Eek Game of Thrones is back!!

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Hello all! Exciting news today: as I did last year, I will be reviewing all the Game of Thrones episodes now that it’s back! This will be full of spoilers because, dudes and dudettes, if you haven’t watched it three days after the premier, I don’t know what you’ve been doing!? Go away and come back when you’ve watched it!

Righty ho…

shall we begin

Let’s get straight onto what I loved about this episode, namely… THAT OPENING! Man, only in Game of Thrones do you get a payoff in season 7 for something that happened in season 3- but it was so worth the wait. That line “winter has come for house Fray” was literally killer. I mean, I knew from the fact that the recap alone gave me chills that I was in for a thunderstorm of emotions, but I didn’t expect for it to blow me away so quickly. Five minutes in and it was already the best TV I’d seen in a year.

There was of course that same old recap element to the first episode of the season. And even though it felt like I’d been grabbed by the throat by that beginning, the pressure did ease off a little as other characters were reintroduced.

That said, I enjoyed the initial character development you got in this episode. I do appreciate how dark Sansa has gotten- but, and I say this with the utmost respect for her character, her advice was shit. It almost reminded me of all the times I’d groaned at Catelyn Stark’s bad advice. I know I might get flak from her super fans, but Jon’s plan just seemed far more sensible- especially when you want to unite the north and don’t want lasting grudges to distract you from killing the Night King.

I did feel like there were probably more people crammed into this episode than was absolutely necessary- you had everything from a glimpse of Jorah Mormont’s arm to a cameo of Ed Sheeran (no joke!). And then there were a few story arcs that just slowed down the pace considerably. The middle lagged- especially when the Hound got his moment in the spotlight. I’m also struggling to get excited about Euron Greyjoy as this seasons’ big bad- unless he does something especially egregious (I mean worthy of Ramsey Snow egregious) I don’t think I’m going to buy that he’s so dastardly- only time will tell. Couple all that setup with a number of scenes of Samwell Tarley cleaning up bodily fluids and my attention started to wane.

Fortunately, the ending did perk me up again. With all the build up and talk of Dragonstone tying the episode together, I did have a hint this was where it was going- but there was always that worry that it would take weeks for Dany to cross the narrow sea. Luckily we didn’t have to wait that long! No- just wham bam thank you mam, she’s in Dragonstone.

And that’s where I’ll leave you too! All I will ask you today is how excited on a scale of 1-10 are you feeling about this show?! Let me know in the comments! (even if your answer is zero 😉 )

Outlander vs Outlander

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Hello all! I’m doing something a little different today with this review, because I pretty much read the book and watched the show alongside each other. So I thought I would share my experiences by comparing them. Though to be honest, my biggest impression of it is a massive spoiler for the end of the story… That said- let’s get to some of the other comparisons first.

Characters

TV Show: I preferred the main character in the TV show for sure- she had more of an edge to her and the actress breathed life into the narrative. All in all, I think the TV show does a really great job of bringing the characters in the book to life.

Book: Despite the words being the same, for the most part, this can come across a little flat in the book.  One of the main criticisms I had was that the rapey Randall came across as a moustache twirling villain– which I promise we’ll get to, in excruciating detail…

randall

Atmosphere

TV Show: easily has the better atmosphere– not just because of the amazing shots of Scotland, but because of the wonderful soundtrack:

Book: The prose is slightly clunky, so this can get in the way of the atmosphere, but it’s still enjoyable enough

Plot

TV Show: For the most part it’s fast paced and interesting.

Book: Sometimes feels slower in the book due to the aforementioned clunky prose, but not much difference, apart from some parts being drawn out in the book as opposed to the show. Plus I have to give the book credit for the unique concept, if not to the way rape is so integral to the plot…

*Okay time for the very long spoilery bit*

The Rape

TV Show:

So like I said, there’s a lot of rape in the book and I didn’t have a problem with it for the most part because it’s set in the 18th century and contextually accurate. Plus for the most part I personally have a pretty strong constitution. But when it comes to summing up my emotions for the episode when Jamie is raped I’m really struggling not to just let out a stream of swear words– cos let’s be honest, there was *a lot* of swearing in my notes. It was over the line for me- for many, many reasons- but mostly because it was fucking ridiculous (yeah, sometimes only swearing will do…). It wasn’t even REMOTELY realistic.

It wasn’t just that the setup was strange (I mean we could start with the fact that Randall attempts to rape everyone but only “succeeds” once) but that the progression of emotions is really weird. Now it’s not that the emotions don’t make sense- or that the writers’ intentions to show the varied psychological affects is a bad idea- but that it skips through all of these emotions far too quickly. At the same time, rather than jumbling the emotions to show how mixed up Jaime feels, it goes through each feeling on its own, which makes for a super weird viewing experience.

In fact a lot of what was wrong with the pacing. I could deal with how jarring it was to go from his recovery to the rape- yet calling this “flashbacks” would imply speed. Instead we’re “treated” to long, drawn out sequences that I can only describe as torture porn. Now that’s totally fine if that’s your jam, but it was really not what I signed up for. For some reason the show makers took the artsy route. Everything is taken slowly and shot in such a way that it actually comes across as ridiculously romanticised. Not to mention the fact that they hammer you over the head with messages and imagery- not that, say, a subtle hint of the sacrificial Christ imagery would have been a bad thing, they just felt the need to point this out to the audience, in case we hadn’t already got the allusion. The writers become so caught up with trying to *say something profound* that they actually get it all wrong.

Book: It’s a little strange to say this, but I thought this was portrayed better in the book.

There are so many reasons for this- starting with the attitudes to rape in book being more matter of fact. In a way that took away some of the stigma that becomes impossible to get over in the show. They’re all tiptoeing round and speaking in hushed tones in the show, which makes me wonder how Jamie is supposed to recover in the course of an episode. Which- to be fair- is one of the biggest differences- because what takes up 10% of the book is only 1/16 of the series. It’s a slight difference- but to be honest it felt a lot less jarring because it was given more space. Even little things, like the confession scene, feel less out of the blue.

By comparison, the book doesn’t show nearly as much detail of the rape, paying far closer attention to Jamie’s emotions and recovery. This makes the psychological drama that’s playing out in Jaime’s head work so so much better. I got the sense of him surviving, yet not being able to live with it. His speech in the book is perfectly done:

“Now it’s like … like my own fortress has been blown up with gunpowder—there’s nothing left of it but the ashes and a smoking rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, trying to hide itself under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but not … but not … making m-much of a job of it.”

And without all those long drawn out scenes, there’s a little bit more ambiguity which works better for creating a horrifying atmosphere- imagination is a powerful tool after all. Yet even with this ambiguity, some careful distinctions are drawn- such as between arousal and enjoyment, and between participation and coercion. It is a shame then that the show dance right over these lines into some pretty murky territory.

Finally, the cleansing ritual in the book, where Claire and Jamie re-enact bits of the rape and come to terms with it, is left out. Now I get why they didn’t put it in. The logic behind the scene is almost like saying “I’ll help you get over physical abuse by punching you in the face”- which is why I’m surprised that I’m saying I think it worked in the book. As illogical as it is, it actually symbolically deals with some of the psychological scarring, making Freudian links to the Oedipal desire to return to the safety of a mother’s care, allowing him to conquer his demons and find a safe space inside his own skull. Yes, yes, I know that still sounds weird- I for one am not normally a fan of Freudian psychology- still this actually gave a small sense of closure that is completely lacking in the show.

Verdict

Ultimately, neither the show nor the book (which I rated 2.5 bananas) were good enough to continue. Everything I liked about one, I didn’t like about the other. I find it very hard to give up on things- but when it came to this, I have no hesitation saying I won’t be continuing. I guess if I want to know how it ends I’ll read spoilers online.

And if you got to the end of through this very long (and very ranty piece) I salute you!

So have you seen/read this? Did you prefer one or the other? And what did you think of that infamous rape? Let me know in the comments!

TV “Tuesday”: A Song of Ice and Fire

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Well it’s not Tuesday for me anymore, but Tuesday somewhere, I guess… Either way, thanks to Codie’s awesome new meme, I have an excuse to talk about my all-time favourite shows Game of Thrones and do a roundup of what was a spectacular Season 6 (I’m biased).

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At this stage, Game of Thrones really needs no introduction- especially not from me. As you all know, I’m completely obsessed! (Obviously, since I couldn’t even go a week without talking about it- and let’s face it- I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the year without it- unless by some miracle Winds of Winter comes out). But just to give you some context, I watched Season 1 wayy back when it first came out and was so in love with it that in the summer I whizzed through all 5 books…. But when I finished A Dance with Dragons, I was dismayed to discover that  George R R Martin takes quite a while in between books :/ Like, a really, really long time (for anyone that doesn’t know). So I, like everyone else, waited with baited breath to see what would happen next, and this year, when the series finally overtook the book, fans of the show were rewarded with some spectacular reveals and some of the best scenes I’ve ever seen on TV!

For a more in depth look at each episode, feel free to check out my reviews for episode, feel free to check out my reviews by episode.

Game of Thrones Goes Off Book

Now That’s More Like It! Game of Thrones Comes Home

Game of Thrones is “Completely Effing Mad”

I Wish the Book of The Stranger Had Set Me On Fire

*OPEN SESAME* When One Door Closes…

Blood of My Blood Was A B+

*Episode 7 or Man Chops Wood was too dull to review*

No One Wins in Game of Thrones

Battle of the Bastards Fought off All My Doubts for this Season

The Winds of Winter Have Arrived

And that’s all for now! (Sadly!) If you enjoyed this meme check out Codie @ReadersAnonymous– its awesome creator!

Are you a Game of Thrones fanatic? What coping mechanisms are using in the long wait for the next series? Let me know in the comments!

The Winds of Winter Have Arrived…

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And they brought a storm with them. I swear, this episode will blow your socks off- in some instances quite literally.

Lots and lots and lots happened- I hardly know where to begin! In true Game of Thrones fashion, there was plenty of action, big reveals galore and some huge shocks! So if you want to shy away from those facts *now’s the time to stop reading* *Seriously, stop reading now!*

Crowning Glory

Because finally it has been proved that R + L =J!!! Who saw that coming? Okay everyone- but it was still spectacular to see years and years of speculation finally be confirmed. Jon is not just “a motherless bastard from the south”, as Littlefinger called him. In fact, if Lyanna married Rhaegar as many fans suspect, he’s not a bastard at all- but the true heir to the Iron Throne. In fact, he could very well be more important than that. Because now that this fan theory has been proved, the rest could follow like dominoes. As the literal embodiment of Ice and Fire, there is no doubt in my mind now that he is Azor Ahai and he weilds the power to defeat the Night’s King.

winter is here well father always promised

 

 

And while our attention is still on the North, one of my favourite scenes was the exchange between Jon and Sansa. Now while I loved their unity here, knowing Game of Thrones as I do, I have my fears that Jon saying that they need to trust each other is a signal that distrust lurks on the horizon. Considering how much Sansa has changed, I don’t doubt that she is capable of great and terrible things- I only hope Jon doesn’t get caught in the middle of whatever is going on between her and Littlefinger! I can only take heart at her saying “Only a fool trusts Littlefinger”. But let’s not forget…

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The North certainly remembers- in fact this scene was so incredibly reminiscent of when the North declared its allegiance to Rob that I found myself tearing up. It was all incredibly moving and the Northerners showed their true calibre- especially the young bear (aka Miss Mormont- gosh I love that child!) Really though we know that Jon Snow is more than just THE KING IN THE NORTH. And speaking of new monarchs…

Lioness Rampant

Okay- it seems a bit harsh to make a reference to Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet and Cersei Lannister in the same breath- but I hardly know how else to describe it. Cersei delivered a sublime bit of political manoeuvring.  In an unbelievable stroke of brilliance, she cut down the roses and used her little birds to kill the Sparrow. Marjery did show a certain amount of savviness in her last moments- but those were her last moments nonetheless- she was never a match for Cersei after all. Finally we saw that the lion still has claws. “A Lannister always pays his debts”- and goodness didn’t we get to see that was true in her scene with the Septa.

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But in getting her vengeance, she lost the one thing left she truly cared about. Tommen had a bit of a fall from grace- yes I can joke about it; he’s been a bit of a crap character. Still, she’s got what she’s always wanted- she’s queen at last. In her own right.

I’m actually relieved for next season. Finally I feel like that we now have a good opponent for Dany to deal with. I worried that after half the kings and queens of Westeros were wiped out, the path to the Iron Throne would be clear. But looking at the creepy cult Cersei has built around her, I have no such fears. If anything I’m more afraid of the new Grand Maester (Just look at what he did to the old one!) And, just in case we don’t think there is enough to get on with next season, the brief interlude in Dorne set up all the big players looking forward to taking the lions down! Not least of all, Varys playing his hand and promising “fire and blood”. Make it rain Dany! Now that she has finally set sail, it’s as Tyrion says…

great game

And while we’re making predictions about next season- since a male relative is destined to kill Cersei according to the prophecies in the books, I now believe that to be Jaime. Because that look in his eyes as she ascended the throne was not one of love. If/when she becomes a true tyrant, I have no doubt that he will be the one forced to take her down. Because he’s the kingkiller after all- he does what is necessary.

Just Desserts

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Speaking of Jaime- he made a very brief appearance in the episode. But when he did he proved again that he is a more noble man than most in an absolutely brilliant confrontation with Walder Fray. One of my absolutely favourite lines in that scene was when Walder said he wouldn’t kill the child because it would “give the family a bad name”- which I thought was hilarious, all things considered.

But of course that wasn’t the most significant scene involving Walder Fray. Because in a totally Tantalus move (yes, the Classics dork in me is making an appearance) Arya Stark literally fed him his own sons! It’s very poetic way to kill someone that broke the guest rights. It is the best way to punish him for killing his dinner guests. Frankly, if anyone had it coming, it was that slimeball Walder Fray.

And Lastly…

In a scene to delight book lovers everywhere, Samwell Tarley had his Beauty and the Beast moment- and by that I mean he discovered the most incredible library in the world…

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And that’s it- the end of another season. Time to get the violins out… And speaking of which, I have to say the thing I noticed most about last episode was the cinematography and in this episode it was how incredibly poignant the soundtrack was. It created the most incredible atmosphere and the perfect note to end the season. I adored it!

What did you think of all the incredible revelations and action this episode? Are you as distraught as I am about the series being over? How are you gonna survive until next season- I need tips!

 

TV TUESDAY

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So I saw this wonderful new meme over on Codie’s blog Reader’s Anonymous and I thought I’d give it a go!

Choose between these three:

  • Book-to-Movie/TV show adaptation  (have you seen it? If no, do you plan to?)
  • Book you think should be a movie/TV show  (Why?)
  • Movie that prompted you to read a book?

*Optional – put up the trailer

MOVIE THAT PROMPTED YOU TO READ A BOOK?

So my choice this week is very similar to Codie’s- except I thought I’d go with a twist- because while the first Lord of the Rings movie did prompt me to read a book, it was actually the Hobbit that it made me pick up first.

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And I’m so glad that I did- because it’s one of my all-time favourite books. There’s nothing like it in terms of adventure and heart-wrenching excitement. And since we’re comparing it to the movie, I by far prefer the book- in fact I wrote a whole post about my issues with the films (starting with the fact that there never should have been more than one film…) Personally, I love the Hobbit as a book and prefer the Lord of the Rings as films.

But I digress- go watch Lord of the Rings, go read the Hobbit- or completely ignore my advice and watch the Hobbit and read Lord of the Rings…

Agree? Disagree? Let me know which you prefer in the comments! Until next time!

Battle of the Bastards Fought off All My Doubts For This Season

*Disclaimer: I reserve the right to the excessive use CAPITALS and exclamation points!!!*

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I swear 90% of this made me shriek “OH MY GOD!!!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?” Because this episode put the EPIC back in epic fantasy (yes I went there).

My one complaint is that this felt like two episodes. I don’t see why they couldn’t separate the two battles into two episodes, considering how so much of this series has felt sorely lacking in action. If all of the battle at Meereen had happened last episode, then there would have been a lot more satisfaction from viewers about the last episode. But other than that this episode was PERFECT- so I’m gonna quit complaining pronto and get to talking about the SHEER AWESOMENESS that is Game of Thrones! So Let’s start with:

Part 1– The Battle of the “Bastards” – Dany in all her Glory

*This will get spoilery- starting now!*

The first part of this episode restored my faith in dragonkind. I may have mentioned this once, or a thousand times on this blog, but dragons are by far my favourite mythical creature. So I was disappointed this year that I wasn’t as roused by the dragon scenes this year- until now. Because three dragons wreaking havoc puts me in a good mood for some reason. At last, Dany was back to her glorious self- meting out justice, listening well to Tyrion’s excellent advice and  kicking some seriously pathetic tyrant butt! Just what I like to see!

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But, let me be honest- that subheading is a bit misleading as none of the people involved in this battle were actually bastards- even if a few characters did semi-disown their fathers in their admission that they were monsters. I guess I will just have to invoke Tyrion’s adage that “all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes”- because this was a battle for all the “bastards” of the world. It really felt like the downtrodden are finally having their day. And while not completely oppressed, it did feel like the episode was living upto that theme when the Greyjoy siblings stepped onto the scene fulfilling my dreams of a Targaryen-Ironborn alliance. And with it came Dany’s promise of a new world- restoring my faith in her ability to be more than just a conqueror queen and reminding me why she has always been in my top 2 picks to sit on the Iron Throne.

And while we are on the subject, let’s turn our attention to my other pick to rule Westeros…

Part 2 – The (Real) Battle of the Bastards – Jon Snow Lives On

…. But I think I’m going to die after this episode. There were parts while I was watching this where I *literally* couldn’t breathe. And not just because of the tension- but also because of the way they it was shot- which frankly was some of the best cinematography I have ever seen. Because of the camera angles, it 100% felt like I was experiencing the battle from Jon’s perspective. When the Boltons started to close in, I started to feel claustrophobic. When the army charged, I felt the panic. When the army was being trodden underfoot, I felt like I was being crushed. I could completely feel the chaos of warfare. Nothing- no battle I’ve ever seen on tv or film before- has ever felt more real. The whole thing really got my blood pumping and my heart freaking out! After it was all done, I was left shaking and with definite palpitations in my chest!

And then there was also the crazy emotional turmoil of the episode- like the visuals and the music seconds before the armies collide practically made me tear up. (Honestly I could go on about that stuff all day!) But let’s face it- we’re all thinking of the same gut wrenching scene: the moment when Jon rode out to save his brother. I’m sure every other viewer was like me in that moment- urging him on and practically screaming “C’mon Rickon! C’mon!” All the while knowing he wasn’t going to make it- and when he didn’t- it felt like my heart was pierced through with that arrow just as surely as his was. It was straight up one of the most awful scenes I’ve seen on Game of Thrones– and that’s saying something.

I confess I was rather wooed by the rather romantic notion that the Umbers were still loyal to house Stark that I’ve seen online over the course of this season. Obviously that would have been far too easy for Game of Thrones. The most now that survives from that theory is that Lord Umber hesitated for just a moment when he saw Jon Snow- other than that, the dream of those Northerners being loyal is as dead a Rickon Stark. (RIP) So yes, this was absolutely gut wrenching in more ways than one.

What also stood out about this episode was that it had some of the finest character development all season- which is funny considering how much of this season was dedicated to character development. But let’s face it, seeing people under pressure always shows off their character so much more than just idle chatter. Seeing Davos in his moment of realisation about what happened to Shireen was powerful beyond words- and a definite easter egg for the next episode. Jon Snow under pressure was also a sight to behold- and as I’ve already said, it felt like we lived this episode through his eyes- experiencing all his pain and anger and fighting alongside him. And yes, in terms of character development, he fell right into Ramsay’s trap- but let’s face it- that’s because he’s a human being with feelings and not an absolute psycho- cos only a psycho or someone that lived with said psycho would’ve been able to second guess those games… Which brings me onto the real star of this episode… Who might that be? I hear you ask. Well it was little Sansa Stark- all grown up.

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And my goodness hasn’t this character grown so much more than any other on Game of Thrones (including her slightly feral sister)!?! Gone is the fragile, weak girl whose wolf got killed and saw her father die. She is now a force to be reckoned with! That moment when she rode in at the head of the Tully/Arryn army made my heart sing! She was absolutely legendary! Seeing her get her comeuppance on Ramsay Bolton was pure bliss (if a little grotesque- everyone that hoped he would have a bloody and poetically awful death was rewarded here) Finally all of Ramsay’s games have caught up with him.

Now I think that about sums it up- I think I’ve covered all the thoughts I had on this (minus all the swearing I had in my original notes 😉 ) Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Until next week…

No One Wins in Game of Thrones

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So last week I totally failed to put out my Game of Thrones review- in fairness I was pretty shattered when I finally watched it and this was the extent of my notes:

what is this episode

Honestly, I can’t see the point of watching the Hound chop wood for half an hour and didn’t have much else to say about it cos nothing was new in it. But normal service was resumed this week- so I’m back!

*Spoilers galore*

Okay, so as I said in my title, no one wins in Game of Thrones- and that nobody is Arya Stark. Because this week Jaqen H’ghar finally gave her the title of “no one”. And even while she claimed to still be someone, it’s clear she’s taken something away from her time with the Faceless Men.

Being someone and having family ties is very costly in the world of Game of Thrones. Like in the case of Edmure Tully and the Blackfish. Both have lost- but not simply because of their weakness (in Edmure Tully’s case) or because of their stubbornness (as with the Blackfish), but because they held onto who they were. The same could be true for those in the Capital- it is by holding onto who they are and the power that they believe their identity affords them that is costing them so much now.

Being a nobody, however, pays dividends. Tyrion’s success is in being a no one- no one ever expects anything from him and yet in spite of that he succeeds against all odds. (Granted this episode he was having an off day- but still). Likewise, the Hound is a second son and at his lowest point- now that he has reached rock bottom he can actually come back and be someone. This season is all about rebirth- none more so for Dany- who’s brief appearance reminded us that she has gone back to being nothing so that she can be something more again. And then there is Arya Stark- who spent the last season learning to be no one, discarding her identity so that she can be someone.

All the best characters have lost their way- but it is by losing themselves that they are able to find a way back. Just as I suspect the biggest nobody of them all, Jon Snow, will inevitably come back next episode and win in the Battle of the Bastards- boy am I excited for that!

Until then, here were some other notable points from this episode:

  • Vary’s has gone off on a secret mission- probably to pave the way for Dany back in Westeros- but I don’t really know. Anyone have any other ideas?
  • Jaime and Brienne had their reunion and it was as emotional as you would expect.
  • Speaking of Jaime- there was a great discussion on Verge about how he is whoever you believe him to be- which I’m inclined to agree with
  • And- in true Game of Thrones fashion- there were some fantastic one liners- like “You’re shit at dying” (the Hound) and this one from Cersei:

i choose violence

So do you agree with my prediction that all the nobodies will win Game of Thrones? What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments!