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.

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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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On Most Anticipated Novels

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Rebecca Kordesh, Director
Twitter | Blog

 

 

In Backroom Whispering Production’s inaugural book review podcast about Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, a major complaint lodged by several participants in the discussion was that the book had been so hyped that it was especially disappointing when it fell short of expectations.

Our very own showrunner, Dorothy McQuaid, also wrote a post about the effect hyping can have on reading a book. Dorothy focused on friend hype — hearing people you care about tell you that you absolutely need to read a book and it’s “the best ever” — and how she’s found that, generally, she has been disappointed by these books. The question arose about whether hearing about someone else’s excitement might actually hurt your book experience overall, because when you are not as excited as your friends, it makes the book feel even more disappointing than it might have otherwise.

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TBT 10: Legend of the Galactic Heroes

Our designated #LOGHSQUAD discusses the recently-released English translation of the first light novel in this acclaimed Japanese science-fiction series, as well as its comparison to the popular anime adaptation.

[Spoilers start at about 48:00]

For listeners of The Book Table, Audible is offering a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial! Sign up at http://audibletrial.com/TheBookTable.

In this episode you heard from:
Akhi | @akhipill
Madeleine | @madnbooks | youtube.com/madnbooks
Mike
Robert
Shelly | @shllybkwrm
Stephen

The Book Table is a podcast from Backroom Whispering Productions. Our theme music is by Mark Wayne.

If you liked this podcast, rate us on iTunes! Or get in touch with us:
Twitter | @BackroomWhisper
Facebook | facebook.com/BackroomWhispering
Email | BackroomWhispering@gmail.com

Book Table 09: Non-Western Themes in Fantasy Literature

What about fantasy that doesn’t fit the genre-typical western Medieval European setting? In this episode, some of our whisperers discuss books they’ve read that explore non-western themes and places, as well as a bit about the genre as a whole!

In this episode, you heard from:
Akhi | @akhipill
Dorothy | @bwp_dorothy
Louisa | @otterbewriting
Rebecca | @rumy91989

Books mentioned in this episode include:
The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Stavely
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
Dune by Frank Herbert
Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Harry Potter / Pottermore by J.K. Rowling
The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The article about J.K. Rowling’s “Magic in North America” can be found on the Native Appropriations site.

 

The Book Table is a podcast from Backroom Whispering Productions. Our theme music is by Mark Wayne.

For listeners of The Book Table, Audible is offering a free audiobook and a 30-day free trial! Sign up at audibletrial.com/TheBookTable.

If you liked this podcast, rate us on iTunes! Or get in touch with us:
Twitter | @BackroomWhisper
Facebook | facebook.com/BackroomWhispering
Email | BackroomWhispering@gmail.com

*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.

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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The Girl of Triggers and Thorns

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Madeleine Cassier
Producer
Website | Twitter | GoodreadsBookTube

“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” (The Fault in Our Stars)

When Rebecca posted her piece on body image, and the inclusion of a “fat heroine” in Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I started thinking back on my experience of first reading that novel. Nobody had told me that Elisa was “fat” or that body image and self-love played a crucial role in her character development. Nobody had also told me that, in the first novel, there are instances of Elisa emotionally driven to bingeing upon food to the point of physical pain and later vomiting it all back up. (Please note that all bold-typed emphases within utilized quotations are my own.)

I’m not sure how long I stand there, joined to the serving table as if by design. Eventually, I feel Ximena’s gentle hand on my upper arm.

“Let’s go, my sky.”

I don’t resist when she pulls me away, and I stumble after her, so full I can hardly breathe.” (Thorns, 120)

At the time that I picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was a still-recovering bulimic; I had not yet reached my one year anniversary of entering treatment, let alone being considered “clear” or “healed.” I went into this book, one that I had seen praised from reviewers on Booktube — that corner of YouTube where people review books — with whom I shared similar literary tastes, knowing only that it was a YA fantasy about a girl with something called the “godstone” who must become queen. There was not a single “trigger warning” for eating disorders.

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Non-Fiction: The Key to Good Fantasy?

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Akhi Pillalamarri
Head Web Content Contributor
Twitter | Website

 

I believe the best fictional work, especially in a genre like fantasy, where world-building is essential, requires thorough non-fictional, especially historical knowledge. In fact, non-fictional knowledge is, in my view, the key to good world-building, more so than familiarity with other, related works of fiction and literary styles. This is why I advocated a thorough history-based, “lore” approach to fantasy, both in terms of constructing the world, and in garnering knowledge from the lore of the real world.

Why is this, you might ask?

Despite the name ‘fantasy,’ what I consider good fantasy is pretty realistic. I believe fantasy ought to invoke the scientific method, where the majority of malleable variables are held constant so that the author may focus on upon what I see as the genre’s true purpose: exploring new and interesting worlds, or telling a compelling story with unique, dynamic characters. Variables such as human nature and the reactions of countries or governments to a variety of events ought to remain constant, so as not to distract from that purpose.

For me, the appeal of fantasy is considering questions of world-building or the human experience when stripped of their usual real-life context, which can obscure these elements at times. When writing historical fiction or fiction set in the real world, the story must be conditioned by real events and culture in order to be plausible. Fantasy, however, gives you the freedom to avoid this strict historical conditioning.

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Learning from Fantasy: Part 1 (History)

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

 

Hi, readers!  I’m very excited to begin a new series of posts about things that can be learned from reading Fantasy and other fiction genres. To me, reading is more than just idle, passive entertainment, and I’ve found that I’ve learned a lot from books some dismiss as fluffy or shallow. These topics include history, relationship advice, and ethics, so I’ll cover the three of those in three different blog posts (though I touched on relationship advice in my post about birth control in Tamora Pierce’s canon.)

Part 1 Or; Time-Travel Romance is So Much More Interesting Than History Class

This post is going to discuss history through the lens of fiction, more specifically the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Now, I have a lot of respect for historians and the study of history. A few fellow members of BWP have studied history and I recognize how important it is, but I’ve always been more of a ‘big-picture’ person when it comes to history: I don’t tend to have a memory for names or dates, and I didn’t take many history classes besides the required ones. The information that tends to stick in my mind comes from personal experiences — i.e. visiting a historical site, speaking to a survivor — or from stories. I went through a phase in middle school where I read a bunch of  YA novels about children during the Holocaust — maybe not a normal hobby for a 10-year-old, but I was able to gain a greater understanding of a very important period of history. For me, knowing the story of someone who went through the experience helps me remember, and care, much more than taking notes during a lecture.

As I said, I’m simply not one for names and dates, and have never been great at memorizing historical events.

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