Every 2 weeks, I and others (Jamie from Mithril Wisdom, Allison from Geek Banter, and Heather from Reading, Writing, and Everything In Between) aere reading through approximately 14 chapters of the books from George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and then giving each other some thought-provoking discussion questions about what we just read. Here’s this set of biweekly questions.
Jamie: In the few chapters that we’ve seen already, Tyrion is amazing. His snark and wit mark him out as one of my favourites. Do you think his role is more the comic relief or a juxtaposition for the cruelty of his sibling Lannisters (opposites in appearance as well as personality)?
From what I’ve seen, Tyrion’s wit goes far beyond providing comic relief. I wouldn’t want to cross words with the man; I think anyone who does it bound to come out on the losing side. It comes across as both a weapon and a coping mechanism. When faced with all the difficulties he has to deal in terms of physical ability and treatment from others, it’s easy to see how he would have sought anything that would make him stand out in a positive light. The fact that she chose to sharpen his mind and give as good as he gets in order to hold his own makes him one of the strongest characters we’ve met thus far.
Heather: Have you already seen the television series before reading the books? If yes, has it influenced how you read them?
I think I’m probably going to be in a minority here when I say that I haven’t seen the show at all. I’ve got a stubborn little corner of my brain that doesn’t like me to watch adaptations before I read the source material. So this is a great new adventure for me, and I’m coming in blind. I have no preconceptions beyond a few vague things I’ve heard mentioned online (like how rocks fall and everybody dies :p), and personally, I think it’s allowing me to read the books in a somewhat pure form. I have no images of actors of scenery in my mind beyond what my own mind is creating, no voices for characters that I’m not supplying for myself. And it’s a great experience, seeing tiny bits of the world unfold for me and knowing that it’s all new and exciting.
A surprising amount, and I’m sure that was intended. Robb naming his direwolf Grey Wind seemed somewhat uninspired, pretty but pompous, and I don’t know enough yet to see if that reflects the character or not. Sansa naming hers Lady seemed similarly uninspired, but more from a lack of imagination than anything else, and that tallies with what little I’ve seen of Sansa thus far.
Arya’s direwolf’s name of Nymeria and the story behind that name showed a lot about how Arya yearns for more than she’s getting, a life of adventure and meaning and a desire to go down in stories, where what she’s getting instead are needlework lessons and scoldings about how she’s just not as ladylike as she ought to be. Nymeria is her hope for something better, and I love that.
Bran’s direwolf, well…
The name of Rickon’s direwolf, Shaggydog, made me grin, because that is so what a toddler would name their suddenly-newfound pet.
And Jon Snow’s direwolf, Ghost, says volumes about him. Aside from the empathy he feels with the outcast of the litter, a ghost is something that’s there but isn’t, seen but unseen, and has more than a little taboo about it. Just like Jon himself. And I think that Snow shows off Jon’s personality in more than just name. Her silence makes me think that Jon is going to get overlooked until he can’t be anymore, until he does something too great to be ignored, and to gain him whatever place he feels is rightful.
…Can’t tell I really like Jon’s character, can you?
Ria: “[…] a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” What do you think about the veracity of Tyrion’s line there, especially in a world that seems to prize physical strength more highly than intelligence.
I need that quote on a t-shirt or something, because it just jumped right out of the pages and won’t let me go. I think that as much as this sentiment is true at any point, it’s especially notably in societies that tend to undervalue intelligence. Tyrion sharpening his mind on books gives him a place in a world that would otherwise dismiss him at best or heap cruelty upon cruelty at worse. He may not be able to wield a sword with any skill, but a sharp mind is an even greater gift.