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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.


  1. Dietmar D.
    May 23, 2016 @ 7:15 am

    “A liberal apologia for feudalism”: yes, exactly, that’s what a lot of very intelligent leftist Fantasy veers close to, I guess somewhat by necessity – i.e. in much the same way as some of the aesthetics of bourgeois emancipation and bourgeois “progress” under absolutism and in revolutionary times was a liberal apologia for slave-owning societies like the Greeks and the Romans. I’m not saying that to knock them down. You gotta use what’s available, and “closed for renovation until we come up with something unheard of” is simply not what happens when societies transform. The only way for Renaissance progressives to imagine a culture that was not feudal was to dress up their post-feudal longings in pre-feudal classicist garb. This might sound depressingly similar to a generalized statement like “any critique of something that’s bad and contemporary awakens, to some extent, the sleeping Monsters of something that ain’t much better and is just a whole lot older” – if not for the fact that sometimes stuff that’s “backward” serves as a decent starting point for attacking something that seems to be stuck with itself simply by way of contrast. That this may be useful, and even beautiful, stems from the fact that one of the most important ideological tools of every unjust Society mankind has ever suffered has been and still is the suggestion that “there cannot be any other functional way to run things”. To answer that with: “But they used to do things differently” means that all the contemporary shit that oppresses people, locks them in, keeps them out, abuses, controls and exploits them (or as is sometimes the case now: does not even do these things anymore but simply leaves people to physically rot and mentally die in utter anomie) is NOT eternal, it has NOT “always been thus” and therefore need not always be so. On the other hand: disputing the ahistorical claims of apologists of the present system by showing them how messy “history” actually is (instead of the streamlined & neat optimization legend they feed us) probably always results in the “moral ambiguities” that you mention, at least if it’s done lege artis. The only way to avoid these ambiguities, if your goal is to use your imagination in order to not get stuck in the self-evidence of the given and its established origin stories (a “goal”, I think, that GRRM and the GoT-people are shooting for, at least that’s what GRRM has always done, from Fantasy to Horror to SF, from “Wild Cards” to “Armageddon Rag”) could only be avoided entirely by switching to overtly utopian modes of speculation. But these often lack the power to really drive home the point that people’s decisions matter more than official stories of it-has-to-be-what-it-is give them credit for, because you can always fault utopian speculation for “just making shit up”. If you make shit up in order to come to grips with actual shit, then at least please do make up shit that’s not easily resolved, which is what GoT does, because that’s when the contrast is strongest: Official ideology (be it feudal: Roman Catholicism and “deus vult”, or globalist-capitalist: Neo-Liberalism) claims that stuff resolves itself if only the troublemakers would stop messing with it (“the housing crisis is the fault of meddlers who want to provide decent homes for poor people” etc.). Great Fantasy gets in your face with a good answer to that :”Don’t tell me the system works and takes care of itself, because it never did and no, it doesn’t, and what’s more: if you really believe it does, and act accordingly, everything will get a whole lot worse in spectacular ways” (Dragons, War, Financial Crises).


  2. Tom Marshall
    May 23, 2016 @ 11:32 am

    As I say elsewhere:

    That ending is a very powerful moment – and also rather Moffat-y, I thought. Which is surprisingly enough a reasonably welcome direction for this normally-quite-linear show. They really did right by the character there, it worked cleverly and was well shot/acted etc; a great sequence with Meera and the White Warriors too.

    What with this whole new timey wimey element in Bran’s visions they’ve got going on, expanding the mythology by seeing the Children of the Forest “creating” the White Walkers and so on, it makes me wonder if when we see Bran seeing the second half of the Tower of Joy scene, he won’t in some way be responsible for saving or creating his father… again, a very Moffaty twist.

    This season is really picking up. Loved the last two episodes, some of the strongest mid-season ones we’ve ever had. Just very, very dramatic stuff. My brother theorises this is because they’re not adapting source material awkwardly to fit TV pacing any more, so now they can just pace things as excitingly as they want… which occasionally leads to difficulty, like the Children of the Forest not getting much back-story (I was very bewildered for a moment there), but also allows you to have moments like “oh shit, the Night King is coming… oh SHIT, he’s here!!!!”

    Iron Islands continues to get more interesting. Euron’s plan to seduce Daenerys and take her lands…well, he’s got another think coming I expect. Dunno about their version of a coronation though!

    And that Dany/Jorah scene was hackneyed but rather sweet.


  3. Jane
    May 23, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

    Of course this time-travel episode was directed by Jack Bender, the primary director on LOST.


    • Kat
      May 23, 2016 @ 2:48 pm

      Not only time travel, but one where a flashback to the past becomes immediately relevant for understanding a character in the present, and in which past and present literally touch and bleed into one another, which is LOST all over.


  4. Simon
    May 23, 2016 @ 10:28 pm

    One thing that slightly took me out of the action this week was realising that the actor “portraying” Ned Stark in the mummer’s version was none other than The Actor Kevin Eldon… and that was topped by recognising who’d played Robert Baratheon only when he spoke in his own voice. They gave RICHARD E. GRANT such a small part… and one where he tells another actor “There are no small parts.” This episode did eat itself somewhat…


    • Jarl
      May 24, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

      We’ve not seen the last of him, I’d wager.


  5. Iain Coleman
    May 25, 2016 @ 10:18 am

    The ending is powerful for all the reasons Phil mentions, but for me the best and cleverest part of the episode was the play. Having seen these events as they happened, we now see how they are turned into stories – specifically, the kinds of stories that the people want to hear and that suit those in power.

    This is most obvious in the actor Kevin Eldon’s glorious portrayal of Ned Stark as a generic Northern buffoon, but there are so many small ways in which incidents we have seen are distorted, transposed or recontextualised so as to give them radically different meanings.

    What a splendid episode.


  6. tomp
    May 25, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

    Certainly the strongest episode of the series so far.

    1. the world building felt even more strained than usual (the iron islands, do they really have enough fiberous material for the sails of 1000 ships? if they do why didn’t they already make them? etc. etc.)

    2. I would have liked to see Sansa make Littlefinger squirm for significantly longer, like really made that scene genuinely uncomfortable. All the torture and rape we’ve endured and it felt like the writers couldn’t acknowledge that even in retrospect.


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