GOT- “What is Dead May Never Die”

Another Sunday, another episode of Game of Thrones. So I sat through episode 3 of the 2nd season, where, as expected, very little happened. Tyrion is consolidating his power in King’s Landing. After a glimpse last week of a White Walker, Robb and the Watch get kicked out of Craster the Molester’s incestous “lovenest,” and are to set off in search of Wildlings. Bran’s doing his pre-Warg thing. Theron Greyjoy, flush with daddy issues, is about to engage in some serious *betrayal* that will not go well for him in the end (what rhymes with REEK?) And Renly is busy making with the man-love instead of getting his army into the field. Was hoping to see what’s up with our favorite Targaryen, but they kept it in Westeros. No Red Lady or Stannis either. Bummer. Did get a strong showing of Natalie Dormer as a politically astute Margaery Tyrell. And Gwendoline Christie makes an excellent Brienne the Beauty (was wondering who was going to fill that part). Some excitement came at the end (which is becoming typical for the series), with Arya and Yoren–though I remember that enire scene a bit differently in the book. In any case, our youngest Stark has started the deathwish name recital ritual, so we’re well on our way to “Valar Morghulis.” Till next week, because all men must die . . . .

The Inheritance Trilogy

Someone asked me recently what was the best speculative fiction book I’d read in the past year. Usually, I’d do alot of hemming and hawing as I try to come up with an answer–divided into varied genres and sub-genres and honorable mentions. But this time, almost immediately, I had an answer– The Kingdom of the Gods, book 3 in The Inheritance Trilogy by author N.K. Jemisin.

I stumbled onto the first book in the trilogy The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms years ago by chance in 2010. Someone, somewhere, had mentioned a new black author in fantasy (there are so few it’s a wonder fanfare doesn’t play at the mention), and a female author at that (cue the tubas!). Brief plot blurb: Yeine Darr, an outcast from the barbarian North, finds herself embroiled in a murderous game of royal succession in the floating city of Sky–heart of the Arameri Empire, where gods with seemingly limitless power are enslaved to mortals. Picked up the book and at first was a bit put off. For one, it’s told in first person–a style of writing I just wasn’t comfortable with. Second, here was a black female fantasy writer, and her main characters were decidedly . . . not. But the main protagonist, Yeine, was a POC (i’d later learn based on some derivation of Native American) so I decided to stick with it. And with the introduction of the Nightlord, I was hooked. I finished the first book before I even knew what was happening. Here was a story unlike most fantasy I was used to–with new systems of magic, a fully fleshed out world, and the mind-bending idea of gods as enslaved weapons. The characters were both relatable and unfathomable; the story and plot were engaging; and the prose was plain enviable.

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!The Legend of Korra

I thought nothing could survive in the wake of the utter trainwreck that was The Last Airbender Movie (we’ll always have Lady in the Water Mr. Shyamalan, we’ll always, at least, have that), the good people at Nickelodeon are set to release a new tale set in our favorite world of Pan-Asian Mysticism, Steampunk and Element-Bending. Billed as the next generation in the tale, The Legend of Korra tells the story of a new Avatar heroine, who the press release describes as “a 17-year-old headstrong and rebellious girl who continually challenges and bucks tradition on her quest to become a fully realized Avatar in a world where benders are under attack.” The show will premiere April 14th on Nickelodeon at 11:00 a.m. EST. Get to DVR bending…

 

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Hunger Games

Finally saw Hunger Games last week, or as I like to call it Lord of the Flies meets Soylent Green. Basic storyline: in a dystopian future, following a fracticious war that almost destroyed humanity, the world is divided into the wealthy victors, and the downtrodden nearly-starved rebels, who are forced to live in impoverished districts according to their usually dangerous occupations (coal miners, etc); as macabre sport and psychological punishment, every year each district is forced to participate in a lottery where two children are selected at random to participate in a survivalist, winner-kill-all, spectator contest called The Hunger Games. I haven’t read Suzanne Collins books, though I’ve been “meaning to get around to it.”

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Orientalist Sketches

A quick word on my choice of header art. The piece is called “The Moorish Warrior,” by William Merritt Chase (1844-1916). I first came across the painting while strolling through the Brooklyn Museum of Art several years ago. I wasn’t familiar with the artist, but I knew the style–part of what was known as the Orientalist movement, which created picturesque paintings of the Near East. Like every other graduate student in the social sciences, I had the pleasure of reading Edward Said’s groundbreaking work, Orientalism.

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