book-discussion

anonymous asked:

Tumblr's and instagram's of the Kiribabies? ;D

HANAMIYA: He likes his tumblr dashboard neat and tidy so he follows a few quality blogs about ‘epic fails’ (read: someone gets injured and he laughs his ass off) as well as some architecture/landscape photography because it calms his mind. He actually takes his tumblr seriously and writes book reviews along with discussing them with intelligent people. Occasionally, when he feels like it, he would come send you an ask with the plot twist, if he learns you’re reading this book. Hanamiya uses his Instagram with a fake name on it to check on rival teams, so he posts nothing at all. But he actively leaves rude comments and gets blocked a lot. Also, Imayoshi is been eyeing him very strangely last time they saw each other. 

HARA: His tumblr is filled with music blogs along with his favourite bands, he knows every single meme out there and been since tumblr originated. He likes to chat with everyone but gets very protective over his favourite musicians. So if you don’t like his taste you can expect a long explanation why it’s great and why you’re wrong and you’re missing out so much. Though later he might send an apology, remembering that everyone’s tastes are different. If he remembers it. His Instagram is full of selfies and pictures of his teammates and school. Literally everyone is there. He doesn’t have anything to hide. Except his eyes, but that’s another story. He comments on other people’s stuff, too. Also, gets sad when Hanamiya forces him to delete his pictures. 

FURUHASHI: He’s actually a lot more invested in tumblr than he’d like to admit. He follows his little sister and every single of her friends. And they post a lot. So he’s aware of everything that troubles girls and all the memes. (He pretends not to understand when Hara mentions them.) For his own pleasure, he follows blogs about anatomy and botany and cooking. Also, posts his own recipes and photos of bread. He rarely talks to anyone, but exceptions do happen. His Instagram has zero photos of him, but quite a lot of his home-made food and random people he sees on the streets that pique his interest, and most frequently his own flowers and the ones he sees in gardens or parks. He’s actually good at macro-photography. 

SETO: His tumblr dashboard is full of learning resources, quotes, book recommendations, and music notes. He follows quite a bunch and who post regularly so he always has something new to learn. He himself doesn’t create content since it takes too much time but reblogs everything and tags appropriately for future use. Surprisingly, he finds a few people like him and they suggest things to each other. His Instagram is full of landscapes and probably is the only one not attacked by Hanamiya. Seto takes photos of places where he walks and adds a location as well, so he doesn’t have to bother answering anyone. One time he posted himself playing ukulele (his face not visible) but deleted it after a short while. 

YAMAZAKI: The King of Shitposting. He entered so many fandoms he has notifications every second. But he enjoys it and manages to be up-to-date with everyone. He actually produces some quality posts, too, that seem to get a lot of notes, but his most famous one was where, he, after losing a bet to Hara, wrote: my captain’s ass is superb. People keep asking for pics to this day. He uses his Instagram to follow cool basketball players and his friends, both online and offline. Himself posts selfies with the team, friends, family, and just whatever catches his eye. Though if he takes a photo of something cool he’ll also be in it. Selfie stick is his new best friend. He comments a lot, mostly telling someone that he likes a photo and ask how everything’s going.

anonymous asked:

Do you think there will be another lemony snicket series?

Daniel Handler has openly addressed the topic:

Daily Texan: Where is Mr. Snicket now and is this the last of his world that we’ll be hearing about?
Daniel Handler: I can’t imagine that it would be, but then of course something terrible could be happening to Mr. Snicket at any moment. Both Mr. Snicket and I are basically on our way to Austin, Texas and as you know terrible things can happen to you while you’re traveling, whether or not you’re afflicted with wanderlust. I know Mr. Snicket is preparing for another project and reading a great deal of old Chinese poetry, which is often difficult to understand — particularly if you’re neither old nor Chinese.

[The Daily Texan -  Q&A: Lemony Snicket representative discusses latest book, past misfortunes,  October 16, 2015 (Link)]

This would allow any Snicket fan to exhibit a rare display of optimism. However Daniel Handler probably needs time to recharge his batteries after writing four Snicket books in four years, and to find new inspiration. We had to wait six years between “A Series Of Unfortunate Events” and “All The Wrong Questions”; hopefully the next opus set in the Snicket universe will come sooner. The world he’s created is vast and creative, so Daniel Handler shouldn’t get sick of it anytime soon. You can also expect more adult/teenage books from Daniel Handler himself and picture books written by Snicket and targeted at a younger audience. He seems to have a lot of fun with those.

Hey, my name is Daniela. I’m 17 and I live in California. I speak English and Spanish
I’ve never had a long term penpal before since most lose contact within a year, and I hope to actually find a penpal who will stay for quite a bit longer than that.

Tumblr: http://alldogsaregods.tumblr.com/

Email: Danni71017@hotmail.com

Music: Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Sleeping at Last, Imagine Dragons, Jaymes Young, Keaton Henson, Arctic Monkeys, Bastille, Childish Gambino, One Republic and like tons more.

TV: House of Cards (binge-watching this rn), HTGAWM, Blacklist, Hemlock Grove, X-Files, Shameless, Penny Dreadful, Hannibal. I watch Netflix more than I watch actual TV.

I’m obsessed with Captain America, Star Wars and a million other things. I am a huge book addict and I hope to find a penpal that will discuss books with me and recommend some.
My favorite book is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe btw.

I have 2 dogs, Lola and Lana, and 5 parakeets. I enjoy reading, laying in bed, watching Netflix, listening to music and cleaning ( weird I know, but it’s so relaxing). I take long walks everyday and enjoy writing down what I see in a little journal.

I hope to make great friends to just talk and have fun with, even if we don’t have anything in common. So email me!!

For a very limited time, we’ve put the e-book of Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World on sale for only $3.99 US. And not just for US readers!

Fic’s also heavily discounted at:

A few quotes about Fic:

“An indispensable guide to the dizzying world of fanfiction—its history, names, games, and creative promise. With … provocative interviews with writers, lively essays by readers and activists, and engaging examples from the kingdoms of fandom.” –Elaine Showalter, Professor Emerita of English and American Literature, Princeton University

“This definitive volume offers a rich immersion into fanfiction and is for anyone who has both loved and lived for the unique community of fandom, as well as for those who desire a look into this world or who are curious about the unexpected impact fic is having on the literary realm.” –Library Journal

“a perfect marriage of scholarly knowledge and fangirl enthusiasm … Jamison does not serve as Fic’s singular voice, and in fact, stresses within the book that the fan-fiction community is best represented through featuring a diversity of voices and perspectives … an informative and enjoyable guide to the culture and history of fan-fiction that will appeal to veteran fan-writers” –The Learned Fangirl

“Fic is brilliant! As a fanfiction writer my jaw has not lifted from the table. This book is amazing, it’s giving fanfiction writers a reason to come out of the fanfiction closet. It’s providing a sense of pride and shining a long overdue spotlight on the ways in which we work.” –Behind the Pages

Handmaid’s Tale discussion question #3: In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ women are divided into categories, including wife, servant, and handmaid. The handmaids sole purpose in society is to become pregnant and give birth. They are assigned to high-ranking men, their names changed to reflect their ownership. (The main character, assigned to a man named Fred, is known as Offred.) They are not even allowed to then raise these children. 

Author Margaret Atwood describes the circumstances in her book as being “what happens when certain casually held attitudes about women are taken to their logical conclusions.” 

As a society’s values are reflected in their laws, which laws and policies today most concern you about the way our society treats/values women and girls?

Brienne of Tarth: The Naked Truth

Now I know that we don’t get a 1st person POV from Brienne until A Feast for Crows, but there is something about her nakedness that I found interesting - and that already started in A Storm of Swords.

Being naked is something that seems to make her uncomfortable, which is surely natural for many people, and a young maiden, a shy woman, and a woman who was mocked for her body so long and so often especially.

Brienne doesn’t like her body for the most part, if at best, she likes it for fulfilling the functions she needs (for fighting, defending herself, etc.), but she considers herself ugly and in that sense surely has a good amount of self-hate written upon her freckled skin.

Also, being naked means for Brienne that she is without her protections, i.e. her sword, her mail, her shield. And that is something she surely doesn’t like. She finds these things an integral part of herself, or so I believe, and to have them ripped away to reveal nothing but her (to others) meager femininity/ feminine features is a great source of discomfort and uncertainty for her.

In A Feast for Crows, there are three instances that I recall in which she feels naked, and those are no pleasant experiences for her:

“Six locals sat about a table, talking, but they broke off when the strangers entered. Brienne could feel their eyes. Despite chainmail, cloak, and jerkin, she felt naked.” – Brienne I.

When exposed to other people’s gazes, she feels naked, really exposed.

When in the Whispering Wood: “Even in mail and boiled leather, she felt naked.” – Brienne IV.

And that is when Brienne has to face some dark fears, to the point that the only ‘comfort’ or protection she finds is Oathkeeper (and by extension also in Jaime *ahem*).

This happens another time short before she meets Lady Stoneheart: “’I want my clothes. My sword.’ She felt naked without her mail, and she wanted Oathkeeper at her side.” – Brienne VIII.

Here again, Brienne feels absolutely unsure and alone, wanting, needing Oathkeeper. At some point I even believe that Oathkeeper would be more important to her than would be clothes. She feels naked when left with no weapon to fight, to defend herself.

*Side note: I find it interesting how less and less clothes are mentioned with each try. First she feels naked with “chainmail, cloak, and jerkin”, three pieces in total, then in “mail and boiled leather” hence two pieces in total, and in the last quote she feels naked “without her mail”. More and more is stripped away from her, pretty much, but that may just be me, I don’t know.

Nakedness clearly marks a source of fear, or result of fear for her.

Now, what got me thinking is that there is one instance where Brienne is definitely naked, and doesn’t just feel naked, namely during the bathtub scene in Harrenhal.

Of course Brienne tries to hide her body at first, much to Jaime’s amusement.

So, let’s revisit the highlights for a moment:

“’Not so hard, wench,’ he called. ‘You’ll scrub the skin off.’ She dropped the brush and covered her teats with hands as big as Gregor Clegane’s. […] ‘What are you doing here?’” – Jaime V, A Storm of Swords.

“Brienne shrunk away from him. ‘There are other tubs.’” – Jaime V.

“He smiled as a red flush crept up the thick white column of her neck. She turned her back to him” – Jaime V. 

So, alright, up to that point, it’s the usual pattern that could be expected from someone who is uncomfortable to be naked in front of a another person, especially a male person, especially Jaime Lannister. She tries to cover herself, blushes, turns her back on him.

The first turning point, quite literally, I think, is when Jaime starts to accuse her of being responsible for the loss of his hand and Renly’s death:

“’No wonder Renly died, with you guarding him.’ She jerked to her feet as if he’d struck her, sending a wash of hot water across the tub. Jaime caught a glimpse of the thick blonde bush at the juncture of her thighs as she climbed out. She was much hairier than his sister. Absurdly, he felt his cock stir beneath the bathwater.”  – Jaime V. 

Here, we clearly have someone who forgets about her apparent nakedness and connected fear in the face of such accusations, of such pain. I personally find that a very strong scene (the same for the show) because it shows just how much it affects her to hear these accusations, from the one person who gets past Brienne’s defenses no matter how desperately she holds on to them. As she later on remarks in A Feast for Crows, after being called a “strapping healthy wench”: “Ser Jaime’s mockery had cut her deep; the little man’s words hardly touched her” – Brienne I, A Feast for Crows. Jaime does get under her skin. So to reveal her nakedness to him of all people, and in fact to stand up to him in just that way, proves to be a great challenge for her.

So, after that Brienne covers herself with a towel. While still not clothed and without weapons, it surely gives her some security back, at least that is what she wraps herself in, clutches on to:

“She wrapped her nakedness in a towel. ‘Do you mock me?’ That pricked him back to anger. ‘Are you as thick as a castle wall? That was an apology. I am tired of fighting with you. What say we make a truce?’ ‘Truces are built on trust. Would you have me trust –’ ‘The Kingslayer, yes, the oathbreaker who murdered poor sad Aerys Targaryen.” – Jaime V, A Storm of Swords

One can read here also a point Brienne makes on nakedness – and that is that she needs trust to have someone see her in that vulnerable state, but when Jaime faints after confessing to her about the real happenings during the Rebellion, she leaves that aside to catch him before he falls: 

“The next he knew, he was lying on the damp floor with the guards and the wench and Qyburn all standing over him looking concerned. Brienne was naked, but she seemed to have forgotten that for the moment.” – Jaime V. 

And that is what I found really interesting here. While she later covers herself when going on with the task of finishing Jaime’s cleaning: “Brienne went away to retrieve her towel, and returned with a stiff brush to finish scrubbing him” – Jaime V, there is a moment where she is surrounded by guards and Qyburn alike, is surrounded by men who surely did look at her, and not in a kind way, but all that is forgotten at this moment.

Now why is that so?

Obviously, I can’t provide a concrete answer, and I won’t even try. It’d probably be wrong anyways, since I’m neither narrator nor the author, but I still say what came to my mind.  

So, first of all, one of the things that surely made her uncomfortable at the surface is what made her forget her own nakedness later on – and that is that Jaime is naked, too. It’s one thing to stand naked in front of a bunch of folks, another if more people are.

Then of course there is the shock-factor. She just heard the truth about Aerys’ death – and had Jaime faint. But it’s not just that she just forgets to clutch the towel as she catches him with both her arms, but she stands there naked well after the shock surely settled in already. She stands there naked after she called for help and helped lie Jaime down on the ground.

Brienne cares for Jaime, at least that scene makes it pretty clear in my view, even if she tries to hide it by rebuffing him at first. After all, it’s not like she goes for another tub once Jaime decides to settle down in the same as she uses. Instead, Brienne turns her back, but stays, let’s say, within arm’s reach. While she taunts him about how she doesn’t have to care if he drowns in a bathtub… she does, and that she does makes her actual being naked less threatening for Brienne to the degree that she can forget it for a moment, a long moment until she tells the men that she will finish Jaime’s cleaning - and even then doesn’t freak out (which would be the case if someone became suddenly conscious of it, I think. Someone who is so often described as “awkward” would surely be quite jumpy about the matter, but she isn’t, she just gets on with the task of helping him getting cleaned).

The other thing is that short after the talk about trust and truce, Jaime shows her his trust by confessing the truth to her. Here, he really strips naked before her, he strips naked to reveal the truth he has hidden deep within himself, beneath the mark of Kingslayer, beneath his skin, after he has been all into japes and words of mockery at her expenses before. She gets a first glance at the real Jaime Lannister. So I think this might be one of the reasons that also play a role that Brienne forgets about that apparent fear, her nakedness, her own vulnerability – because Jaime let his show before.

It is Jaime who makes her forget her fear, her nakedness – and without Jaime by her side, she may not be naked, but she feels naked, three times at least. Brienne feels naked, and the only way of finding reassurance is… Jaime, too, at least by extension, because he is connected to the sword as the one who gave it to her, as the one who named it Oathkeeper.

So, personally, I really liked that idea, of course especially in JB terms *ahem*, but for a character like Brienne, who has more than one complex about her outer appearance, about her body, her nakedness, vulnerability, femininity, and trust, it’s a big deal, actually.

Brienne forgets about that vulnerability perhaps, or at least I don’t find it unlikely, for the first time. She forgets it because of and even for Jaime. And once he is gone, that very nakedness is back to the point that she feels her clothes forcefully removed by other people’s glances who don’t trust her and she can’t trust in turn, by whispers in the dark, memories haunting, and eventually a real ghost haunting her in the shape of Lady Stoneheart to whatever the result (we’ll have to see what happens in the next book ). But yes, I think there is something about her nakedness and the feelings she connects to it that actually reach beyond the realm of the body. 

KNOWhomo’s First Book Club

We are kicking off our Book Club/Book Discussion Group with Francesca Lia Block’s LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING. 

We will host two events (you may participate via webcam, voice, or type) in April. We will post the dates soon. 

So grab a copy at your local library (request an interlibrary loan if needed), visit your local independent bookstore, or visit your favorite place for bibliophile needs and join us. We’ll see you soon. 

Following from GoodReads.com:

Love in the Time of Global Warming 

by Francesca Lia Block 
Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.
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jan 29 2015, 8:17 am // For one of my seminars, starting next week we each have to do a book review and present it to the class and then we also have to lead discussion on the assigned readings one week.  And guess whose book review is due and who leads discussion next week?  She must really hate me…

10/100 days of productivity

Hello, word shakers!

I hope you’re all having a lovely day! While I’m here, let’s all have a mini discussion type thing on the book we last read. Rambling about books is always fun.

Reply to this post, reblog this post or send me a message. I’ll try my best to reply or message you guys in response. Likewise, if you see someone reply to this post with an awesome book, why not message them and discuss it with them? You might make a new friend. Also use this as a means to get book recs!

The last book I read was Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil. It was fun, cute and full of nerdy references - I loved it!

So, what was the last book that you read?

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Another public service announcement: 

Here is the last call for those inerested in joining a book discussion that  anjanana (banglebanger) and I have initiated. I know thehenaproject expressed interest. 

We’ll probably be getting started this week. 

Here is the synopsis to each book: 

Clothing Matters:

What do I wear today? The way we answer this question says much about how we manage and express our identities. This detailed study examines sartorial style in India from the late nineteenth century to the present, showing how trends in clothing are related to caste, level of education, urbanization, and a larger cultural debate about the nature of Indian identity.

Clothes have been used to assert power, challenge authority, and instigate social change throughout Indian society. During the struggle for independence, members of the Indian elite incorporated elements of Western style into their clothes, while Gandhi’s adoption of the loincloth symbolized the rejection of European power and the contrast between Indian poverty and British wealth. Similar tensions are played out today, with urban Indians adopting “ethnic” dress as villagers seek modern fashions. 

Illustrated with photographs, satirical drawings, and magazine advertisements, this book shows how individuals and groups play with history and culture as they decide what to wear.

The Grace of Four Moons:

Because clothing, food, and shelter are basic human needs, they provide excellent entries to cultural values and individual aesthetics. Everyone gets dressed every day, but body art has not received the attention it deserves as the most common and universal of material expressions of culture. The Grace of Four Moons aims to document the clothing decisions made by ordinary people in their everyday lives. Based on fieldwork conducted primarily in the city of Banaras, India, Pravina Shukla conceptualizes and realizes a total model for the study of body art—understood as all aesthetic modifications and supplementations to the body. Shukla urges the study of the entire process of body art, from the assembly of raw materials and the manufacture of objects, through their sale and the interactions between merchants and consumers, to the consumer’s use of objects in creating personal decoration.

The Wench’s New Clothes: Lengthy book discussion on Brienne’s clothes/armor

And yes, the title is supposed to reference The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.

After reading a wonderful post on tumblr where it was about show!Brienne’s armor and how Jaime had one tailored to her specific needs, I just had to. I found the idea amazing, so I want to elaborate on that in terms of the books and dig further into the function of Brienne’s armor (other than… you know, armoring her).

I guess that some of the things are obsolete of me to mention, but as someone who only recently started on the books and who is into talking a lot, I will just leave this here. 

I had a closer look at A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows.  

So, first of all, I guess there are different armors throughout the text that are assigned to Brienne.

The first one I want to analyze is Brienne’s blue armor, which she wears during her time in Renly’s camp, because that is how the reader is introduced her. In fact, that is the first thing the reader gets of her.

What I found striking about it is just how closely it resembles Brienne:   “At close hand, the brilliant blue armor looked rather less splendid; everywhere it showed scars, the dents of mace and Warhammer, the long gouges left by swords, chips in the enameled breastplate and helm. His cloak hung in rags. From the way he moved, the man within was no less battered” – Catelyn II, A Clash of Kings, as Cat observes.

And I think that this is pretty much dead-on. Brienne’s armor is a mirror-image, an extension of herself. People are often intimidated by Brienne from far, due to her tall frame and mannish look, but from close-up, people (like Cat) note all of her features that are not considered “beautiful” by the rest of the world. Just like her armor has dents, Brienne has dents, scars, not all of which are physical (like the broken nose), but emotional scars of years of mockery and memories of red roses and broken betrothals. Brienne is this blue, scarred, dented armor. It is an integral part of herself, of her identity.

And that comes out in many different ways.

One aspect of her being this armor is that men’s garbs is her sort of comfort-clothing (at some point I guess it’s Brienne’s version of the comfort-hoodie). While not comfortable, it grants her security. Like she feels uncomfortable in dresses, she (thinks she) feels most comfortable in an armor.

Because I honestly find it striking that Brienne is described as rather self-conscious when it comes to these things. To give a few examples:

Cat notes: “No garb could disguise her plainness, though; the huge freckled hands, the wide flat face, the trust of her teeth. Out of armor, her body seemed ungainly, broad of hip and thick of limb, with hunched muscular shoulders but no bosom to speak of. And it was clear from every action that Brienne knew it, and suffered for it” – Catelyn II, A Clash of Kings. While it’s an external observation by Catelyn, I find it very right. Brienne knows that no matter how womanly she dresses, it won’t disguise her “plainness”.

What I love here is that Brienne understood the power of dress in that particular regard (though she seems mostly unfamiliar in most other matters). I guess that here my fewcourses on fashion I took at university (not studying that stuff, though, sadly), I am getting a bit ahead of myself, but the dress code is something very powerful, and has been since the early times of human history. We wear clothes to transmit a message, now consciously or not. We have a certain style, want to appeal to a certain group by dressing up like them, we purchase clothes that fit us best and conceal our ‘flaws’, what we don’t like about ourselves. Those choices are not arbitrary.

And Brienne, despite the fact that at first sight, people could think that she gives a damn on clothes (dressing in mail), her wearing mail and armor is a conscious choice she makes again and again.

Now of course it might be simply her stubbornness or the attitude of “oh well, screw it anyways”, but I think that Brienne actually grasped one concept of dress: Make a virtue out of necessity. And I think Brienne actually makes the necessity of wearing mail/armor a virtue.

Brienne looks “at herself in a glass” – Brienne III, A Feast for Crows, in the “looking glass” Septa Roelle taught her to use to find the “truth” which Brienne would not find “on the tongues of men” according to her. Brienne knows exactly what she looks like. She counts her flaws again and again, like others catalog her ‘ugly’ features (also Cat and Jaime). If Brienne gave an actual damn on it all, she wouldn’t have to bother to convince herself again and again, right? But she has to, or feels she has to. Brienne knows what she looks like, because she looks at herself and knows that this is nothing people will ever find conventionally pretty. So what does Brienne do? She wears her armor, no matter how dented and scarred, with pride. She wears what is closest to her, to be closer to the group of people she wants to belong to, to the realm of knights.

And that choice is made for more than reasons of the aforementioned. Wearing her armor, her mail, her boiled leather, Brienne builds up her self-consciousness, even if that means to do what Cat observed rather sadly: “There are walls around this one higher than Winterfell’s” – Catelyn V, A Clash of Kings. Brienne uses her armor/mail as a shield from pretty much everything, the outside world in general. It protects her against cruel japes, it protects her against glances. If she wears her helmet, it’s not just other people who don’t see her for the woman she is (like in the melee), but also it’s also she who’s vision is limited to the small visor. Brienne shuts out all the rest, and the armor grants her that bit of protection, which makes its loss ever the harder for Brienne, who repeatedly feels naked when left without means to protect herself (see below).

But there is also this armor she builds up that is invisible to the human eye. Like the “walls” around herself that are “higher than Winterfell’s”, Brienne builds up an armor by her way of acting, of interacting with other people, of mindset.

For instance, Brienne shields herself with her sometimes too dreamy ideals of knighthood – hence constitutes an integral part of her armor. Because knighthood, or at least the idea of knighthood, is one of the few things I reckon Brienne had to hold on to especially during her younger years. After all, she was repeatedly confronted with the accusation that she was unfit of being a lady, looking ugly, not being able to speak up, etc. She (felt she) failed in that aspect of herself again and again, but in fighting, she did not. She was good at it. She learned. Brienne focused on something she could actively affect – because she knows by looking through the glass that her outer appearance won’t change for the better. Brienne knows that the catalog of her flaws she keeps assessing, like others, won’t disappear and leave her a beauty one magical morning. But Brienne makes that necessity a virtue likewise – she focuses on what she can affect, and that was and is to train her body, tone her body, and then, mail and armor are almost a logical step in her clothing choice. She takes control over her own body, her armor. Brienne focuses on function where others focus on aesthetics.

But then again, that is where her idealistic, young mind jumps in. Very much like Jaime advised her later on to “go away inside” in the face of pain, Brienne shuts out many other aspects of, for instance, knighthood, to hold on to its virtues and songs. I mean, she knows the very best that the knights are not kind and not at all as portrayed in the songs (she had the men place the wager over who’d get her maidenhead), and still she holds on to those knightly ideals. Because that is her shield.

Because what else does Brienne believe she has other than this? Right, nothing. That is not to say that I think that Brienne would be left with nothing, because she is more than her knighthood or her lofty ideals of knighthood, but Brienne, at least at this stage of her development, cannot recognize that she might be more than a sword. She clings on to her ideals like she clings on to her mail, her armor. She wants songs to be sung about her like about the other knights – because she knows that no songs will be sung for her e.g. dying in the childbed (ref. Catelyn VI, A Clash of Kings).

At the same time, armors, now physical or not, prove to be means for Brienne to keep a physical distance between herself and others, which, for a huge part, stems for her own insecurities of being rebuffed by those she is to touch:

Brienne remembers how Cat learned about her sons’ deaths and notes that she “reached across the table to give comfort, but she stopped before her fingers brushed the older woman’s, for fear that she would flinch away” – Brienne II, A Feast for Crows. On a side note, I mentioned in another discussion that Jaime is one of the few people who get past that armor (not only by means of cruel jape – because Brienne later on admits that his comments were the ones that really struck her, but also in terms of Jaime being one of the few she touches skin-to-skin (as she catches him in the bathtub) and even being the one who makes her forget her own nakedness after he lost consciousness in the bathtub (ref. Jaime V, A Storm of Swords).

What I find quite nice is that Jaime is one of the few who actually recognizes her armor-like self – and doesn’t necessarily perceive it as negative. For instance, let’s look at this passage:

“‘Quiet,’ the wench grumbled, scowling. Scowls suited her broad homely face better than a smile. Not that Jaime had ever seen her smiling. He amused himself by picturing her in one of Cersei’s silken gowns in place of her studded leather jerkin. As well dress a cow in silk as this one. But the cow could row. Beneath her roughspun brown breeches were calves like cords of wood, and the long muscles of her arms stretched and tightened with each stroke of the oars. Even after rowing half the night, she showed no signs of tiring, which was more than could be said for his cousin Ser Cleos, laboring on the other oar. A big strong peasant wench to look at her, yet she speaks like one highborn and wears longsword and dagger. Ah, but can she use them? Jaime meant to find out, as soon as he rid himself of these fetters” – Jaime I, A Storm of Swords.

What I find striking here is that Jaime, while being very mean towards her at first, recognizes that she is strong and that her physical features, her “long muscles” and “calves like cords of wood”, fulfil a function, namely to grant her the stamina and strength she has (as affirmed by Ser Goodwin).

Also, he notes this here: “‘… Though she has steel in her spine, I’ll grant you. Not many men dare name me monster to my face.’ Though behind my back they speak freely enough, I have no doubt” – Jaime I, A Storm of Swords. I think this points nicely at Brienne being an armor herself – and the wonderful burgeoning JB moment I see here is that Jaime sees that she has “steel in her spine”. While surely meant as mockery, I think it can be read as positive in that she doesn’t bow, doesn’t bend, and that Jaime is bound to recognize that. She wears a part of her armor of steel on the inside to keep her upright no matter the circumstance. She defends herself in front of him, calls him “monster”, uses her armor, her shield. And Jaime has to recognize that.  

Another aspect of Brienne’s armor is that she protects herself by protecting others. Distraction being the operative word here. That is obviously reflected in her wish to serve Renly and Cat, but also, yes, Jaime, and that even in their still very antagonistic beginning: “‘You are under my protection. They’d need to kill me.’ ‘I shouldn’t think that would trouble them.’ ‘I am as good a fighter as you,’ she said defensively…” – Jaime I, A Storm of Swords.

What I love here is that she doesn’t just say something along the lines of: “I am obliged to escort you to King’s Landing and ensure that you reach it alive and unharmed” or something to that effect. She says that he is under her protection. So on the one hand, she certainly pushes on her being a sword/knight in a way, I guess that this phrasing points in that direction. On the other hand, it actually seems to show, maybe just to me, that she cares about him and wants to protect him. She wants to protect him because Catelyn gave her the task. Protecting other people is Brienne’s one focus in life. And I think that this also constitutes parts of her inner armor. She distracts herself from her own vulnerabilities and perhaps even needs of protection for herself in favor of fulfilling her oaths, and especially those of protection of others.

She even shuts out physical pain, very much like Jaime’s later advice of “going away inside” was supposed to tell her, but Brienne is not unfamiliar to that concept in my view. Her stamina and will are also her shield from physical pain: “She was still ahorse, an arrow lodged in her back and another in her leg, but she seemed not to feel it” – Jaime III, A Storm of Swords.  Brienne built up so many armors or “walls higher than Winterfell’s” that even physical pain is something she can exclude from her body, if only for a given time.

Another means of strengthening her armor is her apparent muteness. While Jaime is very often, and very often to her annoyance, into talking (after he couldn’t for so long during his imprisonment), Brienne is the kind of person who only speaks if necessary, and that also constitutes parts of her inner armor. She doesn’t reach out with words, just like she doesn’t reach out with hands (for the most part, after all… Bathtub Scene ) She is afraid of saying the ‘wrong’ things – and be mocked for it. She is afraid of language in general (think back to this small scene here: “Brienne did not want to chase the girl across the narrow sea, where even the language would be strange for her. I will be even more a freak there, grunting and gesturing to make myself understood. They will laugh at me, as they laughed at Highgarden. A blush stole up her cheeks as she remembered” – Brienne III, A Feast for Crows). She doesn’t feel comfortable talking, so muteness is her armor of choice to protect herself from saying the ‘wrong’ things.

Jaime notes that she doesn’t say anything when held hostage by the Brave Companions: “The wench has built a fortress inside herself. They will rape her soon enough, but behind her walls they cannot touch her. But Jaime’s walls were gone” – Jaime IV, A Storm of Swords. I think this reflects nicely how Brienne uses her muteness so she doesn’t have to let on her inner feelings and fears. As Ser Goodwin taught her all the while, she is a maiden at heart after all, and that is why Brienne seemingly feels the very necessity to keep that armor up to protect herself. She learned to regard the world she lives in as rather hostile towards herself (and even those few specters of light turned dark – like Renly’s and Cat’s kindness, etc.). So it’s rather natural that she wants to keep her armor, and even insist in front of a man like Roose Bolton, all bloody and muddy: “’They took my sword,’ Brienne said, ‘my armor…’ ‘You shall have no need of armor here, my lady,’ Lord Bolton told her. ‘In Harrenhal, you are under my protection” – Jaime IV, A Storm of Swords.

Just that she did need it until a certain knight jumped into a bear pit to save her *ahem*.

But also her physical body proves to be an armor for her: “the wench kept her back to him, the muscles in her great shoulders hunched and hard” – Jaime V, A Storm of Swords. Her great shoulders serve as her shield, if only from Jaime’s scornful eyes in the Bathtub Scene.

Once they leave for Harrenhal, we get that insight from Jaime: “They had found men’s garb for her along the way; a tunic here, a mantle there, a pair of breeches and a cowled cloak, even an old iron breastplate. She looked more comfortable dressed as a man, but nothing would ever make her look handsome. Nor happy” – Jaime VII, A Storm of Swords. Jaime might be right in the regard that there won’t ever be clothes that will make Brienne really happy. Dressing up is a chore for Brienne, like so many other things that are considered courteous behavior. It is effort for her, every single day. Because Brienne knows that she will likely fail at the task, just like she knows that nothing will fit her. Because she knows she won’t ever look ‘pretty’ according to Westerosi standards. And that must be tiring business.

But: Jaime eventually gives her that one piece of “clothing” that actually makes her happy, that gives her security without the necessity of a heavy armor about herself (of course she gets an armor again, but the sword has much more impact on her to my understanding). He gives her Oathkeeper.

After she learned the truth about the Red Wedding and was later ‘imprisoned’ for having murdered Renly, her world, her armor was shattered. Jaime notes that himself: “She looked so miserable that Jaime almost found himself wanting to comfort her. Since that day Brienne had been like one half-dead. Even calling her ‘wench’ failed to provoke any response. The strength is gone from her. The woman had dropped a rock on Robin Ryger, battled a bear with a tourney sword, bitten off Vargo Hoat’s ear, and fought Jaime to exhaustion… but she was broken now, done” – Jaime VII, A Storm of Swords.

So here, Brienne’s armor came off for the second time (she doesn’t put up her defenses against being called ‘wench’ after all). The first time after Renly’s death, and now after Cat’s ‘death’. What I find nice here is that Jaime recognizes this problem, her apparent need for that bit of protection (as she insists that she wants her arms and armor back again and again) and in the end cares too much to just leave her in that vulnerable state. He gives her confidence back by setting her out on an honorable mission in more than one way.

Just like Jaime gives her that one wonderful, magical moment where she still feels awkward and “flustered” – Jaime IX, A Storm of Swords, about her looks, but by no means as uncomfortable as she did in the pink dress in Harrenhal and the like. The blue gown fits her perhaps best as for women’s garbs so far, after Jaime sent for Septa Donyse to have it tailored to Brienne’s needs and in the color of yes, her eyes, but also her first armor (though of course he can’t really know that, I guess), I find it a nice connection. And he goes as far as to make a compliment on her looks in all earnest. While Brienne is still too “flustered” to really appreciate it, wanting to “flee any second” – Jaime IX, A Storm of Swords, it is already that dress that stands for the restoration of her armor, with the twist that it actually reintroduces an aspect to Brienne’s life that she refused for a long time, which is her own femininity. One may perhaps go as far as to say that this blue gown can be regarded as her female armor. It stays private, between Jaime and her for all we know. It is within the spectrum of the private sphere, the armor of the private, that Brienne is suddenly fashioned in an armor without breastplate and chainmail without really feeling naked, without feeling fear.

But yeah, Jaime actually does this thing for her, which is to stop the disintegration of her armor and put it back together by presenting her with a new oath to hold on to, to hook her maybe foolish ideals upon, to give her a shot at restoring his fractured, disintegrated honor.

And the results are obvious. In the beginning of A Feast for Crows, we see how Brienne puts her confidence in her sword but far more importantly herself again: “’I thank you, ser, but I have no need of your protection.’ ‘I insist. A true knight must defend the gentler sex.’ She touched her sword hilt. ‘This will defend me, ser.’ ‘A sword is only as good as the man who wields it.’ ‘I wield it well enough.’” – Brienne I, A Feast for Crows.

At the same time, her armor is not unbreakable and still more of a fragile thing. Glances still get to her: “Six locals sat about a table, talking, but they broke off when the strangers entered. Brienne could feel their eyes. Despite chainmail, cloak, and jerkin, she felt naked” – Brienne I, A Feast for Crows, and later on again: “Even in mail and boiled leather, she felt naked” Brienne IV, A Feast for Crows. .

The only thing that grants her confidence is the armor with the pointy end, which is her sword, and eventually Oathkeeper especially, once she brings herself to use it. And by extension, Jaime also becomes part of her armor in that she copies him in a way, especially during the fight with ‘the Hound’ and Biter. She whispers what Jaime once shouted out to save her from rape, “‘Sapphires,’” – Brienne VII, A Feast for Crows, and keeps up a similar mantra that Jaime once prayed after they took his hand: “I cannot die, she told herself, there is something I still need to do” – Brienne VII, A Feast for Crows. So she actually uses Jaime as her shield in a way. It is him she calls out to in her dreams, like she calls out for Oathkeeper.

The tragic thing is that Brienne is eventually left with no armor available once she meets Lady Stoneheart. She is without physical armor, and the dreams and fever have left her equally vulnerable, culminating in her coming face-to-face with the woman she swore to protect, the armor that she lost and that Jaime restored with a new oath.

What I find striking is that as the story proceeds, Brienne’s armor is in a constant area of tension between the poles of construction and deconstruction.

She constructed it as a part of herself, bearing her color, her family banner. She strengthened it by keeping to herself, not letting on her weaknesses, by putting others first, dressing in something that makes her not prettier by any means, but closer to herself and what she wants to be, a knight, namely. She constructs herself as an armor that can keep out all the cruel japes, the glances, and physical pain (though not always successfully), as means to put a physical distance between herself and the outside world. She constructed a self-picture of a body that is about function foremost, and not about appeal. She absorbed the attributes of her armor to herself, developing a “spine of steel”, using her broad shoulders as a shield from her own nakedness if she has to.

And eventually, it is also Jaime who helps construct her by helping reconstruct armor (I think he is actually the one who does it foremost. If I remember correctly, Cat even tried to give her women’s clothing at first. Jaime is one of the few who really recognizes Brienne’s apparent need for an armor). He gives her a better feeling about herself (without the armor but with her femininity more present) by complimenting her on the dress and how it goes well with her eyes – and had someone tailor it to her needs instead of putting her into clothes that don’t fit her, because he seemingly understood the problem in that, at least I hope that this is one of the possible readings. But then he gives her what is likely more important to reconstruct her armor, and that is to give her a mission where the “point is honor” – Brienne IV, A Feast for Crows – and give her an effective version of a shield, which is, among the other things he gifts her with, Oathkeeper.

On the other hand, there is also the constant deconstruction: She has to give up on the armor she wore when in Renly’s service. She had Renly’s sword taken from her. She found herself “half-dead” after receiving the news of the Red Wedding. She feels repeatedly naked in the face of people sneering at her, or the men who take her to Lady Stoneheart. A piece of her flesh is bit out of her – her armor not protecting her from such an assault. Oathkeeper is taken from her – and Jaime doesn’t come to save her in her dreams. Her armor is deconstructed to the point that at the end of her story in A Feast for Crows, we have a completely vulnerable Brienne, a wounded Brienne, who has nothing to protect Pod and Hyle, but also herself. The only thing she could do is to shout out as they hanged them (I don’t want to make speculations on what happened and will happen here). But the sickening realization for Brienne is perhaps that her armor is gone. That she has nothing to protect herself against the hostile outer world, and that even Jaime’s honor (or her own) won’t save her.

And maybe that has to do with the fact that while Jaime was the one to constitute her armor again with what he gave her. He pretty much gave a part of himself over to her (the sword meant for him), but he doesn’t come along, because he can’t at this point, but one might argue that this leaves Brienne with an armor that is very fragile by the end of the day, because the one who helped reconstruct it is not there to mend it, is not there to smoothen out the dents and keep it from falling apart, keep her from falling apart.

So yeah, I am more than curious of what we’ll see next of Brienne and Jaime, and her armor especially.

Mark Zuckerberg has committed to reading two books a month in 2015. “My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week—with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.” He has invited others to join him in reading and to participate in the subsequent discussions hosted on Facebook. The inevitable comparisons to Oprah have been made, and feelings and opinions about either celebrity or their enterprise aside, it is pretty powerful to be able to select a book for hundreds of thousands of people to read together. The staff here have some suggestions for Mark Zuckerberg to consider for his year in books. [Read]