Trying to crawl inside the television set to get her parents’ attention, she got blocked by all the tubes and wires. So, she had to go the long way around to get herself onscreen.
In a series of essays and stories, Chartoff explores her ambition, artistry, and love blunders in her hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful new memoir Odd Woman Out.
From her 1950s childhood in a suburb she describes as an “abusement park” to performing Molière on Broadway, to voicing characters on the popular Rugrats cartoon series, Melanie Chartoff was anxious and “out of character”, preferring any imaginary world to her real one.
Obsessed with exploring her talent and mastering the craft, fame came as a destabilizing byproduct. Suppressing a spiritual breakdown while co-starring on a late-night comedy show, Chartoff grew more estranged from whoever she was meant to be. But given a private audience with a guru, she finally heard her inner voice, played by ’70s soul singer Barry White, crooning, “Get out, baby!” All the while, she’s courted by men with homing pigeons and Priuses, idealized by guys who want the girl du jour from TV to be their baby rearer or kidney donor.
Go backstage on Broadway, behind the scenes on network television, and inside the complicated psyche of a talented performer struggling to play the role of a complete human. Odd Woman Out intimately exposes the nature of identity in the life of a performing artist, snapshotting the hopeful search for a self Chartoff could love and someone else’s self to love, too
Everywhere in America, the forces of digitization, innovation, and personalization are expanding our options and bettering the way we live. Everywhere, that is, except in our politics. There we are held hostage to an eighteenth century system, dominated by two political parties whose ever-more-polarized rhetorical positions mask a mutual interest in maintaining a stranglehold on power.The Declaration of Independents is a compelling and extremely entertaining manifesto on behalf of a system better suited to the future–one structured by the essential libertarian principles of free minds and free markets. Gillespie and Welch profile libertarian innovators, identify the villains propping up the ancien regime, and take aim at do-something government policies that hurt most of those they claim to protect. Their vision will resonate with a wide swath of frustrated citizens and young voters, born after the Cold War’s end, to whom old tribal allegiances, prejudices, and hang-ups about everything from hearing a foreign language on the street to gay marriage to drug use simply do not make sense.
In a shockingly short amount of time, the internet has bound people around the world together and torn us apart and changed not just the way we communicate but who we are and who we can be. It has created a new, unprecedented cultural space that we are all a part of—even if we don’t participate, that is how we participate—but by which we’re continually surprised, betrayed, enriched, befuddled. We have churned through platforms and technologies and in turn been churned by them. And yet, the internet is us and always has been.
In Lurking, Joanne McNeil digs deep and identifies the primary (if sometimes contradictory) concerns of people online: searching, safety, privacy, identity, community, anonymity, and visibility. She charts what it is that brought people online and what keeps us here even as the social equations of digital life—what we’re made to trade, knowingly or otherwise, for the benefits of the internet—have shifted radically beneath us. It is a story we are accustomed to hearing as tales of entrepreneurs and visionaries and dynamic and powerful corporations, but there is a more profound, intimate story that hasn’t yet been told.
Long one of the most incisive, ferociously intelligent, and widely respected cultural critics online, McNeil here establishes a singular vision of who we are now, tells the stories of how we became us, and helps us start to figure out what we do now.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
What was I thinking? Another autobiography? A third? Who did I think I was, Winston Churchill? Why would I want to set my pen loose on hundreds of sheets of notebook paper unless I really felt I had something worth writing about?
Besides, I had a wrestling comeback to prepare for, mentally and physically, provided I could get Vince McMahon and the WWE creative staff to embrace what I was sure was the single greatest storyline of my career.
Then it hit me: the storyline. I would give WWE fans unprecedented access to World Wrestling Entertainment, covering everything from conception to completion. I would recount how I felt about specific interviews and matches, whether they helped or hurt. I would expose the backstage politics, shed some light on my rocky relationship with Vince McMahon, offer insights into my personal dealings with WWE Superstars, and tell stories about my favorite Divas.
But I wasn’t interested in writing just a wrestling book. I wanted to share moments from my personal life as well, from a humorous look at my unlikely dinner with polarizing neocon Paul Wolfowitz, to my haunting meeting with a severely burned boy in Afghanistan, to my peculiar obsession with a certain jolly old elf.
I knew I could make the fans care about this storyline, provided I could once again find the passion to make the story come to life in arenas around the country and on television sets around the world.
Most importantly, I had to ask myself a vital question, one upon which this whole idea, and therefore the book you hold, hinges: Was I willing to become the first voluntary member of the Vince McMahon “Kiss My Ass Club”? I sat on the idea for a few days, to let the idea ripen and mature in my mind, like a fine vintage wine, and to figure out if I was really willing to kiss his ass. I mean, literally kiss a man’s ass. Sure, I’d been kissing the same guy’s ass figuratively for a decade. But this was different. Did I really have the testicular fortitude required for such a task? In front of millions? Including my wife and kids?
In Foley Is Good, Mick Foley — former Commissioner of the World Wrestling Federation, aka Cactus Jack, Dude Love, and Mankind — picks up right where his smash #1 New York Times bestseller Have a Nice Day! left off, giving readers an inside look at the behind-the-scenes action in the Federation. With total honesty and riotous humor, Mick Foley shines a spotlight into some of the hidden corners of the World Wrestling Federation. From the ongoing controversy surrounding “backyard wrestling” to the real story behind his now-infamous “I Quit” match with The Rock, Foley covers all the bases in this hysterically funny roller-coaster ride of a memoir.
Mick Foley is a nice man, a family man who loves amusement parks and eating ice cream in bed. So how to explain those Japanese death matches in rings with explosives, golden thumbtacks and barbed wire instead of rope? The second-degree burn tissue? And the missing ear that was ripped off during a bout-in which he kept fighting? Here is an intimate glimpse into Mick Foley’s mind, his history, his work and what some might call his pathology. Now with a bonus chapter summarizing the past 15 months-from his experience as a bestselling author through his parting thoughts before his final match. A tale of blood, sweat, tears and more blood-all in his own words-straight from the twisted genius behind Cactus Jack, Dude Love, and Mankind.
For this rousing, revisionist history, the former head of exhibitions at England’s National Maritime Museum has combed original documents & records to produce a most authoritative & definitive account of piracy’s Golden Age. As he explodes many accepted myths (i.e. walking the plank is pure fiction), Cordingly replaces them with a truth that is more complex & often bloodier. 16 pages of photos. Maps.
Countless writers and artists have spoken for a generation, but no one has done it quite like Chuck Klosterman. With an exhaustive knowledge of popular culture and an almost effortless ability to spin brilliant prose out of unlikely subject matter, Klosterman attacks the entire spectrum of postmodern America: reality TV, Internet porn, Pamela Anderson, literary Jesus freaks, and the real difference between apples and oranges (of which there is none). And don’t even get him started on his love life and the whole Harry-Met-Sally situation.
Whether deconstructing Saved by the Bell episodes or the artistic legacy of Billy Joel, the symbolic importance of The Empire Strikes Back or the Celtics/Lakers rivalry, Chuck will make you think, he’ll make you laugh, and he’ll drive you insane — usually all at once. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is ostensibly about art, entertainment, infotainment, sports, politics, and kittens, but — really — it’s about us. All of us. As Klosterman realizes late at night, in the moment before he falls asleep, “In and of itself, nothing really matters. What matters is that nothing is ever ‘in and of itself.'” Read to believe.
The legendary Frank Zappa, one of the most influential, innovative and controversial musical artists for the past 20 years, takes us on a wild, funny trip through his life and times. Along the way, Zappa offers his inimitable views on many things such as art, politics and beer.
No one is free from advertising. Whether on television or radio, plastered along streets and highways or on trains and buses, ads for everything from films to hair gels vie for the attention of consumers. Of course, ads have long been a cultural presence, though in our shrinking world of mega-corporations they have infiltrated every nook and cranny our lives, turning both public and private spaces into unadulterated selling zones. Designer Ji Lee has come up with a way to reclaim our urban environments. It’s called Bubbling. Blank bubble stickers are put up on ads. Passersby fill them in with their own messages, some as funny as they are profound, and instantly transform the corporate monologue into a true public dialogue.
If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook. Of course, none of that was part of the plan. In this fully updated paperback edition of Antisocial Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan explains how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging. It’s an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it’s an indictment of how “social media” has fostered the deterioration of democratic culture around the world, from facilitating Russian meddling in support of Trump’s election to the exploitation of the platform by murderous authoritarians in Burma and the Philippines. Both authoritative and trenchant, Antisocial Media shows how Facebook’s mission went so wrong.
In Liberty Defined, congressman and #1 New York Times bestselling author Ron Paul returns with his most provocative, comprehensive, and compelling arguments for personal freedom to date.
The term “Liberty” is so commonly used in our country that it has become a mere cliche. But do we know what it means? What it promises? How it factors into our daily lives? And most importantly, can we recognize tyranny when it is sold to us disguised as a form of liberty?
Dr. Paul writes that to believe in liberty is not to believe in any particular social and economic outcome. It is to trust in the spontaneous order that emerges when the state does not intervene in human volition and human cooperation. It permits people to work out their problems for themselves, build lives for themselves, take risks and accept responsibility for the results, and make their own decisions. It is the seed of America.
This is a comprehensive guide to Dr. Paul’s position on fifty of the most important issues of our times, from Abortion to Zionism. Accessible, easy to digest, and fearless in its discussion of controversial topics, Liberty Defined sheds new light on a word that is losing its shape.
From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.
Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.
With Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris shows once again why his work has been called “hilarious, elegant, and surprisingly moving” (Washington Post).
Would you like to make a living with your writing?
This book will show you how.
I spent 13 years working as a cubicle slave in the corporate world. I was miserable in my job and my creativity was stunted by the crushing daily grind.
Then I started writing books and blogging, using my words to create products and attract readers. In September 2011, I left my corporate job to become a full-time author and creative entrepreneur and since then I’ve grown my business year on year “” all based on my writing. More importantly, I’m finally living the happy life I always wanted.
I’m not a Kindle or blogging millionaire and this is not a get rich quick scheme. But I will share with you how I make a six-figure income from writing books, blogging and marketing in an ethical manner.
We’re living in the best time ever to make a living with your writing! Read on to learn more.
The book includes:
Overview of how I make a living and income split
Tips on writing and productivity
Tips on mindset
Part 1: How to make money from books
It’s not just one book
Your publishing options: Traditional publishing
Changes in the publishing industry
Your publishing options: Becoming an indie author
How to self-publish an ebook
How to self-publish a print book
How to self-publish an audiobook
Part 2: How to make money online in other ways
A business powered by content marketing
Consulting or coaching
Advertising and sponsorship
Tips for content marketing
The transition and your next steps
Plus/ Companion Workbook so you can answer the questions in the book for yourself.
If you’d like to make a living with your writing, this book will help you take the next steps.
Guided by “Akira-sensei,” John comes to realize the greatest adversity on his journey will be the challenge of defeating the man in the mirror.
This powerful story of one boy’s journey to achieve his life long goal of becoming a samurai warrior, brings the Train to be CLUTCH curriculum to life in a powerful and memorable way.
Some things you will learn… —No matter how it feels, you are always building your own house. —How and why you must surrender to the outcome in order to be at your best. —Why you never want to have your identity wrapped up in what you do. —Why your strength lies in faithfulness to the little things. —How to develop a heart posture of gratitude. —How to use the biggest challenges as a training ground for greatness. —Why the process is more important than the goal. —Why comparison is the thief of all joy. —How to develop a growth mindset. —Why talent is more of a curse than a blessing.
Science and technology have starring roles in a wide range of genres–science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, and more. Unfortunately, many depictions of technical subjects in literature, film, and television are pure fiction. A basic understanding of biology, physics, engineering, and medicine will help you create more realistic stories that satisfy discerning readers.
This book brings together scientists, physicians, engineers, and other experts to help you: Understand the basic principles of science, technology, and medicine that are frequently featured in fiction. Avoid common pitfalls and misconceptions to ensure technical accuracy. Write realistic and compelling scientific elements that will captivate readers. Brainstorm and develop new science- and technology-based story ideas. Whether writing about mutant monsters, rogue viruses, giant spaceships, or even murders and espionage, Putting the Science in Fiction will have something to help every writer craft better fiction.
Putting the Science in Fiction collects articles from “Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy,” Dan Koboldt’s popular blog series for authors and fans of speculative fiction (dankoboldt.com/science-in-scifi). Each article discusses an element of sci-fi or fantasy with an expert in that field. Scientists, engineers, medical professionals, and others share their insights in order to debunk the myths, correct the misconceptions, and offer advice on getting the details right.
When Willard State Hospital closed its doors in 1995, after operating as one of New York State’s largest mental institutions for over 120 years, a forgotten attic filled with suitcases belonging to former patients was discovered. Using the possessions found in these suitcases along with institutional records and doctors’ notes from patient sessions, Darby Penney, a leading advocate of patients’ rights, and Peter Stastny, a psychiatrist and documentary filmmaker, were able to reconstruct the lives of ten patients who resided at Willard during the first half of the twentieth century.
The Lives They Left Behind tells their story. In addition to these human portraits, the book contains over 100 photographs as well as valuable historical background on how this state-funded institution operated. As it restores the humanity of the individuals it so poignantly evokes, The Lives They Left Behind reveals the vast historical inadequacies of a psychiatric system that has yet to heal itself.
The author has produced a brief yet impactful work about the internet and efforts to control such expressions as hate speech and advocacy of terrorism. Kaye analyzes several examples of how online content producers are targeted for varied reasons, how platforms such as YouTube and Facebook have attempted to police forms of content on their servers, and how the culture of responsibility for Internet governance has shifted in the past last years. Kaye also covers fake news and the increased efforts by platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to root out these posts via automation–specifically AI. At the same time, Kaye brilliantly layers analysis of the politicization of content on platforms and the growth of efforts, mostly in Europe, to regulate these private, mostly American companies. All the while, Kaye makes sure readers are aware of the complexities and how free speech may be embattled if some of these regulations are put into effect at scale.
From our bank accounts to supermarket checkouts to the movies we watch, strings of ones and zeroes suffuse our world. Digital technology has defined modern society in numerous ways, and the vibrant digital culture that has now resulted is the subject of Charlie Gere’s engaging volume.
In this revised and expanded second edition, taking account of new developments such as Facebook and the iPhone, Charlie Gere charts in detail the history of digital culture, as marked by responses to digital technology in art, music, design, film, literature and other areas. After tracing the historical development of digital culture, Gere argues that it is actually neither radically new nor technologically driven: digital culture has its roots in the eighteenth century and the digital mediascape we swim in today was originally inspired by informational needs arising from industrial capitalism, contemporary warfare and counter-cultural experimentation, among other social changes.
A timely and cutting-edge investigation of our contemporary social infrastructures, Digital Culture is essential reading for all those concerned about the ever-changing future of our Digital Age.
The untold story of a heroic band of Caribbean pirates whose defiance of imperial rule inspired revolt in colonial outposts across the world. In the early eighteenth century, the Pirate Republic was home to some of the great pirate captains, including Blackbeard, “Black Sam” Bellamy, and Charles Vane. Along with their fellow pirates—former sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves—this “Flying Gang” established a crude but distinctive democracy in the Bahamas, carving out their own zone of freedom in which servants were free, blacks could be equal citizens, and leaders were chosen or deposed by a vote. They cut off trade routes, sacked slave ships, and severed Europe from its New World empires, and for a brief, glorious period the Republic was a success.
At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the Earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish, and worst of all, no television or coffee. And that’s just the first day. Sunburned, emaciated, and stinging with sea lice, Troost spends the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options. He contends with a cast of bizarre local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life), and eventually settles into the ebb and flow of island life, just before his return to the culture shock of civilization. With the rollicking wit of Bill Bryson, the brilliant travel exposition of Paul Theroux, and a hipster edge that is entirely Troost’s own, The Sex Lives of Cannibals is the ultimate vicarious adventure. Readers may never long to set foot on Tarawa, but they’ll want to travel with Troost time and time again.
The official, definitive oral history of the blockbuster show from Entertainment Weekly‘s James Hibberd, published with HBO’s official support.
It was supposed to be impossible. George R.R. Martin was a frustrated television writer who created his bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels to be an unfilmable saga bound only by the limits of his vast imagination. Then a pair of first-time TV writers teamed with HBO to try and adapt Martin’s epic. We’ve all seen the eight seasons of the Emmy-winning fantasy series that came next. But there is one Game of Thrones tale that has yet to be told: the 13-year behind-the-scenes struggle to pull off this extraordinary phenomenon.
In All Men Must Die, award-winning Entertainment Weekly writer James Hibberd chronicles the untold story of Game of Thrones, from the creative team’s first meetings to staging the series finale and all the on-camera battles and off-camera struggles in between. The book draws from more than 50 revealing new interviews, rare and stunning photos, and unprecedented access to the producers, cast, and crew who took an impossible idea and made it into the biggest show in the world.
The most popular pirate story ever written in English, featuring one of literature’s most beloved “bad guys, ”’Treasure Island’ has been happily devoured by several generations of boys—and girls—and grownups. Its unforgettable characters include: young Jim Hawkins, who finds himself owner of a map to Treasure Island, where the fabled pirate booty is buried; honest Captain Smollett, heroic Dr. Livesey, and the good-hearted but obtuse Squire Trelawney, who help Jim on his quest for the treasure; the frightening Blind Pew, double-dealing Israel Hands, and seemingly mad Ben Gunn, buccaneers of varying shades of menace; and, of course, garrulous, affable, ambiguous Long John Silver, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader!
The unexpected and complex relationship that develops between Silver and Jim helps transform what seems at first to be a simple, rip-roaring adventure story into a deeply moving study of a boy’s growth into manhood, as he learns hard lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and honor—and the uncertain meaning of good and evil.
Both an exciting novel and high-spirited adventure film, BACK TO THE FUTURE is the unforgettable story of a modern time-traveling teenager whose journey to the past risks his very own future when he discovers surprises he never could have imagined.
A remarkable debut novel—given extraordinary life by its amalgam of energy, raw authentic language, and, at the core, a surprising gentleness.
It is the work of the constantly amazing wrestler-writer Mick Foley, whose two volumes of autobiography, Have a Nice Day! and Foley Is Good, were each number one on the New York Times National Best-seller List. It tells the story and speaks in the voice—at once innocent and too knowing for his age—of Antietam (Andy) Brown, named for the great-great-great- grandfather who died on that Civil War battlefield. Andy at seventeen is himself the veteran of a violent boyhood, having been locked up in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center for killing a teenager who attempted to rape him.
Now, after seven years, he is out, free, at a crossroads, trying to make a fresh start, to fit into the life of Conestoga High School in the small upstate New York town to which he has been brought by his father—absent from his life since he was a month old. The man is certainly charismatic. He is also crude, apparently addicted to bodybuilding, beer swilling, and (his own words for his serial womanizing) “bareback riding.” He has no visible job, no known past.
Associated by the town with his father’s coarseness, hectored by the boorish football coach and the coach’s pack of steroid-pumping teens, feeling himself losing ground, Andy is stunned to discover that the most popular girl in town is attracted to him. Terri, the homecoming queen, the school beauty, every boy’s dream girl, a born-again Christian, a really nice girl. Andy can’t believe it. He is immediately head over heels in love—first love—and determined to protect Terri from everything bad on earth. Worried that his father, even he himself, might contaminate her, and determined for her sake to discover what his father is, Andy begins to delve into the locked rooms and dangerous currents of the elder Tietam Brown’s past and present. What happens is told in a novel that is appealingly direct, moving, and altogether pleasurable in its superb storytelling and celebration of the human spirit.
Gideon. An identity shrouded in mystery – the anonymous source who holds the key to an explosive secret. In a clandestine meeting, writer Carl Granville is hired to take the pages of an old diary, articles, letters, documents in which all proper names and locations have been blacked out – and turn them into compelling fiction. He will be paid a quarter of a million dollars. But he can never tell a soul.
As he is fed information and his work progresses, Granville begins to realize that Gideon’s book is more than just a potential bestseller. It is a revelation of chilling evil and a decades-long cover-up by someone with far-reaching power. He starts to have second thoughts. How will his book be used? Whose lives will be shattered? What is the truth behind the story – and who is the true storyteller?
Then someone close to Granville is bludgeoned to death. Another is savagely murdered. His apartment is ransacked, his computer destroyed, all his records stolen. Suspicion falls on Granville. He tries to explain the shadowy assignment. No one believes him. He has no proof, no alibis…
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance — beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.
Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.
Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone — a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.
From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.
Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.
Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.
The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.
Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.