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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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 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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A Feast for Dragons

ALL LEATHER MUST BE BOILED: A proposed A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons merged reading order, with explanation (and Dorne Reveal variant) [UPDATED x8]

Credit goes to /u/ReadythePies for posting this in r/asoiaf. When George R.R. Martin wrote A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons it was one manuscript. Instead of splitting it into parts one and two he decided to split by point-of-view characters in certain locations on the suggestion of author Daniel Abraham. A Feast for Crows had all the characters South of Westeros and the Iron Island and A Dance with Dragons contained all the characters from the North and in the general Meereen area.

This link however suggests how you can read them together to form one cohesive novel as originally intended. I think when I eventually reread those two books this is how I will do it.

The Problem with Tyrion and Tysha and probably Moon Boy for all I know. (Book 3, Season 4 spoilers)

I’ve written extensively about the adaptations of books into television and films defending change in adaptations, analyzing the process of adapting, and trying to shy people away from the purists idea of adaptations.

This doesn’t mean that all changes made in adaptations should just be accepted. Take the season four finale of Game of Thrones. In one episode they have a change that is both welcome and one that leaves me scratching my head.

Last chance before spoilers.

Last chance before spoilers.

In the episode Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne come across Arya and Gregor “The Hound” Clegane. Words are exchange, misunderstandings are bound and soon swords are unsheathed in what starts out as a straightforward sword fight but soon turns into an out and out brawl. Did this happen in the book? No. Does it matter? Not really, because this is still television and people do expect a bit of action once and a while. Besides that, it is a welcome change to The Hound’s end that quite frankly underwhelming in the book. The only thing that leaves me curious is where Brienne’s journey takes her now that she has found and lost Arya Stark especially with a certain character not being introduced in the finale.

Honestly, as the show get closer and closer to overtaking the books all fans of the book should be prepared for the story to diverge strongly. I, for one, am quite interested as then I get surprises I didn’t expect as a book reader.

That final scene though, with Tyrion, Jaime, Shae and Tywin is some serious changes that honestly leave Tyrion’s motivations not making any sense to me. If you’re only a show watcher then it makes sense, good for you. To those who read A Storm of Swords the change they make with the end of Tyrion’s arc in this season seems out of the blue. It is one thing to change a plot point. It is another to use a plot point straight out of the book but take away a character’s motivation. It is poor writing on the showrunner’s part.

What’s the big deal? show-watchers ask. Let me break down for you. Don’t read this next sentence if you ever plan on reading the books.

In the show, Jaime frees Tyrion because they’re brothers and Jaime doesn’t want his brother to die. Jaime tells Tyrion there is a galley waiting for him thanks to Varys and they hug out, say goodbyes and Jaime leaves. Tyrion then, instead of going to the galley makes his way to the Tower of the Hand where he finds Shae in Tywin’s bed, calling for “her lion” and saying Tywin’s name. Tyrion murders her then grabs a crossbow and bolt on his way to find his father. When he finds him on the privy he confronts his father about why he sentenced his own son to death even though he knows Tyrion didn’t do it. Tywin of course lies and says he wasn’t going to let it happen, says they’ll talk it out back in his chambers. Tyrion doesn’t want to go there. He confesses he killed Shae, who Tywin calls a whore one too many times, tell Tyrion he is no son of his, and then saying whore one more dies at Tyrion’s hands.

Just a couple question about that. Why didn’t Tyrion go to the galley? Why is he asking Tywin questions he already knew the answer to? Did he blow up in that trial giving his grandiose speech after Shae’s betrayal only to forget all about what they’ve done to him? Did he forget that Tywin wanted to take him out to the water and let him drown? That he would never be granted Casterly Rock? Just all of that, poof, out of his mind as he confronts Tywin.

In the book, Jaime holds Varys by swordpoint making him free Tyrion, granted Varys probably didn’t much motivation to do this as he has his own agenda. When Tyrion asks why, Jaime tells Tyrion he owes Tyrion one because, as he reveals, that first wife that was a whore Jaime hired for Tyrion to lose his virginity to. The one that Tywin forced him to watch his guards rape her and giving her silver for and Tyrion last for him to give gold to because he’s a Lannister. The one that Tyrion tells the story to Shae and Bronn to in season one. Yeah, all of that was a lie Tywin made up because he didn’t want Tyrion married to a lowborn woman. Here is where Tyrion reveals Cersei’s infidelity, saying “She’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know” then lies about killing Jaime’s son, Joffrey. Any good ties between Jaime and Tyrion die here and when Varys slyly reveals a passage to the Tower of the Hand in a Oh no, please don’t go there, snicker snicker fashion Tyrion begins his ascent. He finds Shae and kills her, just like in the show but now his motivation for confronting Tywin makes sense. Tyrion wants to know what happened to Tysha, where did she go, not Shae. When he asks Tywin he simply respond Where whores go… before getting a bolt right in the privates.

By changing this in the show, Jaime and Tyrion are still buddy buddy so what is Tyrion’s motivation going forward? What is he going to do? Jaime and Cersei are still on good terms so where their arcs go is going to seem really weak. She’s crazy with grief for Tywin? She hated him in the finale for trying to get her to marry Loras Tyrell. Is Jaime still going to leave to take back the Riverlands even though his lover is struggling in King’s Landing?

So many great lines from the book, throw away for much weaker dialogue. No mention of Tywin Lannister shitting gold, only for his body to stink of shit thanks to Tyrion’s crossbow bolt. That irony, gone, for what? Where whores go won’t linger in Tyrion’s mind as he hopes to find where his former wife was.

I’m sorry, I really do love this show. I don’t mind changes they’ve made except for this one because before it’s always been changes for cutting for time, eliminating characters they couldn’t afford to keep and what becomes essential for adaptations. From my perception, this seems like the showrunners believing they could do the scene better and in my opinion not only did they utterly fail but screwed up the story for future episodes. I’m still going to watch and I’m sure they’ll make it make sense but this has been the largest disappointment in the show I have had since the cutting of Rhaegar from season two.