Category Archives: Fantasy

Lady Stoneheart – Pros and Cons

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING

The nerdosphere is aghast with fury at the news that Lady Stoneheart, a character in the Song of Ice and Firenovels will not be in the Game of Thrones TV series. As someone who has watched the series but not read the books, I’ll throw my two cents into the already chock full well of public opinion.

WHO IS LADY STONEHEART?

Novel readers will probably correct as I mangle this explanation, but here goes. After the Red Wedding, Catelyn’s body is dragged out of a river. The Brotherhood Without Banners brings her back to life as a zombie who can barely speak due to her throat having been cut. A shell of her former self, she basically becomes a new character – Lady Stoneheart. She travels the countryside on a quest for revenge, killing anyone whoever did the Stark family wrong.

Michelle Fairely, the actress who played Catelyn, recently announced that Lady Stonheart won’t be featured in the HBO series. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of that decision:

PROS – NO LADY STONEHEART IS GOOD

I’m not a book reader but I am a self-spoiler. Unable to wait to find out what happens next, I often check A Wiki of Ice and Fire. I’m like the dumb jock that doesn’t read the book but doesn’t want to fail so I read the cliff notes. Although, after self-spoiling the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, and Tyrion killing Tywin, I have pledged to not self-spoil anymore in the upcoming seasons.

When I self-spoiled the news that Cat becomes a zombie, I have to admit my first impression was, “Umm…really?” The Red Wedding was just such a powerful scene. George RR Martin weaves you into such a false sense of security. It really appears as though the Starks and Walder Frey have made up and are letting bygones be bygones. The wedding starts out as a joyous occasion, Robb’s uncle is happy to be marrying what appears to be Frey’s only attractive daughter (Sidebar had Frey let Robb know of her existence this whole mess could have been avoided). Then, out of nowhere, all Starks and Stark men in attendance are brutally executed. Quite an unexpected event. On the show, it was quite emotionally disturbing to see all hope drain out of Lady Catelyn’s face just before her throat is cut. That was some great acting on Fairely’s part.

So in some respects, I feel like it would be somewhat silly to say, “OK, Cat’s back as a zombie now!” Zombie Cat takes something away from that powerful Red Wedding scene. One of George RR’s ongoing themes in this story is that life is unfair – bad things often happen to good people, that you want the heroes to overcome but in real life, the heroes don’t always come out on top. So in some respects, Cat coming back to life takes away from the power of the Red Wedding scene.

Plus – overall, the HBO showrunners have done a great job so far so surely their judgment must be understood here. There must be some technical reason why they felt Lady Stoneheart would not play well on screen. As discussed in the nerdosphere, I don’t think it’s any kind of contract issue. I think they could get Fairely to come back and do it. If they couldn’t, well, the character is a zombie, so they could stick any old chump in zombie makeup.

I wonder if the issue is they just think that a Zombie Cat would just be too cheesey. They have this as-realistic-as-the-fantasy genre gets TV show and then all of a sudden they have this zombie version of one of their characters running around. Although I’ve never heard that explanation offered. Most of the explanations have been that they just could not fit her in because they want to do too much else and they only have 10 hours a year and can’t fit in every little detail…

CONS-NO LADY STONEHEART IS BAD

…but this isn’t a little detail! We want revenge for the Starks and without Lady Stoneheart, how does that happen? I agree that TV/Movies can’t always 100 percent mirror their book source material, but this is a big plot line to just overlook. Lady Stoneheart’s path of destruction causes a lot of ripples in the GoT world and it would seem like to not include her would be to have to constantly change the overall GoT storyline. Thus far, the showrunners have remained faithful to the books and that has yielded some powerful results in terms of viewership and show popularity. Admittedly, Lady Stoneheart seems like an unusual idea to me, but I haven’t read the books. I trust George RR’s judgment and writing abilities and I’m sure he took this unusual idea and ran with it in a powerful and amazing way that would be fantastic to watch unfold on screen.

In other words, my fear was Lady Stoneheart would be too much – “Grrr…argh..me zombie…me must kill Lannisters” but from what I hear, the character is much more moving and scary than that.

Plus, it’s not like the Red Wedding scene is taken away from that much. It’s not like she comes back and is all happy like “Hey, look at me, I’m Zombie Cat!” From what I hear, Lady Stoneheart is very sad and tortured – to the point where Cat would have been better off having been better off left dead.

FINAL RULING

How is this an extraneous character or plotline? It’s not like this is an issue where Tyrion wears blue shoes in the book but they make him wear red shoes in the TV. This is a major character in a major plotline. To take her away means the need to make many changes to the show to the point where it may become like True Blood where the show bears no resemblance to the source material whatsoever. While we can debate all day on source material deviations, I think we can all agree that in this case, remaining true to the source material has paid off for both HBO and the viewer.

With today’s make-up and CGI capabilities, I’m sure that an awesome looking Lady Stoneheart could be produced and surely a Zombie Cat on a revenge quest could make for riveting television. Ultimately, none of us run the show so this is like complaining into the wind, but I hope the HBO suits have not made a bad decision here.

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The Red Woman is Full of Crap

Season 4 of Game of Thrones was full of reveals and game changing moments aplenty.

One reveal lost in the shuffle was Lady Melisandre admitting that her “power” was pretty much a bunch of crap. In Episode 7 of Season 4, the Red Woman tells Stannis’ wife, Selyse Florent:

“Most of these potions and viles are lies. Deceptions to make men think they witnesses our lord’s power. Once they step into the light they will see the light for what it is – a trick that made them see the truth.” – Lady Melisandre

She then goes on to explain how her potions trick people – how she has a potion that can make fire jump into the air, that she has a potion that can drive men wild with lust, etc. In other words, she has now powers at all – she’s either drugging people or dazzling them with fancy pyrotechnics.

It’s understandable if you missed it. It was a small part of the show and her bare tucas was flapping in the breeze the entire time she was speaking.

Only confusing thing is she must have at least some power – after all, we all remember how she gave birth to that smoke monster in ridiculously unnecessary graphic detail.

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Game of Thrones Season 4 Finale

Let’s face it, folks.

More often than not, many TV shows become stale after a few seasons – the same old plot lines are recycled, the characters get boring and stale, you just eventually give up and eventually the network does too.

Not the case with Game of Thrones, which just keeps getting better and better. In a show where main characters die early and often, usually in tragically unexpected ways, last night’s season finale was satisfying and showed us that just once in awhile, George RR Martin allows bad guys to get their comeuppance and good guys to get their victories.

WARNING – THERE BE DRAGONS, AND SPOILERS, AHEAD. MOSTLY SPOILERS. NOT MANY DRAGONS.

Among last night’s highlights:

Last Minute Save of Castle Black – For once, Stannis finally does something that makes him worthy of the title of King.

Bran Completes His Vision Quest – I’ve never really understood what this whole side plot with Bran, Hodor and the brother and sister wandering around in the frozen wilderness was all about but oh well, at least it’s over.

Brienne vs. The Hound – Heroes of Westeros, for the love of “all the old gods and the new” please finish the job before you start making speeches.

Worst Father’s Day Ever – Tyrion gets his revenge. Tywin finally ends up on…the throne.

These seasons go by so quickly. I wish there were more episodes, but I imagine HBO can’t make too many as the production of each episode is the equivalent of developing a summer blockbuster film. Now all I have to look forward to is True Blood, which pretty much jumped the shark awhile ago.

Attack on Castle Black

Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones was, in a word – AWESOME.

Aside from a little bit of dialogue, almost the entirety of the episode was devoted to the wildlings’ attack on Castle Black.  I’ve heard some criticize this, claiming all the action did nothing to move the plot along, but really, what’s wrong with that once in awhile?  I was impressed with this episode as it had special effects normally only seen in a summer movie blockbuster.  Too bad there’s nowhere that shows this show on the big screen.  Movie theaters could clean up by having Sunday night GOT night.

SPOILER ALERT

At the end of the episode, Castle Black was still standing and still in control of the Night’s Watch.  However, the battle for the Wall continues and pits about 100 members of the Night’s Watch (probably less after the battle) vs. thousands of Wildlings, aided by Giants and mammoths (ok, this post might be getting too nerdy).

There were many points in this episode where I thought that George RR Martin was going to be his usual character devouring self – he builds you into thinking a hero will win, then dashes your hopes unexpectedly.  In fact, given the outcome of the battle between the Viper and the Mountain, it would not have surprised me to have seen the entire Night’s Watch obliterated.  (And who knows, that could still happen).

 

Castle Black Still Stands

I love this show. Tonight’s episode was pretty much entirely devoted to the Wildlings’ attack on Castle Black. I’ve never seen a TV show before where each week’s episode is the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie.

Top Ten Predictions for Tyrion Lannister’s Future

He’s our favorite imp – funny, prone to debauchery, and has an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles tossed at him with his wit and cunning.

So what’s next for Tyrion, played by the incomparable Peter Dinklage on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

As you might recall, my prediction for Tyrion’s champion’s success was less than accurate:

https://bookshelfbattle.com/2014/06/01/the-red-viper-vs-the-mountain-the-thrilla-in-manila-for-nerds/

Here’s hoping that one of my more positive predictions will be in store for Tyrion:

10.) Tyrion lives. He’s a main character, and after all, main characters always survive, right?

9.) WRONG! This is the George RR Martinverse! This man eats main characters for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even fan favorite Tyrion is not safe.

8.) Martin does a bait and switch – i.e. something like, Tywin has a change of heart, offers Tyrion a full pardon, and then on the way to pick up his pardon, Tyrion is unexpectedly trampled to death by a pack of runaway horses.

By the way, at this point, knowing what we know of Martin’s predilection towards unexpected main charactericide, should we stop rooting for our favorites altogether? At this point, isn’t it almost inevitable that Dany will be on the verge of conquering Westeros only to eat a piece of bad cheese and die from food poisoning out of left field?)

7.) A tie in a trial by combat means Tyrion is off the hook. No wait, the Mountain did breathe for a second or two before he, well you saw it, before he did what he did to Oberyn, so I suppose that does make him the victor.

6.) Tyrion bribes some corrupt Westerosian to free him.

5.) Jamie frees Tyrion but casts himself out of the family by going against Tywin’s wishes.

4.) Tyrion demands a second trial by combat. Advises second champion – “Stab first, ask questions later.”

3.) Tyrion pleads with the court, “Eh, come on, it was only Joffrey, right?” Jury thinks about it, then starts nodding in agreement and orders the imp to be released.

2.) The Lannisters go to family counseling.

1.) Tyrion racks up a ton of debt. Points out to Tywin he can’t be killed because Lannisters always pay their debts.

Viper vs. Mountain Post Game Wrap Up

Well, it’s hard to talk about without sharing any spoilers, but I think we can all agree there was a lesson to be learned here:

DON’T BE A GLOATER!

Darn you, George R.R. Martin you old baitandswitcher, you.

The Red Viper vs. The Mountain = The Thrilla in Manila for Nerds #nerdthrillainmanila

Ladies and Gentleman…let’s get ready to….bookshelf battle! (Sorry Michael Buffer but I can’t afford to pay you to use your catchphrase).

In this corner, weighing in at, well who really knows because he’s just a fantasy character that exists only in the mind of an old man who likes to wear a fisherman’s cap wherever he goes, but I can’t imagine he weighs that much…Prince Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell of Dorne!!!!

And in that corner, weighing in at a bazillion pounds is Sir Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain because let’s face it folks, he’s the size of one!

In 1975, boxing history was made when Muhammad Ali fought Smokin’ Joe Frazier in Manila, Phllippines. Tonight at 9 P.M. EST on HBO (at least I think so but they could push it to next Sunday depending on how they lay the story out over the next two episodes) Nerd History will be made as The Red Viper squares off against the Mountain.

Call it the Nerd Thrilla in Manila. No really, please do so it takes off on Twitter and brings more eyes to this dismal blog. (Bookshelf battle has started the #nerdthrillainmanila twitter hashtag though tonight’s bout is already being heavily discussed in #theredvipervsthemountain and so on.

Four Seasons in and I've yet to read page one of the first book...even though, hey look at that!  It was 20% of at Target!

Four Seasons in and I’ve yet to read page one of the first book…even though, hey look at that! It was 20% of at Target!

What are the Vegas Oddsmakers saying about this? Probably nothing, because they don’t watch pay cable shows based on fantasy fiction novels. But if they did, here’s how these two fighters compare:

The Mountain Clearly it’s his fight to lose. He’s the heavyweight in more ways than one contender who makes everyone shake in their boots. As illustrated in the last episode, his enormous size and brute strength allows him to cut through peasants like butter. (And for some strange reason, Westerosi Law apparently allows him to do so because peasants were just being handed over to him to be chopped up like nobody’s business).

In addition to his many physical attributes, he also has the backing of Tywin and Cersei Lannister (he’s fighting as Cersei’s Champion because, according to another odd Westerosi Law, it is entirely possible to throw facts and justice out the window and demand that a calm and rational legal inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing be replaced by a duel in which two murderers of the accuser and accused’s choosing fight to the death). Tywin and Cersei are not known for playing fair. Just ask Robb Stark. Oh wait, you can’t because he along with his mother, wife, and unborn child, were slaughtered by Lannister agents at a Wedding reception. In other words, the Lannisters don’t play fair and it would not be a surprise if they were to engage in chicanery that provides The Mountain with even more of an unfair advantage.

The Red Viper A wealthy playboy and hedonist whose debauchery is only matched by the imp he is championing (is that a word?) for, Prince Oberyn is a skilled fighter and moreover, he has a vengeance fueled rage surging within him. The Mountain killed his sister and her children so that anger will no doubt provide the Viper with some additional strength. Oberyn is Champion for Tyrion Lannister, wrongfully accused person of small stature, who has a history of finding ingenious ways to get himself out of sticky situations so it is not unthinkable to suggest he might have something up his sleeve that will level the playing field for his new Dornish friend.

So who will win? Who will lose? Place your bets and make a guess as to who will be the victor and who will be the vanquished. (Except for a) all you holier than though “Oh look at me, I already know who wins because I read the book, I’m better and smarter than you because I didn’t need a pay cable series to discover that George R.R. Martin is the American Tolkien!” and b) all you people like me who are too lazy to read the book to find out what happens next but find out anyway because they look up what happens on “A Wiki of Ice and Fire.”

The only thing fiercer than Batman is Batman with a Longclaw Sword.  Actually, it's a letter opener but don't tell him that.

The only thing fiercer than Batman is Batman with a Longclaw Sword. Actually, it’s a letter opener but don’t tell him that.

BOOKSHELF BATTLE PREDICTION Come on, the Red Viper has to win, right? It would be a huge upset that would leave a lot of egg on Tywin and Cersei’s faces. To lose a trial they rigged to a tiny imp all because of a Westerosi legal loophole? Plus, if Oberyn is defeated, Tyrion will be executed (Your Champion’s defeat means you’re guilty. Stupid Westerosi Law) and that means the loss of a main character.

Although, we all know George R.R. Martin eats main characters for breakfast.

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