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Maia

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  1. Maia

    Dark Sister

    This is more than odd indeed, given that the family Valyrian blades are supposed to stay with the family. Could it be that BR had some inkling that the Others were stirring and somehow convinced Egg that the blade would be needed at the Wall? Could he even have thought himself to be the Promised Prince, at some point? I mean, due to the Unworthy's death-bed legitimisation he was technically a prince and his origins could even be construed to be connected to "Ice and Fire" given the northern origins of the Blackwoods. I also thought after ADwD that Meera would be sent back to the Wall with a message from him and now it seems that the Dark Sister could serve as proof of his identity and therefore authenticity of his message to NW and the North. What I also find very interesting is GRRM saying that he "didn't think" that Bittersteel had any children. This is pretty major.
  2. Maia

    August '18 Reading- (Insert Clever Subtitle)

    I was luke-warm towards "A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet" because it seemed a pretty unoriginal take on the "Firefly"-like theme with all the familiar elements from countless space operas touching on people coming together to form a team. I liked the sequel "A Close and Common Orbit" very much, though, and am looking forward to her newest book. This one was a bunch of romance tropes packed covered with SF veneer, I thought. And ultimately left me rather cold, after the initial excitement. Not to mention that the Sadiri are basically Vulcans. Is it just me, or was this particularly implausible, given Weir's focus on technological believability, with one or 2 exceptions to make plot possible? Sociological aspects were never his strong suit, but they, too make very little sense, IMHO. And his writing can't make up for it either. Oh, well. Though, to be honest, while I liked "The Martian", I wasn't blown away either, so mine may be a minority view. I have also seen the movie first and enjoyed it. Concerning Tchaikovsky's "Echoes of the Fall" and "Shadows of the Apt": Anyway, on to some other stuff that I have read recently: "Interworld" by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves - a fairly standard YA about a boy finding out that he has supernatural powers, being recruited for a magical school/bootcamp and eventually fighting to preserve balance between magic and technology on the myriad of parallel worlds, but with an oddly solipsistic twist. Apparently, this was initially intended to be a movie or TV project - not sure how it could have ever worked as such. It was OK. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. Loved it. Wonderful characters, humor, very well written and, of course illuminating a very important and pertinent theme. The ending felt slightly weak for some reason, but on the whole I'd say that the book's popularity was entirely deserved. "Go set a Watchman" by Harper Lee. I was dubious when I first heard about this being published and the events surrounding it, but I am glad of it now. It is a very uneven book, unsurprisingly, but with definite moments of brilliance, taking a nuanced look at the problems of the US South in the 50-ies and the mostly white, privileged people struggling with them, while also diving into parents - children relationships and conflicts. It is a great pity that Lee abandoned it rather than polishing it or even re-working it into something independant of "To Kill A Mockingbird", IMHO. I kinda understand why, but still. Complemented the book above in unintended, but very satisfying ways.
  3. Maia

    August '18 Reading- (Insert Clever Subtitle)

    I am making my way through Adrian Tchaikovsky's oeuvre and have finished his "Echoes of the Fall" trilogy, which, after having been somewhat luke-warm towards the first book, I greatly enjoyed. The resolution was particularly ingenious, I thought, but I still have so many questions (see below. Too bad that the author doesn't have any kind of dedicated discussion boards)! Also, the solution arrived at, however clever, seems to be a strictly short-term one, IMHO. So, I really hope that he returns to this world. I am also on book 8 "The Air War" of his "Shadows of the Apt" series and while I continue to enjoy the imaginative world-building, the fact that evolving technologies play an important role in the conflict, the many different localities and PoVs, etc. at the same time I began to feel that the narrative spreads itself too thin, that technologies progress too quickly - they go from swords, crossbows and catapults to something comparable to and in some cases even superior to WW I tech in what, five years?; and that some installments have a distinct feel of "side-quests" in an RPG campaign. Power-inflation spiral is very reminiscent of one too. I am very curious where it is all going to lead, though. 2.5 books to go! And I just finished his SF standalone(?) "Children of Earth". I thought that non-human part of the narrative was very good - inventive, full of interesting extrapolations, original world-building and compelling characters, whereas the human one seemed rather familiar from many other SF books. I liked it a lot on the whole, though.
  4. Maia

    Young Adult Books: Discuss!

    As it happens, I have just read it wasn't blown away. It is fine - "Avatar, the Last Airbender" influence is obvious and openly aknowledged as are similarities to some other prominent YAs, but I like this alternate view of Still, satisfying as it is to see these alternate developments, I hope that subsequent installments will be more original. I am interested enough to continue and I am glad that the book is popular, but it is also over-hyped, IMHO. I have read this and the sequel "The Girl in the Tower" a few months back. I really loved the first book - finally an anglophone SF writer uses Russian names, patronymics and nick-names correctly! It was also refreshing to see some Slavic/Russian folklore and history used for a change, writing was good, characters appealing, villains genuinely frightening etc. OTOH, I was very disappointed in a sequel. I have only so much tolerance for stupidity in a protagonist, who displays consistent idiocy in this installment and proves that she could have never made it without constant assistance. Also, the shades of "Twilight" are less than welcome to me, and it seems that a certain minor villain is going to turn up like a bad penny because no matter how much damage they cause and how many people they get killed the protagonist is too "pure" to get rid of them permanently.
  5. Maia

    FIRE AND BLOOD Volume 1

    This is the first time that Baela's marriage to Oakenfist was confirmed, right? It was only a logical supposition previously. I like the idea that her sister's marriages are only depicted until the end of Regency for Aegon III, because existence of her descendants with her second husband helped explain a lot of background prior to the Blackfire Rebellion and some other Hightower-related stuff. But still no husbands for Rhaena's daughters and/or a 3rd husband for her, which is disappointing, because without their offspring it is a mystery where the minor claimants during the Great Council of 101 could have come from. Also, The Queen Who Never Was never had a brother, which makes it even odder and less comprehensible that she wasn't married to her cousin Viserys to forestall a very foreseeble dynastic contraversy. As to change of Aeryn to Daenerys, I guess that's to embed the fateful number 3 even deeper in Dany's background? Anyway, I don't see any particular reason why this new one would be remembered by anybody other then maesters if she died young - not even Quentyn.
  6. Maia

    June '18 Reading - Something something witty.

    Really? I loved it, but probably at least in part because the characters and their life-stories strongly reminded me of some older people I have known and even my parents, a bit. I also have enjoyed everything that I have read of Chabon's to greater or lesser degree - apart from his very pedestrian YA novel "Summerland" that was so boring and formulaic that I couldn't finish it, so I may be biased. But I am genuinely curious what didn't work for you in "Moonglow". "Duck" is a Russian term for bedpan. I am not sure why. And, frankly, I don't find the poisoning theory all that persuasive - not to begin with, at least, though it is very likely that once incapacitated, Stalin was finished off in some way, rather than died naturally. But he was a 75 years old, who spent his life eating unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol to excess, as well as in constant paranoid fear and suspicion of everybody around him, not to mention the general stress of ruling, so him eventually getting a stroke shouldn't have been either surprising or suspicious, IMHO. So, that's what I have read since posting in the previous thread: "Moonglow" by Michael Chabon. Loved it, see above. "The Spirit Eater" by Rachel Aaron, part 3 of her "Legend of Eli Monpress" series. I don't know, there are interesting developments, but certain subplots and characters feel really repetitive by now. It is also swinging from pure sword and sorcery towards epic and I am not sure that I like that. I'll take a break from the series for now. "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith. A charming, optimistic little book that is not so much a mystery novel that it pretends to be, as a collection of "slice of life" vignettes set in Bothswana. "The Bear and the Serpent" by Adrian Tchaikovsky, which is the second book of "The Echoes of the Fall" fantasy trilogy, about the largely neolithic - bronze age shapeshifter people living on a continent similar to Americas. I was lukewarm about the previous volume, because the 2 main PoVs and their plots didn't click with me, but I really liked this one. In fact I liked it so much that while waiting for the third and final volume to become available from the library, I finally tackled his "The Shadows of the Apt" epic fantasy series that has been peripherally on my radar for some years and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It is very original in it's setting - giant arthropodes largely supplanted and replaced the mammals, birds and reptiles, humans developed magical connections with them in order to survive and came exhibit some of their traits, interesting interplay of magic and technology, conquering empires, solid plots and characters. I have plowed through "Empire in Black and Gold" and "Dragonfly Falling", and I am finishing the third book "Blood of the Mantis", and so far my impression is that the series has been criminally overlooked. I also have so many questions, yet can't find anywhere to discuss them, sigh...
  7. Maia

    Incest Deficiencies, or lack thereof

    A good question. Though a young dragonless girl-child by herself wouldn't have been much of a threat or a rallying point. And the Faith could hardly denounce Maegor for being an abomination born of incest, yet champion Rhaella at the same time. In fact, it could be argued that among all the various powers of the realm, they were the least likely to try to use her against Maegor - particularly since, after his and Visenya's visit to Oldtown, only people amenable to his rule would have remained at the top of the Faith hierarchy. It could have become tricky if he ever needed to retrieve her, though. I no longer think that Lannisters have Targaryen blood. I used to, and in their case it would have been really easy to provide them with a straightforward connection, given Lord Viserys Plumm (who was a son of Princess Elaena and almost certainly also of Aegon the Unworthy) and his descendants, but in TWoIaF Lannister genealogy Martin carefully avoided even a hint at something like that, and I can't help but think that it was for a reason. To the lesser degree the same is true about the Starks - there are a couple of abortive Targaryen - northern matches shown in TWoIaF, but they never came to anything and that was likely on purpose too. After problematic experiences of incestious polygamy of the Big Three, it is also easy to see why the Targaryens wouldn't have wanted to go that way again, absent an acute need. Not to mention, that they had to give the Faith some bone and needed to distinguish themselves from polygamous Maegor. Rhaena obviously didn't challenge Jaehaerys's claim to the throne on behalf of her daughters and that was that. Yes, hers and Aerea's and possibly even Rhaella's lives afterwards are still unaccounted for, so surprises are still possible, but let's not forget that Laenor Velarion was supposed to have Targ blood on both sides of his parentage, so it would make sense if one of them eventually became Corlys's mother. Also, the "lesser claimants" at the Great Council of 103 AC needed to have relevant ancestors - and if one of them had been a Stark we should have really heard about that in TWoIaF. But it isn't! In human males, who only have one X chromosome and therefore only one copy of the responsible gene, inherited from their mother, it is dominant. Which is why inbreeding has zero to do with haemophilia's transmission to and expression in males and Victoria's husband could have been anybody with the same result. It is recessive in human females and thus subject to inbreeding, - but homozyguous haemphiliacs among them are very rare, for obvious reasons, and highly unlikely to have offspring in their turn. Well, it could have been worse. As a kid I have heard rumors about such experiments being conducted on female prisoners in labor camps during Stalin's repressions. With the goal of creating super-soldiers, of course. I am relieved that in truth Ivanov didn't manage to attract government support for his experiments, and that apparently nobody took up where he left off. Though it would be an interesting world-building premise to have such hybrids be possible and as easy to obtain as mules are iRL in a secondary world SF. But those can't have happened with sexually mature apes, surely? I mean, they are frighteningly strong and could easily pull a grown man apart limb from limb.
  8. Maia

    Incest Deficiencies, or lack thereof

    So, this is one of my pet peeves - haemophilia has nothing to do with inbreeding! Given that it is due to a mutation on the X-chromosome, if a woman is a carrier, half of her daughters will all also be carriers and half of her sons will have the disease, statistically speaking, no matter who her husband is. He could be as unrelated as possible and it wouldn't change anything! Either Victoria or her mother had a spontaneous mutation in her reproductive cells and that was that. BTW, when fairly evaluating the effects of inbreeding on historical royalty and nobility, one also has to take into account that they would have been almost universally infected with venereal diseases, which resulted in significant number of their children being born with congenital conditions related to that, on top of everything else. And, of course, stuff like heavy metals in cosmetics and medecines they used, lead poisonings due to them having privileged access to the early engineering experiments with running water, etc. Personally, I doubt that. IMHO, the Others were protecting him because he was useful, both due to his location and to his willingness to secretly provide them with sacrifices - which, IMHO they use for their life-force, rather than anything else. We know that they were never really gone, but tried to be circumspect enough that even the majority of wildlings didn't see them as a big threat until some time shortly before the start of AGoT, so somebody providing them with sacrifices without a fuss and likely also with information from NW, whose favorite waypoint his keep was, would have been valuable to them. And Craster was doing what he was doing because he didn't want rivals and needed the Others' protection. It isn't like he could afford to go away for months and try to steal extra wives, so he had to breed his own. There are hints in TWoIaF that there were small tribes on the Frozen Shore, who were also worshipping the Others, but far less circumspection was needed there. Lady Agnes Blackwood, who led the Riverlands resistance to Hoares seems to have had some form of prophetical gift. But I find it really interesting that according to BR's and CotF statistics, there should be a lot more skinchangers south of the Wall. Particularly since after TWoIaF we know that the First Man blood flows very strongly among the commoners of most of the southern kingdoms - and even the nobility is far less Andal than previously thought in most of them. There are also rumors of skin-changing running in certain families, which I wouldn't dismiss out of hand. That makes me wonder if people whose gift is not particularly strong can unconsciously or consciously repress it, seeming no more than just good with animals/occasionally having useful premonitions even to themselves . Or maybe that it can manifest at a range of ages, and Varamyr was just precocious, where somebody who was older when developing the talent may have been able to conceal or supress it. Because on the face of it, it doesn't make sense that an allegedly strong warg like Jon didn't already begin to skin-change dogs years before they found the direwolf pups. According to Varamyr and Haggon his teacher, it is easier for a warg to skin-change a dog than a wolf, after all. Bloodraven may have done something to nudge the Stark kids into being skinchangers, or it may have been fate, we don't know. Another possibility is that magic being very weak for decades prior to the arrival of the comet resulted in all but the strongest abilities being inhibited and not manifesting properly. Maybe some very confused skinchangers will pop up elsewhere in Westeros now. Why? We learned in TWoIaF that Valyrians were very much into magically assisted breeding/gengeneering experiments - what makes you think that they wouldn't have applied it to themselves? In fact, it is almost certain that they did and that's one of the reasons why they were able to weather institutional incest among the elite as well as they did and considered it desirable. Likewise, exaggerating the dangers beyond what was demonstrated to us in the WoIaF setting seems to be at least partly motivated by the preferences for different ships . Oh, there were more scientific attempts, apparently: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanzee#Reports_on_attempted_or_successful_hybridization and allegedly the chinese one even resulted in pregnancy? There were also unsubstantiated rumors of an US experiment in the 20-ies, IIRC. So, do you consider Neds' parents marriage to be incestous too? Because the degree of cosanguinity between them is the same as between Cregan and Alys Karstark. In both cases they are first cousins once removed. I mean, there are other reasons to find forced marriage of Alys to Cregan objectionable, but it is no incest by the standards of the North or most of the world iRL currently. Well, with the greenseers specifically, judging by Bloodraven it seems that they don't necessarily reveal themselves as such early in life if they are otherwise healthy and whole. Bran's trauma and ordeals made him very precocious in the development of his abilities - and I still think that Euron Greyjoy is a failed greenseer. Or if it is, pattern of inheritance may be too complex for the CoTF or medieval-ish people to see it. Also, among humans it wasn't necessarily desirable to have these talents for a long time, so those who did probably wouldn't have wanted to breed for it, unless they lived in such marginal and secluded circumstances, as, say, the Farwynds. Who, I believe, really do consistently produce seal skinchangers among themselves, as hinted both in the worldbook and in the novels. Actually, it is spelled out somewhere in ACoK, IIRC, that Thoros ressurected Beric by giving him the same death-rites that he gives to all the dead as a priest of R'llor. So, yes, there was something special about Beric particularly and Thoros can't just bring back whoever he choses. Jena Dondarrion may indeed be a hint at what it was - i.e. some distant Targaryen ancestry. I do wonder if Beric ressurecting Cat by passing his "animating force" or whatever into her was quite the same thing, though. It is possible that it wasn't and that the same prequisites don't apply.
  9. Maia

    Is unbroken Male descent important in Westeros?

    I am not entirely sure why you think that it is so important. TWoIaF has decisively proven that inheritance of magic isn't limited to the male lines, so why do you insist on something that is unprovable? In fact, there is a strong hint that Stark magic came into their bloodline through the Warg-king's daughters, rather than was inherent in their paternal bloodline. Largely when the women or their consorts actually held the kingship, though, or when they were conquered and absorbed into the newly dominant family. A grandson who was declared heir since childhood inheriting directly from his maternal grandfather wouldn't be worth a mention, IMHO. And yea, some Houses, like the Florents have a female mythical founder, but I saw no indication that they enjoyed less prestige because of that.
  10. Would it have to be all that convoluted? I mean, look at Jacobite succession, for instance - people with ostensibly stronger claim to the throne have been successfully denied their inheritance. As history of Aegon V's ascension is only briefly sketched in AGoT, Martin could have included a failed attempt by Prince Maegor to assert himself openly, if he chose to go in that direction later instead of inventing the Blackfyres, followed by the whole cloak-and-dagger plot by the Spider and the Cheesmonger. What is more, their origins being obscure suggests that there would have been some twist there - like them being bastards or maybe offspring of some unwise/secret marriage, etc., which would have made their claim as "fantasy" as the Blackfyre one turned out to be. Also, let's not forget that the simple-minded daughter of Daeron the Drunken was passed over too, as per AGoT, so Illyrio, for instance, could have been her descendant instead. Varys, I feel, would have likely been unveiled as Maegor's son if GRRM had gone that way, and blaming Aegon V and his descendants for his fate. In any case, it was strongly hinted in AGoT that Varys wasn't truly loyal to Targaryens and, of course, we have seen him actively working to destroy Baratheon dynasty with Illyrio's help, so he must have had some other plan for succession during the Rebellion - that was derailed by Robert's too decisive victory, perhaps? Or something else, like his then-candidate unexpectedly dying? Maybe there would have been an(other?) open-visor attempt, if not for that. Not quite - Varys and Illyrio still needed believable motivations for their multi-decade complex plot that had very low odds of succeeding. IMHO, only a burning sense of injustice and desire for revenge could have plausibly served to push these 2 seemingly rational and canny people into pursuing something so hopeless for so long. So, they had to have strong personal connection to the matter - a random Targaryen bastard or other impostor wouldn't have served to make their story work. Not really - since AGoT makes it clear that if any descendants of Maegor/Vaella (not mentioned by names in that book, of course) were still around, they were not in the open and not an on-going concern to the current establishment. Which means that they would have had the same difficulties with proving their identities as "Aegon" does.
  11. I do think that there was a strong foreshadowing in AGoT that Varys and Illyrio secretly had a different candidate for the Iron Throne in mind and that Viserys/Dany were mostly a feint/means to get the Dothraki to come over. It never made a lick of sense that they could have seriously believed that Viserys would ever come anywhere close to claiming the crown - when reading it for the first time I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. And, of course, there was always the big question why Varys, with his knowledge of secret passages and disguises, didn't manage to rescue Rhaegar's children, if he was a Targ loyalist. Non-coincidentally AGoT also supplied us with Targaryensm, who were passed over for the throne in favor of Aegon the Unlikely, which was, IMHO, a clear hint to where Varys's and Illyrio's claimant was supposed to come from, at the time GRRM finished AGoT. Later he had a better ideatm and introduced the Blackfyres instead. Regarding the early outline - given that there Dany was supposed to avenge her brother by killing Drogo, prior to finding her young dragon, I would imagine that proto-Viserys was envisioned as a more credible pretender in it, one who, at least, had been able to gain and retain one person's loyalty.
  12. Maia

    iZombie on the CW

    I have just watched the 2 seasons which are available to me at Netflix, and they were surprisingly good, despite Liv taking on the new personality traits every episode schtick growing a bit old. I also don't think that the actress is good enough to consistently manage to convey the transformations believably. But I am intrigued overall and hope to see the rest of it. They should really come up with some Watsonian explanation as to why Liv seems to be much more strongly affected by the brains previous identities than the other zombies, though, it is more than a little jarring when there are so many of them around and in the limelight.
  13. Maia

    May - Reading 2018 - Have another?

    Thanks! There must be a regional difference, because when a book is not available to my library system via Overdrive I don't get to see any cover images, just a "match not found" message. I guess that I'll have to see if I can ask for new additions in an old-fashioned way, through the library feedback page. I have finished a couple of reads over the weekend: "The Refrigerator Monologues" by Catherynne M. Valente, which turned out to be an angry satire at the superhero comics treatment of female characters. Not being a fan of the genre, I only picked up allusions to a couple of figures I know from the movies, but wow, the stuff is really egregious, when you think about it. "Beneath the Sugar Sky" by Seanan McGuire, the next novella from her "Wayward Children" series about the kids who are heroes/victims of portal fantasy stories being returned to "Real Life"tm and their resultant difficulties of coping with it . I dunno, there was something that deeply touched me in the first installement "Every Heart a Doorway", which I loved, but the subsequent novellas didn't manage to recapture that feeling. They are fine, but don't fulfill the promise of the first, IMHO.
  14. Maia

    Do you think Cersi can stop the propecy?

    Thanks for the quote, but personally I'd find it deeply disappointing if prophecies were set in stone and always fated to come about in some particular way. Because it would cheapen everything and remove accountability from characters, if things were bound to happen the same way no matter what they did. Greek Tragedy was invented some thousands of years ago and it's simplicity is no longer satisfying. IMHO, it would be far more interesting and engaging if prophecies in SoIaF were mere strong probabilities, which could "come true" in a variety of different ways, or even be derailed entirely. Like, in GRRM's example - who is to say that the lord _wouldn't_ have died under the walls of the real castle, if he had gone there? Or that he wouldn't have survived the battle if he never got near that inn? To be honest, Maggy's prophecy is particularly egregious, because it is so deterministic for so many important characters - like Rhaegar never becoming king, as he never would have had 13-16 bastards, like Robert surviving the Rebellion and gaining the crown, as he was the only one among the rebel leadership who would have, etc. So, I really hope that it doesn't come true in every particular, and that Cersei remains wholly responsible for the parts of it that she actively brought about. My wish is that Myrcella survives - that it turns out that the Darkstar's attempt was where she should have died according to Maggy, but it just didn't happen. And that Cersei learns about it shortly before she killed and realises as she is dying that what happened to her children wasn't an inevitability, but her own fault.
  15. Maia

    May - Reading 2018 - Have another?

    I am looking at the Overdrive interface and not seeing this option. Could you, please, tell me where it is? It is not under feedback or help, nor anywhere else that I can see. TIA.
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