I thought of just a few tracks that would be good for associating with certain scenes or characters, but I was finding it hard to pick a lot more material that felt right for Martin's insanely unconventional genre-busting fantasy world. Almost anything I thought would work reasonably well for the historical setting sounded too romantic or bombastic, basically too cheesy for the tone of Ice and Fire with its unique blend of the epic and mythical with the realistic and gritty. So this was an idea I'd decided wasn't so brilliant and pretty much given up on for a while. Then I don't know what happened, but at some point after I kept reading much further in the books I'd ended up with a playlist of 95 minutes of music, and I don't know, it was fun, and maybe I was picky enough about this that the end result actually kind of works.
This mix covers aspects of the first three books and there are lots of spoilers in this post if you haven't read through A Storm of Swords.
1. Zoë Keating - LEGIONS (WAR)
2. MEMORIES OF LYANNA
John Corigliano - “Anna’s Theme”
He could hear her still at times. Promise me, Ned, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. He remembered how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black.
3. OLD NAN'S STORIES
Thomas Ades - Asyla For Orchestra: Movement IV
”Sweet summer child,” Old Nan said quietly, “what do you know about fear? Fear is for the winter, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep. When the sun hides for years at a time, and children are born and live and die all in darkness. When the white walkers move through the woods."
"You mean the Others," Bran said.
"The Others," she agreed. "Thousands of years ago, there came a night that lasted a generation. In that darkness, the Others came for the first time. Cold things, dead things, that hated fire and the touch of the sun. They swept over cities and kindgoms, riding their dead horses and leading hosts of the slain.”
4. WHAT BRAN SAW
Alexandre Desplat - “Lust”
Inside the room, a man and a woman were both naked. The man must have been hurting her, because the woman started to moan, deep in her throat. But her hands buried themselves in his hair, his tangled golden hair, and pulled his face down to her breast.
Bran saw her face. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was open, moaning. The queen.
Suddenly her eyes opened, and she was staring right at him. She screamed.
5. THE TOURNAMENT FEAST
Trevor Jones - “Igrayne’s Dance”
The servants kept the cups filled all night, yet Sansa needed no wine. She was drunk on the magic of the night.
6. SANSA AND THE HOUND
Marcelo Zarvos - “The Door In the Floor”
Somehow, the fear had gone away. She found his massive shoulder with her hand. “He was no true knight,” she whispered.
“No,” he growled at her. "No, little bird, he was no true knight.”
The Hound took her all the way to the corridor outside her bedchamber. He caught her by the arm and leaned close. “The things I told you tonight,” he said, his voice even rougher than usual. “If you ever tell Joffrey, your sister...”
“I won’t,” she said. “I promise.”
It was not enough. “If you ever tell anyone,” he finished, “I’ll kill you.”
7. THIRD EYE
Thomas Newman - “Night Journey”
It seemed as though he had been falling for years. He looked North and saw the Wall shining like blue crystal. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid.
Now you know why you must live, the crow whispered.
“Why?” Bran said, falling, falling.
Because winter is coming. Its beak stabbed at him fiercely, and Bran felt a blinding pain in the middle of his forehead, between his eyes. Choose. Fly or die.
8. DAENERYS THE UNBURNT
Rob Lane - “Hiding Excalibur”
She heard a crack, the sound of shattering stone. And a second, loud as thunder. With a belch of flame and smoke that reached thirty feet into the sky, the pyre collapsed around her. Unafraid, Dany stepped forward into the firestorm. The third crack was as loud and sharp as the breaking of the world.
Ser Jorah found her amidst the ashes. She was covered with soot, her clothes turned to ash, yet she was unhurt. The cream-and-gold dragon was suckling at her left breast, the green at the right, the black-and-scarlet beast draped across her shoulders.
9. A SHADOW ON THE WALL
Thomas Newman - “Her Fabulous Incipience”
A sudden gust of wind flung open the door. Catelyn thought she glimpsed movement, but it was only the king's shadow shifting against the silken walls. His shadow moving, lifting its sword, candles shivering, something was queer, wrong, and then she saw Renly's sword was sheathed still, but the shadow...
"Cold," said Renly in a small puzzled voice, a heartbeat before the steel of his gorget parted like cloth beneath a blade that was not there.
10. JAQEN H'GHAR
Hans Zimmer - “Is It Poisoned, Nanny?”
Weese was sprawled across the cobbles, eyes gaping sightlessly up.
"It's Harren's ghost, that's what it is," said Goodwife Amabel. "I'll not sleep here another night."
Arya lifted her gaze from the dead man. Jaqen was leaning against the side of the Wailing Tower. When he saw her looking, he lifted a hand to his face and laid two fingers casually against his cheek.
11. THE HOUSE OF THE UNDYING ONES
Trevor Jones - “Arthur’s Call Pt. 1”
"He has a song. He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire." The man looked up, and it seemed as though he saw Dany standing there. "There must be one more," he said. "The dragon has three heads."
Faster and faster the visions came. Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a king who cast no shadow. Ten thousand slaves lifted blood-stained hands, reaching for her. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice.
12. FAMILY AND DUTY
Thomas Newman - “Voice of God”
Catelyn could not say if Lord Hoster knew she was there, but it gave her solace to sit with him. What would you say if you knew my crime, Father? she wondered. Would you have done as I did, if it were Lysa and me in the hands of our enemies?
13. THE BATTLE OF THE BLACKWATER
Trevor Jones - “The Dragon’s Lair”
The hulk split with a splintering crash. From inside her, green blood was gushing from a thousand broken jars, spreading across the surface of the water.
When he saw that, Davos Seaworth's heart stopped.
"Back water," he roared. "Get us off her, back water, back water!"
Then he heard a short sharp woof, as if someone had blown in his ear. Half a heartbeat later came the roar. The deck had vanished beneath him, and water smashed him across the face.
14. MEERA'S STORY
Wojciech Kilar - “Prologue: My Life Before Me”
“The next morning, when the heralds blew their trumpets, only two champions appeared. The Knight of the Laughing Tree had vanished. The dragon prince won the tourney in the end.”
Bran thought about the tale awhile. “That was a good story. But the mystery knight should win and name the wolf maid the queen of love and beauty.”
“She was,” Meera said, “but that’s a sadder story.”
15. A DRAGON IS NO SLAVE
Brian Tyler - “The Impossible Wager”
Dany stood in her stirrups and raised the whip above her head for all the Unsullied to see. “IT IS DONE!” she cried at the top of her lungs. “YOU ARE MINE!”
The slavers were crowded around the dragon. Though Kraznys yanked and tugged, Drogon would not budge off the litter.
“You are in difficulty,” she observed.
“He will not come,” he said.
“There is a reason. A dragon is no slave.” And Dany swept the lash down as hard as she could across his face. Kraznys screamed and staggered back, blood running down his cheeks. “Drogon,” she sang out loudly. ”Dracarys.”
16. WEASEL SOUP
Hans Zimmer - “The Red Book”
Arya counted eight guards. "What's in the kettle?" the captain said to Rorge.
"A pot of boiling piss, want some?"
He and Jaqen H'ghar heaved the scalding hot broth across the table, full in their faces. Biter caught the captain as he tried to rise. The others were screaming in agony. Only one guard managed to get a blade out. Jaqen danced away from his slash, drew his own sword, and killed him with a thrust to the heart.
17. CATELYN'S GRIEF
Thomas Newman - “The Very Act of Being”
She clutched tight at his hand. "Nothing will happen to you. I would go mad, Robb. They took Ned, and your sweet brothers. Sansa is married, Arya lost, my father dead. You are all I have left."
“The Lannisters killed my father,” he said.
“Do you think I have forgotten that?”
“I don’t know. Have you?”
Catelyn had never struck her children in anger, but she almost struck Robb then. “I only ask that you think on what I’ve said. The singers make much of kings who die valiantly, but your life is worth more than a song. To me at least, who gave it to you.”
He turned away and drew his sword. What he meant to do with it, she could not say. There was no enemy there to fight. Only her and him, amongst trees and fallen leaves.
18. TRIAL BY FIRE
Thomas Newman - “Black Angel”
Lord Beric laid the edge of his longsword against the palm of his left hand, and drew it slowly down. Blood ran dark from the gash he made, and washed over the steel.
And then the sword took fire.
Arya heard Gendry whisper a prayer.
“Burn in seven hells,” the Hound cursed.
The flaming sword leapt up to meet the cold one. Hard and fast the cuts came, and each one Dondarrion blocked.
19. THE WOLVES WILL COME AGAIN
James Newton Howard - “Humanity Goes On Trial”
From this distance it was hard to tell that the castle had been sacked and burned at all. Winterfell was not dead, just broken.
1. THE RED VIPER
Bear McCreary - “The Plan Main Title”
The Dornish leader sat his saddle as if he'd been born there, tall, slim, graceful. A cloak of red silk fluttered from his shoulders, and his shirt was armored with overlapping copper disks that glittered like bright new pennies.
Oberyn Martell, Tyrion thought. The Red Viper of Dorne. And what in the seven hells am I supposed to do with him? He knew the man only by reputation, but the reputation was fearsome.
2. JAIME'S DREAM
Wojciech Kilar - “The Confession”
The faint light revealed Brienne of Tarth. “I swore to keep you safe,” she said. Her sword took flame, burning silvery blue.
Something was moving in the darkness. Riders on pale horses. They were armored all in snow, and mist swirled back from their shoulders.
Rhaegar Targaryen burned with a cold light. “I left my wife and children in your hands.”
“I never thought they’d hurt them.” Jaime’s sword was burning less brightly now. “I was with the king...”
“Killing the king,” said Arhur Dayne. When they drew their longswords, it made not a sound.
Then Jaime’s sword went dark, and terror closed a hand about his throat. Only Brienne’s burned.
3. THE BROTHERHOOD WITHOUT BANNERS
Michael Kamen - “Sir Guy of Osborne”
Tom Sevenstrings sat by the fire singing “The Maids That Bloom In Spring.” Across the square the dead men were rotting in their crow cages, but inside everyone was jolly. Except it seemed that some of them were laughing too hard, somehow.
Thomas Newman - “Finn McGovern”
"He said that Sam wasn't the one he was sent to find."
"Who said?" Bran demanded.
"Coldhands," Gilly answered softly. "He saved us, him and his ravens."
"Why didn't he come with you?"
"He...he can't. The Wall. There are spells woven into it. He cannot pass."
It grew very quiet in the kitchen then. Beyond the gates the monsters live, Bran remembered Old Nan saying.
5. JON AND YGRITTE
Alexandre Desplat - “Lea’s Theme”
”Ygritte,” he said in a low voice, “Mance cannot win this war. He will fail, and you’ll die. All of you.”
She looked so angry he thought she was about to strike him. “All of us,” she said. “You’re no crow now, Jon Snow. I swore you weren’t, so you better not be.” She pushed him back against a tree and kissed him, full on the lips right in the midst of the ragged column. Jon heard Grigg the Goat urging her on. Someone else laughed. He kissed her back despite all that.
6. THE UNSULLIED
Thomas Newman - “Black (End Title)”
The Unsullied stood stiffly at attention. If they felt the heat, they gave no hint of it. They are like one man, Dany thought, until she remembered that they were no men at all.
7. ALAYNE STONE
Marcelo Zarvos - “The Kuleshov Effect”
Sansa went out into the night. The memory of her own wedding was much with her. I could be good to you, Tyrion had said. Another Lannister lie. A dog can smell a lie, the Hound had told her once. She could almost hear the rough rasp of his voice. Look around you. They’re all liars here, and every one better than you.
She thought wistfully of Highgarden with its courtyards, a far cry from this bleak shore. At least I am safe here. Joffrey cannot hurt me anymore, and I am only a bastard girl now. Alayne Stone has no husband and no claim. The long nightmare was behind her. She could make a new home, just as Petyr said.
8. A SWARM OF RAVENS
Murray Gold - “Midnight”
Gilly stood with her back against the weirwood, the boy in her arms. The wights were all around her.
The starlight seemed to stir, and all around the trees groaned and creaked. Sam’s eyes went wide. Ravens! They were in the weirwood, hundreds of them perched on the bone-white branches. Shrieking, flapping, they descended on the wights in angry clouds. There were so many that when Sam looked up, he could not see the moon.
9. CERSEI AND JAIME IN THE SEPT
Alexandre Desplat - “Moonlight Drive”
”I am sick of being careful.”
”Did you leave your wits at Riverrun?” Her voice had an edge to it. “You’re scaring me, Jaime. What did they do to you?”
“They cut off my hand.”
“No, it’s more. You’re changed.” She backed off a step. “We’ll talk later. You should go to Father.”
“I crossed a thousand leagues to come to you, and lost the best part of me on the way. Don’t tell me to leave.”
10. WEDDING DRUMS
Wojciech Kilar - “The Beginning”
”Mercy!” Catelyn cried, but horns and drums and the clash of steel smothered her plea. She grabbed Jinglebell and dragged him out of his hiding place. “Lord Walder!” When she pressed her dagger to his throat, the memory of Bran’s sickroom came back to her, of steel at her own throat.
“LORD WALDER!” Her hand shook so badly she was ringing Jingebell’s head. ”On my honor as a Stark,” she told him, “I will trade your boy’s life for Robb’s. A son for a son.”
Boom, the drum sounded, boom doom boom doom boom doom.
A man in dark armor stepped up to Robb. “Jaime Lannister sends his regards.” He thrust his longsword through her son’s heart, and twisted.
Robb had not kept his word, but Catelyn kept hers. She tugged hard on Aegon’s hair and sawed at his neck until the blade grated on bone. Blood ran hot over her fingers.
Finally someone took the knife away from her. The tears burned like vinegar as they ran down her cheeks. Ten fierce ravens were raking her face with sharp talons, leaving deep furrows that ran red with blood. It hurts so much, she thought. Our children, Ned, all our sweet babes. Please, make it stop, make it stop hurting...
“Mad,” someone said, “she’s lost her wits,” and someone else said, “Make an end.”
Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold.
11. Zoë Keating - LEGIONS (AFTERMATH)
12. PRINCE RHAEGAR
James Newton Howard - “Race To Resting Rock”
“There is a tale told of Rhaegar,” said the squire. ”As a young boy, the Prince of Dragonstone was bookish to a fault. He took no interest in the play of other children. Until one day he found something in his scrolls that changed him. No one knows what, only that one day the boy suddenly appeared in the yard, walked up to the master-at-arms and said, ‘I will require sword and armor. It seems I must be a warrior.'”
“And he was!” Dany said. “Viserys said that our brother won many tourneys.”
“His prowess was unquestioned, but he loved his harp much better than his lance. When you heard him sing of twilights and tears, you could not but feel that he was singing of himself. He was born in grief, and that shadow hung over him all his days. There was a melancholy to Prince Rhaegar. A sense of doom.”
13. STAINED WHITE CLOAK
Marcelo Zarvos - “Main Title”
”I killed your butcher’s boy. I cut him near in half, and laughed about it after.” He made a queer sound, and it took her a moment to realize he was sobbing. “And the little bird, your pretty sister, I stood there in my white cloak and let them beat her. I took the bloody song, she never gave it. I meant to take her too. I should have. I should have fucked her bloody and ripped her heart out before leaving her for that dwarf.” A spasm of pain twisted his face. “Do you mean to make me beg? Do it!"
Arya stepped away from him. “You don’t deserve mercy.”
"A real wolf would finish a wounded animal."
Maybe some real wolves will find you, she thought.
14. MOTHER MERCILESS
Wojciech Kilar - “Mina’s Photo”
She lowered her hood, and for a moment Merrett could not breathe. No. No, I saw her die.
Her hair had turned as white and brittle as a crone’s. Her face was shredded skin and black blood where she had raked herself with her nails. But her eyes were the most terrible thing. Her eyes saw him, and they hated.
“She don’t speak,” said the singer. “But she remembers. Was he part of it, milady?”
Lady Catelyn’s eyes never left him. She nodded.
15. SAY HER NAME
Bear McCreary - “Apocalypse Part 2 / Razor Main Title”
"I am Oberyn Martell," he said. "Princess Elia was my sister."
The Red Viper's long spear jabbed, but Ser Gregor took the point on his shield. "Elia Martell, Princess of Dorne," he hissed. "You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children."
"Did you come to talk or to fight?"
"You raped her." Prince Oberyn parried a savage cut with his spearhead. "You murdered her." He sent the point at Clegane's eyes, so fast the huge man flinched back. "You killed her children."
Gregor charged. Metal met metal with an ear-splitting clang, sending him reeling.
"Elia of Dorne," Oberyn called. "You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children. Now say her name."
16. JON IN COMMAND
Trevor Jones - “Arthur’s Call Part 2”
When they break, they break hard, Jon thought as he watched the wildlings reel away. A ragged cheer went up.
“Do we have anyone hurt?” he asked.
“Buggers got my leg.” Spare Boot plucked it out and waved it above his head. “The wooden one!”
17. THE MOON DOOR
Trevor Jones - “Mab’s Demise”
Beyond the open door was white sky, falling snow, and nothing else. Sansa twisted sideways, hysterical with fear, and one foot slipped out over the void. She screamed.
"Lysa! What are you doing?" Littlefinger had come in behind the dais. "Unhand the girl."
"I won't! I saw you kissing in the snow. Why? We're together now, after so long, why would you want her?"
"Lysa," Petyr sighed, "you should trust me better. I swear I shall never leave your side again."
Lysa threw herself into Littlefinger's arms, sobbing. Sansa crawled from the Moon Door on hands and knees and wrapped her arms around the nearest pillar, her heart pounding.
Littlefinger put his hands on Lysa's arms. "I've only loved one woman, I promise you," he said.
"Only Cat." He gave her a short, sharp shove.
Lysa stumbled backward, slipping on the wet marble. And then she was gone. She never screamed. For the longest time there was no sound but the wind.
James Newton Howard - “The Empire State Building”
Jaime sighed. “I have a gift for you.”
He reached under the chair and brought it out, wrapped in crimson velvet. Brienne approached as if the bundle was like to bite her, and flipped back a fold of cloth. Rubies glimmered in the light. She picked the treasure up and slowly slid the sword free of its scabbard. “Valyrian steel?”
“A sword so fine must bear a name. It would please me if you would call this one Oathkeeper. Both of us swore oaths concerning Sansa Stark. Cersei means to see that the girl is found and killed. I want you to find Sansa first. You’ll be defending Ned Stark’s daughter with Ned Stark’s own steel.”
19. ARMY OF THE DEAD
Silvestre Revueltas - “Sensemaya”
He remembered the dead coming over the stones with arrows in their faces. He remembered one of the Shadow Tower men shoving his spear through a wight’s belly, and how the thing staggered up the shaft and twisted the brother’s head around until blood came out his mouth. When the bear came staggering, Sam pissed himself. It was pale and rotting, its fur all sloughed off, yet still it came on.
In the midst of carnage and chaos and blowing snow, he found Dolorous Edd sitting on his garron. “Sam,” Edd said, “would you wake me, please? I am having this terrible nightmare.”
20. SNOW ON THE EYRIE
Alexandre Desplat - “Sunrise On Lake Pontchartrain”
The flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. She had last seen snow the day she left Winterfell. It hurt to remember how happy she had been that morning. I thought my song was beginning that day, but it was almost done.
Sansa drifted past frosted shrubs and wondered if she were still dreaming. She could feel the snow on her lashes, taste it on her lips. It was the taste of Winterfell. The taste of innocence. The taste of dreams.