Bestselling fantasy writer and executive producer of House of the Dragon George RR Martin is caught in the crossfire of the heated battle over inclusive casting — and some of his fans are calling for a boycott of his forthcoming book over comments from his co-writers.
The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One, out October 25, is being touted as a “deluxe reference book” for those wanting to learn more about Westeros’ most powerful family. As Martin posted it on social media last weekThousands of fans reacted with outrage, many calling out the problematic behavior and “history of racism” of its co-authors, husband and wife team Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr. “I will not buy anything that Linda and Elio are attached to. ‘ one wrote, while others urged Martin to cut ties with the couple.
Now the co-authors are fighting back, and Antonsson insists diversity that she is not racist and García says he feels offended for sticking to his views on Martin’s original works.
Game of Thrones superfans have worked with Martin since before HBO’s hit adaptation of his A Song of Ice and Fire books. Shortly after Antonsson and García founded the online forum Westeros.org in 1999, Martin recruited them as fact-checkers for his book A Feast for Crows. In 2014 they co-authored The World of Ice & Fire, an illustrated companion book to the novel series.
Critics have slammed Antonsson’s blog posts, some dating back more than a decade, in which she denounced the casting of black people in Game of Thrones to play white characters in Martin’s books. For example, in a March 2012 post, Antonsson complained that Nonso Anozie, a black man, was cast to play Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who is described in the books as being pale. Five months later, she was celebrating the fact that white actor Ed Skrein was cast in the role of Daario Naharis, despite a rumor claiming the network was looking to cast someone from a different ethnicity.
Recently, Antonsson wrote that the character of Corlys, played by Steve Toussaint on House of the Dragon, was a miscast. “There are no Black Valyrians and there shouldn’t be any in the show,” she said of the common ancestors of Velaryons and Targaryens.
Antonsson claims that angry fans criticize “statements taken out of context”. she says diversity that it bothers her “to be labeled as a racist when all I’ve focused on is building the world.” According to the author, she has no problem with inclusive casting, but she firmly believes that “diversity shouldn’t be the trump card.”
“If George had actually made the Valyrians black instead of white, as he mused in his 2013 ‘Not a Blog’, and this new show suggested making the Velaryons something other than black, we would have had the same issue with it and would have had the same opinion shared,” says Antonsson.
Inclusive casting in fantasy has become a hot topic lately, with black actors facing racist comments online in The Lord of the Rings: The Power Rings and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Toussaint recently commented that some fans who object to him playing a “rich black guy” have no problem believing dragons exist.
But Antonsson dismisses Toussaint’s comments as “a false dichotomy that completely misses the point of how secondary world fantasy works”. Changing the ethnic makeup of characters “raises all sorts of logical questions,” she claims.
Antonsson notes that her complaints about House of the Dragon aren’t limited to the choice of cast: she objects to the details of a character’s death because it’s different from Martin’s source material, as well as the lack of repercussions on that of Martin Ser Criston Cole’s actions in Episode 5. García adds that the duo tried to “launch a #FixASeahorse campaign” after the series changed the Velaryon house sigil from an actual seahorse to a mythical half-horse, half-fish , but they were “too late”. Still, Antonsson and García say they both genuinely enjoy House of the Dragon and praise showrunner Ryan Condal as “someone who clearly cares about the source material.”
As for Martin refusing to speak to him diversity For that story, Antonsson says he’s “very aware” of the altercations she and García have had with fans online. She adds that while Martin “sees no point in engaging with people on social media,” he “didn’t suggest that we should stop sharing our opinions.”
Finally, Antonsson supports boycotting writers she doesn’t agree with — she just wishes fans would do it “because of our actual opinions and not the ones they project onto us.”
Ten Speed Press, the publisher of Rise of the Dragon, did not respond diversity‘s request for comment.