Playin’ With Ice and Fire: A Game of Thoughts | Ned Chapter 20

She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader.  She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet.  Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on.  Today they move on to Chapter 20, a Ned Stark chapter.

You can catch the previous installments featuring Elena and Jay over at Miclonian.

Yes, loyal Playin’ with Ice and Fire readers, Elena is no longer riding solo on this project.  The inimitable Darth Rachel of the comments and the Dune re-read has stepped in to fill the shoes of the re-reader, so starting today you will once more have both perspectives on the chapters. Jay is trash.

Also starting today, you will have a predictable schedule for postings: every Monday.  There might be occasional extra chapters thrown in, so it’s always a good idea to check back more often or follow one of our news feeds, but at the very least you can rest assured that at least one thing will go right with every Monday.

Announcements over, so let’s get our perspectives on!

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Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane Review

It becomes immediately apparent from the opening pages of Darkness, Take My Hand that Dennis Lehane has upped the ante since A Drink Before the War. Darkness, Take My Hand stands in stark contrast to A Drink Before the War as a new level of sophistication permeates the story. The prologue allows Lehane to demonstrate for the first time his desire to toy with our expectations for these characters.

Dennis Lehane

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Run, Micro, Run

The notion of the sidekick has been a popular one in story-telling since time out of mind, yet it has most likely been brought to its highest prominence in superhero comics.  The majority of these sidekicks, like Batman’s Robin, have been cheeky teenagers, created in order to act not only as foil for the hero, but also for the ostensibly young male readers to have a regular character to whom they could better relate.


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Lynn Kurland Interview – Romancing the Nine Kingdoms

Lynn Kurland is the author of the Nine Kingdoms romantic fantasy series, as well as a best-selling romance author.  For all my love of dark, bloodspurting, knights who say–er, frak–fantasy, I also love the lighter side of fairy-tale, love-story high fantasy, so this series fits right in to one of my reading sweet spots.  I enjoyed the chance to ask Lynn some questions about how this series came about, what’s been most different for her in switching between genres, how far the story might go, and more.  Keep reading to find out what she had to say!

lynn kurland


You can check out reviews of Lynn Kurland books as well.

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Phonogram: Singles Club 4 – Konichiwa Bitches | Best Single Issue Comics

The first Phonogram mini landed and people weren’t sure what to believe. Here was a comic about music that talked about lyrics and music instead of writing and art. It didn’t feature a cape in sight and it was black and white. It sat as almost the definition of an independent comic on the stands. All any was sure of, after reading it, was that it was bringing forth two very strong talents into the field, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.


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You’ve Been Punked – Sam Sykes Guest Blog

sam sykes

If science fiction revolves around the question of “what if,” and fantasy revolves around the question of “what was,” then the question of “what is, but not so recently is, and more like what was, but less boring than that and not quite as nerdy as ‘what was’ like ‘what was middle earth like,’ so basically, what is and isn’t and how can I fit corsets into it” is clearly answered by one word.


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A New Urban Fantasy – Sam Sykes Guest Blog

sam sykes

If you’ve been at all concerned with the state of fantasy in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed a drastic shift in genres.  The market has split wildly into many segments, including that bastion of pseudo-gothica and girls with tight pants, urban fantasy.
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Justin Isis Interview On Manga Cafes, Convenience Stores, and the Taste of Human Flesh

Justin Isis. He’s like Jonathan Franzen if Jonathan Franzen was better looking and could write. Like Paul Leppin meets Kawabata in an empty brothel with cold tile floors.

justin isis

His just-published book, I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like, is plastic romance at its best—something sure to cause anger and distress and be gripped by lonely housewives at 2 a.m. while their husbands are in the backyard digging holes. This is neo-decadence for the unincarcerated—the book that will keep you up at night until your lips grow numb mouthing the words. So, cover your cheeks with glitter, paint a big pink heart on your depilated chest and read the following interview, because the price of food has just gone up again.

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L.E. Modesitt Jr. Interview + Imager Review

L.E. Modesitt, Jr., is the best-selling author of several fantasy and science fiction series, and a name you can’t get through any bookstore’s SFF section without encountering.  I am only familiar with his work on the Imager Portfolio.  From the first book it became one of my favorite fantasy series, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about the books with him.  While I did get some great insight into certain elements in the series, the discussion somehow veered off into cultural territory that I found even more fascinating.  Note on that:  I’m breaking from my usual interviewing presentation and leaving my responses intact, even when they are long, because I’m not sure his answers would make sense without my set-ups.  That being said, I hope you enjoy the perspective!

L.E. Modesitt jr

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Nocturne by Syrie James Review

Let me be honest:  Nocturne by Syrie James is not the sort of novel that I naturally gravitate to.  I read it because it was offered to me and sounded interesting enough to try–the sort of book that a friend lends you, or that you pick up from the airport bookstore’s limited options, at least for me.  The book does not attempt to hide what it’s about; if the cover doesn’t give it away, the first chapter from the hero’s point of view does, so I don’t feel it’s a spoiler to say that this is a vampire love story, and to admit that my primary point of interest was whether, in our collective exhaustion with the variations on the form, this new story might go back to what vampires are supposed to be.

Nocturne Syrie James

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Prospero Burns + Embedded by Dan Abnett Review

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited book of the Horus Heresy series, Prospero Burns is the fifteenth book in this New York Times best-selling collection. Though initially slated for simultaneous release with Graham McNeill’s A Thousand Sons, unforeseen circumstances in Mr. Abnett’s life prompted a delay, much to the disappointment of fans across the world.

warhammer 40k

You can check out my interview with Dan Abnett.

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A Marjorie Liu Interview – Dirk, Steele, and X-23

Recently I was given the chance to have a phone chat with best-selling author Marjorie M. Liu, author of the “Dirk & Steele” paranormal romance series and “Hunter Kiss” urban fantasy series; Marjorie is also a current writer for Marvel Comics with “X-23” and “Daken.”

Marjorie Liu

In anticipation for Marjorie’s latest Dirk & Steele novel, In the Dark of Dreams, we discussed the D & S series, working on comics, and the best way to bribe her if you want spoilers for her upcoming releases!

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Sharon Shinn Interview – Writing, Fantasy, and Troubled Waters

Sharon Shinn is the author of nearly two dozen fantasy novels, including the bestselling Twelve Houses and Samaria series.  She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

*editors note – below I’ve combined 2 separate interviews we conducted with Sharon Shinn and put them in one easy to read location. You can also read reviews of many of Shinn’s novels discussed below.

sharon shinn

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A Madness of Angels + The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin Review

This book is well-named.  Its title and subtitle are intriguing–they got me to look at its premise.  Which is also intriguing:  Two years after his murder, Matthew Swift wakes up again.  His house is no longer his house, and his closest friends are all dead.  He has no refuge except his wits and his quest for vengeance….

madness of angels

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City of Ruin + Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton Review

This review is based upon the assumption that you’ve read Nights of Villjamur, the first book in this series. If you haven’t  I think you’re missing out on some of the most groundbreaking urban fantasy currently gracing the bookshelves.

city of ruin

Check out my interview with Mark Charan Newton.

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The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron Review

I’m not sure there are words to describe how much this book delighted me.  I’ll try very hard, however.

The Spirit Thief is the first in a planned series about the adventures of ne’er-do-well Eli Monpress and his ragtag band of merry thieves.  Well, less merry and more dour ridiculously powerful thieves, but nonetheless his little band.  Eli has, at least as far as this book suggests, one goal in life–to raise the bounty on his head to 1 million gold standards.  Which, as one character helpfully points out, is more than all the money in the entire world.


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Daredevil’s Yellow – A Perfect Memory

A bright yellow costume on a man called Daredevil. It was simply never going to work putting a slightly older, lawyer/vigilante, protector of Hell’s Kitchen in a bright yellow costume. How many reasons are there for it not being a great idea? It’s a colour usually reserved for children’s playrooms and bright insects. It would glowingly make Daredevil an easy target at all times. It’s ugly. It certainly doesn’t go with red (which you have to remember was possibly the main colour of the suit with only the arms, legs, and head yellow). It looks too cheery. Is that enough to show the initial costume used by Matt Murdock in his crime fighting exploits was a bad idea?

Daredevil Yellow

Yet, the look has seemingly aged incredibly, and perhaps surprisingly, well. Whenever I think of it, or see it, I only get a warm glow inside me.


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American Vampire – A Study In True Vampirism

Scott Snyder is a writer who is working to remind the reading masses what vampires are. In American Vampire, Snyder has created a new divergent path for vampires to tread as he imagines the species taking a different path as they evolve and change. He’s joined by the amazing art of Rafael Albuquerque and the introductory arc, which just wrapped up, made a fair degree of press as Snyder was joined by horror heavyweight, Stephen King. This is a comic that is important to the genre of vampires if you care to give it a look.

American Vampire

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Sword of Justice + Iron Company + Battle of the Fang by Chris Wraight Review

As my gaming interests have turned more towards Warhammer Fantasy than Warhammer 40k, my reading has followed suit. Worry not, dear reader, I haven’t lost my love of the 40k universe, it’s just that I need some inspiration in order to face having to paint the 130 figures in my new Empire army…

Enter Chris Wraight’s latest book, Sword of Justice. Ironically, the excerpt of his writing that peaked my interest is from a book of his that I’ve yet to read, but this one was the book I picked up. First off, a quick note on the cover art, which I found really atmospheric:  it’s a great visual representation of the character and speaks volumes about who he is. Honourable mention must also go to Schwarzhelm’s beard, which any Dwarf–hell, any three Dwarfs–would be proud of and which, I’m almost certain, could comfortably house a badger.

 chris wraight

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Juliet by Anne Fortier Review

I haven’t been as excited about a book as I was when I got to the end of Juliet in a long time.  A year, maybe.  Anne Fortier has managed what might well be the impossible:  making Romeo and Juliet fresh again.  Not in the way that West Side Story did, by re-setting and re-casting the story, but by taking the plain old medieval Italy Romeo and Juliet story and telling it straight and telling it well.  The premise of the book is that modernday Julie Jacobs finds out that she is really Giulietta Tolomei, last daughter of a cursed house, and a great-to-the-nth-power niece of the Juliet, the real Juliet, the one Shakespeare based his story on–Giulietta Tolomei of 1340 Siena.  Julie travels to Siena in search of a family treasure, but all she finds is a nest of convoluted clues, murky stories from the past, absurdly superstitious locals…and, perhaps, her destiny.

 Anne Fortier

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