Hippoi Athanatoi

Barka 20160111

I am starting up my horse blogging again, though with a bit of a different focus and format. Since a few weeks before Christmas, I am renting Barka from the riding school twice a week as part of a trial at the stables where they want to offer students a chance to do more than just take lessons. For this spring, the plan is that the riding school will be fielding a team for a regional dressage competition and the core of the team will be three of us “guinea pigs” in the horse rental program. Given this, I have an actual goal to work towards with Barka. Plus, I will be riding on my own, which I am very unused to doing after 30 years of just taking lessons. Taken together, this calls for some planning and what I will be doing with for each session on my own is write down what my goals had been and what I managed to accomplish, as well as make particular note of any issues that I need to work on. Since Barka managed to get kicked right before Christmas, today was the first proper session in a while, though I did help with starting her up again over the holidays. But this will serve as the starting point for project get ready to compete.

With today’s session, I wanted to focus on transitions as well as a bit of lengthening and shortening, working primarily at walk and trot since Barka is still lacking a bit of stamina after her involuntary rest period.

I managed to more or less stick to what I had in mind, though I can feel that the whole planning and executing my own lesson is still very new to me. For example, I probably switch between exercises a little too often. I did feel a marked improvement in Barka’s movement from start to finish, however, and her trot in particular felt balanced and relaxed at the end. The best transitions were from walk to trot, where I felt a nice impulse from the back and she maintained her frame. Trot to walk needs a bit of work, though I think it mostly comes down to my position not being steady enough. Canter work needs a lot of improvement, I will get to that in the next segment. I also had some issues with smaller circles, but that may come down to her only having started doing those again last week.

With this session in mind, I was able to come up with a list of key issues to work on during the spring. Number one is my own fitness, or lack thereof. I have been having a lot of issues with finding a good position in the saddle without various parts of my body hurting, so I will clearly need to limber up my legs and my hips as well as strengthen my back and stomach. I’ve had back issues in the past, but I’ve never felt quite this stiff before. I have clearly hit the age where something needs to be done. As for Barka, I do need to work on balancing her sides so she’s not so uneven, but I find it isn’t that huge of a deal with her all considered. If I improve my position I think that part will improve a lot too. Her canter, however, will need some work. She needs to become a good deal stronger and less likely to get the wrong leading leg in the canter. The latter problem is particularly difficult for me to work on as I am absolutely terrible at telling when a horse is on the wrong leading leg, which means I can’t correct for it quickly enough to be efficient. So that is a bit of a dilemma when riding on my own.

Looking Back, Part 2

In the first post, I looked only at my years playing Angharad on Tales of Ta’veren, but as hinted at therein characters number two and three made their appearance while Tales still existed. Or rather, characters two and three that really went anywhere. As with my very first attempt at a MUSH, I did try out a few other places very briefly in the 1995 to 2000 span when I was most active as a player. I revisited Riva MUSH (this time with a character that I actually recall the name of, she was called Kelinda after a character in Geraldine Harris’s Seven Citadels series) and also tried out a game based on Feist’s Rift Wars saga, though “tried out” consisted mainly of making a character and not getting much further than that. She was called Rhiannon and by now it should be clear that I always borrow names.

But, I am getting ahead of myself a bit, as character number two did in fact appear as early as August of 1995, which I do believe was well ahead of both Kelinda and Rhiannon.

Looking Back, Part 1

Putting “part 1"in a title is always a dangerous step to take, as it implies a continuation which does not always materialize. I still find myself in an ambivalent relationship with my various blogs; I like having them for the occasional burst of opinions, but I find sustained usage takes effort. I am once again thinking of collapsing a few of them together and removing others, so we’ll see what the new year brings in that regard. For now, however, I did find myself with an urge to muse about my various MU* characters throughout the years.

I logged into my first MUSH sometime in August of 1995. I had obtained Internet only some months earlier (this was pretty much right when dial-up was launched in Sweden) and largely for the purpose of checking out this MUD thing I had read about in the second issue of Sweden’s first Internet magazine. I’d been interested in trying out role-playing for some time, but I knew no one in RL who played and I was (am) a bit of a shut-in, so on-line seemed like the perfect solution. MUDs ended up entertaining me for a couple of months, but the whole levelling up game was never really a good fit for me. After going on vacation during the summer and falling way behind those I had played a bit with (no such thing as mobile access, of course), I drifted away from MUDs and stumbled on my first MUSH. Riva MUSH, based on David Eddings books, was huge and empty. I wandered about for a bit but never got into any roleplay. Instead it was Tales of Ta’veren, the first Wheel of Time MUSH, that had the dubious honour of being the first game where I actually went IC.

An Andalusian Adventure

Blogging about my riding experiences has most definitely fallen by the wayside these last years. Depression has played a role, but also a lack of inspiration and a feeling that I was repeating myself a lot and writing because I had to, not because I wanted to. Perhaps I will give it another try, keeping posts to when I feel I have something worthwhile to chronicle. Such as last Monday’s “riding lesson”, which took place somewhere very different than what I am used to. Elio and I were in Spain to present the Spanish edition of The World of Ice and Fire and we went to Barcelona for a few days and then to Osuna, where they were opening a small gallery of the gorgeous Spanish cover art for the series. Osuna is also where they shot part of last season and the town is really hoping to provide some interesting sights for Game of Thrones fans (not to mention that they have some amazing sights in general). They were thrilled to have the official presentation of Spanish edition of The World of Ice and Fire there and to play host to both us, the publisher and the cover artist. We received a very warm welcome, but even that couldn’t have prepared me for the surprise on our last day there.

On Sunday, I had happened to mention that I loved horses and would love to come back to Andalucia to ride a PRE (Pura Raza Espanola—also known as Andalusian, though technically that is a less specific term). On Monday, our host Jesús told me they could take me to a stable in town so I could get to try an Andalusian. I was of course thrilled by the offer, but I had no riding clothes with me. They insisted that we go there anyway. Once there, Luis Calderon and his sister Milagros made us most welcome and showed off their beautiful PRE stallions. After we had seen the horses demonstrate Spanish walk, passage and piaffe in hand, Luis started warming up one of the horses for me while Milagros headed out to find me clothes. She soon returned with boots, pants and a shirt (the latter being a gift from her, showing the logo of the Andalusian side-saddle association, of which she is the president). A riding hat was not included (it is not commonly used), but I realised that I could not pass up the opportunity. I did, however, decline the offer to take a trail ride to our next sight-seeing location; that seemed a little too adventurous without a riding hat. Just one more reason for me to come back and do it another time!

Once I was dressed and ready, I was introduced to a beautiful bay stallion called Latino. We started out in a small indoor arena, with Luis initially having him on a lead-rope as he talked me through the aids. The difference against a riding school horse was roughly the difference between a tractor and a Ferrari in terms of sensitivity to my aids, so I really had to get used to that. Language caused small confusions on a few occasions, but Luis was very patient and clearly used to teaching riders who aren’t used to the power and sensitivity of the PRE. Once I was more settled in, we went outside into the larger arena. There Luis let me experience the Spanish walk, passage and piaffe, all with him helping out with a lead-rope and a long whip to guide Latino when my aids weren’t precise enough. I have, I think, fairly decent hands, but they were clearly not soft and sensitive enough to keep from collecting a little too much at times; I really had to work on trying to hold the reins like fine threads of silk in order to be soft enough.

After a while, it was time for the lead-rope to come off and after riding along for a bit, Luis asked me to try the Spanish walk on my own. The aids are diagonal, with a press of the leg and a squeeze of the rein, but you can’t do it too fast or the horse will attempt a passage instead. We had a few false starts, but then something clicked and all of a sudden Latino was doing the Spanish walk again, with me giving the aids. It was an amazing moment and I have a photo that captures it, showing a giant smile appearing on my face. Of course, I would say the credit for that walk goes to 99% to Latino, who was very patient with a beginner at such things, but the feeling still can’t be beat. This was the most special thing I have ever experienced on horseback.

And I think that those who know a little bit about me as a rider will see another reason for why it was so special, beyond me getting the chance to ride a Grand Prix trained PRE stallion. Ever since my accident when I was ten, I’ve been a nervous rider. For the first few years after the accident, every unexpected thing a horse did would leave me crying. Then it got better for a while, at least when riding indoors and on horses that I trusted well. Now ... well, additional caution always seems to set in with age, and I have gotten very used to riding primarily small horses or large ponies. Then I feel I can stay in control, even if something unexpected happens. In a sense, it is a compromise; I’ve learned to ride better and feel more confident about myself as a rider over the years, but only by keeping myself to a certain type of horse.

Latino, however, was a fair bit from the 14, maybe 15 hands I usually prefer, if not as large as your typical dressage horse tends to be these days. But I got up on him without a second thought (well, pretty much, anyway) and once up there I felt safe. Yes, I was on a lead-rope to start with, and I probably would not have been up for cantering, but what I did (and did without being nervous) was miles beyond anything I have done for years. This was a highly trained, sensitive and at the same times very powerful stallion, and I was actually breathing normally and thinking about my seat instead of hunching over and feeling stiff and nervous. I am not sure where that confidence came from, but clearly Luis, Milagros and of course Latino were very good at making me feel secure.

I should be adding some photos to the site, but until then I have an album up on Facebook.

A Day to Remember

It is safe to say that it has been quite a day! Wedding in the morning (we met on the Internet in 1995, met for real in 1996 and got engaged in 1998 and now, 2014, we’ve gotten married) and signing The World of Ice and Fire in the afternoon at SF Bokhandeln. And as if that wasn’t enough, the book hit #1 at Amazon. Even if that is due to George and not us it is still an amazing thing to be part of.

So, this day will be hard to beat, but it does feel like its the start of something new (and good) in more than one way.

Worldbuilding

I’ve been thinking a lot about worldbuilding lately. A few years ago, I decided that adding a Literature degree to my Classical Archaeology degree might make sense given the way things have shaped up with Westeros.org and myself and Elio co-writing The World of Ice and Fire with GRRM. Once I got to the point of doing my Bachelor paper, the broad strokes of the topic came to me quite easily - I wanted to explore worldbuilding academically since it has always been one of the elements of fantasy that holds the most fascination for me. The end result was a paper on the use of history in A Song of Ice and Fire and how it is such an essential part of the worldbuilding.

During LonCon3, I picked out a number of panels related to worldbuilding and in the end I attended five of them. One, the Worldbuilding Masterclass, was absolutely fabulous from a technical and practical perspective, but the more theoretical panels were quite a mixed bag. There were a lot of Agendas and Issues being aired, and there were near Tumblr-level of concerns about certain -isms. I found that some panelists tended to come across as looking down their noses a bit at fantasy writers who weren’t as “enlightened” as they were, where “enlightened” largely seemed to mean “shares and promotes similar opinions on social and political issues”. I would have liked to see more of a variety of opinions rather than so much mutual back-patting, which seemed particularly common on the all-female panels.

I may attempt some more detailed panel commentary once the concrud has left me entirely, but for now this is more of a long-winded introduction to a brief sigh/rant about one of the common complaints raised against GRRM in particular and fantasy in general since the success of Game of Thrones. Every now and then someone will pipe up and snarkily say “oh, so fantasy writers can conceive of dragons and elves but they can’t imagine black/gay/etc characters in their world?” Yes, I recognize that this is a snarky simplification, but too many people take it at face value and do not consider it any further. And it does need to be considered in more detail, because the fact is that worldbuilding is a lot more complex than that.

Creating a fantasy world is in large parts about finding the right balance between the mimetic and the fantastic and ensuring that the two work together. If you look at what Tolkien does in LotR, for example, he inserts a great amount of mimetic detail to “ground” the story; without this approach, the fantastic elements will not be believable because the author will not have created a sufficiently believable world. I cannot see how anyone, especially not an author, can claim that there’s no difference between inserting mimetic details that aren’t necessarily part of your personal experience of the world and inserting fantastic details. It seems self-evident that it is harder to make up convincing mimetic details than it is to make up convincing fantastic details, in part because the latter piggybacks on the mimetic details and in part because there’s no blueprint for what dragons or elves should be like.

So, yes, I think it makes perfect sense that many authors will write what they know and what they are familiar with when it comes to writing mimetic details such as the ethnic makeup of their cast. That does not mean this is all they can do or all they should do, all I am addressing is that particular, snarky comment that equates mimetic and fantastic detail without considering that they are in fact two different facets of worldbuilding.

Brutal Disappointment

It has been a while since I felt a need to write at length about my disappointment with Game of Thrones. By now the show has deviated enough that my expectations have sunk to quite a low level. It still manages to anger me at times—and to thrill me as well; I won’t deny that some scenes still manage to feel wonderfully right (Oberyn’s and Tyrion’s conversation in episode 7 is one such, for example)—but my relation to the show was irrevocably damaged after the House of the Undying travesty. If they could do something like that, I knew nothing was sacred.

But some foolish hopes did still remain for certain iconic scenes to be done right. The duel between Oberyn and Gregor was one such scene. Surely they could not drop the ball on that one?

As you may guess—since I am writing this and all—my answer to that question is “yes, yes they could”. But before I go on to the how’s and why’s of that, let me just dwell for a moment (okay, more than a moment - I ramble!) on my rather…complicated history with that scene.

That Jaime & Cersei Scene…

I thought I was done commenting on the Jaime & Cersei scene in episode 3, but I keep seeing one annoying article after another on the subject.

Now, anyone who knows anything about my feelings regarding Game of Thrones would be aware that I hate unnecessary changes with a fiery passion. So, yes, I am on board with the “why change that scene?” criticism. At least to a point, that is. You see, I found the change to the Dany & Drogo scene in episode 1 of season 1 much, much, much more infuriating from a “purist” point of view. There was absolutely no reason to change the tone of that scene so radically. And yet, at the time there were quite a few fans and reviewers who spoke up in favour of that change, mainly citing that they did not find the scene in the books believable anyway.

In contrast, there are quite a few reasons for why the Jaime & Cersei scene could not play out as it did in the books. GRRM cited the “butterfly effect” on his Livejournal and it is absolutely true that by now, in the fourth season, there are many previous changes that demand further changes (this was not the case in ep 1 of season 1, however!). I very much dislike some of those previous changes—I disagree with the decision to have Jaime back in King’s Landing so early and I most definitely disagree with the decision to make Cersei such a radically different character—but the fact remains that those did limit what they could do with the scene in the sept. It could no longer play out as it did in the books, in part because it was no longer a surprising and very emotional reunion between Jaime & Cersei and in part (or so I would argue, anyway) because the Cersei that Lena Headey plays is a very, very different character from the Cersei of the books. She is much less passionate, much less sexual and, it seems, much more dubious about her relationship with Jaime.

In my mind there’s no doubt that the scene was intended as largely consensual. Yes, Jaime initiates it and does so forcefully. But if we look at the books, we have three examples of this sort of interaction between Jaime and Cersei where he initiates a sexual encounter quite forcefully/insistently and where Cersei initially protests. This is clearly part of the dynamic of their relationship. Keep in mind that they do not exactly have a normal, healthy relationship. Any sex they have carries the risk of discovery and severe punishments, meaning that most of their encounters are carried out with a certain urgency. To imagine that this doesn’t leave a mark on how they interact is impossible. I also believe that Cersei is turned on by Jaime expressing that he has to have her, right now, because it shows her power over him.

Of course, in the books these encounters, although apparently initiated against Cersei’s will, soon turn into clearly consensual activities where Cersei verbally expresses her desire to continue. I have, however, seen plenty of people argue that even this is too much, seeing as Jaime initially pushed on without her consent. I dismiss such complaints as ludicrous - you’re talking about a relationship that has gone one for decades, which has its own rules worked out. But, returning to the scene from episode 3, it differs from the books in that there’s no clear verbal consent from Cersei. There is, however, physical consent. Partway into the scene, she kisses him back, she probably (it is hard to see for sure) helps with his undressing and she wraps her legs around him. Again, in a long-established relationship, physical consent has to be every bit as valid as verbal consent.

A lot of people point to what is said by Cersei as a further problem and further evidence that she does not want this to happen. However, I cannot understand how people can equate her “It isn’t right.” with a “No”. This completely takes it back to her protests in the book, which are all about the risk of the discovery and the time and the place being inappropriate. Cersei keeps repeating this even as she is giving into her desires for Jaime (the hand clenched around the funerary cloth must be meant to indicate this) and I feel that this is where the changed Cersei is shown most clearly: her dubiousness about the incestuous relationship, especially in such a risky situation, is so strong that she feels a need to express her concerns even though (or perhaps because) she actually does desire Jaime and does desire the sex at that moment. It is as if Cersei on the show is ashamed about her own reaction and I strongly feel that her “It isn’t right.” is something she is vocalising to deal with her feelings of shame/guilt rather than a further attempt to discourage Jaime.

Obviously, this was not how many people interpreted scene and I do agree that this was probably not the best way to handle this scene. In particular, even though I feel I understand its purpose, the “It isn’t right.” should not have been there. There should have been something more affirmative to make it plainer that Cersei wanted the sex to continue. But ultimately, this is a problem of intent, execution and interpretation. I do not believe, as some have tried to put forward, that TV (or any other media, like books) have a duty to avoid scenes of ambiguous sexual conduct. They wanted to show a darker, more ambiguous scene between Jaime & Cersei than in the books. This is perfectly acceptable and does not in any way make them rape apologists. The established relationship between the characters (and yes, I do count the background material from the books here as well as I do not view this show as separate from the books) allows for this kind of interaction without it being rape. However, the end result apparently came out too ambigious from the point of view of many watchers. That is a fault of theirs, a fault which could have been avoided even with the changed circumstances and the changed characters, but ultimately it does not change their intent.

Which is why anyone who is expecting this to be “dealt with” in the next episode is fooling themselves. And, in the case of professional reviewers who should know better, fooling their audiences just to be able to act even more outraged next week. The season is in the can. They did not shoot a rape scene, thus there will be no follow-up to a rape scene.

Gone Shopping

Long time, no blog! I miss doing my weekly lesson reports, but I haven’t been able to get back to doing them with enthusiasm rather than with it feeling like a chore. As a result, I’ve avoided the blog altogether, but now I am trying (again) to find a more casual approach to posting and doing it only when I feel inspired by something specific.

Such as my new favourite horse (and dog) clothes from Uhip, acquired at the Gothenburg Horse Show last weekend. I had been eyeing their thermal skirts for a while since my current riding breeches are on the chilly side for winter and since I easily get cold legs in general when I am out with Ringo. I decided to get one of the Sport skirts and since they offered 50% off if you bought two items, I felt I just had to try on their long coat as well. After a bit of my usual indecision, I came away from there with a bag stuffed full of one cosy thermal skirt and one light and fluffy long coat.

And then I thought, why don’t I blog about it? I do book reviews from time to time, after all, so why not cover the occasional purchase related to my other hobbies? So, I dragged off Elio to the woods to shoot a couple of pictures and if you read on you get to see those as well. Bonus Ringo included!

Trolls Just Never Learn

A bit of entertaining stupidity arrived by email earlier today. It seems the bottom feeders over at WORA renewed their fascination with Blood of Dragons and, as usual, a few particularly spectacular trolls have surfaced with more and more amusing claims.

Before I get into addressing some of those, however, lets just clear one thing up for those who doubt that we actually have approval for Blood of Dragons from George R.R. Martin and/or imagine that we only have some kind of very superficial connection to him. The situation, in brief, is that since contacting GRRM in 1998 to ask for permission to run Blood of Dragons, our connection to him has changed from “just” fans running a site to helping with fact-checking of the last two novels and finally to actually collaborating with him on a book. We take the restrictions he asked for when he first approved Blood of Dragons very seriously not only because we respect an author’s right to his intellectual property but because he is also a colleague and a friend.

A New Semester Starts

I was back in the saddle again yesterday after the usual lesson break over the summer. I can definitely feel that today; we were just two students in the lesson, so we got quite the workout. But it was great to be back on a horse, especially since I got to ride Barka. She did start off rather opinionated—even for her!—and tried to ignore my leg aids as she just curled herself up behind the bit. Our instructor told me that she has been turning increasingly “mare-ish” of late; meaning, she needs a carefully balanced dose of determination and politeness from the rider.

Fortunately, I like horses with opinions and after a while we came to some passable agreements; she’d start moving forward on her own, I’d stop bothering her quite so much with my aids. Of course, there was still the matter of keeping all her body parts under control and making sure she was actually straight through the whole body. And once she’d stopped pulling back behind the bit, I had to readjust a bit mentally and remember to keep my reins quite short to give her proper support on her left side.

Her walk is definitely the hardest gait to work with as she does have a tendency to lose momentum and not really move through her whole body. The trot is quite good, I think, and yesterday the canter worked really well too. The transitions can be so-so, but the work we did yesterday—which included a lot of transitions as well as some lateral work—helped Barka stay together and get more explosive.

A little too explosive at times, mind you, but I am getting used to the occasional bit of bucking being thrown in. I hope the riding school is able to keep her—she has issues with dust allergies—because she really suits me quite nicely, both in terms of her body type and her personality.

The Red Wedding

Looking back at this blog, I realise that I switched from posting here to posting to Observations partway into last season of Game of Thrones. I probably had a good reason for it at the time. For this season, I haven’t had time to post anything so far, but there are several reasons for why I do want to write a bit about the Red Wedding, in the books and on the screen. And, since it will be talking more about the books, I guess I am putting it here.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had not actually read the Red Wedding chapter in A Storm of Swords.  In fact, I had not read most of the latter half of A Storm of Swords. When the book was first published, Elio and I started reading it together, passing it back and forth between us. I read ahead on Daenerys’s storyline, given that it was separate from anything else, and that led to Elio reading ahead of me in all the other storylines. As a result, he got to the Red Wedding a bit ahead of me. He didn’t precisely tell me what happened but I was sitting in the same room as he read the chapter and his reactions were…intense. No thrown books (we do not throw books around here ;P), but plenty of gasps.

It rattled me, a lot. I scare really easily and I have a wonderfully vivid imagination for horrible things. So, when I got the book back from Elio, that feeling that something is terribly wrong that the chapters before the actual wedding build up just got to be too much for me. I knew that a horrible car crash was coming up and I knew that if I got to that point, I wouldn’t be able to look away. And I really, really didn’t want those images in my head; there’s a reason why I don’t generally read or watch horror. It didn’t matter that the character’s being killed weren’t any favourites of mine; I probably mourned Grey Wind the most since Robb was something of non-entity for me and unlike Elio I wasn’t a big Catelyn fan, though my recent re-reads have given me a better understanding of her even if I still don’t really like her as a person.

Why didn’t I just skip that chapter and kept reading the rest of the book? At first, I figured I would be able to get back reading soon enough. I did finish all the Daenerys chapters and, I think, the Jaime chapters. But then there was the other big event of A Storm of Swords—the duel, that is. We had already been spoiled before we started reading about how the duel would end. Elio got to that one ahead of me as well—I think he pretty much finished the whole book in one day, staying up until early in the morning—and I got enough of an impression from him to know that I did not want to read that chapter either. In fact, that one made me a lot angrier than the Red Wedding, because GRRM managed to hype Oberyn in just the right way before the book came out that I was sure I had a new favourite character coming on stage. In fact, once he was introduced, he turned out to be even more interesting than we had thought he would be.

And then GRRM killed him. We knew it was coming, but that didn’t help. In fact, overall that upset me more than the Red Wedding (which didn’t really make me sad or angry, just sick to the stomach with the horror of it) because it actually removed a character that I wanted to read more about, a character that I had an emotional (and, alright, hormonal ;P) attachment to. One reason that I was so relieved that GRRM skipped the planned 5-year-gap after A Storm of Swords was that I was really sad that the gap meant that we would not get any immediate reactions to Oberyn’s death. It made it feel more pointless, somehow. That is probably also why “The Captain of the Guards” is my favourite chapter of A Feast for Crows, closely followed by the other Dornish chapters.

So, the Red Wedding stopped me in my tracks as I was reading, but there was more in the second half of the book that I didn’t want to get too involved with. Now I am past the halfway mark, I am in the middle of the next wedding, but I will probably save the rest of the book for closer to the next season, to have it all fresh in my mind. I am not sure if I am hoping that they do a good or a bad job with casting and writing Oberyn; I might not want to get attached to the character on the show, all considered, so perhaps it is better if they botch it. After all, and that’s a long and roundabout way of connecting back to the Red Wedding episode, watching the Red Wedding on TV was actually a lot easier than reading it because they didn’t manage to adapt it as well as they could have. If they had created the same tension on the show that GRRM did in the book, I might have found it hard to sit through the whole episode. But they didn’t, and I watched it without any stronger reaction at all.

This, my completely different reactions to the book and the show—and bear in mind that I was coming to that chapter fully spoiled, so that isn’t where the difference lies— is why I think that it was such a mistake to go for a shock instead of creating that sick feeling in your stomach throughout the whole episode; the true horror of the Red Wedding is as much about the atmosphere as it is about what actually happens. GRRM shifts from fantasy to horror without telling you and starts creating the sort of dread that a horror story would create, the sort of dread that makes you wish for a release, even though you know that the release will be bloody. Here, you start wishing for that release, without realising that you are in for a true horror story ending. That is masterful storytelling and that is damned effective.

Of course, if it had that effective on the show—because, admittedly, the episode has clearly been very effective for a lot of people as it is—it might have broken the Internet.

Mission Accomplished

Mission accomplished, with minimal effort. Now if our plans for Blood of Dragons 2.0 would be coming along just as smoothly, I’d be feeling even better. Just what I need since work has been kicking our butts with vigour since before Christmas.

Now, back to The World of Ice and Fire. Which may include some 2.0 musings on the side; I am so looking forward to working in all the new history, even if it will mean a lot of restructuring too.

It’s Troll Season

It appears we have acquired a particularly dedicated troll on WORA, a bold hero determined to continue his epic struggle to inform the world of the horrors of Blood of Dragons. And the horrors of Firan, too. Somehow he has managed to lodge two sticks up his ass at the same time, a pretty impressive feat I must concede. Apparently he has a habit of randomly dragging BoD into all sorts of topics, just to demonstrate how very unhappy we’ve made him. I was pointed to some choice quotes and one of the most recent was the most amusing, since it referenced a discussion on the Public channel that I witnessed around a week ago. That means that our troll—who signed up to WORA in 2011 and has been bitching about us with some regularity since then—is still on the game. Masochist, much?

Some of my favourite claims follow:

Too Much Excitement

Yesterday’s lesson was…exciting, courtesy of the temperature (-10). Most of the horses were on their toes and that definitely included Barka. I do get a bit nervous when a horse is tense and it feels like you’re sitting on top of the horse instead of sitting into it. That usually leads to me tensing up and then the horse tenses more and, well, bad feedback loop ensues. Add cold weather to that and you’re piling tension on top of tension. That said, it was Barka and so far my experience with her is that she doesn’t do anything too stupid. She has a pretty sensitive mouth and she certainly doesn’t seem inclined to do too much more than a bit of a bounce before she settles again. Fortunately, that turned out to be largely correct. We had a few incidents, including when cantering over a single rail on the ground apparently called for what felt like a rather substantial buck, but nothing that was a close call.

As for actual work, it was a bit spotty. A lot of my energy went into keeping Barka’s mind on the work and off, well, everything else. Some very nice trot from her again and more struggling with the canter transitions. Apparently she is also a bit too clever (and a mare, at that); they did a similar exercise yesterday and she picked up some bad habits from a single slip-up by that rider who at one point failed to keep her from joining the horses waiting in the middle instead of continuing down the length of the arena. As a result, she slammed the brakes on me a few times and refused to continue. Given how frisky she was, I had put my whip aside, which of course she took full advantage of. Mares.

Still, when we finished off with some trot at the end, she finally started lowering her form and breathing out audibly. You could just feel the tension melting away. That just took 60 minutes of work. I am hoping that if I jump her next week, she has done some more lessons earlier in the day. Though I am thinking not, she’s probably a bit too much for the lower groups to handle in winter.