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A Bit More (Fake) History

I had intended to write this post a few days ago, when Bantam gave me the green light, but I got busy, and we had Carrie Vaughn coming to town, and a worldcon/ Hugo deadline approaching, and all that seemed more time-sensitive, so I wrote those instead. Unfortunately, that meant the news below broke from other sources, and inevitably, all sorts of weird distortions crept in, and now the internet is rife with rumors and false reports and misinformation. Pfui. I need to set the record straight.

My friend Gardner Dozois, long-time anthologist and winner (many many times) of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, has a big new fantasy anthology coming out this fall. It's called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it's about... well... swords. Y'know. "Stick 'em with the pointy end."

I have a story in the book. "The Sons of the Dragon" is the title. Those of you who enjoyed "The Princess and the Queen" in DANGEROUS WOMEN and "The Rogue Prince" in ROGUES will probably like this one too. It's water from the same well. A history rather than a traditional narrative. A lot of telling, only a little showing. (The opposite of what I do in my novels). But if you're fascinated by the politics of Westeros, as many of my readers seem to be, you should enjoy it. As the title suggests, "The Sons of the Dragon" chronicles the reigns of the second and third Targaryen kings, Aenys I and Maegor the Cruel, along with their mothers, wives, sisters, children, friends, enemies, and rivals. If you're read something to that effect on the web, good, that much is right.

However, there is a lot that's wrong out there as well. THE BOOK OF SWORDS is not my book. I didn't write but a small part of it, and I didn't edit it, nor even co-edit it. Gardner is one of my oldest friends and he and I have co-edited a number of anthologies together. We did OLD MARS and OLD VENUS together. We did SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS together. We did the huge award-winning cross-genre anthologies WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, and ROGUES together. But we did not do THE BOOK OF SWORDS together.

SWORDS is all the Great Gargoo. I mean, it's not as if he hasn't edited a hundred other anthologies all by himself, before he did a few with me. We're friends, but we are not attached at the hip. I edit Wild Cards without any help from Gardner, and he edits lots of great stuff without any help from me... including THE BOOK OF SWORDS and next year's THE BOOK OF MAGIC (which will also have a story from me, a reprint).

Truth be told, I loved editing those anthologies with Gardner, and we want to do more together. We're talked about MORE ROGUES and EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN, since those two books were hugely successful, and we have definite plans for OLD LUNA and, who knows, maybe eventually OLD MERCURY and OLD PLUTO and OLD URANUS. But we're not doing any of that NOW. The anthologies, much as I loved them, were taking too much of my time, so I stepped back from them... until I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, at least. Once that's done, maybe I can sneak another one in...

The point is, just because I had to step back did not mean Gardner had to. And he hasn't. Hence THE BOOK OF SWORDS, which I expect to be just as good as ROGUES or DANGEROUS WOMEN.

The lineup of THE BOOK OF SWORDS is an impressive one:

Introduction by Gardner Dozois
THE SWORD OF DESTINY, by Matthew Hughes
THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE, by Walter Jon Williams
THE MOCKING TOWER, by Daniel Abraham
HRUNTING, by C.J. Cherryh
A LONG, COLD TRAIL, by Garth Nix
THE KING'S EVIL, by Elizabeth Bear
WATERFALLING, by Lavie Tidhar
THE SWORD TYRASTE, by Cecelia Holland
THE SONS OF THE DRAGON, by George R.R. Martin

There's some amazing writers there. Some of the stories, I expect, will contend for the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award. But I wouldn't know which, since I haven't read any of them yet, since I am not the editor. Unlike, say, ROGUES and OLD MARS and the like, where I read every word, because I was the co-editor.

THE BOOK OF SWORDS is scheduled for release on October 10 in hardcover and ebook. (I don't have the cover art yet, but when I do I will post it here).

As for my own story...

Long-time lurkers on this site will recall that several years ago, when we were working on the gorgeous illustrated worldbook/ concordance that was eventually published as THE WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, I wrote a number of 'sidebar's about Westerosi history. Actually, I got rather carried away, until I found I had written 350,000 words of sidebars for a book that was supposed to have only 50,000 words of text (it ended up having a lot more that that, actually). Since I had only reached the regency of Aegon III the Dragonbane, and had largely skipped over Jaehaerys I the Conciliator, however, it became apparent that my sidebars were going to burst the book.

So we pulled them all out, including only severely abridged versions of the main events in THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE. The full versions, much longer and unabridged, will eventually be published in a fake history tome to be called FIRE & BLOOD (and sometimes just the GRRMarillion), but since that one is years away, I included excerpts (again abridged, though not as severely) in DANGEROUS WOMEN and ROGUES. That's where "The Princess and the Queen" and "The Rogue Prince" came from.

"The Sons of the Dragon" came from the same place. Gardner asked me for a story. I told him I did not have the time to write a story. He asked if perhaps I had more like "The Princess and the Queen" lying about... as it happened, I did. So I sent him "The Sons of the Dragon," he liked it, and there we are. (Fwiw, though "Sons" has never been published before, some of you may have heard me read it at one convention or another. I think I've read it twice, though offhand I do not recall when).

Anyway... that's the story of the story. Don't believe any other weird crap you may encounter on the web. It's Gardner's book, and it should be a fine one. You can't go wrong with Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Matthew Hughes, and the rest of the contributors that Gargy has assembled. You'll love their stuff, I know. Maybe you'll like my contribution as well... if you're partial to fake history.


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Feb. 1st, 2017 12:17 am (UTC)
I, for one, will take as much Targaryen history as you have.

Will we ever learn what religion the Targaryens practiced before the Conquest?
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:38 pm (UTC)
Targaryen Religion
I vaguely recall from a World of Ice and Fire that the Valyrians had their own gods, but when the Targaryens came to Westeros they took on the Seven as their own.
(no subject) - lord_varys - Feb. 1st, 2017 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Max Peterson
Feb. 1st, 2017 12:25 am (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification, as always. It only ever seems like the fringe "news" sites cover these kinds of stories so it's hard to tell what's fact.
Alex Alexis
Feb. 1st, 2017 12:30 am (UTC)
Very thrilled!
Will all the additional history fit in Fire and Blood, or should we be expecting more books like The World of Ice and Fire?
Feb. 1st, 2017 12:41 am (UTC)
Thank you for this long statement about the coming book from Gardener. I enjoyed the german version of dangerous women, so i'm also excited for the book of swords.

Nice to know that we will get a whole book about the Targaryens in the future, when winds of winter is finally out. Can't get enough of this fictional world. Oh, now I'm even more excited for winds.

Feb. 1st, 2017 12:42 am (UTC)
Book of Magic?
That is indeed an impressive lineup, ser. I wonder if the Hobb story is set in the Realm of the Elderlings or if it's standalone.

I am very curious about this Book of Magic anthology you mentioned, tbh. Any idea when the lineup for that will be revealed?
Feb. 1st, 2017 12:44 am (UTC)
SO stoked for this.
I love the way you minimize the importance of these stories and thus (here) downplay the degree to which the brothers (or perhaps moreso their mothers and virile fathers) are in a sense thematically and literally central to EVERYTHING: the muddled, power-saturated relationship between legitimacy and blood and paternity; the resulting splintered lines reforged in shall-we-say "it's complicated" ways—almost certainly beyond the ken of certain show-runners (which surely delights you); the way two old houses that seemingly could not have less to do with one another are in fact intimately bound together; a certain Maegor-come-again no one is savvy to and many sadly see as pointless...

Can't wait.
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: SO stoked for this.
Hm, m_tootles. Who are you referring to as a "Maegor-come-again"? One that "nobody is particularly savvy to and many see as pointless"?

I don't suspect it's the boy currently calling himself Aegon Targaryen. For one thing, Young Griff has that quality halfway between eagerness and arrogance, but does not seem to have a cruel streak: for another, I think his destiny is to be the equivalent of a real-world Perkin Warbeck - a possible royal bastard or offshoot, who happens to look enough like a true member of the royal family for his claim of being a surviving "murdered princeling" to be plausible. Especially given all the setting up of the Blackfyre dynasty as a backstory plot, and the backing of the Blackfyre-supporting Golden Company, and the hint of a missing black dragon (inn sign) that turned up rusted to red. That's a popular theory - Aegon being a Blackfyre descent.

But a "Maegor come again"? Are we missing a descendant of the OTHER Maegor - the son of Aerion Brightflame who was disinherited by Grand Council, who might have a better blood claim than anyone, Daenerys and all?

Or is it a reference to a truly cruel wannabe-king who seems to have taken against all kinds of religions and beliefs as Maegor did, which would fit Euron Greyjoy (who is still barely known outside of the really intense fandom community that actually checks up on unpublished sneak previews and readings)? It's been hinted that Euron may turn into one of Daenerys's greatest enemies - the one-eyed kraken floating on a sea of blood that Moqorro hinted at. That would definitely fit your comment about many seeing him as pointless, since he's hardly shown himself at all in the TV series, and even in the books we've seen surprisingly little yet.

Or were you meaning someone else entirely?
Feb. 1st, 2017 12:51 am (UTC)
Scott Lynch, Daniel Abraham and Robin Hobb? Swords? I'm all over this. Looking forward to discovering new authors as well.

Hey, George -- sorry if you've heard this one, but I heard it today and had to share in case you hadn't:

Why do the Lannisters have such big beds?

Because they put two twins together to make a king.
Feb. 1st, 2017 08:00 am (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2017 12:58 am (UTC)
Oh my. I have a feeling I will love this upcoming story something fierce. Shame it won't be out before That Finnish Convention, but the previous histories have offered me plenty of fodder for discussion should I be so lucky as to lend your ear for a few moments!

Are you privy to (and allowed to share) the information of whether the superb Iain Glen will narrate this story, as well? I could listen to him recite a phone book and be enthralled.

Edited at 2017-02-01 01:18 am (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2017 01:01 am (UTC)
Great post
I only have one question

At your age now, what do you prefer, Writing or Editing.

I know Editing is actually Writing but do you prefer to Edit , or Write.

Getting that book, Books of swords. Loved the other two.

Anything you write on Game on thrones will do well :)
Connor Farris
Feb. 1st, 2017 01:09 am (UTC)
More blood! More fire!
I'm so excited about the news of Blood and Fire. When I moved overseas a few years ago, I was only able to take a few books with me due to weight and size restrictions. A World of Ice and Fire was one of the the books that made the cut (the rest went with me digitally) and I'm so happy to hear there's going to be more!

Edited at 2017-02-01 01:10 am (UTC)
MaryEllen Vincenza
Feb. 1st, 2017 01:14 am (UTC)
Story of the story
I am very excited for this release. ASOIAF is my first "go" with fantasy genre books, and turns out I really like them. Your comment about how you wrote 350,000 words for a book that was only supposed to be 50,000 made me chuckle. I too often get carried away once immersed in a writing piece, be it a narrative or something for work. It's fun to find yourself lost in the words on the page. I don't read internet posts about the next novel or any of the other nonsense, so I, for
one, appreciate this post. Take care-MaryEllen
Chris Short
Feb. 1st, 2017 02:10 am (UTC)
Dunk & Egg stories?
Looking forward to anything you publish set in Westeros. You mentioned before that Winds of Winter might be coming out this year as well - any idea when we should expect more Dunk & Egg stories? How many more of those Do you have in mind?
Frank Probst
Feb. 1st, 2017 02:45 am (UTC)
Gardner Dozois Appearances?
The is a bit tangential, but do you know where to find a list of Gardner Dozois' upcoming appearances? I did a quick web search, but I don't see a list anywhere. I don't even know if he usually goes to Worldcon. Any insight for those of us hunting for autographs?
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:31 am (UTC)
RE: Gardner Dozois Appearances?
I don't think Gardner is going to worldcon this year. Helsinki is a little far. He lives in philadelphia, so the best place to find him is at east coast cons.
Feb. 1st, 2017 02:46 am (UTC)
Very cool- thanks for sharing
Hello George,

Thanks so much for the update/clarification. I had been aware of the Book of Swords for a while (although I only recently learned of your contribution), so nice of you to "set the record straight" and it's great knowing the full TOC. Any chance you could tell me (us) if the Garth Nix story is a new Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz?

On the topic of your anthologies, I think I might have asked this before, but I wondered what the chances were of mass market paperback editions of Old Mars and Old Venus in the same way there are for Songs of the Dying Earth and Dangerous Women.

Thanks again.

Edited at 2017-02-01 02:58 am (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:34 am (UTC)
RE: Very cool- thanks for sharing
Eventually, sure
Re: Very cool- thanks for sharing - casejord - Feb. 1st, 2017 03:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Dan Koifman
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:50 am (UTC)
Some fans on Twitter are petitioning that you to stop calling it "fake history" because it reminds them Westeros isn't real. I can tell you Westeros feels very real to me.

They suggest calling it "alternative history", ha!

Edited at 2017-02-01 03:54 am (UTC)
Matheus Ervall
Feb. 1st, 2017 06:09 am (UTC)
When observed from so many angles it stops being fake...
There is this theory of quantum consciousness; the Universe turns real only when it is observed.

I would say it is fake as long as no one has read it, when read it turns into real emotions; sounds, smells and sights; intellectual puzzles (fan theories) from 100 different angles.

I have no hints of the world being fake so far (character inconsistencies, fake plot twists, etc), as far as I know George could have discovered a secret looking hole into an alternative universe - this is my best theory for the experienced "realness" of Westeros.
Feb. 1st, 2017 04:05 am (UTC)
Thank you for clarifying George. This books sounds spectacular! can't wait! I'm really into some of those writers! D. Abraham is The Expanse and I'm totally into those books. I only discovered Robin Hobbs book recently and I'm totally into The Tawney Man series! I've been audiobooking Cixin Liu's seris and that has consumed me for the last few weeks! Amazing stuff! please no judgement for audiobooking as well as reading, valid reasons for doing so.
I sincerely hope Gardner makes sure to have Gwendolyn Christie narrate at least one story in Book of Swords! Pass it on please. Something about her narration is like listening to someone weave magic!
Can't wait to read the new World History story!! Yay! Comes out my Birthday Month.
Feb. 1st, 2017 04:17 am (UTC)
Is there a way to send you messages directly, as in an email? I would like to briefly share my feelings about your work.
Feb. 1st, 2017 04:36 am (UTC)
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Ryan Bruce
Feb. 1st, 2017 05:05 am (UTC)
The book of Swords Rumors
On the topic of rumors,

I heard a particularly nasty one the other day regarding plans for a celebration you were holding over 3 days with all the authors, editors, publishers and minions involved with the book upon publication. Can you confirm??

Haha congrats, I can't wait for some more fake history :)
Feb. 1st, 2017 05:37 am (UTC)
RE: The book of Swords Rumors
What? Weird. No, nothing true there.
RE: The book of Swords Rumors - Ryan Bruce - Feb. 1st, 2017 08:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: The book of Swords Rumors - themadpianist - Feb. 1st, 2017 09:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: The book of Swords Rumors - Ryan Bruce - Feb. 2nd, 2017 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 1st, 2017 05:06 am (UTC)
> It's called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it's about... well... swords. <

Thank goodness for that. A metaphor for other slashy-pointy things would have been fine, or even a group of people who have slashy-pointy personalities in a stretch.

But if it was on the history of the potato and entitled 'The Book of Swords' I would have disappointed.
Feb. 1st, 2017 05:17 am (UTC)
A simple, but not so simple question
Hey George, I've always wondered what makes a fictional world feel real to people, if you don't mind me asking I was wondering what makes a fictional world feel real to you? I know it can be a hard question to answer so I totally understand if you don't have time, but if you do, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Feb. 1st, 2017 07:57 am (UTC)
The Targaryens are so cool and it is so clear, in reading TWOIAF as I am right now, that what we have is deeply abridged. Your novels aren't known for their levity, so it's bizarre seeing details glossed over. So yeah, definitely looking forward to the eventual Fire and Blood book. That being said, I'm desperate to know more about the thousands and thousands of years of Stark history. And Blackwoods and Glovers and Karstarks and Reeds! Your relative mumness on this makes me hope for some pretty wicked reveals through Bran, assuming the TV show lines up.
Erik Robb
Feb. 1st, 2017 08:55 am (UTC)
So how canon is this since you only wrote a bit and didn't edit it? I'm not really sure what editing qualifies as though, as I assume you read though it and made sure it all check out?

I've very interested in your answer, as well as any other thoughts you have about what's considered canon in your works.

P.S Your books have all but ruined reading for me as I can't find anything that matches the quality of your writing so I never finish books anymore. But that problem also inspired me to write my own book! I have no idea what to do or where you go when you've written one; but going from never even considering writing, to devoting the majority of my free time to it, has been a profoundly positive change in my life. So thank you for the stories so good they changed my life. The Thousand Worlds, ASoIaF, and all the rest =)
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:41 am (UTC)
Some details
Thanks for the news!

You read 'The Sons of the Dragon' at last LonCon, by the way, and got throughout the reign of Aenys I. I was there and really had fun madly scribbling very detailed notes down.

Will some parts of the story be edited out like it was done with 'The Prince and the Queen' and 'The Rogue Prince'? What you read about the reign of Aenys I definitely was short enough to be only a short novella but only you know how much is coming during the bloody reign of Maegor the Cruel...

By the way - there seems to be an inconsistency between 'The Sons of the Dragon' and the way things are portrayed in TWoIaF: In 'The Sons of the Dragon' you had Maegor hang out on Dragonstone most of his young life with his mother, resulting in him becoming known as the Prince of Dragonstone. But in TWoIaF Aenys is referred to as the Prince of Dragonstone before he becomes king upon the death of the Conqueror. I really liked the idea that the Heir Apparent of the Iron Throne was not always the Prince of Dragonstone but that this thing sort of thing only came to be when Aenys I stripped Maegor of that title when he sent him into exile, bestowing it upon his own son and heir, Aegon, instead.

A similar thing goes for the Dornish wars. In Gyldayn's account of the Conquest it says that after First Dornish War that ended in failure the attempts to subdue the Dornish 'continued well into the reigns of Aegon's sons'. But 'The Sons of the Dragon' does not mention any Dornish wars during the reign of Aenys I aside from the first Vulture King uprising which had the Targaryens fight the Dornish on their soil. Were there any such wars later during the reign of Maegor or during the two year tenure of Maegor as Aenys I's Hand? Or was Aenys I contemplating at one time to bring Dorne into the Realm by marriage, as Viserys I later did? Aenys I had a lot of children and could very well have married Viserys, Jaehaerys, or Alysanne to the heir of Dorne...

Can you clarify what's 'true' there?

And can you tease a little bit about the undeveloped aspects of the Targaryen family tree, most notably who Alyssa Velaryon's Targaryen mother had been (she and Aenys I were cousins) who the Sea Snake's Targaryen mother was (if he had any), or what ultimately happened to Aerea and Rhalla, the twin girls of Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaena?
Feb. 1st, 2017 06:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Some details
Your report was amazing and much appreciated at the time, Lord Varys.

****I asked Elio about that: turns out that the reference to Aenys as "Prince of Dragonstone" was a typo in the first-run print edition. Check the AWOIAF page for "Prince of Dragonstone", I subsequently updated it accordingly.

...I don't think it was a "title" he stripped Maegor of, it was a nickname that Maegor had, and then Aenys "appropriated" by using it for his own son.

As for the Dornish Wars, yeah we've been having fun trying to pick those apart, thanks for posting these questions.

Hey I'm still holding out on who Valaena Velaryon's Targaryen mother was. We must be as patient as the grass which hides the viper
Feb. 1st, 2017 10:47 am (UTC)
TWOW readings
Are you planning to read more sample chapters from TWOW?
Vincent Witvliet
Feb. 2nd, 2017 12:13 am (UTC)
RE: TWOW readings
I hope not. I'd rather just have the whole book...
Re: TWOW readings - grrm - Feb. 2nd, 2017 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
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