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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 BEST MAN WINS, by K.J. Parker
HIS FATHER'S SWORD, by Robin Hobb
THE HIDDEN GIRL, by Ken Liu
THE SWORD OF DESTINY, by Matthew Hughes
“I AM A HANDSOME MAN,” SAID APOLLO CROW, by Kate Elliott
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
WHEN I WAS A HIGHWAYMAN, by Ellen Kushner
THE SMOKE OF GOLD IS GLORY by Scott Lynch
THE COLGRID CONUNDRUM, by Rich Larson
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.

Comments

( 78 comments )
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BryndenBFish
Feb. 1st, 2017 01:44 pm (UTC)
Dunk and Egg?
I was curious whether you've given more thought to publishing more DUNK AND EGG in future anthologies before completing and delivering WINDS and DREAM. IIRC, you didn't plan to publish any more D&E before completing and delivering WINDS, but I wondered whether you had revisited this or maybe considered on publishing the fourth D&E between WINDS and DREAM?
Williamjames Hoffer
Feb. 1st, 2017 02:20 pm (UTC)
Fake History
As a historian myself, I am always curious to read your description of what you write as "fake history". Is it a history? Yes. Is it a retelling based on sources? Yes. Nothing fake about it unless you think writing the history of a fantasy/historical fiction world is fakery. We'll just have to agree to disagree. Regardless, thanks for the clarification. P.S. Try not to follow the speculation on-line too closely. Like staring into the abyss, one can get lost in there.
astrolorraine
Feb. 1st, 2017 02:38 pm (UTC)
How exciting!! A bit off-topic, but do you think we'll ever get an account from Mushroom's side of things? The World Book really teases for him ;-)
ADragonDemands
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:34 pm (UTC)
Faith Militant uprising wiki article
Ah! Good news. In anticipation I just finished thoroughly screencapping the "Histories & Lore" animated featurettes from TV Season 5, which give a brief recap of the Faith Militant uprising, Aenys and Maegor (though admittedly they don't match that kickass Balerion vs Quicksilver art).

Some may be of use to our website team for the announcement:

http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Faith_Militant_uprising

Questions:

*How much of "I, Claudius" is in "The Sons of the Dragon"? I felt a strong "I, Claudius" tone from those sections (and the live read reports).

*Will we learn more about dragon lineages? Live-reads mention something about when Vermithor and Silverwing hatched (right after Ronnel Arryn flew), but the specifics are frustrating. And of course, what color was Vhagar? Ah, I can't wait.

*This question comes up a lot so I need to know what to tell people: how do we pronounce "Aenys"? I get that' it's a combination of "AE-gon and Rhae-NYS". I pronounce it "E" "Niss".

*I've previously heard you ask the open question of "what does it mean 'he ruled well'?" - i.e. Tywin is ruthless but is an effective ruler, Robert is generally a nice guy but an incompetent ruler. And this is just the classic example: weak, genial, and diplomatic Aenys, contrasted with the decisive but ridiculously brutal Maegor. When I heard you ask this question before, the comparison you used was "Jimmy Carter was a good man personally but had a troubled presidency, while Richard Nixon had a lot of morally dubious actions but he also did a lot of objectively effective things like open up relations with China, so what does it mean to be a 'good' ruler?" ---- Does the Carter/Nixon contrast work for Aenys/Maegor? That was before my time, but my mom saw Carter speak at her high school once (and thought he was feckless).
donlimpio29
Feb. 1st, 2017 04:04 pm (UTC)
Blood and Fire!!!
Dear George:
There is only one thing I can say about your post:
Thank you.
I can hardly imagine the pressure you have over your shoulders resulting from all the bothering fans, readers and editors that your fascinating books have built, BUT, with this comment I want to humility transmit to you the huge hope, enthusiasm and happiness you have generated with this new post related with your saga. I am absolutely eager for new stories from Westeros, and particularly, from Targaryen dynasty with their mysterious dragons.
Thank you for your marvelous imagination. Thank you for your tireless dedication to all your tasks.
Find my complete gratitude, appreciation and admiration with these words. May the magic of the Seven Kingdoms, Essos and Ashaii of the Shadow, go with you.
Un saludo agradecido desde España.

ADragonDemands
Feb. 1st, 2017 04:40 pm (UTC)
TPATQ vs TRP
"The Princess and the Queen" is 30,000 words out of what you said was an original 80,000 word long "history of the Dance of the Dragons".

"The Rogue Prince" is about 10,000 words - was that included in the 80,000 word count or separate from it? (it's the events *leading up to* the Dance).

Also does that 80,000 word count include the Regency era which followed? With Unwin Peake/Gormenghast, Alyn Oakenfist Velaryon, Jeyne Arryn, and Johanna Lannister vying for control of the king, and the Rogare bank growing more powerful than the Iron Bank?

Edited at 2017-02-01 06:53 pm (UTC)
dobidox
Feb. 1st, 2017 06:13 pm (UTC)
EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN
"EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN"? Oh no, man, you know it needs to be called "Again, Dangerous Women," right? Keep up the good work! You and Gardner are awesome, together or separate.
srdrbr
Feb. 1st, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
Fake History Yey!!!
I can't wait, I really like past Targaryens, or as I like to call them real Targaryens. Am anxious to see how envious haters sabotaged (and killed?) best Targaryen king, Maegor, who is feasting in Dragon Valhalla, since he probably wouldn't like Heaven of the Seven :)

As a historian I must say, you write really good faux-medieval sources, with more space you could make really epic work which can later be used to illustrate the distortion of history in literary sources in the fun way.

I really look forward to Fire and Blood (and not just because it would mean main series is done) and just a piece of advice, you should publish it in serialized short form, publishing ASOIAF chapters probably wouldn't work, but with fake chronicle it totally would. As with TPATQ, TRP and upcoming TSOTD it could be published in anthologies, magazines or on the internet.
lord_varys
Feb. 1st, 2017 06:53 pm (UTC)
Sample for 'Fire and Blood'?
George, could you perhaps consider putting a sample for the 'Fire and Blood' history book on your homepage? I know it is quite some time away yet but we would all like to get a few more glimpses into the Targaryen history.

Since TPatQ closed with the death of Rhaenyra Targaryen, not covering the last half year of the Dance until the coronation of Aegon III, I was wondering whether you could put that (presumably) not so long piece of the Dance history on line in a similar fashion as you gave us the uncut version of the history of the Westerlands?

TWoIaF left the end of the Dance very obscure. We have no idea who was involved in the poisoning of Aegon II, what exactly happened to Alicent Hightower, how it came to be that this Ser Perkin the Flea became an adviser of Aegon II while the pretender Perkin made, Trystane Truefyre, got executed.

I think a lot of people would appreciate that very much!
(Deleted comment)
noybusiness
Feb. 1st, 2017 08:47 pm (UTC)
(Fake) history is perhaps my favorite part!
ThierrySoulard
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:44 pm (UTC)
\o/ another Archmaester Gyldayn story ! I love that old fool, even if he is kind of a muttonhead. He's got a very interesting way to use words. And he defintly know the difference between showing and telling.

And I do not doubt othersstory in this anthologie will be goodas good as thoses in "Dangerous woman". Great names here: Robin Hoob, Ken Liu...
lord_varys
Feb. 2nd, 2017 01:29 am (UTC)
We would die for the Prologue.

But I get your meaning. It was somewhat sobering to realize that I had either read or read summaries of the content of the first 120-150 pages of ADwD long before the book came out.

On the other hand, it would also be nice to see what Sam has been doing in the Citadel since 2005. Has he read all the books there yet? Or just did he just meet Yandel and wrote a critique of his history...?
mollydot
Feb. 2nd, 2017 03:07 am (UTC)
The anthology sounds like it'll be awesome!
jocamilo
Feb. 2nd, 2017 03:33 am (UTC)
All in all...
Was expecting a Superbowl post, got an Asoiaf update.

Good deal anyway.

The Anthology stories were awesome , by the way
baileymt
Feb. 2nd, 2017 05:09 am (UTC)
Bronn or Jorah?
Hello George,

My roommate and I were having a discussion (very heated with lots of yelling) about Bronn and Jorah fighting each other in their prime with weapon of choice. We consulted several of our friends and no clear winner has come up yet, and we are dying to know -- you are the only one who can heal this rift between us! A response back would make us very glad!

Love,
Matt+Jack
MatthiasSchipp
Feb. 2nd, 2017 08:34 am (UTC)
If the overall theme of the anthology is "swords", how does your story fit into that? Do valyrian swords play a role?
grrm
Feb. 2nd, 2017 05:37 pm (UTC)
Knights fight with swords.
zuziafiu
Feb. 2nd, 2017 12:46 pm (UTC)
Am I reading it right?
Aenys I and Maegor have sisters or you mean sisters in law?
(sorry for my english)
lord_varys
Feb. 2nd, 2017 11:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Am I reading it right?
Aenys and Maegor aren't even brothers. They are cousins, the children of two sisters, one fathered by some blond singer or mummer, the other created by Visenya with the help of foul sorcery.

The Conqueror was sterile. It is known.

But to answer the question, Aenys and Maegor most likely didn't have any (half-)sisters, since what we know about Visenya and Aegon indicates that they did not cheat on each other, and for Rhaenys there is only one pregnancy/childbirth confirmed. If Visenya or Rhaenys had given birth to some bastards we should know by now.

That would have been a pretty big scandal, after all.

Another interesting question is whether Aenys I had any bastards. He was popular with the women. Maegor was not. And he was sterile, too, apparently only able to impregnate women with the help of magic.
Re: Am I reading it right? - zuziafiu - Feb. 3rd, 2017 09:29 am (UTC) - Expand
angelos_l
Feb. 2nd, 2017 02:51 pm (UTC)
Hey mr Martin.

Is ''The Sons of the Dragon'' an edited version of the original story as well?
schopenhauer179
Feb. 3rd, 2017 01:08 am (UTC)
Inspiration
George, I know you more than likely wont read this message, but after reading some of the first chapter of A Game of Throne and listening to your writing a little bit, I have decided to write my own novel that will be about Henry IV of France. I am still in the research stage, but I want to tell you that you are an inspiration to me and you have influenced me.
grrm
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:28 am (UTC)
Re: Inspiration
Good luck.
dromozoan
Feb. 3rd, 2017 01:59 am (UTC)
"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."

And maybe the four Galilean moons, or the dark side of our own moon?
grrm
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:29 am (UTC)
The dark side of our own moon should be covered in OLD LUNA.
goodqueenaly
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:37 am (UTC)
Alysanne
Dear George,

All i need is a book full of Good Queen Aly, her husband, her kiddos, her dragon and all the details in between. In a world full of amazing characters, she is my standout favorite, and someone I aspire to be like. Thank you for creating such an amazing character. I hope we get more of her in the works to come.
jvlc
Feb. 3rd, 2017 04:36 pm (UTC)
Dear Mr Martin:

I am very happy to know that I will read one more of your great stories shortly. I love how you psychologically analyse and evolve your characters in ASOIAF, I love the complexity of your plots and your narrative style. As many, many other fans I have read just ASOIAF, but last week I started A Fevre Dream and, of course, I will read Wild Cards in the future. You've been an inspiration and a reminder of the dreams I have. I hope that one day I can write as well as you and create characters as rich as yours, and if that day comes, you will be the first to know.
ehk61
Feb. 3rd, 2017 06:52 pm (UTC)
Moat Cailin
Is there any significance to the parallels that could be drawn between the Wall and Moat Cailin. 20 well manned towers and a great basalt wall fall into disrepair and now theres only 3 decrepit towers left. It seems interesting that moat Cailin protects against invasions from the south.
Benjamin Whitney
Feb. 4th, 2017 03:00 am (UTC)
Amazing line up!
I'm happy to see that Scott lynch has a story in there! As well as his partner, Elizabeth bear! The gentleman bastards is among my top favorite series! Though I doubt this story falls in that line. Either way lynch is great! Looking forward to reading Nix, and Hobb as well! I do wish rothfuss and butcher had stories in this anthology, but I'm hoping the reason they don't is because they're working on their own wonderful series!

Ps, lets go dirty birds!

Edited at 2017-02-04 03:02 am (UTC)
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