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Reading Westeros: “Dark Wings, Dark Words”

Post by Lisa Schimmer
Posted April 10, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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If you missed the season premiere of Game of Thrones last week, I have one question for you: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? With an impressive 4.4 million viewers tuning in, the third season of HBO's critically acclaimed fantasy maintains its place as one of the most popular shows on TV. 

If you've been struggling to meet your sweeping epic fantasy needs in between Sundays (and, come, you can never get enough Jon Snow), we have the solution: our weekly Game of Thrones epsisode companion pieces. NoveList already has some great author, series and title readalikes for George R.R. Martin and his Song of Ice and Fire series, so we are going to use these blog posts as an opportunity to go beyond similar fantasy reads and recommend books, movies, web articles, and other interesting links that relate to themes and motifs in each episode.

Last week, we covered the season 3 premiere: "Valar Dohaeris." 

Episode 2: "Dark Wings, Dark Words" 

In Westeros of late, it's hard to trust anyone. Betrayal and dissembling is rife and everyone is manipulating everyone. There have been five separate "kings" aspiring to the Iron Throne, all with their own alliances and followers. Those alliances have shifted during the war so the question of who to trust grows larger. The Tyrells, once in Renly's camp, have now aligned themselves with the ruling Lannisters, positioning oldest daughter Margaery to replace Sansa as Joffrey's betrothed. Margaery comes from a long line of formidable women, skilled in the art of soft power (every rose has its thorns!). Her grandmother, Lady Olenna, aptly named "The Queen of Thorns," is in King's Landing to take measure of Joffrey's character from his cast-off fiancée, Sansa. Sansa, repeatedly burned by naively placing her trust in those around her, cannot completely convey Joffrey's cruelty, lest she be betrayed again. 

Jon Snow has been captured by the Wildlings and is hoping to manipulate them in order to save his Black Brothers. Catelyn has just been on the receiving end of a double-whammy of dark wings, dark words: her father is dead and news of the siege of Winterfell (and Theon's betrayal of his foster family, not to mention the unaccounted whereabouts of Bran and Rickon). The viewing audience will know that the younger Stark boys are on the way to The Wall, with only a former Winterfell captive and Hodor (Hodor!) for protection. The mysterious Reed siblings magically appear to aid our direwolf pups who have no choice but to trust them.

We recommend...

House of Cards (2013)
Plotting, scheming, manipulating -- all this show needs is a few dragons, some hot bearded men (Jon Snow -- call me!), and a giant wall and you basically have GoT. Based on the British miniseries (which was based on the original book by Michael Dobbs), this highly-acclaimed series features a brilliant performance by Kevin Spacey as Democratic representative Frank Underwood, a power-hungry politician who is passed over for appointment to Secretary of State. Underwood plots and schemes his revenge in much the same way Lord Baelish or Varys might. 

Available on Netflix.

Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman
The third book in a trilogy (after When Christ and His Saints Slept and Time and Chance), this novel (which can be read as a stand-alone) focuses on the royal brood of strong-willed rulers Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine after twenty years of marriage, four sons, and nearly constant political strife. As in GoT, family is no sanctuary. Power-hungry, manipulative, rebellious, and ruthless, the Plantaganets rival the Lannisters in dysfunctionality. Rich in medieval detail with an enormous cast of historical figures and intricate political machinations, this novel mirrors much of the world-building in A Song of Ice and Fire

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Need we say more? Joffrey should take a page out of this classic. Margaery has already mastered it. 


Lisa S. is an avid reader and a less dedicated television viewer. When she’s not cataloging for NoveList, she’s most likely reading something she came across while… cataloging for NoveList.