The Legacy of Robb Stark.

For viewers, it has been over three years since the Red Wedding episode, “The Rains of Castamere” of Game of Thrones aired on HBO. For readers, it was the year 2000 when A Storm of Swords first came out. For me, it was 2012 that I first read the third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. While many have poured over every page dissecting every word for theories on where the series will go my To-Be-Read pile has only gotten bigger keeping me away from rereading the series until recently.

Robb Stark, the eldest son of Eddard Stark, has been ever present in my mind as I reread the series. Mostly, in relation to what has happened to the North after book three / season three and what has happened to Jon Snow in season six. Spoilers ahead.

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A Problem: “It’s Game of Thrones. They’ve got to kill someone.”

Recently, Ian McElhinney voiced his disappointment about the fate of his character, Barristan Selmy in season five of Game of Thrones. One of the top comments I saw on social media stated “It’s Game of Thrones. They’ve got to kill someone.”

That might be a problem. After watching season five, you could imagine that same comment coming from the writer’s rooms. “Well, it’s Game of Thrones. We’ve got to kill someone.”

Let’s leave the differences from the books out of it for now. Focus on that perception of the show. If you’re constantly trying to raise the stakes and shock the viewers by eliminating characters, you’re entirely missing the point. What you want to do is put your characters is more dire consequences.

Okay, I lied, I’m going to talk about the books. This is exactly what happens to Barristan Selmy towards the end of the A Dance with Dragons. Daenerys is missing  and as the Lord Commander of the Queensguard he left not only to uncover a conspiracy by her husband Hizdahr zo Loraq (Also killed off) but prepare for oncoming armies head for Meereen.

The show should be building tension and not desperately trying to shock. That is what felt off about season five of Game of Thrones. They’re are, in a sense, desensitising us all to the shock that shook us in all when Ned Stark and Khal Drogo died in season one. No one is going to care anymore if all you do is kill off characters.

Featured image: Ser Barristan – by Mike Capprotti ©

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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A Year in Books 2013.

     You could just go to my Goodreads profile and see what I’ve read in 2013 by clicking “date read” under My Books, but where would the fun be in that? So here’s a list, in order, of what I read in 2013.

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) by Brandon Sanderson
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) by George R.R. Martin
Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill
Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
Embassytown by China Mieville
Spun & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Olsen
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
The Odyssey by Homer
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Aloha from Hell (Sandman Slim #3)
Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic by Henri Bergson
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Menaechmi by Plautus
Tartuffe by Moliere
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2) by Scott Lynch
The Republic of Thieves (Gentlemen Bastard, #3) by Scott Lynch
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Howard Mittlemark
     This list doesn’t include the forty-two sources for my senior thesis. The largest disappointing read began in the beginning of the year with The Well of Ascension and The Magicians with both books leaving me hating the main characters by the time I finished them and have yet to pick up the follow ups. The biggest surprise was A Feast for Crows, which is notoriously hated by fans of George R.R. Martin for focusing on new or minor point of view characters but I still felt it was a strong book with events that’ll be important for the final two books.
     Easily the best reads I had this year, as far as new books I’ve read was Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard series starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora. A lot of modernist plays in my reading list this year, which I find myself loving despite disliking a lot of modernist poetry and novels.My rereads this year, The Lord of the Rings and The Name of the Wind continue to maintain their place as two of my favorite books, while Neil Gaiman’s new novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane did not disappoint despite it’s short length. 
     Despite my love for Warren Ellis’s writing, Gun Machine was your typical detective mystery in stark contrast to his previous novel Crooked Little Vein which I think I will reread this year. Discovering his podcast late last year, I had to pick up The Tolkien Professor, Corey Olsen’s book Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit which made me appreciate the children’s book a lot more. Embassytown by China Mieville is in my opinion his best book, exploring an alien race and language in a way I haven’t read in science fiction yet, though I know he isn’t the first to do so. Meanwhile, with the passing of Iain Banks I had to read two of his novels this year. The first one, his second Culture novel The Player of Games has easily become one of my favorite science fiction novels while The Wasp Factory was a disturbing look at rituals that I never would of thought of.
     Of all the writing books I’ve read this year I thought The Writer’s Journey would of come out as the best but with a second half that drags How Not to Write a Novel’s brevity as well as it’s hilarious way of showing bad writing made it the top writing book for me of 2013. I don’t have much to say about the Harry Potter series, I like the books as I read them and they are indeed fun books to read but that’s about where it ends for me, and To Kill a Mockingbird I don’t really need to comment on that always has been written before. The book and Atticus continue to be amazing. That was my 2013 in books.
     For 2014 in books I hope there books from my favorite authors are announced, to reread J.R.R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, and to read ten more books than I’ve read in 2013.