When Game of Thrones Leaves The Nest

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

 

A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) by George R.R. Martin has been around now for over 20 years, and the HBO show adaptation, Game of Thrones, has just completed its sixth season. Both the book series and the show are incredibly popular with a huge, devoted fanbase. As a result, the official forum as well as sites like Reddit have ridiculously active discussions filled with fans who have massive amounts of information about the ASOIAF universe and people who have very strong feelings about them. My participation in such communities has taught me many things, the primary of which is that the fans who utilize these sites tend to be extremely critical of the HBO adaptation.

My pop psychology analysis of this widespread criticism leads me to believe that a lot of negativity comes from fan frustration concerning how long it has taken Martin to write the much anticipated sixth novel of the ASOAIF series, The Winds of Winter. As the years stretch on between the release of A Dance with Dragons and its sequel, everyone waiting for it wants it more and more desperately, and finds themselves increasingly frustrated with the fact that the only new ASOIAF material being released is the television show. I can’t tell you how many people have outright said the only reason they watch the show is because they need something to fill their time while they wait for the books, and while I think this amounts to a very small percentage of show viewers, it seems to be a large percentage of vocal internet critics. Understandably, the thing you turn to for distraction while you wait for the thing you actually want is never really going to meet your needs, so you probably don’t feel overwhelmingly good about it.

Although this post does not discuss specific events, it will be most interesting to people familiar with both the book and TV series, and links may contain spoilers. You have been warned.

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Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

Game of Thrones has now concluded its sixth season in what can only be described as ‘epic’ fashion. And while I would love nothing more than to write a small dissertation on every single scene from the season finale “The Winds of Winter”, I want to, instead, focus upon one specific moment.

Spoiler-warning

CAVEAT EMPTOR: The following post will contain spoilers for specific incidents in HBO’s series, Game of Thrones, from Seasons 5-6. You have been warned.

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The Wardrobe Metamorphosis of Sansa Stark

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Sara Bachouros
Web Content Contributor

 

It’s no understatement to say that the costuming of Game of Thrones is brilliant. (Thank you, Michelle Clapton and April Ferry!) The designs have always been chosen with the storylines and personalities of each character fully in mind, and the careful details add a layer of depth to the show that isn’t always noticeable in a first viewing. In the latest season, the most exciting costume thus far has been, without a doubt, Sansa’s direwolf-embroidered dress. However, this is far from the first time that Sansa has undergone an image change. In this post, let’s take a journey back in time and revisit the wardrobe transformations of Sansa “I made it myself” Stark and all the personal growth that she’s experienced along the way.

Spoiler-warning

SPOILER WARNING: Due to the nature of this discussion, the following post may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones through Season 6. You have been warned.

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Unearthing the History of Westeros

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

The study of archaeology in constructed worlds has been an interest of mine for some years now, reflecting my real-life interest in piecing together history from artifacts, excavations, written records, and organic fragments. Several years ago, I developed an interest in the archaeology of World of Warcraft and the Elder Scrolls world (Tamriel), prompting further interest in exploring the archaeology of fantasy worlds.

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Dat White Savior Complex

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

I have to admit I’m not always great at identifying the social or cultural issues that exist in the world of Game of Thrones. While I can certainly be sensitive to certain things (like what I consider an absurd amount of unnecessary boobs on the TV show), a lot of the subtle stuff flies by me because I love to immerse myself in the world of the show and not think too hard about it. Generally. There are always exceptions.

But when I was watching Season 6, episode 6 (“Blood of my Blood”), I had a moment where I thought, “Oh my, this is a major white savior complex thing going on here.” That’s why I think it was probably absurdly obvious, because in a really cool and epic moment on the show, all I could think about was how we white people have such an issue figuring out how to do good, culturally sensitive narratives.

And I know, I know, nobody wants me to rain on their parade and make Game of Thrones sound any less awesome than it is, so I’d like to take a moment to say that I love the heck out of the show. I’m very obsessed, and I enjoyed the episode. It is possible to both enjoy something and recognize its issues. But if you don’t like hearing about social issues and Game of Thrones, this is probably not the post for you.

Additionally if you are not caught up on the show and you don’t want spoilers, this is not the post for you. Many spoilers (up until “Blood of my Blood”) appear in this post. You have been warned.

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A Song of Sons and Fathers

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | Email

 

Happy Father’s Day! I’m going to celebrate by writing a post about some of the dads, both great and terrible, in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin. This series inspired the show Game of Thrones, so I will be using some material from the show as well as the books. I’ll also be assigning them mugs, because that’s what you do on Father’s Day. Right?

 

FATHER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Ned Stark

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Father’s Day gift: “World’s Greatest Dad” mug (can we change World to Westeros?)

Oh, Ned. He had a whole pile of kids, including one who (depending on your fan theories) wasn’t his own, or at the bare minimum wasn’t his wife’s. He instilled a serious sense of honor on his kids: “he who passes the sentence should swing the sword,” as well as some old-time religion. A true family man, Ned believed that “when the cold wind blows, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives” and treated his whole pack well. You deserve this mug, Ned.

 

OKAY DAD: Mace Tyrell

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Father’s Day gift: “World’s Okayest Dad” mug

Mace didn’t do an excellent job, but he didn’t do a terrible one either. He managed to get Willas, his heir, maimed for life in a tournament, but Willas still grew into a smart and caring adult. Mace’s other children include Garlan, Margarey, and Loras. Garlan is a well-known knight who earns many titles and honors,  and Loras joins the Kingsguard as an accomplished knight of just 17. And sure, Margarey ends up married to a few different kings, one of whom was in love with Loras, but isn’t it good for a dad to support his kid’s ambitions? All in all, Mace runs a decent home, makes enough money that the crown itself is indebted to him, and sets up all his kids with titles or jobs that will provide for them for however long or short they will live. Not too bad, Mace. Not too bad.

 

BAD DAD: Tywin Lannister

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Father’s Day gift: (From Tyrion) “World’s Greatest Farter- I mean Father” mug. Because it would infuriate him.

Look, Tywin did something wrong. He managed to produce a handsome knight and a beautiful lady… but then completely ignore the fact that they fell in love with each other. Tywin also managed to ignore the fact that Cersei would do anything to earn his respect, and dismiss her as simply arranged-marriage fodder. Don’t even get me started on how badly he treated Tyrion, continually giving him (literal) shitty jobs, and messing with his own son’s lovers. This guy deserves a terrible mug he’s never gonna use, and it would be fun to see his angry (yet probably controlled because Tyrion would make sure to give the gift with plenty of witnesses) reaction to it.

 

BAD DAD: Roose Bolton

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Father’s Day gift: a mug full of leeches. Which he might actually appreciate.

Okay, so the first thing Roose did wrong was his method of becoming a dad. He raped some other guy’s wife because she was pretty, and Ramsay was the result. When baby-mama complained that the kid was rowdy, Roose sent over an extremely smelly servant to help out. Thanks, pops. Roose made a few other attempts at becoming a father, he’s been married three times by this point, but the offspring never make it to adulthood. Could be all the leeching… or could be the murderous bastard son, donno! Roose has some decent leadership and battlefield skills, but he sure could have used a parenting class.

*Nota bene: All links to books available for purchase through Amazon are affiliate links, which means Backroom Whispering Productions receive a small percentage of the sales made through that link.

From Doormat to Dominance

 

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

One of the coolest things (in my humble opinion) about long-running book series or TV shows is the potential for character growth that they allow. When you’re with people over the course of several books or several seasons of television anything can happen to them and there are myriad opportunities for their characters to develop and grow and change (hopefully in good ways, but people get broken, too). The sign of a good series tends to be this kind of development; after all, nobody likes it when things start to feel stale and predictable.

An especially exciting thing for me, as a female consumer of all things Game of Thrones, has been watching the way the women of Westeros (and beyond) have moved from traditional medieval-type roles into more interesting physical and symbolic spaces over the course of the series. But before I go on, I’m going to insert the obligatory spoiler warning here, because obviously I cannot talk about development without, you know, talking about the things that have happened recently in the world of Game of Thrones.

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SPOILER WARNING: If you are not caught up with at least Episode 5, Season 6 of Game of Thrones and you do not wish to be spoiled, run away. This is not the post for you.

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D’you Think I Want to Be a Lady?

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | e-mail

 

Last week, I wrote about different roles and styles chosen by women in YA dystopian fiction, so I thought I’d continue the trend by talking about gender roles and style (well, dress vs. armor style, at least) in fantasy!

A lot of women in fantasy (particularly Medieval Europe-inspired fantasy, which a lot of it is – see our discussions about other inspirations here) wear gowns, and their men wear armor. There’s nothing wrong with this, as it’s pretty accurate to historical European settings; plus, you can have diverse and interesting characters who still conform to gender norms. But what about when they don’t? When a woman character is more comfortable in chainmail than velvet? Or when it’s just safer for a girl to crop her hair and use a boy’s name? When a girl has to disguise herself as a boy to achieve a goal? That’s when the gender-bending fun of cross dressing comes in.

No, I’m not talking about RuPaul’s Drag Race – I’m talking about characters like Alanna of Trebond in Song of the Lioness, and Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth in A Song of Ice and Fire.  These ladies find some reason to dress in trousers when their peers are in skirts, are sometimes able to convince those around them they are actually boys, and sometimes suffer mockery when they are revealed.

In Brienne’s case, she never claims to be a male, but still steadfastly refuses to wear women’s clothing. Characters like this break gender barriers in their worlds and make readers question things in our own – sure, a woman can wear pants in America in 2016 without being mocked, but what if a woman wants to be a welder or a man wants to be a florist? Characters who blur gender lines are valuable because they show readers that not all people of one gender share the same interests, clothing choices, and career goals.

-This post includes spoilers for the above series.-

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Gastronomy and Fantasy

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

One of the great things about fantasy is learning about how people in premodern societies ate and learning many new recipes. Dorothy mentioned in her post a couple of weeks ago that she learns about real-world history from fantasy books, but my favorite historical detail involves what’s for dinner.

One cannot help but notice in both Fantasy-based games and Fantasy books that whenever you enter the average house or inn, there’s always someone tending to a pot of stew over the stove. Did everyone, minus the nobility, really always just eat stew almost every day? Was someone always making stew? Really? This seemed surprising to me, but then I learned about Perpetual Stew. According to Wikipedia, Perpetual Stew is

is a pot into which whatever one can find is placed and cooked. The pot is never or rarely emptied all the way, and ingredients and liquid are replenished as necessary. The concept is often a common element in descriptions of medieval inns. Foods prepared in a perpetual stew have been described as being flavorful due to the manner in which the foodstuffs blend together, in which the flavor may improve with age.

Of course, the nobility, who usually feature prominently in fantasy literature, at a lot more than just stew. These dishes are richly described by authors, like George R. R. Martin who put a lot of thought–maybe a bit too much–into describing the food of his world to readers. In fact, George R. R. Martin has described so many dishes, that there is an entire cookbook derived from his works: A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook.

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