George R.R. Martin is under fire for enlisting married author couple Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson as co-writers on his upcoming book The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One amid accusations of racism.
García and Antonsson are longtime Game of Thrones fans and began contributing to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series since long before it was adapted into an HBO smash. But some casting choices in the TV show and its new spinoff House of the Dragon prompted the pair to make some eyebrow-raising critiques: For example, Antonsson argued that Black actor Steve Toussaint was miscast as Corlys in House of the Dragon, because (via Variety) “there are no Black Valyrians and there should not be any in the show.”
Antonsson doubled-down on that stance in new statements to Variety, adding: “If George had indeed made the Valyrians Black instead of white, as he mused on his ‘Not a Blog’ in 2013, and this new show proposed to make the Velaryons anything other than Black, we would have had the same issue with it and would have shared the same opinion.”
And statements like these are nothing new from the couple. In a March 2012 blog post, Antonsson complained about Black actor Nonso Anozie being cast as Xaro Xhoan Daxos, whom the books describe as being pale-skinned.
García attempted to deflect racism accusations by pointing out that he and Antonsson have critiqued other elements of GoT and HotD, such as the choice to change the Velaryon house sigil from an actual seahorse to a mythical half-horse half-fish.
But García and Antonsson’s comments on the some of the rare Black actors in the GoT franchise echo a disheartening pattern, calling to mind recent instances of Black actors in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Obi-Wan Kenobi facing racist comments online. Our take? If your series can include dragon riders, it can also include Black people.
The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One, a “deluxe reference book” about Westeros’ most powerful family, is due out October 25th.