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.”)
Black Friday is here, and with it the black hearts of your humble hosts! But this time around said hearts are filled with joy as we commemorate (somewhat belatedly; my bad!) the 50th installment of my co-host Stefan Sasse’s Thursday Theory Hour feature on his home blog, The Nerdstream Era. Every week, Stefan hand-selects three theories or questions bedeviling A Song of Ice and Fire fandom (often but not always drawing from questions I answer here at boiledleather.com from my Ask inbox) and offers his eminently worthwhile take on all three. To celebrate this semicentennial installment, Stefan asked me and our Podcast of Ice and Fire comrade Amin Javadi to help him do a live-action version of the feature, essentially, picking out three questions (plus a bonus or two) and answering as best we can. Will Jon get another POV chapter? What lessons can we learn from trial by combat regarding the existence of the gods? Is Eddard Stark still alive? (I know, I know.) Was Tywin Lannister poisoned? Did Melisandre create another shadow baby in A Dance with Dragons? What major plot twists should we look forward to in The Winds of Winter? The answers may surprise you!
Endless thanks both to Amin and to Stefan, my long-suffering brother-in-arms, for their patience with this podcast, and with me. And thanks to all of you for the same things!
Don’t call it a comeback! Stefan Sasse & Sean T. Collins return with our first BLAH since June, and we’re bringing our chum Amin Javadi of the mighty A Podcast of Ice and Fire along for the ride. It’s basically two episodes in one: For the first half hour or so, we discuss Stefan’s essay “Savoring the Taste?: On the Role of Revenge in A Song of Ice and Fire” from the expanded Collector’s Edition of Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows — TotH's excellent collection of essays by various luminaries in the ASoIaF community. Stefan argues that quests for revenge, no matter how horrendous the crime being avenged, are self-perpetuating engines of violence that have had awful consequences for these characters and their culture. Please note that the Collector's Edition — a print book, no less — is only on sale through the end of this Friday, November 1st, after which it will disappear forever. Buy it now and let’s talk!
In the back half of the ep, we get exquisitely nerdy and discuss various what-if scenarios, predicated on major events and decisions going a different way than they had before. What if Brandon Stark had escaped the wrath of the Mad King and lived to lead the North? What if Renly had sworn allegiance to Stannis and helped him in his quest for the Iron Throne rather than declaring himself king instead? What if the rebel lords who rose up against Joffrey following the deaths of Robert and Eddard had kept the king’s peace and traveled to King’s Landing to swear allegiance as requested? What if Ned had lived through his public confession and gone to the Wall as planned? I had an absolute blast teasing out the consequences of each of these divergences and hope you’ll enjoy it too. It’s good to be back!
You wanted it, you got it: Sean and Stefan talk Game of Thrones Season Three, for 69 minutes and change. Two men and one show enter — one INDISPUTABLE VERDICT ABOUT GOT SEASON THREE leaves! Haha j/k lol. Topics include Catelyn, Stannis & Davos, Jaime & Brienne, Jon & the Night’s Watch, the emotional content of extreme violence, the Red Wedding, the season finale, my controversial comments on the show and race, the problem with book purists, what to look for in season four, what exactly makes for “a good episode” of Game of Thrones, and much more. It’s our biggest episode yet!
BONUS: If you really can’t get enough of hearing us yammer on about this show, Sean was a guest on Critic Proof, the Bloggingheads.tv video podcast about pop culture hosted by the great Alyssa Rosenberg. Give that thing a spin!
Hang on to your hardcovers, fire up those ebooks, and arrange the dulcet tones of Roy Dotrice into an appropriate iTunes playlist: Today Stefan and I are discussing the combined reading order I came up with for reading A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons simultaneously. As you’re no doubt aware, the concerns that kept these two novels apart — they cover the same period of time, only with different characters at the forefront — were primarily IRL logistical ones. Weaving their chapters back together creates a very different reading experience, revealing aesthetic and thematic unities that make it well worth the effort. For both Stefan and myself, this has become the method of choice for reading this second-act section of A Song of Ice and Fire. In this podcast, we’ll explain why.
Here are a few links you might want to take a look at as you listen:
Happy reading and happy listening!
It’s a power-player episode of BLAH this time out, as our irregularly scheduled series on the women of Westeros tackles a trio who have little in common except their positions near the top of the power structure: Margaery Tyrell, Melisandre of Asshai, and Lysa Arryn. The combination was Stefan’s idea, and the result of the odd juxtaposition is a pretty diverse set of questions tackled over the course of the episode.
How do the differences and similarities between book-Margaery and show-Margaery stack up? How does Melisandre’s use of magic compliment or compromise what you might expect from a woman in her position in Westerosi society? What does Lysa tell us about the costs of the Westerosi gender system, and the limits of audience empathy? Let’s find out together, just you and us.