2016 Wrap Up

The arbitrary unit of time we know as 2016 has come to an end to much celebration for many.  I am a bit more reserved in my exuberance, since the future bleeds from the past, and the past twelve months have been less than fortuitous.  I try not to be a Morbid Mary, but my hopes for the future are…guarded at best.  Be that as it may, our little wet rock has taken another trip around its star.  Here I present what I’ve accomplished in that time, and what I’d like to accomplish before the next trip comes to a close.

The Question of the Week

This was a fun, little, weekly foray, and I greatly enjoyed coming up with questions and seeing all of your answers, but I’ve decided to end it.  Formulating a query and answering it took much longer than many would think, and I desperately need to dedicate my time to other things.  You can find all of the questions at the end of the above link.  Please feel free to answer any that strike your fancy!  I’m always up for a good discussion.


2016 Goodreads Book Challenge: 20
Books “Completed” Per Goodreads: 21

Number of Books Finished: 18

  1. The Ghost of Buxton Manor
  2. The World of Ice and Fire
  3. The Tales of Yagath
  4. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  5. Sigil
  6. The Mystical Qabalah
  7. The Red Rose
  8. The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  9. The Invisible Library
  10. The Rape of Lucrece
  11. Spectrum
  12. The Slow Regard of Silent Things
  13. Paradise Lost
  14. Windhaven
  15. Dreamsongs Volume II
  16. Taggerung
  17. The Light of the Fireflies
  18. Dreamsongs Volume I
  19. The Jade Dragon
  20. Magonia
  21. Chained

Links go to my reviews.  The review for The Ghost of Buxton Manor is pending, as I just finished that this past week. I’m planning audio (potentially video) reviews for Paradise Lost and The Rape of Lucrece, which is why they don’t have reviews.

I technically only completed 18 books, since The Invisible Library and Magonia were both DNF, but I guess because I put an end date, Goodreads counts them.

Favorite Book: The Ghost of Buxton Manor by Jonathon L. Ferrara – I haven’t reviewed this yet, but I’ll have a glowing one for your perusal before the year is much older.  At initial rating I gave it four stars, but I just upped that to five because it deserves it.  The novel is an utter delight, and I highly recommend it.

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Stranger Things – Not Really a Review

This is less a review and more of what I hope will become an open discussion.  I had absolutely no idea that going into Stranger Things, I’d come out with so many other narratives on my mind, but it was not only chock full of 80s aesthetic without being the least bit campy, but it also reminded me of many other stores of not just that decade but others prior and since.

Stranger Things Cover

While this is not a review, it will still spoil the entirety of the first season, as I’ll be discussing all aspects of the show in regards to other stories, and the discussion will spoil those narratives as well.

All of the doors are about to be opened Dustin, don’t worry!  Also, I love Gaten Matarazzo.

***Spoilers for Stranger Things and every single narrative in bold.***

Stand by Me – We’ll get this one and The Goonies out of the way since Stranger Things was heralded as being reminiscent of the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Body and that classic 80s treasure hunt/coming of age tale, though ST was quite a bit darker and more horrifying than them both.  Also, oddly enough, in looking up the Wikipedia links for both movies, I discovered they both take place in small towns in Oregon.

E.T. There’s a picture of all of the kids on their bikes with Eleven in a hoodie with the hood up.  I can’t find it right now, but I recall the scene from one of the latter episodes.  If I knew exactly where it was (and I wasn’t being lazy), I’d screenshot it from my Netflix app, though…maybe it’s better I don’t since I don’t want to get in trouble.  Anyway, that was a definite visual reference to E.T., but just the idea of government officials hunting down a special entity set in the 80s, and the children the entity befriended trying to keep them safe has E.T. all over it.  Now El’s not an alien…or so it might seem, but the Demogorgon certainly is.  We’ll talk more about aliens and special children’s connections to them in a later entry.

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The State of the Writer: 9/3/16

<–The State of the Writer: 8/27/16          The State of the Writer: 9/10/16–>

A weekly post updated every Saturday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 272,701
Prior Word Count: 272,761
Word Difference: -60
Status: Editing
Progress: Organizing notes for new Chapter 4

The Blood Dimmed Tide Is Loosed

I use a great many poems in this fanfiction as opposed to the one recurring usage of TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in Northern Lights.  I not only loved that poem so much, but I loved the idea of poetry that I decided I’d increase it manifold in this work.  Yeats is another one of my favorite poets, in fact I believe I declare him to be my favorite here with the above as my favorite poem.  Unsurprisingly, I’m a fan of dark advent poetry.  Who knew?

There is arguably even more poetry reading in The Broken Rose than Northern Lights, at the very least there are more poems read, but “The Second Coming” was the first one.  I absolutely love irony, with it and meta being my two favorite literary devices.  It amuses me greatly that a fallen angel is reading a dark advent poem in order to comfort the woman he once killed.  Creating situations like this is one of the best parts of writing.

I am currently at the end of my second edit of Chapter 3, and I’m now organizing my notes to write a new Chapter 4.  I’m not replacing the current Chapter 4; that’s going to become Chapter 5, and all the other following chapters will be bumped up a number.  The new Chapter 4 is entitled “Helpless,” and I’m hoping it won’t take me too long to write.  After I’m done, I’ll do a third edit on Chapter 3 (since I did some heavy editing the second time around) and go right into my edit of Chapter 4.  My goal is to write and edit the latest chapter before the end of my two week vacation.  My even more ambitious goal is to finish editing the first five chapters so I can begin posting the work.

Quote: Sephiroth carried both book and maid back upstairs to her welcoming room.  He turned out the light because he needed none and let the volume choose its page.

*“…The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…” *

The general glanced down in frowning concern for such blood soaked verse, but the little Cetra was smiling so bright in his arms with her lids lightly shut.  Her tiny hands were no more clenched, but curled resting against the black coat.  His low voice so soothing could put her to sleep and made even dark words shine so bright.

Project: Story
The Threads of Sorrow
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Retold Fairy Tale
Type: Original Short Story
Prior Word Count: 6825
Current Word Count: 6787
Word Difference: +38
Status: Editing
Progress: First Edit Complete

I finished the first edit of Threads last week and now need to do a second edit.  I’ll probably work on that today.  I’m hoping it will be just a smooth read-through.  Afterwards, I’m not sure what my plan is.  I feel like I should find some beta readers, but I’ve already discussed my trepidation with the last weekly update.

Project: Vacation Essays
Genre: Various
Status: Planning

Since I’m on vacation for the next two weeks I want to use this time to catch up and post things I might otherwise have trouble finding the time to do.  Some of the things on the list have been featured here before.

  • Character Analyses – Since I’m hoping to also finish Final Fantasy IV, I may be able to finally get back to my character analyses posts with one for Cecil Harvey, the main character of the fore mentioned game.  Other contenders are Brienne of Tarth from ASOIAF/GOT, since I haven’t written about that series in a while.
  • The Printed Copy of Northern Lights – I’d like to discuss my NL printing project, because as I was doing it, a bittersweet and quite meta memory came clear.  I hope I can properly impart the feelings to you.
  • Blogger Tags – Over the course of the year (possibly the last one as well), I collected a number of blogger tag posts from various sites I follow.  These are fun, but quite time consuming.  I’ve already done the Alphabet Book Tag, and I thought up more alphabet tag posts for other media like games and movies that I’d like to start spreading around.  There’s also the Book Blogger Memory Tag, the Music Tag, and the Goodreads Book Tag I’d like to complete.  When I do, I’ll give credit/links to those bloggers from whom I found them!
  • The Stringer Bell Paradox Test – This was another “tag” from a blogger.  I found it quite fascinating, especially since I had an immediate pair of characters to test it out on.  I included the link now in case you wanted to check it out before I post.
  • “Half a Tragedy Is Worse Than None” – This is an essay about how Final Fantasy VII in many ways parallels a Greek tragedy. I initially was going to make this part of “Seventh Is the Darkest” essay, but the idea grew big enough to stand on its own.  I would love to have this written by 9/7/16 for 19th anniversary of FFVII’s release in North America, but I highly doubt that’s going to happen.  I have something else planned for that day though.
  • 30 Day Challenge – This is a Game of Thrones Challenge!  I forget where I found it.  I think one of the YouTubers I follow made a video about it, but I was able to google the picture easily.  I will probably answer them all at once and not day by day.
  • “Wide Awake” – It’s been several months since I’ve made a slideshow, and I’ve been thinking a lot of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake,” since the lyrics put me in the mind of a fallen angel.  I really want to start making AMVs, but I’m a picky perfectionist, and I don’t know what footage I want yet for the AMV I want to make.  If I were more prepared, I’d definitely work on that during this vacation, but the slideshow will be easier.
  • Stranger Things Review – I’ll get this completed within the two weeks.  I think I have it on my planner to do today, but we’ll see about that.
  • A Song of FFVIIs – I started organizing all of the notes on this last night.  Ideally I’d love to write and post at least one essay before my two weeks is up.  More ideally, I’d love to have an essay ready to post on 9/7/16, but I don’t think it’s going to happen

What are you currently working on?  Is it a creative writing project, essay, review, or something else?  Have you just started something new or are you wrapping up a long term project?

<–The State of the Writer: 8/27/16          The State of the Writer: 9/10/16–>


The State of the Writer: 8/27/16

<–The State of the Writer: 8/20/16          The State of the Writer: 9/3/16–>

A weekly post updated every Saturday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 272,761
Prior Word Count: 273,620
Word Difference: -852
Status: Editing
Progress: 2nd edit of Chapter 3

House By the Sea

I’m honestly can’t believe I haven’t used the above picture yet.  It’s almost exactly how I picture the house save for some minor details.  There’s no garage; it faces the sea; and the staircase is slightly different, being split at the top not at a lower landing, but the extensive veranda is dead on, and the luxury is exquisite, though I would not want to have Aeris’s history in this story in order to live here.

The little Cetra gets a brief glimpse of where she now resides, but there’s a much better one in Chapter 5 where she (and the readers) also find out the name of the estate.  When I do my (hopefully) light reedit of Northern Lights, I’m going to use the same name for their abode.  It’s…sad but fitting, and Sephiroth finds it achingly ironic.

I’m making good progress on the second edit.  I was worried it was going to be tedious and nitpicky as the first, but I only had some trouble with the initial paragraph or so.  I’ve mostly been doing a read through with minor edits, which is what I wish all editing could be.  Granted I haven’t yet reached the part where I’ve done extensive additions, so I’ll have to get back to you when I do.

This chapter amps up the sweetness even amongst the heartache.  At the end of it since Aeris is completely bereft of clothing, Sephiroth orders her a multitude of them in addition to jewelry and shoes.  I debated using a picture of the former, but there will be plenty of time for that when it arrives.

Quote: “Her coloring?  Fairer than the mist with the first blush of dawn on her cheeks.  She resembles a tiny porcelain doll with large, deep, summer blessed eyes.  Her hair is chestnut waves down to her knees with bangs similar to mine.  Yes, she’s lovely, beyond so.  Beautiful’s the word I would use.”

Project: Story
The Threads of Sorrow
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Retold Fairy Tale
Type: Original Short Story
Prior Word Count: 6887
Current Word Count: 6825
Word Difference: -42
Status: Editing
Progress: First Edit 5/6 Complete

I only edited one page last week, and I’m not sure I’m going to get to this tonight.  Since I went to my friend’s book signing, I’m exhausted as is the case whenever I do anything.  I’d need a nap before any editing took place, and I have so much still on my planner to accomplish.  I would love to finish the first edit this weekend, but it may have to happen during my two week vacation, which starts the first full week of September.

I’m also starting to get weird about submitting this for publishing.  That’s all I’m going to say about that for now :\

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The State of the Writer: 8/20/16

<–The State of the Writer: 8/13/16          The State of the Writer: 8/27/16–>

A weekly post updated every Saturday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 273,620
Prior Word Count: 273,244
Word Difference: +376
Status: Editing
Progress: 1st edit of Chapter 3

Dream House Living Room

There has been a great deal of revision in this portion of the edit, since I’m prepping to add a new chapter.  It’s been equal parts editing, equal parts writing, but I’m happy I’m doing it in the first edit.

The above picture shares similarities to how I imagine the living room, though the view would of course be the sea, and the window is more like a bay.  It’s obviously near impossible to find perfect pictures for the images in my head.  I was trying to locate a good dining room since that’s where I am right now, but I suppose you’ll just have to rely on my descriptive skills…as they are I suppose.

Quote: The great glass lights above ornate steps were now lit like a calm holiday.  Black boots made no sound on their scattered dance in display upon marble veins.  He carried her through the living room that dwelled off the stairs’ right side.  The carpet here looked just as soft to what crinkled her toes in her room. 

Evening was falling behind the bay window that framed his dining room.  Though the kitchen had a table, this was fancier.  *She deserves that,* Sephiroth thought, setting Aeris down.  She sank in soft cushion, her head still a-whirl for the arms were upholstered and soft.  Undoing his coat with the pin back in place, he swung it from broad to frail shoulders.  The Cetra caught her breath to keep back tears for the velvet warmth shielding her now.

Project: Story
The Threads of Sorrow
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Retold Fairy Tale
Type: Original Short Story
Prior Word Count: 6940
Current Word Count: 6887
Word Difference: +53
Status: Editing
Progress: First Edit 3/4 Complete

I have three more pages left to edit so I’m near the climax of the tale.  I’m starting to get anxious about this, because after I edit and polish it, I’ll have to submit it, and submitting stories sucks.  I just…sucks.  That’s all I can really say about it.  It contorts my stomach like a twisted sheet.  I hate the threat of failure, and it always falls, it always falls, ironically without fail.  My last resort is just posted it here on my own social media, but I would like some validation that I’m a halfway decent writer.  We’ll see what happens.

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Game of Thrones – Season 6 Finale Predictions

Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season up to Season 6 Episode 9 below.


Content Warning: Very brief mention of rape.

I have purposely avoided any prediction videos since last Sunday’s amazing episode.

Yass slay! Queen of the North!

It was by far the best episode of the season.

I agree with all of this. Sansa may be Queen of the North, but Lady Lyanna is the baddest bitch.

And is a possible contender for the best penultimate episode of all time.

I ship it. Danara forever ♥♥♥

This season saw a grand take back for many of the primary female characters, and by the old gods and the new it was both necessary and satisfying.  It is also exhilarating to note that I did not count a single, solitary rape in the entirety of season either. While I do feel that the story has gone downhill quite a bit, that is one aspect I do not believe is the cause of the decline.

This post is meant to (briefly…gods I hope) go through finale predictions.  As always, I will give credit where its due and where I can find it.  I believe these things will happen in the season ender, but I can not claim to have come up with them myself.  Where I can recall, I will provide links to the source.  So without further ado…

The Mad Queen

There is quite an abundance of textual hints that Cersei Lannister may truly be Aerys, the Mad King’s daughter, instead of being the child of the late Lord Tywin Lannister.  There are many, many theorists who believe this could be true, so I can’t just credit one.  You can search the interwebs to yield quite a few results on forums and YouTube, so I’ll leave you to that work if you so wish.

I can give credit for the prediction that Cersei will burn down King’s Landing in either desperation to avoid punishment for her crimes, rage at her dispossession, disrespect, and need to endure the judgment of “those beneath her,” or a combination of all and others.  Charlie in Westeros discusses it in nearly all of his videos concerning Season 6 so I can’t pinpoint just one.  I’m certain it’s brought up in his latest endeavor, but I haven’t watched that (or any other) video yet so as not to taint my mind with what’s not already in it.  Whether Cersei will burn the city because Tommen is killed or kill him in the process of avoiding judgment, I can’t say, but that may spark the fulfillment of the valonqar prophecy with the “little brother” being Jaime who strangles her to death upon his return.

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The Element of Surprise – Musings on Death and Betrayal in Various Media of Storytelling

I consider myself to be a skeptic and a cynic (along with holding the lofty title of Shameful Narcissist), but I still secretly carry an ember of gullibility in my heart. The former means it is quite hard to surprise me, where the latter can still light my way to delightful shock. In real life I abhor surprises, as I always wish to be prepared for any contingency, but in the world of fantasy and fiction I revel in it.

Here I give you the times I was surprised by a story in the various types of media I have consumed. I’m just going to use the one paragon example in each medium I present. Obviously as I am showcasing times I was shocked by a narrative, there are spoilers galore for everything mentioned/tagged in this post.  I’ll still throw up an official warning and give anyone who needs it time to skedaddle.







I had no idea how they were going to resolve the fact that the heroine had two love interests (more on how you take care of that particular paradigm in the next entry. At least Hans gets to live…even if he might not deserve it.) Throughout the entire movie he gave no overt displays of devious ambition, but like any well told story, they were most certainly there. The fact that he always wears gloves (conceal don’t feel…) and only takes them off once after he reveals his true nature to Anna in the heartbreaking scene used above, and them almost immediately puts them back on while declaring “I’m the hero that’s going to save Arendelle” to once again don the mask and hide his true nature, but the movie had been giving hints to it all along.

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The Editing of Northern Lights – ASOIAF, FFVII, and Paradise Lost Analysis (Pre Chapter 2)

Note: This is the Editing Blog for my FFVII fanfiction Northern Lights (which you can find at the end of that link).  I will be discussing a myriad of topics along with my frequently tangential and harried editing process.  You should be able to garner some enjoyment and insight from this without having read the story and/or without prior knowledge of the original game, but if you’re a fan of paranormal romance and/or dark fantasy, you may find it to your liking.  The story will be spoiled in this editing examination, though I will do my best to mark spoilers for any other narratives I mention.  Thanks for your interest and enjoy!

<–Chapter 1 Reread, Reedit, and Recap     Chapter 2 with More Paradise Lost and ASOIAF–>

Future Narcissist here.  This is not so much an editing post as it is me talking about ASOIAF, the videos I found about it, and how it’s symbolically similar to FFVII.  If you have no interest in this

feel free to skip this entry; however there’s some pretty interesting stuff contained within for ASOIAF/GOT lovers who’d like a little more depth with their Westeros.

Alright, back to the past.

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 10 – Mother’s Mercy

<–S5E9 – The Dance of Dragons

We come to it at last…the final episode, the grand finale of the fifth season: Mother’s Mercy, an ironic, bitter title as we shall soon see.  Things happened as book readers expected and as many astute show only watchers foretold.  The threads of many plots came to fruition for good or for ill, and what many believe was the weakest season yet came to a bloody close, but we shall get to that.  Let me do my customary though obvious warning and say…

…and now we can begin.

The concept of “mercy” is almost laughably absent in this episode, but it is the very lack off it which makes it so profound.  Mercy is represented by Chesed on the Tree of Life, but as mentioned in my S5E9 analysis for every Sephirah there is a shadow/averse Sephirah and Chesed is not immune.  This episode was the antithesis of mercy and all of the players fell into that cold, shadowy abyss left by the absence of light. We are plunged into a world without hope where our best intentions end in failure and our purest motives are stained with blood.

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9 – The Dance of Dragons

<–S5E8 – Hardhome                                                             S5E10 – Mother’s Mercy–>

There is only one more episode to speak about after this one, and this one…oh this one.  Well many people were up in arms (or flames…too soon?) about the major event of this installment.  That shall be the last thing I cover, though I will provide videos to theorists who had…slightly harsher things to say than I.

*******SPOILER ALERT*******

And have a care for those spoilers

I actually rewatched a few of these videos today in prep and reminder for this analysis.  I couldn’t quite remember what had happened with Arya in Braavos and couldn’t care less about what happened in Dorne so a refresher was necessary.

Bar gives her two cents on the Stannis Situation.

We have Charlie in Westeros whose version of upset still seems quite relaxed comparatively 🙂

Then…we have Tony Teflon who has some shall we say stern opinions about Stannis.  Honestly though I felt bad for Tony.  Stannis was his guy from the get go, and I know that was a huge let-down/betrayal for the Don.  Be warned, there is very harsh language in this.

I guess it’s easier for me since most of my favorite characters in any fandom area already established villains; therefore, I can’t be blind to their flaws.  Game of Thrones is heart-wrenching in this area for good or ill reasons, but we’ll talk more about character assassination later.

After that we need some comic relief with Preston Jacobs who nonetheless cuts to the bone with his deadpan wit.

Maester Payne and Clare Grey give probably the calmest review of them all.  MP is a really balanced guy who’s able to look at everything and present the most rational view of events.  Also, yours truly gets a shout out, all the way from London no less! 😀

Next are Ideas of Ice and Fire with more “Wtf just happened?”  The questions everyone is asking.

And finally we have the Small Council discussion hosted by James Johnson.  Three plus hours, but well worth every second of your time.  I think this is the one where James reads some Yeats at the end, but I could be wrong.  That might be the season finale review.

The episode actually invokes the title of the latest book:
Though it changes the wording a little.  We see a literal dance with a dragon in the fighting pits of Mereen, but the theme is present elsewhere.  In Dorne (which I’m not going to discuss, because there’s really nothing to discuss.  Ugh, Dorne…) the tense discussion and intrigue could be considered a dance.  Jaime, Doran, and Ellaria are playing with political fire with the former two not wanting to make any brash moves (yet); however Ellaria is prepared to let it all burn.

Arya plays with fire by deviating from her faceless mission and chasing her real target Meryn Trant who doesn’t realize how close he’s dancing to the flames.  Then of course we have the Stannis/Shireen Situation, which will be discussed last.  Geez…there are so many situations this season, and they all begin with the letter S.  Sansa Situation, Stannis Situation, Shireen Situation.  Okay there are only three and arguably two since the latter is the same situation.

This week I shall be eschewing Dorne because there really isn’t anything worthwhile to talk about.  I’ve already said how much I hate what D&D did with that area, and there’s really nothing good that has come of that.  The sections shall be as follows: Broken Promises, The Dragon Dance, and Blood in Fire.

Broken Promises

Arya is on her way to becoming a Faceless Man.  Hahaha, who am I kidding.  No, Arya is going to use the skills and techniques that they can teach her and kill everyone who ever did her and her family wrong.  She will become a living embodiment of valar morghulis and afterwards become the incarnation of valar dohaeris, if James Johnson’s theory about her being a vessel for the Night’s King is true, which…I could see.  When Arya met the Ghost of High Heart (Melisandre on the show), the old woman tells her to begone from her because she is a “wolf child” with a “dark heart.”  I can see the hatred consuming the youngest Stark daughter (where Sansa would be more likely swallowed by despair), and that makes her the perfect vessel for the true king of winter who has had such burning within him for millenia and more.

Arya, as a faceless novice, has a target, the gambler, which she summarily abandons the instant she sees Meryn Trant disembarking with Mace Tyrell.  Observe how both of these men’s initials are MT and both of them are that: empty.  Trant is a monster, a pedophile who not only rapes the girls he purchases, but beats them, too.  He was set up as a beast meant only for the blade.  He has no other traits except for that, though D&D throw even more malice his way by making him a hypocrite.  He speaks of Renly being a “boy fucker;” however Renly wasn’t a rapist going after underage youths.  Loras and the deceased king were in love (despite the show’s attempt to cast doubt on that), but people will find any justification for their own behavior while shunning someone else’s.

Mace is portrayed as merely a puppet for the Iron Throne even doing a literal song and dance for the Iron Bank.  He is so clownish it’s a caricature to a point where we must wonder if he isn’t as “MT” as he appears and is in fact playing his own game.  I doubt it though.  Nothing in his earlier dealings show Mace to be anything but a buffoon or a yes man, toadying for whomever is in power.  It’s ironic as his name is “mace” which is a brutish instrument of war capable of immense destruction.  Mace Tyrell seems incapable of anything beyond what he is told to do.  It really wouldn’t matter if he were in King”s Landing during Margaery’s ordeal.  She’s an MT, too…imagine that?  That throws more question on her chances of being the “younger and more beautiful queen” though she fights more against her shell status than her hapless father.  Despite this, the rose queen is at most a placeholder and receptacle for Cersei’s hatred until the real queen (whomever she might be) comes along.  My money is still on Danaerys especially considering recent events that I can’t speak of since they’re in the final episode.  Sansa is still a consideration though.  Actually, both Dany and the  true Lady of Winterfell are equally matched.  It is the song of ice and fire, and they are the incarnation of that unity.

Holy shit…just random and sorry to go off on this, but I was mouthing “A Song of Ice and Fire” to myself and remembered that Leaf told Bran that the Children are  “those who sing the song of earth,” and I now have chills running down my spine in addition to shaking hands.  Ice is frozen water, so that fulfills that elemental.  Has anyone been the embodiment of air?  We could look towards the Eyrie.  I don’t know, dear readers.  I just thought of it so my mind is all a muddle, but the fact that the entire narrative is “A Song of Ice and Fire” and Leaf declares that they (the Children) “sing the song of earth” makes me wonder if GRRM threw that hidden opposition in there on purpose, and the Children truly are against men.  I linked this article in the last post: Faceless Men and the Many Faces of the Children, but it bear repeating and leads me into the idea of the many faces that Martin does present.

The Faceless Men ironically serve the Many-Faced God, but the Westerosi served a many faced (seven at that) one, too.  Then there’s the “god of death” that Syrio Forel mentions, but death has a multifaceted face as we constantly see in this narrative.  The old gods of the North who live in the weirwoods are being overseen by Blood Raven who has “a thousand eyes and one.”  Even the Lord of Light has a shadowed face (more on that later with some deeper symbolism involved), and the whole of the story of A Song of Ice and Fire is the cycle, the rotation, and how it all repeats.

Joseph Campbell’s brilliant work The Hero With a Thousand Faces

must surely be a template for this.  The same story repeated over and over again from antiquity and on to forever, showing that there is no one facet to the journey and no single side to any tale.  It all coalesces into the one which is many.  GRRM in showing all of these people, many of whom are so wrapped up in their own importance, doing seemingly grand things, is really showing us how petty and worthless so many of our endeavors are in the face of looming destruction (not only that but whether you die by ice or fire, it doesn’t really matter; you’re just as dead), but the story has been heard before.  It’s been repeated over and over again, but humanity never learns.  Jeor Mormont spoke of this after the wight attack.  He lamented to Jon Snow how the Night’s Watch had forgotten its true purpose, and then he died later killed by his own men, the same way Jon would die afterwards.  Perhaps it is the “song of earth” we need and not merely the “song of ice and fire.”  Maybe that’s the secret hidden below where even the darkness dares not dream.

The Dragon Dance

This was the scene that book readers had been waiting to see since the beginning of the season and possibly the show.  There were some…less than stellar takes on it, and I’ll admit, I laughed at the Neverending Story references, because they were fucking hilarious.  We get a sort of prodigal son returns motif in Drogon coming back, not to beg, but to save his mother from imminent death.  Prior to his arrival, I swear it looks like Dany is calling him/warging

It looks like there some kind of mental shenanigans going on here.

and the dragon hears and answers.  I…hope this doesn’t confuse show only watches or obfuscate a point.  I don’t think Targaryens are supposed to be wargs.  Per the histories, they controlled dragons with whips, horns, and spurs, not their minds.  So I don’t know if D&D are crossing over Targs with Starks (which we already have with Jon), but Dany shouldn’t be able to warg Drogon.

Let me back up a little bit.  Prior to the climactic scene, we have Hizdar and Daario snarking at each other, and Tyrion taking the crown of King Snark in telling Hizdar that his father would’ve like him, which is an elegant/ironic insult worthy of Cousin Violet from Downton Abbey.

Whom I aspire to be when I grow up.

There’s some banter from the peanut gallery before Jorah shows up and wins the day twice by (semi) defeating the opponents in the pit and then slaying Daenerys’s would-be assassin.  Hizdar’s stabbing would seem to imply he was not in league with the Sons of the Harpy, although since they start killing masters and slaves alike, this is still an undetermined point.  Prior to the start he went to “take care of something” so it’s still possible he was a part of the rebellion, and they turned against him.  I initially thought he might have survived his wounds, but per every source I see, it doesn’t appear so.  The show didn’t bother with the marriage or the poison locusts.  I suppose since there was no Strong Belwas (which we still mourn) to act as the unintended target, D&D decided to dispense with that entire plot.  This leads me to believe that Hizdar will not last long in the book’s narrative either.

Then Jorah takes Dany’s hand *sigh* and they made a distinct point of showing this, and we know the disgraced knight has greyscale.  The question arises as to whether or not Dany now has it and also whether or not she gave it to Missandei when she in turn took her hand.  Are they going to have Dany possibly be immune to the infection?  Are they going to have her be a carrier?  They certainly have her being carried away , and it’s as though she alone is raptured to rise above the folly, leaving the rest below.

I agree with Preston Jacob’s assessment in his video above.  Why did the Sons of the Harpy stop attacking when this occurred?  Where they as entranced as Tyrion, Jorah, Missandei, and Daario at the Mother of Dragons leaving on the back of her son?  They didn’t have any compunctions about spearing the beast when he was on the ground.  I guess it was necessary for the plot. *rolls eyes…kinda*

The book has the ascension come after a far more difficult trial, and it has an almost sexual connotation to it.  If I could find it I would post the quotes here, but she’s thinking along the lines of “Yes.  Take me.  Take me.” And it’s almost orgasmic in its presentation as if she’s overjoyed to be finally free of this place, as if she was just looking for an excuse.  Many feel that Daenerys was just lingering in these foreign lands because she was too afraid to go home, too afraid of what she would face, but Westeros really isn’t her home either.  While she was conceived there, she wasn’t even born on the mainland, but on the island of Dragonstone.  Where does she really belong?  Not Mereen, not destroyed Valyria, and not really the Westeros she has never seen.  Dany really has no place unless (as James Johnson has suggested) she’s meant to take the place of the Night’s Queen for of all the people in this story, the Dragon Queen appears the most “other.”

Blood in Fire

So now we come to it.  It has to be done; it has to be said.  This was the focal point of the episode even though it wasn’t the last scene.  Ramsay’s 20 men manage to get past the guards in Stannis’s camp and set a series of fires throughout the camp, burning all of the supplies and killing half (?) of the horses.  There is a very pointed scene with a burning horse running in front of Melisandre, which could be another Revelation symbol like the Four Horsemen in the last episode.  Melisandre upon witnessing the conflagrations seems too calm, as though she knew what was going to happen.  She’s a priestess of the Red God, the god of fire; the Lord of Light.  She couldn’t have done something especially with her powers increased nearer to the Wall?  Something seemed very off in the way she was looking at both the tent fires and that burning horse.  It’s as if she had found her excuse to do what she’d been begging Stannis for all along.

Stannis, in supposed response to losing half his horses and all of his supplies, tells Davos to return to Castle Black to obtain more from Lord Commander Snow.  Davos is not a fool and beseeches his king to let him take Selyse and Shireen back with him away from the fighting (but really away from the red woman), but Stannis refuses especially not allowing him to take Shireen stating, “My family stays with me.”  I am certain Davos had to have known what Stannis was up to.  Did he go because he felt he had no choice?  He’s stood up to Stannis before.  He did so with Edrick Storm in the books and Gendry in the show, in the latter case a boy he barely knew.  Shireen is like his own daughter and he does less for her?

At least give her a goddamn oar.

But all Davos gives her is a wooden stag with the promise of a doe on his return.  It is already written that this promise is not going to be fulfilled.  I initially thought that Davos might be the one to die, that he was invoking retirony.  The Onion Knight is one of my favorite characters and I love his relationship with Shireen.  It’s fatherly but also more balanced as she was teaching him to read  Indeed that’s what Shireen is doing when Stannis comes to call, reading The Dance of Dragons, which is a nice triple meta reference.  It refers partially to the latest book, refers to the episode title, and also refers to something taking placing on the other side of the world in Mereen.  Again I agree with Preson Jacobs about Stannis not knowing about the historical Dance of Dragons.  He’s supposed to be the best military leader Westeros has ever seen, yet he doesn’t know this major bit of history?  The story Shireen tells her father is a parallel to what happens in the fighting pit, which I’ll admit is a clever bit of foreshadowing.

Stannis speaks to Shireen about hard choices.  This is in comparison to the conversation Sam and Olly had last episode (?), but Stannis is the one who has to bear the brunt of his option.

“Who has choices need not choose,
We must, who have none.
We can love, but what we lose-
What is gone is gone.”
-Peter S Beagle “The Last Unicorn: Elli’s Song”

Shireen says her father’s words back to him from the episode where Stannis declares that she is Shireen of House Baratheon and his daughter.  Remember?  When we got this scene?

Clearly we can never have nice things, because after Shireen says she wants to be of use to him in words she surely regrets later, we see her being marched across the snow to a stake where Melisandre awaits with a smile.  It is bad enough that this poor child is going to be immolated, but to see that red bitch grinning was more than I could take.  Shireen had always had nightmares about being eaten by dragon and in the end she was consumed by flame 😦

Selyse, proving that she is not Westeros’ worst mother of the year (I’m looking at you Cersei) begs her husband to reconsider and then falls to the ground finally revealing what was happening in the trailer.  I was a little surprised by that, because Selyse seemed to own her cold glory with no warmth to leak, but in the end, she did love her daughter, though it was far too late.  I don’t believe she actually ever hated her.  I think the Baratheon queen was just ashamed to have given Stannis what she thought was “weakness and deformity” in addition to the “crime” of Shireen not being male.  However, the “deformity” was dispelled in the “heartwarming” episode where Stannis explains to the princess how she contracted greyscale and what he did to prevent her exile and death.  When Selyse saw her daughter on the pyre, the queen finally realized that she was a mother first and a follower of R’hllor second

Everything in this episode was counter to the character of Stannis that D&D had built up and GRRM had created.  I was never really Team Stannis, but I was starting to have a respect for the trueborn Baratheon king, but after this…Ideas of Ice and Fire makes an excellent point.  As fucked up as the Sansa Situation is, burning your own flesh and blood alive is far worse, and D&D did a terrible job at showing how dire Stannis’s situation was to warrant such an atrocity.  The Face-Heel Turn is too abrupt.  You don’t vehemently insist your not going to burn your daughter (like every good father would), then the next moment out of virtually nowhere decide to do so.  Though Stannis has already been a kinslayer in the killing of Renly, that was a different circumstance.  While it was (literally) shady, they were at war and Renly was willing to kill his brother in battle after slaughtering all of his men, but what Stannis did to Shireen is an abomination.  Your brother is your blood, but your daughter is not only that but an almost literal creation/recreation of your flesh.

“Where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves,
Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence,
Where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
Joseph Campbell “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”

In slaying Shireen, Stannis does slay himself and brings an end to House Baratheon.  She is holding the stag when she is burned to symbolize that sigil being consigned to the flames.  The doe shall have no mate and will die lonely and childless when the fire goes out and winter comes.

Shireen’s immolation could also be a distortion of the Azor Ahai mythos for the legendary hero was forced to temper his sword by plunging it through his beloved Nissa Nissa’s heart.  Stannis loved his daughter more than anyone in the world, yet he burned her to supposedly secure his rightful place on the Iron Throne because he “believed” the prophecies of a red witch, which I don’t buy for a second.  I don’t believe Stannis is a follower of the Lord of Light.  I think he believes the throne is his by right and duty, but I severely doubt that last Baratheon thinks that he is the hero come to save the world.  Melisandre is helping him achieve his goals, so he will suffer her idolatry and religious babble if it will get him what he wants.

The burning of Shireen is Stannis’s moral event horizon.  There is no redemption from the most ultimate betrayal I have ever seen anywhere.  Unless we can show/prove that Stannis was not in his right mind and was perhaps being mentally manipulated by Melisandre, I have no defense, because that’s pretty much my ubiquitous one.  There is nothing to indicate that this is the case though.  Stannis seems to have come to this decision of his own free will.  Shireen’s immolation could also be another echo of “kill the boy” in “killing the girl” and proving that he is the false Azor Ahai, a false savior of a false Advent.

To continue along the Biblical path, I’m not the only one to see the similarities between Shireen’s burning and the Binding of Isaac.  In the Bible story, though, an angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, but of course this doesn’t happen in Game of Thrones because there are no angels.  There are some that suggest the angel that stopped Abraham was none other than Lucifer himself suggesting that perhaps God did want Isaac to die, but his command was intercepted.  R’hllor is the Lord of Light, and the Lucifer is the Light Bearer.  I’ve already talked about the connection between the fallen angel’s name and the sword of the savior, how those two narratives intertwine.  Light is not always good and dark is not always evil.  They are often just two sides of the same concept.  Melisandre herself says that in order to have light you must have shadow and vice versa, and I think the concept to which she is referring is an aspect of the Tree of Life.

Tree of LifeI am not remotely prepared to discuss this too deeply for numerous reasons.  One, I’m still studying it and am barely even a novice as I haven’t even finished the one book, and two, it is far too involved; however, after watching the final episode of season 5 (yes, I know I promised in the last post I wasn’t going to speak of later ones until I was on them, but I need to explain this), which is entitled “Mother’s Mercy” I started thinking about the antithesis to mercy, which is represented on the Tree as the Sephirah Chesed.  If you’ve seen the episode, you’ll understand why I was thinking of the antithesis.  This will be discussed obviously in that analysis, but I’ve been toiling through Dion Fortune’s Mystical Qabalah, and I know that later she has a chapter about the antithesis of the Holy Sephiroth.  I’m also familiar with Yeats’s poem The Two Trees and the apparent meaning behind that.  What does this have to do with R’hllor?  Well Melisandre deals in both light and shadow as mentioned above.  In Fortune’s chapter about the Qliphoth, which are the Unholy or evil/averse Sephiroth, she states:

“The Qliphoth are aptly termed the evil and averse Sephiroth, for they are not independent principles of factors in the cosmic scheme, but the unbalanced and destructive aspect of the Holy Stations themselves.  There are, in fact, not two Trees, but one Tree, a Qliphah being the reverse of a coin of which the obverse is a Sephirah.  Whoever uses the Tree as a magical system must perforce know the Spheres of the Qliphoth, because he has no option but do deal with them.”

So we have heard Melisandre speak of the Great Other, which obviously and immediately invokes the idea of the Others/White Walkers.  The Great Other whose true name is never spoken (another example of “noli nomen vocare” as mentioned in the prior entry) is the god of darkness and cold and is supposedly the antithesis of the Lord of Light, but Mel herself has stated that R’hllor is both light and shadow, and what is shadow but both the absence and the presence of light?  You can’t have light without shadow, but shadow is the proof of the absence or the obscuring of light.  There is no in between.  The Great Other is probably similar to the Qliphoth in that there is not another Tree, but the shadow of the original glory.  I’ve already shown the blue Melisandre statue.

But I’ll gladly post it again.

This is an officially licensed item, which suggests that Melisandre will either turn or be impressed into the service of the Great Other, but with all her talk of shadows and suggestion of the two sides, is it truly switching teams or is it looking for light within the shadow?

Final Thoughts

I initially believed that the theme of this episode was fire, which is a surface observation.  Two of the four story lines in Dance were centered around that element: Dany’s and Stannis’s.  One of the Small Councilors made a brilliant point that juxtaposed Dany and Stannis.  Stannis sacrificed his child to save everyone, but Dany (potentially) sacrificed everyone to save her child.  Who is the better person/ruler?  Dany has been struggling with her role and place in the world since she was born.  She is the Mother of Dragons, but she was treating them like hated step-children instead of beloved sons.  In the end, she made the right choice in terms of that and ensured that Drogon was safe.

Stannis for all intents and purposes was a good father.  He was a cold and calculating commander, but the one person who received his affection was his disfigured daughter, but in the end he sacrificed her for the good of his cause.  I can’t even say that this was done for his people.  Stannis pulled an “ends justify the means” move with the ends being him on the Iron Throne.  It’s reprehensible so I have to give the better person award  to Daenerys, and the better ruler trophy will have to remain on the shelf.

I didn’t really catch a gleam of the fire theme with Arya (lest we consider the flames of her hatred) nor with the Dornish disappointment (lest we consider Ellaria for the same), but upon reconsideration, I see an overarching Phoenix motif.  I’ve mentioned it with Sansa.  We’ve seen it in Sandor/the Hound.  We will see it in Jon.  Some theorists suggest it may manifest in Shireen, and even if she herself does not die, her sacrifice may provide a second life to Stannis’s ventures and in that she will live on.  But in the “child is the father of man” way, Stannis has done nothing but slain himself.  We certainly see the Phoenix paradigm in Dany and Drogon, who both literally rise from the ashes of the burning (fighting) pit (Hell) and ascend into the heavens.  Fire cannot destroy.  It can only transform.

The lesson within the threads is to eschew false authorities and think for yourself, because your heroes will fail  you.  Your angels will fall, and your idols will come crashing down.

Next week will be the final analysis.  I thank you all profusely for putting up with my inane babbling for this long.

<–S5E8 – Hardhome                                                             S5E10 – Mother’s Mercy–>