“Undressing the Vanity Dolls” by Katherine Vaz

This week for my Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge I drew the “mustache-less” King of Hearts (he’s the only king without a mustache – a fun bit of trivia I only learned today when preparing this post).


Did you also know that the four kings in the standard deck of cards also supposedly represent four historical kings? The King of Hearts is Charlemagne, while Spades = King David, Clubs = Alexander the Great, and Diamonds, depending on who you ask = Julius or Augustus Caesar. Okay, done with the trivia. 🙂

For this year’s challenge, Hearts are my suit for stories recommended by others.  (Update 4/12/14: actually I have this wrong: diamonds are my “recommended by others” suit. I had more stories recommended by others  that I had room for in that suit and a few bled into other suits. Hearts is actually my suit for women authors) Katherine Vaz is a Portugese-American writer who I learned about in quite a random way. Often, after our monthly meetings at the Kurt Vonnegut Library book club, some of us will adjourn to a nearby restaurant (named after the Vonnegut novel, Bluebeard) for lunch. Last July, it was just going to be two of us going, so I agreed with my colleague to “just meet you over there.” I got there first, and when he arrived he had two strangers with him. Seems he had been chatting with some “international visitors” in the library and, when asked to recommend a good place for lunch, did what any fine ambassador of our city would do and invited them along. They were in town for a “Portuguese Diaspora” conference (apparently there’s one every year somewhere in the world) at Butler University. We enjoyed a nice lunch and also a sharing of our literary interests. Long story short, I saw this as excellent opportunity to collect some reading recommendations. I explained my annual short story reading challenge to our guests, and they offered several Portuguese authors to consider. One was Katherine Vaz, and I’ve included two of her stories from her collection “Fado and Other Stories” in my 2014 roster.


I got off to a slow start with this story and was worried I wouldn’t like it. I even remember thinking, well, at least I learned what vanity dolls are (“people use them to displace vain desires. If a nun, or any devout person, painted a ball-gown onto a doll and gave it new earrings, the doll absorbed her wish to have those things. A doll dressed as a sailor could cure a travel bug, and one painted with flowers could relieve one of carnal aches.”) I’d never heard of vanity dolls before, and I guess I’ve assumed they really exist and aren’t just a vehicle for this story. Does anyone know?

Anyway, the story really blossomed the more of it I read. The main character, Reginald, now an astronomer, is making a visit to an old favorite botany professor of his (from twenty years ago) who is dying. The hook of the story is that Reginald has always suspected that there was once “something between” the professor (Eduardo Dias) and Reginald’s wife, Alicia. Reginald has never directly confronted Alicia with his suspicions, but has hinted around the bush about it for years. Appropriately, Vaz describes his marriage thus: “Reginald’s marriage to Alicia was redolent with what was withheld, which made it an ordinary, garden-variety union.”

Dias was/is an inveterate charmer, and Reginald has before told his wife that Dias “…had that ability to make everyone feel that he, or she, I suppose, was the only other person alive. It’s a gift. He was like that with me.” On Reginald’s visit to the dying man, Dias insists he take him to the seashore, as a red tide will be coming in, and he wants to see it. Reginald is spellbound by the phenomenon and thinks of Dias that “…he still knew the best secrets. He had a way of making you want to give him something in return.” His visit to Dias also leads him to know, “better than he has ever known… that vitality is plainly the cloak that sexuality wears, so that it can go out in public. That was what his professor was made of, that was his cloak, his finery.”

Vaz’s writing in the final pages of this story totally wowed me. An example: “The red tide was drifting south, the neon blue receding, and as easily as that, as easily and swiftly as a comet arrives, passes on, and does not return again, not in one’s lifetime, the moment for Dias to ask Reginald why he had given him the silent treatment, and for Reginald to ask if the letters were never for Alicia out of a well-founded guilt, came and left, and would present its chance to be regarded no more. Such nullifying moments exist, and their vacancy is as strong as all else that one might name.”

That passage – especially the last sentence – gave me goosebumps, and did again just now as I typed this. So … I guess I liked this story. 🙂

What about you? Have you heard of or read this author? What about other Portuguese or Portuguese-American writers? Id love to hear of them.

(Below: a red tide.)


Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon Part 6 (Second half of Season 3)


(Billy Idol: It’s a nice day for a … White Red Wedding!)

General Observations

It’s funny – it hasn’t really been that long since I watched season three the first time, but as I looked forward to this re-watch, I was thinking it was all about “The Red Wedding” in the infamously blood-spattered ninth episode. But season three is so much more than that. So many more subtleties that I overlooked the first time, whether it’s Roose Bolton asking a hand-less Jaime “are you sure you’ve not overplayed your … position?” Or the stunned look The Hound gives Arya after she knocks out the man whose wagon they help fix on the road to The Twins. Clegane finally “gets it” – this girl’s a badass.

This season is full of instances of odd pairings, or “strange bedfellows,” if you will. Aside from the great story arc of the evolving relationship between Jaime and Brienne, there are also the couples Jon and Ygritte (a Crow and a Wildling woman? That’ll never last!).


There’s also the uneasy partnership of Osha and Meera Reed (natural rivals, yet united by their loyalty to Bran), the bumbling yet good-hearted Sam Tarly and Craster’s widow/daughter, Gilly. We’ve also got the two weddings Tywin arranges -two more odd pairings, Sansa and Tyrion, and Cersei and Ser Loras. Ser Barristan Selby having showed up in Essos to serve “the true heir” pairs him with Ser Jorah – they are united by their service to Daenerys, but both have left their homeland and NOT on their own terms. And of course sharing a storyline – and a horse! – are my favorite mismatched couple: Arya and The Hound.

One other thing. I rarely get caught up in a television series like I have with this one. The only other recent instance would be last year’s final season of AMC’s brilliant series, “Breaking Bad.” But that was different. I had read no book. I didn’t know what was going to happen. None of us knew what was going to happen, but oh were we happy to be along for that ride. It’s a testament to those who have produced the Game of Thrones series that a viewer might become swept away in spite of already “knowing” the story. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who hasn’t read the books but has enjoyed the tv series. That must be a different experience, eh?

Another somewhat amusing twist in this season is how fast these child actors are growing up. Bran hardly looks the same, and Sansa and Arya have also grown up a bit.  Better accelerate that filming schedule, HBO! Oh well, I’m running out of time before the season four premier, so this post I’ll just take it an episode at a time, mentioning my favorite moments and observations on each.

Episode 6 “The Climb”


Lots of action in the north for this episode. I confess that the segments beyond the wall are not usually among my favorites, but the scene toward the end of the episode as the Wildlings – and Jon Snow – scale the ice is truly intense. Of course, this may just be due to my fear of heights, I don’t know. 🙂 But at least the view at the end is worth it for Jon & Ygritte.


(above: “Jonny and Ygritte, standing on the wall…”)

Also in this episode, Arya meets The Red Woman (Mellisandre) for the first time. Her assessment? “I don’t like that woman.” Good enough for me. Mellisandre warns Arya that “I’ll see you again…” Be careful what you wish for, there, Red.


(Melissandre tries to intimidate Arya. Good luck with that.)

Best comic relief of the episode, not surprisingly, goes to Tyrion as he and Cersei are musing about their upcoming and unwanted nuptials, and which of the four of them has the worst of it. Tyrion admits he supposes it’s Sansa, but observes that “Loras will certainly come to know a deep and singular misery.” Bwahaha! And speaking of Loras, I guess he’d be a runner up in the comedy category for his awkward and thankfully short-lived “courting” of Sansa.


And what was with the whole (weird) Petyr Baelish “Ladder Soliloquy” scene at the end of this episode? Sorry, Petyr, whatever it is you’re selling, I’m not buying it. You have what – as I learned in Psych 101 – are called “delusions of grandeur.” To me, you’re a piker, and you’ll always be a piker. (I kept waiting for the Wayne’s World overly dramatic “Oscar Clip” marker to start flashing on the screen.)


Episode 7 “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

There’s a great early scene here with Tywin and Joffrey as the Lannister Patriarch begins to “manage” the young tyrant.

Joffrey whines: “But I haven’t been counseled by anyone about this!”
Tywin: “You are being counseled at this very moment.”
Heh heh. Joffrey’s still afraid of his granddad it seems.


(above: Harrenhal – the cursed)

Also in this episode, Arya escapes the brotherhood but runs straight into the clutches of The Hound. A blessing for the viewers, if not for her. The best scenes in this episode, though, involve Jaime’s decision to return to save Brienne from Locke. Riding to King’s Landing, Jaime realizes that in a way it is his fault that Locke refused – and felt insulted by – Brienne’s father’s offered ransom. He turns around and rides back to Harrenhal to save her, finding her in a pit, forced to fight a gigantic bear with a wooden sword. It seems Jaime’s developed a consience – that almost makes me forget the thing he did for love at the start of “this damn series.”


And Locke. What an evil character he is. Such a mercenary. I can see no redeeming qualities in him. It’s a wonder he’s not working for King Joffrey.

(below: Locke. Don’t you love to hate him too?)


Episode 8 “Second Sons”

Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding is “the social event of the season” (a title it will only hold until the next episode is watched, though). Joffrey does his worst to ruin everything, removing Tyrion’s stepstool so that he cannot “cloak” Sansa, and snickering at Tyrion’s embarrassment. Oh, ever the romantic, Joffrey also threatens to rape the bride if Tyrion passes out from drunkenness. Charming.

Robb determines he needs the Freys to win the war so he decides to apologize to them. Meanwhile Arya learns from the Hound that he is taking her to the Twins also in hopes Catelyn and Robb will pay a ransom.

We spend some quality time with Daenerys in this episode too, as she plots to take another of the seemingly countless cities in Essos. This one is protected by a trio of mercenaries, however, who she invites to a parlay. Two are rude to her, but one is apparently smitten, and it seems we’ll be saddled with Daario Naharis (or “Fabio Face” as I think of him) for many episodes to come…

Good hearted Sam Tarly has his best moment in this episode too, as he is leading young Gilly and her baby back south of the wall and to safety, only to find a white walker in the way.  Thankfully, he has a dragon glass (obsidian?) dagger on hand to disintegrate the walker to smithereens!


Episode 9 “The Rains of Castamere”

The history of television is rich with many on-screen weddings. The one in this episode would instantly make any top ten lists in that category. It’s certainly the bloodiest since that night in May 1985, when virtually the ENTIRE CAST of the nighttime soap hit “Dynasty” were attacked and seemingly gunned down by terrorists at Amanda’s Moldavian(?) (made up country) wedding. Or am I the only one old enough to remember that?


But before we get to the blessed event. A few other things are happening in this episode…

On the road to the Twins, The Hound decides to appropriate the wagon of a pig farmer so that they more easily will gain admittance to the wedding feast. The Hounds knocks the farmer out and draws his blade to kill him but Sansa pleads with -and stops – him. She even goes so far as to tell him “I know a killer. A real killer. You’d be like a kitten to him.” Um, and this is The Hound she’s talking to. I think it’s in this same episode where she tells him, “Someday, I’m gonna put a sword through your eye and out the back of your skull.” God I love that “little girl.”


(above: The Hound – did that little girl really just knock that guy out cold?)

As for the wedding, well the Freys (mostly Walder, who looks just like the guy with the cat (Filch) at Hogwarts in Harry Potter – oh, it IS the same guy! Actor David Bradley. What range!) have ostensibly accepted Robb’s apology for marrying someone besides one of the Frey girls as he’d promised. I can certainly understand why Walder was so upset, seeing how he doesn’t even know all the girls’ names. Things seem to be going well at the ceremony. Robb’s uncle Edmure is pleasantly surprised that he seems to have found the one attractive Frey girl for his wife. Drinking and merrymaking abound, until the bride and groom leave and the doors are closed. The “live music” being played in the hall changes to a more somber pace (how many more clues do you need, Starks?!), and a bloodbath ensues as Frey exacts his revenge (in return for future Lannister favors we find out later.) With crossbow men in the balcony, the Stark party is massacred. The same is happening outside.

The Hound and Arya arrive just in time for Arya to witness Robb’s direwolf being butchered by Frey men. This must’ve been a shocker of an episode for those viewers who hadn’t read the books. Speaking of the books, Talisa didn’t attend the wedding in A Storm of Swords. You might say that she chose… wisely… in the book.

Episode 10 “Mhysa”


It kind of felt like the prior episode should have been the season finale, but – just as at Walder Frey’s great hall – there’s some cleanup to do.

Jon Snow, escaped from the wildlings, is tracked down by Ygritte, and she shoots some arrows into him. He didn’t think she would. Neither did I.

One great scene is when Arya and The Hound (still saddle buddies) come upon four of the Frey men gloating about the massacre. Arya slips off the saddle, circling around behind one of them and kills him with a knife. The others arise but they are no match for The Hound. After the men have been dispatched, The Hound humorously tells Arya, “If you’re going to do something like that again, tell me first.”

At the city of Yunkai, which Daenerys has brought under her control thanks to her army of “unsullied” and her now three lieutenants, the Mother of Dragons frees its slaves as well. The episode ends with the crowd chanting Mhysa (“mother”) as she walks into the throng of them. (For a moment I thought we would see some crowd-surfing, Essos style, but some of them lift her up in more of a winning Super Bowl coach style.) The episode – and season – ends to the chants of “Mhysa! Mhysa!” while Daeny’s three dragons circle overhead, signaling the start of our anxious wait for season four, which is now almost upon us!!

Well, thanks for joining us for this trip down memory lane for the first three seasons.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as Garrison and I have enjoyed throwing these posts together.  Going forward, “we now return you to Bibliophilopolis’s regular programming”… 🙂

Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon Part 5 (First half of Season 3)

This post is Part 5 of 6.  To see Part 6 click here.



And so my watch is ended. Well that happened quickly! I can’t believe we’ve already tackled (almost) the full series. Hopefully Jay and I have helped you pass the time until the Season 4 premiere this Sunday. Season three has a lot going on in the realm of character development, and we find out a lot about what makes certain characters tick. Perhaps no one exemplifies that more than Jaime Lannister. When we first meet him he is in a position of great power and responsibility (no Spider-Man jokes, please), he is arrogant, people sucked up to him, and he pretty much has always gotten what he wants. What little penance we the audience see Jaime receive is that he’s a known oath-breaker, and no one lets him forget that. But by the end of this group of episodes we see Jaime in a much more sympathetic light, we understand why he slayed Aerys Targaryen and we see what happens when his wealth is of no use and his sword hand (the reason beside his name that he is famous) is gone. This is where Jaime began to be one of my favorite characters, something that was only reinforced in the second half of season three.




Best Scenes
1. Tywin/Tyrion. I can’t be positive, but I don’t think Tywin *ever* is the first to speak when one of his kids visits him. This is a great interaction and shows just how badly Tywin hurts Tyrion, even though Tyrion essentially hates his father.

2. Catelyn expounds on her relationship with Jon Snow to Talisa. Catelyn broke her promise to the gods and believes she’s brought the horror down on her family herself.

3. Jaime gets the jump on Brienne and they duel on the bridge. The banter from Jaime really makes this scene.

4. When the small council convenes they discover that Tywin has arrange it so that he is now at the head of the table. The council jockeys for position to get closest to Tywin, Cersei carries a chair around to the other side of the table, and in the capper: Tyrion drags a chair, screeching the whole way, to the opposite head of the table, making himself an equal to Tywin. Wonderful.

5. Jaime does what he can to save Brienne for her attackers and is repaid by losing his hand.

6. Varys explains his back story to Tyrion – and why he has such a hatred for magic.

7. Cersei confronts her father, telling him that she is more like her father than either of his sons. Tywin responds like only he can: giving her the cold shoulder, and then absolutely shutting her down.

8. I love the jockeying that goes on between Cersei and Tyrion. There’s no respect between them. Tyrion is worried because Cersei has all the actual power. Cersei is worried because Tyrion has the cunning to undo her. The last exchange makes the scene worth it when Cersei says “You’re not half as clever as you think you are.” To which Tyrion replies: “Still makes me more clever than you.”

9. My personal favorite scene, thanks to my growing admiration of Jaime as a character, is his confession of why he murdered Mad King Aerys Targaryen to Brienne. When he collapses and she calls out that the Kingslayer needs help and he simply gasps “Jaime… my name is Jaime.” Wow. Watch this scene and the confrontation between Jaime and Catelyn I mentioned in Part 4 back to back.

10. And last, but certainly not least, Danaerys gets her Unsullied. When she turns around and speaks to Kraznys in Valyrian the look on my face was about the same as the look on Jorah Mormont’s.

Best Quotes

Tywin: Jugglers and singers require applause. You are a Lannister.
After Tyrion requests a little recognition for his exploits during the Battle of Blackwater.

Brienne: Maybe you were as good as people said… once. Or maybe people just love to overpraise a famous name.
To Jaime, about his clearly diminished skills with a sword.

Tyrion Lannister: I’m quite good at spending money, but a lifetime of outrageous wealth hasn’t taught me much about managing it.
After being appointed Master of Coin

Tyrion Lannister: We can’t afford to pay it back. That’s what’s wrong with it. The Crown owes millions to my father.
Bronn: Seeing as it’s his grandson’s ass on the throne, I imagine he’ll forgive that debt.
Tyrion Lannister: Forgive a debt? My father? For a man of the world, you’re strangely naive.

Varys: Actually I rather admire [Littlefinger], but he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.

Theon Greyjoy: My real father lost his head at King’s Landing. I made a choice… and I chose wrong.
Theon finally understanding just how badly he messed up.

Jaime: You are supposed to get me to King’s Landing in one piece… Not going so well, is it?

Lady Olenna Tyrell: [to Tyrion] I was told you were drunk, impertinent and thoroughly debauched. You can imagine my disappointment at finding nothing but a browbeaten bookkeeper.

Young Captive: Mercy, sire! I didn’t kill anyone. I only watched for the guards.
Robb Stark: This one was only the watcher. Hang him last so he can watch the others die.

Best Foreshadowing That You Definitely Didn’t Notice the First Time
Actually, this isn’t really foreshadowing at all, so forgive me. Those letters we saw Tywin writing and sending off in so many scenes? They are the foundation on which the Red Wedding was organized.

Assorted Musings
– Tyrion is so under appreciated by his family. It’s really kind of sad. That first scene with Tywin really underscores just how little they think of him. Tywin is also the only person who really puts Tyrion in his place. Even though Tyrion has no real love for his father he still is hurt very deeply by him.
– Cersei can’t stand Margaery and it is awesome. The girl is taking her little boy away and she hates it.
– Speaking of Margaery, she seems to be the only one to get how to handle Joffrey. She treats him like a little child, totally indulging anything he has to say. “Oh yes, tell me more! This is so fascinating! Show me how your crossbow works!” It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” where the parents constantly tell the child whatever he’s doing is “real good” so he doesn’t use his powers to harm them.

Little [Joffrey Baratheon], age 18, who lives in a city called [King's Landing] in a place that used to be [Westeros]. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts...

Little [Joffrey Baratheon], age 18, who lives in a city called [King’s Landing] in a place that used to be [Westeros]. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts…

– It’s great to re-watch the scenes with Dany in Astapor knowing that she understands Valyrian and can hear this guy constantly insulting her. She does really well in those scenes and the final one. Critic Alan Sepinwall said it best: “Her big moment comes in a foreign language, and the subtitles are barely necessary. That’s how good she was.”
– Lady Olenna Tyrell is so nice and grandmotherly! I want to like her, I want to trust her; but there are no nice people in Westeros!
– The whole Brotherhood without Banners plot makes more sense the second time around, especially if you recall Beric Dondarrion being sent to bring the Mountain to justice way back in Season 1. The first time I watched the series I spent half the time wondering who on earth these people were.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my recaps as much as I enjoyed re-watching the series and writing about it! See everybody Sunday at 9?

Full recap after the jump.

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Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon, Part 4 (2nd half of Season 2)

This post is Part 4 of 6.  Too see Part 5 click here.

The re-watch continues with the second half of Season 2, which cover roughly the second half of A Clash of Kings. Garrison is back to bring us up to speed.


This season is really Tyrion’s. I don’t think he’s the most important character (my money is still on Jon Snow and/or Daenerys) but his story arc is as compelling as anyone’s. Peter Dinklage gives amazing performances throughout and hits all his dramatic notes with the same perfection that he does his comic relief. Lena Headey also gives great performances as she struggles dealing with the monster that Joffrey is becoming.

Best Scenes

1. Anything between Tywin and Arya. I chose this one, because of Arya’s answer to Tywin asking what killed her father: “Loyalty.”

2. Jaime “bonds” with his cousin. There’s a couple great moments here, where Jaime is really humanized- and then he undoes it all.

Jaime takes time to bond with his enamored cousin, Alton, before killing him.

Jaime takes time to bond with his enamored cousin, Alton, before killing him.

3. Catelyn impugns Jaime’s honor. This scene fleshes Jaime out a little more and is a precursor to a lot we find out about him in Season 3. This was one of my favorite scenes on the rewatch, given what we now know about Jaime.

4. Much like Tywin and Arya, there are a lot of great Cersei/Sansa interactions in this season. You get the sense that she almost feels pity on Sansa. This scene is where Cersei first really acknowledges just how badly her progeny has turned out.

5. Tyrion/Cersei: More admitting Joffrey is awful… for good measure. There’s another scene with these two in episode 8 that is absolutely stellar, but unfortunately I couldn’t find the full scene on youtube.

6. The whole Wildfire sequence is just terrifically done. The best part about it (aside from the stunning visuals) is probably how clearly you can see the horror on Tyrion’s face as he hears the screams from the Bay.

7. Tyrion owns Joffrey. Any scene that puts Joffrey in his place is a victory for us all.

Best Lines

Tyrion Lannister: We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot boy-king!
Tyrion to Joffrey during the Fleabottom riots. This whole exchange is great, really.

Robb Stark: And Theon… I want him brought to me alive. I want to look him in the eye and ask him ‘Why?’… and then I will take his head myself!

Tywin Lannister: This’ll be my last war… win or lose.
Arya Stark: Have you ever lost before?
Tywin Lannister: You think I’d be in my position if I’d lost a war?

"Have you met many stonemasons, my lord?"

“Have you met many stonemasons, my lord?”

Tywin Lannister: Hm. She’s a heroine of yours, I take it. Aren’t most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, with flowers in her hair?
Arya Stark: Most girls are idiots.
Again, just about any exchange between Arya and Tywin is delightful, your choice.

Theon Greyjoy: It’s better to be cruel than weak.
Well, debatable, but at least Theon is trying to be his own person?

Sansa Stark: Does it give you joy to scare people?
Sandor Clegane: No, it gives me joy to kill people.
And this is the softer, kinder version of The Hound!

Jaime Lannister: I’m not well suited for imprisonment. Shocking, I know. Some men are. Ned Stark; I imagine he made an excellent prisoner right up until the end. But me, though – my life has left me uniquely unfit for constraint.
At least he’s self aware.

Tyrion Lannister: [to Cersei] I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you’re safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.
Tyrion vows vengeance after Cersei takes Ros prisoner… which was vengeance for Tyrion sending Myrcella to Dorne, which was vengeance for…

Eddison Tollett: Great rangers never get old is the problem. [Bad] ones neither. It’s them in the middle that last a long time.
Not an impactful quote by a major character, but still noteworthy.

Joffrey Baratheon: If I tell the Hound to cut you in half, he’ll do it without a second thought.
Tyrion Lannister: That would make me the quarter-man. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Basically what I’m saying is, any time Tyrion slams Joffrey, it’s going to make this list…

Bronn: I saw you kill a man with a shield, you’ll be unstoppable with an axe.
Referencing Tyrion staving off attackers back in Season 1

Tyrion Lannister: There are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!
Believe it or not, there were *some* lines from Tyrion in Season 2 that weren’t completely awesome.

Tyrion: And I thought we were friends Varys: We are

Tyrion: And I thought we were friends
Varys: We are

Lord Varys: [to Tyrion] There are many who know that without you this city faced certain defeat. The king won’t give you any honors, the histories won’t mention you, but we will not forget.
Despite his demotion, Varys offers Tyrion the small consolation that at least some will remember his part in the Battle of Blackwater

Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish: [to Sansa Stark] Look around you, we’re all liars here, and every one of use is better than you.
Sansa is very much part of the “Game of Thrones,” but she’s still getting her feet under her.

Assorted Musings
– Theon’s turn in the TV series was totally unbelievable the first time I watched it, but only mildly unbelievable the second time. This is one area that the books do a much better job.
– Seriously, those Tywin/Arya scenes are so great. They have such great rapport with one another.
– The entirety of episode 9 is contained in King’s Landing. It’s a nice change of pace from lots of jumping around.
– When Balon Greyjoy declares himself King in the Iron Islands that gives us our fifth king in the “War of the Five Kings.” Of note, there were never actually five at the same time, as Renly had already been murdered at that point. Fun fact!
– The Hound is awesome. I’ll accept no other arguments.
– Cersei has a great arc in these episodes. She really starts to wonder how Joffrey came to be so awful. She still likes torturing Sansa, but at the same time she pities her. Cersei is the one who starts Sansa’s education in how to deal with her awful life to come.
– Varys said in season 1 that he serves only “the realm.” He backs that up in his helping Tyrion plan for the defense of King’s Landing. He does this out of no great love for the dwarf, but because he believes Stannis would make an awful king and is uncomfortable with his association with Melisandre.


Full recap after the jump:

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Game of Thrones Re-Watch Marathon, Part 3 (1st half of Season 2)

Re-watching and Re-living some of the great moments of the HBO series!

This post is Part 3 of 6.  To see Part 4 click here. Previous posts in this series: Part 1 (Jay) and Part 2 (Garrison)

****SPOILER ALERT**** we assume you’ve already watched the series


(above: nice map, but not as nice as Stannis’s “table map” of Westeros at Dragonstone <below>)


The Old and the New

The home stretch of season 1 didn’t just leave viewers like me reeling. The whole kingdom of Westeros was rocked by the events we discussed in the last post. A vacuum of power had occurred with the death of the king and the elimination of The Hand of the King, and many rushed to fill it. This second season follows the events of the second book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, “A Clash of Kings.” How many kings are there now? (Cersei even asks this question at a meeting of the small council, saying “I’ve forgotten.”) There’s the nominal heir, Joffrey, but rumors about his parentage are spreading quickly, there’s Robb Stark, the “King in the North,” Renley Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon, brothers to the dead king Robert. There’s a rumored King beyond the wall (that for now seems to only concern Tyrion and the Men of the Night’s Watch). And don’t forget about Daenerys Targaryen, as yet across The Narrow Sea, but not without ambitions of her own to sit on the Iron Throne of Westeros.

Those characters we loved (or loved to hate) in season one have returned (those that survived the first season, anyway) and we met some new characters to love or hate (Stannis, Brienne, Melisandre, Margaery, Tarisa, and Davos to name just a few). So, following are some mostly random thoughts and observations about the first half of season 2:

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Cersei Lannister, as much as I love to hate her, had some great moments early in season 2. Why great? Because she puts a couple other characters – who I hate even more – in their place. Episode one treats us to oily Petyr Baelish smugly telling Cersei that “Knowledge is power.” How to deal with this upstart, she must have wondered. Her solution is to tell her guards to “Seize him,” and then to “cut his throat,” and only as they make ready to do so she, with an air of capriciousness stops them saying she’s changed her mind. She leans toward a still shaken Baelish and says, “POWER is power.” Point made.

Cersei also gets in a “Joffrey Slap” (& can we get this term entered into the lexicon?) in the throne room, which Joffrey is remodeling to a look more suitable to his arrogance and decadence.


Making Caligula Blush

Speaking of Joffrey, early in the season we see his sadistic brutality, now unrestrained, and its impact on those around him. Unfortunately for Sansa Stark, she takes the brunt of the abuse. In episode one, he walks her out to the place on the walls where her father’s head is displayed on a spike, mentioning that Robb’s will soon join it. (And who says romance is dead?) Tyrion’s efforts to calm Joffrey’s beast with a couple distractions from the brothel don’t turn out as well as he’d hoped either. I’ll not recount the unsavory details of that episode.

Later, Joffrey figures that, since he can’t reach Robb Stark, he might as well punish Sansa in his place. Having one of his lackey knights beat her for his amusement, sneeringly noting, “Leave her face. I like her pretty.” Yep, I still love to hate him. Fortunately for young Sansa, Tyrion arrives and puts a stop to her abuse this time.


(above: Joffrey sneers “I like her pretty.”)

Little Big Man

And speaking of Tyrion, in this part of the series he has risen to his zenith of power, serving as The King’s Hand as decided by his father Tywin. You can tell by that cool stickpin emblem again…


Tyrion is also one of the few man characters in the series with the brains to effectively play “The Game of Thrones” (It comes back to all that reading he does) even if he’s not that imposing a figure physically. He Executes an inspired stratagem in episode 3, wherein he tells three suspected informants within the small council (Baelish, Pycelle, and Varys) of three different marriage plans for his niece, stressing that “The Queen must not be told,” which smokes out his quarry.

A Clockwork Orange?

Let’s see, who else. Oh, Theon Greyjoy. I almost start feeling sorry for him in season two, but he makes it easy enough to dismiss those thoughts. (And am I the only one that Theon (portrayed by actor Alfie Allen) reminds of Malcolm McDowell (below) mugging his way through Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange?)


Theon’s homecoming to the Iron Islands showcases him at his pathetic best. Failing to impress everyone he meets, unknowingly feeling up his sister (maybe he has a Lannister in his family tree?) on the ride to the castle (where he is just further humiliated by his hard-nosed father Balon). Yep, I kinda felt sorry for him. Almost.

(below: even the commoners of the Iron Islands are not impressed with Theon)


New characters? There’re almost too many to mention, but I will say I am a big fan of Brienne of Tarth. We first meet her at the camp of Renley Baratheon, one of the pretenders to the throne, where she is besting the formidable knight, Ser Loras Tyrell in mock combat. Her role thankfully expands as we finish season two and head into season three.


Speaking of Renley, his expanded role includes his marriage (for appearances and offspring only) to Loras’s sister, Margaery Tyrell (and, although my research was unable to confirm this, I think margaery is also the word from the “High Valerian” language meaning “cleavage”)


The Lady in Red


The struggle between the Baratheon boys leads to the introduction of a new character I love to hate, Melisandre (a.k.a. the Red Woman). She uses her charisma and power as a kind prophetess of “The Lord of the Light” – an upstart among the religions of Westeros. Melisandre also possesses overt supernatural powers, and she is not afraid to use them, just ask Renley – or his survivors.

Speaking of supernatural powers, what’s up with Arya’s new “friend” Jacqen H’Ghar? The interplay between these two is great in season two. Saving Jacqen from being roasted alive may turn out to be the best decision she’s made thus far. “A girl” is smart. 🙂


I’d better wind this up if I’m going to get this posted tonight, and even so I know there’s a lot I haven’t talked about. I spent no time at “The Wall” (or beyond) and no time in Essos with Daenerys and her dwindling Khalisar, which has just gained admittance to the beautiful oasis city of Qarth (below). Fortunately, she will see her screen time expand as the series progresses.


A Game of Thrones Re-watch Marathon, Part 2 (2nd Half of Season 1)


This post is Part 2 of 6.  For Part 3 click here.

For Part 2, we have a guest blogger

All hail His Grace, Garrison of House [Stark], First of His Name, King of the Bloggers and the First Men, Lord of Bibliophilopolis, and Protector of the Realm:

Well, maybe Jay is the true Lord of Bibliophilopolis. And maybe our familial relationship is better than that of some in Westeros, but he would still be wise to heed to advice of Queen Cersei in A Game of Thrones, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” before he so readily invites others to sit on the Iron Throne of Bibliophilopolis… In all seriousness though, as a long time reader of Bibliophilopolis (and a longer time nephew of the author), I was thrilled to be asked to help recap HBO’s Game of Thrones in advance of the fourth season, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to be the first guest poster in the history of this blog; I hope I do the author and its readers justice.

In my recap posts, I will try to do a few categories that will cover some noteworthy moments that will remind people of the general awesomeness of the episodes. If you seek a slightly more detailed blow by blow, that will follow. Before I begin, I’d like to direct you to a great website that I often use to refresh myself of what has happened in Westeros: Tower of the Hand. This website allows the reader to set the scope of what they have read or seen in the series. Say you have only read the first two books when you look up an article on Tyrion Lannister and set your scope to Clash of Kings. The article will only show you information up to the point which you have read. This will prevent being accidentally spoiled if you are trying to avoid that! It works the same way for seasons of the television series.

Without further ado…

Best Scenes

1. Ned gets the “King’s Justice.” This was when I got truly hooked on the show. The whole season was awesome. But when Ned lost his head… good, honorable, played-by-a-famous-actor, clearly-the-hero-of-our-story Ned, that’s when I knew that no one was safe and that this show would stay compelling throughout. Right until the end I expected Eddard Stark to escape somehow. Even after “Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!” I remained convinced that *something* would happen for Ned to avoid that fate… right up until the end.

(below: Joffrey changes his mind, much to the chagrin of Cersei and Sansa)


2. Ned/Cersei. Great scene between two great actors. The scene that prompts Varys telling Stark later “your mercy killed the king.” Also includes a line to appear later…

3. Ned/Cersei II. I was profoundly sad during the throne room showdown scene on my re-watch. It was all going so well… until it wasn’t.

3. Viserys gets crowned. We were all waiting for this moment. You can admit it, it’s okay.

4. Aemon and Jon. There is more to this maester than meets the eye. Maybe not a hugely important scene (or maybe it was), but I’m a sucker for back story and this delivers.

Best Lines

Lysa Aryn: “You don’t fight with honor!”
Bronn: “No…but he did.”
After Bronn dispatches the “honorable” knight in Tyrion’s trial by combat.

bronn wins

Joffrey: I’ll tell you what. I’m going to give you a present. After I raise my armies, and kill your traitor brother, I’ll give you his head as well.
Sansa: Or maybe he’ll give me yours.
One of the rare moments where Sansa isn’t being totally insufferable! Bravo, Sansa!

Cersei: When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. There is no middle ground.

Robb Stark: Tell Lord Tywin, winter is coming for him. Twenty thousand northerners marching south to find out if he really does sh*t gold.
To a captured Lannister scout.

Syrio Forel: There is only one god and his name is Death, and there is only one thing we say to Death: “Not today”.
Early frontrunner for the best line in the series.

Tyrion confesses his crimes (a mildly NSFW monologue laden with innuendo)

Tyrion: Though I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your facility with murder. And if the day ever comes when you’re tempted to sell me out, remember this: whatever their price, I’ll beat it. I like living.
To Bronn the sellsword after the escape from The Eyrie. The way Peter Dinklage delivers “I like living” is tremendous.

Discussing their first kills…
King Robert: Your outlaw, any last words?
Jaime: I cut his head off, so, no…

Eddard Stark: What you suggest is treason.
Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish: Only if we lose.

Tywin Lanniser: A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of a sheep.

Robb Stark: If we do it your way, Kingslayer, you’d win. We’re not doing it your way.
Responding to Jaime’s offer to end the war by each championing their cause in single combat.

Mirri Maz Duur: You will not hear me screaming.
Daenerys Targaryen: I will. But it is not your screams I want. Only your life.
Before Daenerys puts the healer on the funeral pyre.

Robb Stark: I’ll kill them all.
Catelyn Stark: My boy… they have your sisters. We have to get the girls back… And *then* we will kill them all.
After Robb and Catelyn find out Ned has been killed.

Best foreshadowing you absolutely didn’t notice the first time
In the scene where we meet Tywin Lannister and he has the discussion with Jaime about the honor of their house and how they have the opportunity to become a dynasty in Westeros, what is he doing? He is skinning and gutting a stag. The stag is the sigil of House Baratheon. Terrific.

(below: anyone up for a fresh venison dinner at the Lannisters?)


Assorted Musings
– The Targaryens have the best claim to the throne. Their family was in power for hundreds of years before Robert and Ned led the rebellion that overthrew them.
– I can’t shake the similarities between Samwell and Samwise from Lord of the Rings.
– During the aforementioned ‘stag skinning’ scene, Tywin delivers a monologue about how their legacy is really the only thing they will leave behind. This is his main motivation. Cersei’s motivation is her love for her children as well as dealing with being in a loveless marriage that was forced upon her. Jaime has his own backstory which will be discussed in season two. The only unredeemingly evil character is Joffrey. Everyone else has reasons (maybe not excuses) why they are they way that they are. Joffrey is just evil for the sake of being evil.
– By the end of the season both Mormonts put their faith in someone untested. Jeor Mormont, the lord commander of the Night’s Watch, makes Jon his steward and begins grooming him for a leadership position. Jorah Mormont, Jeor’s son who is with Daenerys, has a change of heart and saves Dany from assassination. He becomes convinced that she has the best claim to the throne and would do anything for her. It is interesting that these two characters are connected in this way… even more so when you consider the name of the Series is a “A Song of Ice (Jon: at the Wall, where it is almost perpetually winter) and Fire (Daenerys: the Mother of Dragons).”
– I found/find it really peculiar that Ned would actually father a bastard. Ned is the most honorable character in this entire show, to a fault. He diligently served his king, even though it was not something he wanted to do; he was a good father (notably to Theon and Jon Snow who were not his sons with Catelyn); he was a benevolent, just ruler of the North according to everyone that talks about him; he had the chance to seize the Iron Throne for himself during Robert’s rebellion and didn’t; he is devoted to his wife. It just seemed out of character for him to forsake his marriage. That being said, it is in perfect character for him that he would take the child as his own if that were to happen and raise him in his house.

A full recap follows after the jump.

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