That's fine. I stand by the evidence that GRRM rather deliberately makes the place far less "real" than, say, his depiction of Meereen later on, his depiction of Braavos, his depiction of the Dothraki, and of course his depiction of Westeros, the wildlings, etc. It's a deliberate strategy on his part, with a specific purpose.
Yes, but you're missing the point: it doesn't take extras and sets to make Qarth feel like a real, living polity. It takes the noise outside that abandoned palace suggesting there's unrest. It takes Jorah saying, you know, there's trouble afterward. Or maybe he says, there's no trouble, but it's eerily quiet and everyone in Qarth is unsure. Or that sellswords that Xaro hired have moved in and are controlling the main squares. Whatever.
It takes some reference to the momentous change in Qarth. It takes, before the coup, maybe an introduction to the captain of the city guard (a good friend of Xaro's, of course -- perhaps even a cousin that his vast wealth bought into place), maybe a mention of this fellow here being the city treasurer. Again, whatever: what you're doing is building the picture of a living, real place with a suitably deep political structure that gives context and meaning to what happens in ep 7.
It's not enough to say "Well, it's a city, of course there's all that stuff." Vaes Tolorro is a city too, and it's a dead one. More importantly, the point is that those little references are world-building. They need it to sustain the reality of what they're doing. Without it, it's as I said: a pantomime, meaningless.
Some sense of political reality, to sustain political machinations. Without the one, you can't convince people of the other. You confuse them. It's not just "nitpicking" to say that people are indeed wondering why Dany isn't declaring herself queen of Qarth, or the wealthiest woman in the city. I've seen it on Twitter, on other forums. People don't understand it -- and I'm talking non-readers, here. They either vastly don't care, which makes it all, well, silly and overwrought pantomime which they could have achieved in some clearer and more effective way, or they're confused, which means they've erred in their storytelling.
The Sorrows are, indeed, very otherworldly. What made you think it isn't? The Shrouded Lord, the Bridge of Dream, the stone men, the whispers of curses, foul water, strange fogs and currents... yeah, that's otherworldly for the purpose of those chapters.
The Wall, well, we get the political structure there. We fully understand how it works. We understand what happens if the Lord Commander dies or is lost. We understand that there's a mechanism.
The same with King's Landing. If Tyrion kills Joffrey and takes the throne, we have a pretty good idea of what the fallout will be, what various groups will think and do.
They failed to establish any other groups in Qarth outside of that immediate group. They failed to establish a context within which we can understand what's happened there. And so, probably, they shouldn't have bothered. Steal the dragons. Have an assassin try to kill Dany, and Xaro helps kill him. Have him blame the Spice King or the Silk King or the Copper King. Have Pyat say he can resolve that, and recover the dragons, and answer all her questions. You know? There, they've established these characters, and they can explain through Xaro why they might have done such a thing, what the consequences are to Dany, because then the stakes are purely personal to her.
It's just telling a good story, really. You want viewers invested every step of the way. The coup is too much not-about-Dany and not enough about anything they've been signalled to care about.
The point, again, isn't that people who think deeply about this might realize, oh, of course she can't be queen or of course she can't claim Xaro's wealth for her own. It's that many people are thinking about this stuff, casual viewers who are getting more confused by what is tantamount to bad storytelling rather than the story just being "too big". If you are a person who complains that the story is already too complex or it's pushing the limits for viewers, you should be complaining about the coup and King Xaro stuff, too, because it's not good stuff (you admit it's underwritten) and it simply adds to confusion because of its being poorly written.
The coup and King Xaro plot is a total failure. The only thing that really mattered to them was steal dragons -> sense of danger -> Dany recovers them at HotU. The coup was ill-thought set-dressing, ill-thought set dressing which rather reveals they don't really understand fantasy like they maybe think they do. It can be unreal, but the actions have to stay unreal in that context. Slicing people's throats and declaring yourself a king is -- in a story largely dominated by the grimy political machinations to decide who sits the Iron Throne -- as real as it gets in the story, and it demands realistic context.
Edited by El Ranatico Loco, 13 June 2012 - 05:02 PM.