Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere Event

The past two Game of Thrones premiere events have been pretty incredible, but this was something different. Going all the way back to the 1920s, if anyone mentioned a big Hollywood premiere, the first place that would come to mind was Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. And lo and behold, that’s where we were.

Of course, I was late, though. I guessed the traffic correctly, for the most part, but I guess when they do a premiere like this, the traffic around the theater is a bit crazy (as I learned when I got there and saw they had lanes blocked off to accommodate the premiere). So we kind of rushed in (it was already dark), and the first thing we saw was this:

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Big old line. That was the first indication that things would be different this year. And, indeed, it appears that the “cast and crew” premiere event has outgrown its former venue by leaps and bounds. The theater was packed.

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Click to enlarge.

Originally we were escorted to the wrong seats and I ran into Bryan Cogman, who got to sit next to Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (lucky chiftik). But it’s all good. My wife Erin and I had a lot of fun taking a look at the renovated Chinese Theater (I’d been there once before pre-renovation/restoration. Looks great now.)

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After some speeches, we got to see the first episode of season 3…about which I’ll have much more to say come April 1st.

Afterwards we got to get our picture taken out front (thank you Sharon!).

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Click to enlarge.

Then we walked over to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for the after party (the Dothraki vitteya [props to the HBO folks who got the word right!]). This was my first ever encounter with actual paparazzi. Not that they were looking for me, but we were all walking from the theater in a big group, and there was actually a barricade with police and a whole bunch of guys with cameras shouting at the crowd (the names I heard as I was going by: “George!”, “Nathalie!” [and, in fact, George R. R. Martin did go over to the barricade to sign a few autographs, which I thought was charitable]). It was really bizarre. I really should’ve taken a picture of them (kicking myself now. If there’s a next time, anha astak asqoy: I will get a picture of a wall of paparazzi!).

The party at the Roosevelt was, in a word, opulent. There were a string of performers (a juggler, a belly dancer, two guys doing a sword fighting display, musicians) in the main hall, a place where you could get your fortune read with tarot cards—oh, in fact, I took a picture of the little program they had printed up:

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Click to enlarge.

I did, indeed, shoot some arrows (unfortunately the picture was too dark; not worth posting), and my wife got her nails done (and of the choice, she notes: “The dragon has three heads!”):

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And to keep an old tradition going, here’s a picture of my dinner:

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Click to enlarge.

A quick aside: Are there such things as freshwater shrimp? Is that a modern phenomenon (with shrimp farms)?

Anyway, one thing I was extremely glad of is I got to meet both Nathalie Emmanuel (who plays Missandei) and Dan Hildebrand (who plays Kraznys) at the after party. I saw their work for the first time tonight, and, as I told that, I was extraordinarily impressed. They’re both new to the show and new to working with a constructed language, and the language itself is brand new, so, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. Their performances far exceeded my expectations. I could barely sit still in my seat, thinking to myself, “My god! They’re nailing it!” I’ll have some more specific details after the official premiere, but suffice it say they both put a lot of effort into getting the Astapori Valyrian down (for which I’m grateful), and their hard work more than paid off. I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.

Oh, and they were both gracious enough to take a picture with me. Here’s me and Nathalie:

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And here’s me and Dan:

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Oh, and before I forget, this was the main banquet hall. I couldn’t get a picture to do it justice, but there was a gigantic map of Westeros and some of Essos draping the far wall (more than a story tall). You can see it in the background here:

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Click to enlarge.

Probably the number one moment that many are going to wish I was videotaping but which I didn’t occurred when they started playing “Billie Jean”. George R. R. Martin was sitting at a table with most of the child actors (Arya, Sansa, Bran, Hot Pie), when Maisie Williams decided to start singing along, using Sophie Turner’s hand as a microphone. As it moved into the chorus, they all joined in. It was priceless.

My strangest moment was when Dan Weiss’s father and mother came up to introduce themselves to me. They recognized me, and said they were big fans of the show. The show they meant, though, wasn’t Game of Thrones: It was CNN’s The Next List. I guess they watch it all the time, and they’d seen the episode with me on it and they recognized me from it. (Tracey Dorsey, if you’re reading this, you’ve got fans in high places! They love the show!)

But I think the highlight of the night for me was when I achieved something I failed to last year. Jason Momoa was at the premiere again this year, and, like last year, he brought his wife, Lisa Bonet. And though it didn’t happen last year, this time I got a picture with her:

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If I could tell you what The Cosby Show meant to me as a kid growing up, it’d take months to read this post. In short, let’s just say I can die happy.

I know there are a lot of fans out there that can’t wait for March 31st—and, believe me, it’ll be worth the wait; they did a terrific job. But now having seen it, I have to say: I can’t wait for April 7th.

Fonas chek!


  1. Looks like you had fun! :)

    I bet next year the crowd will shout your name as well! Better start learning to sign autographs ;) .

    To answer your aside: yes, there is such a thing as freshwater shrimp, and no, it’s not a new phenomenon, and it’s not limited to shrimp farms. Many species of shrimp live most if not all their adult lives in fresh water. Check this Wikipedia link for more info :) .

  2. Over on the Game of Thrones Wiki we have some questions about Low Valyrian nomenclature: at first you said High Valyrian wouldn’t be developed as a language; I previously asked about the variants in the Free Cities (Braavosi, Volantene, etc.).

    You said you weren’t allowed to talk about it until Season 3 premieres, so this is more of a headsup for a coming question:

    Specifically with regard to this post, you call it “Astapori Valyrian”. The books say that the Low Valyrian variants in the three cities of Slaver’s Bay (Astapor, Yunkai, Meereen) are mutually intelligible. I was treating all of them as one “language”, “Slaver’s Bay Low Valyrian”.

    Is this the case? Or should we call it “Astapori Valyrian”? And “Meereenese Valyrian” is different?

    I realize you can’t talk about this now but we’ll need to clear this up later.

    1. I can answer this question well enough. I call it Astapori Valyrian because they’re in Astapor. Just as easily one can say American English vs. British English. Just because they have different names doesn’t mean they’re mutually unintelligible (cf. Hindi vs. Urdu). Also, these are names I use. The people themselves, I’d wager, would probably just call it Valyrian.

      1. I was thinking of it as Ghiscari Valyrian (What I called it after I read that book and realized the language would be necessary for the story). The book just refers to it as the Valyrian spoken in Slaver’s Bay (often with some adjective that maligns it), so I suspect that’s how the characters refer to it.

        Come to think of it, since [spoiler alert?] Dany understands it perfectly, we could reasonably guess that it’s mutually intelligible with Pentoshi Valyrian as well — but a wildly different dialect.

        1. Well, there’s different kinds of Low Valyrian – the early books just call it “Valyrian” but by A Dance With Dragons they make it a point to stress that they’re really separate language.

          yeah, “Ghiscari Valyrian” was the shorter one we called it.

          For that matter, “High Ghiscari” is apparently a dead language, other than words it transmitted to Ghiscari Low Valyrian, i.e. “Mhysa”…

          …wait, that’s used for an episode title this season. What’s the proper way to pronounce “Mhysa” — I’ve been saying “My-suh”, but it is stressed so it’s like “Mish-uh”?

      2. But in any case this means there’s going to be a Free Cities’ Valyrian? Or do you mean they are different as in the Esperanto an English-speaker speaks as opposed to Esperanto pronounced by Spanish or French-speakers?

        1. Certainly the languages of the free cities are mutually unintelligible (something like Old French vs. Old Spanish). Dany’s felicity with the Valyrian of Slaver’s Bay can be explained in any number of ways. Personally I think it wouldn’t be the first time she came across it, and that she was at least conversant in more than one of the languages of the Free Cities.

  3. Hajas, zhey David! What a totally way cool party in a totally way cool place. Your description brought back memories, as I spent two weeks at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel back in 1986, for a crazy project our station group had embarked on (I’ll tell you about it sometime!). The room I had faced the Chinese Theater, and I remember seeing a movie on each of its three screens.

    Even though I doubt I will be able to see the show, I will be looking forward to hearing (and reading) some Valyrian!

  4. Hi David! I just discovered your site and have had a blast reading through your posts (even being a monolinguist myself, it’s very approachable).

    Since I see you have answered requests before, I wondered if you might help me fill in some linguistic details about Cyvasse (the ASOIAF chess-like board game). I’ve been one of those working on rules for the game (you can see a video of the rules here:

    I have tried to incorporate the various board game influences in a logical way: George RR Martin has talked about it being an amalgam of Chess, Stratego and Blitzkrieg, and I have gone a bit further to make sure it feels like another possible evolution of the Indian game called Chaturanga (arguably an ancestor of Chess). In the same way, I’d be interested in any little details that might help what we’ve got feel more like it belongs in the ASOIAF world.

    Since the game Cyvasse was probably invented in Volantis, and played by the aristocracy there, it seems likely that all the piece and tile names would have names in High Valyrian (perhaps ordinary Valyrian – I must admit I’m not sure what the relationship is). I was wondering if you have words for:

    – Mountain (probably something which roughly translates as “high place” since that would fit with theories about the Mirri Maz Duur prophecy)
    – Rabble (maybe “militia” or “people of low birth”)
    – Light Horse & Heavy Horse (possibly to do with how the Volantenes refer to the Dothraki?)
    – Crossbows, Spears, Elephants & Trebuchets (I expect these would likely have specific names)
    – King (Interesting that the game has a King, since none of the free cities have Kings that I know about)
    – Dragon (I would love if this were something poetic like “Fire from the sky” or even just “fire made flesh”)

    Also tiles:
    – Fortress (The valyrians were supposed to have built some fantastic buildings – “citadel” or something along those lines?)
    – Grassland (what’s the Valyrian term for the Dothraki sea, for instance?)
    – Forest & Hill (these last two might invoke more naturalistic ideas – I love that GRRM has places like the godswood and the “fist of the first men”)

    Anyway, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but since I assume you’ll have to invent most of those words in Valyrian anyway, I thought I’d ask :)


    1. This may be getting ahead of things a bit. I’ve always contended that the word “Cyvasse” is Volantene, and that the pieces are likely to be Volantene as well. I’m a couple languages removed from being able to say anything about what Volantene looks like, and I’m not sure if that’s something I’m going to get to do (i.e. create the Volantene language). At present much of this vocab is absent from High Valyrian (and perhaps should be? When was the crossbow invented?), and since we’re pre-premiere, I also can’t reveal too much vocab.

      So I’ve got nothing as of yet. Stay tuned!

      1. Well, heck, there were Latin words for “crossbow” and even “gun” in the middle ages. I haven’t read the books, but I kind of imagine that since High Valyrian was used as a literary language, it probably had a continued tradition, like Latin.

        And if your curious:

        • “Crossbow” is usually arcuballista (“bow ballista”–also the etymology of French arbalête), or manuballista (“hand ballista”). Both of these words existed in antiquity, where they referred to various ingeniously designed portable ballistas. Whether or not these devices qualify as crossbows is above my pay grade.

        • “Gun” is scloppus or sclopetum, both of which derive from the rather strange, but classical, word stloppus “the sound made by striking an inflated object.” In other words “bang!”

          1. Very true! Though as I understand it, the existence in the West was still confined to those mini-siege-engines I mentioned above, which some might consider crossbows, and some might not.

            1. That may be true. Still, I really want fantasy authors to start featuring repeating crossbows in their books — they are quite awesome. Granted, they’re more for masses of infantry than for dueling knights.

            2. Ha, yeah. As I recall, one of the earliest Chinese illustrations says something like “These are so easy to use, even a woman could do it!” It might be cool in a fantasy setting to have an ordinary housewife (i.e. normally *not* a warrior woman) who uses one for self defense.

            3. YES! If I manage to get my own fantasy novel to go anywhere, that scene will be in it. Add the fact that they can be surprisingly cheap to make and you can have all manner of peasants wielding these things against bandits and such.

            4. Not to mention weapon of choice for Vampire Slayers and BadAss Red Neck Zombie killers

  5. Fair enough, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll look forward to hearing what you say after the premiere :)

    Just continuing the thought progression: if Valyrian is the most common tongue among traders, and Cyvasse is the board game spread by traders, maybe the languages are close enough that they might use the Volantene words even though they’re speaking in Valyrian? I suppose with chess pieces we still use the word “rook” even when the words “castle” or “chariot” might be more appropriate, so it could make sense, but I think for everything else the English equivalent term has taken over (?)

    Not sure about timing: we know that Myrish crossbows are supposed to be some of the best, and Myr was founded before the doom if I remember correctly. It’s all speculation, but one might expect the dragon lords of Valyria would have had an encounter with a crossbow or two.

  6. ACK–I should have checked my twitter feed, we were 5th row for this I can’t believe I didnt “I Spy” you !!

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