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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!

Game of Thrones: Episode 1 (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.

Since I haven’t been doing much else with this blog of late, I figure I’ll use it as a place to make comments on Game of Thrones episodes as they air. You may assume that there will be spoilers for the given episode under discussion (so if you haven’t seen that episode and don’t want it to be spoiled, don’t read beyond the cut), but I’ll try my best not to reveal anything beyond that point (in the show or the books). There will also probably not be any “behind the scenes” stuff here; I’ll leave that to HBO.

For the premiere, I went to my parents’, and they had a party there for my friends and family.

A sign on the door my sister made.

Click to enlarge.

That was the sign my little sister had made for me on the door. She made a whole bunch of decorations (though, as a ten year old, she wasn’t allowed to watch the show. Maybe twenty years from now…). This included a fake Oscar:

A fake Oscar.

Click to enlarge.

This was, apparently, a Ken doll (one of her own) that was spraypainted gold. She even shaved him (he had “real” hair, rather than plastic hair). He’s sitting on a can of tuna spraypainted black. Priceless!

(Oh, the “George” on that little clapper board is my cousin-in-law George Beljajev, who’s a cameraman for a ton of different reality shows, not George R. R. Martin.)

My favorite, I think, are the cupcakes with character portraits sticking out of them, because they amuse me so. Here’s Ned:

A cupcake with Ned Stark's picture on it.

Click to enlarge.

So that was a lot of fun.

Anyway, having seen the first episode prior did not, in fact, make watching incredibly graphic nudity with my mother in the same room any easier. It actually made it worse, since I knew what was coming when. “Huh? Oh, I wasn’t watching the screen; I was tweeting. Why am I turning red, you ask…?” Yow!

That aside, I think everyone that was there enjoyed the first episode. I’m curious to hear what those who haven’t read the books thought. To me, it seems like it might have been moving a little slow. I was following Twitter, and some who have read the books suggested that those who haven’t might have thought the show was moving too fast, which to me seems counterintuitive. The one thing I did notice from random tweets is that there were several who were confused (some who couldn’t tell which characters were which, or what was going on and why).

If you happened to have watched the show and were one of those that felt lost, I encourage you to keep watching, because I think that will change. A lot of places, people and plotlines needed to be introduced in this first episode. In future episodes, there will be a lot more character development, and it’ll be easy to figure out who’s who, what they’re doing, and why.

Having seen the first episode already, there were no surprises for me, but now that it’s aired, I’m glad I can comment on the opening credits which are awesome. HBO released the first 15 or so minutes of the first episode earlier, but they left out the opening credits, which I think was a good idea. I thought that sequence was killer, and whoever had a hand in creating it deserves a pat on the back. Well played!

I’m not surprised that a good number of tweets focused on Tyrion and the dire wolf pups. How adorable are they! (The pups.) And as for Tyrion, first of all, the character in the books is easily one of the best, and most readers pick up on that right away. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion cranks that up to 11. He’s killin’ it. That’s something to look forward to for quite awhile.

There’s not much to comment on regarding the Dothraki just yet. I’ll have more to say later (and feel like I probably should wait, because it’d be too easy to give spoilers). The first Dothraki we hear is Illyrio (a non-native speaker) welcoming Khal Drogo. While Viserys and Daenerys are talking, he translates everything he was just saying in English into Dothraki for Drogo and his bloodriders. If you try to listen “around” what Viserys and Daenerys are saying, you may be able to pick up some of it, but it’s rather difficult. The very first thing he says, though, is a greeting:

Athchomar chomakea!

Which you can translate as, “Respect to those that are respectful”.

Update May 4, 2011: I just saw the closed captioning, and what he actually says is Athchomar chomakaan (which is exactly what it sounds like). The greeting is the same, but it’s addressed to a singular entity (i.e. Khal Drogo himself), and would be appropriately translated as, “Respect to he who is respectful”.

There’s a lot to recommend this series, and I think this was a fair representation of what it’s going to be like. It may not be for everyone, but it’s good television.

Oh, and how about the end of that episode? Hardcore, man! When you’ve got an entire novel to divide into sections, it’s up to the writers et al. to decide where the individual episodes are going to start and end. They did well for this first episode (in fact, the first two, but that will be next week). Kind of reminiscent of Twin Peaks, with every episode ending on a cliffhanger. Good stuff!

More next Sunday. Until then, enjoy a fine week!