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  1. I agree that realism has never been the goal in JA books, but I do think the previous books did a better job of keeping things plausible enough to suspend disbelief. This book is the most ambitious of them all in terms of the scale of events and because of that, logical leaps and pacing issues stand out more. Not a huge deal for me, since I thought the way it all came together was very effective. As for Jezal’s death, I assumed Bayaz was behind it because the first trilogy conditioned me to think there are no coincidences around the guy. The end of ALH with Bayaz literally looming at the kings deathbed doesn’t scream random event to me, knowing what we do about him. It might not be surprising or original etc for Bayaz to be behind it all again, but I don’t think it’s meant to be. JA knows he can’t sneak anything by us regarding Bayaz. The question in a successor trilogy was always going to be why Bayaz was orchestrating the new series of events, not whether he was.
  2. I think using the fantasy elements as mostly red herrings in the original trilogy was basically the point of the series. We are given an in world fantasy definition for what the First Law is-users of magic are forbidden to speak to devils. Then Abercrombie uses the whole series showing us how that is dead letter both in terms of the in world fantasy magic and how humans behave in general. Bayaz’s true First Law is “Might makes right” and his actual wizardry encompasses all the ways he ensures he’s on the winning end of that equation- whether mundane or magical.
  3. I agree with the debt as leverage point, but I disagree that the text supports that this is just business as usual or a general policy of using the debt to tie the king and council’s hands. Instead, I think the circumstances indicate that as of the start of this trilogy the spigot on the bank’s money has only recently run dry and that strikes me as suspicious. Between the end of the first Trilogy and this one, Bayaz has bankrolled at least four wars for the Union, three of them offensive wars in Styria. We have no reason to think that Jezal and the Council were ever going rogue or needed to be restrained through more debt. The bottom line is that the restraint on the Union’s ability to act has never been tighter, but it can be loosened at any time and Bayaz chooses not to intervene until a moment that bleeds the establishment (meaning both the closed and open councils) dry right at the moment Pike is poised to make his big push. I think the question of why Bayaz is fostering a Great Change is the big question of this trilogy. To me it comes down to Bayaz (and the things his character symbolizes- the First Law, might makes right, tyranny) being adaptable as a core part of his nature. Magic is going out of the world, but Bayaz fully intends to stay in it. Fantasy magic is fading but Bayaz is up to his eyes in every new “magic” the modernizing world reveals. And I don’t think politics is immune to this. Tyranny can still exist outside of traditional monarchies and within purportedly more democratic regimes. I’m a bit rusty on my history, but I’m pretty sure historians have spent a lot of ink on how industrialization contributed to the nightmare scale of modern authoritarian regimes, many of which at least began under democratic auspices. Even the ones that purport to break free of Bayaz’s current levers of banks and finance can’t completely divorce themselves from them, and that is often offset by the greater degree of government control such regimes exercise over the lives of the populace. My point is that tyranny is as adaptable and resilient as Bayaz is and I think that might be what JA has in mind.
  4. I thought it was heavily implied that Bayaz killed Jezal. I know it’s been argued above that it wouldn’t have been in Bayaz’s interests to dump a stable king. But if Bayaz’s interests are a strong and stable Union, why is he single handedly the cause of its biggest weakness in the form of the crown’s money problems? The implication of the fact that the crown’s debts to Valint and Balk are hamstringing the Closed Council’s ability to address problems like Stour and the Breakers is that Bayaz doesn’t want those problems addressed. I know mega-rich capitalists are famously stingy, but this takes it too far since Bayaz is on both sides of the transaction. I have to think when Bayaz tightens the Union’s purse strings he does it for reasons beyond how much extra profit his other entity is making. If you accept that Bayaz is purposely fomenting the Union’s current weakness it makes total sense that Jezal dies right when his already unpopular son has just made his reputation worse by entering the public stage for virtually the first time by hanging a bunch of starving revolutionaries. That Bayaz was literally present at Jezal’s death underscores this, knowing what we do about him. It can be argued that Bayaz (and Bayaz through Sulfur) acted to bolster Orso’s regime in the Trouble With Peace and this weighs against Orso being set up as a Fall Guy. But moving to stop Leo’s rebellion isn’t the same thing as making Orso’s position totally secure since we know that the Breakers and Burners are still poised to bring about their own regime threatening rebellion.
  5. The thing that stuck out to me as really bad was how the Winterfell plot resolved. They apparently left the entire process of the sisters realizing they were being played or being nudged by Bran off screen. If they were playing LF the whole time you'd think there would have been something to go on in the previous scenes other than the viewership's common knowledge that the plotline would end with LF's demise. And if the sisters really were being duped at first and were pulled back by Bran's knowledge they could have explained that's how it happened. As far as I can tell they left the viewer to infer half the events that got us to LF's elimination.
  6. 9. A very good, high tension episode. Even if a lot was predictable there were some good true to book moments. Tyrion confronting Dany about the Mad King is something that has to happen and it worked well here especially because it factually lays more ground work for whatever Cersei is going to pull. The dragon sequence was very good (although having a truce while continuing to fire at the city seemed pretty unrealistic to me). I thought the Winterfell stuff was mostly good. I don't like how were still dragging out the Davos/Mel thing over Shireen but the rest was pretty good especially how Sansa was emphasized over littlefinger. I also like how they are really stoking some dark tensions in Sansa and how that is all going to play out now that Jon is going to be the odd man out in LF's master plan.
  7. Gave it a 9. The only really awkward or weak points was Dany and Jorah's "For the Cure" scene and another unnecessary Arya beat down. The Bran stuff was very good. The Hodor answer fits so well I suppose it must be a book spoiler but no complaints because it was well done. Summer's death might be less spoilery because I'm sure they would prefer less cgi. The reveal about the Others combined with how Leaf dies fighting them and that now Bran has to sort it all out for himself was also very well done.
  8. 8. Book Roose would never have been caught so off guard and Jon's rez was a pretty straightforward affair that lacked in flair. Still, both events essentially fit the terms of how the show has foreshadowed those events. Tyrion's convo with the dragons was a bit lame. But they at least made the Walda and baby murder disturbing without going overboard (still would have left even more of it to implication though).
  9. Just remembered there's that line of Stannis where he remarks about Gilly and Craster- her own father!
  10. No one was legitimized, Edric was just acknowledged as Robert's bastard.
  11. The whole episode was really a very Duggar affair between the pedo stuff and the religious stuff. But the thing is, Melisandres sacrifices apparently actually work which is a wrinkle in the usual narrative. I tend to think that all the religions in the series are just as much constructs as our own, yet there is this real magical presence. The poetic irony for Stannis would be for the sacrifice to not work, but apparently it does from the preview. And at the same time the books strongly imply that a whole bunch of Melisandre's stuff is total BS. Is it a coincidence? If it was it would need to be demonstrated at some point or it loses its significance.
  12. I just had a humorous notion that this episode should have come with a trigger warning but then I realized that not many viewers have probably been murdered by their fathers, at least not quite in that fashion. But seriously, the warnings before the episode said "Adult Language, Adult Content" seriously the tamest spread I've ever seen on the show considering that it had pedophilia and graphic child murder as featured topics.
  13. Having just seen it again, I can't believe they chose to put that Shireen scene next to the pit scene. Even if they wanted to contrast Dany and Stannis they failed because Drogon doesn't come because of Dany's revulsion for the blood being spilt but because her person was threatened. Were people really able to even break even with the pit scene after Shireen's burning? I think if I hadn't read the books I might not even have watched the rest of the episode and if I had I don't know if Drogon could have impressed me much.
  14. To me it depends on the timing. This is bound to be a turning point in Stannis's story, and based on where we are in the books its not happening until well into the Winds of Winter, which means Stannis is being truncated significantly. I wouldn't expect Stannis to long outlive this development- it feels like a culmination and a catalyst for when the brittle iron breaks. Stannis's story seems to me to be a tragedy and this development would likely come very close to its conclusion. Still, the fact that this development has occurred seems to underscore that most theorizing can only be shortsighted. I can't see for the life of me how we get to this point and what comes after it. The southern storylines seem a bit more predictable to me.
  15. They spent half of Arya's scenes having her oggled, groped or having Trant's preference for young girls highlighted. There is no way they would spend so much time on it if the point wasn't to give Arya an idea.
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