Thanks for joining the GRRMspreader! I accept all members of the rapscallion varieties, including cripples, bastards, moonsingers, breastplate stretchers, and broken things. Of course, those highfalutin’ types are also welcome, but better hang on.
This site is dedicated to discussing the books and stories written by George R.R. Martin and using them to help dissect his magnum opus, A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). In addition to the actual text, I will be adding plenty of paratext to enhance the reader experience; let the ‘death of the author’ discourse commence!
I consider myself a fan of the author George R.R. Martin, not just A Song of Ice and Fire, which means I will draw on his other stories to compare to ASOIAF. Nothing I say is ever final word, 100% correct, or truer in part or in whole: George R.R. Martin’s word is canon, not mine. I just report.
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Current Posts Main Page. For other book analysis pages, please use the menu at top.
- Override– A betrayal between brothers. We are introduced to the rather well adjusted, pacifist main character Kabaraijian who is eventually sold out by his coworker/brother for money. A blood betrayal in #ASOIAF terms. A Martinworld/ASOIAF reread story.
- My chat with Game of Owns about Quentyn Martell and his Dragontamer chapter. Read and listen here.
- Update, newest book club reread: Nightflyers is about a haunted ship in outerspace. This story is everything a reader would want from a GRRM story; high body count, psi-link mind control, whisperjewels, corpse handling, dragon-mother ships, the Night’s Watch ‘naval’ institution in space, and Jon and Val.
- Update, book club reread: Sandkings– Welcome to the disturbing tale of Simon Kress and his Sandkings. Early origins of Unsullied, Dothraki, Aerea Targaryen, and Dragon who mounts the world, set among a leader with a god complex. One of the “must read” George R.R. Martin stories.
- Update/Announcement: I will be hosting an AMA about Martinworld live stream on Friday, Jan 29, 2021. Follow along for link and details. AMA Post here.
- Update- The 1993 Outline: “Making up shit”. Compare/contrast of the outline to what made it into #ASOIAF canon.
- Update- The Furniture Rules. A short post where we look at GRRM discussing what is and isn’t in genre.
- Update- Dragon Mirror Magics. Born of the same blood. What one can do, so can the Other. A short post on how #GRRM uses mirror magic in #ASOIAF and #Martinworld, and it’s been in our faces the entire time.
- Update- Dreams of Spring; sharing other ASOIAF theorists with readers here
- Update- The Steel Andal Invasion– A re-read of a partial section of The World of Ice and Fire text compared to the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. This has to do with both fire and ice Others in ASOIAF.
- Update- Daytripping. My time in NY for Starport and GRRM signing.
- Update- The Glass Flower– A tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
- Update- The Hazzea Whisperjewel. Drogon essentially etched the bones to help Daenerys remember who she is.
- Update- What’s in Bran’s bowl? Probably not Jojen paste.
And introducing new guest author SandraM of Storm Cloud Rising who will bring her essays to share, which can be found here.
Forewarning: There will be open spoilers for any and all of George RR Martin’s work at any point on this site. This includes the upcoming A Song of Ice and Fire books, The Winds of Winter, and all ancillary novels such as Dunk & Egg, The World Book and Fire & Blood Vol 1, Dreamsongs anthologies, stand alone novels, stories published in trade magazines… all of it. There is, however, no A Game of Thrones television show discussion on this site for many reasons but mainly because the author himself has described the tv series as its own thing, its own alternate universe and bought and paid for “fan fiction“. The two mediums especially cannot be compared past season 3 of the show.
“In A Song of Ice and Fire, I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow they jell into what I hope is uniquely my own.” –GRRM
As a mere fan of this author, I have read as much of George R.R. Martin’s work as I can get my dirty little mitts on. Scouring old bookstores, working the summoning circles of the ink gods, and making seedy back alley deals has rewarded me several key scores. Reading and re-reading his cited sources and fellow authors has helped, as well as watching all of his past television shows he scripted or directed.
It’s not as weird as it sounds. I was raised reading and watching horror, SciFi, and high-magic fantasy so much of this is sheer coincidence. Forbidden Planet, a fave of mine, and GRRM’s, happens to be a classic that launched a hundred imitations. I have watched many of those as well because I like the total immersion. As such, I tend to lovingly call myself not just a fan, but a GRRMspreader and fan of Martinworld.
This has given me a new view into his storytelling world as a completeness in itself, which is the whole point of this blog- connecting the dots to a bigger picture.
However, just like every other text analyst out there, I could be wrong about much of this as I am simply piecing together his writing and plot style; the ending is always the author’s. George R.R. Martin is feeding us a long, drawn out, eleventy-course dinner full of capons, turnips, bacon grease, lampreys, and the blueberry pie will only be served when he is ready.
You know that the ending won’t please everyone, don’t you?
Of course I will disappoint some of my fans because they are making theories about who will finally take the throne: who would live, who would die… and they even imagine romantic pairings. But I have already experienced that phenomenon with Feast for Crows and again with Dance with Dragons, and repeating the words of Rick Nelson: “You can’t please anyone, so you’ve got to please yourself”. So I will write the two last books as good as I am capable of and I think the great majority of my readers would be happy with it. Trying to please everyone is a horrible mistake; I don’t say you should annoy your readers but art isn’t a democracy and should never be a democracy. It’s my story and those people who get annoyed should go out and write their own stories; the stories they wanna read. –GRRM
Having read as much of his work as I can get my little paws on, I realized George R.R. Martin (GRRM) has his own repeating themes that he uses across his body of works I call #Martinworld, and of which we are also witnessing in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I have long said that it seems his literary career thus far has been “practice” for his self-proposed magnum opus. That, in my opinion, is a fabulous thing because you can see where he draws from and is continuing towards; what worked, what did not.
Why does Martin do this? Why does he repeat his themes so often? I can’t speak for the man, but simply put, it seems he has a particular story in his gut, in his soul, that he needs to get out and on page for readers to witness. Be it political, social, religious, environmental, he has a lot on his mind and will sing his song until it sounds correct to his ears. His literary past has been mostly short stories, now A Song of Ice and Fire has the literary room to tune into all of it.
Q: Did Joseph Campbell have any influence?
GRRM: No, John W. Campbell
A word is not the same to one author as it is to another, and GRRM chooses each and every word for his own reason. In my mind it makes much more sense to compare/contrast the author against his own work to witness how he ends up using his admitted inspirations, as opposed to assuming he is swindling his work from others. There are many times where George talks about his own ideas, developing his own voice as he has said, this is just one:
“The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr” was my first pure fantasy as a pro. Fantastic published it in 1976. Keen-eyed readers will notice certain names and motifs that go all the way back to “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark,” and other names and motifs that I would pick up and use again in later works. In my fiction, as in real life, I never throw anything away. You can never tell when you might find another use for it. Sharra and her dark crown were originally meant for the Dr. Weird mythos that Howard Keltner once asked me to create. By 1976, however, my fanzine days were almost a decade behind me and Dr. Weird had folded up shop, so I felt free to reclaim the ideas and rework them for a different sort of tale.
–George R. R. Martin, Dreamsongs: Volume I
“Laren Dorr” was published in 1976, “Bitterblooms” in 1977, “In the Lost Lands” in 1982. Old work, certainly, but I was always fond of those three stories, and of the three women who starred as the protagonists: Sharra, Gray Alys, and Shawn of Carinhall. None of the stories had anything to do with A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, of course, nor even with each other… but a careful reader can find hints and shadows and seeds of many of the ideas that would later bloom in Westeros in each of them. Still, even so, they remained obscure, known only to a few.
— George R.R. Martin, Not a Blog
From George’s 2001 AOL chat where he states he reworks and reuses his past characters/archetypes:
HOST BKPG Shark: Mr. Martin. In your story ‘Dying of the Light, the main Character, Dirk t’Larien seemed out of his element. Was there a purpose to that?
GRRM: Dirk was out of his element… an essentially modern man in a very alien culture. Actually, when I look back on DOTL, I think Dirk is the novel’s biggest flaw.
HOST BKPG Shark: Very much so.
GRRM: And Bretan Braith… who is an ancestor of both Sandor Clegane and Loras Tyrell, in a way.
Q: Which is your favorite character?
Q: Do you remember when he came to your mind?
Well… In 1981 I wrote a novel with Lisa Tuttle called Windhaven. In fact, we wrote three different short stories with the same main character, Maris, and once we had them written we decided to put them all into one book with three different parts. So while we were writing the books we thought about a dwarf who would have been the Lord of one of the islands. He had to be the ugliest person in the world but the most intelligent too. I kept that idea in my mind and it reappeared to me when I was starting to write Game of Thrones. So…That’s Tyrion Lannister. –GRRM
Many other fans have done great work in finding the parallels within the A Song of Ice and Fire world. I have been part of some very thought provoking forum threads that have helped open up my processes when dissecting the books. These same repeated themes, icons, items, verbiage, identities are also repeated across all of GRRM’s work. George seems to be very consistent.
“I’ve been planting all these clues that the butler did it, then you’re halfway through a series and suddenly thousands of people have figured out that the butler did it, and then you say the chambermaid did it? No, you can’t do that”
–George RR Martin
The big World of Ice and Fire book? Foreshadowing for what is to happen in the current series. The same thematic history has repeated throughout all of GRRM’s work; reclaiming his own ideas. The World book, as well as the maps created by Martin, were done so by the nudging of the publishing houses. With the maps, according to GRRM, he filled them in on the fly. The real story is in current Westeros, as Martin says, so basically, different roads lead to the same castle (to paraphrase Jon Snow). Once you find the repetition, the main A Song of Ice and Fire story is lot less complicated.
I’m a very different writer than Tolkien, we were products of very different times. He was born in the 19th century a product of English society at a particular point in time he served and fought in the trenches of World War one. He was a world-class linguist and Oxford Don of academic persuasion. He wrote his books largely, I think, for his own amusement and the amusement of his children. Where he had some particular passions of his like creating artificial languages. I share none of that. I mean, I’m a baby boomer born in 1948, I come from a blue-collar background in Bayonne New Jersey, lived in federal housing projects was involved in the opposition to the Vietnam War and have have largely pulled stories and and written as a as a professional writer for most of my adult life. I have great admiration for Tolkien but my work is in no sense tolkien-esque except in the sense of being a secondary world fantasy…”
It’s suspicious… Tolkien was also R.R. Tolkien…
[Laughs] I read Tolkien when I was twelve or so and he impressed me a lot so I don’t get tired of rereading it. In fact, I planned to send a letter to Mr. Tolkien when I was a child, but I finally didn’t, thing for which I am a little bit annoyed, more after getting noticed that Tolkien use to read almost every letter he received. But Tolkien wasn’t a direct influence to me when I decided to write A Song of Ice and Fire although my books are in the fantasy canon that Tolkien improved. I mean, fantasy is very ancient. We can find it in the Iliad or in the Gilgamesh Poem, but Tolkien turned it into a modern genre, and A Song of Ice and Fire shares some of these patterns but not all of them. For example, I pretend to offer a dirty fantasy, more raw than Tolkien’s.
This a favorite quote from Nightflyers that just about sums up all ASOIAF theorizing for me. The main male protagonist, Royd Eris, had been listening to the passengers forming increasingly over-complicated theories on why certain events are happening to them and who Royd “really” is. Royd basically tells them to keep it simple if you want to find the truth. This keep it simple idea is a common thread throughout many GRRM stories:
“Tell, then,” the xenotech said suspiciously. “What are you?”
“I liked your guess about the gas giants,” Royd said. “Sadly, the truth is less dramatic. I am an ordinary Homo sapien in late middle-age. Sixty-eight standard, if you require precision. The holograph you see before you was the real Royd Eris, although some years ago. I am older now.”
You do not have to have read all of George RR Martin’s work to enjoy and interact on this site, I will provide as many story quotes as possible, but it does help if you have read them… and fanaticize over them like I do. However, just ask and I will provide more quotes as often as needed. I do not mind at all.
I welcome discussion in the comments section, but I do ask you show respect for alternative ideas and that you stay on topic. As this is an ever evolving site, any new information and credits will be given when credit is due.
I was active on the Westeros.org forum as the poster The Fattest Leech discussing some of these topics with other posters, many of whom helped guide me in the right direction. I am not active on that forum much anymore, but to those great posters… THANK YOU!
And a huge Thank You to George RR Martin for his decades of plot twists, inverted tropes, love triangles, jambles and jumbles, as well as the interregnum that never ends. You tricksy bird, you.
Please visit his Not a Blog for A Song of Ice and Fire updates.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
The Fattest Leech blog is one of many in the fandom working to unravel the clues to A Song of Ice and Fire. Here are a few other websites that may also be of interest:
- Cantuse manifesto reading https://cantuse.wordpress.com/
- Sweetsunray Mythological Weave https://sweeticeandfiresunray.com/
- The Weirwood Eyes https://theweirwoodseyes.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/
- Blue-Eyed Wolf for Sansa development https://bluelemonsforever.tumblr.com/blue-eyedwolf
- Bran Vras Huis Clos http://branvras.free.fr/HuisClos/HuisClos.html
- ASOIAF Unchained https://asoiafunchained.wordpress.com/
- Melanie, Lot Seven and her wonderful analysis of women and kings https://melanielotseven.wordpress.com/
- The Dragon Demands on YouTube that breaks down the changes from book to show, and the reasoning behind them. The Dragon Demands videos
- Blue Tiger and the Tolkienic Song of Ice and Fire at The Amber Compendium
- Rusted Revolver, on Twitter, but his essays analyzing wordplay which stems from the Celtic word, druid are WRIT IN TRUST.
- M Tootles and his “Total Horseshit Analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire by a Devious Little Pork Chop”. Great work regarding the Greyjoys. . Find his thoughts here on Reddit.
- Please read Wizz-the-Smith’s essay regarding hollow hills in ASOIAF. I can say for sure that this theme is also carried on throughout much of GRRM’s works. You can also find Wizz on Twitter.
- (more to come)
One more thing…
Some of these posts and on this site can grow a little long. There is just so much information to share that it can sometimes be difficult to keep word counts down. However, I discovered something new! (I am basically a technological Luddite and simple things like this thrill me.)
The WordPress.com Reader is a great tool for catching up with your favorite blogs or exploring interesting new reads. And now, you can save those posts and resume reading at your leisure with Save For Later.
How does it work?
First, make sure you have the newest version of the WordPress app on your phone or tablet — version 10.2. Open the app, and head into the Reader.
Saving content for later
Whenever you find a post you’d like to save for later, tap the bookmark icon (). The icon will change from an outline to a solid color () so you know the post has been saved.
This entire site and all of the contents are always a work in progress as new information is discovered upon each reread, and when there are enough hours in the day to complete the needed updates.
All images of the She-Bear porcelain artwork are inspired by the artist Crystal Morey.
Thanks for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by gumbo! 🙂