Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh read 'The Fault in Our Stars'

The stars of Hank Green's The Lizzie Bennet Diaries read the book that was written by Hank's brother John :) I loved The Fault in Our Stars so much and I love Ashley and Daniel's reading of it. Although I'm sure that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort will be amazing in the film I have to say that a part of me wishes that Ashley and Daniel had gotten to play Hazel and Augustus.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant in 'Mansfield Park'!

Since 2014 is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park the BBC have decided to re-release their Radio 4 adaptation of the book! :) This adaptation was recorded way back in 2003 and it stars Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant as Edmund and Tom Bertram. It also features Felicity Jones as Fanny Price (Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey 2007!), Toby Jones as Mr Rushworth, and Tim Pigott-Smith as Sir Thomas Bertram. There are 10 episodes and the first will be played on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 2.15pm on the 12th of MayYAY!

The BBC Book List

The BBC believes that most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?
Note: the books I've read are in bold.

  1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  6. The Bible
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  8. 1984 – George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (I've read the first two)
  10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare – William Shakespeare (I think I've read about a dozen of Shakespeare's plays)
  15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
  34. Emma – Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
  37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
  39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
  41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
  45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
  47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  52. Dune – Frank Herbert
  53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
  60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  65. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
  67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
  69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
  71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
  75. Ulysses – James Joyce
  76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  78. Germinal – Emile Zola
  79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  80. Possession – AS Byatt
  81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  83. The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
  84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
  88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
  89. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (Probably. I read loads of Enid Blyton as a child)
  91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
  95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
  99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

My total is 55 which isn't too shabby :D And I plan on reading at least 20 of the other books on this list too.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

'Friday's Child' by Georgette Heyer (1944)

Synopsis: Anthony Verelst, Viscount Sherringham ("Sherry") is the heir to a considerable fortune that he won't be able to access until he marries or turns 25. Because Sherry has got himself deeply into debt he decides that he needs to get married as soon as possible. He proposes to his beautiful friend Isabella Milborne. Isabella doesn't love Sherry and disapproves of his gambling, spendthrift ways so she naturally rejects him. Sherry is furious. On his way back to London he impulsively vows to marry the first woman he sees. This woman turns out to be none other than Sherry's childhood friend Hero Wantage, a sweet young orphan who has adored Sherry for years. Hero is delighted by Sherry's proposal and the pair soon elope to London to be married. Hero is then introduced to Sherry's three best friends: his two cousins, the dependable Gilbert (Gil) Ringwood and the foppish Ferdinand (Ferdy) Fakenham, and his fiery friend George, Lord Wrotham. These three men soon find themselves having to help Sherry and Hero work out their marriage difficulties. Sherry is completely ignorant about his new responsibilities as a married man and has no intention of changing his reckless ways. Hero has spent all of her life in the countryside and has no idea of how to behave in London high society so she models her behaviour on her husband's. She makes all kinds of indiscretions which threaten her reputation and exasperate Sherry. Sherry's three best friends know that the only way of saving Sherry and Hero's marriage is to intervene.

Apparently Friday's Child was Georgette Heyer's own personal favourite out of her novels. I can't say I agree with her. Friday's Child has some funny moments and some likeable secondary characters but for the most part I found Hero and Sherry's antics annoying and frustrating instead of being amusing and entertaining. I suppose Hero is sweet and kind but she's also passive, silly and dim. Sherry was so immature, insensitive and selfish that I couldn't stand him. He even hits Hero on a few occasions! Sherry and Hero are sooo not my kind of hero and heroine!

If Friday's Child had only been about Sherry and Hero then I think I would have probably hated it. But thankfully Sherry's three best friends were so funny and engaging that they partly redeemed the book for me. I really liked that George got his own romantic subplot with Isabella too. It was was so much more interesting and entertaining than the romance between Sherry and Hero. Because of these secondary characters I do think that Friday's Child is worth a read if you're already a Heyer fan but I wouldn't call it a good introduction to her works.

Rating: 3/5

Mini Stage Reviews (Mojo, Richard II, Coriolanus)

Somehow I've set a new record for myself. Since October I've managed to see about six different stage productions but I haven't got round to reviewing any of them. There's no way I can write detailed, full-length reviews for all of them now so I've decided to do mini-reviews for most of these stage productions. I've tackled three of them in this post. I will be writing a longer review for the most recent stage production I've seen though so you might want to keep your eyes peeled for that :)

Mojo (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Mojo is a black comedy that was written by Jez Butterworth (who was only 25 at the time). It originally debuted at the Royal Court Theatre in 1995 and it went on to win the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. The original production starred Andy Serkis, Tom Hollander and Aidan Gillen. The play was directed by Ian Rickson who also directed the revival production I saw. Mojo is set in Soho, London in the year 1958. It starts off with a 17 year old rock and roll singer called Silver Johnny practising some dance moves backstage at a nightclub called Ezra's Atlantic. The next day we discover that the owner of the nightclub has been murdered and that Johnny has been kidnapped by a rival nightclub owner and gangster. A group of nightclub workers are all scared that they might be next. They hide out at the nightclub over the weekend so they can wait for the situation to blow over. However, tensions within the group are running very high and accusations soon start flying around. This creates a strained atmosphere and things don't end well.

To be honest I went into this play "blind". I knew nothing about it and I only wanted to see it because it was starring Ben Whishaw and Colin Morgan. Now that I've seen Mojo I wouldn't say I became a fan of the play itself. The story wasn't really my cup of tea. It reminded me of Quentin Tarantino's films and I'm not a Tarantino fan. There was too much bad language for my liking as well. I can get past some bad language in stories but not when every other word seems to be a swear! But I still managed to enjoy Mojo because of its cast. Its characters would all be really unlikeable on paper but the actors were great and they all brought a lot of humour to their roles. Ben Whishaw was my favourite in the cast. His character was creepy, mentally unstable and violent but Whishaw still managed to make him sympathetic. He even got to sing in this play and I was hugely impressed with his voice! I can completely understand why they've cast him as Freddie Mercury in that upcoming Queen biopic!

There were quite a few big names in Mojo. I've seen Colin Morgan do stage work before (The Tempest) but I think he was even better in this play. His character was twitchy, dim, awkward and absolutely nothing like Merlin. I enjoyed his interactions with Ben Whishaw and Brendan Coyle - and his final scene was quite sad. Rupert Grint made his stage debut in this play and I was really surprised at how good he was. He was really funny. I'd never seen Daniel Mays act in anything before Mojo but I'd heard really good things about his acting and I really liked his performance in the play. He was really flamboyant and energetic. I seem to remember him getting all of the funniest lines and he had great chemistry with Rupert Grint. Brendan Coyle was in this play and is probably most famous for playing Mr Bates in Downton Abbey although to me he'll always be Nicholas Higgins from North and South (2004). Coyle brought a lot of gravitas to his role and was slightly sinister. As Tom Rhys Harries plays Silver Johnny he's off-stage for most of the play and he doesn't get anywhere near as much to do as the others. He was still very good in the few scenes that he was in though and hopefully he'll go on to do bigger things.

Rating: 4/5
*If the cast hadn't been so good it would have probably gotten a 3/5 or mabe even a 2/5 rating.*

Richard II (Barbican Theatre)
Richard II is the first in a cycle of history plays by William Shakespeare. The play covers the final two years of King Richard II's life. Richard isn't a very popular king. He's weak, vain and indecisive. When a feud between his cousin Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray leads to a duel, Richard impulsively interrupts it and banishes them both. When Bolingbroke's father John of Gaunt then dies of grief, Richard takes his cousin's inheritance and uses it to help fund his war in Ireland. This deeply angers the English nobility. Several noblemen then smuggle Bolingbroke back into the country, execute some of Richard's courtiers, and build an army to overthrow Richard while he's away in Ireland. Richard is then overthrown and his family is torn apart by treachery and murder. This production of Richard II was directed by Gregory Doran for the RSC. It was performed in Stratford-upon-Avon before it transferred to London (which is where I got to see it).

I didn't go into this play "blind" like I did with Mojo. I was already familiar with Richard II thanks to the BBC's The Hollow Crown. I wouldn't say that Richard II is one of my absolute favourite Shakespeare plays but I like it very much indeed and The Hollow Crown's version of it is spectacular. Ben Whishaw is magnificent as Richard II. *Is this turning into a Ben Whishaw appreciation post?* I love David Tennant as well and when I heard that he was doing Richard II I of course wanted to see him do the role. I'm surprised I even managed to get tickets for it because the production apparently sold out really quickly!

With this play I was really impressed with its overall production. It had medieval-looking costumes and sets which I definitely appreciated. I'm open-minded enough to enjoy more modern interpretations of Shakespeare's work but I do have a preference for historically accurate settings. The production was quite modern in one respect though because the action took place on different levels (e.g. balconies). I loved the costumes and the use of lighting in the play. I loved the live singing. They had three sopranos sing at various points in the play and the choral music gave it a lot of atmosphere.

Even though I rushed to buy tickets for this production I had a hard time picturing David Tennant as Richard II. I was sure that he'd be excellent but I had a harder time picturing him as Richard II than I did for Hamlet and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. Tennant really did turn out to be a great Richard though. He's such a versatile actor! In many ways Tennant's portrayal was very similar to Ben Whishaw's. Their Richards are both effeminate, arrogant and impulsive. Whishaw's Richard is more vulnerable and child-like than Tennant's though and I remember Tennant's Richard being funnier and more aggressive. I have to say that Tennant's portrayal didn't leave me as powerfully affected as Whishaw's but I still really loved him in the role and I had a great night. Of the supporting cast I really loved the actors who played the Duke and Duchess of York (Oliver Ford Davies and Marty Cruickshank). They were really funny and entertaining. This production emphasised the humour of the play in general which was nice.

This might not be very relevant but I have to say I loved the Barbican venue! It's quite modern but it has the most comfortable seats out of any of the West End theatres that I've been to. And the seats are staggered so you'll have a good view wherever you sit :)

Rating: 5/5

Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse) - National Theatre Live
Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's historical tragedies and is set just before the establishment of the Roman republic. It tells the story of Caius Martius who is a brilliant Roman soldier. He then goes into battle and almost single-handedly captures the town of Corioles. To honour his achievement Martius is given the official name of Coriolanus. The people of Rome rejoice and he's given a hero's welcome when he returns. Coriolanus then decides to use his new-found popularity to enter into the field of politics. However his enemies, Sisinia and Brutus, use his temper and anti-democratic views to their advantage and manipulate the public into turning against him. He's branded a traitor and cast out of the city. This leaves Coriolanus feeling bitter and completely betrayed. He teams up with his former arch-nemesis Tullus Aufidius and plots a vicious assault upon Rome.

This stage production of Coriolanus was directed by Josie Rourke who also directed the David Tennant-Catherine Tate production of Much Ado About Nothing back in 2011. This production of Coriolanus starred Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss and Hadley Fraser. I'm a huge fan of all of these men so as soon as I found about this production of Coriolanus I was dying to see it :D I wasn't able to get tickets for the live production in the end. The Donmar is a famously small venue and its tickets can be extremely hard to come by. In fact this entire production of Coriolanus was sold out in just under 20 minutes! But thankfully I was able to see the live broadcast of this production at my local cinema and I loved it. Tom Hiddleston was magnificent in the title role. I really do think that his performance is going to go down in theatre history. He was clearly giving it his everything in the role: both physically and emotionally. Hiddleston played Coriolanus exactly as the character should be played. I could buy him as a soldier and he made the character sympathetic whilst still portraying all of Coriolanus's negative traits. He gave an extremely layered and intelligent performance. Also, the scene where Coriolanus cries when his family are pleading with him to save Rome was beautifully-acted and deeply moving. He was amazing in the role.

Mark Gatiss played Menenius in Coriolanus. Meninius is probably the most sympathetic character in Coriolanus and Gatiss played him really well. He brought a lot of humour to the role and his sadness at Coriolanus's behaviour towards the end was quite sad to see. There was this one aspect of Gatiss's performance that I did find unintentionally amusing though. At one point Gatiss patted his stomach and it reminded me so much of his Mycroft Holmes that I laughed out loud! :D No-one else laughed and I'm sure it wasn't meant to be funny but oh well! Hadley Fraser is one of my favourite musical theatre stars and he played Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus, a rare non-singing role for him. The Volscians were given northern accents in the play and although Hadley Fraser's accent was a bit over the top I still really liked his performance. I hope to see him in more non-singing roles. Not too many though, I love his singing too much for that! Fraser worked really well with Tom Hiddleston and they had a pretty cool sword fight at one stage. I know some reviewers have complained about the homoerotic elements of Aufidius's relationship with Coriolanus being played up in this production but it didn't bother me. It's very heavily implied in the text itself and they didn't play it up anywhere near as much as they could have done. Aufidius only kisses Coriolanus once in a way that I wouldn't describe as being particularly passionate or erotic

As for the rest of the cast: Deborah Findlay gave a powerhouse performance as Coriolanus's mother Volumnia. She'd make a terrific Lady Macbeth! Birgitte Hjort Sørensen played Coriolanus's wife Virgilia and brought a lot of sensitivity to the role.Her role contrasted quite nicely with the cold and ambitious Volumnia. Elliot Levy and Helen Schlesinger played Coriolanus's enemies Brutus and Sisinia and they worked really well together. Schlesinger's character is a man in Shakespeare's text but was rewritten as a woman for this particular production so that she could be in a romantic relationship with Brutus. It worked surprisingly well. Alfie Enoch had a minor role in this play as Titus Lartius which made me happy. Alfie Enoch played Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films and Bainbridge in the Sherlock episode The Sign of Three. Titus Lartius is a pretty minor role but Enoch played him well.

I think Coriolanus was a hugely underrated play and apart from a few minor issues I really enjoyed this production. I do really envy the people who got to see the production live but by seeing a filmed version of the play I was able to get close-ups of the actor's faces and I got to focus on characters that I might not have thought to pay attention to during certain scenes.

As I mentioned, there were a couple of things about this production that I didn't really like sadly. In the interval of the recording Josie Rourke gives an interview with Emma Freud and all Freud can talk about is Tom Hiddleston's sexiness. Like... seriously? This production has one of the best actors in the world right now who is giving an absolutely amazing performance in the title role! And all she can ask Rourke about is his sexiness?! Show some bloody respect! Also, the ending of this production is more depressing than the ending of the written text. In the written text Aufidius and the Volscians are filled with sadness after they kill Coriolanus. They then decide to honour his memory and give him a hero's funeral. But in this particular version Aufidius doesn't seem to be the slightest bit upset about Coriolanus's death. He even bathes in his blood! Admittedly this is probably a much more realistic ending but it's quite a downer! But still, I did really love this production.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Just an ultra-quick post to say that I'm no longer Indigo Montoya

I got tired of that name a long time ago and I've changed my blog to reflect that :) Happy Easter!

Monday, 14 April 2014

'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens (1838)

Synopsis: In an unnamed town a penniless young woman stumbles into a workhouse, gives birth to a baby boy, and then dies soon after. The parish beadle, Mr Bumble, gives the child the name of Oliver Twist and the next ten years of Oliver's life are spent in the squalor of the workhouse. When Oliver then dares to ask for some more food Mr Bumble sells Oliver to an undertaker called Mr Sowerberry. Oliver's life isn't any better there and he soon decides to run away and seek his fortune in the great city of London. Upon his arrival, Oliver meets a cunning pickpocket called the Artful Dodger. The Dodger introduces Oliver to a man called Fagin who is the leader of a criminal gang that consists of pickpockets, prostitutes and burglars although Oliver is unaware of this. Fagin offers Oliver work but when Oliver goes out on his "first job" he finds himself being arrested. Fortunately, a kind man called Mr Brownlow takes pity on Oliver. He takes the boy into his home and cares for him. Oliver becomes very fond of Mr Brownlow and his housekeeper Mrs Bedwin but this happiness is short-lived. Fagin fears that Oliver will inform on him so he arranges for Bill Sikes, one of his criminal associates, to kidnap the boy. The only person with the power to save Oliver from the clutches of Fagin's gang is Bill's abused girlfriend Nancy.

After A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist is probably Dickens' most famous and adapted work. Back in 2012 I was fortunate enough to see a touring production of Oliver! The Musical which I absolutely loved :) But now that I've finally got round to reading Charles Dickens' novel I realise that my love for that particular stage production was more to do with the Lionel Bart songs and Samantha Barks' performance as Nancy than its story. Oliver Twist is my fifth Dickens book and it's unquestionably my least favourite. I really didn't like this one. Whereas the Fagin of the Lionel Bart musical is mostly used to provide comic relief, the Fagin of Dickens' book is a far more evil and sinister character. He has no redeeming features whatsoever and is constantly referred to as "The Jew". Fagin isn't a villain who just so happens to be Jewish either. His villainy and Jewishness always seem to be linked. I know that prejudice towards Jews was rife in Dickens' time but I still found the racism in the book rather upsetting. Another issue that I had with this book was Oliver Twist himself. He's so cloying! He always says and does the right thing, doesn't appear to have any flaws, is completely pure and innocent, and even talks in a more refined way than the other child characters do in this book. He's so good that it's sickening! Urgh! And my third and final problem with Oliver Twist was all of those massive coincidences. Mr Brownlow turn out to be the best friend of Oliver's father, Rose Maylie turns out to be the younger sister of Oliver's mother, and Monks turns out to be Oliver's evil half-brother! I know that London was a lot smaller back in Dickens' time but how many long-lost relatives can Oliver keep bumping into?! I could have accepted Oliver meeting just one long-lost relative but three?! 

Having said all that, I have to say that I didn't hate this book because I was still able to find a couple of things about it that I liked: namely the visual imagery and atmosphere of London and the character of Nancy - who might well be a 17 year old heavy drinking prostitute but is by far the most well-rounded, interesting and complex character in the entire book. Nancy has an inner kindness and strength that sets her apart from Fagin and the other members of his gang. She strikes me as being the female equivalent of Sydney Carton.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Game of Thrones (Season Three)

Season three of Game of Thrones is based on the first half of A Storm of Swords (the third book of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire). It was filmed on location in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Croatia and Morocco. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are still in the midst of a civil war this season. The Lannister family have been able to hold onto the Iron Throne after the defeat of Stannis Baratheon's army at the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) is still waging war against the Lannisters but his efforts have become much more difficult. Because of Theon Greyjoy's betrayal he's lost his own kingdom, Winterfell lies in ruins, and his two younger brothers are missing. Robb has also lost the support of Lord Walder Frey (David Bradley) because of his marriage to Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin) over one of Walder's daughters.

In King's Landing, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) has taken over the position of the Hand and his grandson King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has broken off his engagement to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Joffrey has now agreed to marry Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) which is much to the vexation of his mother. Cersei (Lena Headey) hates Margaery and is fuming over her son's new engagement and her father's meddling in her affairs. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is also unhappy. He's resentful about the loss of his position, his family's lack of appreciation for his role in saving King's Landing, and the attempt on his life by one of Joffrey's men. Sansa Stark is still being held captive in King's Landing but her situation looks brighter than before. Both Margaery Tyrell and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) are offering her their help and assistance. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who was previously being held as a prisoner by Robb Stark, has been freed by Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) so that he might be exchanged for Sansa and Arya Stark. He's now being escorted back to King's Landing by the female knight Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). The pair's relationship is initially antagonistic but along the way they begin to form an unexpectedly close bond.

Arya Stark's family still believe that she's in King's Landing and have no idea that she's been on the run ever since the end of season one. Arya (Maisie Williams) has now escaped from the fortress of Harrenhal with her companions Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey). They then find themselves meeting a band of outlaws known as the Brotherhood but can Arya trust them?

Arya's brothers Bran and Rickon are also on the run. They've managed to escape from Winterfell and are now travelling with Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Osha the Wildling (Natalia Tena) and their direwolves. They're going to the Wall in search of Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Along the way they meet a mysterious pair of siblings called the Reeds. Jojen Reed (Thomas Sangster) is able to explain to Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) the significance of his dreams and visions. Bran then begins to realise the extent of his powers.

Jon Snow has fallen in with the Wildlings beyond-the-wall and is now working undercover for the Night's Watch. He then finds his vows to the Night's Watch being sorely tested when he falls in love with Ygritte (Rose Leslie). Jon knows that he will have to choose between her and the Night's Watch. He won't be able to have both. Meanwhile, the rest of the Night's Watch scouting mission have been decimated by an attack from the White Walkers. The few survivors are now trying to get back to the Wall and Jon's friend Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-Walsh) finds his life in danger.

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) wakes up to find himself in captivity after getting knocked unconscious at the end of season two. He is then tortured by an unknown person's command. After making his way back to Dragonstone, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) attempts to kill Melisandre (Carice Van Houten). Davos is convinced that Melisandre is evil and that it's she who is to blame for the defeat at Blackwater. He is then swiftly imprisoned by Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Davos then attempts to regain Stannis's favour.

Finally, Daenerys Targaryren (Emilia Clarke) is still continuing in her mission to take the Iron Throne of Westeros. Having been able to secure gold and a ship in the city of Qarth, Dany travels to the city of Astapor. She then considers whether to buy a vast and highly elite slave army called the Unsullied. Dany also gains a new companion called Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinny) who is a famous ex-knight from the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

Daenerys Targaryen

Jaime Lannister

Bran Stark and Jojen Reed

Jon Snow and Ygritte

Margaery and Olenna Tyrell

As A Storm of Swords is such an immense book the GoT producers decided to adapt that book over the course of two seasons. That's probably why the pacing of season three is slower than in the previous two seasons, especially during the early episodes. The pacing starts to pick up at around three or four episodes in though and in many ways this season is my favourite of the show to date. The production values and acting are as fantastic as ever. The storylines are as fantastic as ever. The sex scenes and nudity are handled in a way that's better than ever. They're still a part of the show but they felt less gratuitous this time around, and tellingly season three is the only season of the show not to receive an 18 certificate.

In season two I enjoyed Tyrion and Arya's storylines the most but with this season I loved Daenerys and Jaime's storylines best. Dany's was my absolute favourite. It was so much fun to watch her go about conquering the slave cities of Astapor and Yunkai! Her liberation of the Unsullied is an especially amazing moment and quite possibly my favourite moment in the entire show to date. Jaime Lannister's character development this season was wonderful and I loved his relationship with Brienne. Jaime is well on his way to becoming one of my favourite characters in the show now. I never ever thought I'd say that back when I was watching season one! Yes, Jaime is very good-looking and has always had funny one-liners but he had an affair with his own sister and pushed Bran out of a window! But in this season Jaime changes due to Brienne's influence and we see a different side of him. I had a huge smile on my face during the Bear scene and that wasn't solely because it reminded me of Anchorman either! I love redemption storylines and I really hope that Jaime's character development continues for the duration of the series. I also really loved Jon and Bran's storylines this season. The only storyline that I really wasn't fond of in season three was Theon Greyjoy's because his torture scenes went on for far too long and were horribly uncomfortable to watch. Iwan Rheon is brilliant as Theon's torturer Ramsay Snow though. He's terrifying and scarily convincing in the role! His character is so evil that I was honestly starting to think "You know what, Joffrey doesn't seem to be quite so bad now!" That's how evil Ramsay Snow is!

Of the new characters my favourites were Margaery and Olenna Tyrell (Dame Diana Rigg). Margaery Tyrell was introduced in season two but she gets more screentime this season. I loved her character and Natalie Dormer's portrayal. Margaery might be manipulative and cunning but she really does seem like a genuinely sweet and caring person. I loved her efforts to befriend Sansa because that poor girl really deserves a friend! Also, Cersei hates Margaery so that really helped me to like Margaery. I really wanted some of Margaery's dresses. Her grandmother Olenna is pretty badass as well! Her character is very similar to Violet Grantham from Downton Abbey. I loved Olenna's scene with Tywin Lannister.

I suppose I really can't wrap up this review without mentioning The Rains of Castamere. Game of Thrones fans have come to realise that Episode 9 of any season will always be the one where the s*** goes down. Episode 9 of season one featured the execution of Ned Stark. Episode 9 of season two was focused solely on the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Episode 9 of season three features the brutal murder of Robb Stark, his pregnant wife, his mother Catelyn and even his direwolf Grey Wind! It's one of the most tragic and heartbreaking things I have ever seen on television! Even though I already knew it was going to happen it still left me feeling empty inside! Even though he made some bad decisions I really loved Robb and I was very sad at what happened to him and his family :( In many ways season three is my favourite of the show's run to date but the Red Wedding... that was tough. It was also quite alarming because it reminded me that my dream ending for both the books and the TV show is probably much happier and soppier than the ending that George R.R. Martin has in mind.

This will be my last Game of Thrones review for a good long while. I've caught up with the show now and I'm going to be focusing on reading and reviewing the rest of the ASoIaF books this year. I'm seriously excited about season four though! I'm really hoping that we'll see more of Littlefinger this season - he's a fascinating character - and I'm looking forward to seeing Mark Gatiss in the show. The trailer below has made me even more for the season. It's awesome and the song choice is inspired!

Rating: 5/5
Film Certificate: 15