Saturday, March 5, 2011
Book Club: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Exciting week! Not only did I finally finish the epic tome that is A Clash of Kings (only to lay into the even MORE epic tome that is A Storm of Swords, oof), but Martin announced that the long awaited fifth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series is coming out in July! So now if he croaks before the series is done, I'd only have to suffer through two hack jobs constructed from his epic notes. But since I've become a convert (see: Someone who initially hated Martin's prose to someone who kind of likes it a bit now), I wish the newly married Mr. Martin the best of luck in wrapping up this series without A.) Extending it to more books and B.) Writing books that are 2000 pages long. But anyway, here is my imaginary soundtrack for A Clash of Kings, which I think I might have liked more or as much as Game of Thrones because well, it's just so fucking awesome. Even the parts where I was like "Christ this is going on FOREVER," like Arya at Harrenhal, I was still like "OH MY GOD THIS IS SO AWESOME." So yeah, can't really complain. Taking a breather before really starting A Storm of Swords and all its 1200 pages. Oof.
Kurt Vile – “Puppet to the Man”
(for Theon Greyjoy)
When I started reading Clash of Kings, co-worker Jason kept nagging me about what I thought of Theon. I kept saying “I haven’t got there yet,” and when I got there, well, fuck. Theon is one of the most pitiful and pitiable characters I’ve ever read, as well as one of the most cowardly and pathetic. But still, I can’t hate him because I understand his motives. Taken away from his home at 10 to be a ward/hostage at Winterfell, he’s a 20 something without a home and oh so determined to win his father’s favor. The scene where he tries to get his sister into bed (though he doesn’t know it’s his much more favored by his father sister) is crushing, even given Theon’s unsavory talk to the woman. He deserves everything he reaps, despite the fact that the Greyjoy’s motto is WE DO NOT SOW. Watching him deal with the escape of Bran and Rickon from Winterfell was one of the most satisfying parts of the book, and the chapter Martin includes that is played out like he DID find them and plant their heads on pikes over the castle only to find out that he failed (like he always does because he sucks) was immensely satisfying. Well, that and spoiler alert.
Kurt Vile – “Hunchback”
(for Tyrion Lannister)
This is what I played on repeat when Tyrion was leading knights and shit into battle against Stannis and his soldiers at the river. Tyrion is my favorite character in a series FULL of amazingly built characters, and despite my disdain for the almost exclusively sinister House Lannister, Tyrion is the only voice of reason. Even when he’s doing shady shit, his actions are always make sense with his character. He’s learning that he enjoys the sweet taste of leadership but I still think his motives are as simple as he just wants things to return to normalcy. Where he can go about his little life, hide away with his beloved whore Shae and quietly enjoy his days with meat and mead. But well, shit’s fucked up and he does what he has to do to at least try to maintain a sense of order when his brother, sister, and nephew are trying their best to bring the kingdom to ruin. There’s a lot of poignancy in the refrain of “Halfman” that Tyrion so frequently receives, since he’s easily more of a man than any of the testosterone and blood hungry goons that surround him.
Radiohead – “Codex”
Something about this track illustrates Bran’s lonliness at Winterfell. Robb is gone, so he has to be in charge and play the prince when he, like Tyrion, would much rather be living a normal life, particularly one where his back isn’t broken and he can run with his wolf and climb the castle all he wants. There’s nothing particularly thematic about this song, I just remember spending a lot of mornings this past week or two waking up, putting on the just released The King of Limbs while eating oatmeal in an effort to absorb the aforementioned record. I never really did, it still feels kind of slight but this song stuck out and sort of got the mood right for the book so I kept playing it. It’s the sound of those somber moments right before people go into battle or someone important or tragic is killed.
Kanye West – “Power”
Because…well, just because. I still can’t see Kanye West as anything other than a guilty pleasure but there’s some truth in “No one man should have all that power” that I can oh so easily relate to A Clash of Kings. Maybe this is what Stannis Baratheon was listening to on his iPod before getting his ass handed to him at the Battle of Blackwater. Or maybe Robb Stark listens to this when he’s traipsing around the outskirts of Riverrun fucking shit up. Joffrey listens to it when he does something idiotic. Etc. They listen to it like “Born in the USA.” Getting pumped up on the jam, not the contradictory message. Wouldn’t be surprised if this showed up in a trailer for the Game of Thrones TV show. You know there’s an Austin Powers reference in this song? How was this the best album of 2010!
Destroyer – “Notorious Lightning”
Canadians know a thing or two of the North, and maybe that’s why they keep ruling my mental soundtrack for A Song of Ice and Fire. “Bay of Pigs” is still my favorite Destroyer song for the series, but this one is pretty apt too. The refrain of “And someone’s got to fall before someone goes free” is an easy touchstone, what with all the hostages and stuff. There’s just something regal about Destroyer. Even on Your Blues, the MIDI-tinged album from which this song is culled, it straight up sounds like music for kings.