I’m so glad the Habibs came!

In a world-wide environment of such angst about racism, ‘Here Come the Habibs’ is an Australian comedy tv series which shows us all how silly we are. In typical Australian laconic style, this show is reminiscent of “Upper Middle Bogan”, “Acropolis Now” & “Crocodile Dundee”: human drama, romance and lots of laughs.

In the very first scene, Fou Fou Habib arrives at a beach in a dingy, with his new neighbour Olivia O’Neill watching in disgust, complaining, while the headline on a nearby newspaper reads “Refugee Crisis”. The juxtaposition is no less effective for being obvious.

Habibs Boat People

Rob Shehadie, one of the program’s creators, explains how the show uses steroetypes to create comedy in this video (1:08)

There are plenty of bonus short clips of the characters on the same page, if you want some more laughs! If you haven’t seen the show yet, all of Season 1 (6 episodes) are available on 9Now (in Australia) at the time of writing, and galleries, character profiles and more, are available on the show’s homepage.

In only six episodes, the series touches on many serious contemporary issues, in a lighthearted way, making fun of both English-descent and Middle-Eastern-descent Australians, and what happens when their lives collide unexpectedly. The series helps to normalise some aspects of Lebanese/ Arabic culture for those of us less familiar with it, for example, the ‘shoulder dancing’ (or was that just me?).

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At the same time, it reminds us just how similar Australians are, regardless of their racial background.

One of my favourite exchanges is Maddison O’Neill driving fast, with the Habib brothers in her car:

“Are you sure you’re not Lebanese?”

“We have to rescue your sister, don’t we? You sure you’re Lebanese?”

There are common struggles for the young people, regardless of their culture of origin: parents, romance, study and career. A main difference, however, is in the parenting style and relationship between parents and children. The Habibs want their children to stay at home, while Mrs  O’Neil turned her daughter’s bedroom into a walk-in shoe cupboard while she was away on holiday.

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The relationships that develop between the O’Neills and the Habibs in just a short time provide plenty of opportunity for drama, comedy, embarrassment and even romance.

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Jack’s awkwardness in Episode 1 mirrors the very awkwardness that some of us hope to avoid. By not meeting people from other cultures, we don’t have to negotiate potentially tricky cross-cultural misunderstandings. FouFou, the Arabic man, suspects his white neighbour of being behind the Cronulla riots, and his wife replies: “Jack’s not a rioter. Honestly FouFou, not everyone’s a racist.”

Cleverly switching the roles from what might be “mainstream”, highlights both how easily such incorrect conclusions can be drawn, and also how easily we can overcome such thinking.

If you think about it, some of the events are really very serious: destruction of property (several times), a death, a ruined business due to sabotage, kidnapping, standover tactics, racial profiling by Police, Prejudiced government officials, framing people as terrorists so that they are deported…yet (nearly) all of it is hilarious because of the way that it’s portrayed.

Habibs Guacamole Bay

My favourite characters are probably Elias and Layla. Elias because he’s the nerdy, responsible “good boy”. However, the bonus clip, Elias’ advice for kids (1:25) kind of destroys that a bit…

Layla was a surprise. In many ways her character is predictably immature: she’s a teenage girl. She is also a thoroughly modern woman who demonstrates that she can take care of herself, for example: the tasering! She has some of the best one-liners:

“Dad: social media is for telling lies about yourself, not other people!”

Mind you, Maddison also has her fair share:

Olivia: “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing!”

Maddison: “Or gullible people to take action.” (and she was right!)

Thinking about it, it dawns on me that every female character is strong. They might have their dysfunctions, but they all have their moments as admirable women. Chalk one up for feminism, and from male writers, too!

The men also have their moments of heroism and depth of character, but generally are slightly more ridiculous characters. Despite their many flaws, they are all adorable – perhaps sometimes adorkable?

Toufic’s crazy business ideas provide endless opportunities for humour. Seeing him idolise Olivia’s troublemaking brother Bobby shows another surprising commonality between the families.

Habibs Toufic and Bobby

Amidst all the humour, though, there is also character development. Toufic’s realisation that his “Party Terrorist” entertainment business was causing other people difficulty was touching (if a little contrived): “I didn’t know my act would be affecting real people like you.” He sounded sincere.

I was particularly impressed with the acting performances of the cast: they were all spot on. It’s not often that I can’t find something to nit-pick about: a slipped accent, a badly delivered line…none of that! (Having thought hard to find something to complain about: maybe the Commodore wasn’t perfect all the time.) They’re also unfailingly nice to look at, in a realistic way. It made me wonder why these actors are not seen in more programs, and I’m glad they’ll be busy with Season 2! Their imdb profiles could use some beefing up!

In the last episode of Season 1, we learn that “habib” means beloved (or “darling”) in Arabic. Mariam refers to several members of her family as “habibi” during the show. I think it’s entirely appropriate that this show is “Here Come the Darlings”, as these whacky characters and their ridiculous lives will warm your heart. They’re certainly welcome in my living room…well…in the TV screen, anyway…

‘Here Come the Habibs’ is the brainchild of Tahir Bilgic, Rob Shehadie & Phil Lloyd, Directed by Darren Ashton. It stars Michael Denkha, Camilla Ah KinSam AlhajeTyler De NawiKat HoyosHelen Dallimore, Darren Gilshenan, Georgia FloodRob Shehadie & Tahir Bilgic.

Images and videos from Channel Nine (Nine Entertainment Co.) Australia
 

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Art imitates Life. Lessons from ‘The 100’

I’ve just finished watching Season 2 of ‘The 100’. I believe Season 3 is about half way through on TV in the USA currently. (The CW.) This post is full of spoilers, so it would probably help if you’ve watched it already.

(BTW: Hearing someone using a power tool nearby today gave me the creeps! But that is beside the point!)

‘The 100’is based on the book by Kass Morgan. It is a post-apocalyptic science fiction story. The earth was devastated by nuclear war. There were manned space-stations in orbit, which, after a while, joined together to form ‘The Ark’. They lived for nearly 100 years in space, with severe restrictions on their lives due to scarcity of resources, including oxygen and spare parts. When the oxygen was almost gone, in desperation, they sent a ship with 100 young people to earth. This was a test to see if the Earth was habitable, as well as a way to reduce the number of people breathing the oxygen in the Ark.

These particular 100 were juvenile ‘criminals’ in a society where Octavia’s “crime” was being born as a second child. There is a strict one child policy on the Ark. Octavia’s mother was executed when Octavia was found, and Octavia imprisoned. Population control was a very serious matter. Two of the 100 had committed a crime in order to join the ship with someone they loved.  Of course, some of the 100 were actual criminals, which is part of the story later.

On Earth, the 100 find that humans and animals have survived. However, most of the technology and knowledge have disappeared. There are mutations, but there is also resistance to the remaining radiation. Life is a primitive, violent struggle, an ongoing war between tribes, with harsh “justice”. During the two seasons we learn more about what drives some of these battles between groups.

But, my purpose in this post is not to spoil ‘The 100’! Far from it: watch it for the unfolding stories, for the romances, relationships and dramas, for the politics and character development, for the  view of human behaviours under duress. If you’re that way inclined, watch it for the violence and blood and gore! (If you’re not that way inclined, be prepared to turn down the volume and close your eyes from time to time.) From the reviews I’ve read, the show is much better than the book, so: watch it to compare it with the book, if you like!

What I want to talk about here is the parallel I noticed between the way that the different groups interact in ‘the 100’ and in real life in 2016.

Essentially, ‘The 100’, who come to be known on earth as “sky people”, are refugees. They can’t return home to space, and even if they could, their ‘home’ is not safe. Instead of welcoming these new arrivals into a sparsely populated world, the nearby people attack them, and try to wipe them out. In fact, the groups on the ground have already been fighting each other for generations. There is currently an uneasy alliance between 12(?) major tribes, all of which identify as “Grounders”, and who have common customs.

On the other hand, a group which seems to be peaceful has maintained electricity, technology and knowledge, growing food and living in relative luxury and safety. They initially welcome the remnants of the 100 into their society. We also find out more about how they have survived, which explains some parts of the earlier story.

Then, we come to more disturbing events in Season 2.

What we see is one group of people prioritising their own needs over other groups’ needs, and not even considering the value that people from other groups could add, as part of their own group. They effectively cannibalise people from another group.

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They deliberately enslave captives from one group, turning them against their own people, and destroying their humanity, in order to collect their victims for slaughter.

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The sky people are genetically engineered people, with superior resistance to radiation. Their school subjects included “Earth Skills”, earth history, they watched “old” movies and read mythology, and they lived in captivity in a controlled environment, which would make them similar to the Mountain people in culture. They also have knowledge and technology: the science, medicine, computing, engineering and life support knowledge of a people who have lived in space for generations.

Yet, the people on Earth automatically see them as enemies. The Grounders want to eliminate a potential threat. The Mountain people want to exploit them. They don’t even bother to find out what knowledge and skills the sky people have brought with them. They see them as an expendable resource, and refuse to listen to what various sky people try to tell them.

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Such a waste! A waste of so many opportunities for cooperative development, for strengthening society, for passing on knowledge and skill, for improving everyone’s lives together. Such arrogance in thinking there is nothing else to be gained!

As in any ecosystem, the various groups of people on earth form a circuit of interdependence. Cooperation with the sky people would have positive “flow-on” effects for all of the groups. Alliances were made, and short-sighted self-interested politics destroyed them.

Similarly, in today’s society, there seems to be a mindset of “refugees are invading criminals”. Even though there is plenty of documentary and anecdotal evidence of refugees being valuable members of the society that they join. Like uneducated Grounders, some people fear them. Like educated but desperate Mountain men, some people want to exploit them. Just like in the 100, only a few recognise that they’re people, and there should be peaceful coexistence. In the 100, Finn began as someone who worked for peace, against all odds and significant opposition. By Season 2, he allowed his fear and anger to change his behaviour. Be the reverse of Finn. Help people to overcome their fear and anger.

How do people not see the reality? Just like the people in ‘The 100’ who don’t stop to think about alternatives, people who blindly hate Refugees just because they are from somewhere else, are missing so many opportunities, and trying to stop everyone else from having those opportunities. And, if not all refugees are brilliant surgeons, nuclear physicists or whatever else you think is worthy, well: are you? Is any of us less deserving of the basic necessities of life because we’re ordinary? (The answer to that is ‘No’.)

On the flip-side, individual characters in ‘The 100’ develop relationships with people from other groups. These relationships help to build alliances. Some of these relationships are romantic, some are based on respect, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and sometimes, a sense of “what’s right”. People form resistance groups. Some would call this anarchy. Some would call it a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens.

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So: Watch ‘The 100’ if you like. What I’d really like you to do, though, is think about all the people around you. None of them are perfect. All of them are flawed. All of them are capable of contributing positively to our society, and they probably do, even if you don’t notice it.

Don’t just look for the “good” in people, find it. Acknowledge that people are people. All people are dangerous, even you, given the right set of circumstances. In the same way, all people are heroes. Choose to be a hero.

“Them and us” is a primitive mindset, based on fear of losing what you have. “There will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” (De Siderata) Let’s all work together for a better future for everyone.

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A note on the artwork reproduced in this thread: I forgot to save all the sources.

Obviously, none of these are my images, and I imagine the originals are owned by the makers of the show. All of these images can be found via Google Images. Enjoy!

‘Throne of Glass’ a series of novels not to be missed!

‘Throne of Glass’ is the first book in a series of fantasy novels, by Sarah J. Maas, and includes the prequel: ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. The series has come to be referred to as ‘Throne of Glass’, in much the same way that ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ has come to be referred to as ‘Game of Thrones’ (the first book in the series).

The books published in this series so far, in the chronology of the story:

The Assassin’s Blade

Throne of Glass

Crown of Midnight

Heir of Fire

Queen of Shadows

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This set of novels about Celaena Sardothien has been compared to JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, and to George RR Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.  I might add CS Lewis’ ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ to that list, and toss ‘romance’ into the descriptors. It is certainly an epic story in the Fantasy genre. It is the story of a world-wide struggle against a powerful evil. It is also the story of a young woman, and of those who unite with her. There are magical beings, runes and spells, sword, daggers and arrows, creatures unknown in our world, portals between worlds, witches, dragons…and hardly any of it is what you would at first expect.

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I must confess, I got to the last novella in ‘The Assassin’s Blade’ and stopped reading. Not because the writing was bad, or there was anything wrong with the story. Far from it! It was because this book is the prequel to the ‘Throne of Glass’ novel, which I had already read. That means that the end of ‘The Assassin’s Blade’ necessarily leads to the beginning of ‘Throne of Glass’, and I knew Celaena’s circumstances at the beginning of ‘Throne of Glass’! I knew that it would be heartbreaking, and I didn’t want to read it.

However, Sarah J. Maas is such a clever writer, that she persuaded me to read it. No: She didn’t call or email me, I just skipped to the back of the book and read the last few pages. She structured her story well. Amidst the inevitable, she still wrote courage and hope. The ending of the book is completely bearable, almost victorious, and full of promise, not despair. I read that last novella in order to reach that triumph of spirit. In fact, each of the books ends on a triumphant note.

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‘The Assassin’s Blade’ is written from Celaena’s perspective. The novels which follow include chapters written from the point of view of multiple characters, much like ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. The action is occurring at multiple places around the empire, as multiple people move unknowingly towards each other. We know the story from several perspectives, and know the thinking behind some of the actions. We become intimately acquainted with multiple characters, but that intimacy does not guarantee their survival.

For those of you who haven’t yet read the ‘Throne of Glass’ novels, it would make perfect sense to start reading about Celaena Sardothien with ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. Originally published as separate ebook novellas, these 5 stories have become one seamless book, flowing into the longer novels which follow: ‘Throne of Glass’, ‘Crown of Midnight’, ‘Heir of Fire’ and ‘Queen of Shadows’. The story doesn’t end there: there is another novel still to come, and I am looking forward to it very much! Hopefully there are several more novels about Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin, Champion, ordinary girl, heroine with a secret past and immeasurable potential. And that’s just ONE of the fabulous characters!

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Like any epic story, as it unfolds, there are numerous characters of depth who journey with Celaena, either as enemies, loved ones, alongside or at a great distance. There are those who are truly evil, but who manipulate people and facts to appear good. There are those who are truly good, who do some fairly evil things. Many people are not who they seem to be, for numerous s reasons. In a land where magic has been removed, some races of people have been trapped in their animal form, because that is the form that they wore when the magic left. Others are ordinary people, who find the courage to do extraordinary things when the opportunity presents itself. There are surprising heroes at every turn. This is especially good, because the evil also hides in surprising places.

The journey to meet these people starts with ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. Each new book brings new situations for Celaena, new challenges, new dangers, new losses, and new allies. Each new book uncovers more of the secrets that Celaena and others have kept hidden since the King of Adarlan conquered the surrounding countries and built his magic-less empire.

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 The intertwining stories build a world of complexity and developing tension. Stories about characters who function like everyone else: they have an inner thought life and feelings, and they act according to what their society expects of them. All of the ‘point of view characters’ are growing to realise that there is more going on than they have been led to believe, and are learning to trust themselves, instead of blindly following despotic orders. And it is all so believable. No plot holes or character inconsistencies here. From the beginning of ‘The Assassin’s Blade’, to the end of ‘Queen of Shadows’, the story rolls inexorably on, and sweetly promises to continue.

For those who like to read a little at a time, the structure of these stories supports you in that. For those who like to binge with a “chain read” of a set of novels: stock up on your snacks of preference and block out your diary! However you choose to read them, these novels will transport you to the world of Celaena Sardothien & an epic journey of self-discovery, betrayals, heroism & overcoming oppressors. This world full of realistically flawed characters captured my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and filled my soul with hope and inspiration. Officially classified as “Young Adult Fantasy”, this is a set of books for the young, the young at heart, and also for the old and jaded.

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A note for those who care about such things: the images in this post are photos of my copies of the books.

These books can be purchased from your preferred bookseller. If you’re in Australia, I’d recommend QBD, just because they deliver for free, but compare prices and choose for yourself 🙂

Most likely, they can also be borrowed from your local library.

I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I do!

 

Three Heads of the Dragon

Three Heads of the Dragon: Rheagar Targaryen’s children

– a Tinfoil Theory about ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’

 

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Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, scholar, musician & warrior

Rhaegar

Warning: I’m going to go “full tin-foil” on this.

It’s probably the result of my subconscious making random connections, or “overthinking”. Nevertheless, here it is.

In order for this to make any sense at all, you will need to have read all the published books in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series. If you haven’t, or if you have, but don’t want to read something weird: go away, and come back to read something more sensible. Save your brain space!

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If you’re still reading, prepare to be annoyed by some nonsense! (or is it?)

WHAT IF: the three heads of the dragon already exist, and are NOT who you think they are!

WHAT IF: Jon swapping Gilly’s and Dalla’s babies was a plot device to remind us that such a thing could happen as pre-emptive protection.

WHAT IF: The three heads of the Dragon are all Rheagar’s children.

WHAT IF: Rhaenys and Aegon were swapped at birth, and sent to be fostered secretly by other trusted Houses.

WHAT IF: Rhaenys is “Willa”, Wyman Manderly’s granddaughter. A fearlessly outspoken, knowledgable, loyal, teenage girl with hair dyed ‘in the Tyroshi fashion’, living in White Harbour.

WHAT IF: Young Griff, travelling all these years with Jon Connington, Rheagar’s devoted friend, really is Aegon. (A popular fan theory is that Tyrion is wrong, and he is (f)Aegon).

WHAT IF: Jon Connington has been looking after him, along with Prince Doran’s “missing” wife as ‘Septa Lemore’ (like Gilly looking after Dalla’s boy).

AND…I did warn you…

WHAT IF: Rheagar is Mance Rayder! Mance is an educated man, a warrior, a leader, a negotiator and persuader…and a singing harpist.

WHAT IF: Dalla’s baby is the third head of the Dragon!

Perhaps this combination gives us:

The Prince Who Was Promised: Rheagar,

who fathered the ‘Three Heads of the Dragon’: Rhaenys, Aegon and ‘Baby Boy’

And WHAT IF Rheagar/Mance is Azor Ahai, who sacrifices himself to save the world, and provides his three children to wisely rule Westeros?

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Aegon the Conquerer, Visenya and Rhaenys: the original Dragon with Three Heads

We don’t know the full text of the prophesy, but we do know that Prince Rheagar Targaryen, previously studious but not interested in sword-fighting, decided that he must become a warrior in order to fulfill the prophesy.

We know that part of the prophesy is that there is a “Prince Who Was Promised”, and that “The Dragon has Three Heads”.

We know that people believed that Rheagar was obsessed with a need to have 3 children in order to provide these “three heads”.

There is a very popular fan theory that Jon Snow is the third child, that he is the child of Rheagar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, the R+L=J theory. Reading the books myself, this was the conclusion that I drew. But what if that theory is a red herring?

What if Jon Snow’s significance was to bring the Wildlings through the Wall, send Mance’s baby away to safety, send Mance away from the Wall on a mission (the outcome of which is currently uncertain), and now Jon has fulfilled his purpose?

I did mention that this is tin-foil. Tin-foil theories are, by definition, not popular.

Dare I ask: what do you think?

‘The Ice Dragon’ Reviewed

‘The Ice Dragon’, a novella by George RR Martin (GRRM).

This is a sweet story about a girl with a superpower, and her pet dragon.

Picture: Adara with some ice lizards. (Illustrations by Luis Royd, from the book.)

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Actually: the story includes sadness, loneliness, exclusion, and adults not believing a child. It also includes violent battles in a medieval world, with soldiers riding fire-breathing dragons, where common people try to survive in peace.

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It does have a happy ending, though, and is “officially” classified as a children’s story: A little girl that people thought was strange, turns out the be a great hero. Afterwards, many things change for the better, and the girl is content to keep her secrets to herself.

Here is a link to an excerpt of ‘The Ice Dragon‘ text.

 

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It’s a story that has a lot to offer. Like many of GRRM’s works, it is a simple story, well told, with unexpected twists, and deeper implications if you look for them.

For the casual reader, it’s an engaging story of mythic proportions, with a plot twist, (which I haven’t actually given away) a bit of real-world psychology and a happy ending.

For the fans of GRRM’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series, it also offers a hint of what may be to come.

George RR Martin’s ‘The Ice Dragon’ was first published in the anthology ‘Dragons of Light’ in 1980, and in other anthologies since. The latest edition has been published as a stand-alone illustrated release in 2014: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/new-release-of-the-ice-dragon/

Officially, this story is completely separate from ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, and not set in Westeros. Readers of both, however, will notice some similarities. I still wonder if the lake mentioned is the lake at Harenhall, which has the ‘Godseye’ in the middle. But, there I might be clutching at straws, trying to link together stories which the author says are not connected. Perhaps it just illustrates the development of an idea over time.

Here is an audio excerpt (4:21 minutes).

GRRM said in Dreamsongs Volume 1, that he was very proud of this “unique contribution” to writing. He was the first to write about a dragon made of ice, and breathing ice instead of fire. (Some have disputed this, and been proven wrong by publication dates.)

If I had invented a fabulous new creature with a great backstory, I’d want to use it in more than one story. Simply because of this, I expect GRRM to include an ice dragon in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. It’s right there in the title, really! I’m expecting a massively giant dragon of ice to be “woken” out of The Wall (which is built of ice and magic) when the Horn of Joramun (fabled to destroy The Wall and awaken a fierce beast) is blown. I’m expecting it to fight fire-breathing dragons, and restore balance to the world. We will all have to wait and see, when GRRM pubishes the remainder of the books in the series.

Either way: dropping hints about ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, or just a story in itself, ‘The Ice Dragon’ is worth reading. It’s not just for children, either.

Reproduced Illustrations by Luis Royd, from ‘The Ice Dragon’, 2014.

For more about George RR Martin, and his extensive range or writing (most of which is NOT suitable for children) see his website:

Want to comment? Use the “Comments” section below.

If there is something you’d like me to review (so you know whether to use your precious reading time on it) put a request in the comments.

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A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

A Review

by a fan who is in love with Ser Duncan

George RR Martin’s (GRRM) three “Dunk and Egg” novellas, now published as one illustrated volume, can be enjoyed on many levels: both the first-time casual reader, as well as die-hard ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’/’Game of Thrones’ fans can be enthralled by these gallant tales.

These three stories are set approximately 100 years prior to GRRM’s enormously popular series of books: ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ (ASOIAF), and about 15 years after the Blackfyre rebellion. They describe some of the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, as he graduates from squire to Hedge Knight, takes on his own squire, enters some tourneys, gains service under Lords, and travels Westeros. His encounters with the Targaryens, both “red” and “black” are significant.

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For those who have never read GRRM before, this is one of his nice, happy works. Those familiar with the world of Westeros may not believe that, until they read it. There are no graphic atrocities, such as those found in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, nor is it particularly gruesome, so is suitable for a young adult audience. Perhaps consider it PG. There is valour and heroism. There are self-serving scoundrels, and there are true Knights: protecting the weak, demanding true justice.

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It is not giving too much away to say that at the end of this book, GRRM writes: “More travels and travails await our hedge knight and his squire in the years to come.”

This does not mean that the stories are not fraught with politics, danger and adventure. There is plenty of sword-fighting and death, intrigues and plots, double agents and manoeuvres. There are surprises that I am attempting not to spoil!

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Each of the three stories is a self-contained “episode”, with time elapsed between them. Each of them is set in a different part of Westeros. Each of them makes reference to things that fans of ASOIAF will recognise. There are even pieces of information that may (or may not) flesh out the reader’s understanding of later events. I certainly found that these stories added to my understanding of ASOIAF. It also raised more questions, by dropping hints! (eg. There are descriptions of dragon eggs: do they sound familiar? Easter egg?)

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As a stand-alone book, it is well worth the read. It is charming and entertaining. GRRM’s inimitable style brings the stories to life: encapsulating drama, humour, philosophy and a poetic turn of phrase, showcasing the best of human character through thoroughly human characters. No stuffy heroes and caricatures of villains here. We travel a tapestried journey with Ser Duncan, and ride the roller-coaster of his emotions throughout.

I’ve read ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ twice already, and intend to read it several times more in the years to come. I’d be very pleased if GRRM publishes more of Dunk and Egg’s adventures. However, I’d prefer he finish the ASOIAF series first!

Either way, I must echo one of George RR Martin’s real life catch phrases, which he includes at the end of this book:

“Keep reading”

Keep Reading

 

Note: All illustrations reproduced in this post are by Gary Gianni, & contained in the book.

If you enjoyed ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’, you may also enjoy ‘The Ice Dragon’, a separate story by GRRM. I’ll review that next!

This book is available in ebook and hardcover (so far), and the three stories (‘The Hedge Knight’, ‘The Sworn Sword’ & ‘The Mystery Knight)’ were previously published separately, as novellas in short story anthologies edited by GRRM & Gardner Dozois (in Legends, Rogues and Warriors, if I recall correctly) and also as graphic novels.

I bought my copy of ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ from QBD in Australia

(They deliver for free in Australia – watch for their awesome sales!)

George RR Martin’s official page for the book (includes link to retailers): http://www.georgerrmartin.com/grrm_book/knight-of-the-seven-kingdoms/

For more about George RR Martin’s extraordinary range of writing over more than 20 years of publishing, see his website: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/

(Note: I don’t receive payment for providing these links, I’m just an admiring fan who wants to share!)

Short Circuit: still alive!

ni0gsfzcqjrtnhe6bg5ykbwxcqiI recently watched the movie ‘Short Circuit’ again. Some of you may have never heard of it. If you’re into family-friendly, light-hearted comedy, with friendships, adventure, a little romance and a happy ending, this is one for you!

It was released in 1986, and stars Ally Sheedy as Stephanie, and Steve Guttenberg as Newton Crosby, PhD. Despite it being 30 years old, it’s still a great story, with some very funny moments. There are also moments to watch for, that newer movies have incorporated. Can you spot the inspiration for WALL*E and EVE in the movie? It’s certainly showing in this poster:

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While the acting style and some of the comedy has dated (does anyone know who ‘The Three Stooges’ are any more, and does anyone still think they’re funny?) there are plenty of comedic moments that are still great. Those who remember the 80’s may also enjoy reminiscing.

* Spoilers from here on *

The lead character is a robot called “Number 5”, voiced by Tim Blaney, who is struck by lightning, rewires himself, and is now alive. He’s fully conscious, and capable of independent thoughts and feelings. He learns voraciously by reading a set of encyclopaedia, but mostly by watching TV, as well as interacting with the woman who accidentally picks him up and takes him home. Perhaps this is a reminder to us of how (and what) our children learn. There is some nice comedy and character development as Number 5 and Stephanie get to know each other.

Nova Robotics, the company who built him, understandably wants their escaped, armed, military robot back. They don’t know (nor believe) that he’s alive, and the head of security (GW Bailey, doing more of his ‘Police Academy’ work) is determined to destroy him.

There are scrapes and adventures as Number 5 finds himself in a variety of situations, and gets himself out of them in surprising ways.

Fisher Stevens provides quirky comedy, a little reminiscent of ‘Modern Family’s Gloria’, or ‘Big Bang Theory’s Raj’, and Steve Guttenberg is the solid lead.

The effects are basic, the acting is 80’s, so still “staged”, and the pace is perhaps slower than we’re used to now. Yet, the story is good enough that these things are excusable: you might notice them, but you are likely to forgive them and keep watching. My teens, with the current decade’s expectations of CGI effects, and fast-paced action, still loved this movie.

It also won the BMI Film Music Award in 1987, so the soundtrack is not bad!

There is some valid philosophy within the story (deciding whether Number 5 is actually “alive”, and the concept of death) and some rather dodgy science. Most of all, though, it’s a story of people (flesh, robotic, and I should probably include Stephanie’s animals), their feelings, and relationships with each other. It’s a story of hope. A story of people standing up for “goodness”, despite the “badness” around them, and winning at what is truly important.

I’ve already told you that there’s a happy ending, and yes, it is contrived and cliched, but it is also a natural ending from the details of the story, both in terms of plot and characterisation.

A feel-good time for kids and parents alike!

 

 

What were your thoughts on it? (Comment below)

‘Short Circuit’ on imdb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091949/