Tower of the Hand



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Good Fortune in the Decade to Come

What does the future hold for our favorite books and offshoots? Well, I've looked into the flames and I've seen what is to come in the decade ahead. Like all seers, my interpretations of prophecies range from bold to ridiculous, and all them are likely to be proven very, very wrong. But I've enjoyed this admittedly self-indulgent exercise and I invite you to add your thoughts and predictions, too.

In the beginning. Almost twenty years ago, I was flipping through The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Tenth Annual Collection, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, looking for something to read on an upcoming plane trip. The anthology included a list of the top fantasy novels of 1996, in which I saw this blurb about a book I hadn't yet heard of:

The Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra). This acclaimed writer's new novel is a saga written on an epic scale and entirely delicious. It's a fat book, the first in a series, and filled with all the classic fantasy tropes: kings and courtiers, soldiers and sages, magical creatures and a cruel dragon prince—yet Martin manages to give familiar themes and characters vivid new life. I recommend this one even to readers who have sworn off multi-book series fantasy.

Thus I checked out A Game of Thrones from the library and figured this "fat book" would at the very least help me sleep while in mid-flight. I read the first chapter when I got home. Then I read another chapter and another. I was a third of the way into the book when I realized I might actually finish it before I even got to the airport. I made a quick return visit to the library to pick up A Clash of Kings, the second book, which was at the time the only other book in the series. I felt a little silly having these two massive hardcovers making up the bulk of my luggage, but it was so worth it. I carried one of the books everywhere I went during that spring break: on the plane, on the beach, at a spring training game, on a sailboat even.

Those were my very first memories of reading A Song of Ice and Fire. What made you read the books? If you started by watching Game of Thrones first, what drew you to the show?


Good Fortune in the Wars That Were

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.

Queen or King of Love and Beauty

Who do you want to see sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of Game of Thrones? HBO has just released a set of character posters to help you visualize all the possibilities, with each of the major players perched comfortably (or otherwise) on Westeros' iconic seat of power. Admittedly, only a few of them have a legitimate claim and a viable path to the throne, but ignore all that for this discussion. Simply pick your favorite character from those pictured below and argue why she or he would be the hero that the Seven Kingdoms deserves.

Upon the first sighting of Snow. 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.

Face Off and the Fantasy Makeup of Game of Thrones. Tonight, David Peterson, who created the Dothraki language for the HBO show, will present a special Game of Thrones related challenge to the contestants of Syfy's Face Off. In the reality show, makeup artists compete against one other to create prostheses like the ones we often see in science fiction and horror films. Tune in to Face Off tonight 9 PM ET, then consider the following question. By design, Game of Thrones isn't a traditional fantasy, so it hasn't needed to worry about making up new races like elves and dwarves. Despite that, the show has steadily introduced new fantastical races, almost all from beyond the Wall: the White Walkers, the giants, the Thenns, the children of the forest. Which has been the show's best looking creations? Would you prefer the show to be more outlandish or more grounded in its designs?

External Link Inside a Game of Thrones college course. This summer, the University of Virginia offered a four-week course on A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R. R. Martin's bestselling series, and the HBO show that adapted it for television. The Wall Street Journal interviewed the professor and several students about the class, where topics ranged from the R+L=J theory to the nature of spoilers. This is not the first class to study GRRM's books, nor will it be the last. But do the books have enough literary merit to be the subject of a legitimate college course? Should it be more of an examination of media and fandom? Or does this just sound like a blow off class?

External Link Democracy and governance in Westeros. Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress identifies one key difference between the War of the Five Kings and the War of the Roses, and wonders if that difference makes governing Westeros more or less democratic.

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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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