Ser Duncan the Tall gets his turn in the spotlight in an episode nearly as big as the man himself! At long last, Stefan and I turn our attention to “The Hedge Knight,” “The Sworn Sword,” and “The Mystery Knight,” the three (and counting) A Song of Ice and Fire prequel novellas starring the inexperienced young hedge knight also known as Dunk the Lunk and his precocious, princely squire Egg. Taken together, these stories contain some of George R.R. Martin’s best writing — and his most tonally varied, too. Stefan and I go deep into the secret-strewn stories of Dunk and Egg themselves, the politics of the Blackfyre Rebellion and the aftermath that overshadows the stories’ events, the genre-pastiche elements of each story, the chemistry between the characters, our favorite and least favorite installments of the series, and what it takes to be “a true knight.” It makes for an episode thick as a castle wall, and, we hope, entertaining as a Dornish puppet show. See you at the lists!
Another chapter from the GRRMArillion? You betcha! Rogues, the latest cross-genre anthology edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, is out, and you know what that means: another long short story/novella set in the world of Ice and Fire and written by Martin himself. As was the case with Dangerous Women's “The Princess and the Queen,” Martin's contribution this time around is an excerpt from the larger history of the Targaryen dynasty eventually to be published in expanded form as Fire and Blood. And it turns out it’s a direct prequel to “The Princess and the Queen“‘s tale of internecine Targaryen civil war — like, it ends the moment “TPatQ” begins. As such, it casts many of the events and characters of that story in a whole new light. And like that story, it strrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrretches the boundaries of the rubric for its inclusion in the anthology in which it appears. Is it worth it? Listen and find out! (And try not to be perturbed by the sounds of chaos in revelry in the background, as Stefan’s native Germany defeats a rival in the World Cup whilst we record. Just imagine we’re discussing this over a bowl o’ brown in the stews of Flea Bottom. I know I always do!)
The bodies haven’t even been removed from the battlefield of our last podcast, but Stefan and I are back already with a brand-new BLAH! Today we’re talking about the excerpt from George R.R. Martin, Elio García Jr., and Linda Antonsson’s The World of Ice and Fire about the Rhoynar, which was posted a few weeks ago on the latter two writer’s seminal Westeros.org website. Its title, “The Ten Thousand Ships,” is somewhat inapt given that it doesn’t in fact cover the naval exodus of the people of the Rhoyne from that Essosi river to the southern lands of Dorne in Westeros. But there’s plenty to talk about up until that point, from the sudden revelation that an entire water-based form of magic exists (or existed) to the wartime conduct of Old Valyria and its allies. Saddle up a turtle and enjoy!
Our biggest episode! Game of Thrones Season Four is over, and in this mega-sized BLAH, Stefan and I analyze it for damn near 90 minutes. Every major storyline is covered, every big controversy is addressed, every substantial change from the books is explored, and every complaint we have about the fandom is given an obscenity-laden airing. Hey, we told you it was a big episode!
Below, we’ve included some links to pieces on the show that we mention in the podcast. Read, listen, enjoy!
NOTE: The mp3 issue some listeners were experiencing has now been fixed. Thank you for your patience!
Another week, another sample from something Good King George has got cooking — if, of course, by “another week” you mean “last week.” Yes, since Stefan and I recorded this episode, yet another excerpt from George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia Jr., and Linda Antonsson’s worldbook The World of Ice and Fire has been released. No matter! Like the modern-day maesters we are, we stay focused on the matters at hand, specifically the sample unveiled on GeorgeRRMartin.com regarding House Targaryen’s flight from Valyria and Aegon’s Conquest of Westeros. The sample raises many intriguing questions — indeed, more than it answers — on everything from the bloody century the Targaryens spent on Dragonstone between the Doom and the Conquest to Aegon and his sisters’ adoption of the Faith of the Seven. After Stefan and I discuss these matters, we follow up on a related Tower of the Hand roundtable and ask what place supplementary materials like this should even have in a work of narrative fiction. Saddle up, dragonlords!
It is a weeping, and a moaning, and a gnashing of teeth: Hot on the heels of our last installment comes yet another BLAH about yet another Winds of Winter sample chapter! For all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s about Arya Stark, this one’s pretty clearly the most talked-about yet. Should we believe the hype, or is this often disturbing chapter chronicling Arya’s further Faceless adventures in Braavos edgy for edginess’ sake? And if we see it as the latter, who’s to blame — an author pushing the envelope, or an audience out for blood? It’s our most conflicted sample-chapter discussion yet. Bone up on some recommended reading referenced in the ep first, if you’re up for it, then tune in and see where you come down.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends: George R.R. Martin has unveiled a new sample chapter from The Winds of Winter, this time ensconced in the World of Ice and Fire app on your friendly neighborhood smartphone, and Stefan and I are back to pick that sucker apart! The POV character is Tyrion Lannister, the place is Meereen, and the scene is a slaughter — the Battle of Fire is now fully underway, so via the Imp we get a picture of how the fight is going, who’s involved on what side (the Windblown! the Ironborn! the Second Sons!), and how Tyrion feels about it all. From the strategic situation to Tyrion’s own psychological battles, there’s a lot to talk about. And with GRRM promising much more ASoIaF material on the way at a pretty rapid clip this year, we’d better get cracking!
One of the brightest stars in the ASoIaF fandom firmament joins your humble hosts this week! Adam Feldman is the author of The Meereenese Blot, and the blogger whose essay series "Untangling the Meereenese Knot," a revisionist take on Daenerys’s storyline during A Dance with Dragons which argued that her attempt to forge a durable peace would have been successful but for her own unhappiness and the perfidy of a locust-poisoning Shavepate, is one of the finest in-depth analyses of these booksI’ve ever read. He’s followed up with a provocative take on Jon Snow’s actions during Dance as well, centered on the political effects of his penchant for well-intentioned risk-taking. In this episode, Stefan and I explore the essays with Adam as our guide, tackling everything from oathbreaking to audience identification. Read and listen and enjoy!
Cry havoc and let slip the BLAHs of war! Stefan and I return for a discussion of the new sample chapter from The Winds of Winter included in the mass market paperback edition for A Dance with Dragons released last month. Our POV character is Ser Barristan Selmy, sizing up friends and foes alike as he prepares to ride through the gates of Meereen to begin the conflict colloquially known to the fandom as the Battle of Fire. It’s a relatively brief chapter and thus a relatively brief conversation, but there’s still much and more to talk about, from politics to prose, tactics to giants. It’s more a Boiled Leather Audio Half-Hour, honestly, but every second counts!
It’s here! Dangerous Women, the latest in George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois’ long series of themed genre-fiction anthologies, landed in stores last week, and with it came an all-new, all-different tale of Westeros. Martin’s new novella “The Princess and the Queen, or, The Blacks and the Greens” chronicles the Dance of the Dragons, the internecine civil war between rival Targaryen claimants to the Iron Throne that took place some 200 years prior to A Game of Thrones. The Princess is Rhaenyra, the (Dowager) Queen is Alicent, the narrator (a maester writing a history book) is unreliable, and the dragons are everywhere.
Join your usual hosts Sean & Stefan and special guest Westerosi history expert Steve Attewell of the masterful blog Race for the Iron Throne as we dissect the events, effects, and aesthetics of the story. How was warfare different during the dragons’ day? How does Martin convey his message without recourse to the emotions and insights of point-of-view characters? What do the story’s surprises tell us about events in the main series? Would Sean, Steve, and Stefan join the maesters’ centuries-long conspiracy to rid the world of flying nuclear dinosaurs if asked? There’s only one way to find out, people!
(And go ahead, roll your eyes at me naming this episode after a Lorde song if you want, but just remember: I could have gone with “Ladies’ Night.”)