I am very excited to welcome Lady Gwynhyfar and yolkboy of Radio Westeros to the site. Radio Westeros, the only radio station this side of Asshai, produces insightful and entertaining podcasts on all topics related to ASOIAF. RW has also teamed up with the History of Westeros podcast for book to show reviews for Game of Thrones’ fifth season.
Radio Westeros is hosted from two different countries with Lady Gwyn stateside and yolkboy in the U.K. Can you tell us a little bit about how you two decided to team up?
yolkboy: We were regulars at the westeros.org forums and both liked each others theories and writing. We started messaging, got along very well, and both felt like we wanted to do something more ambitious in the ASoIaF realm. Eventually I mentioned that I knew how to put a podcast together and asked if LG was brave enough to take a step into audio. Once we agreed on the concept, everything just came together. The distance between us has never really been an issue, although our episodes do take heaps of preparation and coordination.
Your most recent episode focused on Ser Barristan Selmy. How did you feel about his death on Game of Thrones?
yb: Given the changes they’ve made in the Meereen storyline we weren’t entirely surprised, but we think he’s got more story left in the books. Ultimately we suspect he’s a doomed character, but it was sad to see him go out like that.
You’ve partnered with the History of Westeros Podcast for book to show reviews of season 5. How do you (generally) think the changes have been handled?
LG: In general we’re very understanding of the constraints faced by the showrunners, so overall we’re pretty philosophical about them. That doesn’t mean we like or agree with every change though.
What’s your favorite change so far? Least favorite?
yb: The visit to Hardhome was thrilling television, excellent. Sansa’s story though seems to have sacrificed a lot of character development, It’s a shame to see her take steps backward.
LG: I agree that seeing Hardhome on screen, rather than off page, made for great television. On the other hand the changes to the Dornish storyline were pretty disappointing. Although I can see that the decision not to include certain characters made some changes necessary, it would have been nice to see a greater differentiation between the Sand Snakes for instance, and in my opinion the changes to Ellaria Sand’s character were not positive.
The ASOIAF/GOT community is certainly at its busiest when the show is airing new episodes. Do you find yourselves altering your approach at all to lure casual fans into the world of ice and fire?
yb: The only change we made is to team up with History of Westeros for their show reviews. Radio Westeros will always be books only analysis, so this was a great outlet and chance to connect with new people.
The general consensus amongst the ASOIAF community before this season premiered was that fans were accepting of the fact that this season was going to be vastly different from the books. Given the general lukewarm reaction to this season, do you think that may not have been the case?
yb: When you’ve lived and breathed these books, changes become very jarring and sometimes hard to take. It’s a simple fact of being fanatical about the books.
LG: I agree. Also, people always have lots to say about adaptations like this, whether they’re casual fans or more serious students of the source material. I worked in a bookstore for fifteen years and every page to screen adaptation engendered some level of discussion. So while fans may accept the fact that changes will be made and spoilers will arise, it comes as no surprise to me that they will still have plenty to say about it.
This season has largely ignored or heavily changed all the plots of A Feast for Crows. Given the book’s positive reception amongst dedicated fans, do you think this was a mistake?
LG: Given the compression of many storylines and the fact that the show has moved into book spoiler territory, it was disappointing not to see them take up the story in the Riverlands , for instance, in favor of diving into TWoW territory. Leaving that out this season left Brienne’s character fairly static, and I think Gwendoline is one of the best assets GoT has. (We can always hope for next season though!) That said, I can understand the need to eliminate settings and characters in any given season. Feast and Dance are both hugely expansive, in terms of the world of ASoIaF, and present major challenges in terms of adaptation.
Would you have rather seen the Ironborn instead of the Dornish (this can become its own question if your answer is long)?
LG: I would have rather seen them spend more time developing Dorne actually. Hopefully we’ll see the Ironborn next season.
Two of your episodes focus on characters that died and came back to life with Catelyn Stark and Sandor Clegane (well, likely in The Hound’s case). For a series often known for its death count, how do you feel about Martin’s decision to revive certain characters, which has lead to lots of fan speculation on just about every dead character?
LG: I think second life, in one form or another, is a major theme throughout the books. And it definitely lends itself to conspiracy theorizing, which can be both a blessing and curse in the fandom.
Cersei and Catelyn have both made many decisions which, often inadvertently, endangered their children’s lives? Who’s the better mother?
LG: Having done episodes on both of these characters, which means deep dives into both arcs, I can say that I believe they both love their children. But Cersei is a product of her own upbringing, and is both a selfish adult and someone who views children as pawns. I don’t believe Cersei truly has anyone’s best interest other than her own in mind. On the other hand, Catelyn agonizes over her children’s welfare often, and is continually placed in a position of having to choose the lesser of two evils, or one child over another. Sure she made some choices that can be questioned with the hindsight of a reader, but I don’t think we can deny that she is written as THE mother of the story, and it is her conflicts in that role that define her as a character. Even one of her post mortem monikers- “Mother Merciless”- speaks to that fact. But I’d like to say that judging “best” is very difficult. You have to judge based on intangible things like inner reserves and moral character, as well as past experiences and present situations. It’s not a level playing field for these two in that regard, so I recommend empathy for both.
What is the most ridiculous theory that you think might actually be true?
yb: That ‘The Winds of Winter’ will be delivered before Season 6!
LG: I wouldn’t actually call these ridiculous, but my pet theory is that Lem Lemoncloak is Rhaegar’s squire Richard Lonmouth… yolkboy’s is that Melisandre is the daughter of Bloodraven and Shiera Seastar.
Episode 9 certainly caused a stir by likely spoiling The Winds of Winter with the sacrifice of Shireen. While other deaths such as Ser Barristan and Hizdahr can’t exactly be called spoilers given the massive plot deviations, are you concerned about the book/show relationship moving forward?
yb: The show overtaking the books will be very sad for hardcore book fans. Surprises will be slaughtered. Fans will canonise show events, and some of them won’t be from George’s hand. There will no doubt be nerdrage on an epic scale.
LG: Yes, it will be very difficult. As yolkboy pointed out on a recent History of Westeros review, if the shows had been made prior to AFfC & ADwD being released, fans might have considered Sansa + Ramsay canon, and assumed it was coming in the books! On the other hand, events like Cersei’s arrest by the faith and Dany’s departure on Drogon would have been spoiled. It will be great if George manages to release TWoW early next year, but it will only postpone the inevitable choice book readers will have to make– continue watching, or have the end of the story spoiled by the show.
Generic question, but who is your favorite character? Is the same true for the show?
yb : To read, it’s Arya. To study, it’s Melisandre. I like them both on the show too.
LG: I don’t really have a favorite, but I love studying Sansa, Arya, Brienne and Theon. And yes, probably same for the show.
What’s next on the agenda for Radio Westeros?
LG: We have an episode on the Battle of Fire coming out very soon, featuring contributions by Aziz from History of Westeros, Steven Attewell of Race for the Iron Throne, Valkyrist from Vassals of Kingsgrave and with guest host BryndenBFish of Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire. It’s done in a ‘live news-report’ style and is our most ambitious production yet. After that we have Daenerys and Tywin.