George RR Martin Talks History on Season 5 DVD


Today HBO is releasing the Season 5 Game of Thrones DVD, which includes interviews with George RR Martin and a few other folks talking about history and Game of Thrones.

I have to admit that I’m very excited — and somewhat terrified — to see the DVD because I’m one of the people HBO interviewed. (Thanks again, HBO!)

I’ve never been on TV before and I’ve never been to New York city, so I was pretty nervous during the interview. (Think Deer/Headlights.) By the end of it, I was having trouble remembering my own name.

Nonetheless being filmed was fascinating. Anthony Mauro (the producer) and the crew were really enthusiastic, incredibly kind and clever. Off-camera they asked some pretty cool questions, and every person I met was a great conversationalist. (Maybe I’ve been working in high tech too long…)

Although I’ve been kinda terrified to see myself on camera, I’m looking forward to seeing some of my heroes discuss two of my favorite things: Game of Thrones and medieval history.

First of all, George RR Martin will finally reveal some of his secrets! Well, historical secrets — that is.  When I write articles, I just make educated guesses at what might be the historical inspiration for a particular storyline or character. Unless George has revealed the historical basis of an idea, I have no way of knowing whether or not I’m right. As a result, I’m always verrrry curious to know what inspired GRRM when he created a character or setting.


George holds his index cards pretty close to his chest, so I can’t wait to see what historical details he actually reveals on the DVD. I strongly suspect that the GRReat One will not disclose all during this interview.


Dr. Kelly DeVries

HBO also interviewed Kelly DeVries for the segment. Dr. DeVries is a medieval history professor at Loyola University in Maryland. He frequently appears as a TV expert on the History channel. And, he is the author of my favorite book about the Maid of Orleans – Joan of Arc, A Military Leader.

There are over 20,000 books on Joan of Arc – so obviously I haven’t read them all. But, I love Dr. DeVries’ book because it’s a secular take on a woman warrior.  So much of what I’ve read about Joan either focuses on her piety or uncritically assumes that she was divinely gifted.

When historians unreflectively recount the religious mythology around the Maid, they not only hide Joan’s intellect, they also obfuscate a less known past in which medieval women warriors existed. Kelly’s book lets us see Joan’s military prowess.


Dan Jones

HBO also interviewed Dan Jones, author of the bestselling The Wars of the Roses series and Magna Carta: Making of a Legacy. Dan’s books read like vivid novels and the history therein comes roaring to life. (I’m frequently dazzled by his brilliant writing style.) Dan recently gave his Wars of the Roses series the technicolor treatment. (I haven’t seen Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets yet, but I bet it’s fantastic.)

If you love history and Game of Thrones, definitely check out HBO’s Season 5 DVD. As I understand it, it is a two-hour (two-part) segment, so there should be lots of juicy tidbits.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."


  • Reply March 15, 2016


    Awesome! I can’t wait to see the 2-hour (!) discussion on history with you in it.

    Now if only I could get my hands on this segment without having to pay for the entire DVD set…

    • Reply March 16, 2016

      Jamie Adair

      Ha. Well, if you are a fan of the show, it looks like the DVD has lots of great stuff on it — commentaries on episodes and quite a few extras. I only started watching it last night so I haven’t seen much yet. But it looks fantastic… best boxed set yet.

  • Reply March 17, 2016


    Jamie this is brilliant! I can’t tell you how thrilled for you I am about this. What a tribute to you and this superb blog. Yours is one of the best on the web, about Game of Thrones -and about History itself, IMO
    Well done! xx

  • Reply March 18, 2016


    Well done, Jamie. I know I’m being EVER so naughty saying this but sometimes people load bits of the DVDs/burays up to YouTube so I might keep a wether eye there.

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