The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman Review

This book is set 10 years after His Dark Materials. Lyra is twenty years-old and studying at Oxford University. It still follows on from the first in the series La Bell Sauvage, we see Malcolm has grown up to be a professor at Oxford and he even tried to teach Lrya when she was a teenager. She didn’t know, of course that he saved her life when she was just a baby.

Lyra and Pan are launched straight into a mystery surrounding roses. Pan often goes out at night on his own and he witnessed a murder. Lyra and Pan always seem to attract trouble and they are still in danger from the Magisterium. The whole world is being dictated to by the Magisterium, they are scary people and their power is growing.

It broke my heart to see that Pan and Lyra are having trouble connecting. Ever since Lyra had to go to the Underworld in The Anber Spyglass, her and Pan have been able to move around separately but it also seems their relationship has suffered over the years since. Lyra has also lost the ability to read her alethiometer naturally, she now has to rely on books to tell her all the symbol meanings.

The Secret Commonwealth is the secret world of mythical creatures. Faries and many other creatures live in Lyra’s world but most people don’t know they exist or don’t believe in them. I love this idea, I think that’s what our world is like too.

I’m so glad we get to see more of Malcolm and more of the secret organisation he’s a part of. It was created to fight the Magisterium but their nunbers are dwindling. We get to see a lot more of the politics of Lyra’s world in this book. Everything is a lot more complicated.

The way that the humans without their daemons are treated and how they feel is like they have mental health issues. People avoid them unnecessarily, they’re afraid of them. And Lyra feels lonely and broken. Seeing Lyra go through this self loathing is tough, your early twenties are really difficult. I just wanted to give her a hug.

“She felt as if shed woken up in chains and couldn’t free herself, so she had to carry them with her wherever she went, like a badge of shame.”

An incrdible book, very emotional and thought provoking. At the beginning Lyra is reading a lot of philosophy books that question the existence of daemons but on her journey she finds out about the Secret Commonwealth. There is more magic around us than we think and we often forget that as we grow up.

The book ends on a cliffhanger of course! I don’t know when the next book will be published or even what it’s called, but I am eager to read it! Philip Pullman once again has drawn me in to Lyra’s world and I don’t want to leave.

“‘There are philosophers who say that the failure would be to believe, not to disbelieve.’ ‘Then they have separated their intelligences from their other faculties. And that is not an intelligent thing to do.’”

A Song of Ice and Fire Re-read – A Dance With Dragons

This post will contain spoilers for A Dance With Dragons!

As I suspected I was not as into this book as I was AFFC. I enjoyed meeting Griff and Quentyn but some of the chapters at the beginning started to bore me a bit. Also please get Stannis away from me. In the middle it gets more exciting as everyone closes in on Meereen.

At the beginning it appears that both Tyrion and Jon have changed for the worse. Tyrion is horrible, all he thinks of is violence, he scared a girl half to death in his first chapter. Jon is making cruel decisions like sending Gilly away without her baby and sending Maester Aemon to his death to ‘protect them’. Just tell Stannis to go away, he’s a sociopath, you don’t have to be one too Jon!

Bran’s chapters end early on, we barely hear anything from him. He is still trying to learn how to use his gift. But there is a chapter with Theon where he is in Winterfell’s Godswood, he hears whispers and thinks he can see Bran’s face in the weirwood tree so clearly our boy is getting better.

I enjoyed reading about all the characters converging on Meereen. Quentyn, Griff, Aegon and Tyrion all trying to get to Dany and trying to navigate around all the armies headed for the city. Dany is in real trouble, she has about ten armies heading for her city. While inside the city walls her people are being murdered. It’s an absolute mess and I still don’t fully understand her decision to stay there rather than head for her ‘home’ in Westeros. Not that I want her to attack my babies but I am worried for her.

The biggest game changer in this book is finding out that Rhaegar’s son Aegon is still alive. Jon Connington, one of Rhaegar’s childhood friends somehow swapped the boy for another and has kept him hidden in Essos all this time. They have been plotting with Varys to get Aegon to marry Dany. Another Targaryen changes everything, ‘the dragon has three heads.’ Aegon is the second. But he decided to go in a different direction on Tyrion’s advice, Aegon takes the Golden Company across the sea himself to take Westeros. They don’t have any dragons but they do have the element of surprise and a war torn country to prey upon.

Tyrion gets his humour back later on. He also saves Jorah from being sold to a woman who kills her slaves for meat. They end up escaping their masters and joining the Second Sons. Tyrion is trying to convince them to join Team Dany again when we leave them. But Dany has gone, she has disappeared with Drogon so who knows if she will ever see Jorah again.

Jon also chills out slightly. He sasses Stannis’ wife and her stupid guards. It’s hilarious how up their own arses they are. Jon thinks Arya is riding to the wall fleeing Winterfell and the Boltons but it’s actually Alys Karstark who is running from her uncles and an unwanted marriage. As we know Arya is in Bravos learning how to become an assassin! I am proud of Jon, he made sure all the wildlings could come through the Wall and help protect themselves from the White Walkers. But some of the Night’s Watch loathed him for it. My Jon died alone in the cold, betrayed and stabbed by his own men.

The only Theon chapter I could read without wanting to throw the book across the room was quite late on. The Bolton’s and their allies are all snowed in at Winterfell, waiting for Stannis’ army to arrive. But men keep turning up, murdered, the storm is only getting worse. The North Rememberers.

Jaime only has one chapter, he’s just wandering through the Riverlands, in no haste to get back to King’s Landing where his sister is imprisoned! Thanks bro. But before he can get home he comes across Brienne. Usually this would be great, but she has been tasked with bringing Jaime to Lady Stoneheart. I don’t know how Jaime is going to talk himself out of this, I just really don’t want him to die!

Cersei’s chapters broke my heart. I hate seeing her suffer like that. The whole time she is imprisoned she still has faith that Jaime is coming with his army to save her. But we know that is not true. I am so in awe of her strength, even when faced with the humiliation of the walk of atonement, she is fierce and strong and knows that this is the only way to reach Tommen. I was sobbing through the whole chapter but she has her champion now, the Sparrows’ days are numbered.

This is a re-read but I completely forgot what happened in the epilogue! Kevan Lannister is now acting a regent. He is trying to make the chaos around him better. But he is doing too good a job. He was summoned to Grand Maester Pycelle’s chambers, only the old man is dead and Kevan gets shot in the chest with a crossbow. Varys has somehow managed to get back into to capital. He’s determined to have chaos so that Aegon can swoop in and take the throne. Kevan was the Lannister’s only hope, I have no idea what is going to happen in The Winds of Winter but it doesn’t bode well for most of my favourites.

On my kill list: Stannis, Melisandre, Theon, The Boltons, Walder Frey and all of his offspring, The High Sparrow and all his followers, the Ironborn, Jon’s murderers and Varys.

Let me protect them: Cersei, Jaime, Brienne, Arya, Tyrion, Jorah and Dany.

Heartbreaking death: Jon Snow

Some people believe that Jon isn’t dead or that he will be brought back in TWOW but to me it was clear that Jon died in his last chapter. I will never forgive those traitorous pieces of shit for killing Jon. He was the kindest and most intelligent person at the Wall. Jon was the only person who could see that by protecting the wildlings he was stopping the Wights army of the dead from growing stronger. The betrayal is the worst part, Jon put everything into being the best Lord Commander of the Nights Watch he could and they stabbed him in the back, literally. I am so sorry Jon.

Favourite quotes:Men are beasts, selfish and brutal. However gentle the words, there are always darker motives underneath.” – Vagarro’s Widow

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never reads lives only one.” – Jojen Reed

“I rose too high, loved too hard, dared too much. I tried to grasp a star, overreached and fell.” – Jon Connington, this quote breaks my heart. He’s spent most of his life in love with Rhaegar and hoping some day to avenge him.

“I am a lioness, I will not cringe for them.” – Cersei Lannister

“However bright a torch might burn it could never match the rising sun.” – Kevan Lannister, thinking that if Rhaegar had married Cersei the prince would not have turned to Lyanna.

That’s all we have for the moment, most of my favourites are in peril and I am patiently waiting for The Winds of Winter to be published!

The Virgin’s War by Laura Andersen Review

“She was a princess walking a dangerous path between competing powers that would tear her to pieces the instant she slipped.”

This is the last in the Tudor Legacy series, what a thrilling and wonderful end it is. I will miss this series and the characters in it. The Courtenay family have such strong bonds with each other and as a reader you feel part of their family too.

The book begins two years after the events of The Virgin’s Spy. Stephen and Kit are training in France with their father’s oldest friend Renaud LeClerc. Lucette is at home with her husband but has suffered miscarriages. Her family are worried for her because of the emotional toll it has taken. Pippa is at Princess Anabel’s side in the North of England. Pippa saw in a vision that it was important for Anabel to win the Catholics in the North to their side. Minuette and Dominic are at their home in Wynfield Motte, they have not spoken to Queen Elizabeth since she banished Stephen.

War is coming, much like in history the Spanish are building an armada and plan to invade England. But in this story Philip thinks he has an extra weapon in his daughter Anabel. He believes that Anabel and Elizabeth have fallen out. He sends a vile fanatic to try and mold the Princess and get her to change her allegiances.

One of the things I have loved about this series is how Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anabel are portrayed. They are fiercely strong, independent and intelligent. They cannot be manipulated and rule brilliantly on their own.

I really enjoyed reading how everyone prepared for the war. The Courtenay’s were key to the plan, their ties to our royals are strong and they are dependable friends. It was great to see all the younger characters evolve over the story. They are strong and clever and brave. I am so proud of them. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but well worth it! I cried a lot at the end which is not unlike me, I hate goodbyes.

“You’ve been playing games with royalty. Royalty does not require evidence.”

A Song of Ice and Fire Re-read: A Feast for Crows

This is my favourite of the series so far simply because three of my best characters have the most chapters; Cersei, Brienne and Jaime! It’s the first time we get to see Westeros through Cersei and Brienne’s eyes and I have the best time reading their thoughts. Cersei is sassy and so brutal I laugh a lot, unless she makes me emotional. Brienne is an absolute gem, I love learning more about her and her childhood. I just want to give her a massive hug. Jaime continues to be the chaotic sass king that we know and love.

We get to go to Dorne, finally! I love Dorne, the people are so badass, I would not mess with them! Arianne Martel is the next in line to rule Dorne. In Dorne women can inherit lands and titles before men and Arianne is a true feminist, she wants those rights for Princess Mrycella as well. Dorne however is in meltdown, they have lost their beloved Prince Oberyn, his bastard daughters The Sand Snakes want revenge. But Doran Martell is intelligent, he knows they can’t win a war against the Lannisters now that they have the Tyrell’s with them. He makes the decision to keep the girls imprisoned so they don’t stir up anymore trouble.

Brienne is literally the kindest person in Westeros and everyone treats her like crap and always has, it’s so depressing! When Brienne went to fight for Renly, the knights in the camp had a bet on who could seduce her first. They were all being nice and romantic to her face and then laughing behind her back, they are all on my kill list. Brienne cares so much about others, even when she came across some of the Bloody Mummers who captured her and Jaime in A Clash of Kings, they attacked her again, she killed them and still felt guilty. Even though they are evil! She deserves all the good things in the world and I would love to adopt her and show her the love she deserves!! Her last two chapters broke my heart completely, she tried to protect a group of children against seven horrible men and then got captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners. They took her for a Lannister, unfortunately her sword does have a lion on its pommel…and she has a note from the King granting her permission to move about the land. Lady Stoneheart told her to kill Jaime and she could go free, but Brienne would rather die until she sees her friends being killed too. I’m still crying about it.

Cersei starts the book having just learned her father is dead. And has been murdered by Tyrion who she thought was locked away. Cersei gets increasingly paranoid that Tyrion is still creeping around the castle in the walls. She decides to burn down the Tower of the Hand with wildfire after Tywin’s funeral. So extra, I love it! Cersei is not going to let anyone take her power from her, Tommen is still far too young to rule and like hell is my girl going to let a man rule over her again. Unfortunately Cersei manages to anger both Jaime and Kevan in her ruling. They are the only dependable family she has left. She makes some questionable decisions, the worst by far was letting the creepy, pious ‘sparrows’ take up arms in the name of the Faith. The Faith Militant were disbanded and banned back in the early Targaryen days. They caused trouble for Maegor I who had super powerful dragons at his disposal. To give them power back is beyond stupid, these idiots are obsessed with ‘sinners’ and punishing them. No one is safe. One of the most important things we learnt about Cersei was the prophecy she heard about herself when she was a child. She went to see a Maegi with her friends, Cersei still thought she would get to marry Prince Rhaegar at this point so her questions were about that. “Queen you shall be, until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear. Three children for you. Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds. And when your tears have drowned you, the volonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” The prophecy explains a lot of Cersei’s paranoia, she believes Margaery is going to take everything from her, that all her children will die before her and that Tyrion will kill her. I don’t think the younger brother mentioned in the prophecy is Tyrion. Jaime was born after Cersei, by moments but he is younger and his growing rage towards her could spell serious trouble. I worry for Cersei, mainly because I know what’s coming.

Jaime is spiralling in King’s Landing. He’s still trying to recover from loosing his hand and Tyrion’s warning to him that Cersei has been having multiple affairs keeps ringing in his head. He also has to deal with the guilt that he caused his father’s death. He let Tyrion free and his brother went straight to kill Tywin. Awkward. Jaime refuses to rule as the King’s Hand, he struggles enough with leading the Kingsguard. He is better at politics than he gives himself credit for but he’ll never be as good as Tyrion. Cersei sends Jaime to the Riverlands to take Riverrun back from Brynden Tully. On his way there he saw how desolate that part of the realm is now. It has been destroyed by the war. Outlaws roam the land along with a huge pack of wolves led by a direwolf. Jaime’s disdain of the Frey’s made me laugh, he tore some of them apart. They are a bunch of idiots and Lady Stoneheart is coming for them. Jaime seemed to feel better outside the city walls, but the outlaws may find him too, before long.

On my kill list: Littlefinger, Hyle Hunt and all the vile knights who were horrible to Brienne, Randyll Tarly, Walder Frey and all of his pathetic spawn, Olenna Tyrell, the Ironborn, The High Sparrow and his followers.

Let me protect them: Brienne, Cersei, Jaime, Arya, Sansa, the smallfolk of Westeros.

Heartbreaking death: Maester Aemon

Maester Aemon was one of the kindest and wisest characters in the whole series. He thought he was the last Targaryen in the world for years, but luckily before he died he found out about Dany and her dragons. I will miss all the knowledge he had to share, one of the things I find most incredible about him is that he could have been a king. His older brothers all died but he was already training to become a maester. He knew he wouldn’t be a good ruler so he declined and the throne went to his younger brother Aegon instead. He was never hungry for power, and he worked at the Wall to protect the whole Kingdom. And now his watch has ended.

Favourite quotes: “It was one thing to slay a lion, another to hack his paw off and leave him broken and bewildered.” – Brienne thinking about when Jaime lost his hand.

“She wanted sleet and ice, howling winds, thunder to shake the very stones of the Red Keep. She wanted a storm to match her rage.” – Cersei – this sums up Cersei’s constant rage so well, whenever I am angry this quote comes into my head.

“The women are the strong ones, truly.” – Arys Oakheart – thanks bro.

“Words are wind. They cannot hurt you. Let them wash over you.” – Brienne – this woman is so strong the amount of crap she puts up with from everyone else and still she carries on, so proud of her.

“It is being common born that is dangerous when the great lords play their game of thrones.” – Septon Meribald

The next in the series is A Dance With Dragons, George decided to split AFFC and ADWD up to focus on different characters which is why everyone at the Wall and in Essos wasn’t mentioned in AFFC. I’m probably not going to have as much fun with the first half of ADWD but I am looking forward to reading from Tyrion’s point of view again.

The Virgin’s Spy by Laura Andersen Review

In this part of Laura Andersen’s historical AU, England is in trouble, a war with Spain is brewing. Since Elizabeth and Philip divorced each other tensions have reached dangerous levels. Mary Queen of Scots managed to flee England at the end of the last book and has now married Philip. The monarchs have chosen Ireland as their first battle ground. There has been war there for years but this is the first time Spain is getting involved to defend the Catholics. The atmosphere and tone is so well set. It feels not just real but almost as if it is history.

Fortunately we are English. We are not easily seduced by beauty.”

Stephen Courtenay is sent to fight with some of his father’s men. But while there he meets a vile and ruthless English officer who orders the slaughter of an Irish town, including all the women inside. Stephen manages to save the female prisoners and tries to escort them to a more honourable Lord. But his camp is taken by surprise in the night, they slaughter the women and most of Stephen’s men. Stephen was found by English soilders and taken to safety, he was injured but managed to survive. When he got home he had PTSD and tried to drink the intrusive thoughts and the pain away.

The Courtenay’s are worried about Stephen but the person that gets through to him and helps him is Julian, Lucie’s husband, who we met in the last book. They trained together to build up Stephen’s strength and help him mentally too. Stephen wanted revenge, he was sure that it was an the horrible English officer that ordered the attack on him. He decided to go under cover in Ireland to help Elizabeth and enact his revenge.

“How often does a woman get the chance to answer the crimes against her? I have that chance and I will not forsake it.”

Meanwhile the twins and their parents travel to Spain to visit King Philip on behalf of Anabel who can’t risk her own safety, even to visit her father. I really enjoyed reading more about the twins, Kit and Pippa’s, relationship. Pippa has some psychic abilities but when it comes to her brother they can both read each other’s thoughts and feel what the other is. “Kit narrowed in on the intangible thread that bound him to his sister. It was as delicate as silk and as durable as diamonds, the finest, brightest part of him.”

Although lots of history are changed in the books, some elements are still very accurate. The political climate was this difficult for Elizabeth to navigate in real life, she walked the fine line between Protestant and Catholic.

“That meant they held all the cards. And that was the only way Elizabeth liked playing.”

A Song of Ice and Fire Re-read – A Storm of Swords

This post will contain spoilers for A Storm of Swords so don’t read on if you haven’t read it yet.

A Storm of Swords is a very long book, so long that it’s split into two here in the UK. This one probably has the most major character deaths of the bunch. It’s terribly emotional and Westeros is in absolute chaos. Four Kings are left standing but by the end of the book three of those will be dead.

One of my favourite things about the book is Jaime’s pov chapters, we get to see his adventures with Brienne. I say adventure and it sounds fun but they had an awful time trying to outrun everyone and get back to King’s Landing in one piece. Jaime is very sarcastic and therefore funny to read but I also love reading about his life in the Kingsguard when he was younger. The chapter when he opens up to Brienne about when he killed the Mad King is so emotional and adds more complexity to his character.

I was got very frustrated that no one would listen to the women in this book. Catelyn knows so much, she knew Theon wasn’t to be trusted and when Robb brought his stupid wife back and her family, Cat knew that their fear of Grey Wind was a bad sign as well as obviously angering the most petty Lord in the whole Seven Kingdoms. Also Cersei sensed danger at Joffrey marring Margeary and she was right, he died.

Never go to a wedding in Westeros. First we have Sansa having to marry Tyrion who is over twice her age and worse for Sansa, a Lannister. Tyrion was also unhappy with the match and refused to share Sansa’s bed until she was ready.

Then of course we have the Red Wedding which is the most devastating event in ASOIAF. Robb Stark was winning the war until he broke his word to Walder Frey and married someone from the Westerlands instead of one of Frey’s daughters/granddaughters. The Northerners need to get back to their homeland to take back their homes from the Ironborn, but the way is barred by the Freys. Eventually they come to an agreement and Edmure Tully is to marry a Frey instead. All seems well, Robb apologised and was forgiven. But after the wedding feast a slaughter ensued. All our Northerners were murdered, including Robb and Cat and their army outside the castle. The worst part is that Arya was within moments of seeing her family again before they were taken from her. I will never be able to read those chapters without ugly sobbing, it’s so horrible.

Lastly we had the Purple Wedding. A royal wedding with Joffrey and Margaery tying the knot. Everything was going fine until Joffrey decided to use Tyrion’s embarrassment as a source of entertainment. He insists that Tyrion be his cub bearer and pours wine over his head. But someone else had better ideas than letting their only granddaughter marry a sociopath. Joffrey appeared to choke on some pie, but really he was poisoned. I hate Joffrey but Cersei having to loose her son that way breaks my heart. Tyrion was set up, he was the one pouring the King’s wine, the perfect time to slip him some poison.

Tyrion’s trial was also a set up. It’s a tough read because of the injustice of it all. Tyrion has no witnesses himself so he looses it, confesses that he would love to murder everyone in the room and call for a trial by combat. Full respect, Tyrion has been treated like rubbish his entire life and finally he has had enough. The trial by combat is such a good chapter. Oberyn Martell agreed to fight for Tyrion against the monster that is Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain. The Mountain killed Oberyn’s sister twenty years ago when King’s Landing fell in the war. Oberyn wanted revenge and almost had it, but he would not finish it, he had Clegane on his back, stabbed and dying but he insisted on waiting until Clegane had admitted his crimes. The most gory major death to date in ASOIAF I think, sorry Oberyn!

The epilogue is arguably my favourite part of the book. The Brotherhood without Banners have recruited another undead member. Thoros brought our Catelyn back to life. She can’t speak and she can’t remember much, but she is out for revenge and hanging Frey’s in the Riverlands with the help of the Brotherhood. I am desperate to read more of Lady Stoneheart, my poor Cat.

Favourite death: Tywin Lannister, I hate this guy, he’s been emotionally abusing his children for decades so it’s no surprise that Tyrion was the one to finally end his life. The best part is that he was on the toilet! “Tywin Lannister, in the end, did not shit gold.” One of my favourite lines ever, so funny.

Let me protect them: Arya, Sansa, Jon, Tyrion, Jaime, Cersei, Brienne, Bran and the smallfolk of Westeros.

Favourite quotes: “Their blades made a little island of light , but all around them stretched a sea of darkness, unending.” – In Jaime’s dream, him and Brienne are casting the only light he can see. When he wakes up he goes back to Harrenhall to stop her being killed by the vile Bloody Mummers.

“Sansa is no longer yours to torment. Understand that, monster.” – Tyrion to Joffrey.

“A man has a right to vengeance. But he slew a man beneath his roof, and that the gods cannot forgive.” – Old Nan from a story she told Bran. Frey is going down.

“Brienne looked so miserable that Jaime almost found himself wanting to comfort her.” – Jaime (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)

“We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us and one day our children will take up our strings and dance in our steads.” – Tyrion. I just love this image.

“Sourcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it.” – Dalla

On my kill list: Walder Frey and all of his vile spawn, Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre, The Bloody Mummers, Gregor Clegane, Olenna Tyrell, Littlefinger.



Lost Among the Living by Simone St James Review

“Some mad people wished for death, but others clung to life, even when that life was filled with pain.”

This book is set after WWI in England. Jo’s husband went missing during the war, he was a pilot and his plane was found abandoned. Jo has struggled with her grief and with money ever since, she has to pay for her mother to live in a care home. Out of the blue Jo received a letter from her husband’s aunt asking to employ her as a companion for her travels around Europe.

Once the trip was finished Jo went back to stay with Dottie at Wych Elm House. Dottie’s son Martin was seriously injured in the war and after years in hospital has finally been released to come home. A darkness hangs over the house, Dottie’s daughter died there, she was a troubled girl but at first no one will talk to Jo about her. Frances used to see demons and was terrified every day, she was haunted by nightmares. She probably had some sort of pyschotic disorder but in those days mental health was not spoken about. It appeared that Frances jumped from the roof but on her first day Jo sees the ghost of Frances and realises that she needs to help reveal how she actually died.

I love a good historical mystery and it also had a lot about mental health in the story which is refreshing in a historical fiction novel. It was like reading a classic ghost story at times, I was seriously jumpy after I’d read parts. I wasn’t really scared but it just made me think about ghosts so any random noises freaked me out.

I also solved the mystery before it was revealed (because I’m a genius!) I won’t spoil it for you though. But I write notes as I go and one of my revelations was correct. The characters and their stories, especially Jo and Frances were very compelling. The book had me on the edge of my seat especially towards the end.

“So simple. Lean out, lean over, let gravity take you. Let go.”

Day of the Dead by Nicci French Review

“Everything that happens to you becomes part of you. It’s like what you eat. You metabolize it.”

This is the last book in the Frieda Klein series, I am sad that it’s finished but my goodness this was a thrilling end.

It had an interesting beginning, Frieda is on the run but strange crimes are happening in London. Then we meet Lola, a criminology student hoping to write her thesis on Frieda. But of course she can’t find her so she goes walking as Frieda used and accidentally stumbles upon the most dangerous man in London. Lola finds Frieda by chance and goes into hiding with her. Lola is quite naive she hasn’t grasped the severity of the situation. They are both in danger from a man who has committed several murders over the years of this series and has never been caught by the police.

Frieda can sense that the end is nearly here, either she will die or Dean will be caught. She has lost so much all she wants is for this horror to be over, she can’t stand the thought of her friends being in danger anymore which is why she is on the run. The pace of the story is so quick that it makes it almost impossible to put the book down. I was gripped until the last page, waiting for another twist.

There was a quality to her stillness that felt dangerous as if she might burst into flames.”

A Song of Ice and Fire Re-Read – A Clash of Kings

This will contain spoilers for A Clash of Kings so read on with caution!

This is one of my favourite in the series. The way George describes the war torn country is chilling, in fantasy we often read or see the glory of the battles but not the effects they have on the people left behind. The Riverlands are burning, it’s people rounded up and brutally killed. Arya gets captured by a group of vile men determined to get their hands on gold or the illusive Beric Dondarion who was sent out by Ned Stark to capture the Mountain and is still continuing his quest.

Tyrion had the most chapters in this book which is lucky because his were definitely my favourites. He is either making me laugh or cry, there is no in between! Tyrion and Cersei’s relationship is so complicated, I absolutely love reading them sass each other and try to out do the other. They’re both as dramatic as each other. But ultimately Tyrion worked hard to protect King’s Landing in this book, he was never thanked for it but he saved the city.

The Battle of Blackwater is one of the most epic and chilling sequences in ASOIAF, we flick between Davos, Tyrion and Sansa to get the full view of the battle. I of course was rooting for King’s Landing because half my favourites are in there and Stannis is the worst! I forgot how arrogant and pathetic he was until I read these chapters. He’s convinced he is the Azor Ahai, a prophecy that claims this man will come to save Westeros in its darkest hour. This is hardly our darkest hour for starters and you can’t rule your way out of a paper bag Stannis, face it, no one likes you, no one respects you and using magic to kill your own brother does nothing to help you. That’s probably why I hate him the most, Renly was a sassy gem, I miss him!

One of the most important chapters was when Daenerys visited the House of the Undying. She went there to secure funds for some ships but ended up seeing visions of the past and future. There is so much in there; Dany sees here old childhood home with the red door, she witnesses her father sitting on the Iron Throne calling to “burn them all.” One of the most important visions that we only now know the meaning of now is the Red Wedding *shudders*. Dany sees her brother Rhaegar and his wife Elia after the birth of their son, Rhaegar names his son Aegon and declares he is the prince that was promise, but he wants another child because “the dragon has three heads.” There were many more but my other favourite was a blue flower growing from a chink in a wall of ice (our boy Jon!)

On my kill list: Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy, all the Iron Born, Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Gregor Clegane and everyone working with him and Littlefinger.

Let me protect them: Arya, Sansa, Jon, Tyrion, Jaime, Cersei, Catelyn, Brienne, Bran and the smallfolk of Westeros.

Favourite dynamic: Cersei and Tyrion – although they don’t really get on at all, they’re constantly paranoid that the other person has the upper hand. But honestly together they are so funny, they’re both clever and brilliant at living life in the capital (i.e bribing and manipulating people) if they teamed up they would be unstoppable. There is one moment where Cersei truly shows her affection for Tyrion when they learn that Stannis went to attack Storm’s End, it is such a lovely moment. “They laughed together. Cersei pulled him off the bed and whirled him around and even hugged him. For a moment as giddy as a girl. Is this the Cersei that Jaime sees? When she smiled, you saw how beautiful she truly was.”

Favourite death: Stannis’ hopes and dreams – *evil laugh* when he lost at the Battle of Blackwater he barely left his chambers for weeks, you can’t magic your way out of that one can you! He was an arrogant fool and his army paid the price. My favourite bit of the aftermath is that the soilders swear they saw Renly’s ghost fighting against Stannis, that’s karma!

Favourite quotes: “There are ghosts everywhere. We carry them with us wherever we go.” – Jorah Mormont

“The gods don’t care about men, no more than kings care about peasants.” – Brienne of Tarth

Love is poison, a sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.” – Cersei Lannister

I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did and reviled by so many for my finest act.” – Jaime Lannister

Who I actually want to win the war of the Five Kings: I would have loved Renly and Robb to form an alliance, Robb could rule the North and Riverlands and Renly the rest. But as much as I hate Joffrey, I wouldn’t want the other Lannisters to die so…awkward.

Most heartbreaking deaths: Renly Baratheon – I think it’s so sad because of all the potential that Renly had, yes his claim to the throne wasn’t strong but to be killed by magic, a literal stab in the back by his own brother, it was so awful. Also he’s one of the few gay characters in the series and Loras’ heartbreak at losing his boyfriend was too much. Also Brienne who was also in love with Renly saw him murdered before her eyes but could do nothing, if Catelyn hadn’t been there Brienne would have been left in the pavilion, in shock and sobbing at the death of her king. Luckily Catelyn saw the danger they were in and ran.

Maester Luwin – I mean the entire destruction of Winterfell was awful but when Bran and Rickon find Maester Luwin dying in the Godswood it’s so sad. This man helped raise all the Stark children and when Ned and Catelyn left he became another parent to the boys. He was such a kind and wise man, he did not deserve to die in such a way. When the boys leave him they are leaving behind their childhood and any happy memories that they have from it.

I have started A Storm of Swords already and it’s already making me cry! What are your thoughts on A Clash of Kings?

Nightflyers and Other Stories by George R.R. Martin Review

“Man invents gods because we’re afraid of being alone, scared of an empty universe, scared of the darkling plain.”

I can hardly put into words how brilliant this collection of stories is. My favourite type of story are ones that look at the depths of humanity, our drives and flaws. All these stories are set in our future on alien planets or deep in space and yet we are still the same, still so flawed and desperate to find something better.


An obsessed scientist hires a ship and a crew to take him to an alien ship that he has dremaed of seeing for most of his life. The Volcryn have never made contact with any other race, they are almost as old as the universe and appear to have been fleeing from it for eternity. They travel far away from civilisation on purpose? No one knows.

But their ship has other ideas, their captain stays sealed in his chambers, watching them, only communicating with the humans through a hologram.

This story was creepy and engaging, I really enjoyed it. The whole concept is very clever. Some of the members of the crew were telepathic/psychic and throughout the other stories humans crop up who have those abilities, I really like the idea that we evolve to be able to read minds etc.

But now the darkness woke in the room, a holoscope coming to life, cold black and stars everywhere, points of icy unwinking brilliance, no up and no down and no direction, the floating control sphere the only feature in the simulated sea of night.”


We find ourselves in Grotto, a quiet world that humans have settled on and discovered the rare jewels that lie in its caves. We meet some of the miners who don’t have to mine themselves because they have corpses to do it for them, they control the dead and put them work. It took me a little while to get used to the premise of this story but Martin has a way of describing things that puts you so fully in the narrative you can’t possibly question it.

A really interesting tale about the greed of humanity and how we will always find ways to divide us.

Weekend In A War Zone

This one really messed me up! On Earth there has been no war for over fifty years. Brilliant, well done us…except there are corporate get away weekends for people who want to experience war, who want to kill others. Real people, they pay to kill people. Extreme paintballing.

And Seven Times Never Kill Man

This story shows the evil of humanity, we colonise, we slaughter and we destroy what we fear. We have invaded an alien planet and instead of living peacefully with the Jaenshi people that live there we a fighting them.

The Jaenshi are a peaceful people, they worship their gods at their pyramids. They spend hours praying and asking for guidance on any decisions they must make. When one tribe fight back against the humans, they are punished, their children slaughtered, their pyramids destroyed.

This story was a tough read, it made me so angry and upset. But we continue to do this on our own world, I hope we never reach any others because we would be as awful as this story depicts.

Nor the Many-Coloured Fires of a Star Ring

In the depths of space scientists discovered a gap in the universe, the reverse of a black hole perhaps? They created technology to open the gap, on the other side is a void, no stars just darkness. Still they build a base and investigate. For Kerin this trip is exciting, his girlfriend is the scientist who has lead the research and he gets to accompany her on the adventure. At his heart he is a poet but he enjoys his work, sending out the probes to see into the nothingness. But Kerin starts to get affected by the void, he curls in on himself. The way it was described sounded like he had depression, Kerin blamed his proximity to the void, he started worrying about the probes he was sending out he could hear them screaming into the darkness.

Outside the window the stormfires raged on. The view filled an entire wall in the monitoring room, a tapestry of ever-moving flame, a flowing pattern of liquid light of every colour and shape.”

A Song for Lya

This one is probably my favourite, it’s so beautiful. It’s set on a world older than ours, with a people older than humanity but they have never progressed like we have, their technology isn’t sophisticated. But they are happy and young and free. Why? Because they are ruled by on organism who feeds on them and eventually kills them as soon as they reach fifty years of age. The Shkeen’s religion is based on the Unity that they gain upon their death.

Humans have lived alongside the Shkeen for a number of years but they have started to have an alarming number of converts to their strange religion. Robb and Lyanna are both gifted telepaths. Lyanna can read people’s thoughts and Robb can read their emotions. They have been asked to help find out why so many humans are essentially killing themselves by joining this religion.

I really enjoyed seeing this world through Lya and Robb’s eyes. I love what George did with this story, I won’t give it all away but it’s so profound.

How much can human beings know each other? Aren’t all of them cut off really? Each alone in a big dark empty universe? We only trick ourselves when we think someone else is there. In the end, in the cold lonely end, it’s only us, by ourselves, in the blackness.”

I know I’ve mentioned it a lot but George is a genius and I just can’t get over how incredible he is!