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George R.R. Martin’s Original Plan for A Song of Ice and Fire, Revealed

Dan Selcke
Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO / Helen Sloan, HBO
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By this point, there are a few different versions of the A Song of Ice and Fire story floating around. There are the books by George R.R. Martin, which are still in the process of being written; fans are waiting to see what happens after Jon Snow is stabbed to death at Castle Black. There’s HBO’s Game of Thrones, which went beyond that point and finished the story with cues from Martin. And there’s whatever Martin ends up writing next, which will probably reflect the TV ending but differ in some important ways.

Then there’s the original pitch Martin made to his publishers way back in the early 1990s, which has been available to read for years. Basically, Martin sent a letter to his publisher in 1993 outlining how he saw these books going down, and while the names are the same, the events are very different. To summarize, in this original outline:

  • After Ned Starks’s death, Catelyn takes Bran and Arya and seeks refuge with the Night’s Watch, but they refuse to help her. She goes beyond the Wall to ask Mance Rayder for help before being killed by White Walkers.
  • In Essos, Daenerys kills Khal Drogo in revenge for what he did to Viserys.
  • Tyrion removes Joffrey from the Iron Throne in disgust over his brutality. Jaime then takes the Iron Throne for himself by killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession and framing Tyrion for the murders. Enraged, Tyrion switches sides and helps the Starks, eventually falling for Arya.

And that was all going to be in the first book, mind you. This is back when Martin envisioned A Song of Ice and Fire as a mere trilogy.

Warning: Potential SPOILERS for A Song of Ice and Fire beyond this point

Obviously, a lot changed in the intervening years … like, basically everything. But the document remains fascinating, in part because of a section at the end that has always been blacked out. But now, using a variety of techniques they explain in this Reddit thread, a group of fans has deciphered a good chunk of the blacked-out text, and it sheds more light on Martin’s original ideas for the series—and maybe some that he’s still considering:

“By the end of A Game of Thrones (the first novel)……………onto the Iron Throne with a bit……………premature death, Bran sits free. Yet his seat is hardly a comfortable one. In the North, Jon Snow is his bitter enemy. Beyond the Narrow Sea, Storm Daenerys prepares her invasion. And on the far side of the Wall, the Others are watching with cold dead eyes and gathering their strength.”

We don’t have all the information, but it sounds like Martin intended the first novel to end with Bran on the Iron Throne, put there (we’re guessing) with some help from Tyrion. Of course, the TV show ends with Bran on the Iron Throne, so you have to wonder if there’s still a vestige of this idea hanging around.

The only way we’ll find out for sure is if Martin finishes his books. Any minute now, surely.

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