Amazon Will Make You the Proud Plant Parent of 20 Succulents For Just $36

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I don’t really know why anyone would need 20 succulents, especially since I struggle to keep just one alive, but if you’re thumb is feeling extra green today, use it to buy this collection of 20 succulents from Amazon for just $36. You could fill every window sill in your home with a succulent, or just have extras on…

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https://kinjadeals.theinventory.com/amazon-will-make-you-the-proud-plant-parent-of-20-succu-1831652422

Supergirl’s Finale Suggests There Will Be a Very Prominent Zombie in Next Year’s Crisis

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Yes, I know you were all busy watching Game of Thrones shit the bed in the most glorious fashion last night. Yet, if you happened to tune into the CW the hour before Game of Thrones, you got a sincerely good conclusion to a season that ended up being one of the most entertaining seasons of supershows the CW has done.…

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https://io9.gizmodo.com/supergirls-finale-suggests-there-will-be-a-very-promine-1834895407

The Best Things The Phantom Menace Brought to Star Wars

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Say what you will about The Phantom Menace, but it’s crucial to what makes Star Wars great. Sure, it introduced lots of not-so-popular characters and concepts, but it balanced that out with even more things that, in the 20 years since its release, have aged quite gracefully. Things that improved and expanded the…

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https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-best-things-the-phantom-menace-brought-to-star-wars-1834822221

15 Epic Fantasies That Stick the Landing

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

For some reason, everyone is talking today about how important it is to nail the ending of an epic fantasy series. We can’t quite figure out why, but it sure is a fascinating topic. Epic fantasy faces challenges other genres don’t; while there are plenty of long and complex stories in literature, only epic fantasies have to explain magic systems, invent cultures wholesale, and keep track of a huge list of characters—often across three or seven or 14 books.

But, hey, if it was easy to write an epic fantasy—and especially to end one in satisfying fashion—we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Certainly there are plenty of books and series that end on a satisfying note—like the 15 listed here. We’re not claiming these are the only epic fantasies that end well—but they’re some of our favorite examples.

The Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin stands with the most important working SFF writers for many reasons, not the least of which because her work displays a perfect combination of ambition and ability. Her books blends sci-fi and epic fantasy concepts with gritty and realistically-portrayed character relationships in a way that is thoroughly modern, while her technical flourishes—playing with point-of-view and second person narration—are deployed so confidently, readers don’t even realize just how hard they are to pull off. All three books in the Broken Earth trilogy won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the finale, The Stone Sky, stands as one of the most satisfying endings in fantasy history. After slowly and skillfully revealing the secrets of her world—a possible far-future Earth in which all of humanity survives on a single continent that is wracked by periodic apocalyptic events known as the Seasons and the sky is marked by the floating remnants of a past civilizationin the form of mysterious Obelisks—Jemisin hits the gas early in the third book, racing from earned reveal to earned character resolution in a rush of ecstatic storytelling. Best of all, she holds back one final satisfying secret until the very last, demonstrating an incredible level of control over her story.

The House War series, by Michelle West
The House War series is an outgrowth of West’s Sun Sword series focusing on the character of Jewel Markess A’Terafin, and threads between that series and this one proliferate. You can read this series as a standalone, or allow yourself to be seduced into reading the rest of the books—there are no wrong answers here. Because this series tells the life story of a character who plays a big role in the other series—a character who can see the future, no less—West faced a special challenge: the resolution had to make sense in the larger context of both series, but she was also constrained by events described in the other books. The final book of the series (which was split into two when it metastasized in the writing) manages to pull everything together more or less perfectly.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, by Tad Williams
Legend has it that this foundational trilogy by Tad Williams—which recently begat a sequel series that in no way diminishes the achievements of this 30-year-old epic—is what convinced George R.R. Martin to flee a television writing career in Hollywood and begin writing what would become A Song of Ice and Fire. And though Williams’ books are certainly well-loved, it’s a bit of a shame that they’ve been mostly eclipsed by the efforts they inspired. Certainly Martin wasn’t the first writer to riff on the tropes Tolkein codified and Terry Brooks made mainstream. Truthfully, Williams wasn’t either, but he’s at least as good as GRRM at crafting a secondary world, and certainly more efficient at wrapping up a series. On the surface, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn sounds like a paint-by-numbers secondary world fantasy: there’s an ancient evil threatening the medieval-flavored land of Osten Ard, a boy with a mysterious past, a scrappy princess, an evil prince, a dying king, and more magic swords, dragons, elves, and dwarfs thank you can shake a wand at (even if they’re referred to by different names.) It never eschews these tropes—though at the time they were less codified. Instead, Williams’ trilogy feels like a surgically-precise dissection of the genre, from first page to last. It reads differently today, no doubt, but it more than holds up.

Mordant’s Need, by Stephen R. Donaldson
Donaldson’s other series get most of the attention, but let’s face it, the various Chronicles of Thomas Covenant don’t ever seem to actually end, do they? This duology, on the other hand, is tightly plotted and moves towards its conclusion with beautiful precision. It’s a surprising ending, but in no way a cheat. Set in a world where mirrors are the key to magic, with a protagonist who spends much of the story painfully passive, it’s a character-driven story in which each major player has an arc and an evolution that sees them stepping into the roles necessary for the climax to play out in a satisfying fashion. Donaldson plays a great trick on readers who are used to rooting for a “chosen one” character, setting up several possible heroes of destiny while the real story slowly unfolds in the background. The result is an ending that clicks into place with a satisfaction akin to finding a puzzle piece you didn’t even know you were missing.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erickson
Born out of plans for an expansive role-playing game, Steven Erickson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is the epic fantasy reader’s epic fantasy, and often suggested (on Reddit, at least) as the best and most ambitious fantasy saga of all time. It’s a dense, challenging, and unforgiving series, dropping you headfirst into a frantic battle that is just one small skirmish in a vast conflict that stretches backward and forward in time and across a massive world filled with all varieties of magic, monsters, and living gods. It starts big and just gets bigger from there. The final book in the main series, The Crippled God, has its work cut out for it, yet somehow manages to tie off every single dangling thread readers might be wondering about—plus a few they might be surprised to discover were important in the first place. The final third of the book is just a series of one incredible battle after another, an ebb and flow of tension and release that carries you all the way to a note-perfect finale.

The Riddle-Master, by Patricia A. McKillip
It’s hard enough to finish a fantasy series. It’s just as hard to pull off a truly surprising twist. It’s nearly impossible to pull off said twist in the final book of the series without making everything that comes before seem like either a cheat or in need of serious retconning. But McKillip does it, and so skillfully that you can reread whole series and appreciate it more for the pleasure of discovering the clues she littered throughout, and the structure she subtly built up to sell the twist. Set in a fantasy universe where the rulers of respective nations have a mystical connection to their realm, which ostensibly exists under the dominion of a mysterious High One, this series doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.

The Scavenger Trilogy, by K.J. Parker
Parker’s complicated fantasy, set in an empire stressed by external raiders and internal conspiracies, requires your full attention—not least because by the second book, the twists start coming fast and furious. At the outset, the main character, Poldarn, wakes up on a battlefield with no memory. Given the name of a god by a woman he meets, Poldarn begins to suspect whoever he is, he’s not a very good person—and that he might be famous, or at least infamous, extremely important, and possibly destined to bring on the end of the world. The final book, Memory, piles on the revelations skillfully while managing to leave just a hint of mystery behind, ensuring the world remains fascinating through multiple rereads. Parker’s name has become synonymous with unreliable narrators, and this series certainly fits the bill there, but the payoff never feels like a cheat.

The Dagger and the Coin, by Daniel Abraham
Daniel Abraham actually has two series that would fit perfectly on this list, but this blog has already covered the other one—The Long Price Quartet—at some length, so we’re going with this almost as impressive followup. If Long Price was Abraham’s attempt to craft an atypical epic fantasy, The Dagger and the Coin is his attempt to perfect the more traditional form. All the tropes are here, from plucky orphans who rise to positions of power, to gods that mettle in mortal affairs, to ruling despots who strike fear into the hearts of their suspects. But even when he’s using all the usual toys, Abraham refuses to play by the rules. His chosen one hero is a girl who exercises her might by manipulating coin rather than wielding a blade. His evil ruler is a booksmart, physically unimposing geek who is seduced by power and falls prey to his own ego and insecurities. His dark gods may or may not be real, and his dragons are long gone from the world, which is still shaped by their influence. In the fifth book, The Spider’s War, the saga reaches a truly magnificent conclusion; if anything, the satisfying scope of the action is overmatched by the emotional catharsis you’ll receive from following his damaged, headstrong, all-too-human characters to their fitting ends.

The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold
You don’t need multiple books to make an epic, and a great ending is a great ending, so we’re going to call out the finale of The Curse of Chalion, a novel that can be enjoyed as a standalone adventure, or in tandem with the loosely connected sequel set in the same world (Paladin of Souls, which is itself a great standalone adventure with a wonderful ending). Both the story and universe of The Curse of Chalion are fully fleshed out, however, and you don’t need to read the second volume to be satisfied (though you’ll undoubtedly want to anyway). Based loosely on our world’s history, Bujold’s second foray into epic fantasy tells the tale of Caz, a knight of Chalion, who returns home from a disastrous war campaign burdened by betrayal and longing only for peace and rest—but instead finds himself drawn into the mystery of the curse that has doomed the royal family. Filled with vivid characters and the sort of inversions and subversions of fantasy tropes that fans of A Song of Ice and Fire will appreciate, The Curse of Chalion does it all—and in less than 500 pages.

The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
This one makes the list for two reasons. Not only does the fourteenth volume of The Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, bring the saga of “Dragon Reborn” Rand al’Thor and his companions’ fight against the Dark One—the force of ultimate evil in the universe—to a suitably epic and emotional end, it does so even though it was written after the death of the series’ original author. When he was chosen to work through the notes and outlines left behind by Robert Jordan after his untimely passing, Brandon Sanderson faced a seemingly impossible task. Jordan himself had struggled to bring his ever-expanding epic in for a landing; how could any other author even attempt such a thing? Yet impossibly, Sanderson did, managing to tie off plot threads scattered across a dozen earlier books and provide mostly satisfying conclusions to an army’s worth of character arcs while also attempting to mirror the style of another author. And sure, it took him three 1,000-page books instead of the one he (and Jordan) had originally planned, but considering the stakes—would The Wheel of Time become an epic for the ages or a cautionary tale about the dangers of outsized authorial ambition?—it’s hard to imagine a better ending.

The Mistborn Trilogy, by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson also deserves credit for his ability to end his own stories well. Certainly he is one of the most influential modern writers of epic fantasy, and for two basic reasons: one, he’s a master of craft, most notably in his detailed worldbuilding and his development of rigorous magic systems (the system in this series, Allomancy, involves the manipulation of ingested metals that give users superhuman abilities; it’s part of a larger meta-system Sanderson has been slowly revealing for years across multiple vaguely related series). Two, he’s so good at pulling off plot twists, it’s almost spooky. Mistborn deploys a lot of classic fantasy tropes in new ways, including the age-old idea of the ancient prophecy that will determine the fate of the world—and the way he reveals the full ramifications of that prophecy in the final book of the trilogy is nothing short of genius. Everything you thought was wrong, but in gloriously right ways, and as the mysteries that have plagued the characters over the course of three increasingly fat volumes fall into place, you realize the story is even bigger than you thought.

The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
In epic fantasy, it doesn’t get much better than when a book delivers really good dragons. Sure, elves are cool, as are magic rings, and mighty warriors, and kings of destiny, but… dragons are the best. Robin Hobb is a good friend of George R.R. Martin, and at least as skilled at deploying dragons effectively. What’s great about the ending of the Farseer trilogy (which, satisfying as it is, isn’t really the ending—the trilogy is followed by many more books in related and sequel series)—aside from, you know, the presence of an army of dragons that arrives via most unusual means—is the rich emotion beneath the spectacle, as the main characters each gets a moment to shine. The protagonist, FitzChivalry Farseer, is far from a perfect hero and endures more failure than most fictional characters would be able to withstand, a fact that makes his final triumph all the sweeter. This story of assassins doesn’t end with gratuitous violence or a sudden heel turn, opting instead for an intelligent and compassionate application of magic.

The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, by Brian Staveley
This recent, under-the-radar series is modern epic fantasy at its best. It’s a tale of political intrigue, war, rebellion, gods, monks, fighters, and family, with a thoroughly constructed world and fully realized characters. It’s a coming of age tale that follows the three children of a recently assassinated emperor: Kaden, the heir who’s gone to study with monks; Valyn, who has joined the Kettral, an elite military force that trains with and flies around on huge hawks; and Adare, the emperor’s only daughter, who fights to keep her father’s empire from crumbling from within as the Minister of Finance. But it’s also not just about the hardships these three face; it’s also about a greater war that’s been waged for centuries, a war all three of them are thrust into as the unwitting pawns of an ancient race of immortal beings. It’s incredibly difficult to create a world as expansive as this one, and harder still to neatly tie off so many disparate narrative threads. Staveley does a fantastic job of it.

Kushiel’s Legacy, by Jacqueline Carey
Carey is another author who has returned multiple times to the same fantasy setting, producing a trilogy of trilogies that explore different points on the timeline. When is comes to her Kushiel series, which began with 2001’s Kushiel’s Dart, you needn’t read all nine volumes to be truly satisfied. The ending she reaches with book three closes out the story of protagonist Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève—a courtesan in service to a god who inhabits a complex world inspired by Renaissance France—in a manner approaching perfection. In her youth, Phèdre, a girl with an “ill-luck name,” sold into indentured servitude in the Night Court, high-end pleasure houses catering to specialized sexual proclivities. However, she has a greater destiny as an anguissette, a chosen of a god, who is given the power (and the task) to experience pain as pleasure. This status vaults her into a position of political import, and it soon becomes apparent that the still waters of her supposedly peaceful nation conceal plots, desires, and ambitions, and a vast conspiracy with the potential to bring the whole of society down. Phèdre sets off down a road that crosses a dozen countries and a dozen years, endures multiple periods of slavery and torture, and participates on a full-scale war in her quest to keep her country together. Delivered in Carey’s poetic prose, it’s a story as much about sex and intrigue as one woman’s coming of age.

Blackdog, by K. Johansen
The notion of deities and demons having a corporeal existence in a fantasy world isn’t a new one, but Johansen’s novel takes a different approach: while most of the gods and goddesses in this world remain in “spirit” form unless invoked or interacted with by mortals, one goddess chooses to inhabit the body of a human girl from birth to death, repeating the process again and again. She begins each cycle as a fragile youth, and as the book begins, a duplicitous wizard arrives with an army at his back and plans to capture and enslave her, throwing the world into chaos. Richly observed, excitingly plotted, and crammed with world-building detail, Blackdog is a fantastic, satisfying, and entirely self-contained adventure.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
And yes, last but certainly not least is the mother of all modern epics. Look, The Lord of the Rings winds up on 95 percent of literary listicles for a reason. Aside from being one of the foundational works in the genre, it’s also timeless, even as writers that followed it have riffed on or subverted (hello, GRRM) the tropes Tolkien established here—and much of that has to do with the pitch-perfect ending. At the close, all the kings and warriors and wizards of Middle Earth are no match for Sauron and his evil minions, but a pair of desperately tired halflings and an ancient, ruined creature whose universe has narrowed to a single object somehow defeat him—by failing. Not only are all the characters true to themselves to the end, but all of the plot threads converge elegantly, reaching a suitably epic climax and following it up with a lengthy denouement (the scouring of the shire; the sad partings) that ensures the larger themes hit home.

Ardi Alspach contributed to this post.

What’s your favorite ending in epic fantasy?

The post 15 Epic Fantasies That Stick the Landing appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/15-epic-fantasies-that-stick-the-landing/

Emilia Clarke Thinks Game of Thrones Needs a Rest and Wishes You Wouldn’t Call Daenerys the ‘Mad Queen’

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Years ago, Emilia Clark became one of the first people to know who would ultimately emerge victorious and sit on Game of Thrones Iron Throne. For obvious reasons, she was sworn to keep the information secret, but now, she’s finally free to speak out about how the series played out and everyone’s sudden fondness for…

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The Game of Thrones Awards, Season 8, Episode 6: End of Watch

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Greetings, and welcome! My name is Ben, and you have stumbled upon the ONLY Game of Thrones recap on the entire internet. Week to week I will be breaking down each episode of season  8, giving out highly prestigious awards, and wrapping everything up with a haiku.

Season 8, Episode 6: “The Iron Throne”

As I read the last few sentences of Stephen King’s epic seven-book Dark Tower series, I found myself feeling rather dejected. After thousands of pages, dozens of well crafted characters, and some of the most interesting lore I’d ever come across, I could only think… is that all there is? A series I’d been following for decades was over, leaving me with only a litany of complaints about everything from characterization to the pacing.

At the time, I think I lacked a bit of perspective on just how incredibly difficult it is to wrap up a story so sprawling. I don’t want to give Benioff and Weiss (and George R.R. Martin, if some of these same shortcomings aren’t corrected on the page) a pass for some of narrative choices made these last two seasons, but ending Game of Thrones was always going to be a problem. The show has always been at its best when it puts its characters into a room and lets them explore their experiences. When you are writing a story that involves dragons and battle, the endgame is naturally going to involve more fire and swords than dialogue. I always suspected that this show was destined to let a lot of us down in the end. The decision to condense these last two seasons from twenty episodes into thirteen certainly now strikes me as not only the wrong one, but a sign of a fundamental misunderstanding of the story being told.

Still, as the credits rolled for the final time last night, I felt incredibly grateful to have experienced this show from week to week and year to year. My problems with seasons 7 and 8 make the Red Wedding no less visceral, the battle of Blackwater Bay no less exhilarating, Ayra’s and Sansa’s journeys no less moving. The rushed ending doesn’t negate the incredible journey I’ve followed down the King’s Road these last eight seasons.

That buildup might give you the idea I’m going to eviscerate this episode, and I am. Well, half of it anyway.

The first 40 minutes slowed the pace enough to let the story breathe in the wake of episode 5’s apocalyptic firestorm at King’s Landing. Tyrion’s walk through the corpse-strewn rubble was quiet, reflective, and heartbreaking. His reaction to finding his brother beneath the Red Keep is likely the clip that will earn Peter Dinklage another Emmy.

After Tyrion is imprisoned, his conversation with Jon provides another particularly strong part of the episode, even if it did act as something of a narrative bandaid. It’s almost as if the writers were unsure if the audience bought Dany’s heel turn; making Tyrion walk us through the warning signs was a bit on-the-nose, but necessary to get Jon where he needed to be for the episode and series to reach its inevitable endpoint; there was no way Daenerys wasn’t dying after the last episode’s massacre, but Jon’s turn had to make something approaching sense, and I think it did. As I said earlier, scenes like these where two characters can just exist in a room are the backbone of this show.

And so Jon meets Dany at the foot of the Iron Throne with murder on his mind. If some of the dialogue doesn’t quite track—Jon begs for Tyrion to be spared; had Dany agreed, would he have still killed her? What would that prove?—the execution no pun intended) of Daenerys’ death was fairly satisfying. It’s hard for the moment to land with the weight that the writers undoubtedly wanted it to, considering how rushed was both Jon and Dany’s romance and her eventual heel turn, but as a scene, it worked. Especially Drogon then went full Simba with the Queen’s corpse and then flew away with her to mourn (but not before slagging the Iron Throne (guess dragons are into heavy symbolism). 

The look on Dany’s face as she realizes Jon has betrayed her one last time is so painful because, despite her pivot to Mad Queen status, this is a character we’ve cheered on for a long time, and one who truly was acting out of a misguided desire to fix a broken world by any means necessary. It wasn’t the ending I wanted, but it was the one the show (and undoubtedly the novels, should they ever be published) demanded. If I have substantial problems with the journey, the destination seems right, somehow. 

But then…

In the aftermath of Daenerys’ death we jump ahead in time a few weeks, conveniently skipping over a few impossible scenes—we’re supposed to believe that Grey Worm didn’t immediately kill Jon and Tyrion in the wake of Dany’s death, and was content to just wait around for all of the (dwindling) lords and ladies of Westeros to show up for planning session? Weirdly, Tyrion starts the meeting as a prisoner, but a few minutes into it, he has basically single-handedly chosen the new king of Westeros. You’d think people would eventually stop listening to the guy.

And how about that choice of king? I will give Thrones some credit there: I definitely did not see Bran coming. Twist aside, it struck me as an underwhelming (and baffling) choice—not the least because, despite what Tyrion says, his story wasn’t all that great, and the show gave us no reason to believe that anyone else in Westeros would trust that he is actually the magical repository of human history he claims to be. He didn’t even use any of his powers to prove the point! The rate at which the crisis of succession is resolved feels like a slap in the face to viewers who may recall that we’ve spent eight seasons on the fight for the throne. Suddenly a bunch of characters we haven’t seen in several seasons (or ever) hold a quick vote, and no one much disagrees—we’ll get to Sansa in a second—and that’s it? Cersei would not be amused.

King Bran talks Grey Worm into letting Tyrion not only live but serve as Hand of the King? OK, sure. At least it make senses that Jon’s fate would be a little more complicated; it was still hard to accept Grey Worm letting his queen’s killer live, but if Jaime Lannister got to survive killing a king, I suppose Jon can kill the same king’s heir.

With my major problems with the finale outlined above, I’ll also try to end on a high note; upon all of a day’s worth of reflection, I was left feeling satisfied about where things ended up for many of the characters.

The way Jon’s arc wrapped up makes sense. He can’t go back to being a Stark, and he’s no Targaryen; having him end up detached from the other main characters (and likely living out his days beyond the wall) was a wise choice. He became the Queenslayer, a label that will follow him until the end of his days. Best to go where he can try to forget the past.

Speaking of slayers, perhaps the best resolution of the episode was Brienne’s choice to finish Jaime’s entry in the book of the Kingsguard, updating it to reflect the gray areas that lived in his character. Much like Jon’s, Jaime’s choice to end the Mad King’s life was much more complicated than history will remember it to be and that the history books will reflect. That being said, he still doesn’t deserve your tears Brienne!

Sansa being named Queen in the North feels right—she has in many ways become the strongest and wisest of them all—as does Arya’s decision to sail off the edge of the map. The former has spent years growing into the leader her people need, while the latter came to realize that she needed to learn how to be a person again. I know a lot of people wanted Arya to kill Cersei or Daenerys, but in retrospect, it seems like that was never where her arc was headed. That she took The Hound’s advice to not let herself be consumed by rage provided an ultimately more satisfying end; I didn’t want for her to have to live with the weight of having ended yet more lives, as much as her potential victims may have deserved to meet with the God of Death.  

Perhaps best of all is the fact that I can now imagine where this world goes from here; a good ending must also hold the future within it. I can foresee the arguments that will consume this strange new small council, which somehow includes Bronn of all people. I can imagine Sansa’s long and careful rule in the North. I can even see the coming of the next rebellion against the Throne. While in theory Bran should be able to avoid making some of the past (and future) mistakes, simply by the nature of his powers, we know that Westeros is not that simple, and pat as it is in some ways, the ending doesn’t really seem to suggest otherwise.

In closing, I would urge those of you who are upset about aspects of this final season to remember the good times, and why we cared so much about these characters in the first place. There’s probably nothing the writers could’ve done to satisfy everyone, but in the end, they did what not even George R.R. Martin seems able to do: they brought this dragon in for a landing.

And now, my watch has ended.

A few random thoughts:

—When Jon Snow said that “the war is over” I really wanted the ghost of Ygritte to appear and spout her catchphrase one last time.

—I like the idea that the new small council feels less need for a Master of Whisperers and a Master of War, even if Tyrion did say those positions will be filled some day; consider it a necessary reminder that peace never lasts.

—Tormund was one of the season MVPs, and I’m a little bummed he didn’t get a line of dialogue in that final, artful montage.

—The visuals that accompanied Dany’s speech to her troops felt a little too Star Wars to me, but I still enjoyed the spectacle of the moment.

—Edmure being told to sit down during the king’s moot in the dragon pit provided a welcome bit of levity in an otherwise unavoidably expository scene. As he started to speak I wondered if perhaps he did have some profound bit of wisdom to share. Nope. This man is, was, and always will be a doofus. Also, if I wasn’t already sold on her, this moment sealed it: Sansa is my queen.

—Bronn finally getting a castle from the Lannisters came off as more a joke than anything. I think his arc was one of several casualties of the shortened season, but then, the writers always liked him a bit more than was justified by the narrative.

—Samwell almost inventing democracy, only to be laughed down, was the worst joke the show has ever attempted. 

Quotable Quotes

“You master of grammar now, too?” —Sir Bronn of the Blackwater

“Now Varys’ ashes can tell my ashes…see, I told you” —Tyrion, pondering his potential execution

“Why do you think I came all this way?” —Bran with the mic drop on becoming King

Awards!

—The first (and last) “Self Indulgent Camera Wink of the Year” award goes to Samwell for bringing out an actual copy of a book called “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Just because it worked for Bilbo…

—The highly coveted “Best Boy of the Episode” award goes to Ghost, who by all accounts is a VERY GOOD BOY YES HE IS. Jon finally petting his direwolf felt like a direct response to all of the criticism the show faced over the marked lack of Ghost over the past few seasons. (Runner-up: Drogon.)

—The last “We Miss You and Wish You Weren’t Murdered in Horrifying Fashion” award goes to Ned Stark. His execution was the catalyst for almost everything that happened on this show. It was hard not to think about Ned as we watched snow covering King’s Landing, as his constant warning finally came to pass. Winter indeed has come, but maybe it won’t be as bad as he made it sound.

And Now, a Haiku by Tyrion

Arrested again
Seriously how many times
Has this happened to me?

What did you think of the finale? Are you hoping for a different ending on the page?

The post The Game of Thrones Awards, Season 8, Episode 6: End of Watch appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

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Why This Fertility App’s First Scientific Study Is So Exciting

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Unless you’re a tech-savvy woman looking to get pregnant, you’ve probably never heard of Ava. Slim and discreet, it’s a $300 wearable tracker that in tandem with its companion app monitors your heart rate, body temperature, and breathing while you sleep to predict when you’re ovulating. None of that is particularly…

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