In AGOT, Martin uses semicolons and colons interchangeably. That’s not shocking – there is overlap in their jurisdictions, and we’ve all reached for the wrong one a time or two, whether or not we know it. I’ve probably mixed them up somewhere in this study.

For a refresher, here’s a bit from The Chicago Manual of Style:


A colon introduces an element or a series of elements illustrating or amplifying what has preceded the colon. Between independent clauses it functions much like a semicolon, and in some cases either mark may work as well as the other; use a colon sparingly, however, and only to emphasize that the second clause illustrates or amplifies the first. (The colon should generally convey the sense of “as follows.”)

The following errors should not be coin flips. These semicolons are not joining independent clauses, they are “illustrating or amplifying what has preceded the colon.”

Incredibly, there are three examples of this on one page, 239 in my edition of AGOT.

He broke off as they heard sounds up the road; splashing water, the clink of mail, a horse’s whinny.

They followed the sounds around a lazy bend of the road and saw them; a column of armed men noisily fording a swollen stream.

For the past week, the travelers had been thick as flies upon the kingsroad; knights and freeriders, singers with their harps and drums, heavy wagons laden with hops or corn or casks of honey, traders and craftsmen and whores, and all of them moving south.


A blind rage filled her, a rage at all the world; at her brother Edmure and her sister Lysa, at the Lannisters, at the maesters, at Ned and her father and the monstrous gods who would take them both away from her.

A little ways down the page:

Hoster Tully had always been a big man; tall and broad in his youth, portly as he grew older.


Inside were more bodies; a groom she had played with, and three of her father’s household guard.

This last one is a two-fer because of the typo on pageantry… maybe the editor skipped this page.

She loved King’s Landing; the pagaentry [sic] of the court, the high lords and ladies in their velvets and silks and gemstones, the great city with all its people.

Seems like he’s gotten the semicolon figured out by now, though, ADWD didn’t pop any for me.

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