Tower of the Hand

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External Link Starring roles named in House of the Dragon. While everyone may be talking about Disney's major Star Wars and Marvel reveals, HBO wants to remind everyone that it's in the franchise game, too, by announcing today who will be headlining its first Game of Thrones spinoff, House of the Dragon. Joining the previously announced Paddy Considine as King Viserys Targaryen are Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower, Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen.

The Mandalorian Season 2 Open Thread. The first season of The Mandalorian proved that it's still possible to go back to a galaxy far, far away, and somehow avoid polarizing the fanbase. Perhaps that's too low a bar for the first live-action Star Wars TV show, but as it turns out, Baby Yoda would have been enough to clear most thresholds for success, no matter how high. Plus it stars Oberyn Martell! (Some unsolicited advice for the show: please stop hiding your most charismatic actor behind a helmet.)

The second season of The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+ tomorrow, October 30. Feel free to let us know what you think of the new episodes, your hopes for the future, and whether or not we should be worried about another Star Wars Holiday Special.

External Link King Viserys I cast for HBO prequel. English actor Paddy Considine has been cast as King Viserys I Targaryen in House of the Dragon, the first casting announcement made for the Game of Thrones prequel. Considine has a long and accomplished resume, appearing in movies like Hot Fuzz (alongside several Game of Thrones alums), In America, and The Bourne Ultimatum, and received a Tony nomination just last year for his work on Broadway in The Ferryman. You may have recently seen Considine on HBO, as he was one of the leads in the Stephen King's The Outsider miniseries.

Be a Poll Worker. I've served as a poll worker for every election, big and small, in the last fifteen years, from the crazy busy presidential contests to the dreadfully dull library board elections. I've been assigned to polling places that I could walk to, and I've been sent to polls that were an hour drive away. I've been crammed into a school gym with dozens of other workers, and I've been in a church loft where there were only three of us to handle an entire day's worth of voters. I've endured equipment breaking down and occasionally voters breaking down, too. I've listened politely as people tell me they vote because otherwise the country would fall apart. I've cheered when someone tells me they're voting for the very first time; it happens way too rarely. I've thanked each and every voter for performing their civic duty, and it's nice when they thank me for performing mine. At the end of the day -- as long and chaotic as it may be -- I'm always convinced it was worth it.

Today is National Poll Worker Recruitment Day. We have a critical shortage of poll workers, perhaps more so now than ever. We've been asked to reach out to anyone who might be willing and able: you can help America vote during this upcoming election by signing up as a poll worker in your community. It's important. It's worth it. We've also been asked to tell our friends and family to vote early if possible. Don't wait. Check your voter registration and voting options now. Every early voter is one less person a poll worker like me has contact with on election day. In any case, please remember: every vote counts, every vote matters.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik is perhaps best known for her Temeraire series, which imagined dragons during the Napoleonic Wars. (We'll talk more about fantasy and dragons in a future book review, trust me.) But Novik later earned lots of recognition for Uprooted, a retelling of the Baba Yaga folklore that she was told as a child. Hers was a curious but carefully crafted world of magic, and one of my better reads of the past decade. So it was of great interest to me when Novik published another twist on fairy tales, and one that was subsequently rewarded with Locus, Hugo, and Nebula award nominations: Spinning Silver.

External Link House of the Dragon begins casting. James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly reports that HBO is taking the next step on its Game of Thrones prequel: House of the Dragon has begun casting. There are no official breakdowns yet, so he -- like so many of us -- are left to speculate on what characters the new show will include. Since House of the Dragon is said to be based in part on George R. R. Martin's Fire & Blood, we can expect to see plenty of Targaryens; they are the subject of GRRM's book, which comprehensively (albeit dryly) documents their reign over the Seven Kingdoms in the centuries leading up to the events of Game of Thrones.

Hibberd presumes that House of the Dragon will at some point feature the "Dance of the Dragons," a pivotal event in Westerosi history that is rife with family drama, political intrigue, and hot dragon-on-dragon action. HBO could do far worse than spend a few years bringing this Targaryen civil war to our screens, a mini-Game of Thrones that also benefits from having a beginning, a middle, and, yes, an ending as already written by GRRM.

As Hibberd notes, there is also the possibility that House of the Dragon could be an anthology series, with each season focusing on a different era of Targaryen lore. The Dance of the Dragons would of course be part of this, but this approach would also allow the show to spend time with Aegon I and his sisters as they conquer Westeros, and with Jaehaerys I during his long, progressive, and sometimes sad tenure, and maybe even follow Dunk and Egg on their wacky adventures. At first I wasn't sold on the anthology idea, but HBO (and viewers) might be happier with a non-serialized show that isn't so dependent on how well (or how badly) it executes its final season.

We haven't really addressed House of the Dragon here, so let's start with the basics. What kind of show would you prefer it be: a serialized story or an anthology? Which characters are you most interested in seeing? What is the one thing you would demand of the show, if you were an all-powerful producer? Personally I was always a little disappointed by Game of Thrones' lack of diversity early on, and I'm worried that House of the Dragon will be even more limited in this regard because of its singular focus on a family of fair-haired, purple-eyed beauties. Nevertheless I remain hopeful that the show will both learn lessons from its predecessor and find a way to get out of its huge shadow by the time it debuts, perhaps as early as 2022.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

If you're like me, you've had plenty of free time to read this year. But decent reading recommendations are hard to come by, harder still when the public library is closed and you're limited to the library's digital offerings. In my case, I learned to shrug off my normal finicky attitudes toward unknown authors and to embrace whatever book is readily available when I open up my ebook app, regardless of genre and target audience. (Though I do tend to check out the fantasy and sci-fi selections first.)

I've also started taking notes on my readings, paying particular attention to elements that might also appeal to my fellow A Song of Ice and Fire fans. Over the course of the summer I intend to present short, spoiler-free reviews of some of these books. Hopefully you'll find something that piques your interest. If not, I hope that you'll suggest a similar book that has entertained you.

Let me start with The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Sansa, First and Last of Her Name

Warning! This post may discuss events from beyond your current scope. If you're fully caught up, you can remove this spoiler warning from all similar blog entries, or view this post without bypassing the warnings of other entries.


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Tower of the Hand is an unofficial companion to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO's Game of Thrones, featuring chapter and episode guides, character profiles, family trees, and much more.

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