Saturday, June 23, 2012

[Re-read] Tyrion I: Wounds of Betrayal

Time to tackle another chapter from A Storm of Swords. Now let's see, where were we? Believe it or not I have to go recheck my blog to see which chapter I am going to read. That means, of course, that it's been too long by far since the last time. And that my brain doesn't work in mysterious ways. No wonder I need to read these things so many times. All right, going to turn off the rather disruptive but oh so perplexing and extreme metal from unknowns Mirrorthrone, who manage to blast out so many ideas in the span of a few minutes it makes my head spin (and not just from the sheer assault on the old ears; you get the idea if you feel like following the link). 

Ah, I read Arya I on the 5th of June. That is actually quite a while ago. Perhaps not compared to intergalactic time, but you know. That's two weeks. Two extremely busy weeks with little to no fun except for a couple of hours spent exploring the world of Diablo III (and I'm already feeling like I've been there, done that and I doubt this game will keep me interested much longer; how does this type of game get to be so popular? Because of it's simplicity? The endless click-fest? I do love the visuals, though. Those dungeons are great), reading a little bit now and then, working on a fantasy map in Campaign Cartographer 3, and, today, looking through some old classic D&D adventures just for fun. Fortunately, my summer holiday starts tomorrow. Tomorrow! Woot, yay, and woohoo. It will be a time for dark spells and powerful swords. Or some such. 

Anyway, after Arya I we get nothing less than Tyrion I. He's always good for a chuckle - and in many cases, a feeling of pity as he, being heroic and all, never gets cred. Never! Will we see Tyrion triumph over prejudice before the saga ends? Or will he get even lower than riding a pig (I doubt it)? Or is the pig-riding sequence in A Dance with Dragons symbolic of Tyrion having reached the lowest rung on the ladder and from there on, he's only going to get up (literally speaking if we can get him to meet a dragon)? Time will tell. Maybe in The Winds of Winter. Martin has publicly stated that he needs to hurry up, so there's that (tried to find the link to the statement, couldn't find it - and now I have to take a break from writing this post as the family has returneth and demandeth my immediate and compassionate attention). Oh well, that just means I'll jump straight into the chapter once time again is on my side and yadayada. I was supposed to do some writing too. Arf.


Oh my, I wrote the above two days ago. Not been off the hook due to real life stuff. And by stuff I mean home improvement. I do so understand what people meant when they told me that buying your own house is buying yourself more work. It's all beside the point of course, for here we have the first Tyrion Lannister AKA The Imp chapter of A Storm of Swords, arguably the best and most beloved of what I've begun to call "the original trilogy" (nudge / wink). Today's edition is the Kindle version as I'm too lazy to go downstairs and pick a printed edition from the shelf. Hey, I've demolished an outhouse all by myself today. Tiring for a man more akin to, ah, I don't really know who I'd compare myself to in A Song of Ice and Fire. I know there's a "What House are You in Westeros" thingy online, and I believe I ended up serving House Baratheon. I do have some similarities to one of the Baratheon brothers - King Robert - I also don't mind a cup of wine or good strong ale from time to time, and my exterior may just have expanded a bit over the last couple of years. And like Selyse Baratheon, I have a hairy upper lip. But that's it. Always felt more like a Lannister-man. Go Lannisters! Long may they reign upon the Iron Throne, I even agree with Tommen's decision to outlaw beets. Boo beets! Oh yeah, Tyrion I. Sorry.

Oh hey, this scene has already been implemented in Game of Thrones, the TV series. Would have been so awesome if they had dared leave Tyrion's fate hanging for the viewers. I do understand the choice though. Tyrion awakes to the "sound of old iron hinges", having the reader immediately curious about his surroundings. There's scant light and Tyrion has no grasp of time or place, and I'm right there with him, throughout this whole chapter as I remember it Martin does a great job of putting the reader in Tyrion's shoes bed and really feel just how rotten life is for Tyrion at the moment. It's so ridiculously immersive. A shape moves towards him, and Martin by calling it a shape lingers on suspense as we have no idea who this can be, maybe it's one of Cersei's lackeys come to finish his job for all we know. Good writing, that, keeping the suspense like that, if only for a paragraph. The shape is a man, and the man speaks: "Cut yourself shaving, did you?" It's witty, granted, but extremely disrespectful considering the damage done to Tyrion's face. Imagine visiting a friend who's undergone surgery after a car accident and you say something like that. Unfriended in an instant. Tyrion is his usual self though, not taking himself too seriously (dialogue-wise; we know from his interior monologues that he does indeed take himself seriously): "With a fearful big razor, yes." The hint here to the reader is that Tyrion is the same character, only physically changed. The man speaking is Bronn, and who else could it be with that kind of line of dialogue. I like how Bronn wears a doublet with a burning chain embroidered upon it. It's a cool image but it also is the first warning sign that, well, Tyrion Lannister may end up a little overlooked when it comes to the honors of saving King's Landing from Stannis Baratheon's assault from the sea. I mean, here is Bronn wearing heraldry that in essence depicts Tyrion's triumph - the chain that locked Stannis' boats in the bay, and the (wild)fire that consumed them. But it is Bronn wearing the doublet, and not Tyrion.

Turns out Bronn has taken the sigil as his personal heraldry, as he has become knighted in the aftermath of the battle. A quick and effective way of telling us that certain things have changed since last Tyrion was conscious. Tyrion also tells us that he is convinced Cersei is behind the attack on his person, and there's no real reason to doubt him (though of course it could be Joffrey). Oh, Tywin knighted Bronn. Wonder if that will turn up in the TV-series. Tywin of course is moving pieces around to remove the power around Tyrion, and Tyrion realizes this. Martin's theme of power comes to the fore, and the phrase "Easy come, easy go" comes to mind as well in this sense. Tyrion has lost everything - even his nose - but his life, while those around him have gained prestige, status, rank. I remember the first time I read this I was so angry with the Imp's situation, I felt bad for him and wanted justice for him, I wanted him to be recognized as the real hero of the Blackwater battle. And, of course, I loved how things didn't work out for the dwarf, but still holding out hope that things might turn out all right for him in the end.

There's a quick recap of what happened with Tyrion at the battle, and how things turned out for some of the other characters present, but Martin puts it in with deft writing, not turning it into a boring recap. Recaps are for books that take a little longer to be published, where readers may have forgotten details. /trollface
The Hound is gone, Jacelyn Bywater is dead by spear, and Ser Addam Marbrand is the new leader of the Gold cloaks. I am sure the cloaks long for better days, under the command of Janos Slynt. Let's face it, he was the best man for the cloaks. All that came after him just botch it. Another important bit of information both for the reader and for Tyrion is that the clansmen of the Mountains of the Moon are basically out of the story. Just like that. Wooosh. Sad, but true. And Alayaya was whipped many times (she's standing in for Shae remember? Sometimes I find myself confusing certain plot points because of the changes in the TV show, it's a bit annoying to be honest; not this particular one, though, as Ros was never in the books to begin with). Slowly Martin strips Tyrion of all hope for the future; Alayaya whipped, Tommen taken away so he can't deliver his promised vengeance should anything happen to the whore; the Kettleblacks having turned against him after serving him in A Clash of Kings. Tyrion sums it up best:
"My hirelings betray me, my friends are scourged and shamed, and I lie here rotting (...) Is this what triumph tastes like?

Bronn goes on to tell Tyrion about the return of Lord Renly Baratheon, another surprise I would have loved to see intact in the TV series (well, it was kind of there with Loras arriving in Renly's armor, but there was no talk of it before hand to build up suspense). Tyrion is given an account of Stannis and Robb, before the whole loss of power-theme comes to a head with Bronn, staunch and loyal and disrespectful but ultimately fun and rude sidekick, also gives up on poor Tyrion. I hate Bronn for this. I love the character, and it's a perfectly reasonable development of the character, but still. I guess I believed he had grown fond of Tyrion (and I guess he did in his own way) and wouldn't abandon him. I also happen to think that Tyrion and Bronn is the greatest of many good pairings in the series, so it was sad to see them part from each other. I would much rather have Tyrion and Bronn strolling the countryside cracking bad jokes and bantering than Tyrion travelling on a boring boat up a boring river meeting flat characters and ending up on a pig's back, so to speak. Fortunately, Martin revealed that Bronn still has a role to play (could Bronn's son end up on the Iron Throne, the irony being that Tyrion did in the end gain power - only it's Tyrion Bronnson?)

We are prepared for the arrival of another player of the game of thrones - House Tyrell, which is more salt in Tyrion's wounds (not literally) because everybody is waiting for the Tyrells as if they were the second coming, while get the point. Everyone is thriving on the aftermath of the Blackwater, while the only one deserving accolades is rotting in bed. Bad mr. Martin. Awesome.

Tyrion tries to get out of bed, but unlike the dashing heroes in the fantasy literature of yore, it is too painful and nauseating an experience for him at the moment. He calls for Podrick Payne, whose screentime is increasing by the chapter. I like Martin's description of Tyrion's pain, likening it to being bitten by a toothless dog. Bronn and Pod end up helping him get into clothing, oh wait. Wait.
Now I realized there was a Tyrion chapter in  bed in A Clash of Kings, with Maester Frenken. Maybe that's why his time in bed feels like such a long stretch of torment, because it is placed across two books?
Tyrion lets them lead him out of the chamber and down the tower, people looking at him as if he were a ghost, or someone back from the dead at any rate (funny how this gets literal in the series later on). We get yet another description of Maegor's Holdfast, which was already well described in the previous books, which I feel is a tiny tad unnecessary here but all right. There's some banter with Ser Meryn Trant (did he, or did he not, slay Syrio Forel?!! Waiting for an answer since '96) to get across the moat, and there's a great quip when a Kettleblack asks, "Feeling stronger, m'lord?" and Tyrion replies, "Much. When's the next battle?" Shame Martin added another line to this response ("I can scarcely wait") because it kind of dampens the spirit of the reply, if you know what I mean.

When they have to move up steps, things get worse for Tyrion and he has to ask Bronn to carry him. A new low point in Tyrion's career as a magistrate of King's Landing, but he swallows his dignity. This can be read, I guess, as a subtle contrast to Bran and Hodor. The outer ward they appear in is crowded with Tyrell tents and pavilions, and it turns out they are present for the king's wedding. Oh, a wedding! Those are cozy. I love Tyrion's thoughts on weddings: There was this to be said for weddings over battles, at least: it was less likely that someone would cut off your nose. I see what you did there, mr. Martin. Creating the illusion that even in the brutal world of Westeros, weddings are sacred and pure and innocent and nice. I approve.

He meets Ser Addam Marbrand on his way, who gives us an update on the status of the Gold Cloaks. Marbrand has just come from Lord Tywin and warns Tyrion that the old head of House Lannister is in a bad mood. For some reason we're reminded of Tyrek Lannister, who disappeared during the riot in A Clash of Kings. What precisely is Martin planning with this character who is mentioned a couple of times and that's all we know? Well aside from the fact that he is a cousin, son of Uncle Tygett, and... Wait. Here is a clue: Just before he disappeared, he married a baby (!), Lady Ermesande of House Hayford (widowed before she was weaned, Tyrion thinks - how medieval). That's a clue, I'm certain of it; someone with an interest in House Hayford's legacy? Could Littlefinger be involved? Something is going on at any rate, no matter Bronn's dry "He's feeding worms," because the author surely wouldn't put this into his carefully constructed narrative just to show us that sometimes people disappear and no one's the wiser...or...? Marbrand finishes by giving the directions to Tywin, who is in the solar that belonged to Tyrion for most of the previous volume of lore. More salt please.

He climbs up the stairs and we get a scene between father and son. Whenever two Lannisters face off in a conversation, it's time to break out the popcorn. I'll wait for you.

And really, dialogue like the one you get here is best to read for yourself, it's so full of characterization yet also advances the plot (if minimally). We learn that the wedding will take place on the first day of the new century, we're given an explanation as to why Tywin remains in King's Landing instead of returning to the field of war. There's an ominous line from Tywin about Tyrion's appearance that I dearly hope is not foreshadowing of any kind ("Your face is pale as death, and there's blood seeping through your dressings"), we're reminded that Littlefinger is Lord of Harrenhal (mmm, interesting he's mentioned so soon after Tyrek Lannister), and it's interesting to see that Tyrion has a better gauge on Littlefinger than his father. Tywin wonders what Tyrion wants, and Tyrion wonders too. Now, having come to know the Imp for two books, it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it is still a very human and very emotional response when he replies, "A little bloody gratitude would make a nice start." And that's what I, as a reader, would love to see too; some gratitude for the true savior of the city. They get into a dispute, and the interesting thing is that they both have points. Usually such conversations are a bit one-sided. Tywin does, however, admit that Tyrion was important in the grand scheme of things (but doesn't truly express gratitude), and he also reveals for our convenience that Myrcella has arrived safely at Sunspear in Dorne, there's some setup for A Feast for Crows (though I'm not sure whether Martin knew, for example, that he would end up writing a chapter about Ser Arys Oakheart and Arianne Martell), there's setup for later in this book (the arrival of the Red Viper) which is clever; I love how there is a "real" reason for the Viper to come, if you know what I mean; of course it's all a constructed tale, but within the structure it makes absolute sense. It's all in the politics.

Another nice thing: Tyrion asks his father if he's grown too fond of Ser Gregor and his slaughterwork to let go of him; and Tywin replies that Tyrion has been doing just the same, keeping some "beasts" at his side (Bronn, the Mountain Men). It is a clever and subtle reminder that these two characters, when push comes to shove, are quite alike. And Tyrion taking after Lord Tywin turns out to become a minor but important plot point in A Feast for Crows. The conversation closes with a small but explosive bomb: Tyrion admits that he wants Casterly Rock. And why not? His sister is, well, a woman, and his brother is sworn to the Kingsguard. By rights, if I'm not mistaken, Casterly Rock is his to inherit. Tyrion's proclamation comes as a shock because we haven't really seen him reflect on this matter before, but there it is. Lovely. And how does the mighty Tywin react? His father's mouth grew hard. Better his mouth than...What a great character Tywin Lannister is. So hard, so unassailable. For now.

The word hung between them, huge, sharp, poisoned.

'Nuff said. Sometimes a simple word is enough to convey everything that needs to be told. It's brilliant. It doesn't even really need the addition of the word hanging between them and all that. A line break could be just as effective. I am confident we'll see Charles Dance utter this line, all icy cold (though I must say, the TV Tywin is warmer than the novel version). But why, Lord Tywin? Why do you not acknowledge your son's birthright?

"You ask that? You, who killed your mother to come into the world? You are an ill-made, devious, disobedient, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning (...)"


That's not really a description of Tyrion and certainly not TV-Tyrion but there you have Martin playing with perspectives again. It's fascinating reading. Oy, it was Tywin who ordered Alayaya whipped. That's interesting and something to file away for Tyrion's closure in this book. Nudge and wink.

The chapter ends with Tywin rising from his chair to tower over Tyrion, snapping that this is the last time Tyrion will bring a whore to his bed, because if he does so again, he'll hang her.

This, of course, ups the suspense for the Shae/Tyrion storyline of "forbidden love" (not sure Shae loves him, but aside from that minor point, the Shae/Tyrion story has all the trappings of the classic tale of forbidden love, you know, Romeo/Juliet-style). Not sure if I ever was that tense about Shae being discovered because I never really warmed to her as a character but there you have it, an author can't please everyone all the time, and for every character I haven't warmed to in this series there are ten awesome characters.

Have an excellent weekend.
Peac eout

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Metalheads and Fantasy Geeks are Siblings. No really

[There is a fantasy geek point toward the end of this post. Just takes me a while to get there.]

I'm a geek and I love fantasy thank you very much, but I just can't help but be very passionate about metal music. Heavy metal, hard rock, thrash metal, death metal, black metal, doom metal and all the gazillion subgenres give me an endless supply of creativity, emotion and passion like no music can. I became a metalhead around 1986, a very good year for metal altogether, and have never looked back. People sometimes say I'm narrow-minded, and I usually answer that I am happy being narrow-minded. But really, the metal genres encompass such a staggering amount of different music ("noise" to most people I guess) that within there is more than enough variety to sustain a somewhat varied diet anyway (that being said, I do like classical and movie soundtracks, but these genres are pretty close to metal anyway, aside from the instruments used). 
As an example, I bought four albums last week (yes, I still buy discs) which all fall under the metal-umbrella yet are wildly different. 

Moonspell's latest work was at first listen a bit of a detour from their usually heavily gothic style. This is a band that toys with vampires and gothic romance and doom, perfectly illustrated through their music. "Alpha Noir" is an album a bit less theatrical, but after a few spins it is growing on me, and there is a lot of hidden candy on this piece. For most people I guess this would qualify as noise mainly due to the vocals being of the growling kind, but I love growls and on this album they fit the atmosphere perfectly: the band is Portuguese which gives the deep vocals that accent that adds an extra dimension. Take a song like 'Lickanthrope', where  a classic trope of gothic horror - wolves - is used to chilling effect when the vocalist roars, "AAoooo" accompanied by wolves' howls. Curious? Watch the admittedly-on-the-silly-side-of-things video here. Probably not safe for work (scantily clad ladies, vocalist turning into werewolf, suicide et al). This is music that makes Slynt tick!

Still within the metal genre, but a wholly different thing altogether is the Swedish band Falconer, who have made art out of turning Swedish folk music into soaring and epic heavy metal. "Armod" (poverty) contains more than enough material that any person could nod to and say it's good but it's the trio of powerful very metallic first songs that I love the most on this disc. But still, we're still talking metal, but we've replaced gothic and dark death metal with uplifting, powerful heavy metal with Swedish vocals and a decidedly folkish tone.

Then we have another non-English singing band, Alcest from France. Their music, while still within the metal genre, is so beautiful and soothing you would hardly think it metal aside from select parts within the compositions. I believe they call this 'shoegaze black metal', esoteric music. It's the kind of metal I definitely don't listen to while I drive long distances because I need something that kicks my ass with groove and melody to keep my eyes open.

Which is why I love Kreator's latest masterpiece "Phantom Antichrist". Perfectly blending melodies of ingenuity and beauty with razor-sharp riffs and heavy beats, peppered with sharp lyrics about the state of the world, we're in thrash metal territory, with a dash of classic heavy metal รก la Iron Maiden thrown in for good measure. Driving around with the windows open (wishing I had a convertible) and listening to Kreator is the best. Oh man. 

In metal, you find all other music. Classical music? Try Septicflesh whose heavy death metal is accompanied by a big orchestra and a choir. Norse folk music? Try any black metal band from Norway. Progressive Rock? Try Ayreon, or Opeth, or Dream Theater, or Rush, etc. Jazz? Try Cynic, or Counter-World Experience? Blues? Lots of blues influences in classic early bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Symphonic music? How about Rhapsody or Dimmu Borgir? All instruments are present and correct somewhere within metal, violins, saxophones, keyboards, trombones, you name it. Despite it's somewhat tarnished reputation, it's such an incredibly life-affirming genre. It soars. Metal will never die. 

Every month several hundred new albums are released. It is very hard to keep up, of course. Impossible, in fact. The strange thing is just how much goodness is still being pushed into the world, thirty - forty years after its inception. 

Okay, had to get that out of my system. A little lovin' for my preferred music style. Sorry. 
There is a little connection however to the main subject of this blog, fantasy.

Because I feel the same way about fantasy. I don't read much outside of the genre (this is also partially because of time) because other stuff isn't compelling enough for whatever reasons. But within fantasy there is also a wide range of styles, themes and so forth. From Tolkien's scenic works to Martin's gory glory, fantasy is so big, epic and life-affirming that I don't really feel the need to read much else (aside from non-fiction). There's philosophizing in Erikson; there's comedy in Abercrombie; there are allusions and allegories, yet all packed in a much more entertaining and appealing genre.

So there you have it. Metal music and fantasy are distant relatives, and that is why I believe many fantasy fans also like metal, and many metalheads are into fantasy. 

I guess I don't need to say I love metal bands with fantasy lyrics. I get the best from both worlds, so to speak. Have you heard, for example, Blind Guardian's epic "Nightfall in Middle-earth" album? An entire album about the Silmarils, going through heavy metal and progressive rock with lyrics about Tolkien's world. That is just wonderful. This German band also wrote two songs about A Song of Ice and Fire, both appearing on their 2010 album "At the Edge of Time": 'War of the Thrones', and 'A Voice in the Dark', about Bran Stark, which also was the first single from that album. You can see the music video for the song right here, but don't ask me what those images have to do with the lyrics. The same album also has songs based on the works of Robert Jordan and Michael Moorcock. So that's definitely a band with awesome priorities in the lyrical department.

They are not the only ones dabbling in the realms of fantasy, though. You have the almighty Bal-Sagoth, of course, which is an acquired taste even for a metalhead, which I completely and utterly adore for their genius songwriting. Strip away the guitars and vocals and you have a Basil Pouledouris soundtrack. Perhaps even better. 

Geez, this post is getting long isn't it. I'm gonna put on some epic metal and play a quick round of Diablo III before going to bed and finish Brett's The Painted Man. Or Erikson's Crack'd Pot Trail. Those are the two volumes of lore I'm currently racing to finish. Terribly sorry about all this, as C-3P0 might have said, there will be a re-read post soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Devilry in the building

Finally I caved in. Yes, I bought Diablo III. I played the first one back when it was released, but got quickly tired of it I recall. The second one I had a look at, but suspected it would be more of the same. Well, that's what I thought of the third game as well, yet once installed last night it looked so good and ran so smoothly that I was carried away for a couple of hours there, perhaps a little longer than I should have allowed myself to stay up before today's sports day at work.
Everything within the game seemed designed to keep you chugging along, like Pac-Man following a trail of delectable dots, it's pixellated addiction, and I can be sure this game can/will/may cause some trouble in the foreseeable future, so to speak.
There's some sort of story in the game but it rushes by and you just go on slaughtering and looting like there's no tomorrow (which kind of suits the game's atmosphere) and it is not good, either, but this is a hackfest like no other. Currently playing a wizard named Eztemont, or some such, played him up to level seven before going to bed. Dammit. I don't have time for this. I'm not young anymore. But it's soo fun..
...but it's fun to read, as well, though it's much easier to put away a book after a chapter than Diablo III after dinging. Oh well. We'll see how this goes. Maybe I get tired of the grind like I did in the first one.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Geek's week

What a week! And how fast those hectic weeks go. Mostly work and no play this week, but there have been flashes of geekery. I'm about 70% through Peter Brett's The Painted Man, I've fired up Everquest II (I used to subcribe aeons ago, now I'm content with the free to play edition, since I know I'll get tired of it sooner than later) and played a barbarian for twenty-three levels of experience (those levels come very quickly in this game). I don't know really what I think of Everquest II. It's a pastime. I played a lot last weekend because I had to stay horizontal. And when my back got better I haven't really played that much, it's not that addictive (fortunately). Guess you cold say EQ2 to other PC games of the fantasy genre is a bit like a Dungeons & Dragons licensed novel to a good gritty fantasy novel. It's fun, it's fantasy, but ultimately it's a bit trashy.
Haven't read in A Storm of Swords but hope to get a chapter read and blogged during the upcoming weekend. Mmm weekend.
Elsewise I've been occupied with the European Championships, seeing hope slip with the Netherlands' epic fails (losing against Denmark and Germany), and indulging in my passion for music, mostly. Been considering a rewatching of GoT Season Two but have decided to wait longer to make the second viewing more interesting.
Oh, one more geeky thing. I love maps and I have Campaign Cartographer 3 so I've been playing around with that, but not much. And still writing on a short story, as I mentioned last time I was getting up early in the morning and it worked for two days. Yesterday and today I just couldn't get myself out of bed, so tired from the lack of sleep. Which is a shame. Oh well, will try and be up and about a little early tomorrow. Then it's time to go to work, and then it's time to go buy some beer for the annual summer party with my colleagues. Slynt is going to be very silly tomorrow night. And social. Who would've thought?
Unfortunately I have to live with Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" being the most brutal music at the party. Maybe I should bring my mp3 player full of extreme metal. Now that would be social.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Evening Void

It's kind of weird that there's no new episode of Game of Thrones going on. There's a fifty minute void now, a Sunday evening entropy if you will.

It's Monday over here already, though. Actually, it's fricking early in the morning. It's so early the birds haven't begun their ceaseless chirping outside yet. Lady Slynt and Minislynt are sound asleep. So what am I doing up at such an ungodly hour, aside from being ungodly? Well, as I may have mentioned before, I'm trying to write a little, short stories and a novel and the like. But I never seem to find the time, or when I do find it, I am usually interrupted. So I talked to a colleague of mine who also happens to have a slew of books published, and he said the trick was to get up early. When everybody else is asleep, you can write for a couple of hours before going to work. I've seen this tip before in writer's guides and such, of course, it's nothing new, but hearing it from an actual author was different. So here I am, not writing. Well, I'm writing this, of course. I'm looking out the window of the new home office (a very small home office and to be honest only about 1/3 of the room is devoted to being officey) and wondering why the bleeding ruccula I'm not sleeping. I'll probably fall asleep during my lessons later today.

Oh well, I'm going to give it a try, see if I can get my brain to wake up. Just the body kind of doesn't work. There's the SFF World bi-monthly short story competition I wanted to be a part of. This time the topic is 'fear' and I have the bones of a story, it just needs some good old flesh. And skin and nails and hair. This is the time, now I can write unhindered for at least two more hours (dammit I've already spent the first hour procrastinating on the Internet; is this how GRRM feels when he is in the middle of a Meereen chapter?).

Meanwhile, Is Winter Coming? has had a small facelift (if nothing seems changed, you're probably a member already and need to go to your user control panel and change the theme). We have a simpler logo which more accurately reflects the site's content; the old ravens and picture of the very last page of A Feast for Crows was a bit heavy and serious. Now there's just a troll face grinning behind the "?" which is more like it, I guess. Not that we're trolls (from our own perspective) but we're just having a bit of fun while being online and talking about Martin and his books.

Sigh, I better get started on that short story.

You know what, it worked. Once I managed to scrounge up my notes for the story, opened a blank document file, and, you know, just got going, smoothness ensued. 1, 258 words. Perhaps not much in one and a half hour, but I feel they were good words and now I just want to sit here and continue as I got to an interesting point in the tale, but it's half past six and I need to take a shower before the rest wake up so I'm ready for the kiropractor and then work. But damn, it worked. Totally in the story, focusing and doing a little research at the same time on a few topics related to the story, and getting things down. If I can do this every morning at this rate (which included, as mentioned, a half baked hour of not much) I'll have 8,806 words in a week. I guess that's about how many words this story needs at the moment. 

Off to the shower. Charge!
Oh, and I'll be reading the next chapter in A Storm of Swords this week, too.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[Re-read] Arya I: Little by little, one travels far

Time for another chapter of A Storm of Swords, that book heralded by so many as the greatest piece of cool fantasy literature ever. But it needed the buildup of the two previous books, and awesome as it is, this is the book that begins to show that the story is - seemingly - getting out of the author's grasp. The cast continues to expand, but I guess no one thought of this as a possible danger because the new characters introduced in this third novel are by and large pretty awesome (I am thinking the Queen of Thorns, the Red Viper) and feel integral to the plot. I've always loved the fact that Martin isn't shy in expanding his cast, the more characters the more real the world feels. Of course there's a limit where the weight of characters perhaps makes it difficult to keep a story flowing. In A Storm of Swords Martin still has the groove, fortunately, as has Arya Stark, now escaped from the ruined awesomeness called Harrenhal, carrying a certain coin, and invoking that sense of adventure I first enjoyed reading of that fellowship crossing the lands of Middle-earth; only here we have three quite different types of characters in quite a different setting. Let's re-read and find out what happens in her first chapter in this epic volume of lore. And maybe speculate about what may or may not appear in the third season of the TV show. Occasionally. Maybe.

All right, took a break to read people's reactions on Valar Morghulis over at winteriscoming, the premier fansite for the TV show. It's interesting to see different opinions and by doing this I have come to the conclusion that I'll be at peace with some of the changes they did from the book. So it's a good thing, really, to allow people to have different opinions which can both help (and of course) hinder further insight. Need I mention at which Ice & Fire-related site you cannot present an opinion without fear of the banhammer? And now let's flip open that book. Or click open that ebook. Reading ebook today. Can't be bothered to go all the way down to the bookshelf. Better to sit outside in the nice early summer sun and read on the phone. Ah, gotta love gadgets. 

I love the first line of this chapter, it's so evocative. It sets the mood for (dark) adventure so well: The sky was as black as the walls of Harrenhal behind them, and the rain fell soft and steady, muffling the sound of their horses' hooves and running down their faces. Granted, it's lengthy, but there is so much imagery in this sentence. We learn that the threesome are riding north, away from the lake, following a rutted road. Wolves howl in the distance, which I missed in this week's TV episode. Or was it there? Should definitely have added a wolf howling if not. You know, just to add a bit of tension to the scene. Just before or after meeting up with Jaqen H'ghar. 

We're told that Arya stole three horses, a map and a dagger, and that she killed a guard, all this to confirm why Arya is certain she'll be followed. This immediately sets up tension for the reader as we expect Bolton men to come riding around the bend at any moment. Now that I am reading this I wish the TV show had room for Vargo Hoat, Walton Steelshanks et al. And that it was Roose Bolton and not Tywin Lannister who commanded the castle during the season. Oh well. I can see the reasonings behind these changes, absolutely.

Crossing the first stream, Harrenhal disappears behind them, and Arya leads them off the road to throw off the scent. She's quite resourceful (and thus loveable), isn't she? Oh, and she's ten years old. Always funny these days to be reminded of the characters' ages in the books. Myself I struggle not to see Maisie Williams when reading about Arya, these days. But she's been taught by Syrio Forel, and his words continue to work her mind. Fear cuts deeper than swords. So, ten and skinny she may be, but she's not giving up. The rain stops and starts and stops all day long, like a typical Norwegian summer day, as they travel up and down rolling hills, through bambles and briars, along narrow gullies. In these moments when Martin lovingly describes characters journeying through countryside, the good old specter of mr. Tolkien shows up again, almost unbidden (but welcome). They meet a wolf, but Arya orders her two companions to back off and so they manage to avoid any Imperial entanglements. I mean.. 
There's a burned village with lots of corpses dangling from apple trees, which sends Hot Pie into a repeated prayer. It's cool how Arya looks at the corpses while touching Jaqen's coin, knowing what "valar morghulis" means. To show how hardened Arya has become at this stage of her arc, she plucks an apple from a tree, even though the tree is full of corpses, and eats it, "worms and all". That's a hard little girl right there. Oh, and how about this one for tolkienesque: "Black turned to grey, and colors crept timidly back into the world." Beautiful. We are reminded that autumn is approaching rapidly (or is already here) when Martin takes time to describe how the trees are beginning to brown. Love these small details. During a breakfast, we leave the long descriptions of the journey to get some direct speech action, to break the lull I guess. 

In the conversation as they eat, Arya explains how she knows the way north (more showing of her resourcefulness) and explains that they'll be safe once they get to Riverrun. She unrolls the map to show them, but doesn't dare reveal her secret (her identity) to Hot Pie so she doesn't explain why she knows it will be safe there. Then it's back in the saddle, and back to describing the journey. These small breaks for dialogue are clever (as I guess any writer would agree to) because it gives me as reader the energy to go on with them, even though we're treated to more scenery ("a maze of shallow wooded valleys" does sound nice though). Arya feels they are moving too slowly. In the distance, she sees a pack of wolves. She howls at them, and the leader howls right back at her. Now, I want to believe this is Nymeria and that the direwolf has grown so much since Arya last saw her she doesn't recognize its, ah, voice. Can I say voice? I guess not. Hot Pie begins to complain (he's been quite good so far), but is quickly silenced. More rain, getting colder, pale white mists appear. Unlike Arya, the guys aren't good at riding, which adds to the tension because what if they are caught, you know? Arya knows she could do better without them, but fortunately, although she's turning into a killing machine, she still has compassion and a sense of friendship, so she stays with them.

One afternoon they reach a river. Hot Pie whoops, but Arya - characteristically - chews her lip, realizing this isn't the Trident which Hot Pie hopes it to be. They take another look at the stolen map, the rain pattering against the sheepskin. Turns out they are not quite sure where they are, and there are a lot of rivers apparently, and Hot Pie is obviously not used to maps which is merged into the narrative flawlessly. Arya decides to cross the river, and the others can only follow. She is stubborn. Later they come upon another river which isn't as deep, and by dusk they stop to eat and rest. Hot Pie begins complaining again. He suggest building a fire since he's cold and wet, but Arya and Gendry shout him down. Arya stops to consider Gendry for a moment, how he is becoming like a big brother to her: "He said it with me, like Jon used to do, back in Winterfell." That's sweet. They don't even take the time to sleep, instead riding on after the meal, exhausted but fearful of being caught (no wonder). Arya falls asleep on the horse, and is woken up by Gendry. Arya refuses to admit she fell asleep with the funny line, "I was just resting my eyes," a classic excuse the Slynt has been known to use from time to time as well. Hot Pie rode into a tree limb and got knocked off, which is funny too. Turns out Gendry is the most enduring of the three. 

So Gendry sits watch as the two younger children sleep. They are simply too weary to go on without rest. Which is kind of realistic. You really get the impression of this journey being a struggle. It's grimdark. This is no Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli running and running and running and running and running across half of Middle-earth. There's Tolkien's specter again. 

In her dreams, Arya confronts the Mummers coming after her, but in the dream, Arya is hunting them. She is a huge and powerful wolf in the dream, and she - as Nymeria I assume - takes the fight to them. The fight is almost not described, probably to give the illusion of its quickness, and the chapter ends with Arya/Nymeria exulting as she shakes a ripped-off limb back and forth in her mouth. That's pretty awesome. So now we know that Arya too can warg. I admit I had actually forgotten this detail (or rather, not thought about it) but there it is, Arya can warg too, but she has no one to teach her the subtleties of it. Not that Arya is subtle, anyway. But to me, and I may have mentioned this before, it feels as if the whole warg-plot is kind of lost in the many plots emerging as the series continues; or will it remain an important plot point in Arya's arc (I just realized she does warg at least once more, in Braavos in A Feast for Crows). Or am I taking the warging as being more important than it is, and it's really just an added gimmick to the canvas? Maybe The Winds of Winter will bring more answers. More questions, likely. Anyway. Peac eout.

The GoT Finale

Well, there you go. The final episode of Game of Thrones Season Two has come and gone and I can see why some people are very upset. There were some odd choices in there, particularly toward the last half of the episode. I thought the first half was brilliant, with class performances from - among others - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Donald Sumpter as Maester Luwin - and certainly the guy I was really apprehensive about two years ago, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy. He was really at his best in this episode, both when Luwin suggested the Night's Watch for him, and when he had that awesome speech. I felt sorry for him, even after all he had done. Though I obviously - as a reader and fan of the books - miss Reek, and even Rodrik's little daughter what's her name Betty? - I think D & D made a wise choice in how to wrap this up. The scenes with Brienne and Jaime were good entertainment, as were Bran's scenes. Anything in King's Landing is good these days, and I loved it when Sansa walked away and her face turned into a smile. Such a great moment, quickly subdued by Littlefinger's lacklustre presence. Yeah, I am just not warming to the guy. The actor looks the part sure enough, but the Littlefinger of the TV show isn't interesting at all compared to the book version. Anyway, there was much goodness in this episode. My biggest gripe with the episode was the story beyond the Wall. I feel the Qhorin/Jon scenes were a bit botched, it never felt like a sacrifice; and Sam sitting behind that rock while the undead come a-walking fell flat for me personally, mostly because I found the White Walker (if that was what it was supposed to be) on the horse to be completely embarassing. But there you go, it's easy to forget this is a fantasy series sometimes, because some plots and characters are so incredibly lifelike. Still, the episode gave me the itch to see it again, so there was good stuff in there. Can't believe they already are this far into the story. Can't believe we've actually had two seasons of Game of Thrones. It seems like yesterday that this was only a maybe, a hope, a dream.
This remains an alternative vision, it is based on the books, changes must be made and I understand this. That is why I am able to enjoy it even though it irks me at the same time, same as I enjoyed Arwen's role in Fellowship of the Ring even though it wasn't "supposed" to be like that. The essence remains, if barely at times, and I am very happy with this series. And I want Ser Jorah's outfit, it rocks with the plate and the leather straps and all.

Best line in the episode - I admit I laughed because of the irony - was when Daenerys said something about the people across the sea waiting for her, and then Pyat Pree says "They will be waiting a long time."
Ain't that the truth.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Oh noes, according to at least a number of people on the Interwebz the tenth episode isn't all that. Especially compared to the book. I am very curious as I now prepare to launch episode 20 (10).

It's all over

And so the second season of Game of Thrones is over. Man, those weeks fly by so quickly. I haven't seen the finale yet (saving it for tonight), but I am hoping it follows the previous episode in terms of excitement. Maybe they made Blackwater too exciting? I have a feeling episode 10 will be like a bad hangover but not knowing much about it except for having seen the short preview clip, I'm hoping it will wow me as much as episode nine. The great thing being that knowing how the season leads up to an explosive (literally) finale will make watching episodes 1-8 a better experience. Maybe. It was never a bad experience, of course. Just felt a bit let down after the rather good first season. At the same time I know I needed some time to warm up to that season as well. Enough, I'm off to the doctor.

Friday, June 1, 2012

[Re-read] Catelyn I: In a Boring Room

Oh yeah, A Storm of Swords. It is quite nice knowing they'll split the book in half for the TV show. I hope that will give the episodes a little bit more space to breathe, if you know what I mean. Also, there will be a lot of cursing and whoa-ing on Twitter (the link takes you to reactions to last week's Blackwater episode) say from the middle of the story until the end of what will be season four...And then, it will be up to HBO to continue the story without dipping in quality (like the novels, in case you didn't catch that). Completely unrelated, but Peter Brett's The Painted Man is improving and last night I read a bit and was sufficiently captured to get beyond 30% of the novel, so I guess I'll finish it. But will I read the sequel? 

So, A Storm of Swords (again). Big book, that's for sure. It's kind of intimidating to be only one chapter in - looking at all those pages still waiting. So many words to re-read. It's definitely a fatty. Fortunately Martin has a pretty good grasp of putting those words in cool orders that make for a pretty exciting and unpredictable story. So much so it is more entertaining to read/hear about non-readers going on about the TV show than actually watching it. Pretty sure they hooked a lot of new people with Blackwater, though perhaps they went a little too graphical at times (I mean, that guy who gets half his head cut off). Even a hard man such as myself had to look away for a second there. Oh, you thought I was some weak book-nerd? No, I am as hard as Bronn and Sandor combined, with a little Icarium to top it off.

"Bronn, Sandor, et al, go to bed. Now."

Nah. I'm not that hard. This picture by the way is nine years old (dammit!) and was taken at a medieval outdoors museum. Already back then I was pretending to be some dastardly hedge knight of Westeros. Time flies. Where was I? Oh yeah, A Storm of Swords (again). And Catelyn's first chapter. Last we saw her she had sent Brienne off with prisoner Ser Jaime, leaving her somewhat less popular in Riverrun and environs. 

For once Martin dares open a chapter with pure exposition. Normally he has some catchy sentence that makes your eyebrows go 'woosh' and all you can do is read on (as I've mentioned earlier, Martin is a good example to use to illustrate the point of "catching your reader"). The exposition is about Ser Desmond Grell. He has served Riverrun all his life, the point being that he has been a witness to Catelyn Stark's life from she was born up to this point - when she has betrayed them all by sending the Kingslayer away. Leading us gently into the present, Martin reminds us that Grell is castellan of Riverrun (in brother Edmure's absence) and that he is the one who now must judge her for what she has done. So within the first paragraphs we get a little exposition on Grell to make us care a little extra about the outcome - because now we know this guy has practically known Catelyn all his life; will he be nice to her for old time's sake, or is he as hard as, say, winter? Quite brilliant to open a chapter with exposition and have it be useful immediately, pushing us forward. Turns out he doesn't really like having to do this either, a nice hint to the reader that Grell is indeed fond of Catelyn. To make it easier on himself he's bringing along dour Utherydes Wayn, the guy who sounds like he jumped out of some Arthurian legend to join the cast of Westeros, and Catelyn thinks of them both as loyal men she has betrayed. How often does Catelyn think of her self in favorable light? Can't say I remember. She's really always thinking depressing thoughts about herself but maybe this time she deserves to ponder her own judgement.

Wayn and Grell begin by trying to come with words of consolation: "Your sons (...) The poor lads. Terrible (...) We share your grief, my lady (...) All Riverrun mourns with you, but..." It's that but at the end there that fascinates me. How this simple word makes everything sound less sincere - yes, the guys are probably genuinely saddened by the supposed deaths of Bran and Rickon, but at the same time that's not what they are really here to talk about. 'But'. So fascinating. The sentence missing, that Martin does not need to spell out for us is of course something like "...but their deaths is no excuse for releasing the Kingslayer." But Catelyn sticks to her swords: "I understood what I was doing and I knew it was treasonous. If you fail to punish me, men will believe we connived together to free Jaime Lannister. It was mine own act and mine alone, and I alone must answer it." Now, that should be another point in favor of Catelyn Stark (I've been trying to point out the many good things about the character since '09, when I started this blog - it also means I am an incredibly slow blogger, with an average of one Martin book per year - but hey, it's a hobby, not work). In the end Catelyn's punishment is rather mild. Confined to a tower cell, and she even manages to talk them into letting her stay with her old father. In the east, you can get killed and raped simply for attending a wedding party, yet here Catelyn commits a crime against the North and must suffer...oh wait, her father is a terrible bore. That's the punishment, I guess. Guess you're luckier when you're born noble, eh. Speaking of punishment, if there was one thing I wish they kept in Blackwater, it was the Antler Men. I had looked forward to seeing Joffrey fling them off the walls with catapults, dammit. 

Lord Hoster Tully, being the bore that he is, is sleeping when Catelyn is ushered into his chambers, with all her stuff (just called "her things", but as she's a woman I envision three or four coffers, a couple of bags, a few pouches with powders and lipstick and stuff, and a wardrobe of shoes). Hoster's been moved "half a turn" down the stair (not sure what that means - halfway down the stairs?) so that he can look through the windows onto the river. Shame he's asleep.

Perhaps not the most awe-inspiring sigil. Or motto. They could at least have thought of using a fricking shark.

Catelyn moves out onto the balcony, enjoying the luxury of fresh air on her face (truly a punishment this), wondering whether Ser Robin Ryger will have caught up with Brienne and Jaime. There's a 'smell of death' about the room, which is disquieting, and could be read as foreshadowing Lord Hoster's death (that would be the obvious one) or even...Catelyn's death? Nah, that would be reading a bit much into it. The strange thing is, in my opinion, that the room smells of death at all. It's not like anyone's dead in that room. Just old and sleeping. She mutters to herself how cruel life is - not only did she lose her husband, but now her children are dropping like flies - to which Hoster wakes up, sputtering the immortal line, "Tansy." Followed by a little more interesting stuff, like "Forgive me, the blood...oh please Tansy". Now I love how Martin is playing around with us, creating these small mysteries within the larger narrative framework and having us wondering if Tansy is a name (which is logical to assume since it's spelled out with a capital letter) or if the old geezer is actually babbling about 'tansy', as in that stuff women put in their tea to cleanse their wombs of unwanted pregnancies. Curious...ten years ago, when the debate was still hot.

Not that there is much mystery, not really, because a few lines of Catelyn wondering about women named Tansy her father says, "You'll have others...Sweet babes and trueborn," which all but confirms that Hoster is talking to Catelyn's sister Lysa, and from there the speculation goes quickly into Lysa - Littlefinger territory. At least that's the prevailing theory if I'm not utterly and irrevocably mistaken. However, there is one thing. Littlefinger is a small-time lord (of the Fingers) so wouldn't that child be trueborn? More importantly, why does George decide to add this detail to the story? A bastard son in Lysa's womb and her father helped her get it out of there a bit early. To help her and hide the shame? Who was the father if not Littlefinger, and how will this be integral to the rest of the story? So when I say "not that there is much mystery, not really" I actually mean "what the fuck is going on here, my head is about to burst". Lovely though, isn't it, how Martin adds all these little details to make the world come alive. Every character has a secret, or a cool trait, or something to set them apart. Distinctive is the key word.
A last note on this particular mystery, maybe Martin added it simply to flesh stuff out. It kind of helps characterize Lysa in how protective she is of Sweetrobin, now we know why kind of. It was the only child she ever managed to have. Stroking one of my chins with a pondering frown, I believe this could be the simple answer to the question I posed above. This kind of detail sadly gets lost in the TV series.

Maester Vyman appears when Hoster screams, mixing him a dose of milk of the poppy (better than milk of the puppy) and so Hoster falls to sleep again. What a host. Catelyn asks Vyman about Tansy but the maester knows of no one with that name, which is Martin nudging us along in the right direction. Still, he muddles the issue when Vyman begins thinking of how smallfolk name their daughters for flowers and herbs. Would be lovely to get a POV in The Winds of Winter from peasant's daughter Cannabis. Or not. Oh, but then Martin sets the ship straight again when Catelyn rectifies Vyman's memories. Good. Case solved, then: the tansy is the herb, the recipient was Lysa, and Hoster feels bad about the incident. The maester hurries off, telling her he really shouldn't be talking to her, since she's a prisoner (more like being grounded).

In the next sequence, we stay with Catelyn as she stays the day inside the chamber. Now if this was A Dance with Dragons that could well have taken up a chapter as she inspected the various items available to her in the room and pondered where they were made and by who, but Martin quickly skips to evenfall when Maester Vyman returns to check on the old man. He reveals that Jaime is still free, and when Catelyn asks for more news, she presses him to tell her that Robb Stark has taken "a wound storming the Crag". I've said it before, I'm saying it again: Robb really should've had his own POV chapters in this book. Would be so cool to actually witness the storming of the Crag, the taking of that wound, and all else that he experienced in his war of vengeance. Vyman assures her the wound is nothing serious, but for the reader it is a (subtle?) reminder that people can get wounded - and people can die. So better pray for Robb Stark, gents and ladies, because maybe just maybe his streak of luck is coming to an end. When Catelyn asks where he was wounded, it would've been kind of droll if Vyman said, "I just told you, at the Crag", but instead he gathers his potions and hurries off, already feeling he's told her too much. Another old guy at the keep with a soft spot in his heart for the Lady Tully-Stark, then. And Hoster continues to hack and cough and sleep and mutter about blood and tansy.

In the night, Catelyn's dreams are dark and disturbing, not really giving her the rest she needs. Catelyn continues to wonder about the mystery, and Martin gently leads us by the hand to Lysa, who had "miscarried five times (...)", which supports the theory. How bad must he have felt forcing upon her tansy when she finally got pregnant? This is followed by more background story, filling in gaps in the relationship between these two sisters. Reading it impresses me - all these intertwining backstories going all the way back to Robert's Rebellion - and it all fits like a puzzle all the way back to A Game of Thrones. Now, when Martin - through Catelyn - almost concludes that Hoster forced Lysa to abort, I become suspicious. Is he obfuscating (look I know a difficult word! *hopes he uses it correctly*) here to make us not see the truth? And why the heck was Hoster so worried about Lysa getting married to Jon Arryn yadayada when his true heir was and is, in fact, Edmure? That bit doesn't make sense, and therefore, while I agree with myself that I think I know what I know (er...), I am not making bets here. 

She throws on robes and goes to stand over her father. What else to do when you can't sleep? Oh. There you have something that brings a little sense: "Lysa was the price Jon Arryn had to pay for the swords and spears of House Tully." Phew. Still cool how it all ties into Robert's Rebellion. Without that rebellion as a fully formed and fleshed out background, this series might well have broke with inconsistencies. Martin did a fantastic job setting it all up and so I refuse to believe he has just "a couple of scattered notes". All right, the next day she writes a letter to Lysa, telling her that Hoster, their father, needs her forgiveness. That is a good deed and another point for Catelyn. Another hint of Hoster's impending death when Vyman tells her he'll probably be dead before Lysa can reply. Catelyn thinks Vyman has said it before, which tells us something about just how persistent Hoster is. Maybe we'll see him rise from his bed in the final book, crowning the new King (or Queen) of Westeros (I honestly can't remember right now whether Hoster still lives - I blame it on the beer. Maybe I should never drink beer again. Think I have to go and pop open another.)

Yadayada, this chapter isn't very tense, is it. Calm, gloomy. Catelyn goes to the sept to light a candle (reminding us she's somewhat more religious than many other characters in the series, we also note how helpful that is), and then it's back to boring Hoster's bedside where she reads "the same passage over and over." Interesting. Fortunately, there's a trumpet blaring which rouses her to action. Off she goes to the balcony, realizing her brother Edmure has returned. Where had he been? Out fighting Lannisters I suppose. Or buying groceries.

Two hours later he comes to her in their father's chambers. The man is thin and drawn with pale cheeks, an unkempt beard and "too-bright" eyes. Uhm? Oh. They're bright with pride, I guess: "I threw them back. Lord Tywin, Gregor Clegane, Addam Marbrand, I turned them away." I would be proud too. Those are formidable foes. Edmure also reveals that Stannis lost the battle at King's Landing (oh really!), which dismays Edmure. Not Catelyn so much. After all, she knows he was behind the quite dishonest murder of Renly. To sum it up, Edmure tells her that "Highgarden has declared for Joffrey. Dorne as well. All the south. And you see fit to loose the Kingslayer (...)" Awesome reprimand, Ed. Go season three! Catelyn says she had a mother's right, and I find it a pretty weak excuse over all. She tells him how Brienne swore on her sword to bring Arya and Sansa back. Yeah, Edmure is probably doing a mini-wave in celebration of you now, Cat. There's no "mother's right" in Westeros. This is medieval woman. Learn your place. Next up Edmure tells her Tyrion is most likely dead after getting an axe to the head (it's often the result), and with that knowledge Catelyn's brilliant plan crumbles like, er, very old parchment. Now this action - freeing Jaime - may be the main reason why people dislike Catelyn but come on, even abducting a few points for her stupidity in this specific case doesn't make her a bad mother or woman or character. 

Edmure Tully looking all unperturbed. 

Ed tells her he's sent three ravens informing of Jaime's "escape", one of them "certain to reach Lord Bolton". There's that Bolton guy mentioned again. Weird how often his name shows up lately. Mm. What this essentially means for anyone not having read further than this chapter, is that Edmure with one stroke (three ravens) has ruined her plan - with Jaime escaped, why should the Lannisters have any reason to give her back her daughters? Exactly. Dumbass Edmure Tully, I can see how these two are siblings. No really. And that's how the chapter ends, with Catelyn is dismay. I was about to write "things are starting to look dark for Cat" but it's been dark since the prologue in the first book. I saw somewhere ( I believe) someone finding the TV show a bit too dark and predictable in that the good guys always lose and the bad guys live, I hope they continue to watch because while it is partially true it is not entirely true, is it. I mean, there's at least one two bad guys going down in this book (unfortunately the series is much weaker without them). And now I've written enough for today. After all, it's Saturday and a man should be socializing more. Writing about a fantasy book and listening to dirty old school thrash metal is kind of a solitary thing. Here in my little nifty office I have been able to raise with mine own hands. I love it. I've never had an office before. It's not technically an office, more of a guest room, but hey, I have all my CDs stacked up in shelves, a nice computer with dual monitors, and a lot of other gadgets in here. It's like my own private cave. However, the party is in the living room. So peac eout and enjoy the weekend as much as you can. Really. 

The Hound was awesome in Blackwater, wasn't he. Finally. Oh, one final thought. What if Martin re-characterized Hoster to be more like Homer Simpson. That could liven up these chapters.