Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #26: The Femme Fatales of A Song of Ice and Fire

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: the awesome female characters from the series A Song of Ice and Fire.

This post contains spoilers for the series A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as its television adaptation, Game of Thrones.

The series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin is known for its stand-out female characters. Although it is loosely based on medieval history, a time when women were seen as second class citizens – and many are treated that way in the series – there are some that defy all expectations of society ‘at the time’ (or rather, considering the time period that the series is based on). Each one is, in her own way, a wonderful and unique individual.

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Arya Stark

At the start of A Song of Ice and Fire, Arya is only nine years old. She is mischievous and a bit of a tomboy, all in all quite a typical nine year old. But accompanying other losses comes the loss of her innocence and childhood. She is thrown into a world so different from her life at Winterfell. She disguises herself as a boy in order to travel north from King’s Landing after her father’s execution. She witnesses murder, brutality and so many horrors, yet all it does is harden her, prepare her for a new life at the House of Black and White. All in all, Arya is focused, ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to put things right – even if for her that currently involves murdering those responsible for the deaths of much of her family.

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Brienne of Tarth

I really love Brienne and her absolute sense of loyalty. From noble blood, but never ‘traditionally’ attractive or ladylike, she has carved a place for herself in this world that expects women to be meek and fragile things. She is a skilled fighter and becomes part of Renly’s bodyguard, albeit in a short-lived role. Her loyalty and determination are some of her strongest qualities. Brienne has put up with a lot of teasing and cruelty in her life due to her appearance, but she has never once let it stop her trying to achieve her aims.

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Cersei Lannister

In the first few books, Cersei seems like one of the series’ main villains – but then you realise that A Song of Ice and Fire has no main villains – just a cast of characters doing whatever they need to survive. This very much applies to Cersei, who is just trying to protect her children. She may have some rather odd taste in men (!!) but she knows how to get by in this brutal world. Her behaviour isn’t always ideal though – at one point she accuses her father of not giving her any power because of the fact that she is a woman, and he responds by saying it is nothing to do with that, and everything to do with the choices she makes. She is cunning and highly intelligent, and holds herself with such poise as to give herself more power. You don’t want to mess with Cersei or her babies – she is just like a lioness in that regard.

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Daenerys Targaryen

Like many other women of A Song of Ice and Fire, Daenerys changes drastically throughout the series. At the beginning, she is in her early teens, forced into marriage with a man who is much older and with whom she cannot communicate. She is threatened and possibly even abused by her older brother. However, Daenerys soon learns to adapt to her new setting and play things to her advantage. And when she later invades and becomes Queen/Khaleesi of various cities throughout Essos, it goes as well as you would expect it to with a teenager in charge. But Daenerys learns from her mistakes and finds out who her true friends are. She doesn’t give up even in the fact of assassinations attempts, mutiny and losing control of her dragons. Every time someone thinks they have pinned down the Mother of Dragons, they are proved wrong. Fire cannot kill a dragon, and the men of Westeros/Essos cannot stop Daenerys.

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Margaery Tyrell

Margaery has certainly had to put up with a lot. Firstly, an arranged marriage to a man more interested in her brother than her, then a marriage to a monsterous tyrant, swiftly followed by one to an adolescent boy-king, with Cersei for her mother-in-law. And then, once everything finally seems to be going right, she is accused of having incestuous relations with her brother, and is thrown into prison. And whilst Margaery does not seem to have been quite as unlucky as some, her constant bright moods and sly manipulation of others really make her one to watch.

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Sansa Stark

Oh Sansa, I am so, so sorry. You’ve had it rough in the books, but the TV show has made it so much worse for you. Forced to watch the execution of her father, abused and tormented by Joffrey, almost killed by a mob then on the run with Littlefinger, who clearly has ulterior motives towards her, then forced into a abusive marriage with Ramsay Bolton, Sansa is possibly the most maltreated character of the series (ESPECIALLY the TV series). Yet Sansa, sweet innocent Sansa who dreamt of a life in King’s Landing full of lemon cakes and new gowns, rises from the ashes like a phoenix; she is reborn. Hardened by her experiences, she knows the best way to progress is to continue playing the naive, wide-eyed girl – and most importantly, not to trust anyone.

These women of Westeros, these femme fatales, are severly underestimated by those around them. That may be the last mistake they ever make.

What do you make of the women of Westeros? Who are your favourite characters?

Misc.

Here Be Dragons!

St. George
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In honour of St. George’s Day today – the national day of England – I wanted to talk about dragons! Why dragons, you ask? If you don’t know the story of St. George, in its most condensed form it is the traditional tale of a brave knight rescuing a princess from a dragon. Of course that’s not the whole story, and if you want to read it in more detail, you can do so here, but I won’t go into it on the blog. So, to celebrate this day I wanted to talk about dragons in fiction. I’ve marked spoilers, so please only click ‘view spoiler’ if you’ve read the book (or in the case of A Song of Ice and Fire, watched past series one of Game of Thrones).

Smaug

Smaug, from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Smaug is the main villain of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a huge red dragon who captured the dwarf kingdom of Erebor, along with all of its treasure, one hundred and fifty years before the main events of the book. It is not until the latter half of the book that the reader meets Smaug – and realises just how clever he is. He toys with Bilbo Baggins, rather than killing him outright (it is for this reason that I’ve given him four for ferocity – he doesn’t just kill on sight). Like traditional dragons of lore, he loves gold and sits atop his treasures in the halls of Erebor. He is also known as Smaug the Magnificent or Smaug the Golden. [spoiler]Despite his terrifying appearance and cunning, Bilbo notices a weak spot, a bare patch on his chest, that Bard the Bowman later uses to bring the dragon down.[/spoiler]

Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion

Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion, from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – the ‘children’ of the Mother of Dragons, aka Daenerys Targaryen, these three are the first known dragons for at least one hundred and fifty years. Three hundred years earlier, dragons were used by House Targaryen to conquer the world, but were believed extinct by the time of the War of the Three Kings. [spoiler]Daenerys Targaryen, in a state of grief and after dreaming of their birth, walks into the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo with petrified dragon’s eggs and causes them to hatch.[/spoiler] They grow throughout the series but as of book five (A Dance with Dragons) are still not fully grown. They can be commanded by Daenerys, but are still wild beasts at heart.

Hungarian Horntail

Hungarian Horntail from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – this is the dragon that Harry Potter has to evade during the first round of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry really drew the short straw here – Hungarian Horntails are notorious for their ferocity and are considered to be the most dangerous breed of dragon. It has both a spiked head and tail, able to use the latter like a club. Not only is it huge and deadly, but also very fast – proved by how easily it was able to keep up with Harry on his Firebolt.

Saphira

Saphira from Eragon by Christopher Paolini – at last, a slightly friendlier dragon. Saphira may have a human companion, and she may not attack people on sight, but in the heat of battle she is vicious and strong. Bonded to Eragon Shadeslayer, she was one of the only known female dragons of her time. Her name comes from the blue colour of her egg, and her surname (Bjartskular) means ‘bright scales’.

There are so many more dragons I could discuss – books like Seraphina, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dragon Age and Drakan come to mind – and so many more.

Which are your favourite dragons from fiction, video games, TV or film? How do they compare to these four?