George R. R. Martin talks Fire & Blood, The Winds of Winter in new interview

FILE - In this March 18, 2013 file photo, author George R.R. Martin arrives at the premiere for the third season of the HBO television series "Game of Thrones" at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. "The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones," a companion volume to Martin's "Ice and Fire" series, will be released Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. (Photo by Matt Sayles /Invision/AP, File)

While we anxiously await news about the premiere date of Game of Thrones’ final season, we can at least console ourselves with the knowledge that Fire and Blood (volume one of George R. R. Martin‘s Targaryen history) is a mere 10 days away. In a new interview, Martin shares some fun tidbits from his new book – as well as an update on The Winds of Winter!

Speaking with The Guardian, Martin explains that Fire and Blood is the result of an overabundance of material originally written for The World of Ice and Fire. When Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonssen approached him about the book, he had planned to “polish and expand the history a little, maybe fill in any holes” but ended up writing 350,000 words instead. Rather than scrap what wouldn’t fit into The World of Ice and Fire, Martin decided to save it and expand upon it for a separate history of the Targaryen dynasty.

“There are novels buried in it,” Martin explains. “If I were 30 years younger I could easily write a series about the Dance of the Dragons or I could write the story of Aegon’s conquest. Every one of the 13 children of Jaehaerys and Alysanne has a story that could be told about him or her – their rise, their fall, their triumphs, their deaths…It was a lot of fun to create, a lot of fun to live in that world again.” It seems Martin’s passion for the world he has written has not dimmed – despite what some fans may think.

The Winds of Winter

Unfortunately this passion may also be hindering his progress on the next installment of A Song of Ice and Fire. While many are concerned Martin hasn’t written enough for The Winds of Winter, it seems the opposite is more likely the case. “I’ve been struggling with it for a few years. The Winds of Winter is not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players and antagonists and allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together in an extremely complex fashion. So it’s very, very challenging. Fire and Blood by contrast was very simple. Not that it’s easy, it still took me years to put together, but it is easier.”

Martin also feels tremendous pressure given the success of Game of Thrones and the novels that preceded it. “The show has achieved such popularity around the world, the books have been so popular and so well reviewed, that every time I sit down I’m very conscious I have to do something great, and trying to do something great is a considerable weight to bear.” I can only imagine how difficult it would be to write under those circumstances, so maybe the fandom could hold back from constantly asking him when it will be finished?

It’s not all bad, however. Martin admits that “once I really get rolling, I get into the world, and that happened recently with Fire and Blood. I was going to sleep thinking of Aegon and Jaehaerys and waking up thinking of them and I couldn’t wait to get the typewriter. The rest of the world vanishes, and I don’t care what I’m having for dinner or what movies are on or what my email says, who’s mad at me this week because The Winds of Winter isn’t out, all that is gone and I’m just living in the world I’m writing about. But it’s sometimes hard to get to that almost trance state.”

The entire interview is well worth a read – and even includes a couple of snippets from Fire and Blood – so definitely head over to The Guardian and check it out!

45 responses

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    1. This guy loves his Targs.

      The end of GOT has an excellent chance of being the Targ restoration in Westeros. Ughh!

      I have little appetite for the subjugation of a people under a foreign force by way of threatening them using superior weapons (in this case, fire from mystical beasts). There is no such thing as a “kind occupier” or “benign imperial master”. One can make valid arguments for temporary interventions by concerned neighbours to halt civil wars but to stay for years and claim subjugation?Uggh.

      I am very open to all Targs joining the Westerosi as immigrants and peacefully joining the community. Over time becoming Westerosi and rising through service to serving as leaders. They have no divine right to rule Westeros. As long as they believe that, they are an alien force no matter how long they live there and how many were born in Westeros. (Many British women gave birth in India during the Raj but their colonial perspectives never made them really Indian and they always understood themselves to be the occupying British.)

      In Westeros, I am rooting for the Starks and Lannisters to ally and go for self-determination, dignity and freedom from oppression. GRRM can make the Targs rampage in other stories.

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    2. First 3 books had 8-10 POV characters. Book 4 and 5 as well.

      But book 6 will have something around 20.

      Here’s the list – Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon, Cersei, Bran, Jaime, Arya, Sansa, Davos, Selmy, Asha, Theon, Victarion, Aeron, Arianne, Areo Hotah, Melisandre, Brienne, Jon Connington and Sam.

      It’s just not possible to put this in one book. That’s the reason TWOW is not finished and I can’t imagine how he is going to finish it.

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    3. rhard,

      Was Jon/Aegon born after The Mountain killed his half brother and sister? Would News of this reach Lyanna at the ToJ before she gave birth?

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    4. If I was his editor (and if he was 20 years younger) my solution would be to extend the story to 9 books, to write two more books in style of AFFC and ADWD. Characters separated by geography, 10 POV characters per book.

      I would use those two books to finish a lot of their stories and kill 8-10 of POV characters.

      Then to bring them all together in books 8 and 9 where he would have only 10 POV characters again.

      Act 1 were books 1-3. Books 4-7 would be Act 2 and they would end in similar place as Season 6, and then books 8 and 9 would be Act 3, Daenerys’ invasion and war against the WW.

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    5. tiny direwolf:
      rhard,

      Was Jon/Aegon born after The Mountain killed his half brother and sister? Would News of this reach Lyanna at the ToJ before she gave birth?

      Jon was born after the Lannisters took the Red Keep and after Rhaegar was killed because Ned asks the King’s Guard soldiers why they were not there to defend Aerys and/or Rhaegar. If they knew, it would be pretty strange that they hadn’t told Lyanna or that she hadn’t found out at the same time they did. When she had Jon, she knew Rhaegar was dead as were his older children. Perhaps Rhaegar had told her about his ardent belief in the prophesy of the Prince Who Was Promised and that he believed it was his son Aegon. Maybe she wanted to honour his belief called Jon Aegon for that purpose.

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    6. That Neil Gaiman is everything! “George RR Martin is not your bitch.” hahaha

      But seriously, having that pressure and fame to live up to may be hindering GRRM to get back to that “trance-like” writing state. Also, I remember when I finished ASOIAF, I thought to myself how in the heck is GRRM going to finish this in only two books?! I can easily see the series continuing for another 3 or 4 books.

      Also, the Guardian article mentioned “Jane Goldman’s The Long Night” but didn’t GRRM confirm in a recent blog post that he jumped the gun and HBO said this would not be the name of the prequel? Or perhaps it is and they just want to be the ones to announce it first?

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    7. mau,

      Exactly! That would be great! I really liked how AFfC and ADwD were separated by geography and occurring simultaneously with the end of the 5th book being a continuation of POVs from both novels

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    8. I hate to be negative but I think GRRM has put off Winds of Winter to put out all these other books to milk the GOT show popularity for all its worth. He knows that people will buy Winds of Winter after the show is over anyway. But he might not sell all these extra side books if it weren’t for the show.

      I do believe that he is intimidated by the fact he knows he has to put out something good.

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    9. AliKat,

      There’s no way that’s the case. He would make far more money getting the main books out in advance of the show covering that terrain.

      Mango,

      How are the Targaryens ruling via conquest any different from the Starks and Lannisters, who also rule via conquest?

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    10. “I’ve been struggling with it for a few years. The Winds of Winter is not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players and antagonists and allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together in an extremely complex fashion. So it’s very, very challenging…”

      ———-
      That’s fine. I’d rather wade through a dozen disconnected novels than wait for them to be woven together in an extremely complex fashion.

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    11. I changed my mind. GRRM should just expand on the “Mercy” sample chapter and call the next book “The Adventures of Arya, Super Ninja Assassin Warrior Princess.”

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    12. Considering he feels pressure from the popularity and likely fans’ high expectation of great ending, I’m guessing he could be close to getting TWoW done, but constantly thinking of every detail from the book that will bring the story to its end game. I suppose he’s got the ending in mind at one point in the past, but he might still want to find a greater one.

      Well I hope George would just ignore fans’ expectation, he just can’t please everyone.

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    13. Walkers,

      I’m not sure he’d change the ending. He has said he doesn’t change things because of fans since he’s already laid the groundwork for things to happen in a certain way. So I think whatever end points he planned (at least the major ones) are still in play. He probably feels immense pressure to tell a high quality story on the way to those end points though.

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    14. Is it weird if I’m actually more interested in the upcoming Targaryen history book than WoW which honestly still isn’t anywhere in sight? Honestly, GRRM’s statements give me impression it will be another AFFC/ADWD-like book. As I’ve been rewatching some of my favorite TV shows in recent time, I noticed that what I really love is when main characters are on the screen together, when they’re interacting with each other – and that’s why the latest GoT seasons have a special place in my heart – seeing all those characters share the screen. That’s something that’s almost fully absent in AFFC/ADWD and I kind of feel it will be a long time in WoW before some notable characters eventually come to the scene together. I already remember Martin saying that Tyrion and Daenerys won’t meet for a long time and the glimpses of those sample chapters truly gave me impression that story won’t move much in those early chapters. And now his statement how it’s a “novel of novels”… let’s think of who is still alive and being a POV character:

      Jon, Sansa, Arya, Daenerys, Tyrion, Bran, Davos, Theon, Samwell, Jaime, Cersei, Brienne, Areo, Aeron, Victarion, Asha, Arianne, Connington and Barristan. So overall, I counted 19 characters, hoping I didn’t forget anybody. And let me think back about book 3 which had 1119 pages and 82 chapters overall, counting the prologue and epilogue as well. And at that time, we only had 10 POV which would mean 8 chapters per average on the character. Not to mention some characters were at same place at certain parts of story. But now, we have twice as many characters and scattered all around the planet. And if I imagine book 6 being of similar length or maybe a bit longer, I wonder how much of an actual story can GRRM deliver us in this novel. Unless the book is of colossal size, or unless he quickly reduces the number of POVs, I really feel it will be another AFFC/ADWD. I admit I can’t say I’m particulary thrilled about it, now even less that the show is way past the story.

      Regarding Fire & Blood, I can say that this may be something I would be genuinely interested to read about. I only hope this is indeed GRRM’s work with no involvement of Elio and Linda. I really despise those two and it’s a reason why I never purchased the World of Ice and Fire.

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    15. I wrote a long comment but it seems it didn’t appear?

      When discussing the upcoming works of GRRM?!?

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

      😉

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    16. Please point me to the part where he provides an update about TWOW. I seem to have missed that, or there is confusion on the part of the author about what “update” actually means.

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    17. Which theory should I believe about the status of Winds of Winter?
      A-Book’s done and edited, work’s underway on ADoS, contractual reasons it’s not released yet
      B-Book’s mostly done and is being edited, possibly split up.
      C- ¯_(ツ)_/¯
      D-Will never happen, GRRM instead doing a mass release of his gameplan for the future of the series. Groaning aplenty from me if this includes Westeros going full democracy.

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    18. MiaMoon,

      It makes sense in the show because 1) they never really talk in detail about Rhaegar’s other children by Elia (they have a son named Aegon) and 2) the show leaves out the claimant Aegon (supposedly said son of Rhaegar and Elia) entirely. In essence, they ignore one, sort of merge the character of the other with Jon. Merging characters or character story arcs they’ve done aplenty. On minor fronts, they changed Yara’s name from Asha in the books. Mainly, I think, because of the show’s wildling character Osha. There are other similar-sounding names on the show, but those two would have screen time during the same seasons.

      I don’t know what his name will be in the books, but Aegon doesn’t make sense given the book history. Jaehaerys is a lovely call back, and keeps the initial, but Jon is neither wise nor, I suspect, meant for a long life even if he survives s8. He’s more his father Rhaegar.

      As for GRRM and not being too hard on him, he had plenty of time to finish the series before the TV show ever premiered and became the biggest thing in media not called Harry Potter. Writing is an art. Publishing is a business. When you play the game of tomes, there is no middle ground.

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    19. Oh Lord of Light, I feel stressed on his behalf just reading that. ><
      But I agree with Mau & Sean. Marbery's last two choices sound fairly likely at this point (though personally I'd be happy with the rest in note/outline form.)

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    20. NinaD: When you play the game of tomes

      “Game of Tomes”! I love it. Thanks – now I’m envisioning the tale of an esteemed elderly author, striving to finish his final(?) masterwork, but beset by opportunities to help aspiring authors and wildlife…

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    21. “It seems Martin’s passion for the world he has written has not dimmed – despite what some fans may think.”

      They aren’t mutually exclusive. He can enjoy planting new seeds in his garden but not be that interested in tending to the plants that should have already been harvested. Every time he looks over there at the overgrown mess, he’s overwhelmed. But look at this nice bare spot over here that’s full of potential!

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    22. Mango: In Westeros, I am rooting for the Starks and Lannisters to ally and go for self-determination, dignity and freedom from oppression. GRRM can make the Targs rampage in other stories.

      Well I completely agree with your misgivings, but I dont think interest equals approval necessarily. For example he’s interested in Tyrion as a character but does he really approve of his actions? Not at all as you can see in this interview.

      I think it’s a good sign that GRRM is interested in why some people submit and others do not – this is why Northern Independence, the freed slaves, the former masters, and the wildlings are playing on these ideas of why do some people submit, why others do not.

      Why did people submit to the Targaryens? They followed the dragons when they had to. But Jon is an alternative option. Finally Westeros has someone who can fend off the dragons but who is also culturally Westerosi. If the North could have supported a Northern native, a “King of Winter” who could go head-to-head with Aegon during the Conquest, of course they would side with this person instead of bending the knee to Aegon. Ned had 2 opportunities to take the throne for himself and he did not; so I think Jon will take the throne this time not because he wants it but because other people want him to have it over Dany.

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    23. MMJ,

      Yes, Jon is a Stark and culturally Westerosi. He was brought up as a Stark/Snow.

      Your rulers need to have kinship and cultural bonds and understanding and deep love for the community. This is at least a good start. The Starks and Lannisters have served and served and served their common community even if neither family is angelic.

      My love for Tyrion was lowered when he betrayed his heritage by aiding an aggressive invasion. Born to rule, my ass.

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    24. Sean C.,

      Huh? My post explained this exact thing. This is what I was aiming for anyway.

      Let me try again.

      USA had a civil war to decide by conquest who would rule. These two opposing local factions were all members of the US community that struggled for power because they had different ideas on how the country was to work. Both sides loved the same country, both had deep kinship bonds here, both were culturally USA citizens, both would die for USA. One won by conquest. This would be very different if a set of Martians had arrived from Mars with advanced intergalactic weapons and conquered the entire USA and proceeded to rule by conquest.

      Starks and Lannisters are locals with deep ties. The Targs would be the Martians.

      Does that help?

      If not, take a general look at why the Vietnamese fought the USA with such ferocity; why Europeans fought Napoleon; Why England fought Hitler; why the Afghans fought the British; Indians resisted the Raj; why Greeks fought the Ottomans; why Koreans resisted the Japanese – look at why invading armies are fought/repelled even when it looks hopeless for the home team. And even when their local rulers are crappy.

      Or why nearly every country requires at least residency before someone can stand in an election for leader of the country.

      But no matter how long the invaders are there as long as they believe they have “a right to rule” they never really become a part of that community.

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    25. MMJ,

      As for Jon taking the throne?

      He is a reanimated wight. He is undead.

      Of course, GRRM may do whatever he wants with his story. But Jon is already a dead man, I would prefer if the writer did not soil his work so badly.

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    26. Mango,

      I am not sure how relevent those concepts are to a feudal setting like Westeros. Most of the ideas you are using are modern political ideas that emerged post 1500 in societies quite different from Westeros. We have been given no indication for example that the lower classes actually give a shit and all politics seems to be purely an elite game.

      Also, it not clear the Starks and Lannisters don’t believe they also have a right to rule their respective regions. Sansa talks about reclaiming her home in Season 6 and at no point are we given the impression that overlordship of the North is not also a part of that. I am sure Tywin would have you killed if you suggested to him he did not have a right to rule the Westerlands, Raynes and the Tarbecks are examples of that.

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    27. House Monty,

      Mango,

      Also, worth keeping in mind, if you go by what the political community wanted they did not want the Starks back in power in Season 6.

      The Starks had trouble raising an army from the Northern houses and the bulk of their fighters came from a group not part of the community – The Wildlings.

      The Starks took power purely due to forces foreign to the Northern community with the Wildlings and the Knights of the Vale.

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    28. House Monty,

      This is not a modern idea. A people or a community (i.e., human group bound by kinship, genetics, history, culture, family, gods, and memory) has resisted invasion and “external” domination long before modern times. (On a smaller scale families behave similarly, bicker among ourselves but bond to fight externals.) I am sure Ancient Chinese and Indian history will have stories of this resistance to external domination. Perhaps one of the easiest pre-feudal histories of a people to find is for the Jewish people. Some of the old testament in the christian bible recounts the ancient struggle of the Jewish people for self-determination.

      Most societies evolve to have elites and peasants. However, it is not true to say peasants do not care. They do. Peasants and even slaves care and may/can rise to rule – ask the Mamelukes in real history or even Davos & Bronn in GOT. (Davos started a new house that may become paramount over time.).

      You are right that peasants tend to be concerned with getting foods etc. and leave the wrangling over politics to the local elites – but only until something goes awry. If the elite get too greedy or cruel or if there is an alien invasion. An external invasion usually causes elites and peasant to align and remember their kinship. The peasant knows that eventually the new rulers can add to their problems by becoming another layer of elite atop them. So now they are number 3 instead of number 2 and may pay more taxes to keep 1 and 2 living well.

      GRRM’s stories tell how the Westerosi fought the Targs when the dragonlords arrived – this is why. They did not wish to be conquered.

      Yes, the local elite do believe that have a right to rule. Some-one has to handle the co-ordination tasks and the elite struggle among themselves for the best roles. This issue for me is the role of an external aggressive invader.

      TLDR: No-one wants to be conquered – especially by aggressive strangers. Not even the peasants.

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    29. House Monty,

      I am not sure what your main idea here. They did not want the Starks as they felt that poor decisions by the Starks (mainly by Robb) had cost them too many lives.
      Yes, in the long run, it was the Starks they supported to rule. Do you think the North would react the same way if they thought Tormund and his wildings were planning to rule them?

      If so, you can bet even Lyanna Mormont would be fighting on Ramsey’s side. Yes, elites and peasants use external help (i.e., See Cersei and her planned use of mercenaries) to help resolve local disputes. Jon used the wildings and can also use Dany’s army in the same way if he wants to conquer Westeros. This is not always the best strategy but it is different from being conquered by a foreign army.

      Let me say again – foreigners as immigrants are welcome to join and become integrated in the community in a peaceful manner. Their new ideas and ways will be added to the community to make things more interesting and better. When they become community/kin then they too can join in the business ruling. However, no –one wants to be conquered and worse, conquered by aliens.

      Yes, Dany can/will rule Westeros because she has the fire power to do it. That is how it works.

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    30. Mango,

      So does that extend to the rest of the Westerosi that aren’t Children of the Forest? Because I’m pretty sure it was superior weaponry that allowed the first men that crossed from Essos to nearly exterminate the native people. The Andals also killed plenty of people as well.

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    31. Mango,

      This is the most xenophobic BS I have ever read. All people are conquerors especially in Westeros. Westeros was apparently the home of the Children of the Forest. The first men (who crossed a land bridge from Essos) slaughtered them burned down their sacred trees and nearly caused their extinction. The Andals did pretty much the exact same thing when they came over. None of them are innocent or native to the continent. Oh and just so you don’t forget without Dany (the conquering alien invader) the North and all their BS honor wouldn’t stand a chance against the NK. Neither would any “natives” in the south. There wouldn’t be any culture to assimilate into unless you call being a blathering imbecile enthralled to evil incarnate a culture. Oh and let’s not forget that the entire story up to this point was about noble houses trying to usurp a Targaryen crown.

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    32. Hursta1,

      I have repeatedly pointed out that immigrants are welcome to join in the community. Anyone is welcome to come in peace. Aggressive conquerers are not. New friends come in peace.

      We understand xenophobia differently…let us leave it at that. I will not bother to reply further.

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    33. I am thinking to purchase a GRRM book for Christmas, would anyone make a recommendation between Fire & Blood or World of Ice & Fire? It’s one of the other and I’ve read all the ASOIF books if that makes a difference.

      Also who would have thought going back to S1 of GOT that Winds of Winter would not be released prior to the show concluding because that scenario is starting to look pretty likely.

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    34. Lord Parramandas:

      Regarding Fire & Blood, I can say that this may be something I would be genuinely interested to read about. I only hope this is indeed GRRM’s work with no involvement of Elio and Linda. I really despise those two and it’s a reason why I never purchased the World of Ice and Fire.

      I second that! When GoT was first shown in the UK, the pair would appear on ‘Thronecast’ (an after-show chat program) and discuss some aspect about the episode. Usually of an historical nature about a Westerosi family for example.

      I think the pair were on the after-show for the first two or maybe three seasons then suddenly disappeared! This probably happened when D&D did not follow the book canon, dropped characters and changed certain events in the novels to fit the time allocated for the TV show. This pissed off Elio (more so with Linda) big time and seeing some of their videos on their Westeros website, its really shows! Really slagging off D&D and with plenty of vitriol aimed at Lena Heady who plays Cersei – No idea why that should be? Perhaps Linda was annoyed that she didn’t get offered that part 🙂

      TBH, I surprised GRRM still has anything to do with them (if he still does) ? I recall they were involved with the book ‘The World of Ice & Fire’ a few years ago with George, but as for ‘Fire & Blood’ – No idea.

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    35. Hey Raven, yes I recall Linda and Elio having a slot on Thronecast for the first four seasons – I specifically recall Elio being disappointed in the studio when Lady Stoneheart did not appear in S4. I actually enjoyed their analysis back then but my interpretation was they refused to join (or perhaps were not invited) from S5 onwards. I know Elio stopped watching the show because he wanted to avoid spoilers from future books (which I can kind of respect) however Linda has subsequently been very critical and outspoken. If I recall correctly she went on twitter before S5 finale and spoiled that Brienne killed Stannis (she had been working as a translator so had seen the episode upfront). She was very critical of this as clearly in the books Brienne will not be there when Stannis likely falls to the Boltons and I think the fact she dropped the spoiler meant HBO stopped using her as a translator. Since then she has been doing episode reviews on youtube where she essentially finds everything she can wrong with the show and widely mocks it. It’s all very sad and bitter because it started well, but what saddens me most of all is over on their website there are a few dozen contributors who eat it all up and follow her approach. I stopped posting over there as a response as you cannot get any serious debate going when people are mocking episodes such as Winds of Winter for being bad.

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