It's a Knockaert

The ramblings of a football obsessive and Game of Thrones nerd.


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Top 20 Favourite Moments of ASOIAF

It’s pretty much common knowledge now that A Song of Ice and Fire is the greatest story of all time, and that the books are unfathomably better than that terrible fan fiction show on HBO. Recently on Twitter, some people have been working out their top ten favourite moments of the story, however when I began compiling my list I realised that there were far too many amazing moments to narrow it down to just ten, so I have listed my top twenty. Included herein are moments that made me laugh, moments that made me cry, moments that made me think about life. This story has it all.

20. A Feast for Crows – Jaime VII

There was a rap upon his door. “See who that is, Peck.”

It was Riverrun’s old maester, with a message clutched in his lined and wrinkled hand. Vyman’s face was as pale as the new-fallen snow. “I know,” Jaime said, “there has been a white raven from the Citadel. Winter has come.”

“No, my lord. The bird was from King’s Landing. I took the liberty … I did not know …” He held the letter out.

Jaime read it in the window seat, bathed in the light of that cold white morning. Qyburn’s words were terse and to the point, Cersei’s fevered and fervent. Come at once, she said. Help me. Save me. I need you now as I have never needed you before. I love you. I love you. I love you. Come at once.

Vyman was hovering by the door, waiting, and Jaime sensed that Peck was watching too. “Does my lord wish to answer?” the maester asked, after a long silence.

A snowflake landed on the letter. As it melted, the ink began to blur. Jaime rolled the parchment up again, as tight as one hand would allow, and handed it to Peck. “No,” he said. “Put this in the fire.”

19. A Dance with Dragons – Jon II

This is wrong, Jon thought. “Stop.”

Emmett turned back, frowning. “My lord?”

“I will not hang him,” said Jon. “Bring him here.”

“Oh, Seven save us,” he heard Bowen Marsh cry out.

The smile that Lord Janos Slynt smiled then had all the sweetness of rancid butter. Until Jon said, “Edd, fetch me a block,” and unsheathed Longclaw.

By the time a suitable chopping block was found, Lord Janos had retreated into the winch cage, but Iron Emmett went in after him and dragged him out. “No,” Slynt cried, as Emmett half-shoved and half-pulled him across the yard. “Unhand me … you cannot … when Tywin Lannister hears of this, you will all rue-“

Emmett kicked his legs out from under him. Dolorous Edd planted a foot on his back to keep him on his knees as Emmett shoved the block beneath his head. “This will go easier if you stay still,” Jon Snow promised him. “Move to avoid the cut, and you will still die, but your dying will be uglier. Stretch out your neck, my lord.” The pale morning sunlight ran up and down his blade as Jon clasped the hilt of the bastard sword with both hands and raised it high. “If you have any last words, now is the time to speak them,” he said, expecting one last curse.

Janos Slynt twisted his neck around to stare up at him.  “Please, my lord. Mercy. I’ll … I’ll go, I will, I …”

No, thought Jon. You closed that door. Longclaw descended.

“Can I have his boots?” asked Owen the Oaf, as Janos Slynt’s head went rolling across the muddy ground. “They’re almost new, those boots. Lined with fur.”

Jon glanced back at Stannis. For an instant their eyes met. Then the king nodded and went back inside his tower.

18. A Dance with Dragons – Epilogue

File:Mike Capprotti Varys.JPG

“Varys?”

The eunuch set the crossbow down. “Ser Kevan. Forgive me if you can. I bear you no ill will. This was not done from malice. It was for the realm. For the children.”

I have children. I have a wife. Oh, Dorna. Pain washed over him. He closed his eyes, opened them again. “There are … there are hundreds of Lannister guardsmen in this castle.”

“But none in this room, thankfully. This pains me, my lord. You do not deserve to die alone on such a cold dark night. There are many like you, good men in service to bad causes … but you were threatening to undo all the queen’s good work, to reconcile Highgarden and Casterly Rock, bind the Faith to your little king, unite the Seven Kingdoms under Tommen’s rule. So …”

A gust of wind blew up. Ser Kevan shivered violently.

“Are you cold, my lord?” asked Varys. “Do forgive me. The Grand Maester befouled himself in dying, and the stink was so abominable that I thought I might choke.”

Ser Kevan tried to rise, but the strength had left him. He could not feel his legs.

“I thought the crossbow fitting. You shared so much with Lord Tywin, why not that? Your niece will think the Tyrells had you murdered, mayhaps with the connivance of the Imp. The Tyrells will suspect her. Someone somewhere will find a way to blame the Dornishmen. Doubt, division, and mistrust will eat the very ground beneath your boy king, whilst Aegon raises his banner above Storm’s End and the lords of the realm gather round him.”

“Aegon?” For a moment he did not understand. Then he remembered. A babe swaddled in a crimson cloak, the cloth stained with his blood and brains. “Dead. He’s dead.”

“No.” The eunuch’s voice seemed deeper. “He is here. Aegon has been shaped for rule since before he could walk. He has been trained in arms, as befits a knight to be, but that was not the end of his education. He reads and writes, he speaks several tongues, he has studied history and law and poetry. A septa has instructed him in the mysteries of the Faith since he was old enough to understand them. He has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, swum in rivers and mended nets and learned to wash his own clothes at need. He can fish and cook and bind up a wound, he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid. Tommen has been taught that kingship is his right. Aegon knows that kingship is his duty, that a king must put his people first, and live and rule for them.”

17. A Storm of Swords – Epilogue

The outlaws parted as she came through, saying no word. When she lowered her hood, something tightened inside Merrett’s chest, and for a moment he could not breathe. No. No, I saw her die. She was dead for a day and a night before they stripped her naked and threw her body in the river. Raymund opened her throat from ear to ear. She was dead.

Her cloak and collar hid the gash his brother’s blade had made, but her face was even worse than her remembered. The flesh had gone pudding soft in the water and turned the colour of curdled milk. Half her hair was gone and the rest had turned as white and brittle as a crone’s. Beneath her ravaged scalp, her face was shredded skin and black blood where she had raked herself with her nails. But her eyes were the most terrible thing. Her eyes saw him, and they hated.

“She don’t speak,” said the big man in the yellow cloak. “You bloody bastards cut her throat too deep for that. But she remembers.” He turned to the dead woman and said, “What do you say, m’lady? Was he part of it?”

Lady Catelyn’s eyes never left him. She nodded.

Merrett Frey opened his mouth to plead, but the noose choked off his words. His feet left the ground, the rope cutting deep into the soft flesh beneath his chin. Up into the air he jerked, kicking and twisting, up and up and up.

16. A Storm of Swords – Jaime IX

File:White Book.jpg

Jaime sat alone at the table while the shadows crept across the room. As dusk began to settle, he lit a candle and opened the White Book to his own page. Quill and ink he found in a drawer. Beneath the last line Ser Barristan had entered, he wrote in an awkward hand that might have done credit to a six-year-old being taught his first letters by a maester:

Defeated in the Whispering Wood by the Young Wolf Robb Stark during the War of the Five Kings. Held captive at Riverrun and ransomed for a promise unfulfilled. Captured again by the Brave Companions, and maimed at the word of Vargo Hoat their captain, losing his sword hand to the blade of Zollo the Fat. Returned safely to King’s Landing by Brienne, the Maid of Tarth.

When he was done, more than three-quarters of his page still remained to be filled between the gold lion on the crimson shield on top and the blank white shield at the bottom. Ser Gerold Hightower had begun his history, and Ser Barristan Selmy had continued it, but the rest Jaime Lannister would need to write for himself. He could write whatever he chose, henceforth.

Whatever he chose …

15. A Feast for Crows – Samwell IV

Sam donned his blacks to say the words, though the afternoon was warm and muggy, with nary a breath of wind. “He was a good man,” he began … but as soon as he had said the words he knew that they were wrong. “No. He was a great man. A maester of the Citadel, chained and sworn, and Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch, ever faithful. When he was born they named him for a hero who had died too young, but though he lived a long long time, his own life was no less heroic. No man was wiser, or gentler, or kinder. At the Wall, a dozen lords commander came and went during his years of service, but he was always there to counsel them. He counselled kings as well. He could have been a king himself, but when they offered him the crown he told them they should give it to his younger brother. How many men would do that?” Sam felt the tears welling in his eyes, and knew he could not go on much longer. “He was the blood of the dragon, but now his fire has gone out. He was Aemon Targaryen. And now his watch has ended.”

14. A Storm of Swords – Arya XIII

File:Yoann Boissonnet Titan's Daughter.JPG

I have no home, Arya thought. I have no pack. And now I don’t even have a horse.

The captain was turning away when she said, “What ship is this, my lord?”

He paused long enough to give her a weary smile. “This is the galleas Titan’s Daughter, of the Free City of Braavos.”

“Wait,” Arya said suddenly. “I have something else.” She had stuffed it down inside her smallclothes to keep it safe, so she had to dig deep to find it, while the oarsmen laughed and the captain lingered with obvious impatience. “One more silver will make no difference, child,” he finally said.

“It’s not silver.” Her fingers closed on it. “It’s iron. Here.” She pressed it into his hand, the small black iron coin that Jaqen H’ghar had given her, so worn the man whose head it bore had no features. It’s probably worthless, but …

The captain turned it over and blinked at it, then looked at her again. “This … how …?”

Jaqen said to say the words too.  Arya crossed her arms against her chest. “Valar morghulis,” she said, as loud as if she’d known what she meant.

“Valar dohaeris,” he replied, touching his brow with two fingers. “Of course you shall have a cabin.”

13. A Dance with Dragons – The Sacrifice

The banker studied her with shrewd dark eyes. “You are the Lady Asha of House Greyjoy, unless I am mistaken.”

“I am Asha of House Greyjoy, aye. Opinions differ on whether I’m a lady.”

“The Braavosi smiled. “We’ve brought a gift for you.” He beckoned to the men behind him. “We had expected to find the king at Winterfell. This same blizzard has engulfed the castle, alas. Beneath its walls we found Mors Umber with a troop of raw green boys, waiting for the king’s coming. He gave us this.”

A girl and an old man, thought Asha, as the two were dumped rudely in the snow before her. The girl was shivering violently, even in her furs. If she had not been so frightened, she might even have been pretty, though the top of her nose was black from frostbite. The old man … no one would ever think him comely. She had seen scarecrows with more flesh. His face was a skull with skin, his hair bone-white and filthy. And he stank. Just the sight of him filled Asha with revulsion.

He raised his eyes. “Sister. See. This time I know you.”

Asha’s heart skipped a beat. “Theon?

His lips skinned back in what might have been a grin. Half his teeth were gone, and half of those still left him were broken and splintered. “Theon,” he repeated. “My name is Theon. You have to know your name.”

12. A Storm of Swords – Arya XIII

The boy didn’t seem to hear him. “I came for the girls,” he whimpered. “… make me a man, Polly said … oh gods, please, take me to a castle … a maester, take me to a maester, my father’s got gold … it was only for the girls … mercy, ser.”

The Hound gave him a crack across the face that made him scream again. “Don’t call me ser.” He turned back to Arya. “This one is yours, she-wolf. You do it.”

She knew what he meant. Arya went to Polliver and knelt in his blood long enough to undo his swordbelt. Hanging beside his dagger was a slimmer blade, too long to be a dirk, too short to be a man’s sword … but it felt just right in her hand.

“You remember where the heart is?” the Hound asked.

She nodded. The squire rolled his eyes. “Mercy.”

Needle slipped between his ribs and gave it to him.

11. A Game of Thrones – Jon VIII

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“Jon, did you ever wonder why the men of the Night’s Watch take no wives and father no children?” Maester Aemon asked.

Jon shrugged. “No.” He scattered more meat. The fingers of his left hand were slimy with blood, and his right throbbed from the weight of the bucket.

“So they will not love,” the old man answered, “for love is the bane of honour, the death of duty.”

That did not sound right to Jon, yet he said nothing. The maester was a hundred years old, and a high officer of the Night’s Watch; it was not his place to contradict him.

The old man seemed to sense his doubts. “Tell me, Jon, if the day should ever come when your lord father must needs choose between honour on the one hand and those he loves on the other, what would he do?”

Jon hesitated. He wanted to say that Lord Eddard would never dishonour himself, not even for love, yet inside a small sly voice whispered, He fathered a bastard, where was the honour in that? And your mother, what of his duty to her, he will not even say her name. “He would do whatever was right,” he said … ringingly, to make up for his hesitation. “No matter what.”

“Then Lord Eddard is a man in then thousand. Most of us are not so strong. What is honour compared to a woman’s love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms … or the memory of a brother’s smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

10. A Dance with Dragons – Davos IV

“Soon I must return to the feast to toast my friends of Frey,” Manderly continued. “They watch me, ser. Day and night their eyes are on me, noses sniffing for some whiff of treachery. You saw them, the arrogant Ser Jared and his nephew Rhaegar, that smirking worm who wears a dragon’s name. Behind them both stands Symond, clinking coins. That one has bought and paid for several of my servants and two of my knights. One of his wife’s handmaids has found her way into the bed of my own fool. If Stannis wonders that my letters say so little, it is because I dare not even trust my maester. Theomore is all head and no heart. You heard him in my hall. Maesters are supposed to put aside old loyalties when they don their chains, but I cannot forget that Theomore was born a Lannister of Lannisport and claims some distant kinship to the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. Foes and false friends are all around me, Lord Davos. They infest my city like roaches, and at night I feel them crawling over me.” The fat man’s fingers coiled into a fist, and all his chins trembled. “My son Wendel came to the Twins a guest. He ate Lord Walder’s bread and salt, and hung his sword upon the wall to feast with friends. And they murdered him. Murdered, I say, and may the Freys choke upon their fables. I drink with Jared, jape with Symond, promise Rhaegar the hand of my own beloved granddaughter … but never think that means I have forgotten. The north remembers, Lord Davos. The north remembers, and the mummer’s farce is almost done. My son is home.”

9. A Storm of Swords – Tyrion X

Tyrion stared up at his father’s hard green eyes with their flecks of cold bright gold. “Guilty, “ he said, “so guilty. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

Lord Tywin said nothing. Mace Tyrell nodded. Prince Oberyn looked mildly disappointed. “You admit you poisoned the king?”

“Nothing of the sort,” said Tyrion. “Of Joffrey’s death, I am innocent. I am guilty of a far more monstrous crime.” He took a step toward his father. “I was born. I lived. I am guilty of being a dwarf, I confess it. And no matter how many times my good father forgave me, I have persisted in my infamy.”

“This is folly, Tyrion,” declared Lord Tywin. “Speak to the matter at hand. You are not on trial for being a dwarf.”

“That is where you err, my lord. I have been on trial for being a dwarf my entire life.”

“Have you nothing to say in your defence?”

“Nothing but this: I did not do it. Yet now I wish I had.” He turned to face the hall, that sea of pale faces. “I wish I had enough poison for you all. You make me sorry that I am not the monster you would have me be, yet there it is. I am innocent, but I will get no justice here. You leave me no choice but to appeal to the gods. I demand trial by battle.”

“Have you taken leave of your wits?” his father said.

“No, I’ve found them. I demand trial by battle!”

His sweet sister could not have been more pleased. “He has that right, my lords,” she reminded the judges. “Let the gods judge. Ser Gregor Clegane will stand for Joffrey. He returned to the city the night before last, to put his sword at my service.”

Lord Tywin’s face was so dark that for half a heartbeat Tyrion wondered if he’d drunk some poisoned wine as well. He slammed his fist down on the table, too angry to speak. It was Mace Tyrell who turned to Tyrion and asked the question. “Do you have a champion to defend your innocence?”

“He does, my lord.” Prince Oberyn of Dorne rose to his feet. “The dwarf has quite convinced me.”

8. A Storm of Swords – Jon X

It’s done, Jon thought, they’re breaking. The wildlings were running, throwing down their weapons, Hornfoot men and cave dwellers and Thenns in bronze scales, they were running. Mance was gone, someone was waving Harma’s head on a pole, Tormund’s lines had broken. Only the giants on their mammoths were holding hairy islands in a red steel sea. The fires were leaping from tent to tent and some of the tall pines were going up as well. And through the smoke another wedge of armoured riders came, on barded horses. Floating above them were the largest banners yet, royal standards as big as sheets; a yellow one with long pointed tongues that showed a flaming heart, and another like a sheet of beaten gold, with a black stag prancing and rippling in the wind. Robert, Jon though for one mad moment, remembering poor Owen, but when the trumpets blew again and the knights charged, the name they cried was “Stannis! Stannis! STANNIS!”

7. A Dance with Dragons – Theon I

theon robb

Theon led the way up the stairs. I have climbed these steps a thousand times before. As a boy he would run up; descending, he would take the steps three at a time, leaping. Once he leapt right into Old Nan and knocked her to the floor. That earned him the worst thrashing he ever had at Winterfell, though it was almost tender compared to the beatings his brothers used to give him back on Pyke. He and Robb had fought many a heroic battle on these steps, slashing at one another with wooden swords. Good training, that; it brought home how hard it was to fight your way up a spiral stair against determined opposition. Ser Rodrik liked to say that one good man could hold a hundred, fighting down.

That was long ago, though. They were all dead now. Jory, old Ser Rodrik, Lord Eddard, Harwin and Hullen, Cayn and Desmond and Fat Tom, Alyn with his dreams of knighthood, Mikken who had given him his first real sword. Even Old Nan, like as not.

And Robb. Robb who had been more a brother to Theon than any son born of Balon Greyjoy’s loins. Murdered at the Red Wedding, butchered by the Freys. I should have been with him. Where was I? I should have died with him.

6. A Game of Thrones – Bran IV

That night, after the plates had been cleared, Robb carried Bran up to bed himself. Grey Wind led the way, and Summer came close behind. His brother was strong for his age, and Bran was as light as a bundle of rags, but the stairs were steep and dark, and Robb was breathing hard by the time they reached the top.

He put Bran into bed, covered him with blankets, and blew out the candle. For a time, Robb sat beside him in the dark. Bran wanted to talk to him, but he did not know what to say. “We’ll find a horse for you, I promise,” Robb whispered at last.

“Are they ever coming back?” Bran asked him.

“Yes,” Robb said with such hope in his voice that Bran knew he was hearing his brother and not just Robb the Lord. “Mother will be home soon. Maybe we can ride out to meet her when she comes. Wouldn’t that surprise her, to see you ahorse?” Even in the dark room, Bran could feel his brother’s smile. “And afterward, we’ll ride north to see the Wall. We won’t even tell Jon we’re coming, we’ll just be there one day, you and me. It will be an adventure.”

“An adventure,” Bran repeated wistfully. He heard his brother sob. The room was so dark he could not see the tears on Robb’s face, so he reached out and found his hand. Their fingers twined together.

5. A Clash of Kings – Tyrion XIV

Finally, he rolled over the side and lay breathless and exhausted, flat on his back. Balls of green and orange flame crackled overhead, leaving streaks between the stars. He had a moment to think how pretty it was before Ser Mandon blocked out the view. The knight was a white steel shadow, his eyes shining darkly behind his helm. Tyrion had no more strength than a rag doll. Ser Mandon put the point of his sword to the hollow of his throat and curled both hands around the hilt.

And suddenly he lurched to the left, staggering into the rail. Wood split, and Ser Mandon Moore vanished with a shout and a splash. An instant later, the hulls came slamming together again, so hard the deck seemed to jump. Then someone was kneeling over him. “Jaime?” he croaked, almost choking on the blood that filled his mouth. Who else would save him, if not his brother?

“Be still, my lord, you’re hurt bad.” A boy’s voice, that makes no sense, thought Tyrion. It sounded almost like Pod.

4. A Clash of Kings – Bran VII

At the edge of the wolfswood, Bran turned in his basket for one last glimpse of the castle that had been his life. Wisps of smoke still rose into the night sky, but no more than might have risen from Winterfell’s chimneys on a cold autumn afternoon. Soot stains marked some of the arrow loops, and here and there a crack or a missing merlon could be seen in the curtain wall, but it seemed little enough from this distance. Beyond, the tops of the keeps and towers still stood as they had for hundreds of years, and it was hard to tell that the castle had been burned and sacked at all. The stone is strong, Bran told himself, the roots of the trees go deep, and under the ground the Kings of Winter sit their thrones. So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.

3. A Storm of Swords – Jaime V

“Has my tale turned you speechless? Come, curse me or kiss me or call me a liar. Something.

“If this is true, how is it no one knows?”

“The knights of the Kingsguard are sworn to keep the kings secrets. Would you have me break my oath?” Jaime laughed. “Do you think the noble Lord of Winterfell wanted to hear my feeble explanations? Such an honourable man. He only had to look at me to judge me guilty.” Jaime lurched to his feet, the water running cold down his chest. “By what right does the wolf judge the lion? By what right?” A violent shiver took him, and he smashed his stump against the rim of the tub as he tried to climb out. Pain shuddered through him … and suddenly the bathhouse was spinning. Brienne caught him before he could fall. Her arm was all gooseflesh, clammy and chilled, but she was strong, and gentler than he would have thought. Gentler than Cersei, he thought as she helped him from the tub, his legs wobbly as a limp cock. “Guards!” he heard the wench shout. “The Kingslayer!”

Jaime, he thought, my name is Jaime.

2. A Feast for Crows – Arya II

She stood on the end of the dock, pale and goosefleshed and shivering in the fog. In her hand, Needle seemed to whisper to her. Stick them with the pointy end, it said, and, don’t tell Sansa! Mikken’s mark was on the blade. It’s just a sword. If she needed a sword, there were a hundred under the temple. Needle was too small to be a proper sword, it was hardly more than a toy. She’d been a stupid little girl when Jon had it made for her. “It’s just a sword,” she said, aloud this time …

… but it wasn’t.

Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father,  even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile. He used to mess my hair and call me “little sister,” she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

Polliver has stolen the sword from her when the Mountain’s men took her captive, but when she and the Hound walked into the inn at the crossroads, there it was. The gods wanted me to have it. Not the Seven, nor Him of Many Faces, but her father’s gods, the old gods of the north. The Many-Faced God can have the rest, she thought, but he can’t have this.

1. A Storm of Swords – Jaime IV

“Jaime,” Brienne whispered, so faintly he thought he was dreaming it. “Jaime, what are you doing?”

“Dying,” he whispered back.

“No,” she said, “no, you must live.”

He wanted to laugh. “Stop telling me what to do, wench. I’ll die if it pleases me.”

“Are you so craven?”

The word shocked him. He was Jaime Lannister, a knight of the Kingsguard, he was the Kingslayer. No man had ever called him craven. Other things they called him, yes; oathbreaker, liar, murderer. They said he was cruel, treacherous, reckless. But never craven. “What else can I do, but die?”

“Live,” she said, “live, and fight, and take revenge.” But she spoke too loudly. Rorge heard her voice, if not her words, and came over to kick her, shouting at her to hold her bloody tongue if she wanted to keep it.

Craven, Jaime thought as Brienne fought to stifle her moans. Can it be? They took my sword hand. Was that all I was, a sword hand? Gods be good, is it true?

The wench had the right of it. He could not die. Cersei was waiting for him. She would have need of him. And Tyrion, his little brother, who loved him for a lie. And his enemies were waiting too; the Young Wolf who had beaten him in the Whispering Wood and killed his men around him, Edmure Tully who had kept him in darkness and chains, these Brave Companions.

When morning came, he made himself eat. They fed him a mush of oats, horse food, but he forced down every spoon. He ate again at evenfall, and the next day. Live, he told himself harshly, when the mush was like to gag him, live for Cersei, live for Tyrion. Live for vengeance. A Lannister always pays his debts. His missing hand throbbed and burned and stank. When I reach King’s Landing I’ll have a new hand forged, a golden hand, and one day I’ll use it to rip out Vargo Hoat’s throat.

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Game of Thrones Review: S4E10: “The Children”

Another dramatic and emotionally scarring season of Game of Thrones has finally reached it’s finale episode. But don’t despair, because it is sure to be the most action-packed and jaw-dropping episode of the show so far, with a huge amount of major moments packed in, so many that the episode is 10 minutes longer than normal. Spoilers to come.

The episode started off with the conclusion to last week’s epic battle at the wall. Jon went out beyond the wall to try and kill Mance Rayder. Before he got the chance however, the wildling army was taken by surprise by an attack from the army of Stannis Baratheon, probably his finest moment. A little disappointing that we didn’t get to see the army chanting Stannis’ name, but he still came across as pretty badass. This is the moment that convinced many people that Stannis is the best man for the throne – he admitted that he had been trying to win the throne to save the kingdom, when he should have been trying to save the kingdom to win the throne.

We then caught up with the Mountain, who had been left in a coma by the poison that Prince Oberyn used against him in the trial by combat. Former Maester Qyburn promises Cersei he will try and save him, despite Pycelle saying it is impossible. As we know, Qyburn was stripped of his chain for dabbling in necromancy, and he tells Cersei that the process may change the Mountain somewhat. This scene basically confirmed a long-standing fan theory, that I won’t go into now..

Cersei then went to Tywin, to try once again to get out of marrying Loras Tyrell and being separated from her son. She blackmails him by threatening to tell people the truth – that all her children are bastards, and the rumours about her and Jaime are true. Tywin refuses to believe it, but it’s clear that he knows its true, and it is his worst fear. Cersei then goes and makes up with Jaime – although the way Jaime just shoved the white book, detailing all the great deeds of former Kingsguard members, aside to lift her onto the table goes against all his character development. The twin’s relationship is meant to be deteriorating at this point, presumably, that will be the main theme of next season.

Then came the last interesting Daenerys scene for a while, as a farmer came to lay the charred bones of his daughter at the queen’s feet, who had been killed by Drogon, the largest and most wild of her dragons. She was left with no choice but to chain them up, although Drogon was nowhere to be found. The CGI looked amazing as always, and it was definitely Emilia Clarke’s best acting all season.

The dead brothers of the Night’s Watch then received a moving send-off. There was a good, eerie moment when Melisandre and Jon Snow glimpsed each other for the first time, through the funeral pyre. It was a great reference to a line in Melisandre’s only POV chapter in the book when she is looking into the fires – “I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahair, and R’hllor shows me only Snow.” Tormund, tied up as a prisoner, then convinced Jon to take Ygritte north of the wall to burn her, where she belongs.

We then caught up with Bran and company, for the first time since episode 5. After almost 4 seasons of mysterious dreams, Bran finally found where the three-eyed Raven is. But before they could reach the tree under which he lives, they were attacked by skeletons that rose up from the ground. It was a huge shock when Jojen was killed, as he doesn’t die in the book, and this seems to confirm that he doesn’t have any major role to play in the future books. They were saved by Leaf, one of the children of the forest, who was throwing fireballs. The main problems here is that she didn’t look inhuman enough – a lot of show watchers didn’t even realise she wasn’t human, which is a big deal. Finally, we met Bloodraven. Again, he was a little underwhelming – he was just an old guy sitting in a tree, when he should have been literally part of the tree.

Then came one of the biggest changes from the books, and in my opinion one of the best. Brienne and Podrick chanced to come across Arya and the Hound, and the Brienne and Sandor ended up in a vicious fight over Arya. Brienne came out victorious, but Arya slipped away. Some book readers have claimed that the Hound should have easily beatern Brienne, but they are forgetting the Hound was still recovering from his injuries. Arya then went to the Hound, and refused the give him the gift of mercy, despite him begging her to kill him. Some really good acting from Rory McCann, who will be missed. However, the changes to the relationship between the two characters mean that using the same way Arya left him in the book didn’t really make sense. The Hound fought Brienne to protect Arya, and then she left him to die in pain. It just seems wrong.

Finally, it was time for the main event. Jaime came to Tyrion’s chamber, and set him free. Their farewell was touching, but I was shocked they left out the conversation they were supposed to have about Tysha, and their falling out, as that was what set Tyrion off with wanting to kill his father. Tyrion then found his way to his father’s chambers, and strangled former lover Shae who was in his bed. It seems as though Shae is replacing the role Tysha played in the books. Tyrion’s final confrontation with his father was well done, and Charles Dance will be missed very much on the show. Tyrion – and Varys’ – escape from the city was one of my favourite scenes in the whole show – incredibly atmospheric, with the bells ringing to announce the death of Tywin, and a palpable sense of impending doom. It seems Varys is accompanying Tyrion in his escape, which will be interesting, and it keeps a popular character on-screen for next season.

The season ended with Arya. After failing to book passage to the wall, she pulled out the coin Jaqen gave her in season 2, and said the words she was taught – Valar Morghulis. “Valar Dohaeris” replied the captain. “Of course you shall have a cabin.” It was a decent way to end the season, but when I was expecting something a bit different, it felt a bit of a let down at the time.

Overall, the finale was a solid episode, but I feel the scenes where Jon burned Ygritte and Dany talked to the first slave could and should have been cut so as to fit in the conversation between Jaime and Tyrion, as it is a very important moment, and they definitely should have ended the season with the massive cliffhanger that comes at the end of A Storm of Swords.

9/10


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E9 “The Watchers on the Wall”

After almost 3 seasons of building up to the battle between the wildling army and the Night’s Watch, the battle finally came. With interest on both sides, there was going to be heartbreak no matter what happened, and the emotional moments didn’t disappoint. Spoilers to come. 

First we were treated to Jon and Sam talking about sex. In Jon’s own words, he isn’t a poet. Then Gilly turned up at Castle Black, after escaping from Mole’s Town. After seeing her somewhere safe, she and Sam shared their first kiss. D’awww. 

No expense was spared in creating an amazing visual spectacle, with giants riding mammoths, the biggest fire the north has ever seen, and a huge scythe that wiped out the wildlings climbing the wall. Alliser Thorne changed my opinion of him, as he actually turned out to be quite a badass. On the other hand, Janos Slynt proved himself as nothing more than a snivelling coward. Thorne’s duel with Tormund was one of the best fights on the show. The first heartbreaking moment came when Pyp took a crossbow bolt in the neck, and died in Sam’s arms. His BFF Grenn then went out like a badass, holding off a giant with 5 other rangers in the tunnel. Although we didn’t get the iconic line, “Jon, you have the wall”, we did get “Edd, you have the wall, which is just as good. 

Jon showed off his considerable fighting talents, managing to bring down Styr, before turning around to find his spurned wildling lover Ygritte pointing an arrow at him. They exchanged the briefest of smiles, before Ygritte took an arrow through the heart from Olly, the little boy who’s parents she killed earlier in the season. I never considered Ygritte one of my favourite characters, but her dying in his arms brought me to tears. 

We didn’t get the ending to the episode we were expecting, and didn’t really get a proper resolution to the battle, but it was still a great episode with some very emotional moments. Just one episode left of the season, and there is no question it will probably be the best episode of the entire show. 

9/10


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E8 “The Mountain and the Viper”

Just when you thought you had this show figured out, something like this comes out of the blue to remind you that no one and nothing is safe. The climax of this episode is on a par with the Red Wedding for shock value, and the reaction all over the internet has been extraordinary. Spoilers to come. 

The wildling army continues to bear down on the Wall, and the raiding party led by Tormund this week reached Mole’s Town. Gilly was lucky that only Ygritte found her, or she would have been slaughtered along with everyone else. Back at Castle Black, our favourite rangers were reacting to the news of their brothers being killed. Dolorous Edd got some good lines for a change – one of my favourite characters in the books, he’s been severely underused in the show so far. 

Then it was time for the unnecessary nudity of the week, as the Grey Worm/Missandei romance continued. It’s a sweet little subplot but I’d rather the time was spent with more important characters. Later on in Meereen, it was time for the big event of Dany’s storyline this season, as she found out that Jorah was initially spying on her. When she sent him away, she was incredibly cold and even cruel, whereas in the book it was an agonising decision for her. This has been a recurring theme this season, when Dany has seemed a lot more cold and emotionless than she should be. 

We visited a new location this week, Moat Cailin, the castle that must be passed if you with to enter the north. The Bolton’s needed the Ironborn holding it to be cleared out so that their armies could pass through, and Ramsay sent Theon to do it, since the Ironborn should respect their prince. The leader refused to flee like cowards, but the axe that someone put through his head soon sorted that problem out. Ramsay of course didn’t actually let them go. Later, he rejoined his father Roose, and they shared a Lion King-esque moment as they looked out over the North, the land they now ruled. Roose then told Ramsay that he had been legitimised – he was no longer Ramsay Snow, but Ramsay Bolton. The Boltons and Theon then made their way to their new home, and for the first time in two seasons, we got a glimpse of Winterfell. 

Littlefinger was facing the consequences of his actions last week, as he was questioned about the death of Lysa Arryn. Sansa was called in to giver her side of the story, and she bailed him out. Sophie Turner’s acting continues to be very impressive this season. Later, Petyr and Robin prepared to go on a tour of the Vale. A dark haired woman appeared at the top of the stairs, and for a few seconds I thought it was Catelyn – but of course it wasn’t, just Sansa who has finally dyed her hair to conceal her identity. 

 

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Elsewhere in the Vale, the Hound and Arya finally arrived so she could be sold to Lysa Arryn. I feel like the writers are misunderstanding Arya’s character – she isn’t a psychopath who loves killing, she was forced to do it, but the way she was talking about killing Joffrey seemed really wrong. As it did when she burst out laughing when they were told that Lysa was dead. It was a really bizarre moment, if a little amusing to see the Hound’s reaction.

Finally, we came to what we were waiting for – the trial. But not before a long conversation between Tyrion and Jaime about simple minded cousin Orson Lannister who loved to crush beetles. It was an interesting conversation with some possible deeper meanings, but it really did go on for a bit too long. Finally, Tyrion went out to the arena where Oberyn and the Mountain would fight. Oberyn absolutely nailed the whole fight – it was so well done, that even though I knew what was going to happen, for a few moments, I was thinking that Oberyn would really do it. So when the Mountan tripped him up, gouged out his eyes and smashed his head in, it was like experiencing the initial shock when I read it all over again. Ellaria’s scream deserves a mention as well, it really added to the horror of the scene. It is one of the best moments in the books and it was recreated perfectly. 

9.5/10


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E7 “Mockingbird”

The season is really hotting up now, with shocking events coming in every episode, and this one was no different. Spoilers to come.

After Tyrion’s epic speech at the end of episode 6, everyone wanted to know who he would name as his champion for his trial by combat. Jaime however was not impressed by his outburst, having negotiated with their father to get Tyrion away with his life. Jaime tells Tyrion he can’t be his champion – he is simply no good with his left hand. Tyrion sends Jaime to find Bronn, and asks who Cersei will be naming as her champion. The answer probably didn’t make him very happy – she has named the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, the gigantic, psychopathic knight who we now see for the first time since season 2. If you didn’t recognise him, it’s probably because this is the 3rd actor to play him. We see him slaughtering some random peasants (because he’s crazy?) and Cersei looks pretty impressed. 

We then found ourselves with his little(but still pretty big) brother the Hound and Arya. After a conversation with a farmer that dragged on a bit too long, they gave him the gift of mercy, and then Sandor was attacked by Biter, and received a nasty neck wound. Rorge was also there, and Arya stabbed him through the heart, although it was a bit daft that he didn’t even try to defend himself. Later on, the Hound’s wound isn’t doing well, and he refuses to let Arya burn out the corruption because of his terrible fear of fire. He says he wishes he’d never taken her captive.

Jon then returned to the Wall after his excursion to Craster’s. He failed to convince Alliser Thorne to seal the tunnel, insisting that it would be impossible to defend the tunnel from the giants in Mance Rayder’s army. The battle at the wall is set to take up the entirety of of episode 9, as the battle at the Blackwater did in season 2, and it should be a pretty spectacular affair. 

We then returned to Tyrion’s chamber as Bronn arrived sporting some fancy new clothes. Cersei has got to him before Tyrion could, and sorted him out a marriage to a woman far above his station. Despite Tyrion’s pleas, Bronn bluntly explains that it isn’t worth the risk of fighting the Mountain. Bronn is an opportunist – he fought for Tyrion at the Eyrie because he thought he could win, and he had nothing to lose at the time, but this fight simply isn’t worth the risk. They said an emotional goodbye, and one of the best partnerships in the show came to an end. On the bright side, it has been leaked that Bronn’s new wife, Lollys Stokeworth, is being cast for season five, which means Bronn should be coming back next season.

Across the world to Meereen, and Daario’s attempts to woo Daenerys are finally paying off. Dany’s storyline has been a weak point all season, and sadly that will probably continue into next season if there aren’t big changes from the books. Jorah expresses his distrust of Daario, and why Dany’s plan to execute all of the slave masters in Yunkai is a bad idea. She agrees with him, and Daario is sent off to retake the slave city. 

If you were disappointed that Dany’s sex scene with Daario was left to the imagination, never fear because Melisandre is taking a bath. Her scene with Selyse seemed like it was just there to get some nudity into the episode, not that I’m complaining. Brienne and Podrick met up with a familiar face from season 3, Hot Pie. Their scenes haven’t really been thrilling thus far, but that will hopefully change soon. 

Time for one last visitor to Tyrion’s chamber – Oberyn Martell. He tells the story of when they first met, while Tyrion was still a baby, and Cersei blamed him for their mother’s death. Oberyn then makes the offer to be Tyrion’s champion. It was a really emotional and well acted scene, and increased the love for Oberyn even more. 

To cap off the episode, we visited the Eyrie. Sansa built her snow version of Winterfell, before Robin came and stomped on it. Sansa slapping him was rather out of character, but most show viewers probably didn’t mind. Then it was time for what 3 seasons of Littlefinger’s creepiness had led up to – his kiss with Sansa, with his new wife Lysa looking on from above. Lysa then summoned Sansa to the Moon Door – and almost threw her out of it. Littlefinger talks her out of it, and explains that he doesn’t love Sansa, he’s only ever loved one woman – only Cat. He then shoved Lysa out of the Moon Door. Why exactly the line ‘Only Cat’, one of the most iconic lines of the series, was changed is a mystery – but it was still a shocking moment, and further demonstrated the lengths Littlefinger will go to to get what he wants. 

9/10


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E6 “The Laws of Gods and Men”

Somehow, we’re already half way through season four already. But this isn’t just a bad thing, because this is the time when things really start going crazy. So much is going to happen in the remainder of the season, and it’s going to amazing. Spoilers to come. 

After two episodes without them, Stannis and Davos returned, and they arrived at one of the most interesting places in the world of ASOIAF – Braavos, with the Titan guarding the entrance to the bay. They were going to the Iron Bank to appeal for some of their gold. After declining the offer at first, an impassioned and well-argued speech from Davos managed to sway the bankers. If Stannis had all the awesome lines in the book’s version of this storyline, Davos is getting them in the show. Salladhor Saan also made his first appearance since season three, and he is always entertaining. 

Another returning face was Asha (or if you prefer, Yara) Greyjoy. Her mission to rescue Theon from Ramsay Snow was a big change from the book and spawned many theories about how it would tie in to the Ironborn storyline, but in the end it fell a bit flat. After fighting their way through the Dreadfort, the islanders beat a hasty retreat when Ramsay released his dogs. Really, the world’s bravest and best warriors frightened by a dog, and a lunatic with his shirt off? On a better note, Asha stating that Theon was ‘dead’ means the Ironborn storyline is on track to follow the books exactly next season. Theon and Ramsay then had another disturbing scene together, with Ramsay asking ‘Reek’ to pretend to be someone he isn’t – Theon Greyjoy. Alfie Allen is still doing an amazing job at showing Reek’s physical and pyschological torment. 

It was then time for some long-overdue proper dragon action. Drogon roasted some goats, and the farmer laid them at the feet of Daenerys in her throne room. Some fans were surprised that the farmer wasn’t bringing something else, but there is still time for that to come – it’s too important a detail to be left out. Then we were introduced to Hizdahr, one of many Meereneese nobles in Dany’s storyline. It was far easier to empathise with him than it was in the books, and his exchange with Dany was very emotive. 

Then it was time for a meeting of the new-look Small Council, with new members Oberyn and Mace. They did a good job at showing Mace Tyrell to be the spineless suck-up he is, and Oberyn was once again the star of the show. The Red Viper – can they just call him that once on the show, please? – then had a conversation with Varys, that gave some interesting insight into the eunuch’s apparent asexuality. 

Finally, it was time for a long-awaited scene that took up most of this episode – Tyrion’s trial. Witness after witness came up to give ludicrous testimonies against him. Jaime rightly points out the farcical nature of what is going on to Tywin. He then offers to give up his white cloak if Tywin will spare Tyrion. It is debatable whether he would do that – he would hate to be an oathbreaker again, but he does love his little brother. After Jaime tells Tyrion what he must do, the next witness steps up…

… and it’s Shae, Tyrion’s former whore-turned-girlfriend that he sent away in episode two. After telling a totally made up story that seems to put it in no doubt that Tyrion killed Joffrey, Tyrion stops her – and gives in my opinion the best speech this show has seen so far. Absolutely amazing acting from Peter Dinklage, with some brilliant writing too, and it was undoubtedly the best moment so far this season. That by itself makes this the best episode of the season so far. 

9/10


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E5 “First of his Name”

After the surprising changes made in episode 4, we were all excited and a little nervous to see what direction the show was taking, and it’s fair to say it didn’t disappoint, as episode five was the best so far this season. Spoilers to follow. 

The episode began with the crowning of the new king, Tommen Baratheon. As different to Joffrey as it is possible to be, it may put some of the Lannister haters in something of a dilemma, as he’s just so difficult to dislike. Cersei did well to veil her contempt for Margaery, because she needed to butter up her father, Mace Tyrell, and one of the judges for Tyrion’s trial. She would also have scenes with the other judges, Tywin and Oberyn, as she tries to get them on her side and secure Tyrion’s execution. During her scene with Tywin, we discover that the Lannister’s gold mines have run dry – an interesting development, as they are the source of all their wealth and power. 

Over to the now conquered Meereen, and Daenerys has finally changed out of that blue dress. She was informed of Joffrey’s death, and makes the big decision not to sail for Westeros until she has learnt to rule, and defeated Yunkai and Astapor once again. Emilia Clarke’s acting continues to frustrate many, but I personally think her writing has been pretty sub-par this season. 

Then we were back in the Vale for the first time since season one, and re-introduced the the crazy Lysa Arryn and her bratty son Robert. We had the big reveal that Littlefinger was behind the death of Jon Arryn, and that it was Lysa who actually poisoned him – this is a big reveal and it was a surprise that it was revealed so early. Thankfully we were spared seeing Petyr and Lysa’s wedding night in person, but Sansa suffered an uncomfortable night’s sleep. 

Over to Arya and the Hound, and Arya’s death prayer has had a few different names added to it – Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr were quite surprising, but given the change to the plot that involved them selling Gendry to Melisandre, it makes sense. The Hound then gave her a reality check about her ‘water-dancing’ – ‘Syrio’s dead, and Meryn Trant’s not, because Meryn had armour, and a big fucking sword.’ Her sister Sansa was having much fun either – Lysa went full insane mode and asked her if Littlefinger had got her pregnant, but she persuaded her he hadn’t. 

We had our first introduction to the great double act that is Brienne and Podrick. Podrick’s utter cluelessness is great entertainment, although Brienne’s disdain for him is somewhat out of character. Podrick is becoming more and more likeable every week – kudos to Daniel Portman for his great portrayal of him. 

Then we were back to Craster’s Keep, where everyone was keen to say what would happen with Bran and company. Locke scouted the keep, and reported back to Jon, but he lied about the hut that Bran was in, so that he could sneak Bran away while the other’s were distracted. Karl almost raped Meera, but was distracted by the attack by the Night’s Watch rangers. The rangers made light work of the mutineers, but Jon was pushed all the way by Karl, and only saved by one of Craster’s wives intervening. Meanwhile, Locke attempted to kidnap Bran, who warged into Hodor and broke Locke’s neck using the giant’s body. Hodor’s confused and scared expression when he realised what ‘he’ had done was really good – Bran’s use of Hodor like this is taboo, and you had to feel sorry for the big guy. Bran called out for Jon to help him, but Jojen convinced him otherwise – he correcly pointed out that Jon would never let him go north. A huge sigh of relief was released as we realised there would not be a Stark reunion – as nice as it would be, it’s horrible cliche and too big a deviation from the book’s plot. Finally, Jon was reunited with Ghost, and Craster’s Keep was burnt to the ground. 

9/10