Oberyn Martell, the Eighth Book, and Other GoT News

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Is Oberyn a knight in shining armor for the 21st Century? Image: © HBO, unknown gif artist.

Not since the Red Wedding has the fan reaction to a Game of Thrones death unleashed such a torrent of emotion, humor, commentary, and news articles. (Some great reactions from the Tweetosphere.) That split second when Oberyn smiled at his paramour Ellaria – instead of focusing on his own safety and killing the Mountain – changed everything. Why are we sad that Oberyn is gone, or, for that matter, shocked that he expired fighting a goliath of a man like the Mountain? After all, after barely a season, we hardly knew Oberyn.

If this is as close as Game of Thrones – which so aggressively deconstructs the medieval fairy tale – is going to get to the handsome prince, we want it. On the surface Oberyn is anti-chivalry: the un-Disney prince. Oberyn is bisexual (openly on the show), fathers children out of wedlock, has a “bastard” as his lover, spends his free time at brothels, and enjoys his orgies.

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Pedro Pascal fights ‎Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson © HBO

Yet Oberyn is authentic and romantic. He is fearless, honest, unpredictable, only ever does what he wants as David Benioff notes in this Inside Series. Most important: love guides Oberyn. He is one of the few characters to not only find romantic love but risk his life to avenge those he loved.

Here are a few of the more interesting stories from this week’s torrent of GoT news:

The Princess Bride Inspired Oberyn

According to this TV guide interview with Pascal Pedro, the 1987 movie The Princess Bride — and the character Inigo Montoya — inspired George RR Martin to create Oberyn’s thirst for vengeance. In the relatively gentle The Princess BrideInigo Montoya is a Spanish fencer driven to avenge is his father’s death. This clever meme, tweeted by Ariana Ozil Beckham , sums it up nicely:

 

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Staging Oberyn and the Mountain’s Fight Scene

Pedro Pascal dazzled us with his swirling spear and acrobatic flips during. The martial arts style is known as Wushu. You can learn more about it in this video with the Game of Thrones set designers and crew:

Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but it is physically impossible for a human to crush another human’s skull with their bare hands. At least, that’s according to according to a biomedical engineer and bicycle-helmet expert in this Washington Post article. Not that we care…

GRRM Comments on Sansa: Not Our Little Princess Anymore

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The Mary Sue had this amazing meme in their recap, and it just nails it.

In this week’s Inside Episode, GRRM commented on the changes in Sansa, which come just after I finally started to develop more sympathy for Sansa. I’ve taken a fair bit of heat for my Does Sansa Suck? article. But,  Sophie Turner’s superbly evocative and resonant enactment of Sansa’s catch phrase –“I’m a stupid little girl with stupid dreams who never learns…”  — really got to me.  That feeling is something all of us can relate to at some point — well at least I can.

Steve Attewell, of Race for the Iron Throne, has described Sansa as embodying George RR Martin’s deconstruction of the Disney Princess. That’s a great point, and I’ve come to believe that Sansa represents a semi-realistic historic arc of how many noble women during the Wars of the Roses might have become arch manipulators and power players – in their struggle to survive.

In this week’s video, GRRM comments about how Sansa is moving away from being “not a piece” or a pawn “but a player”:

“She can’t fight with swords, axes. She can’t raise armies. But, she has her wits – same as Littlefinger has.” – GRRM

Jorah’s Departure: More Time Alone with Dany

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Iain Glenn and Emilia Clarke in their pivotal scene. © HBO

Iain Glenn gives an interview here about Daenerys banishing him from Meereen. Glenn notes that he believes Jorah thought that if he could speak to Daenerys alone he could have reminded her of all of his loyal actions and good counsel, and she might have forgiven his early betrayal.

Game of Thrones One of Top Shows on TV – not just premium cable

Game of Thrones has moved from being one of the top shows on premium cable (HBO) to one of the most watched shows on US television when you combine its first-run, HBO Go, and second view numbers. According to Hollywood Reporter, it now has a viewership of 18 millions gross viewers, which  rivals (free) network TV and shows like The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones’ ratings have even whacked the Sopranos as this Entertainment Weekly article so aptly put it.

GoT Piracy

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Everyone’s favorite pirate: Yara Greyjoy as portrayed by Gemma Whelan. Image: © HBO.

This is old news, but if you’re having trouble finding Game of Thrones on torrent, it is because around early May, Time Warner began to crack down on Game of Thrones piracy. Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world.

This stance on piracy is a bit of an about-face. Previously, Time Warner, HBO’s parent company, didn’t care that much that people were pirating it because they felt it helped the show go viral. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes explains in this Business Insider article:

“Basically, we’ve been dealing with this issue for years with HBO, literally 20, 30 years, where people have always been running wires down on the back of apartment buildings and sharing with their neighbors,” he said. “Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising… If you go around the world, I think you’re right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.”

Eight Books for Eight Kingdoms?

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George RR Martin (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The other day, George RR Martin’s editor, Anne Groell,  hinted that it may take eight books to wrap up the A Song of Ice and Fire series – something many of us have betting on for a long time. Depending on how you look at it, this is good news or bad news. For fans who worry George RR Martin may die before finishing the series, this is not good news. For fans like me, who will be sad when the series is over, in some ways, this is great news. More A Song of Ice and Fire books! However, it also means that we will have to wait even longer to find out what ultimately happens.

According to Anne Groell, GRRM is secretive even with her about how much work he has completed and when The Winds of Winter will be finished.

Olga from Nerdalicious has more about the Anne Groell’s comments here.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

15 Comments

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    Grant

    On the piracy, I do have to remind HBO and the owners of Game of Thrones of a comment I found in a once (possibly Bloomsberg). There are many, many people across the world who are completely unable to legally get HBO or any of its other versions (or the DVDs and Blu-ray discs which take forever to just come out). However many, maybe even most by now, of them probably have some way to access the internet. Just cracking down on internet piracy doesn’t work too well when the files are highly desired by many.

    And from the comments by Groell, sounds like Martin’s gained immunity from editors. Hoping that doesn’t signal bad ideas in the future (it happens to lots of authors).

    • Reply June 7, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      I used to be a huge Stephen King fan as a teenager. After the first few I tried, I read all of his books in the order he wrote them — until I hit Tommyknockers. Ugh. I don’t know if that just wasn’t edited or vetted enough, but I thought it was awful. I think editing is the dirty secret of the writing world. My day job is that I’m a technical writer and we have editors at work from publishing houses. They can do *magic* to a manuscript – seriously. Btw, or obviously 🙂 , my work here isn’t edited like that, but a good editor looks far beyond just the typos and can change and improve story lines and content.

      Re: the piracy
      I agree. I feel sorry for people who can’t get it in their countries (eg their cable providers don’t carry it or they don’t have cable). The obvious solution (to me at least) is if HBO let people buy HBO Go directly, without cable TV. I keep hearing you can buy it from them directly but I can’t find anything about this on the web.

      As a writer, I try to be respectful of copyright status. Recently, two major websites (newspapers) stole the bulk (90%) of the ideas in their articles from this website without even linking to it. I wasn’t happy.
      With that said they get commercial benefits from piracy. It’s like a library – you can’t assume those people would have bought your book if the library didn’t exist. Still there is definitely a line.

    • Reply June 7, 2014

      Olga Hughes

      I don’t think anything in Anne’s comments indicated George was ‘immune’ from editing. She works for a fantasy/sci-fi publishing house and many of the authors, including George, have been working on series’ of books set in the same universe for a couple of decades. And a Song if Ice and Fire was hugely successful long before it was adapted for television.

      On the piracy, that’s interesting Grant. Here, HBO just signed an exclusive deal with the cable company for Game of Thrones, meaning many people who were buying it on Apple TV are now unable to get it. The cable company doesn’t include it in a normal package, and charges $25 a month for a set of movie channels which includes one that plays prime-time cable shows. This means people will have to fork out a minimum of $75 a month to watch Game of Thrones – and Australia seems to ‘win’ the country that pirates Game of Thrones the most each year. I don’t know how much cable costs in the rest of the world but $75 to watch a single show each month is a bit rich.

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I admire G R R Martin’s capability to create the ASOIAF world but don’t think even he should be immune to input from his editors. I came to the books after the show and must admit I do occasionally find some parts (not all) rather rambling. I am not saying that to offend any fans who think Mr Martin can do no wrong – I’m not like that, just saying how I personally – and honestly – feel. Of course without Mr Martin we wouldn’t have either book or show version of the epic. I don’t think the posting of negative remarks on Mr Martin’s blog (as I understand has happened) is really helpful. He’s rich enough to just think “Sod you” and turn his energies to something else. (Would an American say “Sod you”? Maybe not). The piracy is a grey area. If HBO had more money they could spend more on the series (and on their output in general). I’m not one of those people who think everything HBO put out is wonderful. Although the Sopranos was mentioned to me as a very good show, I found it hard to watch and soon discontinued because there was such a dearth of likable characters. I’m not saying everything should be like a Disney sanitised version of the world but I knew there was something wrong, at least as far as my appreciation of the show went, when I kept wishing the police would catch the late James Gandolfini’s character. I’m not saying that it was not well acted. In the UK the franchise which shows “Game of Thrones” is part of an empire which is not exactly “short of a bob or two” (translation it has a lot of loot). The options in the UK for watching are:- the legal way, acquire a friend who has the station which shows it so you can cadge an invitation to watch it at his or her house, wait for the DVDs or go to one of the sites which has uploads of the videos and watch on the computer.

  • Reply June 6, 2014

    Jun

    —–Spoilers—-from books 4&5—

    On one hand I concur GRRM’s writing can be rambling at times. On the other hand it is impossible to tell what is unnecessary rambling (especially in Books 4 and 5) and what is not when the novel is not finished. Martin’s modus operandi in the first 3 books is to bury some important details in a mountain of purely world-building details. Only when the big event happens will you realize their importance.

    For example, Ramsey Snow is initially mentioned in passing among Robb Stark’s men in one of their boring meetings. Who knew he would become a major character later? If these key elements and foreshadowing were not buried in other inconsequential details, the big events would not have a big impact because we would see them coming.

    Also, perhaps this is just me, I find that the scenes I remember the most clearly are the “filler” scenes in the books that do not propel the plot, and my favorite characters are often small not critical to the narrative, almost “throwaway” characters (eg, Dacy Mormont).

    There are other arguments against cutting stuff out of Martin’s books that I’ll omit here.

    The bottom line is, although I sometimes wish ASOIAF were shorter and smaller and finished already, I simply can’t say for sure which chapters or elements that can be cut without harming the style of the story we have known and loved. One reader’s garbage might be another reader’s treasure. I might want to cut the Quentyn Martell plot, but another reader might object violently. Someone might want to cut Tyrion’s boat trip down River Rhoyne, but that is my favorite part of Book 5 even if cutting it out can get Tyrion from A to B faster without affecting the overall story arc.

    ASOIAF is perhaps not a good novel in the normal sense in that it’s structure and plot are too sprawling and not linear enough. It is what it is. If it weren’t like this it would be totally different. The TV series are proposing a more streamlined style of telling story. It seems a perfectly serviceable alternative to engage a wider audience. If the TV series take us to the ending much FASTER than the books (looking inevitable now), would it negate the meandering journey that Martin takes us on? Not for me but I can see why others want it.

    • Reply June 7, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      I’m not a big fantasy genre reader. But I’ve heard that the length is part of the genre. Is that true? I don’t know. I wish they would break novels into smaller chunks. I would rather buy three 400 word novels than one 1200 word novels. The suspense is too much for me. I end up jumping ahead and reading the characters I like and then rereading. But maybe he wouldn’t be able to create a full novel arc if they did it that way. I’ve heard they have to publish German ASOIAF in multiple books due to manufacturing limitations. I wonder if that ruins the story line.
      Please forgive me – I just noticed – I might need to put a spoiler warning in your comment. Whoops! I should have caught that earlier – sorry folks!

      • Reply June 7, 2014

        Jun

        Sorry about the spoilers. If I could edit my comments, I would be happy to excise the spoilers and replace them with some nonspoiler examples.

        Yes I also first read all the chapters of the characters I like, and often end up with somewhat jumbled impression of the timelines. But GRRM’s timelines are pretty jumbled in the first place so there’s not much harm in my hopping around…

        • Reply June 8, 2014

          Jamie Adair

          Oh no worries at all. You’re such a great commenter I wonder if I can give you that level of permissions. I’ll look.
          Re: reading your favorite characters first
          Lol. Yeah, I wonder if there are a lot of people who read their favorite characters first? Anyone else?

          • June 8, 2014

            Olga Hughes

            Not with George but I did it in Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders and then regretted it LOL. George doesn’t space them out evenly really, so I didn’t cheat (I did want to with Arya though)

      • Reply June 7, 2014

        Olga Hughes

        Yes longer books are normal, but George’s books are around the 800 page mark in paperback. I don’t really find them that long LOL.
        Robin Hobb’s last series was written as three books but the publishers made her split the last book into two 4/500 page novels. You know what that did? It just pissed a whole lot of readers off. As for the author themselves, if they were forced to curb their word-count while actually writing it would ruin their narrative.
        George’s books have been split well after they were published, I think you can even get ADWD in two books now. It serves its’ purpose for people who prefer to read shorter books but most people read the books one after the other anyway, so I really fail to see the difference. Could you imagine having to wait a year between books to read the second part of WOW? Would you be happy about that? I doubt it.

        Unless it is something to do with actually holding the books because they are too heavy. I usually read a 1970’s set of LOTR in three volumes because the single volume hurts my hands after holding it for a long time. But now I am digressing…

  • Reply June 8, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    As I’ve grown older I find I don’t read as many hefty tomes as I did in my youth. I liked some of the nineteenth century Russian writers and I read some of Robert Graves’ books such as “I Claudius” and “Count Belisarius” and some of Alfred Duggan’s books. I’m likely to go for a light read these days.

    Nowadays a lot of folk-tales or troubadour tales or whatever one likes to call them (which do often have a fantasy element) are online. I know Mallory’s “Morte d’Arthur” is online. I liked reading about King Arthur and his Knights when I was a child, though of course any reference to incest had been excised in the version I read which was intended for children. I’ve never been a Harry Potter fan but I applaud JK Rowling’s ability to interest children in reading. In my childhood a writer called Enid Blyton, who wrote books both with a fantastic element [e.g. “The Magic Faraway Tree”] and adventure stories [“Famous Five”, “Secret Seven”, “The Mystery of………” series] was very popular, though she seems to have fallen out of favour latterly. I watched “Merlin” by chance towards the end of 2012, so towards the end of its run, and didn’t expect to like it (I don’t usually like the folk-tales or written original stories being tampered with) but did enjoy it as a guilty pleasure.

    • Reply June 8, 2014

      Olga Hughes

      Well Enid is still pretty popular Watcher – I sell books and hers are always sought after. Incidentally I collect them too, I love her. Did you know JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected because it was too long? It was around the 300 page mark, the later books went to around 700 pages if I recall correctly.
      That is good training if kids will progress onto fantasy books later 🙂
      Merlin was good fun!

  • Reply June 9, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    Children probably do still like Enid Blyton, Olga. I know she came in for a fair amount of criticism from people who take it on themselves to police what children should like to read. If you are in the book trade you will probably know that some changes have been made to her works in latter years – the goblins are the baddies in “Noddy” rather than the golliwogs and in the faraway tree books Jo, Bessie and Fanny have been re-named Joe, Beth and Frannie. There is still a “Noddy” children’s TV show on one of the commercial channels in the UK. An ex-boyfriend of mine from many years ago had once worked in a book shop and he said that when he went on a course the delegates had in a jokey way nominated Noddy as what would nowadays be called a “bad-ass” because he often defied Mr Plod the Policeman and picked up a married Teddy Bear (apparently he gave Mrs Tessie Bear a lift to town frequently in the ting-a-ling). As for JK Rowling having the first Harry Potter book rejected because of its length, no I did not know that, though I had heard she hadn’t struck lucky with the first publisher she approached.

  • Reply June 10, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    Slightly off-topic but for a moment I read Olga’s comments about Robin Hobb as “Robin Hood”. Mind you that’s not as embarrassing as when I read (several years ago) in a night school prospectus of a class which was actually “lace-making using the traditional pillow method”. I misread it as “love-making using the traditional pillow method” and thought what the heck….still it gave people a laugh I suppose.

    As for streamlining the ASOIAF novels in the translation to the small screen, I suppose it was inevitable given the expanse of the books. I was sorry they cut Mya Stone. Other people may regret the non-inclusion of other minor characters – if I remember correctly there were more named members of the Brotherhood without Banners in “A Storm of Swords”. I still like the TV show though.

  • Reply June 10, 2014

    Olga Hughes

    LOL. You know I read things wrong all the time, you’re not alone.

    I do love the show, as much as I complain about it. I think at this point the show is going to take quite a different path from the books. That’s fine, I have loads to look forward to in the books.

    I love that ‘bad-ass’ Noddy story!

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