Great ‘Game of Thrones’ Character Anthems Every Fan Should Know.

Her Ladyship tries listening to A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones on the way to work, and comes out on the other side with a very short playlist.

Arya Stark – O Death (Jen Titus)


An abandonment of life and religion for a surer deity than the old gods or the new, this song is a primal and freezingly euphoric hymn that deserts all hope in life and justice, and lingers almost lovingly on the grave with a fearlessness and acceptance that is Arya’s alone…and perhaps the Faceless Men’s. It’s the soundworld of what happens in her head when she whispers her names into the dark, and what rings through her mind when she hisses to Lord Beric that Death is her one true god.

But what is this that I can’t see

With ice cold hands taking hold of me?

When God is gone

And the devil takes hold

Who’ll have mercy on your soul?


Sandor Clegane – Break (Three Days Grace)


The lyrics ‘tonight I start the fire’ assume a very different kind of meaning when put into Sandor’s context. This is the song of a person trapped by themselves, the roughness of enduring this so difficult that it sinks into their very voice. But while this song also expresses Sandor’s desire to escape himself and take control of his own fears, it clings to its own identity and to brutal reality with a searing lack of idealism, for all its mention of ‘higher places.’

Tonight, I start the fire

Tonight, I break away

Break away from everybody

Break away from everything

If you can’t stand the way this place is

Take yourself to higher places.

Daenerys Targaryen – Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)


The preposterous auspiciousness of the band’s name aside, this song is the sound of waking up from darkness to something that could turn to a blinding light, or to an apocalypse, particularly if we consider Daenerys after she emerges alive from the pyre. It’s the blood that she knows she will spill, and the blood she doesn’t want to spill; it’s the certainty of what she must do and why, and everything that makes it hard to do; it’s Meereen, it’s Drogon, it’s the bones of a child, it’s an ancient madness she fears and that she knows lurks in her blood.

I’m waking up to ash and dust

I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust

I’m breathing in the chemicals

I’m breaking in, shaping up,

Then checking out of the prison bus

This is it, the apocalypse.


Catelyn Stark – The Other Side (Evanescence)


The Other Side is what shoots through Catelyn’s head when presented with the bones of her husband. It expresses the longing of a person who has lost someone, but can’t go to them because of what they’ll leave behind. In Catelyn’s case, it’s family, duty, honour. Once Ned dies, Catelyn lives for her children, and then for fewer of her children when she believes that Bran and Rickon are also gone, until she’s clinging to the thought of Sansa, Arya and Robb; all that loss and pain seeming to turn her heart colder and colder as it armours itself.

Counting the days to meet you on the other side

I will always be waiting

Until the day that I see you on the other side

Come and take me home.

Jaime Lannister – Numb (Linkin Park)


Wildly appropriate if considered in the context of Cersei rather than Tywin, this is a sung, if unspoken cry from the deepest depths of the Jaime of A Feast for Crows, still keenly conscious of a lifetime of being one half of a whole, but starting to get a bit tired of his other half’s bullshit. Being a whole by yourself, and no one else, when you’ve spent most of your life only being a half, is a terrifying transition to make. Still more dreadful is when you’re forced into that solitude by a change that the other person cannot accept; when they persist in clinging almost ferociously to a ‘you’ that no longer exists.

Can’t you see that you’re smothering me?

Holding too tightly

Afraid to lose control

Cause everything that you thought I would be

Is falling apart right in front of you.


Sansa Stark – Blinding (Florence + the Machine)


This song is Sansa after Ned Stark’s execution; a lifetime of utopian dreaming shattering so powerfully that she feels it ‘in the hollows of [her] eyelids.’ Still worse, it’s the horrifying realisation that the person who comprises the very fabric of that dreaming state is a monster. At the same time, however, it’s also an optimistic compulsion to grow up; a deeply-entrenched knowledge that dreams are not the real world, something that Sansa will push away from herself time and time again because dreams are the only way she knows how to seek refuge. As she gets older, however, she does return to it more and more often, until she becomes Alayne Stone and the lines start to blur – her identity a dream and a lie, but the world realer to her than she has ever seen it.

No more dreaming of the dead

As if death itself was undone

No more calling like a crow

For a boy, for a body in the garden

No more dreaming like a girl, so in love, so in love

No more dreaming like a girl, so in love, so in love

No more dreaming like a girl

So in love with the wrong world.


Tyrion Lannister – Winter in my Heart (Vast)


The musical manifestation of the aftermath of Shae’s betrayal and ‘where do whores go?’, Winter in my Heart is the Tyrion of late A Feast For Crows and most of A Dance With Dragons; breathing, but not quite alive, heartbreak (Shae) and guilt (Tysha, not to mention Tywin) hollowing him out and making him a broken thing. The continual, haunting repetition of the words ‘but I try,’ however, are the result of a lifetime of being torn down, and of an exceptionally strong spirit that cannot; will not; refuses; to accept it.

I need a summer but the summer’s come and gone

I need a summer but it’s winter in my heart

It’s all the same fucked-up game you played with me

I need to hold you, but you’re never coming back.


Tywin Lannister – Running Up That Hill (Placebo)


Always present in this song is a soft and silent, barely perceptible heartbeat, and for Tywin, its name is Joanna. We don’t know an awful lot about Tywin’s beloved wife beyond the fact that she wore the pants in the Tower of the Hand and that he is incapable of forgiving Tyrion for being born. But the fact that Tywin never speaks of her if he can help it, not to mention the glorious, horrifying dialogue between him and Tyrion in episode one of season three, suggests a whispered fragility at the heart of his soul that he would never admit to in a million years. This whisper of Tywin’s love for Joanna is reflected in every syllable of this song, and the sheer vehemence with which he treats Tyrion in accusing him of killing his own mother to come into the world leaves us in no doubt that if Tywin could change places with Joanna and let her live, he would do it in a heartbeat, for all this constant blathering about staying alive to protect his blood.

And if I only could

Make a deal with God

And get him to swap our places

Be running up that road

Be running up that hill

With no problem.


Literary playlist for mildly eclectic bookworms.

For those of us who like to listen to our books, but don’t really like audiobooks.

A Song of Ice and Fire (George R.R. Martin) – The Howling (Within Temptation)

Fallen asleep from our vanity, might cost us our lives
I hear they’re getting closer
Their howls are sending chills down my spine
And time is running out now
They’re coming down the hills from behind

When we start killing
It’s all coming down right now
From the nightmare we’ve created,
I want to be awakened somehow

When we start killing it all will be falling down
From the Hell that we’re in
All we are is fading away
When we start killing…

a-song-of-ice-and-fire-al_b33dfThis song is great as being evocative of any kind of battle scene, but the way it captures each aspect of the infinite number of titanic battles that take place in GRRM’s monumental saga is so dazzling you can almost believe the song had been written with these books in mind. The lyrics, as well as the beautiful, warped battle cries that constitute its refrain, perfectly capture the red mist that descends on those possessed by bloodlust, as well as those unfortunate enough to witness the fields of blood, and the smell and the sound of men dying without the comfort of this primal state, so that something inside them shrivels and dies as well (‘all we are is fading away’). The song creates a world saturated with mistrust and the howls of both men and wolves, two things that readers of A Song of Ice and Fire understand all too well.

Gormenghast (Mervyn Peake) – One of a kind (Placebo)

The back of the class is where I was
Keeping quiet, playing dumb
Can’t you see these skies are breaking?
Cos the back of the class is where I’m from

0156This book is an allegory of society as it was between the two world wars: hierarchical, monarchist, rigid, dying, and Peake’s villain Steerpike comes straight from the gutter, but has ambitions for the top. To accomplish this, he will deceive, humiliate, kiss an infinite number of asses and ultimately, murder (an awful lot of this), all without once getting his hands dirty. He prefers torture of a more psychological sort, long, drawn-out, agonizing, the assassination of each region of a person’s mind, isolation, or just plain old starvation, each time remembering that he’s better than all of them, but would never have been allowed to be if he had chosen a different life. So in a way, his life is murdered by society, and in revenge, he murders society back, dismantling it one bloody gash at a time. When you listen to this song you can almost hear the monstrous little demon scurrying from one roof of the castle to the other (he’s a climber), being everywhere at once, a kitchen boy in the midst of the powerful people and taking such a perverse pleasure in the game till he has to run somewhere private to scream with delight, since ‘on top of the world, you get nothing done.’

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) – Fire and Ice (Within Temptation)

You run away
You hide away
To the other side of the universe
Where you’re safe from all that hunts you down

But the world has gone
Where you belong
And it feels too late so you’re moving on
Can you find your way back home?

Mar11a5This is a song for a fugitive, for the underscore of her life. Jane succeeds in making a new life for herself when her irresponsible but completely justified departure from Thornfield ends in that little squid St John offering her a job as a teacher. But let’s be serious now: while Jane does manage to make a new life for herself and even to prosper, she still has a specter chasing her and bursting through the door at night and during quiet moments (I will not say ‘calling across the moors,’ even under torture). She is far from Rochester and there’s no chance of him finding her, but while her whole life is now her pupils and her new life keeps her safe, she wants to return to him, even though she thinks she never will, because going to him is the same as going home.

North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell) – The Enemy (Mumford and Sons)

Give me hope in silence, it’s easier, it’s kinder
And tell me not of heartbreak, it plagues my soul, it plagues my soul
We will meet back on this road
Nothing gaining, truth be told
But I’m not the enemy, it isn’t me, the enemy.

north-and-south1In its incessant repetitions of the word ‘nothing’, we see the kind of self-effacement that Mr. Thornton feels after Margaret rejects his proposal of marriage: he’s angry and heartbroken, and Margaret acted with uncharacteristic unfairness and lack of intelligence, but he still believes that in spite of it all this, he was rejected because he was not good enough. He has spent his life trying to better himself, studying the classics, paying his workers better, looking after their health, and yet because he is brusque towards them, and a tradesman, she believes he is capable of no emotion but greed and cruelty. Worst of all, the poor man keeps coming back for punishment and in the first line quoted here ‘Give me hope in silence, it’s easier, it’s kinder’, there are echoed the whispered words of a lone dark figure watching a carriage drive away in the snow: ‘Look back.’* The song’s primitive instrumentals and raw vocals show someone trying to master a medium of expression he half knows, without realizing that it isn’t him who has to change – it’s her.

Northern Lights (Philip Pullman) – Adiemus (Adiemus)

Northern-Lights_novelLyra rides Iorek Byrnisson across the ice – above them is a sky so complex, so beautiful and so deep that this majestic praise song could have been written for it. In its intervals Iorek tells Lyra to look up, and dotting the landscape of the northern lights are witches riding to war. It’s a glorious, shouted out hymn to the beauty of the world about to be torn asunder by the wings of angels.

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – All this and heaven too (Florence + the Machine)

Words were never so useful
So I was screaming out a language that I never knew existed before.

13182844_225x225-75In this case, I will take the liberty of using an excellent ad that ITV ran a few years back for their Jane Austen season that explains this better than I could ever hope to do:

‘There is an honesty behind a glance, a meaning behind a touch, and faith cried with a tear. There are lies behind a pass, importance in a whim, and deceit sealed with a kiss. There is hope behind a gesture, value in a token, and unspoken love delivered with a smile.’

The Bloody Chamber (Angela Carter) – Haunted (Evanescence)

Watching me, wanting me
I can feel you pull me down
Fearing you, loving you
I won’t let you pull me down

img072smThis collection of short stories abounds with women conscious of the sexual danger they place themselves in. In some of them (The Earl King), the narrator knowingly risks both her life and her freedom by giving herself to the person most capable of taking them from her, in a place where no one will come to help, the Earl King’s forest resembling a rustling, independent-thinking labyrinth with no structure and no walls, all wildness and darkness, like being indoors. In others (The Bloody Chamber), the narrator could have run ages ago: now that she can’t, she discovers her own predilection for the more horrific aspects of sex and disgusts herself because of it. With twisted, gothic voices as contradictory as the narrator’s attitude to her own trap, Evanescence gives us the sound of darkness both natural and manmade, the desire to run, the desire to stay.

The Millenium Trilogy (Stieg Larsson) – Thoughtless (Korn)

All of my hate cannot be bound.
I will not be drowned by your thoughtless scheming.
So, you can try to tear me down,
Beat me to the ground,
I will see you screaming.

IMG_5523This song should be Lisbeth Salander’s anthem. Closer to the fearless cry of a human voice than a tune, this song is as dedicated to righteous vengeance as Larsson’s avenging angel who maims, kills and terrifies not just for herself but for the whole of her sex. Korn surf wave after wave of brief calms and intense storms, of deadpan stares and small smiles. Lisbeth’s life.