Remembering Game of Thrones

Are you missing Game of Thrones? It has already been over a year since the series finale aired. Here are some books about, and inspired by, Game of Thrones, to fill the void.

Game of thrones : a guide to Westeros and beyond : the complete series / McNutt, Myles
Game of Thrones: A Guide to Westeros and Beyond, The Complete Series is a visual exploration of the world of HBO’s Game of Thrones(R). In two parts, the book follows the story of the South, where kings and queens battle for the Iron Throne, and of the North, where the White Walkers and their army of the dead gather. Covering all eight seasons of the show, this definitive guide is a must-have companion for every Game of Thrones fan.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

The art of Game of thrones / Riley, Deborah
“Filled with gorgeous illustrations and artwork from HBO’s hit series, The Art of Game of Thrones is the definitive Game of Thrones art collection. The official collection of behind the scenes concept art and production design from HBO’s landmark TV show Game of Thrones. Learn how BAFTA and Emmy award-winning production designer Deborah Riley and her team brought to life the iconic locations of Westeros and beyond.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Game of thrones : the storyboards / Simpson, Will
“In this exceptional art collection, Game of Thrones storyboard artist William Simpson shares the brilliant work that is an integral part of assembling each episode of the award-winning series.

This gorgeous book features a unique behind-the-scenes look into pivotal moments and early conceptual art from Game of Thrones. Curated from Simpson’s extensive archive, this revealing collection represents the exemplary artistic development involved in one of the most visually dynamic shows on television.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Game of thrones : the costumes / Clapton, Michele
“Discover the secrets behind creating the costumes for HBO’s Game of Thrones in this definitive guide. The official guide to the complete costumes of HBO’s landmark television series Game of Thrones. Discover how BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton dressed the heroes and villains of Westeros and beyond, including Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Iron, fire and ice : the real history that inspired Game of thrones / West, Ed
“Discover the bloody battles and backstabbing royals that inspired George RR Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series and the HBO smash-hit Game of Thrones. Have you read everything George R.R. Martin has every written? Do you know what in Game of Thrones is based in real history? Join Ed West, as he explores all of Martin’s influences, from religion to war to powerful women. Discover the real history behind the phenomenon and see for yourself that truth is stranger than fiction.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverGame of thrones versus history : written in blood / edited by Brian A. Pavlac.
“Game of Thrones versus History: Written in Blood is a collection of thought-provoking essays by medieval historians who explore how the enormously popular HBO series and fantasy literature of George R. R. Martin are both informed by and differ significantly from real historical figures, events, beliefs, and practices of the medieval world. From a variety of perspectives, the authors delve into Martin’s plots, characterizations, and settings, offering insights into whether his creations are historical possibilities or pure flights of fantasy.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverYou win or you die : the ancient world of Game of Thrones / Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.
“In this essential sequel to Carolyne Larrington’s Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones, Ayelet Haimson Lushkov explores the echoes, from the Summer Islands to Storm’s End, of a rich antique history. She discusses, for example, the convergence of ancient Rome and the reach, scope, and might of the Valyrian Freehold. She shows how the wanderings of Tyrion Lannister replay the journeys of Odysseus and Aeneas. She suggests that the War of the Five Kings resembles the War of the Four Emperors (68-69 AD). She also demonstrates just how the Wall and the Wildlings advancing on it connect with Hadrian’s bulwark against fierce tribes of Picts. This book reveals the remarkable extent to which the entire Game of Thrones universe is animated by its ancient past.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverWinter is coming : the medieval world of Game of Thrones / Carolyne Larrington.
“Game of Thrones is a phenomenon. As Carolyne Larrington reveals in this essential companion to George R R Martin’s fantasy novels and the HBO mega-hit series based on them the show is the epitome of water-cooler TV. It is the subject of intense debate in national newspapers and by bloggers and cultural commentators contesting the series’ startling portrayals of power, sex and gender. Yet no book has divulged how George R R Martin constructed his remarkable universe out of the Middle Ages. Discussing novels and TV series alike, Larrington explores among other topics: sigils, giants, dragons and direwolves in medieval texts; ravens, old gods and the Weirwood in Norse myth; and a gothic, exotic orient in the eastern continent, Essos. From the White Walkers to the Red Woman, from Casterley Rock to the Shivering Sea, this is an indispensable guide to the twenty-first century’s most important fantasy creation.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe science of Game of thrones. / Helen Keen.
“A myth-busting, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping and fun-filled expedition through the world of Game of Thrones. Do dragons actually exist? Is it possible to crush a person’s head with your bare hands? What really happened when royal families interbreed? How does wildfire win wars? Can you really kill someone with molten gold?
Award-winning comedian and popular-science writer Helen Keen uncovers the astounding science behind the world’s most popular television show. Join Helen as she sifts the fact from fantasy, discovers the truth beneath the togas, and reveals a world more fantastical than Daenerys Targaryen’s wildest dreams. So pour yourself a bowl of brown, climb on your beast of burden, and prepare yourself for an amazing adventure. It’s time to see the Seven Kingdoms as you have never seen them before.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe world of ice & fire : the untold history of Westeros and the Game of Thrones / George R.R. Martin, Elio García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson.
“If the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork–the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time–warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice & Fire. This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site–perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice & Fire is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords.” (Abridged from the Syndetics summary).

Staff Picks DVDs – June

This month’s picks feature a variety of movies and tv shows, comedy and drama, and loads of exciting new additions to the WCL collection.

Cover imageNightcrawler.
Savage media satire features Jake Gyllenhaal as a sociopathic loner who discovers his true calling. Gyllenhaal, who apparently dropped 30 pounds for the role, plays Louis “Lou” Bloom a small-time thief who comes across an accident one night. Watching a freelance film crew work the scene of a car crash he has an epiphany & soon trades a stolen racing bicycle for a camcorder and a radio scanner. Selling his rough footage to a sleezy news director of a local TV station (Rene Russo) he soon becomes more proficient, trading up for better equipment. But just how far is he willing he go in the competition to get the most exclusive footage? A cadaverous Gyllenhaal is all bulging eyes & homespun philosophies as he manipulates everyone around him in a truly mesmerizing performance. A howling black-hole of a movie…Repulsive yet gripping. (Mark)

Coer imageThe fall. Series 2.
BBC Two’s highest rated drama series, The Fall, returns for Series 2 and doesn’t fail to disappoint. Gillian Anderson returns as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, on the trail of serial murderer Paul Spector played by Jamie Dornan in typical cat and mouse style leading to a dramatic climax where Gibson and Spector come face to face and engage in a not so dramatic, but perhaps emotional show down. These two characters are constantly determined to beat each other at all costs. A personal link from Spector’s past opens up some clues for Gibson but provokes Spector in a way that threatens to jeopardize the whole investigation. Gibson is forced to take ever greater risks and the closer she comes to capturing him, the more Spector trespasses into her private world, delighting in psychological taunting and provoking her. Perhaps what is so gripping about this series is that you get deeper insight into both Spector’s and Gibson’s psyche and some clues about each of their pasts. However still no concrete answers as to how what happened in their pasts that moulded them into the people they have become. What I found disappointing this series incorporated elements and traits of Dornan’s role as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey with the typical blank into Spector’s character. Examples include the charismatic expression and charm that sucks women in and even engaging in a bedroom tie up scene with a twisted version of Ana Steel! Other than that, I think this is a must watch DVD! Another fantastic gripping crime series with a dramatic cliff hanger you will not see coming. (Katie)

Cover imageThe honourable woman.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is Anglo-Israeli Nessa Stein, a newly anointed Baroness who is focused on enabling the Middle-East peace process. After seeing her father assassinated as a child, Nessa Stein has taken over the family company from her brother (Andrew Buchan from Broadchurch) and is determined to affect change via an ambitious project to connect the West Bank with optical fibre cables. When her new business partner dies in an apparent suicide, various conflicts & factions emerge among her business associates and various interested Intelligence agencies – all seeming to link back to her secret kidnapping years before. From writer/director Hugo Blick (The Shadow Line) ‘The Honourable Woman’ is another gripping & compelling mini-series with top-notch production values, fantastic acting (Gyllenhaal is superb) & quality writing. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageThe equalizer.
Starring Denzel Washington and Marton Csorka (the New Zealand actor). Denzel thinks he has left his old life behind him with a new identity. Working in an American equivalent of a ‘Bunnings’ shop. He is dragged into a world of Russian gangs and murder after he meets a young woman who has been abused by the Russian mafia. A very action packed movie. Lots of violence but a good plot line. Martin Csorka plays a very good villain and has come a long way from Leonard in Shortland Street (in the 1990’s) and ‘Shark in the Park’. (Brigid)

Cover imageHomeland. The complete fourth season.
‘Homeland’ reboots itself after a disappointing 3rd season with great results. Carrie is now a CIA Section Chief in Kabul, earning the sobriquet ‘The Drone Queen’ for her series of orchestrated attacks – based on intelligence from a source cultivated by the Pakistan Station Chief, Sandy Bachman. However when a strike goes wrong, seemingly taking out a Wedding party instead of prominent terrorist target Haissam Haqqani the wheels begin to come off. Then Bachman is killed in a riot & things go from bad to worse, as Carrie is recalled to the U.S. to answer questions. Why was the previously reliable intelligence so off? Is there more going on than appears? Carries vows to find out & returns to Islamabad as the new Pakistan Station chief…Season 4 of this popular show returns to the edgy espionage drama that made Season 1 so good and successfully integrates familiar characters into a taut series of episodes with a post-terrorism vibe similar to the later seasons of ’24’. A great comeback for a show that had seemingly lost its way. (Mark)

Cover imageAbout time.
This is a lovely movie. The story is about a young man who is told by his dad at 21 that the men in the family can time travel and go back and sort out problems in their lives. He can go back any time in his life and try and do things differently. Which can be done over and over again until he gets it right. There are strings attached to it though. He learns some real life lessons along the way. This is a wonderful British movie. Stars Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Love Actually) It is well worth a look and is not just a Chick flick. (Brigid)

Cover imageSilicon Valley.
From the mind of Mike Judge (Office Space) comes this hilarious comedy about a bunch of socially inept coders working & living in a start-up incubator run by a self-delusional dot-com millionaire, while trying to navigate their way into the lucrative riches of Silicon Valley success. When super talented programmer Richard (Thomas Middleditch) creates a powerful new compression algorithm he suddenly comes to the attention of the head of Google-like tech company ‘Hooli’, and his rival – an extremely odd billionaire venture capitalist. A satirical send up of the greed driven tech world but also full of charismatic underdog characters, as well as being very funny. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageOnly lovers left alive.
If you’ve ever looked at Tilda Swinton and thought ‘she’d make an awesome vampire’, then this film is for you. Jim Jarmusch of Coffee & Cigarettes fame directs Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in this tale of vampire love. This isn’t a sappy, melodramatic love story akin to Twilight, Jarmusch’s vampires share a love that is dignified, encompassing, and immortal. ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ is a heady mixture of the beautiful, the eerie, and the melancholic. Adam (Hiddleston) is a reclusive musician who oozes moody sexuality, while his cosmopolitan lover Eve (Swinton) enjoys the night life of Tangiers. The pair reunites in Detroit, only to be disrupted by Eve’s impish younger sister played by Mia Wasikowska. Style reigns over substance in this film, which is comprised of melancholy vignettes. The scenery, costumes, sets, and excellent soundtrack make ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ a compelling watch, even if the story lacks much action. The soundtrack, mostly songs by SQURL, Jim Jarmusch’s band, is evocative and well worth a listen once the film is over. (Raquel)

Cover imageParks and recreation. Season six.
Perfect comfort viewing for the winter. Great acting, great cast chemistry, great writing. One of those shows that operate at such a high level you think it can’t get any better than it already is. Until it does. This season Leslie faces a recall election and a town merger, Anne & Chris face impending parenthood, Andy lands a dream job in London, Tom ends one business venture & starts another, and the genius of Ron Swanson proves to be a never ending well. Guest stars include: Lucy Lawless, Henry Winkler, Heidi Klum, Kristen Bell and Sam Elliot. (Mark)

Cover imageLucy.
Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman. A woman is accidently caught up in a plot. She is given drugs that make her use 100 percent of her brain. She turns the tide on her captors. She is one smart cookie. (Brigid)

Cover imageWarehouse 13. Season four.
Super fun series returns for a fourth & penultimate season. After the destruction of the Warehouse at the end of Season 3, Artie risk’s the use of a mythical artefact (The Astrolabe – a navigation device that once belonged to Ferdinand Magellan) in an attempt to restore all they’ve lost. But the use of this dangerous artefact unleashes an even greater evil. Guest stars include Brent Spinner as a sinister Monk, and later in the Season ‘Buffy’ alumnus James Masters & Anthony Stewart- Head cross paths. Also features some fun artifacts such as Bobby Jones’ golf clubs, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Violin, Bobby Fischer’s Bag of Marbles, D.B. Cooper’s Ripcord, Hatfield and McCoy Rifles, along with many more. (Mark)

Cover imageBorgen. Season two.
I’ve just binge-watched the second series of ‘Borgen’, after having enjoyed Series 1 a few months ago. The central character, Birgitte Nyborg, is the charismatic first female Prime Minister of Denmark, and the storylines are not just about timely political issues but also explore family and other relationship dynamics and how these are affected by the job. There are other interesting characters, such as her spin doctor Kasper and his complicated relationship with Katrine, an ambitious journalist. It surprised me how a show about Danish politics could be so interesting, dramatic, suspenseful and addictive! Can’t wait to watch the third season. (Sandy)

Cover imageThe missing.
Intense UK mini-series about the disappearance of a 5 year old boy from a small village in France. When Tony and Emily Hughes (James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor) travel to France with their five-year-old son Oliver, their family holiday turns into a nightmare when Oliver disappears while Tony is watching a football match in a crowded local bar. The series begins as a broken & obsessed Nesbitt finally uncovers a new clue in his son’s abduction & returns to France to pursue it. Cleverly structured, the series then plays out in the past and 8 years later simultaneously, so while you are watching events unfolding you are never certain of what exactly happened in the investigation in the past. Examines the corrosive effects of media scrutiny & the ripples of such a trauma on the relationships & lives of all the characters involved. Excellent performances, especially Nesbitt. (Mark)

Cover imageHector and the search for happiness.
I won tickets to the premier of Hector and the search for happiness. It is a really good movie. It was not as funny as Simon Pegg’s other movies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot fuzz and Paul). It had some funny parts but was more serious and thought provoking. (Brigid)

Cover imageWinter sleep.
In an exotic, remote Cappadocia, a wealthy former actor runs a boutique hotel. His beautiful young wife and divorced sister live with him but they are far from confidants. Stuck in heavy snow their hypocritical prides and egos confront each other. The synopsis doesn’t go long, but Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s ‘Winter Sleep’ is a 3 hours 16 minutes-long, haunting chamber drama. Inspired by Chekov’s short stories, heavy dialogue drives the movie (the script was almost 200 pages-long), but Ceylan’s rigorous direction together with superb acting by all actors never fails to keep you riveted. Once a professional photographer, Ceylan sets up a desolate but stunningly beautiful milieu, and the whole movie is like an amazing mix of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman. This, winner of Cannes’ Palme D’or in 2014, is a remarkable achievement of cinema. (Shinji)

Cover imageSeeking justice.
This DVD stars Nicholas Cage and is probably one of his lesser known movies. It is an interesting story about a teacher (Cage) whose lovely wife is attacked and he is made an offer by a to get justice by a shadowy vigilante organisation, But there are very big strings attached. Their life is turned upside down. Lots of action. The catch line is ‘Would you cross the line for vengeance?’ It is an interesting story line and well thought out plot. Had me jumping in a few places. (Brigid)