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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

31 Comments

  1. Blueshift
    February 16, 2015 @ 12:36 am

    Having come to the books after the show, what really struck me was that the books are more interested in a sense of contextual history of these events, where the show is more about peoples experiences in the here and now. The whole history of Robert's Rebellion is barely touched on at all, with a lot of aspects that is familiar and constantly revisited in the books (such as Rhaegar) being pretty much missing from the show.

    I have no idea how they would actually cover that in the show as they don't seem to want to do flashbacks. I assume at some point they meet Howland Reed who can explain to Jon and the audience what went on back then.

    (Also the whole 'warging' thing seems mostly missing from the show (in that it's there but hardly with the same level of focus). I don't know if that means it just won't be important or the show is going in a different direction.

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  2. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 1:46 am

    "Doreah’s tale of the moon being an egg (what a lovely idea)"

    Brill Phil, lovely call out.

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  3. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 1:53 am

    Maybe the Warging thing was just held back for longer, creating more mystery around Bran? As it does seem to appear more when Bran gets further north, culminating in his skills improving, and it's certainly being shown a lot on the other side of the wall within the Wildings. Even though, as you say it is certainly more downplayed.

    One thing that you make me think of that has been on my mind is the playing down of some magical elements (not sure about naming specifics, if we're doing that here?), that leads me to wonder if some of the magic is being held off to appear more later on as events build?

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  4. Michael Durant
    February 16, 2015 @ 2:41 am

    Speaking as someone who has only seen the show, I thought it obvious by this point that Jon was actually Ned's nephew. On the other hand, given a lack of information about the rebellion on screen, I had assumed that Jon was secretly Robert's eldest bastard.

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  5. Blueshift
    February 16, 2015 @ 3:05 am

    It's odd in that whilst the magic is always there (and the first scene is people being attacked by ice zombies, for heavens sake) it is rather downplayed in that it doesn't factor into the lives of 99% of the cast. That said, whilst it is consistently portrayed as being there, some of the overt uses really take me out of the story (mainly the magic with Mance in the later books, not wanting to spoil anything). I remember my reaction was "that is very unrealistic" whereas before I'd taken ice zombies and dragons in stride.

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  6. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 3:19 am

    Yeah that's a good point, it is always there (being manipulated by religion, zombies, etc). I get what you mean about unrealism, as they really do stand out in the books, though I really dug those moments – one I really want to mention, but I'd like to not spoil folks either. Funnily they took me more into the books, as I felt like a wider story was then being revealed that all the families locked into their personal/historical conflicts couldn't see, that was about the awakening of magic.

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  7. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 3:22 am

    I have read all of the books and did so after the show (well part way through) and my partner and I could see that there was a Targaryen connection somehow though his eyes, his features. And of course as you say Phil the intercutting between the Wall and Dany creates and implicit link.

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  8. IG
    February 16, 2015 @ 4:18 am

    Interesting stuff (for someone who has seen all the series but not read the books). This sentence confused me though:

    " In particular, several of the scenes added from the books are helpful. " I initially read this as scenes from the books added at this point in the series, but in context I think you meant "scenes added TO the books".

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  9. Aylwin
    February 16, 2015 @ 5:11 am

    I'm having trouble seeing any coherence in the way magic is presented (on TV anyway, and by the sound of it the books aren't much clearer). On the one hand, there's definitely an idea that it has largely faded away but is now returning. On the other there seems to have been rather a lot of it about before, at least outside the Seven Kingdoms. Natives of Essos like the Lhazareen witch, Melisandre, Jaqen or Varys's sorceror keep popping up, while warging is presented as an unremarkable fact of life north of the Wall (then again, Osha seems to be unfamiliar with it and mutters darkly about black magic, so huh), besides the presence of giants and what have you, even before the White Walkers reappear. That frames it more as something "foreign", which has somehow been absent, or simply denied, in Westeros alone. But the most explicit and authoritative statement of fading and return comes from the Warlocks of Qarth, and they're at the other end of the world. Either there's no clear vision or I'm just not seeing the pattern.

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  10. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 5:35 am

    I think you are right with the idea that there's no coherence, as we seem to be looking at a pretty splintered world where as you say there are remnants of it and places where it is stronger.

    Just reading what you are saying makes me agree and think that many of the negative attitudes to magic either as a child's fantasy or something that is representative of the "foreign", seem to come from the mainland of Westeros, and even the population that live close to magic maybe down to prejudices simply don't want to see it, or do and judge it?

    I guess I'm not thinking that there is a clear vision, the ideas here in response to Phil's post bubbled up. Maybe the pattern is that is interesting to observe what the responses to magic are in different groups and perhaps this would then tell us something about them? As it seems that many on Westeros are ignoring magic (or magical beings) at their own peril, whilst others will attempt to use them for their own will.

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  11. Aylwin
    February 16, 2015 @ 5:47 am

    Regarding Robb and epic templates, I suppose the roles of the rest of the younger Starks and Targaryens all fit the framework of "belonging" by birth at the centres of power and security, but being variously dispossessed by violence and pushed out to find their way at the margins (even when, in Sansa's case, it's in a marginalised and disempowered role right at the centre). That is presumably key to their thematic contribution to a story where power is the prevalent preoccupation and where the margins are coming to eat the centre, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world* etc, though I don't know how it all fits together yet. The very fact that he can step into his father's shoes would presumably rule out Robb as a contributor to that set-up.

    *At the point in the story where I am at the moment, there remains a statistically significant possibility that the answer to Yeats's question is "Lord Twatbeard".

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  12. Aylwin
    February 16, 2015 @ 6:19 am

    Incidentally, I like the fact that while it's repeatedly remarked that Jon's conception represents Ned's one lapse from unwaveringly honourable behaviour, his true identity reveals that Ned actually spent the last 17 years of his life letting his wife and everyone else think he was an adulterer in order (presumably) to keep Jon safe, which is such a 100% Ned thing to do. It also ties in nicely with his disgust at the proposal to kill Danaerys and her unborn child and his final willingness to lie and sacrifice his pride so as to protect his children.

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  13. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 6:25 am

    Yes when you think of who Jon really is, it does reveal a lot about Ned.

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  14. John
    February 16, 2015 @ 7:24 am

    My sense is that the return of dragons is connected to the return/increasing strength of fire-based magic, but that other forms of magic have always been around, and even fire magic wasn't totally dead before.

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  15. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 7:38 am

    Yeah I think that too, that maybe none of the forms of magic have really died out, but it's perhaps that they are coming back into consciousness.

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  16. Blueshift
    February 16, 2015 @ 11:30 pm

    Actually I'm 1/3 through the first GoT book now, and there's a passage about how the Doom of Valareia caused the death of all magic in Westeros, but there is still magic to be found in the east, or something like that.

    The Maesters certainly seem to have control of knowledge, and they look to be more science-based than magic based. Has all the magic we've seen cast by characters been religion-based?

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  17. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 11:37 pm

    Thanks for that, I forgotten about the Doom – it's been ages since I read the books and they are pretty dense (which I love), that I have not retained a lot of details.

    Yes the Maesters look down on the idea of magic as a myth don't they, so are more knowledge/science based, and later on some magic is carried out under religion's banner.

    So yeah, it seems there's magic still in the East apparently and North of the Wall.

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  18. Blueshift
    February 16, 2015 @ 11:41 pm

    I suppose that implies that culturally the Targarians were against the use of magic if the 'death' of magic in the West coincided with the invasion. I suppose if you already have giant firebreathing dragons, you don't want to encourage anyone to have an edge. That said, is there any evidence that 'flashy' magic was that widespread in Westeros aside from more 'pagan' magic?

    How old is the order of Maesters, do we know that from anything?

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  19. Daru
    February 16, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

    Yeah they would be against any other force having power that could topple them. I don't think there is any evidence that there was ever Harry Otter type magic, that it looks like it was Pagan/Earth based, you're right.

    Wasn't sure about the origins of the Maesters, but found this on the GoT Wikia:

    "The Maesters are said to have originated in Oldtown itself, back when it was a small kingdom of the First Men – long before the Andal Invasion six thousand years ago. Thus they are not an Andal institution brought to Westeros, nor did they predate the First Men migration to Westeros."

    http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Maesters

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  20. liminal fruitbat
    February 18, 2015 @ 10:11 am

    The diminishing of magic in Westeros coincided with/was caused by the Doom, not the Targaryens invading. Their dragons got weaker and smaller as well. (Spoilers for A Feast For Crows: Vg'f gur Znrfgref jub ner gur znwbe sbepr va Jrfgrebf fhccerffvat zntvp, qentbaf vapyhqrq.)

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  21. BerserkRL
    February 18, 2015 @ 11:27 am

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  22. Daru
    February 18, 2015 @ 9:57 pm

    Yeah good point fruitbat (spoiler interpreted!)

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  23. Daru
    February 18, 2015 @ 10:07 pm

    Brill thanks! Love the Thing of Nouns bit.

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  24. Blueshift
    February 18, 2015 @ 11:23 pm

    Are they actively suppressing magic though? Or is it just that they prefer science over magic, ie the European rationalists over the Eastern mystics.

    I thought the diminishing of the dragons was down to interbreeding, basically, as all the dragons of Westeros were born from the line of the three that came over with the original Targaryan invasion. That, and environmental factors.

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  25. Daru
    February 20, 2015 @ 1:21 am

    "Or is it just that they prefer science over magic, ie the European rationalists over the Eastern mystics."

    It feels like that is a central part of the conflict that is going on – that between rationalism and mysticism – do you think?

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  26. Blueshift
    February 20, 2015 @ 2:59 am

    I'm not sure. I think there is that aspect to it, but if you look at the 'mystical' sides, they are not always opposed to the 'rational'.

    Others/White Walkers – evil ice necromancers wanting to murder everyone
    Children of the Forest – chilling with Bran, clearly not on the side of the White Walkers
    Mellasandre – supporting Stannis to take the kingdom/support the Wall
    Dany – Has her dragons, chilling in Mereen (sp?), plans to sail and take the Iron Throne no matter who sits on it

    I mean yes, you can take Dany's plot as Eastern mysticism vs West, but then a lot of the 'rationalist' characters flock to her, and apart from dragons, that's really the only mystical thing she has.

    There was actually an interesting passage where Mellisandre mentions how her magic is far more powerful at the Wall (and assumedly past that point, where the Others and Children of the Forest live, is the super magical part of Westeros). The North still believes in the pagan powers of the Old Gods (and state they are less able to protect the more south you go, assumedly because all the southern Weirwoods were cut down, but I wonder if it is more to do with the magic in the north.

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  27. Daru
    February 20, 2015 @ 3:09 am

    Yeah, I'm not sure either as throughout the whole show in it's different aspects, on thing it seems to be doing deliberately is to blur the usual hard definitions fantasy makes like good/evil, chaos/order, etc, to create a more complex picture overall.

    That's a good reminder about the power of magic in the North. The Starks are age old descendants of the Children of the Forest, thus as you say more connected to the pagan forces of the land even if they don't remember. The Weirwood groves are a great symbolic representation of the power remaining in the land of the North.

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  28. Blueshift
    February 20, 2015 @ 3:28 am

    The Starks are age old descendants of the Children of the Forest

    First Men, I thought, rather than Children of the Forest

    As far as I am aware, the Children of the Forest are the original inhabitants of Westeros, akin to the faeire etc of British legend
    The First Men are the original human settlers akin to pagan Britain. They worshipped the old gods, aka the Weirwood faces
    Then there was the Andal invasion (akin to the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain) who also brought their own religion (the Seven)
    Then 300 years ago there was the Targaryan invasion, which seems to be more like the Norman Conquests, in that it changed the political landscape and affects Lords / courtly language etc. Did the Targaryans have their own religion, as the Seven seemed to still be the dominant one post-Targaryan invasion.

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  29. Daru
    February 20, 2015 @ 3:41 am

    Oh I meant to say the First Men thanks!

    Yeah the Children were the original population, and the First Men co-existed with them for thousands of years (after an initial struggle); then they fought the White Walkers together, after which the Wall was raised by Bran the Builder (who apparently built the original Winterfell too).

    Don't know what religion the Targaryan's had.

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  30. curlyjimsam750
    February 24, 2015 @ 10:24 am

    "Doreah’s tale of the moon being an egg (what a lovely idea)"

    i c what u did there

    Reply

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