Return to Westeros: “Hardhome” Review

Oh, somehow, we’re nearly fifty episodes into a show where a zombie apocalypse feels like a huge relief after weeks and weeks of sexual violence. Hooray?

Okay, this looks bad.

Okay, this looks bad.

“Hardhome” is about more than just the title location, but it swallows up nearly all the oxygen in the room this week, capped by a long, slow, and nearly dialogue-free battle between the Night’s Watch, the wildlings, and a growing horde of skeletons, zombies, wights, and ultimately, White Walkers. There were very few survivors.

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Return to Westeros: “Kill the Boy” Review

Game of Thrones DaenerysWell, Game of Thrones is really heading into darker territory this week. While Jon Snow weighs his options at the Wall, Daenerys responds to Ser Barristan’s murder with murder of her own, and Ramsay Bolton uses Theon to torment Sansa, because you know, the Sansa-Theon-Ramsay storyline is still something that everyone really wants to see and isn’t creepy and unnecessary at all.

Trigger warning for abuse, assault, and gore after the jump.

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Return to Westeros: “Sons of the Harpy” Review

Has there been a week in Westeros where this doesn’t apply?

everythingawfulYou know what’s really terrifying about the expression “Winter is Coming?” It means that winter is not yet here. Westeros creaks under a civil war which has destroyed most of the countryside, dragons rise in the east, and the White Walkers are returning, but this is still late autumn. This is still November.

Pictured: November

Pictured: November

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Return to Westeros: “High Sparrow” Review

High Sparrow Margary and CerseiSo far I both love and hate this season. As Game of Thrones will be finishing up before A Song of Ice and Fire, it makes sense to me that the show would start deviating from the source material. After all, in the next few years it’s going to spoil some pretty big plot threads for everyone, but by deviating, it can at the very least avoid some spoilers. I like that these changes can leave me wondering what will happen next, but on the other hand, it leaves me worried for numerous characters and how well the writers will handle their new storylines. In particular, I’m terrified for Sansa.

Trigger warning for rape, violence, and Ramsay Bolton up ahead.

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Return to Westeros: “The Wars to Come” Review

lilcerseiandfriendAs you might have noticed, I like talking about Game of Thrones. And, with its premiere last night, titled, “The Wars to Come”, I’ve finally got something new to talk about.

We’re roughly at the midpoint of this saga, now. While George R.R. Martin is still talking like he’ll write seven books, this is the man who once promised his editors a trilogy of Ice and Fire. With last-book splits in Harry PotterTwilight, and The Hunger Games, I think we can safely expect Game of Thrones to last eight years.

When we last left for the real world, the social order of Westeros had frayed like never before. Tywin Lannister, Hand to three of the past four kings, lies dead, murdered by his son Tyrion, the latter fled into exile. Cersei, Queen Regent and now the sole backer of her son, King Tommen, descends into paranoia as she recoils from the loss of her father and son. Two powerful pretenders remain, Stannis Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen, and both gather foreign forces to claim a land which does not crave their rule; Stannis mortgages the realm to the Iron Bank of Braavos, and Dany leads monsters and mercenaries across the sea.

Violence, chaos, and power dynamics herald the start of the fifth season.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Yet to be Lived by julesoftarth

With Game of Thrones starting up again next month, I figured it was about time to get back into things in Westeros. For some, this would mean marathoning the previous season. For me, it apparently means reading AU fanfic. While I wanted to read a story starring my favorite player of the game, Margaery Tyrell, when you give me an AU where Jamie Lannister is an author and a Brienne who is over him before she knows him and it’s a ship fic, how can I refuse? Plus, look at how Jaime is introduced!

Jaime Lannister has run into some trouble in Tijuana and his manuscript is going to be a few weeks late. Jaime Lannister has broken all of his limbs skydiving in Jamaica, please extend his deadline just a little bit more. Jaime Lannister has contracted malaria on an African safari, but he assures me his manuscript will be ready six weeks from now.

had to make an exception. I simply had to.

Stares into the camera like she's on The Office.

Stares into the camera like she’s on The Office.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Game of Thrones Season 5

Well, everyone, it’s that time of year again. Game of Thrones’s fifth season is almost upon us. Beware, book readers. Inconsistencies are coming.

Many of us are already aware that the television show is quickly catching up to where the books are, so it comes as no surprise to me that Game of Thrones is going to start heavily deviating from the source material. We’ve already started learning about things that haven’t even happened in the book yet—such as what the White Walkers are doing with Crastor’s babies. And quite obviously, the show has done things the books haven’t. Certain characters who are alive in the books are dead on the show, other characters have been cut entirely, and then there are the characters on the show who have no book counterpart at all, such as Ros.

Game of Thrones is going to end after the seventh season—and let’s face it, the last book in the series will not be out by 2017—and as such, this season is going to mark some pretty drastic changes from the source material. It’s also going to start killing off characters who aren’t supposed to be dead yet.

Spoilers ahead.

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Stark Justice II: An Ode to Catelyn Tully

cattullyEverybody shut up and listen to Catelyn Tully, Lady Stark. You fools ignoring her is why there was even a War of the Five Kings to begin with. Lady Stark had six ways to end the war before y’all blew it and gave Team Lannister an opening.

Ned, you had your turn, it’s time for Stark Justice II. Spoilers a-coming.

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A Song of Ice and Fire and the A+J=C&J Fan Theory: Ace’s Favorite Theory Ever

Well, now that Game of Thrones’s fifth season has a release date, I figured it was time to revisit the book series and talk about another theory. I mean, hey, it’s going to be a few more years until the sixth book comes out, and maybe another decade before the seventh, so at this point, yeah, discussing theories is about all we can do to pass the time.

via fanpop.

via fanpop.

So let’s discuss my favorite A Song of Ice and Fire theory. Though it is by no means popular among the fanbase, there is a theory that King Aerys II Targaryen and Joanna Lannister, not Joanna and Tywin, are Cersei and Jaime’s real parents. This theory, commonly shortened to A+J=C&J, is one I desperately hope to be true. This is, however, probably not a popular opinion, since from what I can tell, most book readers hate it.

Spoilers for ASOIAF and a trigger warning for rape and sexual assault after the jump.

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Magical Mondays: It’s a Metaphor

One of the most important functions of fiction is that it can be used to provide greater insight on reality. By reframing a real social problem in an entirely new and unfamiliar context, that problem can be portrayed more objectively, divorced from the society that may normalize or excuse prejudices or social division. As writers have addressed before, allegory is a very common and a very positive element of fantasy, but even the noblest and most direct of allegories are not the same as visible and relatable minority representation in fantasy. Social research indicates that for minority groups, visibility in media is critical in creating a sense of importance and self-worth, something that metaphorical representation, however well-constructed, does not provide. Fortunately, there is no reason that a story cannot contain both an extended social metaphor and some trans wizards or dark-skinned fauns. Continue reading