Posted 7 hours ago
into The Dave by John Birmingham
Both of the Hooper ebooks have gone live at Amazon. They should drop on iBooks, Kobo and the other stores within 24 hours, but most of the action will be with the Beast of Bezos.
Some folks will heave early copies. Beta readers, as a thank you. Anyone who left a review of Cairo and a name I could track down, also in thanks. (If you did leave a review but didn't hear from me with a thankyou link to free Dave, let me know and I'll sort you out).
I'll drop other links in my own bookshoppe as they go live. Most of you will also be getting an email about the release in the next day or so.
For now, what would really help are early reviews on both titles. They don't need hundreds. (The magic number is apparently eleven). If you're inclined to help out, you will find I can be a very generous master indeed.
Or, you know, you could just buy the fucking things.
Wired links to a great collection of photos from Russia by Danila Kachenko. Taken for a project called Restricted Areas, they're eerily sci-fi.
Kachenko describes the project thus:
I travel in search of places which used to have great importance for the technical progress - and which are now deserted. Those places lost their significance together with the utopian ideology which is now obsolete. Secret cities that cannot be found on maps, forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity. The perfect technocratic future that never came.
I've bookmarked the page in case I ever have to write a story set on a post apocalyptic ice planet.
Steve Vincent is a thriller writer whose work I dig, so I was pleased to see him giving it away. (In return for the usual consideration of an email address and a tiny little piece of your soul. Seriously, a very small piece. You won't even notice the sting).
PROLOGUE A flash of lightning illuminated the cell with pale light for only a split second, long enough for Hewad Ghilzai to see his friend on the floor. Positioned unnaturally, he hadn’t moved since the American soldiers had left several hours ago. Hewad hadn’t moved either. He was too scared. He’d been hurt too many times. Hewad held his knees to his chest and kept his back against the wall. His mind was empty and his tear ducts were dry. Only his grief and the smell of human feces kept his attention in this world at all. He awaited the next. He’d taken the fight to the infidel and ended up in a place worse than hell. He’d done everything right. Had Allah abandoned him? On most nights the stars provided enough light to see the outline of his bed, the latrine pail and the grilled steel that penned him in, but tonight he couldn’t see an inch in front of his hand. The world was as dark as the heart of his captors, except when lightning lashed at the mountains. Footsteps approached and a feint light lit the corridor outside his cell. He instinctively hugged his knees tighter and his eyes shot towards the door. As he waited the footsteps grew louder and the light brighter. He whimpered as the heavy door unlocked with a clunk and opened with a squeal. “Evening haji.” The soldier’s drawl was unmistakable, even as the cell door slammed shut. “I thought you could use some company, what with the storm and all.” Hewad said nothing. He hadn’t always been so passive and afraid. The blows from combat boots and rifle butts had started a conversion that mutilations and degradation had completed. He was a broken man, a spent soul trapped in a body that had nearly expired. “Nothing to say?” The soldier sighed as he held the flashlight up to Hewad’s face. “You had some spunk, haji, but now you’re as lively as your friend over there.” Hewad lifted his hands to shield his eyes as the soldier laughed at his own joke. The light felt like another assault after so much darkness, though it was nothing compared to whatever struck him across the side of the head. It staggered him. He fell onto his side, curled into a ball and tried to protect himself as best he could. Blows rained on him and he felt himself starting to black out when he heard an earsplitting boom and felt an enormous shockwave. He rolled onto his back and opened his eyes, confused. The flashlight was on the ground, illuminating the chaos. The soldier lay still and half of the wall was missing. Hewad blinked several times and his senses slowly returned. His pain was intense but in the depths of his mind excitement sparked. He looked at the soldier for several minutes, waiting for him to move. Finally he inched closer, paused and then scurried over and felt for a pulse. None. Allah had delivered him. He shoved the man. When the body didn’t move Hewad’s eyes widened and he clawed for the man’s canteen, unscrewed the lid and drank deeply. Some of the water spilled to the sand as he sucked at it, gulping and coughing as he fought to overcome the most incredible thirst. When the water ran out he glanced at the soldier’s sidearm. To take it would be to re-enter the fight, to forget the next life for the moment and take up arms again in this world. He stared at the pistol for several long moments and then looked at the hole that had been blown in the wall. He knew the will of Allah. Hewad took the soldier’s pistol and boots and then staggered to his feet. He walked towards the hole in the wall, where the lightning had struck the steel window grill and fractured much of the poor quality wall. He hesitated briefly. To step through would mean death if he was captured, but to stay would be to spit in the face of Allah’s mercy. He spat on the soldier instead. Hewad stepped outside.
11 Responses to ‘A free book for you, and it's not even mine’
Hello. I am writing this recap from a foetal position on the floor.
The tiles are cold. I would like a pillow to put under my head, but there is no point. I would take little comfort from its softness. What is the point of softness anyway, in such a cruel world? It is but a brief distraction from the unrelenting pain, horror and loss that torments us daily. It is like kindness, empathy and warmth - merely an illusion.
I have cried, wailed, and beaten my breast (which made me cry again, because oww). I have no emotion left. I am an empty tank, a discarded shell, a half-chewed cheesy crust of what was once a living, breathing, feeling person. Also, I am covered in cat hair.
They killed him. They took him away for a season, they brought him back, and now they’ve killed him.
I feel sick just thinking about it. That may be the episode, or it may be the fried chicken regret I piggishly scarfed down for dinner. Either way, the end result is the same: several hours of rocking back and forth, retching, and muttering “Why? Why?! WHY?!?!”
Of course, it was bittersweet, it was brilliant, it was heroic, it was everything you would want Hodor to have in a valiant final stand. It gave us everything we wanted to know, and imbued those simple words “Hold the door” with a meaning that will echo through Throner fandom forever more. But still, it took Hodor from us, something we had never, never wanted to see.
I need something to bring me back. Something to pinch some rouge back into my cheeks, something to light a candle in me, that by the Gods’ grace, I trust shall never be put out. Or at least not put out until I’ve finished this recap and can retreat to my darkened bedroom to soak my doona with tears.
OK, fine. The sight of Tormund ogling Brienne once more (Horseback Edition) is enough of a drink to give this weak and feeble recappespondent some vulvic fortitude.
Of course, I’m not the only one girding my loins for a pounding, as this episode was all about icy cold reality. The Indian summer of last week gave way to the brutal truth of sacrifice, subjection, struggle, spookiness... and amateur dramatics.
So for Gods’ sake, let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings. And more importantly, the death of giants.
Season 6, Episode 5: “The Door”
Let us start with something sweet, something pure, something radiant and lovely.
Daenarys Targaryen, the Unburnt and Unburnter, realising that no matter how much she tried to hate him, she just couldn’t rid herself of Ser Jorah Mormont.
She’d banished him twice, he returned twice and he saved her life (a few more times than twice, truth be told). But her initial attempts at a hardass attitude crumbled into the dust of Vaes Dothrak when Ser Jorah revealed his stony forearm.
In an instant, the Mother of Dragons, the Breaker of Chains, the badass avenging warrior goddess who strolled naked from the flames vanished. In her stead was the cowed younger sister and the teenaged virgin bride that Dany was when she first met Ser Jorah. Since her wedding day, he had been the one constant in her life. Even when she sent him away, she had never considered the prospect of him actually dying.
Jorah’s simple confession of love touched me in so many special places. “Tyrion was right. I love you… I’ll always love you. Goodbye Khaleesi.” Ugh, that was so perfect, it belongs in a BBC Jane Austen adaptation. If I was Daenarys, I would have commanded him to go jump in a lake immediately. She’s more practical than me though, and insists he ride off, find the cure for greyscale, and come back to her in time for her big assault on Westeros. You’d think maybe she could have helped in some way, given her power and all, but whatevs. Run free, Jorah!
Of course, we happen to know a cure for greyscale exists, because Shireen Baratheon survived the disease, albeit with some disfigurement. Jorah will need to seek careful treatment, and who better than the Maesters in Old Town to dish out the remedy? This means - oh yes - we could potentially see Ser Jorah Mormont meet Sam Tarly.
It would be a wonderful connection. Sam could break the news of his father Jeor’s death beyond the wall, and Jon Snow’s possession of his family sword Longclaw. And remember Jeor’s dying words to Sam? That he find his son and forgive him of his crimes. The two get to talking, Sam hooks Jorah up with Jon, Sansa and co, Jorah would be more than willing to make up for his past indiscretions by helping out the Starks, conveniently hooking them up with the incoming Targaryen army… oooooh, I sense a mutually satisfying swipe right on the way, people.
Meanwhile in Meereen, Tyrion & co are evaluating the city’s uneasy peace in the wake of their deal with the slave masters. Varys is quite happy with progress, but Tyrion knows deeper change is required to truly calm the masses.
Enter Salma Hayek, another smoking hot priestess and ambassador for the Lord of Light, aka Red God, aka R’hllor. She wears similar clothes to Kate Bush, and indeed, sports the same necklace. Can we then assume under her luscious black locks and Instagram-worthy eyebrows there lurks a more realistic and gravity-affected version?
Kinvara, for that is apparently her name, agrees to Tyrion’s request to send her priests out to preach Daenarys’ glory. Hearts and minds, people, hearts and minds. Salma Hayek is happy to do this, for Dany is the One Who Was Promised, which is an interesting turn of phrase given Kate Bush’s conviction that Jon Snow is in fact the Prince That Was Promised.
Such a label raises the ire of Varys, who’s not particularly gung-ho for religion and heroes heralded in legend. He raises the slightly inconvenient legacy of Stannis Baratheon, who was the Red God’s Number One Guy… right up until the point he wasn’t.
“I suppose it’s hard for a fanatic to admit a mistake,” he purrs at her. “Isn’t that the whole point of being a fanatic? You’re always right.” Man, I really hope Americans thinking of voting Trump saw that bit.
Tyrion tries gallantly to smooth things over, but Salma Hayek is not fazed. Rather, she pulls the pin on a couple of truth bombs and explodes them right in Varys’ increasingly freaked out visage. “Knowledge has made you powerful, but there’s still so much you don’t know.”
It turns out Salma Hayek knows a little too much about Varys’ eunuching, including the fact that a mysterious voice cried out to him just at the moment his rough-chopped meat and two veg were thrown unseasoned onto an Essos barbeque by a Masterchef contestant disqualifed for sauce-ery.
Speaking of junk, huzzah, we finally saw some! Over in Braavos, we were treated to the sight of a young actor’s warty wang. OK, so it wasn’t the best reward for all our careful attention, but still at least they’ve thrown us a few scraps (just not in the Varys way, please).
The young actor in question was playing King Joffrey in A Most Scandalous Tale of The Kings of Westeros (With Nudity and Lust). Can we all please stand and applaud for RICHARD E. GRANT in the role of Fake King Robert? Richard E. Grant, people! Not only Withnail in the classic drunken tale Withnail & I, not only The Great Intelligence from Doctor Who, but most importantly of all, the manager of the Spice Girls in Spice World: The Movie! I am sure you all agree in the fundamental brilliance of that movie. Roger Moore stroking a rabbit! Meatloaf as the bus driver! Posh Spice doing the obstacle course in a camouflage mini-dress and heels!
Not for the first time, I’m getting sidetracked by the Spice Girls (hello, 1997). Both the wang and the subplot about the local theatre company were longer than I expected them to be, but I still adored it. Mostly because I have been in local theatre productions of a strikingly similar nature. I had my cleavage groped in a Terry Pratchett adaptation (admittedly they were roped in under a metal breastplate at the time); and I’ve worn my fair share of novelty wigs. Ahh, the theatre. You guys really need to get out and take more of it in. It’s brilliant. Particularly the rhyming couplets, of which there were many splendid examples here.
Arya is watching because her orders from the Faceless Men are that she is to kill Miss Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, who’s left 1920s detective work to pursue a career imitating Cersei Lannister for the cheap seats. It’s all funny enough watching her hated enemy Joffrey cry into his mother’s arms, but seeing their interpretation of her father Ned as a buffoonish caricature must’ve hurt. And I can’t even remember if Arya knew about Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion - if not, that must have been something of a gut punch.
Arya sees Miss Fisher backstage, and seems to doubt why she should kill an ostensibly nice woman. Certainly it can’t be because of her acting skills; she’s the best one there and that poor Sansa impersonator knows it. But Jaqen H’ghar insists - if she wants to serve the Many Faced God, then she musn’t ask questions. Break free, Arya, go on! Break free and return as Arya Stark, fiercer than ever!
A significant portion of this episode was turned over to the Greyjoy storyline, which I actually found myself rather enjoying. Who would have thought that a bit of extra time in their crazy salty world might actually pay off with some genuinely interesting plot momentum?
It’s “Pick the New King” Day on Pyke, a game Yara is hoping to upset by becoming the first Queen in the history of the Ironborn. After initial scepticism, Theon’s soulful support helps turn the tide of opinion in Yara’s favour, and her name is hailed by all.
And then Uncle Euron turns up.
This batshit-crazy but admittedly forthright and gutsy fellow runs in opposition to his niece, on a platform of “I’m going to marry Daenarys Targaryen and with her army and our ships we’ll take the Seven Kingdoms”. Sensible Policies for a Better Westeros.
He doesn’t try to deny Yara’s accusation that he murdered her father Balon; indeed if anything it ticks another box for the grizzled MRAs of the Iron Islands. Euron paid the Iron Price, you see. Being sensible and having achievable goals is no match to having paid the Iron Price for the kingdom. So at the end of the day it’s Yara and Sustainable Change zero, and the Euron Insanity Ticket a chorus of ayes.
Euron’s watery coronation, in which he was plunged into the sea until he blacked out and began to drown (“What is dead may never die” makes a lot more sense now), was almost comedic, especially that long pause while he lay seemingly done for on the shore. Sadly he spluttered himself back to life, thus proving his worthiness for the bony/sticky crown they thrust on him.
Meanwhile Yara and Theon had done the sensible thing and high-tailed it out of Pyke on the best ships of the fleet. No big deal for Euron, he simply commanded all his men to cut down every tree and build him 1000 ships. Sure, bro. I mean, the Iron Islands have never struck me as a particularly fertile, foresty place, but I’m sure you know best.
Let’s head to Castle Black, where Sansa, Jon and the gang are in tactical mode with the big Game of Thrones board game out on the table ahead of a battle for Winterfell.
Ser Davos is worried about their numbers, and whether the great houses of the North will follow them. Sansa is confident; after all, she’s a Stark, and even though Jon isn’t, he’s as much a Stark as Ramsay is a Bolton (a comparison which didn’t seem to impress Jon, and fair enough really).
Also, Sansa’s holding onto a key piece of information, one she received from Petyr Baelish in Molestown (more on that scene below). Her uncle, Brynden Tully, has retaken Riverrun, which means there is a big potential army there ready to support her. The Onion Knight is thrilled by that prospect, and they all break for lunch and a final change of clothes before heading due south.
Sansa orders Brienne to Riverrun and recruit the Blackfish’s help, which she is reluctant to do. She doesn’t trust Davos and Melisandre, and it is a bit of a reality check moment for us. Oh yeah, they really did change allegiances quickly. She’s got a point. But we know Davos is awesome, and Melisandre just seems happy to fall into line. But then there’s “that wildling with the beard…” Oh yes, she’s been noticing him noticing her, big time. Tormienne is still on, people.
Of course, Brienne does point out that Sansa didn't exactly tell the truth when it came to where she got the Tully information from. Does she really trust Jon? I think it's more that Sansa doesn't want Baelish's help, but we'll see in coming weeks.
Finally, in an act of sisterly love that may just be a first for Sansa, she presents Jon Snow with a new riding habit, one with the direwolf of Winterfell stitched into the straps, to match her own. Jon’s completely genuine “Thank you Sansa” may have left me swooning a bit. And the sight of him mounting a horse… let’s just say I was giving him a look rather similar to the one Tormund threw Brienne’s way.
Now. Let’s head beyond The Wall.
First, there was a short scene earlier in the episode that just happened to drop the pretty massive bombshell that it was actually the Children of the Forest who created the White Walkers in the first place! Stupid barky bastards, what were they thinking? Oh boo hoo, invading colonialists are wiping us out and taking our land, we’d better try to resist…. Oh. Oh wait. Ummm. Awkward.
Bran is getting more and more impatient with his astral travels up in the Magical Meth Den. He wants to see more of the past, but the Three-Eyed Raven is really killing his buzz. So he does what any foolish teenage boy does and measures his own dose. Pffft. This was never going to end well, and of course it does not, as Bran wargs out into a field of zombie wights, overseen by the Nights’ King and a few other badass White Walker top brass.
Overly curious for a guy with legs that only move when he’s tripping balls, he of course gets man-handled by a White Walker, who leaves his physical mark on Bran’s forearm. “He knows where you are,” the Raven intones sadly. It’s all over bar the shouting now. And boy, isn’t there shouting.
After being ordered to pack up and get Bran the hell out, Meera valiantly discusses her immediate plans (breakfast, a gal after my own heart), but gets suspicious when Bran’s breathing becomes rather chilly. Racing to the front of the Meth Den, she’s confronted with the sight of the same warg army Bran saw in his dream. They’ve all just rocked on down to destroy everything.
Bran is still in the dream world, of course, seeing his father Ned as a boy, being packed off tho the Eyrie. I think the final words we hear Ned Stark’s father tell him as he departs for the Eerie “If you must fight, win,” are important. A mantra for future Bran, perhaps? I also think the Raven’s message that it is time for Bran to “become me” is interesting. Does this mean the Three-Eyed Raven IS Bran? That Bran exists in some sort of time loop, forever looking out for his young self to tutor in how to save the Seven Kingdoms? Is this like a Battlestar Galactica thing? All this has happened before, all this will happen again?
Back in the cave, all hell has broken loose. The Children of the Forest managed to stave off the wights with a circle of fire, but the White Walkers just breeze through that like it ain’t no thing. Meera manages to successfully dispatch of them with an obsidian spear, but is too busy trying to wake Bran and get Hodor moving to grab it.
The Nights’ King stabs the Three-Eyed Raven through the heart, and in the dreamscape he atomises into black nothingness and disappears.
Eventually Bran, in his dream state, gets the message that he must enlist Hodor’s help. Hodor is overtaken, and manages to start dragging Bran’s sled towards another exit.
Poor Summer, Bran’s faithful direwolf, is the next casualty, torn to shreds while defending his master. Oh, you silly puppy dog! Don’t you know you should have followed your master! Go with your master! Bad dog. Oh, I can’t say that. Brave dog. Good dog.
As a terrifying pack of swarming wights, who’ve gotten in through the top of the cave, race their way on all sides of the tunnel towards them, one of the remaining Children of the Forest ushers Meera, Hodor and Bran ahead, and lets herself be taken. She primes one of her energy balls and releases it just as she is subsumed, knocking out a good few dozen in the process.
But it’s not enough, and the wights just keep on coming.
At this point, the dreamscape and the real world merge into a truly epic tragedy. Bran, still controlling Hodor by Warg powers, sees the young Hodor in his vision. Hodor and Meera manage to get the door to the outside open and bundle Bran’s sled through it.
Older Hodor then hears Meera shouting “Hold the door!” and through Bran, younger Hodor hears it too. He starts to fit, yelling “Hold the door… hold the door… hold the door…. Hold door… hol door…. Ho dooor…. Hodor.”
It was the most heartbreaking realisation I think I’ve ever had in the six series of watching this show. Finally, Hodor’s simpleness and limited speech are explained, and it is as satisfying as it is devastating.
As the wights pushed against the door, tearing at Hodor’s face and flesh, and as the big giant pushed back with all his strength, I wept. My tears both mourned and celebrated him, this faithful friend, who never questioned, never argued, and was always there.
Hodor’s death - and life - are possibly the most meaningful of the series so far. Some may say his very existence was some sort of cosmic joke, a cruel twist of fate. But if this world is an ouroborus, Hodor just closed the loop. He didn’t die; he just fulfilled his destiny. And how many Game of Thrones characters can say that?
Yay! Best Moments
Sansa’s interrogation of Petyr Baelish was spell-binding, fearsome, righteous, regal and intoxicating in its satisfaction for viewers. For those who stopped watching the show after last season’s controversial rape sequence, I urge you to seek out this particular scene. It’s an irony that without that horrific scene, this one would not have been as powerful. That’s art for you, I guess.
Sansa’s takedown of Baelish’s pathetic excuses and apologies was masterful. “What do you think he did to me?” she asks, again and again. For the first time ever, the usually unflappable Littlefinger is completely and utterly flapped. But Sansa - beautiful, strong, unyielding - Sansa doesn’t relent.
“I can still feel it… I can still feel what he did in my body standing here right now.” I have never been the victim of sexual assault and don’t presume to speak for those who have, but that sentiment certainly hit me in the gut like a lightning bolt of truth.
With Brienne at her side, it was another hells yeah moment, and may just be the best scene of the season so far.
Zing! Best Lines
Brienne’s description of Jon Snow is perfect in every way: “He seems trustworthy. A bit brooding, perhaps. I suppose that’s understandable, considering.” YES BRIENNE, IT IS. IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE.
Euron on being told his niece and nephew had scarpered: “Let’s go and murder them.” Way too much kinky pleasure in the way he phrased it.
Clearly Hodor’s death is the boo, sucks to end all boo, sucks, but special mention to Bran for being an upstart jerk and summoning White Walker doom on them all BEFORE WE GOT TO SEE WHAT WAS IN THE GOD DAMN TOWER OF JOY.
Thank you so much for joining me again this week - and for grieving with me. I can't wait to read your comments and thoughts, either here on the 'Burger, or via my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nataliesthrone
Another reminder that I'm running a Patreon campaign this season. If you like the recaps and wish to become a patron, you can sign up and pledge the suggested $1 per recap. Here's the link: www.patreon.com/girlclumsy.
Valar Morghulis... and Hodor.
Valar Morghulis! And of course.... Hodor.
98 Responses to ‘Game of Thrones Raven On Recap S6E5: The Door’
Beeso had some kid free days last week, so here are this weeks Balls.
BALLS! Curtains for Spurs and the Spurs, Steph is unanimously good at basketball, Rotovegas represent, and Fat Sam is a dangerous floater that refuses to be flushed. Get that here.
Then the always professional Beeso and Dr Yobbo discuss the cultural imperialism of chip packet colours, Biggie vs Starks, Beeso vs actual music reviewers, old worn-out T-shirts as a metaphor for old worn-out bands, great tyre dumps of Sydney's inner-west, and who is the Steven Adams of dub. Somewhere amongst all of that crap they also review new albums by King Gizzard and the Cat Empire, and 1985 vintage live Oils. Get that here