Friday, March 1, 2013

[Re-read] Tyrion III: Tywin Tywin Tywin - Part I

Boy, what a week it's been. I feel busier than Martin himself - I've done a lot of stuff, especially at work, but haven't written much. To remain sane in such stressful times, it is good to kick back with a delve into otherworlds, where the mundane problems we face in everyday life are forgotten and the struggles become more epic, enriching the mind with entertainment of the fantastical. Better whip up A Storm of Swords then, where "work" has a different meaning altogether. Still, I think I prefer being a teacher over being, say, the Hand of the King. By the way, did you catch those deleted scenes from Game of Thrones: Season Two? I know a fair few scenes that made it to the TV screen that I'd gladly swap to get these babies into the show, especially the meeting between Sansa Stark and Sandor Clegane aka the Hound. The scenes also reminded me how much better the books are in every possible way (not to say I don't like the series; it just can't compare to the written word).

So, we're done for now with Sam taking step by step - ooh baby - through the snow-clad lands beyond the Wall, and return to the city of King's Landing and the more medieval approach to the story, which I enjoy more even though I do like my epic fantasy. It's just more interesting because of the political machinations, the intrigue, the characters constantly dueling verbally, the splendor and the decadence all rolled into one. All this from the point of view of Tyrion Lannister doesn't make it less interesting either. It's basically awesome stuff on paper. 

'Throne of the Crescent Moon'
Unholy macaroni, where does time go? Maybe Tywin knows. I began this post and then real life just came and took every single moment of my time for these last weeks. And with almost no time for the enjoyment of various fantasy, be it literature, games...first I had an extremely busy week at work with lots of overtime, and this last week I've been busy in the studio with my hobby metal band, recording four songs that we're planning to unleash upon the Internet once they've been mixed and all that. If you want to hear what Slyntrage sounds like...well, I'll probably link to the material once it's ready. But now, the ordeals are over and I can sit back and relax a little bit with a chapter of A Storm of Swords. Oh, all right, I've been able to read a little bit before going to bed, of course. I finished Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon, which was really enjoyable and so far the best book I've read this year, and I am still on a Forgotten Realms-binge, reading source books for the roleplaying game, which I find quite enjoyable; even though I can't agree with all the zaniness, I've discovered that there's quite a lot of interesting concepts and ideas in there, and of course it helps bring life and atmosphere into the new tabletop campaign I'm running. Anyway, back to Ice and Fire...incidentally, last night they aired the Blackwater episode on national television, and though there is so much lost in the translation from book to screen, I was still riveted. And reminded that the Hound is growing on me, and I think actor Rory McCann will prove himself in the upcoming season - so close now. And with that, it's time to get into the Tyrion chapter that's been languishing in my to-do list for the last couple of weeks. That Ahmed-novel really deserves its own review, but I guess the Internet is full of those already. It's not perfect but it has good pacing, interesting developments and a refreshing setting...kind of. And now I noticed I already complained about being busy in the opening of this post...sorry about that. Little did I know things would get busier before I could return to fantasydom's greatest novel.

And what a great line to open the chapter with - although it's a kind of hindsight-line, a line more ominous in its meaning once you've read the entire novel: Lord Tywin's chain of hands made a golden glitter against the deep wine velvet of his tunic. I'm venturing out and calling this subtle foreshadowing. Tywin is surrounded by the lords Tyrell, Redwyne and Rowan, and we've also got Varys, the High Septon, Pycelle and Cersei present. Quite a gathering of power. Tywin settles down in "the king's place at the head of the long table" which says so much, this is show, don't tell at its finest. Ack, if there was one character I wish we'd have seen more of in the saga, I wouldn't surprise myself if I picked Lord Tywin Lannister. Tyrion, by contrast, has to make do with Pycelle's old place "at the foot", instantly letting us know how that elusive thing called power has shifted from one Hand to the next; it's also bloody annoying for us Tyrion-fans, because he was doing a damned fine job being the Hand if you ask me. But I do get more Tywin so it's kind of hard to complain right here. Gotta love how Tyrion gazes at Pycelle "without remorse". The old man is a wreck after the incident with the beard. Not the beard!

Looks like we're being set up for a meeting, then, and in any other novel your eyes would probably start to glaze over, but here we have such living, breathing, entertaining characters arrayed before us, knowing that sparks can fly and great dialogue can be had; that's the thing with the first three Ice and Fire novels, it all seems so effortless. There's direction, there's purpose, there's drive; even an upcoming council meeting is interesting. Tyrion observes that there are many new faces in the room, and that too much has changed while he was in bed, neatly warning the reader to be on his on her guard. For the Tyrion-fans it is good to hear that the Imp did in fact get some recognition for his great deeds during the Baratheon assault on the city, but Tyrion does not dwell on it too much, instead mulling over Cersei's intrigues, which shows us that Tyrion is able to keep his cool, one of his endearing traits.

Great actor, miss the sideburns.
We are reminded of the upcoming wedding, but Lord Tywin wishes to discuss the war first. Another great way of characterizing him without being explicit (let me just throw in that authors of D&D novels should take a cue or ten from Mr. Martin when it comes to characterization - and all the other writer's tricks). Varys gives us an update from the field, which leads us into a discussion about Robb Stark and the host of the North; we are given a few backstory details on Lord Mace Tyrell through Tyrion's thoughts, again we see the master at work as he weaves these tiny details into the narrative in that seemingly effortless way of his, and once we know how Martin works, we can safely assume that he ain't putting those details in there just for giggles; Mace Tyrell will become an important player in the game of thrones, hence by feeding us a little info on him the character becomes more real as the story progresses. Tywin sums up the situation for us, reminding readers of just how complex the situation in the Seven Kingdoms has become with the Greyjoys entering the fray. For a reader like myself, these bits are appreciated. It also serves to better illustrate just why people are fighting - in this case, the Lannisters are simply threatened by enemies on all sides, and that's quite important to remember - exactly what motivates Lord Tywin to make his strategic decisions and how these in turn affect the military events in the world.

My apologies for breaking off the re-read post at this point, but once again real life is in need of my considerable expertise. I will finish the chapter as soon as I am able to.

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