Archive for the ‘Saw the Movie? Read the Book!’ Category

A Song of Ice and Fire: The Books behind HBO’s Game of Thrones

Monday, April 7th, 2014

By Elizabeth Eckhart

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has gained immense popularity from the HBO television adaptation, Game of Thrones. The show has caused quite a frenzy, and even caused many fans to pick up the books in order to discover the fate of their favorite characters. What they may find in the novels, however, is a much deeper story than they ever knew existed.

While the show relies entirely on action and what viewers can see, the books delve deeply into each character’s inner thoughts. The chapters are told in third person from over 30 different points of view, and George R. R. Martin is a master at getting inside each and every one of their heads. In the books, popular characters such as Jon Snow, Daenerys and Tyrion are even more multi-layered than in the show – not only are they more complex, but often they are nastier than the generally morally correct versions viewers are shown on-screen.

Catelyn Stark, another primary example, is a popular point of view character in Martin’s books, but the show entirely removes her cold behavior toward Jon Snow, her husband Ned’s alleged bastard son. In the novels, she is resentful that Ned brought home an illegitimate child and is often cruel toward Jon, but the show softens her bitterness to a few measly remarks. With more time focused on her internal thoughts in the books, readers are able to become acquainted with her and have sympathy for her, despite her flaws, as is the case for several other characters as well.

It seems unlikely that HBO will truly be able to manage the growing cast of characters in the television format. After his third book, A Storm of Swords, Martin began to add so many point of view characters that he could not tell all of their stories within one installment. Only half of the characters appear in A Feast for Crows, and the other half appear in the fifth novel,  A Dance of Dragons. The events of the two books are simultaneous until the timeline catches up in the final chapters of Dance.

George R.R. Martin is known for making his fans wait years for his books, as long as half a decade, and many fear that the show (the fourth season of which is already done filming and set to premiere in the Netherlands on HBO tonight) will catch up to the events of the books before he is able to finish them. Especially since the wait for the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, is likely to be long as well.

Besides feeling the heat of the show’s progress, fans are also worried that that perhaps Martin himself will never finish the series, (he is after all, in his 60’s and above a healthy weight) in which case no one would ever find out who wins the game of thrones and rules the seven kingdoms. Show fans are busy worrying if Daenerys will ever make it to Westeros, but fans of the book are more concerned regarding the multiple additional mysteries that may never be resolved.

For example, Jon Snow’s parentage is a huge unanswered question in the series, and many fans suspect that he is not actually Ned’s bastard, but perhaps the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, instead. Another unsolved mystery is the identity of Azor Ahai, the legendary hero who wields the sword Lightbringer (according to a prophecy). Under the influence of the red sorceress Melisandre, Stannis Baratheon believes himself be Azor Ahai, but many suspect Azor Ahai is actually Daenerys or Jon.

With the huge amount of character threads and plots that have arisen in Martin’s most recent book, it seems almost impossible for each character’s story to be tied up conclusively. Because of Martin’s tendency toward complexity, a clear “winner” of the Iron Throne seems unlikely, and perhaps the seven kingdoms of Westeros will be ruled independently, rather than having one true king.

Martin has stated that the ending he anticipates writing is “bittersweet.” Indeed, fans want concrete answers, but it is still unclear whether Martin will deliver them (after all, Martin is known for not catering to his fans’ wishes regarding plot). Much of his writing focuses on the journey rather than the outcome, but there is no question that the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series is a thrilling journey for its readers.

Elizabeth can be found on Twitter @elizeckhart.

Ebooks are available for each separate title as well as for the entire series (so far) in one:  A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons (part 1 and part 2) and altogether.

Saw the Movie? Read the Book!

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Well, there are enough great movies to choose from in April, but, as far as I could see, only one has some bookish value. *

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: based on the character Spider-Man by Stan Lee. Check out our Film section for the book on the movie:
The Amazing Spider-Man: Behind the Scenes and Beyond the Web and our Graphic Novels section for the Marvel Comics.
Fun fact: “The dog that Gwen walks while Peter spies in her from a rooftop, actually belongs to Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. They adopted him in 2013.” (IMDb) (Yes, an animal fact. There’s a reason I’m the buyer for the animal section in The Hague ;-) )

* Two movies I mentioned in the March edition, have been moved back to April: Divergent and Snow Piercer.

Saw the movie? Read the book!

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

These March movies are based on books:

August: Osage County: based on the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama play August: Osage County by Tracy Letts.
Fun fact: “Tracy Letts wanted the original stage cast to reprise their roles in the film version. Ultimately, none of the original actors appear in the movie.” (IMDb)

Divergent: based on Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Fun fact: “In The Fault in Our Stars (2014), Shailene and Ansel play boyfriend and girlfriend, while in Divergent, they play brother and sister.” (IMDb)

Endless Love: based on Endless Love by Scott Spencer.
Fun fact: “[Alex Pettyfer] [w]as offered the title role of Eragon in the film Eragon (2006), based on the same titled, best-selling novel by Christopher Paolini, prior to the casting of Ed Speleers. He turned down the part because of his fear of flying.” (IMDb)

The Invisible Woman: based on The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin.
Fun fact: “Dickens kept a pet raven named Grip, which he had stuffed when it died in 1841.” (AbeBooks)

Snowpiercer: based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Benjamin Legrand and illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette. Titan has published the English translation Snowpiercer in two volumes in January and February this year.

Bonus movies based on fictional characters or otherwise related to the written wor(l)d

300: Rise of an Empire: based on Frank Miller’s unpublished Xerxes. But be sure to check out 300: Rise of an Empire: The Art of the Film.
Fun fact: “The film was previously called “Xerxes”, the title of the Frank Miller graphic novel on which the film is based, and later “300: The Battle of Artemisia”, the title used during filming. Ultimately, the present title “300: Rise of an Empire” was used because the other two were deemed too exotic.” (IMDb)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: based on the Marvel comic book character Captain America, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Art of the Movie Slipcase will be available in April.
Fun fact: “A deleted scene in The Avengers (2012), of Steve learning what happened to his commandos, and to Peggy Carter ended up being cut out from that film, but is included in this film.” (IMDb)

The Precocious and Brief Life of Sabina Rivas
: based on La Mara by Rafael Ramírez Heredia. Unfortunately this Spanish book is only available through our secondhand supplier.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: While not busy being The Anchorman, Ron Burgundy wrote “a Hell of a Book”, if he does say so himself! Read about his “Classy Life & Other Musings” in Let Me Off at the Top!
Fun fact: “In one scene, Brick quotes the theme song from Ghost Busters. This film takes place in 1980, and Ghost Busters was released in 1984.” (IMDb)

Win tickets to The Invisible Woman!

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

In 1857, the 45 year-old Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) falls in love with 18 year-old actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), who will be his muse/mistress for the rest of his life. Years later, the new life she has made is haunted by that guilty secret relationship.

Based on Claire Tomalin’s book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (ebook), this is Ralph Fiennes second turn at directing. It premieres in Dutch theaters on March 27th.

We are giving away 3×2 tickets to The Invisible Woman!

All you have to do is answer the following question: Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas (Mrs. Frances Ternan in the movie) starred together in another blockbuster that was based on a very famous book. What was the title of that book and the name of its author?

Mail your answers to by March 17th for a chance to win free tickets! Please include “Dickens” in the subject of your mail.

Saw the Movie? Read the Book!

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

These February movies are based on books:

The Monuments Men: based on the book with the same title by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter (ebook here).  In 2007, Mr. Edsel founded the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.

Twelve Years a Slave: based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup (ebook here).  The director, Steve McQueen, got the idea for this movie from his Dutch partner, who had read Northup’s book and was bowled over by it.

Winter’s Tale: based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel with the same title.  Please read this book; it’s beautifully written, dreamlike, inventive, funny – Literature with a capital L.  The kind of book that leaves you scratching your head in confusion as you wonder how it didn’t win any kind of award.  Thank you Akiva Goldsman for filming it; hopefully many people will discover it now!

Bonus movies based on books:

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 isn’t based on a book, but the original is: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett.

De Superheld (De tøffeste gutta) is based on an Arne Svingen book.  We’re thinking it’s also called De tøffeste gutta, but we’re not sure because we don’t speak Norwegian very well.  It’s not been translated into English, that’s for sure.