Assassinated by Scorpions: Non-Spoiler Videos to Accompany A Song of Ice and Fire

The HBO television version of George R R Martin's fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire is hard for me to stomach. The sex scenes are gratuitous and alienating.1 More importantly these scenes alter not only the emphasis but also, occasionally, the structure of the narrative. One might argue that such changes are necessary2 and small, but I find them nonetheless distracting from a story that is otherwise irresistibly compelling and even instructive.

Many have written about how rich the novels' narratives and characters are. A dozen or so more-or-less "main characters3" come freighted with detailed histories that bear significantly on the novels' narratives. Many of the events in these histories occur before the events described in the novels and motivate the characters' actions during the main narrative. This sort of layered complexity is part of what makes the books compelling. Unfortunately, however, this also sometimes makes it difficult to keep things straight, to remember which Targaryen, for example, finally conquered Dorne4 or which dead Princess of Dorne the royal family later secretly hoped to avenge,5 and so on.

Here is a link to the (currently) sixty-eight videos that provide some helpful background history relevant to the novels. I stumbled upon them while looking at videos explaining the Silmarillion.6 One thing I like about the video series is that it doesn't try to be fancier than the books — the videos are all entirely animated or, rather, drawn, and I found the combination of still artwork and narration fun to watch — and it avoids major spoilers.7 Each of the videos is short, roughly four or five minutes long.8 Also the videos are devoid of gratuitous sex.

Enjoy!9


  1. See a review in the Washington Post here

  2. Adapting prose to a cinematic medium obviously necessitates alterations of all sorts.] and small, but I find them nonetheless distracting from a story that is otherwise irresistibly compelling and even instructive.

  3. The question of who constitutes a main character starts to become a little fuzzy by the third book. And it may be that this very question is one of the narrative's themes.

  4. There are at least three Targaryen attempts on Dorne. Daeron Targaryen I, succeeds temporarily, until his regent, Lyonel Tyrell, is assassinated in his bed by scorpions.

  5. Elia Martell, married to Rhaegar Targaryen, is killed by a Lannister henchman, Gregor Clegane, during the siege of the capital city that likewise occurs before and directly precipitates the events of the entire series.

  6. Eru Iluvátar ? Seriously?

  7. Ok, so after about fifteen or twenty of these videos there is one spoiler, but it only affects reading the first novel. And anyway they do help straighten out an understanding of events. (Although, admittedly this business of Daeron Targaryen and the assassination of his regent, Lyonel Tyrell, may be presented differently in the book and in the video series. It appears the video series conflates two King Daerons. Still I appreciated that it straightened things out for me pretty well.) Ultimately, the definitive source of Ice and Fire lore on the internet is probably this wiki.

  8. I cannot easily make sense of the source of these videos but wonder whether they are DVD "extras" from the HBO television series. If so, I wonder why such restraint could not have been similarly exercised in the making of the show itself.

  9. I hope I haven't infringed on any copyright law by posting this link. It's not clearly marked, if so.