Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Eyrie

This is the first post of a compare/contrast series that I wanted to talk about regarding artistic interpretation of George R.R. Martin's world as presented in his epic Song of Ice and Fire. Basically, I'm going to post artist drawings of these places and then how they appear in the HBO series and ask you, did HBO get it right?

Here is everything that I know of a castle called the Eyrie:

Essentially it is the ancient seat of House Arryn, one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility. It is situated in the Mountains of the Moon astride the mountain known as the Giant's Lance. It is reachable only by a narrow goat trail that takes Caetlyn 12-hours to climb, guarded by the Gates of the Moon and three small waycastles; Stone, Snow and Sky. It is supplied by means of a massive dumbwaiter that extends down to the topmost waycastle.

The Eyrie is the smallest of the great castles, consisting only of a cluster of seven slim, white towers bunched tightly. The castle is made of fine white stone. The towers encircle a garden, which had been meant as a godswood, but the soil was too poor. The Eyrie is also unique in that it lacks a godswood; no weirwood tree would take root in the stony soil. The barracks and stables are in the mountain.

Okay, first up here is Ted Nasmith's version (Ted Nasmith is an award-winning professional artist more famous for his works on Tolkien than anything else):

Click to make bigger.

Okay, here in this painting Mr. Nasmith gives us all the elements. Seven slender towers, white stone, the dumbwaiter thing that goes to one of the keeps that isn't featured in the painting, and a sense that this beast of a castle is really super high (because there are clouds actually beneath the castle in the picture).

Also featured are the sky cells that Tirrion gets thrown into plus I could see it taking a full 12-hours to get to this place using a goat path. I'm no professional climber but getting up to this thing has got to be terrifying (which it was for Caetlyn).

Okay, here I give you a screenshot of the Eyrie as it appears in the HBO series. Right off, you see a bridge that goes over to it and it isn't surrounded by mountains like in Nasmith's version. Additionally, if you look closely, the bridge is just a road that winds up underneath the actual Eyrie and then up to the castle on top. Furthermore, it's kind of round which isn't how I visualized it. As well, if the slender towers are there, they're so small I can't even see them.

Which one got it right? HBO or Ted Nasmith? Please let me know in a comment.

See my second post in this series entitled Harrenhal HERE.


  1. Nice idea :) It's been way too long since I read this series so I can't really comment with any surety :D

  2. I can't see the painting because it won't show up for some reason, but it sounds more like Martin's vision than the HBO picture. I don't mind HBO changing things up, but the Eyrie doesn't look right at all on the outside. The inside shots weren't too bad.

  3. I thought the shots of the Eyrie exterior were breathtaking in the show, but they certainly didn't look very accurate to what is described in the book. I prefer accurate representations when possible, but it didn't bother me too much. It's not a major location, at least not in the first two books.

    One thing I'm curious to see is how the end of book two will work. The way they have the Red Keep thrusting out into the bay like that is going to make the logistics of what occurs at the end of book two difficult to do on the small screen.

  4. The painting has the obvious advantage of being a painting, which means it doesn't have to conform to real world practicalities. I mean you can't expect HBO to go and build a whole freaking castle, right?

  5. I've always found creating something based on text a very abstract process. So I wouldn't call either one "right" or "wrong". Unless Mr. Martin actually assisted one of these artists himself, we can debate until the cows come home.

  6. Hey, Michael - I've left an award for you on my blog :o)

    And if you've already received one like it, it doesn't matter. Who said you can only have one Oscar, right? LOL.

  7. Cheating! Ted probably read the book, unlike the CG guys who were told "Hey make this look like a castle some Romans would build."

  8. HBO doesn't have "just a goat path," and I don't see 7 towers. But Naismith has that natatorium or whatever it is right in the front of his painting, and the description you gave was of 7 towers, only.

    So I award both zero points.

  9. Trisha: Thanks. I loved how in "Lord of the Rings" the Director consulted with Alan Lee, John Howe, and Nasmith (who I think was the inspiration for Minas Tirith). In the extras of LOTR, Jackson talks about how he asked Alan Lee to give him the top of Isengard and Barad Dur so that he could have the CGI guys program all of that in. Anyway, the comparisons between the artist renditions over the years and what we saw on screen moved me to take a look at the renditions Nasmith did for Mr. Martin and then see how HBO did it.

    Ted: Sorry you can't look at the's quite stunning I thought. And I agree with you...the outside of the Eyrie in the HBO series made me wondering if they'd read the same book.

    Matthew: Good point about the Red Keep thrusting out in the bay in the show. I'm sure they'll move it and hope no one notices...kind of like all the Star Wars bloopers where in one scene you see a mistake and in the next, it isn't there.

    Mutt: I was thinking of the painting vs. CGI...CGI doesn't have to conform to real world practicalities either. It's a fantasy.

    K.Howard: It's fun to debate pointlessly whether or not the cows come home at all :)

    D.U.: Gracias amigo. I shall come and get it for tomorrow's "tag, you're it" entry.

    Steph: It's possible, but with Mr. Martin as a consultant on the series and really, a pretty ready description of the castle in the book as I provided, and detailed artist renditions available online in just a few seconds, I would have thought the CG guys would have done a little research.

    Briane P: We weren't using points... but I understand. You're saying both "fail" :) overall no one really has said if they prefer the Nasmith or HBO version. My choice at this point is the Nasmith version. Anywho...thanks for replying.

  10. Also: your referral to the Rihanna snippet of Dragostea Din Tei was dead on; she's got a good voice. The song isn't much, beyond her contributions.

  11. I like the way the HBO version makes me feel more than I do Ted Nasmith's. It may have more architectural variations than the Nasmith's painting, but his castle seems too tidy for my tastes. I can't recall the age of the castle, but I'm pretty sure it's ancient, like the Egyptian pyramids are. Nasmith's version looks like it was just finished being built, right off the assembly line.

    I do love the sky cells, and the winch, in his painting, it's beautiful, it just doesn't strike the right mood with me.

  12. I just finished the book so I feel I can finally start commenting on this topic.

    The description of all the castles in the book seem to include the words "ancient". Nothing ancient is as pristine as shown in the Nasmith picture without a lot of maintenance. When you consider the frequent war in that land I think HBOs is probably closer to what I'd picture. No doubt they got Martin's input on it as well. The whole series has an earthy tone to it that I like as opposed to the sanitized vision of a Disney-esqe castle.

  13. I haven't seen the HBO show yet, but the painting looks more like I imagined the Eyrie.

    I do, however, agree with Rusty above. Most big adaptations seem to get it right in making these old places look well-used and centuries old. Even the Harry Potter movies make the old Hogwarts look more gritty than I imagined in the books.

  14. Now that this point has been brought up I'm beginning to see how the castle in Nasmith's version is just too clean so yeah, I agree with you Brent and Rusty.

  15. Neither one is really how I pictured it, but I guess I vote for the painting. I always pictured it kind of like houses in London or San Francisco: really tall and really narrow. And also way up high on a mountaintop. The painting makes it look too big, even though it is a castle. *shrug* Who knows, though?