The sun was gone, and the sky was full of stars. So many. She leaned her back against a fluted pillar and wondered if her brother was looking at the same stars tonight, wherever he might be. Do you see the white one, Quentyn? That is Nymeria’s star, burning bright, and that milky band behind her, those are ten thousand ships. She burned as bright as any man, and so shall I. You will not rob me of my birthright! ― The Queenmaker, A Feast for Crows.
United Arab Emirates women's player lives dream with Caps
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) – When Fatima Al Ali first started playing hockey in the United Arab Emirates, she skated with young children half her size.
“They were looking up at me like, ‘What is she doing here?”’ she said.
On Wednesday, she was halfway around the world skating with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and they knew exactly what she was doing there. Capitals great Peter Bondra was impressed by Al Ali’s advanced stickhandling moves during a visit to Abu Dhabi, and the team flew her to the United States to meet her favorite player, Alex Ovechkin, during the league’s “Hockey is for Everyone” month.
The 27-year-old Al Ali only began playing hockey six years ago after falling in love with the sport as the official photographer for the men’s national team, and now she’s among the best players on the women’s team in the United Arab Emirates. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, the UAE has only 82 adult women’s players among its 802 skaters and just nine rinks in the country of almost 6 million where the average winter temperature is about 79 degrees.
“Hockey is getting more and more popular, and Fatima is one of the key factors to this success,” said Rasti Pavlikovsky, who runs the hockey camp where Bondra saw Al Ali in November. “She loves the sport, she is at the rink every day, not just skating and training, but also helping out to run the practices and games, she is also a great referee at international level.”
Al Ali recently got punched in the face while breaking up a fight as a referee but finished the game. She’s a hockey player, all right, with skills that could probably earn her a spot on women’s club team in North America.
She has had a busy week.
After visiting the National Mall and seeing sights around the nation’s capital Monday with her brother, Mohammed, Al Ali took in the Wizards’ overtime thriller against LeBron James and the NBA-champion Cleveland Cavaliers at night and visited the UAE embassy and met ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba on Tuesday. Overwhelmed by her first trip to Washington, she cried in the Capitals’ locker room Tuesday night as she met players after their game.
She found some comfort on the ice with them Wednesday. As cameras from about a dozen media outlets documented her every stride, Al Ali talked about herself, the sport in the Middle East and stick curves and different moves.
“I was so nervous going on the ice, but once we started talking it just calmed down,” she said. “We’re just talking about hockey, something we all share and something we all love.”
On Thursday, she did the ceremonial puck drop at the Capitals-Red Wings game.
Like her country, her hockey skills are still a work in progress, but Capitals coach Barry Trotz was impressed.
“You think a lady playing hockey in (the United Arab Emirates) it doesn’t sort of mix, but it’s great,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “To see what she’s doing is fantastic. She’s going to be a real role model, and I think it’s a good symbol.”
Al Ali got a signed stick from Ovechkin to commemorate her visit. Ovechkin also hopes she takes home more motivation to play and spread the sport.
“It’s good for the game, it’s good for me, it’s good for hockey,” Ovechkin said. “I told her I hope she’s going to bring more interest in the game to her country and maybe it’s going to be a new league because she’s got to meet some people out here.”
Al Ali is not from one of the countries targeted by President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim majority nations from entering the U.S. At the Capitals’ suburban Washington practice facility she skated around the rink wearing a hijab and enjoying what she called the best thing to happen to her in her life.
“I’m not here for politics,” Al Ali said. “I’m just here for sports and hockey.”
During his trip to Abu Dhabi, Bondra met with UAE hockey officials and coached an under-18 practice. He said hockey is on the way in a very nontraditional market.
“Doing a little hockey clinic, there was various stage of the level of game,” Bondra said. “There was some good skaters - you could tell that they’ve been skating for maybe two years more or there was some kids just starting. The hockey’s young there and it’s growing.”
Al Ali is at the forefront of that on the women’s side, and Pavlikovsky said nine or 10 more players from her team want to participate in their next camp run by former NHL and European players. That’s the impact she hopes to have.
“That’s my goal,” Al Ali said. “Everything I started doing in my life I hope it inspires other people to do something and break the barrier in their culture, whatever they’re doing.”
Exposition is a finely balanced art in storytelling, one which has to be treated with an overabundance of care. Of course, the audience for a story is not going to enter that world already knowing every crumb of expositional material. Not only would such a story be terribly boring, but it would also be devoid of any surprise or depth to characters’ motivations or views.
That said, exposition is so difficult for storytellers precisely because the audience knows it can be painfully unrealistic. No one in real life turns to his or her neighbor and presents an immediately apparent fact, or a fact the intended recipient would be expected to know (need I remind anyone of “I am Obara Sand, daughter of Oberyn Martell” - said to a man who has every reason to know who she is). Done incorrectly, then, exposition breaks the barrier between story and audience; we, the readers or watchers, get the sense that what is told on screen, on stage, or on the page is done only for our benefit. We’re reminded that we’re reading or watching a story, that none of this is really happening. So, if the audience cannot believe that a character in-universe would not know what is being told to him or her, or would not ask about the subject matter at hand, the exposition does not work.
All of the above is preface to discussion of one of my very favorite examples of exposition in ASOIAF: the end of “Alayne II”, A Feast for Crows. The author had a difficult task in front of him: explaining in greater detail Harry the Heir’s connection to House Arryn and his very high place in the succession to rulership of the Vale. Genealogical tables, while (obviously) fascinating to me, hardly make gripping story points, after all, and even the most talented writer would be hard-pressed to turn tracing lordly descent from a great-grandfather to the heir apparent an exciting experience. How boring it might have been to have Harry’s Arryn lineage revealed in some young Princess Victoria-esque way - a ponderous review of a written chart and subsequent declaration that Harry is “closer to the (weirwood) throne than I thought”.
So how did the author solve the problem? By constructing the narrative of Sansa’s Vale arc so that Littlefinger’s exposition at its end not only fulfills the promise of Harry Hardyng’s importance, but crowns Sansa’s developing political education as well. The manner in which Littlefinger explains who Harry the Heir is fits perfectly with his own character and develops the dynamic of political calculation established in “Alayne I”. In ensuring that the exposition which ends “Alayne II” springs naturally from the personality and development of these two characters, the author dispels the danger which writing exposition poses.
… “I will be queen, though?” asked the younger her. “Aye.” Malice gleamed in Maggy’s yellow eyes. “Queen you shall be … until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.” - Cersei III, AFfC
Armen crossed his arms. “Obsidian does not burn.” “Dragonglass,” Pate said. “The smallfolk call it dragonglass.” Somehow that seemed important. “They do,” mused Alleras, the Sphinx, “and if there are dragons in the world again…” “Dragons and darker things,” said Leo. “The grey sheep have closed their eyes, but the mastiff sees the truth. Old powers waken. Shadows stir. An age of wonder and terror will soon be upon us, an age for gods and heroes.” He stretched, smiling his lazy smile. “That’s worth a round, I’d say.”
Her mother was long dead, so Lady Myranda kept her father’s castle for him; it was a much livelier court when she was home than when she was away, according to rumor. “Soon or late you must meet Myranda Royce,” Petyr had warned her. “When you do, be careful. She likes to play the merry fool, but underneath she’s shrewder than her father. Guard your tongue around her.“ ― Alayne II, A Feast for Crows.
The queen stood. “And what of my wrath, Lord Stark?” she asked softly. Her eyes searched his face. “You should have taken the realm for yourself. It was there for the taking… Such a sad mistake.” “I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine,” Ned said, “but that was not one of them.” “Oh but it was, my lord,” Cersei insisted. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” — Cersei Baratheon and Eddard Stark, A Game of Thrones
If there is one woman destined never to be a hearth-mate or homemaker, she is undoubtedly Cersei Lannister. The Lannister symbol is a lion and Cersei is undoubtedly a lioness, a golden-haired green-eyed feline among queens. Had she been born a whore, she would have been an empress of brothels. She was born noble, however, the first of two bright blond glittering twins fathered by Tywin Lannister and his beloved wife, Joanna. Little brother Jaime came out clutching his sister’s heel, and has been clutching other bits of her ever since.
Jaime would one day become a knight, wild and reckless of reputation. Had she been born male, Cersei would have out-Jaimed Jaime. She lacks no bravery when it comes to conflict, and would happily have slit half a dozen Targaryen throats to sit unchallenged on the Iron Throne. Unlike her brother, it would never have occurred to her to get off it. Unfortunately for Cersei, she was born female, and her path to conquest was never going to be that straightforward.
Cersei is the eldest of the Lannister children. As a male, she would be the heir to Casterly Rock, irrespective of looks, abilities, or any other factors. Because of her sex, however, she finds herself third in the line of succession. Anything she has must be given to her by her father or earned between Robert Baratheon’s bed sheets. It is not a situation designed to breed self-esteem. Kept back because of her sex and because there is room for only one Tywin-shaped ego in the family, it could be no surprise that this volatile, passionate woman’s nature would warp a little.
Under such circumstances, it might be thought that a woman like Cersei Lannister would become a Dacey Mormont or even a Mirri Maz Duur, finding power through arms or the occult. That, however, would not be Cersei’s way. She may crave self-determination, but in the end Cersei accepts the world into which she is born.
Cersei has taken on her culture’s distaste for women, so she both despises and treasures her own femininity. She has to work very hard for the gifts of command and influence given so easily to men of her station. As a result, she has no time for hapless females. At best, she will sneer at them; at worst, she will use them without a shred of pity. The world is harsh to women; to her mind, the sooner they learn how to use the rules to their own advantage, the better. If Cersei gave it a second thought, she might even argue that she does her own sex a favour by teaching them the lessons she had to learn by herself.
Cersei did indeed have difficult lessons to learn. When dealing with Lannisters, all roads lead to Casterly Rock, and the pervasive influence of Tywin. They pride themselves on a tradition of intelligence inherited from their famous ancestor, Lann the trickster. They use every resource they have to get what they want. They are abundant in wits, in wealth and in comeliness.
Like all the Lannister family — with the notable exception of Tyrion — Cersei is lovely to look upon. This alone makes her a treasure. The Lannisters understand the importance of appearances only too well. In a world where a woman’s worth is judged by her beauty, bloodline, and fertility, Cersei is worth a great deal. She may just be another breeder, but her owners can expect a fine price for her — nothing less than a crown.
Unfortunately for Cersei, the death of Lyanna Stark left Robert Baratheon an angry man. All her beauty could never mend his heart — something she could never forgive. Despite this failing, Cersei could certainly take care of his other needs. Sensual and exquisite of form, Cersei is extremely alluring. Robert Baratheon found nothing to object to in her person. This was the beginning of Cersei’s rise to power. Her father can subsidise a king, her brother can kill one, but neither can create one. That task, the creation of a Lannister monarch, came down to Cersei alone.
It would never be easy for someone of Cersei’s ego, already thwarted in ambition and expression, to become the bed mate of a man in love with another woman, though — especially a woman made ideal through death. Cersei could not even have the satisfaction of watching her rival grow old and ordinary. Lyanna Stark is forever the unattainable and tragic love in Robert’s life. The implicit rebuff, both to her status as his queen and her adequacy as his bedfellow, is more than she could possibly tolerate. She gave her royal husband three healthy, beautiful children to inherit his throne and continue his line … but none of them are his. Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are golden children, who resemble both mother and father, Cersei and Jaime Lannister.
It is hard to understand the complex link between twins, but by itself this does not explain the extent of the love between the Lannisters. They consider themselves to be bonded souls, perhaps even the same soul. It is not true. Jaime’s needs are very different to Cersei’s. Jaime may follow his sister’s lead, but he is a warrior; she is a politician.
It could be argued that Cersei’s feelings for Jaime is the nearest she will ever come to making love to herself, for they are so alike, so heroic looking, so beautiful. Whether she would love him so much were he not created in her own glorious image is a moot point. This might, however, explain Cersei’s contempt for her other brother, Tyrion. If Jaime is Cersei made male — a mirror of herself as she would wish to be — what is Tyrion but a grotesque distortion? Jaime is not the only Lannister male Cersei mirrors, though. Cersei inevitably echoes her father, the most powerful and successful being she knows in everything from her manipulation of her children to her personal disdain for Tyrion.
Her love for Jaime, however, is a radical departure from her father’s cool approach to matters of the heart. This alone is all her own feeling, and the intensity of it pulls her. It is dangerous, and yet comforting, for Jaime gives her most of the power in the relationship. While Jamie appears to be devoted to only Cersei, she in turn knows that her body is a weapon, and is willing to use it as needed, whether to deal with Robert’s occasional urges, or to attempt to seduce Eddard Stark. It is hard to tell whether she ever enjoys her lovers, or simply revels in the exercise of her personal power over men.
Incest is considered an abomination throughout the lands of Westeros, but curiously it does have a precedent in the royal house of Targaryen, where brothers and sisters become husbands and wives, kings and queens together. The theory was that it kept the blood pure. Cersei takes that precedent to heart, using it to justify her relationship with Jaime and her denial of her royal husband’s marital privileges. In at least two cases, those of Aerys II and Viserys — styled the Beggar King — the genetic inheritance seems to be mental instability, whatever the state of the blood. This situation repeats itself in the first child of Cersei and Jaime’s union: the heir to the throne of Baratheon, Prince Joffrey.
Cersei is so passionate and vivacious that even Tyrion, long since hardened to her wiles, finds her irresistible when joy overtakes her. When she is truly happy, she sparkles like a diamond. It is almost impossible not to love her. Cersei has not grown in circumstances where this bright side to her could develop, but it still reveals itself from time to time. Cersei Lannister is a brilliant but fickle friend, a proud and cunning foe, and above all, a guardian of her own power.
– A Game of Thrones, Deluxe Edition Role-Playing Game and Resource Book
The mother heard her. Somehow the queen’s voice cut through the woman’s ravaged wits. Her slack face twisted in loathing. “Whore!” she shrieked. “Kingslayer’s whore!Brotherfucker!” Her dead child dropped from her arms like a sack of flour as she pointed at Cersei. “Brotherfucker brotherfucker brotherfucker.” - Tyrion IX, ACoK
“M’lady,” said the big man. “Here she is.” “Aye,” added the one-eyed man. “The Kingslayer’s whore.” She flinched. “Why would you call me that?” “If I had a silver stag for every time you said his name, I’d be as rich as your friends the Lannisters.” “That was only … you do not understand …” “Don’t we, though?” The big man laughed. “I think we might. There’s a stink of lion about you, lady.” - Brienne VIII, AFfC
It all goes back and back, Tyrion thought, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance on in our steads.
Hi butterfly, I am rereading AGOT and the absence of Stannis while Ned is trying to piece together Jon Arryn's death is really striking. I know that Stannis sends out letters stating his claim to succeed his brother first thing in ACOK, and also that he is a dutiful brother that would not have plotted against Robert. So my question is, what is Stannis doing in between the deaths of Jon Arryn and Robert? And when does Melisandre join his retinue? Thank you!
After Jon Arryn’s death, Stannis removed himself to Dragonstone, believing that Cersei had poisoned Jon to cover up her secret, and that he might be next. He was also somewhat ticked off that Robert planned to make Ned Hand of the King and not him, with a combination of “if my brother doesn’t trust me enough to make me Hand, he certainly won’t believe any proof I have of Cersei’s adultery.”
On Dragonstone, Stannis began to gather his strength, sending out envoys to Stormlands houses and houses sworn to Dragonstone with demands of fealty. (The Stormlands houses rejected him, alas.) Also note that when he left King’s Landing he took most of the royal fleet with him, and for the whole year any ship that came within sight of the island was not allowed to leave.
He also hired sellsails, Morosh of Myr and Salladhor Saan.
By the time of the ACOK prologue, there were 3000 men training on Dragonstone (very few compared to Renly’s forces, unfortunately), and the harbor was crowded with ships.
Melisandre had arrived on Dragonstone some years earlier. At the time, she was considered only to be a red priestess, at least by those who traffic in gossip, who also noted that Selyse had taken up with her. However, once Stannis came to Dragonstone, she began to work on converting him to her beliefs. By the time of Ned’s execution, Varys was reporting that Stannis had brought a shadowbinder from Asshai, showing that more of her history and powers were becoming known.
Anyway… yes, Stannis is very much the missing man during AGOT. His absence, the mystery of his absence, and the potential threat he represents are discussed in many chapters, from Bran II (where Cersei is worried that Robert will listen to Ned, unlike Stannis), to many of Ned’s, to Arya III (where she overhears Varys telling Illyrio he’s gathering an army), to Tyrion’s last – where Tywin calls him “a greater danger than all the others [Renly, Robb] combined”, but also wonders why he hasn’t done anything yet. All this buildup leads to the prologue of ACOK, where Stannis is finally revealed… as both all he was described and also slightly underwhelming as well (petty, grudgy, complaining). If you’re interested, @racefortheironthrone has an excellent overview of Stannis’s character as he appears in the prologue, here. Hope that helps!
“We were king’s men, knights, and heroes … but some knights are dark and full of terror, my lady. War makes monsters of us all.” “Are you saying you are monsters?” “I am saying we are human. You are not the only one with wounds, Lady Brienne…”
“The maid that Podrick spoke of may be with the Hound.” “Truly? Then we must pray for the poor girl.” And for me, thought Brienne,a prayer for me as well. Ask the Crone to raise her lamp and lead me to the Lady Sansa, and the Warrior to give strength to my arm so that I might defend her. She did not say the words aloud, though; not where Hyle Hunt might hear her and mock her for her woman’s weakness.
Her eyes widened. “He is not Lady Waynwood’s heir. He’s Robert’s heir. If Robert were to die…”
Petyr arched an eyebrow. “When Robert dies. Our poor brave Sweetrobin is such a sickly boy, it is only a matter of time. When Robert dies, Harry the Heir becomes Lord Harrold, Defender of the Vale and Lord of the Eyrie. Jon Arryn’s bannermen will never love me, nor our silly, shaking Robert, but they will love their Young Falcon… and when they come together for his wedding, and you come out with your long auburn hair, clad in a maiden’s cloak of white and grey with a direwolf emblazoned on the back… why, every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win you back your birthright. So those are your gifts from me, my sweet Sansa… Harry, the Eyrie, and Winterfell.” ― Alayne II, A Feast for Crows.
The most beautiful woman in the world, thought Quentyn. My bride-to-be, if the gods are good. Sometimes at night he lay awake imagining her face and form, and wondering why such a woman would ever want to marry him, of all the princes in the world.
“The silver queen is gone,” the ketch’s master told him. “She flew away upon her dragon, beyond the Dothraki sea.”
“Where is this Dothraki sea?” he demanded. “I will sail the Iron Fleet across it and find the queen wherever she may be.”
The fisherman laughed aloud. “That would be a sight worth seeing. The Dothraki sea is made of grass, fool.”
Quentyn Martell and Victarion Greyjoy are the Tragedy and Comedy masks of the Meereenese Knot. Their quests are identical, but the tones are oppositional, which allows them to illuminate one another. They’re clearly meant to be compared: the Dornish and Ironborn plots in AFFC (mirrored in so many ways throughout) culminate in the revelation of Quent and Vic’s quests for Dany. Not only that, GRRM links them via chapter titles: “The Iron Suitor” and “The Spurned Suitor,” only four chapters apart. That their roles are so similar speaks not only to Dany’s increasing centrality to all narratives but how in every narrative, some characters end up cogs in the machine. Quentyn and Victarion are tonally opposing meditations on what it’s like to be a redshirt. Both are puppets; both are doomed; both will die powerless, far from home, knowing only their failure in the final moments. But their perspectives on this mutual doom and the events along the way are entirely different, which allows GRRM to make a different set of points and elicit a different set of emotions.
When Quentyn loses people along the way (his companions), it’s brutally personal and convinces him that if he fails, they died for nothing. When Victarion loses people along the way (his ships), he just sits there glaring at the horizon and winging about the inconvenience like a child missing his toys. When Quentyn gets involved with a dangerous badass with his own agenda (the Tattered Prince), it’s desperately sad–it reflects the death of his innocence, as well as the horrific parts of questing that the songs don’t warn you about. When Victarion gets involved with a dangerous badass with his own agenda (Moqorro), it’s bizarrely funny–it reflects his ignorance and short-sightedness, as well as his inability to understand when he’s being manipulated. Quent’s alienation from his surroundings is rendered mournfully: what I wouldn’t give to smell the sweet air of home again! Vic’s alienation from his surroundings is rendered sardonically: the ocean is the wrong color, dagnabbit! Quent’s perspective on the family member who sent him on his quest (Doran) is tragic; the kid dies trying to make Dad proud. Victarion’s perspective on the family member who sent him on his quest (Euron) is comedic; the Iron Captain honestly thinks he’s going to pull one over on the Crow’s Eye, what a joke! The same basic story, when told in a different fashion, produces very different results: wretched piteous tears on one hand, sputtering WTF laughter on the other. Even redshirts have range.