Didn’t I tell y’all there would be some Dothraki this season? Ta da! There it is!
If I may come to things out of order, I thought the VFX of the White Walker dying were outstanding. Must be pretty satisfying to stab something and then have it turn to ice, fall and shatter that way. Pretty cool! Of course, Sam should’ve retained his knife (what was he so afraid of? He killed it! No way you can come back from that!), but the action north of the wall has been replete with horror movie tropes, so it is fitting. For those who remember the specific action of the book better than I do, though, what was up with those birds?! I don’t remember that from the book. And why would they have been so excited about this encounter as to opposed to the others that we’ve seen in the series already? There were no crows in those scenes (or, at least, no literal crows). Oh, and one more question: Isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that that White Walker is the exact same White Walker we saw in the season 2 finale?
I thought the scenes surrounding and during Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding were done very well. Reading those scenes initially, it was so frustrating how much Tyrion wants to convey to Sansa that he’s not a bad guy, and how miserably he fails to do so. I thought they captured that aspect of the books quite well in the scenes we saw here.
There has been a bit of controversy in some corners regarding the scenes on Dragonstone. I would like to go on record saying I thought they were fine. I have no complaints, and found everything to be in keeping with what ought to have been expected.
In today’s scene from Slaver’s Bay, we’re introduced to Daario Naharis, who looks nothing like I thought he would. You know who does look cool, though: Prendahl na Ghezn (played by Ramon Tikaram). Dude looks awesome! He’s even got the blue hair! (If there was any glare on your screen, you might not have noticed it, but his hair was dyed blue, I can assure you.) Alas, his role is a bit short-lived… It’s too bad. Honestly, I hope I see more of him in some other feature. He looks like a leading man, to me.
The main scene begins with Mero leading Prendahl and Daario into Dany’s tent. There is an exchange where Mero is even more insulting than Kraznys, and he provokes the incredible, invincible and indomitable Jacob Anderson, a.k.a Grey Worm, a.k.a Torgo Nudho, who says:
- Nya dare, beza unehtelas jaa engo ozy?
- “My queen, shall this one slice out his tongue for you?”
And for those keeping track, yes, that is a Dothraki-style hiatus there with jaa, in addition to Dothraki-style post-vocalic h in unehtelas, both of which he nails, because Jacob Anderson is a Golden God.
Anyway, Dany responds in High Valyrian:
- Bisi vali īlvyz zentyssy issi.
- “These men are our guests.”
The word vali was cut due to length, I’m guessing, but the result would still be grammatical (it would just mean “These ones [probably animate] are our guests”). If the form of the possessive adjective looks odd to you, then you’re really keyed in to the phonology of High Valyrian. As I mentioned somewhere at some point in time, adjectives in High Valyrian have a different form depending on whether they come before or after the noun they modify. In this case, the full form would be īlvyzy. The final y drops out if the adjective precedes the noun it modifies, though, and the z devoices unless the next word begins with a voiced sound. Since “guests” is zentyssy, then, the form of the adjective is īlvyz and not īlvys.
After many more insults and a scene between the three Second Sons, we see Missandei bathing Daenerys. Though this scene was, of course, planned, this bit of dialogue was added by Dan Weiss very late in the game (he asked for the translation in mid-September). Personally I think it’s kind of a meta joke since this is literally the only Dothraki that appears in the entire season. What he did was he gave me the English line and asked if I could get athjahakar (the Dothraki word for “pride”) at the end of the sentence. Ultimately this is how I did the translation:
- Zhey Drogo ast me-Dothraki thasho h’anhaan ven anha ray yol mehas. Me azh maan atjakhar.
- “Drogo said I spoke Dothraki like one born to it. It gave him great pride.”
Those who know Dothraki will note that this line features the (somewhat) rare invocative use of zhey (i.e. bringing to the listener’s attention a person who hasn’t yet appeared as a topic of discussion). You’ll also note that athjahakar is misspelled. Indeed, this little exchange was supposed to reveal that Dany was never as good at Dothraki as she is, of course, with High Valyrian or Common. And the specific word is a call-back to episode 103, I think it was, where Dany’s handmaiden Jiqui (or Zhikwi) is shown teaching Dany Dothraki by teaching her to say the word athjahakar.
Looking at the above Dothraki line, you’ll note that Dany mangles it pretty badly. That was the intention, but personally I think Emilia went a little too far. Neither Dany nor Emilia was ever that bad! Of course, if Dany hasn’t really been speaking Dothraki much, I can see her getting out of practice (perhaps Jorah is the only one that speaks to the Dothraki now [or, actually, now Missandei can too]). She puts together a rather grammatically complex sentence, though. Pretty impressive for a second language learner!
Second Sons was a little light on language, so to add some girth to this, here’s the full declension for vala, the High Valyrian word for “man”:
Oh, also I wanted to mention that the word for “son” from our title comes from Twitter user @Tracee2ez, who was my 3,000th Twitter follower! The word is trēsy, which is nicely symmetrical with the word for “daughter”, which is tala. Both are lunar words, but tala is first declension, and trēsy second. There are a number of dualities that work this way, where two words which are intended to be in some sort of semantic relation to one another differ either solely in declension class or gender, but in systematic (or semi-systematic) ways. This word, then, turned out to be quite the fortuitous coining, since I already had the word for “daughter”.
Also, for those in the Bay Area, I will be at BayCon this Sunday. If you’re in the area, stop by and say M’ath!
Oh, and one more also (consider this a public service announcement): The penultimate episode of this season of Game of Thrones will not be airing a week from yesterday! I guess due to a ratings slump on Memorial Day, HBO is skipping a week, and episode 309 will air on June 2nd. Perhaps I can put together a post next week trying to answer some questions. Or I can take a break and enjoy the weekend. We’ll see.
One episode left. The season sure does speed on by, doesn’t it?
Sunday’s episode was, I think I’m safe in saying, the episode that everyone’s been waiting for since the series got the green light. I’d say it was worth the wait. There’ve been a ton of superlatives heaped on “Blackwater” so far, so I won’t bother adding to them. I would like to add a comment or two about one specific omission.
A couple of friends of mine who’ve read the books had been bugging me leading up to Sunday, “So are we going to see the chain?” The answer, as we all saw now, is no. No chain! So it goes. But this raises a non-trivial question: Does it matter? What exactly was lost with the loss of the chain? In my estimation, little. In A Clash of Kings, the chain has a three-fold function, as I see it (one literal; one figurative; one textual). Those functions are:
- Literally, the massive chain is there to prevent Stannis’s ships from retreating as they’re doused with wild fire.
- Figuratively, the construction of the chain is a massive effort on the part of the blacksmiths of King’s Landing. As it plays such an important part in the victory, this is a way to give the people a real stake in it—something to point to and be proud of.
- Textually, it serves to further showcase Tyrion’s mental acumen.
In the show, the literal role the chain would have played is minimized. As we follow the battle, we see a decoy ship sent out in “defense”, where Stannis is expecting a fleet (a fleet smaller than his, of course, but a fleet nonetheless). The visual explosiveness of the wildfire when lit (via Bronn’s arrow) renders the potential for escape rather pointless. To me, the thing looks less like a fire than a nuclear bomb. The effect is instantaneous and devastating, so escape wasn’t really an issue—and furthermore, Stannis decided to keep pressing on, anyway, so the function of the chain in the show would have been theoretical, more than anything.
Without the build up we see in the book with the slow construction of the chain, the importance of Tyrion’s speech to the troops is rather elevated. What we see is a group of soldiers who have no real stake in the fight and no will to continue, and Tyrion rallies them. He does the same thing in the book, but here without the chain, I think his speech is slightly more impressive.
Finally, something that has happened in the show which didn’t really happen in the books is Tyrion as a character has been thrust to the forefront—largely in response to Peter Dinklage’s excellent portrayal of him in season 1. We see this happen in television shows all the time: One character becomes more popular or impressive than the others, and so the writers “write them up” (one clear example that comes to mind is The Simpsons. When the show started, everyone tuned in to see what shocking thing Bart would say. By season 4, it was clear that Homer was the star). As a result, well, Tyrion didn’t need to be any more brilliant. He’s had it in spades this season—and will likely continue to. His character doesn’t need the extra acclaim that the chain would bring him, so omitting it hasn’t really affected his character all that much, in my opinion.
I think it was a wise decision on the part of Dave and Dan to have George R. R. Martin write this episode (for a number of reasons), and I think he did an excellent job in writing the chain out. I think the proof of this comes from any fan of the show who’s never read the books. Their reaction: What chain? The logic of the battle, though scaled down, works well enough as shown, and it doesn’t feel like anything major is missing. Those who’ve read the books know, but show qua show, I think it stands up remarkably well.
Oh, but this is the Dothraki blog, isn’t it? As you may have noticed, there was no Dothraki in episode 9. Not that that should be a surprise, now that the episode has aired. Unlike any previous episode (and perhaps unlike any future episode…?), “Blackwater” focused on one single event. There were different points of view, yes (Sansa, Davos, Tyrion), but it was all the same narrative, and all the same timeline. So, of course, there was nothing from Qarth, and also nothing from beyond the Wall, nothing from Robb’s camp, etc. Given the scope of this episode, that was probably for the best, and one wonders if any other event might warrant a similar treatment. (Those who’ve read the books may be able to think of at least one, but even that one’s iffy.)
Today’s post came out a day late because I was up at BayCon for the weekend. It was a smaller event than WorldCon, but good fun! In addition to moderating a couple panels, I got to meet up with our very own khaleesi Daenerys and her boyfriend Crown of Gold. We had a wonderful dinner with my wife and Juliette Wade and her family, and then when we went for gelato, which was delicious. It was truly a red letter day. San athchomari, zhey okeosi!
And now for some disappointing news. Many will have noted that last week Dothraki.org went down. This is actually because the site is hosted on the same server that the Na’vi community is hosted on, and it went down. It came back up on Sunday, but, unfortunately, went down yet again, and the problem appears to be more serious now. Dothraki.org was the best resources on the net on Dothraki (I used it myself), and if it’s gone, that leaves this blog, which is a blog, and not as useful as, say, a wiki that can simply list tables, vocabulary, etc. There are a number of potential solutions, but it’s not clear what’s going to happen moving forward, so in the meantime, we just have to hang tight. On the bright side, sunquan has put up two more Dothraki tutorial videos on YouTube. Check them out!
And next week: The finale of season 2 of Game of Thrones. Lot of loose ends to be tied up. Can’t wait to see one of my favorite episodes from the books: The House of the Undying. Anha laz vos ayok!