Game of Thrones – All the Houses. All the Seasons. So Far

This is really handy if you’re wanting to keep up with all the Houses in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones InfographicGame of Thrones Infographic

Game of Thrones Infographic by Fishfinger Creative Agency

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How Do You Rule in Westeros? WIth Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice – Game of Thrones

Westeros is the mythical kingdom in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO’s television series, Game of Thrones.

As a result of the death of Robert Baratheon, who had managed to hold the seven kingdoms together after ascending the throne, his death, along with that of Ned Stark, sends the kingdom into chaos.

Joffrey Baratheon, who is actually the incestous issue of Robert’s queen, Cersi and her twin brother, Jamie, ascends the Iron Throne, but not only does he not have any right to that throne, he’s a psycho. With a capital P.

He dies, thankfully, and his younger brother Tommen, is now king. Tommen is also Cersei and Jamie’s son, but Tommen is nice. He even likes cats.

But he’s probably going to wind up being manipulated by dear old grandpa, Tywin Lannister, who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the kingdom or its subjects. He just cares about making sure his family and his legacy survive and thrive.

Robert wasn’t a very good king. He only managed to hold the kingdoms together though his political marriage to Cersei. He pretty much left the rule of Westeros to his councilors, which included Littlefinger who, we discovered in last Sunday’s episode, is pretty much responsible for ALL the bad stuff that’s happened in Westeros, or at least his actions were a catalyst for them.

So, does anybody in Westeros have what it takes to be a good ruler?

Yes, Fire and Ice.

Daenerys is Fire. She can’t stand seeing people suffer. She knows that to be a good ruler you have to care for the common people.. She accepts this condition of good rulership so completely that she’s delaying her return to Westeros to go back and kick the asses of those jerks who are re-enslaving the people she freed.

Jon Snow is Ice. He knows what’s right and what’s wrong. He was raised by Ned Stark, a man who was so decent and so honorable that because he wanted to spare Cersei and her children from Robert’s wrath, he pretty much gave Cersei the rope with which she hanged him. Jon has Ned’s blood in him. (Noticed I said “blood”) Did Ned ever come right out out and say that Jon was his son? I don’t recall it. He just said Jon had his blood. Meaning they were related.

But I digress. Jon would make a great King, and Daenerys a great Queen, because both of them are good, decent people. Not perfect, of course, but they care about others and they know what’s right and what’s wrong. And I think, or I hope, that both are savvy enough about people to not make the kind of mistake Ned Stark made in trusting people like Littlefinger or showing someone like Cersei mercy.

Long may he, she or they reign.

Once they do whatever they wind up doing in the series, that is.

Whatever it is, I hope it involves dragons.

Dragons being ridden by Jon and Daenerys.

And maybe Arya. There are three dragons, after all.

Or Tommen. Or Tyrion. Or Pod. Or Brienne.

Or some other cool, non-psychotic person.

As long as those dragons are scorching white walkers, the Night King and whatever other horror is lurking in the North.

11 More Great Science Fiction & Fantasy Pets

My post yesterday about Data’s cat, Spot and Captain Archer’s dog, Porthos got me thinking about other animals in science fiction/fantasy movies and TV shows.

Here are eleven more of my favorites in no particular order:

1.  Einstein – Back to the Future 

Doc Brown’s dog Einstein was so beloved by the good doctor that it appears every dog he had, no matter the time period, he named Einstein.

2. Hedwig – Harry Potter

Loyal and fearless to the end, Hedwig was Harry’s companion through most of his years at Hogwarts.

3.  Ein – Cowboy Bebop

In the futuristic anime series, Cowboy Bebop, Ein (short, I’m sure, for Einstein) is a genetically enhanced Pembroke Welsh Corgi, who is very intelligent and immensely cute.

4. Hellboy’s cats

In the comics and the movies, there’s no doubt that the demonic looking Hellboy is a cat person. He loves cats. I mean, seriously LOVES cats.

5.  Jonesy – Alien 

Speaking of cats, is there any cat that was so loved by its owner? In the first movie of the Alien franchise, Ripley risks her life to go back for Jonesy even while there’s this acid-spitting, 8 foot tall murderous alien running about the ship. Now that’s devotion!

6. Toto – Wizard of Oz 

Not only does Toto get the plot going in Wizard of Oz (Dorothy runs away from the farm because that mean, dog-hating Elmira Gulch tries to take him away from her) but he’s loyal and brave and oh so cute.

8. Podo and Kodo – Beastmaster 

1982’s Beastmaster probably won’t go down in the annals of movie history as a great film, but it did have Marc Singer running around half-naked and he did have some really cool animals. He was, after all, master of beasts. The cutest, however, were his two ferrets, Podo and Kodo. They were like Toto. Brave and loyal and pretty cute to boot.

9. Tribbles – Star Trek

Tribbles, cute and fuzzy as they are, never really got on well with Klingons. They tended to go into a shrieking hissy-fit whenever one was around. As for the Klingons, they considered the troublesome creatures mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire and sent an armada of ships to destroy the tribble’s homeworld.

10. Gizmo – Gremlins

Another cute, fuzzy, adorable creature that proved to be quite troublesome. In the movie Gremlins, the father, after giving Gizmo to his son as a gift, tells him the three things he must do: (1) Keep it away from bright lights. (2) Never get it wet and (3) Never, ever feed it after midnight. Yes, you know what happens.

11. Direwolves – Game of Thrones

In Game of Thrones, all five of the Stark children get their own direwolf. So does Jon Snow, though he’s not a Stark, although he does have their blood. Rob has Grey Wind, Sansa, Lady, Arya’s direwolf is named Nymeria, Bran’s Summer, Rickon’s Shaggydog and Jon Snow’s Ghost. If you’ve been keeping up with either the books or the television series, you know the fates of some of these adorable pups. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Game of Thrones – The Lion and the Rose

Customary warning about spoilers! There are some!

I love the title of Episode 2 of Season 4 of Game of Thrones. Sounds like the title of one of those romance novels from back in the day. But, as we know, romance novels always have happy endings. Not so much in Game of Thrones. As Ramsey Bolton said to Theon while he was brutally torturing him:

For example, check out the image below. What do you see? A young couple celebrating their wedding with a huge pie inside of which are live doves. Behind them is Joffrey’s family, most of whom (well, the three on the left at least, Tywin, his grandfather, Cersei, his mother and his younger brother, Tommen – who sure has grown up!) are sharing in the happy occasion. It’s the marriage celebration of the Lion (Joffrey) and the Rose (Margaery). Ah, young love. But this is Westeros and we all know what happens at weddings, don’t we?

The Lion and the Rose – Game of Thrones – HBO

Happiness in this show is usually brought about at the expense of someone else’s misery or, if it’s true, unvarnished happiness, it doesn’t last. There’s a lot of misery in this particular episode, starting with the horrible death of a young woman being chased by Ramsey Bolton, that sick, sadistic SOB who has turned Theon Greyjoy into some kind of shambling wreck of what was once a human being into a thing he calls Reek.

Or Stannis Baratheon watching while his own brother-in-law is burned alive as a heretic. Or Tyrion having to fling cruel words at his lover, Shae “the funny whore”, in order to save her from his father, who has threatened to hang the next whore he finds Tyrion with.

Joffrey was probably the most dyed-in-the wool villain in the show. His cruelty knew no bounds, his selfishness and arrogance were unparalleled and his desire to see others suffer because, I assume, there was nothing inside him but some howling, dark abyss where his heart should have been, was unmatched by any villain I’ve seen on television in quite some time.

Game of Thrones – HBO

But, I have to admit, I’m going to miss Joffrey. I truly think he believed all that crap he constantly spouted. You know, that it was HE who defeated Robb Stark when, in fact, it was his grandfather’s Tywin’s doing. Remember back in Season 3 there was all those scenes of Tywin writing? He was writing letters, most likely, to Roose Bolton and Walder Frey, setting up the plot that brought Robb and Lady Catelyn to their eventual slaughter at the Red Wedding. And Joffrey didn’t “break” Stannis at Blackwater Bay! That was Tyrion. We all know that. And also, once again his grandfather, Tywin, arriving to the rescue along with Ser Loras.

Joffrey ran off to hide behind his mother’s skirts!

Joffrey didn’t do a damn thing  during his mercifully short reign as king but kill a defenseless woman (remember red-haired Ros, the prostitute who worked for Littlefinger?) , have another prostitute horribly beaten (what ever happened to her, by the way?), taunt Sansa Stark about the deaths of her father, mother and brother and threaten his own mother and make fun of his own father?

But there was a certain vicious panache about the way Joffrey tormented those around him. I’m going to miss that. And, I have to admit, as Joffrey lay dying in his mother’s arms, blood and vomit and tears streaming down his tortured, purpling face, for a moment, just a teeny-tiny moment, I saw the boy Joffrey might have once been; a frightened, terrified little boy wanting only for his mother to make it all better.

But it was only for a moment. If Joffrey died so horribly he brought it on himself. He had choices and he made them. He just always made the bad ones.

The King is Dead! Long live the King! (Tommen, I assume?)

Oh, and kudos to the actor, Jack Gleeson, who played Joffrey. Great job!

Game of Thrones is Back!

Warning: If you haven’t seen Episode 1 of Season 4 of Games of Thrones yet, please be aware I’m going to talk about it. 

Game of Thrones is back! Yay! After a year wait we’re back in the land of Westeros but missing some notable characters with whom we had traveled for three seasons through Westeros. Namely more of the Starks. Catelyn and her son, the King in the North, Robb Stark, who were murdered at the infamous Red Wedding, which is going to prove interesting for the rest of the series.

Why? Well,although there are plenty of characters and storylines in the series, the Starks were the ones we were introduced to  first out of all of the families in Episode 1, Season1, a proud, noble family of Northerners whose family motto was a simple but evocative one: Winter is Coming. They were the characters most of us had been following to some extent and rooting for to avenge the death of Ned Stark back in Season 1.

The only remaining Starks are the youngest sons and daughters, all of whom have no real power, at least in the sense of military or political power, but who may be possessed, at least in the case of Bran and Arya, with powers that may prove far more important.

The first episode of a new season of Games of Thrones is kinda like old home week. We get to see where the characters are and what they’re up to since last season.

Jon Snow is reunited with the Night’s Watch but barely escaped being executed for killing one of the Night Watch members and breaking his vows by having had sex with Ygritte, his Wildling honey.

Daenerys is still across the Narrow Sea with her dragons, one of whom almost took a bite out of the Mother of Dragons when it thought she was interfering with its din-din.

Sansa Stark, now married to Tyrion Lannister, is dealing with the fact that her Lannister in-laws slaughtered her mother and brother and, as far as she’s concerned, making her the only Stark still alive. She has no idea of Bran, Rickon or Arya are even still alive.

Jamie Lannister has returned to King’s Landing, got a haircut and a shave, is back in his Kingsguard uniform, with the addition of a extremely gaudy golden hand to replace the right hand he lost in Season 3.

Joffrey is still as big of an asshole as he’s been since the beginning, even taken some nasty-minded swipes as his uncle (father), Jamie, and Ayra, oh, Arya, you and the Hound are fast becoming my all time favorite best-buds.

We were also introduced to a new character, Oberyn Martell, who is the brother of the wife of the former Prince of….oh, forget it, let’s just say he’s come to King’s Landing not just for Joffrey’s royal wedding. He’s got revenge on his mind with a great big capital R.

And we were also introduced to some other Wildlings called the Thenn. Really? The Thenn? Okay, well, anyway, they’re pretty creepy looking and in what is fast becoming a bit of a cliche, thanks to shows like Hannibal and the recent season finale of The Walking Dead, they’re cannibals. Not quite as much of a shocker as I think the show was hoping for.

So, all in all, not a bad first episode. The best scene was at the end with The Hound, that towering pillar of scarred testerone, taking on an inn full of Lannister soldiers and getting some help from Arya, who not only killed once again, but (yay!) got back her sword, Needle, that Jon Snow had given her back in Season 1. And her own horse, which she had been complaining to the Hound about not having.

So that last image of the episode was pretty cool with Arya and the Hound riding off together into a burning, devastated landscape.

The war is over, for now, with the death of Robb and the slaughter of the Stark soldiers along with the burning of Winterfell, but there are still many battles ahead.

Can’t wait for next week!

Tarot Tuesday – The Royal Court In Everyday Life

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Minor Arcana is comprised of 56 cards divided into four suits of Wands, Cups, Pentacles (or Coins) and Swords. Each suit has 10 cards labeled 1 through 10 and four court cards, the King, Queen, Knight and Page.

Most tarot books usually start talking in detail about the Major Arcana and that’s because they’re usually the bigger deal of the tarot deck. In a reading or a spread, if you get a lot of Major Arcana cards, that tends to mean there’s a lot of energy going on in your life that’s going to be long-term, it’s going to be deep and it’s going to be strong, both in a positive or negative sense.

When using the tarot for writing, Major Arcana cards are good for coming up with ideas like the theme of your story,or its meaning or purpose. They’re also good for coming up with goals and motivations. There are only 22 Major Arcana cards. However there are 56 Minor Arcana cards and chances are if you’re drawing cards randomly a lot more Minor Arcana cards are going to appear than the Major cards. And yet, I bet even if you’re not familiar with the tarot, you’ve seen more Major Arcana cards featured in movies and television than the minor. That’s because the Major Arcana is so imbued with meaning.

The Death Card? Oh, yeah, that should send a shiver down your spine.

 

 

The Lovers? Oh, yeah, that should send a shiver….well through a different part of your anatomy.

 

 

 

The Devil? Shudder. That can’t be good.

Oh, by the way, notice the similarities between the Lovers and the Devil cards. The man and woman are in the same positions, but in the Lovers they’re being blessed by an Angel, while in the Devil they’re ensnared and cursed by a Demon.

 


The Minor Cards, unlike the more symbolic Major cards, are about day-to-day to stuff in your life or the lives of your characters.. Depending on the deck you’re using the Minor cards can seem almost downright homey. Not all of them, of course. Check out the Ten of Swords, for example. Probably one of  the most violent cards in the entire tarot deck. There’s a lot of versatility in the Minor Cards, especially the numbered cards. But I’ll talk about them in a later post.

Today I’m going to speak briefly about the Court Cards. There are 16 court cards and they are the cards I like to use when I’m creating characters.

The court cards are divided up somewhat like students are at Hogwarts.

At Hogwarts you had four houses: Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw. Each of the Hogwarts houses not only has  its own sigil, but there are also certain traits that go along with being a member of a certain house as the image below shows. 

With the Court Cards, not only are there certain characteristics associated with being a Queen of Wands as opposed to being a Queen of Cups, but there are differences also within each suit. The King of Cups is different in many respects from a Page of Cups.

Also, keep in mind there are 16 court cards. The same number of personality types in the Myers-Briggs personality system. If you’re familiar with it, you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m an INFP. If you don’t know what I mean by that, you can learn all about it here.

I use the Myers-Briggs personality types A LOT when I create characters. I even wrote a post about it awhile back. And there’s a link back to the post I wrote comparing the Court Cards of the Swords suit to the Lannisters in Game of Thrones.

I’m going to quote from Joan Bunning’s excellent Learning the Tarot as I think it’s the best introduction to the tarot you can get your hot little hands on.

Bunning calls the court cards the personality types of the tarot. In a traditional reading if a court card comes up in a spread, it usually represents the querent himself or someone in that person’s life. Kings meant mature men, queens, mature women, knights, young people of either sex and pages children of either sex. Also, each suit was attributed to a particular coloring of an individual. Pentacles represented people  with dark hair, eyes or skin and cups fair-haired people with pale skin.

I don’t use the tarot that way when I create characters, however. At least not in that strict of a manner. Kings are the active, creative, inspiring force of any suit, while queens are just as active, just as inspiring but their energy is focused more inwardly than outwardly.

Now, having said that, I could just as well see a queen card as being a male character as a king card as a female. It’s the personality traits I’m looking at and what they represent for each card as opposed to limiting myself to any particular gender, or age for that matter. A nine year old kid could just as well be a King if he or she displays those qualities and  someone ninety years old a Page.

Knights are extremists. They express the maximum of whatever suit they’re in. So a Knight of Cups isn’t just going to be loving or emotional or dreamy, he (or she) is going to be the epitome of those traits.

Pages are like children in that they represent the qualities of the suit at the beginning. A Page of Wands, for example, is eager to go out and start something new. She (or he) gets really excited about beginning some new project and is really gung-ho about it, even if she doesn’t have a clue what to do. They don’t yet have the strength of a Knight, the wisdom of a Queen or the maturity of a King, but they’re certainly eager.

This website has an excellent analysis of the correlations between the court cards and the Myers-Briggs personality types if you’re interested in exploring that more.

The Best Movies about Arthur and His Knights

KnightYesterday, I talked about the movie Knightriders, which is George Romero’s take on the Arthurian legends, but with the knights riding motorcycles instead of horses.

Today I thought I’d list what I consider the best movies on King Arthur. I’ve been a fan of the stories of Arthur and Camelot since I read Mary Stewart’s book The Crystal Cave, which is actually the first book in her trilogy about Merlin and Arthur, which includes The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment. The trilogy is told from the viewpoint of Merlin and was my first introduction to the world of Arthur and his knights. I highly recommend it.

If you want to find a list of movies and television shows based on the Arthur legends, Wikipedia has a list here.

The Knights of the Round Table – Released in 1953, it stars Robert Taylor as Lancelot, Mel Ferrer as Arthur, and Ava Gardner as Guinevere. Yes, that Ava Gardner. I’m not a big Robert Taylor fan, but this movie fits the decade in which it was released, with a lot of derring-do and pageantry.

The Sword in the Stone. This is Disney’s animated version from 1963. I saw this when I was  kid and it’s still one of my favorite animated versions of the Arthur legends.

Camelot – Based on the hit musical of the same name and released in 1967, this is a musical adaptation which stars Richard Harris (who went on to play Professor Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies), Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere and Franco Nero as Lancelot. This is another version with a lot of pageantry and singing of course. But the songs are great, Harris is wonderful as Arthur and the ending is one of my favorite of the Arthur influenced movies.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Best comedy ever about King Arthur. Actually, I think it might be the only one. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, put it on your must-view list. It was released in 1975

Excalibur – Released in 1981 and directed by John Boorman, this was probably the first of the Arthurian movies to get gritty, bloody and sexy. There’s nudity and sex in this film, bloody action and it also leaves no doubt that Arthur and Morgana got it on and produced Mordred. One of my favorite of the Arthurian films and features a young Liam Nesson as Sir Gawain and Helen Mirren as Morgana Le Fey.

First Knight – Not one of my all-time favorites (I still think Richard Gere is too old to play Lancelot) but in relation to Sean Connery playing a much older Arthur than is usually shown in the films, I suppose it’s alright. If you see this movie and you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll see a younger Liam Cunningham playing the part of Sir Agravaine. In GofT Cunningham plays Ser Davos, the Onion Knight, and Stannis’ Baratheon’s right hand man. First Knight was released in 1995.

Merlin – 1998 saw Merlin brought to television as a miniseries. This film, like Stewart’s book, tells the story of Arthur from Merlin’s perspective. Merlin is played by Sam Neill (one of my fave actors) and features Isabella Rossellini as Nimue and Helena Bonham Carter as Morgan Le Fey. Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere don’t figure as prominently in the film as in other adaptations. They’re more of a backdrop to Merlin’s ongoing battle with his former mentor, Queen Mab, played by Miranda Richardson.

Mists of Avalon – The 2001 TNT miniseries is based on Marion Zimmer Bradley’s book of the same name. It stars Julianna Margulies as Morgaine, Angelica Huston as Viviane, the Lady of the Lake and Joan Allen as Morgause. Mists is told from the viewpoint of the women involved in the Arthur legends and it’s one of my favorites.

King Arthur – 2004 saw the release of King Arthur, starring Clive Owen as Arthur, Keira Knightly as Guinevere, and Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot. This version tried to base the Arthur legend more in historical “fact”. Arthur and his “knights” are Romanized and Merlin is more of an adversary than an ally. This movie doesn’t entirely work for me on all levels, but the performances are good and the action sequences exciting.

Finally, and one of my favorite Arthurian adaptations, the BBC’s Merlin. Once again, the story of Arthur and his knights are told from the viewpoint of Merlin, but in this version Arthur isn’t even king yet when the series begins. He’s Prince Arthur and his father, Uther still rules. Magic is outlawed and punishable by death and Merlin, who comes to Camelot as a young man, must hide the fact that he does magic but he must also protect and help Arthur to fulfill his destiny and become king. The series plays around a lot with many of the tropes of the Arthur legends, which I liked. The Arthur stories don’t always have to adhere  to what’s been done before. They shouldn’t. That’s the beauty of the Arthur legends. 

Whether the knights ride horses or Guinevere starts outs as a servant, the stories of Arthur, Merlin, Camelot and the Round Table continue to be told for a reason and will continue to be told as long as there are storytellers to tell and people to listen.