If you’ve been feeling a notable lack of A Song of Ice and Fire art in your life, 2021 already has you covered. Penguin Random House has revealed the cover for their 2021 A Song of Ice and Fire calendar … and, gods be good, it looks gorgeous.
Earlier today, George R.R Martin announced on his Not A Blog that next year’s A Song of Ice and Fire calendar will feature twelve original pieces by artist, Sam Hogg.
“As always we like to bring you a variety of styles from an assortment of freaky talented artists and this year is no different as we feature the work of Sam Hogg,” he wrote.
Martin’s post included a first look at the calendar cover which features an illustration of Quentyn Martell’s ill-fated attempt to tame Viserion and Rhaegal in A Dance With Dragons, which makes me eager to find out which other book-only scenes the calendar might include.
For instance, the theme of Penguin Random House’s 2020 calendar was fantastic beasts and featured paintings by John Howe of beached krakens, giant ice spiders and other Westerosi beasts exclusive to Martin’s books.
In other news, Leslie Jones appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers last night to promote her comedy special, Time Machine, which was directed by none other than David Benioff and D.B Weiss. In the interview she and Meyers reminisce about their show segment, Game of Jones, in which they watched Game of Thrones together and riffed on what was happening.
“I regret we didn’t do more of those … now that I think about it I wish we did at least ten,” Jones said.
This past week has been a good one for Game of Thrones. Episodes from season 8 won awards at the Costume Designer Guild Awards, the Cinema Audio Society Awards, and the Visual Effects Society Awards.
At the Costume Designer Guild awards on Tuesday, Michele Clapton won for costume design excellence in Sci-Fi-Fantasy Television. This is the fifth time Clapton has won this award (she also won for best Period or Fantasy TV Show back in 2014 before they split the categories). However, unlike previous years, designers submitted and were judged for a single episode that best reflected their body of work. Thus, Clapton received her sixth CDGA for her designs for “The Iron Throne.” The full list of nominees and winners is a available at Deadline.
The Cinema Audio Society Awards were held on January 25 where the Game of Thrones’ sound team won for excellence in a 1 hour television series, specifically for season 8’s penultimate episode “The Bells” (which, now that I think about it really is the perfect title for an episode of television that wins an award for its audio).
Production Mixer – Ronan Hill CAS
Production Mixer –Simon Kerr
Production Mixer – Daniel Crowley
Re-recording Mixer – Onnalee Blank CAS
Re-recording Mixer – Mathew Waters CAS
Foley Mixer – Brett Voss CAS
You can read the full list of nominees and winners here.
Finally, yesterday at the 18th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards, hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt (for the 9th time!) at the Beverly Hilton, Game of Thrones, as expected, lost a few awards to The Mandalorian, but it still went home with two of the six awards it was nominated to.
Carlos Patrick DeLeon, Alonso Bocanegra Martinez, Marcela Silva, and Benjamin Ross’s work on the Red Keep Plaza in “The Iron Throne” won them the “Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project” award, while the dragon ground battle VFX in “The Long Night”, created by Mark Richardson, Darren Christie, Nathan Abbott, and Owen Longstaff, was awarded with “Outstanding Compositing in an Episode.”
If you want to take a look at the other winners, click here.
In a new quickfire interview, Yara Greyjoy actor Gemma Whelan touches on everything from her spite towards a certain “man doing appalling things with his horrendous megalomaniac ego” (take a guess!) to her anorexia recovery, and of course she addresses Game of Thrones‘s ending, though perhaps not in the way one would expect.
When asked by The Guardian about what her “greatest disappointment” has been (in general; not just related to the HBO show,) Whelan has a clear–if controversial–answer:
“The fans’ reaction at the end of Game of Thrones because I think it was brilliant.”
Now, her opinion about the ending alone is sure to ruffle a few feathers, not to mention what some may see as a pushback against those fans who disliked the ending, but I believe this answer is valuable: for starters, it’s a good reminder that actual real-life people made this show with their hard work (yes, including the writers), which doesn’t mean they can’t be criticized but it does mean it must be done humanely; and also, it shows there is no secret conspiracy among cast members who actually hate the show but can’t admit to it openly—you have to read between the lines, I’m told; which is handy if you want someone to agree with you when they haven’t actually done so.
Even before the final season premiered, that sentiment was strong among those fans with–let’s say–an overactive imagination. Though much of it centered on Emilia Clarke for obvious reasons, apparently there were similar suspicions about Whelan. If nothing else, it’s nice to see those conspiracy theories (because that’s what they were) debunked.
In other news, Variety reports that Game of Thrones won another award: at Parrot Analytics’ 2nd Global TV Demand Awards, the show went home with the ‘Most In-Demand TV Series in the World’ and ‘Most In-Demand Drama Series’ awards.
Congrats! I think everyone would agree that’s well-deserved.
Fan-favorite actor Miltos Yerolemou, the First Sword of Braavos Syrio Forel himself, returns this year to Con of Thrones, the premier convention for fans of Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the epic worlds of fantasy author George R. R. Martin!
Yerolemou will appear on panels and programming at Con of Thrones 2020 on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19, as well as participate in autograph and photograph experiences with fans and lead Water Dancing sword fighting workshops.
Yerolemou has appeared at every Con of Thrones since the event began in 2017. He won acclaim for his role as Syrio Forel, Arya Stark’s Water Dancing instructor, in the first season of Game of Thrones. Tickets are available for purchase now at conofthrones.net/register. Admission to Water Dancing workshops will go on sale on Friday, February 7, 2020, at 2:00 PM ET.
Autograph and photograph experiences with Yerolemou are available for purchase now. Autographs are $20 and photographs are $35. Autograph and photograph experiences are also available with Game of Thrones actors Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont), Anton Lesser (Qyburn) and Sam Coleman (Young Hodor). Con of Thrones will take place in Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center July 17–19, 2020.
Con of Thrones will host in-depth discussions about both the television and book series, Special Guest Spotlight interviews, live recordings of fan-favorite podcasts, and much more. Previous guests include Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel), Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn), Esmé Bianco (Ros), Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon), Aimee Richardson (Myrcella Baratheon), and Emmy Award-winning Sound Designer Paula Fairfield. Con of Thrones also provides opportunities for autographs and photographs with some of the most familiar faces from Game of Thrones.
Con of Thrones is produced by Mischief Management, in collaboration with their official programming partner—Watchers on the Wall. Additional special guests and additional details will be announced at a later date!
Both author George R.R. Martin and showrunners Benioff and Weiss have largely avoided discussing the differences between the show’s ending and what we may eventually find in his books, and we’ll probably not get a detailed answer until The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are released, if they ever are. In the meantime, any news on the subject feels like a precious gem of information. That is the case with a new interview with Martin, who largely avoids giving us specifics… but also gives us a lot to talk about, especially regarding the ending of Daenerys Targaryen!
The ASOIAF subreddit picked up on Welt‘s German language interview, and user Whitebread100 provided a translation, which we’re thankful for. First, Welt asks Martin about his wide-ranging workload, beyond the writing of his final A Song of Ice and Fire novels:
“I’m currently developing the prequel series for HBO. I also have another deal with the station: I’m supposed to produce more series for them, those that don’t originate in the universe of my own stories,” Martin explains. “I’m working with writer Nnedi Okorafar on a film adaptation of her science fiction novel Who Fears Death. And I own a small art house cinema in Santa Fe, where I live. It all takes up a lot of time. But I like it.”
Now, as for the final season and how it relates to the two remaining books he’s writing, Martin is quick to point out, as he has before in other words, that “people know an end – not the end.” He elaborates: “The makers of the TV series overtook me, which I didn’t expect. Nevertheless I continue what I’ve been doing for years: I still try to finish first the next book Winds Of Winter and then the follow-up novel A Dream Of Spring. These are the things I concentrate on. After that we will see.”
When pressed further about how he’ll tackle readers knowing the broad strokes of the ending, and Dany’s fate in particular, Martin resorts to his favorite answer:
“Counter question: How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have? In Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind she had three children. But in the cinema version of the novel she had only one child. Which version is the only valid one – the one with one child or the one with three?” Martin asks. “The answer is: neither of the two. Because Scarlett O’Hara never existed, she is a fictional character, not a real person who would have had real children. Or take The Little Mermaid. We know her from the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen and from the Disney film. Which one is the real mermaid? Well, mermaids don’t exist. You can choose the version you like best. That goes for any story adapted for cinema or television. In this process, change is inevitable. Even if the adaptation is as faithful to the literary original as it was in Game of Thrones.”
As usual, and very much like showrunners Benioff and Weiss, Martin is evasive about which aspects of the final season were based on the outline he delivered the showrunners years ago. What that means is open to interpretation, of course. Personally, what I take from Martin avoiding to answer the Daenerys question directly is that, whatever differences there may end up being in the road to her fall from grace (however many children Scarlett O’Hara has), her story will still inevitably end in that fall. Then again, I’m no mind reader. What do you think his evasiness means?
At the hour when it counted most, when there are no more seasons to earn nominations, Game of Thrones season 8 stepped up to the plate and did what it had to do. With only three nominations on the table, being nominated alone was a nice present, or even winning one! But, two outta 3? That just goes to show all the season 8 naysayers that GOT can still bring home the bacon. But, it’s not only the awards that are exciting – With all the glitz of the awards, comes the glam of the red carpet. And as ever, the GOT cast knows how to bring the heat! So who won? And who showed up to the carpet? Let’s find out together…
Well, as you can clearly tell from the leading image, Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane) and Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) hit the carpet together. And in case you can’t tell because he’s missing his usual long locks, that’s Commander Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) himself on the right. I was also pleasantly surprised to find Pollyana McIntosh (Captain of the Garbage People?) from The Walking Dead photobombing them. Of course, they would have lots to celebrate, as the first win of the night came from Outstanding Performance in a Stunt Ensemble, for which GOT has now officially won 8/8 for all seasons. Take a lap, stunt people. You’ve earned it.
Meanwhile, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) and his guest were on hand to witness the second win of the night. I’m sure Jaime was smiling and cheering from the audience as his little brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) took home the win for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series. This was no easy feat, given he was arguably a supporting actor from a larger ensemble going up against Steve Carrell, Sterling K. Brown, David Harbour, and Billy Crudup, but by George [RRM] he did it!
Unfortunately, GOT did not take the cake when it lost to The Crown for best ensemble. It’s very hard for me to argue with that when The Crown this season was led by the always stellar, newly minted Oscar winner Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II) and Uncle Edmure’s Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip). GOT stands in good company, losing alongside The Handmaid’s Tale, Big Little Lies, and Stranger Things. As George always says, it’s an honor just to be nominated. So who else turned up for the whole “affair?” Well, unlike a Dothraki wedding, all in all, it was not a dull affair…
Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), and Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)
In new interviews focusing on their life after Game of Thrones, Theon and Daenerys actors Alfie Allen and Emilia Clarke look back on this decade-long, life-changing job, touching on how it felt to have it end and on the negative reactions to the final season.
At Esquire, Alfie Allen at first reminisces about the past in the show; about his very first day on set, in fact, in which he apparently showed up when he wasn’t needed yet:
“They said ‘we might as well put you in then’,” he laughs. But he didn’t laugh then: he felt “confused, nervous and lost” at first, as the show was his first big acting job.
That was a long time ago, however, and things changed halfway through his eight-season long run: “I think that pressure that I might have put on myself just disappeared in series four or five,” he says. “I think it just became a normal part of my life.”
Now, as he leaves the role of Theon Greyjoy behind, he is taking with him the hard-earned recognition for his talents, including an Emmy nomination: “I’d said goodbye to Thrones but then I got to end on a positive note,” Allen says on the matter.
On the theme of positive notes, Allen says he “can’t really remember ever having that much of a negative experience with any fans,” even after the negative reaction to season eight, which he says has been “blown out of proportion.” Nevertheless, he did have one “bitter” fan encounter after the ending, though he appears to take it in good fun:
“Somebody came up to me the other day in the street and was like ‘Oh man, the arc of your character, and the whole way Game of Thrones ended was just so disappointing!’. I was just standing there and he came up to me to let me know it was shit,” he laughs. “I was just like ‘Thanks man!”
Though Emilia Clarke’s piece on Vanity Fair mostly deals with her life after Thrones, she does describe how she personally experienced the show coming to a close: “When it ended, I felt like I’d been dropped a thousand feet.” This reportedly meant “grappling with events she hadn’t had time to process, including her father’s death” a few years ago. “I slowed all the way down because I had to, to gently build it back up again.”
As for whether playing the ambitious Daenerys has influenced her own confidence and aspirations in some way, Clarke has a compelling answer: “I just think that ambition for everyone looks different at different stages of your life. When you’re young, you see ambition as quite relentless. You win or you lose with ambition.”
Now, that’s a Game of Thrones phrase if I ever heard one!
We can most likely expect House of the Dragon, the new Game of Thrones spinoff, in 2022, reports Deadline, who spoke to HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys today at the winter TCAs. The date was far from set in stone, but it’s the most firm news we’ve received in some time about the show.
“My guess is sometime in 2022,” Bloys said, with Deadline reporting he indicated it was “too early to be more specific.”
George RR Martin dished on the writers room of the spinoff back in November, confirming the involvement of Wes Tooke, Claire Kiechel, and Ti Mikkel, along with co-showunner Ryan Condal who is penning the pilot with Martin.
“They are starting writing,” Bloys confirmed, along with the news that there IS no casting news yet. He teased, “Obviously it’s a big, complicated show.”
In the interview, Bloys did take time to explain the failed pilot Blood Moon, written by Jane Goldman and starring Naomi Watts. Bloys explained to Deadline:
“In development, in pilots, sometimes things come together, sometimes they don’t,” he explained. “One of the things I think Jane took on beautifully, which was a challenge, there was a lot more world creation because she set hers 8,000 years before the (mothership) show, so it required a lot more. That is a big swing. One of the things about House of Dragons, there is a text, there is a book so that made it a little bit more of a road map for a series order.”
“I think Jane did a beautiful job, it was a big challenge but there was nothing that I would point to and say, oh, that one element did not work, just overall it did not quite gel. That’s one of the reasons when we started out to think about ‘Is there a life after Game of Thrones in terms of Game of Thrones’, we purposefully developed multiple projects. We would have been very lucky to do one pilot, have that pilot go and be a success but in development as you know, it takes a lot of tries to get it right, this is no different.”
Also coming out of the TCAs is the confirmation that David Benioff and DB Weiss’ follow-up show for the network called Confederate is officially dead. The controversial drama was announced a couple years as the next exciting step for the duo, but fans rightly pointed out that it was a really really terrible idea. It was commonly assumed to be not happening since D&D moved onto Netflix and other projects but now it’s confirmed: it’s history.
The Directors Guild of America just announced the nominees for its 72nd annual award, and Game of Thrones is among them not once but twice, thanks to the marvelous directors behind its final season. As you may recall, David Nutter took on most of the work, with “Winterfell”, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, and “The Last of the Starks”; Miguel Sapochnik directed the battle episodes, “The Long Night” and “The Bells”; while showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss helmed the series finale, “The Iron Throne.”
You’ll not be shocked to learn which two of these directors got nominated, but you may be surprised about the episodes selected to highlight their directorship.
For the ‘Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series’ category at the upcoming 2019 DGA Awards, there are five nominees; shockingly (or perhaps not so much), they are all nominated for their work on HBO series. All. Of. Them.
Thrones veteran David Nutter, who directed the iconic “The Reins of Castamere” and the Emmy and DGA award-winning “Mother’s Mercy”, is nominated for “The Last of the Starks” (and not for “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” as one may have thought).
Of course, there is also Miguel Sapochnik, who since season five has directed some of the most jaw-dropping Game of Thrones episodes, such as the horrifying “Hardhome”, the Emmy and DGA award-winning “Battle of the Bastards”, and my personal favorite “The Winds of Winter”. Sapochnik has an impressive track-record that continued in his return for the final season; and so, he is deservedly nominated for “The Long Night.”
The other entries for ‘Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series’ are Nicole Kassell for Watchmen’s “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice”, Stephen Williams for Watchmen’s “This Extraordinary Being”, and Mark Mylod (who’s also directed Thrones in the past) for Succession’s “This Is Not For Tears.”
Though in its final year Game of Thrones enjoyed some of the strongest and most confident directing in the show’s history, this time it has serious competition, especially with Watchmen. Then again, though the Thrones vote may be split because of the two nominations, the same could happen to Watchmen. Or Succession could win after all!
We’ll see soon enough, as the 72nd DGA awards will be celebrated on January 25.
Last night, we hosted the Watchers on the Wall Awards, our annual celebration of the best of Game of Thrones, celebrating the final season. In case you missed the event, we’ve rounded up the highlights for you, the award winners and the lucky winners of our giveaways!
During the ceremony, there were four exciting prize giveaways for our readers. The giveaway winners are…
Arya Stark with Two-Headed Spear Funko Pop! Figure: Steve
Brienne of Tarth Kingsguard Armor Funko Pop! Figure: Nymeria
Dragon Eggs Shot Glass Set: Heike Accorsi
Sansa Stark Coronation Gown Funko Pop! Figure:Erin M
After months of nominee-gathering, discussion and voting, the time has come! We’re here to announce the winners of the Watchers on the Wall Awards for the final season of Game of Thrones! Every year our readers determine the best of the best of the season, from acting, quotable quotes, and more. Our live ceremony includes more than just awards- we’ll be sharing our own thoughts on season 8 and giving away a basketful of Game of Thrones merch, so grab a drink, settle in and tune into the ceremony, broadcast via YouTube on the video embedded below.
Our first worldwide giveaway of the evening starts NOW! The first commenter on this post wins a special gift-the Arya Stark with Two-Headed Spear Funko Pop! Figure, for the first giveaway of the Watchers on the Wall Awards. Leave a comment- any comment– and be the very first in order to win! And stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the night, as we announce the winners of the Watchers on the Wall Awards.
If you can’t stay for the whole ceremony tonight, we’ll be posting the complete results later on and the video will remain available.
Thanks to everyone for joining us this evening, and to everyone who submitted nominations and took part in voting! There would be no Watchers on the Wall Awards without our readers; we’re eternally grateful for your participation in the process, and your friendship.
Visual effects are one of the most underrated arts of filmmaking, and Game of Thrones is perhaps their greatest exemplar on television, achieving heights in VFX and SFX that the medium could only have dreamt of not so long ago. Thankfully, there is a Visual Effects Society to congratulate them on their work: the HBO show has won five VES awards for each of the lasttwo seasons, and this trend may continue for its final season…
For ‘Outstanding Compositing in an Episode’, Game of Thrones is nominated twice: WETA digital VFX artists Mark Richardson, Darren Christie, Nathan Abbot and Owen Longstaff are nominated for their dragon ground battle in “The Long Night”; and Scanline VFX artists Sean Heuston, Scott Joseph, James Elster and Corinne Teo for their extensive visual effects throughout the fifth episode of season eight, “The Bells”. The show’s only competition here is Stranger Things‘ Starcourt Mall Battle in the season three finale and the effect of Looking Glass’s face in the Watchmen pilot.
In the ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode’ award, the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, “The Bells”, stands for the show. VFX supervisor Joe Bauer, VFX producer Steve Kullback, additional VFX supervisor Ted Rae, VFX artist Mohsen Mousavi, and VFX floor supervisor Sam Conway are nominated for the award. Their marvelous work on “The Bells” is up against episodes of His Dark Materials, Lost in Space, Stranger Things and The Mandalorian, as well as Lady and the Tramp.
For the ‘Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project’ award, the explosive “The Bells” is again understandably nominated, thanks to the artistry of Scanline VFX specialists Paul Fuller, Ryo Sakaguchi and Thomas Hartmann, as well as Pixomondo VFX artist Marcel Kern. Hennessy: The Seven Worlds, Lost in Space, Stranger Things, and The Mandalorian are also nominees.
“The Bells” rears its head again in the ‘Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project’ award, for which VFX floor supervisor Sam Conway, SFX coordinator Terry Palmer, and senior SFX technicians Laurence Harvey and Alastair Vardy are nominated. Aladdin and Terminator: Dark Fate are the other nominees.
Finally, Scanline VFX artists Carlos Patrick DeLeon, Alonso Bocanegra Martinez, Marcela Silva, and Benjamin Ross are nominated for their work on the Red Keep Plaza from which Daenerys gives her frightening speech at the start of the series finale, “The Iron Throne,” in the ‘Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project’ award. Their competition is the trench in Lost in Space, the Endless Forest in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and Nevarro Town in The Mandalorian.
The final season of Game of Thrones, especially its fifth episode, was replete with VFX (and SFX) worthy of the most expensive Hollywood films–probably because it almost had a budget to match–, so it’s not shocking to see it nominated for so many awards in this field. And yet, it’s always comforting to see great work celebrated!
Of course, we shouldn’t claim victory prematurely: Game of Thrones is tied with Disney’s VFX-heavy Star Wars: The Mandalorian. Together, Thrones and The Mandalorian lead the VES awards for TV with six nominations each, competing against each other in three of them, so it’s likely the HBO show won’t end up winning every award… then again, we’ll see soon enough, as the 18th Annual VES Awards will be held on January 29!
Exciting guest news for con-goers today! For the first time, Game of Thrones star Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont) will appear at Con of Thrones, the premier convention for fans of Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the epic worlds of fantasy author George R. R. Martin. Glen will appear on panels and programming at Con of Thrones 2020 on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19, as well as participate in autograph and photograph experiences with fans.
Glen won acclaim for his role as Ser Jorah Mormont, a member of Daenerys Targaryen’s Queensguard, in all eight seasons of Game of Thrones. Fans can expect several entertaining and informative sessions with Glen, as well as individualized meet-and-greets. Tickets are available for purchase now at conofthrones.net/register.
Autograph and photograph experiences with Glen are available for purchase now. Autographs are $85 and photographs are $100. Autograph and photograph experiences are also available with Game of Thrones actor Anton Lesser (Qyburn) and Sam Coleman (Young Hodor). Con of Thrones will take place in Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center July 17–19, 2020.
Con of Thrones will host in-depth discussions about both the television and book series, Special Guest Spotlight interviews, live recordings of fan-favorite podcasts, and much more. Previous guests include Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton), Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel), Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn), Esmé Bianco (Ros), Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon), Aimee Richardson (Myrcella Baratheon), and Emmy Award-winning Sound Designer Paula Fairfield.
Con of Thrones is produced by Mischief Management. Watchers on the Wall is proud to serve as the official programming partner for Con of Thrones. Additional special guests and additional details will be announced at a later date.
Game of Thrones the TV show is over, but the book series A Song of Ice and Fire remains unfinished, and there’s no reason not to speculate on what might happen in the books to come, as well as what elements from the show might happen in the books.
One of the endgame pieces established on the show was the election of Bran Stark as king of the political region formerly known as the Seven Kingdoms. Not everyone agrees that this will happen in the books, but a case will be made in this essay that Bran Stark becoming monarch would satisfactorily reflect on the failed journey of another character: the almost-king Stannis Baratheon.
On the surface, there might not seem to be many similarities between Bran the Broken and Stannis “he’ll break before he bends” Baratheon. But there are similarities, some so specific that it’s hard to imagine that they’re entirely coincidental.
Before setting off on comparing Bran to Stannis, it’s worth comparing their older and younger brothers as a unit. Both Bran and Stannis are the middle of male siblings, and therefore have the almost universal situation of having an older brother to live up to and a bratty younger brother to deal with. That’s certainly not enough to establish a strong literary connection between these two groups, but all of the brothers have associations with their respective counterparts.
Bran’s eldest brother Robb was named after Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark’s best friend from Storm’s End. Both Robb and Robert rebelled against injustice from King’s Landing, and both became kings. Robert ended the Targaryen dynasty’s rule, and Robb reversed the Targaryen-imposed rule of the North being a vassal state to southern kings.
Each established a legendary reputation for military success during their rebellion, with Robb never losing a battle and Robert – although not undefeated like Robb – leading his army to a record-breaking three victories in one day.
Bran and Stannis do not just have seemingly blessed older brothers to measure up to; they were in the shadow of popular kingly brothers.
The low stone steps balked Dancer only for a moment. When Bran urged her on, she took them easily. Beyond the wide oak-and-iron doors, eight long rows of trestle tables filled Winterfell’s Great Hall, four on each side of the center aisle. Men crowded shoulder to shoulder on the benches. “Stark!” they called as Bran trotted past, rising to their feet. “Winterfell! Winterfell!”
He was old enough to know that it was not truly him they shouted for—it was the harvest they cheered, it was Robb and his victories, it was his lord father and his grandfather and all the Starks going back eight thousand years. Still, it made him swell with pride. For so long as it took him to ride the length of that hall he forgot that he was broken. Yet when he reached the dais, with every eye upon him, Osha and Hodor undid his straps and buckles, lifted him off Dancer’s back, and carried him to the high seat of his fathers.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran III
“Robert could piss in a cup and men would call it wine, but I offer them pure cold water and they squint in suspicion and mutter to each other about how queer it tastes.” Stannis ground his teeth.
— A Clash of Kings, Davos II
The connection between young Rickon and young-ish Renly might not be as obvious as the similarity between Robb and Robert, and it’s not enough to suggest that any resentment that the middle brothers might have in dealing with their respective younger brothers really reinforces a Bran-Stannis connection. But Rickon (in the books) seems to be following in the steps of Renly in regards to their roles in the political narrative.
Renly was the first Baratheon to declare himself king in defiance of the Lannisters, with much pomp and celebration. And, if we accept Lady Catelyn’s observation: childishness.
This is madness, Catelyn thought. Real enemies on every side and half the realm in flames, and Renly sits here playing at war like a boy with his first wooden sword.
— A Clash of Kings, Catelyn II
He was the first to die in The War of the Five Kings, his rising star dramatically fizzling out.
Renly’s quest to become king was largely enabled by the ambitions of the powerful and rich House Tyrell, who sought to gain political power by using Renly and his weaker claim as an excuse to displace their largest rivals, the Lannisters.
Rickon is just a child, and is not likely to be a mastermind seeking glory, but he exists in the story more than just to irritate Bran by hanging out with Big and Little Walder. Even though he exits the narrative at the end of A Clash of Kings with his wildling guardian Osha taking him to refuge, the boy remains a political piece in play in the North.
Lord Wyman, the leader of powerful and wealthy House Manderly, has publicly sided with the new Bolton regime, but in A Dance with Dragons he dispatches Ser Davos Seaworth to follow the available clues to Rickon Stark’s whereabouts with the hopes of delivering the Stark child to Manderly protection in White Harbour. With Rickon, the last known surviving heir to Winterfell, Lord Wyman asserts that he can rally the North against the unpopular Boltons.
Supporters of the Great Northern Conspiracy theory suggest that although Manderly has not made this explicitly clear, Lord Wyman’s true goal would be to support Rickon over Stannis’ claim to rule the North. The similarities from a plot perspective between Rickon and Renly can be clearly summarized:
Rickon being used to deny Stannis’ claim to the North would be a replay of Renly being used to deny Stannis’ claim to the throne.
Rickon’s weaker claim, like Renly’s, will be supported despite him having a living older brother. To be fair to Lord Wyman, few know that Bran is even alive.
Rickon: Wait! I know Bran is alive! Lord Wyman: That’s adorable. Let’s keep that a secret for now.
But, Rickon’s impact on the overall narrative does not seem promising. For years, readers have examined the associations of the names of each Stark child’s direwolf as reflective of the child. Rickon’s direwolf is named Shaggydog, and a shaggy dog story is a story that’s rambling and complicated and ends without justifying its telling. So Rickon’s story will likely fizzle out like Renly’s ambitions.
If we can accept that Robb and Rickon are or will be reflections of their respective Baratheon, we should now consider the similarities between Bran and Stannis and how that might affect Bran’s story in The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
Stannis Baratheon is known for being the unpopular Baratheon brother (although he does have his fans with some readers.) One doesn’t have to ask anyone other than Stannis for this confirmation:
“You have given me an honored place at your table. And in return I give you truth. Your people will not love you if you take from them the gods they have always worshiped, and give them one whose very name sounds queer on their tongues.”
Stannis stood abruptly. “R’hllor. Why is that so hard? They will not love me, you say? When have they ever loved me? How can I lose something I have never owned?”
— A Clash of Kings, Davos I
His unpopularity made it easier for Renly to gather support, since Renly could make the case that Stannis was an unsuitable candidate for king, based entirely on his brother’s personality.
“I have twice that number here,” Renly said, “and this is only part of my strength. Mace Tyrell remains at Highgarden with another ten thousand, I have a strong garrison holding Storm’s End, and soon enough the Dornishmen will join me with all their power. And never forget my brother Stannis, who holds Dragonstone and commands the lords of the narrow sea.”
“It would seem that you are the one who has forgotten Stannis,” Catelyn said, more sharply than she’d intended.
“His claim, you mean?” Renly laughed. “Let us be blunt, my lady. Stannis would make an appalling king. Nor is he like to become one. Men respect Stannis, even fear him, but precious few have ever loved him.”
— A Clash of Kings, Catelyn II
If there are differences between little Bran and grim Stannis, one of them is certainly in being loved. Bran is loved, no argument can be made otherwise. Bran’s adorable. Even when he’s crabby.
But Bran’s crippling accident took away more than the use of his legs, it took away his dreams. (Some of them, at least.)
Bran had never asked to be a prince. It was knighthood he had always dreamed of; bright armor and streaming banners, lance and sword, a warhorse between his legs. Why must he waste his days listening to old men speak of things he only half understood? Because you’re broken, a voice inside reminded him. A lord on his cushioned chair might be crippled—the Walders said their grandfather was so feeble he had to be carried everywhere in a litter—but not a knight on his destrier.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran II
Stannis was handicapped politically by his personality, while Bran felt that he was looked down upon for his injuries, particularly among the ableist Northmen.
Leobald seemed surprised that he had spoken. “I’m grateful, my prince,” he said, but Bran saw pity in his pale blue eyes, mingled perhaps with a little gladness that the cripple was, after all, not his son. For a moment he hated the man.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran II
But things changed for both Stannis and Bran, when to their respective courts came colorful characters.
Even her eyes were red . . . but her skin was smooth and white, unblemished, pale as cream. Slender she was, graceful, taller than most knights, with full breasts and narrow waist and a heart-shaped face. Men’s eyes that once found her did not quickly look away, not even a maester’s eyes. Many called her beautiful. She was not beautiful. She was red, and terrible, and red.
— A Clash of Kings, Prologue
Melisandre of Asshai, the Red Woman, brought the gospel to Stannis that he wasn’t simply an overlooked noble, but Azor Ahai, the prophesied reincarnation of a legendary hero.
During his tenure as the prince of Winterfell, Bran received a similarly-described individual with a specific color palette, who would support the magical initiation that had started with Bran’s crow-haunted dreams.
Her brother was several years younger and bore no weapons. All his garb was green, even to the leather of his boots, and when he came closer Bran saw that his eyes were the color of moss, though his teeth looked as white as anyone else’s. Both Reeds were slight of build, slender as swords and scarcely taller than Bran himself. They went to one knee before the dais.
— A Clash of Kings, Bran III
The fact that Melisandre and Jojen Reed are described primarily by a color feels very intentional on Martin’s part, as well as highlighting their magical connotations, as if Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, and Saruman the White were also on the scene. Melisandre is clearly the embodiment of fire, the symbol of her magical god R’hllor, and Jojen is connected to the Old Gods and their gifts of greensight and green dreams.
To summarize, both Renly and Stannis are middle sons, with heroic kingly older brothers and younger brothers vulnerable to being political pawns. Both are presented with the idea that they have a magical destiny by agents of two major religions who strongly and visually identify with those religions.
If we are not supposed to see similarities between Stannis and Bran Stark, then this is one very large coincidence.
Assuming that this is not coincidental… there is one large difference between Stannis and Bran as magical figures. One of them is actually a magical figure (Bran) and one of them (Stannis) is not.
It’s not entirely clear why Melisandre is so convinced that Stannis Baratheon is her foretold savior, Azor Ahai. She came to Dragonstone because Stannis’ wife Selyse was a true believer in R’hllor. When King Robert died and Stannis had suspicions that Joffrey was not Robert’s true son, it might have seemed fortuitous that Lord Stannis was destined to be king, and if he would bring the faith of the Lord of Light to Westeros, then perhaps he was the faith’s hero Azor Ahai reborn.
Melisandre probably has some chicken-egg circular logic to support Stannis’ clear role as king and Azor Ahai.
Melisandre: Stannis is the rightful king because he is our lord, Azor Ahai reborn. I know that Stannis is Azor Ahai because he is the rightful king. Obviously.
Melisandre is also not above blindly accepting events to support her zealotry. A little bit of confirmation bias and Stannis is truly the hero (not a ham) born of smoke and salt. She even went so far as to stage a farcical recreation of Azor Ahai forging the famed magical blade Lightbringer as if that would make Stannis the legit savior figure. But this sword was more forgery than mystically forged, and that can’t really be considered solid bona fides for Stannis’ supernatural status.
Whereas Bran seems more like the real deal. Maybe not Azor Ahai reborn, but Bran is magical. He’s a warg and a greenseer, which is extremely rare. He not only has the blood of the First Men, but the blood of thousands of years of Starks, who have been associated with Winterfell, the heart of the North. Is Winterfell a magical place? With its hot springs and heart tree and convenient location to shelter so many during the winters, it feels like a place of beneficial blessed nature, just like Harrenhal feels supernaturally cursed.
The show has indicated that Bran has a destiny to be the king of the many kingdoms, but is there evidence that he’s Azor Ahai? Wouldn’t Melisandre know? Wouldn’t her flames tell her so?
In A Dance with Dragons, Melisandre has a single point-of-view chapter where she’s desperate for information on her hero Stannis, who has gone marching off into peril.
The red priestess closed her eyes and said a prayer, then opened them once more to face the hearthfire. One more time. She had to be certain. Many a priest and priestess before her had been brought down by false visions, by seeing what they wished to see instead of what the Lord of Light had sent. Stannis was marching south into peril, the king who carried the fate of the world upon his shoulders, Azor Ahai reborn. Surely R’hllor would vouchsafe her a glimpse of what awaited him. Show me Stannis, Lord, she prayed. Show me your king, your instrument.
— A Dance With Dragons, Melisandre I
She’s presented with apocalyptic visions of shadows and skulls and crumbling towers. When she breaks from that channel to try to tune in on a vision she had seen once – of a grey girl on a dying horse – she gets a glimpse of someone unexpected.
A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment … but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf’s face threw back his head and howled.
— A Dance With Dragons, Melisandre I
Melisandre’s prescient scrying in the flames is tricky at best, and there could be other explanations of why she’d see Bloodraven and Bran when looking in the flames, as if they’re using the same prophetic astral plane as a shared party line. But one takeaway is that Melisandre went looking for Stannis, and ended up seeing Bran.
She also sees Jon Snow, who is an excellent Azor Ahai candidate and has a strong claim to the Iron Throne. In Melisandre’s world view, Azor Ahai is closely associated with kingship; it’s not correct to conflate the two, but there does seem to be some correlation.
The books will probably be different in major ways from the show, but if we take some of the endgame elements as given: Bran being king, Jon in exile, Stannis dead, then the ‘Stannis —> Bran’ focus (with Jon in the middle) satisfies one of George RR Martin’s favorite storytelling element: the threefold reveal.
Simply stated, the threefold reveal will present a succession of answers to a certain question, with two incorrect ones and the final correct reveal. For example:
Who is Jon Snow’s Mother?
Answer 1) No one of importance. Like, some chick named Wylla, or a fisherman’s wife from the Sister Islands. (This is the wrong answer.)
Answer 2) Ashara Dayne. (This is also a wrong answer, but it’s a cool answer. There’s some drama here.)
Answer 3) The real answer. R + L = J
If Stannis is Melisandre’s initial candidate for Azor Ahai/King – he’s the first part of the threefold reveal, and false.
With the knowledge that Jon Snow is a Targaryen with the best claim to the Throne, he’s the second part of the threefold reveal. A reasonable answer, kind of spicy. But if Jon is going into exile at the end of the series, he doesn’t become king, so that’s not quite right either.
Bran is then the third part of the threefold reveal.
Stannis establishes the end goal – kingship (with the eventual defeat of the Others wrapped in as a complementary goal) but cannot achieve that goal in the story. Instead, he acts as a foil to a character with similar (but not identical) characteristics who does achieve the goal. In this case, magical middle-brother Bran Stark.
SEEING THE FUTURE IN THE FLAMES/DREAMS
If Bran is a kind of improved version of Stannis, then his untold story in the books might adopt more elements from Stannis’ narrative journey. Unfortunately it’s hard to know what how Stannis’ story is going to unfold definitively in the books. The show has Stannis dying in an attempt to capture the virtual heart (and loyalty) of the North. If it is a given that Bran will become the high king, then dying won’t be in his cards.
The other notable element that’s currently absent in the books is Stannis’ sacrifice of Shireen, consigned to the flames in exchange for a magical advantage. The logistics won’t be the same in the books, but it is probable that Shireen will indeed burn with a desperate Stannis intentionally agreeing to sacrifice her.
If Bran is an analogue of Stannis, will there be a similar sacrifice in his story? Was Hodor the sacrifice?
Will Rickon’s role be as a sacrifice required by Bran for some magical advantage against the Others? Rickon has the same ancient (and probably magical) blood of the First Men that Bran has, and blood magic is a thing in this world. The requirement for Bran to sacrifice his little brother would also reinforce the Rickon-Renly connection.
The Others will need to be driven back and since there is no singular point-of-failure command-and-control feature among the Others in the books as there was for the White Walkers on the show, something less simple than Arya stabbing the Night King will probably take place. And what that will be might require Bran and the choices that he makes.
And that might also go a long way in making him king.
Perhaps this is why the resolution of the Long Night failed to deliver to some of the show’s watchers. It was an epic event, but not necessarily mythic in the way that Bran’s active and supernatural involvement might have made it.
Comparing characters in a written work is a compelling activity, because character similarities and differences are often intended by the writer to be noticed, even if the reader’s perception of these attributes operates unconsciously. Shakespeare included the Norwegian prince Fortinbras in Hamlet not because Fortinbras had a major impact in the story, but because his decisive action to assert his rights contrasted with Hamlet’s natural inaction and indecisiveness.
When a set of characters share characteristics or circumstances with another set, the comparison is even stronger. Sir Thomas Mallory had a handful of lesser kings in Le Morte D’Arthur with whom Arthur could be favorably compared, but his decision to include the love triangle of Sir Tristan, Queen Isolde, and the unsavory King Mark of Cornwall was specifically intended to be the yardstick against which Lancelot, Queen Guinevere, and King Arthur were to be measured against.
This essay might have cherry-picked characteristics between Stannis Baratheon and Bran Stark to establish a possible correlation, and the fact that their brothers have shared characteristics with their respective counterparts can only reinforce that.
But, it doesn’t make it true, necessarily.
Bran might become king in the books, which would validate the show and demonstrate that Bran’s journey is the culmination of what Stannis was trying to accomplish. And present Bran as a sort of successor to Stannis as a character.
If he does not become king, then this essay is largely the same as Melisandre looking into her flames and imagining Stannis becoming king. Which would then make Bran exactly like Stannis.
Bran: Except, actually magical.
The proof will be when The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring come out, to continue and conclude the adventures of Rickon Stark, Bran Stark, and Stannis Baratheon. But until that happens we’ll have to take what clues we can from Martin’s text, informed by what’s happened on the show, and make our best guesses.
Being right is good, but being wrong isn’t that bad either. But it’s probably not ideal to stop thinking about the story to come.
Stannis: I’d rather be right. Bran: How unfortunate for you.
We haven’t heard much about the Game of Thrones Studio Tour ever since it was officially announced back in April of last year, but now we have more details and a more accurate date for its opening.
As reported by The Irish News, the Studio Tour at Banbridge’s Linen Mill Studios, where much of the show was filmed, will employ up to 194 people, operating 12 hours per day, seven days a week. Expected to cost £23.7 million ($31 million USD), this Game of Thrones museum is predicted to attract up to 600,000 visitors per year, resulting in a £396.2 million ($520 million USD) boost in tourism spending for Northern Ireland by 2030, after ten years in operation. Indeed, as we originally announced, the tour is debuting in 2020, though it’s now projected to open this fall.
An official mock-up of the Studio Tour’s entrance
The expanded studio will offer a 110,000-square-foot interactive experience in which guests will be treated to a close look at a wide selection of items pulled straight from the show and have the opportunity to walk through authentic set pieces, from the first to the final season, as well as informative displays highlighting the production spaces and the craftsmanship and artistry of the creative teams who brought the show to life.
There will also be a restaurant and a ‘back-lot’ café, designed to replicate the studio catering experience that the cast and crew of the show enjoyed (I hope) during production, which should be quite interesting.
So, anyone planning a trip to Northern Ireland this fall?
The 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards took place this evening at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. It wasn’t a big year for Game of Thrones at the awards, but show star Kit Harington pulled in a nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series, and turned out to present at the ceremony as well. Harington appeared at the Globes with wife and former co-star Rose Leslie on his arm, with the couple looking happy and gorgeous on the red carpet. Unfortunately, Harington lost the prize to Brian Cox of HBO’s Succession.
A few pics from the red carpet:
Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) with Lisa Bonet. The couple brought their own style as usual, a welcome change from an otherwise mostly unsurprising collection of red carpet looks.
Rose Leslie looking ravishing in sheer green, a great compliment with her red hair:
Oddly enough, Tobias Menzies, who played Edmure Tully on GoT, was also up for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama this year, for his role as Prince Philip on The Crown.
Actress Sienna Miller presented with Harington, handing off the award for Best Foreign Film to Parasite.
Talking to E!’s Ryan Seacrest from the red carpet before the show, Harington looks back on playing Jon Snow for a decade and admits to it being a challenge to detach from GoT.
It’s strange to think we don’t have many more events like these! Perhaps we can look forward to more group cast pics from the SAG Awards on January 19th?
After months of voting, planning and debating, it’s finally time for the Watchers on the Wall Awards, celebrating the very best of the final season of Game of Thrones! Join us on Friday, January 10th at 8PM ET for a live ceremony, streaming from YouTube and embedded here at Watchers, as we announce the award winners chosen by the community. While we share the GoT season 8 winners, we’ll be discussing the final season, and as always, there will be giveaways galore!
Be ready for the event at 8PM sharp, because the giveaways start with the very first commenter on the ceremony post! The rest of the contests will be popping up throughout the ceremony so tune in, join in the fun, comment, and win.
If you can’t make it this Friday night to hear about the winners, have no fear- we’ll be posting the awards results later on, with final polling numbers.
Thank you all for your contributions, in making the Watchers on the Wall Awards happen, this year and every year since their inception. Save the date, and join us Friday!
Game of Thrones isn’t only popular on HBO. It’s also been a darling of torrent sites–a popular form of piracy based on peer-to-peer downloads–ever since the HBO series began. In fact, as of season seven it’d been the TV show most pirated via torrents every year since 2012; since season two. As you may not be surprised to learn, season eight didn’t break the streak.
As reported by specialist site TorrentFreak, “the interest was again overwhelming” for this final season; so much so that this year Game of Thrones “visibly boosted traffic” on torrent sites.
The torrent podium this year was shared by the HBO mini-series Chernobyl, on second place, and Disney’s The Mandalorian, which may well take the throne next year as the two HBO shows won’t be there to compete; and did in fact unseat The Walking Dead from the top-three for the first time in many years. However, as TorrentFreak points out, The Mandalorian may have been such a massive hit on torrent sites in large part because Disney+, the streaming platform in which the show is exclusively streamed, has only been available in a few countries, mostly in North America and Oceania, and will remains so until March of this year.
As we mentioned last year, “torrent” does not refer to any kind of unnoficial / illegal download, so the overall piracy numbers would be much higher if they were to be calculated, which is no easy feat. Nowadays, many (perhaps most) users of pirated content do not bother with peer-to-peer downloads, resorting to streaming sites instead; they require no direct downloads, so they can be watched instantaneously, at the expense of quality and long-term storage. Game of Thrones was as popular as ever on streaming sites, but there is simply no easy way to calculate just how popular.
Whatever the overall numbers may be, Game of Thrones held to its title as most torrented TV show of the year for as long as the show existed, which is a sort of honor; though I’d wager HBO would rather people watch their shows through official means, this record remains an indicator of popularity.