Changing the Dark Tower V: The Final Book and Modred: All Hype, No Substance.

When those doors open to the Dark Tower at the end of Stephen King’s final volume the journey for Roland and his Ka-Tet will come to an end. The journey, however, is not without its hiccups and so here are some suggested changes for the “The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.”

My posts on “The Wolves of the Calla” and “The Song of Susannah” focused more on criticism rather than changing those volumes. Most of the changes of “The Wolves of the Calla” are the result of changes in earlier novels, like introducing Father Don Callahan in an earlier book. With “The Song of Susannah” the changes suggested were cutting and pasting bits from “Wolves of the Calla” for the beginning, and the beginning of this final novel for the end. This would give the sixth book a more coherent story from beginning to end. Now let’s talk about the beginning of this novel. Obviously, there will be spoilers.

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Changing the Dark Tower Pt. III: Wolves of the Calla

Finally through the boring fire that is book three of The Dark Tower by Stephen King we leave Wizard and Glass behind to return to the main story of the series with the Wolves of the Calla and The Song of Susannah. Though not the best in the series the Wolves of the Calla is definitely the best of the later books in the series while The Song of Susannah leaves you wondering whether it is wholly necessary or wishing there was more.

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What to Read While Waiting for The Winds of Winter.

Supposedly, George R.R. Martin has finally finished the sixth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire titled The Winds of Winter, according to one of the directors from Game of Thrones. Until it comes from the source this is enitrely speculation. Luckily, there are a lot of books out there for you to read while you wait. Fantasy has not sat back waiting around while Martin works on the book in MSDos, continuing to publish books on par with his ambitious series.

Some of these recommendations are simlar to A Song of Ice and Fire, some only share the same Fantas genre, and lastly is a list of those recommended by others but whose qulaity can be corroborated. By the time you finish this list, maybe the real release date will be announced. Maybe even the book will be released by the time you’re done.

The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself

Before They Are Hanged.

The Last Argument of Kings.

First Law World by Joe Abercrombie

Best Served Cold

The Heroes

Red Country*

Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind

The Wise Man’s Fear

The Slow Regard of Silents Things (An in between novel.)

Gentleman Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora

Red Seas Under Red Skies

The Republic of Thieves

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Apprentice

Royal Assassin*

Assassin’s Quest*

Crescent Moon Kingdoms by Saladin Ahmed

The Throne of the Crescent Moon

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim

Kill the Dead

Aloha from Hell

Devil Said Bang*

Kill City Blues*

The Getaway Gods*

Novels by Neil Gaiman

Good Omens (written with Terry Pratchett

Neverwhere

Stardust

American Gods

Anansi Boys

The Graveyard Book

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Books by China Miéville (There are others but I can’t recommend them.)

The City & The City

Kraken

Embassytown

The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisen

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Broken Kingdoms

The Kingdom of Gods

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Though I did not like books two and three.)

The Final Empire

The Well of Ascension

The Hero of Ages

Shattered Sea by Joe Abercrombie

Half A King

Half the World

Half A War

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings

The Silmarillion

The Dark Tower by Stepehen King

The Gunslinger

The Drawing of the Three

The Waste Lands

Wizard and Glass (The worst in the series.)

The Wolves of the Calla

The Song of Sussanah

The Dark Tower

Other Books

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

 

Books Recommended by Others / Series I Haven’t Read Yet

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings

Words of Radiance

The Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Fool’s Errand

The Golden Fool

Fool Fate

The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy

Fool’s Assassin

Fool’s Quest (coming in August 2015)

Assassin’s Fate (forthcoming 2016)

Other Books

A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

*Haven’t read yet but didn’t want to cause confusion by breaking up the series.

 

 

Appreciating A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Most people, when talking about the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, rank A Feast for Crows as the least interesting followed by A Dance with Dragons.

The first time through though. the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, bored me in every chapter that wasn’t a Tyrion or Davos chapter. It’s not the book’s fault but a fault of my own.

You see, I have this problem when it comes to reading. Every time I try to read a series in succession I grow bored, no, restless during the second book. It becomes hard for me to concentrate and I always end up putting the book down, especially since I’ve figured out this flaw, and picking up a different one. I think it might stem from my A.D.D. (which I was diagnosed for, not just the many people claiming to have it) but I can’t be sure.

Besides A Clash of Kings other victims of this dilemma include the second Mistborn book, The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and even The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s just when Sam and Frodo are climbing down the elven rope that I put it down though unlike the others listed I picked it back up shortly after. Spoilers ahead. 

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You Should Read: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes & Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe (A double.)

This is a double You Should Read, a feature that is mostly in my drafts folder more than actually published in my blog. A lot of the time it’s because I’m not sure what I want to say about a book besides “This story blew my mind / was awesome / was cool / so good that I wish I could write like this!” and that doesn’t make much for a blog post.

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Joe Abercrombie’s Half the World is What Half A King Should Have Been.

Last year, one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss, said Half A King was “[his] favorite Abercrombie book yet. And that’s really saying something.” So naturally I decided to buy, and all his other books. I started The Blade Itself a week before Half A King was to be released and ate it up like I had The Name of the Wind and The Lies of Locke Lamora. When Half A King arrived I read it and when I did I couldn’t wait to finish because I wanted to go back to reading The Blade Itself.

The fact that Half A King was Young Adult didn’t bother me, but everything else did. It all seemed so predictable, paint-by-the-numbers kind of characters and plot. Then the ending came too quick and too anticlimactic. By the end Yarvi broke the greatest sin for a protagonist, I no longer cared about him.

So it was with great reluctance that I started Half the World, the second book in the Shattered Sea series. I need that Joe Abercrombie fix but needed it to be quick because I was right in the middle of reading A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. I was absolutely blown away.

  • Yarvi’s weakness was his crippled hand and how that limited his abilities. Thorn and Bran, though, suffer from internal struggles of self-doubt, anger, and worthlessness. I found this far more engaging because once you figured out Yarvi was clever, you knew he’d always think his way out of any limitations his hand caused.
  • Yarvi’s story seemed more coming-of-age, as most YA is, but Abercrombie blends Thorn and Bran’s coming-of-age with the hero’s journey as the two become stronger and prove their worth to the rest of the crew.
  • The lore of the Shattered Sea is explored and expanded upon. Half A King seemed so focused on getting back to Gettland that the rest of the world didn’t seem to matter. Plus, the history of the elves, magic, and what disaster they caused is given to us to small amounts to entice the reader’s interest.
  • With a bit of age and without his point-of-view Yarvi’s cleverness is more impressive and without his inner monologue, much more cunning.
  • With war looming, their cause seems more desperate, the tone more serious, and with better protagonists I’m more worried if they’re going to make it out okay. When events go awry and the characters make a mistake they could have avoided, I am more concerned. When the characters get seriously hurt, injured, and killed I know Thorn and Bran are not completely safe (even though they are.) It’s easier to believe the protagonist isn’t safe when they’re not so clever.
  • I had to reopen the first book to discover that Thorn was the thirteen-year-old girl who witnessed Yarvi, with his short time as king, dueling with Keimdall.
  • When characters from the first novel are reintroduced, it’s a sure sign of a better book that even when I don’t fully remember the first book Abercrombie makes me feel something for them in the second.
  • The romantic tension between Brand and Thorn simmers slowly and never overtakes the main plot or the action. By getting both of their point of views, you get to be frustrated as they each have the same doubt about the other liking them. Sexual tension builds, romantic mishaps happen, and they both get to the point where you wish someone would just sit them both down and go you’re crazy for one another, just kiss already. Someone does and without feeling like a Deus Ex Machina.
  • Abercrombie does this through Rin, who through her brother’s and hers experience of hardships teaches Thorn a lesson above privilege, appreciating what she haves, while giving Thorn enough information to figure out what an idiot she’s been with Brand.
  • What is a well thought out move, just because they are together doesn’t mean Brand and Thorn’s self-doubts don’t just go away.
  • While war is often romanticized in books such as this, especially considering it’s based on Vikings and Norse culture, seeing Brand’s trauma and struggle with the morality of raiding villages hit hard. Then when he stands up for peace and the king praises him for it you feel proud of him also.
  • The twist with Grom-gil-Gorm, Mother Isriun, and having Thorn as the Queen’s chosen shield to fight Grom was such a satisfying moment, like when Eowyn reveals herself to the Witch King.
  • Then to have Grom, having grown tired of Mother Isriun’s orders, sparing Thorn, turning away from the High King, and forging an alliance with Gettland was a resolution I both didn’t see coming and thoroughly enjoyed. I just assumed, probably because I’ve read so many books where the child becomes the great warrior and avenges their father, that Thorn would find a way to kill Grom.
  • Bran in the end shows his own cleverness against Father Yarvi proving himself as someone who stands in the light, as he puts it, without feeling as if his story has had a bad ending. Plus, a marriage proposal awaits Thorn.
  • Then to end with Thorn telling off Master Hunnan and becoming a teacher just as Skifr did was the best conclusion this story could get. Perhaps one of these pupils will become the protagonists of Half A War. I’m looking forward to it.

Jorah Mormont’s Redemption Won’t Be Worth It.

Spoilers for all of Game of Thrones and all of A Song of Ice and Fire up to now, right up front.

Last chance before spoilers.

Last chance before spoilers.

Jorah Mormont, played by Iain Glen on the show, is an exile from Bear Island due to selling poachers on his land to slavers. When the show begins he attends Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo’s wedding as a spy for Varys, sending back information about the exiled Targaryens in hope of earning a royal pardon.

He eventually falls in love with Daenerys, saves her life from poisoning, and stop sending back reports to Varys fully committing himself to his khaleesi. The problem is, and this is where her point-of-view chapters from the books benefit, is that he sees her as both a child and as someone he wants to bed. She needs him to see her as a queen.

It feels like Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys knows this but we cannot be sure. Unlike the beginning of A Storm of Swords, Jorah never has this big reveal of his love for her until it is too late. This doesn’t make Jorah any less a creep, as the audience knows he secretly loves her through Viserys’ reveal in season one, his fatherly protection of her in seasons two and three, and his jealousy of Daario in season four.

On the show, Tywin Lannister uses the royal pardon that was promised to Jorah to separate the two of them. In the book, it is Barristan Selmy who reveals this fact and the two of them have to prove their loyalty to Daenerys by breaking into Meereen. In either medium she both rejects him and exiles him from her presence.

This leads us to Sunday’s episode Sons of the Harpy in which Ser Barristan Selmy is killed by the Sons of the Harpy,  a group of insurgents fighting against her rule in Meereen. Meanwhile, Jorah has kidnapped Tyrion in Volantis.

The death of Barristan Selmy was a surprise and an annoyance. Not because it was different from the books, that’s only part of it. Some of Barristan’s best moments in the series comes at the end of A Dance with Dragons and thanks to  D.B. Weiss and David Benioff we’ll never see them. Is it the biggest deal? No, but it makes the plot for the rest of the season really predictable.

Without Barristan, Daenerys is without a close advisor. Who should happen to be heading back her way but good ol’ stalker creep Jorah Mormont with Tyrion in tow doing whatever he can to earn his way back into her good graces by bringing her one of her enemies.

He’s going to arrive, and Tyrion is going to betray him instantly. He’s going to spin a clever tale that’ll make him her new advisor and put Jorah right into the fighting pit, and will try to save Daenerys when Drogon returns. Of course he won’t be needed, this is when Daenerys will finally mount Drogon and fly with him leaving Jorah behind to take care of Meereen along with Tyrion. Uh oh, the hijinks that will ensue. In the books, Tyrion and Jorah had not yet arrived but Barristan was there to take care of Meeren as Lord Commander of her Queensguard when she takes off. All those moments he has, and it does involve the Sons of the Harpy, will now be Jorah’s.

That’s not all Jorah will do. Before he meets Jorah, Tyrion travels with Jon Connington, Rhaegar’s former best friend who contracts Greyscale rescuing Tyrion as they pass Stone Men, a group of people infected  by the disease that they pass. Gee, Greyscale sure has mentioned an awful lot this season. I wonder if that’s relevant? For Jorah Mormont I bet it will be.

What better way for the show-runners to redeem Jorah by

  1. Infecting him with a fatal disease
  2. Bringing a beloved character (Tyrion) to another beloved character (Daenerys)
  3. Fighting to the death in the fighting pits until…
  4. Drogon arrives and he tries to protect Daenerys then…
  5. Gets all the badass fighting scenes defending Meereen while the queen is away.

I can understand cutting Jon Connington and his story from the show, and even giving part of that story to Jorah but he is not so great a character that it was worth losing Barristan Selmy, the only good person left in the show who

  1. Both Eddard Stark and Jaime Lannister revere.
  2. Who told off King Joffrey just after the boy king cut off Eddard’s head.
  3. Who Tywin Lannister thought dismissing Barristan was a dumb move.
  4. Who was the only one not to attack Eddard in the throne room and
  5. Questioned Cersei’s dismissal of Robert’s last requests.
  6. Kills the gold cloaks that go after him to prevent him from leaving King’s landing.

Some of these scenes don’t make it to the show, along with the ones that will occur after his death, and all for the sake of redeeming Jorah Mormont. I don’t mind changes from the book but that’s not going to stop me from criticizing bad storytelling. If my prediction for Jorah Mormont is right, it’s going to be bad.