Sunday, May 26, 2013

A New Quest

Ah, glorious hot early summer Sunday. How I've missed ye.
After coaching the local kids football team, taking my son and friends to the playground, mowing the lawn and many other assorted everyday duties, I could finally kick back in the chair outside, get to work on my tan and read a lil' bit o' fantasy.

Today I decided to stomp through and finish The Avatar Trilogy: Book One: Shadowdale (more commonly known as simply Shadowdale), yet another novel in the FORGOTTEN REALMS (R) setting which I'm currently fixated on exploring. This then is the third of such novels I've finished this year (after Red Magic, which was atrocious, and War in Tethyr which was kind of fun). The first half or so of the book had me baffled as I couldn't really understand the character motivations at play, but I just went with it and let the characters feel like game characters. The book actually had me hooked toward the end, though there were still a few hickups along the way, it was nicely entertaining (perfect material for a lazy afternoon in the sun, shut off the brain and just enjoy good old adventures) but Martin it ain't. Here, characters perform murders then go to bed with nary a thought; no characterization of any worthwhile level then, but its all about the world and the magic and the fun you can have with that. The main bad guy is a Sauron-like character, the heroes aren't that heroic but still have some nice qualities (I suspect they're all chaotic good except for Cyric), the events depicted herein are over the top but it's all enjoyable at some level anyway. I've already pulled the sequel, Tantras, out of the bookshelf, but I'll finish up Cornwell's 1356 first, because it's a great read and I am curious where it will go. No longer shall I read six books at the same time! It is my new goal, nay mission, nay Quest. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

[Re-read] Daenerys II: Attack of the Clones



Apologies beforehand if this post seems a bit disjointed. I’ve been chipping away at it for a long time (in true Ice & Fire-fashion, he almost said aloud).

Epically so
Hey look, I have a gentle heart after all. Mm.
All right, time to take a dive back into A Breeze of Butterknives…I mean, A Storm of fricking Swords. I think it’s such an awesome title. A STORM OF SWORDS.  I know a lot of people find Martin’s titles bland but this one is epic in my opinion. You’re not just getting a blade thrust through your chest, you’re getting a storm of swords right in your face. Epically so.  The title does perhaps lie a little bit, though; it suggests all-out war, mayhem and new levels of violence but most of the storylines are smaller scale, its more about the characters, a string of weddings, trials and politicking. The war for Westeros is somewhat in the background for most of the book, partially because we’re never close to the frontlines, and partially because there’s not that much going on (as I mentioned in my write-up of Game of Thrones Season III Episode V right here). Is this an early sign of Martin losing his grip on the story (for those who think that he did actually lose his grip on the story)? The conflict between the kings which was so central to most if not all storylines south of the Wall takes something of a backseat (perhaps because we’ve lost two of those kings – Renly and later Balon), and the story focuses more tightly on characters and talking about the war. What I am trying to say is that we’ve zoomed out from the battlefields. As long as the chapters are awesome it doesn’t matter, but really, if you think about it, as you progress through A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, doesn’t it feel as if the core of the story has kind of…drifted away? I’ll be on the lookout for the war from now on, to see if I’m merely wrong in my perception or if there’s something to that feeling.

Daenerys Stormborn’s in the market for something new
So we’ve come to the chapter that was so beautifully brought to life on the TV screen, where Daenerys meets Kraznys, the disgusting foul-mouthed slaver lord of Astapor (loved actor Dan Hildebrand’s work in the role).
It opens with kind of a close-up, focusing on the center of the Plaza, where a red brick fountain smells of brimstone and features a twenty foot tall bronze harpy. Unusually perhaps for Mr. Martin at this point in the saga, the chapter gives us a lot of exposition here in the beginning, something that we’ll see seep in more and more. First there is the detailed (and pretty cool I admit) description of the harpy statue, followed by exposition on Old Ghis, an empire long gone in true fantasy tradition (and maybe there’s a bit of foreshadowing in here too, since it was Valyria that destroyed Old Ghis with dragonfire); he circles back to the statue as it is and remains a symbol of that old empire, so I have to say that Martin does his expo well here, as it is all connected, and it doesn’t go on for pages and pages – almost suddenly, Kraznys mo Nakloz speaks up with a line of dialogue that breaks the lull of exposition with a harsh and direct “Tell the Westerosi whore to lower her eyes”. And with just that line of dialogue Martin establishes the Kraznys character (and will delight us with more, even harder, words).
He’s a pretty offensive guy, verbally, this Kraznys. I imagine George had a lot of fun writing his dialogue, and I can imagine lots of folk thinking it’s too much. I think it’s perfect, both because this character becomes such a contrast to the almost holier-than-thou angelic Daenerys (she’s certainly angelic in Emilia Clarke’s guise, and I find it hard not to imagine her when I read) and because as a reader I’m reminded that not everyone drops everything they have to join Dany’s crusade – thus, it stays fresh and somewhat realistic. Used to be I thought Daenerys’ story felt tacked on and not as interesting as the rest of the story – now, and I admit the TV show has some of the blame for it – I find her story more interesting, it’s almost a bit biblical in fact. The Bible doesn’t exactly shy away from intense violence, tunics and dry areas either. Also, Daenerys is *kind of* a messianic figure, isn’t she? There’s a lot of biblical imagery in Daenerys’ chapters, that’s for sure and I bet you there will be a book about it anytime now (maybe there already is, to accompany the collected quips ofTyrion Lannister). I'm not going any further into this particular subject, as I am sure to get mired in endless arguments against religion. 

ANYWAY, back to Kraznys' opening line (dammit I have to double-check his name every time - not looking forward to Dany's chapters in A Dance with Dragons in that regard). Unlike in the TV show, we learn quite early on in the chapter that Daenerys understands Kraznys' insults, but it doesn't take away from the chapter - rather, both ways work. It came as a surprise (possibly) to viewers, while readers enjoyed knowing she understood everything while Kraznys doesn't. This little ploy really adds a nice layer (or subtext if you will) to the chapter. Oh, and look, we're introduced to the translator girl Missandei! 
Somebody in HBO's casting department didn't pay attention when they found Nathalie Emmanuel for the role: "No older than ten, she had the round flat face, dusky skin, and golden eyes of Naath." They got the dusky part down, I admit. Interestingly, it was Ser Jorah Mormont who suggested to Daenerys to keep hidden her knowledge of High Valyrian, a tiny tiny detail I have forgotten since last time I read the book. Guess it's been two or three years.  

It's great how Daenerys also understands Missandei's translations back to Kraznys, and how Martin uses this to show us her character as well. She takes care to change Kraznys' foul language into something less offensive, and oh, they didn't read Kraznys' description either: "He has larger breasts than I do," Dany reflected. It's another grossly overweight easterner, but seriously (in case you think I'm actually annoyed by characters appearing differently between the show and the book) it doesn't really matter what Kraznys looks like. Still, for such a minor character, Martin is able to blow a lot of life into him. Excellent, quick characterization by way of swearing. Slynt approves.

It's freaking hot in the Plaza of Pride, so hot it burns beneath her sandals. That's pretty hot. Actually, it's about as hot as the bathroom floor in House Slynt, which the Lady prefers to keep that warm for the drying of clothes. Next time I'm down there to change a diaper or whatever (not on myself I must add), I'll pretend I'm in the Plaza of Pride, asking Daenerys out for dinner. 
We get our first proper look at the Unsullied (they were actually present in her first chapter in A Game of Thrones) and just how hard as nails these guys are. Kraznys explains further how they are trained, which is also rather offensive; to my surprise, Ser Jorah Mormont isn't present (he's aboard the Balerion), but Ser Barristan is with her, tapping his staff and, according to Kraznys, smelling bad. Selmy is clearly uncomfortable with this army of brain-washed slaves and I don't blame him. Martin makes sure that we dislike this slaver and his methods, that's for sure. I kind of feel that he takes it a notch too far with the baby-killing. They also remind me somewhat of the clone troopers, in the way that "they are like one man", an army bred more than trained. We get the scene where Kraznys demonstrates Unsullied loyalty, and I remember how disturbing I found it the first time I read the novel. Few novels, actually, have disturbed me. There are scenes like this from Ice and Fire, and there's American Psycho. Can't think of any others actually, not right now anyway. 

When Kraznys explains about the, ah, taking away of the penis and testicles so that the Unsullied shall know no temptation, I cringe. When he speaks of the Westerosi orders that have vows of chastity and says, "Their days are torment of temptation, any fool must see, and no doubt most succumb to their baser selves," I'm thinking that this is a big problem even today. Looking at you, Catholic church. The Unsullied are not even allowed to have names. They really have nothing. Except their weapons and armor, of course. Oh, and they change their names daily, which the show omitted. Daenerys is having trouble keeping her mask up, which gives us a little suspense, when Kraz begins talking about how all Unsullied must slay infants as part of their training. Selmy is losing his patience with this complete abomination of a slaver, a man so devoid of empathy he verges on the very edge of becoming caricature. 

Kraznys reminds us once again just how good these eight thousand Unsullied-for-sale are, but I admit I do find myself not completely buying into this, I just can't imagine that so many men would turn into automatons, as if people can be so completely stripped of their humanity. Yes, there's brain-washing, but this is really over the top, isn't it? I mean, there's no free will, not a glimmer of independence, left in these soldiers. They are like robots. Still, considering the many strange, dangerous and terrifying things people have done in the real world...I don't know. I like the concept for a fantasy story of course, and since I'm buying that Dany is carrying around three dragons I can only accept the Unsullied as well, but...I don't know. Maybe I just don't want to accept the absolute cruelty these innocent slaves have been subject to. Enough!

Selmy advises her not to take the army; he reminds her that in Westeros, slavery is an abomination (kind of funny that Ser Jorah was a slaver by the way); Daenerys has a funny line when she tells him Joffrey won't hand her the Iron Throne politely; and Selmy says that "half of Westeros will be with you, (...) Your brother Rhaegar is still remembered, with great love." Now, this is interesting, isn't it? Half of Westeros? I guess he must have some knowledge, considering he was the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, in effect marshall of the seven kingdoms, but really? What half is that? Have we really felt/seen/read this in the chapters taking place in Westeros? Has Martin really planned to have 50% of the Westerosi people secretly longing for the return of the Targaryens? I remember there are a few more mentions later in the series, but so far there has been little - very little - positive talk about the Targaryens, but that could easily be because we only follow the POVs of the high and mighty enemies of the dragons. Could the smallfolk truly be sowing dragon banners in secret? It does turn out in A Feast for Crows that at least one major House is betting on Daenerys...it's quite interesting, and maybe if we get a POV from a commoner, we'll see more of this so far only alleged loyalty to House Targaryen. I am quite certain, though, that there's been no fond memories shared about Rhaegar - so far into the series. Yes, there's someone remembering him perhaps too fondly in A Dance with Dragons.

Gotta love this exchange:
"I will feed her jellied dog brains, and a fine rich stew of octopus and unborn puppy."
"Many delicious dishes can be had here, he says."

I chuckle at the simple, but oh so effective, ploy of using imagined language barriers to carry the entire scene. So entertaining, no wonder it did well on the TV screen as well (I think it's my favorite scene in season three, actually). 

Well, the meeting is eventually over, and Daenerys with her entourage leave the Plaza of Pride (could it have a more ironic name). We are treated to a closer look at the city, Selmy gives us an old rhyme to summarize the city ("Bricks and blood built Astapor, and bricks and blood her people"), tells her to leave the city, but Daenerys wants to follow Ser Jorah's advice instead. She thinks of Ser Jorah and how he had tried to kiss her, and how that had woken something in her that had been dormant since Khal Drogo (that would be her sexuality), there's a paragraph of Daenerys fingering herself which turns into a lesbian scene when Irri discovers what she's doing and helps her along (and which I'd categorize as, uhm, interesting but unnecessary I suppose)... And there's Strong Belwas, enjoying a haunch of dog. Why not, I say? Dog, cat, cow, fowl..it's all meat. Not that I prefer to eat dog. I just don't find it shocking. 

Jorah awaits her, asks her how the meeting went, and anger flares up in Daenerys (Jorah wakes the dragon) because she's pretty upset about the Unsullied and how they are treated. It is clear that Dany has lost a great deal of confidence in Jorah, because of the kiss, because of the way he goggles her, and because he adviced her to check out the Unsullied - however, she has decided to buy them. Aboard, the dragons have been restless in her absence (take note).

Sweetness but it's a long chapter. I want to play Neverwinter but I had decided to finish this longish post. Discipline before dalliance! Now there's a word we'll have use for come A Dance with Dragons. No, not discipline. Daenerys is reminded that she must take Westeros with fire and blood, Jorah reminds her that atrocities exist elsewhere as well, there is some discussion on tactics (so as to explain why they don't attack the city with what forces she has), and through her questions and advice-seeking, we learn that she does try to be like her legendary heroic brother Rhaegar, quite obviously when she asks, "When he touched a man on the shoulder with his his sword, what did he say?" which basically equates to, "What would Rhaegar have done in my case?" There's a difference though, which Jorah utters with his immortal line that closes the chapter, "Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died." Which is a more poetic way of saying, "Listen, Dany honey, you have to use some dirty tricks and swallow your pride to get this invasion-thing of yours going. Yes you'll be buying eight thousand men who have strangled puppies and killed infants, but that's what you got to do if you want to win the Iron Throne." Epic stuff!

But seriously, before I venture into the world of either casual gaming or dreamland as provided by my longed-for bed, I wish these early books had some sprinkling of people remembering Rhaegar fondly so as to support both Selmy and Mormont's statements - unless they are actually hyping him up for some reason. I could be wrong and have overlooked / forgotten any such passages, but I can't for the life of me remember any passages glorifying Rhaegar the way Selmy does. Maybe in one of Sansa's chapters? She's always on about heroic knights and chivalry and stuff. Maybe I'm just asking for too much too late. Maybe George "built" Rhaegar's story as he wrote so that it was too late to retroactively put him more into the backstory? A man can wonder, and wonder some more. I could check out some websites of course where people discuss all this and more, but it doesn't really matter does it? Either Rhaegar is remembered as a hero and once Daenerys lands in Westeros we'll see half the continent raise the dragon banners, or Selmy and Mormont have been filling Dany's head with notions that turn out to be not entirely true. 

And now for a quick detour to Martin's blog to check out the latest news on Ice & Fire. Haven't been there in a while. Maybe there's an update on The Winds of Winter, or an insightful commentary on some element of his masterpiece. Loading page..whoa, almost forgotten the redesign. Disturbing. 

Headed for Conquest? What! That sounds like a post about Daenerys! Or is it Aegon? Stannis?! Oh. Mr. Martin is going on a road trip to Kansas City. On the Scale of Interest (SoI) I'd rate that a good 1. 
More Wild Cards Goodness? Not sure if I'm being trolled or if there actually exists Wild Cards goodness.
The Great Gatsby? Who has time for movies these days? SoI: -3.
The Rogues are Coming? I give up. SoI: 1. 

Coming up: BRAN (if Hodor can help him up. Awww a joke about the disabled. Sorry)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Second Sons

Well, well, that's how long I lasted. Last night was Game of Thrones night again.
I don't have the time for a long review, just a few brief thoughts.

Slynt is having crush. He probably not alone.
Quite clearly, Daenerys' story has turned into possibly the most enjoyable. This is not only because of the return of booty**, but her scenes are so strong, and Emilia Clarke's presence has become so strong, and her helpers are great, and her opponents are interesting (Mero really was a bastard, wasn't he?), and the designs of sets and costumes stand out, in my opinion. 'New' character Daario was an improvement to the book, methinks - it doesn't happen often that the show does something I approve of more than the original text, so that's kewl.
** I accidentally said, "Finally!" when she got out of the bath tub, but Lady Slynt didn't notice. Methinks she was goggling Daario Naharis herself.

Peter Dinklage was a great Tyrion in this episode as well, and Sophie Turner played Sansa to perfection; they got across the awkwardness of the wedding although I wish the wedding itself followed the book even closer. Tywin felt a little bit too soft in this episode, Cersei was perfect and as I've said before, she looks the part much more now than in the first season. Joffrey Baratheon, played by Jack Gleeson, was a highlight this episode. What a prick, eh. Still struggling with Margaery Tyrell, but too tired to become too bothered about her right now.

The Samwell scene was perfect right up until the moment I saw that it was the silly cartoon zombie-thing Others White Walkers. Why, oh, why, couldn't they have made the Others as creepy, icy, ethereal, spooky and mysterious as they were in the books? A ghostly, semi-transparent, ethereal being approaching through the woods, frost crackling to life all around it as it moves, with a ghost-light sword raised high, would have been much more effective in keeping the show's dark side. Zombie-thingy is just silly and takes away all the suspense. Lady Slynt was biting nails when the crows began to caw loudly, and when the zombie showed up she just rolled her eyes at the silliness. And Lady Slynt can be scared witless by a crime movie. Really a bad decision to give the Others this look - also, they are looking too similar to the wights making it hard to distinguish the two types of undead.
Not..in...the...ass!
from the end of season 2. While I still hold that their biggest mistake is Littlefinger, on a good number two spot we've got the

All in all, I was entertained throughout the episode, I didn't really mind that the scenes were longer and the characters fewer (I missed Jaime, but found Jon's absence refreshing). My favorite scene was the first scene of the episode between Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane and what do you know- it was a scene that felt closer to the books than many other scenes.

Olenna trying to make sense of the marriage was funny too, come to think of it.




Elsewise this week

Been a few hot days spent in the sun with the family, very nice. Time to watch Game of Thrones: Episode VIII: Second Sons, or should I postpone it a week so the wait for episode nine will feel shorter? Yeah right, I have that kind of self-discipline.

Looks like a fun episode, judging by this image:

Gotta love this image with Tyrion using that bowl as a mirror ^^

Elsewise this week I've been geeking only a little; reading a little bit, sneaking in a few games of Neverwinter (and, Roy, the Lair of the Mad Dragon wasn't that difficult, final boss excepted! I'll admit my group wasn't able to beat him, due to lack of DPS)  and also returning to Neverwinter Nights 2 to see if I could beat that difficult ambush the story served me (and which made me stop playing a few months ago - if you really want to notice how fast time flies, check out your save game dates) and what do you know I survived after a few different strategic attempts. I'd love to continue that story now, but there are still a few term papers left to correct, the GoT episode to watch (maybe!) and kids to put in bed. 

Halfway through Bernard Cornwell's 1356, I find it a rather refreshingly fast-paced and easy read, it's a bit like A Game of Thrones without the fantasy and the in-depth characterization, almost like a synopsis of certain events in medieval history (with embellishment) - ah, but the images the book conjures up of those days of yore. Lovely. About one quarter left of Richard Awlinson's The Avatar Trilogy I: Shadowdale (I've since learned that there is no Richard Awlinson, it's a pseudonym for several D&D/Forgotten Realms authors) - it's not too bad, just a little painful at times, but it serves me well enough for my continuing project of getting back into the Forgotten Realms mode. 

But seriously I'm actually feeling the need to get back to A Storm of Swords (and I want to revisit books four and five as well for various reasons) so one of these days there'll be a re-read post again. Assuredly before The Winds of Winter.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Bear and the Maiden Fair

Well, I couldn't help myself. I wrestled some time from the schedule so I could watch the rest of Game of Thrones: Episode VII: The Bear and the Maiden Fair. And will be watching it one more time tonight with the Lady Slynt, who so innocently expects me to come to this episode a virgin. But nay!

Well, once again I found myself absolutely wrapped up in the proceedings, even though 95% of the episode doesn't actually happen like they show it, in the books. I mean, there were a few lines of dialogue from the book (and they resonate so much more!), there were scenes from the book but not one which isn't altered in some minor or major way, but the acting - the stellar acting from some of these people - and the beautiful shooting keeps me enthralled as the pictures move across the screen.

Brienne and Jaime are the clear winners of the episode. I almost choked up when Brienne called him 'Ser Jaime', and I was on the edge of my seat during their final scene together. They play so well, and play off each other so well, and of course honorable mention to Bart the Bear (at least that's what I think its name is). The Daenerys scene was a close second.

The Jon Snow/Ygritte-scenes were better than they usually are, Tyrion and Bronn together again was good, Qyburn is a great casting choice/character; I really have only two big nitpicks this time - I felt the Osha/Bran scene fell a little flat (and the Hodor which many seem to like felt awkward to me), and the locations looked too similar today as if they were filming around the same hill, Bran on the northern slope, Jon on the southern slope, and Jaime on the eastern slope. Well, the bothering thing was that the scene where Jaime decides to go back for Brienne takes place in a grassy hilly region very similar to the North so I guess a new viewer could feel disoriented here (is he that far north?); better if the scene took place in the forests Jaime and Brienne wandered earlier in the season.

I still don't care for the Talisa character but Robb was doing good this episode, Catelyn/Brynden was nice, and I wish I wish I wish we had more Riverrun, more Brynden, more Edmure and everything else Riverrun that has been cut from the story so far. They really should've put Riverrun in season two and made A Clash of Kings across two season as well.

Now for HBO to begin planning The Malazan Book of the Fallen: Season One: Gardens of the Moon as well as The First Law: Season One: The Blade Itself.
Speaking of The Blade Itself, that particular story is being treated to a free online comic treatment in case you didn't know and stuff.

And now to finish correcting those term papers. It's the new motto of House Slynt these days. "We correct term papers". Wawaweeeeeewa.

The Bear and the Maiden Fair Postponed.

Yeah I was kind of ranty last night, wasn't I? Incidentally, I never got around to watch that seventh episode of GoT because my eyes just refused to stay open; I was too tired to watch, which I count as a first. It's nice though to have it in reserve, and the wait for the eighth episode will be a little bit shorter as well, so I guess it's all good...
..but how I wish they kept their story closer to the books! Of course, they have to keep a certain momentum to keep the wider audience interested, but as an Ice and Fire-fan I wouldn't mind one episode per chapter, with all the dialogue from the books intact. Okay, two chapters per episode then, for variety's sake. I really wouldn't mind.
I miss Vayon Poole. Jhalabhar Xho. Jeyne Westerling. Jeyne Poole. Bess Cassel. Harwin. Hullen. Donal Noye. Strong Belwas. Garlan Tyrell. Left and Right. The tomcat. Boros Blount. Osmund Kettleblack (or was he in the show but they just didn't give him a name?). Ser Balon Swann. The Florents. Ser Flement Brax. Tom Sevenstrings. The Ghost of High Heart. Chett. Ser Addam Marbrand. Patchface. Alfyn Crowkiller. Maege Mormont. Bowen Marsh. Cotter Pyke. Dalla. Morros Slynt. Utherydes Wayn. And so on and so forth! Unrealistic, impossible, yes. Still find myself wishing a complete adaptation, or rather translation, of the novels into TV. Yet when I watch the show I'm finding it entertaining anyway.
But it doesn't even come close to the books. Not even close. They are doing a good job, no doubt - casting and costume design in particular. But all the plot deviations leave me a little cold.
It's kind of frustrating, I can't not watch the series yet it drives me to think way too much about all the good stuff that could have been in the show but has been cut. At the same time, it twists the perceptions I have of characters and locations when I read the books. You just can't win in that case.
I hope the general audience isn't turned off by the plotline from ADWD that has snuck its way into the season. There's still so much ASOS goodness before the story loses its power.

Edit:
Yeah, see? I just watched the first half of episode seven (last half will have to wait) and I was completely taken by the Daenerys scene. Because these scenes are closer to the books? Because I have a slight crush on Daenerys? I don't know, but one of the stories that are less interesting in the books (compared to other story lines) is absolutely one of the more fascinating and well presented in the TV series. And while watching I forgot about all the nits I have to pick because the show does manage to keep me engrossed. It is only after watching an episode and I begin to mull things over that I... ack, why can't I just take this for what it is and stop freaking thinking about it so much?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Of lore and starving dogs, sort of



I really thought doing a blog was a daily thing, you know, put something up every day. I didn't think I'd be able to do an Ice & Fire chapter every day obviously, but you know, I like writing and a blog seemed a nice idea whether someone read it or not, a place to compile my thoughts and ideas (which was my original intent four or so years ago). It rather quickly turned into a re-read blog for A Song of Ice and Fire and has been that way ever since with the occasional rants or non-Westerosi utterings about other geeky stuff.

And though I haven't really been geeking out on Ice & Fire since last week's episode six of the TV series (which I found a bit lackluster and thus the geeking out was on a moderate level), I've definitely been geeking. There's this free-to-play Forgotten Realms online game - which isn't even that appealing - Neverwinter, where I've scuttled to when I needed a break from reality. It's a mindless romp, so easy you can play it with your eyes closed (okay, one eye closed), it delivers constant small fixes in the form of new character points, new levels, new this and that to keep me clicking them buttons, and there's a small amount of lore. I do like myself some good old lore. That's why I should be interested in that upcoming book putting down heaps of lore about George R.R. Martin's world, what's-it-called, uh, World of Ice and Fire or something? But I find myself not very interested because it feels like stalling. Yeah, even the TV series feels like stalling because all these franchise releases mean that some time that could have been spent on book six, was spent writing lore, scripts, editing etc.
I KNOW. I'm petty. I'm of that illustrious generation who wants everything now. But really, I'm not. But a couple of years sounds more than enough. Also, for some reason, I find the line of Targaryen kings less interesting as lore material than RPG worlds maybe because Ice and Fire never was about a brilliant setting full of mythic locations (like Middle-earth, which has ruling lore), but about the characters (who both literally and unfortunately not so literally get somewhat lost in A Dance with Dragons).

Fortunately I hear there's this book coming out compiling Tyrion Lannister's best lines from the novels.

Speaking of lore, I have fallen into the trap of thinking too much about Star Wars again. That bug just never leaves. Specifically, I've been conjuring up visions of what Episode VII could be like - and what it certainly won't be. The ever-present SW geek in me desperately hopes that the next movie is in good hands, but the rational part of my brain is kind of shrugging and saying "whatever", knowing that Episode VII cannot possibly entertain me the way the original trilogy did when I was a kid. For a thousand reasons. Still, the lore of Star Wars is something that's always been with me, and I know far more about that galaxy far, far away than is healthy for a responsible adult. Likewise the lore of Middle-earth; but the lore of Westeros? I'll gladly skip the details if I can learn what's going to happen to Ser Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Rickon Stark, Jon Ghost, Cersei Lannister etc. because I care about those characters.

You could argue that the lorebook will contain information about them, but at the risk of losing a bet, I'd wager that the lorebook won't give us anything we didn't know about the actual characters of the novels. Maybe that Jon Arryn had a pimple on his right butt cheek but that's lore I can do without.

To conclude, lore may be more, but I don't want anymore lore. Some lore I adore more than other lore, I mean, I devoured the morose The Children of Húrin, I know all the answers in the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game, I know my way around the cities of Waterdeep and Suzail, I know a little bit of lore from a hundred different secondary worlds, and I know more than enough about Westeros too, but Westeros (and Essos) really don't have the same depth - though I acknowledge that this is gradually changing as Martin adds more and more detail and ideas (especially in A Dance with Dragons which veers close to being an entirely different style from, say, A Game of Thrones) and maybe that World of Ice and Fire book will add even more detail (at least historical detail, as Martin has been writing these so-called 'sidebars'; at least I felt like he had fun with these when he wrote about it on his blog), but COME ON.

We waited five years for A Feast for Crows. Six for A Dance with Dragons. We're already in year two of the third Long Wait, this time for The Winds of Winter. Why can't the man deign to give us a little scrap of information on the progress?

I'm ranting on purpose here in the hope that Irony will see to it that Martin posts an update about book six within minutes of me publishing this.

(And all the while I'm ranting about him taking his sweet time, I'm still behind on a blog post. See, I can understand where he's coming from, and I absolutely understand that it must be a daunting, for me probably impossible, task to write these novels - but its time to feed the starving dogs!)

And now I'm going to throw my lazy ass onto the couch for Game of Thrones Episode VII The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Geek out

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Quickie

Been playing all the old Slayer records over the last day. Sad to find out South of Heaven was too scratched to be listenable.
Meanwhile, I have - once again - put the ponderous The Way of Kings to the side to read something with a brisker pace, which is Bernard Cornwell's 1356 which so far is fast, riveting and exciting.
Oh, and I've begun writing a new A Storm of Swords-post, between the changing of diapers and the listening of music and all the mundane tasks required of a family man. Hope to have it up shortly.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A slayerking as opposed to the kingslayer...gone.

One of my heroes has passed away at only 49 :(
Rest in peace, Jeff Hanneman. Your music has been with me since 1986 when I first heard Reign in Blood on a cassette during a school trip and I didn't really understand what was flooding over me. It was, of course, some very intense, unapologetic thrash metal.