Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Disturbance in the Force

I was writing this long-winded (you know me) post on what I was looking forward to in the realm of fantasy come 2017 (no, I believe it's too late for The Winds of Winter alas) when the news of Carrie Fisher's passing hit me. Carrie was always a favorite, so much fun, and her return as Leia in The Force Awakens was heart-warming. Thank you, Carrie. "To me, she is royalty." I can't believe she's gone. 

So long, princess.

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016: A Rretrospective

(Sorry for borrowing the title of one of your collections, George. It just popped up in my head, and now that it did, I admit I feel a little compelled to go pull GRRM: A Rretrospective from the shelf and flip through it; it's a nice collection of Martin's early works (the only story directly related to Westeros is 'The Hedge Knight', though ... gods, that means I own six copies of the same damn story; in the original Legends, in Knights of the Seven Kingdoms, as a series of comic books, as a trade paperback collecting those same comic books, and in this 'rretrospective'; plus the same trade paperback on the Kindle (an accidental buy I didn't notice until it was too late to do anything about it). In case you have a sharp memory and remember me stating I would never buy Knight of the Seven Kingdoms because I already had its contents in multiple versions, maybe I received it as a gift from someone? I didn't.
Anyway, you know me, much ado about nothing and lots of rambling and circling around the point, but the point of this particular post is to summarize the year's good stuff. Without further ado, hit the "Continue Reading" button for some rambling on the year that was. I intended this post to focus on A Song of Ice and Fire in 2016 but it just warped into something completely different. Sorry for that, and you've been warned - another non-Westerosi post.

[Review] The Last Wish

When I first, out of boredom more than interest, purchased The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, I had only a vague idea of the Witcher and his world. I played the first game, The Witcher (2007) a couple of hours at most, and that practically feels like a century ago. I was aware of its sequel but never bothered. It was not that The Witcher wasn't cool; it was intriguing, but the games were a tad too demanding on the system I was running then and so no love blossomed.

Over the years, I was aware of this Witcher fellow, who looked pretty much like the stereotypical (and thus, uninteresting) anti-hero, but it wasn't until I caved in due to the excellent reviews of the third game that I finally got to know him. If you don't, I can tell you that the titular Witcher's name is Geralt, of the realm of Rivia, sometimes also called The Butcher of Blaviken. And that nickname ought to make you guess: This is violent fantasy, and the best Game of Thrones videogame I have played. There are a lot of differences, but the similarities are striking, perhaps because George RR Martin's world is so ingrained. Makes the similarities stand out more, I suppose.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 21: Tyrion III (ADWD)

...and just one day after that massive rant I have to admit that simply writing about the film made me really eager to see it again. Sometimes I find my brain hard to understand, but hey, whatever. I probably sounded very negative toward Rogue One yesterday, but I'm really not *that* bothered, it just comes off like that because there were so many nits to pick. The good thing about not being completely wowed: I'm not lost in a Star Wars-spiral of watching and rewatching movies, spending money on merchandise etc. and can freely go on with my re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire, the saga that, after all, at its best, is the best.
Trade in your lightsaber for a Lightbringer and off we go, this time to Chapter 21 of the combined re-read, which happens to be Tyrion III from A Dance with Dragons (it's an old novel, from 2011 or thereabouts, so I'm not surprised if you haven't heard about it; but you've probably heard of that Game of Thrones series where they kill off everyone and there's a lot of bewbs? Yeah.)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A rantish review (or a reviewish rant) WHATEVER

So I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story the other day; you may have heard of it. As a Star Wars lifer I couldn't help but jot down my reactions to this latest installment. The first part I wrote the day after the premiere, the second part I finished today. It is long (10,000 words!!) and I have no time for trimming and editing of the text, so please don't take it as any attempt at a professional review or whatever. It's more like a rant, anyway. So, without further ado and with my apologies for rambling on and on, here are my unedited first thoughts on the most anticipated movie since last year's Star Wars movie! Also please excuse any grammatical errors yadayada not native English; and most of all, if you're a total fan of Rogue One, forgive me my initial misgivings; I do hope more viewings will convert me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Today is the Day

I cannot properly express how it feels to be a lifelong Star Wars geek on the day a new Star Wars movie premieres. Especially when it is already receiving glowing reviews and is compared to The Empire Strikes Back. Wow, the minutes are crawling by now. Sloooow...... may the Force be with you on this day of Star Wars. The Winds of Winter can wait. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 20: The Kraken's Daughter

My posts usually do not respect spoiler boundaries. I'm talking about stuff from all over Martin's canon, including spoiler chapters from books that never seem to be published.

You know (forgive me if I've mentioned it before), when A Feast for Crows was published, one of the things that really irked me was the out-of-the-blue change where Martin suddenly gave some chapters titles. It actually took me a good while to realize that these titles were actually titles in more than one sense: they were descriptions, titles, related directly to the POV character of the chapter; so in a sense, Martin did continue the tradition of having each chapter named for its POV; only with the many new minor POVs he gave a description instead of just a name. Once I understood this, and how it helped differentiate the minor added POVs from the more "proper", established main characters. Now, eleven years after its publication, I can say I am finally good with this abrupt change (weird how it still feels as if this is something new) and that in many cases I actually like the titles. "The Kraken's Daughter" is one of them. It's a cool title in itself, and it also gives us a description of Asha Greyjoy in the role she has in this particular chapter, as the daughter of Balon Greyjoy, King of the Iron Islands. Now it's almost like I'd wish all chapters in the saga had titles that refered to the POV character's state of mind/status/whatever, because it's cool - and this is actually what Martin ended up doing with Arya and Sansa's chapters in these two last books, where the author is playing with character identity and this is reflected in their changed chapter titles. An interesting experiment, at any rate. Some part of me (the compulsive disorderly one I suppose) still thinks it would be the neatest to have names only; but some actual chapter titles that give away more than who the POV is, is nice too. Come set sail with me as we go to the Iron Islands and Theon's sister, Asha Greyjoy! If you're a TV-only fan, you are probably already aware who Asha is; they changed her name to Yara in the TV show, I suspect because the name was too similar to Osha's. Personally I think it was an unnecessary change - Osha is barely seen after Yara's introduction, and there are other characters whose names are at least as similar (Bronn/Bran, Jon Snow/Jon Arryn).
What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger! 

While we're at it, let's look for any...shades of HP Lovecraft while we're at it as well; I've been reading a few theories trying to link Martin's setting - and in particular the Ironborn culture - with H.P. Lovecraft's Chtulhu mythos. This link seemed to become very obvious with The World of Ice and Fire in which Martin introduces a lot of Lovecraftian elements. All right, hit the "Continue Reading" button below and we're good to go.

So Much Toil

Wow, do not simply install the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. It took me nearly a week to get things back in order. At first it merely slowed down my computer, but I ended up with two wiped hard drives and the prospect of reinstalling everything which, these days, can take a while with programs happily eating 50 GB. Fuck.
Installed update. PC began to freeze after a minute in Windows. Tried to revert to previous installation. No dice. Tried a lot of other things. Fucking ended up breaking everything. Howled with rage when I realized I needed a boot-DVD and my machine didn't have a drive. So much toil!

Fortunately, I learned a little when my previous PC imploded, and so I had saved my writing stuff, my music, and other creative endeavors onto OneDrive, which I now love a good deal more than I used to.
All this to say that my upcoming re-read of 'The Kraken's Daughter' is coming, but it's a little late in the running. Cool chapter, though. Cool character. Now that everything is (almost) back up and running - I did lose countless hours of toil in my games, such as The Witcher III (I love you!) and other cRPGs - I hope to finish up Asha's chapter and get it published right after this post of self-pity and first world problems laid bare.

Five days until I'm freaking out in the cinema watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I feel an oncoming screen crush..

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wars & Witchery

So I finished Catalyst, yet another Star Wars novel pumped out to sluice more money in the direction of the Disney company. This one is supposed to set you up for the amazing-looking ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, which is premiering in ten days (I know people in the US have to wait a little longer), but if you have watched the teasers and trailers you kind of already know what's going on, no novel really needed.
Seriously, if I had known how little Catalyst actually brought to the table in terms of plot, characters, and fun secrets that would enhance the movie experience, I'd probably skip this one. I'm aware I haven't seen the movie yet and there might still be some form of "enhanced experience" after reading the novel but everything about it makes me doubt it.

If you've seen the trailers you'll have figured out that main character Jyn Erso is going to fix what her father Galen Erso did wrong and Director Orson Krennic is going to be the foil. The teasers and trailers also make it easy to link Galen to being behind the Death Star as an ultimate weapon, and that Jyn is going to help the Rebellion steal the plans for that weapon, leading up to and straight into the classic Star Wars (1977). The clips also show Jyn as a child, and her mother (Lyra); in Catalyst, the story is about the same four characters (though Jyn is only a baby/child throughout the tale), and nothing really happens. Author Luceno just stretches a story out of nothing, really; it's all about Krennic wanting Galen to work on the Death Star. Yes, there are some plot lines woven around this, some feeling very blunt (there's a strong, on-the-nose political message or two in here), and there are other characters involved, and it is the best thing I've read from Luceno so far (which doesn't say much), but the book itself...nothing happens. Not much, anyway. Most of the action is only related after it took place, which is kind of boring especially when you're reading a Star Wars novel. I mean, as an example, there's this exciting aerial attack on a cool environment / location featuring Imperial forces and people hiding, but we're only told about this after. Instead of being thrown right into the action. That's a big sin in my book; and that's why I still prefer Chuck Wendig's Star Wars books which much better emulate the pace, style, and adventurous tone of the movies.

So will I now stop lettimg myself be duped into buying Star Wars novels? Maybe. They have to be especially alluring. Catalyst's lure is that it ties into the upcoming movie (for which I am extremely stoked); others don't have a pull on me (like Ahsoka or Thrawn because they are about non-movie characters I don't care about).

Speaking of books related to franchises - I've found myself immersed in the world of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt again, as I wrote about here, and the (video) game is so damn good and compelling that I found myself buying the first collection of Witcher short stories, on which the game is based. I didn't know much about the Witcher series before delving into last year's number one videogame, but I soon learned about the creator and author, the Polish Andrzej Sapkowskiand the books published so far in English. Sigh, another world of lore to explore...

Anyway, I bought The Last Wish which collects the earliest (chronological) stories of Geralt of Rivia - the Witcher - and am halfway through already. Another cool fantasy to recommend Ice and Fire fans starving for Winter. Will get back to this when I've finished it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 19, Sansa I: CONT'D

Today I've been listening to some pretty obscure music. I mean metal is probably more than obscure enough for most people, but today I've been enjoying stuff so obscure even dedicated metalheads probably don't know everything. Stuff like (checks 'recently played' list in the hands down best music player for Windows, MusicBee) Gorthaur's Wrath, Lux Occulta, Mythological Cold Towers, Concerto Moon, Satariel, Seven Witches, Morphia, Infernal Gates, Possessor, Demolition Hammer, Thanatos, Taetre, Hexenhaus (gotta love that band) etc etc...stuff I usually ignore in favor of the tried and true classics of my youth which I never get over. It was a nice change of pace, digging up music ranging from mediocre to sublime from all over the world. What is definitely not obscure is, of course, A Song of Ice and Fire which has become a household name, but I remember a time when even George R.R. Martin and his masterpiece(s) was something properly obscure. Love that word. Obscure. Obscurity. Once upon a time, the very name of Sansa Stark was something obscure, a secret for those who had discovered the brilliance of A Game of Thrones; unlike your usual fantasy princesses we here had a flawed, realistic and believable character who many loved to hate (and some just hated), and I'd argue Sansa is one of the important factors in the series' success because she epitomizes all that makes Martin's story different from the usual fare. And with that, we'll wrap up Sansa's first chapter in the combined re-read. Join the fun and we'll rule the galaxy together. 
Twenty-four days until Rogue One...dam-dum-dam-DAAM-DAAM.

Monday, November 21, 2016

On the path to ascendancy

Finished Dancer's Lament last week - wow, what a fun fantasy novel. It helps, of course, to already be infatuated with the works of Steven Erikson, as well as the previous Malazan adventures penned by Ian C. Esslemont (does anyone really pen anymore?!), but yeah, there's something about Dancer's Lament that made it stand out even in the good company it belongs in.

Don't ask me how I managed it, but somehow I managed not to realize this is but the first of (yet) another Malazan series - I really thought this was a standalone novel for the longest time, and in a way, it actually does work as a standalone, even though it is (now that I notice) quite obviously the first part of a series called Path to Ascendancy. Whether you begin at the very beginning (Erikson's Gardens of the Moon, 1999) or here with 2016's Dancer's Lament, you're in for a treat, a treat that will force you to think a bit more than usual. I would actually recommend starting out with Dancer's Lament if you're curious about the setting and style but not sure wether to commit. Yes, there will be a lot of stuff that will fly right over your head (and which for long-time readers will be quite obvious and fun nods and winks), but the same thing can be said for Gardens of the Moon. The difference: In Dancer's Lament you are limited to far, far fewer POVs, and Esslemont has a clearer, simpler, less philosophical prose that may make it easier for a new reader to immerse him/herself. In Gardens, the 'real' start, you must acquaint yourself with so many characters and places, and there's no hand-holding (resulting in many people dropping the series before it gets going - and boy does it get going), whereas Dancer's Lament is focused mainly on the adventures of Dorin, as the main character, with the stories of Silk and Itko as two other main strands. That's not too many.

Right, so Dancer's Lament is a prequel, and, this is actually the first time I've read a prequel that I actually enjoy, and that doesn't take away from the already established canon. Erikson made a prequel too, of course, but it's so far back in time it doesn't really feel like one. Dancer's Lament, however, really feels like a prequel as it features two important characters from the "original saga" and how they, well, happened upon the titular path to ascendancy (in Erikson's work, they have already ascended). These two characters happen to be among the most interesting and perhaps fun characters from the main story, so seeing their "young" (or at least inexperienced) versions is good entertainment. While Esslemont is unable to deliver dry wit the way Erikson does so masterfully, he none the less manages to paint these characters with the right colors, and I end up 'believing' this story to be what actually happened prior to Gardens of the Moon. With fewer characters, who were already interesting and established, and keeping the story mainly to one (large) setting - the grand multi-walled city of Li Heng - I'd argue that Dancer's Lament is the easiest-to-read Malazan story so far, a perfect (re)introduction for new, unsuspecting readers. [That being said, I assume reading Dancer's Lament only after the main saga is even richer / more rewarding.]

It's like if the Star Wars prequels were actually interesting and made me believe their version was the actual, true backstory to the original trilogy. Dancer's Lament sticks to the Malazan formula in many ways - cryptic at times, violent and sorcerous, surprising, obtuse, different yet clearly fantastical - but Esslemont keeps it lean and easy, and the pacing is perfect. This novel, following Esslemont's first six under the Malazan Empire banner ("Night of Knives", "Return of the Crimson Guard", "Stonewielder", "Orb Sceptre Throne", "Blood and Bone", and "Assail"), is without a doubt Ian's best, to the point that many a fan has uttered that this even outshines Erikson's own return to the world of Malaz (his "Forge of Darkness" and "Fall of Light"). Not that I didn't enjoy all those books; it's just that Dancer's Lament strips away some of the more ponderous leanings of previous works, it's more focused, sharper...Yeah, definitely recommending this one. Gotta love the setting, the characters, the mythical atmosphere contrasted with the almost mundane banter.

Ian's been working in the shadow of Steven for many years, despite the two of them being joint creators of the Malazan setting; and it must be quite hard to get out of that shadow for Steven truly is an unheralded giant, but with Dancer's Lament, despite in many ways coming closer to classic Erikson, Esslemont shows more muscles and becomes a master of his world, too. The prose feels more confident, the story has a clear structure (for a Malaz tale, that is - plenty of folk might get confused by certain "side treks" in this tale which are obviously setting up the rest of the trilogy), and there's an abundance of creativity - as there should be in a Malazan tale - elements just begging to be incorporated in your next tabletop roleplaying game (as a GM, I really want to 'steal' Ryllandaras). FOR THE GLORY OF THE MALAZAN EMPIRE (and how it came to be)!!!!!!!!!1


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Author"?! "Prophecy of dooooOoom"?!?!

Looking at the blog I noticed I had the audacity to call myself "Author of...." (on the banner next to the 'Stormsongs' logo). I apologize for this grossly misleading title, but in my defense I only recently learned that 'author' should be reserved for those who really know what they're doing, and that I should be perfectly happy with the term 'writer'. Which I will change come the next facelift. 

The Waiting for Winter: Part II has been "coming soon" rather long, too. Word is it is actually still in the works, so that you can complete the set of at times inane commentary on A Clash of Kings. But I mean, how long has it been "coming soon"? It's like I'm beating George at his own game, here. Quite embarassing, but it's not on me.

Anything Ice and Fire-related kind of pales in light of today's news, however. The history of mankind is taking a new, surprising direction with the presidential election in the US, which affects us all in the long term. It really is a big, big deal, and it feels like being in the North, knowing that the Others are massing, while watching Cersei take the Iron Throne. Sadness, disbelief and worry seem to dominate European headlines today, and it feels as if we're witnessing (cliché inbound) the beginning of the end...of something.

Palpatine never managed to consolidate his power and become Emperor...he was thwarted by the son of Jabba and Jar Jar. 

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 19, Sansa I

This is PART ONE of my re-read of Sansa I. Second part coming up as soon as I can manage. As always, possible SPOILERS (though there's nothing beyond ADwD in this particular post.)

Hello, hello, and welcome back to another chapter re-read. Today's subject is none other than Sansa Stark, the girl who is consistently learning about reality (the reality of a fantasy world, that is). It is the nineteenth chapter (already) of the combined re-read I'm calling A Feast with Dragons, using this proposed order. But before we delve into another chapter in the saga that (actually) doesn't seem to end, here's someone praising Steven Erikson and his Malazan saga (which is complete) because Steven deserves our attention for having delivered the arguably most insane (I mean that in a good way) fantasy literature project ever. Not saying George R.R.'s epic saga is sane, though. His ability to keep all the details straight (except a horse's eye color here or there), his clever use of foreshadowing, his plotting etc. is all on a godly level, particularly books I-III (love forever), but he's so famous know it's time more citizens of Earth came to realize there's another series out there, ten fat doorstoppers of the most epic fantasy, that leaves people changed. And that's the hallmark, IMO, of a tier one fantasy story: it changes something in the reader, fundamentally or not. Martin changed my reading habits, fueled my interest in medieval history, changed the way I ran RPG campaigns and how I wrote material for those, and made me try to write a bit of fiction. Erikson...he kinda made me do all this stuff again, so now Martin's influence on me has been coated with a paint of Erikson. What the hell am I babbling about anyway? Let's reeaaaaaaad. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Week in Nerderies

A little bit of writing, a little bit of gaming, a little bit of reading...click on, click on!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Excuse my language but ARGHFUCOLA.

What a week, what a day.
So happy with my Kindle (as mentioned in previous post) - a delight to use, increasing my reading time and reducing my Internet-waste-of-time, and then I thought, what the hell I'll bring it to work so I can show my students, maybe some of them would like to see how an e-reader works, and maybe even want one for Christmas you know. Make 'em better readers and all that.
And then I manage to let it slide out of my hands on my way to the classroom (I had my hands full with a lot of books and a PC and whatnot) and there you go, one irritating, annoying, soul-sucking 8 millimeter scratch almost perfectly in the middle of the screen, appropriately placed to make it impossible to ignore while reading - and even more visible when you actually turn on the damn screen as it somehow seems to absorb and spew out the backlight, a brilliant little permanent bolt of lightning marring my 1.3 week old baby Kindle.

Look at that scratch! Totally screwed up my day. 
I hate gadgets so much. But I love them. But they are so vulnerable. So frickin' frail. ARGHFUCOLA. Well well. I guess there's still time to get a replacement, but I'm almost afraid now to get a new one (if I can get a new one, I haven't really looked over the guarantees or rules or whathaveyoumafuc) since one small scratch is enough to fuck up (I did ask to excuse my language in the title of this damned postal rant) the entire experience and fun of owning this (otherwise awesome) thingamagog. SO SADNESS IN MY FACE!
It doesn't help that, at the same time, I'm trying to quit nicotine once and for all. You'll see, that scratch is going to make me pick up my bad habit again. Dammit. ANyhoot.
(One thing that kind of infuriates me a little extra is that the Kindle is built with the screen kind of protected by the surrounding plastic; in practice, falling on the floor shouldn't actually cause a scratch like that, am I right? If you put the Kindle upside down on a flat surface, the screen itself doesn't touch said accursed surface at all, it's sunk. WHYYYYYYYYY

Before this disaster ruined my literary life (about an hour ago), I did finish the third Maurice Druon novel in his series about the French kings of yore, heavily recommended by George R.R. Martin, called The Poisoned Crown, and it is quite similar in every way to the two first books (I hesitate calling them novels, though the third one is the closest to having a mostly coherent narrative with fewer authorial intrusions and straight history lessons).

Coming to the end of this trilogy collectively known as The Accursed Kings (great and fitting title), my next project is to restart (and this time finish) Ian C. Esslemont's latest venture into the Malazan Empire with Dancer's Lament, I really miss me some Malazan, so that will be good. But I am rather intrigued by Druon's work to be honest, and wonder whether I should try and track down the next four volumes of The Accursed Kings, if they exist at all in the English language. There's something about real history and its random twists and turns that appeals to me, and of course it's valuable in the sense of getting a feeling of a time and place so foreign.

Since I'm done with the three-in-one The Accursed Kings ebook, just in time before I fucking missed my accursed Kindle-baby on the accursed floor, here's a short list of vague and not so vague similarities between A Song of Ice and Fire and Druon's work, showing why George R.R. Martin dares call this stuff "the original Game of Thrones". (Not sure Martin ever uttered this statement of course; never trust a cover blurb).

-- Hold yer horses --

* An icy queen
* Three royal brothers and their claims to succession
* Young lovers marry in secret
* Prophecy coming true but not necessarily by miracle or magic
* A physically large character who is not very chivalrous
* And of course all the elements you pretty much have to expect, like backstabbing, poisoning, rape, murder, violence, bastardry, lies, lust, betrayals, battles (not so much to be honest, kinda like Martin in that we hear more about them than actually feeling like we're in the middle of them),  knights and councillors, kings and queens and princes etc. many reminding you of ASoIaF characters (there are versions of Cersei, Littlefinger, Varys, Mace Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell etc. in here, heck, even Quentyn Martell can be recognized)

I guess I could go on and on but dammit I'm going to send a mail and hope to get a replacement reading device of reading now. And then finish up my latest short story, only five days until the SFFWorld September-October 2016 competition ends! With only five days and a massive plot hole I am really not sure I can manage it. And I missed this month's flash fiction compo :´-(
Whether I finish it or not, the next thing to tackle will, of course, be another chapter of A Feast with Dragons, Sansa I (AFFC). Sansa, oh Sansa, what the heck is going on with you and just how much of your TV story is what we'll actually see in the novels and how much is complete crap? I refuse to believe you submitted so easily to Ramsay Bolton (or met him at all). Will we ever learn the true story of Sansa Stark? Stay tuned! One of these years, we may yet get THE WINDS OF GODDAMN SCRATCH WINTER1!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Wow, I didn't realize when I posted the Brienne II re-read yesterday that it actually was the publishing date of an ENTIRELY NEW GEORGE R.R. MARTIN BOOK! At least, that's what the continuous mails from Amazon claim. I'm talking about the new anniversary edition of A Game of Thrones, of course, which they dare call "George R.R. Martin's new book" in their mail headers, you know, simply as click-bait.

I for one am not very interested. Yes, it's probably a very nice book and it will look good standing on the shelf but, you know, I already have that book in at least four versions, how much more money do they expect to suck out of my wallet? Now, the main draw of this book is that it has illustrations; but from what I can gather I've seen most of it already; you can find, for example, the definitive vision of the Iron Throne on the Internet without further ado. I also already have both Art books based on the series, and some of the art comes straight from there (and a lot of the art in those two volumes was reused from Fantasy Flight Games' card game). It's such a transparent way of selling people stuff they already have, that it hurts. So yeah, no way I'm buying this book, even though I am prone to collecting this and that.

The real pain here, of course, is that the anniversary edition is of a book that was published in '96, setting up a story we're still waiting to see the end of; and even more real pain - it is announced in a way as to make people think The Winds of Winter has arrived, which feels like a deceptive and unfair ruse to people parched with thirst for more ice & fire.

On a more positive note, the Kindle still entices me to read more than usual, and to my own surprise I've already finished reading the second novel in Maurice Druon's series, The Strangled Queen. Like the first book, The Iron King which I posted about here, this is a strange amalgam of history and story, but still very interesting if you're into the medieval era. And since it's based on real events and people, it's even more unpredictable than A Song of Ice and Fire. Some similarities to Martin's work in this book too, but nothing that I feel Martin ripped directly; but a lot of the elements (most elements, even) in The Strangled Queen are also employed in Martin's work, like, you know, queens and strangulation. Still recommend it to fans of Martin, if only to experience one of the main influences of our favorite author.

It is frustratingly shallow in many ways, often merely describing character actions and using way too much exposition to explain, and as such it is a vastly inferior read to Martin, but it scores points on being actual history, and it seems that the author strived to keep it as true as he could. The lack of any fantastical elements doesn't really bother me, mainly because there kind of is fantasy in the sense that people are very superstitious, so there's a mystical element there anyway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 18: Brienne II

All leather must be boiled! I'm back with another re-read post, this time we'll be delving into Brienne's second chapter in A Feast for Crows, the tenth chapter of that book and the eighteenth of the combined re-read. So many numbers. Head spinning. As I've noted over the past couple of re-reads I'm beginning to find an appreciation for Martin's two last books, an appreciation that I went in wanting to find, 'cause I was pretty negative toward both Feast and Dance upon their releases, and you know, maybe some of that is because I had to wait so goddamn long for these books that they couldn't possibly live up to the hype. Now, older and wiser, I can sit back and try and see what Martin did with Feast and Dance with a calmer perspective, the perspective of someone who's no longer on the barricades shouting "Finish the book, George!" but who still eagerly anticipates The Winds of Winter, but without the fury. 

Would still like to remind you, though, George, valar dohaeris! (That goes to you, too, Neil Gaiman with your silly sandman-books.) (I kid, Sandman is awesome. But Neil calling out ASOIAF-fans is something that still irks me. But as I said, they should realize that valar dohaeris.) D'oh!aeris

Click below to read the actual post on Brienne II (AFFC).. "Brienne" is, by the way, quite an unusual name, in the sense that it's not like most names in Westeros, amIrite? Can't think of, admittedly from the top of my head, any other name with -ienne but I'm prolly wrong. At any rate, there are more Jons and Pates than Briennes so I guess I'm right either way. And now! The post.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Iron King

My re-read of Brienne is coming, I've been writing on it on and off - it's been hard getting a couple of consecutive hours to really write.

Meanwhile, I have treated myself to an actual Kindle device, a so-called 'Paperwhite', and, while I was initially disappointed it didn't have colors (which I've been used to with the Kindle for Android and Kindle for PC apps), it was a happy new marriage to another gadget. It's battery life is basically astounding. The main reason I bought it was that reading from the smartphone, while easy, was straining my eyes and somewhat impossible in sunlight. It was also too easy to go online and surf uselessly instead of getting some solid reading in.

The result so far is that I actually finished the first book of The Accursed Kings by Maurice Druon, "The Iron King"; such was the allure of my new toy. Reading it properly backlit is a great experience. And since my shelves are full (mostly with Martin and Erikson and Abercrombie and RPG books), it is so much more convenient to have books digitally.

The Iron King comes with George R.R. Martin's recommendation - if the cover is to be trusted, this is, according to our favorite author, "the original Game of Thrones" - and that is, of course, why I took a chance on this French author. Not that I believe anything Martin recommends is automatically gold, but Druon's work is apparently one of the actual main influences on A Song of Ice and Fire, along with fantastists like Tolkien and Vance (I still have to read Vance), and since it's based on actual medieval history which I've become interested in (again thanks to Martin), well, I really felt like trying it out.

My Kindle version is actually a bundle featuring books 1-3; "The Strangled Queen" and "The Poisoned Crown" are the two sequels to "The Iron King". While the general plot of "The Iron King" is like 700 years old, you might not want to be spoiled anyway, so I'll try not to say too much about the story itself, but rather whether I'd recommend it to another fan of George R.R. Martin's saga.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stranger Things and Accursed Kings

So I watched Stranger Things over the past couple of weeks, an episode here an episode there and the two last ones tonight. I went in with no idea what this was going to be, completely unspoiled as it were, except knowing I'd probably like it 'cos nerdy.

I will not spoil any plot details but let's say it really captured my attention from the get go with it's incredible eighties style; I felt like I was eight again, this was what the movies were like back then, from the logo to the music to a hell of a lot of the cinematography. It just oozed a certain atmosphere that harkens back to, I don't know,  I guess Steven Spielberg movies like E.T. but, you know, for a modern and somewhat older audience.

Not knowing anything about it, I was stunned that the show was over tonight; maybe I'm too used to the endless developments of Game of Thrones but all of a sudden all the character arcs began to merge and boom finished. In that regard I felt the story was unbalanced, with a lot of buildup that was essentially resolved in the final two episodes (well, there was a lot of stuff that wasn't exactly resolved as well) and it left me somewhat disappointed; but, since Netflix is calling it 'season one' I can only imagine there will be a 'season two', though I found this season to be self-contained enough that it doesn't really need a second season - which I guess was a deliberate choice. Not a success? No season two. I assume this isa big success though, but I actually have no idea. For all I know it's a Firefly, which deserved so much more attention than it got.

All right, wow. Of course I loved the references to Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars in particular; I enjoyed how authentically eighties movies it was; I thought the cast was great (most of them anyway) but not on the level of Game of Thrones (but which TV series can boast similar excellence?); the special effects not so much, again we've been spoiled I suppose by the might of Thrones, but there were also moments where I thought they could have solved a scene in a different perhaps better way; not all character interaction came across as believable, but overall I liked the script's creativity. The villains (or whatever you want to call them) were a bit weak, in my opinion, but the story didn't really have much room for them. The best parts were without doubt (and now I have to check online 'cause I have no idea who these actors are) Finn Wolfhard (that's a great nickname for a Stark character) as Mike and of course Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven. David Harbour as the chief did a great job, too, his story brought small, manly tears to my eyes.

Now it's time to put Stranger Things behind me and get on with Maurice Druon's novel about the Hundred Years' War that inspired George R.R. Martin himself (actually my Kindle version is a collection of three novels, the first three out of seven (!) collectively known as The Accursed Kings); I've read the very short prologue and first chapter, and while the prose is quite different from Martin's I can already see the links between Martin and Druon.

I find it interesting to explore some of Martin's influences, I guess if you mash this up with The Lord of the Rings and Martin's pre-AGoT works you'd be coming close to A Song of Ice and Fire. Maybe. Have the nicest weekend!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 17: Jaime I

This post contains spoilers all the way up to the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons.

Yay, time for another re-read post. The journey through A Feast with Dragons continues unabated if excruciatingly slow. Today we reach the 17th chapter of the combined re-read of George R.R. Martin's two doorstoppers, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, using the chronological order suggested by Boiled Leather. So far, I have to say the combining of chapters hasn't made much of a difference, partially because I tend to forget where we are in the timeline anyway, and partially because we've mostly been treading through Feast so far. To my pleasant surprise, however, I'm also finding new appreciation for much of what I read, being better able to "marry" the 'new' with the 'old. Yeah, Feast is dirt-old already, but it still feels relatively new to me. I guess one of its problems was that it had so much expectation and wild anticipation, and that it may have failed (in my eyes) a bit because it wasn't the story I expected or imagined, much like how the Star Wars prequel trilogy suffered from high expectations and anticipation; it was so different from the original trilogy in a lot of ways that I guess it became even harder to accept it. And I never have and never will; GRRM, on the other hand, I am willing to work with; there's enough goodness here to possibly ignore the flaws that are creeping into his saga. I can't ignore the inanity of Anakin Skywalker's turn to the Dark Side, but it's easier to ignore, say, Maggy the Frog's prophecy although I've never liked it coming into play. It's just a small thing, not detrimental enough to frustrate. Anyway. It's JAIME's turn, his first chapter in the combined re-read, and in case you didn't know Jaime is possibly my favoritest character in a gallery of great characters so I'm kind of excited to return to him now, at sunrise on the fourth day. Join me as we go a-explorin'.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lit Upd

It's been a while since I read and finished a novel that wasn't either related to the return of Star Wars or was a novel I've read at least once before, but last night I pushed through and finished Mark Lawrence's The Liar's Key, second volume in a trilogy centered on the Prince of the Red March, with the not very memorable name Jalan Kendeth (I don't know why, but I actually had to check his name online now; despite having been immersed in the novel for such a long time. My brain refuses to latch onto the name; I do remember Snorri, Kara, Kelem, Hennan...just not the main character, whose POV I've been reading for so many pages. Existence is weird.

I'm not going to launch into an in-depth review but if you're a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire it's a good bet you might enjoy Mark Lawrence's setting, the Broken Empire. It began with a preceding trilogy, featuring another prince, and I suppose you're better off reading about the exploits of Jorg of Ancrath before moving on to Jalan Kendeth, but I am sure this second trilogy (called The Red Queen's War, which began with Prince of Fools) may be enjoyed without having read the previous trilogy. What makes Lawrence a great read is that he has some great concepts going on, and, contrary to many fantasists, actually knows how to weave a compelling, well-written tale. It's not as ambitious perhaps as a Martin or Erikson, but I'd place it alongside some of the "second tier" fantasists such as Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss in terms of quality (they're all wildly different, though).

While reading The Liar's Key I've also been re-reading - for the third time now - Steven Erikson's Deadhouse Gates and that one is just getting better and betterer. What a brilliance, wow. Next on my to-read-fantasy-list is my first attempt at Guy Gavriel Kay (Sailing to Sarantium), and beyond that I have plans to read the rest of the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne - I read and enjoyed the first one (The Emperor's Blades) but for some reason I never soldiered on, despite the story being interesting enough. But I also want to try Glen Cook, and I still haven't acquired copies of Steven Erikson's Fall of Light and Joe Abercrombie's Sharp Ends. And I have to restart Ian C. Esslemont's Dancer's Lament as I kind of forgot to finish it and now I remember nothing of it.

Most next up, of course, is another re-read chapter, which I hopefully will have up as a post by the end of this week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

[Re-read] A Feast with Dragons, Chapter 16: Cersei II

Re-reading both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons has so far been a nice experience, and I find myself (slowly) drifting to a more appreciative stance on the narrative (though there have been a few chapters where I've been bored out of my mind, as mentioned in those re-read posts) but I kind of struggle keeping the chapters apart so from now on I'm going to add the actual chronological numbering in the post title (makes it easier for me to find back to where I was). So Cersei II from Feast is the 16th chapter in the reading order proposed by Boiled Leather. This also means I'm ditching the silly made-up chapter titles, and good riddance I say. It's time to get serious. After all, while my posting is infrequent at best, I still aim to finish this re-read before The Winds of Winter come howling down from the North. Maybe.

As long as Mr. Martin keeps writing chapter-length blog posts on the Hugo Awards, football and all the other stuff that he enjoys, I should be good. All right, Cersei Lannister! My favorite love-to-hate character throughout the 'original trilogy', I still find myself not quite enjoying seeing the world of Westeros through her eyes. Giving Cersei her own POV kind of ruined the mystery for me, as I found the character so intriguing, ruthless and seductive in the first three books; and not being in her head (and seeing her through the eyes of surrounding POVs) made her a far better villain, in my opinion, than seeing what is actually going on in her head: it takes away a lot of the charm of the character. Oh well, I'll probably go into many a detail on this aspect throughout the re-read of her chapters, so I might as well just forge ahead. Ladies and gentleman, open your copy of Feast to Cersei II, here we go (alternatively, here's a short summary of the chapter). Oh, and Tower of the Hand are also featuring Cersei Lannister as the fourth-most loathed character of Westeros! That's pretty loathed.

There will be spoilers! For everything.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

14 reasonable reasons

TOR.com has published a nice article supporting my thesis that Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen is amazingnessness. Check it out right here!

Can it be compared to A Song of Ice and Fire? No, not really. It's a whole 'nother experience. They're both fantasy, of course. An acquired taste, Malazan, but you know, I can't help but want to pimp this saga, much like I used to pimp A Song of Ice and Fire, oh, in the early 00s. The best case for Malazan remains, of course, that it is an actual finished work, with a resonating, solid ending. And there's so fricking much of it, too - the ten books of the main cycle (which are all you really need), in addition to six or is it seven companion volumes by co-creator of the world Ian C. Esslemont, in addition to a plethora of novellas. It starts out rough (Gardens of the Moon) but by the end (The Crippled God) it's like..the most profound thing ever.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

[Re-read] Arya I - So Many Gods, So Few Friends - Part II

It's actually happening, I'm back into the combined re-read of George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows (2005) and A Dance with Dragons (2011), all in preparation for The Winds of Winter (2017) but also because it's kind of fun to go back into these books and write a little about the process of doing so. Quick recap: Arya has been delivered safely to the front of the House of Black and White by a captain Yorko Terys, and she's right there on the steps leading up to the front door, as we delve back into the story. Note that I'm careless with regards to spoilers for what's coming further down the line.

(As always, I'm using the All Leather Must Be Boiled merged reading order to make both books into one overwhelmingly large re-read project).

Who will open the door for Arya? Will it even open at all? And just why did the captain make sure Arya knew his name? Will this chapter conclude with a stunning cliffhanger or peter out like some of the other chapters read so far? Hit the "Continue Reading" button right below. Le-e-et's queeest!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Latest news on The Winds of Winter

There was some commotion (also known as hype) over at the A Song of Ice and Fire Reddit-channel. Apparently, George had blogged so little during August that it could only mean one thing: he was gearing up toward announcing the completion of The Winds of Winter. This, in addition to the speculation found in the thread I linked to, led to some fever for many followers of the saga which might as well have been called The Literally Neverending Story.

Fortunately, Mr. Martin was back on his blog today, not only stating how much he was thinking about his magnus opus A Song of Ice and Fire (if you're desperate enough, you can imagine that's what he's really talking about when he mentions the Hugo Awards, the new football season, Wild Cards etc) but also, in the comments actually saying he's not going to a particular con sometime way off into next year because Winds.

So there you have it, exciting as it is; a 2018 release date just became a little more likely (though I still hold to my bet of 2017, though I'm beginning to doubt it).

In other news, I discovered Harmonquest this week, an entirely silly show (combining live improv and animation in a, I suppose, novel way) that nonetheless managed to scratch that fantasy gaming itch. Full of juvenile jokes that probably only are funny if you've played some Dungeons &/or Dragons...though it didn't actually scratch my itch so much as make me itch and pine for a good old session of epic fantasy adventuring. The novelty wore off after a few episodes, though, but eh, I was entertained there for a while (but the hype-generation at Reddit is more entertaining).

I'm almost through Mark Lawrence's The Liar's Key, what can I say, it's not as entertaining as his previous trilogy featuring Jorg of Ancrath, but at times it is really good; and at times it loses its pull and I go days (weeks?) without reading on. Still, Lawrence is definitely reaching the second tier league. The first tier remains occupied by Martin and Erikson (and Tolkien), though I am getting behind on my Erikson, haven't even grabbed a copy of his latest novel (Fall of Light) or latest novella (whatever it's called). It almost feels like Steven Erikson publishes books too fast. Which is a nice change of pace, of course, eh? The Winds of Winter. That title makes me chuckle, these days.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Star Wars off my chest

I know I should be doing my re-read post now, but I had to get this off my chest.

As I mentioned in my previous post, much of this summer was spent in a galaxy far, far away. I like being in that galaxy, despite hating the prequel trilogy and not caring much about all the stuff going on in novels and cartoons. The Force Awakens kind of re-ignited the passion, though, so I have found myself watching the Rebels cartoon, and buying and reading some of the new novels coming out. Before The Force Awakens, Disney and Lucasfilm discontinued the ongoing, extremely large "Expanded Universe", and started a new era with a new canon (though so far, they are basically just re-jigging the old expanded universe a bit and adding the new stuff), so here was my chance to jump back in and follow the stories that are meant to support and enhance the new trilogy of movies. Despite some silliness, The Force Awakens did revitalize my love for the series and now I'm all aboard for the further adventures of Rey and Kylo. I guess I'll never get rid of this hangup.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Another Summer's End

After two months of summer, I suppose it is time to break the silence and return to my little blog. Wow, I haven't blogged since... before the final episode of Game of Thrones aired - but I'm still intent on getting through my re-read of the combined A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons

If you like reading my blog, feel free to share a link with other people who may be interested in nerdy musings! And thank you for reading.

The holidays have been spent mostly offline, well, at least away from a decent computational device, and over the course of these long eight weeks I have basically been abstaining from geekery, aside from some late night reading of fantastical literature, following the Star Wars and Ice & Fire news (and lack thereof), and, doing something I was born to do, finally getting my ass on an airplane to partake in a so-called Star Wars Celebration, this year in London. It was a very nice weekend, I love London and I of course love Star Wars and to finally join such an event was a great experience (though I admit I was somewhat disappointed as well; it wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped it would be; also, what a blatant money-sucking scheme, good thing I didn't have that much with me to spend on merchandise..nerdchandise).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Game of Thrones, S6E9, "The Battle of the Bastards"

Well, well. This is going to be short, as I am currently fighting against time itself.

I was unspoiled for the episode, except reading speculation and seeing the teaser.

I wasn't particularly excited about the episode (to the point I forgot it was available), mainly because, well, I expected an hour long set piece, probably expertly crafted and full of action and gore, but I'm more keen on getting on with the story and, as similar episodes have proved in the past, spending so much time on a single sequence feels a bit of a waste when there's so much possible depth to add. On the other hand, an hour of solid action breaks up the usual rush of scenes and scattered viewpoints. And maybe the episode would still find time for some iconic dialogue or moments. I ended up being kind of 'meh' about it. There was some great stuff, but there was also stuff that ruined my immersion; a few times I was basically yelling, at other points I cringed. Also, just one episode left of the season and no new book in sight? Have a feeling my Ice & Fire hype will die down quick. Oh well...

Monday, June 13, 2016

[Game of Thrones] S6E8, "No One"

Monday morning, and a new episode of Game of Thrones is awaiting. Once again I'm properly hyped up (I'm playing the invisible bass drums with my feet here) and I have no idea what to expect. I love it! Watched the preview a few times, obviously, and have been knee-deep in predictions and hopes and more predictions, but considering I haven't been spoiled at all I suppose there's nothing that will break the Internetweb. Even national newspapers pick up on the most exciting events in the show, so they are kind of hard to avoid (for a man who must needs check the news and drink his coffee to get the day a-rolling). Truly, season six, for all its warts, brought the hype. Will it deliver in the three final episodes, which everybody and his kraken expect to contain some major escalation and tension? And perhaps violence?
Not knowing much about what will transpire, watching a new episode these days is tense. Reading fan speculation (mainly over at r/asoiaf) has made me wonder about a few possibilities - like, is the show secretly bringing a certain stone-hearted lady back? If so, I hope hope hope they make her creepy in the creepiest sense of creepiness. Hideous. But fricking cool. Personally I want her to come back, but I don't quite believe she will be.
I hope this episode explains the scenes with Arya last week, seems like most people agree there was something 'wrong' that must be explained.
Will we see Sandor champion the cause of the Faith? I think the seeds have been sown; he has a reason now, to do so, if only to avenge Ray.
Ray! What kind of name was that? Did they suddenly stop caring about Game of Thrones? Why couldn't they pick any one of the 1000s of names in the saga not used by the show. There's no authenticity in "Ray", imo. Unless it's Raygal. Anyway. Yeah, oh, and of course I'm really excited to see Brienne, Pod, Bronn, Jaime, and the Blackfish. People I know who haven't read the books or just aren't paying much attention have no clue what the whole siege of Riverrun business is about, but for the fans it is hopefully a treat.
The season has also shown that their "original" material is significantly weaker than Feast and Dance's material, which might be another way to find more love for these books. "Ray." Sigh. IT IS TIME TO WATCH EPISODE 8. "NO ONE". With no one in the episode I might have to readjust my expectations though. weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Oh and what about Cersei? I think the teaser has told us enough to foresee the storyline; the Mountain will smash some Sparrows (including Lancel, most likely). After all, she "chooses violence". And I think the Mad King in Bran's vision is nothing but a foreshadowing of Cersei burning down King's Landing (perhaps the target is the temple, but the wildfire spreads). Don't think I'm going to see this happening in today's episode, though; still a way off. Maybe not even this season? I don't know.
All right one final guess, the first scene will be Arya, still in the darkness. At least that's what I'm imagining. First darkness, then we see her face, and we'll understand last week's Arya wasn't Arya.
Here I go.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

[Re-read] Arya I - So Many Gods, So Few Friends - Part I

Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire were never the same thing, and they'll never be, but season six is really tugging at my feels, and has made me excited about Martin's story again (while last year, it didn't); "The Broken Man" is still lingering in my mind, and I find myself speculating a lot about what we're in for with the last three episodes. I find myself checking out speculation online, mostly by reddit, and, seven hells, I even checked Not a Blog. You know. Just in case.
....but with no winds of winter in sight just yet (we must be so close now, right?), speculation remains speculation. "Everybody" expects a showdown in King's Landing between two brothers, both figuratively dead, and I guess I do to, but as long as we're still on this side of Cersei's trial, I've also given thought to - hold on to yer hats - Tommen standing in as the champion of the Faith. It would certainly surprise people, and perhaps even cause an uproar among those who already have their popcorn ready for the so-called 'Cleganebowl'. I could even argue for it, and I did, somewhere, but the books by now are so full of characters, subtext, plot, setting etc. that you could come up with arguments for almost any kind of tinfoil theory. Martin is very, very lucky that Game of Thrones whips up some hype; now that we're partially in "unspoiled" territory (mostly the North; it is kind of surprising how much material, even in the latest episode, is still based on Feast from 2005).....

Monday, June 6, 2016

[Game of Thrones] Season Six, Episode Seven

I tried hard again this week to be unspoiled, but somehow, even avoiding everything related to Game of Thrones, the image of a certain character flashed before my eyes somewhere. This annoyed me, but then I was happy to see him right away; So right away in fact that we get a beautifully shot scene of him and his people building a sept before the titles, titles sequence. Spoilers for everything inside as I throw out my reactions as I watch.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Jon II, of course

Just noticed I've been blathering on about Jon I in the last couple of posts and it's of course Jon II from ADwD I've been re-reading. /facepalm
Still, when I noticed, I was happified, as it means I've already re-read 14 chapters of the combined Feast with Dragons instead of 9, that means I'll wrap this up in 2024 rather than 2025.

(I kid.)

Next up for me is Arya I (*double-checks the Roman numeral*) and, based on the hype generated in my bloodstream by Game of Thrones, and the joy I actually found in Janos Slynt's obtruncation (I'm using a difficult word instead of spoiler tags), I am actually looking forward to read it. Somehow, the TV show has helped me get more used to all the "new" strangeness in books four and five, and it's also fun to read to see the differences between show and books of course. 

I know this one thing that would have made my current returning Ice & Fire hype explode, though. But I'm not expecting it in 2016 (I believe I guessed a few years ago, 2017, and that seems feasible to me). But I'm open for surprises! Except the kind of surprises Martin throws at his characters. 

[Re-read] Jon I (ADwD) Same Scenes, Different Lighting [Part 2/2]

So I got cut off from finishing up Jon's first chapter because of this week's Game of Thrones. I'm still underwhelmed, the good thing about that being that I'm not as hyped for next week, despite the return to Riverrun and something actually resembling Jaime's story (it looks like my wish is coming true - for Jaime to stop just hanging around and become proactive; though it's weird he left Cersei on such good terms back in King's Landing if he's going to burn her lett.... oh. They are just skipping that, aren't they?) ANYMOOSE there's a bit of Jon I left to read, and Sam and Gilly have left the building (Castle Black, that is), so it should be all new and interesting for the remainder. Like, I remember reading A Storm of Swords for the first time sixteen years ago and it was just impossible to put down, every page promised something witty, or shocking, or interesting...it was just insanely brimming with awesome. And every time Martin got me, especially with disturbing stuff. Reading Jaime and Brienne was just piling horror upon horror, from the vile Brave Companions, to Jaime losing his hand, to Jaime forced to have said hand dangling around his neck (!), Martin really took "disgusting" to new levels, but he also made me (and many others) consider important themes herein, such as the glorification of war. Anyway, before I ramble into comparisons with the daily news, heeeeeere's Jon(ny).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A dark and disturbing chapter

(Very vague (I hope) spoilers for a chapter in The Winds of Winter)

Of course our good friend George R.R. is well known by now for not being shy to display the darker side of humanity (in many ways, A Song of Ice and Fire shows us that of all the enemies, it is mankind that is the most dangerous).

It was this willingness to take fantasy to a darker place that helped elevate A Game of Thrones from other contemporary fantasy books, in addition to many other factors. In the following books, I've argued before, Martin dared to go even darker, even as the series' success became brighter. His realistic characters, sense of humor, great prose and all that made it a success too, of course (most of all, A Song of Ice and Fire became a success due to word of mouth, but I'm not really posting this to study the increasing popularity of one of the world's slowest-moving fantasy stories).

Anyway, George was at some convention the other day (Balticon or something, probably across the not-so Narrow Sea), and he read a "new" chapter from the viewpoint of Aeron Damphair, and as it turns out, Martin manages - sixteen years after the first novel was published - to go even deeper into disturbing territory in terms of ... well, looks like Ramsay has a competitor.

Still, it's a great chapter. Someone at the con recorded Martin's reading, and someone else (I presume) has turned it into words, and someone else else has collected it with all the other released Winds chapters for our enjoyment.

Take a look here if you're eager for some The Winds of Winter, but beware - if you read it all, you'll be re-reading at least 100 pages once the actual book maybe arrives possibly.

Anyway, just a heads-up. There's a lot of interesting stuff in the chapter, some theories are confirmed, and some juicy speculation is bound to follow regarding.... well, you'll see for yourself.

[Game of Thrones] "Blood of My Blood"

When I finally got to watch the episode late last night, I ended up being somewhat underwhelmed by the sixth episode of the season. Spoilers abound!


Monday, May 30, 2016

[Re-read] Jon I (ADwD) Same Scenes, Different Lighting [Part 1/2]

Well, that's just great. I have to spend all Monday being alive without watching Blood of My Blood, the sixth Game of Thrones episode of the year. And now that it's getting exciting and surprising and all that. My schedule just filled up like a bottle in a rainstorm, and now I realize I won't get to see it for another twelve hours. Yup, another first-world problem. And I'm like itching to go to Watchers on the Wall and Winter is Coming and Tower of the Hand to enjoy all the discussion about the new episode, speculation, possible new information pertaining to what we already know, to read what people thought was done well and not so well...
...but going into an episode and not having a clue what's coming is so awesome I must stay away from those sites. Of course, I have some basic ideas about what is going to go down in this episode, based on last week's teaser and by the way the story seems to be going...but there are still so many opportunities to shock and surprise.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another Manic Monday

Another Monday and another unspoiled Game of Thrones episode. Last week's "The Door" certainly was a mindbender, what with the origins of the Others, the origin of the word 'hodor', and more. I've been mulling it over every day this week, but also getting more and more giddy about the next episode; somehow, I went from "not gonna watch no sirree" to a gibbering fanboy who craves MOAR.
I have a suspicion today's episode will be less impactful (but I don't know that! teehee) but I'm curious all the same - mostly to see if they are planning on restoring the character of Ser Jaime Lannister anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Taking it Back

After a rewatch of key scenes and some consideration I'm moderating my erstwhile enthusiasm for this week's Game of Thrones episode, and particularly the Kingsmoot. It wasn't really that good, was it, especially compared to the book material; I get that they don't want to make characters look too weird but Euron Greyjoy should at least have had an eyepatch and some of the dialogue from the book. And thinking about it, it turned out pretty lame with Asha and Theon managing to steal away a pretty large fleet in broad daylight, and Euron begging everyone to start chopping down, erm, trees to build a pursuit fleet? That was just bad.
And once I got into this mindset I began to ponder other scenes and in the end I end up with the question (again), "Why oh why can't they use more book dialogue? It is already mostly great."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Game of Thrones, Season Six: Episode 5

That moment you realize you're at a Norwegian black metal festival...
....and you like it \m/
Well well well. I still don't know the title of the actual most recent episode of Game of Thrones, but I have a suggestion:

W. T. flabbergasting F.

More than a few things I didn't see coming with this episode and now I wonder whether I should quit the rest of the season after all. I thought it was a pretty rough episode in many ways, but there were a few things here I wished I read in a book first. More after the break.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

[Re-read] Samwell I (AFFC): It's not about the Others, it's about the WAYNS

Whoops, it looks like I accidentally published this post before I was done writing it. The rest should appear after the break now.

I'm sorry I'm so slow on this re-read of A Feast with Dragons, almost as slow as these chapters were written, but here at last is a new chapter disassembled and scrutinized.

Right in the middle of Game of Thrones season six, the season I wasn't going to watch and which so far is...well, it's pretty amazing what they are able to produce, even if we're far off course from the source material. I was watching a recap of seasons 1-3 because my better half wants to catch up (basically because she heard me cry when Jon and Sansa reunited). So it looks like I'm going to watch seasons four and five again.

A man can get confused watching seasons four and five while simultaneously following season six and re-reading books four and five so excuse me for any blurring of the lines between show lore and "trve" lore in this re-read post and all re-read posts to come.

Today's chapter is Samwell Tarly's first chapter in A Feast for Crows. 

dun-dun-DUN-dun, dun-dun-DUN-dun

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Winds of Winter still not cancelled

Busy week for fans of all things George RR Martin. Not just an episode that brought together two characters that have been apart since 1996 (I learned consequently that I definitely wasn't the only one getting the feels from that reunion), but George himself actually mentioned the title of his next book over on his blog, AND proceeded to grace us with another sample from said book! It's not an entirely new, out of left field thing, though; it has been read at cons. But still. Martin. The gift that keeps on giving.

You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER? Quite a lot, actually. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.

Wait. What? I have to wait?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Game of Thrones 6 / 4, "Book of the Stranger"

I hate that I haven't been able to watch the latest episode in one sitting. Instead, I've watched it, over the last couple of days, a few scenes at a time. Actually, it isn't that bad, as the scenes themselves often feel quite disconnected from the other scenes. Still, looking forward to seeing the whole episode in one nice chunk of ice and fire. And blood.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Game of Thrones, Episode 3 - Oathbreaker

Yay, I managed to get through the week without spoiling myself (except for the teaser) and, I know I'm on repeat here, it's such an exhilarating experience to go into a new episode knowing there will be surprises.

I did expect that, after two fairly intense episodes, the third episode would settle into a more relaxed groove, with more talking scenes and less action/shock/drama. I feel I was right about this, especially with council meetings both in King's Landing and Meereen, but I still got the feels many times throughout the episode.

It's also a relief to get some confirmation on things I've wondered about for sixteen fricking years.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

GoT Sunday

Finally planting my ass in the beloved couch after a four-day trip.

What I learned from the trip:

Be careful when you read books on your smartphone. You might just pick it up from your pocket and discover your phone's been purchasing ebooks from your trousers.
How this happened I'll never know. I didn't even leave the Kindle app open. Fortunately, and bizarrely, I bought two cheap books.
Even stranger - both were George RR Martin books. You may think that isn't strange because I'm a Martin nut, but I don't think I've even browsed the man, why should I? I already have it all.
The two books that turned up in my Kindle library were the comic trade paperbacks of The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword...of course. So now I have the print trade paperbacks, the print issues, the original releases in the anthologies, dammit I might as well buy A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.

Fellowship of the Ring, the first Peter Jackson-directed movie based on Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is not nearly as good as I once claimed it to be. Where I once was overwhelmed and touched in the theater, I now found myself annoyed at the overuse of slow motion, but what irritated me the most was Elijah Wood. So the movie turned into a drinking game - take a beer everytime it looks as if Frodo has constipation. By the end of the film, I knew I had had too much to drink.

Incidentally, I was again stunned, nay floored, by the vitality and thoroughness of J.R.R.'s setting, and how much I love the slightly archaic but oh so beautiful prose (yeah I'm talking about the book now), and how much I relish that deep sense of wonder the good professor managed to evoke...it is almost ridiculous how many owe him for the brilliance of The Lord of the Rings, including our very own George. The pervasive sense of mythology, the dripping atmosphere...there is something so achingly compelling about The Lord of the Rings...

...but it doesn't have Tyrion Lannister.

Well, well, it's GoT Sunday again, and I am actually excited to see if they can continue the streak, though the trailer doesn't impress me much. Will we be waddling through talking heads-scenes again, or will it offer slices of drama?

I'm still not happy with the way they treated Roose Bolton. That was literally character assassination. I hope Book Roose remains the cunning and disturbing and ruthless man who would see Ramsay's dagger coming from across the Narrow Sea.