Oathbreaker: The Limits of Our Stories

We are all heroes of our own stories. To that end, we construct the stories of other people in our lives so that they fit our themes. In the third episode of season six of Game of Thrones, “Oathbreaker”, Bran Stark and the Three-Eyed Crow witness the confrontation at the Tower of Joy between Ned Stark and his bannermen, and members of the Kingsguard. What Bran sees does not conform to the story that he “knew” from childhood, from the story he remembers being told. And it makes me wonder if, in the world of Game of Thrones, the old stories matter very much in the current situation.

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A Prayer to the New Gods

So after watching the season six premier of Game of Thrones I started working on this theory about the women that were featured and relating them to the gods in the Faith of the Seven. It felt very useful and I was pretty proud of myself when I did this mapping.

Daenerys = The Mother
Cersei = The Father
Melisandre = The Crone
Sansa = The Maiden
Arya = The Stranger
Brienne = The Warrior

This seemed so good that I spent some time trying to shoehorn another woman in The Smith role, but was unable to do it. To be honest, I know that not all these matches are perfect. Then I watched the second episode of the season and now I think I know who The Smith is.

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A Dream of Winter

Today George RR Martin posted an update on the progress of The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin announced that the book will not be released before season six of the HBO series Game of Thrones premiers in April. This means that the book readers and the non-book readers will be, for the most part, on equal footing. This also means that things will happen in the series before they are in the books, theoretically spoiling the books. I am one of millions of book readers and my reaction is as follows: meh.

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Game of Thrones Season Five

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Season five of Game of Thrones is going to be a new experience for those of us who have read the books. See, the series has now moved beyond the books in some places. You know those smug, knowing looks we book readers give when you ask us questions? Well, those days are partly over. But there is still so much to enjoy.

Dorne! Hardhome! A giant Drogon! Dark Sansa!


Game of Thrones is back on April 12 on HBO.

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Game of Thrones Mockingbird

Credit: HBO

I don’t think there’s a moral or a lesson in Game of Thrones but if there is a theme of sorts, other than about the nature of power, it has to do with consequences. Lives can be short in Westeros but memories are long, and sometimes the consequences of your actions aren’t known until many years later.

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Game of Thrones The Laws of Gods and Men

Credit: HBO

Even in Westeros, where the gods (at least the Old Gods and the Red God) seem to still have power, all laws are the laws of men. Men will dress the laws up in the words of the gods but that is done only to add legitimacy. Gods don’t make laws. If you live in Westeros you are better off not putting your faith than in gods because it is ultimately men who will judge you.

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Game of Thrones First of His Name

Credit: HBO

The showrunners of Game of Thrones have the advantage of finishing the season before any episodes air, an advantage because it insulates them from anything that is being said in-season, which means they don’t feel compelled to react and make changes on the fly. Sometimes, like now, I wonder if it isn’t a disadvantage. After the decision to change a scene in the books of consensual sex between Cersei and Jaime to a rape scene, Game of Thrones has gotten a lot more attention about what happens to women in the series, and the plethora of sexual assaults. I wonder if the showrunners would like a do-over with some of the events of this season, including Cersei’s observation in “First of His Name” that “everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls”.

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Game of Thrones Oathkeeper

Credit: HBO

While there have been isolated moments in the TV series in which I have had no idea what was going on, the last part of “Oathkeeper” wins for most bewildering part of the series for book-readers. Bran and his companions showing up at Craster’s was strange enough and then that was topped by something completely unexpected: showing what happens to babies given to the White Walkers. I’m not sure what to make of all this.

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Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains

Credit: HBO

It’s a staple in any series with a large cast but it’s critical in a series like Game of Thrones with the largest cast on television and numerous locations. I’m talking about the use of a bit of dialogue or an image at the end of one scene to comment on or introduce the next. In “Breaker of Chains”, the writers used such a transition to comment on both scenes as well as another scene in the episode, and on a theme in the series as a whole.

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Game of Thrones The Lion and the Rose

Credit: HBO

As a reader of A Song of Ice and Fire, I am biased when it comes to Game of Thrones. I am biased to like the series and biased in favor of things that are included to amuse the readers but won’t be noticed by people who have only watched the show. And I am biased in favor of George RR Martin, the author of the series who also writes one episode a season. “The Lion and the Rose” was his episode this season and it feels like one of the best.

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