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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 23.00.58

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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 00.09.36

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.’

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 22.57.51

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.

 

 

Sansa Stark: Don’t Underestimate This Girl

**SPOILERS** DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED UP TO SEASON 4 

In a land where bloodshed is rife, beheadings are the norm, and attendance at a wedding is practically a death sentence, the writers of Game of Thrones (yes that includes George R.R. Martin himself) could have easily taken the sexist route by having its female characters fall apart in this misogynistic medieval world, forcing them to become mere chess pieces in a male-dominated political game. They did not choose this route. Instead, in what is perhaps its most revered and compelling aspect, Game of Thrones is brimming with women who challenge their medieval conventions and constraints with their determination and strength, becoming formidable opponents to both men and women alike.

When we think of GoT‘s headstrong females, our mind is immediately occupied with images of Daenerys ‘Khaleesi’ Targaryen who is marching towards Westeros with a small company of loyal dragons, an army of 8000 highly skilled soldiers, and 3 men who are completely at her mercy. Or how about the impressive Brienne of Tarth ? The 6ft 3″ blonde warrior could even give the beloved Hound a run for his money in a duel. Not to mention Theon Greyjoy’s sister, Yara Greyjoy, the commander of the Iron Islands’ entire naval fleet, who, as we saw in last week’s episode, is pretty handy with an axe.

GoT Women

Yes, these female characters reject the stereotypical forms of feminism, for these women are physically well-built, display signs of overt masculinity, and are clearly uncomfortable when faced with ideals of femininity, favouring chainmail and steel over dresses and flowers. However, what is so great about this show is that the writers have not simply put a woman in a suit of armour, shoved a sword in her hand and said, ‘Hey look feminists ! We’ve challenged social expectations – our women don’t sew or cook, they fight and kill in battle !’ No. There are in fact many female characters in GoT whose lack of physical prowess and skill in battle is more than made up for with their cutting wit, subtle astuteness, and unparalleled intelligence. I mean, I would not want to be on the receiving end of Lady Olenna Tyrell’s sharp tongue, nor would I want to be caught in the middle of a political mind game between the menacing Cersei Lannister and the devious Margaery Tyrell !

GoT Women 2

I have recently introduced two of my friends to the Game of Thrones universe, and when I remarked to them about all the strong females in the show, they both said ‘Yes. Well, except for Sansa.’ Yes, sadly, whenever someone is asked who their favourite GoT character is, poor old Sansa Stark rarely makes the top of the list. However, having been a loyal fan of the books and an avid watcher of the television series from the very beginning, I can comfortably say that by Season 4, the beautiful Sansa has made it into my top 5 favourite characters to watch, and is, I believe, one of the strongest female characters on the show.

Sansa Stark

Ah there she is. With her stunning red hair, flawless bone structure, and beautiful physique, Sansa is the epitome of the perfect Lady of Westeros. She looks far too fragile to survive in such a brutal world as the one she lives in. The fact that her sister is Arya Stark doesn’t help her image. If you compare the two side by side, there is no doubting that Arya is the obvious choice when it comes to who is the most spirited and resilient – I mean, the girl is only 11 years old yet she can already wield a sword AND she’s killed THREE people with it ! Even when we are first introduced to the sisters in Season 1, Episode 1, we see Sansa happily enjoying her embroidery classes whilst Arya sneaks out to play bow and arrows with the Stark boys. If that isn’t juxtaposition then I don’t know what is. Okay, I admit it, even I was frustrated with Sansa at first; throughout Season 1, all she did was moan about how ‘Southern’ she wanted her hair to look, stuffed her face with lemon cakes, and spent her time daydreaming about marrying a handsome knight and being rescued from her wintery tower, all whilst rejecting her Northern roots, practically disowning her family, and pining after the psychotic Prince Joffrey. Yes, at first, Sansa seemed the stock ‘Damsel in Distress’ character, incapable of doing anything for herself or processing any thought which didn’t consist of pretty princes or gorgeous gowns.

Sansa Stark

However, we are currently on Season 4, and in that time Lords have been beheaded, Commanders have been exiled, Kings have been poisoned, and, yet, Sansa Stark remains. She is the Lone Wolf in the Lion’s Den (Starks vs. Lannisters reference incase you didn’t know….), but has so far managed to emerge with all her body parts intact – surely we have to give a teenage girl credit for such an impressive feat ! Seven Hells, even the brilliant Tyrion Lannister has felt the sting of the Lion’s claws, leaving him with a scar he will carry forever. Still, poor Sansa has had to withstand a lot of mental suffering during her stay at King’s Landing – she witnessed her father’s beheading, suffered abuse and humiliation at the hand of our dearly departed Joffers, was forced to marry Tyrion ‘the Dwarf’ Lannister, and silently endured the death of both her mother and her brother. Did she scream ? Did she run ? Did she drop kick Joffrey in the face ? Or call Cersei an evil, miserable bitch ? No. Sansa has never ceased to be anything but ladylike, graceful, and polite, but it’s not because she’s too brainless to do anything else, but because she understands that this is the only way to survive.

Brienne of Tarth once told Catelyn Stark that she had courage, ‘Not battle courage perhaps but, I don’t know, a kind of woman’s courage.’ This is exactly what Sansa has – her hopes and dreams may have been ripped to shreds and fallen to pieces around her, but she slowly learns to use her femininity to her advantage, wearing her innocence and naivety as her battle armour. Like Tyrion once said to Jon Snow: ‘Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.’ So Sansa Stark sits prettily in her little cage, repeating her curtseys, and singing like a little dove, but she endures. She learns how to play the game of thrones, and has blossomed into one of its leading participants, unlike so many of her other female comrades who have been eliminated (Ros the Whore, Catelyn Stark, Lysa Arryn, Talisa).

So there we have it. Sansa Stark is not a warrior, she is not a soldier, she is not a killer, she is not a rebel. But she is a survivor. Personally, I truly believe that eventually Sansa will be the one to reclaim Winterfell in the name of her father and House Stark. I mean, Bran’s off beyond the Wall messing around with direwolves, three-eyed ravens and strange blonde-haired boys, Jon Snow is a loyal brother of the Night’s Watch, and Arya, whilst a complete bad-ass, is slightly out of control. It’s all down to Sansa. LONG LIVE SANSA !

Sansa Stark

Also, the way Sansa bitch-slapped her ridiculously annoying cousin Robin in the latest episode was applause-worthy. 

 

10 Reasons Why You MUST Watch ‘Game of Thrones’

So my last post, which hinted at a very fabulous drawing-inspired post-to-come, is taking a little longer than I expected. As you can probably tell by my ever so detailed sketch, drawing is not my forte, but the drawings I’m working on are something I’ve wanted to do for ages so I’m going to continue with it, and hopefully you’ll all be able to see the outcome in a few days time 🙂

Alas, to fill the void I’m sure you’re all feeling, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to a television series that I’m certain is close to all of your hearts…..GAME.OF.THRONES.!!!!

Unless you’ve literally, and I mean literally, been living under a rock since 2011, you should at least be vaguely aware of HBO’s Game of Thrones based on George R. R. Martin’s fictional fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (I’ll not even venture to question why you haven’t watched it. The shock of someone not even witnessing one episode is too much for my heart to bear).

Admittedly, the series on first glance seems a bit daunting – the sheer size of the cast whose characters’ interwoven plot lines are set against a backdrop of beheadings, torture, prostitutes, and revenge points towards one word: INTENSE. Not to mention that it does appear perhaps too much inclined towards the fantasy angle – here there be Dragons who can destroy and conquer Kingdoms quicker than The Hobbit’s Smaug can roast a Dwarf, and the land is coated with vast castles, most of which would make Hogwarts literally look like a lego set. For someone like my friend Antonia, who feels physically sick at the mention of anything medieval or fantastical (such as the word ‘goblet’….), it’s understandable why something like Game of Thrones would send her, and those like her, running into the syrupy sweet arms of Glee, or into the fashion-forward, retro world of Mad Men.

However, despite a thick layer of fantasy spread onto an over-stuffed cake of blood, sex, incest, murder, and politics, Game of Thrones is most definitely a sweet treat that you won’t get sick of in a hurry; if you can will yourself to power through the first couple of episodes, which do require a certain level of patience (not to mention a strong stomach), you’ll likely find yourself taking BuzzFeed’s ‘Which Game of Thrones Character are you ?’ or ‘Which Game of Thrones House Do You Belong In ?’ the very next day.

So, for you GoT lovers out there, I’ve compiled a list to remind you why you love this series so much, and for you GoT virgins (shame on you !), this list is to show you exactly what you’re missing out on. Everyone needs a slice of the Game of Thrones cake, even if your slice does taste a little like blood and incest.

#1 – Hot Men (This is definitely the most important reason) 

ImageRobb Stark

#2 – It’s got it’s priorities in order

Cersei DrinkWine gif

#3 – It teaches you very valuable life lessons

Bronn

#4 – The Hair

Cersei Hair Daenerys Hair Daario Hair

#5 – Jerome Flynn from 90s pop duo ‘Robson & Jerome’ is in it. And he’s very witty. 

Bronn Quote Robson & Jerome

#6 – The Opening Credits 

#7 – Strong, bad-ass women

BIJvD7NCYAA-ySrAryaDany Quote

#8 – Did I mention the hot men ?

Jaime Gif Daario newRenly

#9 – Violence, violence, violence

POYTJoust Death

#10 – PETER DINKLAGE/TYRION LANNISTER

Tyrion