“There is a temptation to change it — ‘Oh my god, it’s screwed up, I have to come up with something different,’” he explained. “But that’s wrong. Because you’ve been planning for a certain ending and if you suddenly change direction just because somebody figured it out, or because they don’t like it, then it screws up the whole structure… I don’t read the fan sites. I want to write the book I’ve always intended to write all along. And when it comes out they can like it or they can not like it.”–GRRM
Welcome to the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire. Today’s topic is that damned outline letter George R.R. Martin had to write back in 1993 in order to sell his A Game of Thrones story idea. This post will follow the model of going line-by-line to dissect what was proposed early in the outline, or pitch letter as some call it, compared to what made it into A Song of Ice and Fire canon.
It seems impossible nowadays that GRRM had to convince someone to pick up a story of his. Why? Why is that? We all know GRRM wrote the series ASOIAF and it totally rocks our socks off. Well, Martin also has a writing career that stretches longer than many readers might realize, and in that time, there have been a few misses along with the hits.
George knows this, that he’s had some misses, and that is why he essentially had to “re-audition” his work. That is why for the first time, he wrote this outline to accompany his ~150/200 written pages, something he is notorious for saying he never does/hates doing. However, this outline has evolved into the modern day query letter (sidenote: which is a frickin’ nightmare to construct; see Query Shark for examples).
- Video of Martin discussing why he doesn’t do outlines saying, “I don’t like it”, and “it removes some spontaneity,” plus a lot more. Link here.
- Report: If any sort of accident would bring about an early end for our favorite author, such as a meteor flatting his home, the readers will be flattened with him. There is no “master outline” for the series, just a half-dozen pages of very rough notes that are largely out of date. If he should die unexpectedly, the publishers might hire someone to finish the series, but they’ll be on their own and will be very unlikely to finish it the same he would.
- “There are other writers who outline very, very thoroughly who know everything they are going to put into a book, what every scene is going to be, what characters are going to be in it, what they are going to say, etc. Their outlines are almost the book in shorthand. I’ve never been able to work that way. For one thing, it almost feels if you prepare an outline like that, it almost feels like you’ve already written the book.”– GRRM
Redditor TheNextRobin noticed a tweet from UK bookseller Waterstones which contained three photos [below] of a December 1993 letter Martin wrote outlining the first book, A Game of Thrones, out of the assumed three in the proposed series. Just want to reiterate that this outline gives points to the first book (as the outline says) and not to the entire series (or list of characters) as many false reports claim.
I am now at the point in this post where I have to add the very important infodrop that I (and about 8 other people) had the pleasure to sit in a small group with GRRM at the end of Balticon 2016 to chat and share coffee chat with him. My good friend, whom I was in attendance with, asked about the outline and GRRM gave some very clear and pointed answers…
“It’ll be a trilogy, it’ll be three books, Game of Thrones, the Dance with Dragons, and Winds of Winter. Those were the three window titles. And, uh, it’ll be three books and this’ll happen, and this’ll happen, and this’ll happen. And I was making up shit.”
So while Martin clearly has shifted quite a few details, rearranged a few relationships, added/did not mention a large number of characters, he seems to still be following the same overall, larger path with the ending he has always planned. Those who read GRRM’s old works, as well as follow this blog, will see the multiple repeating patterns and archetypes that reinforce this overarching A Song of Ice and Fire story.
You can read the entire Balticon report here (do it, it’s good), but here is another snippet:
- “So, I said ‘look, if I wanna get back to being a novelist, I’m gonna have to sell this even though it’s not finished’. So I had my 200 pages of Game of Thrones at that point, but they wanted outline. I said ‘I don’t do outlines. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I figure it out as I go. And that’s how I always did it.’ No, we had to have an outline. So I wrote two pages, a two-page thing about what I thought would happen. It’ll be a trilogy, it’ll be three books, Game of Thrones, the Dance with Dragons, and Winds of Winter. Those were the three window titles. And, uh, it’ll be three books and this’ll happen, and this’ll happen, and this’ll happen. And I was making up shit.“And I had thought that those two pages were long forgotten, because, of course, the books did sell. They sold in the United States and in Great Britain, both. They sold for enough money that I didn’t have to take any more Hollywood games. So I was able to say ‘no’ around. I had a few less [?] to wind up in in 94 and 95. Once I had, I said ‘no, I don’t want any more movies or tv shows, I’m going to write these books now’. And I started writing the books. And in the process, I pretty much disregarded the outline. The characters took me off in entirely different directions. So, for 20 years I had forgotten that that two-page thing even existed. And then someone in my British publisher, HarperCollins, they got a new office building, uh, brand new offices, and new conference rooms, big conference rooms that they decorated with books and stuff like that. And they named the conference rooms after the writers, so one of the conference rooms [?], and they put up these plastic display cases, including the outline. The two-page outline, yes. [?], they didn’t ask my permission, they just put it up. And in that two-page outline, Jon and Arya become a romantic item.”
One more thing. What does the title A Song of Ice and Fire mean? It means there is a struggle for humanity’s survival against the two dragon extremes; the ice dragon White Walkers and then Daenerys and her three-headed fire dragons. GRRM has been planning all along for Daenerys to have the power to ‘bend people to her will‘. A Song (battle) of Ice and (then) Fire. They are both the greatest threats to Westeros, so spake Martin.
Q: For people who are not familiar with your work, the series takes place in an imaginary world. There is a struggle for control of the kingdom. This dynastic war is essentially one of three main plot lines. There are the other plot lines involving these sort of superhuman characters, and then there’s the exiled Targaryen daughter who seeks the return of her ancient throne. Why those three main plot lines?
GRRM: Well, of course, the two outlying ones — the things going on north of the Wall, and then there is Daenerys Targaryen on the other continent with her dragons — are of course the ice and fire of the title, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The central stuff — the stuff that’s happening in the middle, in King’s Landing, the capital of the seven kingdoms — is much more based on historical events, historical fiction… with a fantasy twist…that they’re blind to the much greater and more dangerous threats that are happening far away on the periphery of their kingdoms.
The full list of George R.R. Martin’s published and available works are here:
- Book Club Main Page
- Full List of GRRM’s works (published)
Q: One of the things that strikes me in the recent books is, there’ll be a major turning point for a character, and then you realize it’s been building for hundreds of pages. Do you always plan these huge events and then find ways to build up to them, or do you sometimes write a character’s journey and then realize that it’s been leading to a huge turning point?
GRRM: All the major things have been planned since the beginning, since the early 90s, the major deaths and the general direction of things. Obviously, the details and the minor things have been things that I’ve discovered along the way, part of the fun of writing the books is making these discoveries along the journey. But the general structure of the books has been in my head all along.
It’s always a tightrope, writing — you do have to set things up. You don’t want them to come out of nowhere, out of left field. You do want to foreshadow them. But you don’t want the developments to seem predictable. If everybody knows what’s coming two books before it comes, then it loses all its impact. That’s the tough part. There’s no easy answer to that. You just do what you can.
The outline letter was to GRRM’s longtime agent, Ralph Vicinanza, who since passed away in September of 2010.
Discworld.com has a nice memorium posted about Ralph. Original post here.
Tribute to Ralph Vicinanza
Sunday, 26th September , 2010
Today we pay tribute to Ralph Vicinanza, a literary agent and colleague whose clients included Stephen King, Augusten Burroughs and the Dalai Lama. Ralph passed away yesterday at the tender age of 60.Vicinanza was in publishing for nearly 40 years and early on took a special interest in what he considered an undervalued field – international rights, working on overseas deals for King, Norman Mailer, Carl Sagan and Philip K. Dick, among others. Vicinanza founded his own agency in 1978 and signed up some of the world’s top science fiction and fantasy writers, including Terry Pratchett, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and George R.R. Martin.
George also gave a tribute to Ralph in a post titled simply, Ralph. Here is a small snippet:
Last night I received some sad and sudden tidings. My friend and agent Ralph Vicinanza died on Sunday night, quite unexpectedly, from a cerebral aneurysm. He was only 60 years ago, and seemingly in great health — fit, sharp, full of energy. This comes as a total shock.An obituary is available on the LOCUS website here http://www.locusmag.com/News/2010/09/ralph-vicinanza-dies/ and I sure that many more obituaries and appreciations will follow. In the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing, Ralph Vicinanza was a giant…
The Outline in Question
I have added the outline text below, and per usual, interspersed notes via bullet-points which are simply conversation starters or sharing information. If you have the text missing from the hard to read portions of the posted outline, let me know and I will update this post (and credit to you).
Here are the first thirteen chapters (170 pages) of the high fantasy novel I promised you, which I’m calling ‘A Game of Thrones.’ When completed, this will be the first volume in what I see as an epic trilogy with the overall title, ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’
- GRRM has mentioned numerous places that he was writing the Thousand Worlds story Avalon when the idea of Bran finding the direwolf pups in the snow came to mind and he put Avalon “in the drawer” and hasn’t returned to it. He has just finished writing The Glass Flower, and then Avalon when this happened, which makes me crave reading Avalon more than anything.
- Note, GRRM was still thinking trilogy here, but as his overall Martinworld themes started to knit themselves together, the tapestry of ASOIAF also grew.
As you know, I don’t outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it. I do, however, have some strong notions as to the overall structure of the story I’m telling, and the eventual fate of many of the principle characters in the drama. Roughly speaking, there are three major conflicts set in motion in the chapters enclosed. These will form the major plot threads of the trilogy, [unclear] each other in what should be a complex but exciting (I hope [unclear] tapestry. Each of the [unclear] presents a major threat [unclear] of my imaginary realm, the Seven Kingdoms, and to the live [unclear] principal characters.
- GRRM’s use of the qualifier “exactly” reads to me that he knows what ending he wants, for large and small arcs, it’s the journey to get there is where he takes the garden path. There are many quotes of GRRM making similar responses, some included in this very post. The well known omission of Tyrion and the Shrouded Lord chapter is a good example of GRRM gardening along the way, while still realizing what makes sense for his planned ending.
- Martin has “strong notions” and knows the eventual fates of his main characters because he’s been working with them his entire writing career, which is what this blog shows on every page and post. GRRM has been perfecting his characters and plots for forty+ years. That is Martinworld.
- The three major conflicts are the three major fire; ice dragon, then red fire dragon, and then green dragon of King’s Landing misrule. The two dragons are the existential threats to humanity, while the fight over King’s Landing is a dangerous distraction. Again, Martin discusses this in the video above.
The first threat grows from the enmity between the great houses of Lannister and Stark as it plays out in a cycle of plot, counterplot, ambition, murder, and revenge, with the iron throne of the Seven Kingdoms as the ultimate prize. This will form the backbone of the first volume of the trilogy, A Game of Thrones.
- First threat is the fiery House Lannister.
- GRRM has gone on and on both in interviews and other stories how the iron throne is the Ozymandias of Westeros. It is NOT something to covet and preserve, rather it represents oppression and blood and fire. Read his own words here.
While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarian hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume, A Dance with Dragons.
- Again, Daenerys is planned from the beginning as one of the major threats to Westeros. Ozyamandias. Her burgeoning mental powers make her another existential threat in addition to the White Walkers.
- GRRM has Daenerys and her hordes described as an “invasion”. The post The Steel Andal Invasion discusses this with direct comparisons to histories in ASOIAF as well as some of his other foundational works.
- Dany being “just a young girl”, yet fierce as a strategic warrior is from his story and Dany prototype Cyrain of Lilith and Ash from The Glass Flower.
The greatest danger of all, however, comes from the north, from the icy wastes beyond the Wall, where half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call “life.” The only thing that stands between the Seven Kingdoms and an endless night is the Wall, and a handful of men in black called the Night’s Watch. Their story will be [sic] heart of my third volume, The Winds of Winter. The final battle will also draw together characters and plot threads left from the first two books and resolve all in one huge climax.
- Third of the crisis comes from the north, the White Walkers, aka: The Ice Dragons. These are who readers are going to meet and defeat first, which leaves the other two dragons to take down just when we are at our rawest point mentally.
- This invasion of the ice dragon is the foreshadowing of the fire dragon. For instance, Dany’s dragons are also “neverborn” as they are “dead stone” that Daenerys woke with her newly remembered genetic magics; Waking the Last Dragon.
- GRRM does give us a glimpse into the future books when he mentions the “final battle”, and this is the ultimate battle for all of humanity as opposed to who “rules” from that iron throne.
The thirteen chapters on hand should give you a notion as to my narrative strategy. All three books will feature a complex mosaic of intercutting points-of-view among various of my large and diverse cast of players. The cast will not always remain the same. Old characters will die, and new ones will be introduced. Some of the fatalities will include sympathetic viewpoint characters. I want the reader to feel that no one is ever completely safe, not even the characters who seem to be the heroes. The suspense always ratchets up a notch when you know that any character can die at any time.
- The line, “The cast will not always remain the same,” is important when you consider how many characters fandom readers assume are later/unplanned; Aegon VI, and especially Euron (Fevre Dream and The Glass Flower to name a few early stories), and Val (she’s always been in Martinworld).
- Not only that, major characters like Cersei, Varys, Brynden Bloodraven Rivers (who has always been in Martinworld), Melisandre (who came from Bitterblooms), Tywin, Roose and Ramsay Bolton (who are straight from The Skin Trade), and of course Petyr Littlefinger Baelish, and so many more aren’t yet mentioned in this pitch letter… but that doesn’t mean they are not important. That’s not the purpose or composition requirements of a pitch letter to an agent.
Five central characters will make it through all three volumes, however, growing from children to adults and changing the world and themselves in the process. In a sense, my trilogy is almost a generational saga, telling the life stories of these five characters, three men and two women. The five key players are Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and three of the children of Winterfell, Arya, Bran, and the bastard Jon Snow. All of them are introduced at some length in the chapters you have to hand.
- At Balticon 50 in 2016, GRRM seems to have somewhat unofficially updated this list which now includes Sansa. Read here.
This is going to be (I hope) quite an epic. Epic in its scale, epic in its action, and epic in its length. I see all three volumes as big books, running about 700 to 800 manuscript pages, so things are just barely getting underway in the thirteen chapters I’ve sent you.
I have quite a clear notion of how the story is going to unfold in the first volume, A Game of Thrones. Things will get a lot worse for the poor Starks before they get better, I’m afraid. Lord Eddard Stark and his wife Catelyn Tully are both doomed, and will perish at the hands of their enemies. Ned will discover what happened to his friend Jon Arryn, [unclear] can act on his knowledge [unclear] will have an unfortunate accident, and the throne will [unclear] to [unclear] and brutal [unclear] Joffrey [unclear] still a minor. Joffrey will not be sympathetic and Ned will be accused of treason, but before he is taken he will help his wife and his daughter Arya escape back to Winterfell.
- Change: Catelyn never went to King’s Landing with Eddard. Arya did, but we know her way back to Winterfell isn’t how this outline proposes.
- Change: Arya Stark doesn’t escape King’s Landing and make it back to Winterfell, instead GRRM has this happen to Jeyne Poole (in a twisted way).
- Additionally, I found the Martinworld meaning behind Jeyne Poole’s name and noted it in this Twitter post here.
Each of the contending families will learn it has a member of dubious loyalty in its midst. Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the crunch comes she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue. Tyrion Lannister, meanwhile, will befriend both Sansa and her sister Arya, while growing more and more disenchanted with his own family.
- Change: Sansa was engaged to Joffrey, but never married him and never gave him a son. Sansa also never betrayed her family. There is some fandom contention that when Sansa told Cersei of Eddard’s plans to move them back to Winterfell, and Cersei seized the Stark family and retinue, that that became Sansa betraying her family, although this is not confirmed by any means.
- Tyrion ends up marrying Sansa at the horror to Sansa, Robb Stark, Catelyn and many others. Tyrion is growing rather disenchanted with his family, even down to talking of raping and killing his own sister.
Young Bran will come out of his coma, after a strange prophetic dream, only to discover that he will never walk again. He will turn to magic, at first in the hope of restoring his legs, but later for its own sake. When his father Eddard Stark is executed, Bran will see the shape of doom descending on all of them, but nothing he can say will stop his brother Robb from calling the banners in rebellion. All the north will be inflamed by war. Robb will win several splendid victories, and maim Joffrey Baratheon on the battlefield, but in the end he will not be able to stand against Jaime and Tyrion Lannister and their allies. Robb Stark will die in battle, and Tyrion Lannister will besiege and burn Winterfell.
- The north is partially fractured right now, and the Boltons have been behind most of the “blood betrayals” since just before the story started. Again, this is something GRRM stole from his own self from his story The Skin Trade, he has just perfected it in ASOIAF.
- Most all of the war is moved to the Riverlands, in addition to the Bolton/Ramsay Snow betrayals in the north.
- Change: Robb doesn’t main Joffrey physically or directly on the battlefield, rather, Robb constantly outwits Tywin and wins many battles, thereby hurting “King” Joffery’s rule, but this was only able to happen because of the Bolton blood betrayal.
- Change: Tyrion never burns Winterfell, rather he is there before the Winterfell library is burnt (at the orders of who sent the catspaw) and then later Ramsay burns the whole Winterfell again.
- Change: Rickon (not mentioned in the outline) is the first one to get the sensation that his father, Eddard, has been killed. This type of magic that Maester Luwin denies at the time.
- Bran is in a coma dream that begins his “flight” just as later at the end of A Dance with Dragons, Daenerys has her liminal space “dream” while out on the Dothraki sea.
- GRRM has long said that Bran and Daenerys are the “most magic” in the series. Learning to fly applies to both of them, but manifests in different ways. In short, Daenerys learns to fly her dragons (war machines), as Bran learns to fly which is a Martinworld way of saying rebuilding after the Long Night (the ASOIAF Interregnum). This is where science and magic merge into a “truth” so that society can heal and progress. The seed is strong.
Jon Snow, the bastard, will remain in the far north. He will mature into a ranger of great daring, and ultimately will succeed his uncle as the commander of the Night’s Watch. When Winterfell burns, Catelyn Stark will be forced to flee north with her son Bran and her daughter Arya. Wounded by Lannister riders, they will seek refuge at the Wall, but the men of the Night’s Watch give up their families when they take the black, and Jon and Benjen will not be able to help, to Jon’s anguish. It will lead to a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran. Arya will be more forgiving … until she realizes, with terror, that she has fallen in love with Jon, who is not only her half-brother but a man of the Night’s Watch, sworn to celibacy. Their passion will continue to torment Jon and Arya throughout the trilogy, until the secret of Jon’s true parentage is finally revealed in the last book.
- Change: So it seems that Catelyn will have left King’s Landing and made it back to Winterfell to then have to flee Winterfell after it burns. In the printed canon, Cat never makes it back to Winterfell. Neither does the other Cat. Bran never left Winterfell.
- Change: No wounded Lannister riders take refuse at the wall. This is a detail GRRM stole from his story The Ice Dragon, but adapted to fit ASOIAF. Instead we have Tyrion voluntarily visit the Night’s Watch, and then later Tywin has his lickspittle Janos Slynt play political favorites at Castle Black.
- Change: Uncle Benjen is long dead and gone by now.
- Change: there is not a “bitter estrangement” between Jon and Bran in ASOIAF. This was a detail GRRM stole from his story For A Single Yesterday where this dynamic does happen when a “King of Winter” arrives. The bitter estrangement seems to have been moved to the Bolton/Snow-Stark/Snow, or Stark-Karstark blood brother rivalry instead.
- The phrase “bitter astrangement” between brothers leads me to believe he could have also reowrked this into Bloodraven and Bittersteel rivalry with Shiera Seastar influence, as he did with the Bloodraven archetype in his story The Stone City.
- CHANGE: Arya and Jon never fall in incest-love with each other. GRRM pretty much confirms this word for word at Balticon 50. No Stark incest. Thank the gods because that means something awful would have happened to them because incest on all levels in Martinworld is deadly and brings about Downfalls to Dynasties, large or small scale. Always.
- Instead what GRRM did was to ramp up the Targaryen incest in histories, but more front and center was to invent Cersei and transferred the incest to the fiery Lannisters, who are mostly Targophiles in a narrative sense.
- This also includes the bitterness between brothers that GRRM gave us with Cersei and Jaime and Tyrion.
- GRRM also gave us the substitutes in Ramsay Snow-Bolton (an alternate universe Jon) and fArya that is Jeyne Poole (“gene pool” as noted here). I discussed this on Twitter a bit if you want to take a look?
- GRRM once again paired Jon with his Val-archetype, and GRRM introduced Gendry as the Jon rework. Both Gendry and Val are a change in eye color from grey to blue (compared to both Jon and Arya having grey eyes), and both Gendry and Val fit the in-world free folk folktale of a thief/smith stealing a moonmaid.
- Jon having a true parentage reveal at the end tells us that this was a mystery Martin built-in from the beginning and has stuck with it. What could it mean for the ending???
Abandoned by the Night’s Watch, Catelyn and her children will find their only hope of safety lies even further north, beyond the Wall, where they fall into the hands of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, and get a dreadful glimpse of the inhuman others as they attack the wilding encampment. Bran’s magic, Arya’s sword Needle, and the savagery of their direwolves will help them survive, but their mother Catelyn will die at the hands of the others.
- Change: The Night’s Watch never abandons family, or anyone, in the canon story. As a matter of fact, readers are shown the opposite, everything from when Lord Commander Mormont offers to take in Craster and is “family” in order to protect them from the White Walkers, and even later in A Dance with Dragons when Jon takes in the free folk and Alys Karstark.
- Change: Mance Rayder was mentioned in the very first chapter when some free folk and Night’s Watch are fleeing the incoming doom of the White Walkers.
- Fact: Direwolves are still a device to help with survival.
- Change… with a twist: Catelyn still dies at the hands of the others, but this change is now the Others of the Riverlands, the Freys. The Freys being the Others/White Walkers of the Riverlands is something I have been mentioning for a while (here, here, here) and will write about one day soon. This is an example of GRRM expanding his world during the writing process.
Over across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen will discover that her new husband, the Dothraki Khal Drogo, has little interest in invading the Seven Kingdoms, much to her brother’s frustration. When Viserys presses his claims past the point of tact or wisdom, Khal Drogo will finally grow annoyed and kill him out of hand, eliminating the Targaryen pretender and leaving Daenerys as the last of her line. Danerys [sic] will bide her time, but she will not forget. When the moment is right, she will kill her husband to avenge her brother, and then flee with a trusted friend into the wilderness beyond Vaes Dothrak. There, hunted by [unclear] of her life, she stumbles on a [something about a clutch of dragon eggs] a young dragon will give Daenerys power to bend the Dothraki to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
- The “trusted friend” is presumably Jorah Mormont.
- Expanding on the “bending to her will” idea, GRRM has said that his initial intent for Targaryens and Daenerys was to not have them have literal animalian dragons, but rather to have pyrokinesis mind control powers. So while Daenerys discovers her “waking dragon” powers, she is also having a proximity telepathy influence over those around her. GRRM uses the same idea with many fire-characters in many of his stories, including; Starlady, Armageddon Rag, The Glass Flower, and strongest in …And Seven Times Never Kill Man and A Song for Lya. The same happens with Alaric Stark and Queen Alysanne in Fire & Blood volume I and Melisandre with Stannis.
- I did consider in the very early stages not having the dragons in there. I wanted the Targaryen’s symbol to be the dragons, but I did play with the notion that maybe it was like a psionic power, that it was pyrokinesis — that they could conjure up flames with their minds. I went back and forth. My friend and fellow fantasy writer Phyllis Eisenstein actually was the one who convinced me to put the dragons in, and I dedicated the third book to her. And I think it was the right call. https://meduza.io/en/feature/2017/08/22/fantasy-needs-magic
- Change… sort of. More of an clarification. Khal Drogo does have little interest in invading the Seven Kingdoms. It’s not until the wine merchant tries to poison Daenerys that Khal Drogo seems to change his mind. This is when Daenerys starts her “wake the dragon” practice and when she has Viserys’ “golden blood” spilled. This is the way the line, “a young dragon will give Daenerys power to bend the Dothraki to her will,” actually worked out on page.
- Daenerys’ invasion is laid out line-by-line in the Steel Andal Invasion.
- Change: Daenerys doesn’t stumble on a clutch of dragon eggs, but is given them as a (fire) wedding gift from Illyrio Mopatis. Later in A Clash of Kings, Daenerys comes across dragon bones in the red waste which I assume, if not pointing to a previous Long Night, is a nod to this abandoned outline idea of a clutch being found. Also, this clutch of dragon eggs is similar to Ghost leading Jon to the cache of dragonglass in the same book.
Tyrion Lannister will continue to travel, to plot, and to play the game of thrones, finally removing his nephew Joffrey in disgust at the boy king’s brutality. Jaime Lannister will follow Joffrey on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms, by the simple expedient of killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession and blaming his brother Tyrion for the murders. Exiled, Tyrion will change sides, making common cause with the surviving Starks to bring his brother down, and falling helplessly in love with Arya Stark while he’s at it. His passion is, alas, unreciprocated, but no less intense for that, and it will lead to a deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Jon Snow.
- Change: Tyrion dislike Joffrey when Joff was alive, but he never plotted against him. That was changed into fabricated lies and exaggerations.
- Change: Jaime doesn’t follow Joffrey to the throne. Instead, Martin has Jaime plop his butt down on the throne after Tywin takes King’s Landing from Mad King Aerys. Canon Jaime does not want the iron throne. He seems to be a very different character now than what GRRM initially had planned for him.
- Tyrion did go into exile hiding, but he seems to currently be mixed up in a new Blackfyre-Targaryen battle to come, with some residual Stark issues to deal with. No doubt Tyrion will play “demon monkey” as he runs between the the fire-side and the green-tree side of the story.
- It seems GRRM decided there were one too many “deadly rivalry” love triangles in the story. The Arya-Jon incest angle has been kicked out of the door, so a triangle with Tyrion has also been tossed.
- IF there is a love rivalry involving Tyrion and Jon, it might involve Daenerys, but it could just as easily happen between Dany and Aegon VI… IF there is time in the books, that is. Seeing how GRRM doesn’t have Daenerys returning to Westeros until the end of The Winds of Winter or the beginning of A Dream of Spring, a true love triangle between Jon-Tyrion-Dany can’t truly happen. IF it does happen, it will be because Jon is under a proximity telepathy influence from Daenerys (mentioned above, as always happens between tree-men with fire-women), and it won’t be “true love”, and it will end horribly because:
[The next graph is blacked out.]
But that’s the second book …
- This is a VERY important part of the “facts” around this outline. We just do not know how so many things were planned to play out since the ending of the outline was blacked out. We have ZERO idea how any invasions, love triangles, battles, unities, etc were going to happen. This is why the outline should not be relied upon as a faithful guide to any one arc ending. Instead, I would recommend relying on the main series as a current canon, and reading more of Martinworld in general to get the feel for his patters and outcomes.
If you seek evil…
Some in the fandom have spent a lot of time attempting to uncover the redacted text from the outline. Westeros.org thread.
Another Evil Link to uncoverings if you so desire.
Want more GRRMspreading?
First, thank you for reading along this far. Obviously this is the tip of the invading iceberg when it comes to addressing all of the outline changes, so I wait to hear your ideas in comments below.
Second, If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.
Additionally, I have started a book club re-read for the older works of George R.R. Martin for purposes such as research, scholarship, and teaching. I own all copies of material that is used for this book club. If you have not yet read a story listed, please check with your local bookstore for your own reading material to purchase (Indie Bookstore Finder or Bookshop.org). The full list of GRRM stories outside of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I have read can be found on this page here.
It takes a while to transcribe and then note each story for research purposes, even the really short ones, so the main book club page will be quietly updated as each re-read is added. Make sure you subscribe for updates.
If there is a story in particular you would like to ask about, feel free to do so in comments below.
- Bitterblooms– In the dead of deep winter, a young girl named Shawn has to find the mental courage to escape a red fiery witch. Prototyping Val, Stannis, and Arya along with the red witch Melisandre.
- The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr – Discarded Knights guards the gates as Sharra feels the Seven while searching for lost love. Many Sansa and Ashara Dayne prototyping here as well.
- …And Seven Times Never Kill Man– A look into a proto-Andal+Targaryen fiery world as the Jaenshi way of life is erased. But who is controlling these events? Black & Red Pyramids who merge with Bakkalon are on full display in this story.
- The Last Super Bowl– Football meets SciFi tech with plenty of ASOIAF carryover battle elements.
- Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
- Closing Time– A short story that shows many precursor themes for future GRRM stories, including skinchanging, Sneaky Pete’s, catastrophic long nights…
- The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
- Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
- Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
- Fast-Friend transcribed and noted. Written in December 1973, this story is a precursor to skinchanging, Bran, Euron, Daenerys, and ways to scheme to reclaim lost love.
- 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.
- A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
- For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
- This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
- A Peripheral Affair (1973)– When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
- The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
- Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
- A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
- Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
- The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
- The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
- Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
- Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.
Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!
“No wounded Lannister riders take refuse at the wall”
It’s not the Lannisters themselves who take refuge there in the pitch/outline, but rather people fleeing from the Lannisters (thus expecting support from family at the Wall).
“Uncle Benjen is long dead and gone by now.”
The fate of Benjen still isn’t confirmed in the books. GRRM’s note to his editor says that Coldhands is not him.