George R.R. Martin Reads New Chapter From ‘Winds Of Winter,’ Unveiling Major Spoilers

George R.R. Martin read from pages of his upcoming – and perennially delayed – Winds of Winter at this year’s Balticon, and the content of those pages has left some fans awestruck.

Not only did Martin reveal the secret lineage of fan-favorite Brienne of Tarth, but he read aloud a chapter from Winds of Winter from the perspective of Aeron Damphair, which could have some important ramifications for the books and the HBO series.

Last warning, spoilers and weird fan speculation below.

Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s popular book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has diverged from the book series in a few notable areas — some are major departures (the entire Kingsmoot sequence), and others are relatively minor (renaming Asha Greyjoy to Yara Greyjoy). This week’s episode of Game of Thrones contained a major revelation which fans of the book series have long suspected: Benjen Stark is the mysterious figure known only as “Coldhands.” This season of Game of Thrones has laid out a number of spoilers for the book series, but this past weekend, George R.R. Martin may have revealed some shocking information that has yet to come to light in the George R.R. Martin-inspired HBO series.

First up, Brienne of Tarth is related to Ser Duncan the Tall, reports IO9. The star of Martin’s “Dunk and Egg” novella series, Ser Duncan the Tall, is brave, if a bit dim, and shares Brienne’s height and strength. Brienne’s adventures with Podrick Payne also echo the adventures Ser Duncan had with a young Aegon Targaryen, as the pair crisscrossed the countryside of Westeros.

Fans had speculated that Brienne was related to Ser Duncan, in part due to the fact that Brienne’s famously large frame mirrors Ser Duncan the Tall’s own namesake. Secondly, Brienne makes a passing reference to a shield she once saw hanging in her father’s hall, the shield bore the sigil of Ser Duncan the Tall. This weekend at Balticon, George R.R. Martin confirmed that Brienne is, in fact, related to Ser Duncan the Tall, but he declined to disclose precisely how the two are related.

During his appearance at Balticon, George R.R. Martin read from a chapter of the upcoming Winds of Winter, this one from the perspective of Aeron Greyjoy, or Aeron Damphair, a priest of the Iron Islands religion worshipping the “Drowned God.” In Game of Thrones, viewers have only barely been introduced to Aeron and his brother Euron — this past weekend both were featured prominently as Euron was crowned king of the Iron Islands, reports Deadspin.

That much is the same in the George R.R. Martin-penned books, but the details vary wildly. In the books, the Kingsmoot is a lengthy affair spanning many chapters, replete with backstabbing, machinations, and political maneuvering. Eventually, it comes down to a vote and Euron is elected king of the Iron Islands, and Aeron is on hand to put the crown on his brother’s head.

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Then things start to get weird. In George R.R. Martin’s novel version of events, Aeron rebels against Euron for his impiety, and Aeron is tossed in a dungeon by his brother. Euron, in the book series, is revealed to be a much more imposing and mysterious figure than he is in the Game of Thrones TV series, but it’s likely viewers will be eased into Euron’s particular brand of madness. The chapter George R.R. Martin read at Balticon confirms that Euron is much more than meets the eye – bearing a suit of armor made of Valyrian steel, which he pilfered from the cursed ruins of old Valyria, he tortures Aeron Greyjoy with hallucinogens.

During Aeron’s hallucinations, George R.R. Martin hints to fans that Euron may be a much more powerful figure than he appears. Aeron sees Euron as a monstrous beast, a blood thirsty dark lord hell-bent on conquering the world and maybe, just maybe, taking on the gods themselves.

“Impaled upon the longer spikes were the bodies of the gods. The Maiden was there, and the Father, even the Stranger. They hung side-by-side with all manner of queer, foreign gods, the Great Shepherd and the Black goat,” reads a chapter from George R.R. Martin’s upcoming Winds of Winter.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]