George R.R. Martin's novels about Westeros are fiendishly addictive, because he's created a world that's just crammed full of amazing details. And Game of Thrones captures that feeling pretty well — until you read Martin's guidebook, The World of Ice and Fire and realise just how much more there is. On almost every page, there's something that makes you go, "I'd kill to see this on television." Here are 23 things from The World of Ice and Fire that we'd be most stoked to see realised on the screen. (HBO might need to borrow a few billion dollars for some of these. But hey, it's for art.)
1) The Green Men
The Children of the Forest made a pact with the First Men, in which the First Men agreed to stop cutting down the weirwood trees that are an important part of the worship of the Old Gods. And the Children were consigned to the forests, while the First Men lived everywhere else.
To witness this pact, they carved faces into all the trees on this one island, and left the Green Men behind to guard the island — the Green Men had green scaly skin and horns (or possibly just green clothing and horned helmets) and they MAY STILL BE THERE.
2) Giant Ice Spiders
The legends of the Long Night say the Others rode on ginormous Ice Spiders into battle. WE NEED HUGE ICE SPIDERS!
3) What's Up With Those Freaky Seasons?
We need some kind of explanation for Westeros' irregular lengths of seasons, and why winter and summer can last years and years. Martin has made it clear that there is a magical reason why this happens, and this book keeps hinting at it. We may only get an explanation in Martin's books, but it would be amazing if the TV show just dropped this answer casually, say, in the middle of an episode about Ramsay Bolton flaying twenty people.
4) Water Magic
The Rhoynish people who came to Dorne with Queen Nymeria, fleeing the Valryian oppression, supposedly knew a whole lot of water magic, which they used to fight the dragons of Valyria before they were defeated and sent packing. WATER BENDING?! WE NEED THIS.
5) The Dance of Dragons
This would be one hell of a flashback, or even a prequel series — the war of succession between Rhaenya the Queen Who Never Was, and Aegon II, which included dragons slaughtering each other by the score. A ton of dragon aerial combat, including wholesale dragon slaughter.
6) Robert's Rebellion
Let's hope we're actually going to get a series of flashbacks to this event, along with some of the other flashbacks we're getting in the next year or so. This was the huge turning point in Westeros, where Ned Stark and his bestie, Robert Baratheon, rose up and took down the Mad King. Even apart from finding out who Jon Snow's parents really are, this could be pretty insane to watch.
But you know what else? A flashback to Tywin Lannister's father, Tytos Lannister, would also be fascinating. We don't really know much about Tywin's life before the events of the show, and not only would you get the interesting idea of seeing a Lannister who is nowhere near as cunning or competent as Jamie, Cersei, Tywin and Tyrion, you'd get to see young Tywin growing up and basically being an almost absurdly badass kid, whipping the Westerlands into shape after the War of the Ninepenny Kings.
We'd also love to see the fall of the House of Reyne, who were drowned in the mines under their seat by the Lannisters. We'd get to see the origins of that infamous song, and it's Tywin's darkest moment.
7) The Warg King
Supposedly the Starks, in ancient times, defeated a ton of enemies — human and otherwise — including giants and rival kings. But one of their enemies was the Warg King, who sounds just all kinds of scary badarse. Wonder if he's still out there somewhere, or if there's a whole Warg kingdom of skinchangers that we haven't come across yet?
8) Dragon Eggs, Right Under the Starks' Noses
Rumour has it there's a clutch of dragon eggs hidden inside the walls of Winterfell, where a hot spring runs close to the walls. These are supposedly the eggs of Vermax, one of the dragons from the Dance of the Dragons. Although this account is disputed by those fussy maesters — and maybe Vermax was actually male — it could be a fascinating twist! Just when the Boltons think they have got Winterfell locked down...
9) Ancient Immortal Wildlings Under the Wall
Legends say that Gendel, one of two Kings from beyond the wall who invaded the South, got lost in the caverns beneath the Wall 3000 years ago. And the Wildlings say that he and some of his followers are still wandering, lost, down there today.
10) The Grey King
The Grey King ruled over the Iron Islands thousands of years ago, carving the very first longship out of the wood of Ygg, a demon tree that fed on human flesh. He killed Nagga the sea dragon, who was so huge she fed on leviathans and krakens, and built a longhall from Nagga's bones.
The Grey King ruled for a thousand years and was never killed; he finally walked into the ocean to join the Drowned God in his watery halls. Maybe he's still down there!
11) Garth the Green
The Legends of Garth the Green would be pretty hilarious to see. Some wild, green-skinned, even potentially antler-ed god who roamed around the Reach magically making crops grow and women ridiculously fertile? Plus, the living throne at Highgarden that he made would be a jaw-dropping visual. Let's hope we actually make it to Highgarden one of these years.
12) Battle Island
What the hell are mysteries of Battle Island? Who fought the battles that gave it this scary name, and who were the mysterious mazemakers that made the black fortress that stands at the bottom of Hightower? The Iron Islanders claim that both it and the Greyjoy throne, the Seastone Chair, were crafted by weird mermen born from dark sea creatures called the Deep Ones, who sired children with human women.
The account that connects Hightower and the Seastone Chair are widely dismissed by Maesters, but creepy fishmen don't seem too out of place in Westeros' magical history. Maybe Sam will discover something during his time at Oldtown and the Citadel?
13) Giants in the Stormlands
How the First Men came to the Westeros from Essos originally, and how they encountered the Children of the Forest and the giants in the Stormlands for the first time could be cool. This could be another Sam thing, but we'd also dig a flashback/vision quest with Bran and the Three Eyed Raven.
14) Durran Godsgrief
The legend of Durran Godsgrief is awesome, even if it may not actually be true, since its only recorded mention is in singers' tales.
He apparently fell in love with the daughter of the sea god (the Drowned God maybe?), who herself was the goddess of wind, turned mortal by her relationship with Durran. The gods, angry at her fall to mortality, lashed out at Durran's castles with the wind and rain that led to these lands being called the Stormlands, destroying every castle he built, until a young Brandon the Builder helped Durran build one that could hold back the Storm. That made him the First Storm King — and he apparently ruled for a thousand years, thanks to his wife's long life.
15) The Separation of Westeros and Essos
This might also be good vision fodder for Bran. Witnessing the Greenseer magic/sacrifices that caused the breaking that separated Essos and Westeros and destroyed the arm of Dorne would be incredible. This could be some brilliant VFX — even if those killjoy maesters credit sea level rising instead. Which would be significantly less interesting to watch.
16) Ser Arthur Dayne and His Legendary Blade
We're getting flashbacks to season 6 and the Tower of Joy, where Jon Snow was supposedly born. And there have been a ton of rumours that one of the people cast for these scenes is Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. Ser Arthur was part of the Mad King's Kingsguard and wielded the famous greatsword known as Dawn and knighted Jaime Lannister. The most chivalrous knight in all of Westeros, Ser Arthur would be fascinating to meet. And we'd love to see Dawn, the legendary weapon of the Starfall, with its pale milkglass appearance.
17) The Assault on Dorne
The Targaryens tried and failed to conquer Dorne, losing Rhaenys Targaryen and her dragon Meraxes in the process. This would be one hell of a flashback (and maybe put boring Dorne in viewers good graces again after season five). Plus, what the hell did Prince Nymor's letter say that convinced Aegon the Conqueror to make peace with the ruined, burned nation of Dorne?
Mazemakers, in general, would be really cool to see as part of Westeros' history. There's a brief extract on them on page 254, describing them as a race somewhere between giant and human (maybe even a hybrid race). These massive creatures left huge, mysterious mazes across the islands of the free cities southwest of Westeros. They were apparently wiped out by sea creatures, maybe even the mermen of the Iron Island folk tales.
A city of dark magic and sorcerers, even in modern times. The Black Goat god! Daily sacrifices! Qohorik steel is better than any in Westeros, and it's the last place where Valyrian steel can still be reworked! And yet, they're best known for the fact that they export lumber to the rest of the free cities. DARK MAGIC LUMBERJACKS.
20) The Black Pearls
Oh man, the Black Pearls. A lineage of courtesan pirate queens with Targaryen blood, tracing back to Aegon IV, that still work amongst the courtesans of Braavos. Plus, the current Pearl Bellegere appears in Arya's chapters in A Feast for Crows and The Winds of Winter, so there's an easy way for the show to fit them in!
21) The Summer Isles
The Summer Isles are radically different from Game of Thrones' aesthetic: exotic, tropical islands of peace and harmony. But the one idea that makes them HBO as hell? They revere the goddess of love, and every summer islander is expected to spend at least one year of their lives working at one of the many temples of the love goddess as, essentially, sacred sex workers. Most stop after a year, but a few people stay on as priests and priestesses. Sexy conscription!
22) The Other Side of the World
What the hell is on the other side of the planet Westeros and Essos are on? There's dotted islands and settlements like Ib alongside the Shivering Sea, which might be all there is for leagues and leagues, according to some accounts. But there seems to be a consensus that the further you travel, the more and more strange and messed up the world becomes, from strange leviathan sea creatures, to bitter tasting, bizarrely-shaped fish.
There are even rumours of a land of shapechanging demon hunters, and beyond that, a "realm of storm and choas where sea and sky become as one". I would love to see basically like, the In the Heart of the Sea of Game of Thrones, pretty much. That would be a crazy side plot.
Also, there's a note on page seven that a mysterious, unknown race, alongside the giants and the Children of the Forest, may have visited Westeros from "across the Sunset Sea" and left the Seastone Chair (where Balon Greyjoy sits) behind. We don't actually know what lies beyond the Sunset Sea, to the West of Westeros, and the notion that people came from there and inhabited Westeros at one point is super fascinating.
Then of course, there's Asshai by the Shadow, the furthest known civilisation on the planet, and home to the mysterious masters of the Red priests, and other such bizarre magical practioners — even darker magics than those openly practised in Qohor.
We've heard of Asshai and the Asshai'i in the show before. But we'd love to explore this sparsely populated, demonic outpost on the edge of the known world. Also, some more exploration of the history of the red priests as an organisation would be awesome. Melisandre background all up in this business.
Thanks to @ShojoPower for the suggestion!
Top image: John McCambridge. All images come from The World of Ice and Fire book. Artists include Chase Stone, Jordi Gonzalez, Paolo Puggioni, Philip Straub, Marc Simonetti, John McCambridge and Justin Sweet.