HBO News Speculation

Production design news

With the big casting announcement dominating all the recent discussion, a few minor, but none-the-less interesting, news items kinda slipped through the cracks.

In the Daily Mail report on the Sean Bean rumor it was mentioned that Rainmark was involved with the Game of Thrones pilot. This was the first time that name had cropped up. Rainmark is a production company formed by producers of Rome and John Adams, among other projects. The intent with the company was to work closely with HBO and the BBC to develop films and TV series. Rainmark’s IMDb page doesn’t show them being involved with Thrones, although as we know, IMDb isn’t 100% accurate. We will have to wait and see if Rainmark is actually involved with the production or if the Daily Mail report was incorrect.

Even though it remains to be seen whether Rainmark is involved with the series, some people that have worked with them in the past seem to be. Namely production designer Gemma Jackson. Jackson’s experience as a production designer includes some impressive work with John Adams (where she won an Emmy) and Finding Neverland (where she was nominated for an Oscar). Having someone of her caliber on board as production designer means Thrones’ sets, costumes, props, etc. should look top-notch.

In related news, I’ve been told that licensed ASOIAF sword producers Valyrian Steel have had some dialog with HBO about using their sword designs in Game of Thrones. Specifcially, HBO has requested their conceptual drawings for Ice, the ancestral Valyrian steel greatsword of House Stark. Ice being, of course, the only notable sword appearing in the pilot episode. The reasoning behind it is that since Martin has worked closely with Valyrian Steel over the past couple years to ensure they get the look of these swords just right, it makes sense for HBO to go to them first when looking to recreate these weapons on screen. This kind of attention to detail from the show’s producers is encouraging to hear.

With the cast starting to become finalized, and auditions beginning to wind down, production design is going to be moving to the forefront of Benioff and Weiss’ priority list. Establishing the look of the pilot via sets, costumes, props, locations, etc. is going to be just as important as getting the right cast. It should be exciting to see.

[Thanks to Sparq and Adam Whitehead for their info on Rainmark and Jackson, respectively.]


  • Using the current Valyrian Steel company for the HBO sword designs is just awesome. I really hope that goes through. The guys running the show so far really seem like a class act

  • Oh man, John Adams looked great. I'm so happy that they got someone of this caliber working on the sets and design. This kind of information is equally exciting as all the casting announcements!

  • Encouraging news, indeed. Sure would be nice to see AGOT nab an Emmy or two someday!

    Mind you, Family Guy just became the first animated series to be nominated for one (um, hello The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Southpark?) so that shows you how much an Emmy's worth.

  • Personally, I don't really like the swords from Valyrian Steel. Even with GRRM's defense of the blade, needle just feels wrong. More so, Long Claw's pommel looks cheap and ugly.

  • The Longclaw design was something of a compromise, as I recall. They wanted to do the wolf head in some sort of stone or fake stone, like it is in the book, but everything they tried simply didn't work, was too hard or expensive to work (real stone was a problem, I guess) or looked too cheap. Finally they just settled on a metal pommel wolf head, with GRRM's approval.

    I always imagined the wolf face as pointing straight out, opposite the direction of the blade, rather than perpendicular. I always thought that would look better.

  • Working with Valyrian Steel is pretty ingenious on HBO's part. I imagine they may have negotiated to have VS do the sketches, prototypes, and actual prop for free, in return for allowing VS to later merchandise replicas of the sword "as seen on the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones". Such as arrangement would be a win for everyone.

  • There's already tons of art and designs by fans and professionals so might as well get some ideas for production design from those. That's a pretty cool note about Valyrian Steel I'm sure they're stoaked about that.

  • everything sounds good except the valyrian steel part. I am not impressed with the swords. They look like stainless steel, not sure if they are, but stainless is crap for weapons and certainly doesnt look like valyrian steel as described in the book. The pommel on needle looks ok, but the wolf head on longclaw just looks plain cheesy. yuck. They need to find a blacksmith that makes REAL quality weapons, not cheap knock off DISPLAY ONLY swords for low budget collectors. in my minds eye I always saw valyrian steel in the novels as something that looked like damascus steel with color in the metal. maybe thats right, I am not sure. Either way, crap stainless steel is not the metal to use.

  • @Anachronite.

    I wouldn't worry about that too much. They were just asked for the conceptual designs, not to make the actual sword. VS makes swords, as you said, for low budget collectors. The series will need at most 2 or 3 models of each sword. They can afford (and obviously will) to make them of other materials. Besides, do you really think they will use real steel swords in the series?
    Asking VS to deliver conceptual designs for the swords just proves the production is willing to pay great attention to detail. And obviously VS has spent some good time on this particular area.
    And why would they need to find a blacksmith to make a REAL quality weapon? Bean won't be needing Ice to actually chop off anyone's head you know… as long as it looks good, it is all well.

  • Now that things are starting to move along . . . it just looks like the pieces are fitting in perfectly. I'll cross my fingers and hope we get a fantastic show, that unlike some others, actually has some staying power so we can get the full delivery instead of just 1 or 2 seasons.

    Not to get too overconfident but it is looking like at least a full season order for the first book is a must. They would literally have to butcher this thing purposefully for it to fail I think as of now.

  • Also not to double post but oh well, I was reading Gemma's page and it has A Game of Thrones listed as a miniseries. Is this just a typo/error or what? I certainly hope we get a regular series (Deadwood) as opposed to a mini-series (John Adams).

    Either way, any ASOIAF on the TV is great to me though.

  • Anachronite is rite.

    Valyrian design suxxx real bad – they're completly ahistorical (I know it's fantasy but I thought GRRM's on the more realistic sied of things…guess I was wrong).

    Besides, (the most important part) c'mon – THEY LOOK LIKE CHEAP SHIT!!!
    Longclaw's pommel wouldn't be better made of stone BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE CHILD'S DRAWING…There's alot companies way better than Valyrian steel (some f$#kin; original name…makes you wonder how many years they are in the bussiness;p) and for me this choice is just a sign GRRM goes senile.

    The book are a masterpiece and they deserve the best – I won't approve anything below WETA workshop level on this one.

  • Valyriansteel of course does not produce quality replicas but only decorative items with no historical merit whatsoever (meaning, the weapons actually are the overpriced fantasy-Kitsch they look like). Longclaw certainly is a hoot and Mr Martin's involvement (which throws an unflattering light on his learning) does not make it any less ridiculous-looking.
    I do not understand, how any reasonable person can give away that much money for a decorative toy of such second-rate design and craftsmanship. Save your money, children, and buy a decent historical replica later…

  • [email protected]:39 – I'm sure HBO will eagerly await your "WETA workshop" approval before they proceed.

    They wouldn't want to PISS OFF teh hardcore fanz, RITE?!?

  • zzzZzzzzzzzzzZzzz … zzzz?

    First, about V.S.: I don't care. Second, about Rainmark, I don't… don't….


  • From how I understood it, they were looking to Valyriansteel as a guide to get the weapons right…I would highly doubt that they would buy just any replica and put it in the show. They obviously have custom built props, they are just using valyriansteel as a source, and to me that seems like a good idea.

  • @ dholds
    "teh hardcore fans" are buying "GRRM approved" VS's shit
    hopefully HBO don't await their approval

  • Gemma Jackson is one of the best in the business, so I have even more reason to be stoked. It was announced a few days ago she was the set designer for Game of Thrones, and I remembered how authentic Finding Neverland looked as a period piece without sacrificing color; simple but eye-catching.

    I admittedly hadn't seen John Adams until last night (though Paul Giamatti usually makes me watch him purely on instinct), and I picked up the first two episodes to peruse more of Gemma's work.

    I'm even more impressed. There's a scene in which John Adams and his wife Abigail (Laura Linney) talk while Abigail scrubs a floor. The house interiors are done all in complimentary greens, and they feel airy yet realistic. The windows and doors are placed so as to allow natural light to filter in through different sources. Gemma can take a small space and keep it authentically small without making us feel cramped.

    Another scene at the beginning of the movie had John rushing through an alley just at the petering end of dusk. We have no extraneous light; everything is dim, and hard to make out, as it should be, but still the little details are there.

    Everything looks real. That's what's most important for me. I have a very real hope Winterfell will not be shaded in Joel Schumacher neon blue.

    What will be interesting, of course, is seeing if this noted "period piece" expert can let her inner creative imp fly around a little. Game of Thrones isn't historical; the only "facts" she needs to adhere to is the canon set down by George R. R. Martin.

    I'm personally hoping for realistic looking medieval sets with that little extra touch of fantastical. This is, after all, a society that has lived in "medieval" times for over 8,000 years. Our own society advanced through technology; I always imagined Westeros and the rest of that world did not simply because they had magic to lean on. But I also imagine their fortresses, arms, armor, etc. were the very highest quality.

    If I've been making chain-mail armor and portcullises for thousands of years, I expect I'd be pretty good at making it perfect in both function and form, even if some of it should seem past its prime.

    Oh, and @TGrando357: Wincey does that. It's sort of his only shtick.

  • "they are just using valyriansteel as a source, and to me that seems like a good idea."

    Yeah, that is exactly what I feared…

  • @the people ranting about valyrian steel

    You would think that if there was massive demand for good quality low alloy steel(and accordingly priced) replicas of fantasy weapons there would be several companies out there selling replica's of sting, anduril, icingdeath, frostmourne and whatever other fantasy sword you can come up with?

    Guess what, I dont see them!
    Stainless steel is the way to go for these guys. Afterall they are just trying to make a living.

    With regards to how the swords look, I don't like the pommel of longclaw either and needle seems too fancy for something the local blacksmith made as a favor for Jon. GRRM thought up both weapons though, so he has absolutely authority on how they look. Better learn to live with it.

  • I rather like the design for Needle. Needle isn't supposed to be terribly special looking (beyond being more of a rapier than a traditional short sword or longsword), just a good, solid, castle forged blade by Mikken.

    I can't judge it for quality as a sword, but the look is just a very straight forward sword, as it's described in the books.

  • This is, after all, a society that has lived in "medieval" times for over 8,000 years.

    Actually, it hasn't been medieval for 8,000 years. There are hints that technology has been steadily increasing through out the history. Maybe slower than in our world (perhaps retarded by magic's presence, however limited), but it has. "Bronze" Yonn Royce gets his name from the ancient, (allegedly) magical bronze armor that dates back to the ancient days, supposedly. Other things like this crop up now and then suggesting that in ancient days, things were of even lower technology.

    needle seems too fancy for something the local blacksmith made as a favor for Jon.

    Mikken is far, far more than just some local blacksmith. He's the chief weapon smith for Winterfell, the greatest castle in all of the North. It's a good bet he's one of the best in that entire part of the world – I imagine only the other major houses (Umbers, Boltons, Manderlys, Karstarks, etc.) could afford someone so good.

  • @Spadey

    yes if they are going to be baniging swords together they had better be made of good steel, or every fight they do chunks of metal will break off and the swords qill quickly go to crap. They would probably use a stand in sword for close ups, but with HD TV and the new LED HDTV's, even at a distance you would be able to see a sword with chunks of steel missing along the edge. I own several replica swords and have sparred with them as well as with a real sword. There is a huge difference. A real sword would cut a replica in half on one good hit. Two guys fighting with a cheap knock off blade would ruin the blade after just a few minutes of sparring. If they want production value, they need to have a quality blacksmith forge some at least some decent blades to fight with. If not, you will see the torn up blades with todays quality HDTV. Don;t believe me? Next time you see a box of ciggarettes on a table in a HDTV broadcast, read the label. If the HDTV is good enough to read the label on a box of ciggarettes sitting on a table, it's good enough to show a pitted junked up blade some guy is holding in his hand. Although, there is also a definiate need for such swords in the story as well. not every fighter had a decent blade.

  • You guys do realize there's a REASON the VS swords cost ~$200?

    They're SUPPOSED to be cheap. They're for people who want something to put on the wall next to their bookshelf. The purpose of these swords isn't to be realistic, it's to be art for the casual collector.

  • I'm wondering if they are goning to be looking at the ART OF ICE AND FIRE book and particularly Ted Nasmith's depictions of the castles from the forthcoming WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE book for inspiration. Nasmith has done the best versions of the Twins and the Eyrie I've seen, and his King's Landing and Winterfell are also pretty good.

  • @Brude, what I meant is that the crossguard and pommel of needle still look like somebody spend some time making them pretty.

    Mikken would make a good sword, a practical one with good balance and shit. But would he care in the slightest how the crossguard looks? Hell no, he is a practical northmen, he would just use some plain crossguard that works. Things are different if you have some priceless valyrian steel blade ofcourse

    However, if needle looked too plain, who on earth would want to spend 190 bucks on it? So I understand why they would want it to look at least a bit fancy.

    Better stop ranting now and take my own advice from last post :P.

  • Brude, good call. I was exaggerating a little, but the point was these societies should be very good at making what they make, and I wouldn't mind designs that are a bit fancier than some of the medieval castles I've toured afoot.

    Additionally, I think the costuming can be a little more intricate than the usual authentic medieval stuff we tend to see. I take this picture of Joffrey by Anders Finer as an example (though yes, Lannister gold would tend toward buying fancier things):

    Adam Whitehead, I agree completely. Nasmith's works are brilliant. They would do themselves a favor by having him on board.

  • @Anonymous 4:39

    Reading your post was very very painful.

    You are obviously upset so I forgive you :)

  • I can't see how they won't look at the Ted Nasmith's castles, as they are amazing. I can see them using many of these as basis of matte backgrounds, especially of the castles we won't visit.
    But some beg for 3D models, especially the Eyrie and the Red Keep at Kings Landing.

    If the opening credits will be as the pilot script draft detailed, we will most certainly see Winterfell and Kings Landing from a bird's eye view, and probably the Eyrie and Castle Black as well.

  • @Sparq

    I have a feeling we will be seeing lots of 3D castles! I can't imagine how they will do the show with out a lot of CGI background. Some stuff they might pull off, but I foresee CGI/3D castles in our future.

  • As for clothes, I really like this depiction of Ned Stark, where he is wearing a finely crafted but robust outfit.

    Actually, all of the LoTR clothes were so good I won't begrudge them a bit if the stole the style, at least for the nobles.

  • Additionally, I think the costuming can be a little more intricate than the usual authentic medieval stuff we tend to see. I take this picture of Joffrey by Anders Finer as an example (though yes, Lannister gold would tend toward buying fancier things):

    Well, truth be told, much of the aesthetic of the high chivalry stuff comes from the Renaissance period, not Medieval. It's more like later, romantic notions of what the era of knights and armor should be. At least that's true for the Southern regions, but the North seems to be more ensconced in an older, more authentically Medieval aesthetic.

  • @Sparq

    I disagree. I've always liked authors like GRRM, Bernard Cornwell, Howard and E E knight with their gritty realistic characters. They have flaws you know and they seemed real.

    With Tolkien characters, they all seemed so overly dramatic and the whole bit where we are on a quest!! has always bothered me because it's hard to relate to, people who are real don't go on "Quests!!". I like his stuff I'm just saying that I like GRRM's stuff more for the character development and danger. Reading some authors you always know it will end well and life will go on, but with Martin we are all just sitting on the edge of our seats because we don't know who's gonna die next or if everything will be ok because it might not.

    Plus I always felt that Tolkien got all the credit for something I felt Robert E Howard pioneered.

  • @Rer, I meant the clothes style, not the acting style.

    I'm all with you that whole quest aspect, while good for LoTR, would completely fail in Westeros.

  • I started that off expecting to end it with a well thought out point, but somewhere I went off track and ended up bashing Tolkien instead, man I need to stop working ten hour days.

  • @anachronite

    baniging swords together they had better be made of good steel

    nope, it is not done like that. most every sword you see on screen are made of alluminum, resin or even rubber! and no they don't have an edge and of course would never be even remotely fit for actual combat. but they do look great in HDTV =)

  • Mikken would make a good sword, a practical one with good balance and shit. But would he care in the slightest how the crossguard looks? Hell no, he is a practical northmen, he would just use some plain crossguard that works.

    A couple of things:

    1) you should look at the level of artistry that is found on Celtic and later Viking weapons. Great lords and kings would have gold inlay and scroll work on their weapons that would simply astound you and was of a very high order. By comparison, Needle looks just slightly better than common.

    2) typically, you get had the guard and grip designed by a different craftsman than the one who did the blade, at least in the higher end work. When they are just banging out a thousand swords for their armies to use in battle, that isn't so – there, they are often pouring into molds that include guard and grip on them – I've seen such basic swords in museums. But on a lord's (or in this case a lady's) sword, the grip will often be made by a second artisan, and sometimes other artisans will be charged with doing whatever fancy design-work is etched into the blade, itself, if it has such.


    @whoever questioned Mikken's skills:

    "Is there gold in the village?" she shouted as she drove the blade up through his back. "Is there silver? Gems?" She stabbed twice more. "Is there food? Where is Lord Beric?" She was on top of him by then, still stabbing. "Where did he go? How many men were with him? How many knights? How many bowmen? How many, how many, how many, how many, how many, how many? Is there GOLD in the village?"


    I'm aware that she was not using Needle, but rather the squire's dagger, when she got all stabby on the Tickler, but she retrieves it moments later.

    Arya went to Polliver and knelt in his blood long enough to undo his swordbelt. Hanging beside his dagger was a slimmer blade, too long to be a dirk, too long to be a man's blade…but it felt just right in her hand.

    Also, Gemma Jackson is yet another feather in the cap. Its no longer a question of if, only when.

  • I'm ecstatic by the inclusion of someone so intrinsically responsible for the John Adams production.

    Top to bottom, that miniseries was lovingly detailed, richly clothed, and damn accurate. Throughout the production, no one wore makeup (except to age-up or down), teeth were made to like they were falling out of heads, the men wore starchy shirts, stockings and itchy wool coats, along with those somewhat-silly looking wigs, and the women all looked pleasantly period (that said, Laura Linney still radiated without a touch of chemical to paint her face). While watching, I could nearly taste the dirt and grime of the period. Yet visually, it was a treat. It all added to the fantastic acting and well written screenplays.

    If you haven't treated yourself to it, check out John Adams. Now. And start drooling.

  • Gemma Jackson rocks, John Adams rocked, Game of Thrones will rock. Just to give you a taste of the quality we can now look forward to, check out this vid of Gemma J in action.
    I didnt realise so much of it was green screen and CGI. That really makes me feel confident about CGI looking authentic in a tv series. We can now officialy sleep soundly knowing it wont look like BBC's Merlin or Robin Hood – yuck.

  • Plus the cast of John Adames was also awesome, with lots of British actors involved. Tom Hollander, Rufus Sewell, Stephen Dillane etc
    I would love to see Hollander or James Callis as Littlefinger "when" the series gets picked up. It will, it will.

  • Please forgive me … using the simplest explanation …. When Peter Jackson was making LOTR, there were these 2 artist who's work was something Jackson always admire and he hired them as his conceptual artists to get the look of LOTR right. I can't see why D&D can't do the same thing, and yes I do like Ted Nasmith's work, I also like AMOK's portraits too ….

    Asking VS to send some conceptual artwork on swords they have designed with GRRM's approval makes sense … but I agree with my fellow posters that cheap is cheap no matter what …. the swords need to look good and the same time take a beating… for me use WETA to actually construct them …

    Sidenotes: Gemma Jackson did great work on Rome and John Adams, so I can't wait to see what tricks she has up her sleeves … and I'm voting for James Callis as Littlefinger

  • Thanks for the link to the Making of John Adams! I've just watched it and share the sentiment. I bow to Gemma Jackson. Having her on board is just as important and exciting as signing on big actor names. Also important: lots and lots of increadibly realistic architectural CGI I never noticed while watching. Before seeing the video I was afraid that what Showtime did with establishing shots of castles for the Tudors is the best you can have on TV. Those were just a tad too cartoonish for me to be convinced.

  • If they look for able artists who have produced not only kitsch, Ted Nashmith (architectural images) and Michael Kormack (paintings) are the men.

  • Hey Winter, the futon critic credits two other guys as PRODUCERS, the first one is most probably related to Rainmark:

    1- Frank Doelger

    2- Mark Huffam

    It would be nice to have a post with crew members known until now….

  • OMG Mark Huffam was the production manager for Saving Private Ryan and most recently EP on Mamma Mia!

    According to IMDB news he's going to be a producer for Your Highness, shooting location: THE PAINT HALL, BELFAST….

    These are pretty good credits, I suppose.

  • the whole bit where we are on a quest!! has always bothered me because it's hard to relate to, people who are real don't go on "Quests!!".

    The "whole bit" on a quest is basically the whole story, so I don't know how I can help you there.

    Truth be told, if you break it down and know how to look at it, most dramatic stories are quests of some kind. Even if on the surface they don't appear to be, the ones that really work and have resonance still are. Read up on Joseph Campbell's theories on this stuff in "The Hero's Journey" and "The Hero With a Thousand Faces." A good book that synthesizes Campbell's theories of mythic structure into the realm of screenwriting (and other dramatic forms, but mostly screenwriting) is "The Writer's Journey" by Chris Vogler. It's all too long to get into here, but it's interesting stuff.

    I would submit that most of the main characters in the Ice & Fire books are on pretty classic Hero's Journeys (i.e. Quests) in these books. They may not always be physically traveling very far, but they are still on a journey.

  • I liked Komarck's weapon and armour designs, sure hope that they're using those for reference.

  • @Brude

    I disagree. I understand where you are going with this but the books in no way feature the a-typical quests found in fantasy literature. If you are talking about a technicality then anything anyone does that has a goal (which would encompass everything everyone does anywhere except the mental) could be defined as a quest. For instance you are on a quest to prove that I misrepresented the a-typical fantasy quest formula. What I'm talking about is the common formulas used in heroic fantasy. So I think you might have misunderstood my post.

    I disagree that the main characters are on a classic heroes quest. I believe the interactions are more along the lines of survival or emotional intimacy. No one in the books is trying to pull a sword from a stone or throw a ring into a volcano. Sure some might be trying to reclaim or solve conceived injustices but none are on a quest to complete a prophecy to join magical objects together to bring fire from the gods to smite their enemies.

  • Joseph Campbell- Great stuff for sure, though there are some parallels with ASoIaF many of his concepts do not fit while some do. Some of his steps for the myth might fit in with the series, you have to keep in mind, IMO, that some of his steps also fit in to anyone whether fictional or not.

    The series so far, none of us except maybe Martin, know how it will end. IMO the series will not end in monomyth fashion considering the tone of the telling and lack of absolutes. A prime example of a monomyth would be the "Matrix" series where you have heroes (reluctant or not) who fight the absolute evil who lacks the copacity for anything a moral society who consider moral. Now in Martin's work you can see the interactions behind some of the more sinister characters and emphasize with them because their motivation IMO are more real. So I doubt the series will end in a monomyth structure and I do not consider the story to follow a-typical fantasy quest structure, which is a good thing, I think.

  • (Spoilers)


    "I would submit that most of the main characters in the Ice & Fire books are on pretty classic Hero's Journeys (i.e. Quests) in these books. They may not always be physically traveling very far, but they are still on a journey."

    The vast majority of the characters are not on a classic journey. I completely disagree.

    Some of the characters might seem like they are, such as Dany.

    But most are not. The deaths of many of the Starks contest this. Jon for instance has been shunned and spends much of his time trying to survive. Jaime while seen as absorbed and evil struggles with an inner conflict.

    Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page that sums this all up much better then I ever could

    "While the series is set in a fictional world and Martin has acknowledged his debt to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Jack Vance and Tad Williams, the series differs from these earlier works in its greater interest in and use of realistic elements. While Tolkien was inspired by mythology, A Song of Ice and Fire is more clearly influenced by medieval history, most notably the Wars of the Roses. Likewise, while Tolkien included romance in his tales, Martin writes frequently, albeit in a clever fashion, of sexual matters. This has led to the series being cited as a forerunner of a 'gritty' new wave of epic fantasy authors that followed, including Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and Scott Bakker. On his website, Martin has acknowledged historical fiction authors such as Bernard Cornwell and George MacDonald Fraser to be influences on the series. Martin has cited the cover blurb by Robert Jordan for the first book to have been influential in ensuring the series' early success with fantasy readers."

  • I have an idea slash request:
    Checking the IMDb page for Game of Thrones, I see that the interest got up by sth like 23%, surely due to the big news two days ago. Now, I'm not a pro user of IMDb, but if I'm not mistaken, IMDbPRO enables you to view the entire trends/rankings data history (a week-to-week percentage number doesn't tell you much in the absolute sense). I would very much like some pro user to plot these data in a nice graph, perhaps even indicating all the big events (pilot ordered, director chosen, big news items). This way we can measure part of the buzz in some way (also in the future), and I'd very much like to see a graphic representation of it :) We could compare it to the numbers of sth like True Blood, for example. This could make for an interesting post, or even a section of this webpage where we could follow it continuously.

  • @Marko

    That actually sounds really cool. I would be very interested in comparisons to other series and that seems like a great way to speculate.

  • Marko: That would be an interesting study. I will have to see about getting an IMDbPro account and pulling the numbers.

    FWIW, Mo Ryan, the television critic for the Chicago Tribune, and I had a Twitter conversation about the buzz Thrones is getting. She said that the amount of buzz for this show, considering it hasn't even filmed the pilot yet, is very unusual. Pretty impressive coming from her, especially since she is a fan of the nerdy genre shows (Lost, BSG, Torchwood, Doctor Who, etc.) so she is no stranger to pre-show internet buzz.

  • I have to say that I hate the Longclaw design as well. It's totally not what I pictured. Oh well!

  • The credit list I have at the moment is:

    David Benioff – writer/executive producer.
    D.B. Weiss – writer/executive producer.
    George R.R. Martin – writer/executive producer.
    Guymon Cassidy – executive producer.
    Carolyn Strauss – executive producer.
    Ralph Vincinaza – executive producer.
    Vincent Gerardis – executive producer.
    Frank Doelger – producer.
    Mark Huffam – producer
    Thomas McCarthy – director (pilot).
    Sean Guest – 1st assistant director.
    Gemma Jackson – production designer.
    Nina Gold – London casting director.
    Amy Berman & Carrie Frazier – Los Angeles casting directors.
    Michelle Taylor Spellman – Los Angeles casting associate.
    Kerry Barden & Paul Schnee – New York casting directors.
    Allison Estrin – New York casting associate.

  • Re: Maureen Ryan – moryan on Twitter – is currently at ComiCon in San Diego, which starts to-DAY.

    Doubt we'll get any Game of Thrones announcements yet, but this time NEXT year … oh boy.

    I'll be there in 2010. Sneak previews and possible panels is my guess, if HBO is on its game.

  • Brude, nice bit on the quest. I think every character in Song is on their own personal quest, some more others. My favorite is Arya's quest, but Dany's rags to queen quest is pretty terrific also, and a more traditional example (I mean, I can't relate to freeing thousands of slaves and marching as their leader) SPOILER WARNING… darn too late. Jon Snow's quest is cool–I feel he is the crown prince of Westeros, bastard to full honors style, and that he and Dany are fated to be together—but that's just my personal fantasy.

  • Oh man. I was bummmed THIS year about not making it to ComiCon. Next year is a must if GOT will have a strong presence…

  • My reference was meant to be for heroic quest style of dialoge in some novels, such as Tolkien's, Terry Goodkind and such. Martin's books are renowned for not adding that cheesy stuff. There are no quests in the book other then people's objectives which everyone real or fictional has! Almost anything can be called a quest technically….

    I'm on a quest to eat breakfast tomorrow.

    I'm on a quest to finish my coffee.

    I'm working on my quest to finish this post.

    I'm on a quest to finish watching my movie.

    I'm on a quest to get drunk tonight.

    So forth and etc.

  • If you don't like the GRRM-licensed version of Longclaw, google "rick barrett longclaw" – His one-off version is pretty much the most excellent sword ever (and it's about 30-60x the price of the collector version, so it should be). The only thing missing is the stone pommel. He's the dude who should be handling weapons design for the series.

  • That's a serious reduction of what I was talking about Rer. The argument/theory is that all stories, at least those that work and that people gravitate to, are no different than a heroic quest in their storytelling structure, even if on the surface they do not appear to be. Me writing a message board is not the same as a modern love story or a cop drama, both of which could easily be rendered in the same forms as a heroic journey, albeit disguised by modern trappings. The quest of a love story could be boy wants girl, boy pursues girl, boy (hopefully) gets girl. Along the way there are obstacles the hero must over come (a rival suitor, a brother or father who doesn't like the boy, etc.). In the end, either he wins through and claims his 'prize' (the girl, life-long happiness), or he fails. If the quest fails, then the story is a tragedy.

    What Martin is doing in his books, I think, is presenting us with several stories with elements of the heroic quest, but not all of them pan out. Some of the prophesies and characters you expect to fulfill an heroic destiny, instead fail in some way – either through their own mistakes or through happenstance (usually mistakes). Sometimes it seems to be a simple misunderstanding of a prophesy or some such which leads to a failure of a particular quest. Some characters seem to take up quests they were never called for; never meant to be on in the first place. Maybe they should have refused the call (a key element of the heroic quest), but they didn't and they suffer for that mistake.

    I still can't pretend to know where it's all going to end up in the books, but it almost feels like the story is whittling down from a dozen potential heroic journeys down to one or two. How will it all end? I have no idea. Maybe all of these journeys will be disrupted, subverted or fail in some way or at the very least maybe they won't become what one expects them to become.

    If Martin is indeed trying to completely subvert, overturn or destroy the forms and structures of the heroic journey, then he's got a big task ahead of him. If it works, and the story finishes and yet still is satisfying, then he will have crated something completely unique in maybe the whole history of storytelling. I don't know if that's what he's trying to do or if he's consciously thinking about it in those terms. He's probably just trying to tell a really good story, but get away from too many of the fantasy tropes that have stifled the genre for too long, which is good enough in itself. But I'd be surprised if he can get too far afield from the hero's journey, since (it has been argued and I like the argument) that every successful story ever told is, however disguised, a heroic journey.

  • Brude, I have long suspected George R. R. Martin intends to do just that; I think when all's said and done, he will end up as having created something truly unique to the genre.

    The only work of fantasy literature I can think of right now that can even compare to the amount of tragedy we see in A Song of Ice and Fire, is Michael Moorcock's Elric saga. And in that story (ELRIC SPOILER…) everyone dies at the end except the freaking sword.

    I have offered this idea up before, but for me the names give it away. I think "Stark" and "Winterfell" all have doom written right into their names; they seem predestined to be whispered of in tragic ways during fireside stories told by the Old Nans of the future. Martin has often stated the end will be "bittersweet," but I have no reason to think the Starks will taste any of the sweet part.

    I personally think the sweet half will belong to the people who have sought redemption, such as Jaime, or Brienne (I also suspect there's a Jaime/Brienne).

    To that: I would say Brienne is certainly on a hero's journey. She even believes it's a quest.

  • Rer, not sure a quest for breakfast is comparable to Arya's vengeful one, but Bilbo Baggins might agree. Anyway.

  • "If Martin is indeed trying to completely subvert, overturn or destroy the forms and structures of the heroic journey, then he's got a big task ahead of him.

    I think Martin is an organic writer (read: a lot of the story reveals itself as he writes it) who has certain comic book script tendency to create drama by setting heroes to failure along the way of a never ending story. In Fevre Dreams, a much neater, shorter story than Song, he didn't enjoy the multitude of characters or the length to create this type of drama. But I think he certainly flirted with dead heroes in Fevre Dreams. In Song, he has plenty and more characters and pages to spare. In a way, Song's format is the perfect medium for Martin's art, except for the fact that the story must end eventually.

    Anyway, to the quote I copied from you above, I think that if Martin can pull the story to a close, it will be good enough without putting experimental literary exercises to work, or social commentary. And for the better; it's not that kind of book. But I will point out why I think that his books have a modern morality today that makes it easier to relate to than the from portrayal of Tolkien's good and evil in LOTR.

    To the comparison of Tolkien and Martin and in relation of Joseph Campbell, I would say that Martin's Song fits Campbell's hero theory just as well or better than Tolkien. Tolkien who in my opinion is barely a fiction writer brought the angst and imagination of World War from a British romantic's point of view to his book with a tinge of Christianity, which actually believes in good and evil in the external world (even if metaphorically it is sourced from the greed of men), and Song doesn't believe in such objective things or that greed is necessarily bad.

    At the same time, a book like Journey to the End of the Night is a great example to "completely subvert, overturn or destroy the forms and structures of the heroic journey", written also in the wake of resonating World War experiences–a book that probably most of you would not enjoy because it is not fantasy, but which is among my favorite books.

    Journey certainly does not believe in objective good and evil as Tolkien did, but it is way more radical and experimental than Tolkien or Martin's Song.

    Martin's social awareness, I believe is drawn from a mix of mass awareness of newspaper-reading people and the writer's mind for drama. Which is to say that few things in this world are easy to interpret as good or bad, are out of context, but with an underlying feeling of what is right–and with the writer's spin, what is emotionally engaging to read.

    At this point LOTR has become somewhat of a caricature, since it is the one and only Lord of the Rings, which has set laws or genre in motion. Rer can't relate to the characters in their journey, but that is because things are meant to be more relative and complicated today, and because he is not a bourgeois British Christian who served (mostly in England) and lived through World War 1, which has a conscience that mostly enjoys a clear good and bad side, and with its own set of logic.

    Song is a fantasy that you plebes can relate to better because it shares a modern morality with him, and that is based on a basic storytelling arc of tragedy and comedy (comedy in the classical "happy ending" sense). Or what writing workshop would maybe summarize as:

    Man is walking. Man finds obstacle, and must go around. Man succeeds here and there, but finds more trouble here and there. At the end, he either gets married or dies.

    Well, I hope I have completely bored you–I know I am yawning. And if not, then maybe offended.

  • @bardamu 12:14 AM

    It's so good to see that you, and many others, are discussing literary conventions and things like that instead of saying things like "Jaime is reeeealy HOT!" It shows that Martin's fanbase has some very intelligent people indeed, and I'm proud to be a part of it all.

  • @Bardamu


    I agree with you that Jon & Dany are destined to be together, Don't know how though, considering Jon's vow with the brotherhood …. and I have always speculated that Jon is the child of Lyanna and Rhaegar … so keeping true to the Targaryen tradition of marrying sister to brother or niece to uncle shouldn't be a problem

  • Mr Barrett's replica of Langclaw looks decently designed (about it's material quality I can not say anything).

  • One of my favorite things about ASOIAF is it's utter unpredictability. I like the way it leads me to think I know what will happen, then utterly SHOCKS the hell out of me. I personaly don't enjoy a book that I can predict the outcomes, I like to be surprized,that's just me. There are so many directions he could take it that ASOIAF is still very exciting after all these years. It has made me laugh out loud and cry in m'pillow which IMHO is a mark of damn good storyteller. I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on (except romance ewww!) and there have been very few books that I find myself rereading but with GRRM style of an intricate interwoven subplots and character connections, I come to new conclusions each time I reread it. The complexity of thier tangled web is unmatched and new strands sparkle in the light of previous conclusions.

    @bardamu 12:14 well said.
    Jon+Dany I have the same fantasy.

    I have posted a fan audition. If you guys don't mind…I'd love your input.

    Ummm I have a theory about Cersi's baby, the one mentioned in the newest side where she speaks of a black haired beauty. What if this child is Gendry?

  • on the Hero's Quest thing…

    I vaguely remember studying this stuff in Myth & Lit class in college, in reference to works like the Odyssey, Ramayana, and of course Jesus, etc. If I remember correctly, there were like 15 qualifications for the hero's quest according to Joseph Campbell. They included like self-discovery, betrayal, a "rebirth" of sorts, whatever else.

    My point is this: while some of the main characters in the classic epics didn't meet every single of the requirements to a "T" it DIDN'T mean that they were not on the "hero's journey." The same could be argued for Jon or Dany–I think they are really the only characters in ASOIAF that are on a similar path (not similar to each other, but similar in terms of the hero's journey).

    A HA! As I'm writing this I googled it, and for those who are interested in this kind of stuff, it's a great read:

  • Hi, Valyrian Steel here, I just had to respond to all the loving complaints for "Anonymous" whom I suspect is all the same person.

    Anyways, here are the facts.

    1. Longclaw is an authentic hand and a half sword. It is more or less a clone of a Type XX sword (Google it). 3 fullers, wide tapering blade, bastard sword. Exactly as GRRM wrote. It isn't a made up fantasy blade, it may be a fantasy hilt, but the hilt is as it was written as well.

    2. Almost all official Jon/Longclaw art prior to the creation of the sword puts the face looking out to the side. I didn't want it that way, I wanted it looking up. I recommended to GRRM that we have it looking up, he said he wanted it looking out. He is god, I listen to god. He had at least a dozen different wolf heads to look at, different ears, mouths, orientations, he ended up with this one. This was his design. Also, you cannot mass produce hand carved stone wolf heads, stone is also too light to properly balance such a large sword (pommels aren't just for show you know) and other than metal the only other choice would be a resin material (aka plastic).

    3. Longclaw is stainless steel. We plan on doing a 1060 damascus steel version retailing for $500+, just not yet. When we deliver designs to the HBO people, I will tell them that they should make it in damascus. Also, the actual swords used mostly are not metal, they're fake. There is usually a couple fake versions used day to day for carrying and fighting, and a single metal "hero" version used for close up glamour shots.

    What Longclaw is is stainless steel with a fake damascus like finish. This is a cost savings issue, not everyone can afford $500+. Likewise, they are not real garnets in the eyes, and when we do Oathkeeper it will not have real rubies. You can't do the fake damascus with high carbon steel, so we use stainless, and for the type of art we're producing (yes, these are art), that is fine. When picking out this texture GRRM also had about 16 to choose from. He also had about that many crossguard and grip styles as well.

    4. Needle is not stainless steel. Needle is full tang high carbon steel. Functional.

    5. Some people say Needle isn't fancy enough, others say it is too fancy. So I guess we split the difference well. Needle is not a rapier, never could be a rapier, Westeros doesn't have rapiers. GRRM says so. In discussion with GRRM about the design of Needle it was all about what Mikken could have and would have made, it had nothing to do with how Needle would be eventually used or who Arya's teacher may end up being. Syrio Forel did not live at Winterfell, and Jon or Mikken didn't pal around with any Braavos.

  • So, to sum up…

    So, let me sum up.

    1. We don't only make stainless steel weapons. Needle is high carbon steel, and we plan on making true Damascus versions one day.

    2. Love or hate the designs, they are official and made with very close cooperation with GRRM, a lot of back and forth, a lot of concept art (which is precisely why the HBO people would be interested in our designs). The chief actual design also worked on the LOTR mass market reproductions, as well as those for numerous other films and video games.

    Also, of all the people who have bought our swords, only one has given us anything close to a negative review. So please, don't judge them before you've actually seen one.

  • I think you scared them away with your technical descriptions. :P

    The only real beef that I have with Longclaw is the location of the smaller fullers. They seem to detract from the overall impression of power that the blade shape exudes.

  • Valyrian Steel — Thanks for all that information on your swords. Really interesting. What is the next one you guys are producing? I'd love to see Widow's Wail someday.

  • Well.. the thing with the fullers is… it is hard to fit 3 fullers on a blade, that is a lot of metal to remove and space to take up, and yet Longclaw has 3 fullers, it is written, so we had to do what we did to make it fit.

    The next one is Ice, then we'd like to quickly do Khal Drogo's gifted Arakh, then probably Oathkeeper. GRRM really wants to do the Kingslayer's golden sword, so that is a possibility as well. Assuming we sell enough Longclaw's and Needle's prior to having to make the decision, we may release the damascus Ice concurrently with the SS one.

  • Thanks for the insight, VS, and sorry if I called Needle a rapier. Maybe I should have said, "sort-of-kind-of-rapier-like?" I do realize that the Westeros style weapons is different than Bravos or the other free cities, and Mikken was likely not be familiar with them. (Do they have actual rapiers in the East?) At best maybe Mikken has seen a few of those weapons now and then, perhaps when some sellswords or freeriders came through Winterfell, but they aren't what he's been working his whole life.

  • The Sword and Laser Podcast: A Game of Thrones, Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt discuss the first book, series, collectible card game, wikis, TV series, the lot.

    Warning: spoilers and theory crafting inside.

    After listening, it was a little light and short (only half of the podcast is about the book), but not a bad listen all in all.

  • @Nicole

    "I vaguely remember studying this stuff in Myth & Lit class in college, in reference to works like the Odyssey, Ramayana, and of course Jesus, etc. If I remember correctly, there were like 15 qualifications for the hero's quest according to Joseph Campbell. They included like self-discovery, betrayal, a "rebirth" of sorts, whatever else."

    Granted any story of any kind can meet some of the qualifications of a heroes journey. You can actually go deeper into the trends of modern fantasy then with Cambells stuff, he mostly deals with stuff relating to the monomyth.

    I disagree that Martin's work would meet the criteria to be called anything along the lines of a fantasy heroes quest. I could in a long drawn out way depending on how things go in the end. Personally I don't much like the fiction that follows the standards that modern fantasy seems to follow. Many critics and reviews often mention Martin and a few others as trend setters for a shift away from the traditional fantasy novel (A good thing!). I usually will put a book down or quickly loose interest if it follows anything along the lines of….

    -Person X is the "Chosen" one
    -Everyone is either purely good or purely evil
    -Person X must go on journey to save the world
    -Characters lack reasonable motivations
    -Person X always prevails in the end
    -Novel ends in a huge happy white wedding and everyone lives happily ever after.

    That's a condensed list of criteria for the trend modern fantasy authors follow and it's very annoying and painful to read sometimes. When I was 14 and everything in sci-fi and fantasy was new, it was great, but after reading many many novels and maturing to some degree. Those novels seem immature in a sense. Martin steers away from that and he's noted for it along with a few others.

    My point about the quests is that anything done by anyone that is motivated to find or obtain something (no matter how mundane the thing might be) actually fits the definition of a quest….

    a search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something: a quest for uranium mines; a quest for knowledge.

    So yes you can be on a quest the obtain a fullstomach (breakfast)

    … which leads me to all the examples of quests mentioned previously. Technically anything written in fiction meets some of Campbell's criteria at some point in its pages.

    What I'm trying to point out is that Martin's work in ASoIaF doesn't follow the traditional heroes quest, and that's a good thing in my opinion.

  • Anon:

    That article on Irish film i believe (hope) is only for the republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland (where GOT is being shot) is seperate.

  • @bardamu

    "I would say that Martin's Song fits Campbell's hero theory just as well or better than Tolkien."

    That's debatable. All this talk of Campbell is moving the conversation away from the heroes quest in modern fantasy I was referring to anyways which would be more along the lines of "The Sword of Truth" stuff anyways.

  • "It seems that all productions in Ireland may be put on hold for financial reason. Read this article for more information. I suspect with Northern Ireland being set as the main filming location, this could cause problems for GoT."

    As SNA said, this only applies to productions in the Republic (capital: Dublin), not Northern Ireland (provinical capital: Belfast), which is part of the United Kingdom.

    If HBO wanted to do some location shooting in the South (which they may very well want to, to take advantage of the vast open spaces and countryside with no houses or telephone wires in sight), it might have some bearing on that, but otherwise it has no bearing on GoT at all. Showtime might find themselves getting stuffed whilst filming the final season of THE TUDORS though.

  • @LadyNYC74
    "Asking VS to send some conceptual artwork on swords they have designed with GRRM's approval makes sense … but I agree with my fellow posters that cheap is cheap no matter what …. the swords need to look good and the same time take a beating… for me use WETA to actually construct them …"


  • Hey, I think it's cool VS came here to talk about their swords. I don't know much about swords, replicas of swords, or props. Except that they are pointy. It sounds like VS is really passionate about the making of them, and they know more about Westeros weaponry, conceptually and practically, than anyone. For me, like I said, I don't care for swords. So, I hope HBO uses them well.

    I saw pictures of the VS swords in the real world casually, outside of their elements is a little shocking and not nearly as shiny as in my imagination. You really have to be an affectionado to "get it", I imagine.

    To me, in the GRRM books, the swords are kind of like characters of their own. They have certain alignments and attitudes. They carry their own stories. To hear of a sword being melted down for the rarest of metal was like watching something sacred and ancient come to an unfair and horrible end, and was an emotional extension of Ned's tragic fate. The making of toy swords to unworthy children out of them was even more gruesome.

  • But in a way, as the metal is watered down to create the new swords, somehow the metal lives on and carries memories and is like a ghost that weighs down on the unworthy? hmmm.. GRRM is a nice writer. I might to read those books again.

  • Why is Belfast called Belfast? Do they have fast bells there?

    This site is going sleepy. I'm going to read Palahniuk's Pigmy. I liked the first few pages.. crazy.

  • It's from the Irish Béal Feirste, which means Mouth of the Sandbar, with sandbar being a colloquiel phrase for the sandy banks at the mouth of a river.

    Belfast sits at the mouth of the River Lagan and has some sandy banks by it, hence it's name.

    Unfortunately it isn't named for having fast bells.