Can the Sand Snakes be Saved?

In a previous post, I published a dialogue between a relative and me, regarding Dorne and the wild Sand Snakes.  We asked a number of questions, the main one being whether there is anyway that the Sand Snakes can be compelling on the show, or if they are doomed to begin with.

After last night’s episode, I’m afraid the answer is no.  No, the Sand Snakes cannot and will not be a compelling storyline.

Saddest of all, I was very excited about the idea of Jaime and Bronn going on a trip to Dorne.  I thought it made for better story than the plodding tedium that made up the Dorne storyline in the novels.

Disappointing use of this great character in the last episode.
Disappointing use of this great character in the last episode.

Is there still hope?  Perhaps.  I think the way that this story can be corrected is via Prince Doran and his tough enforcer.

But it’s hard to say how disappointed I am by the scene.  If you don’t get why I didn’t like it, my reason is basically that a) apparently Jaime had no plan other than “let’s wear disguises and tell her to leave, and b) the Sand Snakes coincidentally attempted their cheesy assassination at the exact moment that Bronn and Jaime snuck in, in their disguises?

Let’s see if Prince Doran can get things back on track.  But for now, I’m not too thrilled with this storyline.  Just like in the books.  At least we haven’t had hours dedicated to one character (who isn’t in the show… yet?) just so his story can end with “and then a dragon ate him.”

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Brief Interviews of Ice and Fire: The Sand Snake Seven

The following is a conversation regarding both the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the Game of Thrones television show.  It contains spoilers for the five ASOIAF books and the show through Season Five, Episode Four.

DF: Did you watch last night?

TEB:  I did.  It felt like it was just a murder montage.

DF: Bronn and Jaime were fun

TEB: They were.  And I’m totally fine with the book and show being different.  They are separate in my mind.  And maybe there is no way to make the Sand Snakes not suck, but do they have to suck that much?

DF: I’ve always considered the sand snakes to be the worst plotline in the novels.

TEB: It was just: “Here we are.   In our desert tent.  With, uh, a carpet.  And no shovels.  But we buried this guy up to his head.  And apparently we don’t need food or anything?  Do we live here?  How did our step-mother find us?”

Welcome to our torture interrogation tent.
Welcome to our torture interrogation tent.

DF: In the books, they’re nonsense.  They watered them down for the show, but they’re still nonsense. Continue reading “Brief Interviews of Ice and Fire: The Sand Snake Seven”

Slouching Towards Westeros: Why I Hope Daenerys Dies in Season Five (And Who Should Kill Her)

Note: this blog post is written assuming that you have seen Seasons One through Four of Game of Thrones.  If you have not read the books, I avoid any significant spoilers.

We all know that people die unexpectedly in Game of Thrones, and we all know that no one is safe.  Not protagonists, not women, not children.  Especially not Starks or their friends.

And it is also no secret that, in Season Five, we are going to see people start to die who have not died in the books.  I previously wrote about this, and how excited I am about it, in Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News.  The storylines in GOT have become crowded, muddled, confusing.  Too many aspiring royals with too many backstabbing sycophants in too many locations.

But there is one character that I hope dies this season, and that character is Daenerys Targaryen, aka Khaleesi, aka Mother of Dragons, aka Mrs. Khal Drogo, aka etc.

Her.
Her.

Why?  First of all, I think her story has been pretty boring since Season One, during which her story was the best part of the show.  The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Drogo is one for the ages, especially the part where she eats a horse heart.  Plus there’s the phenomenal ending scene with the fire, the screaming witch and the dragon babies. Continue reading “Slouching Towards Westeros: Why I Hope Daenerys Dies in Season Five (And Who Should Kill Her)”

Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News

Before you read: I assume you have seen the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, but have not necessarily read the books.  I have carefully written this to not give anything major away about upcoming plotlines that may or may not be in the show.  (But note: book readers, this is written for you as well.  I just tried to keep it vague enough for the non-readers.)

There has been a lot of negative hype recently about this upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones.  The main theme of the hype is that the show and the books are diverging dramatically, that the show will “spoil” the books, that a major character who does not die in the books will die in the show, etc.

But here’s the thing: all of this is actually good news.

And here are the reasons why:

1. The fourth and fifth books of A Song of Ice and Fire are not as good as the first three books.  If you aren’t aware, the show has thus been adapted with Book One (A Game of Thrones) inspiring Season One, Book Two (A Clash of Kings) inspiring Season Two, and Book Three (A Storm of Swords) inspiring Seasons Three and Four.  The confusing thing is that Books Four and Five are actually parallel storylines, because Martin’s story and characters got so bloated, epic, and unfocused that he had to say “I’m not even including Jon Snow, Tyrion, or Daenerys in Book Four.”

Sure, I couldn't put this book down, but it's definitely my fifth favorite of the five books.
Sure, I couldn’t put this book down, but it’s definitely my fifth favorite of the five books.

Everyone agrees that A Feast for Crows is, without a doubt, the worst book in the series.  He introduces many new storylines, settings, and characters, while ignoring established ones, but, more importantly, these new storylines are not as compelling as the established ones. In A Dance with Dragons, he returns to many of those characters, but it basically feels like he is not very focused and that no one helped him edit any of it. Yes, some amazing things happen, and a lot of it is beautiful, poetic writing, but there are also other parts that are basically just kinda boring, and lots of other parts where you just aren’t sure what is going on.

2. There is a 150-page section of A Feast for Crows dedicated to pirates electing a new Pirate King, and it will not be in Season Five.  The worst portion of the ASOIAF storyline is, almost indisputably in my opinion, the half dozen chapters in which the Greyjoys (Theon’s sister and four uncles) all decide to have something called a “kingsmoot,” during which they figure out who will be the new King of the Iron Islands, i.e. the new Pirate King.  It’s long, boring, confusing, and becomes predictable about halfway through.  How we know that we won’t have to suffer through this endless kingsmooting in Season Five?  Because not a single new Greyjoy has been cast, and we should all be very thankful for that. Continue reading “Why All the Bad News About Game of Thrones is Actually Good News”

Made Fun Of, For Liking Superheroes…

Yes, this blog post has an unusual title.

That’s because this blog post has unusual content, especially for this blog.

Captain America.  Not a real person, but not someone you should get mocked for admiring.
Captain America. Not a real person, but not someone you should get mocked for admiring.

I often use this blog in critical or cynical ways.  Mocking things like Ocean’s Eleven, Fast and/or Furious films, House of Cards, etc.  I call things dumb or bad.  The specific article that I previously wrote about this was “Guys, Let’s Take it Easy on the Superhero Shaming Concept.”  And I still do agree with my concept in that, which is we should be careful about creating buzzphrases like “superhero shaming” and that the director of Guardians of the Galaxy probably isn’t really getting “shamed,” whether he wins an Oscar or not.

But I recently saw, when reading through the search terms that have lead people to this blog, that someone stumbled across it as the result of searching “made fun of for liking superheroes.”   Because of the possibility that someone might end up on this site as a result of searching for help after getting made fun of for liking superheroes, I felt obligated to write a blog post to assist the next person who might end up here for that reason. Continue reading “Made Fun Of, For Liking Superheroes…”

The Snow Also Rises 2: Jon Snows of Kilimanjaro

Note: This is a follow-up to The Snow Also Rises, the previous post on this blog.  Read that before you read this.  

During a recent Q&A, one of the two producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones stated that they set out to make the television show with “no prophecies, dreams, or flashbacks.” It’s hard to believe they ever thought the first possible, considering that the books are ripe with prophecies.  Most amount to be false leads, red herrings, etc., but there are flashbacks throughout, most involving Daenarys and those she loves.

Most, if not all, of the prophecies in A Song of Ice and Fire are opaque, dishonest, or lead to dead ends.  But most readers still hold hope for things such as Jon Snow being either The Prince Who Was Promised or the reborn Azor Ahai.  Brian, a friend and reader of this blog, pointed out that, in addition to A Song of Ice and Fire losing literary merit if Jon Snow’s parentage is revealed, Jon’s own path to being a hero loses merit as well.  He should not have his lineage exposed, but, as Brian says, there should be “no known external source… that gave him his power.”

Jon’s path, his journey, his own path along the flat circle that is a monomyth, these things are only weakened if the story falls back into the classic (and cheap) narrative of what can only be properly called “magic hero king blood.”  Jon’s story is that of a bastard boy who rose to the top of the Night’s Watch, so far, and will achieve greater things in the future.  Only we as readers should know that he is achieving the fate he could have been born into.

Regardless of how things pan out, this is pretty cool.
Regardless of how things pan out, this is pretty cool.

Next, we have further musings on the analogue between Ned Stark and Jake Barnes. Continue reading “The Snow Also Rises 2: Jon Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The Snow Also Rises: Thoughts Regarding Ned Stark, Jon Snow, and Jake Barnes

 Note: The following contains “spoilers” for the novel A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  Some of these spoilers are based on details that did not make it into the HBO television show (possible not yet, possibly not ever).  However, there are no spoilers for Martin’s subsequent novels in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.  There is also a lot of information about The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, but that book came out a long time ago.  

If you are not familiar with The Sun Also Rises, the narrator is Jake Barnes, an impotent American expatriate living in Paris in the 1920s.  Jake Barnes is, for our purposes, both the Ned Stark and Jon Snow of his story.  Like Ned Stark, he holds unfortunate secrets, and like Jon Snow, he is held back by forces beyond his power.

What Hemingway does in TSAR is something that Martin does in A Game of Thrones: he gives us unclear inner monologues, in which a truth is hinted but not revealed.  In TSAR, we get it was a rotten way to be wounded and a flashback scene in which a commanding officer assures Jake that he gave more than his life, but without ever specifying what exactly it was that he gave.  As the novel goes on, and if you read the Wikipedia page or discuss it in class (or, sometimes, if you just read the back cover), you realize that Jake suffered a wound that resulted in impotence.  The details are unclear.  Is he a eunuch?  Is he simply impotent?  What exactly happened?  This stuff is never explained, but there is one thing everyone can agree on: there is no other explanation for the novel, and a bunch of those scenes, other than Jake not being at 100% as far as his genitalia is concerned.  But that Hemingway decided to just allude to this as heavily as possible without every actually saying it.

One of many cover's for this important novel.
One of many covers for this important novel.

In AGOT, we watch Ned fever-dream about his sister dying in “a bed of blood and roses” while not explaining how she died, why, or, really, anything, other than that she repeatedly said promise me, Ned, on her way out. Continue reading “The Snow Also Rises: Thoughts Regarding Ned Stark, Jon Snow, and Jake Barnes”