First off, I think we need several pictures to demonstrate exactly how I feel about this book.
What do I say about this book? It cleared up a lot of things. It made even more things more complicated. There were dragons, and dragons are cool.
Things are getting crazy in the Land of Doom. (That's what I'm calling Westeros and the surrounding areas now. Land of Doom.)
There's a recurring theme of the younger generation having to take up the mantle where the older generation has failed. Thus far, it has ended really badly for everyone. Jon Snow is probably the most sensible person on the Wall, yet he has to face thousands of years of "tradition" and generally idiocy. It is completely logical to forge an alliance with the Wildlings because there are supernatural ice zombies that want to eat your souls. Unfortunately, few people seem to think this is at all a good idea. GUYS WHAT ABOUT THE ICE ZOMBIES.
Also interesting is that Melisandre apparently isn't as manipulative and power-hungry as I thought. At the very least, she relies far too much on her "visions", and is as deluded as everyone else regarding the "chosen one". She tries, at times, to actually do something good, but she's so intent on being mystical that she fails at generating trust. Sacrificing people probably doesn't help with PR either.
I also "enjoyed" Theon's arc, in the sense that seeing him finally overcome his fear and get something done was good. Everything in between was horrifying, and I hope a dragon eats Ramsay Bolton. I want him to be eaten a lot. Asha, of course, was completely awesome, and I probably would have never forgiven Martin if he killed her off. (I still have lots of anger towards him. He's superseded Rowling on "list of authors who like killing off everything I love in their books".)
Bran's continuing story was surprising and really awesome. We get to meet the "Children of the Forest" and see precisely what the three-eyed crow meant. I'm sure "become ageless tree mystic" is low on anyone's list of plans for their life, but I hope this means Bran will play a bigger part as he gets a better hold on his abilities.
Arya is finally starting to learn a bit, while discovering her own abilities to jump into animal bodies. What this will lead to, I don't know. I don't think she'll be as happy as Bran to be eaten by Old Man Willow. That said, I was pleased with her arc in this one. She's clever, and ironically the death worshippers seem to be drawing her back from her continued journey into darkness.
Also, let's talk about Cersei. I hate Cersei. She has major issues, and I'm pretty sure she's one of the most horrible people in this book, but her comeuppance in this book was genuinely horrifying. Rather than being punished for the really horrible things she's done, she's punished for being a promiscuous woman. It's especially terrible since they turn a blind eye to men's promiscuity. It's sort of an anvilicious move on Martin's part, but it's a good view of the hypocrisy we even see today. I felt sympathetic to her. The little detail of her taking so many baths after being parade around the city has a very Lady Macbeth feel. Unfortunately, that means she's probably going to be even crazier.
Tyrion's character arc slowed down a bit, but that didn't mean it stopped. He's a jerk, but he can't help but be less of a jerk than he intends. His behavior to the dwarf Penny betrays that, deep down, he's not as terrible a person as he wants everyone to think.
Also, young Griff. Is he really a Targaryen? Are they faking? I'm actually not so sure, but I hope it's a fake because there is seriously more than enough incest in this book. We don't need anymore.
This is just one of many plans to bring back the Targaryens to power. You've got Quentyn Martell, whose brother was supposed to marry Dany but has died, leaving it up to him, even though he is basically the nerd of everything. Also, he makes Bad Life Decisions Involving Dragons. You really shouldn't make Bad Life Decisions Involving Dragons. You have Victarion, who wants to "rescue Dany", which after her arc, is the funniest thing I have ever heard ever (and also shows his own attitude toward women-she'll just swoon away when he comes to her aid! HAHAHAHAHA)
This leads me to Dany. DANY WHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME. WHY CAN'T YOUR AWESOMENESS JUST INFECT EVERYONE ELSE, AND STOP THIS BEING THE LAND OF DOOM?
Unfortunately, Martin does a good job of deconstructing Dany's "free all the things" tendencies. She may have freed the slaves of many cities, but she left a power vacuum that led to just as many abuses of power, including by the former slaves themselves. (I'm kind of reminded of that Ballydowse song: "Peasants turn princes and chain them again.") She's also made a lot of enemies, and finds herself hemmed in by them. She also finds herself forced to lock the gates against the former slaves who journeyed to get her help when a plague ravages them all.
She wants to be a good leader, but she is still more naive than she likes to think. She hopes a marriage alliance will bring about peace, but the guy is so sketchy it's clear it will all end badly. She's also losing control of her dragons, particularly Drogon who flies off and decides to eat someone. Luckily, though, DROGON SUDDENLY APPEARS AGAIN AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND DANY GETS TO FLY ON A DRAGON AND YAYYYY.
It almost makes up for MARTIN KILLING OFF PEOPLE I LOVE. Almost.
Now, I'll just sit here and wait for The Winds of Winter...
It's Twitterature time, and I'm linking up once again with Modern Mrs. Darcy! Not much in the way of books this time. I suffered a burst of insanity and signed up for NaNoWriMo. Good news? I'm almost to 10,000 words. Bad news? I have 40,000 more to go within fifteen days.
It's not quite time to panic...that will probably come on November 29th....
Anyways! I've got a couple books going anyways, and no one is likely to want them any time soon so I can RENEW THEM FOREVER.
1.) Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien
I've been wanting to get my hands on this for a while now. Also, there's going to be a book discussion about it in, like, two weeks which AAAGHH ANOTHER DEADLINE. But it's okay. I'm perfectly okay.
I skimmed over Christopher Tolkien's commentary for now, because I wanted to get right back into the story. I did notice that Tolkien originally wanted to write it entirely in alliterations, which would have been awesome, but I'm just as happy that he chose to retain the rhythm. I read some of it aloud and I caught that pretty quickly. Thus far I think I like this translation a bit better than the one I have. I can't even remember the guy's name, but it's not the one everyone talks about. I think it's the one everyone hates.
I've just gotten to where Grendel's mother bursts in unexpectedly (like the Spanish Inquisition). She is not Angelina Jolie. Just say no to hypersexualized monsters!
2.) The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character by Samuel Noah Kramer
I've got a bit of a convoluted story here. I decided to get some history into my system before heading back to school. I'll be focusing on an English degree, but since I'm interested in archiving I will probably be minoring in history. Feeling way out of the loop, I decided to start filling my mind again. I originally got the Great Courses DVD on ancient civilizations (Brian Fagan is an excellent professor, by the way. Even if Dale does like to make fun of his gestures.) However, just as I was getting to China, the DVD player died overnight. Why? I don't know. I blame the Doctor, because Day of the Doctor was in it when it died. There is a strange orange substance, and I suspect an alien incursion.
So, because I have aliens in my DVD player, I decided to go ahead and take a closer look at some of the cultures mentioned in that lecture series. Dr. Fagan recommended The Sumerians as one of the most comprehensive books on that culture, so here we are.
Right now I'm still reading about the archaeological history. Originally, everyone thought the Assyrians were the oldest civilization, until they accidentally discovered Sumerian artifacts. And originally, everyone thought it was either a hoax or a misinterpretation of Assyrian artifacts. As such, it took a while for the study of Sumer to really kick off.
I really love hearing about old cultures, so this should be fun.
A/N: For some reason my addled brain wanted to call Sumer "Sumeria". I knew it looked wrong but it took me nearly 12 hours to realize what was off about it. My brain needs a break!
Back in the
Middle Ages, a pair of ruffians discover a crashed spaceship. The alien inside
is a Sontaran named “Linx”, and he promises them his “magic weapons” if they
help repair his ship.
In the 70’s, the
Doctor and the Brig are at a secret research facility, where several scientists
have disappeared. He meets two scientists, Rubeish and Smith (prompting
everyone asking if he’s related to her); but that night, Rubeish disappears.
The Doctor manages to follow the trail in his TARDIS, and discovers that the
bandit Irongron (really???) has stolen a castle, and Linx has been using it as
a place to keep the scientists captive while they work on repairing his ship
appears that “Smith” is really just Sarah Jane impersonating her aunt to get
the big scoop and has stowed away on board the TARDIS. Oh, Sarah Jane.
She teams up with an archer from the neighboring
lord of Wessex, who is building up an alliance to take the castle back from
their absent friend. After the confusion
with the Doctor is cleared up (as cleared up as it can ever be around him), he
comes up with a plan to take back the castle and deal with Linx.
"Tickle the ribs, Sarah Jane! It's the Sontarans' only weak spot!"
I really loved
this serial. It introduced our beloved Sarah Jane, who tries to argue feminist
politics with a violent bandit from the Middle Ages. Pitting the irascible and
egotistical Irongron against the Sontaran meant plenty of comedy, and of course
the Doctor is in fine form, both in brains and ability. (He appears to be an
excellent archer in this one.) This was a great way to start out Pertwee’s last
Death to the Daleks
The Third Doctor
dealt with Daleks a lot, didn’t he? In this one, the Doctor and Sarah Jane are
on a trip when the TARDIS suddenly loses energy and lands on the planet
Exxilon. When they go outside to take a look, they are separated and attacked
Come morning, the Doctor is rescued by a
group of space marines, whose own equipment failed. They are there to fetch a
mineral that can cure a deadly plague. Suddenly, a saucer arrives! Guess what
it looks like? The whole time, the Doctor appears not to recognize his mortal enemies until they actually leave
the saucer. Luckily for everyone else, their weapons have failed just like everyone
else. Unfortunately, Dalek movement is apparently done mainly by telekinesis.
(No really, they have telekinesis but they mainly use it to move. Can you
imagine if anyone showed them Carrie? God help us all.)
As it appears the
Daleks are after the Parrinium too, a very uneasy alliance ensues. But, as luck
would have it, the native Exxilons reappear, and take them to their holy city,
which is forbidden to get near. Unfortunately, Sarah Jane got near it, and is
up next for the sacrifice! After wacky hijinks ensue, in which the Daleks
inevitably try to betray everyone, the Doctor and Sarah Jane flee underneath
the city, where a group of rebel Exxilons tell them the horrible truth: the
city is alive, it has turned on its creators, and the beacon at the top is what
drains energy for the city to use.
It’s a matter of
destroying the beacon, but the Daleks have, of course, captured everyone,
having modified their weapons to use bullets, and are working on that same
plan. They are also inexplicably using a tiny model TARDIS as target practice.
Presumably they mass produce them and sell them to Whovians to fund their wars.
It's strangely adorable.
One after another,
the Doctor, followed by Daleks, make their way through the city and the logic
tests it has constructed. (Some of which require legs and fingers, but we’ll
just assume they blew something up to make it work.) Meanwhile, Sarah Jane and
the other captive humans come up with a way to defeat the Daleks while
preserving the Parrinium.
The Daleks did
feel a bit overused at this point, especially as they were a bit odd in this one. Between the bullet
guns, the model TARDIS, and the one Dalek self-destructing because a prisoner
escaped, they were just…strange. I mean, stranger than usual. It’s hard to
understand the degree of strangeness in the mind of a raving lunatic.
This was a decent
serial, though. Sarah Jane was a breath of fresh air, as she was portrayed as
being fairly clever and resourceful. Not gonna lie, Sarah Jane is one of my
favorite companions. Her own series was a long time coming, and she well
deserved it. RIP Elisabeth Sladen.
The Planet of the Spiders
This serial has
me torn between nightmare fuel and UNENDING TEARS.
After the events
of a serial I didn’t see, in which Mike Yates of UNIT apparently turned against
everyone for no reason other than to carry the Idiot Villain ball for a while,
Mike has been “finding himself” at a Tibetan monastery run by a mysterious and
slightly eccentric abbot. Sarah Jane goes to visit him and to get a story about
the monastery. Unfortunately, one resident, named Lupton, along with a few
others, are acting…sketchy. They have secret basement rituals in which they
talk to spiders. These spiders want a
specific blue crystal back…
Doctor has become quite interested in telepathy. Rather than pull out the
copies of Babylon 5 he no doubt has in the TARDIS, he instead hooks Professor
Clegg up to a machine. When he decides to try it out with the blue crystal Jo
mailed back to him (still mucking around in the amazon, looking for mushrooms
with Professor Hippie), Professor Clegg’s heart gives out from getting a vision
When the Doctor and Sarah Jane go back to the
monastery, the blue crystal is lost, and comes into the hand of the mentally
impaired handyman, who suddenly understands the book Flowers for Algernon
perfectly. While the universe is in peril, Tommy READS ALL THE THINGS.
When Lupton is
teleported to Metebelis Three, Sarah Jane manages to dive in the portal and follow.
The place is ruled by a legion of spiiiidahhhs.
I saw horrifying things trying to find this...
The blue crystals of the planet allowed the spiders to grow
bigger and become sentient, which, again, is ALL OF MY NIGHTMARES FOREVER.
After stirring up trouble, as usual, the Doctor goes to the mountains, where he
meets an even bigger spider who wants to take over the universe. The Doctor is
understandably freaked out and flees back to Earth with Sarah Jane, who
unfortunately has a giant spider on her
back. HOORAY FOR NIGHTMARES.
abbot in charge of the institute is actually the Doctor’s old mentor from
Gallifrey, who has decided to retire to Earth, because apparently at this point
the Time Lords were noticing that the Doctor had lots of nice things to say
about Earth. Did we have an influx of Time Lord tourists before the Time War?
(NuWho mentions a “planet of coffee shops”, which I suspect is us.) Either way,
the Doctor and his mentor help Sarah Jane fight off the control of the queen
spider, and the Doctor plans to take the blue crystal back to the Great One—clearly
he has a plan. (Meanwhile, Tommy does not in fact succumb to Flowers for
Algernon syndrome, and continues to READ ALL THE THINGS.)
Three weeks later
he returns just in time for the abbot to inform everyone that he will turn into
a very manic Tom Baker.
The story as a
whole was pretty decent. I thought it was a good way to wrap up Pertwee’s run.
The Third Doctor makes a final sacrifice to save both Metebelis Three and the
universe. (It’s also implied in other source material that it took him ten
years to find his way back to UNIT. That’s ten years dying of radiation
poisoning! No wonder his fourth incarnation was so loopy.) I also enjoyed the
additional glimpses we get of Time Lord society, and proof that the Doctor isn’t
the only crazy one from Gallifrey who isn’t out to kill us all.
Also, there was a
very long, silly chase scene in which a variety of vehicles were used, simply
because Jon Pertwee liked driving cool things. Oh, Jon Pertwee. You so silly.
Styles is just hanging out in his awesome mansion when a guy wearing fatigues
just suddenly appears out of nowhere and tries to shoot him. UNIT and the
Doctor arrive to investigate this “ghost”, as an international conference is to
be held there.]
Styles now claims he saw nothing, the Doctor takes the opportunity to sample
the wine and discovers muddy footprints-clearly not ghostly. He discovers the
“ghost” soldiers are using a crude time machine, pursued by Ogrons. When the
Doctor tracks down the source of the soldiers-and finds a Dalek.
Yes, yes, we get
it. There, he discovers that the soldiers are rebels, trying to stop an event
that weakened Earth and led to the Daleks’ takeover. (One of their takeovers.
They do this a lot.)
Also, they use
This was the only one I could get of this season. (Rest
assured, I have plans of obtaining the ones I couldn’t find at the library. IT
WILL BE DONE.) Next stop, three whole Doctors squabbling at once!
The Three Doctors
A strange energy
blob has arrived at UNIT headquarters, attempting to capture the Doctor. On
Gallifrey, they are slowly being sucked into a blackhole, because back then
blackholes were like the supervillains of sci-fi. The Time Lords finally give
up and decided to let the Doctor and his past selves meet up to figure this
out, because it will take three times the zaniness to deal with this problem!
"My bowtie is bigger than your bowtie." "This isn't a bowtie competition!"
as the Second and Third Doctor start insulting each other, while the First
Doctor (trapped in a time eddy and meeting remotely) tries desperately to get
them to stop fighting long enough to think. The Brig is horrified to have to
deal with Two and Three (even more so when Two decides to handle the crisis by
asking Jo how to play “I Am The Walrus”
on a recorder), but in no little time the energy blob has transported the
TARDIS, containing two Doctors, one Brig, one Sergeant, one Jo, and a Dr. Tyler
(who in my head canon is now Rose’s grandfather) into an anti-matter universe.
In fact, this is the anti-matter universe that is keeping the Time Lord’s hold
on time travel steady.
It is ruled by
the most dramatic Time Lord ever, Omega, who has gone a little crazy from being
locked in there alone so long. It’s up to the Doctors to figure out how to keep
Omega from destroying everything, and how precisely to chew more scenery than
This is the first
serial where someone realized, “Hey, throwing the Doctor’s different
incarnations together would be endlessly
hilarious!”, and done for the tenth anniversary at that. The beautiful
irony of the Doctor essentially finding himself annoying is played to its
fullest. Combine that with the Brigadier’s constant snarking at them both, and
Hartnell basically saying “DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS TARDIS AROUND” when things
get out of hand, and it’s an entertaining serial.
It’s also one
more step on the road to highlighting that Time Lords really are jerks. Omega
was essentially locked in an anti-matter universe, alone, just to keep their
secrets safe. He is very much a tragic villain in this case, especially as it
was his brilliance that allowed the Time Lords this amazing ability in the
first place. Talk about gratitude. (The Time Lords are rarely grateful for
anything.) All in all, it was a fun anniversary serial, it introduced variety
to the show as the Doctor was released from exile, and it was quite
bittersweet, as Hartnell was already very ill and this would be his last
appearance on Doctor Who.
Frontier in Space
The TARDIS appears
on an Earth cargo ship in the 26th century. This lasts long enough
for a shape-changing ship, seemingly belonging to the Draconians, to come
along, attack the ship, and promptly get the Doctor and Jo in trouble with the
very ridiculous justice system of Earth. The attackers that board are Ogrons,
and they appear to be using some sort of hypnotic sonic device (that is not a
screwdriver), but by the time they’ve gone the two men on board are somehow
convinced Jo and the Doctor are Draconian spies.
Earth president (wearing a very funny non-professional dress) and the Draconian
ambassador, son of the emperor, are bickering over who shot who. It appears the
Draconians have similar claims of Earth ships ambushing their own.
Williams arrives with Jo and the Doctor in tow, nonsense ensues as they attempt
to get the two to admit to being spies, while the Draconian prince becomes
convinced they were hired by Earth’s government to pretend to be spies, and therefore must be questioned. (Also the
Doctor uses his mind to break a mind probe. He has a tendency to do this.)
By the time the
charade is over, the Doctor and Jo have somehow been “outed” as career
criminals, and the Doctor is trying to lead a prison escape from the moon.
Meanwhile, Jo is on Earth, when, a very familiar face arrives…
WHAT. Jo decides
to go along with the Master for the time being, probably due to the higher
probability of having a snarkfest, and to “rescue” the Doctor. As the plot
thickens, the Doctor must find a way to warn both Earth and Draconia that
they’re being used as pawns in a greater war…a war started by…
I love this
serial, but it’s really a huge jigsaw puzzle plot. It had some great
characterization, such as Jo resisting the Master’s attempts at hypnosis with
the utmost politeness; the Doctor
boring the Master to distraction by telling his life story; and of course the
wacky outfits we are apparently going to wear in the 26th century.
And it only gets
more complicated in the next serial. Really, it seems like the Daleks just have
dozens of plots lined up, ready to go, just in case the Doctor shows up or
something. (But at least they haven’t yet started making plots specifically to
drawn the Doctor in…)
Planet of the Daleks
After the Doctor
is wounded by the Master, he calls for help from the Time Lords, who land the
TARDIS on a jungle-like planet. As the Doctor becomes catatonic, Jo leaves the
TARDIS to find help while plants spray sap around. As the TARDIS is covered by
sap, Jo discovers another wrecked spaceship with a dead pilot inside. Before
she can make the smart choice and run away, she is discovered by…Thals! Yeah,
some Thals are still alive! While the Thals go to search for the TARDIS, Jo
hides from the “patrols”, and the ship is searched by some strange invisible
Once the Doctor
is rescued, he discovers the Thals are the last remains of a military unit that
was trying to find out what the Daleks were planning this time around. It appears the inhabitants of Spiridon can turn
invisible at will, and the Daleks were hoping to harness that.
the Doctor is captured, he discovers that not only are there thousands of Daleks, they are
manufacturing a deadly bacteria that will kill all who are not immunized
against it. The Doctor has half a day to stop the Daleks before they release
the bacteria on the planet, destroying everything.
Ah, another fun
little romp into the twisted minds of the Daleks. They really love their complicated schemes. Straightforward conquest is
too mainstream. It also reminded us
that the Thals are still around, and still fighting the Daleks. The Doctor has
become an old legend to them, but one that has stuck with them all this time.
While previously he had to whip the Thals into action, here he warns them
against using violence as the go-to answer: he doesn’t want them to glorify
WE WILL NOW PLAN ALL OF OUR BATTLES UTILIZING FIGURINES
were…questionable. The “army of Daleks” were clearly toys (although I suppose a
tiny Dalek ray to the toe would hurt pretty bad), and the Spiridons were
invisible people walking around in large purple furs. It also introduced a Dalek weakness that has
never shown up again: they really don’t like the cold. (I can sympathize, as I
sit here wrapped in a shawl because it hasn’t hit 70 degrees in here yet.)
Unfortunately, Spiridon is a planet that spews ice like lava. (Which is
actually a THING. How cool is that? Pun not intended.)
So, all in all
entertaining, but not the best. (But I still liked when the Doctor declares,
after pushing a Dalek into ice lava, “I took great satisfaction in doing
The Green Death
The Doctor is
preparing for a very plot-important trip to Metebelis Three when he hears of
the mysterious death of a miner in South Wales. (It should be noted that in the
Doctor Who universe, Wales is almost as dangerous as New York City. Apparently
there is a rift, but we’ll get there later.) He apparently was found dead and
glowing, which isn’t usually how miners die. So the Doctor decides to hop over
to Metebelis Three for a quick jaunt, while the Brig and Jo head down to
investigate the miner’s death.
thereafter, the Doctor arrives back from Metebelis Three, having annoyed the
locals, with only a small blue gem which will also be very plot important. Jo,
meanwhile, has been sent off by Professor Jones to investigate the mines, because
his work is far too important. Poor
Jo just can’t get a break with all these geniuses around. Brig and the Doctor
arrive just in time for Jo to find another green glowing guy, and also giant
No, really, there
are giant maggots.
"Don't worry, Jo, I'll protect you with the power of my Herbal Essence hair."
The Doctor swipes
an egg, and they take it back to Professor Jones’ lab to study. There, they eat
mushrooms like a bunch of hobbits, Jo and Professor Jones attempt to have
chemistry together after he had spent most of the day shouting at her, and the
maggot hatches, luckily killing the mine minion who came to steal the egg back.
returns to the mines, dresses up as one of those old ladies from Monty Python,
and discovers the BEST VILLAIN EVER.
Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor, proving A.I. really is a
crapshoot, because BOSS will play classical music as he plans to take over the
world, BOSS will declare his plans in the MOST GRANDIOSE VOICE POSSIBLE, BOSS
WILL EAT ALL OF THE SCENERY AND LEAVE NONE FOR OMEGA.
"What is the sound a doggy makes?"
accidentally discovers how to cure everyone by knocking things over in
Professor Jones’ lab. He shouts at her a bit, because this is how to establish
chemistry between two characters. The Doctor realizes he can use the Blue Jewel
to break mental conditioning, and BOSS serves up some more helpings of Large
By the end, Jo
and Professor Jones have inexplicably decided to get married and run off to the
Amazon together, and the Doctor hands over the blue jewel and looks so devastated that it’s the only part of
this serial that really hit me hard.
I sort of liked
this. I feel like the parts with Jo and the Professor were forced (remember
what I said about unsatisfactory companion departures? This is one of them.)
She says he reminds her of the Doctor, but whereas the Doctor superciliousness
and impatience seem more out of forgetting he’s around a bunch of puny humans,
with Professor Jones it’s just annoying. He really is rather mean, which is why
their relationship just doesn’t work for me.
reaction to Jo leaving is the only thing that made it work. It’s subtle, and
showing him driving off through the darkness is one of the loneliest scenes. It’s
part of the theme that decreases with subtlety as the series goes on: the
Doctor needs companions..
That said, the
scenes in the mine were creepy, and again, BOSS IS BEST COMPUTER.
Yeahhh...last year I said I was totally gonna do NaNoWriMo this year. And you know what? I'm going for it. (A post over on Modern Mrs. Darcy both reminded me and inspired me.)
I have no idea what I'm going to write yet. I have a veritable armory of ideas waiting, but where I'm going to take them is really up in the air. But that's what this is about, right? Impulsive, intuitive writing?