Race for the Iron Throne is a book/tv blog dedicated to George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s adaptation, Game of Thrones. I’ve been a fan of the novels for years, but it wasn’t until the show began that I went online and started reading through Stefan’s essays on Tower of the Hand, the fermenting community of conspiracy theorists at Westeros.org, and listening to debates on All Leather Must Be Boiled or Podcast of Ice and Fire and the like. These fan sites have really fanned the sleeping embers of my fascination with the world of Westeros and the possibilities of bringing my training as a political historian to analyzing this world.

In the succeeding months, this blog will be devoted to two projects.

  • Chapter-By-Chapter Analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire – starting with A Game of Thrones, I’m going to be doing a chapter-by-chapter close reading of the books, focusing on the reality of Westeros as a political system and analyzing the actions, motivations, and ideas of the major and minor political actors within it. Each chapter post will include the following sections:
    • Political Analysis – in this section, I’ll analyze what this chapter tells us about how the Seven Kingdoms (and Essos) work and don’t work as political systems, and trying to figure out how the various factions and conspiracies are working to their ends and reacting to changing circumstances. When I get closer to the War of Five Kings, I’ll go in-depth into the military strategy of each of the competitors, and what they did right and wrong. As it’s been a while since I’ve read books 2-4 (I just re-read Game of Thrones and have recently read through Dance With Dragons), I may revise my thoughts here as I get further along and come across new information.
    • What Ifs – as a historian, you are always reminded of the power of contingency and chance to change the course of events, upending institutions and social forces. This is especially true for A Song of Ice and Fire, where George R.R Martin bombards the reader with missed opportunities, crucial choices, and where the timing of character movements and events are of the utmost importance. In this section, I’ll hypothesize about what might have happened had Ned Stark left on time and wound up on Dragonstone, or if Catelyn Tully had stopped at Riverrun instead of the Inn at the Crossroads, among other things.
    • Historical Analysis – much of the realism of George R.R Martin’s work stems from his close study of Medieval history and the warts-and-all lives of rulers, rebels, and common folk who were anything but morally black and white. In this section, when we run into characters, events, and places derived from historical events, I’ll write about what the real story was, and what Martin kept the same and what he changed.
    • Book vs. Show – in this section, I’ll point out the places in which HBO’s Game of Thrones diverges from the book series. However, this isn’t a section to list mistakes or complain about the purity of vision slowly draining away – I actually think the series has made certain critical improvements over the books in particular areas – but rather to talk about the necessity of narrative and story, and how mediums change the story without us realizing it.
  • Episode-By-Episode Discussion of Season 2 of Game of Thrones – beginning April 1st, I’ll be doing an in-depth discussion of Season 2, joined by my fellow culture/political junkie, Entertained Organizer and possibly some of our friends. We’ll go into our reactions, thoughts, and then go through Political and Historical Analysis and Book vs. Show.

Steven Attewell is the author of Race for the Iron Throne. In my day job, I am a recent PhD in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara where I studied political history both of the U.S and Europe, and a political and union activist. In addition to Race for the Iron Throne, I also write about public policy and politics at The Realignment Project.

38 thoughts on “About

  1. Annabel says:

    Hello. I’m from Thronecast – the official fan show for Game of Thrones in the UK. http://www.sky.com/gameofthrones

    For the second series we are looking for super fans to demonstrate their passion in some way on a segment of the show.

    As you seem to be an expert, I wondered if you’d be interested in appearing via phone/Skype.

    Please do let me know.

  2. Annabel says:

    Great! We record on Tuesdays and it would be some time between 11 and 2pm BST.

    What particular area of dedication would you like to demonstrate? Last week we had someone who’d memorised all the leaders of Westeros from Aegon the Conqueror. But we are looking for all types of super fan.

    The only thing to bear in mind is that it’s a fairly short segment – 1 to 2 minutes long.

    Many thanks,

    • stevenattewell says:

      I mostly do historical parallels and political analysis. I could do a comparison for each of the Five Kings – who they closely resemble.

  3. Annabel says:

    Hello. It is a light hearted, humorous show, so I’d be concerned that could be a bit dry for the audience.

    It’s supposed to be quite a fun segment, so with that in mind do you have an alternative suggestion? Not to worry if you don’t.

    Many thanks.

    • stevenattewell says:

      I know Thronecast is a bit more like a comedy sketch show, I had thought from your last comment that it was a quiz segment. Don’t really have any ideas, but I’d still be happy to appear.

  4. Annabel says:

    Just been thinking and what about we name a GoT character and you tell us their real life historical equivalent and a brief reason why. We could do maybe 6-7 of these.

    Would this be something you’d like to do?

  5. Annabel says:

    Impressive! Great, I’ll be in contact soon regarding a time and date.

  6. Annabel says:

    Hello. Can you do Tuesday 10 April at around 1:30pm BST? Email me at gameofthrones@sky.com

    Thank you.

  7. Annabel says:

    Actually – scratch that – could you do tomorrow?! Tuesday 3 April at 1:30pm BST?
    Sorry for short notice.

  8. Annabel says:

    That would be amazing. Thank you. We can make it 1:45pm BST to give you a little extra sleep if you like!
    Can you do it on Skype? If not phone is fine. Could you send your Skype name or phone number to gameofthrones@sky.com

  9. Larisa says:

    My question is not about this blog (which is amazing, by the way). I would like to ask your permission to translate your “Hand of the King” essays from the “Tower of the Hand” into Russian. I own a small community http://grrmartin.diary.ru/, where we discuss the ASoIaF books, and your essays would be very welcome.

  10. BCRichardson says:

    What can I do to get you to the update the site with more of your excellent analysis? Options include, but are not limited to: A) Firstborn son remanded to your house as a hostage B) Royal blood sacrificed to the fires of R’hllor C) Horse heart eaten raw.

  11. Tom says:

    Pity whatever it is that’s made you stop posting here has happened, these were fantastic.

  12. John W says:

    I may have asked this before but are you planning on collecting your analytical essays into a single book?

  13. hjtuffs says:

    Are you going to be doing an episode-by-episode review of Season 3, in the same vein as what you did for Season 2? I hope so, I remember loving reading those last year!

    • stevenattewell says:

      Yes. Entertained Organizer and I are working out a time to do S2E10 as kind of a “last time on Game of Thrones” before the new season starts.

  14. […] English writing skills are very weak. So my blog here will never achieve the same quality as  Steven Attewell or  BRYNDENBFISH fantastic […]

  15. Winnie says:

    Dear Steve

    Haven’t heard from you in a while and I just wanted to check in and make sure you’re ok.


  16. Andrew says:

    Hi, I’m currently debating such hyptoheticals as Wesgerosi invasion of the Free Cities, and I’m wondering if you could give feedback on the relative strengths of Westeros and Essos. How large of an army could e.g. Braavos levy, independently of any mercenaries hired or their fleet? I always imagined he lkkes of Braavos and Volantis were comparable to the greater Lord Paramounts in population due to wealth and urbanization but I’m wondering as to your thoughts on the matter.

  17. […] Steven Attwell makes these excellent observations about what may have prompted D&D’s decisions regarding the disappointing direction that the show took Loras’ character and plot in S5-6: […]

  18. David Remer says:

    Steve I’ve read many of your blog posts and it’s obvious you’re a scholar of the ASOIAF world. Can I ask if it seems somewhat perverse to you for us to be experiencing these huge plot points (even if they are abridged for TV versions) this way as opposed through the proper book form?

    I have to admit it’s taking away much of my anticipation of reading how this complex opus unfolds from the author. It doesn’t stop me from watching of course, but I was wondering if you ever feel the same way, given your incredibly deep dive into GRRM’s story.

    We know the show-runners have talked to George about significant events, and it just seems wrong for them to be revealed this way.

    There is no doubt I enjoyed the seasons leading up to where the books end so much more, and it’s not even close. Would be interested in your opinion

    • It doesn’t take away my anticipation, really.

      Rather, it adds this weird meta-game where I wonder whether this event will happen, or whether it’ll happen differently (and more deftly), or whether it’s just there to clumsily set up something that will happen.

  19. James M. says:

    I love your work on here! Your thoughts and analyses have made my re-read of ASOIAF that much more enjoyable. When will you be releasing your political analysis of A Storm of Swords in book form?

  20. Jack Elving says:

    Hello. I have followed your stuff online, mostly the comics stuff on graphicpolicy and other places and also getting into ASOIAF through your analyses.

    I was thinking of starting my own blog and your blog is a reference for me. I was wondering
    — Did you use wordpress free edition or the non-free version?
    — What template, if any, did you use to create the tabs to navigate the CBC and other links?
    — How do you moderate your blog to keep spam messages out (had that problem in an aborted blog I made)?

    • I use the free version here, but the other sites I believe have their own paid accounts.

      The template I use here is called Chunk.

      I use the built in spam filter together with an IP block for repeated offenses.

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