A Song of Ice and Fire – Colossal, complex, consuming

So it seems I have finally closed the book on George R.R. Martin’s wondrous world of Westeros (and Essos as well, but that didn’t fit with the alliteration). What a journey it’s been these last 18 months, travelling the length and breadth of the Seven Kingdoms, and more, with the likes of Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and Jon Snow. All over now.

I’ve hit that lull that happens when a series is over, and I’ve been reading it so long that it feels almost wrong to have another book in my hands. (Of course, as you would expect, all of my highest recommendations come with this series … but you’d have to be a pretty dedicated reader/fantasy fan/TV show fan to make the commitment I think; they’re not necessarily an easy read, and there’s a lot to keep track of). But I just wanted to share something of my thoughts, while finishing them feels like such a milestone.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

These books are so intense and rich it’s staggering. George R.R. Martin thrusts his reader right into the middle of his world unapologetically, and they’re instantly immersed. One of the things that I find so amazing is the depth of the world itself. It is colossal. From the Wall to King’s Landing to Dorne, and across the Narrow Sea to Qarth and Meereen and Braavos … it’s all so vast and yet so detailed. Martin’s creative abilities are unbelievable. And that’s without even mentioning his characters, who are some of the most real characters, I think it’s safe to say, I have ever come across. And the thing that makes them so, is the ambiguity within them. Let me explain.

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Game of Thrones – When TV does something incredible

I think pretty much everyone who knows me well, knows that I am huge follower of HBO’s Game of Thrones. And they know that I dedicate my Monday nights to watching it (almost) without fail. Tonight, we saw episode 9 of season 6, ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ and there was plenty of excitement building up to it, especially when the show’s track record has been consistent with huge moments and turning points that happen in the, often epic, 9th episode. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty hyped about this one.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

After having successfully avoided spoilers all day (which I might add, I’m getting quite good at), all I’d heard about the upcoming episode was that it was a big one, and plenty of the cast were singing its praises too. But all of this I’d gathered myself from the teaser shown on last week’s Thronecast. So, I settled down to watch with great anticipation. And then something happened which only happens every once in a while, when TV does something incredible.

Game of Thrones proved to me why it’s my favourite show on television.

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Film Calendar 2016

As we welcomed in the new year with fireworks, bubbly, and those odd people we call ‘family’, there was something I realised looking forward to the year ahead. This year is going to be an expensive one. But expensive in one particular area: the cinema.

There are some incredible films to look forward to this year, and I can see that cinema trips will be frequent on account of the sheer number of exciting films set for release in 2016, though my bank account probably won’t thank me for that. And while there’s such a hype about the film calendar this year, I thought I’d dedicate a post to my top films of the year, the ones I’m most excited for.

**SPOILER FREE POST** (I mean, duh)

My homemade categories consist of: Superheroes, Sci-fi & Fantasy, Disney & Animation, and Sequels.

Superheroes

  1. Captain America: Civil WarSeeing as the Cap is my favourite Marvel superhero, naturally this one’s top of the list, but even without that little bias this film looks like another epic box office hit. There seems to be a trend at the moment in cinema about epic-ness and world-defining narratives, but the audiences are loving it, and I’m afraid I’m no exception. Particularly exciting about this film, is the dynamic between Captain America and Iron Man that we see in the trailer: while we know they don’t get on all that well at the best of times, here they are actually pitted against each other. This film is certain to divide opinion, and probably the internet too.
  2. X-Men: ApocalypseFirst things first, Sophie Turner Sophie Turner SOPHIE TURNER. As you can probably tell, I’m a Thrones fan, and quite excited about seeing the young Miss Turner in the role of Jean Grey, and that’s the first thing that hits in the trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse (props to the promo team). This is another film that looks epic and high stakes, and I’m wondering where this fits on the X-Men timeline after Days of Future Past. I’ll be interested to see what they do with this one, particularly where Charles Xavier’s hair and the antagonist (who remains somewhat of a mystery) are concerned.
  3. DeadpoolA superhero film with a difference. This is the superhero for the older audience, the first of his kind in the Marvel franchise. Interesting, I hear you say. Indeed it is. But from what the trailer shows us, it looks like he’s going to be a fantastic new hero to add to the Marvel cinematic universe. Also, notably for Game of Thrones fans, Ed Skrein has the role of Ajax in Deadpool – possibly the reason for his sudden departure from the show after a measly 3 episodes in the role of Daario Naharis (if you even remember him at all); he did say that he left the show to follow a path into film, so maybe this is it.
  4. Ones to watch. Other noteworthy Superhero films for the year include: Doctor Strange, which is national treasure Cumberbatch’s next gig; DC’s Suicide Squad which is creating A LOT of hype; and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which promises to be a great crowd-pleaser, provided everyone can accept Ben Affleck as the Bat after Christian Bale’s ownership of the role in the recent films. Is it too soon? Perhaps. A final thing worth noting here is the edition of Wonder Woman and the promise of a female-led film of her own next year. My bets are that Marvel will feel the need to follow suit for fear of criticism. After all, everyone’s been crying out for a Black Widow film for a while now. What DID happen in Budapest…?

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A Song of Ice and Fire – Lady Stoneheart

First things first: definitely DO NOT read this post if you have not read both parts of A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, because this includes major spoilers. And I would advise not reading this if you’ve ONLY watched the TV show of Game of Thrones – this one’s for book readers only unless you want spoilers – but you need to have seen the TV show to the end, or at least know what happens in the season 5 finale. You have been warned.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Well now that’s out of the way, the epilogue of A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold has caused much intrigue. I actually thought it was interesting that there WAS an epilogue in this book, as the first two volumes didn’t have one. And things picked up again when we met what appeared to be Lady Catelyn Stark reincarnated. She was described as being damaged (for want of a better word) by water from the river, and the wounds she had inflicted on her own face were present, as well as a large gash from where her throat had been slit.

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