George R.R. Martin: Red Wedding Was “Tremendously Hard to Write,” Readers Swore Off My Books Forever

Kit Harington on the cover of Rolling Stone
Kit Harington on the cover of Rolling Stone; George RR Martin talks the red wedding, angry fan reactions and more Mark Seliger

If you thought the Red Wedding was traumatic and devastating as a viewer and/or reader, just imagine how George R.R. Martin felt writing it! In an extensive interview with Rolling Stone, the author who dreamed up the Songs of Ice and Fire saga — the basis for HBO's Game of Thrones — explained that the grisly sequence, which first appeared in book 2, 2000's Storm of Swords, was "tremendously hard to write."

As etched in the minds of heartbroken readers and viewers forever, the wedding in question saw the surprise slaughter of two beloved protagonists, Catelyn Stark and her son Robb Stark, King of the North, during an already-tense wedding. As Martin, 65, points out, the HBO version, from 2013's season 3, "turned it up by 11" by adding one more victim to the body count: Talisa, Robb's pregnant wife. "The TV Red Wedding is even worse than the book," Martin said, "We get a pregnant woman stabbed repeatedly in the belly."

GoT cast

In any case, Martin anguished over depicting the vicious deaths of Catelynn and Robb. "The more I write about a character, the more affection I feel," he told RS. "Which doesn't mean I won't kill them." The sequence was so difficult to face, in fact, "I skipped over [writing] it until I finished the entirety of Storm of Swords, then I went back and forced myself to write that chapter," he revealed. "I loved those characters. But I knew it had to be done."

Once Storm of Swords hit bookshelves,  Martin was barraged with leters from distraught, furious readers. "Some people were so horrified that they said they will not read any more of my work," he revealed.

One particular letter, sent by a waitress, remains fresh in his memory. "She wrote to me: 'I work hard all day, I'm divorced, I have a couple of children. My life is very hard, and my one pleasure is I come home and I read fantasy, and I escape to other worlds. Then I read your book, and God, it was f–king horrifying. I don't read for this. This is a nightmare. Why would you do this to me?'" the author recalled.

Martin wrote her back, "And basically said, 'I'm sorry, I do understand where you're coming from.'"

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