Posts Tagged ‘medieval’

Book Review – George R. R. Martin’s “A Dance with Dragons”

Today I finally finished reading A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in George R. R. Martin‘s widely acclaimed series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Although this is the fifth book (and so far the final one published) in the series, about the first 75% of it coincides with the events in the fourth book, A Feast for Crows.  The original version of A Feast for Crows was going to be too long to publish, so the book was split in half with each book focusing on some characters.

While A Feast for Crows focused on events in King’s Landing, central Westeros, the Iron Islands, Dorne and across the Narrow Sea in Braavos, A Dance with Dragons focuses on pretty much everywhere else from the Wall and northern Westeros to the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay.

George R. R. Martin - A Dance with Dragons

George R. R. Martin – A Dance with Dragons

SEVEN KINGDOMS – THE FAR NORTH:

Bran Stark has continued his quest north to find the “Three-eyed Crow,” a mystical creature that he has been seeing in his dreams.  He’s joined by Hodor as well as Jojen and Meera Reed.  As the gang continues north they find it more and more difficult to find food, and soon they begin to starve.

When they take shelter in a secret cave they meet the last surviving Children of the Forest, the original inhabitants of Westeros.  The people take Bran to meet the “Three-eyed Crow,” a person that the Children of the Forest refer to as the “Last Greenseer.”  This “Last Greenseer: is really a former member of the Night’s Watch.  After he abandoned his post at the Wall, the “Last Greenseer” chose to sit on an underground weirwood throne.  He’s been sitting on the throne for so long that the roots have fused into his body, establishing that final connection between himself and nature.

The “Last Greenseer” tells Bran that he has been the person appearing in his dreams as the “Three-eyed Crow,” and he intended to lead Bran there so that he could teach him in greensight, an advanced level of his psychic ability.  It turns out that the sacred weirwood trees really are the eyes and ears of the Old Gods, and they are capable of seeing and hearing everything around them.  The trees are able to record those sights and sounds in their memories for centuries.  A greenseer is not only able to access these weirwood trees and view their history, but that person is also capable of communicating through the trees. Read more…

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 13, 2014 at 10:39 pm

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Movie Review – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

In 1959, Walt Disney Productions released Sleeping Beauty, the company’s sixteenth animated film.

Based on a French fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty tells the story of a young princess who is cursed by an evil sorceress.  If the princess pricks her finger on a spinning wheel before her sixteenth birthday, then she’ll die.  Fortunately for the princess, a good fairly is able to alter the evil spell and change it so that instead of death, the princess will simply fall asleep.  All she needs to do to wake is to receive a kiss by her true love.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) - movie poster

Sleeping Beauty (1959) – movie poster

Sleeping Beauty would mark the end of a series of Disney animated films based on fairy tales.  Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and most of the 80s, the Disney animated films focused on other sources for stories.  Disney would not return to making animated films out of fairy tales until the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) - (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Sleeping Beauty (1959) – (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty begins with the opening of the fairy tale book, Sleeping Beauty.  The narrator (voiced by Marvin Miller) begins reading from the story and we learn about King Stefan (voiced by Taylor Holmes) and Queen Leah (voiced by Verna Felton), and how they finally received the gift of the birth of a child.  They name their little princess Aurora (Latin for “dawn”).  In honor of the birth of their daughter, the king and queen declare a holiday so that everybody in the kingdom can pay respect to the princess.

The illustrations in the book transition into the animated film.

One of the honored guests is King Hubert (voiced by Bill Thompson) and his young son, Prince Phillip (voiced by Bill Shirley).  It’s announced that day that Prince Phillip will be betrothed to Princess Aurora, and the kingdoms of Stefan and Hubert will finally be united. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

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Book Review – George R. R. Martin’s “A Feast for Crows”

Last night I finished reading A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire series written by George R. R. Martin.

The events in this story immediately follow the action from A Storm of Swords, the third book in the epic series.

What makes A Feast for Crows different is that the book primarily focuses on only a few of the main characters.  Apparently this book was going to be so long that it was going to be split into two parts.  Instead of splitting it, George R. R. Martin decided to have this book primarily focus on Westeros and the next book, A Dance with Dragons, focus on the Wall and the events across the Narrow Sea.  Most of the events in both books take place during the same time frame.

George R. R. Martin - A Feast for Crows

By this point in the story the War of the Five Kings is basically finished.  While much of Westeros is still dangerous from roving bands of outlaws and a few renegade soldiers, much of the fighting between the armies has finished.  Stannis Baratheon is with his army at the Wall, Jon Snow has been made the Lord Commander at the Wall, and King Tommen Baratheon now has the Iron Throne.  Since the eight-year-old king is so young, his mother, Cersei Lannister, supervises him and rules as the Queen Regent.

Tyrion Lannister was blamed and put on trial for the death of King Joffrey.  Tyrion chose a trial by combat in which his champion, Oberyn Martell of the House Martell in the kingdom of Dorne, had to fight against Ser Gregor Clegane.  Oberyn lost the fight but was able to poison Gregor.  Jaime Lannister arrived in King’s Landing and secretly freed Tyrion from his dungeon cell with the help of Varys.  Before fleeing the city, Tyrion uses the secret passages to find his father, Tywin Lannister, and brutally kills him.

That brings us to the next book, A Feast for Crows.  As it was previously mentioned, this book mainly focuses on Westeros including King’s Landing, Riverlands, the Eyrie, the Iron Islands, and the southern region known as Dorne.  The book briefly includes Arya Stark’s time across the Narrow Sea in Braavos.

SEVEN KINGDOMS – KING’S LANDING:

After the death of Tywin Lannister, Cersei now has complete control of King’s Landing and much of Westeros.  She’s the Queen Regent as her son, King Tommen, is too young to rule the kingdom.  It’s solely her’s to control. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - March 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm

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Book Review – George R. R. Martin’s “A Storm of Swords”

Today we’re taking a look at A Storm of Swords, the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire series written by George R. R. Martin.

A Storm of Swords correlates to seasons three and four of the HBO series A Game of Thrones.

This third installment immediately follows the action told in the previous book, A Clash of Kings.

As we remember in A Clash of Kings, the kingdom of Westeros had erupted into a civil war since the death of King Robert Baratheon in A Game of ThronesPrince Joffrey assumed the Iron Throne and declared himself king whereas Lord Stannis Baratheon and Lord Renly Baratheon each saw themselves as the rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms as Joffrey was really Robert’s illegitimate son.  He’s not an heir to the throne.

Renly and Stannis prepared to fight each other, but just prior to the battle an assassin killed Renly.  Most of Renly’s army then defected to Stannis.  Stannis Baratheon lead his army against the Lannisters at King’s Landing, but they were ultimately defeated thanks to the efforts of Tyrion Lannister.  While this was taking place, Robb Stark, the King of the North, continued to battle the Lannisters and win engagements, proving to be a formidable opponent despite his youth.

George R. R. Martin - A Storm of Swords

Onward to book number three, A Storm of Swords.

Like the previous books, the action in A Storm of Swords primarily takes place in three areas:  The Wall, Westeros, and the East. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - March 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

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Book Review – George R. R. Martin’s “A Clash of Kings”

Today I finished reading A Clash of Kings, the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire series written by George R. R. Martin.

A Clash of Kings correlates to season two of the HBO series A Game of Thrones.

This second installment immediately follows the action told in the previous book, A Game of Thrones.

As we remember in A Game of Thrones, after King Robert Baratheon died from the hunting accident, Prince Joffrey claimed the Iron Throne for himself.  The only problem was that Joffrey was not Robert’s legitimate heir.  Joffrey and the rest of the Lannisters have no right to the Iron Throne and ruling of Westeros.

George R. R. Martin - A Clash of Kings

This move would spark a civil war in Westeros as Robert’s two brothers, Renly Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon, both want the Iron Throne.  Stannis is the rightful heir as he’s the older of the surviving brothers, but Renly has a larger army and thinks that the people respect him as the better leader.  Both Renly and Stannis use the title of king.

Meanwhile, Robb Stark raised an army to fight against the Lannisters and avenge the death of his father, Ned Stark.  Ned was ruled to be a traitor and King Joffrey ordered him to be executed.  His head was mounted on a spike in King’s Landing.  After Robb proved to be a successful military leader, he was hailed as the King of the North.

Introduced in A Clash of Kings is King Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, a group of islands off the western coast of Westeros.  King Greyjoy decides to make things interesting by launching his own attack against the northern areas of Westeros.

It’s a state of constant warfare and treachery, a time when neighbors turn against neighbors as the five kings (Joffrey, Renly, Stennis, Robb and Balon) go to war.  Some fight for vengeance, others for control of the Seven Kingdoms.

For this book review we’ll take a look at each of the main areas including the Seven Kingdoms, the Wall, and in the East.

SEVEN KINGDOMS:

A Clash of Kings begins with Lord Stannis Baratheon learning of his younger brother, Lord Renly Baratheon, raising an army and heading to King’s Landing to seize the Iron Throne for himself.  Stannis had been living on the island of Dragonstone after his brother, Robert, won the Iron Throne years ago.  In Dargonstone, one of Stannis’s key advisors is Melisandre of Asshai, a red priestess who follows the Lord of Light. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm

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Book Review – George R. R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones”

Today I finished reading A Game of Thrones, the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire series written by George R. R. Martin.

This entire book correlates to season one of the HBO series A Game of Thrones.

First published back in 1996, A Game of Thrones is an epic story that takes place in a medieval and fantasy setting.  Most of this story takes place on the continent WESTEROS in a land called the SEVEN KINGDOMS.  Westeros is an island continent with a wide variety of terrain from mountains to forests to plains to marshlands and rivers.  Seasons on Westeros can last for decades at a time.  A Game of Thrones takes place near the ending of a summer period that has lasted for about ten years.  The people are fearing that the upcoming winter will last even longer.

Near the northern tip of Westeros is the WALL, an ancient structure 700 feet tall and 300 miles long.  The region north of the Wall is mostly uncharted.  Rumors say that mystical beings live in the uncharted areas, though none of them have been sighted for thousands of years.

The Seven Kingdoms is actually divided into nine regions, with each region being controlled by a ruling family.  The central seat of power is the Iron Throne in King’s Landing where the king himself rules over all.

George R. R. Martin - A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones tells a story told simultaneously from three locations:  the Seven Kingdoms, the Wall, and Pentos, a region across the sea in part of the Free Cities.  Each chapter is told through the eyes of one of the main characters.

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS:

In the northern realm of the Seven Kingdoms is where you’ll find the castle town of Winterfell and the Stark family.  Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark rules his lands honestly and fairly.  Assisting him are his wife Catelyn, their sons Robb (sixteen years old and heir to Winterfell), Brandon (seven years old, goes by Bran), and Rickon (three years old), and their daughters Sansa (eleven years old) and Arya (nine years old).  Also part of the Stark family is Jon Snow, Ned’s fourteen-year-old bastard son.  Most of the story focuses on the Stark family and their ordeals in the Seven Kingdom.

The story begins with Winterfell men locating a deserter from the Wall.  When you go to the Wall and take an oath to become part of the Night’s Watch, it’s a job for life.  The men serving there will never be allowed to marry or raise children.  There is no going back home.  You serve at the Wall until your death.  Deserting the Wall and being captured later results in an execution.  In this case the deserter is terrified after seeing something at the Wall, and it spooked him enough to risk his own death.

Ned goes to the captured Night Watch soldier and brings along Bran and Jon Snow to observe.  Ned has to execute the man in accordance to the law.  Unlike other lords, Ned feels that whomever gives the order for execution should carry out the task himself.  Ned takes his sword and decapitates the soldier. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - January 15, 2014 at 11:10 pm

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Movie Review – Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

What do you get when you combine a classic fairy tale with a setting reminiscent of something out of The Lord of the Rings?

The answer is Snow White and the Huntsman, the latest addition to a growing list of 2012′s better movies.

Snow White and the Huntsman takes the classic Grimms’ fairy tale and takes it up a few notches.  This is definitely not the joyous and kid-friendly animated version made by Disney back in 1937.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) - movie poster

Snow White and the Huntsman begins with the queen pricking her finger on a thorny rose bush.  Three drops of blood fall upon the pure white snow as she wishes for a daughter.  The king and queen have a beautiful daughter as they wished, but about seven or eight years later the queen dies.

After the death of his wife and still stricken with grief, the king leads his knights against an evil army out in the woods.  But as we see, the army is more fantasy than reality.  The king notices a beautiful woman named Ravenna (played by Charlize Theorn) being kept prisoner and he frees her.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) - Innocence is deceiving.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) – (c) Universal Pictures

The king falls for Ravenna and it doesn’t take long for him to marry her.  As Ravenna notices in the wedding ceremony, the eyes of the people aren’t on her but rather the young Snow White standing behind her.  The night of the wedding, Queen Ravenna tells the king that he’s no different than every other man, using a beautiful woman like her before essentially tossing her aside.  Before he can respond, Ravenna kills him with a large dagger. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

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