Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Game of Thrones: Catelyn Stark- Yea or Nay

A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

Catelyn Stark is a controversial figure in Game of Thrones fandom. Some hate her for the way she treated Jon Snow, among other reasons, while others cut her a little more slack. I always tended to kind of like her in the books- even though she is a problematic figure for many reasons- whereas on the show I did not like her portrayal at all. And as I was mulling the return of Game of Thrones and its seventh season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Catelyn- books vs. show.

First of all this post will have spoilers. Catelyn is the wife of Ned Stark, the Warden of the North at the beginning of the series, and she comes from House Tully, one of the great Houses that rule Westeros. She seems to be a good mother for the most part, although we get hints that she might be a little less patient with Arya than with Sansa, who is more of a "proper" lady. And of course she treats Jon Snow very badly, which is what sets many fans against her. Jon of course is Ned's bastard child, raised alongside his legitimate children, and his daily presence at Winterfell is hard for Catelyn to accept. Of course Jon may not really be Ned's bastard- the most prominent theory out there is that Jon is the child of Lyanna Stark, the sister of Ned, and that he raised Jon as his own to protect him.

So let's look at this a minute. Catelyn can't stand Jon's presence- let's look at some background.

It was the one thing she could never forgive him. She had come to love her husband with all her heart, but she never found it in her to love Jon. She might have overlooked a dozen bastards for Ned's sake, so long as they were out of sight. Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the true born sons she bore him. Somehow that made it wrong. 

Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word, but a castle has no secrets, and Catelyn heard her maids repeating tales they heard from the lips of her husband's soldiers. They whispered of Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, deadliest of the seven knights of Aerys'  Kingsguard, and of how their young lord had slain him in single combat. 

And they told how afterward Ned had carried Ser Arthur's sword back to the beautiful young sister who awaited him in a castle called Starfall o the shores of the Summer Sea. 

It had taken her a fortnight to marshal her courage, but finally, in bed one night, Catelyn had asked her husband the truth of it, asked him to his face. 

That was the only time in all their years that Ned had ever frightened her. "Never ask me about Jon," he said, cold as ice. "He is my blood, and that is all you need to know. And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady." She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne's name was never heard in Winterfell again.

Who is Ashara Dayne, and why was there whispering? Well Ashara is the sister of Ser Arthur Dayne, and there were rumors that Ned fell in love with Ashara at a tourney, so maybe some assumed Jon was a bastard that Ned had with her?

The other thing to keep in mind here is that Ned and Catelyn were newly married at this point. When he came home from the war with a bastard in tow she hardly knew him- they had been married just before he went off to fight. So not only did she have to get to know her husband, but he came home with a bastard! Or so she thought, understandably. Given all this, I think it's pretty understandable that she feels the way she does.

Later Catelyn and Robb are talking over the succession if anything should happen to Robb, and he informs her he wants to make Jon his heir. She's shocked, and shares her concerns with him.

Catelyn knew how stubborn her son could be. "A bastard cannot inherit."
"Not unless he's legitimized by a royal decree," said Robb. "There is more precedent for that than for releasing a Sworn Brother from his oath." 
"Precedent," she said bitterly. "Yes, Aegon the Fourth legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed. And how much pain, grief, war, and murder grew from that? I know you trust Jon. But can you trust his sons? Or their sons? The Blackfyre pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations, until Barristan the Bold slew the last of them on the Stepstones. If you make Jon legitimate, there is no way to turn him bastard again. Should he wed and breed, any sons you may have by Jeyne will never be safe." 

Catelyn is thus eminently practical- and looking out for Robb first.

So let's move on from the Jon question. What else does Catelyn have going for or against her? Well I think she gave Robb good advice, both the counsel she gave him about Jon (it makes sense from her perspective), and also her general advice to Robb- who to trust, who not to trust, etc. You can't really fault her advice to Robb during the war, in my view. However she makes a huge mistake that arguably starts the whole war to begin with. Coming across Tyrion at an inn, and remembering the lies that Littlefinger told her, she arrests Tyrion, which infuriates the Lannisters and starts the fighting. Now granted it was probably just a matter of time before Starks and Lannisters came to blows, but this was not well thought out and has such terrible repercussions that it's not an exaggeration to say that she kind of started the war.

In her defense she is relying on advice given to her by Littlefinger, who she's known since childhood, and she's been sent home by Ned to prepare for war, just in case, so it's not much of a stretch for her to make that call when she encounters Tyrion. Littlefinger told her he was behind the assassination try on her son Bran. So what would she do? Not to mention her own sister had sent her a letter implicating the Lannisters in the murder of Jon Arryn. So she is being manipulated, no question.

Lastly I want to look at one of my favorite chapters in the series, the one where she meets with Renly to treat with him on behalf of Robb, who is claiming kingship of the North at this point. She is seeking an alliance with Renly's forces. There is so much good stuff in this chapter, I'll just share a few quotes. I especially like it when she puts Lord Randyll Tarly in his place!

"No disrepect to you, Lady Stark, but it would have been more seemly had Lord Robb come to pay homage to the king himself, rather than hiding behind his mother's skirts." 

"King Robb is warring, my lord," Catelyn replied with icy courtesy, "not playing at tourney."

Renly grinned. "Go softly, Lord Randyll, I fear you're overmatched." 

And when she muses that all the nobility, all the knights, in Renly's camp have no idea what's coming, Lord Rowan asks her what she means.

Because it will not last," Catelyn answered, sadly. "Because they are the knights of summer, and winter is coming."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books Second Half of 2017


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

Top Ten most anticipated reads for the second half of the year. There are a lot of books coming out that I'm looking forward to, so this is a pretty easy list. 2017 has been a great reading year so far for me, and that looks to continue if some of these are half as good as they look. On to the list.  

A Map for Wrecked Girls

Wilders (Project Earth, #1)

The Pack (The Wanderers, #2)

The Lake Effect

Into the Drowning Deep

Killer. mermaids. 

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns, #2)


Star's End

Looks kinda dreamy 

Two Roads from Here

What if you could see both paths when making a decision? 

Brave New Girl (Brave New Girl, #1)

Clonage and dystopia. 

There's Someone Inside Your House


Barbary Station (Shieldrunner Pirates, #1)

SF on a space station w/ mercenaries & stuff

The Secret History of Us

Tuesday Tagline #41

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)

Don't get mad... that about says it all! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Eternals

The Eternals, Vol. 1

Deep in the Andes mountains a momentous discovery is made. A professor and his daughter, led by a man who may be more than he seems, discover an ancient Inca chamber full of artifacts depicting extraterrestrial contact with earth. The man turns out to be an Eternal- a subgroup of humans with miraculous abilities- and hidden in the Inca chamber is a cosmic beacon. A beacon he wishes to activate. But there is another group of mythical beings, known as Deviants, who will stop at nothing to destroy the beacon, and a raiding party of these creatures soon arrives to do battle. But what is the beacon for? Who does it call to? 

So begins this collection of Eternals stories from the 1970's. This was the era of Chariots of the Gods and the idea of ancient visitors from space was in vogue. Jack Kirby, who along with Stan Lee created many of the Marvel characters now on the big screen, took this concept and ran with it for nineteen issues until the series was cancelled- and in that time he introduced all kinds of quirky and strange ideas. The cosmic beacon is meant to welcome back the Celestials- a race of all- powerful space gods who experiment on creatures throughout the cosmos, and later return to judge their subjects. 

This is the time of the Fourth Host of Celestials, and they have come to enact a fifty- year judgment on Earth. If the Earth is found wanting it will be destroyed. And the Eternals are meant to serve the Celestials in this process. 

"They planted intelligent life on this planet--the crop has matured...the Celestials will test it and weight its value!"

This was a fun read. The Celestials are a longtime fixture of Marvel comics, and with them appearing in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, I thought it would be fun to look at their earlier appearances. This is a story that frankly would make a good movie- it's very cinematic in its scope- and even a reboot of the story with modern writing and art could be nice if done right. The story follows several of the Eternals- chiefly Ikaris and Thena, although others come and go- as they attempt to protect humanity from Deviants and Celestials alike. One of the cool ideas here is the concept of Hosts. The First Host came a million years ago to experiment on early humans. The Second Host came to apparently check up, and at that time destroyed the Deviant civilization that had enslaved humans. The Third Host was just a few thousand years ago and was about study and cultivation. And now the Fourth Host is about judgment. 

Why do they do this? No one knows. Even in the comics not much is known about Celestials, and it's that sense of mystery that makes them interesting. This series is definitely as product of its time- the 70's- so the dialogue is hopelessly overwrought and the art is pretty hokey. I think a lot of today's readers might have trouble with this- comics were more juvenile back then even if the concepts were not- but if you can overlook that, this is not only an interesting piece of comic history but also a fun read. And some of the visuals and descriptions are great. 

Miles of travel reveal the first traces of the Deviants' lost grandeur: a giant carved face, half buried in the ocean floor, peers with sightless eyes that date from a time before the great flood.

That's what I'm talking about. An interesting subplot here is a forbidden romance between an Eternal and a Deviant- Thena and Kro. She's a prominent daughter of the Eternals' leader and he is a ruthless Deviant warlord, but somehow there is a connection. Apparently they had a fling in ages past and Kro wants to renew it, but when Thena accompanies him to the Deviant city she witnesses the horrors of their society, including the ritual of Purity Time an occasion where Deviants that are considered rejects are killed. Thena is of course horrified but soon befriends one of the Rejects, an unstoppable killing machine that has been bred to fight. When a Celestial arrives to investigate the city, chaos breaks out as its very presence practically destroys the city, and Thena takes the reject and another mistreated creature with her as she escapes.

As I said, for all the neat concepts, this is very much dated, and I'm not sure it's even in print. I obtained a copy through ComiXology (where a lot of normally unavailable stuff is available in e-form) but I had fun with this. At one point Ikaris and Margo take a cab in NYC and we get this little gem. 

"Thanks cabby-- keep the change... I enjoyed your sense of humor."
"We need one here, buddy!"

Good stuff.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sunday Post #196

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the US and I'm looking forward to a nice long weekend of parades, reading and binging. It was a pretty good week here although it rained a lot and it never got that warm, but with the unofficial start of summer this weekend it has to get nice soon. Right??? I only read one book this week, I've been back to binging on Netflix, but some new books came out that I'm excited about so hopefully I can get started on 'em this weekend.   

I watched Suicide Squad this week (finally) and liked it. SyFy launched the entire third season of 12 Monkeys last week as a weekend binge so I've seen the whole season now. It's a really good show that not a lot of people are seeing? Oh and The 100 wrapped up this week with an explosive (!) finale - between that and 12 Monkeys my nerves were all ajangle. And... I posted my review for Refuge for Masterminds (School of Unusual Girls #3) this past week and the author relayed some background on one of my favorite scenes.   


Girl Out of WaterRefuge for Masterminds (Stranje House, #3)What She Saw

Song of the week



One Of Us Is Lying


Lots of video this week, not as much art. Just so much happening. The first two are clips from 12 Monkeys- the first one in particular is a riot and really showcases how offbeat the show can be. Then I've got an Orphan Black trailer and a trailer for RIME, a really cool looking game coming soon. And the vid after that is an extended sequence from RIME, and seriously- it's almost like watching a movie. 

And has anyone seen the trailer for Valerian? I have that AND the Game of Thrones trailer. Whew! Enough for one week! :)