Fans who waited over ten years to catch up with Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow in A Dance With Dragons are no strangers to cliffhangers, but as George R. R. Martin points out during our recent chat at Bubonicon, they're an essential tool in a writer's toolbox. They're even more important for Martin in writing the A Song of Ice and Fire series, where the viewpoint style of storytelling forces him to write eight or more endings for each book. Check out the clip below to hear Martin explain the challenges in his own words:

Going through a bit of Game of Thrones withdrawal, are you? Fantasy Flight Games knows this, and is preparing a full slate of new products and events to tide fans over until the next television season airs or the next book is published.

While many fans or the series just came on board during the TV show's run on HBO, the books have had a large fanbase for well over a decade. Members of this devoted group have already devoured A Dance with Dragons, watched the first TV season twice, and are now left asking "what's next?" I say it's time to pull up a chair, shuffle some cards, and roll some dice.

The Board Game:

Originally published way back in 2003, A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is an area control war game in which each player takes control of a prominent house of Westeros. At its core it is a war game akin to Risk or Axis & Allies, but there are a lot of mechanics layered on top that fit very well with the theme of the books. In addition to directing your army, there is the need to maneuver politically and manage your resources (especially with the approaching winter). If you like sitting down at a table for three hours and really getting engrossed in a game, this might be the choice for you.

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Casting is well under way for the second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, including some supporting roles, and a few major ones – including most of the gang from Dragonstone.

The second season, which is officially called “Game of Thrones: Clash of Kings,” and was immediately abbreviated on Twitter as GOT:COK, picks up right where season one left off, albeit on the other side of the world. Spoilers ho, by the way. Kicking things off is the oft mentioned – but never seen – hard edged brother of the dear departed King Robert Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon. He’ll be played by HBO vet Stephen Dillane.

Stephen Dillane

Accompanying him in the dark fortress of Dragonstone are Stannis’ right hand man (this is a very nerdy reference to the fact that his right hand is severed at the fingertips, you guys) Davos Seaworth, played by Liam Cunningham; and Carice van Houten as Melisandre, the mysterious Red Priestess who turns Stannis to worshipping one god, instead of seven. Gross, I know. Read More...

What if Game of Thrones was turned into a classic RPG? That's the question the folks over at College Humor were asking themselves when they put this awesome video together. It wraps the entire first season of HBO's Game of Thrones into a wonderfully sarcastic 3 minute video with a visual style reminiscent of early 90’s RPGs.

Fans of Final Fantasy III (the US version) for Super Nintendo should feel right at home, but if for some ridiculous reason you haven’t finished the first season I suggest you hold off on watching this -- it‘s a little spoiler-y. Those of you who have need to hurry up and click past the break! Read More...

Though it feels like Game of Thrones just finished its first season on HBO the crew is already hard at work in Northern Ireland filming season 2!

Photos from the set give us a great look at statues of The Seven -- the predominant gods of Westeros. As the story goes the statues are placed at Dragonstone, the home of Stannis (Stephen Dillane). There they are eventually burned to the ground after Melisandre (Carice van Houten), who follows a completely different faith, convinces Stannis to do so. Read More...

The novelist and comics writer talks about bringing the first chapter in George R. R. Martin's epic to the comics page and we bring you a 5-page preview of the first issue!
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George RR. Martin, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Paul Cornell, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassutt, David Anthony Durham, Caroline Spector, Daniel Abraham, and Kevin Andrew Murphy took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 to talk about adapting your comic worlds to prose as they discussed their Wild Cards shared fiction universe.

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Westeros comes to Ballroom 20, y'all!

 

The panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 started off with clips of the entire first season, introduced by GoT creator George R. R. Martin. Yeah I almost forgot how they simply nailed that last episode and that very last scene.

Martin was joined onstage by Lena Heady ("Cersi"), Nicola Costa-Waldan ("Jamie Lannister"), Kit Harrington ("Jon Snow"), Peter Dinklage ("Tyrion"), Jason Momoa ("Khal Drogo"), Emilia Clark ("Daenerys"), and show runners David Benihoff and D.B. Weiss.

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The following review is from our friends at Westeros.org.  Stay tuned for our podcast review and discussion of episode 9: Baelor later on!

Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Directed by Alan Taylor

IMDB Synopsis (by HBO Publicity)

Ned (Sean Bean) makes a fateful decision; Robb takes a prized prisoner; Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finds her reign imperiled.

Analysis

The sole episode submitted by HBO for Emmy consideration in the writing category, “Baelor” delivered the high emotion, strong themes, and great performances that mark an episode very much worth a few awards. We won’t know the result of the Emmy submissions for awhile, but we do know that the show tied two top-flights shows with 4 nominations at the Television Critics Association Awards, and doubtless there’ll be more significant award considerations to come. This episode contains one of the most iconic scenes in the whole of the series, the death of Eddard Stark before a crowd of Kingslanders, brought to this fate despite agreeing to lie for the sake of his daughter. It’s a moment that no one who’s read the novels ever forgets… and it’s one that brought tears to my eyes when I watched it.

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This series of articles takes a close look at George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series from the perspective of a Ph.D. in Medieval history and literature.  Each book in the series will be analyzed against actual historical events in the Dark and Middle Ages along with literature, factual or fictional, from that time.  This is the first time the author is reading the novels, so keep in mind that she’s unaware of major spoilers but that spoilers will be revealed as she progresses through the material.

By Catherine Smith-Akel, Ph.D.

Eofor sceal on holte, toðmægenes trum.

Maxims II


Ultimate Hunting: Wild Boar

“Even the truest knight cannot protect a king against himself,” Ned said. “Robert loved to hunt boar. I have seen him take a thousand of them.” He would stand his ground without flinching, his legs braced, the great spear in his hands, and as often as not he would curse the boar as it charged, and wait until the last possible second, until it was almost on him, before he killed it with a single sure and savage thrust. “No one could know this one would be his death.”

(A Game 507)

Wild boar was the ultimate medieval hunt and also the most dangerous. Boars were stupid, easily enraged, and hard to kill. Boar hunts, which usually took place in the winter, began on horseback with packs of dogs. Rarely was the boar caught out in the open; he was usually found under a great deal of ground cover. Men went hunting in groups: “professional” huntsmen, household guests and retainers. According to Frances and Joseph Gies, “A royal hunting party was a small military expedition.” King Robert’s undertaking seems similar. He had his squire, the “Lannister lad,” Lord Renly, Sir Barristan and the Kingsguard with him. Robert must have dismounted to attack the boar with a spear. Spears designed for boar hunting had a lug or wing a few inches below the blade to prevent the boar from charging up the spear and injuring the hunter. That, of course, does not preclude the boar from getting at the hunter. In the 15th century, Edward, duke of York, in his The Master of Game states, “The boar slayeth a man with one stroke, as with a knife. Some have seen him slit a man from knee up to breast. . . .” This sounds similar to what happened to Robert.

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The following review is from our friends at Westeros.org.  Last week they gave us their review of episode 6, A Golden Crown, and stay tuned for our podcast review and discussion of episode 7 later on!

Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Directed by Daniel Minahan

IMDB Synopsis (by HBO Publicity)

Explaining that the future of the Lannisters is at stake, Tywin (Charles Dance) presses Jaime to “be the man you were meant to be” as they prepare for battle. Ned confronts Cersei about the secrets that killed Jon Arryn. With the fate of the missing Benjen (Joseph Mawle) very much on his mind, Jon Snow takes his Night’s Watch vows, though not with the assignment he coveted. After Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) saves Daenerys from treachery, an enraged Drogo vows to lead the Dothraki where they’ve never gone before. An injured Robert takes pains to ensure an orderly transition at King’s Landing.

Analysis

“You Win or You Die” is a moment the show has been building to for seven episodes, and it executes it all very smoothly, very well… but perhaps, for the first time, the fact that we know the story so exactly means that some of the shine has been taken off of this moment; but perhaps that’s only us. This is a very solid episode, and there’s some excellent work both from director Daniel Minahan and writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Of the new scenes, by far the best for us was Tywin Lannister’s introduction. Charles Dance was the actor we most wanted from the role when Benioff and Weiss asked the forum, early in casting, for suggestions, so it was fantastic to see him in the part. As we say in our preview, he was born to play this part, carrying off the lean, arrogant, incredibly dangerous persona perfectly. Oh, his Tywin his different, as some will tell you—he shows emotion more easily, he goads Jaime, he’s personally skinning a stag (though we doubt Tywin would never have done that; lords hunt in Westeros, and they’d know how to skin animals)—but it serves to underscore the man he is. Tywin is very much George R.R. Martin’s taking Machiavelli’s fictional prince and realizing him on the page. We’re looking forward to more from Dance. A very minor gripe, though: “I could care less” is a very American phrase and one that’s ungrammatical, since what one really wants to say is, “I could not care less”. It was about as jarring to hear as Eddard talking about fighting “for real”. Fortunately, such missteps are rare with these writers.

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This series of articles takes a close look at George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series from the perspective of a Ph.D. in Medieval history and literature.  Each book in the series will be analyzed against actual historical events in the Dark and Middle Ages along with literature, factual or fictional, from that time.  This is the first time the author is reading the novels, so keep in mind that she’s unaware of major spoilers but that spoilers will be revealed as she progresses through the material.

By Catherine Smith-Akel, Ph.D.

H? hæfde g?d geþanc
þ? hwile þe h? mid handum healdan mihte
bord and br?d swurd; b?ot h? gelæste
þ? h? æforan his fr?an feohtan sceolde.

The Battle of Maldon


The Joust

About a third of the way through Game of Thrones, a tournament is held in the Hand’s honor, a tournament that Eddard Stark wanted no part of. The tournament, however, forwards the plot in several ways, but in particular, with the death of the young knight, Hugh of the Vale, and King Robert’s insistence on taking part in the mêlée.

On the second day of the event, Ned Stark points out to Sansa that the knights are fighting with blunted lances that are supposed to splinter on impact. However, he is inwardly reflecting on Hugh’s horrific death the previous day. In England, King Henry II (1154-1189) forbade tournaments. His third son, Geoffrey of Brittany, was trampled to death in a jousting tournament. This actually changed the history of England—it was Geoffrey’s son, Arthur, who was, named by Richard the Lionheart to succeed him (Richard had no legitimate children). Evil King John (remember him from the Robin Hood stories?) had poor Arthur murdered so he, John, could be king; Arthur was about 15 at the time.

On this second day, Ned must also dissuade Robert from taking part in the mêlée. The eunuch Varys points out how easily it would have been for Robert to have been “accidentally” killed. The only king killed in a tournament was King Henry II (1519-1599) of France. He loved jousting tournaments. Similar to what happened to Hugh in Game of Thrones, King Henry’s eye was pierced by a sliver from a broken lance. The sliver of wood went through to his brain; he died about ten days later. His death, too, had an impact on the succession of the French throne.

A mêlée, however, which Robert Baratheon wanted to join, would have been a perfect way for a knight to kill the king “accidentally.” Mêlées were mock re-enactments of battles. Sometimes as many as 100 knights on each side would participate. King Edward III of England (founder of the Order of the Garter) actually challenged the King of France to a mêlée “au outrance,” meaning to the death of those who participated. The knights would not use blunted tips. King Philippe declined. Read More...

The following review is from our friends at Westeros.org.  Last week they gave us their review of episode 5, The Wolf And The Lion, and stay tuned for our podcast review and discussion of episode 6 later on!

Written by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Jane Espenson

Directed by Daniel Minahan

IMDB Synopsis (by HBO Publicity)

Reinstated as the Hand, Ned sits for the King while Robert is on a hunt, and issues a decree that could have long-term consequences throughout the Seven Kingdoms. At the Eyrie, Tyrion confesses to his “crimes,” and demands that Lysa give him a trial by combat. Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) apologizes to Sansa; Viserys receives his final payment for Daenerys from Drogo (Jason Momoa).

Analysis

Truth be told, this is our very favorite episode of the six we’ve seen. More than anything, I’d put this down to Daniel Minahan’s direction. It’s true that he makes a lot of use of very quick cuts for actions scenes, something that has become de rigeur in a lot of cinema, and it does obscure the action a little bit… but there’s something about the way he uses it that actually works to justify the quickness; it heightens the sense of chaos and uncertainty, making the violence seem all the more sudden and brutal. On top of that, some of his choices for quieter scenes are incredibly cinematic—the way he shows Bran riding alone in the wood as the wildlings stalk him, the gorgeous lighting of the scene where Joffrey gives his apologies and promises to Sansa—in a way that few other scenes have done before. Of course, how much this will change between the screener and the final, fully-graded and scored episode, we don’t know. But what we saw we really, really liked. Read More...

The following review is from our friends at Westeros.org.  Last week they gave us their review of episode 4, Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things, and stay tuned for our podcast review and discussion of episode 5 later on!

Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Directed by Brian Kirk

IMDB Synopsis (by HBO Publicity)

Incensed over news of Daenerys’ alliance with the Dothrakis, Robert orders a preemptive strike on the Targaryens that drives a wedge in his relationship with Ned. A captive Tyrion helps Catelyn, but receives a cold reception at the Eyrie from her sister, John Arryn’s widow Lysa (Kate Dickie). Sansa is charmed by the dashing Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), aka the Knight of Flowers. Arya overhears a plot against her father.

Analysis

At the halfway point of the series, “The Wolf and the Lion” is the first episode where the sense that foundation-laying is no longer the priority, and it’s time for the plot to kick into high gear. And it does just that, as Benioff & Weiss, along with director Brian Kirk, let loose. This is a wonderfully paced episode, lingering for long stretches in King’s Landing, which is very much the focus of this episode. The first 8 minutes and the first 14 or so are focused there exclusively, and there are additional long stretches in the course of the rest of the episode. Winterfell is glimpsed briefly twice, and the Vale is definitely the “B” story this time around, but has enough space to feel substantial as it introduces one of the last areas where significant action will take place. In large part, the show can afford this because—as viewers doubtless noticed—they made the decision to leave Jon Snow and Dany out of this episode. It makes a great deal of sense, given that they’ve stayed on-pace (and, especially in Dany’s case, well above pace).

The acting is strong all around, and of particular note are some of the newer faces—Kate Dickie as Lysa is frightening (helped along by that prosthetic breast on display for her son to to suckle at), with Lion Facioli being suitably annoying as Robin (a name change from the books, where he’s named Robert, apparently because of concern from the executive producers or HBO executives that it would be confusing); Jerome Flynn as Bronn (whose name hasn’t actually been given as of yet) is terrific as a scum-of-the-earth type who happens to know his business around killing; and both Gethin Anthony and Finn Jones get to stretch themselves in a unique and intimate scene which ... well, isn’t what some fans expected, to say the least, when we first heard of it! Read More...

Publisher Hayakawa is putting out Japanese editions of George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice and Fire book series...with gorgeous covers by a team of artists and designers that includes Ken Sugawara, Noriko Meguro, and Yasushi Suzuki. If you ever wondered how the characters from HBO's A Game of Thrones would appear like in a manga style, take a look at this:

A Game Of Thrones, art by Ken Sugawara

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