The Great Castles of Westeros- LAUNCH DAY!!

The Great Castles of Westeros- LAUNCH DAY!!

December 3, 2019 0 By SerBuckley

Somehow, here we are.

Today, after so very long, THE GREAT CASTLES OF WESTEROS is launching. Even now, as you read these words, it is available for purchase as both ebook and paperback in the Amazon store. It actually exists!

And how surreal it is to actually type those words.

After three long years and a stupidly intense six months, during which this book became the premier focus of the universe (for me anyway) it’s here! I can finally share it with you all.

To celebrate Castle Day I thought I’d throw this blog post up just to give some background info, answer any questions you fair folk might have, and generally just give myself an opportunity to talk about my own book (YES, I have a book out. Tee hee. Tee hee. And so on.) I also put up an Isle of Faces episode that contains a lot of the same info so if you are more audibly-inclined feel free to check that out instead: https://isleoffaces.podbean.com/e/the-great-castles-of-westeros-release-eve-podcast/

Before we get to that I have to thank so many people for so many things. Firstly, the outpouring of support and retweets and likes and kind comments on Twitter and elsewhere is pretty much akin to an avalanche that also feels like a warm hug at this point. It is incredibly heartwarming and I really wish I could do that support some kind of justice but it just isn’t possible. For all of those who’ve pre-ordered or shared or just said kind words through this entire process I can only offer my most sincere thanks.

Thank you again and again and again.

So we should probably go back to basics and answer the most fundamental question about this book:

What is it?

In its simplest form, this is a book on the Great Castles of Westeros, by which I mean the homes of the great families of the series. Tyrells, Starks, etc. The rulers of the individual kingdoms and they who (more often than not) called themselves kings once upon a time. So no Harrenhal, no Dreadfort, no Raventree Hall included. Not this time around. I did consider having an addendum or appendix with some lesser known castles thrown in but the book is already 200,000 words or 400 pages long, so I think we’re good. Perhaps one day I’ll gather the strength to form a second version, but for now we are focusing strictly on the famous and grand tier of castles that includes Storm’s End, Sunspear, Riverrun, and the rest.

Specifically, the book is based around a journey that you and I take together, a grand tour moving from castle to castle, in a vaguely sensible geographic trail, stopping at each one to basically absorb everything there possibly is to absorb, and each chapter essentially follows the same structure:

  • Introduction- 
    • The castle’s particular standing in the world and its region, its place within the narrative, its ‘theme’, if you will and what it represents, as well as a few words on the families who dwell within
  • Geography-
    • Not just the immediate grounds outside the castle walls but the makeup of the land which it rules, how it works with food production, where the money comes from, how is it set up in terms of the other Houses and castles stationed around it. Defensive barriers, modes of transport, human and physical geography both. Basically everything that could be thought out
  • Layout-
    • Where nerdiness really comes to shine. Sure there is the obvious trademark of each castle. The Eyrie’s Moon Door, Pyke’s rope brides, etc. But what about the granary sizes, what about the decoration of each castle? What about their individual qualities that makes each of them so Great and recognisable
  • Origin-
    • Our first trip back in time as we stretch far back to the creation stories for these castles, ranging from ancient deities to the coming of Nymeria to mighty battles between Andals and First Men. Now we are truly in the presence of legends.
  • Ancient History-
    • Needless to say, the history of Westeros is written across the stones of these castles. Kings, Queens, knights, maids, marriages, deaths, murders, births, weddings and more…all stretched out across a rich and vast timeline as we explore exactly what has happened within each castle from the Dawn Age to post Robert’s Rebellion
  • Current Events-
    • Much like the histories the narrative of A Song of Ice and Fire is told mostly through the eyes of castles and those who dwell within them. In this section we go through each and every event to occur within each castle from A Game of Thrones right up to A Dance with Dragons
  • Future-
    • As our stay at each castle concludes we peer into the mists of the future to hazard a guess at what lies in store for each Great Castle. What might happen in The Winds of Winter, which POV characters may visit them, what small plotlines are still to be resolved within them, and their place in the final grab for the Iron Throne, as well as what may become of them when the Long Night comes. There are upcoming battles, weddings, and much more to ponder within this section
  • Journey-
    • And just so you know, there’s a little section dedicated to the journey we experience traveling between each castle: where we have to go, what we might see on the way, and generally the aura of Westeros that we walk through as we visit each respective corner

Some chapters are longer than others, of course. The ancient history of Pyke, for example, is shorter than that of Dragonstone, but there is more than enough in there to keep us going. The geography of the Reach is a huge section, because the Reach is so large, but its origin story pales in comparison to that of Sunspear. We get a good mix over every chapter and I can happily say that there is no weak chapter, there isn’t one where there is just nothing to write about.

Off the top of my head the shortest chapter is probably Casterly Rock or Highgarden as they have less going on during the actual series, maybe Pyke too because of its weird history, but even they are something close to 20k words a piece. The longer chapters…you can probably guess which they are…on the other hand, well let me tell you the final two are something like 31,000 and 42,000 words each. So I think you can see the level of detail we are talking about here. I should also point out all the content is for books only. The castles and events of the tv show will have to sit on the sidelines and watch this time round.

Where to find it

So if this is the type of thing that floats your boat, and I appreciate its not for everyone but hopefully some of you will be interested, you can find it on Amazon in both ebook and paperback format. 

Ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Castles-Westeros-Unofficial-Guide-ebook/dp/B0821PC21J/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1575380758&refinements=p_27%3AJoe+Buckley&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Joe+Buckley

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Castles-Westeros-Unofficial-Guide/dp/1712072579/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1575379749&refinements=p_27%3AJoe+Buckley&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Joe+Buckley

At first I had planned to produce an Ebook only. But it caught me off guard when so many people started requesting physical copies back in May. That’s part of the reason it took so long! I did pick up their idea and run with it though. I Wanted to make paperback probably more for myself than anyone else, I wanted to hold in my hand and actually read through because I’m a paperback guy myself and though the actual content itself is the exact same, the words, I am just a bit in love with the paperback. (And what could compare to actually holding a book in your hand that you yourself have written? Few things indeed)

If you are an ebook person that’s great- I still love you for ordering- I just have a special place in my heart for the paperback. Unfortunately the Kindle Create app and Amazon’s restrictions meant we had to change a lot from the original design, just in terms of fonts and chapter headings etc, so it doesn’t look exactly the same – but my darling wife did a superb job helping out. She was honestly a life saver. It’s just that in the paperback we retained the chapter heading symbols, the cool fonts, all the works, and I personally think it looks fantastic. I’m genuinely excited to get my hands on one

I’m sure all of you know the drill about it being available in all countries etc etc.

Price

Those lucky enough to get in early for the e-book were able to snag it as a pre-order price of £3.99 (forgive me for not doing the dollar conversions). Going forward from today the actual listing price of the e-book will be £4.99

The paperback retails at £12.99 (Keep on noting I’m talking British pounds here). Now, I’ve had some very nice people tell me this is a steal and very cheap for a book of this size but I was sort of disappointed I had to list it as this price. I wanted to put it a bit lower, I didn’t wanna price anybody out or anything. I know we’ve all got costs. But Amazon do have a strict model for working these things out and, to be blunt, the printing costs are pretty high for a book of this size.

413 pages is a lot of pages so the price had to be this high to pay for that. I know not a lot of people like to talk about royalties and pricing which is fair enough but I don’t mind being straight with you guys. This is the lowest price I could have to get more than £1 royalty on each book sold, according to Amazon’s pricing structure. I’d have to check but I believe this ends up as roughly £2.20 per paperback sold that ends up with me. Something like that.

You might think that’s too much, maybe you think different, that’s your opinion and you are most welcome to it. Hopefully you all know enough about me to know that this project isn’t a mere cash crab or an effort to make a quick buck (Would be the slowest quick buck of all time, for a start). This has been a labour of love, something I wanted to give to the fandom, but also something I’ve taken great pride in. It was pretty difficult to see that my original pricing plan would produce a £0.20 royalty per paperback. So, and you are free to disagree and I’m happy to listen to any alternative opinions, this is the price I settled on. I hope you will agree it’s reasonable for something 232,000 words or 413 pages long. I really do want to thank those kind people who have already allievated my worries about the price

Artwork

First thing’s first. I want (no, I need) to direct you to the website of the cover artist, the wonderful Raffaela Cech– sometimes known as Aronja-Art– because her work is simply stunning and I was incredibly lucky to have one of her pieces adorn the front of the book. Her portfolio is genuinely jaw-dropping especially if you are a big ole nerd like me. Raffaela has other works on ASOIAF, she has stuff on the Witcher, Skyrim, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda…it’s all in there and it all absolutely gorgeous.

Please do yourself a favour and take a couple of minutes to peruse and be astounded

Aronja-art.com

Unfortunately, Raffaela’s cover art was the only artwork to make it into the book in the end. As I got closer to finishing the book I had some rather grand designs of including different pieces of fan art for each castle and in each chapter, or perhaps as a collection at the mid-way point. I even had the idea of adding each region’s map to their respective chapters and was lucky enough to secure the usage of Michael Klarfield’s superb hand-drawn maps

As much as it pains me, those ideas had to go by the wayside this time around. Rights and what’s allowed and all that jazz are a bit of a minefield in this respect, and despite hours and hours of research I opted to stay on the safe side this time around. (Besides, it would have incurred additional costs and been an absolute nightmare in terms of the already horrific formatting). Perhaps in a future edition or something like that some artwork can be added, but this time around we will have to bask in the brilliance of Raffaela’s cover artwork, which is absolutely fine by me.

Why?

That’s about all you need to know going in, so far as I can see. I absolutely didn’t want anyone going in with false expectations or anything like that so hopefully I’ve made everything clear for you all. 

In the book I do go into why this book came about, and why I find castles so fascinating, so I won’t spoil that for you here. Suffice to say I find them absolutely wonderful, both in the world of Westeros and our own. They are storytellers, protectors, dominators; the subjects of wars and sieges and the cataclysmic events that shaped everything we know today. Castles are ingrained in our societal structure and tell as much of people as they do of history. In terms of Westeros it is the different castles that show the all-time love of Jaehaerys and Alysanne, the close family bonding of the Tullys in Riverrun, and the fierce pride that courses through Sunspear. We have defiant Storm’s End, intimidating Dragonstone, and the serene Eyrie. We have it all, and we’re damn lucky to say so.

Just as I was damn lucky to write about them all. What a journey it has been. If I could describe it any better I would, but for now I’ll just have to tell you I loved every second (despite what I might have shouted), and I thank you all for joining.

Perhaps I’ll soon put up a post about the process of writing and putting the whole thing through the KDP process (Spoiler: formatting is the devil. I am not joking), but for now I think I’ll just savour the moment. Thanks all.