2nd Annual “Experiment in Bibliomancy” – Song of Ice and Fire Edition!

Two years ago, inspired by my fellow blogger Nina at Multo(Ghost) and by reading a short story by M.R. James, I decided to give Bibliomancy a try. (What exactly is Bibliomancy? In the simplest terms, Google reveals that it is “foretelling the future by interpreting a randomly chosen passage from a book, especially the Bible.)

For my original post, please look here. Also see my prior post just yesterday to see how I made my selections this time. I received no “at large” questions from my vast readership, so all three questions are my own personal enquiries of the oracle…
QUESTION 1: should I continue my chess “comeback” (ha! that sounds pretentious), and should its continuation be contingent upon how well I do at next week’s 74th Indiana State Championship?

BACKGROUND: Starting In August of this year, I started playing in a few chess tournaments again (and even doing a little chess study when time allows). I say “again” because from – as a kid in the 70’s until 2005 – I was once very active in tournament chess, earning the “Expert” title (just below master) in the U.S. Chess Federation. I even was editor of the magazine “Chess in Indiana” for several years. I’ve had some success (and only one really bad game) in the three tournaments I’ve played so far in this “comeback.” My friends and I even won the state team championship about a month ago in Terre Haute. I don’t really have the time to spend on chess that the game demands (at least if you want to be good, which I do) so I don’t really know why I’ve started playing again. Probably as an escape from the mental drudgery of my job is as good a guess as any.

TEXT (From A Feast for Crows)

Arya squirted past Greenbeard so fast he never saw her. “You’re a Murderer!” she screamed. “You killed Mycah! Don’t say you never did! You murdered him!”

On first glance, there’s not much here to work with. One thing I might take from this is that “don’t say you never did” could be seen as an exhortation that I cannot deny I was once a pretty respectable tournament player (well, for the chess backwaters of Indiana anyway). The more I think of it, the more I’m talking myself into it. Chess is also certainly not a violent sport, but one does sometimes say things like “oh, I killed him in that Budapest Gambit variation” and so forth. Also, I can focus on the name Mycah here. One of my main local rivals since 1993 (actually a friend and frequent teammate too) is named Mike, and his last name starts with an H. Though he’s a higher-rated player than I, when I was in my peak playing days I had two very memorable wins against him, one clinching a tournament win for me and the other one of the most “artistic” and picturesque attacks I’ve ever pulled off against a worthy opponent. The Fire and Ice bibliomantic oracle is essentially saying to me, “Don’t deny your nature. You were once a strong player – stop denying this fact and play!” I don’t know if I received any guidance on whether my continuance should be based on my performance either, but the gist of the message seems to say that doesn’t matter.

Okay, on to question 2:

QUESTION 2: Any ideas on the proper use of my recent modest inheritance windfall?

BACKGROUND: I had an uncle pass away much earlier in the year, and it turns out I am a beneficiary in his will, inheriting 5% of his estate. The money isn’t a life-changing amount to me, but it is enough to “do something with” if I just had an idea what that something is…

TEXT: (from A Feast for Crows again)

Aggo helped Dany down from her litter. Strong Belwas Was seated on a massive piling, eating a great haunch of brown roasted meat. ’Dog,’ he said happily when he saw Dany. ‘Good dog in Astapor, Little Queen. Eat?’ He offered it with a greasy grin.”


Woo boy. This is gonna be tough. Okay, so after a few minutes of thought, though, I may have come up with something. Strong Belwas offers something to Daenerys, but it is something “she’s had before” and doesn’t feel like eating it now because it reminds her of her Unsullied and ‘their stupid puppies.’ The key for my question here, I think, is what is offered maybe shouldn’t be accepted for her personal use. I actually have thought of, rather than using it myself, making some kind of donation with at least some of my inheritance since I’ve done nothing to really “earn” the money. thats probably about as good as I’ll do with this one. On a personal, nearly coincidental note, however, this passage did cause me to look up the word “haunch” to confirm its meaning. The reason I did so was because my Uncle Howard was always so fond of “drumsticks” whenever we were anywhere that served chicken. I wondered if a drumstick could loosely be considered a haunch, but alas no, not exactly. A drumstick would be the lower leg while a “haunch” refers to an upper leg. A near miss, though. 🙂

And, finally…

QUESTION 3: Should I pursue further involvement in the “literary scene” creatively or philanthropically, or both?

BACKGROUND: Probably like many bloggers, I often wonder if I should try some more creative writing. My few attempts along these lines have usually sputtered out or produced something for which the quality is not acceptable to even my low standards. With the annual NaNoWriMo coming up (actually starting today I guess), last week I went back and read the about five-thousand-ish words I got down on my last attempt. While reading I found myself thinking, “You know, this actually isn’t that bad…” (Completely objectively, of course) so once again I start to wonder… Regarding philanthropy, I’ve made some modest but not insignificant donations the past year and a half to some worthy local projects. One of which is a new anthology of “Mythic Indy” stories that I’m excited about. (I’m sure I’ll have more on this when the book is published soon)

TEXT: (from A Clash of Kings)

“‘Daughter?’ Catelyn was horrified.


Ouch. Really tough. I groaned when I saw I had selected this ultra-brief passage, but I can’t change the rules mid-stream because I don’t like the answer, can I? (As I’m randomly selecting a page for these, before I open the page I ’randomly’ decide “I’ll take the second paragraph on the left hand side, or the first “full” paragraph on the right, etc. And this is what I get?! But hey, no one said this was going to be easy.) I think the only way I can go is to use what I know from the context of the series. This scene is where Catelyn first meets Brienne of Tarth, the Amazon-like woman who fights like a man. Those familiar with the series know that Catelyn shows empathy for Brienne and her situation as one not accepted for who she is, in short, a misfit. A loose interpretation I could make is that I should take the role of Catelyn and support, in whatever ways I might be able to, those less accepted (“indie?”) local authors. I’ve read and posted about several small-press projects and authors in the past so, per my interpretation of the bibliomantic oracle, will continue to do so.

Just as I did the last time I tried this, I found Bibliomancy to be a fun exercise which forced me to think about connections and maybe stretch my imagination a bit in order to build bridges to make the passages chosen “fit” somehow into my questions. I urge you to give it a try yourself and let me know how you do. Do I believe Bibliomancy is an effective way to gain advice and foretell possible futures? No, I don’t. This exercise was for entertainment purposes only. 🙂

What about you? Have you ever tried Bibliomancy? What levelof success did you have with this practice?

My 2nd “Annual” Experiment in Bibliomancy is…tomorrow!

A couple years ago, after re-reading one of my favorite M.R. James stories, “The Ash Tree,” I was reminded of the “lost art” of bibliomancy and wrote the blog post found here.  Re-reading it this week, I realized that I had threatened to make my “Experiment in Bibliomancy” an annual November 1st event and – promptly forgot about it. So, I’m bringing it back tomorrow!

What exactly is Bibliomancy? In the simplest terms, Google reveals that it is “foretelling the future by interpreting a randomly chosen passage from a book, especially the Bible.” The protagonist of M.R. James’s “The Ash Tree” uses the Bible, but for my purposes last time I just looked for “the biggest book I could find,” which happened to be a multi-thousand page ebook of the complete works of Jack London.

This year, it will be the “Song of Ice and Fire Edition,” as I will use the text of the first three books in that series as my source for “random access” quotations. I’ll first start each randomization in book 1 randomly picking a page and looking at the length of the first word on the page 1-letter word sends me to the first book, 2-letter word to the second, 3-letters to the third, 4-letters back to the 1st book, 5-letters to the second and so on. I’ll be asking three questions. And no, I haven’t decided what they will be yet. Mine probably will be personal, but maybe just one could be an at-large question someone suggests here in the comments, or a political question like who will the next president be, or some other one related to current events. Any ideas to help me out? Have YOU ever tried Bibliomancy? What book or books did you use? Last time, I mentioned I might use Bartlett’s Quotations the next time around, but I fear that makes things to easy for the “bibliomancer” to interpret…
Image below found here

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Characters Who Have Perished in A Song of Ice and Fire


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (an popular meme hosted by the blog, The Broke and The Bookish) theme was “The Top Ten Characters Who _____” and we are left to fill in the blank. Naturally I went with Top Ten Characters who Died Memorably in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (and its television counterpart, Game of Thrones). My ground rules for inclusion: the death is significant to the story, shocking, gruesome, or involved a main character. As far as the George R.R. Martin books vs. the HBO Series, I guess I’m using both – mostly the series, though, as it’s fresher in my mind. (They’ve become hopelessly mixed together in my brain anyway) I will say all occur before where we are in the series now, and what the series reflects up to in book three, “A Storm of Swords.” I did notice in my research too that “Access Hollywood” kind if scooped me in this area, but there’s room for everyone on the GoT bandwagon, right? And – do I even need to say it? – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!

11-13 (Honorable mentions) Beric Dondarrion
How many times has “The Lord of Light” brought him back now? Maybe this should be 11th thru 14th?

10. John Arryn (poisoned)
This is “The Death that Starts it All” and leads to the calamitous events that are still befalling the Stark family and the rest of Westeros.

9. Sansa’s direwolf, Lady (put down)
If there was any doubt at the Lannisters being “The Bad Guys” (and there shouldn’t have been at this point), Cersei’s insisting that Ned kill Sansa’s direwolf should have removed them.

8. Ser Hugh of the Vale (jousting “accident”)
Setting the standard (and I’m talking more about the series here) for an incredible run of blood gushing, opened throats that will greatly shorten broadcast times when they are removed to make the series suitable for network television.

7. Doreah and Xaro Xhoan Daxos (entombing)
We gain further evidence that Daenerys is not to be trifled with. Man, I hated to see Doreah go, though (at least in the series, where she is portrayed by actress Roxanne McKee)

6. Kraznys (incinerated)
See sentence one of the previous entry.

5. Polliver (sword through the throat)
I wanted to rank this one higher, but it bothers me that I liked this scene where young Arya Stark avenges the death of her friend Lommy by using the same words his killer did.

4. Viserys (“crowning” with molten gold)
Yep. No one was sorry when this happened. Daenerys is free to be her own person (and is now the rightful heir to the Iron Throne) when Viserys suffers a Crassus-like fate at the hands of the Parthians, er, I mean Dothraki.

3. Robb & Catelyn Stark (crossbow bolts and knife wounds)
I still wonder what people who hadn’t already read the books thought about this episode. Roose Bolton’s “The Lannisters send their regards” line as he delivers the coup de grace to Robb was one of the most memorable in the series. And Catelyn? What was I saying about opened throats earlier? We get a two-fer with her death, and though Ser Hugh’s might have been best in gruesomeness, Catelyn wins the blood spurting distance category. Did she have high blood pressure?

2. Eddard “Ned” Stark  (beheading)
This was a shocker both in the book and the TV series. Appropriately, we first meet Ned when he is beheading a deserter from the Night’s Watch. What goes around comes around?


1. Joffrey (poisoning)
Maybe I’m ranking this number one because it “just happened” (in series broadcast time anyway) or because I hate Joffrey so much. I mean, who are viewers/readers going to focus their hate on now? As Joffrey choked and Cersei lamentingly wailed, I kept hearing Jerry Seinfeld’s “That’s a shame…” line in the back of my mind.

Are YOU a reader/watcher of these books/this series? Which are in your top ten character deaths? If you’re not, what kind of “top ten characters who ____” did you decide to do?


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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Back to Westeros

Friday, I finished my “required reading” for the month (the Vonnegut short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box – more on that later, hopefully) and looked around for what to read next. Yes I “still have going” my current non-fiction read, The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox, but I can fairly easily keep more than one book going at a time if one’s non-fiction and the other fiction. (How’s that for rationalization?) Actually, looking back on my prior “June Reading: The Month Ahead” post it seems an obvious choice to pick up George R.R. Martin’s “A Clash of Kings,” but I remain daunted by its size, AND by the fact that it’s book two of God knows how many in the series.

So, I nonetheless jumped in Friday night and Saturday morning and got about sixty-five pages in (and am about to pick it up again as soon as I finish this post). I anxious to find out the fates of Eddard Stark’s children (and their direwolves). And I confess I did have to look up the Wikipedia entry on the first book of the series, A Game of Thrones since it’s been just over a year since I read it and have forgotten much of the plot and characters (there’s that “great memory” again).

I know that this series is wildly popular, but I’m curious as to what other readers and citizens of Bibliophilopolis think of them. I’m “committed” now to read this second one, but should I go on and read them all? Or should I “cut” my losses and stop after this one? As a matter of policy, I don’t “DNF” books I’ve started, but I don’t think that rule should apply to series. Right? 🙂