Glass Candle Dialogue: Lady Olenna, Queen Margaery, and Ser Loras Tyrell (and Mace)


This week in the Glass Candle Dialogue, Luka and I eulogize the Tyrell family. We discuss the Machiavellian machinations on which House Tyrell was founded, chat about LGBT representation, and try to find some catharsis in the tragic end this family faced.

Petra: For me, and I think for a lot of people, House Tyrell was the family I wanted to be a member of the most. The Starks were probably the most realistic family unit but the Tyrells were the most appealing. So it was really unfortunate that they got blown up.

Luka: They seemed to get along with each other better than a lot of the Westerosi families but I wouldn’t say their dynamics were completely healthy. Olenna was very manipulative and controlling. It’s understandable, of course. As a woman, “soft power” was the only kind of authority she could really wield but that doesn’t change the fact that she practiced the same kind of political machinations on her family as Tywin did.

Petra: They were a very ambitious family, to be sure. Their sole motivation the entire time seemed to be just to rise as far as they could. They never had any particular goal to achieve with their newfound power or internal conflict to put to rest, right?

Luka: Yeah. Determination to climb the social ladder seems to have been an inherited ambition. The Tyrells started out as the stewards of the Gardeners and, when Aegon the Conqueror showed up, they took advantage of the situation and ended up on top. Three centuries later, the family was still doing more or less the same thing.

Petra: Maybe it’s fitting that their sigil is a plant. A vertical rise has been their sole motivation for their entire history. “We Grow Strong: It’s All We Know How To Do.”


Petra: Olenna is kind of like the sassy grandma we wish we had.

Luka: Except for the murder and the assassinations.

Petra: Hey, as long as it worked to my benefit and I didn’t get framed I wouldn’t necessarily refuse her help. Anyway, as much as she fits the archetype of the loving, sharp-tongued grandma, your comment does make me wonder how different her demeanor towards Margaery would have been if she hadn’t shared that ambition.

Luka: Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed her character. They seemed more modern, for good and ill. The Tyrells generally displayed a more Renaissance-era mindset than the other Westerosi families, particularly in the sense that they excelled in discreet political machinations and poisonings rather than outright military action.

Petra: Well, the first book and the TV show are both titled “Game of Thrones,” in reference to Cersei’s phrase for high-stakes political intrigue held at court. The Tyrells were far from unique in that sense, though they were better at it than, say, the Starks. But I agree that they’re Renaissance-era in terms of aesthetic appreciation. They prized beauty, fashion and architecture on a level beyond the other Westerosi families. They were also far more socially progressive and inclusive than most others.

Luka: Along with the Martells.

Petra: Oh, true, we talked about that just last week! Okay, so the Tyrells and the Martells were the most progressive, particularly in terms of sexuality. It’s implied in The World of Ice and Fire that Aegon the Unlikely’s son, Daeron, was gay. He never married, “preferring the companionship of Ser Jeremy Norridge, a young knight whom he had befriended when they were squires at Highgarden.” I think it’s funny that the shorthand for LGBT in ASOIAF could be Highgarden. Like “friends of Dorothy” is “friends from Highgarden” in Westeros. But I do appreciate how inclusive the Tyrells were. I love that scene between Margaery and Renly where Margaery takes him totally off guard with her honesty. “Hey, I’m your queen and you need to put a baby in me. We can get my brother involved if that’ll help you. Whatever you need. I’m flexible.”

Luka: And Renly was so repressed he was absolutely shocked that she was talking about it so freely. His brain short-circuited. It’s worth noting, though, that we’re talking about the sexuality of these characters in very modern terms. We have classifications and vocabulary for sexual orientations that people in our world didn’t have until very recently. I’m wondering whether Westerosi society has our modern classifications for sexual orientation, even if their values prohibit anything non-heteronormative, or if their view of sexuality is more nebulous as it was for the bulk of human history.

Petra: Good question! Yara and Oberyn’s openness suggests that Westeros has a better handle on same-sex attraction than historical medieval Western Europe did, but then the characters never discuss sexual orientation explicitly. It all seems to fall under Jaime’s observation to Brienne: “We don’t choose who we love.” That said, I think there’s a significant difference in the way sexuality is presented in the books and the show. To me, Game of Thrones takes a more progressive stance than ASOIAF. I get the criticisms against Loras’ characterization in the show, in that he’s “the gay character,” but in ASOIAF, with the exception of women having their servants go down on them, we don’t have any overt same-sex relations. The nature of Loras’ bond with Renly is left in between the lines. When Renly dies Loras says, “When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.” At least, in the show it’s clear that they were in a relationship.

Luka: Martin veers too far into the logic of “In Westeros, which is inspired by medieval Western Europe, they would keep it secret.” Yes, of course they would, but … come on, that’s no excuse not to feature a non-hetero POV when you have so many characters, or at least someone who is close to one and thinks about it explicitly. (Well, except for Jon Connington, but again that’s implied and we never get the kind of detail about his orientation and experiences we would get if he was a heterosexual man.) In the show we actually got to see Renly and Loras together. We saw the dynamics of their relationship.

Petra: I think the show has been doing a pretty good job at addressing “modern” (the quotation marks can’t be stressed enough) issues in a “medieval” context insofar as characters love who they love despite heternormative cultural values and it isn’t really framed as an issue until the High Sparrow takes power. Loras never seemed to have any internal conflict about his love for Renly prior to his incarceration. Poor, poor Loras.


Luka: I never really got the love for Loras, to be honest. I know you like him. I don’t dislike him; I just don’t find him interesting. He’s more compelling in the books, certainly, just because there’s more of him. Or there’s more to him, at least.

Petra: He’s certainly more of a character in the books. He’s an arrogant young man that Jaime sees as a younger version of himself, which is really cool and I’m sad that they didn’t incorporate that into the show. I do agree that in the show he was treated as a “gay character” whereas in the books he was a character who happened to be gay.

Luka: The show emphasized his sexuality above all else, that is true, but to say that in the books he’s “a character who happens to be gay” is a bit of a stretch. He’s a character who, if you really read into it, is involved with a man, but his sexual orientation or his romantic relationships aren’t parts of his character that’re ever explored.

Petra: That’s true. I wouldn’t qualify Loras in the books as LGBT representation since it’s all hidden in subtext. Basically, the themes explored through Loras are fundamentally different in the books and the show. ASOIAF explores arrogance, entitlement and Jaime’s development through Loras whereas Game of Thrones addresses sexuality and homophobia through him. There’s not much crossover.

Luka: I think Finn Jones did a good job with what he was given. He was a secondary or tertiary character, so of course he wasn’t really afforded an arc, in either the books or the show. We sort of saw the beginning of an arc when he was in prison in season six but all that potential was cut short by, you know … Kaboom!

Petra: I think my affinity for Loras is comprised solely of pity. It’s kind of like talking about Rickon. How do I feel about him? I feel sad. Just sad.

Luka: Finn Jones even looks like a sad puppy sometimes. In the books, I get the love insofar as media is starved of LGBT characters and so fans have a tendency to mine for representation in the fictional works that they love. That line you quoted, “When the sun has set, no candle can replace it,” seems like everyone’s go-to line when criticizing Loras’ characterization on the show in favor of ASOIAF’s version.

Petra: I only remember that line because it’s been quoted in so many articles.

Luka: Yeah, me too.

Petra: I don’t consider Loras a standout example of LGBT representation in either the books or the show. What really gets me about Loras on Game of Thrones is the sheer tragedy of his story. Finn Jones said in interviews that if he could have played any other character it would have been Theon. In the end, Loras did parallel part of Theon’s arc insofar as he snapped in a dungeon but whereas Theon’s had the chance to rebuild himself, Loras died at his lowest point. I just find that so unbelievably sad.

Luka: And right after denouncing his identity, his lover and forsaking all claim to his inheritance. It’s a bit like what happened to Ned. He compromised himself and everything he stood for and died immediately afterwards.


Petra: Something similar can be said about Margaery. She didn’t compromise herself per se but she’d been conning the High Sparrow all season, playing the long game, in order to protect herself and her brother, but in the end it was all for naught.

Luka: Margaery was really interesting, particularly in the way she was translated from the books to the show. The Margaery we got on Game of Thrones seemed to be based on the perception of her in ASOIAF rather than her actual characterization. We’ve never had a Margaery POV chapter, or even a chapter from the perspective of someone who knows her well. Most of the information we get about Margaery comes from Cersei’s perspective in A Feast for Crows, and she’s not the most reliable narrator at that point. She views Margaery as a schemer who uses sweetness as a front but we have no way of knowing if that’s completely true or if that’s mostly Cersei’s paranoia. We really don’t get much face-value characterization of Margaery at all. So, Game of Thrones basically transplanted Cersei’s perception of Margaery onto the actual character of Margaery and then developed her further into a three-dimensional character.

Petra: That’s a good point. By the time I got to Margaery’s introduction in the books I knew about her through osmosis and Tumblr gifsets. So I was like, “Oh, great! Now I get to learn about her personality and read all of her clever quips” and instead I just got descriptions of how pretty she is and how sad that she’s a thrice-widowed virgin. However, I really loved her character on the show. She was another interesting example of someone exerting “soft power.” I love the way she adapted to ingratiate herself with Joffrey and Tommen. She showed a fascination for torture and crossbows with her second husband then she was all into kittens with her third.

Luka: To be fair, I think dealing with Tommen was easier for her. She wasn’t a chameleon to the degree that she didn’t have values of her own. I certainly think it was easier for her to pet kittens than it was to pretend to be interested in torturing people.

Petra: Fortunately we also got scenes between her and Olenna in which she was able to be herself so we did get to know her true nature. Again, as you said, on the show she got to be an actual human being, not just a blank slate for Cersei to project on.

Luka: The first time I took notice of her was in that classic scene in which Littlefinger asks her if she wants to be a queen and she says, “No, I want to be the queen.”

Petra: Yeah, it’s sort of interesting to me that Margaery, and the Tyrells in general, are as endearing as they are, considering they are made of pure ambition, and their story doesn’t really deconstruct what it actually means to want power. Everyone else who achieves a degree a power is like, “God, this sucks.” Robert complained about how uncomfortable the Iron Throne is; Cersei told Tommen how boring the council meetings are; Daenerys realized conquering other civilizations is a complicated endeavor. It seems like the wisest (maybe not the smartest, but the wisest) people in Westeros are the ones who don’t crave power. Margaery seemed too wise to want to be on top.

Luka: Eh… [Shrug] Not when you consider that Olenna was her mentor. Margaery didn’t want to be the regnant queen; that was unprecedented, until Cersei. But the role of queen consort is another story. She could practice the sort of backroom manipulations her grandmother taught her and, in the event of negative repercussions, use her husband as a human shield.

Petra: That’s sounds like Margaery.

Olenna Tyrell 7x03

Petra: The advice Olenna gave Daenery was interesting: that the love of the people didn’t help Margaery in the end and that Daenerys should go ahead and “be a dragon.”

Luka: By the time she had that conversation with Daenerys she wasn’t the same person we’d known in earlier seasons. She didn’t care about the future. She was using Daenerys as a tool, essentially as a literal flame thrower, against Cersei.

Petra: I do think she was trying to give Daenerys good counsel, though. I agree that her motivations and worldview changed after her family was killed but I don’t think she was so blinded by grief that she was urging Daenerys to go on a suicide mission.

Luka: She definitely believed that she was giving good advice, but it’s not the sort of counsel that she would have ever given Margaery. I think my issue is that I disagree with her new worldview. She doesn’t have a long-term, so she doesn’t care about it anymore.

Petra: Ah, yes, I get that. Olenna’s end is really tragic, that this old woman outlives the rest of her family, and then dies in defeat.

Luka: At least she got to go in a poetic way. Part of what made Margaery, Loras and Mace’s deaths so upsetting (in a good way) was that their stories felt incomplete when they were cut short by Cersei’s madness. We’ll always wonder what Margaery would have done next, after the trial. By contrast, Olenna got to have a conversation with her executioner and deliver one final blow against Cersei. We’ll miss Olenna but we’re satisfied with how her story – and by extension the Tyrell family’s story – concluded.

Mace Tyrell 5x04

Luka: Oh shit, we forgot about Mace. Anything to say about him?

Petra: Uh… I’ve got nothing, sorry.

Luka: Okay. So… NOT NOW, MACE!

44 responses

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    1. I found the last moments with Mace very tragic. To see him react in the sept to everything what’s happening and there’s nothing he could do. Such a contrast with his earlier more light and funny scenes in GOT.

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    2. Great diaolgue as always:

      An interesting thing about Olena is that the two main power moves she tries in the series fail:

      1.) Kill Joffrey: sets in train a series of events that leads directly to Septsplosian

      2.) Dany alliance: leads to a revolt amongst her lower lords that destroys her

      Then more broadly speaking they allied with Renly and then with the Lannisters out of the ambition you spoke abouut. To have their daughter married into the royal bloodline. Their ambition and play for power destroyed them.

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    3. The Tyrrels were the embodiment of “enlightened monarchs” for me. Thus I viewed them as the best choice for Westeros (given the medieval setting) compared to tyrannical monarchs (crazy Lannisters including mainly Cersei and Joffrey), agents of chaos (Littlefinger and even Daenerys for me) or those disinterested in reigning altogether (like Robert).
      It was the family I was most fond of and that I was most identifying with. That also contributes to make Winds of Winter such a poignant and overall strong episode for me. It was basically the Red Wedding 2.0 in that it again pulverised all my hopes for a better Westeros.

      EDIT: Oh, and poor good Mace. It is a pity for such a singer to leave that world so soon.

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    4. Another fun and interesting dialogue, though that photo of Margaery is way too reminiscent of John Travolta in the abysmal “Battlefield Earth.” 😉

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    5. House Monty,

      Wasn’t Olenna oppossd to supporting Renly? I got the impression Mace, or Mace and Loras, came up with that idea, but Olenna warned them it was treasonous. Let me look….

      Here’s the scene from S3, e2 (Olenna, Margaery and Sansa):

      Olenna: …As for your fathead father…

      Margaery: Grandmother! What will Sansa think of us?

      Olenna: She might think we have some wits about us. One of us, at any rate.

      Olenna: It was treason. I warned them. Robert has two sons and Renly has an older brother. How can he possibly have any claim to that ugly iron chair? We should have stayed well out of all this, if you ask me. But once the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udder, so here we are to see things through.

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    6. Thanks! Another great GCD!

      And great snappy exchange, you two😏:

      Petra: Olenna is kind of like the sassy grandma we wish we had.

      Luka: Except for the murder and the assassinations.

      Petra: Hey, as long as it worked to my benefit and I didn’t get framed I wouldn’t necessarily refuse her help. ….

      Yeah, I’d take a sassy grandma like that in a heartbeat.

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    7. What I miss in Loras’ show portrayal is that, like young Jaime, he’s not only arrogant, he’s also incredibly valiant and motivated by love. He goes on a suicide mission to Dragonstone just so the Iron Fleet can move on to protecting the Reach from the Iron Islanders. He’s willing to give his life for his people. It’s a very Jaime thing to do and I miss that goddamn hero aspect of Loras.

      Margaery is clever, to be sure, but she shares that same love of her family. The only time we see her drop the veil and reveal herself is when Cersei gleefully shares the news about Loras’ injuries.

      I think the show gets that familial love right with the Tyrells, but (and especially in not including Garlan & Willas) misses on the chivalric and heroic aspects of the family.

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    8. Another fun dialogue.

      I think there is a tendency to mistake Margaery’s motivations/tactics with Olenna’s, since they had so many scenes together, they clearly cared about each other, and Olenna did seem like a “mentor” to Margaery. But I actually think they are pretty different.

      In the dialogue, you guys referred to Olenna as ambitious and wanting her family to climb the ladder. But if I remember her first scene correctly, she actually didn’t want to play a part in the War of Five Kings. I believe she also warned her son against going up against Robert in Robert’s Rebellion. Meanwhile, Margaery definitely wanted to make that alliance with Renly. Olenna was fine with her family staying where they were at, but Margaery wanted to be the queen. Olenna loved her and helped her, but she probably wouldn’t have done what Margaery had done, or wouldn’t have wanted to do it.

      Similarly, I think their tactics are very different. Margaery was always very careful not to show what she really thought or believed, unless it was with Olenna. But Olenna was clearly different than that! She got the nickname “Queen of Thorns” because she was blunt about what she was thinking. She would never pretend to be a religious convert, for example, like Margaery did. And it was her who came up with the lethal solution to the Joffrey problem, not Margaery. So in my mind, “Be a dragon” is not inconsistent with Olenna’s attitude or philosophy throughout the series, even if it is inconsistent with how Margaery operated. In way, Olenna usually chose to “be a dragon,” and she even refers to “terrible things” she had done to protect her family. In that way, she is maybe closer to Tywin or Cersei in her tactics and strategy than she is to Margaery.

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    9. Ten Bears:
      House Monty,

      Wasn’t Olenna oppossd to supporting Renly? I got the impression Mace, or Mace and Loras, came up with that idea, but Olenna warned them it was treasonous. Let me look….

      Here’s the scene from S3, e2 (Olenna, Margaery and Sansa):

      Olenna: …As for your fathead father…

      Margaery: Grandmother! What will Sansa think of us?

      Olenna: She might think we have some wits about us. One of us, at any rate.

      Olenna: It was treason. I warned them. Robert has two sons and Renly has an older brother. How can he possibly have any claim to that ugly iron chair? We should have stayed well out of all this, if you ask me. But once the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udder, so here we are to see things through. ***.

      I kind of got the impression that Olenna would have held back and not committed to one side or another, reducing the chances of them being seen as traitors if they found themselves on the losing side. The Tyrells were loyal to House Targaryen during Robert’s Rebellion, and did not bend the knee to Robert until after both the Battle of the Trident and the Sack of King’s Landing. I think Olenna would’ve wanted to ensure they didn’t find themselves on the wrong side again.

      Loved this GCD! One Mace-related thing I would add, is that I loved him in Winds of Winter. The books hint at Loras being Mace’s favorite, and I think that while they couldn’t really demonstrate that on the show as his other sons Willas and Garlan didn’t make the cut, what they did show in that final scene in the Sept of Baelor was how much Mace loved his children.

      Also: I miss Mace’s helmet.

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    10. I remember Natalie Dormer saying something in an interview or something where she basically addressed the question of whether she was a legitimately altruistic, nice person or whether she was merely ambitious. Her response was “why can’t she be both?” I think that same line can be used to describe the Tyrell family generally.

      You guys had a very interesting exchange early on in which Petra said that the Tyrell family seemed like a nice family to join, but Luka responded by pointing out that their dynamics weren’t healthy, and that Olenna did some of the same things Tywin did when it came to their family. But I’m not sure that’s true.

      Yes, the Tyrells played the game of thrones. But to Dormer’s point about Margaery, why can’t they be a family that loved each other while also playing the game? It’s hard, because there is never a scene with all named Tyrell characters. But clearly Olenna and Margaery loved each other, and Margaery clearly loved Loras, and Mace doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body. And while Olenna frequently made jokes at the expense of her male family members, she did mention how she wanted to protect Mace from Robert’s Rebellion, and she was certainly sad at the passing of her son and grandson. I don’t think she ever really “used” her family members the way Tywin did, and she certainly never treated them as terribly as Tywin treated his own children. Compare Olenna’s scenes with Margaery to Tywin’s scenes with any of his children (even Jaime) and she seems far better grandmother than he was a father.

      The Tyrells seem like such great parallels to the Lannisters. Most have counterparts (Olenna/Tywin, Margaery/Cersei, Loras/Jaime). Yet they seem like the Lannisters, only with a much healthier family dynamic. Their genuine love for each other would have made them much better people and much better rulers of Westeros, in my opinion, but it may also have led to their downfall. Margaery thought she could play the game while also protecting her family, but her battle with Cersei put her brother in harm’s way. When it came time to choose between saving her brother or resisting the Sparrows, Margaery chose her brother, ultimately putting herself in a vulnerable position she couldn’t get out of. (Meanwhile, Cersei “won” that match, but by using brutal tactics with little regard for how they would affect her loved ones like Tommen).

      (Sorry I’ve commented so much. Margaery is one of my favorite characters, so I have thought a lot about her and what the series is trying to say through her. Personally, I would prefer her ruling, even through Tommen, over just about any of the other competitors for the throne).

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    11. Alba Stark,

      I agree about Mace in Winds of Winter. His last look to Margaery before the Sept explodes is heartbreaking. He was too nice a guy for the world he was born into.

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    12. Ten Bears,

      Yea. That is why my last paragraph said more broadley speaking and didn’t call out those moves as Olenna’s doing. Although its a bit at odds with how they portrayed Mace as a dote afterwards.

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    13. Been watching our Kit in ‘Gunpowder’ on BBC1.

      It’s actually much more impressive than I thought it was going to be – a great debut for him as a producer. There’s real attention to set, appearance, and the script is absolutely solid all the way through. Whoever’s responsible for it knows how to write something that sounds to the ear absolutely of the period in which it is set.

      I love GoT but as the series has lost the books to draw from, too much of the script is littered with terrible Americanisms and I long for a great writer like George or someone who has a real talent for writing excellent dialogue which sounds plausibly medieval, to step forward and take charge.

      On far too many occasions I’ve listened to something on the show and thought, ‘I bet George won’t write it like that’.

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    14. I must be an exception but I never liked the Tyrells. They were fun to watch but mainly because they were antagonists to the antagonist, not because they had qualities I would admire. Yes, Ollena was sassy and Margeary was smart but, stripped of all their finery, the show!Tyrells (except of poor Mace) were just a bunch of prostitutes – political and literal.

      Take Ollena: she boasted about using her charms to mary a man of her own choice but she chose a fool and despised him till the end of her days. Can we count it as a successful marriage? I don’t think so. She treated her son as a fool too. Does that make her a successful mother? I don’t think so.

      Her grandchildren were her true heirs and it’s pretty clear that she encouraged their ambitions as well as taught them to pursue those ambitions at any cost. And although Ollena told Sansa that she had been against the Tyrell involvement into the War of the Five Kings, I just can’t take that seriously: she had too much influence on her grandchildren for them to do anything withought her approval.

      And Margeary just followed her grandma’s teaching: she wasn’t all that bad and had some redeaming qualities (love to her family, for instance) but in general she was a stupid girl who made herself a whore and thought that it was cool.

      So, in general I’m not that unhappy that the Tyrells were destroyed.

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    15. Violator,

      It’s great to hear such commets on the Gunpowder (though depressing, because I haven’t figured out how to get the series yet).
      As for the writing in GoT, English is my third language but even for me expressions like “(un)reliable source of information” sounded a bit out of context last season. But I can live with that – no big deal.

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    16. My head canon of Margaery from the books was always very similar to what we got with the show. There are hints of it. I don’t agree that what we got was Cerseis biased POV of her. Actually Cersei vastly underestimates Marg when she assumes she can have Kettleblack seduce her (Marg flirts with him, keeps Cersei thinking the plan might work but it goes nowhere), when she thinks she can seduce Taena to get Tyrell info (in fact she’s likely a Tyrell spy), and so on. In fact I suspect the book version of the character must have been warned by Olenna about The poison – else she might have drunk it herself by mistake.

      Anyway… I am happy with what we got with Marg and Ollena… but their time came and went. Alas! 🙂

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    17. Hodor Targaryen: Olenna did some of the same things Tywin did when it came to their family

      I really liked your discussion of this half-correct observation! I’d also like to add that we have no incidences, either in the book nor show, of the Tyrells committing mass murder, betrayal, or subverting others to do these, as Tywin Lannister (and Cersei) have used as their basic moves. As you say, the Tyrells seemed to be genuinely nice, and while they worked to increase their power, we don’t see them destroying others to get there.

      I really liked Garlan Tyrell in the books; “Garlan the Good” was how I thought of his character. A better, stronger fighter than even Loras, with a kindness to his social interactions, even with hated dwarves and traitors. Mace in the show was made to seem comically dumb, which was unfortunate. However, the good relationships among family members and evident caring for one another was such a contrast with the Lannisters, who even clawed and fought for power among themselves.

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    18. Hodor Targaryen,

      I liked your commentary. Please don’t think you commented “so much.” Do more!

      PS I loved Margaery too. She really was a unique character: ambitious, yet also altruistic. I also thought she was the only one genuinely friendly to Sansa in KL. I liked their scenes together, especially when Margaery mused aloud about how much they’d enjoy being sisters (in-law), partying in Highgarden.
      Her scene with Renly was great too. (Separate comment on that to follow)

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    19. Lets also not forget that Ollena had the opportunity to rise into the highest ranking family in Westeros (the Targs) but instead chose the Tyrell’s. So the aspirational aspect, to climb the social Westerosi ladder was not solely of her making (if at all).

      But once the pieces were on the board (i.e Loras and Marg were firmly installed in court by means their own ambitions), she arrived to mentor her grandchildren. And did whatever she could to protect them.

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    20. Violator:
      Been watching our Kit in ‘Gunpowder’ on BBC1.

      It’s actually much more impressive than I thought it was going to be – a great debut for him as a producer. There’s real attention to set, appearance, and the script is absolutely solid all the way through. Whoever’s responsible for it knows how to write something that sounds to the ear absolutely of the period in which it is set.

      I love GoT but as the series has lost the books to draw from, too much of the script is littered with terrible Americanisms and I long for a great writer like George or someone who has a real talent for writing excellent dialogue which sounds plausibly medieval, to step forward and take charge.

      On far too many occasions I’ve listened to something on the show and thought, ‘I bet George won’t write it like that’.

      There have been times when words or phrases have occurred that have puzzled American contributors to this site though (seemingly “whinge” didn’t survive across the Atlantic). I’m not sure I personally consider GRRM a “great” writer though; he is an excellent story-teller and he has some passages which are very good but truly great writers are few and far between. I will concede that what I consider great may differ vastly from what another person’s opinion is. When I read/listened to the books (which I liked, especially the first three) I found some of the pseudo-medievalisms a bit too much for me – “mayhaps”,” mislike” “Have you seen a highborn maid of three-and-ten, with a fair face and auburn hair?” But I am not the thought police or the opinion police so that’s just my tuppence worth.

      Not in response to Violater here, I enjoyed show Mace. When fan-casting was going I had thought (to be a bit closer to book Mace, who is said to still have vestiges of a handsomeness he had in his youth though he has put on weight) of Nathaniel Parker in a fat suit but I thought Roger Ashton-Griffiths executed himself well but he wasn’t given much screen time.

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    21. Dame of Mercia,

      “Words were wind” suddenly appeared every other sentence in adwd…

      “Y was not wrong, x knew”.
      Just say they were right, GRRM for Pete’s sake!!

      I do think GRRMs writing became much sloppier about this stuff over time. This is why editors are important…

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    22. Excellent conversation. Loved Margery, and yes her relationship with Sansa was lovely – the scene where Margery is making some sort of sexual reference, and naive Sansa says, ‘did your mother teach you that?’ Margery responds after a short pause, yes dear Sansa, my mother taught me. Who was her mother? I don’t think she is ever mentioned. I did miss Loras’s two brothers in the show I realize why they were absent. I can’t remember, did Olenna have other children? And who was her husband?

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    23. QueenofThrones,

      Yeah,i find it weird how people say Martin is such a great dialogue writer when the last two books featured some of the most cringy lines possible not to mention the repeated phrases that appear every other page to the point where it stops being funny and it becomes annoying .

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    24. Captain Sparrow,

      I’d typed quite a lengthy post about ASOIAF but it has disappeared and I don’t know whether it went into cyberspace or is in quarantine awaiting approval (or not) by the mods. Thinking of your online name, I read something recently to the effect that the actress who played Walder Frey’s one good-looking daughter was in the running for a part in the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” project but the part actually went to Kaya Scodalario, who some people fan cast as Lyanna Stark. (I wouldn’t have minded Kaya Scodalario but as her star is in the ascent I don’t know if she would have wanted such a small part as Lyanna – before we knew who Lyanna would be I was like “Please not Adelaide Kaine, please not Adelaide Kaine”. To be fair, I didn’t watch “Reign” so can’t really judge Ms Kaine as an actress but I would have liked a redhead to play Mary Queen of Scots because historical Mary was redheaded).

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    25. I enjoyed this presentation and discussion. The viewpoints of each of you are interesting to read with some equally interesting ideas about the Tyrells.

      The Tyrells were certainly my favorite House in GOT and this includes TV and book Tyrells. I can never forget how hard I laughed at Olenna’s quips in the books, especially her line about the bad singer who does not perform Rains of Castermere at Joffrey’s wedding! I simply had to put down the book, as I was in tears from laughing so hard and could not see the print on the page. The show gave her many memorable cutting lines and Dame Diana delivered them masterfully.

      I loved the Tyrells simply because they were the only “modern” House in books and TV. As presented in both, they are closer to us with their late Victorian, and or, rather Edwardian, manner than the cruel, primitive and barbaric ways of the Lannisters, Freys, Boltons, and others, excepting the Starks, of course.

      The Lannisters are certainly portrayed like the Tudors of history, with Cersei and Twyin, being aptly substituted for Mary Tudor/Elizabeth and their father, respectively. The Tyrells, however are presented as assured of their worth, comfortable in who they are and living and loving life for its charms and pleasures. They seem to know that the joy of life depends on finding these truths. This in and of itself endures them to viewers and readers. The entire set of them reads like the aristocratic sets portrayed in Wilde’s dramas. Lady Olenna is certainly taken from Lady Bracknell in Earnest and Herodias in Salome. Margery bears not a little resemblance to Mabel and Lady Chiltern, Loras seems cut from the cloth of Sir Robert Chiltern, John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, with Mace being the father figure (Lord Darlington comes immediately to mind) who is seen and seldom heard. This association with Wilde is not imagined, as I felt from my first viewing of the first episode that Tyrion speaks lots of Wilde’s words and views and seems as if his character is drawn from Wilde’s own outspoken persona. Yes, I do think Martin is a great fan of Wilde. This view was certainly confirmed, when to my amazement, while reading the fourth book, a character in one of the scenes in Dorne quotes the famous refrain from The Ballad of Reading Gaol nearly verbatim!

      The amazing thing about the Tyrell Family is their complete characterization rings truer- even as this family falls on the periphery in the show and books-than do the Starks or Lannisters, simply because of their aforementioned modernity. They seem to think, feel and love as we do while struggling to keep the smallest and basest of human instincts at bay. Only Olenna’s treachery mars this presentation. And as all great writers and artists know, and I believe, Martin knows; syrup needs the counter of acid, which he provides in Olenna.

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    26. Thank you, again, Luka and Petra for a really nice and insightful GCD. My favourite feature of the week.

      Pretty much agree with most – but not everything. I’d love to discuss more but super busy to get a book to the printers to have it by Christmas.

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    27. Jack Hamm:
      I loved the Tyrells simpy because they were the only “modern” House inbooks and TV.As presented in both, they are closer to us with their late Victorian, and or, rather Edwardian, manner than the cruel, primitive and barbaric ways of the Lannisters, Freys, Boltons, and others, excepting the Starks, of course.

      Why are the Starks -arguably the most “dark age” medieval house – “of course” excepted?

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    28. talvikorppi,

      I excepted the Starks because they lack the cruelty of the Lannisters, Freys and Boltons. They are Medieval but they do not possess Medieval natures as do the above mentioned.

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    29. Ten Bears,

      Oh that’s interesting to know Ten Bears, it wasn’t just me then.

      Jack Hamm


      I totally missed the reference to “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” in the book, JH. Strangely enough I was lurking on a history site I sometimes visit today and somebody had brought up TBORG there – nothing to do with GoT, of course. Now, my memory is a little hazy as it’s a while since I read/listened to the books but I seem to recall the Tyrells before the Targaryan invasion having been subserviant to the Gardeners in the reach but when the Gardeners were obliterated the Tyrells were promoted. It reminded me of the Stuarts one of whom had married a Bruce lady becoming the rulers of Scotland after the direct male Bruce line died out. There’s also (you may know this because these facts are quite well known) the fact that a Norman King of England, William Rufus, was killed by an arrow shot by one Walter Tirel on a hunt in the New Forest. I think the jury is still out as to whether it was by accident or design though I don’t suppose we’ll ever know after so many hundreds of years.

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    30. Jack Hamm,

      Actually, the Starks are the most fundamentally medieval. And the Lannisters are more Reanaisance because they are Machiavellian – especially their patriarch. And I don’t get why cruelty is associated with the Middle Ages: it may differ from cuntry to contry, butevent in the case of good old England Early Modern Times were often more cruel than the Middle Ages (and 20th century could have been the worst on the global scale).

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    31. I did read the feature before commenting but of course the Tyrells having been the stewards of the Gardeners was referenced in the article.

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    32. Dame of Mercia,

      I think you are correct about the Tyrell ascension. I seem to recall a Norman King, was it William II or William the Red or something, being a bachelor and thought to be homosexual? I’d forgotten about the Stuarts and Bruces. Thanks for bringing them up. You’ve piqued my interest and I’ll have to read up on this.

      The many ways Martin borrows from history, art, legend and literature are adorable. I smiled at Jaime and Cersei being blond twins and lovers and having children as this is a nod at the Walsung Twins in Wagner’s Ring. His nods at Shakespeare, Homer and other great storytellers, for me, makes reading the books a pleasure as it flushes out the man and makes doing so a fun game when spotting his influences.

      I suppose I’ll reread the whole series as I wait for the show to return since I’m confused about some things after reading them. All the while, I will be praying I live long enough to see it return and finish. 🙂

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    33. QueenofThrones,

      I personally hate ‘your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.’

      It’s only half a metaphor. It should be something like ‘the sweet taste of joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.’ Every time I read or hear that line I cringe. GRRM doesn’t get anywhere near the criticism D&D get but done if his dialogue is every bit as bad as them at their worst.

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    34. Rob,

      Adding “the sweet taste” just weakens the metaphor. By your logic, then it would be necessary to add “the bitter flavor of ashes” or something like that. Bringing in “taste” at all makes the whole phrase smaller, more specific, and less powerful.

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    35. zandru,

      Totally disagree. My point was that Tyrion just brings in mouths from nowhere where they hadn’t previously been part of the conversation. It’s like a punchline with no setup. ‘Ashes in your mouth’is already an English idiom – the whole point is that ashes taste like crap.

      Although now, having Googled it, it seems like it’s used very often the same way Martin uses it, although I have to confess I can’t remember ever before hearing it outside of ASOIAF where it wasn’t further contextualised with an earlier taste metaphor.

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    36. Jack Hamm:

      I excepted the Starks because they lack the cruelty of the Lannisters, Freys and Boltons.They are Medieval but they do not possess Medieval natures as do the above mentioned.

      I’m curious as to what you consider the “medieval natures” that all those houses apparently possess to be, that are so bad, but not the Starks, who are apparently “good” and “not medieval in the wrong way”, despite being portrayed as most like early European medieval culture by the author GRRM. The other houses, which are “bad”, “cruel”, and “medieval” (your word), actually seem more budding renaissance and modern.

      I think you might be projecting something you were taught as a kid, namely: medieval = bad, undeveloped, crude, cruel. And since you obviously like the Starks… they can’t be “medieval” (=bad). But they are, they’re the most medieval great house, for good or ill. My favourite house, BTW.

      Sorry to have been so sarky, but I get irked by things.

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    37. talvikorppi,

      Medieval in their nature means that simply they are not cruel/inhumane, brutish and primitive. They are portrayed as Feudal/Medieval, culturally.

      I think I originally stated that the Lannisters I find to be like the Tudors with Cersei and Tywin recalling Mary, Elizabeth and their father Henry VIII. Someone replied to my original post and used Medieval. I, in turn, used the term when replying to the reply. I still think it an apt term to describe the Boltons, Lannisters ( whose machinations might be described as Machiavellian, but their methods are definitely Medieval), and Freys all of which I see as barbaric representations of Medievalists. When using the term Medieval I’m associating it with cruelty, yes.

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    38. I agree with talvikorppi, I think you perhaps are generalizing a lot with using the terms Medieval, Renaissance, etc. The books themselves were written with a Medieval background; while some families are more bloody than others, they all seem pretty Medieval to me. The Medieval era was cruel, but so are all the other times before and after. There has not been a time in human history where cruelty didn’t reign, where wealth and power pushed didn’t walk over the lesser folk. When I think of Renaissance I think of the blossoming of art, but i don’t think of it as a time of great strides in human decency….

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    39. I generally ignore the Tyrells, so good on Petra and Luka for highlighting them and their place in the Game and in being distinctive from all the other houses.

      You’ve all had some good insights. About the only thing I can add is that they correspond/contrast to the Starks, except the Tyrells live to play the Game. They’re a wealthy, sophisticated family with a benign kind of power and no real shot at the Throne that they care so much about (and the Starks don’t, except maybe Sansa). And they love each other, like the Starks. Yet for all their Game-playing finesse, run of luck (3 royal marriages), and ready wit (well, not Mace), they’re extinct, at least on the show, not the books. Assuming the Stark line survives, it will be because of their military orientation, but even more because Ned had 5/6 kids devoted to their house. Show Mace had 2. Anyway, while the Starks were perpetually preparing for Winter, the Tyrells were Growing Strong. Until they didn’t.

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    40. Rob,

      Well, if you don’t get the metaphor, then you don’t get it. Taste is only a small part of the “ashes in your mouth” bit. There’s the gritty, dry feel. There’s the association of ashes with destruction and burning, death, devastation, the end of something that had been alive and beautiful. Why would you confine yourself and the metaphor to something as trivial and meaningless as flavor? Good writing should be bigger than that.

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    41. They should have given Loras a better end to justify the time spent on him.

      Imagine if they had him survive the sept explosion with severe burns (like he gets in the books) and try to take revenge on Cersei by himself. How cool would it have been to see a misshapen Loras cut his way through the guards in the Red Keep, only to meet a grisly end at the hands of the Mountain (finishing what he started in season 1). Hell, have Loras kill all the other Kingsguard members, explaining why they seem to have vanished in S7, which would reflect another book Loras moment.

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