On Friday afternoon, July 19th, in Hall H, some of theGame of Thronescast gathered for a panel at the SDCC. Cast members Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, John Bradley, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie and Richard Madden, and author George R.R. Martin joined executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for the event.
The Game of Thrones panel began with an “In Memoriam” video played with Boys II Men’s “Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”. Such a horribly sad video, remembering all of those amazing characters that we won’t get to see again.
Here is a video that shows the entire panel: (Special Guest star at about 14:40)
Game of Thrones will return in the Spring of 2014.
Here we are in the second half of the third season of Game Of Thrones, and for those who haven’t read the books, I’d imagine things are getting frustrating when it comes to pacing. Granted not every episode could be the tour de force that was episode 3.04 “And Now His Watch Is Ended” aka “The Badass Episode With Dragons & Daenerys F***ing S*** UP” as most of my non book reading friends refer to it. Unfortunately with a series that has a cast of dozens, there has to be room made for the many storylines to all come together in lots of interesting ways. The most difficult thing for me, is trying to pinpoint what exactly is new to the story, adapted differently, or I’m just plain forgetting. That all being said, while “The Climb” wasn’t the most riveting episode in terms of plot advancement, it did well to establish important character beats that will pay off later. Or they should, unless they’re changed. Or done differently.
Regardless of the changes, the episode did a good job of having all the concurrent stories touched on and expanded in interesting ways. We started off with Samwell and Gilly escaping off into the Gods know where trying to save her baby who had the audacity to be born a boy, followed quickly by Meera Reed trading some barbs with Osha about skinning rabbits. (Women!) Ostensibly they’re all working together to follow the Three Eyed Crow’s dream, who’s guiding them along a vague and unknowable path of certain divine and/or fortuitous significance, that even I’m not sure of. I don’t even think they’ve really gotten around to what they’re really after just yet, even in the books. Then again I’m impossibly stupid sometimes.
Beyond The Wall we got to see Jon Snow and Ygritte finally put into words their bond with each other, as well as her admission of knowledge that she figured out he’s still doing the double agent thing for The Night’s Watch. Of course, love blinds all to duty, honor or loyalty, and she makes a pretty reasonable argument as to him staying loyal to her only, by threatening to cut off his Johnson and wear it around her neck if he betrays her. Generally when women tell me that, I run the hell away, or I’m super turned on and maybe that’s the reason why all of my relationships are horrific meltdowns of apocalyptic emotional proportion?
Anyhow! Afterward, there’s a tense scene between Lady Melisandre and Thoros who discuss in Valyrian their agendas to the Lord of Light. We see Melisandre shaken for the first time, as she meets 6-times resurrected Lord Beric, and she proclaims it’s not possible. Which was interesting, because I’m positive Melisandre didn’t have this interaction in the book. Her role is beefed up here, and she’s portrayed a bit more humanely, as opposed to the starkly conniving, mysterious and witchy woman she is in the novels. Then they sell poor Gendry for gold to her. Because she needs nubile boys to make armor for her or something. I mean, sure yeah he’s technically the son of Rob Baratheon, but nobody really cares about King Rob anymore, and the only guy who did had his head chopped off. What? Too soon?
Then back with Theon, which is the one part of the show that’s entirely, wholly new, and subsequently to me is the most interesting. We’re just as curious as he is as to why Simon from Misfits torturing him so horribly, (I mean I have an idea, but no spoilers), or even who he is and where they even are. Theon is then forced to play a horrible game of “Guess who I am, where we are, and what’s going on, or else I slowly rip the skin off your fingers!”, which is the worst f***ing game in the world, probably. Right after all team sports. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, I’M CALLING YOU OUT ALL SPORTS FANS! SUCK IT!
Well eventually Theon loses, and we’re back to seeing Jaime and Brienne making a deal with Lord Roose Bolton, a man who’ll become very important soon, in ways I won’t ruin for you. We learn that poor Brienne won’t be let go along with Jaime, and Jaime’s defense of her slowly clinches Jaime’s eventual face-turn as an anti-hero. Then we get to see Lord Tywin and Lady Olenna Tyrell exchange snarky quips, the way old people do. I don’t know if it was just me, but if they were both about 30 years younger I have a feeling they would have totally boned right on that table. Right? Nobody but me got that?
Okay then. Some more rumination on by the Lannisters, this time both Tyrion and Cercei, on their arranged marriage woes, then Tyrion’s awkward revelation to poor Sansa Stark that she now has to marry him. Which I guess is a downgrade from marrying a super hunky gayboy, but personally I think Tyrion is much better company. All Loras has going for him is his knighthood, his looks, and his skills with a “sword”, as Lady Olenna would put it. Then Sansa cries because truly there is no fate worse than marrying a midget. Or something about her whole life being controlled by others, never being able to hang onto any semblance of happiness, and having every bit of hope snatched away from her. Either or.
Back at the wall, Snow and Co. are climbing it slowly, on the way to make their attack against Castle Black. Eventually the ice cracks and makes a big avalanche, nearly taking out Snow and Ygritte, who manage to save themselves in the nick of time right before their untrustworthy compatriot cut them loose. Then they climb on top, hug and share the scenic view of the land beyond the wall. All romantic and s**t. The end.
Like I said earlier, as a fan of the books it’s difficult to reconcile what I’m thinking is new, and what I’m just not remembering. I read the book sometime last year, and while I know the broad strokes of the story, watching episodes like these is still interesting if only for the character building. Fans of the show only may find the pacing incongruent with the last two seasons, but that’s only because SO MANY THINGS happen in A Storm Of Swords we’re really only about 1/4 of the way through the book, and I have a firm idea in mind exactly what the season finale will be. So will any reader of the books, and waiting for that moment to happen is as anxious and as exciting as watching the show and seeing all the new developments, thematic changes, and straight up plot changes. It’s still the same story overall, but episodes like this highlight how the little scenes in a novel can translate into other things entirely, simply by the nature of the story becoming a visual medium. So yeah, it wasn’t the most important episode in relation to the plot of the others in the show, but character development, foreshadowing, and of course those awfully great added torturing scenes with Theon, keep the whole thing fresh and interesting for folks like me, who are silently waiting everyone else to have their damn socks blown off.
If you’re complaining about the story not moving fast enough right now, stick with it. Believe you me, when your socks are flying around the damned room in circles and your balls or ovaries are exploding or whatever, you’ll thank me. Oh how you’ll thank me.
[Editor’s Note – I thought this was one of the best episodes of the whole show. The scene between Littlefinger and the Spider at the end, as well as the one with Tywin and Lady Olenna were both about as good as you’ll see. I have no problem with the pacing. That is all.]
This is it, the last month before Season 3 of Game Of Thrones premieres, and with it hopefully there an end to the updates, previews, snapshots, preview pics, and other ultimately meaningless little teasers. We’re now hitting the home stretch and that is officially marked by the long-awaited full trailer to Season 3. A trailer I had been waiting for not only because holy crap am I tired of looking at or writing about set pics, but because it gives us (me) a glimpse at how they’ve further adapted the books. Show only fans of course, will get a glorious preview of the King Beyond The Wall, and most obviously, GODDAMNED DRAGONS! Book fans will see other little things they’re familiar with, and revel in the endless amount of terrible, awful things they’ll be waiting to watch their Show Only fans to see in due time. Or if you’re like me, you’ll tease them with fake spoilers about the show and watch as their jaws drop in disbelief/hatred. It’s hilarious!
Well, aside from being incredibly short, the trailer does show a few things I recognize from the books, and as the series has progressed away from the books, a few things I don’t recognize at all. Though I suppose that could be my fading memory. The bummer about this is it’s being interpreted as the “first” trailer for Season 3, so this means there will be more soon coming. Of course there will be, why shouldn’t there? It’ll keep going on and on until the show starts, and then it’ll be replaced by speculation endlessly about what the show will be doing to adapt, or change its source material, until the season ends. Then it’ll be replaced by more teasers and updates endlessly for the next season ON AND ON OH GOD MAKE IT STOP I JUST WANT TO WATCH IT ALL RIGHT NOW.
Is it bad thing if a one minute trailer for a TV show drives you to the brink of madness? Probably right? Probably.
I’m not sure how big a presence Game Of Thrones had at last years CCI, but I’m positive it wasn’t nearly as big a deal as it is this year. What with the show becoming a mainstream success, reaching audiences far and wide, It’s no surprise that the panel at CCI was packed to the brim with GoT fans eagerly waiting to see their favorite characters, hear their anecdotes, and most likely, get some sweet, sweet details and teasers about Season 3. Being a huge Game of Thrones fan myself, imagine my surprise to hear from several sources, fans included that the panel was a bit… let’s say lackluster. While George R. R. Martin himself was moderating the panel, the consensus seems to be that he wasn’t a very good moderator. Most of his questions seemed either uninteresting, or boring, and the basic outcry is that the panel was a bit of a disappointment.
While I’m bummed to hear that the panel was disappointing, It does provide me, and probably you, the reader, some relief that we didn’t miss anything AMAZING. I know I’d be really saddened if they had had amazing, mind blowing, insightful revelations about the show, crazy behind the scenes stories, titillating previews of the new seasons, all wrapped up with some kind of awesome free poster giveaway. In essence, It seemed that the panel got a bit better when questions were turned over to the audience, but still, the impression is there, and now that’s it’s over, we only have HBO’s marketing team for any kind of Season 3 teasers or photos. Anyway, here’s some of the highlight anecdotes from the Panel.
– Martin asks Allen if he considers Theon a villain. Allen says Theon isn’t a villain, but he’s misguided and has issues. Martin then jokes how he’s given Theon so many sex scenes, and hasn’t received a single thanks from Allen. Allen responds that he had to get in shape for the sex scenes, but so far he’s been enjoying it. Apparently preoccupied with sex, Martin then mentions how Robb has a sex scene as well, and then asks if Madden prefers the loving or the fighting. Madden says he enjoys “swinging a sword”, waits a beat, and then realizes the innuendo.
– Clarke says she can still walk down the street without being noticed, but when it happens “it really happens.” For example, when she was in a department store, a woman came up to her and said, “Khaleesi.”
– It turns out that Kristian Nairn (Hodor) is in the audience (instead of the panel for some reason). “He’s still learning his line,” Martin jokes since Hodor is a mute.
– An audience member asks if the show relates to contemporary issues. Clarke responds that it deals more with universal issues like family and death. Strauss adds that the show goes beyond the fantasy paradigm of good vs. evil, and says that Game of Thrones boils down to complex stories and characters. Martin notes thatJ.R.R. Tolkienrejected the notion thatLord of the Rings was an allegory for World War II. Martin says it’s the same way withA Song of Fire and Ice, and he’s trying to relate to larger issues rather than recent real-world events.
Overall the panel was fairly by the numbers, and didn’t appear to be anything really special. In my opinion, the biggest announcement was that Season 3 will be premiering March 31st, 2013. Which seems so far away right now… But oh well.
If you’re interested in watching the panel, the videos are below.
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Once again, If you’ve not read the books, STOP READING HERE! Major spoilers abound.
Episode 8: The Prince Of Winterfell
This episode pays off the one of the main changes from the books, and effectively gives Ros The Wonder Whore a reason to have been around, other than her breasts, instead of the whole Alayaya/other whore/switcharoo, we get basically the same outcome, only with Cersei thinking Tyrion’s prostitute lover is Ros. Cersei holds her at ransom, to ensure Joffreys safety against Tyrion, because she think’s he’s plotting to kill him. This, readers will note, is foreshadowing to what happens to Tyrion in Book 3, and probably foreshadows Ros’s execution to be in Season 4, (revenge by Cersei), when we finally, finally, get to see Joffrey die.
The scene between Davos and Stannis isn’t quite different, as much as it is the second half of an earlier conversation they had in the series, that was split up into two different parts. This conversation in the book to me, defined Stannis to a T. He’s the kind of guy who would thank you, and honor you with knighthood for smuggling in food to save all the lives of the people during a siege, and then turn back around and punish you for smuggling. He is bound by duty to punish you, but will lessen it by only taking the tips of your fingers, rather than the whole hand, in recognition of the good you’ve done. He’s the creepy older uncle type who sits in his castle all day playing building models, and his brother is the young, cool, hipster guy who throws awesome parties. Unfortunately, it’s Stannis’ duty to be King, and he’ll take what is his by right, because it’s his duty. It’s prevalent in the series, but not as concrete.
Arya actually makes a pretty brilliant turn, and picks a different name at first from her third name in the novel. She thinks to name Tywin, but can’t find Jaqen and loses her chance. I can’t remember her third name in the book being anybody BUT Jaqen, since she required his help to escape. In the book, she pretends to be delivering a message, and even stabs a guard in the throat herself to get out. I was sad to see this scene missing, because it was a pretty awesome moment in the book.
Again, almost everything with Robb in this is new, since he wasn’t even a POV character in the book, but the basic reason for Catelyn stupidly letting Jaime go stays the same. Robb’s urges getting the better of him and having sex with Talisa are there, and we see his the beginning of his downfall, the second he drops her robe and lets the name “Frey” disappear from his duty, and his honor dies, like his poor dad did, only way more sexy and with 100% less beheadings.
Over the wall, the scene between Qhorin and Jon discussing him defecting is abridged, and ends up having pretty much the same outcome, as we’ll see later in the show, but one of the bigger differences, is Sam and Grenn finding the dragon glass weapons, along with the Horn Of Winter, which Mance Rayder had in the books, and we haven’t seen or heard about yet in the show at all. I’m assuming it’s the Horn Of Winter, unless the show is double faking us out, and making multiple horns, and the future series will have horns that have weird horny effects, and everybody starts getting really horny and… Sorry. I’m getting off topic. The point is, the little changes here, are gonna be a big deal later. The last change I noticed, was Asha actually showing some affection and love for Theon, which was a great difference from how she treats him in the book. It was a great scene, and added to their respective character depth.
Episode 9: Blackwater.
This episode is mostly the same as the chapters from the book, only with its perspectives changed around, and previous details that were changed, adhered to in turn. There was no chain to trap Stannis’ fleet, and Stannis’ fleet was MUCH smaller than the literal half page of named ships in the book. They seemed to purposely leave Davos’ fate ambiguous, along with his son, who we know dies in the book. Tyrion is still attacked by Ser Mandon, but no real context is given to who he is, and one could easily miss the fact that he was betrayed.The other rather significant change is the far less literal depiction of Ser Loras showing up in Renly’s armor. In the book, this was taken as Renly literally rising from the dead to fight and defeat him, and may not even have been Ser Loras in the armor, The entire vanguard in the book was supposed to be led by “Renlys’ ghost”, but has been changed to Tywin and his alliance with Ser Loras winning the war by coming in and taking them from the back. Stannis does notice Renly’s armor, but it’s a very subtle scene that lets the viewer decide it’s meaning, until it’s shown to just be Loras a few minutes later. A definite downgrade, as Renly’s ghost was a huge WTF moment for me as a reader.
Episode 10: Valar Morghulis.
Hoo boy. Where to begin? I guess I can first start by saying, that there’s officially no Ser Dontos pretending to be the rescuing knight for Sansa. In the book, she believes Ser Dontos is her ticket out of the hellhole she’s in, and is the reason she keeps refusing offers to get out from others. In the show now, they’ve seemingly cut him out entirely, and just gone straight to Lord Baelish up and telling her he’ll get her home. If this means we’ll get to the Lysa/Arryn/Baelish murder plot reveal sooner, remains to be seen, but it was definitely a revelation for me in book 3, where we find out almost everything was Lord Baelish’s machinations. So this change, while small, may lead to yet another future change, that will be big. Joffrey deciding to wed Margaery Tyrell, in the manner he chooses, is also a change, as that wedding doesn’t really come into play at all until book 3, and I’m hazy as to whether it was first planned in CoK, or A Storm of Swords, but either way it’s different. The scene with Varys turning Ros into one of his “little birds”, so to speak, will assuredly pay off with some kind of new scene in the future, since it’s not in the books at all. Ros is a character that is simultaneously frustrating and intriguing, because she personifies the changes in the story, in a way, and just like the changes, I sometimes hate her, and other times find her great. What we can all agree on, is she has great breasts, and ultimately, great breasts make anything easier to accept.
In the book, Shae genuinely seems to care for Tyrion, which makes it such a shock when she is forced to betray him so terribly later on. The show did a lousy job showing this, right up until this added scene, with her telling him to leave all the BS behind, and go with her to live together. It’s very well acted, and genuinely tugs at the heartstrings to see such a big man, (in spirit), come to tears with emotion.
Over in Stannis’ camp, he starts to really wig out and choke the hell out of Lady Melisandre. This never happened in the book, since by this point, she has him totally around her finger. In the show though, he’s clearly questioning his judgment and trust of this woman, but she turns him once and for all, making him gaze into the fire, to see the visions she sees, cementing him as a R’hollor zealot. In the book, he’s been far gone for far longer. Back to Robb’s story, the main change of his continues, with his love for Talisa being proclaimed to his mother. She has a great dialogue that actually makes a solid argument for arranged marriage, but he’s not having it. In the books, if I remember correctly, I believe it’s at this point where he just drops Jeyne Westerling on her, revealing that he plans to break his deal with the Freys. Then again, this could be in Book 3, but regardless, he’s sealed his fate, and marries Talisa.
Theon’s story continues, showing new scenes between him and Maester Luwin, expressing great doubt over his decisions, and truly questioning everything he’s done to come to this point, where he’s facing almost certain defeat and death. It goes a long way towards making him a much more tragic character, rather than the lying, backstabbing bastard he was in the book. His speech and the subsequent interruption, beating and blackbagging by his own men is all new, since the book just shows the battle with Roose Bolton’s bastard attacking and allegedly killing Theon. Soon after, there’s a new scene showing Maester Luwin’s death, and he officially gives them their mission to go north, rather than the Reeds, like in the book.
Now, nearly everything about Daenerys’ scenes in the show at this point are different. Everything. Xaro Xoan Daxos didn’t have an empty vault, he didn’t turn Doreah heel, he didn’t get Amontillado’d by Dany as punishment. Her entire scenes inside the House Of The Undying where totally and absolutely different, in many ways. In the book, this is a much stranger scene, where she enters willingly after having drunk a potion made by Pyat Pree. She is given instructions to only take doors to the right, and only take stairs up. During her exploration, she sees many doors on the left, showing many prophetic visions of the past, future and things that couldn’t be. She eventually reaches the right door, and makes her way out, and all the readers collectively wonder what the hell they just read, until all of its prophetic meaning becomes obvious in later novels.
Here’s where they made one of the biggest changes in the whole series, and in my opinion one of the best. In the book, the House of the Undying is almost certainly illusory. It’s a trick, and while the prophecies it shows of the Red Wedding come true, the things happening in it, aren’t “Real” for lack of a better term. By not including these prophecies, the show runners have given us NEW, more subtle, and nearly fourth wall breaking prophecies to decipher. Fourth wall breaking, in that they’re for book readers and show watching alike, to both decipher. In particular, Dany entering the Iron Throne room, now broken and covered in snow, reeks of symbolic meaning that wasn’t in the book. Does this mean Winterfell will be breached by the icy threats north of the wall? Does it spell doom for Westeros, since this would mean that Jon and Nights Watch have failed their duty? This is further compounded, by showing her leave the room, exiting The Wall itself! Is it her fate to go north? What will she find there? The questions abound, but none of these changes and the new questions they raise rival the last big change, where Dany is reunited with Khal Drogo.
Aside from being one of the most emotionally impacting scenes in the show, it’s also one of the most curious. They both embrace each other, and both openly question what they are experiencing. As the viewer, we’re left to interpret this scenes’ “trueness”, and wonder if Dany really is speaking to Drogo here? I personally like the idea that this literally is a real section of the afterlife, and she literally is speaking to Khal Drogo’s spirit, who has spat upon his journey into the Night Lands, and has been waiting for her since. Also with him, is their unborn child, adding further question as to what exactly this place is, and the nature of it being an elaborate illusion, or an actual gateway into the afterlife.
It’s a scene akin to the buddhist belief in the Bardo, a word that translates to “intermediate state”, and is a religious concept, where one exists between the two states of existence, being after death and before rebirth. In this state, one’s consciousness isn’t connected with their physical body, and they see and experience a variety of phenomena, memories, and symbolic hallucinations. The show creates the possibility that Dany has entered this state via the House of The Undying, and is effectively getting her rebirth, prematurely via Drogo’s choice to wait for her, making this scene, and their love, truly unique and something revelatory in its importance for the show, and the finality of death therein.
Of course, I could be looking too much into it. I guess what I’m saying is, I really liked this change. A lot.
The last change, is the manner in which the Whitewalkers attack the Wall. Sam wasn’t there to see them, and the scene of him, Edd and Grenn hearing the horns and running in terror is taken from the prologue of the third book, only the book had three entirely new characters instead. It’s a change that left everybody clenching their teeth, ready for the REAL war to go down, and ended the season pretty perfectly, and I think, better than the book ended, which I don’t even remember.
That being said, the amount of changes the story has seen, while being seemingly minimal, are overall adding up. This is a going to be a continuing effect as the series goes on, as changes build upon more changes, and spiral either somehow back into the story we know, or diverge entirely into new things. I honestly can’t decide if it’s something I dread or look forward to, but it’s there, it’s happening, and we’ll have to accept it. That being said, I am optimistic, as the show in and of itself, is still excellent, and consistent within its own storytelling and development. Sometimes, change is good.
The first difference I noticed from this episode was the new scene where Tyrion decides getting Joffrey some action could perhaps “cure” him of his awfulness. Of course we get to see Joffrey unleash his inner Patrick Bateman, and force the two unfortunate prostitutes to beat each other at crossbow-point. It’s a scene that is there to really drive home how utterly psychotic Joffrey is, but unnecessary ultimately, as everyone already hates the crap out of him. A big change comes, as Robb Stark meets and speaks with a field nurse who calls herself Talisa. This character is replacing the role of Jeyne Westerling, who in the book, Robb meets after being injured in battle, and she tends to his wounds. My guess is they wanted Robb to have a romance that wasn’t as suddenly introduced as it was in the novel, and to give some foreshadowing to the dire consequences he faces for this romance later in the series.
Truer words, Bronn. Truer words.
Next comes the biggest change in the show yet, where Arya, Gendry and Hotpie are taken to Harrenhal, and Gendry is nearly tortured by The Tickler for information. This is ended by the arrival of Tywin Lannister, who immediately recognizes her as a girl and makes her his cupbearer! The books had a long sequence of chapters with her serving as a cook, a washing maid, and finding herself adding more names to her long list of vengeance. In my opinion it was a welcome change, as the interaction between her and Tywin were very interesting and captivating. Being a book reader, those scenes were tense because they were new to me too.
When Daenerys gets to Qarth, the entire way she gets in is different in the show. In the book, she simply enters the city, as her scouts have gotten her appropriate permission previously. The three who would have her audience are Pyat Pree and Xaro Xoan Daxos. She visits Daxos’ palace, and Pyat Pree says the House of The Undying will welcome her. Much different from the show, where they nearly leave her to die outside of Qarth, until Daxos takes a personal interest and invokes a blood oath to let her in. Another difference, is Lord Baelish showing up to speak with Catelyn, lies about the Lannisters having Sansa and Arya captive and ready to trade for Jaime. He then presents Catelyn with Eddard Starks remains. This is pretty huge, as one of the big debates in the book fandom is what the fate of Eddard’s remains happens to be, and whether or not it is as significant as we think. The show however, seems to think he’s dead and gone, barring those remains actually being Neds’, and just another lie from someone as untrustworthy as Lord Baelish.
The last big change is the order in which we see the shadow babies presented. In the novel, Renly is killed, mysteriously by a shadow, and no explanation is given, other than it resembling Stannis. The scene with Davos taking Melisandre to the castle to birth it, is much later in the book. The shadow singlehandedly ends a siege overnight by slaying all the besieged, giving Stannis much more militaristic might nearly overnight. After two shadow babies being seen, Davos notes that Stannis looks visibly aged, by at least a decade, and it is implied that Melisandre is using his life force to make the dark things. The show has none of these details, and I feel, lessened the shock of Renlys’ death.
Episode 5: The Ghost of Harrenhal.
This episode is almost entirely scenes from the book, recreated with tweaks here and there. It touches on the subplot of Kings Landing starting to become restless from hunger, and gets to Tyrions plan using the wildfire. A notable change I could see was that he hasn’t commissioned all the cities’ blacksmiths to being making large chain links for him, which he’d later use at the battle of Blackwater. Here they seem content to only use the wildfire. The main new addition of course, is the scenes with Arya and Tywin playing mental chess. Accordingly, since Arya isn’t doing all of the different duties she had in the books, her first name from Jaqen is different, and has her first name be The Tickler. It’s a bit sad, as her stabbing the Tickler to death over and over again in the third book was a pretty great scene, but i’m sure they’ll keep it, or incorporate it in some way.
Episode 6: The Old Gods And The New.
In the books at this point, Jojen and Meeren Reed have been coaching Bran on his dreams, their meanings, and his latent abilities as a skin changer. They then bust him out of Winterfell, away from Theon and his iron men, by using Winterfell’s tunnels. The show has a similar thing to this, only with Osha seducing Theon, and lets Hodor escape with Bran and Rickon. Robb meets up with Talisa again, and plans his revenge with Roose Bolton to capture and execute Theon, while promising amnesty to all other Iron Men who give up. The scene with Ygritte was mostly how I remember it in the books, although the sexual teasing was a bit more exaggerated, with the scene of them having to huddle together for warmth. Sansa’s attack is actually shown in the show, in the book we simply see The Hound return with her as the riot begins, and she has a few bruises, rather than the truly vile attempt to rape her we see in the show. In both it is The Hound who rescues her. Another added scene with Arya and Tywin, this time she’s privy to a tactical discussion between Tywin and Lord Baelish, and it sets up an interesting plot thread of Lord Baelish possibly noting that ‘Arry’ is actually Arya. Of course, this being a new scene, it’s all speculation. Arya overhearing the war plans Tywin was making, manages to steal some war orders on paper, but is found out by Ser Amory Lorch. This leads to Arya’s second new name from Jaqen, and ends with a hilarious moment where Ser Amory literally drops dead at the door of Tywin’s room.
Message for you ser!
Then we come to the biggest change in Daenerys story yet, the kidnapping of her dragons. This straight up didn’t happen in the books, and it’s purpose in the show was to me, at the time, entirely unknown.
Episode 7: A Man Without Honor.
Sansa wakes up having had her first period, as she does in the novel, only now she has Shae there to sympathize with her, and even hunt down and threaten one of the handmaidens who had seen Sansa in such a state. It seemed as if her flowering was going to be kept secret, until The house appears, and has seen the bloody sheets they were trying to hide. In the book, Shae isn’t there at all, so all of this interaction was new. Another great new scene was yet another discussion between Arya and Tywin, and they discuss the legacy and conquest of Aegon The Conqueror. Tywin figures out Arya is lying about her past, and we’re all left to wonder just how much he does or doesn’t know, or is even letting on. The Harrenhal scenes between these two are very clearly a brilliant new addition, and i’m glad to see them every episode they’re in. The last big change is this episode, is the almost entirely new scenes of Daenerys in Qarth. Pyat Pree assassinates the Thirteen, leaving Xaro Xoan Daxo’s now the king of Qarth, and informs Dany her dragons are in the House of The Undying. In the book, Daxos’ wishes to wed Dany, initially to help her reclaim her throne, but it turns out to be that he plans to exploit some Qartheen marriage right, that the bride must give her newlywed husband a gift, and ti turns out Daxos was really after her dragons, (at least one) the whole time. In the book, Dany willingly enters the House of The Undying, as she is invited peacefully. These changes I initially had problems with, but only because the chapter where Dany goes to the House is such a great chapter, and I couldn’t wait to see it portrayed.
This scene was a great example of something happening onscreen that happened in the book, adapted even better than I thought possible. My mom literally started shouting at the screen and yelling “No! They can’t do that! NO!”, which was a far cry from my reaction when reading that chapter: “Oh. Bummer.”
The episode opens with an interesting scene showing Tyrion recovering from his battle wound to the face. After some passive aggressive words exchanged between him and Maester Pycelle, Pycelle leaves Tyrion a golden coin, claiming it’s for “his trouble”, in a very clear insult typical of the shifty Maester. It was an interesting exchange and builds upon the very shaky relationship the two have with eachother. We’re then taken to the royal throne room, with Joffrey proclaiming Tywin, his grandfather the newly appointed Hand of The King, and giving Lord Baelish aka Littlefinger, dominion over castle Harrenhal. After some quick words about the Tyrell’s assistance in the battle of Blackwater, Joffrey mulls over wedding Margaery Tyrell, claiming some BS about keeping “holy vows” to Sansa. It takes the words of Maester Pycelle, the people in the throne room, and Margaery herself insisting Sansa is not fit to be wed, for him to finally agree to relinquish his vows to Sansa. Of course, nobody is happier about this than Sansa, who walks away, and for the first time in a while, begins to smile. It’s interrupted of course, by Lord Baelish, who tells her of his love and fondness for her mother Catelyn, and claims he can help her escape this place and get home. Sansa tries to lie and claim this is her home, but L to the B sees right through it, and calls her on it.
Oh thank the Seven I-Oh crap.
Next is a scene with Ros the Wonder Whore, who gives us our mandatory T&A for the episode, and takes in a guest who turns out to be Varys, The Spider. She tries to make advances on him, thinking him another client and ends up discovering his identity by feeling his package. Or lack thereof. Ahem. Varys is there to get information on Lord Baelish, and recruits her as one of his “little birds.” Many threads are being tied up for the next season this episode, and we switch scenes yet again to Brienne and Jaime, who are now travelling together, as they come across three hanging bodies. Quickly they are approached by three goons, who start asking questions about the identity of Brienne’s captive. Soon one recognizes the Jaime as the Kingslayer, and raises his steel against Brienne. An insanely poor choice on his part, as she quickly dispatches two, and stabs the last in the groin, very sloooowwly sliding the sword deeper into him, as every male watching the show groans in pain. Another scene shift, and Robb is arguing with his mother about upholding his promise to marry one of the Frey women, as he promised in season 1. A few quick words, and we cut to Stannis Baratheon, pondering his defeat with Melisandre in tow. They argue over the point of their loss, until her words anger him, and begins to start choking her, claiming her to give him proof of her god’s will, questioning his own decisions. She tells him that he is her god, and has him look into the flames burning in their hearth. She asks him if he sees himself in the flames, as her king. Eventually, he does.
Back to Theon, and we get him pondering what to do in his predicament with holding Winterfell. With Robbs bannermen, led by Roose Bolton’s bastard, he faces almost certain death with his measly twenty Iron Men. Maester Luwin advises him to retreat, head north to the wall and take the black. Theon decides he’s too far gone, and begins rallying his men with a stirring speech. His battle cry is interrupted however, by the lance of one of his own men, and they black bag him, and carry him off,, but not before stabbing Maester Luwin in the gut with a spear, leaving him for dead. Returning to Tyrion in his room, we find him conversing with Varys. Varys informs Tyrion of the dire circumstances he is in, as all who were loyal to him previously are either paid off, relieved of duty, or in the case of Varys, abandoning him. There is one exception, and Shae comes into the room, and reminds Tyrion of how much she loves him, and accepts him, injury, dwarfism and all completely. They share a tender embrace. It’s a touching moment, and really shows the real connection the two share, as respective outcasts of their own worlds. We cut to Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling Talisa getting married, like idiot fools, Freys be damned.
That’s it Shae, lick that scar.
Finally we see Daenarys, who is outside the House Of The Undying, ready to claim her dragons. She approaches the House, which is actually a tower, and mystically enters, unseen by Jorah who was just behind her. Upon entering, she finds herself in the dark and follows the sounds of her dragons screeching for her. We cut yet again (a LOT of story is covered in this episode), this time to Arya. She is travelling with Hot Pie and Gendry, when she spots Jaqen H’Ghar watching them. She confronts him, and asks him questions about himself, and he reveals that he is a “Faceless Man” from Braavos. He tells her he can take her there, and teach her in the ways of killing, like him. She reluctantly denies his proposal, saying she must find her family. Jaqen laments her decision, but offers her a coin, saying if she ever needs his help, she must only present it to any Braavosi man, and say the words “Valar Morghulis.” He then tells her Jaqen is dead, and literally changes his face, and bids her farewell. Jaqen is a mysterious one indeed.
See what I did there?
We cut to Bran, being held by Hodor, walking through the smoldering remains of Winterfell. They find Maester Luwin bleeding out, sitting under a godswood. He tells them to journey north, to find Jon Snow, as he is the only relative of theirs they know the exact location of, as anywhere in the south is too dangerous. He tells Osha to protect them, and asks for a mercy killing. She provides it for him, and Osha, Bran, Hodor, Rickon and their direwolves begin the trek north. Back to Dany, we see her walking through hallways, still following the cries of her dragons, until she walks into a room with many doors. She enters one and finds inside is an ashy, lifeless version of the Iron Throne room in ruins. She follows the sound of her dragons still, and ventures “outside” into a snowy wasteland, with only a hut off in the distance. Inside the hut sits… Khal Drogo. Holding their unborn child. They speak to each other, each questioning if what they see and experience is real. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and if you didn’t at least well up a little bit after they kiss, you’re dead inside. Dead.
I cried like a little bitch.
She leaves the hut, and is back in the room with many doors. This time, her dragons are chained to a pedestal. Pyat Pree appears, and using his strange illusive powers, chains her to the wall, meaning to keep her and her dragons as prisoners. Dany, in a moment of pure badassness, orders her dragons to burn him alive with a single word: “Dracarys.” The dragons promptly scorch him, and the chains binding them fall to dust, revealing themselves for the illusions they were. I’m running out of ways to say a scene changes, but it does, again. This time to Jon and Qhorin, who are bound and are being led by the wildlings. Qhorin follows through with his plan to make Jon look as if he is no longer loyal to the Night’s Watch, and begins dueling him. Jon defends himself, and ends up killing Qhorin, and gaining the trust of the wildlings in turn. Ygritte looks at Jon, and leads him to meet the King Beyond The Wall, while Qhorin’s body is burnt by the wildlings to keep him from coming back.
Back to Daenarys, her blood rider takes the key off a sleeping Xaro Xoan Daxo’s neck, and uses it to open his famed vault. They open it, and reveal that nothing was inside it the entire time, as he was simply using her to become king of Qarth all along. She thanks him for the lesson he has taught her, and locks him and her former hand maiden (who was sleeping with him), inside the vault. They then proceed to loot Daxo’s house, in true Dothraki fashion. Hell hath no fury like a scorned Targaryen.
The last scene, shows Samwell, Dolorous Edd and Brenn digging up different kinds of poo to burn, in order to keep warm. They then hear a blast of the foghorn from the wall. One for riders returning. Then they hear another. Two for wildlings attacking. Finally, a third blast. Whitewalkers. Edd and Brenn run off in terror, leaving behind the portly and slow Samwell. He cries after them, but becomes enveloped in an ethereal snow that comes seemingly from nowhere. He runs to take cover behind a rock, and slowly approaching, we see the first of many, many wights (zombies). He whimpers as an undead horse clops up besides him, and gazes upwards to see a full-fledged Whitewalker. It eyes him, and raises its spear, and lets loose an inhuman and terrifying howl, as thousands of wights, and dozens more Whitewalkers follow, all leading towards the Wall.
Holy crap. So yeah, a pretty packed episode, that did as well as it could with as many characters and stories it had to juggle. The additions to the story were welcome, and the story certainly seems to be ramping up in an extremely exciting way. I’m sure many viewers will have questions left unanswered, but so did many readers who had to wait for book three. This is how you do a “The shit is hitting the fan ’cause ZOMBIES” ending perfectly. Take note Walking Dead writers, all you have to do is make your show and it’s characters interesting and likeable, and you can have season endings that actually have an impact. Only a year until season 3 folks!
Roose Bolton, despite being a brilliant tactician is most definitely one of the more creepy characters in the Song of Ice and Fire books. He’s described as a pale, quiet man whose banner consists of a flayed man. Now if you’re curious as to what flaying is when comes to it being performed on a man, it’s when the skin is torn off of the body one layer at a time. It’s a horrific way of torture, the Bolton’s known to let the exposed skin fester and crack after the flaying. Lord Bolton also hold to the medieval tradition of using leeches to keep his blood clean and healthy. And oh yeah, his castle is known throughout the North as the Dreadfort. Very charming indeed.
I had actually thought of David Thewlis of Harry Potter (among other movies) fame being perfect for the role of Roose Bolton but it would look as if they’ve cast someone who definitely holds to the physical description of the Lord of the Dreadfort. Michael McElhatton is an actor that I am not familiar with but he has had many a role in TV shows and movies alike.
It will be much more interesting once the seasons get rolling to see Roose Bolton’s bastard son Ramsay Snow in action and some of the interactions the father and son have in whichever season book 5 happens to be in. Ramsay is one of the most vile characters I’ve seen in the Song of Ice and Fire books and when he makes his way onto the HBO show I think a lot of people will be disgusted with him and actually be clamoring for him to bite the dust at some point. Roose is a sicko bastard because he condones all of Ramsay’s antics and holds him as his only son despite being a bastard. Stay tuned for more Game of Thrones castings as they release!
After six years of waiting, there was no doubt I was going to like this latest entry in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire. I liked it, but not nearly as much as the first three novels. There seemed to be a whole lot of set up and sitting around but that was ok because the book was a tome of over 900 pages. Talk about bang for your buck, this one was definitely worth paying less than 25 dollars for. (At Target) The book made me laugh, cringe, almost cry (don’t judge me!), yawn and at one point set it down to ask myself why the hell did George Martin do that? Damn him!
The book itself is almost a stark reminder (see what I did there?) of how unforgiving and bleak the series really is. Most of the things that occur happen the exact opposite than what you would have expected or wanted to happen. For me that is what sets Martin apart from so many other authors. He’s not afraid to stray from the norm and he does things on his own accord because it works for him. It’s his vision and his story even though us fans made him a millionaire and I’m good with that. I’m more than positive after this one that we’ll have a plethora of readers saying they’re done and that the series is getting stale, but aside from the length of the book I don’t see what separates it from the rest of them in regards to content. The only reason that it might not flow adequately for some fans is because it was written to be happening concurrently with the events of a Feast for Crows, and then towards the end it all flows together as we start seeing those characters from AFFC again, such as Jaime and Cersei.
After the last couple books it would seem that the War of the Five Kings may be starting to die down. The Starks have been all but vanquished and Winterfell sacked by the traitorous Northern Bannermen of the Starks, the Boltons. The fighting near Riverrun is coming to a close now that Jaime has Edmure Tully as a hostage and Storm’s End is effectively under siege by forces loyal to King Tommen Lannister Baratheon. Even with the death of Lord Tywin and the imprisonment of Cersei, the Lannisters are sitting pretty with their scumbag allies the Freys who are now the power in the Riverlands and the Boltons who are now rulers in the North. One of the kings, namely Stannis Baratheon has other plans though. Still believing his claim holds precedent over Tommen (which it does), Stannis intends to not only protect the Wall with Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch but to unite the North under his banner and the Red God R’hollor.
Tyrion arrives in Pentos under the protection of Illyrio, who sends the dwarf with a company of sell-swords to serve Daenerys Targaryen in Mereen. Tyrion though not mourning his father’s murder is clearly haunted by it as he has constant nightmares and echoes his father’s last words to anyone who will hear it – “Where do whores go?” Realistically, Tyrion is the heir to Casterly Rock since Jaime is in the Kingsguard and Cersei is a woman, so he plans to claim it with Daenerys help in return for all his knowledge of her Westerosi enemies.
It was quite interesting to see Tyrion in a world where being in a Lannister means absolutely nothing. And it also means that there is a price on his head thanks to Cersei, and many men are anxious to cash in on it to win a lordship in Westeros. Tyrion has to use his wits to the max, which we know are sharp as a sword, in order to survive the harsh Free Cities. In a world where he is just another dwarf, the Imp of Lannister needs to learn to keep his mouth shut with no one protecting him anymore. I can’t even remember how many times the little man got punched in the face throughout the book but it was plenty. Aside from Illyrio and the twice exiled knight Jorah Mormont, Tyrion meets two characters amongst the sell-sword group called the Golden Company that are sure to raise some eyebrows to the readers.
I was actually kind of blown away by the one. The first is Jon Connington, exiled Lord of Griffin’s Roost and former Hand of the King during the rule of Aerys Targaryen. The second is Aegon son of Rhaegar Targaryen, who turns out not to have had his head dashed upon the walls of the Red Keep due to the actions of Lord Varys. This changes the game entirely in my eyes. Now another Targaryen is on the move, invading the Stormlands to take Storm’s End and already taking all of the castles on Cape Wrath with the hope that Daenarys will join up with him when she is ready to bring her dragons to Westeros. So now the Lannisters have the Tyrells in King’s Landing to deal with, one Targaryen taking over the Stormlands and another Targaryen possibly on the way…. with dragons. This isn’t even to mention Dorne who will no doubt rally under a Targaryen who makes a claim to the throne.
Daenerys has what seems to be the most time in the book, but it seems like a reality show about which suitor is going to bag her. And if it wasn’t Daenerys, it was about another POV character also in Mereen or on the way to Mereen to seek out Daenerys. This book by far had the most POVs I’ve seen in the Ice and Fire books, each random one having a couple words to describe their character at the start of a chapter. Barristan Selmy had his own POV chapters in the book, called ‘The Discarded Knight’, ‘The Kingbreaker’ and ‘The Queen’s Hand’. Selmy is definitely one of the more liked characters. The guy has a real knack for blaming himself for what could have been in certain situations. He is extremely loyal to the monarchs that he serves and takes his duty very seriously, to the point where he beats himself up over the past with Aerys and Robert dying while he served on the Kingsguard.
Another character in Mereen is Quentyn Martell, the son of Prince Doran Martell who rules in Dorne. Quentyn reveals that the is carrying a marriage contract from the end of Robert’s rebellion agreeing to a marriage between Arianna Martell and Viserys Targaryen. Prince Doran hopes that since Viserys died with a case of severe Goldilocks that the contract can then translate to Quentyn and Daenerys instead.
I liked Quentyn enough as a character, he was honorable and brave in regards to wishes of his family. In the end when he wasn’t going to be marrying Daenerys I really didn’t expect what happened to him. In an attempt to impress Daenerys, Quentyn and his men went to take one of her dragons so the Prince could ride it and make use of it for both their causes. I pictured Quentyn actually accomplishing this until Rhaegal charbroiled his ass. I thought the same thing that Quentyn said as he was aflame – “Oh…” Brutal but pure Martin. Where this leaves Dorne in the mix once Prince Doran finds out, we’ll have to wait and see.
Victarion Greyjoy is also in on the whole Mereen scene, or at least he will be once his ‘Iron Fleet’ reaches the Free City. The start of his voyage does not start off so good. There are storms aplenty and monkeys running loose all over his ship until they come upon a Red Priest. (Like Melisandre.) Victarion of course is going to take Daenerys for himself instead of serving Euron faithfully. You get to see during Victarion’s chapters what a resentful and harsh man he is. Better than that you get to see even more of how harsh the Greyjoys and the Iron Men are in terms of conquest and sailing.
Daenerys herself didn’t really impress me in this book. I understand why she decided to stay in Mereen to help her followers and try to rule the city right, but the whole thing seems a mess and a lost cause. Her and her forces face murder in the streets at night by the militant group ‘The Sons of the Harpy” and threats of force from the other slavers in the area including those from Qarth, Volantis and Yunaki. She should have just moved on to Westeros like Mormont and Selmy both advised. Now she sits in Mereen, mooning over the sellsword captain Daario of the Second Sons, while also deciding which merchant lord or noble to marry in order to keep the peace of the city. Perhaps my biggest disappointment was that her dragons were all but absent from most of the book. I thought by now Daenerys would have them trained and ready to use against any enemy, but instead Drogon is missing and off on his own picking off sheep and even a little girl for dinners. Rhaegal and Viserion however are chained and locked up inside the Mereenese pyramid that Daenerys stays in because they are too wild. Seriously? By the end of the book, I’m not so certain about what Daenerys has in store for her in the future. Will she ever go back to conquer Westeros now that Aegon is invading? Or will she become the Queen of the Free Cities once her dragons are under control? I was hoping to have more of an idea by the end of the book but once you read it you won’t have any idea either.
Jaime and Cersei are back in action, or lack there of. Jaime is still busy in the Riverlands after burning Cersei’s plea for him to be her champion in her trial and his only chapter shows him mediating the surrender of the Lord of Raventree. Jaime is a character I have grown to love and I wish there were plenty more chapters with him in it. He’s been humbled by what has happened to his hand and the ill fortune that has befell the Lannisters with his father dead and Cersei imprisoned. We actually finally get to see Brienne in this chapter even though it’s only two lines worth as she claims that she has found Sansa Stark and would take Jaime to her. Too bad I started to like Jaime because I don’t think any good will come of this because chances are she is serving the Brotherhood Without Banners and Lady Stoneheart has plenty of ill will towards this Lord of Lannister.
Cersei is biding her time yet still expecting Jaime to come to her rescue in King’s Landing as the High Septon still holds her captive. She decides to finally confess to the High Septon in order to get back to Tommen’s side and out of captivity, but still planning to have a trial by combat with her champion fighting in her place. She tells her uncle Kevan to let Qyburn know that it is time before she is made to walk from the Sept of Baelor through the streets of King’s Landing to the Red Keep… naked. This scene was a true tribulation for someone like Cersei, forced to let every common man see her naked and to hear them yell things such as “Brother F–ker” and “Whore” at her. I’m not saying Cersei didn’t deserve it, because she deserves far worse, but it definitely humbled her and by far made her more dangerous. Cersei will have come out of this ordeal stronger and with revenge waiting for the High Septon and anyone else who has slighted her since. I would expect the Tyrells to be in her crosshairs next, especially after the events at the end of the book. Her new champion Robert Strong will be something to behold in the books to come, being the dark creation of Qyburn in the bowels of Kings Landing.
I know a lot of people were looking forward to seeing quite a bit of Bran and Arya but I am sad to say even though they had a few chapters each, not a whole lot happened with them. Bran is still on his mission to find the three eyed Crow beyond the Wall. I won’t say much other than he reaches his destination and takes up a special destiny with the ones called the green-seers. Arya on the other hand is still training with the Faceless Men, who are less than convinced that she is ready to forget who she is and truly be one of them. Arya shows them in this book that she is ready, but you will still wonder if she is doing it for her own personal gain or if she is truly to be one of them.
There were a couple other secondary characters in the book with POV chapters, including Areo Hotah whose POV shines some light on what the other Martells in Dorne are up to during this time. Asha Greyjoy gets a couple chapters of treatment, but the most interesting chapters of all the secondary characters (in my opinion) were those belonging to Reek/Theon. After being taken captive at Winterfell by the Bastard of Bolton, Ramsay Snow, we are shone a Theon so beaten and mistreated in the dungeons of the Dreadfort that he truly believes and constantly reminds himself that his name is Reek and that he is Ramsay’s pet. Ramsay Snow Bolton is truly a character to be despised. If there were such a thing as a true villain in the Song of Ice and Fire, he would be it. This guy is one sick son of a bitch with a penchant for raping women and then letting them escape so he can hunt them down with his dogs for sport. He then will name one of his new dogs after the women who gave him some good sport in the hunts. I never thought I would want someone to die as bad as I wanted Joffrey to, but Ramsay Bolton sure fills the void.
As the book progresses we see that Theon is not completely broken after he is let out of the dungeons and that slowly but surely he begins to remember who he truly is. I never would have thought from the start of the series that Theon would have much time to deal with his character but this book gives us some great insight to what his thought process is. After the sacking of Winterfell no one in the North trusts him or looks upon him with respect. He is constantly spat upon and nicknamed “Theon Turncloak” for his treachery at Winterfell. As we saw before in Clash of Kings, even his own father and countrymen saw him as a Northerner when he returned home. In Dance With Dragons we get to find out how Theon wanted to be a Stark and a Northerner, willing to trade his heritage as an Ironborn for it. Now he only despises himself for betraying the Starks and Winterfell for a home that had all but given up on him.
For all of you Davos Seaworth fans, rest easy because he is not dead in this book. The Manderly’s of White Harbor most definitely want the Lannisters and the Crown to think this but it is all part of a clever ruse to attempt placing a Stark in Winterfell once more. This also gives the Manderly’s the opportunity to exact some secret vengeance upon the Freys, to whom they lost some of their kin to at the Red Wedding.
Now to the part that will probably have most fans looking to track George Martin down and beat him senseless. I wouldn’t take it to that extreme but I was definitely stunned once again by another drastic move by Martin. Jon Snow as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch seems to be doing a good job. In regards to Janos Slynt, after the former Lord of Harrenhal disobeys him one too many times Jon makes the decision to make an example of him. He has his men take Slynt to the courtyard where beheads him with Longclaw in front of everyone including Stannis, who nods in approval before going back inside. He then sends out Alliser Thorne with a group of rangers to scout and they never return aside from a couple who are dead. So it would appear most of Jon’s enemies are pretty much eliminated right? Not according to Melisandre who warns Jon that he should have Ghost at his side at all times. I like Jon Snow and was impressed with how he made peace with the wildlings and moved them all through the Wall to settle “The Gift” and help man the Wall against the others, but like his father Ned Stark he fails to see the dangers of the men closest to him while trying to accomplish the greater good. I thought for sure when Wick failed to cut Jon’s throat that danger was averted but when Bowen Marsh stabbed him in the stomach saying “For the Watch.” I pretty much gave up hope. Jon should have seen that those in his council were getting more and more disgruntled by letting the Wildlings through the Wall and onto the Northern lands, but he had so much on his plate that he failed to placate them or hear them out properly. I hope Jon isn’t dead but in the world of George R. R. Martin I wouldn’t be surprised if this is truly the end of him. Hopefully Melisandre can work some sort of magic to bring him back, if she indeed still has use for him.
The last scene of the book was very exciting and saw the return of a certain character and the death of two others. After having a late dinner with Cersei and Tommen, Kevan Lannister goes to the summons of Grand Maester Pycelle in the rookery at the behest of a young boy messenger. The whole scene was eerie as Kevan arrives in the rookery tower to get a crossbow bolt in the chest. As he reels from it he sees Pycelle sitting down with his head wounded, dead in a pool of his own blood. Then Lord Varys comes out of the shadows to explain to Kevan why he has killed them both. It’s amazing to see how Varys has set many of the noble houses against one another, weakening them and allowing them to wipe one another out while the Targaryens grow in strength, not only Daenarys but Aegon as well. Varys predicts that with all of the mistrust already floating around that Cersei will immediately blame the Tyrells for the murders and that the Tyrells will blame Cersei and even the Dornishmen will be part of the blame game. What possible peace there was between Dorne, the Lannisters and Tyrells will be effectively shattered by Lord Varys. His logic is sound as Aegon being on the throne will be better for the people because he was raised to see it as his duty and not a right for personal gain as Cersei sees it in placing Tommen on the throne. It would seem even though Varys has been removed from his place in the kingdom and is on the run in a sense, he is still very powerful. He still knows how to get in and out of the castle and his “little birds” are still everywhere, which is evident in the group of children around him who move in with daggers to finish Kevan Lannister off. Varys seems to truly want to help the people of the realm, already having a distaste for the High Lords of the realm and their game of thrones as he told Ned Stark in the Red Keep’s dungeons in book 1. I truly hope he hasn’t put his faith in the wrong person and Aegon turns out to be the leader he should be.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but it’s going to be pure torture waiting for Martin to complete the next book “The Winds of Winter”. And lord knows he has a lot of time before having to actually complete it before the HBO show catches up with him since it’s only going into season 2. I am giving the book a 4 out of 5 bears.
It was great to at least see every character return, even if a few of them were only for a couple chapters. Noticeably missing from the book by it’s end were the characters of Sansa Stark and Petyr “Little Finger” Baelish. Last time we saw them they were in the Vale of Arryn with Little Finger securing his position of power by murdering Lysa Arryn and becoming Lord Protector of the Vale with plans to marry Sansa to Robert Arryn. Baelish is one of the more interesting characters in the series and I hope to see him featured in a POV chapter in Winds of Winter.
The deaths were all surprising, still showing that Martin has no qualms with offing anyone in these novels. He doesn’t just kill with reckless abandon, there’s always a reason behind the deaths in his Song of Ice and Fire novels. I couldn’t give it the full five bears simply because not enough happened with many of the core characters in particular Daenerys. She really didn’t move forward at all, if anything she took two steps back. Without a doubt the book moved things along but only a little. It felt like Martin was just trying to get readers back into the swing of things after being gone from Westeros so long. So I say to him, we’re back and ready to go so bring on Wind of Winter…. in the next couple years if you can.
When I first saw news of this I was a little disappointed. My whole thinking was that if they had at least a twelve episode season 2 of the show then they could have put a little more of book 3/season 3 into the tail end, that way season 3 wouldn’t have to be cut short, but it was not to be. Check out what the show runners had to say from IGN below:
[box_light]The execs said, “If we could do 12 episodes, we would,” but that the creators of the show couldn’t “physically make more than 10” given the show’s scope, size and cost without either having there be more than a year-long delay between seasons or the quality being diluted. Game of Thrones was renewed while Season 1 was airing, long after it had wrapped production. It will be interesting to see if Season 3 (and beyond) get earlier renewals, giving the team more time to work – and perhaps allow for longer seasons.[/box_light]
Apparently to us simpletons there is far more that goes into a one hour episode of A Game of Thrones than we think, which is understandable because I’ll guarantee there is. At this point I’m more worried about season 3, since A Storm of Swords was 1,128 pages long and seemed like there was a lot more going on in the story than there was in book 2. Season 3 will undoubtedly be the best season yet if it’s done right. And by done right I mean they can’t be cutting out a whole bunch of stuff. I hope the show runs to completion on all of the books, even though George R.R. Martin is still writing away at them. They also touched on that at IGN:
[box_light]With Season 1 such a big success, HBO clearly has a lot of enthusiasm about Game of Thrones, and at one point during the Q&A today the execs said, “We told George [R.R. Martin] we’d go as long as he kept writing.” Of course that’s not an official commitment to pick up the series for years, and Lombardo admitted, “It would be wonderful to say ‘this show will go on for ten years and include [every aspect] of the books,” but I don’t know if that will be the case.” Still, they are clearly hopeful for the show to go the distance, given the fandom so far, noting it was new for them. At one point, the execs remarked, “People have been watching casting on this show in a way we’ve never experienced before.”[/box_light]
I think with more and more fans spreading the word that Game of Thrones will remain the ratings monster that it has been for HBO. Hopefully this means that certain scenes will still look good due to budgeting and we’ll get to see the whole story play out. If not then I suppose we still have George Martin’s excellent books to read.