Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reconsidering Cersei Lannister

I'm taking a moment to consider why exactly I don't deeply sympathize with Cersei Lannister.  She's lost very nearly as much to the game as any of the other contenders.  Two people she cared very deeply about died within two books.  She had a loveless arranged marriage.  She's a mother who is motivated to protect her children.  She's a woman who is attempting to hold her power against men who would rather she not have it.

Those traits all point to a character I should like.  And yet, she kills with so little thought over such petty purposes.  She tries to take revenge on people who have done her absolutely no harm.  She sees everyone around her more as a potential threat than a person.  And despite all her loses, despite all the deep personal grief a person in her situation should feel, she's motivated only by rage, jealousy, and thirst for power.  She's not angling to get her daughter back from the Martells.  She's not focused on investigating the recent murders.  She has no interest in the threats the Wall is facing.

And because of all of this, she is left in the dark against ever increasing dangers around her.  She believes she can hold power by force and by cloak and dagger tactics.  But death is coming for King's Landing from all sides, and she's too foolish and selfish to notice it.  She dismisses the idea that there are dragons in far away lands.  She dismisses the fears of the brothers of the watch.  She is oblivious.  And because of all of that, there will be even more war and death.  Stannis Baratheon at least has the sense to see that the iron throne is worthless in a winter full of white walkers.  But instead of sending help to the wall, she plots against their efforts.  She does not care about their purposes.

And I think that's the real reason I hate Cersei Lannister, more than any of the other things she's caused to happen. 

I'm only halfway through this book, and I can already see that it's only going to get worse for them all from here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cersei Lannister is the reason we can't have nice things

Still working on this book.  It's a lot to chew on.  But here are my thoughts so far on Game of Thrones in general.

I hate the Lannisters.  Okay, Tyrion is awesome.  Jaime is okay in small doses.  But the rest of the adults in that family?  They can go straight to the white walkers.  Especially Cersei.

She's paranoid.  She's selfish.  She's obnoxious and hateful.  She hasn't got a kind word to say about anybody, including her own family and friends.

And this is a world where there are tons of likeable characters.

I love the grand majority of Tyrells.  Margaery is very bright and sweeter than a cupcake.  I mean, yeah, she's playing politics, but that's the whole plot of the book.  Everybody's playing politics, at least she does so in a way that's kind and not terribly bloody.  Then you've got Margaery's grandmother who is so incredibly sharp and witty.  A truly kicking older female character is always a welcome surprise in this media climate.  And of course there's Loras who's a cool knight and who had this really interesting romantic storyline.

Then there's the Starks, who are to the last man understandable if not likeable.  You've got Ned Stark, who was a man of principle.  I give him a little bit more credit than most people because I believe I know who Jon Snow's mother is.  You've got Catelyn Stark, a tough but flawed woman.  And there's Sansa, the brave prisoner who struggles to stay afloat politically.  There's even Arya, the child with a warrior's spirit.  If you count Jon Snow as a Stark, then the Starks have one of the coolest characters in the game.

My favorite house is House Targaryen, which has more evil in its history than most of the rest of its competitors, and yet somehow they still manage to have some of the best characters as well.  The famous and acclaimed one for fans of the show is Danaerys Stormborn (the Khalessi), but there are plenty in the books as well.  Can't tell you who they are without spoiling things for you, but they are seriously very cool.

The Lannisters?  They have Tyrion, who is clever and who champions the weak and the maltreated.  They've got Jaime, who is a flawed man who made some bad choices, but who has also done some heroic things.  And that's basically all there is nice to say about them.  Tywin Lannister was a cruel, cold father to his children.  Cersei craves power and manipulates and isn't afraid to have people assassinated to reach her goals.   Joffrey is easily the most warped character in the whole lot, killing and torturing people for fun.  And they form alliances with all these petty lords and knights like The Hound and The Mountain.

The Greyjoys, the Martells, practically every house I've witnessed in this book series has more good in it than the Lannisters.

Practically all my favorite characters are in one way or the other working against the Lannisters, most of all Cersei.  I know I'm only on the third book.  I know there's a whole additional book to go before I'll have read the series.  I've been told they get better.  But I really, really hate those Lannisters.

There was a moment on the show where I started to feel some empathy for Cersei, as she was sitting on the iron throne with Tommen (her young son), preparing to poison her own son to spare him from dying a more painful death.  In that moment, I feared for Cersei Lannister, which is a testament to the quality of the show.

Is it possible that Cersei will become a more sympathetic character?  I highly doubt it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Waiting Game of Thrones

Tonight the ground is under a blanket of snow, and my instant coffee and I are under a blanket of blankets.  Baby, it's cold outside.  Temperature tomorrow doesn't look good, either.  Winter isn't just coming, it's here.

I remember when good old Ned Stark first said "Winter is coming," on a Game of Thrones, the television series.  It's an amazing family motto.  The phrase is truly ominous and full of meaning.  That said, I am beginning to feel that winter in "A Song of Ice and Fire" is dragging its feet.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a fantasy book series by acclaimed author George R.R. Martin.  He has been called the modern Tolkien.  The series has five entries so far, with a sixth coming out in the near future (no date so far).  The books are about rival factions attempting to secure power.  Many of these factions are vying for the Iron Throne, some are only attempting to solidify control over smaller regions, and many individuals are scratching and clawing just to stay alive in the wake of the others.

I'm 282 pages into A Feast For Crows.  I began reading this book because I'm becoming impatient.  Season 4 of a Game of Thrones cannot come fast enough.  I had attempted to read the earlier books, but I became somewhat stymied because the books were very much like the series.  I felt like I'd seen it before, and those books are very long.  Surely, if the first season was basically the first book and the second season was basically the second book, then it stood to reason that the third season would be the third book and the fourth season would be the fourth book.

No.  No, that isn't how it works.  Best I can understand, the third book was stretched out so it could feature in season 4, possibly to give the author more time to work on "Winds of Winter."  I've read some concern in the past that the series may catch up with the books if they aren't careful, and that would be bad because there would be a longer hiatus between seasons.

The gist of my problem is season 3 of A Game of Thrones ends right in the middle of the third book.  So, when I began reading A Feast For Crows, major characters were dead, other characters were thrown to the wind, and there are new characters I'm still not entirely sure about nearly 300 pages into the book.  Also, major details are different between the books and the TV show.  I knew that going into the book, but it still changes my reading experience quite a bit, to have these ideas about the series that aren't fully reflected in the actual material.

A Feast for Crows is slow reading, and metaphorically speaking, it needs more cowbell.  Many of my favorite characters from the series are used sparingly if at all.  Winter is taking forever to get here.  There is a whole lot of gearing up for war and very little actual war.

I love the diverse landscapes over which the story takes place.  I love the vast scope of the book, with all its strange, mighty, beautiful, and terrible characters.  I love the conflict at the center of the tale.  I love the strange dark magic, mysterious myths, and mortal struggles contained within.

It's an excellent book, but it's slow reading.  I miss the characters that compelled my interest in this series.  They're still floating around out there, somewhere.  As far as I'm concerned, winter cannot get her fast enough.  I've grown tired of these Lannisters and their petty paranoia.  Bring on Jon Snow and all the little Starks.  I want to revel in the dragonfire and cower in the wake of the white walkers.

When I finish the book, I'll come back and say more.  And then I'm going to go back and read the third one, because clearly skipping it was a critical error on my part.  Meanwhile, here are some interesting Song of Ice and Fire news items and fun stuff:

Five Game of Thrones Events to Look Forward to in 2014
Winter is Coming:  Government Uses Game of Thrones to Warn Americans About Snow
If Lisa Frank Designed the Game of Thrones House Sigils
Japanese Editions of Game of Thrones are Incredible
English Town Will Change Name to King's Landing for Game of Thrones

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Different types of readers and an update

Different Types of Readers

I thought I'd share this fun link.  Different people read different ways, because they have different needs and interests.  I think I tend to flit between types D, E, and F.

I buy many more books than I have time to read, and I hold onto them over extended periods of time thinking I'll get to them all eventually.

I can become very emotional over the right books.  I almost feel like the Harry Potter series is a part of my lifestyle, for example.  Any time a new book or film comes out, I know I'm going to run out and consume it right away.  That kind of committment to media can be an emotional roller coaster.  But it's fun, and it's meaningful to me.

If I find something I don't like, however, I can be very critical about it to the point of hypocrisy.  After that fourth Twilight book, I ranted about how poorly written it was.  But I'm also a fan of Supernatural, and let's face it.  Season 9 is so bad.  I really had no room to talk about Twilight fans, in retrospect.

So, here's an update as to where I am with my reading at the moment.  I'm most of the way through "Call of Cthulu" by HP Lovecraft.  I'm a quarter of the way into "The Truth," by Terry Pratchett.  And I'm several scenes into "A Feast for Crows," by George RR Martin.  Like I said before, I like to switch around based on what I feel like reading at the moment.  I'm most excited about "A Feast for Crows," but that's only because I've read "The Truth" before.

Also, I've preordered "Raising Steam."  I'm a huge fan of Terry Pratchett's work, and I'm very excited about the new title in the series.  Moist Von Lipwig is a terrific character, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he's up to this time.  I hypothesize we're going to see some Steampunk elements in this one.