Friday, September 29, 2017

"The White Princess" and the True Game of Thrones

As I edit away on my next novel, I have a suggestion for anyone suffering withdrawals since the season end of Game of Thrones: Watch a show about the War of the Roses, history’s real life game of thrones.

It’s been well publicized that the historical War of the Roses helped inspire George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, which HBO turned into Game of Thrones. Fortunately, earlier this year, Starz ran The White Princess, a sequel to its 2013 mini-series The White Queen, both about the War of the Roses. If you haven’t seen them, there’s no better time than now to start binge watching.

I wrote about The White Queen back in 2013 (here) and the novel by Phillippa Gregory on which it was based (you can read my review here). But I also posted an excerpt from an article in Vulture titled 7 Ways Starz’s The White Queen is Like Game of Thrones.” Here’s it is again:
Character Correlations: It’s not always direct in Game of Thrones, as one of George R.R. Martin’s characters might share personality traits with a certain historical figure or group, yet a situation or position in common with another. But some people see Cersei from Game of Thrones in The White Queen’s Elizabeth Woodville, the commoner Edward IV married; others see her in Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI (the king Edward IV helped depose) because she's a commanding woman fiercely devoted to putting her sociopathic son on the throne. Yes, there is a Joffrey predecessor, and his name is Edward of Lancaster, a.k.a. the Prince of Ice. Although these aren’t precise match-ups, The White Queen also has a mad king (King Henry VI of Lancaster), as well as an exiled heir to the throne (Henry Tudor). Edward IV, like Robert, also has two brothers vying for the throne. (His brother George, like Renly, doesn't even want to wait for his death, telling him, “I was hoping for your crown.”) Bran and Rickon, meanwhile, are probably the Princes in the Tower.
If this whets your appetite, my guess is you’ll enjoy both The White Queen and The White Princess, but I suggest you watch them in order. The White Queen covers the heart of the War of the Roses, which ended up putting Henry Tudor (Henry VII) on England’s throne. It also tells the story of Richard III (he of Shakespearean fame), the Princes in the Tower, and all the drama surrounding that still mysterious event. All in all, it’s very well done.

As much as I liked The White Queen, I enjoyed The White Princess even more. Unfortunately, Starz premiered the series around the same time as it aired American Gods and HBO aired the final season of The Leftovers, so I ended up missing the show during its run. I did, however, have a chance to binge-watch it before the premiere of Season 7 of Game of Thrones

What I enjoyed the most about the series was the transformation of its protagonist Lizzie (Elizabeth) of York. She’s the daughter of Elizabeth Woodville (the protagonist of The White Queen) and, historically, the mother of Henry VIII and grandmother of Elizabeth I. She begins the show as a fierce York loyalist, determined to secretly undermine her unwanted husband, Henry Tudor, in the hope of restoring a York to the throne. But when she finds that she and Henry have more in common than they realized, and later have two sons, she begins to change. By the end, she’s making serious moves in the game of thrones, displaying a ruthlessness one would not expect of the character in the beginning of the show.

You can catch The White Princess on demand on Starz. It’s not the perfect remedy to Game of Thrones withdrawal, but it may be the best one can do in the Long Winter that lies ahead.

* Images courtesy of Starz.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogging Whereabouts . . .

It's been a few weeks since my last post because I needed a short break from the blog after the seaon's end of Game of Thrones. Fortunately, I spent what little time I had working on other things.

It looks a bit more dogeared now, but I'm nearing the end of my edit to the sequel to Enoch's Device. It's taken far longer than I had hoped, but I've trimmed it down by 32 pages (and counting), scrapped a few chapters, and written a few new ones. I'm working in the final act now, so the editing has slowed a bit to get it right.

After this, I'll do a quick polish edit and draft my historical note. Then it's off to the Beta readers. My actual editor will be next, and after whatever edits result from that, the novel should be ready to roll. When that will be, I can't quite predict, though I'm hoping for early next year. But enough of that.

In case you missed it, Season 3 of Outlander premiered two Sunday's ago on Starz. For anyone missing Game of Thrones, I've found that Outlander helps ease the pain. I hope to be back with actual content on the blog soon, so check back next week or follow my Facebook page, where I've started posting additional content that wouldn't work for a full blog post.

Thanks for your patience. I'll be back soon!

* Lower image courtesy of Starz

Friday, September 1, 2017

What Remains For “Game Of Thrones”?

Last Sunday’s finale of Game of Thrones provided a satisfying conclusion to the show’s penultimate season. But now that it’s over, what’s left? Only six more episodes.

The Board is Set for the Series Finale

Every storyline from Season 7 was wrapped up in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” and the game board is set for the final six episodes. This made for a fulfilling 80 minutes of television, even though much of it was predictable. Littlefinger’s dangerous game finally came to an end. And even though many sites voted him the most likely character to die in the finale, I liked the clever way Sansa, Arya, and Bran pulled off their endgame.

In one stunning scene, The Wall came crashing down, though it came as no surprise now that the Night King has an undead Viserion. Jon and Daenerys finally did what everyone had been assuming they would do, but the lead into the scene with Bran and Sam confirming Jon’s origins certainly cast it in an awkward light. Although you knew Bran and Sam would put two and two together at some point.

Meanwhile, to no one’s surprise, Cersei betrayed everyone. Though I did not anticipate Jaime leaving her. That was the one development that offered the most promise for next season. Jaime, who began the series as a villain, may end it as a hero. He’s also now brought a third Valyrian sword to the battle against the White Walkers, joining Jon’s and Brienne’s (and don’t forget, Jaime’s and Brienne’s blades were forged from Ned Stark’s great sword, Ice). I’m looking forward to Jaime reuniting with Brienne, if that’s what happens.

But Will the Series End Well?

Overall, the sentiment on the web is that “The Dragon and the Wolf” saved what many viewed as a rocky season of Game of Thrones. You can read examples here and here. But some still dread the final season, fearing that much of the human drama and intrigue will be lost now that the show seems to have boiled down to a fantasy battle between good and evil. (Examples are here and here). However, I’m not too concerned.

For one, the machinations of Queen Cersei will continue to provide plenty human drama and intrigue. She’s hired the Golden Company from Essos, and I can’t imagine they’re simply coming to retake Dragonstone from whatever token force Daenerys leaves there, or to settle the score with a leaderless Dorne. Rather, Cersei’s plans are going to somehow impact (or derail) the fight in the North. And, with six extended episodes to go, we might even see the White Walkers reach King’s Landing. At this point, anything could happen.

Also, Cersei’s story will reach its conclusion, and I think a Shakespearian fate may be what the writers have in store. After all, when Cersei was a girl, Maggy the Frog told her a prophecy that foresaw Cersei would be queen until a younger and more beautiful queen arrived to cast her down. (Hello, Daenerys!) And worse, the “valonqar” (“little brother” in High Valyrian) will choke the life from her pale white throat. Somehow, Tyrion or Jaime has a role to play in Cersei’s fate, but who knows how it will all go down.

Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys will have to deal with the revelation of Jon’s true origins. The news that Jon Snow is actually Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne, will turn Jon’s world upside down. Also, I doubt the man raised by Ned Stark will be okay with ongoing incest. And who knows how Daenerys will react to Jon’s superior claim to the throne? Since her brother Viserys died, she’s always believed she was the one to rule Westeros, so her world will be shattered too. I don’t think this will end well, but it should provide a heaping of human drama.

I also believe we’re in for at least one more big surprise before the show’s end. One totally insane theory blazing through the internet is that Bran is actually the Night King. I’m not going to try to explain it, but you can read about it here and here. And the fact remains that George R.R. Martin has said publicly that the end of Game of Thrones will be bittersweet, much like the ending to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King. In other words, there will be no happily ever after in the final episode of Game of Thrones. But how it will end is anyone’s guess.

For me, that’s plenty to look forward while we wait until 2018 2019 for Season 8. But those are just my thoughts. How hopeful are you about the final season of Game of Thrones?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes