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  1. Making Greek official language of the Empire some two centuries after it had actually replaced Latin in administrative service sounds just stereotypically bureaucratic enough to be actually realistic. While Leo did begin to issue laws in Greek, laws were still being issued in Latin as well. Justinian's own laws were issued in Greek and Latin both. First major law document issued in Greek (or at least, solely Greek) rather than Latin was Ecloga by Leo III, issued in 726. So there appears to have been a long period of nearly three centuries where Latin and Greek were used simultaneously. What I don't recall is if there was an official law making Greek an official language of administration, or things just... happened.
  2. You know, I basically agree with everything here. Either I'm a weirdo or these opinions are not actually unpopular.
  3. Daenaerys sections are the most boring parts of the books, in large part because everything around her is so shallowly built.
  4. Oh, I have never denied that they CAN act that way. But those would be exceptions, not the rule. And that is precisely the issue I have with it. He isn't writing realistic fiction, he is writing a carricature, but unlike Warhammer you can't even tell it is a parody.
  5. I never said it is perfect. There are flaws - some quite big - when it comes to Tolkien's realism... though I give Tolkien a pass because most of them are intentional - he never was aiming to build a medieval world, rather, his aim was to build a mythological world akin to what we see in the Beowulf, Eddas, Illiad, Odyssey... when I speak of how Tolkien is more realistic than Martin in his worldbuilding, I am mostly focusing on three things: logistics, social organization and people's attitudes. Logistically, a feudal kingdom the size of the Seven Kingdoms never existed in the real life - and for a good reason. A system based on interpersonal relations the way feudalism is places some hard upper limits on size of the polity, and Westeros is significantly larger than that. Basically, Martin had built Roman Empire without most of the things that made Roman Empire work. It may have worked while dragons still lived, but Seven Kingdoms should have broken up the moment dragons became too small to be a military threat. At most, assuming that personal loyalty to Targaryen dynasty kept the system coasting for some more decades, they should have broken up into individual kingsoms following Robert's Rebellion. Tolkien's societies on the other hand are inherently workable - simply because they are smaller. Seven Kingdoms are some 3 million square miles. Compared to that, Tolkien's countries are far smaller - Third Age Gondor is 87 500 square miles, and even Gondor at its height is some 439 000 square miles. And of course, Martin had not considered impact of long winter at all. In terms of social organization, Martin's Westeros is shallow, and Essos even more so. I have pointed out already several problems with Westeros: Why are there no free royal cities? Why do we have just lords and so on? Why we don't see actual courts of law, and instead king and lords seem to handle all the legal issues? And as for attitudes... Medieval people were ready to die for the sake of honor... at least, nobles were. But honor, in Middle Ages, mattered. A lot. Did it make a perfect world? By no means. And it could make people do stupid and even horrific things at times. But it mattered. And then Martin goes and writes a medieval world with postmodernist attitudes, where honor and oaths are something you can wipe your backside with. Sure, there are consequences to doing that - just look at the Freys - but precisely because of these consequences, medieval people were not quick to break word or honor... even that given to their enemies. Or inferiors, for that matter. Attitude that Westerosi nobles show to peasants was... not nonexistent in Middle Ages, but rare. And the less said about Essos the better. Dothraki are a bad carricature of Amerindians, Huns and Mongols... with all of their weaknesses but none of their strengths. They should never have become any sort of a major threat. And they, as a society, simply do not work. Real Mongols were traders, diplomats and very good at strategy and tactics - that is why they were as successful as they were. Dothraki do trade... in slaves... and do engage in diplomacy... but they simply lack the tools necessary for diplomatic and military performance. Their attitude towards settled peoples alone would hold them back a lot. Slaver's Bay itself does not work... at all. So yes. Lord of the Rings is not some perfect example of the medieval time period, but it is far closer to that than... literally anything else I've read. Especially when it comes to people's attitudes as well as portrayal of "far-off" societies. Tolkien gives more depth to Haradrim and Easterlings than Martin does to Dothraki and Slaver's Bay, despite the fact that Martin has a significant PoV character spend her time among Dothraki and in the Slaver' Bay both while Tolkien has no PoV characters among the Haradrim or the Easterlings. And for good reasons: https://politicalreactionary.wordpress.com/2021/07/18/austria-hungary-was-the-last-good-time-for-croatia/ Austria-Hungary was far from perfect - being an outgrowth of an absolute monarchy it had some serious flaws - but it was still leagues better than anything that followed it. Humans fuck up. A lot. If you try to build a better society without knowing what you are doing, you will end up causing a genocide. Which is typically what happens. Hell, even if you do know what you are doing, you may end up causing it anyway. Anarchy is not an inherently leftist concept, you know: https://fantasyview.wordpress.com/2021/05/16/tolkiens-ideal-of-monarchy/ In fact, a right-wing or reactionary anarchy is far more workable than a left-wing one, because it does not reject the cultural and traditional foundations that are necessary if you want to allow society to work with as little governmental oversight as possible. If you get rid of tradition and traditional societal institutions, you need to find a replacement... and that replacement can only be government. So left-wing anarchy is something that simply cannot work - I would in fact argue that it is an inherently self-contradictory concept. Though I guess that in modern terminology I would be better described as a minarchist. But that to me is a false distinction, because government is simply not something you can remove wholesale. If you have a society, you have a government... whether that government is royalty, nobility, elected representatives, dictator, mafia bosses or whatever... it will be there, whether you like it or not. But that doesn't mean you should allow it power over your life. Although: I guess we found at least one thing we agree on. Though I think big government is as much of an issue as big corporations are, so I really don't understand why the leftists focus on corporations so much. Concentration of power is always a problem, no matter the appearance it takes. Wolf doesn't stop being a wolf just because he is wearing sheep's pelt, after all. No, feudalism is not worse for the poor than capitalism is - in part because both feudalism and capitalism are more of umbrella terms than anything, and varied widely by time and location. Feudalism is not good for the poor because you still have concentration of power, but here is the thing... feudalism was far more than just manorial economy which is what you appear to think of when you talk about feudalism. Yes, manorial economy was a part of it - but you also had free villages, hell, entire republics where you didn't have "m" of manorialism. Feudalism, as a system, was a response to inability of the state to organize administration. As a result, many of the functions of the state had to be outsourced. I am not saying we should go back to feudalism. But that doesn't mean feudalism didn't have some good things that would do us well if implemented. No, you are looking through the modern perspective... and from what I have seen so far it is more specifically Marxist perspective which sees everything as a result of class conflict or class warfare. But here is the thing... such a thing actually did not really happen. Yes, there were conflicts between the classes - e.g. peasant rebellions - but most conflicts really happened within the classes. Feudal lord was more liable to try and protect his peasants from depredations of another lord than he was to join in on said depredations. And even the "conflicts between the classes" that did happen were not really driven by class consciousness as such, or by want to "reform the system". Rather, they were a response to very specific conditions or even actions of individual lords. Matija Gubec was taken by the Yugoslav Communists as a symbol of class conflict and "proletariat uprising", a leader of nearly Marxist revolution of the helpless peasant-working class against the evil rich, a propagator of Communist "brotherhood and unity", a fighter for social justice, equality and freedom... but that is an entirely incorrect interpretation of the events. Many things are simply wrong. Matija Gubec never really existed. His real name was Ambroz Gubec. Ilija Gregorić, Gubec' second in command, was not a peasant at all - he was a career soldier. Peasants were not "entirely helpless" even within the confines of the feudal system. It is true that peasants rebelled due to oppression - but everything else is a lie. Oppression they were under was not typical of feudalism - in fact, its atypicality was the entire reason for the uprising. Moreover, said oppression was not a result of feudal nobles' greed, but a result of the extreme expenses that kingdom had to sustain for purposes of defense against the Ottomans. And Matija Gubec and the peasants (God, sounds like a rock band name) never cared about equality - they just wanted better conditions within the existing framework. And these factors were not ignored by Yugoslav historiography because they didn't know them - but because they didn't fit the narrative. Problem of modern world is in large part modernity itself. Uprooting of individual from all of the traditional support structures, focus on material to the point of complete exclusion of spiritual... rich are part of the problem, but suggesting they are the problem is incorrect. Medieval world was more plagued by war - but on the flip side, nature of war was significantly different. Most of the "wars" in Middle Ages will have flown completely over the heads of the smallfolk. Major wars, where murder of peasants happened as part of strategy, were rare. Most of medieval conflicts were conflicts between the lords for purpose of acquiring land - and no good investor will destroy the good he is trying to acquire. As a result, "smallfolk" historically... often wouldn't even notice they were at war in the first place. Real devastation happened in major wars between kings (e.g. 100 Years War) or in religious wars (e.g. Crusades). And worst devastation happened when war was both of these things at the same time (e.g. Ottoman wars or 30 Years War, though latter isn't medieval conflict at all and former is only so in part). But generally speaking, compared to wars of antiquity or early modernity, medieval warfare was far more humane. And the reason why we don't have so many wars today is not that human nature has improved, but rather, simply that wars themselves have grown far more destructive and are thus inherently less appealing as a solution to problems. Also, that bit about science is just a dumb myth that really needs to die. If anything, Medieval world was more technologically advanced than Antiquity was. True, it lacked centralization that Antiquity had and so didn't have massive construction works, but things for everyday life were far ahead of antiquity. Most important innovation was horse collar, which basically ended agricultural slavery because now horses were far more productive investment than slaves were (slavery was still there, but nowhere near as widespread as in antiquity). Spinning wheel, astrolabe, compass, tidal mills, moldboard plow... all of these significantly improved overall quality of life in Middle Ages compared to Antiquity. Medical science also wasn't significantly less advanced in Medieval times than it was in the Roman Empire: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/50869573_What's_Wrong_with_Early_Medieval_Medicine What Muslims preserved, and Crusades introduced into Europe, was medical knowledge of Hellenistic Orient - but that was never widespread in the West to begin with, not even during the Roman Empire. Goodness of human nature is a myth. Humans are not inherently evil - but they are not inherently good either. We are, however, inherently stupid. And that is a problem. Because even if a person (or a group) has the best intentions in the world, that does not mean they should be given power - if they are given power, chances are that their best intentions will result in an outcome just as evil as if the reins of power had been given to a genocidal tyrant. Human society is simply too complex, and reality is too complex, for any man or a group, or any sort of centralized system, to ever be able to cope with it. Some academics may think that they may be able to do it... but that just makes them idiots. And yes, humans have always had the same flaws. You are correct that the society is constantly changing, moving and adjusting - but that is merely a result of changing conditions: increased knowledge, increased technological capability, increased number of people within the society. But human nature has stayed the same throughout. Good and evil have not changed merely because society has. I know how nobles treated the poor in medieval times: the bad... and the good. You however seem to be focusing only on bad. I am aware that life as a medieval peasant sucked ass. But 90% of that was not specifically a consequence of feudalism. Or do you think that average Byzantine peasant lived significantly better than average French peasant just because Byzantine Empire was not feudal? Look a bit outside the framework you are comfortable with. Agreed. Personally, I always saw Tywin as personally evil... but that doesn't mean he was a bad lord. In fact, if I had to choose a lord to live under, he would likely be one of better choices. Warfare part is not really something I have an issue with. Scorched earth strategies were a staple of premodern, especially medieval, warfare, simply because - without gunpowder - castles were notoriously difficult to take. I do have an issue with coscripting smallfolk for war - that was never really done, not because lords wouldn't want soldiers but because "conscripted peasants with few days' training" were simply militarily worthless and generally not worth the expense of feeding them on a campaign. But my point is - Starks are, in the story and by Martin himself, treated as something unusual. Eddard Stark is widely known for his honor. But in a realistic world, Starks and their honor will have been normal. Something you simply expected from your lord. Likewise, the care that Edmure shows for his peasants was by no means unusual as is implied in the books - though seeing it as such may be an artifact of seeing it through Catelyn's eyes. To give you an example of honor: I have mentioned Croatian-Ottoman wars before, right? Not exactly medieval, but close enough - and close to the time period Westeros is based on. "Rape, pillage and burn" was in full effect there. Some areas of Croatia lost 80% up to 96% of their population during these wars. Yet both sides showed respect to their opponents: a garrison of the fort that surrendered was nearly always left to leave unmolested, often with their weapons if they had shown valor during the siege. When Bosnian nobles betrayed their king during the Ottoman invasion of Bosnia... Sultan did exploit that, sure - in part because he saw king of Bosnia as his vassal who had rebelled, and thus a traitor himself. And then he went and executed said traitors - specifically, one who had initiated the treason to begin with - for treason. Because traitor or not, Stjepan Tomašević was still their rightful ruler. Definitely. And worse - there was basically no reason to have the common language.
  6. Because you don't like a world where people think differently than modern people do, or? And I think you live in a fantasy where society and people have always had the same flaws because you don't want to believe it ever could be better... and therefore it isn't necessary to try. You are simply projecting modern situation onto medieval society while failing to understand multiple ways in which medieval society was fundamentally different from modern one. Also, do try to understand what the argument actually is before responding to it. I never claimed that rich people are not selfish. They are. All people are selfish to an extent, no matter how rich they are. But rich people too are a part of society and shaped by it. Today's rich people are unusually selfish and dismissive of common people's rights... because they can afford to be. Modernism has brought about the situation where wealth can be moved from one corner of the globe to another at a whim, and therefore rich people are fundamentally disconnected from the rest of the society. When modern capitalists want the poor to work in factories or at minimum wage jobs, they simply cause (or promote) another "refugee crisis" or "no-borders economic zone" and quickly gain millions of willing slaves. Or they move the factory itself to India or China. When a natural or other disaster strikes, they jump onto a plane and go to vacation into another country... or to another continent. That was not an option in Middle Ages. And yes, lives of the poor were more disposable than the lives of the nobles... but that doesn't mean they were disposable, period. Whether they wanted to or not, feudal nobility had to care about the peasants at least to some extent, because that is where their power came from in the first place. Unlike modern rich people, nobles of feudal world couldn't just hop onto the plane and disappear the moment a disaster struck. Even if they did, there was no bank into which they could store their wealth. Their wealth was primarily in the land, and land was worked by peasants. And peasants were a very important commodity, especially in periods after a plague. Hence my statement that Ned Stark and Edmure Tully are rather more representative of real life nobles, both in their care for small folk and in general, than majority of Westerosi nobility are. Rich people want to protect the investment. Peasants, for nobility, were an investment. That is all there is to it. Which means that, regardless of whether they wanted it or not, rich people in feudal times had to be decent at least to some extent, else peasants will up and leave for another noble. Even today, this holds true to some extent. I did a project, while on university, on how much impact voters actually have on political establishment of democratic countries. Result? Basically none at all - politicians always follow interests of their rich backers, not of the people who voted for them. But most of the time you cannot really notice it, because in most (but not all) of the issues, interests of the rich people and the common men actually coincide. And this was true in the Middle Ages as well, to an even greater extent. Also this: Is 1) not entirely correct and 2) even part which is correct cannot really be backwards-projected onto feudalism for above reasons. You are doing the exact same mistake Martin is doing: ignoring the fundamental laws of feudal society and acting as if it can be reduced to simply "modern society with medieval paint job". Problem with Martin is that he has outright claimed that he wanted to write a realistic story. Thus standards for him are automatically higher. I don't complain that much about Rowling's mistakes in worldbuilding of Harry Potter - despite the fact that they are FAR worse than any mistakes Martin had made - because she never claimed to write realistic fiction, history "how it really was". George Martin did: And a lot of people beside him also claimed the same. And that is a problem, because as I have said - and as you repeated here - George Martin is a fantastic writer and has many strengths and good things about his writing. It is just that worldbuilding (or prose, for that matter) is not one of them, yet it is the one thing for which he is most often praised. Tolkien can be rather verbose at times, and there are significant "pauses in action" in his writing. I personally appreciate these pauses - non-stop action actually bores me - but I can understand why you would not like it. But I would disagree that Tolkien's people act like video game NPCs. Even one-off characters like Beregond have some depth to them. They may seem "shallow" from modern viewpoint - look at Peter Jackson and his forcing of unnecessary conflict into characters storylines, for precisely this reason - but I do not see that as a bad thing, because they are not modern people. People of the past would do, in the name of honor, things that today's people would consider frankly insane. They just thought differently, and as I said before: Ned Stark is one of few realistically written nobles of Westeros. And, yes, Frodo and Sam are a lot deeper than most other Tolkien's characters. And most of Tolkien's characters are not as deep as Martin's characters are on average (though I would argue that Sauron has more depth than most of Martin's villains). But on the flip side, Tolkien's world felt alive to me in a way that Martin's - for all the wealth of details - rarely did (one potential exception being when Tyrion is travelling down the Rhoyne). With Tolkien, world itself is a character and tells its own story - you just need to pause to appreciate that. If you want to understand what I am talking about, read this: https://dc.swosu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1225&context=mythlore But if you want characters that are more similar to what Martin writes them like... read Silmarillion.
  7. Agreed. First, it is not exactly that exclusive knowledge. High Elves have literally all lived in Valinor, where they got to interact with the Valar. That is why they are called High Elves in the first place. People like Glorfindel having been in Valinor also appears to be a reasonably well known fact. Many of the older Sindarin will have met Orome on his rounds of the Middle Earth. Also, they do have religion. Or rather, they have belief. Why are you assuming that religion automatically has to have a political organization akin to the Catholic Church? Oh, of course they do claim. But you can only believe or not believe that. Religion is an act of faith. But in this world, we do not have an entire race of people who had personally met and lived with God's emissaries. It is true that Tolkien wanted King Solomon to be first guy to build a temple to God. But as a result of that, Tolkien has actually implied that organized religion is a bad thing (yes, there is in fact proper religion in Tolkien's works - Numenoreans worshipping Melkor!). But again, why have organized religion when you have literal angels among you, and people living with them coming to your place on a regular basis? Yet proper Catholic like Tolkien wrote precisely such a world. Again, the only organized religion (in modern sense), with temples and stuff, appeared only after Sauron came to Numenor and introduced worship of Melkor. In Middle Earth, the only organized religion present was literal Satanism. Outside that, the closest we get to organized religion is sacral kingship. Also, considering that Valar are basically Norse Pantheon absorbed as archangels serving under Catholic God, it is quite clear that placing too much importance into Tolkien being a "proper Catholic" will easily mislead you. Not being overtly religious does not make something secular. Tolkien very much saw kingship through religious lens, and not just through Aragorn being crowned by God. Rather, kings in Tolkien are religious leaders as much as they are secular leaders - we see this most obviously with kings of Numenor, who indeed lead religious ceremonies. That is the opposite of secular. Problem is that not only they are not fanatics, they are rather the opposite of that - they are functionally agnostics, and display overtly postmodern attitude towards anything supernatural. Religiousness in Martin's world doesn't even fit early 20th century, much less actual Middle Ages. It is cynical and agnostic view of religion, very much out of the line for a medieval world. Elves are literally immortal, and have actually met God's angels. And then those elves proceeded to teach the Edain, who then taught people in Middle Earth. Existence of God and Valar is not faith or religion to them, it is history and fact. Or as Tolkien put it: And at any rate, belief does not need to mean typical religion. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/complex-societies-evolved-without-belief-in-all-powerful-deity1/ Why? If a person had certain magical or miraculous powers due to special ancestry, of course they would be more likely to develop deeper insights into such powers. And if magic isn't something that can be learned in school, how can a person gain access to it without it being tied to ancestry? Not to mention that characters with such "special ancestry" are in fact dime a dozen in Planetos. We have Targaryens, who are magically bonded to flying lizards, have prophetic dreams that are not explained at all. Daenerys would be nobody now if she hadn't had her magical ancestry. Starks are bonded to direwolves, have some connection to weirwoods and also have innate magical abilities as a direct consequence of their blood. So if you think that Tolkien is silly for introducing "special ancestry" giving magical powers, then Martin is far sillier than Tolkien. Yet we see multiple times that "right of birth and blood" is not enough. Kings of Numenor became tyrants despite their ancestry, with Ar-Pharazon even becoming the greatest tyrant since Morgoth. And Kin-Strife was caused when Castamir rebelled due to Eldacar being of mixed ancestry. Castamir temporarily won - and promptly turned into a tyrant. Clearly, having good genes is not enough to be a good ruler. Aragorn only received divine blessing after he had proven himself an adequate king. Of course, any future kings will have divine blessing by default - but as with the Kings of Numenor, said divine blessing can and will be withdrawn should kings in question fail at fulfilling their duties. And answer this: if "right of birth and blood" was enough, why didn't Dunedain Chieftains just waltz into Gondor immediately after death of Gondor's last king? In fact, Tolkien makes it clear that Aragorn's competence is not genetic: You have your headcanon of what Tolkien believed and wrote, but said headcanon is not only very different from but in many ways completely runs counter to what Tolkien actually wrote or intended. Frankly, having a very proactive God would significantly improve Martin's world because it would open the opportunity to explain many illogical aspects of it. Yeah, go back and read Tolkien because you clearly had your mind elsewhere when you were reading him. Maeglin is the definition of a spoiled brat. Stupid and weak-minded Numenoreans? What, exactly, would you call Ar-Pharazon if not that? He was both weak-minded as well as dumb as a brick. And most Kings of Numenor since Atanamir can easily be considered weak-willed at least. Oh, and literally all Black Numenoreans. And Tolkien restoring a royal dynasty after a 1 000 years is no sillier than dynasties in Martin's world existing for nearly ten thousand years. What is silly is the notion that any actual dynasty could have survived that long in world as war-torn as Middle Earth is. But even there Martin has Tolkien beat in siliness by leagues. Starks have ruled the North, in an apparently unbroken line, for eight thousand years. And they are not the only ones: The Hightowers have held Oldtown for over 10,000 years. The Gardeners of Highgarden were kings for around 10,000 years before being incinerated on The Field of Fire. The Durrandons of Storm's End ruled for 8,000- 10,000 years. The Starks of Winterfell were kings for 8,000 years. The Lannisters of reigned for 4,000 years or so. The Arryns claim 2,000 - 4,000 years of rule depending on the dating of the Andal conquest. The Martells have ruled Dorne for 1,000 years. ...in a supposedly realistic world with no divine blessing or intervention. Assuming that generation is ~25 years, we get: Hightowers: 10 000 years (400 generations) Starks: 8 000 years (320 generations) Lannisters: 6 000 years (240 generations) If we assume 35 years for a generation, that is still 286 generations for Hightowers, 228 generations for Starks and 171 generation for Lannisters. Now, what about Tolkien? Line of Elros (Kings of Numenor): 3 287 years (22 generations for kings - 25 actual kings) Line of Valandil (Lords of Andunie): 2 811 years (18 generations) - had 5 generations of kings before the first Lord Line of Isildur (Kings of Arnor): 862 years (10 kings) Line of Isildur (Kings of Arthedain): 1 113 years (15 kings) Line of Isildur (Kings of Gondor): 2 171 years (33 kings) Line of Isildur (Chieftains of Dunedain): 1 044 years (16 chieftains ending with Aragorn) So a maximum of 56 generations before the break (first 5 kings + Lords of Andunie + Kings of Gondor) and I'm quite sure there were few kings that were succeeded by their siblings, so it is really fewer). At absolute temporal maximum - from Elros until Aragorn - we get a total of 64 generations (fewer, if some were succeeded by siblings and not children) and 6 306 years. Historical dynasties: House of Yamato: 1 483 years (98 Emperors) confirmed - oldest dynasty ever (clams 2 682 years traditionally) House of Habsburg: 1 235 years (35 generations) - oldest Western dynasty So yeah. Tolkien's dynasties are very long-lasting, but not entirely outside the realm of possibility for historical dynasties. Meanwhile, Martin's dynasties are just bloody immortal, and there are far more long-lasting dynasties in Martin than in Tolkien. And unlike Numenor which was at peace, Westeros rarely was - even Targaryens did not bring the kind of peace that Numenor enjoyed. As for treating the "royal bloodline as so sacrosanct that the new guys in charge would not simply crown themselves", have you forgotten this?: Martin does nearly all the stuff that you accuse Tolkien of doing, does it worse than Tolkien, yet somehow you think it is fine with Martin but not with Tolkien. The only difference is that there is an actual reason - namely, divine blessing - in Tolkien, whereas with Martin such things happen... because Tolkien did it first. I don't know what you have read, but Tolkien isn't it. Yes, Aragorn has certain powers because he is of a royal line. But those powers alone are not enough to make him a king or to ensure that he will be a good king. They just make it easier. And it is not Aragorn's kingship that makes him "the rightful owner" of the Palantiri. Rather, it is the fact that the Palantiri were a gift from the Valar to Amandil, the leader of the faithful, and are therefore family property. And since Aragorn is a descendant of Amandil, they are his property. Reason why Denethor has the right to use the Palantir is because Stewards of Gondor were given that right by the royal house. So in theory, if Aragorn were to gift a palantir to Frodo, Frodo would become a legitimate owner of a Palantir and would gain similar advantage that Denethor had in conflict with Sauron. And if house of Amandil were to abdicate the throne in favor of whomever, new ruling house would not gain the right to the palantiri - not unless they were explicitly given that right (say, by receiving a palantir as a gift). And what do you mean with "property rights to Gondorian royal heirlooms"?. Aragorn DID only get property rights to Gondorian royal heirlooms upon ascending to the throne of Gondor. He had to get crown of Gondor from the tomb, remember? And healing hands are not "miraculous", they are symbolism. Had healers in the Houses of the Healing remembered athelas, there will have been no need for Aragorn's healing hands. That makes absolutely no sense at all. Tolkien SPECIFICALLY set out to create mythology. Martin SPECIFICALLY set out to write a "realistic" fantasy. Therefore, standards cannot be the same to begin with. Besides, I have pointed out that Tolkien too has many unrealistic elements. Yet despite that, and the fact that Tolkien - as I noted - has set out to write fantasy, he has actually created a more realistic world than Martin even if we actually go and apply the exact same standards. But "more realistic" does not mean "realistic". There are indeed many things in Tolkien that do not make sense by historical standards.
  8. All I can say is, makes sense. Thanks!
  9. No, I have not read the Expanse. I am not exactly a fan of sci-fi with no fantasy elements. Warhammer 40k, Star Wars, Star Trek... that is basically representative of the sci-fi that I have followed. The only "hard" science fiction I have read or watched are The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, The Martian, Deep Impact and Contact. And even Contact has some fantasy elements from what I remember (it has been a long time), while Jurassic Park has essentially dragons' grandparents terrorizing humans. And you are just making up shit at this point. Literally ANY person with above pop-culture level of historical knowledge will tell you that ASOIAF worldbuilding is bad. It is basically a theme park version of Medieval Europe, or a Potemkin Village - it has all the bells and whistles, but the core is simply not there. Also this: First, I am not a conservative, I am a reactionary. For me, conservatives are basically leftists. My ideology is basically this: https://fantasyview.wordpress.com/2021/05/16/tolkiens-ideal-of-monarchy/ Second, what you describe is not even "conservative" version of the world, it is neocon version of the world - and neocons are essentially a mix of conservatives and progressives, or rather, progressives who have accepted some tenets of conservatism. Fact is, rich people are still people - some are good, some are evil, and all look out for their own interests. And due to globalization, interests of the rich people have diverged from population at large. Only the old-school neocons still believe that rich people are somehow "super nice and good and deserve to be in power". In Middle Ages, however, the nobility did protect the peasants as much as they could. Not because they were nice - but because their power came from the peasants. When your wealth is in land, you need people to work that land. So protecting peasants is basically protecting investment. And that is the reason why yes, historical nobles were in fact on average far nicer than ASoIaF ones. I am aware of that. Thing is, however, that situation is different between Tolkien and Martin for two reasons: First, Tolkien set out to write a mythology. Absence of population in Eriador is a mythological element, and also represents the theme of the work, which is decline. Middle Earth is a world going through an apocalypse. To settle unsettled land, you need to have excess population. In the Middle Earth, there is none. Gondor itself is half-empty; how are they ever going to settle Eriador? We have an example of settlement of Rohirrim in Rohan, but they literally abandoned their old lands and left them empty when moving to their new homeland. There were no people left to settle the land they had abandoned. And yes, logistics of Moria do not make sense, just as logistics of Minas Tirith or entire Mordor do not. Second, Tolkien never made claims to realism, and nobody claimed that Lord of the Rings is a realistic world. Martin however did make claims to realism, and more importantly, there is a perception that Westeros somehow represents Middle Ages as they "truly were". Therefore, Martin is in a position where he can have a very debilitating impact on popular perception of Middle Ages. Standards thus have to be different. If it wasn't for this perception that Martin writes "gritty, realistic" fiction, I will have been content to just ignore the flaws (except maybe for one or two posts nitpicking it for fun). And while I am planning on adressing Tolkien's worldbuilding as well at some point, most of the flaws in his worldbuilding are deliberate choices for narrative purposes. Martin however has actually claimed to be trying to write realistic fiction, yet ended with something less realistic than WH40k. Martin's claims can be seen here: http://www.adriasnews.com/2012/10/george-r-r-martin-interview.html https://entertainment.time.com/2011/04/18/grrm-interview-part-2-fantasy-and-history/ And of course popular perception too: https://meduza.io/en/feature/2017/08/22/fantasy-needs-magic BTW, when it comes to GRRM's criticism of Tolkien, keep in mind that Martin does not understand even the most basic aspects of Lord of the Rings: https://ew.com/article/2011/07/12/george-martin-talks-a-dance-with-dragons/ No, there isn't. Because they don't need temples and worship. Tolkien's world is one where you have literal angels walking around, and while God is untouchable he is far from unknowable and he is there. You don't need faith when you have knowledge. In Middle Earth, God and his agents are present and walking in the world. You don't need priests when you have literal angels. You don't need temples when you can talk to God. Even Sauron does not try to negate God or claim there is none the way Marx does - it simply wouldn't fly, he would be laughed off. Rather, Sauron goes the Nietzschiean way: God is there, He just doesn't care. There is a reason why the only temples we see in Tolkien's world were built by Numenoreans after they began worshipping Melkor / Morgoth. I like both. I just think that Martin is being unfairly praised for one thing he screwed up (worldbuilding) while the thing he actually is good at (character building) does not receive anywhere near as much attention as it should. Including from Martin himself. Just look at these two examples: https://arwz.com/zinereviewVIO1.php https://meduza.io/en/feature/2017/08/22/fantasy-needs-magic That is a problem. Like it or not, fantasy works such as ASoIaF do influence how people see history. Yet for Martin, worldbuilding and prose are two things he is worst at. His real strength lies in how he writes his characters. Yes, Lord of the Rings is slow-paced. And yes, most characters don't have character growth. Because they don't need to. Frodo does in fact have significant character growth, as do Sam, Merry and Pippin. Do you really think that those four would be able to do what they did at the end - cleansing Shire - as they were at the beginning of the books? Gandalf has no need for character growth. He is a tens of thousands of years old angel. What character growth do you expect from him? Aragorn has had his character growth prior to the books. Why would he have character growth during them? Boromir has character rollercoaster. Both Legolas and Gimli have significant character growth. Denethor has character growth... or rather, character fall. But changing trajectory is clear. Dynamic characters are good. Static characters are also good. Character growth has to have some purpose and context; having character growth for the sake of character growth is not necessarily good. And LotR villains are far more compelling than those in ASoIaF. In Lord of the Rings, even the worst of villains have reasons why they do things they do. Even orcs have dreams. Half if not most of the villains in ASoIaF do things... just because. The only ASoIaF villains I had found really compelling are Tywin and Roose. Tyrion to an extent. But Ramsay is just a caricature of Dracula, Euron is a caricature of Sauron, Petyr is obviously evil (his first scene mentions a "sly smile") yet everybody trusts him... The main advantage that ASoIaF villains have is that we, as readers, spend time with them and so they get more fleshed out. But that doesn't automatically make them more realistic or compelling. It is the protagonists in ASoIaF that are more compelling than those in LotR. Not because of the character growth or lack of it, but because as Martin says, ASoIaF is basically about human heart. So we learn far more about their hopes and dreams than we do in LotR, and there is far more personal stuff than there is in LotR. Could Tolkien have written equally compelling protagonists? Maybe. But Lord of the Rings is not the story about them, or even the humanity as a whole. It is a story about the metaphysical. The only "good" character in LotR that I find as interesting as those in ASoIaF is Denethor. Maybe also Gandalf and Sam, to an extent. Others, not so much. And in Martin, you will have gotten fifteen pages of description of food, ten of describing the building, five references to whores... and Tolkien actually uses those three pages to set up later events. What do pages upon pages of food porn in Martin set up? Fact is, neither Tolkien nor Martin are that good when it comes to actual prose. They are decent enough to be readable, but that is all. And Tolkien is actually better at integrating descriptions into action than Martin is; with Martin, all too often the story itself is put on hold while he describes stuff. Oh, are you interested in the plot? What a pity. Wait here while I describe those huge tracts of land. Martin's prose can also be clunky and repetitive. So yes, Tolkien has better prose than Martin, but that is basically damning him with faint praise. You want good prose? Go read Hemmingway. You are confusing worldbuilding with narrative. You might want to stop critiquing things until you understand at least the basic terminology. Well, yes, it is static. But Middle Earth is static for a good reason. Main driver of the world of the Middle Earth are the elves: they are the ones who innovate, and other races merely copy them. Elves created the first swords, the first mail, elves taught humans basically everything. But elves are immortal. So they do not have much reason for change. Orcs, too, are immortal, as are Sauron and Saruman. Advancement moves one death at a time. But when all the main drivers of the world live forever, how will the advancement happen? And presence of magic on top of this means that any room for significant technological breakthrough is firmly shut closed. What reason does the world of ASoIaF have to have remained so static for so long? Magic might work as an explanation, except... there is basically none in the world until the events of the story. Especially in Essos. Maybe not England (England was always... special), but certainly Earth. Try to understand how feudalism actually works. Here, I will give you a quote: https://acoup.blog/2019/06/12/new-acquisitions-how-it-wasnt-game-of-thrones-and-the-middle-ages-part-iii/ Granted, he is commenting on the show, but the books have the same problem. Martin is making a point that dishonor and treachery is, in the end, self-defeating: Starks may be gone but their vassals are still loyal. Even Tywin's vassals are largely still loyal, because Tywin actually did follow honor in his dealings with them (as brutal as he may have been). Meanwhile Freys are getting murdered left, right and centre, because they broke the guest right. Yet his own characters do not seem to understand that. Martin is writing about feudalism, a system that is literally built on trust and reputation, yet dishonorable characters are dime a dozen and Ned Stark is held up as a paragon of honor when he really isn't that exceptional by actual medieval standards. Yes, nobles did abuse their power and treat small folk like crap a lot of the time. That Martin does get right... to an extent. But even there he gets a lot of things wrong. "Small folk" were not helpless, you see. First, because there were many types of small folk. In Martin, you have the nobility and the commoners. And commoners are nearly exclusively the serfs. But in real Middle Ages, commoners were varied - serfs, yes, but also free peasants, citizens of free cities and so on and so forth. And many of these could be as powerful as nobles. A serf that was mistreated could run away into a city - and if he did, he was a free man. Free cities were extremely difficult to attack (walls!) and also extremely important due to their riches, manufacture and trade. As a result, they provided a very good counterweight to the nobility. Yet in Westeros, Martin has essentially neutered two out of three counterweights that nobility (and also the King) had. The Faith has far less influence in Westeros than it does in medieval Europe, and there are no free cities in Westeros. Just this alone will have sufficed to make Westerosi political landscape shallow and disappointing compared to that of medieval European kingdoms. The entire system he uses is not medieval at all. Rather he has copied the French system of the estates, which divided the Parliament into the clergy, the nobility and the commoners. But that is a system implemented under modern monarchy, and has absolutely nothing to do with feudal world that Martin is allegedly describing. If he wanted such a division... where is the Westeros' parliament? Second, even serfs were not really without protection. They could ask for justice at the court - first with their own immediate lord, then with his lord, and so on all the way to the king (in theory; just like today, practice often differs from theory). And because nobles were constantly looking for advantage over each other, no noble could really afford to treat his serfs too badly, because serfs could then ask for justice. Or just up and leave. Look for another lord. And I think you actually hit the point of the issue here: He lifted the events, but without truly understanding the socioeconomic situation and what caused said events. And even there he gets a lot wrong, such as presence of conscripted peasants in armies and the widespread devastation. Raiding that we see so much in Westeros was in fact highly unusual for Wars of the Roses, or any civil wars where aim was taking the crown. Why devastate areas you are aiming to profit from later? In fact, such civil wars were often highly ritualistic, with large numbers of pitched engagements and very little raiding and devastation. Instead, behavior that armies show in Westeros is closer to that of the Ottoman Wars or wars of the religion (e.g. 30 Years War), where the enemy was an imperial power with religion that was directly in conflict with your own. That may have worked if it had been Southrons invading the North - if religion actually mattered in ASoIaF (which it doesn't), then religious differences and Northerners being seen as heathens will have justified such behavior. As it is, however... no, just no. That I actually agree with. Yes, they were. https://fantasyview.wordpress.com/2023/11/16/sauron-and-saruman-the-tragedy-of-good-intentions/ Quite the opposite, in fact. In LotR there are visible consequences of divine presence, including that time when his angels literally came to Middle Earth and rearranged the geography of the west of the continent. And while God's presence is generally speaking much less obvious, it is also everpresent. In ASoIaF, not so much, largely because Martin takes the agnostic view of "maybe magic, maybe divine" towards everything supernatural. Also, you have completely missed the point (as usual) of what I meant under "visible consequences in real world". As I explained previously: in a world where God is a fact, you do not need faith. Faith is substitute for knowledge. If you know there is a God, faith becomes superfluous. Religions exist because we do not know if there is a God or not; we can only believe. But that is not the case in Middle Earth. There is a reason why Numenoreans started building temples only when they began to worship Melkor. He is writing a series set in a pseudo-medieval world, and he has set out "realism" as one of his goals. Suffice to say, he utterly fails at it. As for Tolkien, his characters are far more religious than Martin's despite not having trappings of an organized religion. And you need to forget that misconception that belief = organized religion. It is possible to believe in God and yet still not have Church, clergy or so on. In Tolkien's world, belief in God actually matters and shapes characters' actions. There may not be organized religion, but there definitely is piety. And piety actually has consequences there - from oaths actually being important (e.g. Oathbreakers getting cursed, Eorl's and Cirion's oath basically sealing alliance between Gondor and Rohan for millenia) all the way to direct divine action (Downfall of Numenor). In Martin's world, belief in a diety matters about as much as a taste in pizza (unless your name is Melisandre). Why Catelyn didn't have to convert to the Old Gods? Why Old Gods have no shamans, no rituals, no specific spirits (such as spirits of weirwoods, spirits of waters... Romans had dozens of different spirits). All religions in Planetos have literally no substance to them, they are salad dressing that is very much worthless. Westeros isn't religous, it is a modern-day secular world with medieval dressing. You say that "there is no visible religion or piety at all in LotR" - yet there isn't one in ASoIaF at all. There are a bunch of circus clown LARPers, but no religions. And as I explained above, having religion in a world where divine agents literally walk among the humans makes no sense. And in a world where you literally have people with divine ancestry, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Yet Tolkien also makes it clear that that alone is not enough. Aragorn makes no claim to crown of Gondor until after he has actually earned it. Sure, he has the right to the throne due to his ancestry - but that alone is not enough for him to be a king. He has to earn it first - crown comes with duties, and he has to actually start carrying out duties of the king before he claims the crown. He literally spells out that trying to claim the crown without deeds to his name would lead to outright rejecton or, worse, another Kin-strife. Elrond too is clear that he has to earn the crown. Earnil was selected as a king over Arvedui because he was from Gondor and had proven himself to people of Gondor. In ASoIaF, we don't really have kings and nobility. More or less everybody acts like a postmodern sociopath would if dropped in a medieval world and draped in livery. Martin's conception of kingship is the polar opposite of Tolkien's, but that doesn't make it any more realistic. It is not plot device and it is not bad. No, it is not obvious. Aragorn could always do that because he is 87 years old and has the education and the experience that few to none of the human characters in the book can match. It makes absolutely no sense for him or Gandalf to be dynamic, evolving characters, just as it makes no sense for e.g. Merry and Pippin to be static characters. Aragorn is the king, but he is not wise and noble because he is a king. Denethor after all also comes from a distinguished line and is hardly an ideal ruler. Saruman is far above Aragorn or literally anybody else other than Sauron and Gandalf when it comes to nobility, and you know what happens with him. Point. It is not about promises but the perception: perception that Martin's world shows it how it actually was during the Middle Ages. I don't think deep realism is a universal target. In fact, I don't give a shit about realism normally (unless I'm being pedantic for the fun of it). I do enjoy zombie flicks, after all. But Martin has made claims about realism... and more to the point, a lot of people have somehow gained perception that Martin has set out to write a realistic story set in a realistic medieval society. That is the problem. Stannis' story does, to an extent. But even then, the influence is limited entirely to political aspect of religion. In reality, for a medieval man, religion would permeate his life.
  10. God can speak however he wants, but if there is any evidence of God(s) being around at all, there need to be visible consequences in worldbuilding. Martin lacks that, and it is clear he has no clue how to handle the divine or its manifestation in this world, religion included. Religions exist in Martin's world, but they might as well not exist for all the impact they have. Most of the characters in his world have what is essentially a postmodernist secular mindset, very far from what actual medieval people were like. So far, Daenaerys is the only character in the series that I can actually believe may be divinely influenced. If she is so influenced, that is. Aragorn did more to earn his kingship than all the kings and pretenders in all the ASoIaF books combined so far. He was raised by Elrond, somebody that has actually served under rulers and as a ruler, and thus largely knows what he is doing. He led Rangers for much of his life, keeping Shire and remnants of Dunedain of Arnor safe. He led forces of Gondor as Thorongil, destroying the fleet of Umbar and thus causing a major setback in Sauron's plans - without that move, who knows if there will have been Gondor by the time of the War of the Ring. Without Aragorn's guidance, Frodo will not have even reached Rivendell, let alone Mordor. Without Aragorn, Gondor will have fallen to Sauron and there will have been nobody to lead forces of the West to the Black Gate (or any forces to lead to the Black Gate in the first place), which will have directly led to failure of the quest to destroy One Ring. He actually does stuff to help his kingdom long before he openly lays claim to the crown. So far, none of the characters in ASoIaF did that. Even Stannis only helps defend the Wall long after he had laid claim to the Iron Throne, and he is the only one who even thinks of helping. Jon Snow may qualify if he ever lays claim to the crown, but even that only after he has gained few decades of leadership experience. And in Middle Earth, bloodlines actually matter in a way that is not true anywhere in Planetos except maybe Winterfell. Aragorn has more depth than 90% of major characters in ASoIaF. He has no character growth, but he does not need to have it - his character growth had happened long before the books and he is actually a mature person by the time the story starts, unlike ASoIaF where you have adult nobles acting like toddlers. No, he is just going to add nonsensical nature dieties. And he is going to screw it up because he cannot decide if it is "divine will" or "just magic" at work. More like centuries, actually.
  11. https://fantasyview.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/population-of-westeros/ Go to the link to see methodology. But to sum it up, I used two different methods for estimating population of various regions of Westeros. First, by using the "army is X% of the population" estimate, and second, by using population density from historical European kingdoms that kingdoms of Westeros are based on. These are the results: Which of the above estimates do you think is most likely?
  12. That is the point. Providence guides everything, but it isn't magic, and it isn't direct override of human free will either. If hand of providence weren't invisible... it wouldn't be providence. Main character or not, Daenerys is still far worse than Aragorn. At least Aragorn has a point. And while Aragorn indeed is not the main character, without him, Frodo's mission will have failed. He is so good of a character precisely because he is a supporting character. Except not really. Martin leaves it open for interpretation, and literally the only example where we may have seen any divine intervention so far has come after a number of misses. Frankly, I think Martin lacks the subtlety to pull it off the way Tolkien did. Yep. Generally, army can carry with it enough food for ~14 days of march (5 - 21 days, with 21 days being IIRC absolute maximum), simply because animals pulling wagons with food... also eat food. When Romans campaigned in areas with no major waterways and little possibility of forage, they would spend months beforehand setting up supply depots.
  13. And first part of that is not what I have an issue with. It's fantasy, weird shit happens. But humans in fantasy are still humans. So if you are writing about humans, that should be grounded in real history - and where it isn't, you better have a damn good explanation. If you want to be free from that... write about demons, or angels. But yeah, that Stark stuff is just stupid. And "it's fantasy" doesn't excuse it. And he fails at that. More complex and adult =/= realistic. Frankly, Warhammer 40k is in some ways (e.g. power of the Church, complexity of feudal society - Martin, where are the free cities in Westeros?) more realistic medieval fantasy than what GRRM writes (can't say much about Warhammer Fantasy as I haven't read any books yet). Yes, he rejects some unrealistic elements - only to introduce others, thus ending up with same lack of reality, just on the opposite side from the usual. Yes, none of Martin's heroes are invulnerable - unless your name is Danearys Targaryen (and no, "she goes through hardships" is not a good rebuttal - it may be difficult but she is still safe; in fact, both her and Jon Snow have divine protection through prophecy). Yes, peasants cannot safely quarrel with princes - they cannot do anything. Yet in real life feudalism, peasants could in fact quarrel with lords - not at the street, but at the court of law. In real life, feudal landmaster (senior) had obligations towards his subordinates (iuniores) - and yes, that included the serfs. He had obligation to protect them from harassment, to store food and feed them in case of war or catastrophe... and if he did not fulfill said obligation, serfs could a) leave him for another master or b) bring their grievances to a higher authority. Of course, much like an individual suing a large corporation or a state in today's society, it was hardly practical... but the option was there. Yes, medieval girls could not be whatever they wanted - yet they still had a significant degree of freedom and authority, especially among the nobility (who are the protagonists of the novels). When lords went to war, it was the ladies who stayed behind to manage things. It was Catelyn who should have commanded Winterfell in Robb's absence. And while daughters didn't get freedom to chose whom to marry - neither did the sons. Both had to put up with political marriages. Those "reality checks", in short, aren't "reality checks" at all. Rather, they are "cynicism checks" or "Grimdark checks" - but that does not make them realistic. Ned Stark and Edmure Tully are seen (in and out of universe) as outliers in how honorable and compassionate they are. In real life Middle Ages however they would be perfectly normal, and your "average" Westerosi lord would be seen as evil, dishonorable as well as lethally stupid. Martin has created a feudal society in Westeros, yet he has removed personal and communal honor which was the very foundation of feudal society in real life. His characters live in approximation of Middle Ages, yet they act as postmodernist nihilistic cretins. That is nihilism and cynicism, but it has nothing to do with realism. Uh, your million dollar question makes no bloody sense at all. Point of Lord of the Rings is that nobody is powerful enough to defeat Sauron. Even Frodo will not have succeeded on his own. He failed at the very end - and we in fact saw the writing on the wall from the beginning. He couldn't even throw the Ring into his own fireplace, and Ring only got stronger as Frodo approached the Mount Doom. Everybody in Lord of the Rings is guided by providence and prophecy, and against Sauron, that is literally the only hope they have. But that is done in a rather subtle way... meanwhile whenever Martin introduces magical/otherworldly stuff, it feels like a sledgehammer to the head. And Aragorn's role was never to defeat Sauron - he was clear about that from the beginning. It was to save Gondor from destruction, and in the end he accomplished exactly what he had set out to do. Reason why Aragorn and Boromir joined the Fellowship was because Fellowship's quest took it on a road roughly towards Gondor anyway (what with Minas Tirith being exactly across the river from Mordor), and Aragorn only started to contemplate going to Mordor with Frodo after Gandalf had died. Yet in the end, Aragorn saving Gondor was still crucial to success of Frodo's quest - had Minas Tirith fallen, captains of the West will not have been able to lead their armies to the Black Gate. That will have left massive Orc armies between Frodo and Mount Doom, and Frodo and Sam simply did not have the food to try and find a way around them. In fact, nearly every member of the Fellowship was crucial to the success of the quest, not just Frodo and Sam. Without Gandalf, Balrog will have killed the Fellowship. Had Gandalf not cured Theoden, Rohan may have fallen to Saruman, or will have been devastated by his attacks - meaning that Rohirrim will have never reached the Minas Tirith in time to save the city from falling. Without Aragorn, Frodo will have never reached Rivendell to begin with. Without Aragorn going to the Paths of the Dead, Corsairs of Umbar will not have been defeated in time, meaning that armies of coastal Gondor will not have been able to come to assistance of Minas Tirith. Without these reinforcements and with Corsairs coming to reinforce armies of Mordor instead, Minas Tirith will have fallen despite the assistance provided by the Rohirrim. Without Boromir falling to his desire, Frodo (and Sam) may not have run away in time, meaning that they will have been in danger of being captured by the Orcs of Saruman. Even if they avoided that, Boromir's survival means that Aragorn may have felt obligated to go to Mordor with Frodo and Sam. With him there there may not have been any need for Gollum's guidance, which means Gollum will not have been needed. Without Gollum tagging along, he likely would not be around to try and take the Ring from Frodo - which will have led to Frodo claiming the Ring, and then Nazgul retrieving it from Frodo's dead, cold body. Without Merry and Pippin, Ents will have never stirred against Saruman. If they had not, Saruman may have still lost - I doubt he was strong enough to take on entirety of Rohan - but one way or another, Rohan will have been left in a far worse shape than it was historically. Had Huorns not come to Helm's Deep, Theoden and his men will have been killed, preventing any assistance to Minas Tirith from Rohan. Had Ents not destroyed Isengard, Rohirrim will have been forced to besiege Isengard, losing many men - it was an extremely strong fortress - and more importantly time, preventing them from coming to assistance of Minas Tirith. Without the Rohirrim, Minas Tirith will have fallen before Aragorn could arrive. Only Legolas and Gimli could truly be removed without completely ruining Fellowship's chances of success. And even there I have my doubts. Gimli was still pivotal in defense of Helm's Deep, first in helping block the tunnel and then in defense of the caves. Had Theoden and Eomer fallen there, well - see my point about Merry and Pippin. And the reason it was all this close? Sauron is an extremely good strategist, far beyond not just your typical villain in fiction but also beyond anything we see in A Song of Ice and Fire, Star Wars, Star Trek or other staples of speculative fiction. Sauron didn't lose because he was stupid or because he made a stupid mistake: mistake he did make, but an understandable one, and his reasoning was solid throughout. And in the end, even in his mistake, he was technically correct: Frodo was not, in fact, capable of destroying the One Ring. Without Gollum, Sauron will have still won, despite that one significant oversight. Sauron's only real mistake was in fact the same one Morgoth had made: assumption that Eru had abandoned Middle Earth to its own devices and that he did not have to worry about divine intervention. Yeah, and that is a problem in a story that has no (known) divine entity or its agents. Yeah, I suspect that it does have to do with delay. As I said: if you build your world well and realistically, solutions will present themselves. But when you throw the realism out, you truly have to be excellent at worldbuilding, or you will run into issues in your story that you will not be able to resolve. And yes, I do believe that what you write is the case. No, he really is not good at that. I already described why in my reply to Springwatch, so look higher up in my post to see Martin's issues in that regard; I don't want to repeat myself. And these issues are not all I can come up with when it comes to flaws with Martin's worldbuilding, they were merely what I could remember while writing the post, because they are issues that I personally care the most about. THIS. Problem I have, as I said, is that most people outside the fandom seem to have that issue, assuming that Martin is writing a realistic world because it is cynical and pessimistic. But I was interesting in what insights people here have, first. It doesn't need to be bogged down in details to be realistic. It just has to function in an internally consistent way. Good worldbuilding is literally framework: you don't see it, but you know it is there, and if it is badly done then consequences are significant. Tolkien built far more realistic societies in his books while providing far fewer details than Martin (not to say Tolkien doesn't have his own issues with worldbuilding, but most of these feel like deliberate deviations rather than mistakes - e.g. "world half empty" is basically mythological aspect rather than realistic one). And I never claimed that Martin has claimed to be the most accurate worldbuilding author of all time... but many people have. Much like people claim that Tolkien is too optimistic... these people have clearly not read the Silmarillion. Martin being better than 90% of other works just shows how low the standards are. History is one thing, story is another. And yes, some historians absolutely do write that way. I have seen cases of such. And no, simplifying things to "good" and "evil" places is not inherently bad worldbuilding or lazy, just as introducing "moral complexity" and grayness is not automatically good worldbuilding or a decent effort. It all depends on how it is done. In fact, writing villains who remain complex, interesting and engaging while still being complete monsters is one of the hardest things for an author to do. But most people lack insight and frankly brainpower to understand the complexity of somebody like e.g. Sauron. Hence why we get loads of one-dimensional villains in fiction. Good thing I don't care about moral superiority in worldbuilding. What I do care for is logical consistency. A society may be utter disaster of cruelty, exploitation and so on... but it is OK to include that in worldbuilding, so long as it has some foundation. Look at Warhammer 40k. Nobody would call Imperium a nice place to live... but once you get into it, you can understand how and why it came to be that way. It makes sense. Even the Dark Eldar, who are a carricature of cruelty, do have reasons for why they act that way. Likewise, Tolkien's societies (those he actually describes anyway) do seem like they could have existed in actual history. Martin's societies? Nope. His worldbuilding may seem detailed on the surface, but when you look deeper, you quickly realize that basically none of the societies he describes would be able to exist. Westeros is the best designed of societies in ASoIaF, yet it is still nonsensical compared to actual Middle Ages. And when it comes to the most interesting part of worldbuilding Westeros - its seasons - it basically has no consequence on society as it is. In fact, feudal - or any sort of agricultural - society would be nearly impossible in a situation when you don't know when the winter will come and how long it will last. If complex agricultural society did somehow develop, it would worship astronomers like gods - or have astronomer-priests - because knowing when the next winter will come and how long it will last would be crucial for its survival. Unless of course screwy seasons are magical and thus completely unpredictable, in which case agricultural society simply wouldn't be able to exist. People would subsist on fishing, and areas with no access to sea would be nearly uninhabited with the exception of small bands of nomadic hunters. Slaver's Bay will have collapsed in a literal fortnight, Daenerys or no Daenerys. And it is incredibly difficult to justify why it even came to be the way it is. Dothraki simply cannot exist the way they have been described. And so on. As for your issues with Tolkien: It is actually explained in the books. Areas around Nurn are incredibly fertile, and are worked by slaves. More food is brought in from abroad, from Rhun and Harad. Areas of Mordor we see in the books are basically mountains and the Plateau of Gorgoroth, which are barren. That being said, Tolkien does make the mistake of treating the animal wagons like trucks and forgetting that animals too need to eat. And as I said: I disagree that ASOIAF has more layers of realism than Lord of the Rings. It has more complexity and ambiguity in many things, but that is not necessarily more realistic. Uh, yes it does exist in the actual books. It is a fairly long quote, in fact: Book 6 (Return of the King, second book), Chapter 2, Land of Shadow
  14. I don't think "morally good vs morally bad" thing is a bad thing for worldbuilding. I mean, there IS objective good and evil in the world, and if you can justify why a certain place would be objectively morally bad... by all means, go for it! And just because evil is sometimes necessary doesn't mean it ceases to be evil. Act of murder is evil, even if it may sometimes be necessary (e.g. in self-defense or war). Problem with GRRM is that, intentionally or by accident, he has created an expectation of "realism" in his world. I have seen people writing how "gritty and realistic" Westeros is. I have never seen such statements being levelled at Wheel of Time, or even Lord of the Rings. And because of that expectation, Martin is in position to spread or even create numerous misconceptions of how Middle Ages really were. Pop culture is in part educational, and thus should not be exempt from historical accuracy - especially when author himself has promoted it.
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