Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy


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Well, I was signed up, and ended up with tears down my face and a closed fist hitting my pillow out of anger. Boxers and Saints are two volumes based at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, an anti-imperialistic uprising from and lasting until It is told through the eyes of Little Bao, a teen with a desire for a free China from the imperialistic main Historical-fiction and comics?

It is told through the eyes of Little Bao, a teen with a desire for a free China from the imperialistic main powers, after he sees injustice done in the name of the new faith, and the favoritism shown to them over the other citizens. It is also told through the eyes of Vibiana, a convert to Christianity, and what she endured via her old life. Basically, it shows both sides of those that suffered the most during this uprising, as it hurt them more than the powers they were fighting against or defending.

The best done thing of the comics was the mix between folk and religion, and the effects it had upon the main characters. Little Bao often sees these gods, whose his ancestors followed, who guide him through his feats. Vibiana sees Joan of Arc, and sees herself in her, a young girl fighting against all odds to defend her people, and whose end resembles Joan's end as well. The main point, as interpreted by moi, was colonialism. These comics are basically about colonialism and its effects on both parts. The Boxers have been considered many things, xenophobic, anti-imperialists, revolutionaries; and all deal with colonization as the glue that binds them.

The "Westerners" were seen as the devil by the Boxers, who wanted them out, while to other members of same society, who had already been introduced in a more positive light to the "invaders" saw them as their aid. The Boxers might claim the population was too colonized to realize the "other evil," while the "Saints" in the story could call the Boxers discriminatory people that could not accept differing views.

Colonialism is a subject in which I am no expert, I do come from a country that was a colony, I come from nations that were consider colonizers, that is as far as my knowledge goes, but these comics did provide a refreshing read on being a colony without actually being a colony. The terrorism undertone is strong in this one! Yang said in an interview: "The Boxers have a lot in common with many of today's extremist movements in the Middle East. Little Bao would probably be labeled a terrorist if he were real and alive today.

In conclusion: Whatever else this man comes up with, I will eat up as if I have been on the lemonade diet and chocolate is being poured around me from the sky. View all 7 comments. Sep 24, First Second Books marked it as first-second-publications. I've got to be honest: my favorite panel of this entire book is one of the ones from the beginning -- where Little Bao imagines marrying Vibiana the opera-masked girl and having lots of opera-masked sons. I think it is adorable! And also hilarious.

View 2 comments. Jan 23, Steph Sinclair rated it really liked it Shelves: release , reads , historical-fiction , young-adult , i-own-it , macmillan , graphic-novel. That may give you pause, but I went into this one blind. Overall, it was eye-opening and violent. I enjoyed the way Yang told a historical story with fantasy elements and was impressed with the amount of detail. I also liked how religion itself was handled. It plays a huge role in the story and I never felt it got too preachy either way.

Feb 16, Wyatt Packard rated it liked it Shelves: graphics , ya-fiction.

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How Gene Luen Yang approached this subject is amazing and I give him so much credit as an author and creator. I have read so very few historical graphic novels and it was so refreshing to see Yang paint a historical event, The Boxer Rebellion, in a more character and motivational driven light. Yang tells the stories of both the Boxers and the Saints in two connecting volumes. In Boxers the main character, Little Bao begins as an unremarkable boy, falling under his older brothers' shadows.

Bao represents the Boxer's optimism and belief that they will repel the "foreign devils", who are the christian preachers and their Chinese converts. Bao and the others literally see themselves physically transforming into the local gods when going into battle with the imperialist forces. This added a great amount of color and visual effects to the pages but was where I felt the story was weakest. The fantastical element was actually very distracting to me as I was much more focused on the historical aspects of the tale. He makes it very clear that there is distinct motivation for both sides and that really neither are wrong in their beliefs and he showcases how horrible a war like the Boxer Rebellion really was, not shying away from any details in his illustrations or dialogue.

So, I did admire and greatly enjoy Yang's writing and storytelling abilities, but thought that some things were distracting and the oddness at times made the book very hard to get into. The story is told in a very visual way making this a great read for reluctant readers. I would recommend these two books as an excellent look at the morals of two warring groups of people and I believe the lessons presented can be applied to many conflicts and that these lessons present a valuble perspective on conflict and war.

Aug 21, Calista rated it really liked it Shelves: , art-lovely , bage-young-adult , genre-travel , i-first-second , comics-graphic-novel , diversity , histiorical , award-national-book , genre-fantasy. I knew next to nothing about the Boxer Rebellion before I read this. It makes more sense now.

I can see why it would feel like your country has been invaded. It was and they were treated very well. Interesting that farmers were trained as fighters. I love the Chinese Opera that Little Bao loves. We have that in common. I love that they become mythic figures from the past when they fight. It is lovely. I think the art is great and the culture is represented well from what I can tell. I am a fan o I knew next to nothing about the Boxer Rebellion before I read this. I am a fan of Gene's work. This is very well done and I will be reading Saints. I want to see the other side as well.

There was a lot of blood shed.


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China has a complicated past. They like to blame the west for opium, but there was an emperor before the opium wars who spent 30 years basically in an opium haze. His eunuchs ruled for him basically. Another great book was Tai Pan about the founding of Hong Kong. China history is so long and so much good stuff there. Very dramatic. This book was fantastic for what it did. It entertained and presented one side of a conflict in Chinese history. Jun 19, Lily rated it really liked it Shelves: graphic-novels-comics , china , war. Fantastic, important, and absolutely tragic.

I'm such a huge fan of Gene Luen Yang and this was simply wonderful. Dec 27, J. Ignore the sociopaths that flock to the cause, and the brutal men that feel it is their calling to do violence no matter the time or cause and ask yourself: Why do men commit such atrocities as they do, time and again? This book answers, surprisingly well, that question. The story of Little Bao follows him from a child determined to do right in the world, a commitment to justice and peace, and we see how this path logically, and horrifically, leads him to locking a group of women and children in Ignore the sociopaths that flock to the cause, and the brutal men that feel it is their calling to do violence no matter the time or cause and ask yourself: Why do men commit such atrocities as they do, time and again?

The story of Little Bao follows him from a child determined to do right in the world, a commitment to justice and peace, and we see how this path logically, and horrifically, leads him to locking a group of women and children in a church and burning the to death, as well as razing the writings of his own culture he had sought to preserve--all for a rebellion that was pitifully squashed not long after.

We see in this book that everything is logical at each connection, and it is only if we stand back and look at the arc as a whole that we see how wildly it has diverted from our main path. Is this a horror, as the gentle reader might see, guided by a philosophy of peace, or is it the only way, as Qin Shi Huang would assert? That is a question it doesn't answer, but rather one it poses and lets you wonder about as many good and innocent die for the sins of a minority and the beliefs of clashing cultures.

Is this the best book? Sometimes the simplistic art could have been rendered more detailed though I must say that the use of color and costuming in astounding and the art is largely used perfectly , and the story could have been given just a little bit more nuance, but it is strong and interesting and worthwhile. An important note: if you buy this, but its companion, Saints, as reading one will only make you want the second. You're going to get it, so just get it. Dec 14, Colleen Fauchelle rated it liked it Shelves: reads. I liked the saints one better because it was from the Christian point of view.

Don't want to read them again but it was quick and easy to read this grafic novel. Aug 28, Lauren rated it really liked it Shelves: read-harder-challenge , world-history , china , graphic-sequential-art. Boxers is the first of a two-part graphic personal history of China's Boxer Rebellion. This story centers on Little Bao, the youngest brother who rises up to become the leader of a rebel group trying to take back China from "foreign devils" Europeans and Christian missionaries.

Bao is a natural leader, and after a series of experiences, he finds his place as leader of the homegrown mi Boxers is the first of a two-part graphic personal history of China's Boxer Rebellion. Bao is a natural leader, and after a series of experiences, he finds his place as leader of the homegrown militia group. Yang expertly handles Little Bao's experiences and transition from boy to man. Strong dialogue and amazing artwork. This one is highly recommended. May 27, Bryan Alexander rated it really liked it Shelves: history , graphic-novel , comics.

I read this because my daughter recommended it. She's a lifelong comics fanatic, and a fine creator to boot. I always trust her taste. Boxers is a graphic novel in that rare but important and burgeoning subgenre, the historical graphic novel. Its topic is the Chinese uprising against European and American colonialism, known in the west as the Boxer Rebellion. The narrative focuses on a young peasant man as he grows up in a village, gets radicalized, discovers local militias and secret societ I read this because my daughter recommended it. The narrative focuses on a young peasant man as he grows up in a village, gets radicalized, discovers local militias and secret societies, then gradually becomes an insurgent leader.

It's a gripping, fascinating, and moving tale. Let me highlight some especially interesting and effective elements. First, this is a bottom-up account. We never leave the protagonist's perspective. Since he's an illiterate peasant, we only see the world through his developing understanding.

Besides several title cards telling us the date and location, Boxers never gives us a third person view. It's all subjective in this sense That's a perspective usually missing in western accounts. Bao is very sympathetic in this limited frame. He's also pedagogically useful, as his learning process lets readers gradually into the time period. Second, Boxers incorporates some degree of fantasy.

Following the dictates of one classic fantasy style, it's usually unclear if these evocations actually transpire, or if they're only in Bao's mind. A notable instance of this is the character who sometimes possessed Bao, and then becomes his fierce advisor. Bao, being uneducated in his nation's history, cannot recognize him.

Shi Huang Di hectors Bao on tactics and strategy. Again, in fantasy mode, we can't tell if this is an actual possession, or a shadow play in Bao's mind. Third, Yang casts the story to cause the reader to sympathize with the Boxers, at least for the first half. Foreigners appear as arrogant, ignorant, and above all physically destructive. The Boxers stem from poor peasants, so you can see a clear moral framing. As the novel progresses Bao's crew becomes more violent in turn, committing increasingly dubious acts, while Chinese civilians converted to Christianity "secondary devils" take on moral strength.

As a visual story, Boxers is very nicely done. Panels are clean, simple, and direct, which helps a reader unfamiliar with the story to focus. Yang relies on some classic European and Japanese comic tropes for, I think, similar reasons. I was especially impressed by his willingness to make rural life sparse and bland. This evades romanticism, and then makes the imagined? They are gorgeously colored and detailed, a massive contrast to the humans we've seen so far.

Reminds me of the way Tous les matins du monde depicted the European baroque Recommended. And thank you, Gwynneth. PS: I am not familiar with the post-revolutionary Chinese historiography of the Boxer Rebellion, so I cannot comment on how Yang engages with it. View all 3 comments. Sep 03, David Schaafsma rated it really liked it Shelves: gn-ya , gn-race-ethnicity , graphic-history , ya-spring He also did is doing?

These endings are slight, and by the choices Yang makes won't make the series as popular as they could be, but I admire him for making a hard choice, finally. I started with Saints and liked it, and found it a little slight but I liked the girl very much; Boxers is longer, more substantial, and so more impressive, in my opinion, though I liked the quirky girl better than the boy. In this series you get to see two basic sides of the conflict, which from the Chinese American Yang is admirable.

The German Christian invasion of China is thwarted by the rebellion, though Christianity did make inroads into China, of course. Yang gets to know the story in part from a Chinese Christian community in the Bay area where he lives. The Western Invaders are "devils" undermining Chinese culture and traditions, laying down train tracks, its technology seen as doing some good things for commerce but wantonly damaging Chinese traditions. The "secondary devils" are the Chinese who become converted by the Western church leaders to Christianity, and we see reasonably how the girl, unhappy in her life, becomes a Christian, and likens herself to Saint Joan of Arc, fighting the fight for God.

Interesting, for Yang to get to know the vestiges of that missionary move to convert the 'pagan" Chinese, now a church living in Yang's community… like the one in mine that I have been in. How is it people reconcile their Christianity with their Chines culture? The Kung Fu skills turn out to be superpowers of a Chinese variety, finally.

So, isn't that interesting? In the west many white, middle class, mostly know opera as a European entity, but Yang helps us see another "side" of opera, just as he does for religion and mythology. He sides with the Chinese rebellion, in resisting Western forces, yet he helps us see from a child's perspective how one could see things from both sides… Yang will get awards for this series, definitely. I liked them very much, especially as a pair. Kids' stuff, but a pretty rich look at history and culture, in these graphic novels. Oct 12, Joshua rated it really liked it. After reading gobs of praise for this, I broke down and ordered a copy for kindle rather than wait until my next visit to the US to pick up a paper copy, and I am delighted that I was not disappointed.

While it is not perfect in every detail subtleness is sometimes lacking , this graphic novel is saturated with something I can only call resonance. One feels there is something behind this book, compelling it into existence. This quality is most apparent in the way Yang depicts the mystical exper After reading gobs of praise for this, I broke down and ordered a copy for kindle rather than wait until my next visit to the US to pick up a paper copy, and I am delighted that I was not disappointed. This quality is most apparent in the way Yang depicts the mystical experiences that fueled the Boxer uprising.

While initially a tad disappointed by Yang's simplistic art, once the old gods, in the garb of Peking opera players, soared down to take possession of their followers, I was in comic heaven. Having lived in China and Taiwan for years, I can say that Yang has captured the powerful, righteous, implacable, and unknowable qualities that emanate from the ancient depictions of gods and heroes in this culture. This is praiseworthy in itself, yet there is so much more to appreciate in this multilayered tale.

This is a graphic novel that tackles big issues. It doesn't shy away from the violence and horror that can accompany religious fervor, but it also never allows us to doubt the reality and necessity of belief. When the gods depart, and protagonist Little Bao is left gaping in awe at the carnage left in the wake of his failed uprising, we have to wonder along with him, which of his betrayals was worse, that of his faith, or that of his humanity?

Jul 22, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: own , youngadult , graphics-n-comics , historical-fiction. At times funny, at other times heart-breaking, but always wonderful. I had never even heard of the Boxer Rebellion until it came up in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode when I was in my 20's. It's a part of history that we just don't talk about in America I guess because it was a war we didn't fight , and don't know much about.

This is an interesting look at one side of it, and there's a companion book, SAINTS, that covers the other side of this conflict between the newly baptized Christians a At times funny, at other times heart-breaking, but always wonderful. This is an interesting look at one side of it, and there's a companion book, SAINTS, that covers the other side of this conflict between the newly baptized Christians and the traditional Chinese in the early 's.

When the book started out, I thought I'd pass it along to my 10yo when I was done, but I think not. It's definitely for more mature readers, not adults, but teens and up. Jul 23, Kayla BOOKadoodles rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , 5-star-reads , comics-and-graphic-novels. A GetGraphic read—Unapologetically brutal and a great portrayal of how ethical lines become blurred during wartime. Why did I let this sit on my shelf for years before finally reading it? Jan 20, B rated it really liked it Shelves: adult-historical , adult-graphic. I'm so impressed that this author was able to take a dreadful time in China's history and make it absorbing and accessible to everyone else with the two books that explain this time period from different viewpoints.

Some of the humor was more 21st than 19th century but I imagine that this might appeal to a younger audience, hooking them into wanting to learn more about the Boxer Rebellion. And I really appreciated how he demonstrated that war based on cultural differences coming from misunderstan I'm so impressed that this author was able to take a dreadful time in China's history and make it absorbing and accessible to everyone else with the two books that explain this time period from different viewpoints. And I really appreciated how he demonstrated that war based on cultural differences coming from misunderstandings, ignorance, and deliberate propaganda will always have horrid consequences.

Nov 19, Jen rated it really liked it. Oct 12, Tilly rated it it was amazing. This was definitely a very moving and interesting portrayal of war, especially for someone like me who knew little to nothing about the Boxers Rebellion before. I plan on reading "Saints" as soon as I can to see the other perspective. Jun 28, Christina A Reader of Fictions rated it really liked it Shelves: finishedreviewcopy , diversity-yay. Back in grad school, I had my first experience with Gene Luen Yang's work when we read his most famous graphic novel thus far, American Born Chinese.

Though disparate in subject matter, Boxers does have something in common with his prior work, the magical realism that Yang brings to bear even on historical or contemporary subjects. In Boxers, Gene Luen Yang manages to pack quite a punch with his spare prose and straight forward drawings. Though I learned about the Boxer Rebellion in college, I'll admit that my memories thereof are limited at best. Based on extensive research okay, I checked Wikipedia , Yang actually fits in the main historical points without being at all tedious or lecturing.

Basically, Yang has perfected the ability to teach without seeming like he's teaching, which is ideal for the intended audience. He conveys the difficult times that led to the rebellion, the drought and the negative impact foreigners were having in China, through the lens of the life of one young boy who grows up to head the rebellion. Little Bao did not start out as a remarkable boy. He lived in the shadow of his older brothers and had his head in the clouds, fancifully imagining himself the character in an opera.

With Little Bao's optimism, to some degree never shed throughout his journey, Yang captures the wholehearted believe the Boxers had that they would be victorious. In no way did they imagine that their gods would let them lose or that foreigners could truly take over China. Remember how I mentioned the fantasy angle?

Well, in Boxers, the beliefs in local gods, the beliefs being challenged by the conversion to Christianity coming with the influx of foreigners, are manifested physically. Yang literally pits the old gods versus the imperialist forces. Through a mystical process, Little Bao and his friends are able to transform themselves into gods of China, and fight with a strength much bigger than their own bodies and kung fu training give them. It's a bit strange, but I think Yang makes it work, and this technique adds a lot of color and vibrancy to the otherwise fairly spare Boxers, highlighting the colorful culture that is being suppressed.

However, Boxers does not preach. Yang, unsurprisingly given the dual nature of this release - Boxers being paired with Saints from the other side of the conflict, presents a balanced view. He makes it quite clear that horrible acts are perpetrated by both sides. Sam is present in Castle Black in the weeks following Jon's return. Sam tries to cheer Jon up and tells him he hasn't done anything wrong. Jon counters that he's "done plenty wrong".

People mockingly call him "Slayer" after he claimed to kill a White Walker.


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Sam visits Gilly to ask how she is doing at Castle Black. He complains to her that nobody believes he killed the White Walker. Then, he admits to being paranoid about what his fellow brothers are thinking about her. Sam tells Gilly that he thinks that she would be safer at Mole's Town.


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He assures that he is only doing this to protect her. They arrive at Mole's Town and Sam tells the manager that she can cook and clean. He also refuses to let Gilly do " other jobs ". Gilly thinks that Sam is doing it for himself and not thinking of her, which upsets Sam. Jon tries to assure him she's safer there. They then discuss Bran going beyond the Wall, which Sam told Jon.

They try to work out where he is before they are interrupted by Locke. He is also present when Jon tries to convince Alliser Thorne that they should seal the tunnel due to the threat of Mance Rayder and his wildling army. The news of the wildling attack on Mole's Town reaches Castle Black. Sam is horrified by the news, believing he sent Gilly and her baby to their deaths. Eddison Tollett argues that Gilly managed to survive Craster, the long march back to the Wall, and even a White Walker. This gives Sam hope that Gilly may have survived.

Atop the Wall, Jon and Sam are staring out into the darkness of the north and awaiting the imminent wildling invasion. Sam attempts to interrogate Jon about what it was like to be with a woman, stating that as their deaths are likely imminent, it may be his last chance to find out. Gilly wants Sam to stay with her as he promised, but he cannot as he sworn to defend the Wall as a brother of the Night's Watch. Before he leaves her, Gilly begs Sam to promise her that he won't die and the two finally share a kiss.

As Sam and Pypar are preparing arrows at the southern gate, Pypar laments that he never seen a real battle before or ever even held an edged blade. Pypar asks how Sam is not afraid, but Sam replies that he is, as there are thousands of wildlings about to overrun them. Pypar asks how he managed to kill a White Walker while being afraid, and Sam says that at that moment, he just had to do something or Gilly would have been killed and her baby would have been taken.

Sam further explains that at that moment, he wasn't himself; he was nothing, and when you are nothing there is nothing to be afraid of. Before walking away, he looks at Pypar and says, "I'm not nothing anymore. Later, Pyp is fatally shot by Ygritte and Sam comforts him as he dies. Once the battle was over, Sam returns to Gilly just like he promised and discovers Janos Slynt , who hid in fear during the entire battle. Sam tries to talk sense into Jon, but to no avail. As Jon prepares to leave via Castle Black's tunnel, they discover the bodies of the black brothers who held the inner gate against the giant.

Grenn is amongst the casualties and Jon tells Sam that all bodies must be burned. Sam tells Jon to come back, and Jon looks and Sam and smiles unreassuringly before stepping out into the wilderness on the other side of the gate. After the arrival of Stannis Baratheon , Sam is present when the Night's Watch burn the bodies of those who were slain during the battle. At Castle Black , Sam attempts to comfort Gilly since she is worried of being sent away by Ser Alliser Thorne , which would most likely happen if Alliser is elected as the new Lord Commander.

Sam reaffirms his promise that where ever Gilly and her baby go, he will go too in order to protect her. Later, Sam is present when Mance Rayder is executed by Stannis Baratheon for refusing to bend the knee, and comforts Gilly, who cries in his shoulder. Sam is reading a book on previous Lord Commanders while Princess Shireen Baratheon , his second cousin, teaches Gilly how to read.

He also learns how the young princess survived Greyscale and that Gilly also had sisters who perished from the disease. Jon states that it was always his dream to be Lord of Winterfell , but he reveals that he will decline the king's offer, much to Sam's surprise. Janos Slynt mocks Sam by calling him "Slayer" and pointing out his love for Gilly being similar to Jon's love for Ygritte, and Sam retaliates by publicly mocking Slynt for hiding in the pantry with Gilly and her baby during the wildling attack.

Sam reminds all of the black brothers present that Jon was Jeor Mormont 's personal steward, that he led the force to deal with the mutineers at Craster's Keep, and took command of Castle Black's garrison during the wildling attack when Thorne was wounded. He reports that Aemon apologizes for his absence because he is not feeling well.

Jon tells Sam to take good care of the old maester. Sam later witnesses Jon personally behead Janos Slynt for refusing to obey orders. Sam drafts numerous letters for Jon Snow to sign in order to request the Northern houses to send more men to man the Wall. Jon signs all of them until Sam gives him a letter meant for Roose Bolton , the new Warden of the North. Jon is against asking for help from the man who murdered his half-brother, but Sam convinces him that they need all the help that they can get.

Sam departs when Melisandre enters the room to speak with Jon. Sam praises the courage of Daenerys but Maester Aemon worries about her safety because she is all alone, under siege, and with hardly anyone to guide her, while he, as her only living relative, is useless and dying thousands of miles away. Then, Jon Snow enters and asks to speak with Aemon in private, so Sam leaves them. Stannis wants to know how Sam killed the White Walker and Sam tells him how he did it with a dagger made of dragonglass.

Stannis muses that it is abundantly available on Dragonstone. Sam has been researching dragonglass and how it can kill White Walkers, but has yet to come up with anything. Stannis tells him to continue his research and leaves him to investigate the further weaknesses of the Army of the Dead.

Aemon imagines Little Sam as Egg, his long-dead brother. Aemon's condition steadily deteriorates as the day goes on, and he dies in the night. Sam eulogizes him before lighting his funeral pyre, declaring for all to hear that he was the blood of the dragon. Ser Alliser whispers that Sam's friends are abandoning him one by one. Afterward, Gilly is attacked in the dining hall by two brothers, but Sam and Jon's direwolf, Ghost, come to her rescue. Sam is badly beaten, and Gilly takes care of him before the two have sex for the first time. Once Gilly leaves, Olly expresses concern at joining forces with the wildlings, particularly Tormund, who led the raid in which his parents were killed.

Sam reassures Olly that Jon knows what he is doing, and that unless he is successful, neither the Night's Watch nor Westeros stands a chance against the White Walkers. Sam explains this is a hard choice Jon had to make, however unpopular, and then tells him not to worry, as Jon always comes back. Olly appears unconvinced. Samwell reunites with Jon, who is despondent, saying that the mission was a disaster and they only managed to save a small fraction of the wildlings at Hardhome, where the Night King , the leader of the White Walkers has revealed himself to the participants of the battle, and tens of thousands of wildlings have been raided as wights.

Sam points to different wildlings passing by and notes that each of them would have died if he had done nothing at all, so it wasn't a complete failure. A few nights later, Jon Snow tells of what he saw at Hardhome to Sam. He feels there is no other way he can help them as he cannot fight, he is also afraid for Gilly and her child's safety, and wishes to take them along. Jon reminds him that the Citadel will also not allow Sam to be with women, but is humored to hear that it is already too late for that.

Sam promises he will return, they toast to that and Jon sees his only friend off.

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On the voyage to Oldtown, Gilly tells a seasick Sam that she'll be happy to see the city, having learned much about it from the ship's captain. Instead, Sam doesn't want Gilly and Little Sam to be alone in the city while he trains as a maester and plans to take them to his family at Horn Hill , as the Citadel also doesn't allow women and there won't be anyone there to make an exception. Gilly protests against this, but Sam assures her that it is for her protection.

Knowing his father's hatred for Wildlings, Sam tells Gilly that he had told his father's retainers that Gilly is a Northern woman he had bedded in Mole's Town and that Little Sam is their son. Upon arriving at Horn Hill, Sam is greeted by his mother Melessa and sister Talla Tarly , who are delighted to see Sam and his "family. Talla dresses Gilly in an ornate dress in traditional Reachmen fashion, astounding Sam with her beauty. Later that evening, Sam and Gilly joined the other Tarlys for dinner. Sam reveals his plans to train as a Maester at The Citadel and promises that he will return to the Wall as soon as he has finished his studies.

When Dickon asks him about hunting Beyond the Wall, Sam responds that he hunts rabbits. An openly scornful Randyll then interjects that Jon Snow did all the hunting for him. He also criticizes his son's size even though Sam is markedly slimmer than he was when he first arrived at Castle Black , and hunting and fighting abilities. Randyll also adds that he will not let his son inherit the family's Valyrian steel sword Heartsbane and House Tarly.

Gilly then springs to her lover's defense by pointing out that Sam had killed a Thenn and a White Walker. While Dickon dismisses the White Walkers as a fairy tale, Randyll quickly realizes that Gilly is a wildling. He disparages Sam for allowing himself to be seduced by a "wildling whore. He will find work for Gilly as a servant and promises to raise the " bastard " Little Sam as his grandson.

However, he warns Sam that he is no longer welcome at Horn Hill and must leave at first light. Later, Sam apologizes for his father's actions but Gilly tells him that he does not need to. Unwilling to be separated from his family, Sam tells Gilly to pack up and leave together with Little Sam. Before leaving with his "family", Samwell steals Heartsbane.

After arriving in Oldtown, Sam and Gilly meet a Citadel maester. Sam gives him a letter from Lord Commander Snow about Sam becoming a maester for the Night's Watch, but the maester is skeptical about Jon Snow's state, saying that no word was given about Lord Commander Mormont's death from Maester Aemon. The maester states that Sam's situation is "irregular" to which Sam responds, "Life is irregular. The maester then allows Sam to use the library, but blocks Gilly and Little Sam from entering. In the library, Sam looks on in wonder and awe at the vast size of the library and the knowledge stored in its texts.

Nevertheless, after stealing some books from the forbidden section of the library, Sam does research with Gilly at her new home, discovering that an abundance of dragonglass exists on Dragonstone, and writes to Jon to inform him. The next day, while collecting bowls from the sick cells, he is stopped by a patient with an arm covered in greyscale , who asks him if Daenerys Targaryen, the Dragon Queen, has arrived, but Sam claims not to know. He is present when the same patient is deemed unable to treat by Ebrose, and that he has six months before the greyscale takes over his mind.

Sam then reminds Ebrose of Shireen Baratheon's treatment of the condition, but Ebrose counters that her maester, Cressen , only managed to stop the spread early, and while she was still at a young age. Once Ebrose leaves, Sam asks if there is any family he should write to, to which the patient introduces himself as Jorah Mormont, and that his family forgot about him a long time ago. Sympathetic to his Lord Commander's son, Sam later asks if he can try to heal Jorah using a procedure developed by Archmaester Pylos , but Ebrose advises against it; due to the dangerous nature of the operation to both sides, it was declared forbidden, emphasizing that Pylos himself died as a result of contracting Greyscale.

Undaunted, Sam decides to treat Jorah and secretly visits his quarters after dark. Sam gives Jorah rum to drink after taking a fortifying swig himself, telling him that the process will be painful. Sam also provides Jorah with a mouthguard so he can focus on biting down on it to help muffle his screams, as he explains that he's performing the procedure without permission. Sam's plan involves using a scalpel to separate and cut away Jorah's infected skin and then applying ointment to the exposed layer, though Jorah gives him a look that tells Sam he shouldn't bother trying to explain it to him.

Despite experiencing the pain of having a patch of greyscale skin debrided, Jorah nods his consent for Sam to continue the debridement. When Ebrose arrives in the morning to see to Jorah, he finds him completely healed. Despite being told by Jorah that no one tended to him, Ebrose realizes immediately what Sam has done and arranges an evening meeting in his office. There, he chastises Sam on the potential danger of infecting the rest of the Citadel through himself, but then congratulates him on saving Jorah's life with a procedure few maesters have ever mastered.

He then immediately orders Sam, who had expected a reward, to copy some old scrolls and tells him that his reward is not being banished from the Citadel for ignoring orders. Samwell walks in on a meeting of the Conclave , the collective Archmaesters , and overhears them discussing a raven sent by Bran Stark about the army of the dead.

They are in disbelief over the matter, but Samwell attempts to warn them that the wight army is real. He tells the gathered Archmaesters that he let Bran beyond the Wall and says he is credible for he has survived the perils beyond the Wall whereas many Night's Watch rangers and wildlings have not. Even so, the Archmaesters continue to question the credibility of Bran Stark and the validity of the contents of the letter. Archmaester Ebrose promises to find the truth of this and will send a raven back to Winterfell asking Maester Wolkan for confirmation. As Samwell leaves, he hears the Archmaesters laughing over the matter, comparing it to past times where they received similar ravens.

Samwell later reads with Gilly , who, while reading the journal of High Septon Maynard , discovers that " Prince Ragger " a mispronunciation of "Rhaegar" had his first marriage annulled and secretly remarried while in Dorne. Samwell, however, pays no attention to this and vents his frustration over the Citadel likely not doing anything about the undead threat.

He resolves to leave Oldtown with Gilly and Little Sam. He gathers dozens of books from the forbidden library in the Citadel before departing from Oldtown, quoting his father on how he is sick of reading about the achievements of better men. Brandon reveals his discovery that Jon is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, saying that as he was born in Dorne his bastard surname should actually be "Sand". Shocked, Sam counters that the transcription Gilly read to him before said that Rhaegar had annulled his marriage to Elia so that he could marry Lyanna.

They both realize that Robert's Rebellion was built on a lie and that Jon whose birth name was Aegon Targaryen far from being illegitimate, is the true heir to the Iron Throne. Daenerys thanks the man that saved Jorah's life from greyscale and asks if she can offer him anything in return.

Sam requests a pardon for stealing books from the Citadel , as well as "borrowing" his family's sword, Heartsbane. Hearing this, Daenerys realizes that Sam is the son of Randyll Tarly and informs him that his father refused to bend the knee and was executed. Sam is shaken by the news of his father's death, but jokes that at least his brother will allow him to return to Horn Hill. When Daenerys reveals that Dickon was also executed, however, Sam is visibly upset and chokes back some tears. He then asks to leave the library to gather his composure.

Outside, Sam sees Bran Stark and asks why he's in the courtyard. Bran states he's "waiting for an old friend " and reminds him it is time to tell Jon the truth about his parents. He then says that Sam must be the one to tell Jon, because Jon trusts him more than anyone. Sam finds Jon by himself in the crypts of Winterfell. He confronts Jon about the death of his father and brother, asking if he would have done the same thing in Daenerys's position.

He then tells Jon about the diary entry he found from High Septon Maynard stating that he annulled the marriage between Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell , that Rhaegar then married Lyanna Stark and that Jon was their true born son, all of which Bran confirmed using his greensight. Jon, visibly shocked at the revelation, says that Ned Stark is the most honorable man he has ever known and cannot believe that Ned would have lied to him his whole life. Sam reminds Jon that Ned lied to protect him from Robert Baratheon , who would have killed him if he ever found out the truth of Jon's parentage.

Sam goes on to state that Jon is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and asks rhetorically whether Daenerys would give up her crown to save her people as he did. The next day, Sam and Jon welcome the arrival of Edd, Beric Dondarrion and Tormund to Winterfell, who inform the two that Last Hearth has fallen to the White Walkers they'll arrive to Winterfell before the next sunrise, forcing Winterfell to immediately prepare for battle.

That evening, against Jon's advice, Sam volunteers to help defend Winterfell, due to his combat experience. Later, after overhearing an argument between Jorah and Lyanna Mormont , Sam provides the former with his family's sword, Heartsbane, since it is made of Valyrian steel and will be much more useful in the hands of Jeor Mormont's son. Sam then joins Gilly and Little Sam in Winterfell's crypt.

However, Sam later decides to participate in the Battle of Winterfell , armed only with two dragonglass daggers. He is nearly killed by a wight in the heat of battle, but is saved by Edd, only to watch in horror as Edd is quickly killed by another wight. Sam manages to retreat inside Winterfell, but breaks down and cries as the living are slowly overwhelmed by the Army of the Dead. After the battle with the dead, Sam takes part in the mass funeral and the celebrations at Winterfell. Before departing to fight the Lannister forces at King's Landing , Jon bids farewell to Sam who informs him that Gilly is pregnant with another child.

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Tyrion states that they need a new king to pass a judgment and asks the lords and ladies present there to choose one. Sam suggests that everyone in the Seven Kingdoms be allowed to choose a new king. He was mocked for this idea by all the lords and ladies who found it ridiculous. After Tyrion suggested that Bran Stark be chosen as the new king, Sam was the first one to assent to the proposal. Samwell was chosen as the new Grand Maester by Bran after his election.

After his appointment, he assisted Archmaester Ebrose with title of his history book recounting the wars in Westeros after the assassination of Robert Baratheon , which he showed to Tyrion, the new Hand of the King , at the first Small council meeting. When Tyrion asks what the book states about him, he reluctantly replies that he isn't mentioned. When king Bran arrives and asks if they have heard anything about Drogon , he tries to state that he was last seen flying east of Volantis , but is interrupted by Bronn before he can complete his sentence.

After Bran goes looking for the dragon himself, Tyrion discusses with him about clean water improving the health of people, based on his experience with the Casterly Rock sewers. Sam tries to inform him about the research done by Ebrose on this subject, but is interrupted again by Bronn who sums it up as "the strong live and the weak don't". Tyrion then assigns Sam to hire the best builders for building a proper sewage system and providing clean water to King's Landing.

When Bronn suggests rebuilding the brothels, Sam is dismissive of the idea. On the outside, Samwell Tarly may appear completely antithetical to the standards of his house - he is extremely timid, awkward, cowardly, nervous, and easily frightened. When he was first tested in combat by Alliser Thorne, he didn't even pick up a weapon and allowed himself to be beaten, terrified, leading to the impression that Sam was worthless an impression that Randyll Tarly had never allowed him to forget.

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However, in reality, Sam is actually a good man - he is extremely loyal to those who show him kindness, as evidenced by his almost brotherly relationship with Jon Snow, who remained his best friend throughout his time as a member of the Night's Watch. His loyalty to Jon would resonate from the moment that he volunteered to take Jon's vows with him. His extreme personal loyalty is potentially one of his best qualities, and ironically evidence that Sam aligns with the expectations of his house - after all, House Tarly breeds soldiers, and soldiers are supposed to be loyal.

When he comes to Castle Black, it is quickly realized that he is not a great warrior, but Sam makes up for it considerably by being highly intelligent and observant. He shows himself to be so insightful that he assures Jon Snow that Lord Commander Mormont is seeking to groom him for command based on the duties that being a squire would entail. Sam has an encyclopedic knowledge of Westerosi history, including the history of the Night's Watch, and is deeply fascinated by that history, to such an extent that his fellow sworn brothers often find him annoying for it.

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Even Jeor Mormont recognized Sam's intelligence and commended him for it. Those who could see through Sam's glutton and cowardice would realize how clever and valuable a person he was. Sam loves to read books at any given opportunity, so much that that the blind Maester Aemon easily deduced that Sam had come to see him, based on the fact that he had decided to enter the library at night to read. Throughout the series, Sam has shown himself to be capable of incredible bravery when he is pushed.

While he cowered during the Battle of the Fist of the First Men, especially when he encountered a White Walker for the first time. One of his shining moments came when he faced off against another White Walker when it tried to attack Gilly and her son - Sam's extreme capacity for love towards Gilly compelled him to continue to attack the creature, even after it easily overpowered him already, and in spite of Sam being aware of the historical reputation of the White Walkers and how they had decimated the Rangers at the Fist of the First Men.

Sam later proved himself to be gradually immune to the bullies that he had suffered most of his life, as evidenced by how he shamed Janos Slynt for his cowardice when the latter tried to shame him for loving Gilly. Sam's bravery wavered temporarily when he returned to Horn Hill and was chastised by his father Randyll again, so much that he was unable to speak throughout most of the conversation, but later on he openly defied his fearsome father by stealing the family heirloom Heartsbane and verbally daring Randyll to try and take it back albeit, not to his face.

Sam was very good friends with Maester Aemon, so much that Sam gave the man's eulogy at his funeral and didn't condemn him for being a Targaryen. Before Aemon passed away, Sam showed reluctance to believe that he was dying, showing that he deeply cared about the old man. Lord Randyll is a famous general and one of the best battlefield commanders in the Seven Kingdoms , with a string of significant military victories to his name. Lord Randyll is a stern, fierce taskmaster and disciplinarian who holds martial valor and military skill above all other attributes. His eldest son Sam is soft, kindhearted, bookish and fat, enjoying music and reading over fighting and war, although his younger son Dickon shows much more military promise.

Furious with Sam's lack of military potential, Lord Randyll sends him packing to join the Night's Watch on the Wall , making Dickon heir in Sam's place. When she revealed herself, all the squires and pages and stableboys howled with laughter. Randyll had no choice but to take Sam back home. Needless to say the experience has not improved Randyll's opinion on his elder son. When Sam suggested his father to send him to the Citadel in Oldtown, Randyll answered furiously " They make you wear a chain about your neck.

If it is chains you want, come with me". He had Sam manacled hand and foot to a wall for three days and three nights. The chain around his throat was so tight it broke the skin, and whenever he rolled the wrong way in his sleep it would cut off his breath. That experience has traumatized poor Sam so much, that long time afterwards he objected fruitlessly to Jon's command to travel to the Citadel, although he has always wanted that.

Horn Hill is located in the warm lands of the southern Reach, where it rarely snows. Sam says that he never saw snow in his life before he was sent to the Wall, making it an even more desolate and alien environment for him. Some may have seen Samwell as better suited to joining the Order of Maesters , as like the Night's Watch they swear vows that abandon all claim to inheritance, but their intellectual pursuits would fit Sam's talents much better.

However, Randyll felt that a Tarly joining the non-martial Maesters would still be a massive embarrassment to the military reputation of their House. Because Randyll was horrified at the prospect of a member of House Tarly ever wearing a Maester's chain, he instead sent Sam off to join the Night's Watch, where at least in theory he would be defending the realm from the dangers beyond the Wall. Ironically, the officers at Castle Black decide that the best use for Sam at the Wall is to serve as an aide to the blind old Maester Aemon , given that many of their recruits are starving peasant boys or criminals who can't even read, and Sam is not only literate but quite well-read.

Sam gains some small respite from his suffering at the Wall when he discovers that Maester Aemon's library at Castle Black contains thousands of books collected by the Watch over the millennia, many of them extremely rare even a well-stocked library such as at Winterfell normally only contains several hundred books.

Due to the delay, the three fall behind the other survivors, and one of the Others attacks them. The Other kills Paul, and Sam desperately stabs it with Dragonglass dagger. To Sam and Grenn's amazement, the Other is destroyed. Eventually Sam and Grenn catch up with the rest of the Watch. Grenn tells everyone how Sam destroyed the Other.

Since then, Sam earns the nickname "the Slayer", which the other rangers use either as respect or more often for mockery. Sam hates that nickname, even though it is better than "Ser Piggy", because he does not feel he deserves it. He keeps asking people not to call him that, but for no avail. The thing that attacks Sam and Gilly is not an Other but a wight. Since in the books Jon has killed a wight but not any Others, Sam is the only known character that killed both an Other and a wight.

He is also the one who discovered by trial-and-error that dragonglass is lethal to Others but ineffective against wights. Sam is not present during the wildling attack against the Night's Watch, as he and Gilly are still en route to Castle Black. Unlike in the TV show, Sam is not among the defenders of Castle Black during the battle , since he and Gilly arrive after the battle is over. They do not pass through Mole's Town. They are lucky to get lost while on their way from Craster's Keep , otherwise they would have found themselves caught in the battle or at the wildlings ' camp.

Jon, Grenn, and Pyp are overjoyed that Sam survived against all odds, and welcome him heartily. During the voyage to Oldtown aboard the " Cinnamon Wind" , Aemon dies. Following the funeral, Gilly and Sam grow intimate and have sex for the first time. Afterwards Sam is filled with guilt, not only for breaking his vows: he loves Gilly but is forbidden of marrying her; he believes she deserves a better man, not a big fat coward like him; and cannot bear the thought of hurting her feelings by taking advantage of her and later leaving her in sharp contrast to Theon Greyjoy, who used a captain's daughter for sex and then dumped her without second thought.

The captain's daughter, however, poses him an ultimatum: either he goes to bed with Gilly, or will be thrown overboard.

Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy
Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy
Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy
Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy
Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy
Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy
Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy Defying all Odds: The Story of a Peasant Boy

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