Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tara's ASOIAF Re-Read: AGOT, Catelyn III - Eddard IV

* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *

And all of a sudden A Game of Thrones is full of action!

I think because I didn't realize just how hooked I was on this book/series until Ned died (obviously much later on in AGOT), I forgot just how much happens so early on. Seriously, in these seven chapters we get the attack on Bran (well, more so Catelyn), Arya and Joffrey's fight by the Trident, Cersei (well, and Robert, really) forcing Ned to kill Lady, Bran's crazy symbolic dream, Littlefinger telling Cat that the dagger used in the attack is Tyrion's, Ned's arrival in King's Landing...needless to say, that's a lot to pack into seven chapters. First I'll leave you with this awesome Paint "drawing" that I did, though...

(Yes, that's Robert, Sansa, and Lynna. I'm aware the females are not properly dressed. I was lazy.)
There's honestly so much to say about all of this that I don't even know where to start. First though, harkening back to my earlier thoughts on Catelyn - don't tell me she isn't pretty bad ass, grabbing hold of that Valyrian steel blade with her BARE HANDS and then BITING the attacker. Talk about a mother protecting her cub! She really shows both her Tully side (family, mostly) and her wolfish Stark side in this chapter. Earlier on she may think about how she doesn't truly belong in the North, but if anything proves that she does, it's this.

And then finally...Sansa's first chapter! Oh Sansa my BB...how I love her. The way she handles her encounter with Ser Barristan and Renly, not to mention Ilyn Payne and The Hound, is the first real sign of how awesome she is, because we're finally seeing things through her eyes. And I gotta say, she handles that situation like a boss.

Later in Sansa's chapter, during Joffrey's fight with Arya, she's obviously conflicted, and who can blame her? She's upset with her sister but Sansa also understands that Joffrey is drunk, and even though she's frightened and upset, Sansa does what she can to try to stop their fight. And when things go badly, she notes the way Joffrey reacts and his attitude toward her. She may try to overlook it later, but the North remembers...and so does Sansa. Just something for all those Sansa haters to keep in mind...

Unfortunately what happens in the following chapter doesn't paint Sansa or Sandor - two of my favorite ASOIAF characters - in a very good light. I get that. But as I've gone on and on about Sansa (and what happened in this particular scene) before, let's just leave it as, SHE LOST HER DAMN DIREWOLF PEOPLE. I think she's suffered enough.

As for Sandor, well, he was doing what he had to - obeying orders. That doesn't mean that I agree with his actions (um, of course I don't), but remember that obedience is the only thing that has gotten him anywhere in his life.

When we finally hear from Bran again, the majority of his chapter is one long, insanely symbolic dream. But reading it yet again has left me with quite a few questions, not the least of which is about him seeing "dragons stirring"...in Asshai?! I'm not sure why this never jumped out at me before, but if anyone has thoughts on it I'd love to hear them!

I finally had my first moment of confusion regarding the show versus the books in Jon III. I had to read the passage where Benjen is going off on a ranging and tells Jon they will speak when he returns twice, and thought to compare it to Ned telling Jon something similar (that they would talk about his mother 'soon', or something like that)...and then later I realized that only happens in the show! Damn, too, because my mind was going some interesting places when I was thinking about comparing those two conversations...

Anyway, earlier in his chapter Jon mentions that Ser Alliser doesn't hate him as much as he hates the other trainees; this is something I'd forgotten about, and at first I was questioning it, because all I remembered was how much Ser Alliser despises Jon. But then Jon made a joke at Ser Alliser's expense...something that gained him respect from his fellow trainees, but cost him that little bit of an edge he supposedly had with Ser Alliser, which obviously costs him later on.

Back in King's Landing, was Ned scaling the same cliff/wall that Sansa climbs down when she escapes the Red Keep in A Storm of Swords? That's the first time I've put two and two together on that one! And considering that soon after, Ned does quite a lot of thinking about Sansa...well, I may be reading too much into it (don't we all do that from time to time, with this series?), but I really loved the parallel there. And yes, Ned, killing Lady and leaving Sansa without her direwolf was folly!

Now I'll finally get back to the silly picture I included in this entry. At the end of this, his fourth POV chapter, Ned thinks about Robert turning away from the body of baby Aegon, and how he did something similar when Cersei demanded that Lady be killed in Nymeria's place. And then Ned compares Sansa's pleading to Lyanna's! "He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once." I really can't believe that this was just a stray thought, especially as it adds more (albeit, pretty minor) credence to the R+L=J theory.

Hopefully I'll be able to continue steamrolling through these updates over the long weekend! Yay holidays...sort of. ;)
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tara's ASOIAF Re-Read: AGOT, Arya I - Tyrion II

* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *

This second set of chapters was a lot more difficult for me to read because it featured several of my least favorite characters - Jon, Eddard, and Tyrion among them. Not that I outright *hate* Jon or Ned, but I've got several bones to pick with Tyrion, and having all three of them featured in this chunk of reading was just a bit rough.


Especially on the heels of the opening chapter - Arya's first POV chapter, and also our first real introduction to my beloved Sansa...and, amusingly enough, to another favorite of mine, as well: Sandor Clegane. Unfortunately Arya doesn't really introduce either one of them in the best light, and I especially remember reading her thoughts on Sansa the first time around and wanting to just pat little "outsider" Arya on the head. Later, though - including on this re-read - it really stuck out that Arya actually wasn't hating on Sansa so much as she was hating on herself. Do the two of them get along perfectly? Certainly not, but then, what sisters do?

Of course, I've said most of that before, but I guess I'll just always feel the need to remind people that Sansa is awesome and that even though she and Arya are different, liking Arya doesn't mean you have to dislike Sansa. Does it suck that Arya is jealous of Sansa? Yeah. But how much of that is really Sansa's fault? Even Arya admits that her older sister is too well-mannered to smirk at her misfortunes.

Clearly I could go on and on about Arya and Sansa (more so Sansa, let's not lie), but a lot of other things happened in these seven chapters. One thing I've noted several times since I started reading A Game of Thrones again is how many times they talk about Joffrey's height! Of course he's only twelve, but he's noted as being taller than quite a few other characters. Honestly I never really pictured him as being tall, and I'm not sure if that's the show version of Joffrey taking over in my mind or due to the fact that I pushed the comments on his height out of my mind because that simply wasn't how I saw him throughout any of my previous readings.

Again, though, my sudden obsession with Joffrey's height is nothing compared to other occurrences, such as Bran's fall...but I also found myself paying a lot more attention to Bran describing Winterfell and how well he knows it thanks to all of his climbing. He may not be climbing again anytime soon (or, okay, ever), but that doesn't mean he won't be able to tell others where to go...even if he ends up having to do it via Weirwood-Net.

One thing that seriously confused me, though, is the bit in Ned's chapter when he and Robert are talking about who gets to be Warden of the East. I suppose I get that it's possible for Jaime to hold the title, but why does Ned go on to mention that Jaime will inherit the position of Warden of the West? And on top of that, Robert responds that "Lord Tywin looms eternal as Casterly Rock, so I doubt that Jaime will be succeeding anytime soon." If Jaime gave up his inheritance when he joined the Kingsguard and Casterly Rock must pass to someone else, how can he still end up as Warden of the West? (I'm seriously asking here, because I can't see this as anything but a slip, or perhaps just a "forgotten" conversation.)

All of the above was of course brought up along with the news of Daenerys Targaryen's marriage to Khal Drogo. To be honest I've always thought that the end of her wedding chapter was a bit, well, cheesy, it's still one of very few "sweet" things that happens in this series. But in this case, it's a bit harder to savor the "present" when I know what happens later - at least for me.

As for Jon, it feels like we get more information from Tyrion's chapter than from his own. While Jon's goodbyes do a lot to bring his character to life (particularly with Bran and Arya), most of the real information that we get about him is from Tyrion, as they travel to the Wall. And along with his insights about Jon, we learn quite a bit about Tyrion's obsession with dragons. As someone who isn't a big fan of the "Tyrion is a secret Targ" theory, reading this chapter again kind of made me cringe a little inside.

I hope to have another re-read installment up soon, as the Thanksgiving holiday should free up quite a bit of my time for reading and writing...after all, "a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge."
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...as usual I'm insanely far behind on everything I need to do. I'm beginning to think that it's all sort of like sleep...you can't ever really catch up. ::sigh::

I confess...I got to plan our work Christmas party and I'm actually pretty excited about it, because we're going bowling on a Friday night instead of just doing some fancy dinner out (or nothing at all, like in previous years).

I confess...it's actually really hard to re-read A Game of Thrones and take the time to write about it, because that slows up my reading pace a LOT! Haha.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tara's ASOIAF Re-Read: AGOT, Prologue - Catelyn II

* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *

With the release of The World of Ice & Fire, I realized just how long it had been since I'd re-read the Song of Ice and Fire series...in fact, I'm almost embarrassed to admit how long it's been ;) But [I think] I'm rectifying that now by not only re-reading the series but deciding to write about my, err, "adventures" in doing so, as well!

Due to the series' strong focus on the numbers seven and three, I've decided to block the books out in sets of either 7 or 3 chapters (or as close as I can, anyway). Therefore, this first post focuses on the Prologue and first six chapters of A Game of Thrones...


Yes, I've read these books several times already, and I definitely needed a lengthy break after cramming many of those times into the same year-long period. Perhaps I hoped that waiting a while would also make a positive difference in how I feel about the show, but sadly, that was not to be.

Still, the books have been my one true love from the beginning, and not three chapters into this re-read I remembered why that's the case. Which is funny, because the first time I ever read A Game of Thrones, it took me quite a bit longer to really get into it; in fact, I didn't care for the Prologue at all and found Bran's first chapter insipid. Needless to say, that's no longer the case.

The thing about reading these books over and over again is that there's really so much information, and every time I read, things jump out at me differently than they did any previous time. For example: the dead direwolf with the antler in her throat. If you go in not having watched the show or knowing much at all about the books, this likely seems like a trivial detail. Of course during subsequent readings I took note of the glaring symbolism; this time around, though, I'm also paying more attention to the characters' reactions to that symbolism. Catelyn, for instance, is especially bothered by it, which brings me to another observation...

If there's such a thing as women's intuition, Catelyn possesses it in droves. She worries about Ned going beyond the Wall, though he assures her that the dangers are minimal as the Others disappeared long ago. She knows when to fight against Ned (insisting that he must go to King's Landing) and when to acquiesce (agreeing that he needs to bring Bran along to hopefully become a companion to the princes). I may not be a *huge* Catelyn fan, but you can't deny the woman has an intelligence and grace that is lacking in many characters in this series. If you doubt me, just read her second chapter in A Game of Thrones...and hopefully you'll get a good chuckle out of her comment about "false modesty", just like I did :)

I know that one problem fans have with Catelyn is her treatment of Jon Snow, which I agree looks bad at first glance...but think about it. You marry a person who is supposed to be the epitome of honor, and then he or she is forced to go away for some time. When your spouse returns, so far as you know he or she has had an affair. The fact that Catelyn is so understanding about a "man's needs" makes me cringe a bit, but I suppose it also shows a depth of character that we living in the real, modern world would find hard to comprehend.

But then imagine that this person brings home the son that is a product of said affair, and raises that child in your home, alongside your children. Yes, this is Westeros, yes, things are different, but can you really not look at Catelyn's situation in this light and think, "Maybe she didn't handle it as well as she could have, but she handled it better than she needed to." Or at least something along those lines!

Of course, I don't think it helps that in this same set of chapters we meet Ned and Jon, and not in the best lights, either. Again, neither of these characters is a favorite of mine, and while I understand why others prefer them, it amused me that this time I found Ned sort of morose and boring, and Jon Snow was a bit, well, whiny. Now that I know what eventually happens to both of them - the decisions Ned makes and what befalls him, as well as how much Jon really grows up in the Night's Watch - it's easier to look at these first, somewhat frustrating chapters in a different light.

I feel there's also an interesting parallel between Jon's first POV chapter and those of Bran and Daenerys. Jon is twice Bran's age but only a year older than Daenerys, and while he may have a lot of growing up to do, he doesn't seem to have their innate innocence. Reading that very first chapter of Bran's was especially difficult, knowing what befalls him so soon, as well as all that comes later - including some of the important, and not altogether good, decisions he eventually makes. (I'm speaking of him warging into Hodor, here. Not good. Not good at all. But more on that much, much later.)

Daenerys had certainly seen some hard times, and the fact that she is essentially being sold into a sort of "slavery" is not lost on her or, hopefully, the readers. But her chapter still reads like that of a child, and I think I see that even more this time than any time before. Of course as we know she has to grow up very, very fast - as soon as she marries Khal Drogo, really, though she *does* end up facing far worse things.

I love how I've read these books several times already and yet don't want to put this one down right now. On to the next chapters! Pin It

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...after a chilly but SUNNY weekend, this morning's cold rain is a crappy way to start off the week :-/

I confess...I am having a really difficult time understanding people today. Oh, perhaps because they keep sending me half-stories and random nonsensical text messages! (Seriously though it's been happening all morning, several people have done it, and it's starting to drive me crazy.)

I confess...I'm pretty sure my niece CC would love me more if I chewed gum, because she's pretty much ALWAYS asking me for it. Must get on that.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Unfortunate Side Effects of Bullying

I suppose that it's a combination of my current circle of friends and my side job that has recently led to me having a lot more exposure to articles about bullying - both reading and writing them. (See "Hey, Female Gamers: Don't let #gamergate stop you!" and "How the 'True Fan' Phenomenon is Destroying Geek Culture".)

This week especially, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been inundated with articles such as "17 Things Former Bullied Kids Do a Little Bit Differently as Adults" (though terribly written, a lot of that one does ring true)  and "Whipping Boy" (a bit meandering and somewhat creepy at times, but a decent story with a good conclusion). One thing that I can't ignore about all of this - both the articles that I wrote/participated in and the ones I've read, as well as the people who've shared them in my news feeds - is how many people were bullied when they were younger...and to be completely honest, at times I've found myself cocking my head and thinking, "Really? S/he was bullied? I don't know..."

But that's not fair of me. First, most people out there had to deal with some crappy experience or another when they were young, and God knows bullying has always been far more prevalent than society would like to admit (at least in the past). Second, it's pretty likely that people who have only known me for, say, ten years or less, probably side-eye me when I mention that I was bullied. (Though that's probably because they've never seen pictures of me from middle school.)

Some years ago - not long after I first started this blog - I wrote about my experiences with bullying. It was a largely positive entry; I was in a really good place in my life at that time. I knew who I was, and I was happy with that.

Sadly, it wasn't meant to last, and recently I'm in the opposite of a 'good place'...but in some ways, I think that's actually okay. It's the difficult times that mold us into better people, isn't it? As my beloved Andrea from The Walking Dead (comics!) says, though...
"'The things we've lost...it makes us stronger.
'Not that it makes those things worth enduring.'"
It's not just the things we lose, though, but the things we experience - especially (sadly) the negative things - that make us stronger...so today I wanted to write about the negative side effects of bullying. Because yeah, it can make you a stronger person. It can make you less likely to intentionally hurt others' feelings. It can make you less likely to "take crap" from others.

But that doesn't mean that it's worth enduring. Because it can also leave you scared shitless about opening up and exposing your vulnerable side to people. It can leave you afraid to talk about any personal issues you may have, and if you do talk about them you're far more likely to be defensive if others don't respond the way you want or expect them to. And I don't know about anyone else (though I'm guessing I'm not alone in this), but when I've been subjected to bullying as an adult (mostly online), it's had a much more negative effect on me than I've let on.

When I was younger, the bullying I experienced often made me question the usual things women question - my weight, my looks, and all that those encompass. I may not worry about those things as much these days (really not much at all, in fact), but that doesn't mean that there aren't other lasting side effects. Mainly that I still crave acceptance more than I would like, and unfortunately I can't let go of how much, especially in today's society, acceptance hinges on how you look.

Worse than that, though, is the fact that the bullying I've experienced has made me so wary and cautious when meeting new people and trying to make new friends. Yes, I'm outgoing, friendly, gregarious, even - but letting you into my 'inner circle'? Good luck with that; it can take years at the very least, and likely it won't ever happen at all, even if you prove nothing short of trustworthy the entire time that I know you.

And my absolute biggest regret is how much bullying - especially the truly nasty stuff that has come at the hands of acquaintances, supposed 'friends', and sometimes even family members - has made me question other friendships and relationships. How it has caused me to shut down when I should have opened up. How it has made me ever suspicious, constantly questioning the way people feel about me and their intentions toward me - and I'm not only talking about strangers. I feel this way even about those who, deep down, I *know* care about me. I identify far too much with the adage attributed to House Lannister: "Everyone who isn't us, is the enemy."

That's right - even as a self-sufficient adult who has a lot going for me, thinking about the bullying I've experienced (both as a child/teenager and as a result of a few shitty people who have gone out of their way to hurt me these past several years) is painful, and at times has made me far more bitter than any person needs to be. It has also caused me to have what are probably ridiculously high expectations of others in terms of how they treat me - I don't forgive easily (I rarely do so at all), and I sure as hell never forget. There's that old cliche, "an elephant never forgets" - well, I'm inclined to believe (not just from my own experience, but from things others have told me and things I've read) that a bullied person never forgets, either.

But hey, if you've been bullied and you've learned how to forget - or, for that matter, forgive - my ears and mind are open. I'm trying. I want to try. I need to try. Yes, over time I've learned a lot, and I've healed some, as well...but I'm only human, and there's always work to be done. Pin It

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...so much for being on track with NaNo :-/ Ten days in and I'm over 7,000 words behind. ::sigh::

I confess...I think I'm about done with beer festivals. I go, and I try to have fun, but mostly they're just pretty boring and miserable. I love beer but I don't care to guzzle it, and it's rare that these festivals offer much that's all that different or better than beers I've already tasted, anyway.

I confess...I have a headache and I'm just going to blame it on Monday as a whole.

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