Why I’m Happy to Suspend My Disbelief for Fantasy

Magic systems seem to be a big deal to a lot of fantasy fans and for many a well explained system can make or break a book. Now, this may shock some people, but it really isn’t a big deal for me. Naturally, I appreciate the beauty of an intricate magic system (who doesn’t have infinite admiration for Sanderson’s allomancy for instance) but if something is left in broad terms or defined simply as *magic* I genuinely won’t care and here’s why:

confessionsIt is the genre of the unexplainable– *crazy* idea BUT there is a reason why many supernatural forces are left unexplained in fantasy. It creates an atmosphere of mystique, eeriness and unfathomability. Here is where fantasy is haunted by the hallmarks of gothic literature. Feeding into the uncanny plays with the unwritten rules of the universe and allows the writer to explore hidden corners of the human psyche. And isn’t exploring *what we don’t know* what fantasy is often all about? Obscuring the logic of a world is valuable in its own way.

simarillionSometimes, however, there is a hidden explanation, even if we don’t know it– I know I’ve seen *loads* of people criticising Lord of the Rings for its “lack” of magical explanations. My answer to those people is that there are plenty of Tolkien’s notes you can look into if you’re unsatisfied with the reasoning behind his world building. Which goes to show, just because you don’t know the reason for something, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Plus, if you need an origin story, look no further than The Simarillion. But really, ultimately, it’s important to note where Tolkien got his ideas from…

grimmsBorrowing from literary predecessors deserves praise not censor. Personally, I value stories that are self-aware and acknowledge where they’ve come from- for a story to revive its forefather’s memory and offer us something new is a very special thing. When it comes to fantasy, I’ve already mentioned fantasy’s connection with gothic literature, yet the modern genre has more than one forefather. It is very much rooted, thanks to Tolkien, in the oral tradition and fairy tales. There is a lot of borrowing going on between these genres, including the educational element. Following in the steps of fairy tales, supernaturalism is often far from the main message of the story. In reality…

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverMagic is often a tool to get us from a to b. A very beautiful, interesting tool- but a tool nonetheless. That’s why, there really is nothing wrong with the *because it’s magic* explanation. I know, I know, that’s an extremely unpopular opinion in the fantasy world and I will probably have my fantasy fangirl status revoked for saying it, but hear me out. The truth is, no matter how far you get under the skin of any given magic system, the answer at some point will always be *because it’s magic*. Most of the time, we see an elaborate system on the surface and do not question why it works. Yes, I know there are some people who are not satisfied with the Harry Potter world building, for all its wonder and intricacies, but really do those people seriously think that diverting the plot for a “scientific” explanation of witchcraft and wizardry would have made those books better? (I will stupefy! anyone whose answer is yes to that) We have the surface details and that’s all we need!

the martianAt the end of the day scientific discussions mean nothing to me. Yeahhh in case it isn’t obvious I am not a scientist and the mechanics of how things work rarely holds my attention. I did love the Martian, but that was in spite of the explanations (where, let’s be honest, my attention glazed over) not because of them. So if an author is going to go into a huge amount of detail about how their world works, it’s not going to light my fire, in fact…

The_Eye_of_the_World_UKI find overlong explanations or infodumps boring. There I said it. If a book goes on a long tangent explaining something *made up* to me that I really don’t need to know, I’m gonna get bored fast. Everyone that’s read my review of Eye of the World can’t be surprised by this- cos that’s the perfect example of exposition getting out of hand (no Robert Jordan, I don’t care if you came up with a really interesting backstory to some backwater village, if it’s not plot relevant now, I don’t need 5 pages of explanation).

question mark bookAnd finally… it would make me a hypocrite. Okay, so I don’t normally refer to my own writing, but I hope you don’t mind my self-indulgence here, cos it’s relevant. I try to write things I’d like to read- so a lot of the reasons I do not often include explanations is because of a combination of the above (ie it’s not always relevant in the moment, I hate infodumps and I like to borrow from other genres). But to give a more concrete example to how important hidden explanations are, I’m currently working on a trilogy where in book 1 magic is more of a blunt tool (because, bless their little hearts they don’t know any better), book 2 explores some of the costs, and book 3 (which I’ve started working on now) is all about the big reveals. It would fundamentally destroy the setup of the story if I’d just given everything away in book 1.

So those are my reasons for why I don’t get too bogged down with magic systems. I know this will divide readers- and that’s a-okay- different opinions are the spice of life! Let me know which you prefer!

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Why I’m Happy to be Negative Sometimes

Hello all!! I’m feeling awfully chipper today cos I’m gonna be talking about negativity! Lately, I’ve been dropping a fair few negative posts, and that, together with your comments and an *amazing* post by Uptown Oracle, got me thinking… Why am I happy to be negative on my blog? Especially when so many people aren’t…

Well brace yourself, because I’m gonna deep dive into my monkey brain and tell you all why I put on my grouchy pants from time to time and why I’m willing to sling the odd banana peel at things I don’t like.

  1. I had to suffer through the book dammit! Consider this my very cheap form of therapy. If I suffered through 300+ pages of bilge and was made utterly miserable by a book, then you can be jolly well sure I’m gonna need to vent!!

better out than in shrew

  1. Also, let’s be honest, it’s fun!! Nothing is more cathartic than a good rant- so of course I’m having fun writing these posts and I hope you’re enjoying reading them. Plus, you all get to laugh at my pain. And who doesn’t secretly take pleasure from that? 😉
  1. Honesty is key! I started my blog to share honest opinions about books and that (in my humble opinion) is the best way to have a positive experience and the key to any sort of success. I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s not always easily- some people will say the opposite, but anecdotally I can say my follower count takes a hit when I say something mean about some movie or book I don’t like- and as tempted as I am to follow after the person yelling “come back!” like Rose at the end of Titanic, I know that it’s for the best that I parted ways with someone who can’t take hearing a differing opinion. So I take it as a win anyway 😉 And while we’re on the subject of trust…

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  1. I’m gonna be blunt– I don’t trust purely positive reviewers- I just don’t. If I go on someone’s page and find nothing but a sea of stars, I’m gonna get suspicious. And if I read a negative review and then the person gives the book upwards of 4 stars, there’s no end to my suspicion! The only way you can trust that I’m giving all my bananas out fairly is if some books don’t get too many. Plus- I love my bananas and only give them away for a good reason- so if I’m giving a book 4-5 bananas it has to be well earned.

terry pratchett banana quote

  1. Besides, rating systems are on a scale for a reason. Books make me feel all sorts of emotions, ranging between AHHH THIS IS AMAZING to UGHHH THIS IS TERRIBLE- so naturally I need a system that reflects that. Talking numerically, if I refuse to go below 3*, I’ve suddenly skewed everything upwards and made 4* books average and now I can’t give 5* sparingly and… arghhh- do you see how confusing this is!? That’s why I have a clear system:

banana rating

  1. Even worse- without clear rating systems, the reader might be misled over whether it’s worth investing time and money in a book. Book reviewing serves a purpose and as much as we may hate to admit it, we *need* to discriminate against books sometimes, because (unfortunately) we don’t have money trees and as much as we would like to personally finance every author/publishing house/book shop on the planet, that is simply not possible. As it is I’m shopping on AbeBooks, scanning every amazon bargain and hopping over to the library once a week (highly recommended practices 😉 ) Contrary to popular belief, our tbr’s don’t just want to be fed all the time- they want to be starved a little as well (okay they’ll never go hungry- but maybe we should put them on a diet). The fact is, we’re not just reading reviews to have our own opinions confirmed or to hear how every single book is just excellent and we need to read it- we need to know whether we should read something or not. If there’s a reason I really shouldn’t be wasted my hard earned cash on something- I want to know about it. And if that means my tbr will get shorter, so much the better!

monster book of monsters

  1. It’s a challenge! Call me crazy, but seeing a negative review for a book I love is like throwing down a gauntlet (and vice versa). It’s great to have perspectives challenged and see things from another point of view- and nothing makes you think more critically than seeing an opposing opinion. Naturally this doesn’t mean you have to agree with the reviewer- sometimes hearing someone’s arguments can actually help you bolster up your own views as you think of counter arguments and you can go away with your opinions intact- but this just shows it doesn’t hurt to hear another point of view, it can only help.

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So there you go- those are my reasons I’m happy to be a negative nancy from time to time. What do you think of sharing negative opinions? Let me know in the comments!

Game of Thrones Season 7 Wrap Up

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Whew- can you believe we’re done with Game of Thrones for the year?? Crazy right!!

Well before I sign off on this subject, I’ve had a little time to mull over my thoughts for the season as a whole and to get in some predictions for season 8.

So first off: the White Walkers are gonna win. JK! I jest, I jest! That said, I know that things are going to get worse before they get better. I mean, we did just see a dead dragon blast through a wall of ice.

This year, I had mixed feelings about the show. While I enjoyed watching all the episodes (because who doesn’t like watching a dragon showing off its fiery wrath 😉 ), I did have problems with the continuity errors and time jumps. In terms of time jumps, I’m inclined to let them off the hook, simply because people complained so much about slow pacing in previous seasons- I feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. The storyline has, frankly, been all over the place. A friend of mine said they’ve obviously got George R R Martin’s end goal in mind and been working backwards- and this most obvious in the ridiculous suicide mission up north, which is clearly just a way to give the Night King a dragon. It’s not merely fanficy (although you can spot the fanfic vibes in a lot of the dialogue a mile off) it’s more that the books are unfinished and there’s a reason why it’s taking Martin so long to come up with coherent reasons for the same things happening in the books- the writers here are showing what happens when you go “well we’ve got to get from a to b, so wham bam thank you mam, let’s ignore logic”. This is less of an indictment of the show and more of a testament to Martin’s plotting skills– and, more than last season, this illustrates how different the book is gonna be.

Take Tyrion’s role this season, for instance. Either the showrunners have completely lost sight of his character or (and this is my personal opinion) or a lot of these decisions will actually be taken by Selmy, who is still alive in the books, and is more likely to make these kinds of blunders, since he already did during Robert’s rebellion. Personally, I this is more evidence (if ever we needed it) that they killed Selmy off prematurely and it’s creating continuity errors.

In terms of other book changes, I was dubious about the Jon/Dany pairing being present in the books. Yet with all the hints of pregnancy (they’re doing foreshadowing with a sledgehammer now) it seems likely that this will fit into the books somehow- with her my updated interpretation of her curse being she will die once she has a baby and be with Drogo again (I could be totally wrong about this, but I’ve thought Dany will die at the end for years now). I do wish that they could have built up this romance more convincingly, instead of relying so heavily on the fact that a lot of the audience already shipped it. It felt a little like they were softening towards each other and just fell into bed together. Talk about crazy attraction (emphasis on the *crazy*) That’s not to mention the fact that *dudes this is incest*- because here I am saying they should have built up an incestuous romance?! Honestly- watching the show this year has been very much a *be careful what you wish for* moment for me- cos you guys know I used to ship it (gah- I know- but I never expected it to happen- damn the writers for giving me what I wanted!). I’ve been so confused about it all season. But fortunately I’m not alone in this dilemma- this tweet was going round a lot:

tweet incest got

Moving on from the icky to the more tricky, I personally felt that we could have had more villainy. After all, this is what the show is known for! In previous seasons we’ve had a lot more character based scenes and grim interactions. I feel like they were hamming up Cersei as the mad queen and Euron as the next big bad, without making them do too many vicious things. I feel like, for villains in Game of Thrones, they were too willing to negotiate and didn’t do enough to warrant the title “dastardly” (and I so want to give that title to somebody with Ramsay and Joffrey out of the picture). A lot of this could be expanded upon.

For all that, I did appreciate the wonderful blockbuster moments and the spectacular cinematography. Unfortunately I agree with a lot of the critics that there used to be more to it than that (although a lot of this may come down to their lack of production capabilities when they started out). I will admit to missing the times when the characters made perfect sense *and* surprised us. But- to be as fair as possible- some of the things that were super predictable were such a long time coming, so can you really blame them? (I mean c’mon, Littlefinger had it coming since season 1)

I should probably say at this point that I still love it– but given how many posts I’ve done on this you guys must know that 😉 And speaking of which, here’s the full list for your perusal:

Episode 1: Eek Game of Thrones is Back!

Episode 2: Stormborn was a BLAST!

Episode 3: The Queen’s (In)justice

Episode 4: Spoils of War: This Series is Gaining Heat

Episode 5: Watch Out Eastwatch!

Episode 6: Ooh Err… Let’s Go Beyond the Wall

Episode 7: The Dragon and the Wolf- FINALLY!

A special thank you goes out to everyone that followed along for this- it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without all your wonderful comments:

Kat@LifeandOtherDisasters, Nel@ReactionaryTales, Ali@IWuvBooks, Ami@Luvtoread, Vicky@BooksandStrips, Lashaan&Trang@Bookidote, Nicole@ThoughtsonFantasy, Sophie@BlameChocolate, Dragons and ZombiesLolsysLibrary, Kristina Steiner, Drew@TheTattooedBookGeek, Pooja, Sarah Angelton, Literary Weaponry, Reading in the Wings, Poulami, Litcritpop, ReadbyChris, SpunkyReads, Fictionspawn and Bedwetter’s Last Dream

Check each other out!!

(I do hope I’ve not missed anyone out)

And that really is A WRAP! Now I’m gonna go cry that it’s all over for two years… Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments!

Blah Blah Land

la la land

Well hello! Are you all sitting comfortably, because I’m gonna let you all in on a couple of secrets: 1) I may be a bookaholic, but I also love movies and 2) I like ranting and raving about things (it’s the reason I started this blog in the first place). So today I’m massively breaking with tradition to review a movie. And not just any movie: La La Land– a movie about movies, a movie slated to be this generation’s homage to Hollywood, a movie supposed to be so good it was bound to sweep the Oscars (teehee), a movie about following your dreams, a movie about L-O-V-E… annnd that’s probably enough bigging it up. Cos I’m gonna be brutally honest: I did not like this movie. At all. Not even a smidgen.

Yes, yes, I know- this opinion is so unpopular it’s likely to get me crucified. But just bear in mind before you go angrily banging “AHHH WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!” in the comment section- this is my opinionif you like the movie, I’m glad you got more out of it than I did, but you might want to look away now cos this movie made me want to go all Alan Rickman in Robin Hood and GOUGE MY EYES OUT WITH A SPOON.

with a spoon.png

(okay- he technically said “cut your heart out with a spoon”- but I imagine both experiences would be immensely uncomfortable)

So I will admit that after seeing the trailer for this movie, I was excited. I mean, I love love love the Hollywood classics and this felt like we would finally be getting something upbeat and cheerful for a change instead of the intermittent *explosion* meets *dystopia* meets *superheroes* that 99% of Hollywood’s movies seem to consist of nowadays (and before someone gets their knickers in the twist, I do like some of these movies, just not all the time).

ALAS- five minutes in and I was having two thoughts: 1) Is this trying to give me an epileptic fit? And 2) Is this going to get better? Oh please let this get better!!

But nope- that’s not what was going to happen. TWO VERY LONG HOURS LATER and, still not having had the promised seizure from all the flashing lights (thankfully) I was really struggling to find any positives- my thought process was something like this…

I guess dancing on cars is different… Oh no wait I’ve seen Grease…

Okay what about those camera angles right?! They’re weirdly artistic… Yeah, if you like things to be shown in a way that distract from the actual “story”.

Ermmmm…. Okay forget it, the story sucked, the characters were awful and the writing was rubbish. Happy now?!!

Back to that opening then- my brain went from “am I seriously watching a traffic jam?” to “oh man, bring back the traffic jam, anything but this boring, boring exposition”. Strangely though, for all that padding at the start, I didn’t actually learn anything. You see, I don’t consider myself a totally unobservant film watcher, however, I will freely admit that by the end of this I didn’t even know the character’s names because I DIDN’T CARE.

emma stone.gifOkay, so first there was Emma Stone’s “character”. I’ll admit to flailing around for most of the movie thinking she was *supposed* to be a terrible actress… whoops. But to be fair to me, they had so many scenes spliced together of her being accidentally bad and supposedly good that I honestly couldn’t tell what I was meant to think and just went with “oh this is funny, she wants to be an actress but she’s not great haha… waiiiit a second- why’s she getting jobs if she’s supposed to be bad?!” And this is an actress that I normally like as well. Add that together with the fact I strenuously objected to the idea that literally anyone can write themselves a play– there was no way I was gonna find that remotely believable. (Sorry but writing’s a little trickier than just “let’s just give this a go for a hot minute”… I just… gah)

ryan gosling faceNow for a character assassination- *ahem*- I mean character evaluation of Ryan Gosling’s role. Let’s be honest here: his character is simultaneously an arsehole and up his own arse (quite a feat I know, almost impressive). The main problem with this was I couldn’t FOR THE LIFE OF ME understand why *any* woman would be interested in him. Not least, because he too sucked at what he was supposed to be good at. I mean really sucked. Like WHY COULDN’T THEY HIRE A PROPER JAZZ PIANIST kind of sucked (seriously- I don’t get that – aren’t there a gazillion out of work actors in Hollywood who can play piano properly?!)

To be honest, this was one of the most jarring parts of the film. Because I really shouldn’t have to suspend my disbelief that he was half decent at his job. I mean he was quite literally thumping on the keys and singing out of tune. As for the rest of the music in this… well considering this was supposed to be a musical I was *bitterly* disappointed– they had just one motif that they overplayed again and again and again until I just wanted to scream “enough already!” I mean, I’m no expert but I could tell this was all wrong. BTW watching this with a musician was hilarious though. She incidentally pointed out that a proper pianist can do a more complex chromatic scale in a second (not that you should be putting that into a performance anyway) and that she could also tell by the speed of his playing that he was working from memory instead of improvising (thereby missing the point of  jazz)- all credit to the monkey baby for this snippet.

On top of all that the leads had ZERO chemistry and watching them talk was about as interesting as eavesdropping on two randomers dating. So, no, I wasn’t even remotely sold on this script. I swear if I had to hear them say one more pretentious thing about jazz, I might have wanted to jam my fingers in my ears and go “lalalala!

mufasa cliffMaybe that was why it was called La La Land… Oh who am I kidding- I know why they called it that- and that was just another reason that made me want to take a Mufusa style running jump off a cliff. Cos obviously this movie was practically designed as a way for Hollywood to pat itself on the back and say “oh aren’t we just smashing?” (not with movies like this you aren’t). Of course they tried to pay homage to a gazillion different films in here that it became less a homage and more a shoddy rip off– cos don’t think I didn’t notice the nods to Casablanca, Singing In the Rain and even Funny Face (among others). Unfortunately in trying to mimic so many of those great flicks, they forgot to make a halfway decent film in its own right.

singing in the rainBecause man, what the frick was up with that plot?! I felt like the whole narrative was totally pointless and the message was something along the lines of: don’t compromise your dreams for love. And that ending was pretty much here’s what this would have looked like if it wasn’t a terrible movie. Which you can watch while considering the fact that this essentially amounts to Emma Stone’s character imagining her life if she hadn’t had a baby- how charming. It’s not exactly heart-warming romance material.

I can’t pretend like I get why they marketed the hell out of this (as in took out all of the hellish bits for the trailer and somehow made it look good). All I can say is that I hope to all that is holy and unholy in this world that Moonlight was better– but I can’t say I have much faith in Hollywood for even nominating this circle jerk junk. This movie’s making me play that oh-so-healthy pingpong game in my head of am I deluded or is the world just more bananas than me? Either way, all I can give this is a measly banana peel:

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I guess the sensible thing to do now would be to turn to you lovely people and ask: what did you think of La La Land? Did you like it? According to rotten tomatoes about 92% of your answers will be yes- so I guess now’s your chance to let me have it!

The Dragon and the Wolf- FINALLY!!

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Before we start let’s have a brief freakout that this is the final episode of the season…

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And a quick cry that we have to wait two years for the next season…

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Okay, so now we’ve got that out our system (mostly), let’s talk about how I WAS RIGHT!!! FINALLY!!! Things I and loads of other people have been saying for years came to fruition.

The biggest one for me was Littlefinger’s downfall. Even during this episode, I was thinking “it would be mad if Sansa kills Arya or Arya kills Sansa- it won’t happen”. I *knew* it was a ruse… and it was! They were playing Littlefinger all along. Obviously the showrunners took us for a bit of a ride there- but in the end *the pack survives*. Also this was hugely satisfying because I predicted that Sansa would kill Littlefinger before the end- all the characters have fatal flaws and his special was his creepy-ass love. Everyone succumbs to their weakness in this show- everyone. So yeah, I was right about this and MANY THINGS- what’s that Missandei?

many things missandei.png

Okay- enough revelling in my small victory (but gosh darn it, I’ve got to take what I can get- I so rarely guess anything on this show). Moving onto the truce, I’ll admit to being a bit peeved about how the whole truce is playing out. I mean- let’s start with the obvious: WHAT IS THE POINT OF EURON GREYJOY? Ughh the whole Iron Island story, ever since they went off book, has really struggled. Without Euron’s weirdly mystical powers and magic horn (no euphemism guys, keep it clean 😉 ) this hasn’t seemed like it’s been going anywhere. I know, I know- he’s supposed to be off to get more troops (which destroys the whole “I’m a scary guy that’s been scared vibe we’re supposed to be getting) but arghhh I just don’t think he’s been a particularly exciting villain. Someone resurrect Ramsey… actually with the Night King on his way that might be a distinct possibility… I TAKE IT BACK!

Still, I have other problems with this whole “truce” storyline. It just seems a little too easy. I mean, I know Cersei’s backstabbing them (rather predictably) but considering the fact she blew up the Sept last season, it could have been a bit more spectacular. Sure, everyone can blame Jon for being honourable and telling the truth- but it doesn’t really matter since Cersei was intent on lying. And since it was so obvious that she wouldn’t in fact follow through with her promises and was just using the meeting to buy time- again I ask: WHAT WAS THE POINT? It was a dumb plan with a shitty outcome. One can only assume that Tyrion has some backstage plan (maybe promising her child will be heir to the Iron Throne? Which won’t work if Dany’s preggers…) to make this all worthwhile.

Scratch that- that won’t be worthwhile at all. The only good thing to come out of this is that she has *FINALLY* pushed Jaime to breaking point (with a little help from Brienne, acting as his conscience again). So that was a small consolation at least.

And speaking of characters getting some balls… Theon actually grew a pair (well in a manner of speaking  )! Although, ironically enough, it was his lack of balls that gave him the advantage in that fight…

And then the most ballsy person on the show got a turn to do a massive reveal… Oh no wait, Gilly was left off stage while we got Sam instead, which is almost as good (I wasn’t the only one who was pissed at him for taking credit for her work, the internet had a field day 😉 ) Joking aside, I absolutely loved Sam’s scene with Bran- his reaction to Bran being the three eyed raven was hilarious.

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I will say though that the all-knowing Bran not knowing that Rhaegar married Lyanna was a bit of a continuity error for the sake of some added drama. Yet I can forgive it, because like I said, the scene was so so good. Especially when it started splicing the past and present together.

Although admittedly, let’s think about the fact that Bran may have been watching that. Of course, there was more than one peeping tom here. Tyrion was creeping about the corridors and I don’t think it was just voyeurism. This seems like some major *foreshadowing* because he certainly looks like he thinks this will end badly (and also the main reason I think he’s made a deal with Cersei- although it’s a lot to base on a look).

Add to that the sheer weirdness of this scene, with the *this is incest guys* voiceover, making this simultaneously gross and romantic. I mean, I’ll admit to being really confused about this. You guys know I shipped Dany and Jon for years… but ewww. I feel sorry for Jon finding all this out (not Dany though- it’s kinda good news for her considering she thought she’d have to marry her brother one day)- I guess it’ll go something like this: “Good news: you’re not a bastard, you’re the rightful king of Westeros… Bad news: say hi to your aunt…”. Or if Bran’s the one delivering the news:

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Oh dear, I guess Jon really does know NOTHING

(I’m really trying to plug this Thrones! The Musical guys!)

Annnd just when we were revelling in all of that, the wall came tumbling down. Man! Where’s Trump when you need him? Someone send for him quick!

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(never thought I’d use that gif- I’m going to hell in a handcart 😉 )

Overall, this didn’t start out as the most spectacular finale we’ve ever had. However, with the slow build-up we did get some great one-on-one scenes, the likes of which have been fewer this season. We also had incredible reunions: Pod and Tyrion, Tyrion and Bronne and even that striking scene between Tyrion and Cersei- basically *all the Tyrion moments*. Then there was the Hound and Brienne bonding over Arya and Cersei coming face to face with the dead. And we’ve been promised Cleganebowl people!! Plus, to top it all off, there were some gorgeous wintery filmography and showstopping visuals like Dany arriving on dragon (that never gets old!). All in all- there was a lot going on this episode!

Alrighty then- thus ends another epic season- can you believe that episode? Can you believe that season? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

And for anyone who fears this will be the last of my posts on Game of Thrones till 2019, I will hopefully have a quick wrap up before too long and who knows… maybe Winds of Winter will come out in the meantime?! Here’s hoping!

 

War and Peace Adaptation: What is it good for- absolutely nothing!

war and peace tv

Last year two exciting things happened: 1) the BBC made an adaptation of War and Peace and 2) I decided to finally bite the bullet and read the book so that I could watch it. HOWEVER when I finally got to the end of that mammoth, wonderful tome, I checked out the trailer annnnd no longer felt like watching the TV version. It just didn’t seem like it would do the book justice, so I decided to hold off from watching it until that stunning work by Tolstoy had faded from my memory (well, at least a little). Naturally, when I saw it pop up on my Netflix a year later I thought “why not…?” Well it transpires there were plenty of reasons “why not”- cos as you may have guessed from my title I wasn’t too impressed with this lacklustre mimicry of Tolstoy’s genius.

Let’s start with the most obvious issue: the disappointing characterisation. Now, in the book I simply adored Tolstoy’s complex cast- rooting for the characters, loving them, watching them grow was my favourite part of the story by far. It was so so important that they got this right… and yet for too many of them they were either miscast or mischaracterised- here’s just the ones I noticed:

war and peace characters

  • Pierre– oh gawd, you know it’s gonna be bad when the main character is completely misunderstood from the source material. This was the most glaring mistake by far. Instead of all the nuance of him being a decent person with his head in the clouds, here we get a bumbling fool, whose main attribute seems to be his glasses-wearing. I swear they spent more time making sure his costume didn’t fit right than directing this guy on how to act, because he has as much stage presence as a damp squid. Plus, instead of just having him fall for the first attractive girl in thrown in his path, they had to force the engagement so that he becomes spineless and daft, instead of a poor judge of character. Oh yes, I know he wasn’t good with the ladies in the book- but that doesn’t mean he was a total idiot or that they had to focus on him being an ugly duckling over everything else. Grrr so peeved about this. Verdict: MISCHARACTERISED
  • Sonya– nothing much to say other than it was straight up bad casting. Verdict: MISCAST
  • Vasily– for some reason they made him wayyy too much of a schemer. For instance, the scene where they tussle over the will is added in. Unfortunately this unnecessary addition didn’t add drama, just silliness. Verdict: MISCHARACTERISED
  • Vasily’s daughter and son– why did they have to have some incestuous relationship? Note to showrunners everywhere: not every show has to be Game of Thrones! Verdict: MISCHARACTERISED
  • Andrei’s father– so I actually like this actor, but the lines they gave him were too frothy and don’t fit the actor (or the character really). Verdict: MISCHARACTERISED and MISCAST

It’s not all bad though- I will freely admit that I found Boris, Boris’ mother and Nikolai all adequate. And I even had a *ding ding ding we have a winner* moment when I saw Andrei and Natasha Rostova on screen. STILL my satisfaction was short-lived, because they could not help but throw a massive spanner in the works when it came to Natasha. I don’t want to say exactly what it is, because it’s a massive spoiler, but for some reason they decided to slot in some overbearing foreshadowing in episode 1 for something that it takes 1000 pages for the character in the book to feel. So *slow clap* for destroying any promise of actual growth. We wouldn’t want that in a TV show, now would we?

And since I’ve gone the gripey route with this review, I may as well go in for a penny, in for a pound, because I wasn’t too crazy about the setting either. While I found the music spot on, somewhat liked the glossy representation of Russia in the panning out shots, and appreciated the costumes, it never really captured the atmosphere of the book for me and didn’t sit quite right. One part that was especially noticeable was that the only time they used French was when they said batard– sorry but how laughable!! I mean- imagine if the only time Tolstoy used French in the book was to swear! It wasn’t that I wanted them all speaking French at court- but if they did have to include that aspect, they could have had it in the background, or used subtitles (I am in no way advocating anything so pretentious as the way Hollow Crown’s Henry V chose to divert from the play for half an hour in French). Man- I know this is pedantic- but all these little details piled up to irritate me to death!

In the end, the whole thing felt like a slog and I won’t be continuing past episode 1. It’s a real shame, because I loved a couple of the casting choices and usually adore Andrew Davies adaptations. Ah well, maybe next time.

Rating (yes I know I don’t normally do this for TV adaptations but whatever): 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

(Edit: when I first published this post I managed to put 5 bananas at the bottom- which made zero sense considering the review- clearly I was hungry 😉 )

So have you seen this? Have you read the book? Did you like either of them? Let me know in the comments!

Ooh Err… Let’s Go Beyond the Wall

Well hello there!! I’m back from beyond the wall… Aka beyond Hadrian’s Wall…

hadrians-wall

Basil Brush Boom Boom

Okay that was a terrible joke… Anyhoo, while I don’t have any photos to prove it (I used to live there, so didn’t get that *omg I’m a tourist and must capture everything* urge) I had an awesome time on my trip to Edinburgh. Coincidentally while I was up there I went to see Thrones! The Musical on the Fringe – so if you are in the area, or can get to the festival, I *highly recommend* you going- it was THE BEST THING EVER!

thrones the musical

And if you want to know how good it is, check out this SPOILERS song, cos, well, now we’re getting to the spoilery part of my post.

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I did like the opening scene, even though it moved at a snail’s pace. We got quite a bit of character bonding, which I appreciate, since we haven’t had as many slower scenes this season. Aside from the humour, I particularly appreciated the moment between Jon and Jorah.

While we’re on the subject of developing relationships, there was of course mad-tension emerging between Arya and Sansa. I will say for the record that if it does come to a fight, I’m Team Arya (#sorrynotsorry she’s been my favourite character the longest). HOWEVER, as I’ve discussed before, I am inclined to believe this is a ruse for Littlefinger’s benefit. Especially after reading an article reminding us that the trailer this year about the “lone wolf” was a bit of clever misdirection, because that line originally came from the talk Ned gave to Arya about how the “pack survives” in winter when they work together- so this gives me hope that the Stark children are in fact working behind the scenes to bring Littlefinger down. Otherwise, I don’t rate their combined brains- because c’mon this guy has snake written all over him (just as clearly as Saville had creep written all over him- it makes you wonder how people miss this sort of thing…?)

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I sincerely hope this theory is correct- not just for the sake of all the characters I love, but for the sake of the show’s consistency (which has not been as good this season). We are supposed to believe that all of the Stark children have experienced some sort of growth: Bran magically knows everything, Arya’s a killer assassin and Sansa has possibly grown the most with her canny knowledge of court politics. After all of her scathing remarks about Littlefinger in particular, are we really supposed to believe she doesn’t know what she’s doing when she moves Brienne out of the picture?

But enough of that- this wasn’t the only relationship to take a hit in this episode. We saw more friction between Dany and Tyrion, as they discussed walking into the lion’s den. Fortunately there are no dimwits here, and they are well aware that Cersei is laying a trap. Plus, they got a great one liner from Dany:

dany stupid things

No truer words were ever spoken. And for all the mistakes he’s made this season, I do think that that Tyrion’s right here- they do need to discuss the laws of succession and Dany needs to stop being so darn difficult all the time. BUT her reappearance later in the episode had me practically yelling THIS IS WHY I LOVE HER!!! More on that in a second…

Because before the massive showdown, there was some stress inducing scenes with a zombie bear. I definitely appreciated the chilling and creepy scenes beyond the wall- because for all the ridiculousness of the plan, flaming swords are cool and I like a good battle where (mostly) randomers get eaten by walkers. This episode totally fulfilled my *yay action!* quota while also amping up my stress levels. Of course, time has gone out of the window in the show now, so the message that they’re sitting round like penguins surrounded by the dead gets to Dany quickly enough for her to save the day… but let’s skirt right over that, because ARGHHH THAT CONCLUSION WAS SO EPIC I CAN’T COMPLAIN!!!

Welllll…. I won’t be complaining per se… but WHO CAN BELIEVE WE’VE LOST A DRAGON?!? (incidentally I watched this with some friends- one of whom is a genius and guessed *every single part* of the episode INCLUDING THIS!!) And this is the same week yet another gripey Guardian post said the show’s lost its evil streak- what could be worse than losing a dragon dammit?! I legit can’t cope and am in mourning (yes, yes laugh away callous humans- my mum did when I told her). Fortunately there are some very sensitive articles online about this tragic event 😉

And speaking of things that made me unhappy, as I’ve discussed before, I didn’t want Jon to bend the knee. I knew it would happen eventually- especially with the discussion of pride and stubbornness at the beginning of the episode. I was glad it happened for a good reason- I mean she did do him a major solid- yet I didn’t see him as being foolish her and am not sure of the implications for the rest of the series and how this will impact the *big reveal* of Jon’s parentage. Either they will have to end up together or Dany will die as I’ve long predicted… but who knows?

Speaking of implications, I have been wondering a lot lately about the correlation of the show and the book, so I’ve been thinking a lot that I don’t expect this crazy jaunt to happen like this. Obviously we now know that one of the dragons will get turned into a wight- though I feel like this might not be the way it goes down. One of the things that indicated this to me was that we didn’t lose any major characters, making me think they’re all needed elsewhere and for the final battle. It also makes me think that Benjen possibly died earlier, sacrificing himself for Bran, as his appearance here was too convenient and he ended up getting overwhelmed anyway (likely dying permanently- though other miracles have happened). As mentioned by many other people, Jon’s plot armour has become impenetrable of late- which again makes me think this is not going to happen in the books (notorious for character’s lack of plot armour). We did however learn some important things from this episode: namely that if you kill the Night King all the Walkers will die and that there’s no way Dondarrion will be coming back from the dead. Plus, let’s be honest, it was a kickass episode.

Now if you don’t mind I’m gonna go in a corner and have a good cry (while I also do a crazy amount of blog hopping to catch up with you lovely people 😉 ) Have a great weekend!