And Now My Watch Begins.

**SPOILERS** **DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED SEASON 4**

ANOTHER Game of Thrones post ! This may as well be a Game of Thrones blog to be honest. But after last week’s episode, and as we teeter on the edge of another season finale, how could I not dedicate a small post to the epic-ness that was Season 4, Episode 10 of my beloved GOT ?! Yep, ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ stayed faithful to the tradition of the penultimate episode being the most action-packed, and exceeded all of my expectations. In fact, on second viewing, I would even say that ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ was not only the best episode of the whole season, but possibly the best out of all previous episode nine-ers, of which include Ned Stark’s beheading, the Battle of Blackwater Bay, and the infamous Red Wedding.

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Like most people, I suppose I was expecting the showdown between the Mountain and the Viper (or quite possibly another event which hasn’t happened yet so I shall not give it away) to be the focal point of Season 4, taking centre stage in the penultimate episode. Of course, when I saw the title of Episode 9, how could I not have guessed it would instead be the ultimate face-off between Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch vs. Mance Rayder’s Wildling army. I think a lot of people were slightly apprehensive about whether or not an entire episode devoted to JUST the Night’s Watch would work – even I admit that whilst the Night’s Watch/beyond the Wall scenes are visually stunning, the action can sometimes be lacking in excitement and purpose, not helped by Kit Harington’s often wooden portrayal of our Byronic hero, Jon Snow (that guy has absolutely perfected the thousand-yard stare!) Yes, unfortunately, like the rest of Westeros who only regard the Night’s Watch as motley crew of outcasts protecting the realm from ‘grumpkins and snarks and all the monsters your wet nurse warned you about’, people often seem to ignore the band of Black Brothers in favour of Khaleesi and her fire-breathing dragons, or Arya and the Hound’s strange mentor-mentee relationship. I’m only generalising of course. But my point is that the prospect of a whole hour dedicated to the Night’s Watch was rather disconcerting at first. ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ proved the naysayers oh so very wrong. Very VERY wrong !

Anyway, I don’t want to give a whole review of the episode, I just wanted to share with you some of my favourite parts, as I really was blown away by how amazing it was. I mean, the effects and the filming were just beautiful ! That 360 tracking shot of the ongoing fight at Castle Black was pure brilliance, not to mention the jaw-dropping scene when the scythe was freed from its icy confines, sweeping along the wall to take out some rather eager Wildlings who were getting too close for comfort. Something else which I really really loved was Ser Alliser Thorne’s speech, both to Jon Snow and to the rest of the Night’s Watch – as a character who has done nothing but more or less bully Jon Snow throughout the whole series, letting his petty emotions and pride stop him from doing what was in the best interests of the Night’s Watch, he proved that he could indeed back up all his bravado. Unlike Janos Slynt, former commander of the City Watch (when will he SHUT UP about that ?! We get it), Ser Alliser did not turn his back on his brothers like so many would expect him to do. Instead, he proved that he could admit to being wrong, and gave an impassioned speech about defending Castle Black before leading the attack on the Wildling invaders, even taking on the one and only Tormund Giantsbane.

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My absolute favourite scene, though, was that heart-stopping moment when that massive giant, clearly out for revenge, ran towards the gate that was being protected by the ever-loyal Grenn and a few other brothers. Grenn has been one of my most beloved secondary characters – people always see Sam as being Jon Snow’s truest and loyalist friend, which I’m not doubting he is (I am a Samwell Tarly fan!), but I think Grenn deserves that position too. I mean, he was the first brother to volunteer to accompany Jon Snow to Craster’s Keep in order to kill the mutineers, and he went down to the tunnels to protect the gate on Jon’s orders without question, despite knowing that it would probably result in his death. I thought it was a brilliant, proud, sad, inspiring moment when Grenn stood before the charging giant, encouraging the others to hold their ground, whilst they all recited their oath and draw their swords, all because Jon Snow had told them to defend the gate at all costs. I was weirdly moved by this touching moment, and as we only really ever get to hear snippets of the Night’s Watch oath I thought I’d post the entire thing here 🙂

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

Unfortunately for Grenn (and dear old Pyp !), we must finish the oath with the words ‘And now his watch is ended.’

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BRING ON THE SEASON 4 FINALE ! From then on, it’s just another struggle to stay alive for the next year so that I may continue watching the awesomeness that is Game of Thrones.

 

 

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Game of Thrones: A Beautiful Death

**SPOILERS AHEAD** **DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED UP TO SEASON 4 (UNELSS YOU WANT TO)**

Yet ANOTHER Game of Thrones post everyone ! And, as always, there WILL be spoilers ahead but, to be honest, if you haven’t yet caught up to Season 4 I can only look at you in despair….the mind reels, it really does.

Anyway, whether you are a dedicated fan (the type who greets people with a friendly Valar Morghulis), or an eager newbie (the type who cannot BELIEVE they killed Ned Stark…like ohmygosh he’s the main character ?! WTF.), there is little doubting the sheer number of character deaths we see each season. The whole series is practically one big massacre. Proving his point with Ned Starks untimely beheading with his own sword, George R. R. Martin really does not care which of his characters he condemns to a grisly death. The tagline is supposedly ‘You Win or You Die’ but, honestly, the real message seems to be ‘You Win or George R. R. Martin kills you.’ We have seen wannabe Kings stabbed through the heart, actual Kings poisoned at their own wedding, colourful whores crucified on bedposts, and vengeful Prince’s literally crushed into bloody pieces. Yes, Martin is a monster……WHY ROBB STARK WHY ?! HE WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE CASTERLY ROCK AND AVENGE HIS FATHER’S SPIRIT !!!

Ahem…..so…..yes, back to the point of this post. HBO have teamed up with artist Robert M. Ball whose artistic project entitled ‘A Beautiful Death’ gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘graphic’. Ball has taken the demise of each character, transforming their gruesome, soul-crushing deaths into literal works of art, inspiring beauty and imagination into a world full of pain, suffering, and endless homicide.

So far, he has produced 38 pieces (Yes, that many characters have died already!), and you can find them all here http://beautifuldeath.com Today, I would simply like to share with you a handful of my favourite ones 🙂

 

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The nation gasped when Joffrey demanded for Ser Ilyn to ‘Bring me his head’ – referring to the head of the ever-honourable Ned Stark. Throughout Season 1, we were led to believe that Ned Stark was the central character, the one that nothing could ever possibly happen to. Yes, despite a few scrapes and near-calls, Ned would always be safe. WRONG. Season 1, Episode 9 saw Ser Illyn, the King’s Justice, chop off dear old Ned’s head with his own Valyrian steel sword, Ice. I suppose the fact that he was played by Sean Bean was a dead give away….the guy has died onscreen in about 99.9% of his works. Anyway, I love that Ball has depicted Ned’s beheading as a symbol of peace – I like to think that the doves (I assume they’re doves and not filthy crows or pigeons) flying out of his severed neck represent not only his state of rest in heaven, but also symbolise that his love and honour are not gone, but flying about Westeros watching over his family 🙂 As IF GOT would ever be that kind in reality !!

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Ah, Khal Drogo, Dany’s ‘Sun and Stars’. I’m probably going to anger a lot of Dany & Drogo shippers right now, but I never bought into their relationship. I mean, the guy was a total brute ! Before he met Dany, he seemed to have no problem raiding villages, killing innocents, and raping women. Even in his mighty, ‘I’M GOING TO TAKE OVER WESTEROS’ speech, he mentions how he will ‘rape their women and take their children as slaves’ whilst Dany lovingly looks on ! What a proud wife she must have been. I mean, I love Dany, but how can she strut about as a feminist, a fair leader, and a ‘breaker of chains’ when she was quite prepared to let her husband shackle up innocent children and potentially rape their mothers JUST to claim her mad, serial-killing father’s throne back ?! BITCH. Regardless, I still enjoy Drogo’s ‘beautiful death’ poster – I like the pretty horse in the starry night sky. This is all.

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I LOVED Ros the whore ! I don’t know whether it was the actress’s beautiful face or her silky-smooth voice, but I thought she had enormous onscreen presence. She was a rather admirable character – she went from the peasant wench of Winterfell to Littlefinger’s PA in King’s Landing all within the space of about a year. What a woman ! Unfortunately, Ros’s attempt to play the game of thrones ended in disaster as she lost to a more cunning participant – Littlefinger himself. Yes, that sneaky Master of Coin with the suspicious goatee gave his red-headed jewel to King Joffrey who was clearly very eager to try out his new crossbow. True to her nature, Ros did eventually end up in Joffrey’s bed, only she was rather impaled on it by 3 or 4 crossbow bolts. Ros, we salute you.

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It’s been over a year and I still can’t think of the Red Wedding without feeling an enormous twang of pain – Roose Bolton may aswell of stuck the knife in my own heart after he was done with Robb. Those pesky Lannisters ! As Ball’s ‘beautiful death’ picture shows, the violin chords of ‘The Rains of Castamere’, a song about how the Lannisters crushed the once wealthy and powerful House Castamere, led to Walder Frey’s halls running red with the blood of 2 remaining Starks, a recently married Stark, and a potential baby Stark. Not to mention the loyal dire wolf, Grey Wind. Why the wolf, Martin, why the damn wolf ? That’s all I want to know.

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Petyr Baelish, nickamed Littefinger, is probably one of my most favourite characters to watch. He’s such a sinister looking man ! I would even prefer to take on Tywin Lannister than try and outsmart Littlefinger. Out of everyone on the show, from psychos like Ramsay Snow (Bolton now) to cold-blooded killers like The Hound, Littlefinger is quite possibly the most ambitious, most intelligent, most cunning and calculating man in Westeros. The only person who could challenge him, I believe, is Roose Bolton. Anyway, Ball’s ‘beautiful death’ representation of Lysa Arryn’s fateful fall from her own Moon Door perfectly captures Littlefinger’s position in the show as the ultimate puppet master who is pulling all the strings, making the entire country dance for his amusement all the while believing they are the masters. I also like the way Lysa is represented here; for the crazy, troubled, psychotic woman that she was, Ball has turned her into what looks like a wounded bird – a creature to be pitied. Of course, as Littlefinger’s sigil is the Mockingbird, Lysa here becomes the fallen mockingbird, murdered by her own husband. I really cannot wait to see what Littlefinger will do next !

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Prince Oberyn. What can I say ? What a brilliant character, beautifully portrayed by Pedro Pascal ! Having read the books, House Martell is one of my favourite Houses, so it was great to finally see a member of House Martell being introduced to us in Season 4. Then…..HE GETS KILLED ! Okay, so I knew it was coming….but I hoped beyond all hope that the shows writers would change this tiny detail ! But they didn’t. Nope. Oberyn had his teeth punched from his mouth, his eyes gouged out, and his skull crushed into one big bloody mess. Nicknamed the ‘Red Viper’, Balls ‘beautiful death’ pictures captures Oberyn’s descent into death – a once great warrior, the Viper ends up rotting underground like so many others who have attempted to take on the Lannisters. What makes it even worse is that Oberyn ironically sealed his own death, as Ball represents with Oberyn’s spear impaled on the Viper – The Mountain may have been the one to do the deed, but Oberyn’s arrogance and overwhelming need to hear The Mountain confess to murdering Elia Martell resulted in his untimely, very very gruesome, death. WHY COULDN’T HE JUST LET IT GO ?! THE MOUNTAIN WAS ALMOST DEAD !!! R.I.P Prince Oberyn Martell.

 

So hope you enjoyed 🙂 Check out Ball’s other ‘beautiful death’ pictures – they really are wonderful ! And keep watching Game of Thrones. It’s only gonna get better 😀

The Magic of Diagon Alley

They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Percy Weasley couldn’t have provided less comfort if he’d tried when he made an attempt to console poor old Harry about his inability to go to the illustrious village of Hogsmeade (his parents are dead McGonagall ! Who else is going to sign his consent form ?!) However, Percy has a point; Hogsmeade is nothing, NOTHING, next to Diagon Alley.

I mean, Hogsmeade is more or less the John Lewis of the Wizarding World – it’s amazing, sure, and everything you look at captures your attention, what with their delightfully sparkling products, some of which you’ve never seen else where before. Where else is better than John Lewis ? What’s that ? Yes. Oh yes. Harrods. Harrods is better than John Lewis. And that is just what Diagon Alley is – it is the Harrods of the Wizarding World.

Like Harrods, Diagon Alley is where the real magic happens, where the real magic begins. Here, there are things that exist beyond your wildest imagination, things that will always be just that little bit out of your reach, things that are beautiful, luxurious, extraordinary and enchanting; walking through the bank at Harrods (you can smell the millions) evokes images of the legendary Gringotts Wizarding Bank, whilst the lavish fashion and accessories department, where it would be a miracle if you could afford one item, vaguely reminds you of the robes and wand you purchased from Madam Malkin’s and Ollivanders in that dream you had last night.

That being said, I implore you to look at this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2545244/Revealed-A-peek-inside-Diagon-Alley-Orlandos-newest-Harry-Potter-attraction.html

Yes, that article was published back in January. Yes, I have only just accepted that it is happening. Yes, I am beginning to reconcile myself to the fact that I will probably never get to step onto those cobbled streets myself. For now, as you can see for yourself, the kind people who run the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando, have submitted to our demands and dreams by opening up their very own Harrods, i.e. Diagon Alley.

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By the end of Summer 2014, the lucky muggles visiting the Wizarding World will be able to step off the snowy streets of Hogsmeade, book a ticket at Platform 9¾, and catch the Hogwarts Express all the way to the magical cobbles of Diagon Alley. Tired from your train ride ? Don’t worry, you’ll be able to replenish your sugar levels at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. Doubtless you will need the energy if you are to practise your Quidditch skills by purchasing your very own Nimbus 2000 or Firebolt at Quality Quidditch Supplies. Why not send us back at home a postcard of your adventures ? Better yet, you will even be able pick up a quill and some parchment at Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment – the owls at Eeylops Owl Emporium will be happy to air mail your letter to us ! 

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Is my jealousy that obvious ? I prefer the the term pleasantly envious. Seriously though, whilst the likelihood of me ever walking through that colourful, spellbinding Alley currently stands at zero (unless I win the EuroMillions….or rob Gringotts…), it is heart-warming and inspirational to think that there are people out there who are literally building dreams as we speak. For that is what Harry Potter is – it is a book that transports us to a different world, where we are enchanted and bewitched, where nothing very bad could ever happen to us (apart from the return of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters). And now something that was once only achieved through words is slowly coming to life, becoming a reality that we can touch, taste, and smell, and that is truly amazing.

Perhaps one day I will be able to let myself be chosen by my very own wand at Ollivanders (the wand chooses the Wizard don’t you know), but, for now, I will content myself with my books and my imagination. If that fails, there is always The Making of Harry Potter Tour at Warner Bros. Studio London 🙂

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