New GRRM Interview
During Robert's rebellion, what brought a simple smuggler like Davos to take sides in the war by helping Stannis and the starving garrison at Storm's End?
(George laughs) Simple: onions. He had onions to sell. He could have taken them to King's Landing, but he wouldn't have made much from them. But Stannis and his men were dying of starvation. It was clear that Stannis would be willing to pay their weight in gold, so he took the chance.
Everything else contains MASSIVE spoilers so follow the cut...
Will we learn more about Rhaegar in the next book? Why did he take almost a year to join the fight against the rebels, or why did he kidnap Lyanna?
You will learn more, but I can't promise it'll be in the next book. Keep reading.
Is there a closer relationship between the children of the forest and the Others than there might seem to be?
Possibly, possibly. It's a topic that will be developing as the story continues, and so I can't say much more right now.
At the end of A Storm of Swords we learned that Jon Arryn was poisoned by Lysa at the instigation of Littlefinger, but who ordered the death of Ser Hugh of the Vale? Cersei? Littlefinger?
It could very well have been either of the two, that's for you to decide. But, it could also just have been a Gregor thing. He's a murderous brute, and really needs no reason to kill someone.
If Doran and Mellario had discussed the reasons for why he wanted to send his children away, why did she leave?
Well... this marriage, unlike the other marriages in the saga, wasn't a political marriage, nor one to win alliances. It was a love match. Doran was a prince, and he was attractive when younger, and Mellario fell in love with him. Just like in real life, two people are attracted, and they join their lives together. But later, love can start to fade, and the things that separate you can start to drive you apart. Also, the culture Mellario came from -- Norvos -- didn't have this custom of fostering children away, and she couldn't accept it. All of these things were a part of it, and in the end nothing could keep her in Dorne any longer.
There's a story in the books about a horn that can raise krakens from the deep. Will we ever see a kraken?
Hmm... it's possible. Not a very great possibility, but it exists.
Regarding the dead direwolf and her pups: was this a sign from the gods, or from the three eyed crow? Some also see some symbolism in the way the direwolf died, with a stag's antler in her throat presaging a Stark-Baratheon conflict.
Man, I think this is something for the readers to solve. If it is a symbol that I've worked on and that I put in the book with a certain subtlety it's because I'm making suggestions. And if I put suggestions or clues, I did it on purpose. What I'm not about to do now is (starts singing and making gestures with his arms): "It's a symbooooool! It's a symboooooool!" so that it jumps on the reader's faces. Each reader has to read the story and decide if this is a symbol, what it symbolizes and what it means. I think this is part of what one must look for in a work of art: that it is complex, that it has a well-formed structure and that it is relatively ambiguous, so that each reader can have his/her own experience.
The Starks do have distant relatives, the problem is to define what "distant" means. There are relatives like the Karstarks, who have their own keep and are basically a lineage created by a second son who wasn't an heir of House Stark, but this was over a thousand years ago. Yes it's true that the Starks were united with other families. In fact, it was mentioned in one of the books that when Robb believes that Bran and Rickon are dead there was a conversation with his mother, because even though he had just married Jeyne, he needed and heir and yet he hadn't produced one yet. He told his mother: "Mother, I need an heir", she answers: "Well, yes, we have a close relative... the closest we have is a descendant from an old aunt of yours - aunt not in the sense of the same generation, but a grandaunt or what have you - who married a noble from the Vale. This is the closest there is to a Stark heir", and Robb tells her: "No, there is someone else, who is closer to me", and his mother says to him: "No. Your closest relative is your cousin from the Vale". Both characters are saying something clearly, with no need to make explicit what each one is trying to say.
But as I say, there are different relationships between different characters and the problem is the legitimacy of the claim of certain characters to the throne, in the sense that in Westeros, after all, wars are started because of things like these. If they say "No, I'm the heir because I'm from two generations since a certain option", "Yes, but I'm from three generations since this other, closer, option", etc... By things like these, by questioning who has more right than the other to a throne, there have been wars in Westeros.
It's true that the Starks have recently grown scarcer, in the last generations there aren't many of them. Some say that it could be because all of Ned's siblings are dead. Brandon died before he could have children, Lyanna is dead too and Benjen is sworn to the Night's Watch, so he can't have heirs either. Maybe it is also due to the fact that their father, Rickard, was an only son and we have to go back as to why he was an only son. Either way, it is possible that I'm wrong about some of the details, because I'm saying them by memory. At home I have my little cards, my family tree to check this information, because I can't always remember the difference between people.
It's true that currently there are many more Lannisters. One has to consider also that in the North there have been revolts frequently, that there have been many rebel lords in the past, who had problems with the Kings Beyond the Wall, with the whole Skagos episode and all that happened in the last 100 years. All of this influenced in the fact that maybe there aren't as many Starks as there were in the past.
Jaqen refers to the Red God, and elsewhere to the god of fire. Is he referring to R'hllor? When we see Arya being educated by the Faceless Men, R'hllor doesn't seem to be particularly important to them.
(George thinks for a moment) Well, remember when Jaqen names him: he had very nearly died in flames inside the cart. So it makes sense.
As you know, they were slaves who fled from Valyria and they found a place as far away from Valyria that they could get. What basically happened was that a Valyrian fleet, which was rowed by slaves, was taken over by the slaves after they mutined. And they decided to get as far away to the north as they could, sailing through the narrow sea to find a refuge. The founded Braavos and kept the city secret for about a hundred years. For those first hundred years, practically no one knew of the city's existence. Because the city is founded by slaves, it's not a homogenous population, there were slaves from all sorts of different places with different ethnicities, different homelands, different customs, different religions. So they create a new religion, one with one god that can be applied to all the other fatihs and is tolerant of all the other faiths. Braavos has people of all kinds, all ethnicities and colors, so there's no standard appearance for a Braavosi because it's a conglomerate of differnet people. In the case of the Lyseni, they do have distinct ethnic features because it was a Valyrian colony: it was only and entirely Valyrian, so the Lyseni have common features with the Valyrians. It's another religion, the moonsingers, and they basically continue to follow this religion that I discussed, that's very tolerant and open. They were very important in the founding and early history of Braavos, but they still exist to this day. Beyond that, I don't expect they'll have much importance to the present story.... and where's Elio when I need him?
Were Varys and Illyrio aware of the betrothal contract that Prince Doran and Ser Willem Darry had made? And why didn't Darry or someone tell Viserys about this agreement before his death?
To the first question: no. As to the second, Viserys was an immature child when it was decided, and he wasn't ready for the information.
Arthur Dayne has been presented as the quintessential chivalrous knight. How could he support the atrocities of Aerys, that even Jaime was horrified by?
Well... keep reading.
Could you tell us some of the family words for those families we haven't seen yet, for example the words of House Frey?
I'd have to see whether I've created those words, I can't remember off-hand. I've a mountain of notecards at my home where I put down all this information. You have to realize I've made up more than 400 houses, and I haven't created words for all o them yet. I make them when I need them. Where's Elio when I need him?
Could you tell us something of what happened in the relationship between the first Daenerys, Daemon Blackfyre, and the prince of Dorne?
Despite Daemon and Daenerys being in love, her brother the king, Daeron the Good, was more concerned with matters of state than matters of love. There had been many years of fighting with Dorne, and failure to bring them into the Seven Kingdoms while not being able to keep them from harassing the Seven Kingdoms. So he realized that where violence failed, perhaps marriage could bring an end to hostilites and so he uses his sister to make an alliance with the prince of Dorne. It's a political marriage, pure and simple, a convenient marriage to guarantee a union between Dorne and the Seven Kingdoms. And also, he prefers to give his sister to the prince of Dorne over a bastard brother with whom he'd already had a few clashes and whom too many people were looking one as a legitimate claimant to the throne or rightful king. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, and helps lead to Daemon becoming the first Blackfyre Pretender.
In A Dance with Dragons, we learn more about Brandon Stark and his interest in women, similar to Robert's. Did Brandon have any bastards as well?
It's exaggeration to say that Brandon died before making a son. It has been established in the book already that Brandon didn't die a virgin. It could be that he has conceived many Snows all over, boys or girls, among all the lands he visited and more, could be that there's a Snow yet out there. What's clear is that he left no legitimate heir, conceived within the bonds of marriage.
The Targaryens saved themselves from the Doom of Valyria by going to Dragonstone with their dragons. But there are other Valyrian descendants in other places that don't seem to have dragons. Were the Targaryens the only ones?
Yes. It's safe to say that the Targaryens were the only nobles with dragons who escaped the destruction of Valyria,.
Now that we know how the "Meereenese knot" played out, what was the problem with this? For example, was it the order in which Dany met various characters, or who, when, and how someone would try to take the dragons?
An essential part in the development of Dance and the series is to see what was happening in Mereen. Basically, the story of Dany is there, once she arrives what she wants is to take control and become Queen, but she has a series of problems..
For starters, the rebellion of the Son's of the Harpy with almost-terrorist attacks and stealthy assassinations on the street, which creates instability in her court. On the other side she has the external danger with her Yunkish enemies, who have rearmed and are preparing and alliance, and sending emissaries to parley with her and make her submit to their wishes. There is also the situation in Astapor, she had sacked the city but from the ruins a new King emerged who proposes marriage to create and alliance between the two cities.
There is also the decision of whether open the fight pits or not (Remembering she has to try to calm the Yunkish noblemen), Daenerys is trying to solve this problems to settle her power as she tries to find different solutions and different agreements. For example, there is Daxos's offer with his thirteen ships fleet, which she rejects, therefore going from possible ally to enemy and trying to blockade the city. All this creates instability in the city and outside the walls the Yunkish are preparing for battle with a ready army.
Dany's hand is one of the most valuable assets along the novel, different men seek her favor, Hizdahr, for example, which is the favorite among the Mereenese nobles to make a reconciliation. Or Daario, this dangerous and charismatic mercenary, the only one who really gets her interest. On top all this is the plague ravaging the city and the releasing of the dragons..
There is also a series of characters going towards Meereen to take into account, there's Quentyn Martell, Tyrion, Victarion Greyjoy with his iron fleet, archmaester Marwyn of Oldtown an Aegon with the Golden Company. There's also to stand out the situation in Volantis, which didn't happen to be as it was expected.
What worried me about this matters was knowing when each of this characters arrived to the city. When they arrived depended of when and where they departed from, and the medium of transportation. For that I had to consult what I wrote on Storm and Feast. Logically, I'm not hand tied and can take certain liberties, I can make some of the ones who departed later to arrive earlier by saying that one of the others had a drift, a shipwreck or an attack or whatever. But I did needed to exactly control the chronology and moment of arrival of each one of them, because each arrival has an impact in the dramatic development of the plot.
If Qentyn arrives with his marriage proposal much before Dany gets married, or if he arrives after she is already married, logically the result is going to be very different. So in order to know how everything would work out, I wrote those two possibilities, and finally also a third: That Quentyn arrives a day before the wedding, when there was practically no time to change anything. As you can see, all this changes the different dynamics of the group.
And on top of all of that, there is the return of Drogon, where Dany makes the decision of reopening the fighting pits that have been closed for decades, this decision initially was going to be the first chapter of Dance, before Dance was a separate book from Feast.
I know the answer I'm giving you is a bit ambiguous and I'm drifting a little, but basically I'm trying to transmit to you the uncertainty and bewilderment I had at the time, trying to solve this situation... And that's why I always talked about of the knot. The material could only be one, I needed to develop correctly each one of the situations because they had influence in the general argument of the novel. In the end I got all of them to arrive but one, who finally, doesn't even appear in the book.
Why did Melisandre seek out Stannis? Did she see him in her flames and decided to seek him out on her own, or is she on a mission on behalf of the red priests? It doesn't seem at any point as if the latter is the case, when you compare to Moqorro who has been sent out by the priesthood.
You're right. Melisandre has gone to Stannis entirely on her own, and has her own agenda.
Dragonstone is basically a volcanic island and because of this, the deeper you go into its caverns, the hotter it is... but could there be something of ancient Valyrian magic in its depths that accounts for this heat?
If you look at how the citadel of Dragonstone was built and how in some of its structures the stone was shaped in some fashion with magic... yes, it's safe to say that there's something of Valyrian magic still present.
We see marriages that are almost always between families seeking to ally themselves to one another. Given this context, it always seemed strange that the marriage of Tywin Lannister was to a first cousin, and even stranger when you consider how pragmatic and ambitious Tywin was. Or was it truly a love match?
(George apparently pauses for a long time before answering.) Well.... it could have been just for love, sure. But you might also consider that he may have been motivated by the same things as the Targaryens: he didn't want to unite his blood with that of some other family, so as to maintain purity. That way you can keep the blood pure, and avoid problems like different aspirants who are related trying to for the throne or to take over the house. If you have five brothers in a generation and each one has sons, in a couple of generations you'll find thirty possible heirs. That creates conflict, because they'll be involved in fights over inheritance so they can get closer to the throne. In the end, that's what was the origin of the War of the Roses: an excess of candidates for the throne, descended from Edward III. It's as bad to have no heirs, as happened to Henry VIII, a it is to have to many. If you've five brothers and want to avoid problems, it's not a bad idea that the heir through primogeniture marries another member of the family to avoid these conflicts and keep the blood united. So that could have been Tywin's motivation. It's also possible that his father Tytos arranged the marriage, or possibly even Tywin's grandfather. it depends on the exact moment of the betrothal, and I can't remember off-hand.
Is there any chance we'll see Valyria?
Well.... there may be. Not a great chance, mind you. The question is, is it going to be a look at Valyria now, or Valyria in the past?