Posts Tagged ‘George R.R. Martin’

What Jon Snow’s Return Means for ‘Game of Thrones’

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

But what does Jon’s supernatural survival mean for the show itself? First and foremost, it means you are, indeed, watching a fantasy show. Melisandre’s shadow-demon babies, Arya’s shape-shifting assassins, that FrankenMountain monster, last week’s reveal of the Red Woman’s true form, the White Walkers and their undead army, Dany’s freaking dragons: The rules of reality have already been bent left, right, and center, up to and including several resurrections. Our boy in black’s big comeback makes perfect sense within the genre; the idea that this represents some unforgivable breach of audience trust has got to make you wonder what show people have been watching. On the flip side, the complaint that this was too easy to see coming is equally bogus: Isn’t that what foreshadowing is for? Fiction isn’t a magic trick designed to keep audiences in the dark until the big reveal; it works on levels of categorical conventions, theme, tone, character, and plot that can all trump the need for a perfect surprise.

I went deep on Jon Snow’s comeback for Rolling Stone.


“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Six, Episode Two: “Home”

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

SPOILER ALERT

A crippled boy walks again, a smile on his face as he walks around the place he once called home. A lonely girl sits isolated against a vast frozen field, mourning her brother and wondering if she has a purpose without him. A giant bursts through a gate, cowing a small army into submission. A drunk in the middle of pissing on the wall turns to face a masked killer, who crushes his skull and walks away without a word. A sullied knight and a man of god(s) face off in a holy place, the body of a princess in front of them, daylight shining through a seven-pointed window behind them. A dwarf ventures into the darkness to face dragons, illuminated only by the light of his torch and the fire in their mouths. A new mother clutches her baby as a madman releases his hounds to kill them. A broken man hugs the woman he rescued, and who rescued him, as they say goodbye. An aging king faces off against his own brother on a bridge above the ocean, blown back and forth by the storm.

And oh, yeah … Jon Snow comes back from the dead.

I reviewed tonight’s Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 47!

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Ice and Blackfyre (A Patreon Production)

What impact did the Blackfyre Rebellion have on the characters of A Song of Ice and Fire’s view of bastards? What impact might the Blackfyre Rebellion have had on our understanding of those views, had these civil wars of succession been introduced earlier in the series? What role will they play now that they’ve entered the story in a relatively big way, via “Young Griff” and Varys,The World of Ice and Fire, and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms? They’re good questions – so good, in fact, that we didn’t think them up ourselves at all. This episode, we’re tackling a topic specifically chosen for us by Rosie Gleeson of Dublin, Ireland, our first Patreon subscriber to donate at the $50 a month level. This earns her an episode of her own choosing, and so at her request we’ll be delving into the Blackfyres, bastardry, and both the in-story and meta reasons for Martin’s treatment of both. Thank you so much for your generosity, Rosie! And if any of you other listeners would like that kind of clout – or would care to pitch it at any level at all – our Patreon page is still accepting donations to make this a better podcast. Thanks for listening, and for supporting us any way you choose! (Moral support counts.)

Download Episode 47

Additional links:

Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour

Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com)

Mirror.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Six, Episode One: “The Red Woman”

Monday, April 25th, 2016

If Game of Thrones were a Netflix show, there isn’t a man or woman in all Seven Kingdoms who wouldn’t have plowed right into episode two after watching tonight’s Season Six premiere. So many of the big storytelling beats went unresolved that the inability to binge-watch the next hour (or more) is an almost Ramsay Bolton–level torment.

We don’t get to witness the final showdown between Ser Davos and Ser Alliser. We don’t see the triumphant return of Dolorous Edd leading an army of wildlings (with or without a giant or two in tow) to his black brothers’ rescue. Neither of Cersei Lannister’s most loyal nights, her incestuous brotherJaime and her Frankensteinian bodyguard Ser Robert Strong (aka an undead Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane), face off against the fanatical forces of the High Sparrow. Tyrion Lannister and his buddy-comedy advisor Varys don’t free the dragons chained up in the basement of their Meereenese palace. Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon, the black beast called Drogon, doesn’t swoop in to save her from the clutches of Khal Moro and his Dothraki horde. Bran Stark, his wizardly mentor the Three-Eyed Raven, his M.I.A. kid brother Rickon, schemer par excellence Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish and the ne’er-do-well rulers of the Iron Islands from House Greyjoy don’t show up at all. Most importantly, to paraphrase Chevy Chase, Jon Snow is still dead—if his psychic baby bro, his telepathically connected direwolf Ghost or the apparently ancient sorceress Melisandre are going to bring him back from beyond, we’ll have to tune in next week, same Stark time, same Stark channel.

Shit, we might not even get to find out then.

So how come “The Red Woman,” tonight’s long-anticipated comeback ep, felt so satisfying regardless?

I reviewed the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone, where I’ll be covering the show weekly once again. Yay!


The Essential Guide to ‘Game of Thrones’ Character Betrayals, Alliances, Schemes, and More

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016


Huge thanks to editor Neil Janowitz for tapping me to help put together this massive Game of Thrones character relationship guide for Vulture, written by Jennifer Vineyard and assembled by their crack interactive team. You’ve really gotta see this thing to believe it. Enjoy!


‘Game of Thrones’: 11 Questions We Still Have

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

5. What’s going to happen in King’s Landing?

Seriously, is there any place here that isn’t a ticking time bomb going into Season Six?! Like Jon and Dany, Cersei Lannister started last season in charge and ended up in deep shit. After empowering the extremist religious leader known as the High Sparrow — in the hope that he’d take down her rivals — she wound up in the crosshairs as well. Now she’s endured a horrifying walk of shame but will still have to stand trial … and we’ve all seen how trials in King’s Landing go. Her brother Jaime’s back in town, bearing the bad news of their daughter Myrcella’s murder, and her undead bodyguard Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane is running around too. There could well be a three-way bloodbath in the streets between Lannister, Tyrell, and Faith Militant forces before it’s all said and done — four-way, since Dorne’s Prince Trystane is a newcomer to the city this season. It’s a recipe for disaster potent enough to make Meereen look like Des Moines.

I wrote about 11 of the biggest unanswered questions facing us in Game of Thrones Season 6 for Rolling Stone.


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 46!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Forecasting The Winds of Winter, Part 2: Essos

We’re going back to the future with part two of our all-predictions podcast series on The Winds of Winter! This time around we’re traveling to Essos to speculate as to what Volume Six of A Song of Ice and Fire has in store for our old friends, from Braavos to Meereen. What fate will befall the five POV characters currently located east of Westeros—Arya, Barristan, Victarion, Tyrion, and Daenerys? What about supporting players like Jorah Mormont, Moqorro, and Marwyn the Mage? (Forgot about him, didn’t you?) Then, of course, there’s the matter of the dragons to consider, and consider them we do. It winds up being a wide-ranging discussion of lands near and far, futures immediate and distant. Guess along with us!

This episode also features an update on our fundraisers, both our emergency PayPal fund to help fix Sean’s broken laptop and our Patreon drive, where your monthly subscription/donation can help guarantee more episodes, better sound quality, topics of your choosing, and more. We greatly appreciate all our donors and patrons so far, and if you think the podcast’s worth a few bucks a month, we’d be so grateful for you to join their ranks!

Download Episode 46

Additional links:

Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour

Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com)

Mirror.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 45!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Forecasting The Winds of Winter, Part 1: The North

If fools rush in where angels fear to tread, then we’re about to pull a Patchface: We’re foolishly forecasting the events of The Winds of Winter in our new episode! The start of a series, this installment sees us attempting to predict what’s in store for the North in volume six of A Song of Ice and Fire. What fate awaits our POV characters—Bran, Davos, Melisandre, Asha, Theon, and of course Jon Snow? How will things shake out for supporting characters like Rickon, Osha, Hodor, Tormund Giantsbane, Wyman Manderly, the Reeds, and the Boltons? What will happen at Hardhome, Winterfell, the Wall? Like everyone who isn’t George R.R. Martin, we have no freaking idea, but it’s fun to guess, and our best guesses await! (NOTE: We do refer on occasion to the TWoW preview chapters Martin has published or read aloud, so be warned!)

But wait, there’s more! This episode also includes the formal announcement of two new fundraising drives for the podcast. The first is our new Patreon page, where you can pledge to pitch in a few dollars a month to help keep the podcast running. The podcast will always be free, but even a little money per month will make it easier for us to record more frequently and with better equipment. There are also some cool goals and rewards, so please check it out!

Our second fundraiser involves a more urgent concern: Sean’s laptop screen was recently shattered in a mishap involving his kids’ Wii controllers, and replacing it is an expensive proposition on a fulltime-freelancer’s salary. So we’re opening the coffers at our PayPal donation page. A one-time donation of any amount will help Sean revive the computer he uses to work and record—a real necessity. Again, any amount helps. Thank you so much for your generosity, and enjoy the episode!

Download Episode 45

Additional links:

Our Patreon page at patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour

Our PayPal donation page (also accessible via boiledleather.com)

Mirror.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour is now on Patreon, and our PayPal donation button is open too

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Hi all! Before we upload this week’s episode, which we think you’ll like, an announcement: We have set up a Patreon page for the podcast, to help raise funds for new equipment and make it easier for the two of us (Sean especially) to commit to recording more episodes without it coming at a cost to our financial health. Please pledge any amount you want–every bit helps!

Also, on a more urgent note, Sean is in dire need of laptop repair after a mishap with his kids’ toys broke his screen. This is very expensive, especially on a full-time freelancer’s salary. So if you like, you can donate to the BLAH paypal page to help raise funds to replace the laptop and make recording (and working!) possible. Thanks again!


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 44!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

A Year of Ice and Fire with Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson

Prepare for a guided tour of The World of Ice and Fire! The co-authors of George R.R. Martin’s ambitious sourcebook for A Song of Ice and Fire — and longtime friends of the podcast — Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson join us to talk about the book, which hit stores in time for the holiday season one year ago. Beginning with a look back over TWoIaF’s reception over the past year, our chat ranges from a discussion of fanfiction to the influence of Lovecraft and Howard; the way using in-world maesters as narrators shaped the writing; the material left on the cutting room floor to avoid spoiling future stories—and the stuff inserted to lay the groundwork for them; and, of course, what’s up with the Deep Ones. And we close with the big question: Are there future collaborations on the history of the setting in store?

Download Episode 44

Additional links:

Mirror.

Our first episode on the book.

Our roundtable discussion of it with Steven Attewell and Amin Javadi.

Sean’s Rolling Stone piece on the book.

Sean’s essay on the Deep Ones.

Stefan’s Tower of the Hand piece on the book.

George, Elio, and Linda’s promotional appearance in Stockholm.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 43!

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or Episode Seven Kingdoms

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Sean and Stefan discuss the new Star Wars movie! Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Jedi mind tricked us into dedicating this episode of our A Song of Ice and Fire podcast to an entirely different fantasy franchise. How did the film fit in with larger saga? How did J.J. Abrams’s direction differ from George Lucas’s? Is Rey a Mary Sue, and if so, how does that impact the film? What the hell was up with Starkiller Base? We answer all these questions and more, including a discussion of the film’s cinematography, the performances of its actors, the pros and cons of the characters, and even a few connections to the world of Westeros. I’ve got a good feeling about this…

Download Episode 43

Additional links:

Mirror.

Stefan’s review of the movie.

Tasha Robinson’s essay on Rey.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


Game of Unknowns Glossary: Every Major Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones Fan Theory

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Like the Spanish Inquisition before him, George R.R. Martin’s chief weapon is surprise. The author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series has packed his epic-fantasy novels with unpredictable plot twists — and for every shocking revelation, there’s an equally tantalizing secret that stays hidden, riddle that remains unsolved, or prophecy that has yet to be properly decoded. Game of Thrones, the show based on the books, has largely stayed away from Martin’s mix of hints, clues, visions, and red herrings, which is probably wise; no one wants a repeat of Lost, where fans went so berserk trying to figure out what was going to happen in advance that the show itself became an afterthought.

But readers have had almost two decades to pore over and ponder every line in Martin’s novels, beginning with the first volume, 1996’s A Game of Thrones. From Tumblr to Reddit to major ASOIAF fansites likewesteros.organd Tower of the Hand — as well as my and my co-author’s own sites All Leather Must Be Boiled and the Nerdstream Era, and our podcast, “The Boiled Leather Audio Hour” — self-taught experts and avid fans have advanced literally hundreds of theories about the past and future of the story, from slam-dunk analysis that’s been all but accepted as fact to tinfoil-hat crackpottery that makes the Kennedy assassination look as clear-cut as an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The sensation of stumbling across this incredibly vast trove of deep-cut knowledge for the first time is a memory many readers share: “Holy shit — Ned Stark isn’t Jon Snow’s dad?”

Below, you’ll find 50 of the most popular, compelling, convincing, and/or crazy theories out there. Consider it early prep for Game of Thrones’ sixth season, out in April. Dig in, but be warned: The Song will not remain the same.

With an editorial assist by our own Stefan Sasse, I wrote 10,000 words on 50 ASoIaF/GoT theories. This is the least sane thing I’ve ever been paid to do.


The Great Boiled Leather Audio Hour/A Podcast of Ice and Fire Crossover 2015!

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Exciting news from the world of ASoIaF podcasts: Stefan and I are the special guests on this week’s edition of A Podcast of Ice and Fire. Join us and host Amin Javadi as we celebrate the 100th installment of Stefan & Amin’s Supreme Court of Westeros Q&A feature (which I all too infrequently remember to post here at boiledleather.com) by tackling a host of reader-generated questions about the series’ biggest mysteries, theories, and themes. Consider it the Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 42.5!


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 42

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Fire and Blood: The Third Reich

We’re traveling from Westeros to Nazi Germany in this unusual—and, to us, urgent—episode of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. Why are we venturing so far afield from our usual topics of discussion and debate? Because we’ve always believed that A Song of Ice and Fire, like life itself, is best viewed through an unsparing ethical and historical lens. Lately, however, that lens has been clouded. In recent weeks, numerous right-wing politicians—most notably Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his supporters in the United States—have distorted and repurposed the rise of Adolf Hitler and the roots of the Holocaust to suit their preexisting positions. Astonishingly, in the day since this podcast was recorded, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit. We believe this to be an act of tremendous disrespect for the dead, one that also does a grave disservice to the living. Given our personal and professional interests in this pivotal epoch in history, which have shaped our interaction with ASoIaF in ways large and small, we decided to explore the era’s real lessons as best we could.

What role did privately held weaponry and paramilitary organizations actually play both in the Nazi Party’s ascent to power and the resistance against it? How should we view Europe’s failure to act in the face of Hitler’s belligerence, and Germany’s failure to capitulate in the face of certain defeat? What parallels can be drawn between the forces that fueled the war Hitler ignited and those at play in Westeros and Essos? What makes World War II different enough from other conflicts for the likes of Vietnam-era conscientious objector George R.R. Martin to say it was worth fighting? Is there such a thing as a “good war” at all? In this experiment of an episode, we try to answer those questions.

Two notes before we proceed:

1) We are deeply indebted to the work of the historians Ian Kershaw and Richard J. Evans, particularly Kershaw’s two-volume Hitler biography and Evans’s Third Reich trilogy.

2) On a much lighter note, this episode (hopefully—with iTunes, god only knows) marks the debut of our brand new logo, created by Sean’s partner, Julia Gfrörer. We are in her debt.

Download Episode 42

Additional links:

Mirror.

The work of Ian Kershaw.

The work of Richard J. Evans.

All Leather Must Be Boiled’s Ian Kershaw tag.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series on the Eastern Front.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 41!

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

The Walking Dead in Westeros

We’re comparing two of the biggest shows on television in this episode of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. One of them is an adaptation of a popular staple of nerd culture—a genre work that had only appeared in print before—which has translated its bleak themes, wide scope, and controversial use of violence into a modern-day ratings blockbuster. The other is Game of Thrones.

That’s right—the BLAH Boys are taking on The Walking Dead, and its current spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, by contrasting the shows and their source material to Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. How does their treatment of violence in an unforgiving world of real and supernatural menace differ? What do the relationships between the original works by George R.R. Martin, Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard and their adaptations by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and AMC’s land of a thousand showrunners reveal about their respective ideas, ideals, aesthetics, and ethics? Which shows really deserve our moral outrage, and why? We’ll be examining all these questions and more. And one of us, at least, will be getting really freaking worked up. Enjoy!

Download Episode 41

Mirror.

Sean on the Fear the Walking Dead pilot.

Sean on the most recent Fear the Walking Dead episode.

Sean on The Walking Dead.

Stefan on The Walking Dead.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.


Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

photo by Alex Pines


I interviewed George R.R. Martin

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

The number one question people ask me about the series is whether I think everyone will lose—whether it will end in some horrible apocalypse. I know you can’t speak to that specifically, but as a revisionist of epic fantasy—

I haven’t written the ending yet, so I don’t know, but no. That’s certainly not my intent. I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory. Frodo is never whole again, and he goes away to the Undying Lands, and the other people live their lives. And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.

I interviewed George R.R. Martin, and you can read what he said in the New York Observer.


George R.R. Martin Goes Out to the Ballgame

Monday, August 10th, 2015

The score was 10-1 in favor of the Staten Island Direwolves by the time he grabbed the mic and took the field, but George R.R. Martin was there to warn the boys of summer that winter could still be coming. “If they can only hold on for another couple innings,” the man behind the Game of Thronesphenomenon said, “I won’t have to kill another Stark.” The crowd roared. And when the live arctic wolf accompanying him took a dump near the third base line a few seconds later, they roared again.

From top to bottom, Saturday’s “Meet George R.R. Martin Night” at the Staten Island Yankees’ scenic Richmond County Bank Ballpark was a weird, wild event. With the Lower Manhattan skyline shining in the distance, a record crowd of 7,529 turned out to watch the minor league team, renamed the Direwolves for one night only, take on the Hudson Valley Renegades while wearing custom House Stark and House Lannister uniforms. Direwolf swag and autographs from the A Song of Ice and Fire author himself were available on a first-come, first-served basis. It was a star turn for the author, who’s been catapulted to celebrity status by the success of the HBO series based on his novels.

But for Martin himself, it was a time for wolves. His appearance was a fundraiser for New Mexico’s Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, a non-profit rescue facility for the animals at the heart of his epic-fantasy saga – hence the beast who befouled the infield. The team cut the charity a surprise $10,000 check and launched a benefit auction of the custom jerseys. In the process, they enabled fever-dream sentences like “George R.R. Martin attends a Yankees farm team’s Game of Thrones-themed ballgame on Staten Island to raise money for wolves” to actually make sense…more or less.

Strange shit, but Martin’s seen stranger. “It’s pretty weird,” he told Rolling Stone, “but it’s only like a seven on the weirdness scale. That company that came out with leggings with my face on them? That’s up to a ten.”

I went to a minor-league baseball game with George R.R. Martin and wrote about it for Rolling Stone.