Game of Thrones Theory #1–Gods Amongst Us

Ever since seeing who the true Melisandre is, I’ve been developing a theory.  I’m rushing to put most of the theory out there before either the theory is developed by the producers or someone puts this out there.

Ever since reading the Red Wedding scene in A Storm of Swords and finding out about Lady Stoneheart, I realized there are certain rules that do govern a somewhat lawless Westeros.  All throughout the novels, there’s certain rules that most of the “good” characters follow.  A few like Catelyn, actually believe there’s some morality tied to the rules, while others, like Cersei, just adhere to them from a social custom. Catelyn made this clear when she made sure Rob ate Walder Frey’s bread and salt.  According to the old gods and the new, hospitality is paramount to keeping everyone from murdering each other in their sleep (so much for that, right?).  Well, because Catelyn adheres to them from a moral standpoint, and has such a strong belief in them, I believe the gods she believes in, brought her back. So, what does this have to do with Melisandre?

After seeing Melisandre’s true appearance, it was as if puzzle pieces fell into place. If Catelyn was brought back by the Seven, couldn’t Melisandre also be somewhat supernatural?  After all, look at all she’s done in the name of the red god, R’hllor.  So, here’s my theory.  What if Melisandre and Catelyn are the human embodiments of the Seven? Catelyn could be the Mother. Most of her motivations and actions were in the name of being the best mother she could.  Melisandre would be the Crone.  For obvious reasons. Either Brienne or John could be the Warrior. Arya or Jaqen H’ghar could be the Stranger.  Which leaves the Maiden, the Smith, and the Father.  I haven’t worked out yet who these figures could be, although there’s several characters who could fit each one.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Who do you think would fit the Seven?

Me Before You

MeMe Before You was selected as our next book club pick by a member who’s usually picked more brainier pieces than Jojo Moyes’ hit.  I had my doubts because at first I thought this would just be chick-lit/beach read (which it was, but more later).  The member who picked it said she liked it because she wanted to spin off an intellectual conversation from the book’s discussion of assisted suicide.  We’ll see about that.

First of all, as a male reader, I really don’t mind female protagonists.  And I don’t even mind when a plot revolves around a romance with a female protagonist.  If she’s interesting and there’s more happening than just rainbows and cupids, I give these types of books (and there’s only been a handful in my reading life) a fair shake.  In this case I liked the protagonists in this book. Louisa is interesting and complex and Will is the type of guy I’d get a long with.  I enjoyed their interactions together and they are developed in ways that made me feel they could be real people.

However, what really spoiled all the fun were the other characters and somewhat predictable course of the plot.  Too often I felt that the characters are sometimes used as pawns, which frustrated me to know end. Besides the protagonists, the rest of the cast are used as plot points and foils and are flat. The way the supporting characters interact with Will and Louisa was too predictable and the way they foiled the two was too stilted.  This lead to most of the book feeling forced, as if I was supposed to feel a certain way and there was no room for any other emotional interpretation.

While there is a shallow discussion of death with dignity, this is really a beach read with a shadow of anti-feminism hanging over most of the book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Sorcerer's StoneA friend of ours has never read the Harry Potter series, so we’ve tasked ourselves with reading the septet this Spring/Summer and watching the movies as we go. This is my second time through the series and the first time rereading after a gap of five years.

The Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book, is not my favorite of the series although it’s still an enjoyable read. It serves its purpose in introducing the characters and world of Harry Potter, but because I know what’s to come later in the books, I sometimes get bored and want the book to end quicker.  So it’s more impatience than bad writing that keeps me from really enjoying it.

Another reason I had problems with this first book is context. Now that I’m not in school anymore, it’s hard for me to share in their woes over homework or the joy that is the start and finish of a school year. Back in college when I first read the series, I felt very connected to the world of boarding school and the constant flow of homework, exams, and finals. Not only did I relate to the trials and tribulations of being in school, but the plot seemed a nice way to exorcise the intense exhaustion it can all have on a person. But now that I’m the teacher and not the student, I felt almost a little patronizing towards Harry and friends as they complained about essays and tests.  The teacher in me wanted to say, it’s school–it’s what you do.  And I realized with that reaction that my view of Harry is going to be very different this read-through.

But what I still relate to is the importance of education and how the education teaches you that sometimes what you know isn’t enough; there’s more to learn in order to be better at what you want to be.  One lesson the gang learns early on in this book is how crucial friends are.  This is a lesson that no matter where you are in life is something we all need and need to be reminded of from time to time.

The conclusion of the book really hit home to me one of the enduring themes that Ms. Rowling develops so well throughout the series–that love is the strongest defense against evil there is.

When Breath Becomes Air

BreathTo stare death in the face and document each step you take as your life ebbs away is no small feat. Dr. Paul Kalanithi gives us a short memoir of his journey to finding his purpose in life, even when death cuts his life short. While the book doesn’t seem to have a distinct purpose, I almost feel that’s what made this so powerful.The book seems to be divided into three parts.  The first is his journey to deciding what he wants to do with his life and where he wants to go to college.  He learns during high school that he is interested in literature and a branch of literature that analyzes what makes us tick, particularly what makes us human, aka our mind.

The second part of the memoir then focuses on his collegiate years where he studies literature at Standford and ultimately receives his master’s in literature.  However, at this point, he’s learned that it’s not so much the mind that he wants to study, but the brain and the science that makes it run.  So he abandons the humanities and takes up medicine, particularly a neurosurgery.

The last part is him wrapping up his residency and suddenly being faced with cancer.  This last part stops the autobiography-style of the book and it switches to a memoir focused on his fight to survive.

While I found this abrupt switch hard to adjust to, I asked myself, If I were facing my imminent demise would I be able to maintain a clear, concise narrative?  Wouldn’t my purpose alter at each new step particularly as cancer ravages my body? And I answered yes.  That sometimes life doesn’t give us a nice linear journey to write about.  Life likes to throw us curve balls bending and twisting our life journey.  Based just on end-of-life memoir I think this is a must read. Not for its craft but the chutzpah it takes to take on death, a topic we shy from in our sanitary world.