TIME Books

George R.R. Martin Says This Character Is Still Alive in the Books

Helen Sloan—HBO Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones

Spoilers for both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones ahead

Long live King Stannis. According to George R.R. Martin, the supposedly slain Baratheon is still alive — at least in the books.

Taking a (hopefully short) break from writing The Winds of Winter, writer George R.R. Martin fielded fan questions on LiveJournal Wednesday. When one enthusiast asked the author to “cut the crap” and confirm whether Stannis was dead or alive, Martin wrote: “In my books? Alive beyond a doubt.”

Stannis is currently presumed dead in both the show Game of Thrones and the Song of Ice and Fire books upon which the HBO series is based. In the books, Ramsay Snow spread a rumor that Stannis met his demise. But in preview chapters for the upcoming Winds of Winter that Martin posted online way back in 2012, that rumor proved untrue. Stannis is very much alive.

What this means for the onscreen version of Stannis is unclear. The last time fans Game of Thrones saw him, he was about to be killed by Brienne of Tarth. Of course, audiences never actually saw Brienne finish the job.

That doesn’t mean showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss didn’t get rid of the would-be king. The series has diverged in many ways from the books, including killing off Stannis’ daughter, Shireen.

Still, the often-bloody drama rarely shies away from a gruesome death. Any time the camera turns away is cause for suspicion. Fans will eagerly comb the Internet for photos of Stannis actor Stephen Dillane on the Game of Thrones set, just as they search for clues of the survival of The Hound or revival of Jon Snow.

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Boys’ Names Prove Popular in the U.K.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) sits in jail white awaiting trial.
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO He's been in there for a while.

There's no record of any boys called Joffrey or Reek

Theon, Tyrion and Bran are the most popular boys names inspired by Game of Thrones, according to 2014 figures from the U.K. Office of National Statistics.

This British trend of naming children after George R.R. Martin fictional characters began in the noughties, when the books were released. It started in 20o1, with 3 boys being named Bran, the second Stark son, and in 2012, 5 boys were named Theon, after the heir to the House Greyjoy.

The largest peak happened when the television series first aired in 2011. In 2014, 18 Theons, 17 Tyrions, four Brans and four Sandors were recorded.

TIME Television

Brienne is the Name of 4 Girls Born in the U.K. in 2014

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth in 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan—HBO

Khaleesi and Arya are more popular

Brienne is the U.K.’s newest entry to Game of Thrones-inspired baby names for females in 2014, according to data from the U.K. Office for National Statistics.

Last year, four girls were named Brienne, after Brienne of Tarth from the cult HBO television program. The Starks are the most popular Game of Thrones girls names: with 244 named Arya and 6 girls named Sansa.

The data also revealed that 53 girls were named Khaleesi –the royal title Daenerys Targaryen takes when she marries Khal Drogo. Nine girls were named Daenerys in 2014.

TIME Books

George R.R. Martin Says He Doesn’t Know the Ending of A Song of Ice and Fire Yet

George R.R. Martin
Steve Jennings—WireImage/Getty Images George R.R. Martin Writer/Co-Executive Producer attends HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 San Francisco Premiere at San Francisco Opera House on March 23, 2015 in San Francisco.

But it will be bittersweet

Though the ending for the Game of Thrones show is likely set in stone, author George R.R. Martin says the final moments of A Song of Ice and Fire—the book series upon which the HBO phenomenon is based—are not. In a recent interview with the Observer, Martin said he intends to write a “bittersweet” ending, though he isn’t positive yet what that ending will be.

“I haven’t written the ending yet,” he said. “I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with a victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory…All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve if or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.”

This may come as a surprise to some fans who assumed that A Song of Ice and Fire might come to a depressing Red Wedding-like finale. Perhaps there’s hope after all — at least in the books.

Martin’s comments likely don’t apply to the final moments of the show. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have already surpassed many of the books’ plot lines, and in interviews, the duo has said they spoke to Martin about his plans for the franchise and already know how the series will wrap up. They will finish the show regardless of how long it takes Martin to publish the final two books in the series.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with George, and he makes a lot of stuff up as he’s writing it,” Benioff told Variety. “Even while we talk to him about the ending, it doesn’t mean that that ending that he has currently conceived is going to be the ending when he eventually writes it.”

[The Observer]

Read next: Here’s Games of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin With a Doll That Looks Just Like Him

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TIME Bizarre

Game of Thrones Inspires New York Lawyer to Demand Trial by Combat

The Mountain Fights Oberyn in Season 4 Episode 8 of Game of Thrones
HBO Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson and Pedro Pascal fight as The Mountain and Oberyn in Season 4 Episode 8 of Game of Thrones.

He says there's no law specifically outlawing it

Some people love Game of Thrones and some people really love Game of Thrones. A member of the latter group has taken it upon himself to act out one of Westeros’ most absurd and notorious practices: trial by combat.

Richard Luthmann, a Staten Island attorney, is demanding that one of the plaintiffs (or their “champion”) in the suit against him face him in a literal battle to the death unless the case is dismissed. He claims that the practice has not been outlawed in the U.S. or New York state and is suggesting it to point out the absurdity of the plaintiffs’ allegations.

“They want to be absurd about what they’re trying to do, then I’ll give them back ridiculousness in kind,” said Luthmann, who shockingly confesses to being a Game of Thrones fan. Luthmann’s bold challenge is in keeping with his history of full-throated public declarations and proclivity for wearing flashy suits and bowties.

Even so, he may not have thought this one through. On Game of Thrones, trial by combat is typically only requested when the accused has little chance of escaping with his life any other way. This is decidedly not the case for Luthmann, who is accused of helping a client commit fraud, unless he values the $500,000 his client stands to lose more than his own life.

Luthmann has not divulged whether he would serve as his own champion or select a surrogate, though both parties would be wise to seek the services of Hafþór Julius Bjornsson, who plays The Mountain on Thrones and recently retained his title as Europe’s Strongest Man.

[Staten Island Live]

TIME Television

This Norwegian High School Is Offering a Course Inspired by Game of Thrones

Helen Sloan—HBO

Just in case these kids ever run into White Walkers

Now that Jon Snow can’t save you (or can he?) from an army of White Walkers, the best way to make sure you survive a Game of Thrones-style onslaught of the undead is preparation. And now, if you’re willing to head to Norway, you can get somewhat formal training.

Led by self-proclaimed “recreational Viking” and “Game of Thrones” fan Jeppe Nordmann Garly—who looks like he’d fit in quite well with the Night’s Watch—the course from Seljord Folk High School will train its students in the fine art of being a Viking. That includes learning to make swords and knives and honing hunting, fishing and boating skills. There are also field trips to Oslo’s Viking Boat Museum and York, England.

Some of the students “have become interested through TV series” like “Game of Thrones,” the school’s principal Arve Husby told a Norwegian broadcaster.

Unlike the Hunger Games camp, there are no battles on the agenda. Not yet, at least.

[H/T Quartz]

TIME game of thrones

Legendary Actor Max von Sydow Joins Game of Thrones

Swedish actor Max von Sydow poses on May 24, 2013 as he arrives for the screening of the film "The Immigrant" presented in Competition at the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes.
ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT—AFP/Getty Images Swedish actor Max von Sydow poses on May 24, 2013 as he arrives for the screening of the film "The Immigrant" presented in Competition at the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes.

He's also in the upcoming "Star Wars" movie

Game of Thrones has just cast another acclaimed veteran actor. Silver-screen legend Max von Sydow is joining the HBO hit, EW has learned exclusively.

The famed performer, whose career spans dozens of feature films — from The Exorcist to Minority Report to the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens — has signed on to season 6.

Bonus: We know who von Sydow is going to play, and it’s a character we’ve already met!

Von Sydow will play the Three-Eyed Raven, the mystical tutor of Bran Stark, who was briefly seen in the season 4 finale (where the character was portrayed by a different actor).

The casting comes on the heels of another famed European thespian joining the fantasy hit. On Saturday, EW exclusively reported that Ian McShane (Deadwood) has joined the cast as well. McShane’s role, however, has remained under wraps.

Both McShane and von Sydow are not expected to have a lot of screen time next season, but both roles are crucial in their own way.

Thrones is currently in production and von Sydow is already filming on the set. The series is expected to return for 10 episodes next spring. Last week, HBO’s programming president Michael Lombardo revealed that the network plans at least eight seasons of the show, a bump from the oft-reported seven season plan.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Casts Ian McShane in Season 6

The former Deadwood star will have a small but key role

Emmy-winning British actor Ian McShane is joining the cast of Game of Thrones in season 6.

The former Deadwood star’s role is still mysterious. It will be a small role, but it will still be important, Entertainment Weekly reports.

New episodes of Game of Thrones are set to air in the spring. HBO recently said the show would last at least eight seasons, though the showrunners have said they only want to make seven.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly

Read Next: HBO Exec Says Jon Snow Is Dead, Dead, Dead

TIME Television

HBO Exec Says Jon Snow Is Dead, Dead, Dead

So what was he doing in Belfast?

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo has weighed in on the rumors about Game of Thrones, and there’s good news and bad news for fans.

The bad news, depending on your character loyalty, is that Jon Snow really is dead. “Dead is dead is dead is dead. He be dead,” Lombardo said at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday, the L.A. Times reports. (Then again, he would say that either way, wouldn’t he?)

And as for those proponents of R+L=J, their theory could be put to the test on screen: Lombardo hinted, “There’s enormous storytelling to be mined in a prequel.”

[L.A. Times]

Read next: Watch Katniss and Jon Snow Face Off in ‘The Hunger Game of Thrones’

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TIME Television

Actor Who Played Joffrey Thinks the Misogyny on Game of Thrones May Be ‘Unjust’

Jack Gleeson would also advocate for more male nudity on the show

Jack Gleeson, who played the cruel, woman-torturing Joffrey Baratheon on Game of Thrones, weighed in on the misogyny debate that has plagued the HBO show this season.

Since his character was one of the main perpetrators of the violence and sexual abuse of women on the show, Gleeson had a unique perspective on whether it should depict those actions as often as it does. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Gleeson said that he has not watched the series since he left because he cannot suspend his disbelief after being on set, so he cannot comment on the infamous Sansa rape scene. But Gleeson admitted that past representations of sexual violence may been “unfair.”

MORE: Maisie Williams on How Game of Thrones Treats Women and Her Dream Superhero Role

When asked if he found it difficult to film some of the scenes where he abused women, Gleeson replied:

Yeah, of course; it’s a tricky thing when you are representing misogyny in that way because I wouldn’t say the show ever implicitly condones misogyny or any kind of violence towards women. But, perhaps, it’s still unfair or unjust to represent it even if the gloss on the representation is a negative one.

Obviously as a 23-year-old man, I can never put myself into the mindset of a woman who has been sexually assaulted, but I think that sometimes you have to represent awful things happening onscreen even if they’re for entertainment because you have to expose the brutality of them, because the chances are you’re not going to see that anywhere. So there’s a chance it engages some kind of empathy but it is a gray area. It might be very traumatic and stressful to watch those scenes.

The show has also come under fire—like many HBO shows before it—for excessive female nudity. Despite not being a regular viewer, Gleeson said he supports the instances of male nudity he’s heard about from friends and colleagues.

As I say, I don’t watch it so I can’t really comment, but I have heard that there is male nudity — so I think that is one good thing, to not just objectify women but also objectify the beauty of the male genitalia! We’re all objects together.

The 23-year-old Gleeson said last year that he plans to retire from acting.

MORE: Sophie Turner on Defending Sansa Stark and Her Surprising Dream Role

[Daily Beast]

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