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Maps! Maps!! Maps!!!

October 30, 2012 at 11:22 am
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Hey, hey, hey, it’s PUBLICATION DAY.

My latest Ice & Fire book should be in the bookstores today. It’s not the usual sort of book, admittedly… not an actual book at all, but a book-shaped box containing a whole bunch of gorgeous, glossy, fold-out maps of Westeros, Essos, and the lands and seas from A Song of Ice and Fire.

It’s from Bantam, and it’s called THE LANDS OF ICE & FIRE.


This one is for the map geeks, I admit. Of which there seem to be a goodly number. I’ve had maps in all the novels, of course, but from the very first I’ve been getting emails from readers who wanted more maps, with more detail… and more… and more. What’s beyond that? What’s below that? What’s past that range of hills? Some… many… wanted a world map.

Which I was reluctant to do. I like my readers to see my world as my characters see it. And the truth is, medieval maps were not very good, by modern standards. A map drawn by an Englishman in 1300 might be fairly accurate for England and maybe France, but distortions and errors would start creeping in when you got to Italy and Germany, the Russias and the Holy Land would be more distorted still, Africa was largely unknown below the Sahara (even the coasts), and further east you started getting “the realm of Prester John” and “land of the two-headed men” and “here there be dragons.”

Which I said, more or less, in numerous interviews, and which did nothing to curb the demand for maps, maps, maps… especially that world map. I try to oblige. You will find a map of the “known world” in THE LANDS OF ICE AND FIRE… one that includes lands and seas you have never seen on any of my maps before… the plains and mountains east of Vaes Dothrak and Qarth for a start. (Remember that tapestry Xaro Xhoan Daxos gives Dany in DANCE OF THE DRAGONS?) Even so, it’s not a COMPLETE world map, no. The idea was to do something representing the lands and seas of which, say, a maester of the Citadel might be aware… and while the maesters know more about Asshai and the lands beyond than a medieval monk knew about Cathay, distance remains a factor, and past a certain point legends and myths will creep here. Here there be winged men, and such.

But one picture is worth a thousand words (who said that? must have been an artist, certainly not a writer), so here’s a little taste:


These are very nice maps, I hope you will agree. Huge and beautiful, and while they DON’T show the whole world (sorry, no, you’re not going to get the Westerosi equivilent of the Americas or Antarctica or Australia, assuming such places exist), you will get a glimpse of distant lands where my characters (and thus the novels) will likely never go.


Of course, all of the more familiar lands and places are covered too. Westeros north and south, the Free Cities, Slaver’s Bay, the narrow sea… we’ve included some great city maps for both King’s Landing and Braavos.

Got to admit, I am kind of a map geek myself. This one was more work than I anticipated, but I had a lot of fun doing it, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as well. Go order your copy from Amazon or your favorite online bookstore, or pick one up at the local brick ‘n mortar, and know the lands of ice and fire as you never have before.

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Love Them Heifers

October 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm
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Who says that Cersei Lannister is a cold, calculating, uncaring sort of queen?

Far from it. Her Grace loves the simple folk, and to prove it, here’s a swell new picture of her getting all nekkid just to help them buy some cows, sheeps, and goats…


The art is by Lee Moyer, a lover of the classic pin-up girl and doer of good deeds. It’s part of his soon-to-be-released 2013 Literary Pin-Up calendar, all of the proceeds of which will go to Worldbuilders on behalf of Heifer International.

Cersei will be in good company. This year’s calendar also features brand new, never before pin-ups of characters created by Peter S. Beagle, Ray Bradbury, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Jacqueline Carey, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Robin Hobb, N.K. Jemisin, Terry Pratchett, and Patrick Rothfuss. All guaranteed saucy. So if you’re a lover of fantasy, of “good girl” art, literature, the female form, or feeding the world’s poor… actually, helping them feed themselves… this is a calendar you need to have.


Best of all, you can pre-order NOW. Just go to:

My hat is off to Lee Moyer, and to the tireless and talented Patrick Rothfuss, who put this whole thing together. “If we can get the word out,” Rothfuss writes, “I know it will raise a lot of money for Heifer International.” Let’s make it so, boys and (yes) girls.

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One Savage Sunday

October 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm
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That was one horrible day of football.

The Jets lost and the Giants won, which normally would have triggered one of my “life is full of ups and downs” posts. The afternoon victory by Big Blue should have washed out the pain of the morning loss by Gang Green. Not today, though.

The Jets game… what can I say about the Jets game? They lost to the Miami Dolphins, at home. They are supposed to be a better team than the Fins. They beat the Fins earlier in the year in Miami. But okay, this is the NFL, upsets happen. This wasn’t just a loss, though, this was a drubbing, a humiliation. The Dolphins spanked the Jets in every aspect of the game. Offense, defense, coaching, special teams… oh my god, special teams. The Jets have Mike Westhoff, one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL, but today they got owned. A blocked punt leading to a TD, a blocked field goal, an onsides kick that took the Jets completely by surprise, big runbacks… it was one punch in the gut after another.

Mark Sanchez’s stat line will not look awful tomorrow, but only because he racked up some cheap yards and a cheap TD in garbage time. When it was still a game, he was awful. He held the ball too long, and when he threw it, it went high, it went low, it went awry. Not that it mattered, because the Jets don’t seem to have any wideouts who can catch it anyway. I have been a supporter of Sanchez in this whole Tebow mess, but I have to admit, I am losing faith. He seems to be getting worse, not better. Not that I believe Tebow is the answer either. Yes, maybe Rex should put him in next game. Hell, he should have put him in THIS game, Mark wasn’t getting it done. But Tebow is fool’s gold, he won’t save anything. We need another QB. What the hell is Chad Pennington doing these days?

So that was awful, but then the afternoon arrived, and with it the Giants. Surely they would defeat the hated Dallas Cowboys to avenge the opening day loss, I figured.

Well, they did. Kinda sorta. They won. Counts in the standings. Helps to solidify their grasp on first place in the NFL East. The Gmen are now 6-2 (actually, they seem to end up 6-2 every year, it is always the second half of the season that’s the problem), with the Eagles and Cowboys at 3-4 and the Redskins at 3-5. So that’s good. And the game was incredibly exciting as well. A great game, if you like suspense and don’t especially care who won… but for a Giants fan, it was agonizing, and I cannot even imagine how painful it was for any Dallas Cowboys fan (vile hellspawn that they are ).

It was not, however, by any stretch of the imagination a well-played game by the Giants. And I LIKE to see my team play well, whether in victory or defeat. This victory was a gift of the gods… them, and Tony Romo.

It began well enough, admittedly. Romo threw an INT, and then another, and then a third, and by the time we were a couple minutes into the second quarter, the Giants were up 23-0 and the talking heads (one of whom was Troy Aikman, an awful commentator, especially on Cowboys games) were nattering about blowouts. Even then, though, I felt disquieted. Romo and the ‘Boys were doing all they could to hand the game to New York, but the Giants were not driving the nails into the coffin. Aside from JPP’s pick-six (a great play), they were turning all these Dallas turnovers into field goals, not touchdowns. Settling for three points when you should be getting seven will always get you into trouble in the NFL. I have watched enough games to know that sooner or later the gifts will stop, and then the game can turn. NFL teams are like zombies: not enough to put them down, you have to FINISH them, shoot them in the head. Always double-tap, or they will rise again.

And so it was. Up 23-0, the Giants were driving when Ahmed Bradshaw fumbled… the first mistake that Big Blue made, and one that ultimately led to no points, yet somehow that changed everything. You could almost HEAR the momentum shift. And all of a sudden Romo was throwing the ball to the guys in the white uniforms instead of the guys in blue, and shredding Big Blue’s vaunted defense. From 23-0 it went to 23-7, then 23-10 at the half. After intermission, Dallas came out and drove right down the field to make it 23-17, and all of a sudden the blowout had become a game again (Even Troy noticed). Every Romo completion felt like a punch in the gut.

“I cannot BELIEVE this is happening,” I kept saying, but happen it did. When the Giants got the ball back, their offense did nothing. Way too many three-and-outs. The running game was not clicking, and Eli’s receivers started dropping the ball again, just as they had in the opener against Dallas. (What is it with Victor Cruz? He’s all-pro against every other team in the league, but both times we’ve faced Dallas this season he has a sudden case of the dropsy). Late in the third quarter, Romo engineered yet another drive, ending with the same bloody rollout play he’d used to score a 4th down TD on his last drive. That time he ran, this time he threw, but the result was the same, and suddenly Dallas was WINNING 24-23.

It was the biggest comeback in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, and I felt sick.

Fortunately, they play four quarters in the NFL, not just three. And the fourth quarter belongs to Eli Manning. Usually. Tonight? Not so much. Yes, the Giants “came back” to win the game… but truthfully, Dallas gave it to them with two more huge mistakes. First Felix Jones runs right into his own man’s ass, and puts the ball on the ground. The Giants recover the fumble, and Eli turns it into another field goal. Now it’s Gmen 26-24. But their offense still can’t score touchdowns, and the way the Dallas O was moving, with Witten and Austin, I had ZERO faith in that two point lead holding up. I felt marginally better later in the quarter, when the Giants tacked on another field goal and made it 29-24. A five point lead at least meant that Dallas would need to score a TD. But I still felt uneasy.

And with good reason. Sure enough, here comes Romo again, and down the field they come, and…. YES! Another INT!!! Four on the day! That should have ended it. Really. Truly. That should have written FINIS.

It didn’t. All the Giants needed was one first down. Ten yards. So they ran the ball, and ran the ball, and ran the ball, and got nine-and-a-half yards. Dallas burned all its timeouts, but still got the ball back. And yet another drive. Clock ticking, Cowboys driving, my heart in my throat… it looked at one point as if the Giants had stopped them with a sack, but a crappy bogus holding call gave Dallas a reprieve… they were still at midfield, but there were only seconds left, so Romo heaves this Hail Mary to the endzone…

And seven bloody hells, Dez Bryant CAUGHT it, and fell on his ass in the endzone with what looked to be the winning TD.

It wasn’t. Thank the gods, but Bryant has a big big hand, and as he landed the tips of his fingers touched the white beyond the endzone a split second before his butt thumped down. A bigger butt, or a smaller hand, and Dallas would have won the game. Instead the TD call was reversed, the pass was incomplete. Romo still got off three more passes (with TEN seconds left! how did we let THAT happen!!), but the last sailed high, and the Giants won.

Or rather, the Cowboys lost.

We’ll take the win, but really, this was not a victory to take pride in. Game ball should have gone to our Scottish Kicker, whose field goals counted for most of the New York points. The rest was Tony Romo. I am SO glad Tony is on Dallas, and not my team. The guy would drive me crazy. You never know which Tony you’re going to get. This game, Bad Tony showed up for the first quarter, but in the second and third Good Tony took his place, and was basically unstoppable. Fourth quarter the two of them alternated, with Bad Tony throwing the last pick, and Good Tony leading the final drive and lofting that bomb to Bryant.

It was incomplete, yeah, the refs made the right call when they reversed it… but there was no sense in which the Giants can take credit for that. They did not pressure Romo enough, and the coverage broke down in the endzone. It was pure luck that Dez’s fingers touched the white before his butt landed on the green.

The Giants had this game not once, but twice… and twice they gave it away. Only the Cowboys would not take it. Good thing, too. Blowing a 23-0 lead would have been horrible. And coming back, retaking the lead, getting that final INT, and then STILL losing on a six-seconds-left Hail Mary would have been even worse.

One of these days, one of my football teams is going to stop my heart. The Giants almost did it today. We really need to get that home defibrillator, I swear…

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The Mystery Knight Rides Again

October 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm
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If you’re one of the sad unfortunates who missed the third Dunk & Egg novella when it appeared in WARRIORS, the big cross-genre anthology I co-edited with Gardner Dozois, here’s another chance to read “The Mystery Knight.”

Demon anthologist John Joseph Adams is reprinting the novella, along with lots of other swell stories by the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin, Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, and other kickass epic fantasists.


Check out JJA’s site for more info on EPIC:

Meanwhile, I will get back to work on the fourth Dunk & Egg novella (as yet untitled), which is scheduled to appear in DANGEROUS WOMEN aka FEMMES FATALE aka The Next Giant Cross-Genre Anthology by Martin and Dozois))

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We Are the Swords In The Darkness

October 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm
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The Night’s Watch is coming soon… to a gaming store near you.

Or you can just pre-order it here:


The good folks at Green Ronin Press are about to roll out the latest supplement to their SONG OF ICE AND FIRE rpg. This one is THE NIGHT’S WATCH.

So all you gamers out there, act now… defend the Wall. And expect the usual great art and exciting play.

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My First Novel Has Come Out…

October 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm
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… again.

DYING OF THE LIGHT was first published by Pocket Books back in the dawn of time (that’s 1977 to you young punks), when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and I was a college journalism instructor with dark brown hair. I had already been writing and publishing science fiction for six years, many of the stories set against the same future history, a very loose background I later named the Thousand Worlds. Novels were long and scary, but I finally decided I was ready to tackle one in 1976. I wrote the entire thing start to finish before giving it to my agent to sell. My title was AFTER THE FESTIVAL. Pocket, after winning the auction against three other publishers, decided that wasn’t science fictional enough and made me change it. I didn’t mind… much. DYING OF THE LIGHT fit the book just as well.

By any title, it was a Thousand Worlds book, probably the culmination of that phase of my career. A melancholy, romantic, elegiac sort of novel it was, but then I was a melancholy romantic myself in those days. It did pretty well. Even made the Hugo ballot that year, losing to Fred Pohl’s GATEWAY at Iguanacon II in Phoenix, 1978. The reviews were good too.

But don’t take my word for it. Subterranean Press has just published a lovely new hardcover of the book, copiously illustrated by the talented Tom Kidd, signed by both of us, and limited to 500 numbered and 26 lettered copies.

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The lettered edition is already sold out, I fear, but SubPress still has copies of the numbered edition available at $125. To order yours (and see some more of Tom Kidd’s gorgeous artwork), go the Subterranean website at:

I hope you will enjoy your visit to my past… and the distant world of Worlorn on the edge of the galaxy, in the far distant future.

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October 21, 2012 at 11:06 pm
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Life is full of ups and downs… especially for fans of the NFL.

Both of my teams played squeakers today. The Giants pulled out an amazing win over a game Redskins squad in the last minute of play (Eli! Cruuuuuuuuz!!!), while the Jets lost a heartbreaker to Evil Little Bill and hated Patriots in overtime. The morning game left me flying incredibly high, the afternoon game felt like someone had kicked me in the balls. And all I was doing was sitting in my Chair o’ Sloth in the TV room. It is kind of strange how these contests engage one’s emotions, even if you have nothing personally at stake. But that’s the life of a sports fan.

Even though the Giants won the Superbowl last season, they managed to lose both contests to the Redskins, a team that has been the perennial doormat of the NFC East ever since the franchise was purchased by Dan Snyder (read Jerry Jones, but shorter), so I sat down to watch today’s game with a certain amount of trepidation. Well justified trepidation, as it turns out. Washington has added a pair of stellar rookies to their squad since last season. Their highly-drafted and much-touted rookie QB, Robert Griffin III, proved to be all that the talking heads claimed he was and more. He gave Big Blue’s D fits all day, both with his running and his passing. And the Skin’s sixth-round rookie RB, Alfred Morris, was if anything even more impressive. He looks to be just the kind of hard-nosed between-the-tackle cruncher that I love… when he is on my team. I have a feeling that Washington’s days finishing fourth in the NFC East may be drawing to an end. Barring something unforeseen, I fear that RG3 and Morris will be giving my Giants fits for years to come.

Today, though… well, despite some great play from both of the Redskins rookies, Big Blue played solid football, and late in the fourth quarter had a lead. When RG3 fumbled with five minutes left to play, and the Giants recovered, the game seemed safely in hand. All the Giants had to do at that point was turn to their own running game, hammer the ball down the field with Brown and Bradshaw, burn up the clock, maybe add a clinching field goal.

Instead, inexplicably, the Giants called a pass on first down, and Eli threw a truly terrible interception, giving the ball right back to Washington. RG3 promptly took advantage by driving the Skins down the field for the FG to narrow the gap. The Giants got the ball back again, still with a lead, though a smaller one. “Okay,” I think, “THIS time we’ll pound them for sure, burn up that clock, ice the win.” But no, we came out passing again on first down, and that turned into a three-and-out. By which point I was yelling at the screen. What the hell was Gilbride thinking? I still don’t know. And sure enough, given the ball back once again, this time Griffin engineered a touchdown drive. Now the Skins were ahead, and I was sick to my stomach. We had blown the game with a mystifying series of play calls.

Griffin made one mistake, though. He scored too quickly, which meant Eli got the ball back again with a minute and a half left. That’s way too much time to give Eli. I believe it took him all of four seconds to find a streaking Victor Cruz (CRUUUUUUZZZZZZZZ) and drop the ball into his hands for a game-winning seventy yard TD. Cruz is amazing. Eli is amazing.

Kevin Gilbride I’m not so sure about. I hope someone asks him, “What the hell were you thinking.”

In conclusion… WHEW. Confusion, trepidation, fear, despair, elation… only the NFL.

The Giants are now 5-2, in sole possession of first in the NFC East.

But then came the afternoon, and the Jets game.


What can I say? It was the Patriots, our archenemies, led by the Great Satan himself. And this year’s Jets are the walking wounded, with our best players on both sides of the ball gone for the season. I went into this one fearing a blowout. The game began promisingly enough. Gang Green’s D stopped the Patriots, after which our O took over and drove downfield for a TD. Jets lead, 7-0. For a few seconds, till the Patriots broke the ensuing kickoff to tie it up, then took the lead with another TD, tacked on a safety when Marc Sanchez kicked the ball out of the endzone on a fumble, and…

The rest of the first half was pretty grim. The Patriots dominated, and the Jets O could not get anything going. Our D was playing well, though, stiffening up whenever the Pats got deep into our territory. And somehow the score stayed reasonably close. And then, come the fourth quarter, miracle of miracles, the Jets started coming back. Tough D stifled Brady, we got a few breaks, Sanchez started playing well… and holy hell… a FUMBLE, and suddenly we have the lead with barely a minute and a half left.

Alas. Too much time. The Jets made the same mistake the Skins did. You can’t give Brady that much time… and if you do, you CERTAINLY can’t start rushing three and falling back into a soft prevent defense. Brady, of course, shredded that scheme, took the Pats right down the field, and they kicked the tying FG with seconds left. Overtime.

We lost the coin toss. The rest… ah, the rest was painful. A Pats field goal and a Sanchez fumble ended it. Like a knife through the eye. A hideous way to lose a hard-fought game.

So there it is. Another Sunday in the National Football League.

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Free Books! Free Books!!

October 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm
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Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is having another of their giveaways, and this time the prize is stack of the new trade paperbacks editions of some of my old books.

(Yes, I did write stuff before A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE).

You can find all about it from Pat at:

Go ye and enter, and good luck.

And if you don’t win… hey, you can still BUY the books, y’know.

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Alfred E. Baratheon

October 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm
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And you thought Robert was a bad king!

Mad Magazine

No, there is not an English language version. The American MAD has yet to tackle GOT.

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Best Fans Ever

October 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm
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I’ve always said that I had the best fans in the world.

Now VULTURE has made it official.

See here:

Take a bow, all of you. Westeros rules… because of you.

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