Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Storm of Swords: Second Half (spoilers! ASoIaF)

50% and further – sorry I got sucked in and I didn't keep good logs

Dany, hero-worship your brother less, he sucked. Also Jorah is getting more traitor-like all the time. Also that is a lot of slaves to free.

The predictions from the old lady are creepy. Beric talking about how fire consumes makes Melisandre's theology not so winning. And her Creepy Jesus theology is creepy. Jenny Oldstones might be the old lady's daughter or friend or even herself?

Bran + Meera = TWOO WUV, but srsly how old are these people? I am very unclear whether this is puppy love or true adult love.

Brienne as Jaime's salvation is sweet! She is the knight he couldn't be, who keeps her vows and is motivated by the proper things. And doesn't have ill-considered sexual relationships with siblings. Or sex with anyone, apparently.

Jeyne chasing Robb out seems obviously about Jeyne wanting to do evil to him, like she needs to be there to help with the Freys' scheming, not her wanting to be with him. I think she's in on whatever is coming.

Catelyn needs to get over Jon Snow being a bastard. It's been 16 years and approximately 30% of the population of Westeros are bastards (given the frequency it comes up in the text!). She is too mature and too smart to blame a baby for who its parents were or weren't. Also I think she's too smart not to pick up on the fact that Ned is NOT REALLY THE FATHER.

You know what wouldn't grow in a land of multi-year summers? Fucking apples. Apples require 1000-1500 hours of “chilling,” which is temperatures below freezing in winter to bloom in spring. They simply wouldn't set blooms in a years-long summer. And you know what would happen in a premodern society without modern food preservation techniques with a years-long winter? Everyone would die of fucking scurvy. [Kathryn: They never really describe how they make it through winter.] GRRM says, Eat your vegetables or you'll turn into a wight.

Hound: “Maybe we'll be in time for your uncle's bloody wedding.” OH YOU THINK IT'LL BE BLOODY, CHAPTER-ENDING SENTENCE? This is the second time GRRM has ended a chapter with (off-the-cuff) predictions about Edmure's wedding ending horribly. This wedding is going to end in death, death, death. (Maybe I'm good at predicting things because like 90% of my communication is sarcasm.)

Well that was horrifying. [Kathryn: That's what they call the Red Wedding.] Goodness.

The first Westerosi lord to forbid their army from drinking on duty will win the Game of Thrones, just saying.

Wait, how did Balon Greyjoy die? Ugh, it is hard to keep track.

Hero reborn in the sea – like Davos?

996 Lord Commanders of the Wall properly recorded but they can't manage to keep track of how to kill wights? “Obsidian knives” was too tricky?

Well now that Ygritte is separated from Jon she's gonna fucking die.

GAAAAAH don't wave at eagles; if this series has taught us one thing, it's not to wave at eagles.

In Bran's story Walder Frey is cursed for slaying a guest … the Night King must figure somehow.

Benjen is not wholly dead. I don't think he's ColdHands, who is older than Benjen, but maybe he is similar? I'm not sure who or what ColdHands is, but then I guess we don't know a whole lot about the magic beyond the Wall yet.

OH BAM the black door gives me chills.

Ugh way to have incestuous sex on the altar near your dead child, Jaime and Cersei, so creepy.

Sansa needs to stop using the word “tummy” in her internal monologue as she is NOT FOUR.

This wedding chalice is Bad News. [Kathryn: What makes you say that?] Tyrion says Joffrey can drown in it; Sansa hopes he gets drunk and breaks his neck. There's also a sword and a dagger and one other weapon, but the chalice gets like five paragraphs and has all seven houses on it.

Ohhhh, I did not get that Joff killed Bran. [He really is a loathesome little shit.] I feel like they are spending a lot of time going over everyone who might want Joffrey dead. But there was just a wedding slaughter like two chapters ago. [Kathryn: Everyone airs grievances at weddings don't they?] No, you're thinking of Festivus. [Kathryn: My bad.]

Ohhhhhhh Sir Loras is gay, for Renly apparently; things make more sense now.

Lysa. Dude. Turn off your baby clock. Have a little self respect.

Boy, Tyrion seems awfully sulky about a 14-year-old girl whose family was slaughtered by his not being in love with him. [Kathryn: I mean kudos for not raping her but that really only gets you so far.] Right. Sansa either plotted with Margaery or is fleeing in the night or both. When the hell did Tommen get here? [Why do you say that about Sansa?] Margaery's no innocent and that Queen of Thorns is both hilarious and totally lacking in scruples. I suppose it might be a Dornishman who was on the inside but I think Margaery has to be in on it.

Cersei's accusation that Tyrion wanted to be king seems over-the-top, but this is an exciting battle with The Mountain. I keep confusing the first names of the Mountain and the Hound, but that does not actually seem to matter a lot to the narrative.

I'm sort-of nervous that Missandei will betray Dany. Also that Barristan won't tell her secrets she needs to know until it's too late.


Man, apparently this is the book where violent young women fail to kill men who need killin' (Dany, Arya; Jorah, the Hound).

Harsh for Dontos but he was creepy. So creepy.

Dany should have had Ser Jorah's head cut off; this will come back to bite her in the ass.

I predict Jaime will eventually go to the Wall (to fight, not take the Black).

Tywin does not have so many sons he should be disowning them at this rate.

OH LOOK JON IS WISHING FOR A DRAGON OR THREE TO DEFEND THE WALL. Maybe he eventually joins up with Dany so they can defeat the Others, in a veritable song of ice and fire!

Jon won't accept Winterfell from Stannis.

Oh Shae you stupid bitch.

Melisandre should be less obviously creepy; people would find her less off-putting and maybe she could make more conversion progress. Her evangelism is less successful than it could be because she gives most people the creeps.

DID NOT EXPECT DEAD TYWIN. [Kathryn: I KNOW RIGHT? But you kind-of did. You said Tyrion would bet against his family and kill them.] Oh, that's right I did!

Whoa, Lady Lysa … bitches be crazy.

I have many important questions about zombies. Zombies north of the wall just seem to be randomly resurrected but zombies related to R'hellor require a priest and then just, like, get up, regardless of deathiness. My current theory is that dead bodies north of the area that wights control get up regardless as long as their bodies aren't burned; zombies otherwise require someone to raise them specifically. I do not know who raised Catelyn, or if she was raised by the automatic encroaching magic creeping south of the Wall.

I am surprisingly glad that Lady Lysa got shoved out her moon door because she was a uniquely horrible person for such a minor character. Selfish, preening, detached from reality, at least a little mad, and a rotten mother. So much of this story is about mothers and mothering. The characters spend all their time talking about fathers and bastardy, but the story much more often hinges on mothers and mothering. Interesting.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Storm of Swords: First Half (ASoIaF predictions; Spoilers!)

Book 3

Suspect Catelyn kills Jaime because she threatens she will have his blood if he doesn't keep his oaths. He won't keep them, she will kill him. But only after something really terrible happens like all her arms get cut off or she thinks all her children are dead, but obviously they're not; Arya, Sansa, and Bran clearly have long story arcs ahead. But SOMEHOW disaster has to make her magic so she can kill people. (Also she keeps having like quasi-magical portents and visions.)

Surprised Robb and Joffrey survived book II.

I hope Brienne gets to kill a lot of people who annoy me. No one in particular, just characters who annoy me.

Neither Tyrion nor Jaime tried to kill Bran; was it Varys?

Someone is getting their nose chopped off at a wedding, since Tyrion made a point that one is more likely to get one's nose chopped off in battle than at a wedding.

Davos turns on Stannis.

Rhaegar obviously found a prophecy when he went to become a warrior.

Ugh, way rapey, Ser Jorah. You're one of the three betrayers of Dany obvs. Ugh, ugh, ugh, so creepy.

Jon's wolf that never makes noise will later howl at a moment of great importance.

Catelyn talks about how she HAD five children and now has three, which makes me think maybe three of them survive the series – I predict Robb and Rickon as the dead ones.

Illyrio is funding Stannis, apparently?

Oh Robb. Oh Robb. Such bad life decisions. GRRM did a nice job setting up Robb's failure to follow through on the marriage contract. He made it both inevitable and totally understandable that a 16-year-old would make such a dumb mistake.

Cersei is only buying Sansa a new dress to try to whore her out to someone. I mean maritally, not literal whoring.

OH LOOK IT'S MY ZOMBIE ARMY! That was quicker than I thought.

I think Tyrion is being set up to take the fall for Littlefingers' shady accounting.

OH BAM SANSA AND TYRION WHAT DID I TELL YOU? But I'm a little confused as to whether Cersei was in on it with Tywin or whether Cersei had a different plan.

Is Jeyne working for Tywin? Robb's honorable like his father, Jeyne will sleep her way to power like her mother? But maybe not by seducing a king but sleeping with him to betray him.

The dreaming hag – shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag is Stannis killing Renly. Man without a face on a bridge, with a drowned crow … don't know. Woman that was a fish, dead crying red tears – I think that's Catelyn, crying for her dead children, and she's dead too … and then she opens her eyes … ZOMBIE CATELYN? I just KNOW Catelyn is magic. Maybe she is a magic zombie.


Okay I am totally more into this series now and getting wrapped up in it but when I stop to think about it these plots are stalling out a bit and it's very Harry Potter and the Neverending Camping Trip. Lots of following people kidnapping/hostaging other people as they wander around. That's kinda dull.

If there's going to be zombie Catelyn I wonder if there will be zombie Robb. But probably zombies can't be king, and also then what would zombie Catelyn be mad about?

You know nothing, Jon Snow. Nothing except how to pleasure a woman. Me, I just know how to say this one sentence over and over and over. Why? If you don't already know I'm not telling you, because you know nothing, Jon Snow.

Well Dany's obviously not going to sell a dragon. Also “Missandei” is uncomfortably similar to “Melisandre” in print, I keep misreading.

This section with Daenerys talking to Ser Jorah about what a king is for and how Viserys should have protected her is almost unbearably clunky and nonsensical. Dany's passion for justice has been worked into the narrative and didn't need to be called out for extra explication like that.

Hahahahaha, that was pretty sweet, Daenerys 4 Lyfe. (Although that did not sound like a very realistic description of a dude getting his head set on fire. Like, probably you couldn't watch the individual eyeballs melt before the whole face just melted.)

Where does the food for all these Unsullied come from? I have concerns about supply chains in these novels.

Knight of the Laughing Tree
Meera and Jojen wouldn't be all “Haven't you heard this story a million times?” if it weren't about Eddard himself and their father.

Four wolves – Eddard (quiet wolf), his dead older brother (wild?), Lyanna, and his younger brother (the pup – Benjen, right?). Which makes it Jojen and Meera's father (Howland, I think) who is the crannogman who is the protagonist of the story. And the dragon prince is Rhaegar, and maybe this is the first time Lyanna and Rhaegar meet? That's probably the major purpose of the story here, to put Rhaegar and Lyanna in one place, and give a reason the Reeds are so loyal to the Starks.

Who is in the armor? Short, booming voice, mismatched pieces, talented enough to beat knights. Probably not the older brother Stark. Could be young Robert. Could be Howland himself. Could be Lyanna? Could be Rhaegar if Rhaegar is short. I think Benjen is probably too young.

Melisandre's theology is going to run into some serious problems when she meets Dany and Dany's whole fire/light powers.

Why do fantasy novels always have such long, long timelines? Ghiscar is 5,000 years old, Dorne is 3,000 years old. If this is timeline 1200-ish, 3,000 years before would be 2000 BCE and 5000 years would be 4000 BCE and basically humanity had just discovered pottery, plows, and horse domestication. It's not exactly a complaint, it's just a weird thing common to fantasy epics. Thousands upon thousands of years and nobody discovers anything.

Okay, Stannis is TOTALLY NOT CREEPY JESUS. Melisandre either just picked him because he's convenient and has a claim to the Westeros throne, or else she's super-bad at identifying Creepy Jesus (Azor Ahai).

Suspect Gendel's tunnels will come back later on.

Beric Dondarrion is way more magic than Stannis – okay now I'm farther along and he's been resurrected like 8 times, he is TOTALLY more Creepy Jesus-y than Stannis.

Robb thinks about how Rollam and Ser Reynald stand in the places of his brothers (Bran and Jon Snow), which makes me think both of them will die since he thinks his brothers (Bran and Rickon) are dead. The chapter ends with Edmure reluctantly agreeing to the wedding (literally the last line) so obviously this wedding is going to shit. People don't do things in the last line of chapters in this series unless it's about to go REALLY IRONICALLY BADLY.

Dornish/Cornish whatever don't be afraid to put a lampshade on it GRRM.

Oh man suddenly there is a lot of exposition and it's getting dull. Jaime's being sent here and there for Reasons explained at length. Tyrion is thinking Thoughts about Oberyn. Arya is off this way and that way with many different outlaws. Shifting gears, I guess, as some plot lines begin to run down and others have to get started. I've lost track of which group of miscreants is running around with Ary, but it probably doesn't matter as so far nobody has expressed any interest in return her to Catelyn.


(47% of the way through Storm of Swords)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ASoIaF: Dany & the Undying and Bael the Bard (Spoilers)

I've been back and forth several times about how to do this, since making predictions based on foreshadowing given to the reader in a novel is a totally different task than making predictions based on prophecies and visions given to the characters within the novel. There's too much stuff in here to ignore, but it's hard to tell which of it is for US to take seriously and which is for DANY to take seriously. Anyway, here goes:

Dany in the House of the Undying

(Which I keep typing as undrying)

Naked woman with tiny rat-men: Just gross, GRRM

Feast of corpses. A dead man on a throne with the head of a wolf, wearing an iron crown. This is a Stark (wolf head), probably Robb (iron crown = King in the North), who is struck dead at the moment of his triumph (the feast). Sounds like a lot of other people get to die too.

Dead dragons, iron throne, old man with silver hair, “Let him be king over charred bones and cooked meat. Let him be the king of ashes.” Probably Mad King Areys? It's a Targaryen, but the dragons are dead, and he seems to have just lost the war, so probably him.

A Targaryen, taller than Viserys, dark blue eyes, who plays a lap harp; a woman with a newborn baby, naming him “Aegon” to be a king. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” – BOO YA, Jon Snow, aka Aegon, son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, you have the ice of the wall AND the fire of dragons, cool song, bro.
(Continuing): “There must be one more. The dragon has three heads.” – Daenerys, Jon/Aegon, and …?
I think GRRM doesn't give us a physical description of the nursing woman here because it would make it too obvious she was a Stark rather than whoever Rhaegar was supposed to be married to.

Pyat Pree trying to lure her off-course, warlocks in splendor: Rather obvious to the reader, really, but Dany sees through lies

Child of three: Irregular parentage is a theme – mother, father, and someone who saved her? Mother, father, and dragons?
Three fires: Life, death, love – my initial thought was the funeral pyre that births the dragons, the fire that melts the gold that kills Viserys, and something to come. But then the House of the Undying burns down shortly after, so maybe THAT is the deathfire. And then the funeral pyre is life (dragons), death (Drogo), AND love … so I withdraw all current predictions about the three fires and award GRRM a “Sneaky prophecy, sir!”
Three mounts: bed, dread, love – probably men: Khal Drogo, Viserys, and someone else that I think we're supposed to think will be Ser Jorah but probably isn't. But possibly the mounts could be both men AND animals like horses and dragons.
Three treasons: blood, gold, love – blood is either Mirri or her brother, I'd think. I don't think we've seen gold or love yet. Strongly suspect Ser Jorah of being the one for love.

Dying man in the water with rubies: Rhaegar

Blue-eyed king who cast no shadow: Stannis and his creepy religion with no shadows
Cloth dragon: a false Targaryen? A failed one?
Mother of dragons, slayer of lies: Daenerys will somehow reveal a lot of these falsehoods. Stannis and the “Cloth Dragon” are both false in some way.

Silver horse to a darkling stream
Corpse in the prow of a ship – Dunno, but that doesn't sound like it's going to work out for you, dead dude (greyjoy? grey lips smiling? too obvious a pun?)
Blue rose in a wall of ice
“Bride of Death” – since these things come in three, are all three of these husbands of Daenerys who die? Khal Drogo (silver horse), maybe a Greyjoy (grey lips smiling) on a ship, and Jon Snow (blue rose = Lyanna) The blue rose is referenced several times in quick succession as being a flower that only grows in the North/Winterfell. It grows from a “chink in the wall of ice” so she's from the North, and maybe foreshadows the coming supernatural onslaught from the North? (a crack in the armor) One of my first suspicions/predictions was that Jon would marry Daenerys to unite the kingdom so that would sort-of please me except for all the endeadenating of Jon.

Mother of dragons, bride of fire: Lyanna? Or Danerys? Literal dragons or Targaryen dragons? Lyanna would be the mother of a Targaryen dragon and the bride of southern (Targaryen) fire, making Aegon/Jon the prince with the song of ice and fire. But perhaps it's Danerys, the mother of dragons (literal) and bride of fire (different metaphor).

Little girl/red door and following: Daenerys's free city childhood, time with the Dothraki, etc. But the white lion could have something to do with the Lannisters. Always be suspicious of animal symbols.

Ten thousand slaves calling “Mother!” – Daenerys frees some slaves, I guess. Good place to get an army.

Ygritte tells Jon Bael the Bard

Ygritte tells the story to make the point that the Starks are half-wildling.

Other notes from the story's resonances with the present:
  • One of the 8 billion Lords Bran – Bran will become (at least technically) Lord Stark because Robb will die
  • The crypt is a stronghold of true Starks; a truer stronghold than Winterfell itself – search that fucker when you're the boss of Winterfell
  • The blue winter rose stands for Starks, especially Stark women. In Daenerys's visions, it is Lyanna.
  • Bastards can be Lords in Winterfell, and leaders.
  • Irregular family relations only end in tragedy.
  • When Jon lets Ygritte go, he will probably later join the wildlings, as he seems to be implicitly accepting her point that Starks are half-wildling.
This is the first time Jon questions his parentage w/r/t his FATHER. WAY TO GET THE MEMO GENIUS.

There's been a lot in this book about the Wall dividing humans north and south of it, how often those humans intermingle and how the Wall is an artificial divider among men. The Starks are the key to the Wall, and I think another point here is that they in some fashion bestride the Wall, the realms of mundane and magic, wildling and civilization, etc. Winterfell is a very liminal place generally in GoT so far, a nation within a nation, wilder than the South but more civilized than the North, owing allegiance to men and things other than men (the Wall), worshiping different Gods, and so on.

My very theological self wants to say that the fact that Bael takes the kingsroad to Winterfell shows how the structures of civilization itself allow the incursion of wildness, but probably I'm getting overexcited here.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ASoIaF: An Aside about Women (Spoilers)

An Aside about Women

It's impossible to read Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire as a female reader and not have Opinions on this topic. My opinions so far are mixed.

ASoIaF: An Aside about Typology (Probably Spoilers)

An Aside about Typology
Following on a comment from a friend about how I am observant in interpreting the myths and songs as about the current story:
Yeah, Ygritte's storytelling was clearly just about setting up "types" for the current generation to fulfill. [explain.] There is this whole genre of bible study, "typology." It's all about interpreting Old Testament stories and prophecies as prefiguring Christ. [Various examples given, use your Googles. Isaac overthrowing the older brother Ishmael is a "type" for Christ overthrowing the Old Covenant. It's relatively out-of-fashion these days, partly because it lacks deep engagement with what the texts actually say in favor of forced parallels to a particular theology, but it's profoundly influential on Christian theology and Biblical interpretation as a whole, even when you'd rather ignore it.]
Anyway, whenever people in fantasy books tell old stories and legends it is almost always for the sole purpose of doing typology (or giving an unfulfilled prophecy for someone to fulfill). See, for example, all the prefaces in The Belgariad. Tolkein and CS Lewis were both SUPER-typological in their understanding of the Gospels, and they both wrote fantasy epics with the Gospels in mind. Both of them used past history in their epics to prefigure the heroism of the hero. Presumably that's how fantasy turns typology into such a trope, above and beyond the part where you don't tell past stories unless they're relevant to your present novel. Someone should pull a thesis or two out of this: Do the typological tendencies of SFF enter the genre primarily via imitation of Tolkein and Lewis, or are there other vectors? Is SFF in other western languages as fully typological as in English?

A Clash of Kings: Predictions (Spoilers!)

More direct commentary this time as I get more involved with the characters!
A Clash of Kings
As a general thing, I expect a plague. Maybe not in this volume but they've mentioned illnesses a couple of times in passing in a way that seems important, and GRRM seems to be building towards maximum chaos before introducing the supernatural winter threats.
I have a mental block on the title of this book and have to look it up every time.

A Game of Thrones: Predictions (Spoilers!)

I was texting my predictions as I read along, or sometimes chatting online as I read. My general comments on the story become more numerous as I go. (Reading on a kindle so I give %s, not page #s. I thought later about labeling by specific chapters but, man, this is for fun, that seems like homework!)
A Game of Thrones
End of First Chapter
Big giant signpost in the form of a dead direwolf with five normal pups and one creepy albino pup, killed by a stag, which is obviously Ned and (a few pages later) obviously the Baratheons. NOTE TO READERS: NED GONNA DIE.

I Predict A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones (Spoilers!)

What Is This?

I read a very little bit of Game of Thrones when it first came out, the very first book ... less than 10% of it. I stopped because a) it was too rapey; b) the female characters weren't very realistic; and c) I haaaaaaaaate novels that switch POV all the time. The sum totally of what I remember from the book is a little kid gets thrown off a tower for something to do with incest, and the big important castle is built on a hotspring even though it's like always winter and never Christmas at it.

I forgot about it until it started getting bit in pop culture. I resisted reading or watching it, because it sounded extremely violent (which isn't my thing) and because I'm awfully tired of grimdark fantasy (although I really GRRM and GoT were among the progenitors of the sub-genre). But finally I got tired of being left out of nerd-chat and gave in. I knew it was supposed to have many shocking and unforeseen twists, so when I read the very first chapter, I texted one of my nerd friends (Kathryn) and said, "Ned's gonna die, right? Is that the shocking twist that everyone's always complaining about?" This turned into a game where I texted her (and then some of my other friends, and then posted on facebook) my predictions as I read through the books. I've compiled the texts from the first two books into the following posts (adding in timeline as best I could afterwards; it's a bit messy), and then started keeping a better log going forward. I'm putting all my prediction and commentary together on this page, and will be posting additions to my blog as well as adding them to the master page.

Where I was texting my comments I have edited them for clarity and flow (taken out the text-speech, turned things into actual sentences). Wherever you see something in [square brackets], that was a comment from whomever I was talking to, most often Kathryn, and sometimes Mike or Carmen or other friendly nerds. Generally I've edited their comment to the most direct question -- sometimes because I no longer have that part of the conversation, other times because we were also, at the same time, discussing baby poop.