[via The Toast]
- The Elders would like a word with you.
- The Ritual is about to begin.
- Something that has not happened in a thousand years is happening.
- You are going to the City. There is only one City. It is only said
with a capital C. No one needs to bother saying the name of the City. It
is the City.
- Certain members of the Council are displeased with your family’s recent actions.
- A bard is providing occasional comic relief; no one hired or invited him and his method of earning a living is unclear.
- The High Priest is not to be trusted.
- Someone is eating an apple mockingly.
- There is one body of water. It is called the Sea. The Great Sea, if you are feeling fancy.
- You live in a region with no major exports, no centralized
government, no banking system, a mysteriously maintained network of
roads, and little to no job training for anyone who is not a farmer.
- You have red hair. You wear it in a braid. Your father was a simple
man, and you don’t remember much about him – he died when you were so
young – but you remember his strong hands, as he fished or carpentered
or whatever it was that he used to do with them.
- You’re going to have to hurry, or you’re going to miss the Fair – and you never miss the Fair.
- There is trouble at the Citadel.
- Your full name has at least one apostrophe in it.
- It is the first page, and you are already late for something. Your
mother affectionately chides you as you gulp down a few spoonfuls of
porridge; she will be dead by page forty-two.
- There are two religions in your entire universe. One is a thinly
veiled version of Islam. It is only practiced by villains. The other is
“being a Viking.” You are a Viking.
- There are new ways in the land that threaten the Old Way. Your
grandmother secretly practices the Old Way, as do all of the people of
- The real trouble began the day you arrived at court. Every last
nobleman hides a viper in his smile. How you long for the purity of life
in your village, which is currently on fire or something.
I think I broke a rib laughing. or something.
Have you ever felt sure your time with a particular story was over? End, period, goodbye and never to cross road again? That’s how I felt after Season 5 of Game of Thrones was over. I was disappointed with pretty much everything that I told myself “okay, that’s it, I’m done with the show, I’ll just wait for Martin-snail-pace publishing”. There were so many reasons I despised S5, mostly concerning the horrid treatment of female characters (I talked about my specific issues with the Sand Snakes here).
And look at me now: roped back in GOT madness by my beloved wolf puppies.
“Imagine George RR Martin, with a third of the pages and sixth of the characters.”
This was the friend’s advice via which I landed on Joe Abercrombie‘s iron-hardened world. As advice goes, it was very good, but now I feel strange, wondering what my friend meant.
If by “imagine GRRM” you mean blood-bathed, politics-laced high fantasy, then Half a King is 100% GRRM-esque fantasy. The main character, Yarvi, is the mutilated second-born prince crowned king against everyone’s best hopes, and immediately sent to avenge his father and brother’s deaths. He’s also immediately betrayed, pushed to his death in the sea, “saved” by his enemies, and sold at the slave market. The rest of the book is a desperate journey through sea and snow to get back to Thorbly, Yarvi’s capital, with the unlucky prince finding unexpected friends in a gang of assorted criminals, freed slaves and one mysterious, crazy soldier.
I don’t know about you, but me? Middle-book syndrome is the bane of my existence. I measure the writing and storytelling abilities of an author on how much they can grip my attention during a middle-book, or the second to last book of a series.
With young adult and fantasy books in particular, I need some impending sense of doom to remind of the stakes, else I’ll either fall asleep or pray for some minor character to die.
Yes, I can get that bloodthirsty. No, that doesn’t mean GRR MARTIN can kill more characters in his last two ASOIAF books. He needs to stop. No need for more deaths.
Season 5 of Game of Thrones marked the beginning of the uncharted territory that put book readers and non book readers on the same page – a non existent page, in fact. Season 5 onward, we’re leaving the books behind, because the books are over, since we’re still waiting for the sixth installment by good ol’ Mr Martin.
As a book reader, I wasn’t particularly worried with the dive in unknown waters, because the show has been changing the plots since the beginning. I had previous issues with some of the changes, but nothing too unbearable. Then came Season 5 and my list of issues grew longer than Arya’s murder list.
I want to talk about the biggest issue I had with Game of Thrones Season 5. I want to talk about Dornish women.
HBO’s portrayal of House Martell in S5 was abysmal. In my humble opinion, it was one of the worst book-to-screen adaptation I had the displeasure of seeing, and I’ve seen a lot of horrid adaptions. Whoever was responsible for it took a cast of complex, compelling female characters and cut them down to a small group of cardboard copies of one single trope. That trope being the dreaded disease I call bloodthirsty badassitude. The trope that dictate how female characters can only be “strong” when they yield weapons and crave for blood.
Game of Thrones does invalidated this trope with some characters, I’ll give it to you. We’ve got Margeary Tyrell, with her cunning and the shameless use she does of her femininity to charm and plot. We’ve got Brianne of Tarth, a female warrior who’s still capable to be unsure and tender – but she’s still a warrior, isn’t she? She’s got a sword to fight with. Olenna Tyrell, yes, she’s a great politician, and Dany is doing great as a queen. And then we have Sansa, and Melisandre, and Catelyn.
But the presence of some incredibly complex female characters does not excuse the erasure of the Sand Snakes’s personalities and story lines. Mostly, because all of the previous awesome ladies are almost always isolated in their position of power. Melisandre and Dany are playing their game while surrounded by men; so did Catelyn. Margery and Cersei are antagonist, and Sansa is woefully pushed more and more in the victim role. The greatness of the Dornish women would have been that of a female-driven political plot portraying a group of women all engaged toward a similar aim.
I wish I hadn’t had such high hopes, to be honest. Prior to Season 4, I was terrified my beloved Martells would have been reduced to POC stereotypes and sex scenes. The sex scenes abounded, but I found Pedro Pascal and Indira Varma’s portrayals more than good, retaining all the quirkiness, boldness and unashamed love for life and for each others the original book characters have. It made me hope, it made me excited about the upcoming Season 5 and the action moving in Dorne. Season 5 dashed my hopes and made me question for real if I ought to keep watching the show.
Non-readers viewers are probably wondering what’s all the fuss about. Here’s what the fuss is about: the Dornish arc in the books portrays an incredible variety of awesome female characters. Here’s for what we lost with the on screen adaptation.
Love triangles resolving in passionate relationships. A well-developed, both heartbreaking and heartwarming queer relationship between two important characters. Positive, in-charge female characters with well-fleshed, all different personalities. Siblings love. Sensual love. Romantic love. King-to-subjects love. All kinds of love. And did I mention the awesome, awesome women?
Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?.
Nope. This is Wicked Lovely.