Reading roundup – June 18th 2016

June 17, 2016

Good morning and welcome to another reading roundup.  It’s been  fairly quiet week on the reading front.  I’ve been working to finish Mark Lawrence’s The Wheel of Osheim which I finally did.  Expect a full review next week.  I have also started the audiobook of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae.  I picked up the sequel, Gemina, at BEA and want to refresh my memory.  In terms of audiobooks, Illuminae is superb. It is a full, multi-cast performance and is definitely worth listening to.  I have Gemina in hard copy ARC form, but I will certainly be picking up the audiobook if it’s anything like the first in the series.

On non book related news, Apple announced its big updates to iOS and OS X (renamed MacOS.)  There are a couple of updates in particular about which I’m really excited.  First is the integration with VoIP apps (such as Skype) so that they can be handled like normal iPhone calls.  My parents live in Scotland and aren’t very comfortable yet with the internet, so I use Skype to landline to call them most of the time.  Skype has a nice monthly rate for unlimited calls to UK landlines.  It will be so nice to have that integrated and not to have to think about how I call them.

Secondly, Siri is coming to the Mac!  Finally.  I’m not sure yet how I’ll work her into my daily workflow, but I’ll have fun trying.

Commentary and speculation for Game of Thrones below the cut:

This week’s Game of Thrones was a bit of a letdown.  For me it was by far the weakest episode this season.  In terms of Arya’s storyline they’ve clearly gone with Occam’s Razor, and gone with the simplest version.  This really left me wondering how Arya was capable of all the parkouring after being stabbed in the gut last week.  She did get an awesome exit line though!  Secondly, Tommen cancelled Cleganebowl, dammit.  I had been looking forward to seeing The Hound unleash his fury on his brother.  I guess that may still happen, but not in the context of Cersei’s Trial by Combat.  The writers keep emphasising that The Hound still has a task to fulfil.  I’m not certain now what that is. 

The absolute worst of the episode though was Ser Jaime.  Don’t get me wrong; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau did well with the material he was given.  Despite some lovely scenes with Brienne, the writers of this episode completely destroyed all the character development he has undergone in the series and the books.  Yes, I know, the whole Riverrun segment was taken from A Feast for Crows, eons ago in GoT time, but come on, at this point Jaime should have been on his quest to regain his honour and severing ties with Cersei, not threatening to kill anyone who tries to separate them.  I suspect what the writers are trying to do is up the stakes for him when he has to kill Cersei.  If so, they are sacrificing some beautiful character development for a moment of omg all the feels.  This Jaime we see speaking to Edmure is exactly the same Jaime who tossed a young boy out of a window sighing about the things he does for love.  This is completely ignoring all the character has been through in the meantime; imprisonment, the loss of his sword hand (and therefore his identity), his separation from Cersei and exposure to people of honour.  

I can see it all now.  Cersei is found guilty of adultery and incest at her (not by combat) Trial, Tommen, realising he is a bastard born of incest and not the legitimate king, throws himself from the highest tower in King’s Landing.  This cracks Cersei’s already fragile sanity and she proceeds to try to burn King’s Landing with the hidden caches of wildfire.  it will be left to Jaime with many tears to fulfil the prophecy of the valonquar and kill her as he killed the Mad King.  Why couldn’t he be devastated at the prospect of once again having to do a dishonourable deed after struggling so hard to restore his honour rather than because he’s killing the woman he loves?  Well written, that could be equally powerful and I suspect that’s more of the way Martin will go.

The less we say about the cringeworthy Tyrion/Grey Worm/Missandei scene the better.  It was not funny, it added little to the characters beyond what we know already and it took up valuable running time when they could have been doing other things. Sorry, this is a bit of a GoT rant this week.

This has left me rather unexcited for next week’s big episode nine, the Battle of the Bastards.  I’m told it’s the biggest battle the series has ever filmed.  OK.  While it’s true that some of the strongest episodes have been battle focussed (season two’s Blackwater, season four’s The Watchers on the Wall) they worked because they combined the battles with smaller, personal moments to have us more heavily invested in the combatants.  At this point I’ve lost faith a bit in their ability to write this effectively.

On a more positive note, I have been speculating what the final scene of this season will be.  I have come up with a few possibilities.

R+L=J?  Possible, but maybe not dramatic enough?

The Wall comes down?  This is where my money is. 

Dany FINALLY sails for Westeros? They do like to end on a Dany scene!

Something with Euron?  I’m hearing he’s the next character we’re going to hate after Ramsey loses the Battle of the Bastards. 

Something else?

Let me know in the comments how you think this season will end.

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