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nobodysuspectsthebutterfly:

“white privilege” does have some context within Westeros, although class privilege is far stronger. As a few examples:

  • dismissal of the Dothraki as “barbarians” and “savages”
  • Kevan Lannister ignoring betrothal requests from the Westerlings because the family had “doubtful blood” (through their great-grandmother, a maegi from Essos)
  • Taena Merryweather, an olive-skinned native of Myr, is exotified and sexualized. It’s unknown if her son has had to face any overt racism, but I believe her husband was considered unusual for his choice of wife.
  • Summer Islanders within Westeros are also exotified and sexualized. (Note their culture promotes sexual freedom, but nevertheless.) A Summer Islander prince was even described as looking “frightening” in his native costume.
  • The Dornish, especially the olive-skinned “salty Dornish” and darker-skinned “sandy Dornish”, are (again) exotified and sexualized. (Their spicy food gives them hot tempers and increases sexual appetite, for example.) In Westeros history, racism against the Dornish was even one of the causes of a civil war, the Blackfyre Rebellion.

Now, some of this may or may not be problematic on GRRM’s own part, especially the exotification of Taena et al. But presuming he’s just narrating what the characters themselves believe, it is a somewhat telling thing within Westerosi society. 

Mind you, class privilege within Westeros and Essos is much, much stronger — for example, Taena, as the wife of a nobleman, is far better off than some random servant within the Red Keep or some poor Riverlands peasant. And it’s likely there was racial/religious tension between the First Men and the Andals thousands of years back (some of this survives in such things as the Blackwood/Bracken feud), but that’s much less like modern white privilege and more similar to the culture clash between Gaels and Saxons and Normans in British history.

Nevertheless, white privilege or racial bias within ASOIAF is something that should not be dismissed. Especially in fandom, where you have actual living human beings (not fictional characters!) describing Elia Martell as “ugly” and “unworthy” and raving about Lyanna Stark’s porcelain skin. Or fanwriters saying that Robb Stark would certainly prefer Myrcella Baratheon’s “Aryan looks” to Jeyne Westerling’s drabness. (I wish I was making up those two examples, I really do.)

boleyns:

An ode to the underrated women of Game of Thrones:
Let’s talk about something that has bothering me for quite a while: bashing, name-calling and irrational hatred to certain female characters, especially Sansa, Catelyn and Cersei. Condemning Cersei, Catelyn and Sansa, calling them monsters, stupid or heartless is incredibly narrow-minded and it shows how one can’t understand the development of the characters. What has to be kept in mind is that everyone has a back-story and internal logic that make sense, every action they make is a reflection of everything they’ve been through.
I could talk about other characters that I like more than Catelyn but hers is the one good motherhood narrative I’ve ever read. Everyone talks about her hatred for Jon and how cold-hearted she is, but the fact is that Jon is the constant reminder that in someway or another, she doesn’t have full control of her life. She might be married to Ned Stark, have five lovely children be the lady of Winterfell but there is this child, someone else’s child with her husband, whom he must have at least cared about, otherwise why would he bring a bastard home? Catelyn does the best she cans, but it hurts her deeply and she can’t bring herself to actually love Jon.
No, Cersei is not the greatest person, but her Greek tragedy like arc is, in my opinion, the most fascinating one in the whole series. Cersei is ruthless, caring very little about those standing her way, she’s a politician, planning and scheming three steps ahead of most people. Cersei craves for power so vigorously and yet she’s trapped inside her own body, with the restrictions of being a woman (her breakdown in A Clash of Kings continues to be one of my favourite passages).
Contrary to popular belief, Sansa is not dumb. She has a head for politics and she understands the implications of her actions. Now, she’s observing and watching quietly, to later evolve into the best narrative arc of the books. Sansa uses stories of gallant knights and princesses because it’s her way of protecting herself against the madness she’s living.
These ladies have weapons: words, minds and bodies. Unlike a sword or a mace, one word can actually start or finish a fight, it’s just a matter of knowing how to use them.

boleyns:

An ode to the underrated women of Game of Thrones:

Let’s talk about something that has bothering me for quite a while: bashing, name-calling and irrational hatred to certain female characters, especially Sansa, Catelyn and Cersei. Condemning Cersei, Catelyn and Sansa, calling them monsters, stupid or heartless is incredibly narrow-minded and it shows how one can’t understand the development of the characters. What has to be kept in mind is that everyone has a back-story and internal logic that make sense, every action they make is a reflection of everything they’ve been through.

I could talk about other characters that I like more than Catelyn but hers is the one good motherhood narrative I’ve ever read. Everyone talks about her hatred for Jon and how cold-hearted she is, but the fact is that Jon is the constant reminder that in someway or another, she doesn’t have full control of her life. She might be married to Ned Stark, have five lovely children be the lady of Winterfell but there is this child, someone else’s child with her husband, whom he must have at least cared about, otherwise why would he bring a bastard home? Catelyn does the best she cans, but it hurts her deeply and she can’t bring herself to actually love Jon.

No, Cersei is not the greatest person, but her Greek tragedy like arc is, in my opinion, the most fascinating one in the whole series. Cersei is ruthless, caring very little about those standing her way, she’s a politician, planning and scheming three steps ahead of most people. Cersei craves for power so vigorously and yet she’s trapped inside her own body, with the restrictions of being a woman (her breakdown in A Clash of Kings continues to be one of my favourite passages).

Contrary to popular belief, Sansa is not dumb. She has a head for politics and she understands the implications of her actions. Now, she’s observing and watching quietly, to later evolve into the best narrative arc of the books. Sansa uses stories of gallant knights and princesses because it’s her way of protecting herself against the madness she’s living.

These ladies have weapons: words, minds and bodies. Unlike a sword or a mace, one word can actually start or finish a fight, it’s just a matter of knowing how to use them.

63 notes   •   VIA: kallielef   •   SOURCE: kallielef

Making textiles for the Braavosi in Game of Thrones - Pinaki Studios 

Now that the season has ended, I can write and show more of the work made for the Braavosi in Season 4 of Game of Thrones.

Braavos is the northern-most, richest, and arguably the most powerful of the Free Cities in Game of Thrones.  The city is made up of hundreds of tiny islands, and the Braavosi – renowned seafarers and swordsmen – also control the surrounding lagoon.  A giant statue of the Titan of Braavos guards the harbour entrance of the city.  Unlike Westerosi nobility, wealthy and powerful Braavosi favour wearing dark colours.  The adornments of their outfits are representative of their social status. The Braavos bankers wear intricate pleated silk ruffs, which were inspired by fabrics I created some time ago.

For a few years I have been exploring a variety of oxidation processes. I started working with un-galvanized iron nails, which have become increasingly hard to find. The objects themselves left a very interesting mark on the cloth. The faded rust of the Phantom of the Opera’s cloak was created this way, carefully controlling the placement of the nails and leaving it to oxidise in an acidic solution.

The tubular rusted pleat was originally created for the series Souvenirs Entomologiques and is essentially a silk metallic organza which has been distressed, coated with metal rust and then pleated. When I originally developed this process it was a real breakthrough, and inspired me to research pleating, three dimensionality and the sculptural qualities of cloth - ideas I discussed in my previous post.

Later on I started working with very fine iron dust that can be mixed with a binder to make it more controllable and safe. However, large scale production always proves challenging as the atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity levels, draughts in the working space, and so on) have to be just right for the oxidisation to happen.  For example, if it’s too warm the cloth can dry too quickly for oxidisation to occur.

For the Braavosi we produced 60 metres of rusted silk, 30 metres of which were also distressed, and 12 metres of the distressed silk was made into panels for the ruffs. I worked on a variety of samples and prototypes of which we choose two different styles: the diamond and the double diamond pleats, with different base colours and gradations of oxidisation.

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ransomideas asked: Hi, I don't know if you know or if there's any difference, but what's the difference between an "other" and a "wight"?

The Others, what Game of Thrones calls White Walkers, are inhuman creatures, similar to old concepts of elves (the bad ones that cast glamours and stole children, not the nice Tolkien ones). They speak an unknown language, their eyes are blue, and their skin is pale as milk or ice. They have unknown magics, bring the cold, and raise the dead. They seem to mostly only come out at night and in the winter (though note there are legends that they bring the night and the winter). They are vulnerable to dragonglass (obsidian) and dragonsteel (Valyrian steel). It is probable that the Night’s King's lover was an Other.

The wights are what the fandom calls “ice zombies”, dead men and other dead creatures returned to a mockery of life by the Others. A person can go from being dead to being a wight in a few seconds if the Others are nearby. Their eyes are also blue, and they also have pale skin, but it’s pale dead skin, with congealed black blood in their extremities. They do not appear to have much memory of their life before they died, nor any self-will. They’re vulnerable to fire and to being hacked to bits (though their limbs will continue to keep moving afterwards), but apparently dragonglass has no effect on them. It’s unknown yet if Valyrian steel has any particular effect.

A good way to remember the difference is through the climactic scene of GoT S2 — there, Sam encountered an Other riding a wighted horse and leading an army of wights. Hope that helps!

queenacrossthenarrowsea:

frictionlesssuperfeet:

In the beginning of the Song of Ice and Fire series, when Dany marries Drogo and he gives her a horse, she says to Jorah that she doesn’t know the Dothraki word for “thank you,” like to thank Drogo for the horse, and Jorah says that the Dothraki don’t have a word for “thank you,” and the audience is like, “Damn, those Dothraki are hard mothafuckas.”

But listen: at some point over the THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of years of Dothraki history, someone, at some point, must have been like, “Hey, hand me that horse bladder full of wine,” or whatever, and then somebody else handed it to him, and he went, “Thanks,” just not even thinking about it, because you at least have to have an expression to acknowledge the completion of that kind of transaction. If gift-giving is a part of your culture (as evidenced by Drogo giving Dany the horse), gift-receiving is a part, too.

Anyway I think Jorah was lying to Dany so she’d inadvertently be a dick to Drogo because Jorah is a jealous and powerless saboteur.

The way Dothraki gift-giving culture works is that someone gives you a gift, and you eventually give them one in return. Viserys gives Daenerys to Drogo (we won’t go into the idea of exchanging a person as an object here because that’s a whole other thing), so Drogo will eventually give Viserys an army. With a system like that, there’s no need to express gratitude; it’s less about doing something for another person than it is about an exchange that mutually benefits both parties. So there’s really no reason the Dothraki would ever have to create a word to express thanks, when the idea of doing something solely to benefit another person isn’t really part of their culture. (Or, as someone commented already, they could simply use a gesture, like a nod of the head or something like that, to acknowledge reciept of a gift.)

For example: in the book, when Jorah saves Dany from the wineseller in Vaes Dothrak, Drogo doesn’t thank him. Instead, he tells Jorah to choose any horse he wants from Drogo’s herd. It’s an exchange: Jorah has saved the lives of Drogo’s wife and unborn child, Drogo gives him a horse and honors him by allowing him to ride at the front of the herd. There’s no verbal expression of gratitude - both parties understand that gratitude is expressed via the gift of a horse.

Not to mention that in the show version of these events, Jorah has literally just met Daenerys for the first time, there’s absolutely no reason for him to be jealous of her marriage to Drogo yet.

You’re reaching really far to find a reason to hate Jorah and post about it in his tag, so I suspect the real issue here isn’t with the Dothraki language.

Crossbows, Kings, Dead Grandpas, and Pissbabies

shes-a-killerrr-queen:

(Warning: Hella history nerd and weapons enthusiast posting. Shit’s about to get HISTORICAL, yo.) 

So… Joffrey likes his crossbow. A lot. And that’s a very odd weapon for GRRM to choose for him. 

Crossbows are known to be weapons used by peasants to kill kings. In fact, one king, Richard I, the “Lionheart” of England, was killed by a commoner with a crossbow- a young boy at that, vengeful about the death of his father. Which led to crossbows being banned in many parts of Europe, and earning the disfavor of the Catholic Church. This “Lion” was slayed by an “Ant.” 

I think you see where I’m going with this, regarding Tywin’s death by Tyrion. 

But first, let’s deconstruct Joffrey, through the scope of a crossbow. 

Crossbows are easy to shoot. They’re fast to load.  They lack finesse. They allowed for Medieval European armies to rely on peasants with minimal training for their crusades rather than skilled knights trained in traditional archery or fencing. 

Joffrey is a bastard. Literally. He’s quick to lose his temper. He’s easy to manipulate, as Margaery showed. He may look badass, like a crossbow, but in the end, he’s easy to control if you know how. Again… Just like a crossbow. 

Now, let’s move onto Tyrion vs Tywin. 

The Ant slayed the Lion. 

When, in real-life, the peasant boy killed the king, it was because the king had executed the boy’s father and brother. 

Tyrion clearly felt similarly. Tywin had killed off any father he ever could have had. He made Jaimie into what he was- not unbearable towards Tyrion, but still, kind of a problematic guy. Tywin had ruined Tyrion’s chance of ever having a father, or having a brother who was remotely normal. 

Joffrey used his crossbow for the superficial. He used his to kill for fun. He was shallow and petty and impulsive. 

Tyrion used the crossbow in a very calculated, but still impulsive manner. I mean, yeah, he was sentenced to death, but you have to realize that it was Tywin’s comment about Tysha being a “whore” that drove Tyrion to pull the trigger. 

Joffrey’s use of the crossbow is construed as something bordering on sexual and erotic for him, it seemed. Compare this to how the crossbow is tied to a “crime of passion” when Tyrion kills his father for slut-shaming Tysha, the woman he truly loved. The crossbow represents something sexual or romantic in this context. Especially if you look back at the “intimate” scene between Joffrey and Margaery, where he’s telling her about his hunts and she talks about how she would like to join him- it’s by far the most “romantic” we’ve seen Joff all series. They’re posed suggestively and closely. Again, the crossbow is a sign of passion, of love, of lust, even if it’s twisted and deranged and cold and confused and spiteful at its core.

I think a lot of people miss that ASOIAF is an attack on loving fantasy worlds. GRRM basically goes: “Hey, do you know how you would love to live in a fantasy land of knights and castles and maidens and all that? Well, you are an idiot, Feudalism is fucking horrific and you should feel ashamed for wishing for it. Look let me show you…”

ASOIAF, to me, is a love letter to democracy, equality and all the wonderful things we have, because it reminds you how horrendous a world without them is.

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thebluebard:

Asoiaf Clothing: Arya Stark—AGoT

This post series is largely based on the premise that clothing and the general appearance of characters in fiction is used to show a character’s sensibilities and position in the world. I think it’s worth note to examine the characters of AsoIaF, and any other piece of literature for that matter, through the clothes they wear. Whether a character is a duke is in disguise as a friar or a princess running off as a soldier, the clothing a character wears will define their experiences in their individual conflicts. This can also be quite true of characters in ASoIaF. Furthermore, analyzing clothing choices offers readers the opportunity to enjoy some potential character symbolism.

Now, enough of me painfully trying to justify my over analysis of fictional characters!

I’ll be doing an overview of major characters from book to book.

(note: I go on tangents about general character appearances but the focus of these posts is primarily on clothing)

Arya Stark: A Game of Thrones

At the start of A Game of Thrones, Arya Stark is introduced as the scrappy youngest daughter of Eddard Stark, lord of Winterfell. In contrast to her prim and meticulously dressed sister, Sansa, Arya’s clothes are typically described as being crooked, dirty, or torn. Right off the bat, from appearances alone, it’s clear to readers that Arya is an active girl, unconcerned with social graces or being stylish. Arya’s clearly incompatible with the clothing given to her by her parents. Thus, Arya does not fit into the role of being a proper lady pushed on her by her mother and septa.

This conflict between Arya’s ladyship and Arya’s actual interests and desires plays out later on in the episode at the Trident.

Do remind her to dress nicely today. The grey velvet, perhaps. We are all invited to ride with the queen and Princess Myrcella in the royal wheelhouse, and we must look our best.”

This quote is part of an exchange between Septa Mordane and Sansa on their travels from Winterfell to King’s Landing. Clearly, Septa Mordane finds Arya’s normal dress to be less than appropriate for a meeting with the queen and princess. Her advice to Sansa is to tell Arya that she perhaps wear a “grey velvet.” Of course, given Arya’s gray eyes, it makes sense that Mordane would want to highlight this feature. It also furthers Arya’s connection to gray as a personal color symbol. Gray is a color with a variety of meanings in different culture, but it seems to denote neutrality in most Western takes.

**Gray can be seen as a middle ground between life and death, maturity, isolation, wisdom, humility, and stability. X, Y, Z.**

Also, gray is the color of her father’s eyes and Jon’s. It’s one of House Stark’s colors as well. For the most part, the Starks do tend to be an isolated group in the North, sticking only to their pack, and their words “Winter is Coming” suggest a tendency to plan ahead, to practice wisdom in the coming of the inevitable. And it is clear from the start, that the Stark way is the old way. Yet, I don’t think that the Starks are often neutral. They seem to struggle with either being too emotional (wolf blood!) or being cold neutrals, and Arya is not an exception. However, I do tend to see Arya as being a neutral character after the death of the Starks and in the series at large. Arya has no political goals. In the game of thrones, Arya is a humble outsider, and her life among the commons is a cruel lesson in humility for the youngest lady of Winterfell. Similarly, her gray-eyed brother, Jon, is supposed to be a neutral bystander in the realm’s wars as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. As a result, he spends most of ADWD wrestling with his role of the neutral leader and his desires to help Stannis save his little sister. But I digress, I promise ;p

Mordane’s fashion advice also suggests that Arya wear a velvet dress. This fabric is fit for a meeting with the queen and princess. While the Starks seem to be less extravagant than their southern neighbors, it seems as though they do have some more luxurious clothing. Luxury that, as Sansa suggests, Arya rejects.

Meanwhile, Arya is out and about with Mycah.Arya was wearing the same riding leathers she had worn yesterday and the day before.

Naturally, Sansa doesn’t have a high opinion of Arya’s clothing choices. The riding leathers are sturdy and practical, but they certainly are not ladylike. Especially when worn on repeat for a few days. In this scene, Arya looks more like a commoner than a lady, and this is the side she turns to in Joffrey’s attack. Rather than be a neutral party like Sansa, Arya leaps to Mycah’s defense once Joffrey assaults the boy. Like her Aunt Lyanna in the Knight of the Laughing Tree story, Arya defies convention by dressing unladylike and championing the weak against cruelty.

Small wonder; she was barefoot and dirty, her hair tangled from the long run through the castle, clad in a jerkin ripped by cat claws and brown roughspun pants hacked off above her scabby knees. You don’t wear skirts and silks when you’re catching cats.

Once again, Arya leans toward practicality in her choice of cat-chasing attire.She’s also dressed in humble browns and roughspun.

~Brown is often associated with the EARTH

Characteristics of those inclined to brown are calmness, passivity, conservative, dependable, practical and earthly x

~Earth, stability, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort. - See more at: http://www.incredibleart.org/lessons/middle/color2.htm#.dpuf

The portrayal of Arya as a character who is earthy and practical seems to fall into line in this particular scene. Of course, Arya picks clothing that are suitable to chase cats in the streets of King’s Landing. The clothing also marks her as a practical, earthy character. If I recall correctly, Davos Seaworth is also a character given to wearing brown, and he’s definitely a fine of example of a humble person in the series. In fact, the scene that this quote is from illustrates just how different Arya is from the other nobility in the books. Arya is mistaken for a beggar boy rather than the Hand’s daughter by not only guards in the Red Keep, but by Myrcella, Tommen, and their septa as well. Though she is reprimanded by all these characters, Arya never gives up her true identity in the fear of upsetting Septa Mordane and shaming Sansa. In that sense, Arya is aware that she is not following the expectations that other nobility expect of a lady. She isn’t dressed like a doll like Myrcella or even adorned in pearls like Tommen because Arya is in her natural state when she’s dressed in the most practical and simple clothing because that suits her personality and her interests.

Sansa had put on a lovely pale green damask gown and a look of remorse, but her sister was still wearing the ratty leathers and roughspun she’d worn at breakfast.

This quote is from Sansa III, a chapter where Sansa and Arya have some conflict. Of course, this conflict is accompanied with a comparison from Sansa, a choice on GRRM’s part. While Sansa’s dressed in a green damask gown, Arya is still in ratty leathers and roughspun. Lol if a reader didn’t realize that the sisters are meant to be polar opposites, then this scene should be a clear visual demonstrating just that fact. These styles of dress illustrate quite about what makes the girls different in regards to how they look and chose to confront Ned’s judgment. Naturally, Sansa chose a gown that she felt was beautiful and mature since Sansa typically dresses to portray a certain image. Of course, Arya also threw an orange at her ivory gown so the change was also out of necessity. On the other hand, Arya remains in her ratty leather and roughspun because Arya is dressed to be humble. In this scene, Arya drops her anger that she displayed earlier in the chapter and takes on a humble and apologetic approach when forced to stand before her father’s judgment. In contrast, Sansa (in the symbolically youthful green gown) is never younger than she is in this chapter.

Arya recognized silks and satins and velvets she never wore. She might need warm clothes on the kingsroad, though… and besides…

Arya knelt in the dirt among the scattered clothes. She found a heavy woolen cloak, a velvet skirt and a silk tunic and some smallclothes, a dress her mother had embroidered for her, a silver baby bracelet she might sell. Shoving the broken lid out of the way, she groped inside the chest for Needle. She had hidden it way down at the bottom, under everything, but her stuff had all been jumbled around when the chest was dropped. For a moment Arya was afraid someone had found the sword and stolen it. Then her fingers felt the hardness of metal under a satin gown.

Just as an aside, I really love this passage because I find it to be one of the most bittersweet parts in the whole series. And all because of some clothes and a sword.

This scene takes place post-Syrio’s death when Arya is desperately trying to flee from the Red Keep. However, she is limited on time. This rush causes her to quickly go through the scattered clothing in her room which is essentially her life ripped apart. In total desperation, Arya must gather the clothes she needs survival, which includes a cloak, smallclothes, a velvet skirt, a silk tunic, a dress embroidered by Catelyn, and a silver baby bracelet that could be a means of money on her escape. And underneath all the satin, Arya finds metal—-repeating the ‘metal/steel under silk/satin’ theme that GRRM loves to use in the Stark women.

Now what makes me find this part so sad is that Arya is given virtually no time to reflect on the ruin of the life she knew. Survival is the instinct that takes over. Yet, she takes what little time she has left to find the items that are sentimental, although useful, for her. In fact, those items she takes are the last pieces she can take of her old life, all more sentimental than the last. And these are ladylike items until you get to Needle. The clothes and the rattle are all luxurious and noble with sentimental value to Arya. They’re fit for Arya Stark, but not for a girl on the streets. Considering her previous clothing, it can be inferred that Arya knows those aren’t the types of clothing that common girls where. She takes these items not only because they’re useful, but because they’re the last things she can take from Lady* Arya Stark’s life. And yet it still sadder to consider the fact is that she is either robbed of these items or forced to depart from most of these items by the end of AGoT.

In Flea Bottom, Arya is marked as an outsider by her clothing. For instance, she receives leers in pot shops and she is later accosted by other children. Ultimately, Arya is only able to keep Needle, the most unladylike of the items she took with her. So, Arya ends A Game of Thrones in a terrible case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ as she is forced to survive by completely abandoning the life of lady.  

The Stark Kids and the Crypt at Winterfell

donewithwoodenteeth:

The crypts at Winterfell are very significant in my opinion. They hold the “dead kings of winter” and their swords, various late Starks, and great history. It is both associated with death (the fallen members of House Stark) and the pride and past of the Starks. Ned talks about walking them as he had “a thousand times before” in AGoT. The place is treated as almost as sacred as the godswood in many ways.

In fact, Catelyn more or less associates the crypts with where the Starks draw power:

Let the kings of winter have their cold crypt under the earth, Catelyn thought. The Tullys drew their strength from the river, and it was to the river they returned when their lives had run their course. Catelyn, ASoS

And Ned remarks that it is the place of the Starks:

“Ah, damn it, Ned, did you have to bury [Lyanna] in a place like [the crypt]?” His voice was hoarse with remembered grief. “She deserved more than darkness…”

“She was a Stark of Winterfell,” Ned said quietly. “This is her place.” Robert with Ned, AGoT

A lot of important visions, moments, and the like revolve around the crypt. Now, I’ve seen this interpreted in multiple ways (I know at least some people theorize that there is something of great value, like Lightbringer, hidden underneath them,) but I’m not going to address that type of speculation here. I just want to talk about the kids (including Jon) and their connections to it. Moreover, what the crypt seem to represent.

(Note: for instances of multiple Stark kids, I’m just going by the POV as it makes it simpler except obviously in cases of Rickon/Robb.)

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Is “Game of Thrones” too white? [by Saladin Ahmed; April 1, 2012] 

As an Arab-American writing fantasy fiction, I’ve been asked more than once whether fantasy’s race problem is in a better place now in the Age of Martin than it was in the Age of Tolkien. My short answer is yes, but honestly, I think such questions are almost beside the point.

Ultimately, A Song of Ice and Fire, like the Lord of the Rings, is the work of a brilliant and conscientious writer who is nonetheless writing in his own time and place. The United States in 2012 is, far too often, and even with a black president, still a culture rich in racist stereotypes and xenophobic fear-mongering. Expecting a writer to remain entirely unstained by this is expecting a person to live underwater without getting wet. If we still find troubling racial assumptions and caricatures in fantasy – whether on the page, or on the big or small screen — this probably tells us more about our culture-wide problems than it does about a single writer’s, or a single show’s issues. A Song of Ice and Fire is indeed our American Lord of the Rings, and if Westeros has its race problems, they are simply a powerful reflection of America’s.

Go to the link to read the whole piece, which was written before Season 2 of Game of Thrones went on air. Trigger warnings for #rape and #war crimes.