“Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin

Initially the title for this post was going to include “Or Why I Hate Sansa” but the end made me feel bad for her, so I’ll dial it back a little. Not that I don’t still hate her, cuz I totally do, but I don’t hate her as much. It’s a little hard to hate someone when they’re stuck in that kind of situation.

Anyway! Moving on to the breakdown! I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book since I find the concept and the story itself very interesting, but the writing and the characters kind of kill it for me. There is, out of a cast of like twenty or something, five characters that I liked. Everybody else was out and out evil, horrible, kind of heartless or fairly unsympathetic. I liked Jon, whom I have a theory about that I will share momentarily, Robb, Bran, Arya, Danaerys and Tyrion. I really wanted to like Ned but I just didn’t. I respected him but I can’t say as I really liked him, dug him, would want to hang out with him, etc. I’m a little on the fence with Danaerys too, but she’s a survivor and she’s got moxie, I like that in a character. Catelyn should have been cool but she was just… flat, I guess. She had no heart, no depth. I didn’t feel like there was any traction with her character, like the author had no idea what was going on inside her head so he just navigated her around like a puppet on strings. I hate it when authors do that.

The story itself is interesting; the ruling houses duking it out for the throne and power while winter is coming and the Others are massing north of the wall, which is deeply understaffed? Awesome concept! But the writing… maybe it’s just me, but it took me a good few weeks to finish this book. That’s unheard of! I had to slog my way through six hundred pages before I felt like things really got interesting.

I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to continue with this series. I mean, it’s a great concept and I’d love to see how it turns out, I’m very interested to see what happens when winter does come, when the Others start coming south, who becomes king, who dies, if freaking Sansa makes it out alive (and if she does, I swear to god…), but the fact that I had to slog through six hundred pages until war came and all of a sudden I was like “Now we have a book!”… it doesn’t bode well.

But I do have a bet going with myself as to who becomes king. Some of my money is on Danaerys, who, like I said, has moxie and the pedigree to claim the throne. And apparently an army to back it up, if she can get it pointed in the right direction, so good for her. I had money on Robb, but if he becomes King of the North I guess that works too. Although in his fight for independence I guess he could inadvertently conquer the rest of the kingdom, which would be cool. But most of my money is on Jon, and I will tell you why: everyone keeps talking about how winter is coming, winter is coming, send the troops north, not south, winter is coming, and Jon is on the Wall and set up as the heir to Castle Black, basically. He has sworn an oath to protect the Wall, and his loyalty is to the Wall before all else. In a way, that’s swearing protection to the realm itself, which is a king’s job. Also, he’s a bastard and there’s a certain mythological rightness to the bastard becoming king. It happens in all the fairy tales, the child of mysterious origins (note how Jon has no idea who his mother is) becomes king by saving the kingdom. And winter is coming. Bad things will be coming south, very soon. Jon will be saving the day, I promise you that. And what was King Arthur if not a bastard? But my largest reason hangs on a bit of supposition, but bear with me here. Ned will never say who Jon’s mother is, he never even speaks her name, but all throughout the book he keeps having flashbacks to his sister making him promise something, but they never say what. All we know is that Lyanna made Ned promise something, something very serious, before she died. We also know that Lyanna had intercourse with Rhaegar before she died. I say intercourse because while King Robert says she was raped, Ser Jorah makes a comment to Danaerys along the lines of Rhaegar was anti- rape. But we at least know that their private bits got to know each other. My theory is that Jon is not Ned’s son at all, but his nephew. My theory is that Jon is both Stark and Targaryen, which would make him heir to the iron throne and at least kin to the king of the north, if not actually heir to the north himself, which would quiet the lords who are currently (as of the end of book one) clamoring for independence.

Now, obviously, I have no way of knowing if this is true or not without reading the rest of the books and a good chunk of the series has yet to be written, from what I understand, but I’m fairly confident in my theory. I have reconciled myself to the fact that, unlike most author’s, I cannot guess what George R.R. Martin is going to do but, based on the little details he sprinkled throughout the first book, that’s what I put together.

Also, what the hell is wrong with George R.R. Martin? Seriously! He has a book with crazy people, incest, sadists, a cast that is largely unlikable, girls who hate their sisters unto not caring what happens to them during a castle coup, treason, murder, women who hate innocent children, rape casually being bandied about and all sorts of lies being told all the time. And from what I understand it only gets worse! What is it like inside that man’s head? Not that I really want to know, the broad strokes I got from reading his book were enough, but I would like a diagnosis. (And for anyone who hasn’t heard, he totally goes after his characters with a freaking meat cleaver. He has zero sentimentality about his charcter and has terrible things happen to them at a moment’s notice.)

Oh, and here’s the “Why I Hate Sansa” part: she’s horrible! She is a shallow, pathetic, naive, incredibly stupid, spoiled brat who betrays her family! She runs straight to the queen when Ned is about to make his big move, begging her not to let him send her away. She basically told the queen exactly was about to happen, giving her an exact timeline for when she needed to make her move and kill the king and take over the castle. And she was too stupid and naive to realize that that’s what she did. She is being played by the Lannisters like a freaking harp and she is too freaking stupid to realize what’s going on! She’s so blinded by that little sadist’s princehood to realize what he is, that she determines she’s in love with him on zero acquaintance! She yells at her little sister all the time for not being a lady and hates her for ruining everything, just by being herself! And she apparently thinks so very little of her that when a freaking palace coup is going on and people are dying, her father is in jail for treason and armies are being massed, that she didn’t think to ask what’s going on with her ten year old sister! A ten year old little girl is all alone in the midst of that chaos and she is so spoiled, self centered and mind blowingly stupid that it never even occurs to her to ask what happened to her! I can’t express enough to you how much I dislike her character and would like to beat the shit out of her. To be fair, Joffrey does beat her, or is the cause of her being beaten. To which I feel bad for her and say “Be careful what you wish for.” She wanted her prince and now she’s got him. I do hope she gets out of there, if only because he’s a sadist and he’ll kill her horribly and painfully, but I live with the hope that she gets offed in some smaller, less painful way. I mean, everyone else is being killed, all over the place they’re being killed or crippled for stupid or random reasons, so if fucking Sansa makes it out this series alive…

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Happy Earth Day!

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It was brought to my attention that today is Earth Day (cuz honestly I had no idea) so I decided to post the pictures I took on my recent trip to the botanic gardens. Happy Earth Day! Plant a tree or a flower garden or something! Make the world a little better and a little more beautiful! I mean, you should do that every day, but especially on the day’s specifically set aside for that sort of thing.

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My niece, in case you were curious 🙂

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And my nephew

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Chaos

Chaos is the beginning of all things, right? Things begin in chaos and from there find order. I have to believe that, otherwise I’m screwed. Because that’s what my life is right now, chaos. A state of flux, where everything is upside down and inside out and anything is possible. From here I can only hope to flounder my way to a state of order and stability. The fight for that seems like it’s gone on for years and probably has. But I can’t give up. I won’t.

“Magic Bites” by Ilona Andrews

I’m going to do my best to write about this as a separate book from the others in the series, but I’ve read and reread it a few times so it all kind of runs in my head as a continuous thing. Okay, to start- the world that Ilona has created is completely awesome. Like, wow. I’m very impressed by the creativity of it. Basically, there is natural magic in the world and it used to be in balance with technology but then along came humans, and we are, by nature, meddlers. We push things. That started the pendulum swinging. The book takes place at some unspecified point in the near-ish future, after the pendulum has started to swing back from technology to magic. Unfortunately, it’s not a neat process. Magic floods the world in waves, sometimes there, sometimes not. Sometimes cars work, guns fire and telephones ring, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes magical wards keep you safe and witches and shifters can do their thing, and sometimes they can’t. It’s very chaotic, which is fertile ground for a story I’ve always found.

These stories are based around Kate Daniels, one of the most kick ass heroines I’ve ever read. Few can make a heroine who can kick as much butt and still have a heart. I say this with experience, since I’ve read a few where you are left wondering what the hell is wrong with that person (cough, Anita Blake, cough, cough). She has been raised in the post- Shift world and she has very, very powerful magic and a serious grudge against an even more powerful person. She also has a sword, with which she is incredibly proficient. All in all, she is very deadly and, even though she won’t admit it, very, very scared. She is in hiding from this powerful person until she is powerful enough to take them down. The reader is thrust into this very complicated situation as her guardian, the man who raised her after her father died, is murdered. Kate decides to hunt the murderer down and this leads her to getting involved with the shifters and their incredibly powerful, and scary, leader, Curran, as well as the Knights and the Master’s of the Dead. Oh, and Ilona’s take on vampires is completely awesome. There’s none of that romanticizing vampires crap around here, oh no. In these books, vampires are straight up dead, as mindless as a cockroach and as blood-lusty as you would expect a mindless vampire to be. But, in the hands of a necromancer, they can be navigated and used as a very useful and very deadly tool. This harkens back to the old folk tales of vampires, not the glamorized, sex symbol version of today. It’s very refreshing and very awesome.

Anyway, her guardian’s killer turns out to be more than just a common thug, obviously, and a very real threat to everyone and especially Kate, since he targets her next. It’s a shorter book compared to the rest of the series, but it’s a great introduction to a fantastic series and I absolutely cannot recommend this series and this author enough. She may well be my favorite author, after Terry Pratchett (since nothing can knock him from my number one spot). Seriously, go read it now.

“Demon Moon” by Meljean Brook

Okay, so if you’ve read my earlier post listing the authors that I love, you don’t really need to be told that I love this book. But I did. I totally loved this book and it’s one of my favorite of all time. It advanced the over- all story arc while still telling these people’s particular story, while not forgetting everyone else in the storyline. It was fantastic.

The characters are flawed, very much so, while remaining completely awesome. There’s no Mary- Suing, thank god, and while they have their talents and beauty,and all the things about them that make them very cool people, there is never any doubt that they are real people. The only part that I found outside the realm of believable is how smart Savi apparently is, and since they kind of come out and say she’s like a super genius, and considering how many tv shows and movies pull that same kind of stunt, I’m calling it within bounds.

I will be honest and say that when I stop and think about it while not reading the book, I don’t really see how Colin and Savi work as a couple, since they have little in common and are very different people, but while you’re reading the book it never feels like an issue. I guess that one can be chalked up to one of those things, since there are real life couples that don’t make any sense to other people. And they do seem like the kind of people that would genuinely enjoy each other’s company and take it from there, so I suppose I can let it go.

And once again, it seems to be a specialty of Meljean Brooks, it did seem genuinely impossible for them to be together. Unlike in other books, I’ll say it again cuz it’s irritating, where you just want to yell through the page for them to get over themselves and they can live happily ever after, perhaps accompanied with a nice smack upside the head, in this book the deck really did seem stacked against them, completely impossible for them to be together. Admittedly, a little of that did come from Savi being unwilling to stand by Colin as his blood lust, what with him being a vampire and all, forcing him to have sex with a different woman every night since Savi couldn’t supply all his blood needs, but I’m not gonna blame her for that one. What woman, or man, would want to stand by and watch the love of their life do that? None that I can think of, and none that wouldn’t end up hating their love and themselves in the end. But the way she worked it out was simply awesome and the moment at the end, when they decided that they would rather risk taking each other’s blood and dying of it than live apart was simply beautiful. I tear up every time I read it. Typing it now, it sounds really melodramatic and overwrought, but in the moment it felt very right and honestly, the whole book was leading up to that moment, when they chose each other over everything else. But I’m a romantic.

Elsewhere in the book, the Guardian corps’ war against the demons is heating up, and there’s a very cool/deliciously creepy thing with the Chaos realm in the book, which I won’t get into since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else. Also, Michael as a leader and a person is getting more rounded out and realized which comes in handy for later in the series. He’s clearly very much a work in progress for the author. I don’t think she had a real good grip on him early on in the series, and that kind of shows, but she’s obviously working her way inside his head, slowly but surely as the series goes on, and this one starts to give us some nice insights.

All in all, I totally, obviously, recommend this book. It’s a little long and the mythology of the series is not for the faint of heart, since it’s almost ridiculously complicated, but it’s a great read and a great series. You should totally read it.