Thursday, October 20, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Iron King

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stranger Things and Accursed Kings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lit Upd

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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

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

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

There will be spoilers! For everything.