Three years before A Game of Thrones was published, a 44 year-old George R. R. Martin sent in the first 13 chapters of it to his agent, Ralph Vicinanza. With it, he included a three-page letter that laid out his vision for the series, which he had already named A Song of Fire and Ice. Pictures of the letter’s pages are below, but here are the salient points:
- As is well-known, the series was originally supposed to be a trilogy — it since became (at least) a heptalogy:
- The three books were to be named A Game of Thrones, A Dance with Dragons, and The Winds of Winter. The latter two names were eventually given to the 5th and 6th books, instead.
- GRRM made it a point to say he had a strong notion of the plot and the fate of the main characters, but that he purposely didn’t want to know where the story was going, so he wouldn’t lose interest in writing it.
- The overall plot was supposed to be comprised of three successively more serious conflicts, each being the focus of one of the books:
- “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”: Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Bran and Jon Snow
- “Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the time comes, she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue.”
- Robb Stark was supposed to maim Joffrey in battle, but then be killed himself — also in battle; no mention of the Red Wedding. Tyrion was then supposed to besiege and burn Winterfell instead of Theon
- Before there was a Red Wedding, Catelyn was supposed to “die at the hands of the others”
- Bringing a touch of incest to the “good” characters, Arya and Jon were to fall in love, but not do anything about it and instead remain tormented by passion “until the secret of Jon’s true parentage is revealed in the last book.” So, clearly Ned really is not Jon’s father, giving even more credence to R+L=J
- Daenerys was supposed to kill Khal Drogo as revenge for him killing her brother, then run off into the Dothraki Sea, find the dragon eggs, hatch them, and use them to subdue the Dothraki and prepare to invade the Seven Kingdoms as their leader
- After Tyrion “removed” Joffrey, Jaimie Lannister was supposed to kill his way to the Iron Throne and then blame Tyrion for all the murders. Tyrion would side with the Starks and fall in love with Arya, leading to a “deadly rivalry between Tyrion and Jon Snow”.
And now, without further ado, the actual photographs of the letter’s pages:
The pictures were apparently taken at the London headquarters of HarperCollins, which publishes the A Song of Ice and Fire series in the UK and has the letter up on a wall, behind acrylic, in a “George R R Martin Room”. That paragraph that’s blacked out has piqued the interest of Reddit, where an effort to decode the text using methods that would make a spy jealous has made this much progress so far:
- How Not To Explain ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ In 2 minutes
- The Red Wedding Was Based On A Real, Historical Event
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Bad Lip Reading