‘Game of Thrones’ Fever At Unter Den Linden

Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H'ghar in the TV series "Game of Thrones") read from “Ice and Fire”
Jan Fiedler of Pixomondo explains the genesis of the dragons in the TV series

Nearly four years have passed since the most recent volume of the fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire” was published – but the success of George R. R. Martin’s monumental epic continues unabated. This is due primarily to the elaborate and globally successful five-part TV series produced by the U.S. cable channel HBO based on the saga. The popularity of “Game of Thrones” is also providing the books’ publishers – among them Bantam in North America and Blanvalet in Germany – with a constant supply of new readers. And they recently attracted 180 guests to an entertaining event at Bertelsmann Unter den Linden 1, Berlin.

The “Game of Thrones” night at Unter den Linden featured VFX artist Jan Fiedler of Pixomondo, who explained how the series’ computer-animated dragons were created; the literary critic Denis Scheck; the German actor Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Jaqen H'ga in the series; and Werner Fuchs, a literary agent, friend and confidant of the author. Together they gave fascinating insights into the world of “Game of Thrones” and the life and work of George R. R. Martin.

For instance, Tom Wlaschiha told the “Game of Thrones” fans what it's like on the set of the series, which is mainly shot in Northern Ireland; Werner Fuchs revealed that George R. R. Martin, who can write such imaginatively cruel scenes of violence, is actually a pacifist; and Jan Fiedler told how a broiler chicken was the template for the dragons in the television series. The video integrated in this article gives an impression of the atmosphere at the evening of fantasy at Unter den Linden.

The very first volume of George R. R. Martin’s cycle of novels set a milestone in modern fantasy. It was a work in the best tradition of Tolkien, celebrated and praised by critics and readers alike. The epic, which has grown to five volumes at this point, first achieved cult status in the United States and later worldwide. Each new volume, usually longingly anticipated by fans for years, shot straight to the top of the world’s bestseller lists.

“A Song of Ice and Fire” is set in a fantasy world reminiscent of Europe’s Middle Ages, on the continent of Westeros where after 300 years the Targaryen dynasty, the “Dragon Rulers” who once united the seven kingdoms of the continent into a single kingdom through conquest, is overthrown by the rebel leader Robert Baratheon, who becomes the new king. After Robert's death 15 years later, a bloody battle for power breaks out between the three royal houses of Baratheon, Lannister and Stark. In addition, the fractured kingdom is threatened by external dangers: Barbarians and the undead “Others” attack the border fortifications in the north. And to the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last heir and Princess of the old royal dynasty, prepares to reclaim her family’s throne.

But who is the man behind this success? George R. R. Martin was born in 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. He published his first short stories in 1971, winning early fame in the American sci-fi scene. He was awarded the prestigious Hugo Award several times. Martin then spent several years writing for television series such as "The Twilight Zone." In 1996 he returned to the fantasy stage with a sensational success. With the first volume of "A Song of Ice and Fire" he created a dark, cruel world full of intrigue, power politics and war that grabs readers and relentlessly draws them under its spell. Fellow writers and critics unanimously praised the epic as a groundbreaking masterpiece. The famous fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley herself called it “perhaps the best of epic fantasies.”