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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One Word After Another: Wonder Woman, Fantasy, D&D, Game of Thrones S6.

My draft section on this blog has become mighty daunting. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, but it never felt like enough to fill how long I expect a post to be. So I decided to title this amalgamation of posts into posts called “One Word After Another” named after this Neil Gaiman quote:

“The process of writing can be magical. There are times when you step out of a upper floor window and you just walk across thin air and it’s absolute nutter happiness. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another. The process of writing can be magical. There are times when you step out of a upper floor window and you just walk across thin air and it’s absolute nutter happiness. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.” – Neil Gaiman, Nerdist Podcast.

I believe in my archives I titled posts of random links the same, but this is not the same.

Since my last post, Wonder Woman has premiered in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman Rebirth began with Greg Rucka back on writing duties, the trailer for Wonder Woman’s solo movie came out, a trailer of Justice League Action premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, and I read The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

I believe, thanks to my love of fantasy and my continuing adventuring playing and DMing Dungeons and Dragons, Wonder Woman has risen to #1 status as my favorite member of DC Comics’ Trinity. Don’t get me wrong, Green Lanter and the Flash can always count on me to have their back, and have no love loss for Bats and Supey but the ways of Wonder Woman have  swayed me. A complex female character taking on Greek gods and monsters balanced by her stranger in a strange land story is very appealing to me. In my head, she balances a lot of the qualities that I’ve always loved about Superman and Batman while also bringing new ideas to the table. Ideas of that delve into whether can be both the peacemaker and the warrior.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman‘s title, by Jill Lepore, should come with a caveat or written beneath in small letters it could say “‘s Creator,” since this book is barely about Wonder Woman but mostly about William Moulton Marston.  The question one is left after reading this book is what to think of her creator. Is he a con artist, by manipulating his students , his mistress, and his colleagues to boost his respect / standing in the academic community? I mean, at one point there is no denying he is a fraud with what he tries to pull with Gillette Razors and his Lie Detector test. Is he a feminist, an advocate for the women’s movement or is he a hypocrite for his lifestyle of a patriarchal figure to two women fathering children with both Olivia Byrne and Zadie Holloway plus a third woman involved.

The author does an excellent job balancing Marston’s good traits with his bad subjectively, not by offering her own opinion on the creator of Wonder Woman. At some points, Marston sounds like a strong advocate for women’s rights, and at others, he sounds like he’d prefer a harem of women if he were allowed. Question: How many women must there be to be considered a harem? Is three enough? In general, it isn’t a good sign when Joye Hummel is introduced as his co-writer for Diana and I wondered whether she was going to be Marston’s next mistress. However, the author made me admire Marston’s strong will to defend Wonder Woman’s agency, the agency of women in general, and the kink community that in his day-and-age was seen as a perversion. That be said, when I really thought about W.H. Marston I believe if I knew the man in real life his arrogance mixed with denial would make me want to punch him in the face.

Dungeons & Dragons have made me appreciate writers with a deadline and improvisers. Every week I’m left trying to write what’ll happen next in the campaign on a framework of a story that does not have enough time for a second draft. There are no second drafts of a campaign when you write while you’re playing each week nor if you did would it necessarily work. A common saying I hear from Dungeon Masters is “any preparation you make is destroyed upon contact with players.” It would be so easy for me to railroad my player characters but I want them to choose and sometimes that leads me down a road of making it up on the spot. Sometimes adding information to the canon of my world that I’m furiously writing down less I forget. It’s not easy, and I learned from reading The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney that this disconnect I feel between my thoughts and the words I speak versus the words I write is normal but sometimes it gets in the way when I am telling my story.

Rereading A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin I am blown away by this book even more than I was the first time. It has been since 2012 since I read it, before season 2 of the show ever came out, and boy, it makes the show look bad in comparison. It isn’t the show’s fault, though, I have come to realize again, but the fault of the basic principals and foundation of creating a television show. There is all these little details missing from the show that makes it seem like the Sparknotes version of the books but that is because there are very real limitations. The show can only be so long, they can only spend so much money, they can only include so many characters, they can only hire so many actors, they only have so much time to fill it. The other problem is, the little changes in the show that seem idiotic, is due to this prevailing nature in films and television that pisses me off to no end. This idea that television and movie audiences are stupid, every little thing has to be explained (especially when it comes to magic), and nothing can be confusing for any single member of the audience in order to read a wider audience. That’s why Tyrion’s wife was cut from the show, it’s why Hodor’s real name isn’t Walder but Willis, and why Asha is now Yara because that’s too close to Osha. There is subtly to the books the show lacks, and it loses some of its sparkles because of that. After watching season six of the show I am even more excited to get my hands on The Winds of Winter because they built a pyre around subtly and burned it to the ground. All this being said, what kind of idiot reads A Dance with Dragons and goes “Hey, you know what part would be really cool to add to our show? The horrific rape scene! *Writer’s room cheering:* YEAH!” Real bad, fellas.

In two weeks time, I’ll be done proofreading my novel, having finished editing the story back in April. So far, the beta readers I’ve sent it out to have sent some very kind things. I’ll have to remember them when the rejection letter begins coming in when I send it out to literary agents.

You Should Read: A Crown of Cold Silver by Alex Marshall, Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.

You Should Listen To: The British History Podcast, The Adventure Zone, Drunks and Dragons Podcast, My Brother, My Brother, & Me Podcast.

 

 

Should Book Readers Watch Game of Thrones’ Sixth Season?

On April 24th, for the first time since the show premiered, readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series will be completely in the dark about the fate of Westeros and its characters.

Martin recently announced that The Winds of Winter is not finished nor will it be in time for release before the premier of season six. As far as whether the next season will spoil the books Martin answers “Maybe. Yes and No.”

Season five saw the biggest divergence of the stories yet with the death of major characters that still live on within the books. Not only that but budgetary and time restraints has certain characters from the books completely absent from the show. So no, their stories will not be spoiled.

The bottom line is that all the most beloved characters will have their stories spoiled for readers of the series. That includes Tyrion, Jaime, and Cersei Lannister, Arya, Sansa, and Bran Stark (Maybe Rickon too?), Daenerys, her dragons, and all of Meereen. The Greyjoys, the Martells, the Boltons, the Baratheons, the Tyrells, the Night’s Watch, the Brothers Without Banners, The Wildlings, and even the Others will all have their stories spoiled. The amount of characters free of being spoiled is negligent compared to this amount.

Readers are then left with a decision, to continue or stop watching Game of Thrones. With HBO looking to renew Game of Thrones for up to eight seasons that leaves those on the fence with some math to consider. It is likely that within those three years The Winds of Winter will be released, but what of the final book in the series A Dream of Spring? That might likely not be released until after the series has ended, based on the time the sixth book has taken to release.

So are you, dear A Song of Ice and Fire readers, able to resist not only spoilers for three years as the show airs but also five years and change for the release of the next two books?

Let’s be clear, A Song of Ice and Fire has a huge audience but the show’s is even larger. It’s not simply a series you watch but a social event that you discuss. To avoid spoilers for five years plus may ostracise you socially unless you fill that void by talking about other shows, events, and sports that take up pop culture. That’s an extreme view of it, you may go about your life avoiding spoilers all the times like it’s no big deal. It’s not like Game of Thrones is always publically discussed

It’s not like Game of Thrones is always publically discussed, covered constantly by the media, or posted about across social media. It’s not as if HBO releases a string of trailers and preview for seasons that recap the previous ones while discussing upcoming ones. It’s not as if the amount of spoilers released between the time of the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser and the time of its release are any indication of the difficulty it will be avoiding spoilers.

That’s one year. One year between the teaser and the release of Episode VII. In that time, it had two localized trailers, an international trailer, a teaser, and television footage. It’s actually quite remarkable how we collectively agreed as a fandom not to spoil the movie for each other.  Can your recall Game of Thrones viewers

Can you recall Game of Thrones viewers being that kind? Were you one of those who lorded over your knowledge from the book to your friends? Did you record their reactions to the Red Wedding? Do you think they may be petty enough to get their revenge? Seeing videos of people reading books while their friends cackle in the background doesn’t sound as exciting.

Still, this may be an opportunity for the showrunners to completely diverge from the direction of the books. They may have no choice with the elimination and death of certain characters. HBO may get their wish, in the end, to have a season nine happen giving Martin more time to release the next two books. Even less likely, but not impossible, is Martin may have A Dream of Spring better planned out in his head as he envisioned the series ending after three books, then five, and now seven (and even contemplated an eighth book.)

No matter the outcome, some spoilers are inevitable. You’ll have to decide if you will remain unsullied or not from them.

 

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 ©

What’s So Exciting About Book Adaptations?

Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Kingkiller Chronicle” was recently optioned by Lionsgate for not just a movie, not just a TV, and not just a video game but all three. This has caused a stir amongst fans of the book all across the social media landscape while people who’ve never read the books are shrugging as they read this.

Put your favorite book in place of “The Name of the Wind” and imagine how you would feel. Are you excited? Finally, that book you fell in love with is going to be a movie, a television show, and a video game. It’s exciting news! Why though?
The readers who make up a fandom around a certain series have become savvy to how books become movies, TV shows, and video games. We’ve also seen how those adaptations can disappoint. I’ve written extensively on why our expectations for adaptations can be harmful, often expecting too much or maybe too hard to it without understand how these adaptations are made.
I don’t stand alone with the knowledge of the arduous process of making these projects nor have I entirely kept my Sword of Adaptation Criticism sheathed in regards to the last two seasons of “Game of Thrones.” The news of Patrick Rothfuss’ deal did beg the question, once my own excitement died down, why do we get so excited for news about adaptations in the first place?

The reality is: Do you have a favorite character? There’s a chance he or she may be cut from the script. Do you have a scene that cry every time you read it? Or feeling a swelling in your chest when that satisfying moment comes on the next page? It might not make it in there at all. That line from the book you quote all the time? It might be said by a completely different character because the one that originally said it was cut and now one word of it was changed so it’s just a little bit off from the original. That line though is of course everyone favorite who has seen the movie / show so you have to hear it said wrong all the time and attributed to someone completely different. Lucky you! That subplot you thought really developed the protagonist, the one that really got into his head, well there’s no time for that anymore.

These are just some of the pitfalls of adaptations. It’s not like the author can write the scripts, pick the casts (though sometimes they have a hand in that), designs the settings, costumes, and props. He or she is too busy writing their next book. Even if the author took the first crack at the screenplay there could be three others who rewrite next, and all of them have their own perspective on the series.

Just look what happened with the screenplay adaptations of the Harry Potter books. Steve Kloves may have set JK Rowling at ease when he told her Hermione was his favorite character, but he made the trio completely unbalanced by giving Hermione all of Ron’s best moments and dialog in addition to her own shining moments.

The fact is there is going to be change when it comes to the adaptation, and a lot of fans of the books are not going to like it. So why do we get excited at the prospect?
Because, and I think a lot of readers will agree, when you love a book you want others to love it too. Adaptations are the easiest gateway to that. I have many friends who decided to read “The Lord of the Rings” and “A Song of Ice and Fire” because of the Peter Jackson’s trilogy and the HBO series. As a result it has led to many great discussions and conversations about them to an English Major like myself, nothing is better than discussions about books.

Also, there is a bliss that comes when they get it right. I remember that feeling watching the pilot for “Game of Thrones” from the beginning when the gates to Castle Black opened to the end when Jaime Lannister lamented the things he does for love. Imagine that opening scene when we’re introduced to the Waystone Inn in whatever “The Kingkiller Chronicle’s” adaptation becomes is exciting. We want to see the world we imagine for so long.

The second question I asked myself after I asked why do we excited is why do we need adaptations? There’s a reason why writers need adaptations. Financially, being a novelist is chaotic. There is no steady pay but peaks and valley. If you’re a writer and you are entering that valley period an optioning deal may be what keeps you afloat. For readers, though, why isn’t the book enough? I’m speaking generally, of course, because there are definitely people out there that don’t feel the need for the adaptation and they’re self-aware enough to not indulge. If the story is still ongoing, it’s a chance to get more. If the story is over, it’s a chance for it to be revitalized for a new audience and for the reader to relive the experience.

It may not seem like it, but we want to like adaptations. Who doesn’t want new favorite movie or show? How nice is it to turn on the TV and see a story we love on it? We want more of the story and the world. That’s why it is exciting, the prospect of more of that story that make us happy.

Featured image “Wise Man’s Fear” by Marc Simonetti. 

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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