D reads A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, p. 202-412

Hello reader,

I’m going to admit right now that I lied in my last post about A Storm of Swords. I am going to make a blog every 200 pages rather than every 20%. Due to my gaming stuff, personal life, and work, I don’t have as much time to digest the books I do want to read. I’m currently struggling to finish reading At The EndAn Apocalptic Novel by John Hennessey for a Twitter group I am in called Two Girls One Book, but with how badly the book is written I usually end up googling pictures of cute puppies instead.

I may not be a teenage girl anymore, but any decent, god-fearing American loves puppies.

Without too much further ado, I want to jump right into my thoughts about A Storm of Swords, pages 202 – 412!

Let’s begin with Jon Snow and his mischievous little adventures up North of the Wall. Looking back on my previous entries, I haven’t written very much about Jon Snow or analysed anything about his character. The reason for this isn’t because I find his story or character boring, but that its easy to forget about Jon Snow since he is so far removed from every other event in the novels. Jon Snow was a Man of the Night Watch, and, while he cares deeply about what might happen to his half siblings, nothing he does personally influences their stories or the war. He has no eyes or ears during the war and his POV doesn’t give us any insight to the politics behind the war or war strategies. Jon Snow, like Daenerys Targaryen, may as well be light years away from the events unfolding on the mainland of Westeros. Unlike Daenerys, however, Jon Snow has nothing to add to the combat anytime soon. That was until he joined a the army of Wildlings.

Jon Snow, at the behest of the late Q. Halfhand, joined the Wildlings to spy on them. Through Jon’s eyes we are now witnessing what is to become a pressing matter for Westeros, the invasion of Wildlings and the Others. The increasing threat of the Others is made more pointedly by the slaughter of the Night’s Watch on the Fist (a place, not the thing).  Ygritte, a female Wildling, has really taken a liking to our Jon Snow and she is basically his guide to what its like to be a Wildling. The relationship between Ygritte and Jon Snow also pulls me away from the typical feel of the book since Ygritte is more or less a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in terms of personality.

“The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) is a stock character in films. Film critic Nathan Rabin, who coined the term after seeing Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown (2005), describes the MPDG as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” MPDGs are said to help their men without pursuing their own happiness, and such characters never grow up, thus their men never grow up.” – Wikipedia, Source of All Knowledge

The first part of the definition strikes me as Ygritte’s role in Jon Snow’s story. While she is a character in her own right, Ygritte is there to help Jon embrace life and help him learn about what things are like North of the Wall. Her catchphrase is seemingly, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” She repeats this phrase many times in the last chapter I read for this blog. The last part of the definition doesn’t seem to fit her… yet. Ygritte is mysterious enough that I am not certain if she loves Jon Snow or is just really into him. The way things are looking she must love him, her behavior denotes that much. She could be a great liar, but that wouldn’t really fit the archetype she has found herself in. My biggest worry for the character is she will die trying to protect Jon Snow. Or something along those lines.

Sam, Jon Snow’s obese friend, has his own POV chapter now. I was worried he was killed in the battle with the Others that Jon and the Free People stumbled onto atop the Fist, but its nice to know he somehow made it. Sam is a character I wanted to know more about, because he was flung from a world of comfort into a frozen hell. Sam isn’t a bad guy and is book smart, which makes me relate to him somewhat. Even though I might have more guts and fight in me, I enjoy a character that is at least true to himself. It was really moving when Edd and Grenn were helping him get back up to move on, though he was ultimately carried by strongman Tom. From Sam’s distorted thoughts in the text it was apparent how much strain and stress he had taken — and he was frail to begin with. This chapter shows me that no character’s ‘3rd person text’ is completely true. Sam was having trouble remembering what exactly had happened and it showed in the narrative. Sam’s POV chapters will clash nicely with Jon Snow’s. If the Night’s Watch fights the Wildlings we should be able to see both sides of the battle.

Arya Stark is learning the hard way that she should never bother to reveal her real name and station. Its understandable that she revealed herself to Harwin, a man that used to work for her father, but during a time of so much strife its incredibly reckless. Arya is one of my favorite characters, and I do enjoy reading all of her chapters. Its hard to explain, but I like her snarky thoughts about the people around her. It would be amazing for Arya to meet up with her mother again, but I have a feeling that may not happen any time soon. Arya would be confined again into the role of a little lady in-training, and the story of a girl struggling with being trained to be someone she doesn’t want to be is a little old and boring. Arya, at least from what I could gather, has always wanted an adventurous life. Now that she is living it I wonder what she will do next. She is currently traveling with Gendry and a band of AWOL soldiers to see Lord “Lightning” Bolton. I don’t really know much about Lord Bolton other than he formerly bent the knee to Eddard Stark and then ended up becoming a turncoat. He held Harrenhal, but now he is just the wind and they are chasing after it. Aside from these facts, not much else to report on for our dear boy.

Right now she is traveling with short hair and in a dress. I am certain the people who don’t know her are confused. Is it a girl with boy hair or a boy with a dress on? And… which is worse?

Tyrion and Sansa’s POVs continue to greatly entertain me. Watching them try to avoid toes (or in Tyrion’s case, step on them) is easily some of the better drama I’ve ever read. For example, Petyr Baelish has played another card on the table. He has offered to Joffrey’s council his promise to wed Lady Lysa Arryn. If he accomplishes this he will have the Eyrie (which is implied as sporting a large army as well as land) and he promises to raise her son to be a supporter of King Joffrey and the Lannisters. Given the way the TV show has been going, I was worried he would try to marry Sansa Stark, because she looks a lot like her mother. I get very creepy vibes from him, so it wouldn’t have been so shocking. This, however, is leagues more interesting. Sadly, I think he will accomplish his goal. I wonder if he wants to style himself a King in his own right? A commoner King, because as I recall Baelish is a lowborn man that clawed his way to the top.

As for Sansa and Tyrion… well, they are married now. Say what!? Yeah, I heard me. THEY ARE MARRIED. My mind was blown reading it. At first, during Tyrion’s chapter where we learn that Baelish is going to court Lysa, Tywin suggests to Tyrion that he marry Sansa Stark because the Tyrell’s mean to marry her to Willas Tyrell, which would have granted Tyrell’s the power of Winterfell if Robb Stark could be dealt with. Of course, no one knows Bran and Rickon Stark are very much alive and well, though they travel north and may not be found alive yet. Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion is extremely awkward. I’m so glad it was him that she ended up being force to wed since we have no idea what Willas Tyrell is like anyway. Plus Tyrion is a gentleman, mostly, and won’t force Sansa to do anything she doesn’t want to. I’m glad he acknowledges that she is still a child and didn’t consummate. This is such an interesting turn of events and it makes me eager to read more!

Team Sayrion… or would it be Tyinosa?

King Idiothead the Dumbest of his Name (yeah, I am super original) intends to make Sansa his whore anyway. I hope Tyrion Lannister can keep Sansa safe or sneak her out of King’s Landing at least. Sansa had done some stupid things in the first book, but she doesn’t deserve  what has become of her. Cersei, however, may be carted off to marry Willas Tyrell since her son is old enough to rule on his own AND her father is there to be the Hand properly. Cersei hates the idea with a passion and I can’t help but find some happiness in her misery.

Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth tried to continue their journey south to King’s Landing, but have been caught by mercenaries working for House Stark. After an epic sword fight with one another, they are ambushed by these ‘mummers’ and are presumably raped and/or tortured. I hope Brienne isn’t raped at the very least, because she is fastly becoming one of my favorite characters. She reminds me of what Sansa was like, but with Arya’s will and desire to fight.

Daenerys found herself trapped between hard decisions. She could either enlist a slave army or attempt to hire sellswords. The slave army would be so disciplined that they would never disobey her or go AWOL, but slavery is illegal in Westeros and the lords who might receive her would look down upon her. The sellswords are the opposite, they wouldn’t cause lords to look down upon her, but there is a chance they would turn against her for higher coin. Her main enemy is King Joffrey and he is backed up by Lannister banks. Daenerys had to go with purchasing a slave army despite how it made her feel. The slave army, known as the Unsullied, are men that know no fear and are all eunuchs. They would not rape or pillage, because they were conditioned in their training to desire no such thing. They would obey their master without question going as far as killing themselves if that was what had been asked of them. Ultimately Daenerys set up a brilliant plan. She traded her Drogon and ships of valuables for 8,000 + strong slave army, then when the slaves understood she was their master, she commanded them to kill every slaver in the city and free all the slaves. Her dragons flew into the sky breathing fire all around while the people chanted, “Dracarys!”

It was badass.
Source: http://biofluorite.tumblr.com/

I am certain the Unsullied will always behave like slaves, or at least it will take them a long time to learn how to be ‘normal’ again. This will probably be a point of contention between Daenerys and the lords in Westeros. If she becomes Queen, her decision to enlist the slave army, even if she freed them anyway, might come back to haunt her politically.

I’m going to point out that the meme about G. R. R. M. killing off every character seems false.

I came into this expecting major characters to die.

Of course, I am only on the very first 35% of the third book in a series of five (so far), but so far the only surprise death has been Ned Stark. While many characters have died since the start of A Song of Ice and Fire, most of them were minor characters in the long scheme of things. The death of Maester Luwin, while heart wrenching,  did not seem so shocking to me or unnecessary. When I picked up this book series, I was told not to get attached to any character, because they could die. As far as I’m concerned, the only character that has died and made a large impact on my feelings was Ned Stark. Renly Baratheon was minor. Maester Luwin was minor. That maester of Stannis Baratheon was extremely minor. The Stark’s children’s uncle was minor (I assume he is dead).

When I talk about main characters, if I do in this blog, it will always be about prominent characters that are featured in the book. Tyrion, Jon, Arya, Sansa, Catelyn, Jaime (recent), Davos, Dany, and any other POV character I am missing. If any of them die it will be shocking. If Cersei, Joffrey, Stannis, Robb, Tywin, Shae, Bron, Gendry, and Hot Pie die it will be shocking, because they are main characters with their prominent appearances and influence. I suppose its just an issue of which characters seem ‘expendable’ for the plot and which aren’t. The death of a maester is not as grave as the death of a character’s whose POV we see, because that is one less person we can use to understand the politics and movement of the plot. The death of some random sons of Davos is not as serious as the death of say Cersei (if she does die), because Davos’ sons did not have as much influence over the fate of Westeros.

My question is: Who out there feels I am wrong about this? Are there any characters you really liked, other than Ned Stark, that has been offed? Please keep this restricted to the first two books in the series! I would love to know, though, because so far I feel certain none of my favorite characters are going to bite the dust!

D sucks at DotA 2: Wait, this is Single Draft!?

Good morning readers,

As promised, I have some news about my progress playing Dota 2. Spoiler Alert: I am pretty bad at characters I don’t know how to play. Now, I’m going to preface the hard stats with information, because it’s 100% necessary and informs you about the kind of trolls I find myself playing with. P.S. these are my friends, which compounds the sadness.

My boyfriend and our mutual friends have been playing bot games. They are actually quite good at this game, so I am not 100% certain why they only play bot games lately. It could be because I am only good at a small handful of characters, whereas if we cue together as a team of five we will be facing my hard support counterpart player that can play more than 3 characters.

The Three L’s.

I’ve been playing bot games myself to practice new characters as well as get some sort of rhythm for last hitting. I have discovered that carrying can be fun, but I am bad at last hitting unless its Riki or Lifestealer. I did enjoy playing my bot game as Visage, but I know I made a lot of microing mistakes that any regular player could capitalize on. Finally, in theory, I could carry a game if I am able to farm. My issue with trying to carry on any of the above listed characters is that once something impedes my farm, I am likely not to catch up. I can try jungling, but enemy players are better about wards and ganks.

My overall win rate, including the game I am about to talk about, is 57.14% for regulars. In matchmaking, I have a 20 – 15 W/L ratio. Lich is my most played followed  by Lina, then Lion. The reasons I stick to these three are very simple:

  1. Lich’s port to HoN was Plague Rider. Aside from different move speed, they were both identical. I learned how to play HoN on Plague Rider, so it was only natural to play Lich to transition into Dota 2.
  2. Lina’s port to HoN was Pyromancer. He was a character I learned how to play so that I could learn how to land ‘skillshot’ type moves. Pyromancer and Lina are identical in every way aside from slight number tweaks and different casting distances. For example, Lina’s Dragon Slave is longer than Pyromancer’s… or vice versa. I forget.
  3. Lion’s port to HoN was Witch Slayer. He was a BAMF. My desire to play this character was simply because his voice was kind of sexy. His abilities also seemed to be like Pyromancer mixed with Politoad Priest (Shadow Shaman). I was not very bad with him at all.
  4. Even though I played Voodoo Jester (Witch Doctor), Glacius (Crystal Maiden), Pharoah (Clockwerk Goblin), and the occasional Swiftblade (Juggernaut) their ports were way different than the characters they were 90% based on. One of the reasons I have yet to pick up and play Crystal Maiden isn’t due to her counterpart in HoN being different, but because I always found Glacius boring… even if I did once get a quad kill solo. (I will try to upload a replay of it just to show off!)

Since the start of Dota 2, I played mostly matches made in lobbies and the only matches that show up on my dotabuff page are my matchmaking ones. Here are the stats of my “Most played” heroes:

My stats as Lich are very overwhelming given my comfort playing Lich. Lich needs no real farm to do what he does. Lich is easy denies even if the game doesn’t count them (a peeve of mine, since I have more than 20 denies on any given Lich game). Lich also fits the type of support I like to play. Given the shift in the metagame since I’ve been at school its clear to me that I need to branch out and try other heroes. Lina works well enough against the current push strats and her ultimate is good enough to kill most characters in a gank. Lion is basically the same way, though I find him a little more farm dependent than Lich or Lina. Seeing that 100% wr on Witch Doctor I wonder if I should pick him up more often. He’s another character that relies on little farm and provides reliable skills for a gank… especially in conjunction with Faceless Void.

What you don’t see in that list are any true junglers. Alas, I am terrible at jungling and usually end up underfarmed and underleveled whenever I try to play a jungler. This comes off as laughable and pathetic to most players since the jungle is the safest place to farm and usually you can do it uncontested. My biggest problem is not knowing when to gank on any junglers. The ‘best’ jungler I played was Legionnaire (a port of Axe that was somewhat different and had a mechanic to ‘guarantee’ spins), and I was only able to do well if I was on a groove and farmed a portalkey/blink quickly.

So last night I was hanging out with my boyfriend and we decided to play bot games with our friends. We played a couple bot games, but then one of our friends decided to queue us up for a real matchmaking game. We had no idea and he didn’t tell us. We weren’t on skype or any other team speak program, so we had no way of communicating. We were also a 5-man team with at least 2 players (including myself) that weren’t the best or were limited in what we knew how to play.

I’m pretty sure this was the enemy team last night.

What came up as the queue ended was Single Draft, and my boyfriend and I looked at each other. The look on my face was probably one of extreme despair. Being parted from my Three L’s wasn’t fun, especially when it came as a complete shock to me. I found out my boyfriend had Treant in his pool, so I was about to ask for a swap until someone mentioned in chat there is no hero trades in Single Draft for DotA 2. On top of that one of our friends, also taken by surprise, was unable to buy items, so we used up like 20 pauses just to let him restart a few times. As usual, the enemy team kept unpausing, so the game was out the a horrible start. In my hero pool there was an Enigma, a Brewmaster, and a Spectre. Any great player would have picked up Enigma or Brew and would have felt great about their chances. I, on the other hand, was ready to call GG already.

I don’t usually take on a defeatist attitude. Even in games where we are leaning on the losing side heavily, I always do my best. Sometimes if my team doesn’t give up on life, we are able to make great comebacks. Especially if our team has carry power and the enemy team doesn’t. While I did do my best this game, I was forced to take Enigma over Spectre and Brewmaster. Brewmaster’s ult takes microing skills I am not confident in and Spectre requires me to actually be able to farm consistently. Given the way MM works in DotA 2 (giving you skilled enemies if you are team queuing) and my lack of ability, I was totally unready to ‘try’ out any hero I didn’t practice extensively.

I choose Enigma for reasons other than the ones listed above. I also had played Tempest, Enigma’s port, in HoN. I was really bad at it, but he had a skill set I was familiar with. If I could land 2-3 people Black Holes it would probably be enough to secure those kills. My boyfriend ended up having to pick Furion out of his set, so it was up to me and one of his friends to lane together since neither of us were good enough to take the hard lane. We started on Dire side and worked our way into top lane. I picked up courier and the recommended items aside from the 3 starting clarities. I opted to get more health regen, I think, because I didn’t want to  risk feeding due to low HP. Cow, the guy I was laning with, chose Razor from his pool of heroes.

I denied a creep in our wave with Demonic Conversion, but for a hefty amount of 170 mana I wasn’t willing to try to play Enigma like Lich. I get very flustered whenever I try to play heroes that have some micro abilities. It occurs to me now that I should have stayed in lane and tried to annoy the Dark Seer and Beastmaster in our lanes. I was busy trying to stack camps and ward in the early game, while engaging in a few ganks top lane. We were up 10 kills in the first part of the match, so I thought perhaps we could win. That was until Tiny and Pudge realized that they could feed on Razor and I. Razor played very bravely and I was squishy in general due to being underleveled and underfarmed.

I wish this really was a skin for Pudge.

The enemy team had no carry aside from Beastmaster, and our team had a Templar Assassin. Due to some miscommunication, I think, the friend who trolled us pretty hard took Nyx Assassin. Awkwardly, the guys are brothers IRL and they both wanted mid it seemed. Nyx ended up going to hard lane bot and I don’t think he had a fun time down there. Granted, had it been I or Razor it would have been a really big feedfest probably. The enemy team had a Venomancer and so, by picking us off, they were able to push us into our base and ultimately win. It was kind of fun, but needless to say I need to work on playing all the characters before I engage in another Single Draft!

3/16/10? Obviously trained by ChuaN himself.

If there is one thing I was proud of that game, if I was capable of looking past all the failure on my part, it was that I did land at least 2 great Black Holes. One of them was mid on 3 heroes and another was on 4 on top tower near the end of the game.

 

D Reads A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, p. 1-201

Good evening! WARNING: Spoilers for the book and the TV show inside!

I’ve decided to do a blog for about every 20%ish for A Storm of Swords. As many of you may know, this books is freaking long! I’m not talking about 500 pages long, which is actually a pretty healthy read. We’re talking in the four digits long. This sucker is 1128 pages long! It might just be because I enjoy reading the paperback edition, though I can imagine the hardback copy is capable of knocking some heads. 

The first thing I noticed about this book was the fact that Jaime Lannister actually has his POV inserted into the book. WOAH! I always kind of liked Jaime Lannister, because I felt he wasn’t completely full of poop. While he is willing to throw a kid out of a window, Jaime Lannister seems like one of the more ‘honest bad-guys’ in the novel.

There are only 3 seemingly bad guys and that is Cersei Lannister, Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre, and Joffrey Baratheon. While I don’t hate every single Lannister, I’m finding Cersei to be a universal antagonist. Not only is she in charge of the main force that keeps Sansa cooped up, but she is the one that ultimately unleashed her hellish son, Joffrey, on the world. King Joffrey needs no explanation. He’s a 13 year old mad with power whose papa never loved him and whose mama kept from learning morals. Finally, there is Stannis Baratheon and the fire priestess woman, Melisandre. My main point for putting Stannis in the same position as Melisandre is because without her he would probably not be a threat. Melisandre is obviously the mastermind behind the two of them and her weird magic seems like a textbook definition of evil. She births shadow children that assassinate people of her choosing.

Pure Evil and it comes out of a vagina. Who would have guessed?

As I read on I found myself flopping on where I stood with Tywin Lannister, because he seemingly believed every word Cersei told him and decided to ‘neuter’ Tyrion. Tyrion is the only truly good child this man has and Tywin decided to forget the amends he had been making with Tyrion and brought up the whole “During your birth you inadvertently killed your own mother!!!” While I understand this takes place in a medieval-like time so medical science is not that far along, I can’t help but feel that Lord Tywin is just being extremely petty and, given all his other accomplishments, should know better than to blame Tyrion for something he didn’t do.

I understand Tywin is basing this on the action that Tyrion sent Myrcella and Tommen away, but I can’t help but think Tywin thinks too lowly of his son, the very son he sent to be the Hand. Of course, this isn’t a complain about the writing or the direction G.R.R.M. is taking his work, no. I’m quite pleased with the amount of imperfection these characters display and it really builds up natural drama.

Why can’t Lord Tywin Lannister see that Tyrion is doing his best? Why can’t he forgive his son for wrongs he didn’t actually commit? Why is he trusting Cersei Lannister now after admitting to Tyrion that she was not fit to rule King’s Landing? He has very good reasons for not being able to live up to what I was hoping would happen, and that is plain frustrating.

If this guy dies, the war between Lions and Wolves would probably stop, but I just don’t want him to.

Another character which has caught my eye more as of late is Sansa. Sansa Stark was someone I thought I would straight up hate simply due to her naivety and her decision to lie to King Robert Baratheon about the incident near the river. Her insistence that she truly wanted to marry King Joffrey at the time was annoying and reminded me of YA books I’d rather forget. . . and then it got real.

When Ned Stark lost his head and Sansa was suddenly the daughter of a traitor trapped as a bargaining chip with the Starks in the North, Sansa became a real character in my eyes. I suddenly understood why G.R.R.M. wrote her to believe fully in court songs and think that all knights were good, because watching Sansa struggle to retain her dignity and mind against the way the real world worked took her story to the place YA books could only dream of. Innocence clashes against the true world as Sansa wishes for a knight to rescue her, but, instead of being an idiot, Sansa keeps her guard up and continues to act in public. I’m completely thrilled for her since she is no longer betrothed to Joffrey and is now being set up to marry a Tyrell.

A character who has fallen in popularity with me since the start of A Storm of Swords is none other than Jorah Mormont. As readers may know, I totally love Dany. She is my vote for ruler of Westeros, and Jorah used to be a good person in my book for helping her out when she needed it most. As Dany’s early chapter ends, Jorah, who has been a gentleman up until now, decides to grab at Dany and force her to make out with him. Since the last book, my opinion of him was stable even after hearing about how much Dany resembled his lost love. Its clear now that Jorah means to act on his love for a past woman and seeks to conquer Dany now.

A few things,

  1. You do not just grab a woman’s breasts without her allowing you to do so. This involves some sort of verbal understanding. If you don’t know, ask.
  2. You do not just force a woman to kiss you. It sounds silly, but you can’t just suddenly kiss a person you’ve had no previous kisses with. There are some things that have to come first, like permission, or context that leads to kissing.

Even Khal Drogo got her in the mood first and didn’t immediately jump to the boob-numbered base (the TV show version doesn’t count!). While at the end of the day this is all still incredibly creepy given that Dany is between the ages of 13 – 15 by now, the way Dany reacts just screams “What the hell are you doing!?” which is always a no even if her body liked it. Jorah seems to claim that no one will love Dany the way he does and this is sending awful vibes about the guy. The kind of guy that does you favors not because he cares or because he actually loves you, but because he thinks he will get ‘his’ in the end. It makes me look back at their relationship and feel creeped out about it all.

Moving on to Bran, I’ve noticed something sad — his story is getting boring. Near the end of the last book and the start of this book, Bran is just being his direwolf and staying put. While I understand that to get where he and his party are going will take a long time given that they are walking on foot, it seems to me Bran’s parts are only necessary to tell us his powers as a warg are getting stronger. This doesn’t mean I don’t like Bran as a character, but I do feel like I could stand to not read about him if nothing interesting is happening at all. I suppose, perhaps, I can’t care whether he hunts and eats other animals through his direwolf or not.

OK, last meme poking fun at this… maybe.

Finally, King of the North, Robb Stark, is completely like his mother. Catelyn Stark is impulsive and sometimes irrational (she has pretty much committed treason about twice now), and King Robb has married some random girl simply out of passion. In case readers don’t recall, Robb had promised to marry one of Lord Walder Frey’s daughters. Lord Walder had been providing a decent sum of Robb’s numbers in this war, so of course, Robb has lost that support and is in a pickle. The best part is his mother is furious with him, but it would seem to me that they are like mother like son at this time. I am not sure if they can win back Walder Frey’s support without having to kill Robb’s current Queen. I wouldn’t be shocked, because she has been very suddenly introduced.

 

Oh, wait… you aren’t Jeyne Westerling…

Alright, a slight pet peeve has picked up for me this moment. The television show during Season Two shows multiple points of view and not just those of the books. This sits well with me for the most part, however, I don’t understand why Robb Stark had married Talisa Maegyr… a TV-only character. I suppose this leaves Robb still without Frey’s help possibly since Talisa can offer Robb even less of an army than Jeyne Westerling can. Still, marrying Talisa in the book seemed to imply a lot of political backwash not just from Robb’s camp, but with the Westerners who seem to rally for the Lannister’s. Talisa does not seemingly offer this sort of political angle. I suppose when I read farther its possible that whom Robb marries doesn’t matter as much as the fact that he isn’t marrying a Frey.

D watches Purella Magi Madoka Magica

While this blog is about gaming and reading, I can’t help but want to share my thoughts on this particular anime. Purella Magi Madoka Magica is an anime that starts off about a magic cat-like creature that will grant particular girls any wish in return for their devotion towards fighting evil witches. These witches curse humans and cause them to die in ways that seem more like accidents or suicide than anything magical. The girls who fight these witches in return for only one wish are known as Magical Girls (in the same vein as Sailor Moon) complete with special costumes and their own powers to fight these evil witches. It sure sounds like a light-hearted anime!

What could possibly go wrong?

WARNING: WHAT FOLLOWS ARE SPOILERS AND STUFF LIKE THAT. Go watch it if you are into horror anime that is kind of messed up. Not Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni level, but kind of close.

Boy was I thrown for a loop while watching this anime. For the most part, I was unable to predict exactly how things were going to go for any of these characters. I was completely shocked when Mami, the Magical Girl that was going to train both Madoka and Sayaka, dies in the third episode. She gets her head bitten off by a witch she didn’t properly finish off. What’s worse is that Homura is somewhat of a red herring throughout the show until near the end when she plays her hand. Homura, the dark haired Magical Girl, is always brooding and telling Madoka to stay away from Kyubey (the magical cat creature). She desperately wants to keep Madoka from making a contract with Kyubey and becoming a magical girl… and the audience has NO idea why. We are told by Kyubey that Madoka would be the most powerful Magical Girl of all and that the miracle she would be granted would have no limit due to the amount of potential she had.

She’s going to react and kill that monster, right? Right? …

Meanwhile, Madoka and Sayaka decide they don’t want to become Magical Girls. After seeing Mami lose her life to a witch, they are both understandable shaken up by the event and try to live normal lives. There is always a ‘but’ though when it comes to these horror/drama animes, because Sayaka is in love with a boy that broke his hand. This boy broke it so badly that he may never play the violin again. Sayaka has been visiting this boy, Kyosuke, since he entered the hospital. During an argument with Kyosuke, she decides to become a Magical Girl to fix his hand. This happens just in time to save her friend Madoka and their mutual friend Hitomi (who is present in the Anime, but takes a serious back seat).

While you guys are out having a plot, I guess I’ll just stand here and wait until its my turn to be in the story!

Shortly afterwards the gang runs into Kyoko, a bad-girl Magical Girl. Kyoko decides to pick a fight with Sayaka in order to one, take over the area and become its main witch hunter and two, teach Sayaka that she cannot just fight familiars (witch’s summon them and they shortly become witches after killing a few humans) and must focus on only hunting witches. Sayaka and Kyoko fight each other and Homura jumps in to rescue Sayaka just as she was about to bite the dust. Sayaka curses the two other Magical Girls and cries that they are the reason Magical Girls like Mami end up dying. Ouch!

Fast Forward a bit and Sayaka is having a plain bad time. She struggles to defeat witches, discovers that her soul gem is literally her soul and that her body is basically a lifeless husk without it, and Hitomi decides to move in on Kyosuke just as he has finished healing. OUCH! Sayaka’s soul gem becomes cloudier and darker as these events unfold and its revealed that, dun dun dun, the main sources of witches on the Earth are Magical Girls. Those who do not purify their soul gems and succumb to feelings of despair are doomed to become witches and curse humanity. Sayaka becomes a witch and she cannot be saved by any known means. Kyoko, who had actually started to somewhat get along with Sayaka, ends up killing both herself and Sayaka’s witch in one blow.

Kyubey reveals to Madoka that all Magical Girls eventually become witches. Its unavoidable if they don’t die by battle first like Mami. The reason Kyubey makes deals with the girls is because the soul gem transmits emotional energy into the universe which reverses entropy. His kind created the gems, but were unable to use them themselves due to having no emotions. Humans turned out to be the perfect batteries and so the chain of events began. The greatest energy released, according to Kyubey, is when a Magical Girl becomes a witch. He explains to Madoka that the amount of energy she would release when becoming a witch would pretty much set the universe up for a long time against entropy. That’s nice.

On top of all this, Walpurgisnacht, the most powerful witch known to the Magical Girls, is on its way the their city. Homura, who had been keeping Madoka from becoming a Magical Girl, was depending on Kyoko’s help to defeat Walpurgisnacht. At this point in the show, it is revealed that Homura is technically from the future. Not the far future, but she has witnessed Walpurgisnacht’s attack before and has met all the Magical Girls before, but before Homura was a shy, nerdy girl and Madoka was already a Magical Girl. In fact, she has been through the same month countless times and keeps returning to the start of the month when she doesn’t get the ending she wanted. It is this way that Homura ceases to be shy and becomes a powerful warrior as she has to watch her friends die over and over.

Uh… that’s Homura, right?

In the final battle against Walpurgisnacht, Homura is outclassed completely by the witch. She becomes wounded and gets her leg trapped under some debris. She tries to reset time, but is clouded by doubt and her soul gem becomes dark. Just as I think this anime is going to have a depressing ending, Madoka shows up with Kyubey and says she will make a contract with the little furball. While I was worried this would still lead to a bad end, Madoka makes an impossible seeming wish. She wishes to prevent Magical Girls in all times and all dimensions from becoming witches. Due to the nature of this wish, Madoka essentially becomes a god or law of the universe. Her wish causes the very fabric of time to shift and change. Mami and Kyoko live and Sayaka is content with remaining dead (I think). Madoka appears to all Magical Girls who run their limit of power and cleanses their soul gem so that they may die peacefully instead of become witches. Due to Madoka becoming a law that no Magical Girl will become a witch, it would seem that Madoka will be immortal.

As the end draws near, it seems that Magical Girls now fight a new evil called Wraiths. They aren’t witches or human, but they could be the residue of evil and despair that Madoka has been cleansing from all the Magical Girls she has encountered. The show ends with only Homura remembering who Madoka was, as she erased all traces of her existence otherwise, fighting large Wraiths by herself brandishing a large bow similar to Madoka’s Magical Girl bow and large wings.

Homura’s wing graphic is eerily similar to the way that witch labyrinths looked.

So in the end the major change is that Magical Girls now vanish or simply die when they expend all their magical power and they fight Wraiths with no idea that originally they were doomed to fight each other in a vicious cycle. The ending of the Anime is satisfying,  but obviously there is room for a sequel even if it stars other characters.

D reads the A Song of Ice and Fire series Book 1 – 2 impressions (Spoiler Alert: EVERYONE ONE DIES)

Good morning,

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I have been reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series alternatively known as The Game of Thrones books. I have to admit that I was skeptical of the series at first due to the amount of hype it commands as well as the amount of spoilery memes that spawn on my Facebook feed once a day or so.

The first bits of the book talk about how Bran is such a great climber. Too bad that won’t matter for long…

I ended up finally picking up the book series thanks to the creation of my Goodreads account and friends that have been reading a whole lot more than I have. Once I started the first novel A Game of Thrones, I couldn’t put it downUnlike the YA books I had been reading at the time, the story was driven by the protagonists of the book and not simply by whatever antagonizing force happened to be around (I’m looking at you every vampire book ever). My favorite characters in the first book was a tie between Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister. This put me in an interesting position as I read the book, because I found myself cursing Catelyn Stark and Cersei Lannister the whole way through. I couldn’t wish for the fall of the Lannister family without remembering that Tyrion happened to be apart of that whacky family. Tyrion, the voice of reason in my opinion, was a nasty Lannister. It can be argued, however, that Catelyn had her fair part in starting the war by kidnapping Tyrion on a whim despite knowing that there was no evidence that he had any part in Bran’s attempted assassination.

I, Catelyn Stark, charge Tyrion Lannister with being a way more interesting and fun character than I am! We will hold court before my batshit insane sister and her creepy son.

All jabs at Catelyn Stark aside, I can see her point of view and its increasingly frustrating. There are only a few characters in this book that you can hate outright, like King Jerkfrey the first of his name, but even characters you thought you’d hate for the entirety of the book turn out to be real people with hard problems and bad choices. Darn you, Cersei and Catelyn, I want to hate you so badly. Even Sansa, whom I disliked at first on principle cause she was so impossibly naive, has flaws and strengths that make me grow to care about her. The situation she finds herself in turns her into one of the most sympathetic characters in the whole series when Book 2, A Clash of Kings, kicks in.

The entire cast draws the reader into their daily struggle with the lies characters tell each other, the politics between the different families, and the raging war that engulfs all of Westeros. I don’t know about other readers, but its really hard to root for just one family’s stake in the war between the different contenders for the crown. While I think Joffrey is a complete jerk and technically shouldn’t be king, if the Lannister family loses its likely that what happened to the Targaryen’s will happen to them. I don’t want Tyrion to die and I kind of don’t want Tywin to die either. I don’t want the Starks to lose, because I like most of them and hopefully they get to remain as the kings of the north or at least don’t completely fall if they end up losing. The Baratheon brothers, both claiming they want to be king, are polar opposites of each other yet each of them is interesting in his own right, though I can admit I am fine with them failing as long as Davos Seaworthy makes it out alive.

Finally, we come to Daenerys Targaryen aka Dany and her stake for the kingdoms. What Robert Baratheon and his army did to the Targaryen was horrifying. I get the whole “They killed my girlfriend” bit, but he was ready to slaughter the little girl as well. Out of all the characters, I think Dany is the most entitled to becoming the Queen of Westeros. Her claim to the throne of the 7 realms is a lot more faithful than Joffrey, who isn’t even the trueborn son of Robert Baratheon making his claim even further from the throne than it already would be. Dany is also, in my opinion, the most noble and kind out of all of those running. Also, she has dragons.

Argument Invalid.

At the end of A Clash of Kings, I can’t help but feel that Dany will become the rightful Queen of Westeros and that she will give her mercy to all of the warring houses. Lannisters will be pardoned, Starks might get to keep their northern lands depending on how things play out, and most importantly they can finally work together, because Winter Is Coming.

D Sucks at Dota 2: The History

Dota 2, for those of you who don’t know, is the sequel to Defense of the Ancients. DotA is a mod that was created for Warcraft III that is like a mix between tower defense and an RPG. Called an ARTS or MOBA depending on who you converse with,  DotA is a game that requires a lot of skill to play well and oddly enough is one of the few videogames that takes just as much practice as a real life sport. I love this game so very much, but I guess I should give you some history before we talk about how bad I am at this game.

In the winter of 2010, I was getting really bored of Aion (a crappy MMO) and I was looking for something to fill in the free time I still had even with school. I needed a free game, because I simply didn’t have a job and didn’t want to jeopardize my schoolwork. My friend from Australia told me about League of Legends many times before the winter, but I just wasn’t interested cause I couldn’t wrap my head around what an ARTS/MOBA even was. I decided it would be a good time to check it out since I still had winter break going on. My first game I picked Veigar, arguably one of the hardest characters you could pick at the time, and completely dominated with a score like 14/3/10. It felt good to do so well and have no idea what I was doing. I played League of Legends for my entire Spring semester. I was pretty good at the game, typically winning my solo queues. It felt really good.

Annie, Solo Mid, Boots First.

Sadly at the start of summer, I got involved in a car wreck. While I didn’t break anything, both of my arms were too sore to even type with. I had to have a few final papers pushed back simply because I couldn’t take the pain that shot throughout my arm when I lifted them. Though I did start playing League of Legends a little bit at the end of summer, I realized the pain in my arms was going to continue to be a dull pain. I also seem to have a slower reaction time than I used to, because the pain in my hands is somewhat distracting. Nowadays, the pain is not as intense, but it is a constant factor in my playtime. Holding a game controller is probably the worst, because BlazBlue (a cool fighting game) made my hands turn red and puffy.

When I started school up again in the fall, I tried my best to get back into League of Legends. I had a falling out with a boyfriend and just stayed away from League of Legends for a long while. In late November, I took an interest in another man and he was pretty cool, but he played Heroes of Newerth. Heroes of Newerth, at the time, was supposed to be the spiritual successor of DotA. I had heard of HoN before, but was always offput by the rumors of the community being the worst mannered players in all of online gaming. It was actually a little shocking to me that the guy who is now my boyfriend wasn’t a total douchebag. I digress, but its important to note that I hadn’t ever played any other ARTS/MOBA than LoL.

Since my new boyfriend tried LoL out, I decided I should give HoN a few tries. As expected, I did really badly my first few games. I was told to pick Arachna (semi-port of Drow Ranger) and I went 0/4/7. This was a carry, a character that is supposed to win the game for the team, but I had no idea. In LoL there were carries, but the laning was completely different in HoN. It was harder to last hit (to get gold) and hard to avoid being ganked. The jungle was much larger and so even if someone called MIA there would be no way to know if he was just jungling, hiding, or coming to gank your lane. I eventually settled onto a character named Plaguerider (direct Lich port that got a buff ms to 320).  He was a badass because:

  1. He rode on a dead wyrm that pukes death as an ultimate (it bounces like Lich’s ult).
  2. Easy denying.
  3. A dangerous early game nuke that could secure first blood if you laned with a strong stunner like Magmas (Sand King) or Pyromancer (Lina).
  4. A DRAGON THAT PUKES AN ULT.

Seriously, this is the most badass thing in the world.

All of those things made Plaguerider an amazing support/ganker. The fact that he didn’t need farm or items, just levels, made him a character I could play and learn with. Even with the state of my hands, the easiness of his kit made everything easier for me to do. The biggest hurdle after maining Plaguerider would be learning all the hero names and their abilities. I was a decent/great hard supporter, depending on what game you watch in my replays, that warded at least 80% of the time and always picked up courier at the start of each game. Sometimes I would do courier and wards at the start to just show off how little Plaguerider needed to be a dominant babysitter in lane.

I played HoN a lot on the weekends and really enjoyed myself, but I felt I was reaching the ceiling when it came to playing a hard support. I was able to play most of them,  but I started to want to carry. My ‘best’ character for it was Swiftblade, but for some reason the idea of just farming for 20-30 minutes didn’t meld with my mindset. I would try to get involved with ganks I shouldn’t have tried, or ignored ganks I could have easily stolen kills from. Due to some rage about being unable to learn how to carry, I stopped playing Heroes of Newerth for a while in summer 2011 and started playing League of Legends again. Oddly enough the handicap with my hands were much harder to deal with in League of Legends and soon I ended up giving up on that game as well and picked up playing Team Fortress 2 for the rest of summer.

Then it happened, The International 2011 for DotA2. It caught me by surprise and I watched the entirety of the tournament live would I could. I will admit it here and now, I am a Valve fangirl. I think Valve does right 99% of the time and the – 1% is just for Left 4 Dead 2 not being a free expansion like they had promised (or so that’s how I remembered it). I ate up the game and applied for a beta key.

If you look close enough you will see the screams of a million people crying out for beta keys.

Winter 2011, just in time for my first year anniversary with my boyfriend, I got a key and wanted to play all day and night. We did some practice pub games and a few matchmaking ones. My score for matchmaking mostly occurred during that winter break.  20/10 w/l ratio. Almost all of those wins were with my playing of Lich usually combo’d with my boyfriend as Viper. School started for Spring 2012 and it was all over for me. I had decided to try to graduate school sooner than later and took on a lot of hard courses that I didn’t want to take over the next school year separately like a wimp. Instead, I took them all at once and not peppered with easy classes as was suggested to me. There was no more DotA2, LoL, HoN, TF2, or any game. I did sneak in a game, but I was mostly stuck writing papers for the rest of spring 2012.

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I am the kind of person who becomes EXTREMELY rusty when I don’t play a game for so long. It was easy to get into DotA 2 since everyone was just getting their beta keys and a good number of them were LoL-only players (aka not used to the idea of how laning works) so it was kind of easy to get into the way DotA 2 worked with my HoN experience. Now, however, people had time to hone their skills and practiced while I’ve been at school. Now there are bot games for people to try out heroes and practice their abilities. I’m somewhat like a minnow being thrown into a pool of sharks.

The worst part is my IRL friends, whom I love, only seem to want to play bot games now. I don’t have anything against the idea, but I personally want to play against real people. Its quite easy to dominate bots of any skill level, but human players are surprising and actually have tactics most of the time. I have tried solo queuing, but its quite scary to attempt since I want to first pick Lich. I have joined a group called DotA Noobs, but I feel like their skill level is so above mine that there is no way I can really queue up with them and NOT ruin their games.

Maybe I should just keep watching Purge Plays.

I’ve gotten myself into a weird pickle and so this series “D Sucks at Dota 2” is going to be a documentation of my attempt to reach where I was with my confidence in my skill as well as hopefully become better.

D

An Introduction

Hello,

My name is D. I have some other internet handles floating around that I may share with you, but I prefer being called D. I’m a recent college graduate and a gamer. It wasn’t easy the last year or so, I pretty much put my gaming life on hold. As some of you know, the two don’t necessarily get along. Now I’m adrift in a sea of possibilities for gaming and reading — my two favorite hobbies.

When one is going to college, they don’t get to read the books they want most of the time. Let’s not even talk about my lack of gaming, because I missed a lot of games that I might not really get to touch. Sure, I played some games on the weekend, but I don’t necessarily count playing WoW or HoN/LoL sparingly as gaming.

The point of this blog is for me to record my rediscover of sorts when it comes to reading for fun and getting back into gaming. With any luck, I may get some comments about suggestions on games I may like that are flying under my radar or books I haven’t gotten to read! Primarily the blog posts about reading and gaming will be separate!

Since I graduated I’ve started to pick up on games I already had access to, but couldn’t play before. One of the biggest ones would have to be DotA 2. I love this game! I also suck very badly at it. I will probably post a blog after every few games or so to talk about my progress, or lack thereof, with pictures or videos to highlight the fail. I’m ready for the flame, because I am totally terrible and I am about to ruin many games for 9 other players. Another game I’ve picked up is Guild Wars 2. I played Guild Wars back when it was first released and loved it. Ever since I’ve literally been waiting for the release of Guild Wars 2.

For single-player games, I managed to pick up the Bestheda software deal back during the Steam Summer Sale aka bye-bye wallet money! I may potentially blog about my (mis)adventures in Fallout: New Vegas and TES: Skyrim. I have also picked up The Walking Dead due to my love of the comic book series. The game has been amazing so far so I can’t wait for the 4th and 5th installment of the game. Its really excellent so far.

Now, I know I’ve been talking a lot about videogames, but I don’t want it to go unmentioned that I love reading. Scratch that, I love reading when its by my own will. I’ll admit that there are times I will ragequit a book and never pick it up again. I may have to dig into my Goodreads account just to let you know about the subpar books I just couldn’t get through. HOWEVER, I have read quite a few books that I have come to love!

A Song of Ice and Fire is probably one of my favorite series right now. I know, I know, that isn’t very original or surprising, but its a book that mostly deserves the hype that engulfs it. I’m currently reading book 3, A Storm of Swords. I’ve also begun reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series. Yes, its a graphic novel, but they count too! Something I noticed at the start of my summer reading was that YA books are now very hit or miss with me. When I was a teen girl, I loved YA books. I even liked most of Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anite Blake series before it turned into creepy smut! Now I just find myself either disgusted with the presentation of the lead characters (of both genders) or upset with the lack of content these books seem to have so that they may stretch themselves into a series rather than a standalone.

I look forward to exploring foreign worlds and hanging out with cool characters.

D