The Princess and The Queen

Dangerous WomenThe Princess and the Queen is novella by George R. R. Martin that is set in Westeros about 200 years before the events in A Game of Thrones. It was published in the Dangerous Women anthology.

Summary

Back when there were still dragons in Westeros and Targaryens sat on the Iron Throne, there was a civil war between two Targaryens over who should rule. King Viserys I Targaryen had declared his eldest child, Princess Rhaenyra, as his heir, but Queen Alicent (Rhaenyra’s stepmother) wanted to see her own children on the throne when the king died.

The war, known as the Dance of Dragons, completely devastated both sides of the Targaryen family and their dragons.

Review

It has been months since I read The Princess and the Queen, but I forgot to review it (whoops!). I’m a HUGE fan of A Song of Ice and Fire and the Dunk and Egg novellas, but I didn’t really enjoy The Princess and the Queen. :/

The idea of a Targaryen civil war fought with dragons was extremely enticing. Unfortunately, it read like a historical account rather than a story. There was little character development, just a lots and lots of names and places. Meh.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend reading this if you haven’t already read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I don’t think it does well as a standalone.

You might like this book if you like…

  • A Song of Ice and Fire
  • The Targaryen family
  • Dragons
  • History books

A Dance with Dragons

Whoa, I’m all caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire now. :O I finished A Dance with Dragons yesterday, two years after I first started the series with A Game of Thrones. It’s definitely my favorite book series and I’ve spent countless hours discussing it in length with friends. Now I have to wait for The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring like everybody else. 😛

A Dance with DragonsA Dance with Dragons takes place at the same time as the previous novel, A Feast for Crows, except that it focuses on different characters. While AFFC primarily dealt with events taking place in southern Westeros, ADWD explores what’s going on in the North/at the Wall and across the seas in Essos.

There were 18 POV characters in ADWD (compared to 9 in AGOT), so there was a lot going on. I was sad to see a few interesting storylines get abandoned halfway through the book, but I expect those will be continued in TWOW. Instead, the book concentrated on Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow.

Like AFFCADWD is slower moving than the first 3 books. There were some weddings and a few deaths, but there weren’t any major catastrophes. A few main characters are/were assumed dead, but I have/had a hard time believing those characters really died, especially since GRRM has brought people “back from the dead” countless times already. A lot of the chapters are probably unnecessary, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it… and I was really happy to see a brief appearance by one of my favorite characters at the end. ^^

Now that I’ve read all of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, if I had to rank them from favorite to least, it would probably be:

  1. A Storm of Swords (Book #3)
  2. A Game of Thrones (Book #1)
  3. A Dance with Dragons (Book #5)
  4. A Clash of Kings (Book #2)
  5. A Feast for Crows (Book #4)

Tales of Dunk and Egg

Last month, I read The Tales of Dunk and Egg, an ongoing series of novellas written by George R. R. Martin that take place roughly 100 years before the events in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. There are currently 3 such novellas, with more planned for the future.

Dunk and Egg

Dunk is a young hedge knight who encounters a boy named Egg (if you’ve read A Feast for Crows, you know who this is) who insists on being Dunk’s squire. The stories chronicle their adventures throughout Westeros.

  1. The Hedge Knight – Dunk enters a tourney at Ashford and encounters the Targaryens.
  2. The Sworn Sword – Dunk and Egg travel to Dorne and enter into the service of Ser Eustace Osgrey of Standfast, during a feud with Lady Webber “The Red Widow” of Coldmoat.
  3. The Mystery Knight – Dunk and Egg attend Lord Butterwell’s wedding and enter the tourney in hopes of winning a dragon egg.

One thing I really liked about the series is the insight you get about the Targaryens. In ASOIAF, their reign was largely defined by Mad King Aerys. In Dunk and Egg, you get to see that there is a lot more to the Targaryens than just the Mad King.

It can be a little tricky to find copies of the Dunk and Egg stories, but GRRM is planning on publishing them together with the 4th novella sometime soon.

A Feast for Crows

I finished A Feast for Crows, book #4 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, this morning. When GRRM was writing it, he realized there was too much material, so he decided to split it into two volumes: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Rather than split it down the middle, he put half the characters in one book and half in the other.

A Feast for CrowsA Feast for Crows primarily focuses on King’s Landing, but also includes events in places like Dorne, the Iron Islands, the Eyrie, and Braavos. A Dance with Dragons, on the other hand, will focus on the Wall and events taking place across the sea.

So how did I like it? It was certainly good, but slower-paced than the other books and it lacked the big, shocking moments that were especially prevalent in the later half of A Storm of Swords. It didn’t help that few of my favorite characters were also missing entirely. 😛 Most of the points-of-view went to new characters in A Feast for Crows; a few of them were characters we were already familiar with, but several of them were new characters entirely.

A Feast for Crows was a great book, but it didn’t have the same addictive excitement as the other books in the series.

A Dance with Dragons comes out in paperback on October 29. Until then, I have a big pile of books next to me to keep me busy. 🙂

King’s Landing in Minecraft

A few months ago, I found out about a Minecraft server where the players were recreating the entirety of Westeros (the continent where most of the Game of Thrones series takes place). I visited the server and the map was HUGE! It was really neat to explore the cities, roads, and landmarks from the book/TV series, but it was still very much under construction when I checked it out.

WesterosCraft King's Landing

Apparently, the team is now about 70% done with the continent and after four months of work, they’ve finished King’s Landing (pictured above; additional images here). Everything in the world is super detailed, too; the buildings are furnished and complete with hidden passageways and such.

Be sure to check out the WesterosCraft website for more information, including server details!

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of SwordsFor the last few weeks, I’ve been reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. I finished the 1128 page behemoth last weekend. Of the three books I’ve read so far, I can’t decide where I like this or A Game of Thrones (book 1) best.

By the way, Season 2 of Game of Thrones (the HBO TV series) will be released February 19. I already have it pre-ordered. 🙂 It’ll be about the second book, A Clash of Kings.

Serious book spoilers below!

Continue reading A Storm of Swords

Diablo III

It has been almost a month since Diablo III was released, so I’m overdue for a post about it.

Diablo III Screenshot

In short, I really like Diablo III, which isn’t a big surprise since I also enjoyed Diablo II. 😛 Multiplayer is handled really well in D3. It’s hassle-free to play together with friends without having to worry about things like being on the same quests and whatnot (*glares at World of Warcraft*). The graphics and cinematics in D3 are incredible, too.

D3 Skill Selection
Skill Selection

The skill selection is also pretty neat. There are six active skill slots, which are unlocked as the character levels. For each of those skill slots, the player gets to pick from a handful of different skills. Each of the skills has five runes associated with it that can affect the skill in various ways and the player can choose one rune per skill. For instance, Barbarians have a defensive Leap ability. The runes for Leap can temporarily increase armor, slow enemies, knock back enemies, pull enemies in, or stun enemies when Leap is used, depending on which rune the player picks. I like how customizable this makes the character.

D3 Auction House
Auction House

My complaints about the game are pretty minor. The lag that occasionally made the game virtually unplayable seems to have fixed itself now. A lot of people have complained about how D3 must be played online, even in single-player mode, though. I also don’t really care for the auction house interface; it feels clumsy to me. My other criticisms are:

  • There is no way to /follow other players, like there is in WoW. It would be nice to be able to follow another player while looking through loot, organizing one’s bag, picking new skills, etc.
  • No jumping! 😥
  • Why do staves make a quacking noise?!
  • No character appearance customization, other than being able to paint armor.
  • Stop putting me in General chat, Blizzard! Please remember that I don’t want to be in there. 🙁
D3 Cinematics
Cinematics

The dialogue in D3 is pretty great. One of the vendors says, “I sell things for cheap because I will just take them off your body when you are dead… no offense.” I laughed when one of the captains told one of the soldiers, “If you need to be told which end of the sword goes where, you haven’t been paying attention” (which reminded me of Jon Snow telling Arya to “stick them with the pointy end” in Game of Thrones).

Players who play single-player have the option of being accompanied by one of three followers: Templar (tank), Scoundrel (archer), and Enchantress (mage). The followers have pretty distinct personalities and it’s funny to listen to them badmouth each other as you’re playing. There was one time when I was adventuring with Leah (one of the main NPCs) when she mentioned how excited she was about seeing her mother. The Scoundrel, who was accompanying me at the time, said something along the lines of, “I think this is the first time a woman has ever wanted me to meet her mother!” 😛

D3 Boss Fight
Fighting a Boss

One thing that surprised me about D3 was which classes I ended up preferring. There are five classes: Barbarian (brute force), Demon Hunter (archer), Monk (martial arts), Witch Doctor (diseases and necromancy), and Wizard (mage). I thought for sure that the Witch Doctor and Wizard would be my favorites, as I heavily gravitate toward ranged, magic classes and because the Necromancer was my favorite class in D2. Much to my surprise, however, I have found myself preferring the Monk and Demon Hunter and the Witch Doctor and Wizard are my least favorites. My Wizard hasn’t been leveled as much as my other characters, though, so maybe I’ll end up liking her more as she levels…? We’ll see, I guess.

This week, the real-money auction house is supposed to go live. I’m curious to see how much D3 items and gold are worth in the real world. 😛

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game

Sorry about the lack of posts over the last few weeks; Nick and I have been busy buying our first house. So exciting! 🙂

We went to Card Kingdom in Ballard a couple weeks ago with some of Nick’s friends from work and we played A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (second edition), which I’ve been meaning to blog about. Card Kingdom was a pretty cool place. They sell all sorts of board games, card games, puzzles, tabletop games, etc. and they have tables set up so people can play at the store. They also have private rooms where you can play (which is what we did). There is a cafe, too, which provides food and drinks to the gamers. We’ll definitely go back there again sometime.

A Game of Thrones: The Board GameThe Game of Thrones board game felt very similar to Risk, but it takes place in Westeros, the continent in the Game of Thrones world where most of the action takes place. The board game supports up to 6 players (unless you let multiple people play as one team, like we did), where the 6 players represent 6 Great Houses from the Game of Thrones series: House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Greyjoy, and House Tyrell. You can still play the game with as few as 3 players and it seems like the creators of the game thought that out well, changing the rules a bit to support fewer players. Like Risk, the world is broken up into many regions and the goal of the game is to try to take over as much of the realm as possible.

The game was much more complicated than Risk, though. For instance, players are allowed to control the seas around Westeros and use the seas to move their units quickly around the continent (Nick and I tried to employ this strategy). Another difference is that there are four different types of units and some are better at defense, whereas others are better at offense. Furthermore, players receive house cards (characters from the series, who aid the player during battles), order tokens (which allow each of the player’s controlled regions to perform various actions), and power tokens (used for bidding). Oh, and I almost forgot! One of the cool things about the game is that there are also three influence tracks (the Iron Throne, the Fiefdomes, and the King’s Court), which allow players certain abilities based on their ranking on the tracks. The player with the highest ranking on each track also gets a dominance token for that track, which allows additional special abilities.

A Game of Thrones: The Board GameIt was the first time most of us had played the game and it took us a while to get started, because we had to set everything up and learn the rules. With all that there is going on in the game, it was definitely overwhelming at first, but everyone caught on quickly enough. There game lasts 10 rounds (unless a player controls 7 castles/strongholds before the 10 rounds are over) and each round consists of 3 phases:

  1. The Westeros Phase: The top card from each of three decks is turned over and their effects are carried out. Wildlings can also attack during this phase and players will have to work together to fight them. (This phase is skipped in the first round)
  2. The Planning Phase: Players assign orders to each of the regions they control by placing order tokens in the regions. There are 5 different types of orders: march, defense, support, raid, and consolidate power.
  3. The Action Phase: The order tokens are resolved and most of the player activity takes place.

There is a lot that I left out (I told you it’s complicated!), but we had a lot of fun playing it. Your first game will probably go pretty slowly (we had to cut our game short about halfway through), but should go faster after everyone gets a handle on the rules.

So if you love strategy games, I’m sure you will enjoy A Game of Thrones: The Board Game. We certainly did!