special, I think. Same story, of course. But we’ve added an introduction by the World Famous Nebula Toastmaster John Hodgman… and a truly astonishing amount of artwork… a total of seventy-three (73) black and white interior illustrations, and eight (8) spectacular full color plates. Some of the artwork is drawn from the Ice & Fire calendars, from The World of Ice and Fire, and from the card and board games and RPGs… but forty-eight (48) of these pieces are completely new, never-before-seen artwork. Make sure to check out the rest of GRRM’s post, not the least as he includes two of the art pieces, one of them a brand new image of Bran and Hodor. Visit the Site!
  13. Over at “Not a Blog”, George R.R. Martin has some exciting news for fans of the Wild Cards series: Universal Cable Productions (the studio behind shows like Mr. Robot, The Magicians, Battlestar Galactica, and more) has acquired the rights to adapting the series to television. Development work begins immediately, with Melinda M. Snodgrass (an originator of the Wild Cards series, and GRRM’s right-hand so to speak) attached to executive produce alongside Gregory Noveck. Interestingly, GRRM notes that due to his development deal with HBO, he will not be working on the series.Of course, he cautions that as with all things, development is never certain to produce a series. Finally, Martin notes that he’s pretty sure that no matter when the series takes place, if it goes forward Croyd Crenson (“The Sleeper”, a beloved character created by the late, great Roger Zelazny) will almost certainly make an appearance. Finally, it seems that there’s some fluidity in what the potential series will draw on from the many, many novels spanning decades. Martin asks fans to share their thoughts of which characters they’d like to see on the screen in the comments section of his post. Visit the Site!
  14. Valyrian Steel, who have created a range of officially licensed replica swords and other items based on both the books and the TV show, have announced a new replica weapon—or two of them, rather—based on the A Song of Ice and Fire books. Daario’s Ladies are a recreation of the notorious arakh & stiletto set worn by the equally notorious Daario Naharis. Designed with input from George R.R. Martin—meaning that we now know what an arakh is supposed to look like—the swords come with a certificate of authenticity personally autographed by GRRM. The set will be produced as a limited edition of 5000 pieces where each item will be engraved with the edition number. Blades: Stainless Steel Lady Parts: 24k gold plating, matte finish, antique wash. Hilt: Cast metal, antique brass plating Plaque: Silkscreened fiber board. Includes mounting hardware. Arakh Blade Length: 33 1/8 inches. Stiletto Blade Length: 12 1/4 inches. Preorders for Daario’s Ladies open on the 27th of August and the estimated shipping date is late Winter or early Spring 2017. The price for the set will be $350. Visit the Site!
  15. Vanity Fair has a brand new interview with series editor Anne Groell regarding the soon-to-be-released A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition due to hit shelves next month. The interview also includes a gallery of ten images from the book—some which fans will have seen before, but also a number of new pieces by Magali Villenueve, Levi Pinfold, and Arantza Sestayo. The interview goes into some detail of how Groell and Martin have each worked with artists to develop the artwork Random House has commissioned over the years… and of course also touches on the as-yet-unknown release date of The Winds of Winter. Check out the interview, and let us know what you think of the featured artwork! Visit the Site!