A Storm of Swords

There is a point while reading novels, especially great ones, when your eyes are no longer seeing words on a page, but forming an image of that moment in time. You are transported to a faraway world, to the struggles of a little boy, to the pride of a championed cause. It’s brilliant. And once you’ve found your niche, that place you know you’re meant to be, you don’t want it to end.

George Martin’s ability to create such a place is surreal. The pain and sorrow of the characters are palpable. Every desire, resounding. Each small victory, triumphant. These stories he’s created accomplish what every book should make an audience feel. We’re no longer an audience. We’re citizens of Westeros, the King’s Road, the snow falling beyond the Wall that bears witness to the magnificent secrets of Sansa, Arya and Jon, Tyrion and Ygritte, Brienne and Jaime.

A-Storm-of-Swords-e1346603808470All the while, Martin so adeptly weaves life’s wisdom into his story. I decided to share some of my favorite…

‘In the world, as I have seen it, no man grows rich by kindness.’ – Ser Jorah Mormont

‘A man can own a woman or a man can own a knife,’ Ygritte told him, ‘but no man can own both. Every little girl learns that from her mother.’

…Pylos meant it kindly, but his assurances rang hollow….’A kingdom’s not a ship…and a good thing, or this kingdom would be sinking. I know wood and rope and water, yes, but how will that serve me now? Where do I find the wind to blow King Stannis to his throne?’
The master laughed at that. ‘And there you have it, my lord. Words are wind, you know, and you’ve blown mine away with your good sense. His Grace knows what he has in you, I think.’
– Davos Seaworth and Maester Pylos

‘An ant who hears the words of a king may not comprehend what he is saying,’ Melisandre said, ‘and all men are ants before the fiery face of god.’

‘No man goes hunting with only one arrow in his quiver,’ he said. – Mance Rayder

‘The gods made the earth for all men t’share. Only when the kings come with their crowns and steel swords, they claimed it was all theirs. My trees, they said, you can’t eat them apples. My stream, you can’t fish here. My wood, you’re not t’hunt. My earth, my water, my castle, my daughter, keep your hands away or I’ll chop ‘em off, but maybe if you kneel t’me I’ll let you have a sniff. You call us thieves, but at least a thief has t’be brave and clever and quick. A kneeler only has t’kneel.’ – Ygritte

If he survived this night, he would take Devan and sail home to Cape Wrath and his gentle Marya. We will grieve together for our dead sons, raise the living ones to be good men, and speak no more of kings. – Davos Seaworth

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New narrators, once again. Samwell Tarly. Jaime Lannister. As well as old acquaintances. Catelyn Stark and Jon Snow – among others. And in the preview of A Feast for Crows we find that readers will get a closer look into Cersei Lannister’s true feelings. However in A Storm of Swords, the third installment of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. A Game of Thrones) reveals that Robb Stark, ‘King in the North’, has yet to be beaten on the battlefield and Tywin Lannister has made his way to King’s Landing. Lord Tywin’s arrival temporarily leaves youngest son Tyrion void of responsibilities to the realm. As King Stannis so fortuitously slays his brother Renly Baratheon – the desparate scheming for the Iron Throne continues….

To Sansa Stark’s good luck, the Lannister’s find a more prosperous match between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell from Highgarden. But the Lannister’s, or rather Lord Tywin, is not prepared to throw a chance at Winterfell to the wind. In the far North, Jon Snow is exploring life as a wildling following ‘The King Beyond the Wall’, Mance Rayder. Jon finds himself mixing pleasure in this ‘reconnaissance mission’ that he does not easily forget once the freefolk make their way back to the Wall.

Brandon ‘Bran’ Stark and younger brother Rickon are thought to be executed and are making their way north with two crannogmen. I find it easy to let them slip to the back of my mind, despite the mysterious powers of Bran’s dreaming. But I’m not about to disregard the Khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen, ‘Mother of the Dragons’. The Queen is building her army, purchasing thousands of ‘Unsullied’ – fearsome eunuchs dulled to pain – proving the loyalty of her dragons. Although such loyalty cannot be said of everyone in her caravan. Her fate will be one I am eager to discover when I finally decide to open the cover of A Feast for Crows.

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A Clash of Kings

A friend of mine has also recently read through the second and third book of The Song of Ice and Fire series. He, among others, have been discussing the characters – which is their favorite, which they hate the most. As this friend was talking about his favorite character, he mentioned that if he was still living his old way of life and if he and Tyrion Lannister knew each other, they might go drinking together. Immediately I thought of Arya. By far and away, easily the character I relate to the most. A tough girl who wants anything but to sing and sew and give curtsies. In A Clash of Kings we get to see her take care of herself, be independent and even get others out of trouble.
martin_clash_kings_mmkt-360x560 That’s just it, Martin gives the audience someone to relate to – even in a fictitious world so long ago. We’re enthralled because we see ourselves. We have someone to root for. Martin reaches through the pages to grab you. He creates a vessel for the readers in his story. How would you be in a world full of crowns and dragons?

In the last book, I couldn’t stand Sansa Stark. At the very beginning of the sequel, I still found her annoying, but I began to sympathize with her. As my friend continued his thoughts on Tyrion, he added, “I want someone to stay good until the end.” It’s a hopeful sentiment, especially for a mythological tale. Then I realized: none of the characters will manage to stay ‘good’ for the whole series – it’s what makes Martin’s characters real. Arya has not been innocent by any means, but she is still my favorite fighting for what I perceive is the ‘good’ side of things. Is there ever a time when you’re always the good guy?
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But to sum up the sequel in this series, Martin introduces some new characters to take us through the narration. Theon Greyjoy and Davos the Smuggler. The readers follow Robb through his first battles and Bran and the ‘frogeaters’ surviving in Winterfell. I even developed a weak spot for Sandor Cleagane, “The Hound”. Even though he won’t admit it yet, Tyrion falls in love with Shae and Stannis Baratheon may become as much of a danger as Lord Tywinn Lannister. All I can say is that I’m more excited for A Storm of Swords than I was for this book. If Margaery Tyrell’s spunky grandmother has a profound presence I may have a contender for a new favorite character.
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Winter Is Coming…

…so please forgive me. I know I have not been on here in forever. No excuses, but I’ve been relishing in my blessings – travelling to Indiana, Kansas City for the Agriculture Future of America Conference, and Sedalia for the Missouri PAS Conference. All with in the last month. Eeeek!! However, never failing the true bookworm that I am, I have managed to finish my first George RR Martin novel. My Sundays are another ‘thing’ all together, as the first chapter of Twelve Extraordinary Women has borne the most challenging piece of work I’ve been through, possibly in ever, but I will get to that when the times comes as well.

If you’re familiar with title of this post, or know that I have been reading the first book of the Song of Ice and Fire Series, you have probably caught on to the fact that I have completely read A Game of Thrones. Might I say that it is brilliant. George RR Martin is the type of author that makes me want to write a book. He manages to create a page-turning story, symmetrical to classics, without it revolving around sex. A theme that seems to be quite frequent with current authors (or maybe it’s just me). For those of you who are far ahead of me in the series, I apologize for being so behind. Even as I’m reading Anna Karenina, I can not help anticipating how A Feast for Crows will  play out!

If you’ve not seen the series on HBO – you know, the one with the brilliant cast – although somewhat vulgar it does a pretty decent job of portraying the story. For me to admit that is saying something, as I am always partial to the living, breathing pages of a book. To recap some of the story, Lord Stark of Winterfell is asked to be the hand of the King, Robert Baratheon. Martin follows members of the Stark family, and also of Daenerys Targaryen, ‘the blood of the dragon’, who is khaleesi of the Dothraki people. It may sound a little like jibberish and maybe somewhat confusing, but trust me, it’s entirely worth the non-existent struggle. Well into the book, King Baratheon dies and all heck breaks loose. Starks and Lannisters are at work, along with a majority of the rest of the kingdom, all fighting for some security of the Iron Throne. Martin’s characters are addicting and lovable and enraging. Well done sir. Well done.

I’ve missed you all. Please let me know what you think of the book! Have any questions, comments, suggestions? Try not to give away too much of the rest of the series please!

A Game of Thrones

This is a series that has been on my to do list for quite a few months now. It fits in so well with my nerdy side too, bringing to life my love for Renaissance. Turns out… I first discussed the books with my Aunt at the Renaissance Fair. Haven’t read the books yet, buuut, I started watching the tv show. Can I just say, “Holy vulgarity”? Heads up to anyone considering watching – it definitely should have an R rating, for just about anything you can think of. Not sure how the books compare (as far as content), but I can’t wait to find out! Hopefully, I can start the books alongside the show soon.

To give you a little recap, the story takes place in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, a mythical place based on the work of the author George RR Martin. This fantasy world brings to life the violent dynastic struggles among the kingdom’s noble families for control of the Iron Throne; as the series opens, additional threats from the snow and ice covered region north of Westeros and from the eastern continent, Essos, across a narrow sea are simultaneously beginning to rise. The plot highlights the Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister families, along with the Dothraki people, and many other players in this ‘game’.

Right away though, the characters are incredibly strong. There are major douches who I want to punch in the face the minute I see them on screen: the Crown Prince of the Seven Kingdoms, Joffrey Baratheon, his mother, Cersei Lannister, and his betrothed, Sansa Stark (seeing a pattern here?). And then there are the characters you fist punch the air for when they kick butt: Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Khal Drogo and his super cool wife. You all are probably thinking, “I have no clue who these wizards are…” No worries! I’m gonna shed a little insight, at least to a couple characters.

Arya is the youngest daughter of the Stark family. Maybe I like her so much because I like to think that she completely embodies my personality. She’s already told her daddy that she’s not having any babies for a nobleman or prince – she’s going to be more than just a compliant house wife. Within the first four episodes, she’s already starting taking “dancing” lessons, where she practices sword fighting with a private trainer. I love it. 

Another of my favorite characters is Tyrion Lannister, the ‘imp’. He is a dwarf, and for all of you who are familiar with medieval times you know that little fact didn’t make him too popular. Sir Lannister is completely aware of this however, and knows he has to use his advantages whenever they come along. Hence, the wickedly awesome quote in the picture. I hope some of you might consider watching or reading soon! Follow along as I make my way through it as well, if you like – I’d be  delighted. 🙂

P.S. Ode to the wonderful author who wrote the series!! Props to you if you figured out he’s also the man who said the quote this blog is based on!