Since last year we had snow on the ground until the beginning of May, it was really surprising to actually have a spring on the official first day of spring (March 21) this year. Where I live in Saskatchewan we never have spring when it’s officially ‘spring’. That usually doesn’t happen until after Easter, sometimes later. But this year, seemingly to balance out the snow-based misery in lots of parts of the country, particularly the Maritimes, northern Saskatchewan has a spring! I even took some pictures today:
Yep, the snow has largely melted away and I couldn’t be happier. There’s still quite a bit of snow in my backyard where it’s sheltered by the shadow of the house, but overall the snow is on the outs. Now the thing causing everyone grief is the muck because only one road in town is paved and of course the frost melting makes gravel roads warp in very interesting ways. On the plus side, Tyrion is thoroughly enjoying being able to go outside for walks with me:
So what does spring look like for you guys? Are you still stuck under several feet of snow or are you getting a proper string?
Some of you may remember a little more than a month ago when I introduced this little guy as New Kitty and wasn’t quite sure of his gender yet. Well, I’m absolutely certain it’s a boy and I’ve got a much better feel for his personality. Therefore, he is now known as Tyrion and I’m taking him home with me on Friday.
Part of the fact I named him Tyrion is because I’m just a huge Game of Thrones fan and Tyrion is one of my favourite characters. The other part was this little guy’s personality. Although he wasn’t when I named him, now he’s the smallest of his litter of six and he’s pretty much always picked on by the dominant one I’ve nicknamed Cow (he’s white with black spots much like a cow). Still, he always has lots to say and lately he’s been perfecting his strategy to attack Cow. Rather than facing him directly he loves dropping in on him from a bit of a height where he has an advantage. So, you could say that ‘Tyrion’ is the perfect name for my new cat.
Since today was a really, really awful, terribly sad day for both myself and my community, here are some bonus kitten pictures. Cats are generally less terrible than human beings, after all:
(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.
Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.
After loving the first four books, I’ll admit that I really wanted to love A Dance with Dragons. I really, really tried. But it was such slow-going. It took me over a month to finish this book which should be a warning sign right there.
The problem, I think, at this point in the series is a little something called character bloat. There are too many characters. There are so many different houses and players entering into the war for Westeros that it’s simply become ridiculous. I can hardly keep track of them all and I’m not bragging when I say I have a good memory when it comes to books. Some points of view could have been cut from the book entirely. Did Quentyn Martell really have to have his say? Arya’s story barely went anywhere.
If it was just a slow plot I could handle it but it feels like the characters are going in totally different directions. Daenerys is an indecisive, idealistic moron compared to the strong, sure young woman she was in previous books. Jon Snow keeps swinging between rigidly sticking to his oath as a man of the Night’s Watch and totally violating it by siding with a king. Tyrion…well I don’t know what to think of him anymore. It’s okay that characters change and explore themselves. That’s what makes a story good! But it’s not okay that they randomly go in a whole different direction with pretty much zero explanation.
Despite all this, when I actually sat down to read A Dance with Dragons I didn’t mind it all that much. Some parts were pretty darn good. Although George R. R. Martin lost some of the things that made his series great in the beginning (his ability to kill off main characters ruthlessly, for one) he still has that amazing world-building. We learn so much about Westeros and the rest of Martin’s world that it almost makes up for everything else. The history of all Seven Kingdoms and the impact on people and other places was fascinating. I loved learning more about the world’s history! It added more depth to Martin’s world.
Yes, I will read The Winds of Winter when it finally does get published. Will I be looking forward to it as much as I did this book? Probably not. I’m just hoping that the next book will be better and that we’ll go back to that magical spark George R. R. Martin had in A Game of Thrones.
I give this book 3/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Ciska’s Book Chest.)
In this thrilling sequel to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has created a work of unsurpassed vision, power, and imagination. A Clash of Kings transports us to a world of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare, unlike any we have ever experienced.
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingsdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy, a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress, and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
Since we got over all of the character introductions in the first book, A Clash of Kings really starts to heat up. We see Tyrion’s triumphs, Sansa’s struggles, Jon wrestling with decisions involving family and honour and so much more. Not only do we get to see these characters, we also continue on Arya’s and Daenerys’ points of view and have the added POV of Davos, the ‘Onion Knight’. This is all very fascinating, but I’m getting the impression that the series could suffer from extreme character bloat in the next few books. As things heat up in all threads of the plot, I have a feeling it may be hard to keep all of the characters’ stories straight because Martin seems to be adding more and more all of the time.
However, A Clash of Kings generally manages to stay on topic and not get too sidetracked. We see characters like Sansa finally mature and unlikely heroes like Tyrion and Daenerys triumph in their own ways. Part of what has impressed me so much about A Song of Ice and Fire is the characters and how much time is devoted to their development. They are so much more complicated than their archetypal descriptions would suggest and that makes A Clash of Kings a fascinating read. Characters can make or break a story for me, so I’m thankful for Martin’s attention to detail.
For an epic fantasy novel, A Clash of Kings is quite fast-paced. There is a bit of a slouch in the middle of the story, but compared to a lot of epic fantasy out there, the plot still moves forward. Alliances are made and broken, murders are planned and carried out and treason is all around. You never really know what’s going to happen next and that’s really what made this second book so exciting, even more so than the first.
The further development of the fantasy world is satisfying as well. We start to learn about places other than Westeros, in part because of Daenerys’ travels. We also learn more about the other powerful empires in Martin’s world as well as the fact that there are free, trade-based cities within this world of kings and tyrants. This is not just your typical epic fantasy with kings and queens; George R. R. Martin has obviously studied history and knows that nothing is ever that simple. In some places, there are republics and in others there are oligarchies and in still others (Westeros) there are the traditional monarchies. The politics within all of these countries are more nuanced than I’ve come to expect, so I really do appreciate Martin’s world-building.
I give this book 5/5 stars.