The Coconut God

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  1. @Kyll.Ing. I disagree that the Essos hypothesis is a shot in the dark. I'm not going to claim that it absolutely has to be true, but it connects with the existing text fairly well. It would explain the pacing of Dany's story, as well as the focus on Essos in ADwD. And it would be a very realistic step for Jon to take if the Others invade, given the precarious situation the North will be in after the Ides of Marsh and the Battle of Ice, a step that also blends smoothly with minor plot points like Tycho Nestoris, the Manderly Fleet, the wildling slaves freed in Braavos and Justin Massey's impending departure to the same city with Fake Arya. Speaking of Arya, this would also be a seamless way of bringing her back into the main story. If you think about it, it just makes sense. I did a partial re-read of Feast and Dance last summer and I was unable to find anything that can't be worked around this scenario. And if you accept it as plausible, we're not just talking about one theory anymore. It's a paradigm shift that opens the door to a lot of other theories. For example, people didn't analyze the minutiae of Dany's conquest of Essos because in a world where Dany had to reach Westeros for the series to end this conquest was either impossible, or a sign that the series was out of control and George would require who knows how many books to finish... but if I am right it makes all the sense in the world to analyze this, and it's all the theories about Dany reaching Westeros that are unfounded.
  2. Thank you for your reply, @Dimmu Borgir! Yes, the most alluring aspect of this scenario is that characters like Dany and Arya won't need some egregious plot device to propel them to Westeros in order to interact to the other mains. They can do that by staying true to their own arcs. It would be interesting to see how Arya reacts to Jon if it appears like he abandoned his Night's Watch vows. She did take it upon herself to kill Dareon for deserting, so at the very least I think she would be hesitant to reveal herself to this new Jon. There is a small hint in ADwD that he might have to recognize her himself through warging (from the Ugly Little Girl chapter): The fact that Casso also has the title King of Seals seems almost on the nose. A large and noisy group of Northmen and Wildlings, mostly dressed in furs, that come from the sea and make camp on a beach outside of Braavos? I wouldn't be surprised if in TwoW some malicious Braavosi merchant actually compares them to a colony of seals, come to scare their fish away. Speaking of seals, there's also a sea stone near White Harbor called Seal Rock, which used to be a fort of the First Men. In his second chapter from ADwD, Davos notes how he used to count the seals basking there when he was a young sailor, because a large number of them was a sign of luck. In ADwD, there are no seals there anymore. On the surface, this means simply that he won't have any luck with Manderly, but if we stick to the idea that Jon's refugees = seals, it also foreshadows that White Harbor will be abandoned, and maybe that those who end up there are the lucky ones... Ok, I may be overthinking this, but it does seem to tie together well! It's hard to tell what the endgame is with (f)Aegon. The only certain thing is that his invasion will cripple the south. It would be deliciously ironic if the Blackfyre team finally manages to win, but they have to retreat to Essos anyway because the End of the World is coming. I can see Aegon ending up in Pentos with his main supporter and tying in somehow to the Tattered Prince plot. There has to be some connection there, at least between Tatters and Illyrio. He could also end up working together with Jon and Dany in order to help everyone survive the Long Night. The dragon needs to have three heads after all, doesn't matter what color. Or he could be that guy who does the least but survives at the end to take all the credit, he has a good name for that. There are a few things to consider here: 1. There won't be that many survivors. I expect them to be in the low tens of thousands at most. 2. They don't necessarily need money for the entire winter, just for the initial settling. Essos has a milder climate than the North, so they may still be able to plant some crops, fish and hunt. 3. King Jon might be able to get a larger loan than Lord Commander Jon did, especially if it means getting some tens of thousands of refugees away from the city gates. Alternatively, he might be able to use the gold Justin Massey was going to get for Stannis.
  3. I did. The thread I made about it is linked in my signature, but the main idea is that the Others cannot be stopped. They will roll over most of Westeros quickly, forcing the main players, starting with Jon, to lead their people across the Narrow Sea, where their story will eventually merge with Dany's conquest of Essos. The "Dream of Spring" will be about Essos trying to achieve a new balance after a refugee crisis, a continent-wide slave revolt and a brutal, Dothraki & dragon powered unification, with Westeros nothing but an icy cautionary tale. I searched for similar theories on and off this site, but I couldn't find any - if they are there, they are buried - and people here didn't show much interest, which is a shame, because I would really like to explore this scenario more. Most theories I've seen involve all the main characters returning to Westeros and a climactic conflict with either Dany, the Others or both. Those topics have been done to death indeed. @SuperMario I've been lurking on this forum long before that. Don't judge a poster by his join date. If you read my theory and think it is stupid, I'd be delighted to hear a few arguments and maybe offer a retort, preferably in my thread, since I don't want to derail this one more than I already have.
  4. Not really... there are still untapped theories out there, see my signature for example. Plenty of things to discuss for another year or two, if people are willing.
  5. @Tyrion1991 Sorry for the late response, I was quite busy in the last few days. If the Ghiscari weren't decadent, Dany would have never managed to trick the Astapori or take Meereen the way she did. The story is logically consistent in that regard. An enemy doesn't need to be militarily competent or "badass" to kill you, this isn't a game where upgraded units or higher level characters just smash through the other guys like paper. Gollum is a perfect example of a weak, slimy character who nevertheless feels like he could pose a very real threat to the protagonists. And the Ghiscari are not even that weak. You forget that they still outnumber Dany's forces, they control all the resources, and they have a lot of supporters inside the city. In fact, they are so deeply entrenched in Slaver's Bay that it's unlikely Dany will have anything more than a pyrrhic victory there. Personally, I find the situation in Meereen just as fascinating as King's Landing, and I'm happy the Ghiscari aren't a simplistic culture based around a special unit from Age of Empires II. I've seen other people accuse George of orientalism with regards to Slaver's Bay, but that's a very reductive interpretation. Ghiscari are a composite culture with foundations in the Ancient world as well as the Middle East, India and China. Rome was pretty much the only civilization with a culture of gladiator fights. Old, upper class women wearing veils as a status symbol (rather than the universal, religious use in the Muslim world) was a custom in Ancient Greece. Temple prostitution happened in Sumer, Corinth, the late Roman empire, as well as India. The Unsullied are inspired by Spartans. The brightly colored hairdos are reminiscent of Greek and Roman military crests. "Lockstep-legions" are also Roman, and the Harpy could be a parallel to the Roman Eagle. Slave soldiers, on the other hand, were most effectively used in the Middle East. Eating dog meat and insects comes from China and Southeast Asia. Pyramids used as palaces or temples rather than burial mounds are specific of Mesoamerica and Southeast Asia, etc. So, as you see, the sources of inspiration are quite diverse. The end result has its own identity without outright paralleling a real life culture (unless you as a reader choose to focus on a single element and ignore everything else). As for the Dothraki, you call them exaggeratedly masculine, but you ignore the Dothraki Dany interacts with are at the very top of the hierarchy, Drogo and his bloodriders, and even then we only see them posing and posturing, never engaged in a conflict with a powerful foe. Funnily enough, Drogo dies of infection, so you can say George only used that trope in order to subvert it. Dany's own Dothraki followers are nowhere near that over the top.
  6. @Tyrion1991 I think your own biases make you underestimate how weird reality can be. You think the Ghiscari are ridiculous? Did you hear about the rat temple of Karni Mata? About sadhus who paint themselves with human ashes? About the Chinese practice of foot binding? About the use of lip plates, that appeared independently on two separate continents? Or neck rings? Even some practices considered normal in the Western world, like circumcision and silicon implants would be considered disturbing if we weren't used with them. The Ghiscari nobility is powerful, entitled, decadent and complacent. Why is it so shocking that they developed a penchant for crazy hairstyles? Many real world cultures, ranging from Ancient Egypt to 17th-18th century Europe used elaborate wigs as a status symbol (if you don't want to read the whole article, at least check this beauty out). At least one of the "absurd" Yukish units was also inspired by a real unit from 18th century Prussia, King Frederick Wiliam I's Potsdam Giants. They weren't using stilts, but many of them were unfit for combat because they suffered from gigantism, and the King had them stretched on a rack in an attempt to make them even taller (and yes, there were attempts to breed them with tall women to produce more tall soldiers). Of course, in the books the weirdness is compounded by two factors: 1. All of the POVs are unfamiliar with Ghiscari culture, so they tend to emphasize all the differences and present them as strange while understanding little of how that society actually works. This isn't really bad writing though, as it is a realistic portrayal of cultural bias, and you can catch a glimpse of the Ghiscari perspective through their lines and gestures. You can argue George could have used a Ghiscari POV in a prologue or epilogue chapter, but I'm not sure it would have been worth replacing the existing one. Plus, a Ghiscari POV might have given too much away about who the Harpy is and who is and isn't loyal to Dany in Meereen. 2. George tends to exaggerate the visuals a little bit, a small concession realism makes to the epic. This happens in Westeros as much as in Essos even if you didn't notice it: heraldry is used every where (and a lot of people recognize it), suits of armor are frequently elaborate, even when we're talking about simple knights like Sandor Clegane, most of the castles are spectacular and placed in a unique location, there's a gigantic wall of ice across the realm... Even the wildlings leaders have some sort of epic armor, like the Lord of Bones or have a unique way of killing, special power or personal legend. People wearing their hair shaped like horns or lizards, or painted in garish colors, is simply consistent with the level of flair present everywhere else in the books. As for your examples, the Tolkien ones are extremely simplistic, to the point I can surmise you liked them because they were barely there. The Haradrim are people on elephants and that's it. The Easterlings I didn't even remember, that's how developed they were. I'm not familiar with your other examples, but I will assume they are a little better. From a quick glance over the wiki, the Seanchan and Aiel are simply closer to something a Westerner would be familiar with, i.e. Middle Eastern + Native American. One uses slaves to communicate between social castes and the other serves you for a year and a day if you touch them with your weapon, both of which are highly impractical and unrealistic customs, so I'm going to deduce that it is indeed familiarity you find appealing, and not the fact that they have a more realistically constructed culture.
  7. Victarion is going to steal a dragon, I'd say that's pretty important. Tyrion is going to enter Dany's service, so he will go wherever she sends him. Braavos is a pretty compelling end game destination for him, because Tysha is there (known to us as the Sailor's Wife), and Tysha is one of the people who influenced Tyrion's life the most, probably as much as Tywin. His daughter Lana (hint hint) is also there. And that's not all... The bolded part is your problem. Either stick to books you like, or learn to expand your tastes if you want to enjoy more than that. I personally didn't feel the people of Essos are in any way less human than those in Westeros. It's strange you mention the villagers from the Riverlands who came to petition Ned, because at that point we knew next o nothing about that area, they were just vaguely European peasants, nothing to truly relate to other than that. Are you sure it's not just you having a severe bias against Non-European people and cultures? And even so, Braavos is basically a mix of Venice, London and Amsterdam, and we've seen a lot of it already. If the endgame of the searies involved Braavos, you still wouldn't care? I'm happy I could bring something interesting to the table!
  8. Even though Dany is a Targaryen, there is nothing Westerosi about her. She was raised in Braavos and became empowered by embracing Dothraki culture. She is very much an Essosi cosmopolite. And let us not forget that Targaryens were Valyrians. The first Valyrian empire was on Essos. On the second page of this thread, I brought up a summary of an early 2003 reading of the chapter in question. Dany never flew on Drogon in that chapter. It had Drogon descending at the opening of the pit to eat Barsena, but in the original version this was merely a stand-in or precursor to the Hazzea moment. Everything else in that chapter is set up for a Meereen vs Yunkai conflict, almost identical to the setup in ADwD (dragons were free, all the players got introduced, etc., check the link). I'm sorry, but the story in Slaver's Bay was always going play out like this, even when it started after the gap. If you put too many characters in the same place, none of them will get an interesting story. If Dany, Euron and the Martells were involved in the War of the Five Kings, they would have either picked sides or they would have stomped on other characters' stories. And it is entirely realistic that some parties come late to the conflict, or start something only after the main combatants are spent. That happens all the time in history. What journey, though? Seeing Tywin taken by surprise by dragons? Yeah, that would have been priceless. Seeing Stannis grind his teeth asking himself if maybe this Targaryen heir with dragons has a better claim than him? Also really cool. But you can't have Tywin vs Dany without ruining the amazing sendoff he got. He had to feel totally safe and in control when he got killed by his own son on the shitter. And Tyrion had to do it for his own reasons. Having Dany and her dragons in the equation would have totally ruined it. And you think Walder Frey would have cared about red weddings if he had dragons flying around the Twins? Same with Stannis, having him die pointlessly to the Others because of his rigid sense of duty and his conviction that he has to play Azor Ahai will be much more satisfying and relevant to his arc than a shallow interaction with Dany. The beauty of it though is that you can imagine these interactions quite easily, especially as a first time reader, because the text invites you do think about them and suggests what they would be like with clever parallels and allusions. And since it does that, it doesn't need to make them canon. He wouldn't kill everybody, and the survivors would still be key to the story. Why is the continent so important? Plus you act like the entirety of Essos isn't part of Humanity as well. Why do the wildlings matter? Jon is basically the only POV who interacts with them. You keep saying that in some form or another in every paragraph. I hope you don't think repetition counts as a good argument. All you're doing is reinforcing your highly rigid personal preference. I will also repeat my question from my previous post: Why should Dany as a character not conquer the Free Cities? She has the Dothraki, they're in her way, she would free some slaves, she would earn prestige and loot. Come on, win me over. Why not? You're kind of countering your own point here. Same old idea, the story is only bad if Dany is supposed to get to Westeros, but you have no way of telling if that is actually the case so your argument spins in circles. It's almost like George is playing with our expectation and trying to see how far he can string us along to believe the impossible. Every time it feels like she's actually going to go, George is like "Lol, nope!". Maybe that's the entire point, don't you think? But neither of them has to be filler, it's a sad way to read the story if you think that. There are two main arcs in the story, Ice and Fire, with all the smaller threads that weave around them, and at some point they will meet and fuse into the conclusion of the series. The War of the Five Kings is essential because it's going to leave Westeros vulnerable to the invasion of the Others. Their folly will make the Westerosi lose their homeland and poetically travel back the way the Andals and the First Men came. And Dany's plot in Essos is essential too, because without her actions all these refugees would have ended up as slaves. How will these Westerosi exiles fuse with the bloodied and revolutionized nations in Essos? That's the end of the story... setting up this future of a mixed humanity is the "dream of spring". You are projecting your own expectations on the text. None of Dany's prophecies places her in Westeros or mentions Westeros. She sees things that happened or are going to happen in Westeros while she isn't there, such as the Red Wedding and Mad King Aerys during the sack of King's Landing. That's it. As for Quaithe, she does indeed say "To reach the west, you must go east", but how do you know she didn't mean the western part of Essos? Again, you are projecting your desires on the character. Or at the very least you are interpreting the text in a very specific and limited way. In storytelling there is a concept called "Want vs Need". A character starts the story by Wanting something that either they can't achieve or isn't exactly as they expect. This Want is usually associated with a form of Fulfillment or Growth, i.e. the character believes she will feel Fulfilled when she gets what she Wants. So the character sets on a Journey to get what she Wants, but along the way will be confronted by what she really Needs. Recognizing the Need and putting it ahead of the Want is how the character experiences Growth, and eventual Fulfillment through the Need rather than the Want. In Dany's case, she Wants to get to Westeros in order to Fulfill her destiny of becoming Queen. But throughout her arc, she realizes that in order to become Queen she Needs people who would follow her, and/or she Needs to protect her people. Her expressed desire to go to Westeros is only there to show us her character growth, basically (and it doubles up as a trap for the reader's expectations). I would be very surprised if Dany, after coming so close to realizing her Need, will just abandon it and sail away to pursue her Want. She would regress as a character, since putting the Want ahead of the Need is usually either tragic or infantile (see Robb and Joffrey respectively).
  9. The Iron Fleet left from the Stepstones, not Volantis (here's a good map for reference), and only some of the ships sunk on the way. Most of them simply failed to arrive at the meeting point in time. Like others have said, they traveled in autumn when storms are stronger than usual. Large fleets are more exposed during storms, because there is a risk of ships crashing against each other on the waves. Most likely they had to spread out to avoid this, so many ships got separated from their squadrons. The Ironborn are good sailor, but they don't know the Summer Sea. Most captains wouldn't know where the dangers are or how to get to the Isle of Cedars on their own if they got lost (not fast enough, anyway). The same chapter tells us that Victarion managed to capture nine merchant ships and slavers, so we know there is a fair amount of marine traffic in the area. The Qartheen fleet also got there without issues. Slave traders can also travel across Slaver's Bay to Tolos and Mantarys and then continue by land, avoiding most of the Demon Road. Mantarys would have been a threat to Dany and her freedmen, but it has a good relationship with the Ghiscari cities, so there's no reason why slavers wouldn't be able to get supplies there.
  10. Why exactly is it unlikely? I assume you mean that from a storytelling point of view, because it is important for the structural integrity of the series for the stories to connect... But if Jon and Sansa (and even Aegon) are pushed across the Narrow Sea because of the Others, it is no longer mandatory for Dany to reach Westeros in order to link the plot lines. From a character perspective, there is absolutely no need for Dany to rush to Westeros, even if she does want to get there eventually. She is what, 16? 17? Her whole life ahead of her. She has the Dothrakiand her dragon, so she can easily take a few years to conquer Essos and crack on slavery before sailing west. Why wouldn't she do that? Most of the Free Cities are on her way west anyway, and it would be a huge political boost for her. Such a feat would both embolden the Dothraki to follow her across the poison water and gain her support in Westeros, where she would be seen as a true Targaryen and Aegon the Conqueror reborn, instead of an unknown quantity with virtually no supporters. It's not like she knows that the Others are coming and the series is supposed to end. It's also kind of funny you think Georged wrote all those Quentin, Victarion and Tyrion chapters with the sole purpose of taking Dany to Westeros, but he couldn't make the Demon Road passable for her with a single line. Did you stop to think that maybe he knows what he's doing and your interpretation is wrong? What would be achieved by having Dany on the Iron Throne? She has no rapport with any of the Westerosi characters. The people who dethroned her father and killed her brother are dead. The interesting opponents are dead or likely to be dead before she gets there (I'm 99% sure Stannis will die when the Others breach the Wall, 1% sure he'll be killed by the Boltons). We know Cersei and Aegon aren't going to win. Nothig is at stake here. So the whole arc would be basically ticking off the Chosen One taking the Throne at the End of the Story. On Essos, on the other hand, the juicy stakes are with Braavos, which does not deserved to be conquered, but is there on the continent, so Dany might want to do so anyway. And Braavos is going to be financing the Westerosi refugees via Jon, Braavos is where Tyrion may find Tysha, his greatest love and his greatest crime (literally his Frodo-esque bittersweet ending), Braavos has the Faceless Men who may send Arya to kill Dany, Braavos might offer support to Aegon if Stannis bites the dust... The stakes are also in the Conquest itself, since if the theme we saw in Slaver's Bay continues, Dany is going to kill more people than she saves, and the whole thing is not going to be "worth it" unless there is enough stability in the end for the positive changes to benefit future generations... So here are your stakes. Essos was criticized for the same reason you are criticizing it, because people were so convinced Dany has to go to Westeros that they classified it as filler by default. There's a catch 22 here... If George makes Essos and other plot points started in Feast & Dance actually matter for the endgame of the series, then readers will be forced to admit they were never filler to begin with, but then again there is a real risk that they will be obstinate and refuse to admit the quality of the story because it defied their expectations (which would be ironic, considering defying expectations is what initially earned it praise). I suspect George is afraid of such an unjustified negative reaction, and this is why he's taking so long trying to make sure he gets everything right.
  11. Don't worry, you didn't spoil me, I was just trying to warn others and make sure the discussion won't reveal too much, since this area is supposed to be free from show information (I feel tempted to bring some comparisons up all too often myself). You keep saying that like you know better than the author. Just because that's what you would like to see doesn't mean it's the only direction the story can take (or the best one). In her epilogue chapter, Dany is in a very desperate situation and has some visions of doubt. Viserys blames her for "betraying" him and getting him killed, Jorah blames her for not going to Westeros. Both voices are projections of those characters' desires the way Dany understood them, they're not necessarily what she thinks she should have done. She never thinks of Westeros on her own, it's always in Jorah's voice. What she does come to realize is that Meereen is not her home, she can never be the Harpy, and she should embrace her family's words. But that can apply to her anti-slavery arc just as well. As queen of Meereem, she compromised a lot for very little. She accepted that Yunkai and the other cities would continue to sell slaves, she tried to embrace Ghiscari traditions, took a Ghiscari husband, reopened the fighting pits, allowed freedmen to sell themselves back into servitude, chained her dragons... all this for her "children" and peace, but war, slavery and horror still came to her doorsteps. Now she's going to stop compromising and give her enemies a choice between her way and "fire and blood"... and she won't be satisfied with Meereen anymore, she will go for the whole continent, like her ancestor would have. Also, about the interview @The Fattest Leech linked...
  12. There should probably be some fair warning that this is a link to show spoilers. In any case, the event in question should happen fairly early on in winds, and I doubt it will play out the same. More likely the "fire for death" will be Norvos. That city is in the middle of a pine forest and has a lot of wooden structures, and is also very likely to oppose Dany because Mellario Martell will blame her for Quentin's death.
  13. There are a few things to be said here. First of all, if Dany deals with Volantis, Pentos and L, M & T (Lemontea? Can we just call them that?), that's most of the Essosi conquest already. Why leave loose ends? Qohor may not have been a big part of ASoIaF so far, but it was the siege of Qohor that broke the first united khalasar and popularized Unsullied infantry. It would be poetic if she takes it (although if it does happen it will probably be off-page). Qohor is also called the City of Sorcerers, so we could learn something about blood magic there as an added bonus. With Qarth she has a history that continued in Dance, so a resolution would be welcome, even if it's no more than submission via emissary. I also believe Norvos will be important, because Mellario Martell is there, and we don't know exactly what kind of influence her family has in the city. It has been hinted in Areo's chapters that Norvos is a slaver city, and we were told that Mellario used to be deeply protective of her children, one of which was roasted by Dany's dragons. There is potential for conflict there. Mellario could become an important character in Winds/Dream, just like Stannis became important after barely being mentioned in AGoT. And, of course, there is Braavos, which raises probably the most interesting ethical, political and emotional questions. Say Dany does conquer the rest of Essos. Would she allow Braavos to remain independent because it's not a slaver city? Or because it's one of the few places in the world she associates with safety and happiness? And even if she wants to, will she have enough control over the Dothraki to do it? If they agree to give up raiding and pillaging and unite under her it's probably not going to be because she opens their eyes to the evils of slavery, but because she will promise them conquests beyond their boldest dreams, with a dragon by her side to back that up. I can see her convincing them not to rape or enslave anyone because if she is the "Stallion who mounts the world" then technically everyone in the world is equally her subject, but telling them to leave a kingdom that refuses to pledge allegiance alone sounds contradictory to that image... so there is a possibility that she wouldn't be able to stop the momentum of the horde without undermining her leadership. And what about the Braavosi themselves? Would they trust Dany, or would they consider her a dragon riding tyrant and a threat regardless of her attitude towards them? Especially if she conquers Pentos, which, regardless of what we readers know about Illyrio and possibly other magisters, is considered a city where slavery is forbidden. There is room for so much political drama here, especially if you throw Jon in the mix with a budding kingdom of Westerosi refugees that is financially dependent of Braavos but wants Dany to use her dragons to clear away the Others back home.
  14. I disagree with you here, and I also think you missed my point... To you, good worldbuilding means imaginative diversity. Tolkien has a bunch of culturally different races, Erikson has... a ton of stuff, Mieville has a visually rich and innovative world as well... But all of this is static. They don't automatically translate to good interactions and dynamics. There's no juicy history in LotR, there's only mythology (you have the "way back then" and the "right now", as opposed to Martin, where the events of Robert's Rebellion are deeply connected to the current story, both causally and dramatically). There's no political complexity to situations that by all accounts should be political (such as Aragorn returning to the throne of Gondor, and even the decision to send Frodo to Mordor with the Ring). I get it that Keely likes his fantasy that way (and perhaps you do as well). but such a story has very little value for a modern, politically literate reader. The morals don't apply to real world situation and the plot is transparently unrealistic. I can appreciate the concept behind highly imaginative and rich worlds like Erikson and Mieville created, but when these worlds are ultimately filled with inconsistencies, contradictions and weak characters, the good concept isn't going to save them in my eyes. The Malazan series has so many larger than life threats and characters, so many things that can destroy towns and armies (and maybe more) that you start asking yourself "Why are there any towns and conventional armies in this world?". There are so many random people that turn into gods and goddesses, so many eldritch powers that fizzle out without achieving anything, so many characters that die and are resurrected and die again (don't ask me for examples because it's all a blur to me) that you can't take anything seriously. It's like a soap opera or long-running anime series with high magic - all flare and dazzle but no depth. Overall, this mishmash undermines the bits and pieces that are actually cool (such as Coltaine's March). Similarly, Mieville starts Perdido Street Station with the premise of an oppressive, 1984-esque Government that has spies everywhere and holds the town in an iron grip, but later introduces so many things that are outside this government's knowledge, or beyond its control, that the entire premise becomes pointless... and indeed it doesn't serve any thematic purpose, it is merely one of a series of concepts the author rolls in and out of the story to showcase his imagination. But in the end each of these concepts is weakened by how poorly it connects with the rest. As for your complaint about ASoIaF... Again, it boils down to geography and language nitpicks. And really, the geography is fine, they all have grains, mines, soldiers and everything else, it's just that kingdoms are known for what they are best at, the same way you identified France with wines, Germany with warriors and beer, Italy with art and religion, Great Britain with bad weather and colonialism, breadbasket countries (Ukraine, Romania, etc) with fertile lands and peasants, etc. As for the language, everyone in Westeros is descended from Andals and First Men, and these two came from the same region of Essos, so it's realistic that they would have similar languages that blended into one (and in Dorne, where there was a later Rhoynish influence, there are different titles, such as Prince and Seneschal). If this is indeed happening, it is much more likely due to market saturation. There's already such a thing as a Top 51 Best Fantasy Series (!!!), which means if you read an average of one series a year, you're already set for most of your adult life. Unless a drastic jump in quality happens in fantasy writing (particularly the quality expected by readers in order to keep buying), or fantasy based on different cultures and time periods than medieval Eurasia become more mainstream, there's little need to invest in new series. As a new reader, you can pick one of these and you don't need to wait, and as a publisher you can just keep reprinting them. If anything, Martin could open the way for a wave of more complex, less pulpy fantasy, but first he needs to prove that such an approach can have a satisfying ending.
  15. Politics and geopolitics do not resume themselves to the map on the front page and cultural templates. It's more about the interactions and dynamics that exist within the governing structures of the kingdoms as well as between the kingdoms themselves as political entities. These interactions and dynamics are very interesting compared to fantasy in general. And the HBO series became popular on the back of George's writing. Of course the series was more popular (and subsequently led to an increase of book sales), TV is easier to market and is consumed quicker and easier, so people are less likely to be held back by the required time investment. The point the reviewer is making is ridiculous, long gaps between books are not a "risk" for the publisher. The publisher has ways to compensate for that if the series is popular and still make money (did you not notice the release of TWoIaF, the Dunk&Egg collected illustrated short stories, the illustrated anniversary edition of AGoT, that little book with Tyrion quotes, etc.?). The risk is only from readers, since readers dictate what will and won't be in demand, and readers are just as likely to abandon the fantasy epic because of disappointing endings to popular series (which is already a bit of a trend) as they are to do it because ASoIaF is taking a long time to write. It is an extremely hypocritical argument with no correct answer except the highly unrealistic "write fast and really well". I read 9/10 of Erikson's initial series, didn't bother with Esslemont, nor will I. Erikson is a very interesting case, and I find it ironic that you would recommend him in the context of this discussion, because he is a perfect example of the disadvantages of rushing your books. When he's good, Erikson is excellent, and I remember some very memorable scenes from that series. The problem is, he rarely keeps it up. He's writing books like a Bangladeshi textile worker, in a mad dash to complete 1.000 pages a year, so he doesn't have time to smooth his work, and you can literally feel his bad days in the text. You also can't possibly like the Malazan series and at the same time agree with Keely's review. You know all the stuff he said about chaining false endings, about killing characters and burying their plot arcs with them? About adding more characters that spiral out of control? Yeah, that's the definition of Malazan, minus the extreme care Martin has for continuity and interconnected plot lines. It even introduces an entire new continent midway through the series, come on! At least judge everything by the same standards... Martin can only be accused that he introduced the Martell and Greyjoy characters later in the series, but The Martells and The Greyjoys, Dorne and The Iron Island, as geopolitical actors were introduced from the start in highly memorable ways since Book One (via the Greyjoy Rebellion and the deaths of Elia Martell and her children). The irony is expanding these nations and giving them a major role in the story was always a requirement if the series was going to be any good.