Original outline for George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones reveals wildly different storylines

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Apr 29, 2019, 6:30 AM EDT (Updated)

The original outline for Game of Thrones has been revealed in a three-page letter author George R.R. Martin sent to his publisher back in 1993, a good three years before the the first novel was published. Although the main plot remains essentially the same, most of the character storylines actually wildly differ. The fantasy author also submitted the first 170 pages of said first novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga (which was originally meant to be a trilogy), A Game of Thrones, along with it. Martin wrote in his letter:

“As you know, I don’t outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it.”


In the original “outline” of the story, which Martin calls high fantasy, there are fewer factions and families. We still have the Lannisters and the Starks in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and the Targaryens and the Dothraki horse-lords are still present across the Narrow Sea in Essos. But there are no mentions of Tyrells, Martells, Tullys, Boltons or Freys. Joffrey Baratheon is mentioned aplenty, but there doesn’t seem to be much about House Baratheon itself. And where is Cersei?

Some of you may already know that Martin based his fantasy novel on the historical Wars of the Roses, where he basically cast Jaime Lannister as Richard III. Martin said:

“Jaime Lannister will follow Joffrey on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms by the simple expedient of killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession.”

Jaime was originally meant to be the one to kill his father Lord Tywin (and not Tyrion, as it actually happened in the books) and would then put the blame for the murders squarely on the shoulders of his exiled brother, who would then switch sides to the Starks — but not before the Imp manages to remove a still-cruel Joffrey from the throne. GRRM also makes Tyrion responsible for the sack of Winterfell.

The five key players were still Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Bran and Jon Snow. This hasn’t changed much, but we acquired a few more points of views along the way. The ultimate fates of Lord Eddard Stark and his wife Catelyn remained essentially the same, but with a few differences: specifically regarding Cat. And in the original outline, Ned actually manages to get his daughter Arya and Catelyn out of King's Landing and back to Winterfell before he gets imprisoned for treason.

Ned’s execution still causes the war between the Starks and the Lannisters; and his son Robb — who becomes "the King in the North" — was originally meant to fight and maim Joffrey on the battlefield. Robb's fate was to die in battle, and not at the now-(in)famous Red Wedding. Another big difference was with Ned’s eldest daughter Sansa. She was to marry Joffrey and give him a son and heir. Sansa would then have been faced with an impossible decision: To side with her own family, or her husband’s. She would have ended up choosing the Lannisters before coming to bitterly regret that choice.

“Sansa Stark, wed to Joffrey Baratheon, will bear him a son, the heir to the throne, and when the crunch comes she will choose her husband and child over her parents and siblings, a choice she will later bitterly rue.”

Now, back to Catelyn and Arya. Fleeing north, they picked up Bran on the way before making their way to the Wall and finding sanctuary with the Night’s Watch. While there, Jon and Arya were meant to fall in love with each other (say what??) but they thankfully don’t act on it ‘cause INCEST and also the little matter that Jon has taken the black and that means the whole celibacy thing, you know? Right. This causes “a bitter estrangement between Jon and Bran.” However, Martin says that the situation would have changed once Jon’s true parentage was to be revealed in the last book. This gives some credence to the popular theory that Jon is actually a Targaryen and the true son of Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark. (That would still make Jon and Arya cousins, though.) Tyrion was also meant to fall in love with Arya, creating a love triangle and causing “a deadly rivalry” between Jon and Tyrion, as opposed to the grudging respect that develops between them in the first book. Oh, and Jon still becomes Lord Commander. Huzzah!

Since the Night’s Watch can’t help Cat, Arya and Bran, the Stark family are forced to flee further north, beyond the Wall. There they would’ve been captured by Mance Rayder. And in another big departure, Catlyn Stark actually meets her doom at the icy hands of the Others (aka the White Walkers on the HBO series) who are the bigger threat in Martin’s outline (not the civil war and the Targaryen invasion) and who the author refers to as demons.

As for Dany’s storyline, she would actually invade Westeros much, much sooner (we would at least have been spared that darn Meereenese Knot), but would have killed her husband Khal Drogo (who seems more like a villain in Martin’s initial outline) to avenge the death of her brother Viserys.

Have a look at the three letters in the gallery down below, and let us know what you think. Would you have preferred George R.R. Martin to have kept on following his original outline for his A Song of Ice and Fire saga, or are you actually glad of the changes that were made?

(via Winter Is Coming)