Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our Prayers Go Out to Our Favorite Headsman; Wilko Johnson

The BBC reported today that actor and musician Wilko Johnson has terminal cancer and will not seek treatment.  Now, you may not know him by the name Wilko Johnson, but I promise that you know his icy stare.  Mr. Johnson is the actor who plays Ser Ilyn Payne, the Thrones Headsman.   British blues fans may also know him as the guitarist and songwriter for the band Dr. Feelgood.

Our prayers are with you Mr. Johnson....try not to take too many Starks with you when you go.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

George R.R. Martin takes a Day off of Writing

Every time that George R.R. Martin takes a day off of writing God kill's an Unsullied.  Today was one of those days.  God dammit, George!  Get back to work!

Oh yeah, and Happy Birthday too!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Three (plus one) Things I Still Don't Get

I've read all of the books, and I'm working on a reread.  I've been known to stalk a few message boards.  I've listened to probably every Game of Thrones or Song of Ice and Fire podcast out there.  But with all of that, there are a still a few things that I don't quite get. Here are those things:

First, how did Balon Greyjoy die?  I can't believe that it was random.  Euron Greyjoy doesn't stay away from Westeros for years only to show up immediately after his fathers death.  Not unless he had something to do with his fathers passing.  But, I can only think of two things that could have happened.  First, could Euron have sent a Faceless Man after his father?  Or some other assassin?  Second, was it truly random, but somehow Euron knew it was going to happen?  Could he have known a greenseer, or, more likely, a Red Priest?  These are the only options that I can think of.

Second, why did the dwarf woman on High Hill freak out when she saw Arya?  And what was her reference to a tragedy at Summerhall?  Was she there when Egg attempted to hatch the dragons, and subsequently burned Summerhall down?  If so, what was her part in the tragedy?  Regarding her reaction to Arya, did she see the Red Wedding when she looked at her?  Or some other tragedy further down the line?

Third, what the hell was going on when Tyrion encountered the Stone Men on the river.  I had to reread that section a couple of times and I still don't get what the hell happened there.  Did the river go backwards, or did they get stuck in some time loop?  How in the world did something like that occur.  That is the single most perplexing thing I've read in the whole series. There is nothing that I've read that would ever hint that something like that could even happen.  It's the only moment in the books that took me out of the setting.  It was the only time that I couldn't suspend disbelief. 

And for the bonus question, who the hell are Cold Hands and the Three Eyed Crow?  Or more accurately, who were they before they became these weird creatures?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Defense of Sansa Stark

Sansa Stark is often considered one of they most hated characters in the Song of Ice and Fire series.  Over and over again I hear, or read, "Ugh, I hate Sansa!"  I've never really understood this.  While Sansa isn't my favorite character I do enjoy her chapters.  Somehow I feel the need to defend her.

There are a few reasons why people hate Sansa, chief of which is her "betrayal" of her father in Kings Landing.  I was just as angry with her in Game of Thrones as everyone else.  But, I can't understand blaming Ned's death on Sansa.  Ned had already dug his own grave and crawled in before Sansa threw the dirt over top of him.  Sansa's actions were incredibly selfish.  She was acting like a spoiled child....I get it.  But, she was a child....a young naive child.  And I just can't accept that what she had told Cersei was anymore damaging than what Ned himself had told Cersei.

I feel that Sansa's character arc is under appreciated.  She has been so oppressed in King's Landing that it hard for her to grow or change much as all.  Yet she learns to manipulate Joffrey.  She saves Dontos and uses him to get out of Kings Landing.  She challenges Littlefinger in the Eyrie when he kisses her.  And somehow through it all she manages to keep her maidenhead.  That to me is impressive.  She is growing, though her growth is more subtle than the more traditional "hero" type of characters we see elsewhere in the books.

One of the ways that I like to look at Sansa is to compare her to Jaime Lannister.  Jaime is one of the more beloved characters.  He is a great character.  His redemption is amazing.  He's slick and witty.  He threw an innocent child from a tower window to his death (or so he thought).  Yet somehow we can forgive him for this sin more easily than we can forgive Sansa?  I don't get it.  I like Jaime.  I feel for him that he is so misunderstood.  He's suffered the ignominy of the title ,"Kingslayer," for what was truly a heroic act.  But, when I read his chapters I can't forget that he tried to kill Bran.  Still, he's a great character and deservedly a favorite.  On no level can you compare what Sansa did to throwing a child out a why don't we give her the same benefit that we give Jaime?  Is it because we see Sansa as being passive?

Sansa's character cannot be compared to someone like Arya.  Admittedly, many of the characters take a much more active role in their own fate.  But, you also have to ask who else could have survived if placed in Sansa's position.  Would Daenerys be able to survive locked away in King's Landing like Sansa?  I'd argue that many of the characters in the books wouldn't have survived if they had been placed in that same position.  They would have done something that would have led to their death.  Sansa has in many ways been passive.  I won't argue it.  But, she has been in a place where agency has been completely denied to her.  How else could she act?  She would never be able to survive the God's Eye like Arya did in Clash of Kings, but I'd argue that she's every bit the survivor that Arya is.  It's simply that her conditions are very different.

Again, Sansa isn't my favorite character.  But, she's far from my least favorite character.  I feel that the negative attention that she receives is largely undeserved.  And, I'm willing to bet that she's going to play a critical role before the books end.  My guess is that she will be the downfall of Littlefinger.  I think that she will eventually see an opportunity to control her own fate and will take it.  When it comes to playing the game of thrones I doubt that she'll ever be a queen, but she won't always be a pawn. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Song of Ice and Monkeysparkets

Looking back, it's hard to believe it took me so long to get into this series.  Monster long fantasy series that drag on forever are my thing.  Who's that weird chick camped out in front of Barnes and Noble to wait for the latest Wheel of Time?  Oh, that's totally me.  I had just finished Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's Tower of Midnight and I was in the midst of a gnarly book hangover.

I enjoyed what Sanderson did with the Wheel of Time (dude can write a spectacular action sequence), so I was poking around some reviews of his other work.  I kept reading the phrase, "He's great, but he's no George RR Martin."  So I figured I should read some George RR Martin.  Thirty hours of my life* later and I was counting down the days until I could camp out in front of the Barnes and Noble to wait for Dance with Dragons.

I love this series.  Totally geeked out when I heard about the HBO series, and I'm so glad they have rocked it.  I cannot wait for Winds of Winter (though I am prepared to).  Mister Sparkets tells me it would be inadvisable to follow GRRM around with a boom box blaring "Eye of the Tiger" in an attempt to incite an inspirational writing montage.  So that plan is on hold.  I'm a hardcore Brienne/Jaime shipper, I want the Queen of Thorns for my grandmother, and I think Sansa needs to buck up and find a pair of big girl panties.  Looking forward to having another blog to overthink various plot points on.

*I didn't actually time how long it took me to read the series.  I'm not a psychopath.  Also, we are most definitely not talking about consecutive hours.  I have kids who occasionally require feeding and nurturing and such.**

** I will never forget the day Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out.  My first daughter was two months old.   Up until this point in my life, whenever a book like this came out, a book that I had been waiting for and looking forward to, I would devote an entire day to it.  Unplug the phone, lock the door, stay up all night until it was done.  I remember bringing that book home, looking at the baby, and realizing, "I don't get to take the day off from you, do I?".  And so I learned to read in two or three minute snatches between butt wipings and endless rounds of CandyLand. 

Chad's Experience with ASOIAF

How did I get involved with A Song of Ice and Fire? Well, it was my beautiful wife, with the help of HBO that introduced me to the series. Yes, I saw the show before I read the books. I actually saw the show before I even knew about the books.

 I used to read fantasy when I was a teenager. It was the only fiction that I read. Much of what I read, Weiss and Hickman, R.A. Salvatore, etc., were appropriate for my age. But, as I matured those stories didn't mature with me. I quit reading Fantasy, and eventually all fiction.

So, when HBO came out with the show I'd never even heard of Game of Thrones, ASOIAF, or even George R.R. Martin. My wife had read all of the books up to that point and was very excited. We watched them together and I loved them. As soon as the season was over I read all of the books, including A Dance with Dragons.

Since then, I think it's fair to say, I've been obsessed with the series. I've read everything in the universe including; the Dunk and Egg novellas, and the preview chapter from The Winds of Winter. I've listened to every podcast, both good and bad. I've probably heard all of the wacky theories, including the "Varys is a Mermaid," theory.

These books aren't just grown up fantasy, to me they are the best fiction ever written. Yes, I put them up there with To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, etc. There are a thousand blogs devoted to ASOIAF. It's not enough. So, now there's a thousand and one.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mance Rayder Casting

The folks at HBO have finally cast the role of Mance Rayder.  Mance will be played by CiarĂ¡n Hinds. This is the same guy who played Julius Ceasar on Rome. He was also in Munich and John Carter. I like the actor, but he doesn't look like I imagined him. Not that this is always bad