In 1993, George R.R. Martin wrote a letter outlining the original idea of his yet-to-be-completed epic fantasy series of novels ?A Song of Ice and Fire,? on which the Game of Thrones show was based.
The recipient of George R.R. Martin?s letter was Ralph Vicinanza, the literary agent of Stephen King, the Dalai Lama, and Augusten Borroughs. Ralph Vicinanza was a co-executive producer of GoT before he died of cerebral aneurysm at the age of 60 in 2010. According to the website Westeros.org, Ralph Vicinanza ?ran the Created By management and production company which represents the film and television rights for most of the notable names in science fiction and fantasy, both past and present (among them are Stephen King, Larry Niven, Robin Hobb, Joe Haldeman, Isaac Asimov, and of course George R.R. Martin).?
In his letter, George R.R. Martin explained what his big idea for the Game of Thrones books was about, the story arcs of some of his major characters, and the ones who would perish at the hands of their enemies. A lot of the ideas written on the letter were either completely changed or didn?t make it to the novel or the TV adaptation at all.
But what piqued the interest of netizens and die-hard Game of Thrones fanatics was one particular part George R.R. Martin shared to Ralph — the names of the characters who would last until the very end of Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Bran Stark, and Jon Snow.
In case you?re wondering where these images came from, these were actually from the Twitter post of UK bestseller Waterstones. The photos were deleted the following day, but not before some enterprising Reddit users saved copies of the controversial images and posted them on Reddit themselves.
The Insider made the effort of transcribing the letters for all us. Portions of the letter, though, were unreadable. A paragraph toward the end of the letter was purposely blackened out. Read through this letter and find out the many similarities and differences between the Game of Thrones story then and the Game of Thrones story now.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 [what appears to say] will be accused of treason, but before he is taken he will help his wife and his daughter Arya escape back to Winterfell.
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.
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.
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 Ben jen 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.
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.
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 dragon eggs] a young dragon will give Daenerys [unclear] bend [unclear] to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
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.
[The next graph is blocked out.]
But that’s the second book …
I hope you will find some editors who are as excited about all of this as I am. Feel free to share this letter with anyone who wants to know how the story will go.
George R.R. Martin
There you have it folks. What was originally planned as a trilogy is now a worldwide TV hit and a five-book story, with a possible sixth and final book in the works.
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