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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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. )
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. I don't think Messrs. Benioff and Weiss are "deliberately" bigoted, whatever form that might entail. Certainly, they aren't foaming at the mouth in rage that women and people of color are increasingly entering different circles of society, or anything like that. However, they have an inherently bigoted worldview, and it shows in what they write and how they explain what they write. The sheer sexism, racism, classism, ableism, and so forth in Game of Thrones is virtually all the result of adaptational changes and original writing. A case could be made that Mr. Martin might not handle race perfectly, especially considering how he does a great job with Dorne yet does not offer a single native Essosi PoV, but he otherwise masterfully writes characters and plots to egalitarian ends. In A Song of Ice and Fire, he consciously rejects the sort of sexism/racism/classism/ableism/etc. Game of Thrones seems to happily endorse -- at the very least, the audience should understand what is wrong with the picture he depicts and summarily dismiss it. (Unfortunately, many readers do not, hence the pro-slaver, anti-femininity, anti-smallfolk, and similar arguments that are disturbingly common in the fandom.)
  12. Since this occurred at the tail end of Season 5, it was just another drop in the bucket at that point, but I would have to agree. In fact, Brienne the Brute is the character who best illustrated to me how much I used to project the books onto the show. I had been rewatching the show to look for the signs that began to pile up in Season 4, and noticed how unlike her book counterpart she truly was from the beginning. We see Brienne of Tarth for perhaps one minute total over the course of the series. On the show, she was almost always the Brute: a stoic warrior woman with no age-borne innocence and little empathy who clearly despised traditional femininity and other women, who treated Pod very poorly, who was overly eager to kill, and who was obsessed with vengeance with little regard for loyalty or honor; in other words, the exact opposite of Brienne. Some of her scenes with Cat and some of her earlier ones with Jaime could well have been Book!Brienne, but they were inherently ruined by the context of those scenes or else fell short due to how poorly those characters were adapted. It is a shame, because Ms. Gwendoline Christie is -- of course -- wonderful and talented. She is beautiful much as Mr. Peter Dinklage is handsome, as opposed to the characters they play as they physically are in the books, and I think the showrunners were charmed and rewrote the characters according to this and to their existing biases. Saint Tyrion was an obvious product, but the blackwashing of Brienne probably occurred accidentally. Messrs. Benioff and Weiss view the world through a fundamentally sexist lens, and I think they genuinely thought they were writing an empowered woman the audience should be rooting for, because to them, women are strong either by being masculine stone-cold killers or by being femme fatales. ETA: To be clear, Book!Brienne is a wonderfully written character and a wonderful person who is strong in the real way. D&D "fixed" this by making Show!Brienne Empowered ™ in their own fashion, stoicism and misogyny included for free, which is why her necessarily being blackwashed seems more accidental to me.
  13. I think a case could be made that the main characters became the opposite of who they were and will probably become. Arya: "What does family matter? Vengeance is where it's at. Whatever, I'm bored and blowing this joint." Bran: Upon being asked to be Lord of Winterfell: "I can never be lord of anything. I'm the Three-Eyed Raven." Upon being elected King of (South) Westeros: "Why do you think I came all this way?" Upon seeing his siblings and returning to his home: "LOL who cares?" Brienne: Who could forget: "You sound like a bloody woman." And, of course: "Oh, fuck loyalty!" Cersei: Lioness? What of her wrath? As if. She's just a girl who needs the comfort of a man. Dany: Her Satanic Majesty, eager to spill the blood of innocents for literally no reason whatsoever. Jaime: "To be honest, I never really cared for [the people of King's Landing], innocent or otherwise." Jon: Absolutely useless in every way, shape, and form, with no resolution to his arc with the Others and no internal or external struggle with his identity. Sansa: Let's just call this person "Asnas Krats" at this point since "Sandra" isn't enough, for she has become like Littlefinger and Cersei and has lost all empathy. Tyrion: Happy-go-lucky saintly dwarf, but someone who apparently does not have to deal with ableism or self-loathing and has the intellect of a pebble, and who also has no deeply-seated and often forgotten desire to do better because he is already perfect in every way. Yara: "By the Drowned God, I do so love reaving. What's that, independence for the Iron Islands? Meh."
  14. Larrol is the unironic OTP. It is the most jarring with characters who had scenes that actually fit their book characterization and plot trajectory on occasion, such as the hypersexual brothel-dwelling Showberyn randomly transforming into Oberyn Martell a couple of times.
  15. Given that Yara Greyjoy bears virtually no resemblance to Asha Greyjoy, I was actually fine with this decision to indirectly reduce conflation. Would that they had renamed all the other characters as well, since no one was adapted competently.
  16. Iconic lines are iconic for a reason; they are instantly recognizable, very likely to be well-written, and forthwith evoke the setting and context associated with them. For example, "Edd, fetch me a block." is short but sweet, immediately identifiable for what it is, meaning not just the decision to execute Janos Slynt, but a subversion of the expectation that Jon had changed his mind, when in reality he opted to do the act himself as per his upbringing. "Only Cat" is deceptively unembellished, but it sounds very natural, works perfectly as both subversion and expectation, concludes the scene and chapter masterfully, and fits perfectly into Lysa Arryn's arc in a way that "Only your sistah." does not accomplish. Not only is there no good reason to change such excellent and simple lines, it seems malicious after a certain point. This would be akin to Mr. Peter Jackson randomly deciding that Gandalf should cry, "Run, ya idjits!" instead of, "Fly, you fools!" or that Galadriel should bite Frodo's ear and tell him, "You want a good girl, but you need the bad pussy." in place of the "Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen..." speech. Granted, I absolutely have problems both minor and major with the adaptational decisions in The Lord of the Rings film series; in this scene, this includes how Galadriel was accidentally portrayed as selfish, and how true power appears to be unsubtle in direct contrast to the books. However, Mr. Jackson clearly respects the source material and seems to understand it quite well, and largely makes the correct decision to cut rather than change things where necessary; none of this can be said of Messrs. Benioff and Weiss.
  17. I'm sorry to disagree with your headcanon, but dragons are not remotely like the One Ring, nor have they ever been described similarly or symbolized to act as an agent of perversion. They are themselves neither good nor evil, and nothing about them -- or power -- inherently corrupts. Indeed, Mr. Martin has written multiple works that reflect his belief that power concedes nothing without a demand, to quote Mr. Frederick Douglass. Saruman, shockingly enough, was an established villain with established motives and consistent characterization. What he did was exploit the petty sins the hobbits of the Shire were guilty of in order to seize this modicum of power out of his desire for it and out of spite, given that his previous goals of Ring-making and amplifying the power he used to possess as an Istari had become impossible. Even so, his fate is meant to evoke sorrow and pity even as we are supposed to denounce his willingness to succumb to his character flaws. What the Scouring of the Shire represents in a concrete, applicable sense is the reality of life after war, as well as how the human condition might improve due to necessity but can never approach an idealistic state through the means of war and violence. Beyond that, more abstractly, we have the hero's journey of achieving their goals externally in lieu of an internal spiritual journey, which ultimately enables them to help and renew their home through the wisdom and power they accrued during it. It also works as an expertly-devised plot device that simultaneously reveals to us the completion of Saruman's arc and the destructive nature of vengeance, the growth of the heroic hobbits and how they indeed earned their victories, humility and how the ultimate act is to renounce an object of great power rather than attain one, how evil is persistent even without directly taking form as a Dark Lord, and the power of hope. Regarding your quote about tyranny, besides ignoring the context, you seem to disregard why it applies in this case. Fascism had taken over because the Scouring was -- whether or not it was strictly intentional, for Mr. Tolkien disliked allegory -- reflective of the tenuous peace after the Great War, and that very much included political dissent and much discourse that gave rise to extremism in response to the inexorable rise of capitalism, meaning both communism and fascism, which in turn led to the wars that followed.
  18. You're absolutely right! I remember reading about Aragorn mercilessly slicing through innocent hobbits as the Shire burst into conflagration on his command, telling himself this was the price to pay for liberation and the return of Númenor.
  19. With all due respect, some of your posts, such as this one and your previous suggestion that A Song of Ice and Fire is cynical, lead me to believe you accidentally conflate books and show in your discussions and analyses. Be sure to look at the books with fresh eyes and without any context from the show when you do your next reread, should you opt to engage in one. I would not recommend rewatching Game of Thrones, but if you decide to, strip away all projections from the books and consider it on its own merits and as its own narrative. I am certain you will be surprised by how different they are, even as early as Season 1. "Poor dumb/doomed Ned" is entirely a show invention. I tend to lament how the female characters were treated from the very start on the show and how it exemplifies the showrunners' misogyny, and rightly so; but the male characters were hardly unaffected by the bias and misunderstanding of the text on the part of the showrunners, though for different reasons, and Ned probably fared the worst among the gentlemen. In the books, it is bad luck and his unwillingness to see children harmed that leads to his demise; on the show, his honor is always pointed out as what got him killed. (Never mind that his ultimate downfall was, as consistent with R+L=J, choosing familial love and internal honor over his external honor... It is all but clear that D&D did not read AFfC or ADwD, but one has to wonder whether they truly read the first three books either.) Ned was also portrayed as out of his element on the show, whereas he is reluctant but quite competent in the books. Compare the context and framing with a few examples: Ned made multiple excellent logical arguments not to assassinate Daenerys while also reminding Robert of what honor necessitates in the books, whereas in the show he was reduced to piteously appealing to an abstract sense of honor; in the books, Littlefinger is a false friend who carefully ensures he is overlooked, and whom Cat eventually begrudgingly trusted due to their childhood, leading Ned to do the same, whereas he could not more clearly a moustache-twirling villain on the show; and so forth. As for ASoIaF or Mr. Martin himself being cynical, I think contending that would result in a debate beyond the scope of this thread, and one that would be overly lengthy besides. However, I think it is important to note that he is manifestly a classical romantic whose other published works illustrate this fact, so this is highly unlikely to be true on that basis alone, never mind the hopeful tone the books have managed to capture. Beyond that, the differences in tone between the works are noteworthy: Game of Thrones is indeed cynical, utterly grimdark with very few moments of levity or love (and the vast majority of those that existed were blatant emotional manipulation), and ultimately nihilistic (with an empty, bleak ending to prove it); but A Song of Ice and Fire has many instances of genuine love with family, friends, and spouses, small moments of kindness and empathy by primary, secondary, and tertiary characters alike, warm humor, demonstrations of merriment, simple humanity of the PoV characters rather than unbroken stoicism, and so forth. The show's treatment of Sansa and Sandor is a perfect microcosm of this: rather than Sandor tempering Sansa's naïvete, while realizing the world is not hopeless and that he can at least strive to do better (and possibly lead by example) according to Sansa's romantic outlook, Sandor's initial cynicism is always proven to be correct, and his effect on Sansa is amplified manifold while her effect on him is completely excised. (Refer also to the so-called Septon Ray and his community being brutally murdered in Season 6, an event anyone could see coming precisely because of the show's unrelenting nihilism, yet again proving Sandor's cynicism correct).
  20. I agree completely. It is also important to remember that Mr. Martin is a romanticist -- classically so. This should inform the nature of his character arcs and the ending of his story. As such, although Tyrion is the primary character who is most likely to take a dark turn -- which he has already done at the end of A Storm of Swords and largely fallen further throughout A Dance with Dragons -- and to stay there, I think it is very likely that he will ultimately temper this with heroic deeds as a way to atone (whether directly or indirectly), and even that he will redeem himself in some measure. I do not believe Tyrion will have a happy ending, and he should absolutely not be forgiven by the narrative for the evil he has willingly and selfishly propagated or for the personality flaws which he has allowed to rule him; but I am very much of the opinion that his fate will be bittersweet. As you have explained, Tyrion is clearly the "villain" of the supposed "Big Five" (or Six, if we were to include Sansa along with Arya, Bran, Dany, Jon, and Tyrion). If some degree of hope is likely in his ending, I find it difficult to believe that the others will have anything less than bittersweet in theirs, in the literary sense as seen in Mr. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
  21. I think it is willful self-deception at best and malicious prevarication at worst to suggest that the show spoils the book series in any meaningful way. Interestingly, the opinion that the ending of the show is broadly the same as the ending of the books seems to occur most often in two major brackets: those who were -- and in many cases, still are -- show apologists, and those who take their likes and dislikes when it comes to characters too seriously and are hoping the aspects of the ending which pleased them will be germane. Please forgive me if I am not overly eager to agree with the prevailing views of these groups. Even the showrunners have not made a confident statement about the similarity of the endings since the series aired, despite multiple such claims prior to then. Note that these are the same people who claimed that Season 5 was "very much within the books;" any self-respecting reader who bothered to analyze the show to any extent would realize how erroneous and frankly insulting this statement is. Judging by the pattern of their writing, including but not limited to the inability to use or understand literary elements, misunderstanding of themes, lack of characterization, insufficient seeding, poor plotting, uneven pacing, suffusive bigotry, unearned and cheap twists, unrelenting nihilism, and so forth, it could not be clearer that Season 8 was the exemplar of their approach and more of the same -- nothing more and nothing less.
  22. This vision is a metaphor for the War of the Five Kings. The beautiful woman is symbolic of Westeros. As Daenerys recalls earlier in the same book, "Viserys always said the Seven Kingdoms were more beautiful than any other place in the world" (Daenerys II, A Clash of Kings). The four ugly little men ravaging her are reflective of the pettiness inherent to the high lords playing the Game of Thrones, in which the various self-styled kings are ravaging the Seven Kingdoms. The reason there are four rather than five is that there were only four kings at a time during the war proper: Balon declared after Renly was assassinated, after this point in the books.
  23. My apologies! That was unclear phrasing on my part. The first part was meant to clarify that Dany was not even remotely characterized as Her Satanic Majesty in Season 8 before "The Bells" despite the writers' best efforts to vilify her, and much less so in Seasons 1 through 7, which had already blackwashed her significantly from the books. For the second part, my argument is that there was virtually no difference between the characters we were supposed to think of as "good" and those we were supposed to think of as "evil." The distinction was only in how the show itself - - and promotional materials -- arbitrarily framed them. For an example, let us take Season 6. Because sexism was unfortunately always a fundamental part of the show, I am comparing three women specifically: Cersei with Sansa and with Daenerys. It is first important to note that, until "The Winds of Winter", show!Cersei had consistently been a heavily whitewashed character who did very little wrong and only reacted to clear and present threats against her children in the narrative, even if other characters and promotional materials incorrectly called her evil and ruthless. Recall that Sansa killed her abuser (Ramsay) at a juncture in which it was clear he had lost all his power and was in no position to hurt her again. Her feeding him alive to his own dogs was framed triumphantly. (I will ignore the revolting rape-revenge tropes here as it would open a can of worms that would take us off topic.) Contrast this with Cersei's villainous monologue to Septa Unella. She claimed that she "only does things that feel good to her" (a clear retcon), including the murder of her own abuser (Robert). Recall that they were still living together as husband and wife (so he inherently retained all the power, including the ability of martial rape), that he was the King (with the obvious power difference that entailed), that he had struck her across the face the episode prior, and that his discovering her treasonous twincest would result in the death of her children, her brother and lover, and herself. However, this speech framed this as a villainous action that exemplified how evil she was. This is a staggering double standard, solely because we were meant to see Cersei as a villain and Sansa as a hero. Daenerys burned down a misogynistic, patriarchal church: that of the Dothraki. She smirked while decisively destroying and claiming an entire culture (obviously nonsensical, but it canonically occurred on the show). This moment was framed as empowering and positive. Cersei blew up a misogynistic, patriarchal church: the Faith of the Seven, by virtue of killing the High Sparrow (and all his followers somehow... again, nonsensical, but it happened). She did this when she had no other recourse to save herself from losing the remnants of her power and Tommen from his abuser (Margaery), although the latter became irrelevant since she was randomly a selfish, deranged, kinslaying, mass-murdering hedonist now. In any case, this was framed as an act of true evil. This is once again a staggering double standard, once more because we were meant to see Cersei as a villain and Daenerys as a hero.
  24. @BlackLightning There are several likely reasons for the Daenerys advertisements. Part of it, as you alluded to, is an endeavor to build hype for House of the Dragon, which is after all a Targaryen-centric prequel. Part of it is that HBO is trying to sell Mad Queen Dany as a tragic and intelligent story, as opposed to the utterly misogynistic and unearned cheap twist that it was. To an extent is, this is also a way to retcon the terrible justifications propounded by D&D, in trying to reframe this in a marginally less negative light. (To be clear, I am not a fan of Show!Daenerys in the slightest; she is absolutely nothing like Book!Daenerys, whom I love. However, even on the show, the characterization -- whether "criminally insane" in 8x05 or "pure evil" in 8x06, since they couldn't make up their minds -- is utterly inconsistent with the person we saw on our screens, inconsistent as she herself was. This is true in Season 8, which attempted to blackwash her to an irking extent with no subtlety whatsoever, and much more so on all the previous seasons, as vilified as she was on the show before then as well. However, ultimately, she was just like almost every other character, supposed "heroes" and "villains" alike -- on Game of Thrones, the distinction was only one of framing.) Part of it is an attempt to obfuscate just how despicable virtually everyone on the show was, especially by the end. Part of it is an attempt to hide that the "bittersweet" ending was "bitter" only for Daenerys and "sweet" for all the other surviving named characters, even though the elective monarchy that was implemented was a huge step backwards -- which, naturally, is utterly fitting when considering the nihilism that was always inherent to GoT. Part of it is a means of attempting to appease or at least pacify Dany fans -- not that this is likely, for obvious reasons.
  25. One of the funniest things about Cheryl's destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor is that it is apparently common knowledge, such that the lack of consequences is shamelessly lampshaded in the show without a hint of self-awareness. Pot Hie and Arya Todd were casually discussing the fact that Cheryl blew up the Sept -- and then they moved on to Jonny Cardboard defeating the Boltons and being crowned King in the North, which shocked Arya, who had been living as Walder Filch for about a fortnight. Why would the Lord Paramount of the Trident, who was rewarded by the Lannister regime for his part in the fall of House Stark, which their allies House Bolton had replaced as Lords Paramount of the North, not be told this at any point? Yet somehow be privy to how the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed? Why was the conflict named "The Battle of the Bastards" in-universe? That is one aspect of a single scene, the discussion of which I cut short because the lack of logic extended far beyond the current scope of the discussion, including Arya's presence there in the first place, what she had been doing before then, and so forth. Furthermore, this is only one example of the phenomenon I was discussing; and this astounding lack of logic is absolutely par for the course for Game of Thrones. This show doesn't even make sense at the most basic narrative level, never mind fundamentals of continuity, thematic cohesion, and cause-and-effect logic, which are inherently elementary elements of any narrative. The writers have to earn those Emmys somehow, right? Because the smallfolk of King's Landing are totes chill with the mass-murdering, kinslaying, heathen Queen Regnant with no claim to the throne and very poor public perception as Queen Regent. Because the Reach is fine with the their liege lords being all but wiped out. Because random powerful lords such as Randy Tarly know no Queen but the Queen somehow on the Iron Throne with no claim and no previous support, whose name is Lannister. Because Eurovision is a walking diabolus ex machina who is inexplicably eager to support Cheryl for an extremely bad, unwitnessed marriage pact. Because House Tyrell can't fight due to their sigil being a rose, and Highgarden is easier to capture than the flag on an preschool playground; so the giant sacks of gold they happened to have lying around paid off the debt to the Iron Bank, which impressed Tycho Dumbstoris to the point he offered Cheryl another huge loan, supplemented by his earlier anachronistic, nonsensical, and religiously insensitive and ignorant (on the part of the writers) support of her "casting off the yoke of superstition" by blowing up the analogue to the Vatican. This does not even bring up the endless teleportation and telepathy which made all of this possible.
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