Tag: martin

2014 Book #20: A Dance with Dragons

dancewithdragonsI don’t have much to say about A Dance with Dragons. It’s the fifth book in George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and, as I’ve said before, once you get this far into a series, there is no review without spoilers. I also find that until the last book, the farther I get in, the less I have to say. And these have been some long books.

Events off note and off the top of my head (again: spoiler alert): Tyrion made it to Pentos, had a time with Illyrio, ended up with Rhaegar’s son, Aegon, got picked up by a slaver after a hurricane, ended up a slave outside of Meereen, talked his way into the Second Sons, a group of sellswords. Oh, and Barristan Selmy started all of that business, trying to get back to Danerys. Who spent most of the novel sitting in Meereen and making stupid decisions, including marrying a nobleman and essentially agreeing to reverse everything she did after she overtook the city. After the wedding, a dragon shows up and whisks her away to parts unknown while the city goes mad. Good times. Arya is still in that temple, doing things. Meanwhile, in Westeros, Cersei gets her comeuppance and walks through Kings Landing naked and bleeding. I almost feel bad for her. There’s also Theon Greyjoy, who shows up alive and tortured, named Reek by Ramsay Bolton, who is arguably more twisted and evil than Joffrey ever was. Ramsay supposedly marries Arya, but it’s really Jeyne Poole, and she and Theon escape, finally running into his sister, Asha, who almost ended up dead, herself. On the Wall, Winter is Coming, and Jon Snow lets all of the Wildlings cross to the south so they can all fight the zombies together. Except at the end he might or might not end up dead, Caesar-style. Speaking of I-thought-she-was-dead, Brienne apparently survived being hanged at some point, and she’s run off with Jaime, who was no help to Cersei. Oh, and Bran is somewhere north of the wall, turning into a tree. The end.

This one took me longer to read than most of them, and I don’t think it was just because it’s one of the longer books in the series. I got a little bored at points – hence Inverted World. I stopped not too much farther in to read Oakley Hall’s Warlock, but I was more bored with that than with A Dance with Dragons, so I went back to the Martin. I think that I’m to the point that I’m not reading so much for enjoyment as to Get All the Spoilerz, which is unfortunate. I enjoyed it well enough, but I was more interested in who would die than anything else.

Remember how, in the early books, if someone died, he was probably actually dead? Like Ned Stark and Joffrey? I liked that. I’m tired of people supposedly dying and then showing up again in the next book. Catelyn Stark, by the way, did not make another mysterious appearance here. I am interested to see what’s going on with Zombie Catelyn. But Brienne? I thought she was hanged. And Theon should have been dead – though the life he has had lately is much worse. I bet Jon is still alive.

Which all means that I eagerly await The Winds of Winter, which will hopefully be published before George R.R. Martin dies. I wonder if he’s even finished writing it. The fourth season of the HBO show just started, but the only part I’ll be watching is Joffrey’s wedding because it should be fun, as, from what I’ve seen, the books are so much more interesting than the show.

In other news, it’s finally Spring! Palmer and I went to the Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Bossier for a little nature time. Of course we went in the middle of the day when the light was bad for photos, but here are some, anyway (and here’s the Flickr set):

I’m just realizing how little I’ve said lately that’s not about books. When Spring hit, our peach tree bloomed, and I took some photos of that, too. Here’s the best one:

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We also had a little bit of a cookout, though we only invited ourselves.

A good time was had by all. Well, both. And, I guess, the cats. Who know what to do on rainy Spring mornings:

And, finally, after two years of terror, I finally went to the dentist to start fixing my teeth, which months of sugary saliva have made rotten. So far, I’ve been twice, and each time I go, I’m rewarding myself with a new Game of Thrones toy. So far, I have Ned Stark and Joffrey:

Next are Tyrion and Danerys, then maybe a dragon. I have enough dental work ahead of me that I’ll amass quite a few. Luckily, the only major thing I have to have done is a crown, which I would have needed with or without ye olde beetus.

In all of this picture-taking, I discovered that my good ol’ Nikon SLR needs a professional cleaning. I spent way too much time in Photoshop, removing blurry specks from the mirror or the sensor or wherever it is that I can’t get to. So for my birthday, I’m getting it cleaned. Maybe that will inspire me to pull it out more often.

2013 Book #44: A Feast for Crows

feastforcrowsI know I’ve said before that I’m entirely addicted to A Song of Ice and Fire. I really can’t help myself. I love these books. Reading so many long books, though, is getting me into crunch time if I’m going to make fifty by the end of the year. Which means I’m going to force myself to read a string of shorter books when I’d really rather be reading It. But that’s another matter.

So. A Feast for Crows is really half of a book. George R.R. Martin even says as much in an afterward, which begins,

“Hey, wait a minute!” some of you may be saying about now. “Wait a minute, wait a minute! Where’s Dany and the dragons? Where’s Tyrion? We hardly saw Jon Snow. That can’t be all of it…”

Yep. No Daenerys, no Tyrion, no Wall. no Stannis. I was anxiously waiting for the rest of the characters to make an appearance, but they never did. Which, really, is fine. Not long ago, someone told me that Game of Thrones slows down in the fourth book, and it certainly does, but not in a bad way. I was surprised at how few deaths there were, especially after A Storm of Swords, which was downright ridiculous.

And here’s the spoiler alert. In no particular order, here are the events of note: Arya is in Braavos, a novice at the House of White and Black, alternately spending her time there and selling cockles, and the like, to the locals. Sam, Maester Aemon, Gilly, her baby (well, not hers), and a singer-turned-crow whose name I don’t remember are headed for Oldtown (to the Citadel), but the end up in Braavos for a while. Arya knows what the singer is up to and, apparently, slits his throat. Maester Aemon dies there. They were fleeing Melisandre because some of them had royal blood, and she wants to wake a dragon. But that was the last book. Riverrun is taken after a long siege. Brienne goes searching for Sansa but ends up tried and killed by Zombie Catelyn Stark. Cersei is up to her usual mischief but just might get her comeuppance soon, though I’m not expecting that in the next book, as she probably won’t be in that one much at all. But who knows! Sansa is still at the Eyrie, pretending to be Littlefinger’s daughter. The Dornishmen have been active, and we learn that a Dornish princess was promised to marry Daenerys’s brother before all hell broke loose. And Myrcella got her ear cut off. At the end of the book, Jaime got a raven from Cersei, who was begging him to save her in a trial by combat because the new High Septon finally decided that she should be punished, but he tore up the paper and threw it in the fire.

Okay, end of spoiler. That’s all I can think of right now, but There Was Much Mischief, as usual.

I think this will be my last Game of Thrones book for the year, as I need to finish my fifty. I’m waffling back and forth on whether I’m going to set that goal for next year, though I think it does make me read more, which has been the goal after I got through 2010 having read only twenty, or so, books. And I’ve certainly worked some long ones in this year. Now, though, since I’m so close, I’m going with more reasonably-sized books until I hit the fifty, and then I’ll make a decision.

2013 Book #34: A Storm of Swords

storm-of-swordsI can’t stop! I’m entirely hooked on A Game of Thrones, now. I’m sad that I’m not currently reading one, and that’s right after I finished A Storm of Swords, a true behemoth. I’m also ahead of HBO! Having never actually seen the show, I figured the third season covered the third book (like the first season the first book, and so on), but I was wrong! HBO’s third season only covered half of the third book! Which means that now, I’m a season ahead. Which also means that this post will be irretrievably *full of spoilers*.

Because, with the exception of the Red Wedding, most of the interesting stuff happens in the second half of the book.

Like I said when I reviewed A Clash of Kings, I’m not giving a proper summary because there’s no point. You’re either caught up, or you’re not. Or you’re halfway caught up because you’ve been watching the show.

I gave up and started reading this one because HBO’s third season just wouldn’t go away. I knew about the Red Wedding and figured that terrible things happened at Joffrey’s wedding. I also saw something about “Arya’s Revenge” and assumed that it had something to do with her family. I was right on both counts, but not like I thought I was. Because the Red Wedding wasn’t Joffrey’s. It was the other one, in which Catelyn’s brother, Edmure, has to wed a Frey, and the Freys are pissed off because Robb broke a promise to marry another Frey. So everyone shows up at the wedding, thinking that everything will be okay until just after the ceremony, when the Freys slaughter Robb, Catelyn, and Robb’s direwolf. Whaaaat? At that point, I figured that Joffrey’s wedding couldn’t be all that interesting, especially since he wasn’t marrying Sansa, but I was wrong there, too, because Joffrey gets poisoned and dies miserably. I was hoping that he’d be flayed, that it would take a little longer, but I was glad to see him dead because, well, ugh. I’ll at least have to watch that episode when it makes its way to TV.

I guess those were the major highlights. Other surprising things certainly happened. I felt really badly, though, not knowing that HBO only covered the first half, when I told Palmer that I knew why he likes Margaery’s grandmother so much: because she killed Joffrey! Palmer said, “Joffrey is dead?” And then I spoiled the rest of it because I couldn’t help myself. Payback, maybe, for “Spoiler alert! It’s about vampires!” No. I honestly thought he was up-to-date.

So, as I’ve said, I’m hopelessly addicted. I’ll be on to the fourth one soon, then the fifth. It appears that there might only be seven, and when I get to the end, I won’t know what to do with myself. I assume it’ll be along the lines of “Everybody dies!” which seems to be George R.R. Martin‘s goal. I said after the Red Wedding that Martin has killed off so many characters I liked that I don’t really care anymore, and I stand by that statement. That said, I’ll be keeping up from now on because, well, I can’t help myself.

2013 Book #24: A Clash of Kings

clashofkingsI finished A Clash of Kings a lot faster than I thought I would. I checked out the e-book from the library and was trying to figure out what to do after my two-week loan expired when I discovered I was almost through the book. Which means that I had a much easier time getting through this one than I did A Game of Thrones. And A Clash of Kings is longer. I also liked it more – maybe my prior involvement with the characters made me more invested this time around. It’s certainly not “good literature,” but I enjoyed it enough that I’ll catch up with the rest of them in short order.

I hadn’t intended to read A Clash of Kings so soon, but when the penultimate third-season episode came on, it was everywhere. There was a huge uproar. As I think I’ve said before, I have no interest in watching the TV show simply because I don’t like TV that I have to pay attention to, so reading the books are my best bet.

I’m not going to summarize this one. It continues where A Game of Thrones left off, and it’s too complicated and has too many characters. So that’s that.

From what I hear, the TV show follows the books, so there’s no reason to get into both. If you’ve read the first book, you’ve probably already read this one, and I’m the one who’s behind. If you’re a TV-watcher, I’m behind, too, because the third season just ended, which from what I assume covers the third book.

To which I will get shortly because I’m intrigued.

I’d also like to note that although A Song of Ice and Fire is not “good literature,” there is some good writing. Here’s Tyrion in the heat of battle:

The battle fever. He had never thought to experience it himself, though Jaime had told him of it often enough. How time seemed to blur and slow and even stop, how the past and the future vanished until there was nothing but the instant, how fear fled, and thought fled, and even your body. “You don’t feel your wounds then, or the ache in your back from the weight of the armor, or the sweat running down into your eyes. You stop feeling, you stop thinking, you stop being you, there is only the fight, the foe, this man and then the next and the next and the next, and you know they are afraid and tired but you’re not, you’re alive, and death is all around you but their swords move so slowly, you can dance through them laughing.” Battle fever. I am half a man and drunk with slaughter, let them kill me if they can!

And that’s not spoiling anything because by this point, I’m sure you know that these are novels about war, and there’s no way you can’t have heard about them by now. Believe me, I tried.

2013 Book #15: A Game of Thrones

gameofthronesWell, that took forever. Three weeks, give or take a couple days. I could have done it faster (my friends who’ve read it say they sped right through it), but I just couldn’t read more than 25 or 30 pages of A Game of Thrones at a time. That’s not to say it’s bad – I really enjoyed it – it’s just long. Really, really long. I know, I know. Some of my favorite books are long. It’s just that when I’m trying to make it to 50 in a year, something that takes three weeks to finish messes with my schedule.

ANYWAY. You probably know all about A Game of Thrones whether from the books or the HBO series. Everyone else seems to, which is why I broke down and took it off of my tl;dr list, where it had sat comfortably for a year, or so.

The plot is so convoluted that I’m not really going to try to summarize this one. In general, it’s about warring lords wanting to claim a kingdom. They even say “game of thrones” several times in the book. It’s like a big chess game. What’s fun, though, is that it’s not always predictable. You become comfortable with a character, and zing! he or she is dead. Also: there are about ten thousand characters, and I don’t think that’s much of an overstatement. I’m really surprised I didn’t spend half my time confused about what was going on. I have to give George R.R. Martin credit for that because it’s a feat. Oh. And don’t expect this book to do anything but make you want to read the rest of them. The end is not really an end – it’s a cliffhanger almost to the scale of the cliffhanger of cliffhangers. But not quite: I’m not as angry as I was about the other one. I just want to read the next book, and I know that I don’t have time right now, and that’s frustrating. I’m tempted to read a bunch of graphic novels to catch up, then dive back into the series, but I’m holding off.

So here’s the point: It’s good and epic, but don’t get sucked into it if you don’t want to finish it.

I haven’t seen the TV series, but someone told me that if I’m going to watch and read it, I should watch it first because I’ll be mad if I read it first. Okay, I have seen the first hour, or so, of the series, but I didn’t have the patience for it, and I’m not planning on watching the rest anytime soon. The books, though, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away from because I just can’t help myself.

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