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Many-Faced Votary

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  1. Drogo might have been kind for a khal -- almost unbelievably so, considering he only had one wife and did not share her, listened to her and seemed to respect her, often formalized commands for what she desired (since a khaleesi has no real power), and so forth -- but he most certainly was not a kind person. I do imagine much of this was his upbringing rather than his nature, precisely because he was so unusual for how khals are described. Saliently, he did indeed rape Daenerys many times. The exception in the early weeks/months was the wedding night, and as we understand consent today, we should know that Dany did not have a real choice in the matter. The importance of this moment was that she exercised what little control she had over her body in the moment and accepted Drogo's touch due to his unexpected kindness, not that she had the ability to refuse and chose not to. This is how the adaptation failed in this regard; it did not care about what minimal control she did have, and did not properly demonstrate that she was repeatedly and brutally raped rather than during the wedding night. Dany's perspective of Drogo can probably be described as Stockholm syndrome. Given him, her abusive brother Viserys, and the creep Jorah, her views on loves are very abnormal. Hopefully, she will continue to discover what love should look like, be it platonic or romantic. The show did romanticize the relationship a bit, but chiefly, I imagine Mr. Jason Momoa's charm and looks are to blame for the general rose-tinted understanding of Drogo.
  2. @kissdbyfire The letter-writing did indeed occur, and the camera did spend a lot of time focusing on what amounted to nothing at all! This is the point at which the excuses the audience made for the terrible writing, by spending much more time thinking about things than the writers cared to, became so common: so-called "honeypotting," named after the Lannister-Honeypot theory. The idea was that Talisa was a spy working for Tywin who intentionally attracted Robb's attentions in order to get him to break his marriage pact, who reported the Northern army's movements to the Lannisters, and so forth. Naturally, this was not the case, not that the show would have been more than marginally coherent if it were true -- although still much better than the incoherence we see on the screen without these honeypots. I'm not sure if I recall buttocks precisely in this storyline, but it has been a while. I imagine you are referring to female nudity, so it probably happened very often! Male nudity started to occur more often as the show went on as well, although it was almost never kept in clear focus of the camera, unlike its analogue; it was rarely presented in a titillating fashion, unlike the countless clearly sexual close-ups of attractive women; and male shirtlessness was most often used as a shortcut to demonstrate poverty in Essos, in contrast to the physically perfect women. (There was absolutely some fanservice for the male-attracted audience, such as Jason Momoa's close-ups, but only a fraction as common as the completely unnecessary and illogical fanservice for the female-attracted audience, complete with sexposition and Carice Van Houten inexplicably popping out her breasts fifty times.) I don't believe the scenes were that long, but they were inherently too long, if that makes sense.
  3. Why did you not appreciate the tasteful and not even remotely gratuitous fetus-stabbing of a pregnant woman who was brought to the wedding, possibly in order to insult the Freys and definitely in order to tie up loose ends? Do you not realize how much a time-traveling feminist field nurse who sasses kings while roaming battlefields unchaperoned and wears peasant's clothing even as a queen adds to the story? She doesn't like to "waste [her] years planning dances and masquerades," not as though dances, masquerades, balls, tourneys, feasts, parties, and the like have historically been extremely significant exercises of power, demonstrations of wealth and status, the main vehicle for image maintenance and political statements, and so forth -- almost as if this stuff was exceedingly important, and her anachronistically implicit misogyny ("not like other girls") had no place on the show. What about Robb marrying because he was horny and all men have sexually active love lives, instead of in a lamentable attempt to save Jeyne Westerling's honor by sacrificing his own? Why not disregard the fact that Cat went to her death -- but not being at peace afterwards, tragically -- effectively thinking that all of her children were dead? Indeed, why should we note that Cat was a background character on the show in the first place? Do you not understand that careful worldbuilding and foreshadowing is pointless, and the Red Wedding was just a random evil thing that happened because everything sucks? Why do you not love this?
  4. Excellent post! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I just wanted to add a clarification regarding the quoted point. I consider myself a pacifist, and the idea that pacifism dictates that war is always unjustifiable and violence is always avoidable is an unfortunately common and completely mistaken belief, often held by those who have heard of pacifism but have not bothered to research it with any depth. Even absolute pacifism, which is the superlative extreme in which no amount of violence can ever be justified for any reason, can often have caveats such as utilitarianist lens; and of course, this extreme should inherently be rejected, because inaction can be very violent and indeed evil, as you point out through quoting Mr. J. S. Mill. Pacifism does not mean allowing injustice to occur through passivity; it means avoiding violence except where strictly necessary, in order to promote unity and justice and to preclude unnecessary war for the sake of true peace. As Mr. Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand." It is also worth considering Daenerys's storyline in particular, for it is the best exploration in the series with respect to when violence and even war is justified, and to what degree such measures should be pursued. I know there are many readers who draw certain conclusions from Dany's vision quest, but I believe there is only one that Mr. Martin wanted to make explicit in context. A careful reading of A Dance with Dragons makes it very clear that the peace in Meereen was a false, unjust one, and that Dany's moral concessions to maintain it -- something she herself is aware of and comments on internally -- were the wrong choice; she should have brought war -- Fire and Blood, if you will -- when it was clear that the former slaveowners would not cease their oppression and scheming. Granted, Dany will absolutely get darker and make decreasingly justifiable choices now that she has resolved Fire and Blood can be warranted -- but literally everyone in the The Winds of Winter will make less tenable decisions as their circumstances force them to, as things must necessarily get worse before they get better in our hopes for A Dream of Spring.
  5. The first three books being better is entirely subjective. A Storm of Swords is probably my favorite book overall in the series thus far, but A Feast for Crows is my second-favorite. Also, there is an important distinction in that even the worst of the books -- whichever one might consider the worst -- is many orders of magnitude better than the best season of the show -- whichever one might consider the best -- to most people who perused both. That is only logical; Game of Thrones could be correctly labeled fan fiction, if not for the fact that D&D are not fans.
  6. I do not agree with this, and as such, I cannot agree with your conclusion. Season 1 was indeed very good, even if there were many pointless and detrimental changes. Seasons 2 and 3 were very inconsistent, with rather low low points and rather high high points relative to Season 1; for instance, Season 2 has "Blackwater", which I would deem by far the best episode of the show (I wonder who wrote it?), but also the entirety of whatever the Qarth storyline was supposed to be. Season 4 was itself the shark jump throughout, culminating irrecoverably in "The Children". Certainly, there were some very good scenes, some that were even earned, but they were the exception to rule of increasing mediocrity and a downward spiral of characterization and organic plot development. I would say the show was consistently watchable in these seasons; not coincidentally, Mr. Martin also did what little he had the power to do in these years, even writing one episode per season. Seasons 5 through 8 had absolutely nothing redeeming them on a narrative level. There was not a single moment, not even a single line, that was well-written in itself. All the moments that could have been good were undermined by the poor setup and/or resolution associated with them, and by the offensive implications involved. All the "good" lines were either mangled book dialogue that was nonsensical in the context of how the show presented it, or else trailer lines that might have sounded cool but had no substance whatsoever.
  7. I agree, but it seems to me that most people who discuss this phenomenon appear to do the opposite: they blame Mr. Martin for not writing faster, as if the abomination were his fault and not the fault of the people working on it. The showrunners and writers consistently demonstrated that they were willing to do what they would and write according to their own biases and superficial interpretations of the text, even when they most closely aligned with the source material during Season 1, and increasingly so as the show continued. No one was competently adapted even in the first season; all the characters were missing key aspects of characterization ("Promise me, Ned" and Cat's political acumen are great examples), were rewritten to be more or less competent and more or less moral according to the showrunners' biases (Poor Doomed Ned being stupidly obsessed with honor and out of his depth, rather than a reluctantly competent Ned being driven by love and a desire not to see children harmed due to his trauma from the Targaryen children; Saint Tyrion [possibly the biggest snob in the books] instead of the smallfolk Donal Noye lecturing Jon on class privilege, one scene after name-dropping his sister the Queen, mind you; Saint Tyrion bemoaning the disproportionately emphasized stupidity of his capture and easily outsmarting that Temperamental Cat, instead of Cat calmly outwitting the former at every turn and making a difficult snap decision that reasonably seemed best to her given the circumstances; etc.), and/or bore virtually no resemblance to their book analogues to begin with (Sansa is probably the best example of someone who was doomed from the start in the adaptation). This is not even getting into how Jon and Dany, arguably the primary two among the main characters, were adapted, for that would require paragraphs' worth of explanation. Furthermore, their vision of "adapting" A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons gave us Season 5; clearly new books would not have helped in the slightest at that point, especially since that very season destroyed all remaining character arcs and thematic ties to the books, while cutting or -- worse -- changing all character-driven moments, as well as many important plot points and even entire plots. Regarding Mr. Martin selling the rights to the adaptation to Messrs. Benioff and Weiss, I do agree that he should have chosen more carefully and better ensured that their understanding of the text was profound during their pitch meeting. We can now readily conclude that their understanding of the books was quite superficial, best illustrated through their takes on characters that require a lot of work to understand such as Sansa and Stannis, and that they probably didn't even read AFfC and ADwD at all. I tend to believe Mr. Martin was not aware how deep the discourse delves into the books in some parts of the fandom, and especially that R+L=J was and is readily found on fan sites -- especially this one! -- and did not necessarily reflect on the respective knowledge of Messrs. Benioff and Weiss. I think @kissdbyfire has put it best through example: most of us careful book readers knew long ago that poor Shireen is likely to be burned and rather deliberated upon who would be responsible, while the showrunners outright admitted that the idea came as a shock to them. I personally believe that unfinished works should never be adapted, but given that GRRM made the decision to sell the rights to D&D, I do not think it is fair to attribute any additional blame to GRRM for what happened. The showrunners did not appreciably change over the years; all the signs were there on the show from the very beginning, and the cracks in the plaster grew ever wider as the scaffolding of A Song of Ice and Fire continued to fall away from Game of Thrones. (I am just replying to your point in the post, hence the quote; I am not vehemently disagreeing with you. I apologize if it seemed otherwise. )
  8. It is worse than just that. The showrunners successfully produced a show where nothing means anything (not that they would understand how to write otherwise), everything is bad and you should feel bad, everyone is despicable (not that they realized this one), honor is stupid and gets you killed, love is dumb, xenophobia is commendable, playing the Game of Thrones is good, and winning the Game is zero-sum and necessitates taking lessons from such individuals as Littlefinger and Cersei. In A Song of Ice and Fire, the true stakes of the series are introduced immediately and maintained throughout the epic, while the petty power grasps and horrible wars are depicted by their true nature, even if the reader sometimes forgets themselves and thinks otherwise in the moment. The futility of revenge is explored often and deeply, and explicitly connected to unending death and suffering through Lady Stoneheart. The Game of Thrones is repeatedly demonstrated to be a terrible thing; the suffering of the conscripts, knights, and their families, the plight of all the smallfolk, and indeed even the hardships of the high lords who participate, are clearly kept in view. Tywin's legacy, built on fear, brutality, and blood, begins to fall apart immediately after his death, for all that his diabolical intelligence and cold cunning awarded him temporary gratification; his children will also take each other apart, due to his abusive parenting. Ned and Cat's legacy, built on love, honor, and justice (inasmuch as that is possible in a feudal setting), holds strong for the sake of their children and their part of the realm; their men would happily march and die for "the Ned's little girl," and the reader has every reason to believe their children will reconnect and reform their home, due to their warm parenting. The aforementioned petty conflicts are understood by the audience -- and will be understood by the main characters -- not to matter in the face of an existential threat to humankind, the Second Long Night, which compels unity and the ability to compromise. The Others in the books are portrayed as intelligent and sapient, but also inimical to life (as we know it) itself. Their modus operandi includes murdering and resurrecting other forms of life, effectively enslaving them as thralls; this is how Dany's story maintains a thematic connection to the overarching antagonists even while she remains on another continent. To fight Ice, the world needs Fire; to preserve life, the people must set aside their differences and work together for a common good. In Game of Thrones, we see essentially the exact opposite. Revenge is the best thing ever, and indeed the only reason anyone would do anything. War is glorified; Machiavellian measures are extolled; bloody maintenance of self-image is dignified; and the smallfolk are completely irrelevant, shamelessly used as props or strawmen the rare instances they are shown. The existential threat is marginalized and rarely kept in view, and presented as a silly zombie war instead of a creepy and fundamentally terrifying conflict from those utterly alien to humankind the one time it was in full focus at Hardhome Hard-On. Moments of love and levity are completely eliminated, often replaced with snark or cruelty in direct contradiction to the books, except for the sake of blatant emotional manipulation of the audience. Honor is misunderstood, simplified, and ultimately deemed to be stupid; and fighting injustice and generally doing good is suggested to be either pointless (Jonny) or a sign of true evil (Daedpan). It was not only understandable to root for the White Walkers in the show, but also judicious to do so. Every human was utterly despicable by the end, either starting that way and ultimately reinforcing it or through learning that such is the way to be empowered and to win petty games of power, which of course was presented as a good thing to do. On the other hand, the White Walkers seemed to have a nice adoption policy, appeared to get along well with each other and with their wights, and would have made their new world open to everyone. Too bad humankind did not -- and never would have, in the show-universe -- band together to take out this threat, which was neatly eliminated as a simple distraction from what truly mattered, the Game of Thrones. One cannot even properly call the series nihilistic. Of course it was, but ultimately everything prove to be completely and utterly meaningless; even nihilism offers a purpose, whatever one might think of that purpose. What were the themes and motifs of the show, or of individual seasons? What were the themes of even individual plotlines (and only plotlines, because actual character arcs essentially stopped occurring after Season 4)? I understand the showrunners believe themes to be a matter for eight-grade book reports, but they inherently ascribe meaning to narratives, and the show did not even have consistent accidental themes. Although, it must be noted, the bigotry in the form of sexism, racism, ableism, classism, religious intolerance, whorephobia, and what have you was very consistent. Thus, we could conclude some horrible things from what the show continuously demonstrated, including but not limited to: that women in power is fundamentally bad because they are crazy and cannot control their emotions, unless they are directly granted their positions by men because no one else wanted it (Asnas Krats); that people of color, including crazy Pornishmen as well as the faceless and, for some reason and contrary to canon, the racially homogenous Essosi, are evil and uncivilized savages; that mental illness is fundamentally evil and genetic predeterminism is accurate; that smallfolk don't matter and only serve to enhance the stories of nobles; that religion is evil and fake and empowerment is denouncing it, and the only good practitioners are those who do not even know their own tenets (Septon Ray); and that sex workers and sex slaves should be thankful for their lot in life, and that they want nothing more than to offer free sex to men who "deserve" it.
  9. @Lord Varys I think we are mostly in agreement! My apologies if my poor phrasing was unclear. Just a few things... Regarding arms: I am not sure if your conclusion is true. You cite examples of people of noble birth claiming arms through ancestry, but to my recollection, only those who were born Targaryens (or later legitimized as such, like the Great Bastards) had claimed the royal arms or a variation of them. There is a distinction to be made between the Royal House and even the Houses of the Lords Paramount; refer to Jon's comment on how Joffrey "makes his mother's House equal in honor to the king's" in Arya I, A Game of Thrones, suggesting this simply is not done, except perhaps by a ruling monarch. Regarding the hypothetical of Robert I succeeding Aerys II naturally: I think Robert's heirs could and likely would have taken the House name Targaryen precisely because they would have claimed succession peacefully and legally. This would directly strengthen their legitimacy, emphasize the fact that the Iron Throne belongs to them by feudal contract, and to preclude conflict with or power grabs from cadet branches of House Baratheon. Regarding your point about conquest: Just as a conquest can be called a foreign usurpation, the usurpation of the government can be called an internal conquest. Now, historical and fictional feudal societies -- and Westeros in particular -- did not have such developed views of judiciary systems and certainly not of the concept of nation-states, but Mr. John Locke's point stands. Robert I Baratheon crowned himself via usurpation, though the nobles swore fealty and he kept the crown without dispute due to his Targaryen lineage, and therefore there is a claim to be made that he partially won the Iron Throne through conquest. Regarding the Targaryen/Baratheon lineage: I agree with you; what I meant was that the maesters would likely use this as an additional justification for the Baratheon dynasty in their histories, precisely for the close relationship in the early years, as you described.
  10. Take solace in the fact that there is hope. The Emperor will not always be seen with his clothes on; we have the ability to eventually see the truth where necessary. This applies to everything from a simple television show and the power of privilege to the state of government and other social institutions. In the meantime, hopefully some people begin to use your hard work so that others follow suit. We appreciate your research here, for what it's worth! Rising action and climax are impossible to achieve without conflict. Context matters. I can just as easily point to the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and pretend that the series is bleak and even nihilistic because Hogwarts is ruled by Death Eaters, the Ministry of Magic is thoroughly infested, and Voldemort has Horcruxes hidden everywhere.
  11. You're oversimplifying matters to make these phenomena seem hopeless, when that simply is not applicable in the books. Furthermore, all of the things you mention have context associated with them that, while it does not necessarily excuse them (Tyrion's case especially), makes them understandable. Tyrion is an outlier precisely because he is an anti-hero as compared to the other main characters, who are heroes. For example, it was impossible for Jon and Daenerys not to eventually fail as rulers, because Jon has tunnel vision and neglected to explain his actions to his subordinates, and Dany compromised her own values repeatedly for the sake of a false peace rather than bringing Fire and Blood where necessary. Things will necessarily get worse before they get better; that is the very essence of the Winds of Winter. Improvement on a personal and hopefully societal level is the Dream of Spring.
  12. I'm not sure there are more than three or four such instances, some of which are stretches of the imagination; and all of them are exclusive to the show. However, I do not believe you need to argue the points on the basis of scene. What a character says is effectively meaningless if neither their behavior nor their actions reinforce the same, as is the case here. Daedpan (Daenerys) loved to talk about crushing cities and whatnot, but was very restrained in her actions, even when she started using dragons in war. Similarly, Carol (Season 5 Cersei) talked about burning the cities of Porne (Dorne) to the ground if they hurt Madison (Myrcella), but such wholescale slaughter did not fit her character at all until she suddenly transformed into Cheryl (end-of-Season-6 Cersei); but even then, there was no level or reasonable threat of violence that fit that statement.
  13. Precisely this -- thank you for the explanation! @Megorova, I appreciate your clarification, but my point still stands; I do not believe you have answered the question I was posing. I believe you are free to theorize and make your own interpretations from the text, but I happen to respectfully disagree with your conclusion. However, I do not disagree to the extent that I will debate against it; rather, I do not see the evidence align with all the facts and inferences available in the text, nor do I perceive any purpose.
  14. Robert, Stannis, and Renly are second cousins to Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys. Had Rhaegar and Viserys died early, and assuming that Daenerys was not born and that Rhaella becoming Queen Regnant would be looked upon unfavorably due to her being female, upon the natural death of Aerys II, Robert would almost certainly have been anointed as king. (It is also possible that his heirs would have taken the House name Targaryen in this case.) Yes, Robert himself says his warhammer was his claim to the Iron Throne. However, he is wrong, or at most partially right, and the book makes this clear with the aforementioned kinship. The feudal structure, existing laws of inheritance for the nobility, and the new royal line were all maintained due to the predication that Robert could have been and effectively became the heir of Aerys II once the main Targaryen branch was deposed; the maesters indubitably include this in their histories to smooth the pseudo-succession. This is why no one seriously considered Jon Arryn, the de facto leader of Robert's Rebellion, or Ned Stark, otherwise in a very similar position to Robert, for kingship. Everyone could pretend that the social contracts still held true, and thereby maintain peace; had Robert's claim been considered one of conquest, we would have necessarily had bloody war every generation because all the nobility would have wanted the Iron Throne for themselves. (Renly winning would still have been much worse than this hypothetical, incidentally, because his claim explicitly repudiated succession, he did not bother allying with any Great House save the Tyrells, his claims of "merit" were what he decided constituted such, and his rebellion did not include deposing a monarch who failed in his feudal obligations.) House Baratheon also had strong ties with House Targaryen because Orys Baratheon was Aegon I Targaryen's half-brother, which most Westerosi nobility likely did not care about but which probably mattered to the maesters who covered the new dynasty.
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