Posts tagged ‘A Game of Thrones’

August 10, 2013

Winter: Adam Gopnik

by Andre

Adam Gopnik WINTER“Winter is coming,” as the Starks say in A Game of Thrones. It may not be uppermost in our minds during this balmy August, but New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik’s wonderful, wide-ranging meditation on winter will prepare you for the diminishing December days by stirring an appreciation of our 19th century taming of the season, which went from “being seen as bleak and bitter to sweet and sublime”. Raised in Canada, the essayist knows what a real winter means; his subject is also an excuse to introduce us to ice hockey – a “dross of brutal messiness” in John Updike’s phrase – and its emergence in Montreal.

Gopnik glides through a variety of aspects of the season with all the grace of Goethe on his ice skates (an engraving shows the German poet looking smug on the ice in the 1850s, when the pastime became “essentially social and overtly sexual” according to Gopnik). And while Germans such as the artist Friedrich are credited with transforming winter in our imagination through a “Romantic resistance to the Enlightenment idea of reason”, it’s heartening to see that the British played a part in everything from early ice skating (Pepys writes of this “very pretty art” in 1662) and fashionable Alpine holidays to stiff-upper-lip polar expeditions and, in the 1830s, even central heating. “North Americans who have spent a winter in England and who, clutching teacups and shivering in shaggy sweaters, wonder if they will ever be warm again, may find it hard to believe that this was the first warm modern place,” writes Gopnik.

He’s also good on the “ambiguous festival” that is the Dickensian Christmas and the clamour for the festive season to be less commercial, which is nothing new: US newspapers have been calling for Christmas to be “dematerialized” since the 1880s.

August 10, 2012

George R. R. Martin: A Game of Thrones series

by Monika

There are epic fantasy stories, and then there are EPIC fantasy stories, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin falls in the latter.  Set in the vastness of Westeros and Essos, we embark on a journey of brutal battles and political intrigue as the protagonists vie for survival, power and revenge.  We are introduced to a myriad of characters, who develop as we delve deeper into the story, we grow to love some and despise others.  In what has become a trademark for this series, death features prominently amongst the main characters, good and bad, so that we can never rest on our laurels thinking that the heroes shall vanquish the villains as convention demands.

The series is as yet unfinished, with two more novels to come before the conclusion is reached, but the five will leave you gripped and wanting more.

Valar Morghulis!