Tower of the Hand

Essays & Analysis

Featured Series

Maester Luwin's FAQ by Chris Holden
A list of questions that the average reader may have in mind after finishing the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire.

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After the Feast by Miles Schneiderman
A collection of essays that examines new theories and revelations from the fourth book of the series, A Feast for Crows.

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Secrets and Lies by Miles Schneiderman
Miles explores some of the questions left us by the latest book in the series, A Dance with Dragons.

War of the Five Kings by Stefan Sasse
A series of essays that analyzes the states of various houses and factions following the war, through A Feast for Crows.

Hands of the King by Steven Attewell
A series of essays that offers a history and analysis of the Hands of the King, past, present, and future.

A Laboratory of Politics by Steven Attewell
Race for the Iron Throne's Steven Attewell goes across the narrow sea to examine the politics of Essos.

The Blacks and Reds by Steven Attewell
Steve analyzes the longest ongoing civil dispute in Westeros: the Blackfyre Rebellions.

The Worst Man in Westeros by Jim McGeehin
Jim kicks off a new series examining the worst lowlifes that Westeros has to offer.

Politics of the Seven Kingdoms by Steven Attewell
Steve explores the internal politics of each of the Seven Kingdoms.

Castles of Westeros by Joe Buckley
Joe looks at the history and future of Westeros' ancient castles.

Group Projects

A Flight of Sorrows
Tower of the Hand's first essay book, "A Flight of Sorrows," contains eight original essays about A Song of Ice and Fire and more, edited by Marc N. Kleinhenz. Buy it now at

A Hymn for Spring
Tower of the Hand's second essay book contains eleven original essays about A Song of Ice and Fire and more, edited by Marc N. Kleinhenz. Buy it now at

Top 50 Characters (2015)
Tower of the Hand counts down the top characters of A Song of Ice and Fire, as voted by our members. We previously ranked the top 30 characters through AFFC (2010).

Loathed 30 Characters (2016)
Tower of the Hand counts downs the 30 most loathed characters through A Dance with Dragons, as voted by members. We previously ranked the 15 most hated characters through AFFC (2011).

Most Influential Characters (2016)
Tower of the Hand counts down the most influential characters from the history of A Song of Ice and Fire, as voted by our members.

ASOIAF Group Re-read (2012-2014)
After the release of A Dance with Dragons, Tower of the Hand conducted a massive Group Re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire, led by a different member of the community each week.

What Is Dead May Never Die (2017)
Tower of the Hand profiles would-be dead characters, reviewing their deaths on the show and their current statuses in the books, and speculating whether the differences between the two will be reconciled.

Game of Thrones Group Re-watch (2018-2019)
Before the final season, Tower of the Hand members re-watched all previous episodes, reflecting on the show's biggest moments and comparing its early years to more recent seasons.

Recent ASOIAF Analysis

Cripples and Broken Things
Marc Kleinhenz identifies the major physical transformations that characters undergo and why they matter. (Mar 11, 2016)

What's in a Name? Self Identity in ASOIAF
Derek Warnken examines ASOIAF's chapter titles and what changing names signify for some characters' self identity. (Sep 30, 2016)

Tywin Lannister, Machiavellianist?
Sebastian Zimmermann's new series wonders which characters show a Machiavellian approach towards politics. (Nov 5, 2017)

When Life Gives You Lemon Trees
Duncan Hubber evaluates the conspiracies that exist within ASOIAF and how they have fostered a new culture in fandom. (Apr 16, 2018)

Life is not a song
Life may not be a song, but if you are a character in one and know that, can you use it to your advantage? (Sep 4, 2018)

ASOIAF Analysis (2015)

Fire and Blood
Stefan writes about the choices Dany must make between war and peace, and what that means for Westeros. (Jan 16, 2015)

Poisoned Memories: Grief and Addiction in ASOIAF
Duncan writes on the heartaches that drive the series and how grief can be self-consuming and world-consuming. (Feb 15, 2015)

A Bard in Westeros: Shakespearean Influences
Chris Kesner finds similarities between Shakespeare and George R. R. Martin's A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. (Mar 2, 2015)

A Commentary of Spring
Editor Marc Kleinhenz breaks down the original essays in our new ebook, A HYMN FOR SPRING (on sale now!). (May 9, 2015)

Eddard Stark's Other Bastard
Jon Snow may not be Ned's son, but that doesn't mean the honorable lord of Winterfell didn't father a bastard. (May 21, 2015)

A Shadow on the Plate
Duncan lists what's on the menu, and explores what the meals say about excess and savagery in Westeros. (Jun 22, 2015)

A reader's guide to the Feastdance
Stefan writes on the themes that tie together Act II, i.e. A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. (Jul 1, 2015)

Ranking the Targaryen kings
Stefan ranks all the Targaryen kings who have sat the Iron Throne. Who were the best and worst crowns? (Aug 28, 2015)

ASOIAF Analysis (2014)

8,000 Years of Stagnation?
Stefan Sasse wonders if the history of Westeros is as old as everyone claims and if a lack of progress is realistic. (May 5, 2014)

So Many Vows: Oaths in Conflict
Jim McGeehin studies the many ASOIAF characters who have sworn to conflicting oaths. (May 21, 2014)

Cold Open: Thoughts on AGOT's Prologue
Dan Hemsath writes that AGOT's Prologue prepares us for what's to come in more ways than one. (Jun 9, 2014)

The Hero with a Thousand Faces and One
Chris Kesner uses Joseph Campbell's myth of the hero to identify ASOIAF's heroes and predict their fates. (Jul 3, 2014)

The Castles of Westeros
Stefan asks why castles in Westeros were built the way they were and whether they hold up under scrutiny. (Sep 4, 2014)

Wild at Heart: A Look at Notable "Free Folk"
Dan Hemsath offers a look at notable "free folk" and how they embody the culture of wildlings. (Oct 2, 2014)

Chaos Is a Ladder
Chris relates Star Wars to A Song of Ice and Fire through Marxist transgression and Freudian taboo. (Nov 6, 2014)

The Franchise of Ice and Fire
Marc Kleinhenz looks at various franchises and explores what might be in store for George R. R. Martin's world. (Nov 21, 2014)

ASOIAF Analysis (2013)

Jack of All Trade, Master of Coin
Littlefinger greatly increased the crown's revenues. How did he do that and still leave the crown in debt? (Feb 13, 2013)

A Westerosi study in feudalism
Stefan looks at how George R. R. Martin has interconnected the ideas of feudalism and fantasy. (Mar 27, 2013)

The History of the Night's Watch
Stefan argues that all those castles along the Wall are not empty by happenstance. (Apr 9, 2013)

The Dead of Winter
The Dead of Winter: The Half-life of George Martin's Shelf Life, a new essay by Marc Kleinhenz. (Apr 18, 2013)

The Riverrun Decision
Stefan writes in defense of Edmure Tully. Was Stone Mill a communication error or just throwing blame around? (Jun 6, 2013)

The Ruins of Castamere
The lands of Westeros are dotted with more and more ruins. Marc explores why that is. (Oct 8, 2013)

History Remixed
Like a DJ, GRRM samples and remixes from historical events and figures to achieve the desired literary effect. (Nov 30, 2013)

Lies My Maester Told Me
How much of history we can believe depends on the men writing it, and who they were before they were maesters. (Dec 1, 2013)

There's Always a Price
Magic had withered and gone from the world until the birth of Dany's dragons. What was the cost of this magic? (Dec 2, 2013)

ASOIAF Analysis (2012)

Southron Ambitions
Stefan takes us back to the Mad King's reign and examines one lord's "southron ambitions." (Jan 5, 2012)

Crossroads of Form and Function
Marc analyzes the narrative effects of chapter titles in place of chapter names. (Jan 9, 2012)

The prevented Stark
Stefan charts the transformations of one of GRRM's most complex characters: Theon Greyjoy. (Feb 22, 2012)

The becoming of deities
Stefan's latest essay explores the ascent of faith in the old gods, in the Seven, and in R'hllor. (May 8, 2012)

The problem with prophecy
A Dance with Dragons has turned Jon Snow into a leading prophecy candidate, argues Miles. (Jul 9, 2012)

The concept of honor in Westeros
Stefan analyzes the concept of honor in Westeros. Who has it, how does one gain it, and what's it worth? (Jul 16, 2012)

Prequels Analysis

Hedging Knights and Dancing Dragons
What could possibly have possessed GRRM to expand even further, with another series of prequel novellas? (Nov 29, 2013)

The Princes and the Queen Who Never Was
Even before the Dance of Dragons, the crown had to pass through the Princes and the Queen Who Never Was. (Dec 6, 2013)

Ruminations About the World of Ice & Fire
Stefan dives into The World of Ice & Fire, ruminating about how new book affects old theories and essays. (Nov 11, 2014)

Ruminations About the World Part II
Stefan dives into the World of Ice & Fire, ruminating about how new book affects old theories and essays. (Mar 22, 2015)

Magic Mushrooms
Who is Mushroom, that historians both rely on and scoff at his testimony? Miles finds the truth. (Dec 3, 2014)

Game of Thrones Analysis

In defense of Ros
Stefan looks back at each Ros scene and concludes that the controversial character is unduly maligned. (Apr 12, 2012)

In defense of Ros, revisited
Stefan argues that Ros served a useful role in the show, opening narrative windows where none otherwise exist. (May 11, 2013)

Filling the gaps, a defense of Littlefinger
Stefan writes in defense of Littlefinger, as written and portrayed in the Game of Thrones adaptation. (May 16, 2013)

I Know Who I Am: Selfhood and Slavery in GOT
Vassals of Kingsgrave host Duncan Hubber analyzes selfhood and slavery in Game of Thrones' fourth season. (Jun 25, 2014)

Fighting Fookin' Legends
In his latest essay, Marc explores the role of catharsis in the novels versus the show. (Jul 16, 2014)

'Tis the Best Season
Let's take a voyage with Remy Verhoeve as he struggles to find the best season of Game of Thrones. (Dec 24, 2014)

Why the HBO show fails to do justice to the books
Chris Hage lists reasons why Game of Thrones fails to do justice to the books in this new guest essay. (Sep 13, 2015)

Why Sansa will win the game of thrones
Gil Kidron and Itamar Harel of Game of Thrones Academy predict that Sansa will wind up on the Iron Throne. (May 7, 2015)

7 Reasons Why the Dragons Have to Die
GOT Academy posts another video listing all the reasons why the dragons have to die in ASOIAF. (Jul 20, 2015)

Why the Others are Destined to Become Extinct
GOT Academy posts a new video listing all the reasons why the Others are destined to become extinct. (Sep 3, 2015)

The Ultimate Maesters Theory
Game of Thrones Academy has a new video essay explaining why maesters are key to the conclusion of the story. (Oct 1, 2015)

Understanding Where the Story is Going
Game of Thrones Academy previews the sixth season of Game of Thrones in an attempt to understand where the story is going. (Apr 23, 2016)

Why George Martin Will Now Never Finish His Novels
Marc fears the latest revelations from Game of Thrones will keep GRRM from ever finishing the books. (May 29, 2016)

Season 6 Arcs by Stefan Sasse
Stefan recaps and reviews the individual arcs of Game of Thrones' sixth season.

The change of Westeros' most important families
Joe Buckley takes stock of the great houses, noticing some major changes to Westeros' most important families. (Aug 25, 2016)

And don't forget to check out our reviews of every episode of Game of Thrones these past few seasons.


The Music of Dragons
Remy explores how A Song of Ice and Fire has inspired works of heavy metal and folk music. (Jan 29, 2014)

Scoring the Game
Before Ramin Djawadi composed everything for Game of Thrones, Remy remixed his own soundtrack. (Apr 18, 2014)

A Game of Thrones Collectible Card Game
Remy goes back to a time when fans found other ways to endure the wait between books. (Aug 20, 2014)

The Only Game That Matters
Remy takes into the game itself, reviewing the elements that make up the ASOIAF roleplaying game. (Aug 21, 2015)

First Reads

Jeff's First Read: A Storm of Swords
A first time reader documents his thoughts while reading A Storm of Swords (Book 3).

Jeff's First Read: A Feast for Crows
A first time reader documents his thoughts while reading A Feast for Crows(Book 4).

About the Books and GRRM

Future Titles
A Song of Ice and Fire will have at least seven books. What will the future titles be called?

As Recommended by GRRM
A list of quotable book recommendations from George R. R. Martin himself.

For additional essays, including some of our more recent guest essays, please browse this list. You can also find more from our writers in Tower of the Hand's exclusive essay books: A Flight of Sorrows and A Hymn for Spring, edited by Marc N. Kleinhenz.

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