» game of thrones ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Why Ukip, the Tea Party and Beppe Grillo pose a threat to the mainstream – Anthony Painter looks at the challenge populist movements make to the concepts of liberal democracy. The fuller Policy Network publication of his views is here.
When did you get hooked? – John Lanchester reviews A Song Of Ice And Fire and Game Of Thrones for the London Review of Books.
Jimmy Page, Aleister Crowley and the curse of Eddie and the Hot Rods – A forgotten moment from musical and magickal history.
The ‘Busy’ Trap – Are we too busy keeping ourselves busy to actually do anything useful?
WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Melanie Philips stole my Muslim transsexual baby, forcing me to eat my cat, which gave me cancer – Alex Andreou in the New Statesman asks just what we gain from our ‘raucous’ press.

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I dropped out of the ‘reviewing every book I read habit’ while attempting it last year, and I’m not planning to pick it up. However, I do like writing the occasional book review, and as part of the concerted effort to blog here more often, expect to see the occasional one dotted in amongst the political rants.

A Dance With Dragons is obviously the fifth book in the series, so if you haven’t read the others yet, be warned that there will be spoilers. If you’re watching Game Of Thrones on TV, then this really will spoil you for stuff that’s coming up in the next season. So if you don’t want to know any more, look away now…

Read the rest of this entry

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(An attempt at satire. Contains spoilers for the first couple of novels in A Song Of Ice And Fire and the Game of Thrones TV series until the middle of series two)

The politics of Westeros are currently dominated by the actions of the great noble Houses. On the surface, these Houses seem to have existed in their current form for hundreds of years, but closer examination reveals that they have all moved great distances from the lands they originally occupied, even if they have renamed places within their new lands with old names to present some form of continuity with the past. All of course covet the mythical ‘centre ground’, though none know exactly where it lies.

Currently dominant, though not in absolute power, are House Lannistory, renowned for the folk saying ‘a Lannistory always gets someone else to pay his debts’. Led by Lord Camwin, they currently hold power thanks to their alliance with House Libertheon, though some are dissatisfied by the compromises this has entailed. Camwin is obsessed with his legacy and with berating subordinates for not following his orders. He has sent the impish Lord Borion to rule King’s Landing in his stead, but now wonders if that is a good idea, as Borion appears to be building his own power base there. Lord Camwin has tried to replace the House sigil with a tree, but many think it should remain a roaring (and very British) lion.

House Libertheon, known for it’s sigil of a black animal on a yellow background, can point back centuries to when its ancestors were kings, though they tend to mumble a lot when asked about what happened in between. They share power with House Lannistory, though some question whether young King Nicholas has any Libertheon blood in him, or if he is actually a complete Lannistory. House loyalists have rallied around Lord Visionis with his claim to represent pure Libertheonism and the Orange Heart of the Lord of Liberal Reform. Others look to the younger Lord Socially, and his belief that the House should work closer with House Toiler.

House Toiler are well known by their red rose sigil, and were the dominant power of the land before their overthrow by the Lannistories. They are known for their occasionally progressive attitudes towards minority groups, but also for their ability to get involved in many different wars in support of their allies. Internal Toiler politics are complex, with brother often turning upon brother – currently, one of the Maceband brothers leads the House – while other lords jockey for position.

Elsewhere, the North is ruled by House Scot, whose King Alex (his sigil a salmon on a D-shaped shield) has declared its independence, but he knows he must come south to win many battles before that is recognised. In the West, the Greylloys sometimes proclaim the independence of the Iron Islands, though some feel they should merely accept a better position in service to the rest of Westeros. The Iron Islands are known as a very wet place, whose inhabitants follow the Soaked God and proclaim that ‘what is dead may never Dai’.

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