T and A

Critical Reviews of ASOIAF

39 posts in this topic

Hi folks, 

I was interested to know if someone knows some good critical reviews about the novels. I found this one, which is actually really good in terms of literacy and comparison to other books: 

https://matthilliard.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/a-song-of-ice-and-fire-by-george-r-r-martin/

Do you know any bettter reviews or some reviews that you think were good and most important: objective (e.g. no fan review).

I am actually writing an essay about fantasy books and especially fantasy aurhors and I am doing research now. 

What do you think about the review above?

I hope there arent' other threads with this topic. If so I apologize. 

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I disagree with the blogger's sense that GRRM writes the books as "gritty realism." I don't think of myself as a regular reader of fantasy or science fiction, but books featuring dragons and greenseers and skinchangers don't seem like realism to me.

The blogger also says that the geographic construction and detail are "merely adequate," while the author has instead focused on a "social landscape." I disagree with the first part of the evaluation. I think GRRM figured out exactly where rivers would be crossed, where Harrenhal would be located (and how near it would be to the God's Eye), why there had to be a narrow pass that connects Dorne to the rest of Westeros, and how deep the tunnel would be that branches off from Mance's feast hall. He knows how old Storm's End is and who built it, why Oldstones is a ruin and why the Manderly family relocated to White Harbor and rebuilt the Wolf's Den. I agree with the idea of the "social landscape," and see that as part of the strength of GRRM's worldbuilding. The families of Westeros are complicated, interrelated and based on archetypes from world literature. (I haven't finished the blogger's review, but he hasn't yet recognized the depth of literary allusion GRRM incorporates in the books. Maybe that comes up later in the review.)

Ok, this is downright wrong:

Yet this all proceeds outside of the narrative structure that has characterized western literature for centuries. There is no development, there is no sense of progression of any kind, there is no climax. It’s the plot equivalent of someone banging an endless series of chords, each unrelated to the next, on a piano. Now I readily admit to being far more interested in the way stories are constructed than the average reader, but I think this has many important downsides even for those who aren’t consciously aware of the dissonance.

At the beginning of the blog post, the blogger says that he avoided reading the books for years because he can't stand starting a story if the series is unfinished. Clearly, the lack of closure at this point is just torture for this guy, and he is blaming the author even though it was his own decision to go against his personal preferences and read a series that is two volumes short of being finished.

I am the opposite: I love reading the early volumes of a series, before the ending has been written. I enjoy making predictions and sorting out literary clues and subtext and allusion in order to guess at what might be in store for the characters. This ASOIAF forum has become an obsession for me because it is the perfect venue for sharing that passion with others who like to sort out the books. So I admit that this blogger and I are approaching the series with a completely different mindset.

The notions that there are no development or progression or climax are just unfair, however, and contradicted by the blogger's own point earlier in his blog post, when he says that he has been pleasantly surprised by the development in Jaime's character. The blogger also seems to have missed the point that the looming "evil" in the north (which he incorrectly says is "never mention[ed] . . . again in any way") is building slowly, in a way I would compare to the unseen shark in the movie "Jaws." There are dozens, if not hundreds, of literary clues about the approaching evil: "Winter is coming," would be one obvious example, but allusions to the Last Hero, the Long Night, the Sword of the Morning and even the beheadings and deserters who refer back to Ned's execution of Gared. Aliser Thorne tries to convince Tyrion of the threat as Tyrion sits on the Iron Throne and we see Sam Tarly discover the power of obsidian as a weapon against the Others. This blogger lost all credibility for me with this wrong-headed claim about the books.

The guy appears to claim that the millions of people who are enjoying the books (in the original English and in many, many translations) are just dummies without his clarity of insight:

I think most of the series’ fans would point at the plot as being its strength. I can see why they might like it, but I’m going to call it a disaster.

Why is he correct but the other thousands or millions of us are wrong about the strength and appeal of the plot? I have never seen a credible reviewer demand that a plot should not surprise its readers! He insists that a good plot must follow predictable norms! What? Not in the universe where I've been living. Readers crave surprise and originality. If you've followed the discussion in this forum at all, it is the "subversion of tropes" that delights readers of the series: Brienne is not a high-born lady who is rescued and married by the handsome prince; Ned appears to be the principled and honest-to-a-fault right-hand man to the king (but he is really the Lord of the Underworld with at least one major secret of some kind in his past); Tyrion is a "monster" who is also a hero, who cleans out sewers and sews and rides a pig when he finally learns to joust. Readers enjoy this originality and the unexpected departures from traditional tales.

I'm still reading, but the blogger appears to have no background in literary analysis. There is a great post somewhere in this forum about the weird and necessary elements that precede the "hatching" of dragons. That's just one example of the original details GRRM has invented for these books. If the blogger were able to notice and appreciate such details, he would edit his blog post to delete the mistaken assertion that the plot is disastrous and should follow a predictable set of norms.

The blogger makes an unprovable (or is it self-fulfilling?) assertion that every character who is killed off is necessarily a minor character. Here, again, I think this betrays an inability by the blogger to understand the deeper themes of the series. I don't have a ton of background about world mythology, but I know about the winter king and the summer king that come from Celtic mythology (and/or the Golden Bough and/or the White Goddess). So, for instance, Ned Stark was beheaded, but he "lives on" through constant recollections, speculation about his relationship to Jon, a flashback seen by Bran through the weirwood, and symbolic allusions throughout the stories. Ned's sword is reborn, for pete's sake, and off on a quest where it reunites with his widow. As the symbolic king of the underworld, Ned's death was a sort of return to his natural habitat and the unknown location of his bones is understood as a hint that his spirit is still out and active in the world.

And I can work with "minor" characters to disprove this inaccuracy in the blogger's attempt to discredit the books. Mance's wife, Dalla, for instance, dies in childbirth with very little dialogue or interaction with other characters. Yet she is important and necessary to the plot. That baby is part of the "king's blood" conflict, for instance, with Jon Snow (like his father, the apparently irrelevant Ned Stark) trying to prevent the murder of a child. We have also seen a pattern where the mothers of major characters die in childbirth - Tyrion, Danaerys, Jon Snow (we suspect), linking the baby to this group of major players. One of Dalla's few lines of dialogue is when she tells Jon Snow that "sorcery is a sword without a hilt." The fact that she says little magnifies the importance of what she does say. Because she symbolizes Jon's unknown mother and she is dying as she speaks, this line takes on even greater importance. If the blogger feels the need to categorize characters as important or unimportant, I can't stop him but he is missing the point.

Joffrey Baratheon is a distorted version of Jaime and of Azor Ahai. Does his death make him a minor character? I could go on an on with further examples.

The blogger's blanket assertions are evidence of his superficial understanding of literature in general, and of this story in particular. He claims to be an avid reader of fantasy literature, but he does not show any understanding of literary analysis or of literature in general. Besides, he is ignoring the fact that the books are enormously popular. Why not start with the fact that the books are well-loved, and try to figure out why that is the case? Instead, he approaches them with the prejudiced position that he will not like them because the series has not been completed. I expect he will persuade some people with his specious logic, but I just feel sorry for him. Like Joffrey, he has used his tiny sword to try to destroy a book without actually reading it.

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18 minutes ago, Seams said:

I disagree with the blogger's sense that GRRM writes the books as "gritty realism." I don't think of myself as a regular reader of fantasy or science fiction, but books featuring dragons and greenseers and skinchangers don't seem like realism to me.

The blogger also says that the geographic construction and detail are "merely adequate," while the author has instead focused on a "social landscape." I disagree with the first part of the evaluation. I think GRRM figured out exactly where rivers would be crossed, where Harrenhal would be located (and how near it would be to the God's Eye), why there had to be a narrow pass that connects Dorne to the rest of Westeros, and how deep the tunnel would be that branches off from Mance's feast hall. He knows how old Storm's End is and who built it, why Oldstones is a ruin and why the Manderly family relocated to White Harbor and rebuilt the Wolf's Den. I agree with the idea of the "social landscape," and see that as part of the strength of GRRM's worldbuilding. The families of Westeros are complicated, interrelated and based on archetypes from world literature. (I haven't finished the blogger's review, but he hasn't yet recognized the depth of literary allusion GRRM incorporates in the books. Maybe that comes up later in the review.)

Ok, this is downright wrong:

Yet this all proceeds outside of the narrative structure that has characterized western literature for centuries. There is no development, there is no sense of progression of any kind, there is no climax. It’s the plot equivalent of someone banging an endless series of chords, each unrelated to the next, on a piano. Now I readily admit to being far more interested in the way stories are constructed than the average reader, but I think this has many important downsides even for those who aren’t consciously aware of the dissonance.

At the beginning of the blog post, the blogger says that he avoided reading the books for years because he can't stand starting a story if the series is unfinished. Clearly, the lack of closure at this point is just torture for this guy, and he is blaming the author even though it was his own decision to go against his personal preferences and read a series that is two volumes short of being finished.

I am the opposite: I love reading the early volumes of a series, before the ending has been written. I enjoy making predictions and sorting out literary clues and subtext and allusion in order to guess at what might be in store for the characters. This ASOIAF forum has become an obsession for me because it is the perfect venue for sharing that passion with others who like to sort out the books. So I admit that this blogger and I are approaching the series with a completely different mindset.

The notions that there are no development or progression or climax are just unfair, however, and contradicted by the blogger's own point earlier in his blog post, when he says that he has been pleasantly surprised by the development in Jaime's character. The blogger also seems to have missed the point that the looming "evil" in the north (which he incorrectly says is "never mention[ed] . . . again in any way") is building slowly, in a way I would compare to the unseen shark in the movie "Jaws." There are dozens, if not hundreds, of literary clues about the approaching evil: "Winter is coming," would be one obvious example, but allusions to the Last Hero, the Long Night, the Sword of the Morning and even the beheadings and deserters who refer back to Ned's execution of Gared. Aliser Thorne tries to convince Tyrion of the threat as Tyrion sits on the Iron Throne and we see Sam Tarly discover the power of obsidian as a weapon against the Others. This blogger lost all credibility for me with this wrong-headed claim about the books.

The guy appears to claim that the millions of people who are enjoying the books (in the original English and in many, many translations) are just dummies without his clarity of insight:

I think most of the series’ fans would point at the plot as being its strength. I can see why they might like it, but I’m going to call it a disaster.

Why is he correct but the other thousands or millions of us are wrong about the strength and appeal of the plot? I have never seen a credible reviewer demand that a plot should not surprise its readers! He insists that a good plot must follow predictable norms! What? Not in the universe where I've been living. Readers crave surprise and originality. If you've followed the discussion in this forum at all, it is the "subversion of tropes" that delights readers of the series: Brienne is not a high-born lady who is rescued and married by the handsome prince; Ned appears to be the principled and honest-to-a-fault right-hand man to the king (but he is really the Lord of the Underworld with at least one major secret of some kind in his past); Tyrion is a "monster" who is also a hero, who cleans out sewers and sews and rides a pig when he finally learns to joust. Readers enjoy this originality and the unexpected departures from traditional tales.

I'm still reading, but the blogger appears to have no background in literary analysis. There is a great post somewhere in this forum about the weird and necessary elements that precede the "hatching" of dragons. That's just one example of the original details GRRM has invented for these books. If the blogger were able to notice and appreciate such details, he would edit his blog post to delete the mistaken assertion that the plot is disastrous and should follow a predictable set of norms.

The blogger makes an unprovable (or is it self-fulfilling?) assertion that every character who is killed off is necessarily a minor character. Here, again, I think this betrays an inability by the blogger to understand the deeper themes of the series. I don't have a ton of background about world mythology, but I know about the winter king and the summer king that come from Celtic mythology (and/or the Golden Bough and/or the White Goddess). So, for instance, Ned Stark was beheaded, but he "lives on" through constant recollections, speculation about his relationship to Jon, a flashback seen by Bran through the weirwood, and symbolic allusions throughout the stories. Ned's sword is reborn, for pete's sake, and off on a quest where it reunites with his widow. As the symbolic king of the underworld, Ned's death was a sort of return to his natural habitat and the unknown location of his bones is understood as a hint that his spirit is still out and active in the world.

And I can work with "minor" characters to disprove this inaccuracy in the blogger's attempt to discredit the books. Mance's wife, Dalla, for instance, dies in childbirth with very little dialogue or interaction with other characters. Yet she is important and necessary to the plot. That baby is part of the "king's blood" conflict, for instance, with Jon Snow (like his father, the apparently irrelevant Ned Stark) trying to prevent the murder of a child. We have also seen a pattern where the mothers of major characters die in childbirth - Tyrion, Danaerys, Jon Snow (we suspect), linking the baby to this group of major players. One of Dalla's few lines of dialogue is when she tells Jon Snow that "sorcery is a sword without a hilt." The fact that she says little magnifies the importance of what she does say. Because she symbolizes Jon's unknown mother and she is dying as she speaks, this line takes on even greater importance. If the blogger feels the need to categorize characters as important or unimportant, I can't stop him but he is missing the point.

Joffrey Baratheon is a distorted version of Jaime and of Azor Ahai. Does his death make him a minor character? I could go on an on with further examples.

The blogger's blanket assertions are evidence of his superficial understanding of literature in general, and of this story in particular. He claims to be an avid reader of fantasy literature, but he does not show any understanding of literary analysis or of literature in general. Besides, he is ignoring the fact that the books are enormously popular. Why not start with the fact that the books are well-loved, and try to figure out why that is the case? Instead, he approaches them with the prejudiced position that he will not like them because the series has not been completed. I expect he will persuade some people with his specious logic, but I just feel sorry for him. Like Joffrey, he has used his tiny sword to try to destroy a book without actually reading it.

Thank you very much for the detailled analysis. I don't agree - at least in some points - with the blogger. I just need a differentiated and unbiased analysis of ASOIA. If I would write it, there would not be anything negative to write. And that is the problem. I am a Fan. The only point where I agree with him is the storypath. While the first three books were at the point and straight forward, the last two books were mediocre and lost in detaills with a lot of subplots that were subversive and not necessary for the plot. 

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1 minute ago, T and A said:

Thank you very much for the detailled analysis. I don't agree - at least in some points - with the blogger. I just need a differentiated and unbiased analysis of ASOIA. If I would write it, there would not be anything negative to write. And that is the problem. I am a Fan. The only point where I agree with him is the storypath. While the first three books were at the point and straight forward, the last two books were mediocre and lost in detaills with a lot of subplots that were subversive and not necessary for the plot. 

Yeah i agree with you on most of these. Still though it was a good analysis.I would give it ten rusty tomatoes out of ten. Thais a compliment by the way. 

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6 hours ago, Seams said:

As the symbolic king of the underworld, Ned's death was a sort of return to his natural habitat and the unknown location of his bones is understood as a hint that his spirit is still out and active in the world.

Oh yes ! Just to give an exemple : we have now to re-read Dolorous Edd interventions, with Eddard Stark spirit. That's make them even more funny... and very less gratuitous :D

Dolorous Edd appears for the first time after Eddard's death, when the NW is beyond the Wall (he is never mentioned in AGOT, even if he is Mormont's squire like Jon and it could be logical to see him when Jon take his functions). His first words : 

Quote

"Bad enough when the dead come walking," he said to Jon as they crossed the village, "now the Old Bear wants them talking as well? No good will come of that, I'll warrant. And who's to say the bones wouldn't lie? Why should death make a man truthful, or even clever? The dead are likely dull fellows, full of tedious complaints—the ground's too cold, my gravestone should be larger, why does he get more worms than I do . . ." (ACOK, Jon II)

That why Eddard don't want a grave, surely ^^

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10 minutes ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Oh yes ! Just to give an exemple : we have now to re-read Dolorous Edd interventions, with Eddard Stark spirit. That's make them even more funny... and very less gratuitous :D

Dolorous Edd appears for the first time after Eddard's death, when the NW is beyond the Wall (he is never mentioned in AGOT, even if he is Mormont's squire like Jon and it could be logical to see him when Jon take his functions). His first words : 

That why Eddard don't want a grave, surely ^^

I love this! Very nice connection.

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I'm actually not a great fan of fantasy: it's either realistic scifi or mainstream for me. Tolkien used to be the only great exception with his bizarrelly intricate world and cosmology - so carefully thought out during long decades of private obsession (by a leading philologist of his era). Martin became then the second great figure of the genre with his utterly different but equally obsessive approach. But the thing is that we seem to be stuck. Martin's obsession has led him to gigantism, to impossible intricasies of characters and storylines. I'm beginning to see a magnificent failure looming: there easily might not ever be a conclusion worthy of the world and the story - Tolkien managed this after decades of trying, Martin I fear will not.

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On 1/14/2017 at 2:45 AM, GloubieBoulga said:

Oh yes ! Just to give an exemple : we have now to re-read Dolorous Edd interventions, with Eddard Stark spirit. That's make them even more funny... and very less gratuitous :D

Dolorous Edd appears for the first time after Eddard's death, when the NW is beyond the Wall (he is never mentioned in AGOT, even if he is Mormont's squire like Jon and it could be logical to see him when Jon take his functions). His first words : 

That why Eddard don't want a grave, surely ^^

Great stuff

"Why should death make a man truthful, or even clever?"

LS, is that you?

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On January 13, 2017 at 10:35 PM, hwyl said:

I'm actually not a great fan of fantasy: it's either realistic scifi or mainstream for me. Tolkien used to be the only great exception with his bizarrelly intricate world and cosmology - so carefully thought out during long decades of private obsession (by a leading philologist of his era). Martin became then the second great figure of the genre with his utterly different but equally obsessive approach. But the thing is that we seem to be stuck. Martin's obsession has led him to gigantism, to impossible intricasies of characters and storylines. I'm beginning to see a magnificent failure looming: there easily might not ever be a conclusion worthy of the world and the story - Tolkien managed this after decades of trying, Martin I fear will not.

Tolkien had a serious advantage.....

It's a classic hero's tale with heroic companions. Peter Jackson was able to deliver the same exact action bc the courage of hobitts 

GRRM has made dozens of minor characters prominent and enjoyable while keeping a whole society and its rough history in nearly flawless (however bring so small the errors aren't relevant)

Don't mean to be combative/rude in anyway but GRRM vs. Tolkien isn't close to a fair comparison especially in the conclusion department bc we knew what Tolkien was going for. GRRM has us completely guessing who has the plot armor to make the end game. And GRRM has a chance to make the most epic of endings and even if it's not a "massive failure" is just not fair or accurate. 

Poor Sean Bean. Why do you have to be so good at dying?

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On 1/13/2017 at 1:36 PM, Seams said:

I disagree with the blogger's sense that GRRM writes the books as "gritty realism." I don't think of myself as a regular reader of fantasy or science fiction, but books featuring dragons and greenseers and skinchangers don't seem like realism to me.

The blogger also says that the geographic construction and detail are "merely adequate," while the author has instead focused on a "social landscape." I disagree with the first part of the evaluation. I think GRRM figured out exactly where rivers would be crossed, where Harrenhal would be located (and how near it would be to the God's Eye), why there had to be a narrow pass that connects Dorne to the rest of Westeros, and how deep the tunnel would be that branches off from Mance's feast hall. He knows how old Storm's End is and who built it, why Oldstones is a ruin and why the Manderly family relocated to White Harbor and rebuilt the Wolf's Den. I agree with the idea of the "social landscape," and see that as part of the strength of GRRM's worldbuilding. The families of Westeros are complicated, interrelated and based on archetypes from world literature. (I haven't finished the blogger's review, but he hasn't yet recognized the depth of literary allusion GRRM incorporates in the books. Maybe that comes up later in the review.)

Ok, this is downright wrong:

Yet this all proceeds outside of the narrative structure that has characterized western literature for centuries. There is no development, there is no sense of progression of any kind, there is no climax. It’s the plot equivalent of someone banging an endless series of chords, each unrelated to the next, on a piano. Now I readily admit to being far more interested in the way stories are constructed than the average reader, but I think this has many important downsides even for those who aren’t consciously aware of the dissonance.

At the beginning of the blog post, the blogger says that he avoided reading the books for years because he can't stand starting a story if the series is unfinished. Clearly, the lack of closure at this point is just torture for this guy, and he is blaming the author even though it was his own decision to go against his personal preferences and read a series that is two volumes short of being finished.

I am the opposite: I love reading the early volumes of a series, before the ending has been written. I enjoy making predictions and sorting out literary clues and subtext and allusion in order to guess at what might be in store for the characters. This ASOIAF forum has become an obsession for me because it is the perfect venue for sharing that passion with others who like to sort out the books. So I admit that this blogger and I are approaching the series with a completely different mindset.

The notions that there are no development or progression or climax are just unfair, however, and contradicted by the blogger's own point earlier in his blog post, when he says that he has been pleasantly surprised by the development in Jaime's character. The blogger also seems to have missed the point that the looming "evil" in the north (which he incorrectly says is "never mention[ed] . . . again in any way") is building slowly, in a way I would compare to the unseen shark in the movie "Jaws." There are dozens, if not hundreds, of literary clues about the approaching evil: "Winter is coming," would be one obvious example, but allusions to the Last Hero, the Long Night, the Sword of the Morning and even the beheadings and deserters who refer back to Ned's execution of Gared. Aliser Thorne tries to convince Tyrion of the threat as Tyrion sits on the Iron Throne and we see Sam Tarly discover the power of obsidian as a weapon against the Others. This blogger lost all credibility for me with this wrong-headed claim about the books.

The guy appears to claim that the millions of people who are enjoying the books (in the original English and in many, many translations) are just dummies without his clarity of insight:

I think most of the series’ fans would point at the plot as being its strength. I can see why they might like it, but I’m going to call it a disaster.

Why is he correct but the other thousands or millions of us are wrong about the strength and appeal of the plot? I have never seen a credible reviewer demand that a plot should not surprise its readers! He insists that a good plot must follow predictable norms! What? Not in the universe where I've been living. Readers crave surprise and originality. If you've followed the discussion in this forum at all, it is the "subversion of tropes" that delights readers of the series: Brienne is not a high-born lady who is rescued and married by the handsome prince; Ned appears to be the principled and honest-to-a-fault right-hand man to the king (but he is really the Lord of the Underworld with at least one major secret of some kind in his past); Tyrion is a "monster" who is also a hero, who cleans out sewers and sews and rides a pig when he finally learns to joust. Readers enjoy this originality and the unexpected departures from traditional tales.

I'm still reading, but the blogger appears to have no background in literary analysis. There is a great post somewhere in this forum about the weird and necessary elements that precede the "hatching" of dragons. That's just one example of the original details GRRM has invented for these books. If the blogger were able to notice and appreciate such details, he would edit his blog post to delete the mistaken assertion that the plot is disastrous and should follow a predictable set of norms.

The blogger makes an unprovable (or is it self-fulfilling?) assertion that every character who is killed off is necessarily a minor character. Here, again, I think this betrays an inability by the blogger to understand the deeper themes of the series. I don't have a ton of background about world mythology, but I know about the winter king and the summer king that come from Celtic mythology (and/or the Golden Bough and/or the White Goddess). So, for instance, Ned Stark was beheaded, but he "lives on" through constant recollections, speculation about his relationship to Jon, a flashback seen by Bran through the weirwood, and symbolic allusions throughout the stories. Ned's sword is reborn, for pete's sake, and off on a quest where it reunites with his widow. As the symbolic king of the underworld, Ned's death was a sort of return to his natural habitat and the unknown location of his bones is understood as a hint that his spirit is still out and active in the world.

And I can work with "minor" characters to disprove this inaccuracy in the blogger's attempt to discredit the books. Mance's wife, Dalla, for instance, dies in childbirth with very little dialogue or interaction with other characters. Yet she is important and necessary to the plot. That baby is part of the "king's blood" conflict, for instance, with Jon Snow (like his father, the apparently irrelevant Ned Stark) trying to prevent the murder of a child. We have also seen a pattern where the mothers of major characters die in childbirth - Tyrion, Danaerys, Jon Snow (we suspect), linking the baby to this group of major players. One of Dalla's few lines of dialogue is when she tells Jon Snow that "sorcery is a sword without a hilt." The fact that she says little magnifies the importance of what she does say. Because she symbolizes Jon's unknown mother and she is dying as she speaks, this line takes on even greater importance. If the blogger feels the need to categorize characters as important or unimportant, I can't stop him but he is missing the point.

Joffrey Baratheon is a distorted version of Jaime and of Azor Ahai. Does his death make him a minor character? I could go on an on with further examples.

The blogger's blanket assertions are evidence of his superficial understanding of literature in general, and of this story in particular. He claims to be an avid reader of fantasy literature, but he does not show any understanding of literary analysis or of literature in general. Besides, he is ignoring the fact that the books are enormously popular. Why not start with the fact that the books are well-loved, and try to figure out why that is the case? Instead, he approaches them with the prejudiced position that he will not like them because the series has not been completed. I expect he will persuade some people with his specious logic, but I just feel sorry for him. Like Joffrey, he has used his tiny sword to try to destroy a book without actually reading it.

Just curious, how much fantasy have you read?

It is ''girtty realism'' because the characters and the world is realistic in the sense that not all is white and black. Good shit happens and bad shit happens. Characters feel ''human'' as opposed to most fantasy / fiction where a person is either a Jedi or a Sith.

The map is barely adequate and I totally agree with what the blogger said. The map is mostly there so you recognize where certain people are from. Else, the entire makeup of the map makes no sense in a geographical, social or even cultural sense. You actually make his point by saying that the BASIC info is there. Look at where the main trade posts are, big cities and ummm Blackwater with no city until Kings Landing??

There is no actual plot. There is a World, People and Events. Do not get me wrong, this is what I actually like about the series. There is no actual ''story'' but all the characters, places and events are interesting. I am curious if you disagree, what is the actual story? Because this seems to be the biggest debate on these forums. Some think it is all about Jon being the Chosen One, while others disagree and think Danny is the main character and Chosen One. Is it about the GoT, the Others or how each of the aforementioned are dangerous in their own way to the 7 Kingdoms? If its about all of them, then there is no plot and there is no story, again there is a World, People and Events. 

BTW climax is defined as the most intense, exciting, or important point of something; a culmination or apex. Only thing I can think of is the Red Wedding being the climax to the shit show that was Robb Stark's invasion of the South... Has there been another climax that I missed?

The way you describe Ned would still define him as a minor character in literature. Important or necessary to the plot does not make a person a main character...

Before coming to this forum I had never heard of GRRM's  "subversion of tropes". He uses so many! Some he disguises well, others less so but which trope has been subverted? It is tropes with some ''gritty realism'' thrown in. 

I agree with the blogger. I would be very curious to see what he would say about ADWD if he thought AFFC was bogged down LOL Most people I know could not even finish AFFC because there was no advancement, just wandering from characters and issues (Brienne!). Those that did, only one of the 5 people I knew that had started the series actually finished ADWD. He also thought it was shite. My experience is that if you read lots of fantasy, you will love the first 3 books, dislike the 4th and hate the 5th unless you like the Twilight kind of fantasy or think Danny is the amazing breaker of chains lol. 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Spilledguts said:

Just curious, how much fantasy have you read?

It is ''girtty realism'' because the characters and the world is realistic in the sense that not all is white and black. Good shit happens and bad shit happens. Characters feel ''human'' as opposed to most fantasy / fiction where a person is either a Jedi or a Sith.

The map is barely adequate and I totally agree with what the blogger said. The map is mostly there so you recognize where certain people are from. Else, the entire makeup of the map makes no sense in a geographical, social or even cultural sense. You actually make his point by saying that the BASIC info is there. Look at where the main trade posts are, big cities and ummm Blackwater with no city until Kings Landing??

There is no actual plot. There is a World, People and Events. Do not get me wrong, this is what I actually like about the series. There is no actual ''story'' but all the characters, places and events are interesting. I am curious if you disagree, what is the actual story? Because this seems to be the biggest debate on these forums. Some think it is all about Jon being the Chosen One, while others disagree and think Danny is the main character and Chosen One. Is it about the GoT, the Others or how each of the aforementioned are dangerous in their own way to the 7 Kingdoms? If its about all of them, then there is no plot and there is no story, again there is a World, People and Events. 

BTW climax is defined as the most intense, exciting, or important point of something; a culmination or apex. Only thing I can think of is the Red Wedding being the climax to the shit show that was Robb Stark's invasion of the South... Has there been another climax that I missed?

The way you describe Ned would still define him as a minor character in literature. Important or necessary to the plot does not make a person a main character...

Before coming to this forum I had never heard of GRRM's  "subversion of tropes". He uses so many! Some he disguises well, others less so but which trope has been subverted? It is tropes with some ''gritty realism'' thrown in. 

I agree with the blogger. I would be very curious to see what he would say about ADWD if he thought AFFC was bogged down LOL Most people I know could not even finish AFFC because there was no advancement, just wandering from characters and issues (Brienne!). Those that did, only one of the 5 people I knew that had started the series actually finished ADWD. He also thought it was shite. My experience is that if you read lots of fantasy, you will love the first 3 books, dislike the 4th and hate the 5th unless you like the Twilight kind of fantasy or think Danny is the amazing breaker of chains lol. 

 

 

There is no story? Come now... are you being serious? Although there isn't one main protagonist, there are multiple key figures in the narrative who are trying to achieve their own missions and goals. Perhaps the most important plot line is the looming threat of the White Walkers. The war for the Iron Throne is another plot line, while Daenerys trying to get back 'home' is another.

The accumulation of these separate storylines will occur in Westeros once the White Walker threat becomes more known. And that will ignite the climax of the story.

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You just made the blogger's point when he said that after so many words there is still no climax and still no clarity as to what the story is. Again, GRRM is writing about a World, People and Events, not a story driven by characters or world building as far as anyone can tell. 

In multiple POV stories, there is usually a climax or ending of sorts every book or every other book. Each character will have a journey with an ending, perhaps more than one before it interconnects with the main story. No reader and perhaps even GRRM himself does not know what the main story is, if there still is one. Can you name a climax, or an ending of sorts for a character on a journey to then begin another that connects with the main story? 

In regards to the main story you mention Daenerys trying to ''Get Home'', the GoT and the Others. The original outline names all 3 of these the "Threats". When did Danny go from threat to savior / main character / breaker of chains? Did you fall into the mustache twirling inner PoV trap that she is oh so amazing? When did the idea that the GoT is horrible for the entirety of the world become the centerpiece of the story? These are not stories. He is just writing about different stuff happening in his large world and large cast with seemingly no structure. 

If you say there is a structure, I will not even reply. 

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1 hour ago, Spilledguts said:

If you say there is a structure, I will not even reply. 

There is a structure.

(Whew! Glad this muddle of illogic is over.)

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On 13.1.2017 at 7:36 PM, Seams said:

a lot of thoughtful things

Thanks a lot, great analysis, just want to add some details I found interesting while browsing the blogger's other reviews.

On this,

19 hours ago, Spilledguts said:

I disagree with the blogger's sense that GRRM writes the books as "gritty realism." I don't think of myself as a regular reader of fantasy or science fiction, but books featuring dragons and greenseers and skinchangers don't seem like realism to me.

this

19 hours ago, Spilledguts said:

The blogger makes an unprovable (or is it self-fulfilling?) assertion that every character who is killed off is necessarily a minor character.

and this:

On 13.1.2017 at 7:36 PM, Seams said:

the blogger feels the need to categorize characters as important or unimportant

From the lecture of other reviews I seems to me that the blogger does have a problem with books in which the protagonists are not typical heroes with a deep impact on the world (see his problems with "The Culture", here he finds _the_ two books with something like a hero the best; his problems with the more complex and philosophical books of Mieville - or the problems the blogger has with what little of Continental European SciFi he had read: Jeschke, one book x) ), or books that don't have heroes at all. So yes, he does blame GRRM for exactly the things most people like the books for - that is: not being "like all the others".

And some thoughts on this:

On 13.1.2017 at 7:36 PM, Seams said:

I disagree with the blogger's sense that GRRM writes the books as "gritty realism." I don't think of myself as a regular reader of fantasy or science fiction, but books featuring dragons and greenseers and skinchangers don't seem like realism to me.

Of course you are right, a lot of people describe ASOIAF as "gritty realism" because they are irritated about what GRRM is doing in his books, opposed to a "proper" fantasy book (which I would not even try to read at all): Martin is basically throwing history at fantasy tropes, deconstructing and reconstructing them in this process (and heavily using mythological pictures - just to de- and reconstruct them too). That's why main characters can die if they manoeuvre themselves into stupid situations. Because being Caesar/Brutus/Napoleon/Maria Stuart/... (insert random rl-"hero" aka important historical figurine of your liking here) does not make you win every battle, achieve everything you want and live happily ever after automatically*. Because the good guys not only don't exist, but also don't win by being nice. Because the abyss does look back into you and the way to hell is paved with good intentions... etc. pp.

Just like: "How was Aragon's tax policy?" Why would someone how has never learned to rule become a good king automatically? Shouldn't he be more like Jon or Dany - learning to rule first?

 

*Because, you know: Daß der Mensch glücklich werde, ist im Bauplan der Schöpfung nicht vorgesehen. - It is not intended within the blueprint of creation for human to be happy. (Sigmund Freud)

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On 1/13/2017 at 11:00 AM, T and A said:

Hi folks, 

I was interested to know if someone knows some good critical reviews about the novels. I found this one, which is actually really good in terms of literacy and comparison to other books: 

https://matthilliard.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/a-song-of-ice-and-fire-by-george-r-r-martin/

Do you know any bettter reviews or some reviews that you think were good and most important: objective (e.g. no fan review).

I am actually writing an essay about fantasy books and especially fantasy aurhors and I am doing research now. 

What do you think about the review above?

I hope there arent' other threads with this topic. If so I apologize.

3

There are plenty of fantasy authors who claim to be doing something different with the genre. Ironically, they often write the most predictable books of all, as evidenced by Goodkind and Paolini. Though I'm not sure why they protest so much--predictability is hardly a death sentence in genre fantasy.

The archetypal story of a hero, a villain, a profound love, and a world to be saved never seems to get old--it's a great story when it's told well. At the best, it's exciting, exotic, and builds to a fulfilling climax. At the worst, it's just a bloodless rehash. Unfortunately, the worst are more common by far.

Perhaps it was this abundance of cliche romances that drove Martin to aim for something different. Unfortunately, you can't just choose to be different, any more than you can choose to be creative. Sure, Moorcock's original concept for Elric was to be the anti-Conan, but at some point, he had to push his limits and move beyond difference for difference's sake--and he did.

In similar gesture, Martin rejects the allegorical romance of epic fantasy, which basically means tearing out the guts of the genre: the wonder, the ideals, the heroism, and with them, the moral purpose. Fine, so he took out the rollicking fun and the social message--what did he replace them with?

Like the post-Moore comics of the nineties, fantasy has already borne witness to a backlash against the upright, moral hero--and then a backlash against the grim antihero who succeeded him. Hell, if all Martin wanted was grim and gritty antiheroes in an amoral world, he didn't have to reject the staples of fantasy, he could have gone to its roots: Howard, Leiber, and Anderson.

Like many authors aiming for realism, he forgets 'truth is stranger than fiction'. The real world is full of unbelievable events, coincidences, and odd characters. When authors remove these elements in an attempt to make their world seem real, they make their fiction duller than reality; after all, unexpected details are the heart of verisimilitude. When Chekhov and Peake eschewed the easy thrill of romance, they replaced it with the odd and absurd--moments strange enough to feel true. In comparison, Martin's world is dull and gray. Instead of innovating new, radical elements, he merely removes familiar staples--and any style defined by lack is going to end up feeling thin.

Yet, despite trying to inject the book with history and realism, he does not reject the melodramatic characterization of his fantasy forefathers, as evidenced by his brooding bastard antihero protagonist (with pet albino wolf). Apparently to him, 'grim realism' is 'Draco in Leather Pants'. This produces a conflicted tone: a soap opera cast lost in an existentialist film.

There's also lots of sex and misogyny, and 'wall-to-wall rape'--not that books should shy away from sex, or from any uncomfortable, unpleasant reality of life. The problem is when people who are not comfortable with their own sexuality start writing about it, which seems to plague every mainstream fantasy author. Their pen gets away from them, their own hangups start leaking into the scene, until it's not even about the characters anymore, it's just the author cybering about his favorite fetish--and if I cyber with a fat, bearded stranger, I expect to be paid for it.

I know a lot of fans probably get into it more than I do (like night elf hunters humping away in WOW), but reading Goodkind, Jordan, and Martin--it's like seeing a Playboy at your uncle's where all the pages are wrinkled. That's not to say there isn't serviceable pop fantasy sex out there--it's just written by women.

Though I didn't save any choice examples, I did come acrossthis quote from a later book:

"... she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest . . ."


Imagine the process: Martin sits, hands hovering over the keys, trying to get inside his character's head:

"Okay, I'm a woman. How do I see and feel the world differently? My cultural role is defined by childbirth. I can be bought and sold in marriage by my own--Oh, hey! I've got tits! Man, look at those things go. *whooshing mammary sound effects* Okay, time to write."

Where are the descriptions of variously-sized dongs swinging within the confines of absurdly-detailed clothing? There are a set of manboobs (which perhaps Martin has some personal experience with) but not until book five. Even then, it's not the dude being hyperaware of his own--they're just there to gross out a dwarf. Not really a balanced depiction.

If you're familiar with the show (and its parodies on South Park and SNL) this lack of dongs may surprise you. But as Martin himself explained, when asked why there's no gay sex in his books, despite having gay characters, 'they’re not the viewpoint characters'--as if somehow, the viewpoints he chooses to depict are beyond his control. Apparently, he plots as well as your average NaNoWriMo author: sorry none of my characters chose to be gay, nothing I can do about it.

And balance really is the problem here--if you only depict the dark, gritty stuff that you're into, that's not realism, it's just a fetish. If you depict the grimness of war by having every female character threatened with rape, but the same thing never happens to a male character, despite the fact that more men get raped in the military than women, then your 'gritty realism card' definitely gets revoked.

The books are notorious for the sudden, pointless deaths, which some suggest is another sign of realism--but, of course, nothing is pointless in fiction, because everything that shows up on the page is only there because the author put it there. Sure, in real life, people suddenly die before finishing their life's work (fantasy authors do it all the time), but there's a reason we don't tend to tell stories of people who die unexpectedly in the middle of things: they are boring and pointless. They build up for a while then eventually, lead nowhere.

Novelists often write in isolation, so it's easy to forget the rule to which playwrights adhere: your story is always a fiction. Any time you treat it as if it were real, you are working against yourself. The writing that feels the most natural is never effortless, it is carefully and painstakingly constructed to seem that way.

A staple of Creative Writing 101 is to 'listen to how people really talk', which is terrible advice. A transcript of any conversation will be so full of repetition, half-thoughts, and non-specific words ('stuff', 'thing') as to be incomprehensible--especially without the cues of tone and body language. Written communication has its own rules, so making dialogue feel like speech is a trick writers play. It's the same with sudden character deaths: treat them like a history, and your plot will become choppy and hard to follow.

Not that the deaths are truly unpredictable. Like in an action film, they are a plot convenience: kill off a villain, and you don't have to wrap up his arc. You don't have to defeat him psychologically--the finality of his death is the great equalizer. You skip the hard work of demonstrating that the hero was morally right because he's the only option left.

Likewise, in Martin's book, death ties up loose threads--namely, plot threads. Often, this is the only ending we get to his plot arcs, which makes them rather predictable: any time a character is about to build up enough influence to make things better, or more stable, he will die. Any character who poses a threat to the continuing chaos which drives the action will first be built up, and then killed off.

I found this interview to be a particularly telling example of how Martin thinks of character deaths:

"I killed Ned because everybody thinks he’s the hero ... sure, he’s going to get into trouble, but then he’ll somehow get out of it. The next predictable thing [someone] is going to rise up and avenge his [death] ... So immediately killing Robb became the next thing I had to do.


He's not talking about the characters' motivations, or the ideas they represent, or their role in the story--he isn't laying out a well-structured plot, he's just killing them off for pure shock value.

Yet the only reason we think these characters are important in the first place is that Martin treats them as central heroes, spending time and energy building them. Then it all ends up being a red herring, a cheap twist, the equivalent of a horror movie jump scare. It's like mystery novels in the 70's, after all the good plots had been done, so authors added ghosts or secret twins in the last chapter--it's only surprising because the author has obliterated the story structure.

All plots are made up of arcs that grow and change, building tension and purpose. Normally, when an arc ends, the author must use all his skill to deal with themes and answer questions, providing a satisfying conclusion to a promising idea that his readers watched grow. Or just kill off a character central to the conflict and bury the plot arc with him. Then you don't have to worry about closure, you can just hook your readers by focusing on the mess caused by the previous arc falling apart. Make the reader believe that things might get better, get them to believe in a character, then wave your arms in distraction, point and yell 'look at that terrible thing, over there!', and hope they become so caught up in worrying about the new problem that they forget the old one was never resolved.

Chaining false endings together creates perpetual tension that never requires solution--like in most soap operas--plus, the author never has to do the hard work of finishing what they started. If an author is lucky, they die before reaching the Final Conclusion the readership is clamoring for, and never have to meet the collective expectation which long years of deferral have built up. It's easy to idolize Kurt Cobain because you never had to see him bald and old and crazy like David Lee Roth.

Unlucky authors live to write the Final Book, breaking the spell of unending tension that kept their readers enthralled. Since the plot isn't resolving into a tight, intertwined conclusion (in fact, it's probably spiraling out of control, with even more characters and scenes), the author must wrap things up conveniently and suddenly, leaving fans confused and upset. Having thrown out the grand romance of fantasy, Martin cannot even end on the dazzling trick of the vaguely-spiritual transgressive Death Event on which the great majority of fantasy books rely for a handy tacked-on climax (actually, he'll probably do it anyways, with dragons--the longer the series goes on, the more it starts to resemble the cliche monomyth that Martin was praised for eschewing in the first place).

The drawback is that even if a conclusion gets stuck on at the end, the story fundamentally leads nowhere--it winds back and forth without resolving psychological or tonal arcs. But then, doesn't that sound more like real life? Martin tore out the moralistic heart and magic of fantasy, and in doing so, rejected the notion of grandly realized conclusions. Perhaps we shouldn't compare him to works of romance, but to histories.

He asks us to believe in his intrigue, his grimness, and his amoral world of war, power, and death--not the false Europe of Arthur, Robin Hood, and Orlando, but the real Europe of plagues, political struggles, religious wars, witch hunts, and roving companies of soldiery forever ravaging the countryside. Unfortunately, he doesn't compare very well to them, either. His intrigue is not as interesting as Cicero's, Machiavelli's, Enguerrand de Coucy's--or even Sallust's, who was practically writing fiction, anyways. Some might suggest it unfair to compare a piece of fiction to a true history, but these are the same histories that lent Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock their touches of verisimilitude. Martin might have taken a lesson from them and drawn inspiration from further afield: even Tolkien had his Eddas. Despite being fictionalized and dramatized, Martin's take on The War of the Roses is far duller than the original.

More than anything, this book felt like a serial melodrama: the hardships of an ensemble cast who we are meant to watch over and sympathize with, being drawn in by emotional appeals (the hope that things will 'get better' in this dark place, 'tragic' deaths), even if these appeals conflict with the supposed realism, and in the end, there is no grander story to unify the whole. This 'grittiness' is just Martin replacing the standard fantasy theme of 'glory' with one of 'hardship', and despite flipping this switch, it's still just an emotional appeal. 'Heroes always win' is just as blandly predictable as 'heroes always lose'.

It's been suggested that I didn't read enough of Martin to judge him, but if the first four hundred pages aren't good, I don't expect the next thousand will be different. If you combine the three Del Rey collections of Conan The Barbarian stories, you get 1,263 pages (including introductions, end notes, and variant scripts). If you take Martin's first two books in this series, you get 1,504 pages. Already, less than a third of the way into the series, he's written more than Howard's entire Conan output, and all I can do is ask myself: why does he need that extra length?

A few authors use it to their advantage, but for most, it's just sprawling undifferentiated bloat. Melodrama can be a great way to mint money, as evidenced by the endless 'variations on a theme' of soap operas, pro wrestling, and superhero comics. People get into it, but it's neither revolutionary nor realistic. You also hear the same things from the fans: that it's all carefully planned, all interconnected, all going somewhere. Apparently, they didn't learn their lesson from the anticlimactic fizzling out of Twin Peaks, X-Files, Lost, and Battlestar. Then again, you wouldn't keep watching if you didn't think it was going somewhere.

Some say 'at least he isn't as bad as all the drivel that gets published in genre fantasy', but saying he's better than dreck is really not very high praise. Others have intimated that I must not like fantasy at all, pointing to my low-star reviews of Martin, Wolfe, Jordan, and Goodkind, but it is precisely because I am passionate about fantasy that I fall heavily on these authors.

A lover of fine wines winces the more at a corked bottle of vinegar, a ballet enthusiast's love of dance would not leave him breathless at a high school competition--and likewise, having learned to appreciate epics, histories, knightly ballads, fairy tales, and their modern offspring in fantasy, I find Martin woefully lacking. There's plenty of grim fantasy and intrigue out there, from its roots to the dozens of fantasy authors, both old and modern, whom I list in the link at the end of this review

There seems to be a sense that Martin's work is somehow revolutionary, that it represents a 'new direction' for fantasy, but all I see is a reversion. Sure, he's different than Jordan, Goodkind, and their ilk, who simply took the pseudo-medieval high-magic world from Tolkien and the blood-and-guts heroism from Howard. Martin, on the other hand, has more closely followed Tolkien's lead than any other modern high fantasy author--and I don't just mean in terms of racism.

Tolkien wanted to make his story real--not 'realistic', using the dramatic techniques of literature--but actually real, by trying to create all the detail of a pretend world behind the story. Over the span of the first twenty years, he released The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and other works, while in the twenty years after that, he became so obsessed with worldbuilding for its own sake that instead of writing stories, he filled his shed with a bunch of notes (which his son has been trying to make a complete book from ever since).

It's the same thing Martin's trying to do: cover a bland story with a litany of details that don't contribute meaningfully to his characters, plot, or tone. So, if Martin is good because he is different, then it stands to reason that he's not very good because he's not that different. He may seem different if all someone has read is Tolkien and the authors who ape his style, but that's just one small corner of a very expansive genre. Anyone who thinks Tolkien is the 'father of fantasy' doesn't know enough about the genre to judge what 'originality' means.

So, if Martin neither an homage nor an original, I'm not sure what's left. In his attempt to set himself apart, he tore out the joyful heart of fantasy but failed to replace it with anything. There is no revolutionary voice here, and there is nothing in Martin's book that has not been done better by other authors.

However, there is one thing Martin has done that no other author has been able to do: kill the long-running High Fantasy series. According to some friends of mine in publishing (and some on-the-nose remarks by Caleb Carr in an NPR interview on his own foray into fantasy), Martin's inability to deliver a book on time, combined with his strained relationship with his publisher means that literary agents are no longer accepting manuscripts for high fantasy series--even from recognized authors. Apparently, Martin is so bad at plot structure that he actually pre-emptively ruined books by other authors. Perhaps it is true what they say about silver linings . . .

Though I declined to finish this book, I'll leave you with a caution compiled from various respectable friends of mine who did continue on:

"If you need some kind of closure, avoid this series. No arcs will ever be completed, nothing will ever really change. The tagline is 'Winter is Coming'--it's not. As the series goes on, there will be more and more characters and diverging plotlines to keep track of, many of them apparently completely unrelated to each other, even as it increasingly becomes just another cliche, fascist 'chosen one' monomyth, like every other fantasy series out there. If you enjoy a grim, excessively long soap opera with lots of deaths and constant unresolved tension, pick up the series--otherwise, maybe check out the show."

 

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9 hours ago, Jedi Exile said:

Though I declined to finish this book, I'll leave you with a caution compiled from various respectable friends of mine who did continue on:

Excuse me, but: Did you actually read more then a part of the first book? Because, as the article on fascist aesthetics you linked does recognize, this (from your article about fascistic aesthetics - which is, btw, very good, and in fact positive about ASoIaF, just concerned) 

Quote

And so stories of agonized struggle tend to end with ceremonies. The hero becomes the king, ushering in a golden age, but we don’t ever get to see the king, like, paying down the national debt, or building a lot of libraries, or doing whatever else a golden age would really entail. 

is indeed what got Martin to start the books, that's why his "heroes" have flaws and make bitter mistakes.

And while the author of this article does fear for Martin to loose his goal and fall back into the standard fantasy tropes (and with them fascist aesthetics), it did not happen yet. Beside I don't think that we have to worry about Dany becoming that typical fantasy hero, not after ADwD. But, very important here: This article you linked dates before the release of ADwD, so the author did and could not include and rate the characters' struggle and failures in that book. (For this, see the comment section of this particular article, by the responses of the author we can be quite sure that he may has been pleased with the deconstruction of the young rulers in ADwD)

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On 10/10/2017 at 6:03 PM, Dawn of Fyre said:

There is no story? Come now... are you being serious? Although there isn't one main protagonist, there are multiple key figures in the narrative who are trying to achieve their own missions and goals. Perhaps the most important plot line is the looming threat of the White Walkers. The war for the Iron Throne is another plot line, while Daenerys trying to get back 'home' is another.

The accumulation of these separate storylines will occur in Westeros once the White Walker threat becomes more known. And that will ignite the climax of the story.

There's no overlying thematic narrative that keeps the plot together. There's three mini stories that will merge into one. 

Its like this. If you ever read the Stand or IT you had all these different POV chapters. But ultimately they all were focused around and supported an overarching narrative. Jon's story has nothing to do with Dany's as of this current moment in the books. Dany's story has nothing to do with the conflict that has been plaguing the Iron Throne, she would be her own individual conflict, not one spawned from the actions of Ned Stark in the first book. They are now intersecting and will meet and add up at the end. But really the plot to this point has just been set pieces to get everyone in position.

Which is probably the greatest critique you could make. It's a series that's really all set up and prologue. The first book was a glorified prologue. And a lot of the events people loved like the Red Wedding were just a clever trick of GRRM making a war which didn't matter as long as the pieces lined up the right way at the end into a huge focus of the story. 

It's actually a simple story. It's just blown up to the point where he could use the set up to be more compelling 

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I find bizarre the line of thinking that fantasy societies in fantasy worlds should advance technologically on the same timeline as ours.

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26 minutes ago, chrisdaw said:

I find bizarre the line of thinking that fantasy societies in fantasy worlds should advance technologically on the same timeline as ours.

Why shouldn't they? If all of their technology, government, social structures, etc. are nearly identical to 13th century England, why is it bizarre to expect it to be like 15h century England in another 200 years?

Obviously things are different in fantasy worlds that don't use a pseudo-medieval (or pseudo-classical, etc.) world. Middle Earth has elves magically keeping the world in stasis. Lankhmar is so (for our world) anachronistic that it's hard to predict how it should progress. On Discworld, invention works completely differently from on Earth, and progress happens when it's narratively fitting. Mystara has such prevalent magitech that there's no reason to expect technological invention And so on.

But Westeros is a standard medieval England expy, like most fantasy settings, so it makes sense to expect it to advance on a similar timeline to our world.

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4 minutes ago, falcotron said:

Why shouldn't they? If all of their technology, government, social structures, etc. are nearly identical to 13th century England, why is it bizarre to expect it to be like 15h century England in another 200 years?

Because that assumes that human advancement is an iron clad blueprint for how it must happen, which is baseless.

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