In a video interview posted to Penguin Random House’s YouTube channel, the A Song of Ice and Fire author asked Pride of Carthage novelist David Anthony Durham if he was “troubled” by the time jumps and re-castings in season one. He gave a magnanimous answer, saying that he wouldn’t use the word “troubled” but he wishes “we could have spent more time with everything,” before Martin gave a behind-the-scenes perspective.
“One of the big issues with all of these writers was where to begin,” he said in the video posted above. “[House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal] began in [episode 101] with the Great Council where the Lords vote that Jaehaerys’s heir — he’s just lost his son Baelon, who has died of appendicitis — so who is his heir now? And the lords vote to choose Viserys over Rhaenys.”
Martin wasn’t sure if he should have revealed this, but “that [beginning] was not handed down by some muse from ancient Greece. We — myself and the other writers — had a lot of spirited discussions about where to begin that story.” One writer wanted to begin with Viserys’ first wife Aemma dying, while another suggested kicking things off with Viserys’ death, which isn’t depicted on House of the Dragon until late in the season. Martin’s “favorite possibility” was to begin the show “much earlier.” He explained:
“I would have began it like 40 years earlier with the episode I would have called ‘The Heir and the Spare,’ in which Jaehaerys’s two sons, Aemon and Baelon, are alive. And we see the friendship, but also the rivalry, between the two sides of the great house. You know, Aemon dies accidentally when a Myrish crossbowman shoots him by accident on Tarth and then Jaehaerys has to decide who becomes the new heir. Is it the daughter of the older son who’s just died or is it the second son, who has sons of his own and is a man and she’s just a teenage girl?”
But then, Martin admitted, “you would have had 40 more years and you would have had even more time jumps and you would have even more re-castings and, yeah, I was the only one who was really enthused about that.”
The Winds of Winter is going to be 3,500 pages long, isn’t it?