Posts Tagged ‘game of thrones’

One of my pleasures on a Sunday evening has been watching HBO’s Game of Thrones season six.  This is the first time that the show has outpaced George R.R. Martin’s books which made it a particularly fascinating season.  The season was for me a mixture of highs and lows, with more highs than lows.  I will split the post here for those who don’t want any spoilers about season six.


Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  And happy St Jean to my fellow Quebecers!

This week I read the wonderful Iron to Iron, the prequel novella to Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf.  Like Wolf by Wolf, it is set in an alternate universe in which the Axis won World War II.  It tells the story of Luka Löwe and Adele Wolfe’s burgeoning romance during the 1955 Axis Tour, a relationship which causes much of the tension in Wolf by Wolf.  Within a couple of pages I was immediately back in the world created by Graudin and back following the Axis Tour.  I listened to Wolf by Wolf in audiobook and although this novella is an ebook only, I still heard it in my mind with Christa Lewis’ voice.  It’s not often that I have such a strong link with narration.  

For those of you who have not yet read Wolf by Wolf (and why not may I ask?) the Axis Tour is a motorcycle race between Berlin and Tokyo, with the winner receiving an Iron Cross and many accolades.  Iron to Iron is told from Luka’s perspective, and we learn more about him.  Both he and Adele are strongly motivated to win the Axis Tour, he to prove his worth to his father by winning a second Iron Cross, she to prove that women are equally as competent as men.  Of course, having read Wolf by Wolf we know the outcome of this race; Graudin does a wonderful job of keeping the tension high despite that knowledge and without the addition of the whole shapeshifter trying to kill Hitler plot of Wolf.

My only gripe about Iron to Iron – and it is very minor – is that fräulein is written with a lower case f.  In German all nouns are capitalised, so this really irritated me.  I gave Iron to Iron a well deserved five stars out of five.  Now when is Blood for Blood out?!?

This week I also started reading His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik.  So far I’m really enjoying it.

Game of Thrones thoughts after the cut



Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  It’s been  fairly quiet week on the reading front.  I’ve been working to finish Mark Lawrence’s The Wheel of Osheim which I finally did.  Expect a full review next week.  I have also started the audiobook of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae.  I picked up the sequel, Gemina, at BEA and want to refresh my memory.  In terms of audiobooks, Illuminae is superb. It is a full, multi-cast performance and is definitely worth listening to.  I have Gemina in hard copy ARC form, but I will certainly be picking up the audiobook if it’s anything like the first in the series.

On non book related news, Apple announced its big updates to iOS and OS X (renamed MacOS.)  There are a couple of updates in particular about which I’m really excited.  First is the integration with VoIP apps (such as Skype) so that they can be handled like normal iPhone calls.  My parents live in Scotland and aren’t very comfortable yet with the internet, so I use Skype to landline to call them most of the time.  Skype has a nice monthly rate for unlimited calls to UK landlines.  It will be so nice to have that integrated and not to have to think about how I call them.

Secondly, Siri is coming to the Mac!  Finally.  I’m not sure yet how I’ll work her into my daily workflow, but I’ll have fun trying.

Commentary and speculation for Game of Thrones below the cut:


So this last week I finished Claudia Gray’s 1000 Pieces of You which I mentioned adding to my library in my last reading roundup.  Sci-Fi is a genre into which I dip now and again, although I’m not an expert on it.  1000 Pieces of You is a well put together, fun read (well, actually, fun listen as I listened to it primarily in audiobook) – expect a full review on it soon.

I also started Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury, the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.  At first, I admit, I struggled to get into the story.  Slowly though I got sucked into the Feyre/Rhys storyline and am now really enjoying it.  Maas has a very “modern” writing style despite this being epic fantasy.  

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time this week marathoning the first season of 24 on Netflix.  Jack Bauer for the win!  Although it’s been some time since I watched the show, I remembered all the twists and turns, so it wasn’t quite as exciting for me as it was the first time I watched it.

As usual, I watched this week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I’m going to put a cut here as below are some thoughts and speculations on A Game of Thrones


I was motivated to write this entry today following the news that GoT screenwriter Bryan Cogman has left Twitter. He explains that this is due to negative backlash on some of the creative decisions made by the team.  I can respect Mr. Cogman's decision and am sorry that the feedback he received was phrased in a negative and hurtful way.  As a fan of both book and TV adaptation, I would like to share my thoughts.  

One of George R.R. Martin's strengths as a writer is in his characterization.  The multiple point of view structure of the novels allows him to populate his world with characters as varied as a young tomboy, a young Queen coming to grips with her newfound power and a smart dwarf who wears his armour in his mind and for us to get to know and love them.  Each of these characters has a well thought out story arc with its own emotional beats, and following these characters on their respective journeys is one of the pleasures of reading A Song of Ice and Fire.

HBO has brought together a fantastic cast and crew to bring these characters to life, and it has been a joy to watch them.  I also appreciate that putting together an adaption of these novels within time constraints and within budget is challenging.  Also, if characterization is one of George R.R. Martin's strengths, pacing is one area in which his writing is perhaps not quite so strong.  There are moments when little is happening, but the characters are still moving along their arcs.  That doesn't necessarily make for great television.  

Clearly then, changes have to be made.  The changes I personally find easiest to deal with are those that don't throw main characters off their book emotional story arc or miss an emotional beat.  For example, what does it really matter whether Theon's sister is called Asha or Yara as long as her emotional arc stays true?  While I miss the Reeds, I can live without them as long as Osha is there to service Bran's storyline of learning about his dreams and the three-eyed crow.

Other changes are not so easy to swallow.  One major emotional beat that is missing from both Robb's and Catelyn's TV adaptation storyline is their learning of Bran's and Rickon's "deaths."  In the book this is the catalyst which spurs Catelyn to release the Kingslayer and Robb to sleep with a secondary character leading to his breaking his vow to the Freys.  Without the emotional blow of their grief, these decisions are less understandable and even out of character.  It is a major misstep in their emotional journeys. From what I have read, non book readers are also picking up on this, and struggling to understand their motivations.

The biggest change to the books, and the one I have the most difficulty accepting, is in Danaerys's storyline.  In the books the dragonnapping does not take place.  Dany's book storyline is probably the one that suffers most from weak pacing, and I imagine these changes were made to bring more action to her plot and to give her more screen time.  The reason I struggle with it, is that it negates what the character went through last season.  We watched Dany grow from a frightened, powerless young girl, to a Khaleesi to the mother of dragons, taking the power of her inheritance.  Her subsequent story arcs in the books are about her learning to wield that power, not losing it again.  This can be contrasted with the handling of Jaime Lannister's storyline.  Jaime, too, has little to do in the book.  The writers have written some beautiful scenes for him with Robb and a Lannister cousin which both serve and enhance Jaime's book emotional arc.  

In summary, no adaptation of a much loved book is going to please everyone. The creative team has done a wonderful job in bringing Westeros to life and I look forward to the concluding two episodes.

Having watched some excellent quality drama recently I decided to review what they had in common.

First of all, it would probably help if I gave examples of what I consider quality television.  It includes, but is not limited to: the Sci-Fi Channel's reimagined Battlestar Galactica, ABC's Lost, HBO's highly acclaimed production of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, and the UK's ITV channel Downton Abbey.  

At first glance, these may not seem to have much in common.  What connection could there possibly be between a futuristic sci-fi drama, a time-travel mystery, a swords and sorcery fantasy series and a period piece set in early 20th century England?  The answer, dear reader, is characters, people in whom we have a vested interest, portrayed by competent actors.  We may not necessarily like the characters, but we do have to want to know what happens to them.  

It is not even a case of identifying with the characters.  I have never been stranded on a mystery island with a Smoke Monster, nor survived a robotic genocidal attack. However, at the core of all of these shows is human interacting with human, humans dealing with situations outside their comfort zone, humans dealing with moral dilemmas, and that is eternal.  Certainly, the special effects/sets/costumes/budgets are incredible, but without that emotional core, they are little more than pretty pictures, nothing to draw us back week after week.  

George R.R. Martin recently drew my attention to a quote by William Faulkner, which goes something like this: "the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.”  I believe that to be true, and for me, for any drama to retain my attention it must have that human core.