State of the Blog and Weekend Links: August 13, 2017

So, the big news of the week was the Hugo Awards. I didn’t make it to WorldCon this year; it turns out Helsinki is far away from Cincinnati and expensive to travel to when one is poor. However, I’ve been vicariously enjoying the Con for days, and I did tune in to find out if SF Bluestocking won the award for Best Fanzine. It did not, but Lady Business did, and I honestly don’t think I would be happier if I had won. The ladies at Lady Business are wonderful, and you should be reading their stuff. Hearty congratulations and well-wishes all around.

You can see the full list of winners and nominees at the Hugo Awards website.

If you’d like to geek out a little over the nominating and voting data, be sure to check out the Hugo Administrator’s Reports. I did. Math is fun.

Remember No Man’s Sky? It got a big update this week, with the long-promised multiplayer functionality. I know I’ll be giving the game another look.

Ava DuVernay is adapting Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn for television.

Meanwhile, you can read about Octavia E. Butler’s unfinished plans for her Earthseed series at Electric Literature.

I couldn’t properly articulate all of what I didn’t like about last week’s Game of Thrones, but fortunately Adrienne Keene at Native Appropriations could. She explains what was off about that Western-inspired loot train battle.

Princess General Leia was also a doctor.

Book Riot is giving away 10 copies of N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky until August 17.

At Fantasy Literature, Theodora Goss has 4 Misconceptions About Victorian Women and a giveaway for her novel, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.

At Queership, Ada Palmer wrapped up her series on gender in Terra Ignota. (Part 1 | Part 2)

When I read Fran Wilde’s The Jewel and Her Lapidary, my major complaint about it was that it needed to be a longer series or a proper novel. Wish granted: she’s got two novellas coming out next year from Tor.com.

The newest Cooking the Books at The Book Smugglers features Yoon Ha Lee.

A.E. Ash’s novella, Temporary Duty Assignment, is out Tuesday from The Book Smugglers, but you can read a prequel story right now.

Transcendent 2: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, edited by Bogi Takács, is available for pre-order.

At Electric Literature, Anna Sheffer breaks down the epilogue of The Handmaid’s Tale.

At Tor.com, Anise K. Strong makes the case for divorce in fantasy.

“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse will break your heart. The whole current issue of Apex MagazineA Celebration of Indigenous American Fantasists, is worth your time.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: August 6, 2017

I’m slowly getting back to normal after a pretty nasty bout of depression, which is good. Last night, my WoW raid group finally dropped Kil’jaeden, and I’m getting close to finally collecting 250 mounts, which makes me a little sad that I still care so much about it, but, honestly, WoW is one of the few things I still consistently enjoy in a relatively uncomplicated fashion. Plus, I’m still kind of riding the high of finally getting that gorgeous fox mount last week that I’ve been wanting since before this expansion began. I’m pretty stoked about it.

This week I’ve  been slowly working my way through The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty, which is an excellent but difficult read. There’s a weird lull in my TBR list this month, though, so if I’m going to read something challenging this is a good time to do it. Today, however, was less reading and WoW playing and more moving a bunch of things in my living room around so I could vacuum  and dust more properly than I normally feel up to. This was followed by cooking two meals worth of food–delicious chicken tacos and a chicken tortilla soup–so I don’t have to cook the next couple of days, with a bottle of Riesling and Game of Thrones as my “reward.”

I have high-ish hopes for this coming week in terms of productivity. After taking a longer-than-intended break from Titus Groan, I’m hoping to get back into that in the further hopes of finishing the trilogy by the end of the year so I’ll be reading to start The Book of the New Sun right off in January, but I’m not making any promises just yet. This is my daughter’s last full week of summer break, so I’ll be getting her ready for high school over the next few days, which will almost certainly take more time and impact my productivity more than I hope it will. One has to be realistic.

It’s the beginning of a new month, so Tor.com has got you covered for this months new releases:

If you’re as unenthused as I am about the new iteration of The Great British Bake-Off on Channel 4, you might be heartened to learn that Mary Berry is getting a cooking show of her own at BBC One.

Just in case you were feeling sad about how inferior the US is to the rest of the world, some dingbats in Norway hilariously mistook empty bus seats for women in burqas.

This piece on the politics of pockets is neat.

Jon Oliver is still being sued by that Bob Murray guy, and the amicus brief just filed in the case is a thing of beauty.

So is this look at our new reality of living in the land of large adult sons.

Beloved and influential editor Judith Jones has passed away.

I won’t be making it to Worldcon in Helsinki this year, but I will be watching the live coverage of the Hugo Awards Ceremony. You know, just in case.

The winners of the 2017 Mythopoeic Awards have been announced.

The shortlist for this year’s Dragon Awards was released, and it is definitely a list of things. Cora Buhlert takes a closer look at it.

Book Riot listed 100 Inclusive YA SFF Books. I haven’t been reading much YA in the last year or so, but there’s some great stuff on here if that’s your jam.

Yoon Ha Lee wrote about gender and sexuality in the Hexarchate setting (in which his novels Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem take place) for Omnivoracious.

At Queership, Ada Palmer wrote about the way she uses gender in her brilliant, ambitious Terra Ignota series: Part 1 | Part 2. Part three should be forthcoming next week.

Book covers are important, and I liked this essay by Anna Solomon about the covers of women’s books in particular.

Skiffy and Fanty reviewed Moonshot Vol. 2, which reminded me that I need to hurry up and make time to read this. I loved the first volume, so it’s pretty unconscionable that it’s taken me so long to get around to reading the second.

Likewise, this Smart Bitches, Trashy Books review of that French Beauty and the Beast movie from a couple years ago reminded me that I love Vincent Cassel and European cinema and am garbage for not watching this yet.

Ta Nehisi Coates broke down some of what’s so fucked up about HBO’s Confederate series that’s currently in development.

Elsa Sjunneson-Henry wrote about building her own goddamn castle.

Jim C. Hines explains, more patiently than I ever could, why we can’t/shouldn’t all just write about whatever we want.

Mari Ness continued her series on fairy tales with a piece about “The Nightingale.”

Nisi Shawl’s Expanded Course in the History of Black History returned with a look at The Spook Who Sat By the Door by Sam Greenlee.

I have been telling pretty much everyone I know about J.Y. Yang’s Tensorate novellas, coming out September 26 from Tor.com, and now you can read excerpts from both of them online:

There’s a new story by Ashok K. Banker at Lightspeed: “Tongue.” With an author spotlight here.

Fireside Fiction published the first part of a new serialized story by Sarah Gailey this week.

Fireside also has released their new #BlackSpecFic Report, which I haven’t gotten all the way through yet, but is every bit as important and informative as last year’s.

Podcastle has new fiction from A. Merc Rustad: “What the Fires Burn.”

The second half of content from Issue Seventeen of Uncanny hit the web. My faves:

 

Game of Thrones Recap/Review: Season 7, Episode 3 “The Queen’s Justice”

After all these years of watching Game of Thrones and its steady slide into the shitter, I increasingly find that my problems with it are less and less to do with its atrocious treatment of women and people of color. Instead, I find myself getting stuck on the sheer nonsensical awfulness of the show’s plot and characters and the obvious contempt with which Game of Thrones’ writers view their audience. Sure, the show has some good production values; there’s nothing else quite like it on television, and we’d all love to believe that it represents a watershed moment in the legitimacy of fantasy fiction in television and film, only the first vanguard in a movement that’s going to spawn well-made adaptations of all our favorite books with dragons on the covers. However, all I can ask at this point is: “At what cost?”

The first couple episodes of season seven managed to be more or less inoffensively bad, but “The Queen’s Justice,” when it’s not rushing headlong into and through what must surely be the silliest war the Seven Kingdoms have ever seen, sees the inevitable return of the show’s obsession with humiliating its women. You know, when it’s not unjustly and/or ridiculously vilifying them, pitting them against each other or portraying them as cold, emasculating shrews towards every man in their lives. Except for Daenerys, who has simply been turned into an emotionless power-hungry fembot. Whee! #WomenOnTop!

Spoilers ahoy!

At Dragonstone

I joked to my partner before the episode started that Jon Snow was definitely going to teleport straight to Dragonstone this week, but I didn’t expect that to be literally the first scene of the episode. It was.

Jon and Davos are met on the beach by Tyrion, who rather bafflingly introduces Missandei to them as Daenerys’s most trusted advisor even though we haven’t seen her exchange more than a handful of words with Daenerys since probably season four. The real head scratcher in this scene, however, is Ser Davos’s attempts to engage in small talk with Missandei. He leads with “Where are you from?” and it’s downhill from there, with Davos finally turning to Jon and telling him that “this place has changed.” It would be easier to be more generous about the meaning of that statement if the camera didn’t spend so much time focusing on the ominously silent Dothraki men who disarmed the northerners and on Missandei herself being the impetus for Davos’s assessment, but one can’t help but hear in that “this place has changed” a discomfort with the new demographics of the place. It can’t be any less civilized than when Stannis and Melisandre were burning people by the dozens on Dragonstone’s beaches, surely. It’s a moment that’s played for humor, but it comes off as Davos being awkwardly racist in a way that’s the opposite of endearing in a character that has been treated so much as one of the few unequivocally decent people in the world of the show.

Predictably, because it’s exactly the sort of contrivance this show relies on almost exclusively to create what passes for drama in Westeros, Jon and Daenerys’s first meeting doesn’t go very well for either of them. Jon refuses to pledge his allegiance to Daenerys or to give up his title as King in the North, even though he stupidly abandoned that position and its associated responsibilities to go on a long and risky journey to meet Daenerys in person, knowing that she would expect him to bend the knee when he arrived. Daenerys, for her part, pouts prettily, delivers a heaping helping of historical exposition, and alternates between insisting that she’s the Rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms™—based entirely on her Targaryen name, though even she admits that her father was an evil man and an unfit ruler—and being blatantly threatening toward Jon. The worst part of all this is that it’s deeply boring; it solves nothing and advances no plot. It could serve as character portraiture, comparing and contrasting the two rulers, but that would require that Jon and Daenerys have more than 0.5 character traits each.

Instead, we’re treated to bogus posturing and what seems intended to be verbal power games before they’re interrupted by Daenerys’s receipt of some bad news.

A later scene at Dragonstone finds both Jon and Tyrion brooding on the cliffs outside the castle, and this is a dull and unnecessarily roundabout way to get to the actual point of Jon’s visit to Dragonstone. Tyrion points out that Jon’s being unreasonable by asking Daenerys to help him in the North when she’s still dealing with Cersei, which, okay? I guess? Jon actually hadn’t asked Daenerys for anything yet, just told her about the Night King and the Army of the Dead. In any case, Jon finally tells Tyrion about the dragonglass under Dragonstone, and Tyrion advises Daenerys to give it to Jon, since she didn’t know or care about it anyway. It might be wise advice, but none of this is at all exciting or even very interesting. The short scene where Daenerys tells Jon that he can have the dragonglass was a great opportunity for letting these two characters—widely considered to be this story’s endgame rulers and a likely couple—forge some kind of deeper connection with each other or even just display an inkling of chemistry, but Daenerys is chilly and condescending while Jon is laconic and distracted. Earlier in the episode, Melisandre explicitly referred to this pair as “ice and fire” (as in A Song of Ice and Fire), but there’s remarkably little of the reaction or spark that one would normally expect between those opposites. Frankly, it’s a relief when their scenes are over.

In King’s Landing

Our first scene in King’s Landing this week is Euron marching Yara, Ellaria and Tyene through the streets of the city to the cheers of the adoring populace. He gifts Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei, who agrees to marry him “when the war is won.” Euron is then is vulgarly insulting to Jaime and demeaning to Cersei, but the more interesting thing about this scene is what it says about the way the show’s writers see the common people.

After being completely disappeared for last season’s final episode, the ordinary people of the city seem none the worse for wear after Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor, killing most of the court and destroying the center of religious life in the realm. Indeed, the jeering crowds that are used to humiliate Ellaria, Tyene and Yara seem much the same as the ones that watched Cersei’s walk of shame back in season five or that mindlessly consumed the beheading of Ned Stark in season one. Though surely most of the nobles and persons of importance in the King’s Landing were killed in the Sept and there were few people at her coronation, Cersei’s throne room is now once again packed with people as Euron arrives with his gift. Common people in Game of Thrones are routinely treated as props for the stories of their ruling class, with the population of King’s Landing (and Meereen and Dragonstone and Castle Black and every other place) periodically waxing and waning as convenient to the point trying to be conveyed by the show, but the point mostly seems to be that the common people are ignorant, brutish and easily led. If there was any doubt about this, Euron’s explicit statement to that effect and the approving tone with which that nihilistic assessment is depicted ought to lay it to rest.

Cersei’s punishment of Ellaria and Tyene is a very on the nose kind of narrative justice, but there’s not much satisfaction in watching the last two Sand women getting their comeuppance when their original offense was so absurd to begin with. None of the Dornish saga dreamed up for the show ever made much sense, and Ellaria’s murder of Myrcella was little more than a cheap way of eliminating a character the show’s writers viewed as a loose end. Similarly, Cersei’s vengeance against Ellaria and Tyene feels more like an administrative task than anything else. It’s not as perfunctorily accomplished as last week’s disposal of Obara and Nym, but it’s just as soulless and emotionally devoid of meaning. Cersei has been so villainized in the narrative that her expressions of grief and pain ring false, Ellaria’s motivation for killing Myrcella was never even remotely sympathetic, and the relationship between Ellaria and Tyene was never developed enough for Cersei’s cruelty to hit home with the audience the way it ought. This show has always had a tendency to tell the audience how they’re supposed to feel rather than showing us a compelling story that earns our investment and care or giving us consistently-written characters that we can naturally feel for, and this is an exemplary scene of how bad things have gotten.

At Winterfell

Sansa is settling well into her new leadership role and seems to be competently overseeing preparations for the long winter and the war to come. Just as she’s getting an absurd lecture from Littlefinger—“fight every battle everywhere…”—her brother Bran arrives home. Though the show has been suggesting that Sansa might be a power-hungry harpy out to steal Winterfell and the North from Jon Snow, she’s immediately overjoyed to see Bran and immediately tells him that he’s the Lord of Winterfell, almost as if she’s not a power-hungry harpy at all. Bran, however, doesn’t want to be Lord of anything because he has to be the Three-Eyed Raven now, and he has a message for Jon Snow. Sansa sensibly asks Bran some questions about what happened to him and what this Three-Eyed Raven stuff means, but Bran just treats her like she’s stupid, doesn’t explain anything (“It’s difficult to explain,” he repeats several times about things that aren’t very difficult to explain at all.), and eventually drives her away from him when he brings up what a pretty night it was when she was getting raped by Ramsay Bolton.

In Oldtown

Although Jorah was only given one night to put his affairs in order before being shipped off to the ruins of Valyria to live out his days with the stone men, he’s managed to have all his greyscale cut off and grown back weeks’ worth of new, pink skin overnight. Archmaester Jim Broadbent is surprised, but he’s fine with just letting Jorah leave right away, pronouncing him cured and sending him off just like that. So Jorah’s off to find his way back to Daenerys, and Sam’s reward is not being immediately expelled from the Citadel. Thrilling.

Casterly Rock and Highgarden

The episode wraps up with some war stuff. Grey Worm and his men make it to Casterly Rock, which they find lightly defended and easy to subdue when they sneak in through the sewers, only to look out from their newly-conquered ramparts and see that Euron Greyjoy and his fleet have teleported there (seriously—King’s Landing is on the opposite side of the continent from Casterly Rock) ahead of them to lay a trap and destroy the ships that brought the Unsullied to the Lannister castle. Meanwhile, Jaime also teleported from King’s Landing to Casterly Rock and has taken the bulk of the Lannister army south to Highgarden, which he captures easily. Jaime’s decision to take Highgarden, whose lands are responsible for feeding much of southern Westeros and whose full coffers are desperately needed to pay off some of the crown’s debts, at least makes some sense. Casterly Rock may be a symbolic victory for Daenerys—or, more likely, for Tyrion—but its strategic value is minimal, and with the loss of their ships the Unsullied are trapped inside the castle with no provisions and only one option if they want to reunite with the rest of their forces: marching, on foot, overland through hostile territory.

Sadly, since one area in which the show has excelled in recent years has been in its battle scenes, the vast majority of the action at both Casterly Rock and Highgarden happens offscreen. Instead of epic battles, we get to listen to Tyrion and Jaime mansplain their plans to Daenerys and Olenna, respectively, which truly diminishes the moments. Of these two conversations, the one between Jaime and Olenna is far more interesting, mostly because once Jaime stops spilling all his plans to her Olenna has some confessions and advice for him—namely that Cersei is going to destroy him. Jaime doesn’t care, however; he loves Cersei, and though the show has hinted for years at the toxicity of the twins’ codependent relationship and at Jaime’s growing discontent with his sister’s ambitions and policies, he is firmly on Team Cersei now, for better or worse apparently. He’s magnanimously vetoed some of Cersei’s more creative ideas on how to deal with the elderly Tyrell matron—he’ll just poison Olenna instead of more brutally murdering an old woman whose entire family was murdered by his sister—which I guess is supposed to make us feel bad for him when Olenna wins their little tête-à-tête after all. Once she’s downed all of Jaime’s poison, Olenna mocks him to his face about Joffrey’s death and tells him to make sure Cersei knows it was Olenna who poisoned their son.

What can I say? Olenna is a problematic fave.

Miscellany:

  • Jon’s reaction when Drogon flies over him was genuinely funny.
  • There’s a short Varys and Melisandre scene tucked into the beginning of the episode that’s well-written enough that it feels out of place in this show. I’m curious about Melisandre’s trip to Volantis, though; is she going for a particular reason, or is this just a convenient way to explain the character’s absence until she shows back up later? Either way, she prophesies that both she and Varys will die in Westeros.
  • Theon is fished out of the sea by one of the few Greyjoy ships to have survived the battle with Euron’s fleet. Judging from the trailer for next week’s episode, it looks like he’ll be doing something involving landing a boat on a beach and rushing up on shore, but it’s hard to say what. If I had to guess, I’d say he’ll be leading some kind of abortive attempt to rescue Yara that will get both Greyjoy siblings killed at last.
  • Cersei has gotten pretty ballsy about openly banging her brother now that she’s Queen. I’m sure this will have no repercussions whatsoever.
  • Why would the Iron Bank of Braavos, one of the Free Cities and founded by escaped slaves (both the city and the bank), have major investments in the slave trade?

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: July 30, 2017

I wish I could say that this has been a week of recharging and plan-making and getting ready to turn over a new leaf, you know, productivity-wise. And it has been. A little bit. I’ve been trying to relax and plan and focus on happy things and stuff, but, honestly, the highlight of my week was finally getting the Nightfallen fox mount in World of Warcraft, and it feels pretty sad for anything about World of Warcraft to be a highlight of a week in 2017. So. You know. I wouldn’t say I’m doing great.

Drunken Game of Thrones watching went well tonight, though. I’ll have a post ready tomorrow once I sober up and put myself through that horror show again.

I didn’t read as much this week as I did last week, though I watched The Incredible Jessica James on Netflix (it was nice) and I just cracked open an ARC of the first of JY Yang’s Tensorate duology and I can already tell I’m going to love it.

HBO announced a new show in production from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Confederate is an alternate history in which the Confederacy didn’t fail and where chattel slavery persists as the law of [some of] the land. It’s obviously going to be a fucking disaster. Roxane Gay perfectly explains why she doesn’t (and we shouldn’t) want to watch slavery fan fiction. And you can chase that with this piece “On ‘Confederate’ and the Limits of White Creativity.”

I have written some here about my love for FIYAH Literary Magazine, and part of that love is for its cover art. FIYAH cover artist Geneva Benton is Kickstarting and art book, and it looks beautiful.

The boy who plays Hot Pie in Game of Thrones has an IRL bakery. It’s adorable.

McSweeney’s literary would-you-rathers just about killed me with laughter.

The Millions reminded me that short books are a thing that is good in the world. I know I read a lot of novellas, but there are enough recs in this piece to make me feel like I definitely ought to branch out a little more, genre-wise.

In actually good TV series development news, AMC has announced that Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is in early production as a series.

Electric Literature looks at some of the history of the rise of dystopian fiction.

This talk with Tor’s Irene Gallo and artist Tommy Arnold about illustrating Fran Wilde’s Bone Universe is excellent.

This year’s World Fantasy Award nominees have been announced.

Read an excerpt from the introduction to Iraq + 100.

I definitely need to live to be at least 132 years old so I can read the Future Library. You know. If there’s still a future in ninety-eight-ish years.

Renay at Lady Business has some books you should add to your TBR.

Book Riot collects 100 Must-Read SFF Short Story Collections.

There’s a new Cassandra Khaw story at Tor.com, “These Deathless Bones.”

I haven’t drawn much in years, but I would love to illustrate this Hexarchate Tarot.

Uncanny Magazine‘s Year Four Kickstarter is live, and it includes a Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue. $25 gets you a subscription. Highly recommend.

Game of Thrones Recap/Review: Season 7, Episode 2 “Stormborn”

After a surprisingly enjoyable season premiere, Game of Thrones is back in form this week with “Stormborn,” an episode full enough of the show’s worst failings to more than make up for its predecessor’s relative inoffensiveness. There are a couple of decent scenes tucked in here, but it’s an overall disaster of deeply silly dialogue, baffling character motivations, ridiculous plot developments, a seemingly complete lack of understanding of (or commitment to) setting on the part of everyone involved in making the show, and a hilariously awful sea battle sequence to top it all off. I was not nearly drunk enough for this shit last night, and watching it entirely sober today did not improve the experience.

**Spoilers ahead, obviously.**

At Dragonstone

The episode opens in classic Game of Thrones fashion with a weather shot that’s so dark and gloomy it’s impossible to tell what’s going on, but that’s okay because the answer to what’s going on at Dragonstone is “not much.” After reintroducing the place last week with a gorgeously melancholy tour of the inexplicably empty greater Dragonstone area, this episode finds Daenerys already itching to get out of there, dully intoning, “I always thought this would be a homecoming. It doesn’t feel like home.” The thing is, it’s not clear what we’re supposed to be feeling here. Dany’s return to Dragonstone was the opposite of triumphant, what with the place being completely abandoned (which makes no sense, but whatevs), but it was quietly impactful and succeeded in communicating something approaching the ambivalence and apprehension Daenerys might feel at returning to the land of her birth. With no dialogue, however, it was easy enough to project onto the sequence a whole lot of feeling that in hindsight was likely not justified. At the very least, anything communicated by last week’s Dragonstone sequence is undercut by Dany’s impatience here.

Much of the Dany/Dragonstone material in “Stormborn” is dedicated to discussing the upcoming war against Cersei and the Lannisters, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense that none of this was planned in advance. While it’s not obvious in the show, Dragonstone isn’t far from King’s Landing, which makes it an unlikely staging place for the type of long and slow war Daenerys is envisioning. As Tyrion explains—because of course he does—they’re going to besiege King’s Landing using Westerosi troops from Highgarden (never mind that Olenna has no legitimate claim there; in a society that practices male primogeniture like Westeros does, the deaths of her son and grandson would have created a succession crisis and opened the lordship up to claims from more distant male relatives and ambitious lords) and Dorne (where Ellaria also has no legitimate claim to leadership) while for some reason sending the Dothraki and Unsullied to the other side of the continent to capture Casterly Rock, a place so irrelevant to the plot and strategically unimportant to anything that it hasn’t managed to be seen on screen even once in six seasons of the show (or on page in five novels). It’s a nonsense plan that will take months (at least!) to enact and completely sacrifice any element of surprise they might have been able to leverage to their advantage, all while Cersei’s new ally Euron has a fleet of a thousand ships basically a stone’s throw away from Dragonstone.

When the Dragonstone crew isn’t laying out one of the worst game plans in history, there’s time for Daenerys to randomly interrogate and chastise Varys for his past actions before coming to her service, for Melisandre to show up to preach the gospel of Jon Snow, and for Olenna and Dany to have some girl bonding time. The Varys conversation starts off well enough, addressing a major issue that’s been glossed over for a full season. Sure, Daenerys ought to have questioned Varys before now about his complicity with her father and Robert Baratheon and his early support of her brother, but better late than never I suppose. It’s too bad it’s ruined by Emilia Clarke’s deadpan delivery of every line, followed up by an equally deadpan threat to burn Varys alive if he ever betrays her. Dany’s interactions with Melisandre and Olenna are marred by a similarly robotic performance, which only works to compound the other problems with these scenes: the inexplicable orgy of Jon Snow love and Olenna’s bizarre lack of self-awareness, respectively. And this is without even commenting on the ways in which Dany’s authority is constantly undermined by Tyrion and the ways in which she increasingly functions as his puppet (even literally repeating Tyrion’s rhetoric at one point).

In the books (I swear I’m trying not to compare!), much of Daenerys’s journey and character growth have to do with internal conflict, but none of that comes across in the show. While some gestures are made that suggest the show’s writers have at least read the source material (like how Dany’s pensive walk through Dragonstone suggested her ambivalent feelings about the place and the concept of “home”), Dany’s dialogue is poorly written, she’s constantly deferring to her male advisors, and she moves and talks like a fucking fembot. This wooden delivery of bad lines is characteristic of other major characters on the show (I’m looking at you, Jon Snow), it’s especially pronounced in Daenerys, and I am increasingly certain that it’s entirely on purpose. Dany’s break-up with Daario last year seems intended to have been a major turning point for the character, and she’s now so completely emotionally shut down that it’s basically impossible to understand what she might be thinking at any given time. I’m pretty sure that this is what Benioff and Weiss think is the ideal of female empowerment: a broken soulless husk of a woman, capable of no emotions except vague magnanimity and ill-justified desire for vengeance. (#FEMINISM, #WOMENONTOP).

Missandei and Grey Worm

If there is a high point of “Stormborn,” it’s the consummation of Missandei and Grey Worm’s relationship when Missandei comes to say goodbye to him before he leaves for Casterly Rock. Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmanuel have a nice chemistry, and their characters’ relationship has been seeded over the last season in a way that few things on this show ever are. By comparison to all the other nonsense that happens in this episode, this scene feels wonderfully organic. It also helps that Missandei’s nudity is shot with a minimal amount of camera leering. While it’s not a flawless scene (What even is Grey Worm’s accent?), it’s a nice payoff on a relationship that many fans of the show have been rooting for.

At Winterfell

We arrive at Winterfell this week at the same time as Tyrion’s message to Jon Snow does, which should be weeks later than the events of last week’s episode but which feels like pretty much the same afternoon. Jon and Sansa have a nice talk about how cool Tyrion is, and Davos points out that Daenerys’s dragons could be useful for dealing with their imminent ice zombie problem, but Jon initially refuses to entertain the idea of actually travelling to Dragonstone. This changes when he receives another message, this time from Sam Tarly, who sends word about the mountain of dragonglass that lays beneath Dragonstone. It’s now imperative that Jon leave ASAP to meet Daenerys himself—because “only a king will convince her” for some reason—even though the other Northern and Vale Lords and Sansa all think this is a terrible idea. In any case, Jon is leaving, and, after giving a speech about how he never wanted to be king in the first place so the other lords only have themselves to blame for Jon’s bad decisions since they practically made him do it, he’s leaving Sansa in charge while he’s gone. But not before roughing up Littlefinger, who follows Jon down to the crypt beneath the castle to try and talk to him about… something? Basically, Littlefinger starts off talking about how much he loved Catelyn Stark, then moves on to needling Jon about how Cat never liked her husband’s bastard child, and then makes a gross creepy remark about Sansa. For a guy who is supposed to be a master manipulator, Littlefinger sure doesn’t seem capable of keeping his foot out of his mouth by not saying exactly the most awful things he can think up at any given moment.

At King’s Landing

Cersei is still Queen in King’s Landing, and she’s called together the remaining loyal-ish lords from the parts of the Seven Kingdoms that are still at least nominally under control of the crown for a sort of white nationalist rally where she threatens them with the specter of Daenerys’s foreign hordes coming to destroy them all. Because the several years of wars that have already wrecked the country under Lannister rule were no big deal, but an army of brown guys is what the people of the Seven Kingdoms should really be afraid of. Jaime is completely recovered from whatever misgivings he might ever have had about his sister being Queen, and he’s game to spout the same white nationalist rhetoric in order to try and convince Randyll Tarly to join the Lannister, well, not cause, but something like that.

This is an exceptionally lazy writing decision that feels calculated to capitalize on real-world current events for ratings without actually being a meaningful commentary on those real-world events. It’s not edgy or insightful, and it doesn’t have any foundation in any of the political or cultural dynamics the show has shown us so far. It’s possible to infer or assume white supremacy from the demographics of Westerosi nobility, but the in-world explanation for the overwhelming whiteness of Westeros is simply that it’s a remarkably homogenous place and the ugliness of sentiment that Cersei and Jaime use here to try and sway the lords to their side reflects a sort of xenophobia and hate that hasn’t been expressed before now in the world of the show. Rather than a part of coherent worldbuilding, the decision to have Cersei and Jaime go full-on white nationalist feels like a cheap shorthand to paint them as definite villains, which is jarring after six seasons of pretending as if this is a show about moral ambiguity and the grayness of these characters. It could be that the writers don’t consider white nationalism to be unambiguously evil, and I don’t think we can rule that out as a possibility, but that doesn’t make any of this any less problematic.

At Oldtown

Last week it looked like Jorah was being kept prisoner at the Citadel in a sort of asylum for those who have greyscale. This week we learn that he’s only kind of a prisoner and there because he was hoping to find some treatment for his well-known incurable and deadly affliction. Archmaester Broadbent examines him nonetheless, but the prognosis isn’t good; Jorah may live another ten or twenty years with the disease, but it’s only a matter of months before he’ll lose his mind. If Jorah was a poor, the Archmaester would ship him off to Valyria right away, but since Jorah is a knight he’s got a whole extra day to get his affairs in order and—**looks meaningfully at sword**—stuff. This is convenient, since Sam recognizes Jorah’s name and decides he must find a way to save him. Sam uses the extra hours to research a potential cure that he is definitely going to try even though the Archmaester says it won’t work, and he shows up to Jorah’s room in the middle of the night to cut away all the greyscale skin and apply a kind of medicated ointment. Considering that a solid quarter of Jorah’s body is covered with the disease and there are no antibiotics in Westeros, this seems like a horrible idea, but it’s mostly just boring. The most notable thing about any of this sequence is that the medical gross-out of Sam cutting away the greyscale transitions into a shot of someone digging into a bowl of food, which is probably the most viscerally disgusting thing this show has ever done. It was truly vile.

Arya

I almost added “Arya runs into Hot Pie again” to my list of Season 7 predictions as a joke, but I thought better of it because I genuinely considered it too absurdly silly to happen and too obvious as a joke to be more than groanworthy.

In this episode, Arya runs into Hot Pie again.

And Hot Pie is better informed about current events in Westeros than literally every other character on the show. Somehow, Arya managed to be in a castle full of scheming Freys and then have dinner with a group of Lannister soldiers and then travel some more towards King’s Landing without even once hearing any news from the North. Okay.

Obviously, Arya turns her horse Northward as soon as she learns that Jon is now the King and ruling from Winterfell. Before she teleports the rest of the way there to find out that Jon is gone and Sansa is in charge, Arya meets her dire wolf, Nymeria, in the woods. After a tense moment of Arya asking Nymeria to come with her, Nymeria doesn’t say anything (because she’s a wolf, natch) and just turns around and goes back into the woods. This was surprisingly effective—like, I legit cried a little and not just because I was two thirds of my way through a bottle of wine—but then Arya says, “That’s not you,” as Nymeria leaves, and it’s a somewhat baffling line until you hear the showrunners’ explanation for it in the supplementary material after the credits roll.

So, back in season one, there’s a scene where Ned Stark is blue-skying for Arya what her life as a great lady might be like, and Arya responds to him, “No. That’s not me.” And this line to Nymeria is supposed to echo that. Because Arya couldn’t be tamed into a lady, an identity that she was ill-suited for at best, and Nymeria isn’t supposed to be a wild wolf, even though she’s literally a wild animal, and Arya knows Nymeria’s true soul or something. It’s a specious justification for the line, which is just different enough from the original to not quite be a recognizable reference without it needing to be explained. In the moment, it’s just baffling and somewhat ruins the poignancy of the moment as one is forced to wrack one’s brains trying to figure out what Arya is even talking about.

At Sea

The beginning of the end of “Stormborn” starts off with the Sand Snakes bickering amongst themselves about who gets to murder which of their various enemies when they get to King’s Landing, which makes me wonder if these women know what a siege is. We then get a scene of Ellaria and Yara drinking together with Theon, which quickly devolves into Ellaria trying to seduce Yara because two bisexual women can’t possibly be in a room together without being overcome by lust. Ellaria is trying to coax Theon into an incestuous threesome when they find themselves under attack. Yara runs out of to the deck of the ship, where we find out that it’s the middle of the night, and everything is completely black so it takes a few moments to figure out that Euron has already caught up with his errant niece and nephew.

What ensues is one of the worst, most poorly lit, deeply silly and extremely boring battle sequences on the show to date. Euron arrives being theatrically crazy. There’s fire falling from the sky and destroying everything, although it never manages to provide enough illumination for a decently-lit shot of the action. Obara and Nym are both killed with their own weapons. Ellaria and Tyene are captured. Euron himself manages to subdue Yara. Theon supposedly has the opportunity to try and save his sister, but he instead drops his weapon and leaps into the ocean in such a perfunctory way that it’s every bit as unintentionally hilarious as Tommen’s suicide last season. The episode ends with Euron’s ship sailing away into the night while Theon watches, floating on a piece of wreckage in the wake of the carnage.

I’m not sure which part of this sequence I hate most, but the random total incompetence of all the female characters is probably the worst thing about it. There’s so much else that’s wrong here, though. How did Euron even find them? It’s possible that he could have caught up with them if he knew where they were, but there’s no way he would have known. Why would Euron wantonly destroy the whole fleet instead of capturing the ships? The Ironborn (and Euron in particular) are basically pirates, and ships are expensive. Plus, the Ironborn tend to follow strength, so it seems likely that many of the ships’ crews would transfer their loyalty to Euron if given half a chance once he’d captured Yara. Or, if Euron has a thousand ships and Cersei has a dragon-killing weapon, why don’t they just head straight to Dragonstone to wipe Daenerys out immediately?

Don’t answer that.

Miscellany:

  • Also lazy: Cersei getting to shoot a huge crossbow. It’s a heavy-handed and far too on the nose callback to Joffrey’s crossbow obsession.
  • Where is Ghost?

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: July 23, 2017

If you’ve been following this blog for very long, you probably know that this year–especially the last couple months—I have struggled to keep up with, well, pretty much everything. A series of life setbacks and a serious bout of depression have caused me to shut down in a way that I’m not proud of, and my work here has definitely suffered. I’m hoping that this past week is the nadir of this shit, though I obviously can’t be certain. I’m feeling better right now, and my daughter is out of town this week so I should have plenty of time to try and rebuild some kind of routine, which will, ideally, stick long enough to snap me out of the funk I’ve been in.

That said, expect some changes here at SF Bluestocking. Something I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to do (and that has been pretty much nothing but a source of guilt and shame for some time now) has been to write a lengthy review of everything I read. Inevitably, I end up with a backlog of stuff that I don’t have that much to say about but that I nonetheless feel awful for not writing anything about. From now on, long book reviews here will appear strictly as inspiration strikes. However, I will be replacing them with weekly (at least) posts with short takes on what I’ve been reading and what I’m excited about. I also expect to start doing more news posts. Soon, I hope to have posts on each week’s notable new book releases, movie trailers, new show buzz, and so on.

Mostly, though, I’m planning to focus more on things like the Gormenghast project. That kind of literary criticism and analysis is what I enjoy doing most, and trying to do too many other things has only hurt my productivity in that area. I’ll still be writing about Game of Thrones and about whatever books and movies and so on strike my fancy, but I will be focusing more, from here on out, on revisiting more classic and influential works. I’m also planning to spend more time writing more general essays on topics related to SFF, and I’m looking to get back into writing fiction, though that likely won’t appear here on the blog. In general, you can expect a somewhat less regimented but theoretically much more productive SF Bluestocking going forward. I think these are going to be good changes for me and for the blog, and I hope to be able to roll out even more changes later in (or at least before the end of) the year.

My favorite new release this week was Cassandra Khaw’s Book Smugglers novella, Bearly a Lady. It’s a delightfully sharp and funny bit of paranormal romance, and I highly recommend just buying it outright, but if you aren’t convinced you can read about Khaw’s Big Idea at Whatever and learn more about her inspirations and influences at the Book Smugglers.

Ken Liu joined Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard in a new episode of Cooking the Books.

I don’t know if you know this yet, but I love Ada Palmer, so I was thrilled to see this interview with her in the Sandusky Register.

The Prey of Gods author Nicky Drayden was interviewed at Read to Write Stories.

Kay Kenyon wrote about her Favorite Bit of At the Table of Wolves.

Alison Tam wrote about the queer utopia she’d like to live in over at Queership.

The Millions asked if historical fiction can be feminist.

The Manchester Review collected 21 stories of African speculative fiction that are free to read online.

Sarah Gailey’s is the only explanation of the 13th Doctor casting that anyone should need.

You want to read Mari Ness’s “The Witch in the Tower.”

I’m pretty excited about Atomic Blonde, but I CAN NOT WAIT to watch it as a double feature someday with Proud Mary:

I don’t know how historically accurate this is going to be, but I am moderately interested in Professor Marston & the Wonder Women:

I love Guillermo de Toro, and The Shape of Water looks gorgeous:

I haven’t been paying a TON of attention yet to the stuff being shown at SDCC, but I did watch the new Star Trek: Discovery trailer. I have a lot of questions about it, and I’m pretty apprehensive about just how much it doesn’t feel like Star Trek and instead feels like it’s influenced by more “prestige” programming, and not necessarily in a good way. Still, I’m cautiously optimistic about it.

 

Game of Thrones Recap/Review: Season 7, Episode 1 “Dragonstone”

After the total shitshow that was season six (and seasons four and five) of Game of Thrones, my expectations heading into last night’s premiere were low. I ended up being pleasantly (-ish) surprised. There are some Game of Thrones storylines that are well beyond salvaging at this point, and I’ll get to those soon enough, but there’s also some decent writing in “Dragonstone.” If some of the episode’s more emotional moments only work in isolation, divorced from the context of the previous several seasons, I’m feeling magnanimous enough halfway through this garbage year to be forgiving of some of the show’s sins in the interest of being able to enjoy it with a bottle of wine each week.

**Spoilers ahead, natch.**

Arya Stark

It seems like it’s been a while since Game of Thrones used a cold open, but they did for this season. We begin the episode with what appears to be Walder Frey addressing a room full of his nearest and dearest male relatives and quickly turns into, well, whatever a bloodbath is when it’s done with poison. Because—surprise!—that’s not Walder Frey! It’s Arya in disguise, which anyone who watched even just the last episode of season six will guess by the time Walder’s face appears on screen, so I’m not entirely certain who is supposed to be surprised by any of what happens in this scene.

David Bradley, in one last turn as the Frey patriarch, looks like he’s having the time of his life playing Arya-as-Walder, and his dialogue is clever enough, but it relies too heavily on uninspired wordplay (“Leave one wolf alive…”) and overused catchphrases (“The North remembers,” “Winter came…”). Visually, the whole thing recalls the Red Wedding, but this was already true of Arya’s original murder of Lord Walder last year. It’s a scene that feels mostly redundant, covering thematic and visual ground that the show tread in literally the last episode, but it’s nevertheless an entertaining scene to watch, with an overall feel to it that suggests something designed by committee to be crowd-pleasing for exactly the crowd of people who are still watching this terrible show.

Similarly, Arya’s second scene, later in the hour, feels calculated to achieve broad appeal, down to its Ed Sheeran cameo as a singing Lannister soldier, one of a group of men that Arya meets in order to learn a lesson about remembering the humanity of her enemies or something. On the one hand, such a lesson would be consistent with the themes of the episode’s Jon and Sansa material. On the other hand, it’s so totally at odds with the celebratory tone of the Frey massacre scene that it’s hard to imagine that any such lesson is what is intended. That said, it’s pretty par for the course on this show to frame a hate- and vengeance-fueled mass murder as a girl power moment and then undercut it within half an hour.

Bran Stark

Directly after the opening credits, we get an update on the Night King and the army of the dead that’s marching south to the Wall and the Seven Kingdoms. After lasting a good twenty seconds too long (not helped by the trouble my television had processing all the mist and snow effects), this turns out to be another vision of Bran’s. He and Meera (who is much the worse for wear) have finally made it to the Wall, where they’re met by a suspicious Dolorous Edd who questions whether they’re Wildlings—I’m not sure why this matters since the Wildlings are allies of the Night’s Watch now—and then is bizarrely easily convinced of Bran’s identity after Bran tells Edd’s fortune—even though Bran Stark has been presumed dead for all this while and there’s no reason for Edd to know that Bran now has psychic powers. It’s a strange, short scene that seems intended to be tense but lacks any legitimate source of the intended tension, so it feels more like a perfunctorily executed update scene about characters who almost certainly will have little of import to do until later in the season.

At Winterfell

Jon is settling into his new role as King in the North, and he’s full of ideas and commands and sweeping social reforms. First on his checklist is to find a way to get more dragonglass for making weapons to fight the White Walkers that he sees as the most immediate concern faced by the people of the North. He asks Tormund and the Wildlings to garrison the castles along the Wall, starting with Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Because Jon is Super Feminist™, he also wants to ensure that all the Northfolk are being trained to fight and defend themselves, and he’s backed up by Lyanna Mormont, whose only discernable personality traits are supporting Jon Snow and sternly talking down to men old enough to be her grandfather.

Last, Jon must figure out what to do about the castles and lands left leaderless after the deaths of the lords who sided with the Boltons last season, and he apparently forgot to prepare that part of his presentation. When he hesitates over how to handle the situation, Sansa suggests that the Umber and Karstark holdings be given as rewards to some of the lords who remained true to the Starks, which elicits cheers from the room. Jon’s not Super Feminist™ enough to defer to his sister, however, and he doesn’t believe in punishing children for the sins of their fathers, so he makes actual children Alys Karstark and Ned Umber publicly declare their allegiance to House Stark. This would be fine if Jon had just decisively done this to begin with, but his uncertainty left room for suggestions, which Sansa gave.

It also makes no sense that the Northern and Vale lords would so quickly shift from supporting Sansa’s idea to unquestioningly supporting Jon’s decision, and this, combined with Jon’s dressing down of his sister afterwards, ends up feeling like a contrived public humiliation for Sansa. She spoke up—and perhaps it was the wrong timing on her part, but Jon hadn’t consulted her prior to his meeting and didn’t seem to know what he was doing during the meeting—only to be immediately shut down by Jon and then inexplicably ignored by a roomful of people who agreed with her moments before. To add insult to injury, the writers have put an additional obsequious speech in her mouth where—after just having publicly disagreed with Jon about a major policy matter, largely in an attempt to cover for Jon’s own ineptitude—Sansa praises Jon’s leadership abilities.

It’s weird, and it’s an obvious ploy to humiliate Sansa to the show’s audience as well, only topped by Jon going on to accuse Sansa of admiring Cersei about a minute later. The seeds of a real conflict between Jon and Sansa are already growing, which is about what I expected coming into the season, but I’m somewhat surprised at how decisively the audience is being led to take Jon’s side, especially when he’s so clearly in the wrong. Jon isn’t a confident leader, and he seems out of his depth already, but he’s also baldly sexist in his refusal to even consider taking advice from Sansa, scoffing at the idea straight to her face. So Super Feminist™ of him.

Fortunately, this is all the Jon we see this week, though we return to Winterfell later in the episode for brief updates with Brienne, Tormund, Podrick, Sansa and Littlefinger. Brienne is “training” Podrick, mostly, it seems, by brutally hitting him, but she’s distracted by Tormund leering at her. Sansa is watching this when Littlefinger comes over to try and conspire with her, but Sansa shuts him down relatively quickly. Still, Sansa defends Littlefinger’s presence to Brienne a moment later, citing the man’s usefulness and their indebtedness to him after his support helped win back Winterfell. Okay.

At King’s Landing

Cersei and Jaime have a boring talk while walking all over an unfinished painting of Westeros. It’s a rather on the nose bit of symbolism, and the conversation isn’t particularly illuminating. They are sort of talking strategy, but things are looking pretty bleak for the Lannisters. They have enemies on all sides (described by Cersei in colorfully misogynistic terms), and the arrival of winter doesn’t improve things for their military forces, who depend on other parts of the Seven Kingdoms for supplies, which will presumably not be forthcoming now that Cersei has destabilized the whole country by killing most of its leaders and pissing off the rest. The biggest piece of information to come out of this whole talk is that Cersei has no idea what a “dynasty” is.

What Cersei does have, however, is a new ally: Euron Greyjoy, who slouches into the throne room looking like a refugee from circa 2000 Hot Topic. He’s brought a thousand ships—which is a lot (the Spanish Armada, for example, was only 130 ships in 1588)—and a proposal for Cersei. Even though the Lannisters surely need Euron and his impossibly enormous fleet of ships far more than he needs them, Cersei refuses the proposal until Euron has proven his loyalty. He promises to leave and return to her with a gift; I’m guessing the gift will be people, likely Tyrion or the Sand Snakes if Euron can catch them.

In Oldtown

Though Sam was sent to Oldtown to train to replace Maester Aemon at Castle Black, it’s not clear what his training consists of other than a sort of humiliating and profoundly dull general-purpose drudgery. There’s a whole sequence of what is obviously some time passing with Sam spending his days cleaning chamber pots, serving food and shelving books. Some time is spent with the Archmaester, played by Jim Broadbent, who gives Sam a fatalistic speech about how they at the Citadel are the world’s memory and that the world isn’t going to end because of the White Walkers. In the end, Sam decides to steal a key to the restricted area of the library so he can study up on the White Walkers and dragonglass. He stays up late one night to go through the books he’s stolen, and he helpfully finds a very simple map that indicates a whole mountain of dragonglass underneath Dragonstone. Thank goodness. We wouldn’t want finding this information to be genuinely challenging or suspenseful or anything.

In the Riverlands

In the best-written segment of the episode (and it’s genuinely excellent), Sandor Clegane and the Brotherhood Without Banners are traveling north through the Riverlands when they stop at the night at the home of the man and child Clegane robbed a couple seasons ago. Sandor tries to urge them on, to go past the house, which is obviously now abandoned—no livestock, no smoke from the chimney—but it’s getting dark and the other men want shelter. While I don’t think we’ll be seeing a true redemption arc for Sandor Clegane, we are seeing him having real, compelling and sustainable character growth. His attempts to externalize his guilt and shame by insulting and arguing with Beric and Thoros are unsuccessful, and instead Clegane ends up having a bona fide religious experience when he finally agrees to look into the flames in the hearth and sees a vision of the army of the dead heading towards Eastwatch. This makes me doubly certain that we won’t be seeing any Cleganebowl this season, and it certainly raises the odds of this group dying tragically in the upcoming war against ice zombies.

Sandor burying the man and child whose deaths he’s somewhat responsible for was nicely done. While I’m still by no means a great fan of the Hound, I like that he did this small act of kindness. It also feels notable that the moment wasn’t ruined by the writers’ cynical streak. Sandor’s eulogy for the man and girl—“I’m sorry you’re dead; you deserved better”—is simple and heartfelt, and Thoros’s helping Sandor finish isn’t played for laughs or marred by any argument between the two men. It’s a sad, quiet moment that’s allowed to just exist in the show as a short bit of earnest and powerful thematic commentary in a show that is otherwise devoid of any sincere meaning.

Daenerys

Daenerys and company have arrived at Dragonstone, where we get a lengthy sequence of Daenerys discovering and exploring her birthplace in silence as her entourage hangs back respectfully. It’s almost too much, to be honest, and the whole thing goes on just shy of too long before Daenerys arrives in the map room, lovingly caresses the length of the table best known as the place where Stannis banged Melisandre that one time, and then turns to her advisors to say, “Shall we begin?” as if they haven’t started their invasion already. I liked this sequence in spite of myself. It’s almost silly in its self-importance, but Dragonstone is stunning and we get to see Daenerys’s dragons wheeling overhead looking as beautiful and impressive as they ever have. As ridiculous a line as “Shall we begin?” is, it’s also full of promise, and I enjoyed this episode enough that I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. After a somewhat slow start to the season, hopefully the pace will pick up next week.

Miscellany:

  • Why is Arbor Gold a red wine?
  • Why is Alys Karstark a redhead? I’m sure it’s because they’re supposed to be Stark cousins, but Sansa got her hair from her Southron mother; it’s not just a trait that all Stark relations have.
  • Arya is going to try and kill Cersei, exactly as I predicted.
  • Jorah is in a cell at the Citadel, and his greyscale has progressed. He’s still obsessed with Daenerys, though.
  • How is Dragonstone so completely empty, though? Stannis didn’t literally take every man, woman and child with him when he went, right? The big, empty space makes for a neat image, sure, but there’s no way everyone would be gone like this.
  • I am actually slightly alarmed by how many of my predictions for the season are already coming true.

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