Game of Thrones: Episode 3 (Comments)

Note: This post originally appeared at I’m moving all Dothraki-related posts from that blog to this one. You may still see the original here.


Episode 1 coincides with the second day of the NBA playoffs (and a game winning three by the Boston Celtics, to boot). Episode 2 runs over a crucial game four by the Lakers and Hornets—both showings. But hey, both NBA playoff games were finished by the time episode 3 aired on the East Coast! Certainly nothing could interfere with—

Wait. Seriously? They really caught Osama Bin Laden? And broke the news during the West Coast showing? I mean, for real?!

Prediction for episode 4 (spoilers definitely intended): Tupac and Elvis team up to record a Thanksgiving-themed album. Album to be produced by Jesus. News conference this Sunday at 9 Eastern.

As for the episode itself…

Lot of yip-yapping in “Lord Snow”, but I hope that those unacquainted with the books were paying attention. Lot of groundwork being laid.

A lot of what I expect from the HBO versions of the George R. R. Martin characters is based on their voice in the audiobooks as read by Roy Dotrice. For that reason, I was a little surprised by Varys. That, however, didn’t last, as I quickly won over by Conleth Hill’s performance. This Varys is less insidious, but much more obsequious. It’s a choice they made, and I think it’ll play well.

Other performances I was impressed by: James Cosmo as Jeor Mormont; Peter Vaughan as Maester Aemon; and Julian Glover as Grand Maester Pycelle.

Oh, and, of course, the guy that totally stole the show right at the end: Miltos Yerolemou as Syrio Forel. Dude was killing it!

One of my favorite episodes from the book was Tyrion explaining to Jon Snow that there’s a reason the other guys in the Night’s Watch don’t like him. I thought it was a nice moment, and I hoped it would make it into the show (seemed minor, so I thought there was a chance it wouldn’t). I was glad to see it done and done well. (And, of course, at this point I think, collectively, we’ve all but run out of encomia for Peter Dinklage, who continues to be phenomenal.)

Now for the Dothraki. Loved those first two scenes in this one. I gather that some were a bit confused by Dany halting the khalasar while they’re moving along. Something may have been lost there… In the book, she leaves the khalasar and tells Jorah not to have anyone follow her. Viserys tries to come after her, and Jorah intervenes. This is what makes Viserys upset. Here, it appears that he was sent for, but the audience doesn’t see it (a similar scene occurs much later in the series), and the command upsets him.

Anyway, it’s pretty clear what’s happening when Viserys gets his throat whipped. They needed a line about taking his ear, and so this is what I came up with (nice quick delivery by Elyes Gabel):

Ishish chare acharoe hash me nem ejervae nharesoon.

Which means “Maybe the ear will understand if it is removed from the head.” The word for “understand” is derived from the word “to hear” (and “ear” is related too; you can see the root char in both words), so it’s kind of a cruel pun.

Unfortunately, Viserys retains both his ears, and the khalasar moves on.

Next is a nice scene between Jorah and Rakharo that was added late. I like the way it works. (Jorah’s suave, man. Much cooler than I was imagining him in the books. Hat tip to Iain Glenn, whose Dothraki pronunciation is great, for a foreigner.) Jorah’s mixing in a little Dothraki with his English to help Rakharo, whose English is pretty good for a non-native speaker, but who’s not perfectly fluent (like Dany’s handmaidens). In the line where he says “…for a dothrakaan“, that’s kind of a mix that an English speaker would make. In that sentence, dothrakaan would actually mean (by itself) “for a Dothraki rider”, but you can’t just drop that word into an English sentence and have it “feel” right. So “…for a dothrakaan” is what I’d expect an English speaker to do.

One fun fact: If you listen, you’ll hear one of the words I created for Erin, my wife. Her middle name is “Allegra”, and a pet name I have for her is “duck”, so I made the Dothraki word for “duck” alegra. I never expected it to be used. Then the late request for this scene came in, and there it is! Ducks mentioned on the show! And so when Irri comes in asking Rakharo to go slaughter some rabbits, listen to the next line where instead she asks him to go get some ducks—specifically:

Ezas loy alegri h’anhaan. Mori allayafi mae, jin alegra.

That is, “Find some ducks for me. She likes duck.” (Nice back and forth between them here.)

Incidentally, the word for “dog” (jano) is mentioned at the end. That was named after my friend Jon, but it’s a pretty basic stem, so it’d be hard to see it as unique. And it wasn’t done out of spite (I know “dog” can sometimes have a negative connotation in English). Not long before I started work on Dothraki, Jon lost his dog, Kobe, to an inoperable tumor. He was a good dog and led a long and happy life, but the tumor (in his stomach) was enormous, and pretty soon his quality of life was going to deteriorate, so they had to put him down. “Kobe” doesn’t really work in Dothraki, so instead I went with Jon’s name for the stem for “dog”.

At the very end, Dany puts together her first full sentences in Dothraki. The last is intentionally ungrammatical (Anha sekke nesa is something like “I really knows”), as she’s just learning, but she’s going to get better in a hurry.

Looking forward to next week! If you’re enjoying the Dothraki stuff even a little bit, be sure to let HBO know—in particular, go tweet at these guys. Let them know that this level of authenticity is worthwhile!

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