Wednesday, 23 November 2011

TV: Game of Thrones: Who's Who in Season 2 - TV Feature at IGN

Game of Thrones: Who's Who in Season 2 - TV Feature at IGN

Amazingly I think that they have the right look for these characters, well it depends what they do with Melisandre and Brienne, cause Brienne is too pretty and Melisandre isn't, well red. But this could be good to see, saying that I still haven't seen all of the first season and the characters look like I want them to look in my head anyway not what the actors look like, and yes even Ned Stark doesn't look like Sean Bean to me!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Book: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and 1984 by George Orwell

I've read this book so many times now, it was part of my English Literature A2 course, so as you can imagine I know it pretty well. So I thought I would just post about it and some of the things that I think when I read it. 


So anyway, the scariest thing about The Handmaid's Tale is that you can actually see the situation actually coming into being. If a religion did take over part of the world then it definately would be Christianity. 

When I did my English coursework I was comparing it to George Orwell's 1984 so there will be times when I compare it to that (which I am just about finished re-reading, avoiding the scribble of course). So be prepared for spoilers on 1984 as well as on The Handmaid's Tale. 

First off a major part of The Handmaid's Tale is religion, the only accepted Religion being Christianity, though at the start of the regime it was insinuated that if you were a Christian in general then you were ok it became clear as the novel progressed that Catholics, Baptists and Quakers were just three of the Christian denominations that were prosecuted in Gilead. In many ways you could say that Atwood's creation of Gilead resembles Nazi Germany in many ways, such as the prosecution of minorities. There is also a major suppression of the press and news, what the Government wants it's subjects to see rather than what's actually happening, this is simular to the use of the Telescreen in 1984 and how Big Brother is always watching. The best way to describe the people in power would be to say Evangelists, as in they believe that, at least some, of the Bible should be interpretted literally, i.e. the story of Rachel and Leah which is certainly central to the story of the protagonist Offred. Though religion doesn't play a large part in 1984, in fact it appears to have been abolished, the rigour shown by devouts in the Handmaid's Tale could be likened to the almost worship given to Big Brother. 

What I did my coursework on, and so what you're going to have to endure a complete rant on, is the representation of women in the two novels, something that is extremely different. Atwood presents her women as property almost. The Commander (presumably called Fred due to the possesive name Of-Fred) seems to not only own his wife (Serena Joy) but his Handmaid (Offred) and to some extent the Marthas (Rita and Cora), they all live in his household with only one other male, the chauffer (Nick) and this is true for most of the elite of Gilead. Even though women are more or less possesions in Gilead even sex itself has been changed beyond recogntion (to people today), the same can be said about sex in 1984. Sex in the Handmaid's Tale is all about procreation, and that it is it really. The way Offred first describes the ceremony that happens once a month to try and concieve a baby, was that the Commander was 'f***ing the lower half of her body' she was completely disengaged from the sexual activity, in that part she points out that though there is no feeling and no emotion, even no desire it is still not rape. This is possibly the scariest part of this book. A woman was taken from her home, husband and child and is made to have sex with an ageing married man (with his wife also present) and it isn't counted as rape. The thing is if you (as a fertile young woman we're going to assume) were given the choice of certain death or a chance to live by having a baby that would be taken away from you which would you choose. I know that I wouldn't be brave enough to choose certain death. I don't think anyone would. 

Sex in 1984 is simularly de-emotionised (not even a word I know) and is simply for pro creation,  this is in a different way though, this is just to stop bonds of love and affection between a husband and wife, who are in fact equals in the society of Oceania. This is the major difference between the two novels, in 1984 women are exactly equal to men, and can be seen as the same, the female members of the party are seen to wear exactly the same as the male members of the party in the form of their overalls. 

The major simularity in the two novels in the way of sex is that both of the protagonists, Offred and Winston, rebel through it. In Offred's case it is her explicit relationship with Nick, that we, as readers, never discover the true nature of, though at points it would appear that there is something more than just sex between them, this is suggested ultimately by the fact that Nick helps Offred to escape, by the fact that we know that Nick know's Offred's real name (the evidence points to this being June, though as she never confirms or denies this there is no way of knowing) and the fact that they both believe she is pregnant. On the other hand Winston's relationship with Julia seems to be more about the act of rebellion than anything else, even the first time they have sex it is more about the act of rebellion than the desire to have sex itself. Simulaly when they are caught they 'betray each other' which it is clear means they stopped loving each other, though I suspect that they didn't love each other in the first place. 

The major major difference between the two novels is the way that they end. 

With the Handmaid's Tale there is a definate sense of hope, though you never find out what happened to Offred after her presumed 'escape' the fact that the epilogue is a lecture about the Gileadian period suggests that there was an end to the oppression faced by Offred and her peers. This would suggest that there can be an end to a dystopia. I suspect that the reason that Gilead fell was simular to the reason why Communist Russia fell, and why Nazi Germany fell, because the rest of the world could still be constituted as 'normal' as in there wasn't dictatorship throughout the whole of the rest of the world, presumably (with the exception of the USA/Gilead) the same amount of dictators in the novel as there already were in the late 20th Century. In a way this does give hope in case some religious order does take over a provinence of the world. 

On the other hand Orwell's world in 1984 is a far more dismal and depressing place. In the end,  both Winston and Julia (as well as many other characters that we meet during the course of the novel are broken by the party and become devoid of all human emotion, and so party zealots. They give up all of their own ideals and feelings. Like in The Handmaid's Tale I reckon the reason that the dystopia fell was because the rest of the world was 'normal' I believe that 1984 and the state of Oceania is much more perminant simply due to the fact that the world is split up into three major super states who are all in equilibrium with each other and so there is no way of the rest of the world could help them out. 

I would suggest to anyone that likes things of a political/religious nature to read both of these books, to everyone else, read the Handmaid's Tale first, it's a bit more easy going than 1984, though both are definate reads! Also please don't be put off by the fact that Big Brother (as in the TV show) was inspired by Orwell, the book is so much deeper and better than the developped TV show, which I personally think completely degrades what Orwell was trying to say. 

Another dystopian novel is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley if you want more, another good book, though I have only red this once and so don't remember it as well as the above books! 

Also if you have any questions about what I've said in this post (I know I can get a little ranty and use some weird words when I go into English Lit mode) then just let me know and I'll answer them. Also if I can find a copy of my coursework then I'll post that up too for you! 

Til Next Time, 

L x

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Book: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Ok because people seem not to be able to read the bright red writing I've previously used I'm going to make this extra big...


Think that'll do? No I'm not going to put spoilers in the background colour, I've already put a massive red banner on it that should do! 

So anyway it is now a while since I've read this. This is an absolutely massive book and I was a bit apprehensive about reading it at first, not because of the size of the book but the fact that I loved the Mistborn Trilogy so much that I couldn't face the Way of Kings being a disappointment. 

It took quite a while for me to get into it, and I wasn't so keen on Kaladin's viewpoint in the start however after a while I got really into it and have loved it. I think that now Kaladin is my favourite character in the book. It reminds me of Mistborn in the way that Sanderson is able to make his characters so human and real, they feel real emotions and grow in a way that is completely believable. 

At the start I did find that I quite liked Shallan, but the more I read the more I prefered the other characters, its not that I don't like her it's just that I much prefer the other characters! 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Book: The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan

I had seriously forgotten how easy it was to read Canavan's books, this one has taken me less than 24 hours to read, though when I picked it up and didn't pay attention properly then I though Dannyl was Dany from A Song of Ice and Fire, shows that I have read them too much recently. But anyway. 

This book picks up 20 years after the Black Magician Trilogy ( and picks up with some of the main characters: Sonea, Rothen, Cery, Gol and Regin. Though it also introduces the next generation through Lorkin (Sonea and Akkarin's son) and Anyi (Cery's daughter). 

The relationship between Sonea and Regin doesn't appear to have progressed since the closure of The High Lord. However through the course of the book I find myself wanting something to happen between them even though Regin has a wife and there is nothing but bad blood between them, but still is that so bad? Regin seems to be nice now, and seems to be helping Sonea for no reason than he wants to. Well and he wants all factions of the Magician's Guild to be treated the same, though that is far from the Regin that we used to see punishing Sonea for being a dwell. 

Then there is Cery's storyline, Cery is one of the last remaining theives from the previous trilogy it would appear, the rest having been killed off. I will admit that I did have my supsisions about Skellin from the start, I didn't like him and honestly fealt that he might be behind the Theif Hunter. Turns out I was sort of right. I was also right about the fact that someone else was performing the magic when the caught the fake-rouge, I did think she was caught too easily after all. Turns out that was right too. 

I took an instant liking to Anyi, she seems smart and resourceful and didn't want to sit around doing nothing, from what Cery's told us about her mother it seems safe to say that she's taking after Cery more. It was mentioned that Cery was 'grooming' his replacement thief, and I think that that may be Anyi, there was a female thief before so I believe it's possible, plus she's already named after an animal (I looked in the glossary) which seems to be a major criteria for a thief!

I wasn't so sure about Lorkin to start with though, he seemed very pre occupied with women at the start. Though he also seems to vastly respect Tyvara, so much so that I'm there just wanting them to do something! Even when he found out that she wasn't his slave he still didn't try anything. Though maybe now that he is in the Sanctuary things may change. 

Something that I did notice when I was reading this book is that the one sex scene in it is described in quite alot more detail than they have been previously. As in previously it has been hinted at but never described whereas when Lorkin is being 'assasinated' by Riva it is quite vividly described, only for Tyvara to break it up! Though if Lover's Death is used then I suppose it has to be described! There is also a lot of Arousal from Lorkin's point of view, mostly over Tyvara. 

Dannyl and Tyend's relationship seems to be breaking down to me, Tyend seems to be becoming quite fickle and I don't like it and think that Dannyl deserves better, it could be interesting to see how his relationship with the Sachakan Ashaki goes...

Til Next Time,
L x 

Book: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin - Characters

I am quite bored and so have decided to make a list of my top ten favourite characters (in order) from Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. WARNING this will contain spoilers from all 4 of the previous books AS WELL AS what I have read so far of A Dance with Dragons (about 200 pages or so) 

  1. Daenarys Targaryen (The Queen Across the Narrow Sea) - What's not to love about Dany really! She always seems to make the best out of every situation, she was effectively sold to Khal Drogo and yet she still wanted to learn to pleasure him and it eventually became clear that she loved him dearly. I mean come on she still thinks about her Moon and Stars 4 books on, it can't be nothing! Though she did at first sound like she was turning into her brother in the ruthless stakes she does show a lot of compassion, particularly in a Storm of Swords and a Dance with Dragons. In the former it is the abolition of the Slave Trade in Slavers Bay and the latter with the child that Drogon killed and how she keeps dwelling on the fact that it was her dragon that did it (the missing dragon when looked at from my perspective!) Also you can't dislike a character who controls 3 dragons....its just not healthy! 
  2. Jon Snow (Lord Commander of the Night's Watch) - I was under the impression that Jon Snow was a little bit of a prat before I read the series, or started to read I suppose, but I've found that its not true, I like Jon as a character, and I love Ghost! I love all the Direwolves to be honest, I want one! Jon seems to have inheritated his supposed father (Eddard Stark)'s sense of honor and duty and my respect and love for the character definately grew when he refused Stannis' offer of legitimisation and for him to become the Lord of Winterfell, little did Jon know that he was considered as Robb's heir after the 'deaths' of Bran and Rickon. Jon makes mistakes (Ygritte and all the betryals) and that's what makes him a real character to me, he makes mistakes, he learns, he moves on! 
  3. Brandon Stark (Heir to Winterfell/King in the North)  - Like Dany, what isn't to like about Bran, he's learnt to deal with his status as a cripple throughout the books, and it is really difficult to remember how young he really is. He's the first Stark child (we'll include Jon to all intents and purposes) to show Warg tendancies (though theories suggest that Rickon is the strongest of the 6 as Shaggydog is extrememly wild, though all of the Direwolves reflect their 'masters' personalites) to the reader. He has grown, and I believe will continue to do so! 
  4. Jaime Lannister (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard) - Strange one I know, especially since his twin sister and son are at the top of my hate list! I have grown to like Jaime, he's grown on me since we got more of an explanation as to why he did the things that we did, and how that he has had to really struggle to keep the promises he made, especially to the 'dead' Catelyn Stark/Tully or Lady Stoneheart if you prefer. He also seems to really have grown to care for Brienne which is something good in my opinion, and his hatred of Cersei has grown quite dramatically, I think it may be possible that he is the 'little brother' who will kill her, remember that Cersei was born first with Jaime clinging onto her ankle, its said a few times throughout the book which makes me think that it may be important!
  5. Arya Stark (Princess of the North) - fiesty young and full of energy, though I suppose her fault is her thirst for revenge. For this reason I am hoping that she doesn't stay with the Faceless men but returns to the North. After all its hard to forget your identity as a Stark when you have wolf dreams
  6. Sansa Stark/Lannister (Princess of the North/Presumed heir to Winterfell) - I will admit that I didn't like Sansa to begin with but now I do, she's gained some of the strength and maturtity that the other Stark children already have, and I am routing for her to fall in love with this guy...a happy ending for Sansa please!
  7. Meera Reed (daughter to the Lord of Greywater Watch) 
  8. Arianne Martell (Heir and Princess of Dorne) 
  9. Gilly (Craster's daughter/wife/mother of his child, a Wilding)
  10. Margarey Tyrell (Queen to Renly Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon and Tommen Baratheon) 

And then we have the top 10 characters that I love to loath (no guesses for the top two!) 

  1. Cersei Lannister (Queen to King Robert, Queen Regent for King Joffrey and King Tommen) 
  2. Joffrey Lannister (Heir to the Iron Throne then King) 
  3. Janos Slynt (Lord of Harrenhal, Lord Commander of the City Watch, Man of the Night's Watch) 
  4. Aeron Greyjoy (Damphir to the Drowned God) 
  5. Theon Greyjoy (ward to Eddard Stark then Heir to the Seastone Chair) 
  6. Walder Frey and his brood (Lord of the Crossing/Twins and his heirs/family) 
  7. Varys (Eunch, Master of Whispers) 
  8. Viserys Targaryen (The Begger King) 
  9. Stannis Baratheon (The King on Dragonstone/the Wall) 
  10. Gregor Cleagne (The Mountain that Rides) 

Note on how a Dance with Dragons is doing (scroll down for posts WITHOUT spoilers for aDwD in this one!) 

I am loving it! To me this is Martin back on form, after the monstrosity that was a Feast for Crows, aDwD isn't nearly so hard to read and I don't find that I am looking to see how far I have left all the time! So far there have been no REALLY shocking events, just the inevitable really, as in Tyrion is getting very drunk (well was), Stannis is complaining to Jon about not giving him enough resources, land, and refusing him as Lord of Winterfell, the war still rages, the Lyseni pirate leaving Stannis...

Book: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Well I'm feeling kind of lost after finishing that book because there is now nowhere to go! (Back to Game of Thrones maybe!) So anyway, even though I haven't had to wait like many of the long term fans I can safely say that that book was worth it! 

We were told a bit more about Dragon law, and with all of the debates about who the heads of the dragon are it does seem to make sense that one person can only ride one dragon, to me it seems to work the same way as Lady, Nymeria, Grey Wind, Shaggy Dog, Summer and Ghost do to the Stark brood (Jon Snow included here) as in each Direwolf seems to be linked to just one of the children and is fiercely loyal. To me it was also blindingly obvious that this being the case Drogon would be Daenerys' dragon, she's always seemed to dote on him and she did name him after her dead husband. I am saying him but surely one of the dragons must be female or once more we're looking at no more dragons. 

A suprising twist in the plot for Dany was her marriage, when I was reading about the proposal I was thinking in my head 'she'll get out of it' but she didn't, though I'm not a big fan of her husband. 

Anyway I think the best thing to say now would be about the theories of where Martin will go now! 

So Jon's Parentage - I would not be suprised if Martin turned round and told everyone that Ned really is Jon's father and so and so was his mother, perhaps Ashara Dayne actually had twins, a boy (Jon) and a girl, as we know that the little girl died. If Jon's parents are Lyanna and a Targaryen then Ned DEFINATELY fathered a bastard somewhere as he acts way too guilty about it to be lying. 

Brienne and Jamie - no idea where they have gone, not sure I really care, though if Martin doesn't have them at least kiss by the end of the series I will be very upset, I mean Brienne thinks of Jamie ALL the time, and Jamie must think about her more than he does about Cersei 

Cersei and her (remaining) brood - I think that Ser Robert Strong (or Gregor Cleagne) won't be the savior that Cersei believes, it will somehow back fire and end up being her downfall. I also think that (unfortunately cause I do like them) Myrcella and Tommen will also end up dead, before Cersei and I think that it will happen in a way that is caused by her, so basically she will self fulfil her prophesy. 

Dany and her dragons - I want Dany to find someone who loves her and she loves and be a good rular, though whether this'll happen a=I'm not sure, I'm in a mind that she will end up dying before the end, same as Jon. 

The Three Heads of the Dragon, For and Against 

Daenerys Targaryen - I think most people are certain that Dany is one of the heads of the Dragon, being the Mother of Dragons and all that I think it'd be really silly if she wasn't. Its also clear now that she will be Drogon's rider, we did after all find out that a rider can only ride one dragon whereas a dragon can have more than one rider, though I suspect that that is over time rather than at the same time. It's been really obvious to me that Drogon was going to be 'Dany's' Dragon, she named him after her (first) husband after all, and has always seemed to favour him. 

Tyrion Lannister - Now I know that many people think that especially as it turns out that Tyrion knows alot about dragons that he is therefore one of the heads of the dragon. I don't share this idea I think that Tyrion is the son of Tywin and Joanna Lannister and thats all he is, other than a red herring. I think he will be instrumental to the unification of the three heads but not one himself, after all he is there for a reason. If Aerys had fathered a child with Joanna Lannister then I think it is way more likely that Cersei and Jamie are his. After all the simularities in madness between Aerys and Cersei are very close, unless that's what the Iron Throne does to you. So to me it would be more likely to be Jamie or Cersei if a Lannister was one of the heads, but I still doubt it. 

Jon Snow - I think this one is quite likely, the mystery surrounding his parentage does suggest so but it may not be the case. All the talk of the ice dragon suggets that so long as Jon isn't dead (which I doubt, there must be a reason why Thoros was shown to bring Dondarrion back from the dead several times maybe this is so that Melisandre can bring Jon back no question) that he will be a dragon rider. I suspect that if he is it'll be Viserion that he will end up riding. After all that is the dragon that seems most closely linked to ice, either that or there really is a dragon hidden under Winterfell (maybe without a Stark there it'll wake up) though that would mean 4 dragons and 4 heads which just confuses things! 

Aegon Targaryen - I don't believe he's the real Aegon, I don't know who he is, I have no theories but I don't think he's Aegon. Therefore to me he is not going to be a future dragon rider. I think that he will die before Dany and the dragons even get to Westeros and if he doesn't I think he'll die trying to take charge of Dany, being that bit further up the line of succesion than her he's going to challenge it. Either way, he'll die and he won't be a real Targaryen. 

Arianne Martell - I've never seen any one suggest her as a head of the dragon but I do believe Quentyn was there for a reason and I don't think Rheagal attacked quick enough for there not to be a reason. We know that both Quentyn and Arianne (being brother and sister) have the 'blood of the dragon' through the Princess Daenerys that married into the Martell family. So I think that maybe a Martell is one of the heads, to me that then makes sense if they are female (which would discount Trysten the other brother) and point towards Arianne. The point about her being that she must be a POV character for a reason and she hasn't *really* seen any major events, it would have been just as easy to reveal the marriage pact through Quentyn's POV than Arianne's after all. Though it isn't popular I think it's likely, especially with how Rheagal reacted to someone with Martell blood. 

Bran Stark - again this is a popular theory but I just don't buy it. I suspect that dragons will be like humans and be able to resist warging. I just don't think Bran is conected enough to the rest of the plot to be a head of the dragon, he'll be instrumental as Tyrion will be, but I don't buy it.

Til Next Time, 
L x

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Book: A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

It feels so good to finally be writing this! That was nearly 900 pages of quite a lot of boredom. I hate to say this after the amazingness that was Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords Part 1 and 2 I was extremely disappointed in a Feast for Crows. 

It just seemed to take some serious getting through, it never seemed to pick up as the others had done within pages and capture my imagination. It didn't help that Daenarys was missing and that made me sad as she's the best character for me. 

I was so glad that Cersei appeared to get what was coming too her and that Jamie has FINALLY had the sense to see her for what she really is! Though I think that he is falling for Brienne just a bit, he now insists on calling her Brienne at least! He cares a great deal. The thing I like about Jamie is that he really does seem to regret killing Aerys and is trying to keep all of his oaths and promises, and I was incrediably happy to see him do this in regards to the whole never taking up arms against any Starks or Tullys. Though a lack of Starks in plain view would probably explain the first one there. 

The Freys seem to have made everyone suspicious and certainly hateing them at least since the Red Wedding, which is only a good thing and to be expected really, I mean come on, some of them were murdering a close in-law. 

Speaking of in-laws we get onto Jeyne Westeling, the girl that no one except Robb seemed to think was worth losing a kingdom over. But the girl quite clearly loved Robb and his cause, though turns out her family was in league with the Lannisters all along, though not enough to be warned about the Red Wedding it would seem. Problem is its getting harder and harder to hate the Lannisters now Tywin and Joffrey are dead and Jamie has become far more likeable, Tyrion always was likeable for some reason, and not at all Lannister ish. Kevan seems to be pretty down to earth and a just ruler and Lancel, well I just pity him really. The only Lannister left to hate is Cersei, and you have to love to hate Cersei. There is just NO redeeming character traits about her, its all about the power with her but she doesn't wield it in the right way! 

Moving onto the Starks...

Bran and Rickon have both been absent from this book, expected on Rickon's part as he isn't a POV character and as far as we're aware isn't near one. Bran's character cut was to do with the whole 'geography' split that Martin did, and was missed! 

Sansa seems to be morphing into Alayne Stone more and more, though she is still described as beautiful it seems to me that her character has changed, and even though Arya is younger, I'd say that Sansa has shown more of her sister's traits as its progressed, and in fact the only Stark that really annoyed me has actually now grown on me greatly. I don't like the way that Littlefinger is using her, I don't trust his character enough to have honest motives, but at the moment his wedding plan seems like a good one, finally uniting the Vale and the North, hopefully being able to add the Riverlands as well...if only this had been done 3 books ago, may have won the war! It was also nice to see that Sansa did miss Jon, even if he is a bastard, and she seems to be proud that he's now Lord Commander of the Night's watch. Where her marriage is concerned I'm hoping that she will fall in love with her betrothed as well as making him fall in love with her, its what Sansa deserves, a galliant knight to love her and protect her...the only minor problem would be her husband Tyrion, missing but not quite dead...

Jon himself is barely seen, something else that makes me sad, though it's clear through Samwell's chapters that he has changed somewhat after becoming Lord Commander especially considering the decisions to do with Gilly and Dalla and Mance's son and Master Aemon and his sea voyage. Its getting more difficult to forget that his character is younger than me! 

Arya has once again changed who she is, though this time it does seem to go deeper than a name, though it's interesting that her dreams of Nymeria have only just started, a link to the past and to the Dire Wolf of Stark. Seems that the only other character who's figured out that Nymeria is the wolf stalking the Riverlands is Jamie, who in an off hand way thought of the wolf that attacked Joffrey. 

And lastly we get to Catelyn Stark or should we say Lady Stoneheart...she's become a little too fond of tying a noose round people's necks, though I will admit the Freys had it coming Brienne didn't and part of me is definately hoping that Catelyn finds her heart again and cuts Brienne down before she dies. I wasn't Catelyn's biggest fan before but now she's gone even further down my list!

The Ironborn narrators in this novel just annoyed was all of the same thing really, death, loot, rape, drowning, death, loot, rape, drowning...even with Asha and she's the only female ironborn that we see, and we still have no idea what happened to Theon, though unlike Asha who I do sort of like Theon is on a par with Cersei Lannister in the dislike stakes I think! 

Then we get to Arianne, Princess of Dorne. I like her, at the moment, and I really am hoping that her character is going to grow while she isn't locked up in her tower...fingers crossed we'll see good things from the heiress of Dorne! 

Well now to start with a Dance with Dragons, hopefully it should be more interesting than this one!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Book: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

I am writing about BOTH Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow and Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold.

Sorry but the books have sort of merged into one for me, which of course they are for any American readers but us Brits have to pay twice as much cause the book is so damn big! 

Anyhow...if you have read all of A Storm of Swords then you will agree that it is a pretty shocking book, with a lot of death! Some of it much more upsetting than others. I mean, come on, show me someone that was upset when Joffrey kicked the bucket...I certainly wasn't, I was glad, though I did find Sansa annoying at first she has grown on me as a character and I was glad to see her rid of Joffrey. 

Of course most shocking of all is the Red Wedding, now I did know that it was coming when I read it and to be honest I thought that it was going to be far more gruesome than it was, though it was bad enough! That was a really heart wrenching moment, cause even though Robb himself wasn't a POV character you do grow to like him, seems to me that Martin wants people to like the Starks, its not really possible not to, except really Rickon who I feel pretty much indifferent too, possibly because he hasn't really done much yet. I suppose the reason that the Red Wedding wasn't as gruesome as it could have been is because it was from Catelyn's POV, meaning that we could only see what she could see, and with only one set of eyes that certainly isn't everything. All in all I have found myself diliking the Freys even more and the Boltons...well lets just say I loathed him anyway. 

What I did find a good twist was the epilogue (I know I haven't mentioned a lot of things yet but as it is related to the Red Wedding so I thought it was relevant) and the way Catelyn comes back from the dead. I think this is one of the ways that Martin really has come into the realm of fantasy, there are a few points where it does simply feel like a medieval story with plots and incest and whatever, despite Daenarys' dragons. This was necessary, though does have me wondering whether Catelyn is now related to the Others/Wites. I suppose I shall find out soon ish, though half way through a Feast for Crows there's been nothing on Catelyn yet.

I found myself while reading these two bbooks longing to read about Daenarys more and more, she is fast becoming my favourite character (and for this I am glad that the Starks are out of the war of many kings because I want Dany to win but I don't want them to fight her!). These 2 books saw a different side to Dany as well, we already knew that she could be ruthless and fiercely protective of what she has, and has earnt, but these books really saw her grow into a Queen, she sacked cities but she also freed the slaves, showing a much softer side and a concious, two more things that have me routing for her to win the war...even though she isn't yet part of the it! 

We then have all that is happening for Jon Snow. I'd heard before I'd read the books, long before, that Jon was a bit of a nasty character, personally I haven't seen this yet. Yes Jon makes a very large number of mistakes yet the people reading the novels seem to forget that he is 14/15 I can't remember if he's had a Name Day since the books began, and most teenagers make Ygritte. The bit that could be seen as bad in Jon was that he seemed more upset by the fact that he'd broken his vows (part of which is Chasitity) with her than the fact that he knew he was going to betray her, though to give him credit he was upset when she died at least. 

I can't believe I am going to say this but I  think I'm starting to like Jamie Lannister as a character.  Though this could be partly to do with a Feast of Crows as well. There is part of me that thinks something romantic will happen between him and Brienne as well, though this could just be wishful thinking, and it is quite possible that one or both of them will die in the near future, and it can't be marriage in the end because of Jamie's vows. But his hand was cut off, how shocking, you can't have a Kingslayer without a hand! Though part of what I like about Jamie (and this definately does continue into a Feast for Crows) is that he doesn't let the loss of his hand be the end of it all, he carries on trying to do the right thing, and even finds courage  to stand up to both Tywin and Cersei. It also becomes clear that he loves his little brother Tyrion which isn't something other, previously mentioned family members plus Joffrey, seemed to do, confirmed really when Cersei got her POV chapters (hasn't made me think any different of her). 

Tyrion himself was shown in a different light too, he wasn't really taken seriously as the King's Hand except when he had the power of violence behind him (how very Lannister) and this showed later on. The hatred of Cersei towards him was also high lighted in her attempt to get him killed during the battle of Blackwater. Though his chivelry, which seemed none exsistant til now, was shown through how he treated Sansa after their wedding.

This is where I realise I haven't mentioned Arya yet or the Hound or several other characters! Oh dear! Well to be fair Arya's adventures were basically running round the Riverlands with the Hound at one point, and Gendry and Hot Pie and aquiring more and more pseudynems, I swear that girl has more names than years on her! Though she gains more in Feast for Crows. She regains Needle (thankfully) and succeeds in removing some names from her pray of people she wishes dead, the only one who is still alive when he leaves it being the Hound, who has proved himself to the reader through both Sansa and Arya's eyes to not be as bad as he seems! 

One thing about this book is that Weddings seem to be dangerous places to be at, with Robb Stark, King of the North, his Mother Catelyn and many of his bannermen (and one banner woman in Dacey Mormont) slain by the Freys at the Red Wedding, and Joffrey, the King on the Iron Throne, poisoned (allegedly by the Tyrells) at his own and his uncle Tyrion Lannister imprisoned for the act with Sansa Stark (or Lannister if you want her to take her husbands name) wanted for the same thing! I would NOT want to be at a wedding in the Seven Kingdoms if I lived there! 

A Note on the TV Series A Game of Thrones

I haven't even seen half of it unfortunately as the youtube channel I found it on has been blocked :( however what I did see of the series was fantastic and I sat there thinking about just how close it runs to A Game of Thrones, even the characters' appearances are good, though a few characters are a little older than they should be, but with a second series comissioned and some of the things that the characters have to do I can understand why. One thing about what I've seen vexed me. Jamie Lannister wasn't blond enough. Yes thats all! One of my friends has seen the whole thing and she said that there were only 2 scenes that really divulged from the book. I can't remember the first one, though she said that it was good and added to it. But the second one was to do with a potentially gay moment between Renly Barathanon (future King in Highgarden) and Loras Tyrell (The Knight of Flowers and Commander of the Rainbow Guard later on, and after that a member of the Kingsguard) which though is possible in the books is not part of Martin's writings and I can understand why people would think it was unnecessary. 

A Note on A Feast for Crows 

Which seems like a silly title as its always Ravens that are mentioned really. 

Anyway I am half way through and Arya has already knocked up twice as many new names as she had previously. This book is no where near as caprivating as the previous 3 (or 4 depending how you look at it) hence the fact that I have the time to post reviews about the previous ones, because I'm not reading constantly! I am getting there though, its just taking some doing. There are several characters missing from this book, Daenarys being the one I am saddest about cause I love her character, and I'm finding that Cersei's chapters are literally just 'I am ruling' and paranoia about Tommen and his seat on the Iron Throne. Oh and her hatred of Margery Tyrell (and Loras though that isn't so pronounced.) 

So far many Kings have died: Robb Stark King in the North, Renly Barathanon the King in Highgarden, Joffrey Barathanon the King on the Iron Throne and Balon Greyjoy King of the Iron Isles leaving only Daearys Targaryen the Queen across the Narrow Sea and Stannis Barathanon the King on Dragonstone (well on the Wall at the moment) left of the original Kings/Queens and no one knows much about Daenarys in Westeros. Though Tommen (Joffrey's brother and Cersei and Jamie's incestous son number 2 is now on the Iron Throne) and I think Euron Greyjoy has just been elected as King of the Iron we'll see how this goes!

Til Next Time, 
L x

Book: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Book 2 of Song of Ice and Fire following reading Game of Thrones. It is easy to say that this book didn't disappoint either, the characters that I loved before I still love and even Sansa Stark is growing on me (I find her some what annoying) 

Mainly I love Daenarys. She is my absolute favourite character in the books, she's firery, passionate and knows what she wants and is determined to get it, it makes me root for her in the Clash of Kings, though each of the other kings is pretty much oblivious to any threat she may cause. After all with Renly dead and Stannis not explicitly dead but suggested that he is (or at least defeated) that only leaves Robb Stark and Balcoln Greyjoy left. 

As much as I like the Starks I don't think that Robb will even come close to winning this war, 

I am SO SO sorry I've just been so caught up reading: Storm of Swords (Part 1 and 2) and am now half way through A Feast for Crows and have forgotten to post about book 2...FAIL

Now I have to try and write this review without giving away anything....could be difficult as the story has now sort of merged, well as far as A Storm of Swords goes, A Feast for Crows isn't nearly as captivating for me, so we'll see where that leads, I just hope A Dance with Dragons is better (it is sat looking wonderful and new on my bedside table still half a book away, and half of 900 pages is a lot of book!) 

So anyway, the last pointg before the bold now seems a little irrelevant to me, I think I'll simple rephrase and say that I doubt the Starks will win the war! (More about why in my review of a Storm of Swords which will be posted in about 10 minutes...

Til Next Time, 
L x

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Book: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

So after the cage fights that happened on SUVUDU ( for my posts on them) I recogenised the need to read a wider range of fiction. So when I saw Game of Thrones at a cheap price in Asda I decided to buy it and see what it was like. As I'm sure my parents would now tell you (I'm visiting for the week) I have barely put it down (since I started it on the train on the way down) and was completely entralled in the world and the characters that Martin creates. 

One of the things I liked about it was the gritty reality in it, especially having read The Sword of Truth novels (Terry Goodkind) where everything turns out rosy and throughout the books very few major characters die, and it was refreshing. When I read how things were unfolding I seriously thought that Ned Stark would be sent to the wall instead of executed and so was suprised when it happened. People die, especially in the age that GoT was set in. Something that Goodkind didn't quite manage to achieve. 

As to the I was reading I found that some I liked, some I didn't, and some I was undecided about (which I suppose is how life works). So here's the idea:

Characters I liked

  • Lord Eddard Stark (Ned) - What really isn't to like, he is an honourable man who holds his family and friends dear to him, and it really is clear that he loves them all, he seems to be completely different to his wife Catelyn Tully to me though. His death was particularly sad, though it may be because it was seen through Ayra's eyes as well, but it did reflect the fact that in war the good people are often the first victims.
  • Ayra Stark 
  • Robb Stark 
  • Jon Snow 
  • Princess Daenerys Targaryen - I'm not sure whether you're supposed to like Dany or not, but I really like her (and her husband Drogo) as a person and a character...I just hope I like the Blood of the Dragon after reading the next few books! 
  • Lord Renly Baratheon 
Characters I didn't like:
  • King/Prince Joffrey Baratheon 
  • Queen Cersei Lannister
  • King Robert Baratheon
  • Lady Lysa Tully  
There are a few characters who I'm not clear on my feelings for, like Sansa Stark, who just seemed way too innocent and naive to me, yet she didn't protect her own family when she needed to, this really lost her points. She just didn't seem to see the people or things around her clearly and I believe this helped lead to the Stark's downfall. Another character like this is Tyrion Lannister because there is something about him which seems suprisingly honest and he does seem to be a good person by nature, yet there is still something cruel about the dwarf and I just don't know how I feel about him as a character. The other character like this, perhaps more suprisingly, is Jamie Lannister, at the start there was a definate dislike but I think he grew on me, he is hot headed and impatient, pretty normal traits in some people his age, but he never does anything (past pushing Bran Stark off the tower and causing him to become a cripple) bad, and compared to most of the other characters thats not bad!) that could be considered as pure evil. There's just something about him that makes me think I may grow to like him the more I read.

Til Next Time, 
L x

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Film: Dorian Gray

The link above is one to the first part of the film Dorian Gray. I will admit that I was quite disappointed in it as a film, as there is a whole wealth of information given by Wilde in the novel that adds layers of meaning and really adds to the story. 

One of my major critisms is the large amount of sex scenes that seem to have been thrown in (most of the entirely fictional even to Wilde) which completely ruins one of the charms of the book, which is that the idea of sex is merely hinted at rather than used in the way it was in the film. There were so many different ways corruption was shown in the novel, as well as the implication of sex and homosexuality (seen as wrong in both Dorian Gray, and Oscar Wilde's societies - wrongly in my opinion). For example Dorian drinks, smokes, murders, gambles, blackmails and is guilty of many sins, the foremost of which would be selfishness really. 

The film even used sex in the relationship between Dorian and Sibyl Vane, which was not the point of that relationship, the point of their relationship is that it is both of their first loves and so is entirely innocent in every way, meaining no sex. 

And the introduction of Emily when so many more necessary characters were cut was absolutely ridicolous. I suppose she was supposed to replace the place of Hetty in the novel, though again that relationship was entirely innocent in a mirror of Sybil. 

All in all, watch the film but DON'T expect the book...far from it.

Til Next Time, 
L x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Book: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send an Idiot Abroad. The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington

I am the first person to admit that travel diaries aren't really the kind of book that interests me. However this book was finished in 2 days, and I was working both of them so that takes some doing. 

I saw some of the Sky 1 series and when I saw that he had produced a book by the same name I decided I HAD to read it. After all Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington make a brilliant and hilarious team.

And I admit that I was not disappointed, this book was a great light hearted approach to travelling, and Pilkington writes some pretty hilarious stuff. I think this would convince even the travel phobic to go on a trip to see the wonders (though not to do some of the things that he did). 

Though he is often branded as an idiot I think that Karl Pilkington is a genius, he comes up with the most outrageous ideas and talks in a way that is engaging and really draws the readers into his travels, something not that easily achieved. I will definately look forward to the new series of an Idiot Abroad, and I just hope that they release another travel diary to go with it.

Read this book! That is an order! At many points I was just sat there laughing my head off at the things that were written on the page, definately kept me reading! 

Til Next Time, 
L x

Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

So I finally actually read the Picture of Dorian  Gray by Oscar Wilde, I finished it a couple of days ago but haven't had internet access so haven't been able to post, which of course is now going to cause a surge in posting as I update you on everything that has seems to be ages since I posted. 

Anyway. I liked the novel, I thought that it was a good book however there seemed to be a major bit of plot missing. As in there didn't seem to be much of it. The plot that there seemed to be was to do with Sybil Vane and her brothers revenge. But after her death there is a major part of the book that deals with nothing to do with this. Instead it lists the things that Dorian Gray did. 

It also seems a bit strange that though he is nearly 40 at the end of the novel no one seriously questions how he still looks 20, just a small observation. In fact his friend Harry is the only person to ever mention the fact that he still looks youthful, as in people that had known him for a long time, and even then he only says that he should tell him of his secrets, as if its perfectly normal for people to stay youthful. 

A vast part of the book seems to be about how, even though Dorian says he'll try and stay good (to keep his portrait looking good) he doesn't and instead becomes more and more corrupted, and the influence that that has on a lot of people. 

I would recommend this book, but it is a book particularly about the idea of art, and personally a book on morals. After all if you could see every sin that you commited on a photo of yourself then would you still do it. I honestly think that the Picture of Dorian Gray answers this question, and its not that pleasant an answer. 

Til Next Time, 
L x

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Book: The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

I have read a book by Suzannah Dunn before (The Queen of Subtleties) but I will admit that I was unimpressed. I understand that the use of shortened names and slang makes the story more accessable, but I didn't like that fact that Dunn used those devices, it made the story seem less real. Though this is just to me and probably not to any other readers! 

On the other hand I quite liked The Confession of Katherine Howard, though a couple of the names were shortened I thought that they were much more plausible and it seemed to fit with the story, and setting of a group of young girls, though I do think that Katherine should have been referred to as Katherine during the time narrated while she was Queen, but that is just me personally. 

I did really like the way that the book ended, it was when Cat and Katherine (I am going to insist on referring to her as Katherine rather than Kate while talking about the bit of the book where she was Queen) parted ways. There was none of Cat showing regret or lament over the fate of her lover which I thought was a good twist. In a way I think that this ends the story in an almost positive way, which is an achievement for someone who's fate every 7 year old learns to be beheaded (pretty grim to teach 7 year olds the fate of Henry VIII's wives really!) 

All in all, I would say read the book just don't expect to be blown away by it, it arised less emtion in me than some other Tudor period fiction has.

Though I did get a cheap thrill from Fountains Abbey was mentioned, I grew up near it and so have visited it many a time. 

Til Next Time, 
L x

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Book: Dracula by Bram Stocker

I know I haven't been reading many new books lately but I thought I'd write a bit about the one's that I am rereading, and this morning I finished Dracula again. I just love this book, its the way that it's written, in the diary, letter and newspaper cuttings format that makes it different, and to me enjoyable (in contrast to Sherlock Holmes written around the same time, which I am not such a big fan of). This book is seriously better than all of the more modern Vampire books in excistance, particularly Twilight I'm afraid! 

One of the major issues found in the book (in my opinion) is that of women and their place. When reading the book there are actually very few female characters, and only two of the central characters (Lucy and Mina) are female. Though there are other minor female characters, such as Mrs Westerna and the Nun who looks after Jonathan, both who play minor roles. And then there is Dracula's Brides (though they are not referred to as that in the novel) who are seen about 3 times throughout. However the female characters aren't always used in a good way, both Mina and Lucy are 'seduced' by Dracula, with Lucy dying and becoming Un-Dead herself, while Mina comes very close, which seems as though Stoker wants to portray women as easily seduced and corrupted, shown particularly by the scar Mina gets when Van Helsing touches her with the Holy Wafer. And this can also be shown through the female Vampires themselves. 

The three women who live at Castle Dracula are said to be volumptious and hypnotic, and simular words are used to describe Lucy when she is a vampire, along with seductive. This is quite in contrast with the words used to describe both Mina and Lucy's appearances while they are both human, which is mostly use of the word pretty. This seems to show that the devil has corrupted the women and made them desirable and so that men want them. Ultimately the use of more female vampires than male vampires shows that Stoker thinks that women are more suseptable to evil. In a way this is also shown by the fact that the female vampires in Dracula seem to drink the blood of children, as seen by Jonathan by the child in the sack and then by Lucy as the bloofer lady. In contrast Dracula himself is only mentioned drinking the blood of adults, with Lucy, Mina and the mother of the child he brought for his brides, and with the death of the ships crew. This almost suggests that Dracula has more concience than the female vampires, though it could also simply be a twist on the caring and nutureing qualities that women at the time would have been expected to have. 

One thing that is suprising after seeing the above points, is the role that Mina herself actually plays. When told the facts about something she comes up with suggestions and ideas that non of the male characters have, and in most cases her hunches are correct and her ideas come in useful. Mina is a character that knows her mind and once she has made a decision she sticks to it, and sometimes even reaches the same conclusions as the male characters. An example being when Van Helsing and Dr Seward decide that they can't let Mina into their confidence in case Dracula reads her mind, Mina herself has come to that conclusion and sends word that she won't be coming to the conferences through her husband Jonathan Harker. Though there is often much talk of her being protected she is given a weapon for herself while in Translyvania and does seem to aid the male characters in any way possible, after all it is down to her that they had all the information together and in order after Lucy's death. 

Mina is described as someone 'with a man's brain and a woman's heart' and Van Helsing does say that God must have made her for a person. In this way Mina is just as strong as many of the male characters and yet different as well, she is certainly a key character in the novel. 

I'm SORRY I got a little English ified! I did English Literature at A2 level and one of my coursework pieces was on feminism, though I did that on Little Women, when I was reading Dracula again though I did wish that I'd done it on that its so interesting! I would write what else I like about the book but I really don't have time! Literally I am so sorry about the fact that I just went off like that, it is an important issue with the book. 

This is definately a book worth reading!

Til Next Time, 
L x

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Book: The Last Boleyn by Karen Harper

I have read this book before, but that was before I started writing this blog and so I have decided to write a review, as I have done for many other books that I have reread. I know that until now the books I have been writing about have all been fantasy (sorry but it is one of my current favourite genres, however there has always been a place in my heart for historical novels too, particularly ones relating to the Tudor period, and in particular the rise and fall of his second queen, Anne Boleyn. However I will be totally honest when I say that the real character to capture my heart is Mary Boleyn, 100 % and it saddens me that there are very few stories written surrounding her, The Last Boleyn is one that does just that (as does one of my other favourite Historical novels, The Other Boleyn Girl

One good thing about writing a review on a historical novel is I can't really spoil it for anyone as the events have actually happened, and so no spoilers :) still if  you don't want to know then don't read on there will be spoilers.

The difference between the Last Boleyn (LB) and the Other Boleyn Girl (OBG) is that this book deals with Mary's life in France as well as in England, and on the time she spent as Francois' mistress. Though to be fair to Phillipa Gregory she was restricted against this by going against common thought and having Mary as the younger sister of Anne. 

The book is well written though, and I believe that it really does capture the different ways that Mary loves (and hates) the men in her life. You see her childish love and idolisation of Francois, and then she works out who he really is, and what he is willing to use her for, and so you really get the opinion that her heart breaks and she really does begin to hate him. Though one thing that I do find a little unbelievable is that after the death of husband number 1 (William Carey) she was able to refuse Francois her bed, I just don't believe that it would have been possible for her to actually do that in her era, certainly being able to escape unharmed. So this is the point where I do fault Harper.

The next man to discuss would be William Carey, I'm not sure that I liked how he was portrayed in LB, I thought that he was way too focused on ambition and didn't credit his wife enough for his rise in fortunes. I also much prefer the idea from OBG that he put Mary aside while she was mistress to the King, and so was more a part of the plan in the first place, it just seemed more at place in the court. Though I did very much like the idea of Eleanor Carey and the role she played, both in the obsession with the Carey name, but also as someone who hated Mary and that Mary felt usurp her place, though you are supposed to like neither character she reminded me alot of Jane Boleyn, George's wife. 

Then there is King Henry VIII himself. I find it hard to believe, even in Harper's own writing, that Mary was his mistress for 5 years and was completely indifferent in her feelings towards him. Surely at some point she may have loved him, or at least hated him, but even at the end of the novel there seems to be no indication that she feels anything towards the King, even after the death of her brother and sister. I am sorry but on this point I have a great fault in Harper's writing. 

Then there is William Stafford though I do like the way that her relationship unfolds with Stafford I absolutely HATE the fact that he is referred to as Staff, I just honestly feel that it's not authentic to the times. Other than that I liked the relationship, I like the fact that Mary's mother seemed to approve of the relationship when others did not. It is quite a sweet and accurate story though, that in an era of arranged/forced marriages there was a secret marriage between the then queen's sister and someone of little standing. The way that William Stafford is with all the children in the novel (though they seem to be mentioned more than they are seen) is consistant and he is certainly a likeable character at the end, though I do think that the way Harper has written her novel you are supposed to warm to him as Mary does, which is an admirable thing to achieve in her writing and I think that it works well. 

The other relationships to note are those between Mary and her family, I was slightly disappointed over the whole lack of relationship between Anne, Mary and George, to those who have read OBG it is a large part of the novel and I was sad that it was missed in this one. I did like the relationship between her and her father Thomas Boleyn though, I thought that it was clear how she grew to be able to stand up against him as she grew as a person. 

The symbolism of the court as a game of chess worked well I thought, especially as each of the heads of the families seemed to use all of their children as pawns to advance their family, through marriage, such as George Boleyn's marriage to wife Jane, or through the use of a daughter as a mistress, such as Mary with both King Francois and King Henry. Though it was also clear that the children would eventually rebel, though this wasn't so clear with George in this novel, it was with Anne disobeying her father's orders to bed the King and play it her way, and Mary's later stand against her father over both her marriage and her children. Add to that their mother, Elizabeth Boleyn's refusal to become Henry VIII's mistress and I think that Harper is trying to illustrate just how strong the Boleyn women really were, and that really they were not women to be messed with. 

One thing that seemed to be missed out, somewhat suprisingly to me, was the idea of sodomy and the ring around Anne, including her supposed lovers, that were supposed to have practised it. I do not know much about Harper herself, however it could be possible that her upbringing influenced the lack of sodomy in her book, or the fact that she thought it may offend certain readers, or maybe indeed she gave no credit to the age old rumours. I do not know. On a complete side note I do not like the word sodomy, it sounds like something that is wrong when I don't think it is. 

Another thing that it is possible to critise Harper on is the master-servant relationship between both Mary and Nancy and Stafford and Stephen, I don't think it is at all realistic, and for the two servants, Nancy and Stephen, to get married, it all seemed just a little too neat and I wasn't such a fan of it. 

Til Next Time, 
L x