Harald Bluetooth & Black Friday’s Bastard

On Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving, American retail shops unleash legions of deals upon consumers. As retailers attempt to milk more profits from consumers, a new tradition has arisen to induce people to shop online the Monday after Black Friday: Cyber Monday (or Cyber Week). This year, online retailers like Amazon, “celebrated” Cyber Week from December 1st to December 7th – and the sales totals are now in ($2.68 billion). So, in honor of Cyber Week – or simply…

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The Ironborn and the Viking Warrior: An Interview with Ian Stephenson

One of the more direct parallels between George R.R. Martin’s characters and historical cultures is that of the Ironborn and Vikings. Theon Greyjoy spent his formative years away from Pyke, in a foreign land amongst a society that could not be more different from the Ironborn. The Ironborn are fiercely proud of their heritage, they cling to the belief in the Old Way, where a man’s worth was judged primarily on his skill as a raider. The Ironborn disparage the…

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Theon, the Castrated Viking

Please note: This article is sexually explicit in ways some readers may find offensive or distasteful. It presents disturbing mental images, which parallel events in the show, and contains mild sexually graphic artifacts. Balon Greyjoy and his daughter Yara (Asha in the books) receive a parcel, a “special gift,” and a mysterious letter, sealed by what looks like piece of skin and House Bolton’s flayed man sigil.1  The message informs Balon that Ramsay Snow is holding Theon hostage. Ramsay warns Balon to…

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Vikings: Could a Real-Life Yara Ever Exist?

Yara (Asha in the books) is an amazing symbol of female power, but was she based on real life? Would a Viking-esque culture ever have a woman commanding a fleet of ships? At first glance, Yara seems like she might be a sophisticated version of the female super hero/warrior trope – a female powerhouse created to please a modern audience with no historical basis. If that is what George RR Martin had done, that would have been fine. After all,…

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