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the trees have eyes

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Posts posted by the trees have eyes

  1. 17 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    I'm not saying they should be, I'm just saying they aren't, which it seems like you agree with. The story is a character driven story, and the story of the amber-skinned Ghiscari slaves being saved is from the perspective of...the white woman. That's, again, just what is happening and I am, again, saying that I don't think this is necessarily bad. It just is. I'm not projecting racial stuff onto his world, he already has it in there, the Valyrians are explicitly defined by their pale white skin color, and there is racism and xenophobia laced throughout his story and world. It's already there. 

    Look, if you think something should be there but it isn't, then you mention that it isn't.  You don't repeatedly mention something isn't there if you don't think it needs to be.  The story is not actually the story of The Wildlings, The Smallfolk of The Riverlands or the myriad peoples the Ghiscari slavers (not slaves) have captured, bought or raised to be slaves, however much we might sympathise with them.  Our young teenage heroes / heroines are all on journeys of working out what the right thing to do is and how to do it in the teeth of opposition and unforeseen, often disastrous, developments.  If you can't read Dany's chapters without defaulting your mindset to seeing a carboard cut out of a "white" woman liberating "POC" then you are projecting things in story that politicise it.

    17 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    I understand it's not the author's technique, and that is OK, but he has created a white savior narrative. If the Riverlands smallfolk or the wildlings were amber-skinned, and Jon or, like, Brienne or someone idk, went around saving them and that story was told only from their perspective and how it affects their character arc and their growth, that would also be a white savior narrative. 

    In other words it's not ok and wouldn't be ok.  I am sure you understand the focus of the story is the pov characters not the smallfolk and that all of the characters who get it right do so when they understand that standing up for and protecting the smallfolk or the downtrodden is the purpose of power (almost like a welfare state in a medieval setting, or at least the seed of the idea), whether peasant, slave or free folk.  It's mind-numbing to me to introduce this artificial distinction that because a group of people might be mischaracterised or generalised as POC then different story telling rules and reader responses apply.  This is pure projection of real world political issues in story.

    17 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    To notice racial elements in a work of fiction is not politicizing an already notably politicized piece of art.

    Books or Show?  Doesn't the "POC" angle come from the Show rather than the books?  I am reading High Fantasy in a Mediterranean setting in Dany's chapters not Political / Societal Commentary.  GRRM is not Noam Chomsky.  Like Avatar or Dune you can politicise art if you try but it's self-fulfilling to say a work is political while politicising it.

    18 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    But I don't think it's pigeonhole-ing to recognize a narrative trope that is occurring in a story you are reading. And I do think it's ignorant to dismiss the critique,

    A trope is simply a common story-telling element. It seems that being a white hero / heroine is almost enough to be deemed a white saviour if they don't "stay in their lane".  I reject both elements of that as the character should be free to "do the right thing" without people trying to parse their racial profile or the racial profile of the people they are interacting with to see if it's allowed.  If GRRM established wildling and Riverland smallfolk povs to show us what was happening through their eyes but neglected to in Essos then you might be able to highlight Dany but he's as true to his method with her as with every other character.  As it is I'm as dismayed by the white saviour talk as I was by the Mary Sue / Gary Stu stuff as with the terms used so broadly and in such an offhand fashion it just becomes a label and an easy stick or critique to reach for.

    18 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    I probably can't move you into thinking that Dany is white if you don't think she's white.

    There is no relevance to her being white in story unless you put that millstone round her neck.  She does not think of herself as some "white" superior to the "POC" Dothraki / Qartheen / Meereenese, etc...  That's projection.

  2. 1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

    I'm not sure why anyone would expect to find a new subject or debate about a story that hasn't had new content in over a decade.

    What's shocking to me is that even after a decade there are still people denying anything about the lemon tree being out of place in Dany's memory. I get that you've made up your mind and don't want to engage about it anymore, but to me it just seems like denial.

    "Lemons. And where would we get lemons? Does this look like Dorne to you, you freckled fool? Why don't you hop out back to the lemon trees and pick us a bushel, and some nice olives and pomegranates too."

    We can quibble about the details of what it means to the story, one can only speculate anyway, but not until people can admit there is something there. 

    Or, if you've made up your mind and don't want to talk about it anymore, don't engage.

    Or do, but it's hard to give weight to opinions when the person writing it won't defend it, imo.

    Oh, I know your m.o.  I was only commenting on you expressing your bemusement that people don't get what you think you get and to say why people aren't always mad keen on walls of texts and quotes for the nth time.  Rather as expected you're here to tell me people are wrong about this as well and either have to take part in a topic the way you want them to or they shouldn't at all.  That's something you'll just have to muddle on through.

  3. On 3/28/2023 at 3:00 PM, Mourning Star said:

    But, it is always shocking to me that people can have read this story so far and really believe there is nothing to the lemon tree or Dany's past, we can certainly debate what, but that people are still denying it all together is shocking to me.

    Just to comment on this.  For a lot of people in this thread, myself included, this is not a new subject or debate so you aren't running into people who are simply slapping this down, but into people who have read or debated this for years so suffer perhaps from a bit of lemongate fatigue and offer comments that reflect the lack of appetite to return to first principles and go through every single argument and factoid all over gain.  Now I admit that must be frustrating if you have the appetite for a fairly comprehensive run through but it's a mistake to think that people haven't been over all this before or, as I said, find the logistical issues of an unDany switch or Ned's abandonment of a putative daughter of Lyanna more of an issue than a childhood memory.

  4. On 3/28/2023 at 3:04 AM, Alester Florent said:

    The vast majority of Cortez's army in Mexico was made up of natives rebelling against Aztec overlordship. It doesn't make Cortez not a conqueror.

    I get that you are trying to point out that the Aztecs were an imperial power (in a regional sense) and that some of the subject cities joined with Cortez to throw off Aztec dominance but you can't really compare Dany with a conquistador!!  That literally inverts her purpose since Cortez plundered and enslaved the natives, rather than liberating them.  He just had local help at the outset, which was in turn enslaved and plundered.  She's a conqueror to the Ghiscari elite, a liberator to the freedmen.  I know GRRM painted this in primary colours but I know which view has more weight for me.

    And Cortez would never have achieved what he did without gunpowder, dogs, horses, steel weapons and armour, all of which either terrified the natives or completely outclassed them militarily.  Dany brought nothing militarily and had no leverage until she had the Unsullied.

    15 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    Dany is a wannabe invading conqueror. The Unsullied are not the POV of their liberation. White saviorism is about who, in a story about POC liberation, is being centered and who's character arc and growth is the liberation of POC benefitting.

    You keep hammering these nails but I do find them misplaced.  Why should the Unsullied be the POV of their liberation any more than the Wildlings be the POV of their desperate attempt to flee south or the Smallfolk of the Riverlands the POV of their desperate struggle for survival?  This is character driven story telling and the author follows his own characters.  You are creating rules for the author to follow based on misplaced racial projections into his work of art.  We see all these groups suffer but we never get POVs from them because that's not the author's technique.  Instead we see their misery reflected through our characters' eyes.  If you are okay with not knowing how the Smallfolk of the Riverlands or The Wildlings felt first hand then I would hope you would be okay with not knowing how the people of Slaver's Bay felt first hand.  But if you stick a POC / white saviour label on it you politicise art say there are different rules for different parts of the author's story or there are boxes he must tick.  In real world social commentary this is absolutely reasonable and perhaps in fiction writing too but to try and impose it in fantasy writing when the author has himself deliberately muddied the racial / cultural groups to prevent this sort of reaction then l do find it misplaced.

    16 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    Are we talking about prophecies? In the Messianic sense? Messiah complexes and white savior complexes are pretty similar, all things considered

    Why?  Saving people does not carry racial connotations.  The Messiah was the saviour of his own people, not someone who assumed racial superiority to others.

    16 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    If you think that the young blundering hero theme is a subset of the "white savior" theme in Jon Snow's story, I am afraid that you in fact have it backwards at best.

    I most certainly don't.  You were the one who alleged that the young blundering hero trope was a subset of the white saviour trope in fantasy writing.  I'm glad you don't really think this.

    16 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    But if you do not think that young blundering hero theme is a subset of the white savior theme in Daenerys' story, I do think you have a narrative blindspot. Which is OK, I guess, we all do.

    Yeah, I don't think that because I think you are mischaracterising her arc.  The young blundering hero is exactly what she is and how much GRRM intends to play on that or deconstruct is tbd. Since we have only had Slaver's Bay / Meereen for twenty years I guess I can see why you could reduce her to this or pigeonhole her purpose as to critique western imperialism or ideas of cultural hegemony this way but it's really off the mark.  The problems of regime change, shifting balances of power and the acceptance of an outsider who is also a forward looking reformer are the themes he plays with in both Dany and Jon's povs (Tyrion's too to an extent).  But breaking this down to a white saviour of POC - despite the author's story-telling technique and the jumbled world he's created - and then critiquing the absence of certain narrative perspectives just seems a to create an artificial stick to beat him with, however lightly.

    If you think I should share your assessment and join in your labelling and pigeonholing then I'm ok with disagreeing whether you consider that ignorant or blind.

  5. On 3/26/2023 at 8:18 PM, GZ Bloodraven said:

    He isn't only writing about Dany as part of the white savior trope. He's writing about imperialism, reconstruction, the ethics of conquest, the moral pit that is slavery, historical cross-cultural influence, the perils of young Turkish warlord love, vengence, cultural assimilation, the myth of the hero etc. etc. White saviorism is one of the things he is writing about when writing Dany. This seems like the most basic and least controversial take about Dany's narrative, I do not understand how a white woman saving POC people, told only from the white woman's perspective and in reference to the furthering of her arc, is not a white savior trope. If she's not white in-universe, she certainly is in our world, and if you don't think that, she can be a Valyrian savior. But this "white savior is bad and trope-y and George doesn't write bad and trope-y things, and so labelling the obvious white savior narrative as a white savior narrative is fitting a square peg into a round hole and you are hung up on this" seems, as I've said, ignorant and missing the point of the story.

    See, Dany is not an invading conqueror.  The Unsullied who rise up and likewise the freedmen are the victims of the Ghiscari. These are her forces.  She poaches their mercenaries, true, but she did not bring them like an invading colonist, they hired them themselves. The story is one of liberation not imperialism.  And you did say this was an allegory on Iraq when GRRM published ASOS before the Iraq War so Idk if I'm ignorant or missing the point of the story.  I certainly don't have the fixation you do.

    On 3/26/2023 at 8:18 PM, GZ Bloodraven said:

    The young-and-clueless savior trope is just the white savior trope with a young person. Jon is "saving" Wildlings, other white people. Dany is "saving" the Ghiscari, mostly POC people. 

    This is what I mean.  Heroes and prophecies are the universal stock in trade of the fantasy genre.  For you to say the young blundering hero theme is just a subset of the "white saviour" trope is all wrong.  You've got it backwards at best.

  6. 1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

    I don't think Ned intended there to be any switch.

    I think he probably thought the safest thing for her would be to grow up in secret, maybe somewhere like the House with the Red Door. 

    As for a protector, it's hard to know. What happened to Ashara Dayne? Why didn't Ned bring Lord Dustin's bones home? What happened to the Maester of Winterfell from the time of Robert's Rebellion?

    I have to wonder why Lord Dustin would do this rather than return to his wife.  I mean Barbery would have to be really beyond the pale for him to decide to up sticks and forget about his Lordship and his line.  The maester of Winterfell, likewise, is just an appointee from the Citadel not Ned's devoutly loyal and selfless servant - his job is not to obey Ned like a Kingsguard and babysit a child round Essos.  Why is his existence even relevant?  Ashara is the only real puzzle as her backstory is dodgy.

    2 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

    I would guess that whoever her original protector(s) were, she changed hands in what she remembers as being thrown out of the House with the Red Door, which "had not been home for him" (Viserys).

    So why didn't Ned try and recover "custody at one remove" instead of leaving her to be tied to Viserys and have a nice bullseye painted on her for Robert's fury to seek out, or to be sold to a Dothraki Khal like a piece of meat?  I doubt that last was his promise to Lyanna.

    I just don't buy this disinterest and complacency from Ned.

  7. 11 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    But the book was not written in 900s pre-Britannia, it was written by a guy from mid to late 1900s New Jersey, at the turn of the 21st century. Again, in-universe Dany isn't a white savior, but because we are only told her perspective, and she can very easily be read as "white" in our world, she is metatextually part of a white savior narrative.

    I'm speaking a little outside my realm of knowledge, but as I understand it, Dune is a critique of messianic complexes and the white saviors that purport to have them (even though our conception of race also doesn't exist within in-universe Herbert's world). 

    I think you're a bit hung up on this.  Story telling and fantasy, in particular, have dealt with heroes and prophecy since forever.  Whether it's the boy who pulls a sword from a stone or the man who rides a worm these are individuals fulfilling an in story role.  Whether it's Dany, Jon or the three heads of the Dragon who will save the world - or not if it's all distraction and GRRM is going to totally deconstruct the prince that was promised / Last Hero trope - viewing Dany, ASOIAF or fantasy in general via this white saviour lens as if that's all the author is trying to write about seems really limiting.  And once you start off that way you don't seem able to see much else.

  8. On 3/23/2023 at 9:09 PM, Mourning Star said:

    They aren't twins in appearance, Jon looks like a Stark, Dany has hair color that would indicate parentage that would incur Roberts Wrath, similar to the Lannister kids Ned is talking about in the quote where he says what he would do.

    With Howland being a hermit on a floating castle in The Neck no one would know what she looks like.  I don't buy the idea he made Lyanna a promise and then left *one of her children* for others to look after.

  9. 20 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    It's not about the events: it's about the perspective of the narrative. Dune is mostly from white Paul Atreides' perspective on saving the Fremen (a deconstruction of the white savior trope that I would liken to Dany). Avatar is from the white character who is saving the people of color's POV. Dany is the POV character of Dany's saving of the Slaver's Bay slaves. She is white. Dany is a white savior narrative. If you don't think she's white, like @BlackLightning, that is ok. If you don't think that a white savior narrative is when a white person saves people of color and the story is told from their perspective, that is also ok. But if you think both those things (which I think I reasonably do), then Dany's a white savior. The regime change/reconstruction question is a couple layers on top of the fundamental critique, though I still think it's largely valid.

    So, Dune.  I've only seen the film but the Fremen didn't look any different to Paul Atreides / Kyle McLachlan to me.  Maybe there are calls to boycott that as well as Avatar?

    And the comment about terrorist states was limited to the Iraq War (although you do reference Central America) so not about literary tropes.

    The issue with framing this as one of the perspective of the narrative is this isn't social commentary it's a character-driven limited-pov fantasy series.  It's our characters who shed light on the suffering of the smallfolk of the Riverlands or the starving masses in King's Landing, not those smallfolk themselves.  Brienne gets an exposition on the horrors of war (Arya views it in detail first hand) and Dany gets an exposition on the training of the Unsullied, rather than us getting Grey Worm povs.  I have seen criticisms of GRRM for having povs limited to the upper class but in general people are happy to let him create the characters he wants to tell the story he wants.  But then we have Dany's arc in Meereen....  I do think she's "white" but not in the sense that that carries any meaning with it in this fantasy setting where the Valyrians were the superpower of the Day aka Egypt or Assyria rather than Bourbon France.  If that's the fundamental critique, and I'm not sure you're positing that rather than framing the premise of the thread, then I don't agree.  And that's my problem with this lens through which we are invited to view, critique and dismiss creative writing: it's formulaic and restrictive and gives a stick to beat the author / director with if they run afoul of it.

  10. 1 hour ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    I would argue Avatar is a white savior narrative who's just conflict results in the creation of a terrorist faction in the sequel.

    Avatar?  So the literary trope of the white saviour is Dany and Jake Sully.  These are supposed to embody the trope but the trope has to exist in the first place for them to embody or deconstruct it.  This just feels like a knee-jerk reaction with the giant blue-skinned non-humans and the myriad peoples of Slaver's Bay being tied together as non-white.  Civil conflict is a typical consequence of regime change but a nasty civil war does not make for a terrorist state.  All authoritarian regimes use a degree of terror against their own citizens and failed states can allow militias, guerrillas groups and terrorist organisations safe havens either through conscious choice or being too weak to prevent them.  But these are different things.

    1 hour ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    I'm not saying she despises the culture, I'm saying she's the only perspective on her regime change: a French noblewoman, exiled in Algeria, marrying a Kenyan political leader, living in Egypt for a bit, and then helping Saudi Arabian, Iraqi, and Iranian woman achieve their freedom by organizing them in overthrowing their leader, only to spawn a pro-oppressing women terrorist group and running back to Kenya, and the only perspective we get on the "liberating Saudi Arabian, Iraqi and Iranian women" is from the white French woman...that's a whit savior. 

    Except she is Valyrian so is from the region originally.  As, loosely, were the Andals.  It's why I think to identify race is a false here as GRRM has woven his own tapestry.  In this case she would be an Egyptian princess, whose family fled the destruction of The New Kingdom for France where they supplanted the French Royal family and adopted some new but retained some of their own customs.  Rather like the Ptolemies in Egypt as it happens.  No real world comparison can stand up because of course it stems from the author's creative imagination.  That's my main dislike of critiquing art this way, along with the vagueness and general application of the white saviour term.

  11. 23 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

    So you think the plot would have to be too complicated for Dany to have a mystery to her identity, but prefer the idea there was an unnamed eccentric Dornishman with a passion for a lemon tree in Braavos?

    The dragonlords of Valryia, as is well-known, possessed the art of turning stone to liquid with dragonflame, shaping it as they would, then fusing it harder than iron, steel, or granite.

    They still endured, unchanging, four centuries after Valyria itself had met its Doom. He looked for ruts and cracks but found only a pile of warm dung deposited by one of the horses.

    I think it is literally spelled out actually. Nor do I think she is a pisswater princess.

    No need at all for a random Dornishman.  Lemon trees from further south in Essos can easily be collected or planted by the rich and powerful in their pleasure gardens or parks.

    Dragons melting stone, agreed.  But a castle is a large construct so even a large dragon can only deal with so much stone at a time.  Dealing with blocks and shaping or fusing them together sounds practical enough to me.

    Are you arguing that Valyrian-formed stone is indestructible and eternal?  I know we're dealing with magic but I think it makes it stronger and with unique properties - see Valyrian steel - not that an entire castle is a permanent and indestructible addition to the geological record.

    So the daughter of Lyanna and Rhaegar.  Honestly, I don't really mind if that's true.  I think it has more logistical difficulties and inconsistencies than those you leap to point out but if you are determined to reject Dany as herself this is the better option among the lemon flavours.

    19 hours ago, BalerionTheCat said:

    That could be what GRRM would say, if he was making fun of an insane speculation. Timeline and all.

    Would Ned abandon his sister's daughter in Essos? The blue rose in the Ice Wall? Why to pretend Jon is his son?

    Idk why he didn't send her to Greywater Watch where Howland could keep her safe and anonymous on his floating reed castle.  Seems a better bet than hoping Robert would not have her killed along with Viserys.  It's like he put her out there unprotected for no discernible reason while he took "twin" Jon under his wing.  Doesn't seem likely to me.

  12. 20 hours ago, Aldarion said:

    I know I'm not Bloodraven, but - entirety of Africa and the Middle East. Europeans divided the map by drawing lines on the map, while completely ignoring the ethnic/tribal composition of these areas. So you have the situation where each state has multiple tribes in it, while at the same time some tribes are divided by artificial borders. Result being that Africa is full of dysfunctional states.

    Yeah, in fiction.  The political arguments about European imperialism and colonialism and the new world order and neo-colonialism can and will rage on for decades if not centuries to come but fantasy takes a step away from real world politics unless the reader is interested in politicising it. 

    It was the words I bolded about terrorist states that I was pushing back on because this is really nothing to do with fantasy writing and all to do with positing a geopolitical allegory.

    19 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    They wanted me to talk about another example in fiction, but I wasn't talking about other examples in fiction. But this is a good example of people who thought they were white saviors with superior weapons "stopping tribal violence and slavery" and making the problem worse in many senses.

    Assuming anti-war George was not considering the war that was happening from 2003-2011 in influencing the events in Meereen seems intentionally ignorant. It's not one-to-one, frankly none of the real-world allegories are one-to-one that's the point of a fantasy series, but it is definitely influencing it. Slaver's Bay is also, as others mentioned, influenced by the confederacy and KKK, what with the slave state and all.

    What other examples in fantasy?

    This is what I mean.  I'm not really interested in rehashing the Iraq War but it's worth reminding you that Dany turns up in Astapor with a handful of Dothraki outcasts (the weak and the sick who didn't join one of Drogo's Khos), three ships loaned by an opportunist in Qarth and three flying lizards the size of dogs.  She turns up to buy mercenaries and has no political or military power base of her own. 

    From that you've managed to transform her into an amalgam of a classical European Ruler establishing a colonial / imperial system (with her nukes to establish her undoubted military superiority over the "savages" despite the fact that all the fighting is done by local soldiers against the oppressive local regime rather than any foreign army) and a "white" saviour despising local culture and systems despite the fact that she has plenty of locals who feel the same about those systems on her side and she is in any case a cosmopolitan character who has only ever experienced Eastern cultures in The Free Cities, The Dothraki Sea and Qarth and who wears her title of Khaleesi proudly, dons her Qartheen gowns and wears her floppy ears.  "Mighty Whitey" and a classic colonial-imperial European this is not.

    As for Iraq:

    The Iraq war was a follow-up to the earlier Gulf War (a global alliance against an aggressive campaign by Saddam Hussein to annex Kuwait) and found the US as the sole super power (or global hyper power) reeling and vengeful after 9/11 looking to neutralise potential threats and topple hostile regimes and replace them with more friendly ones.  Geopolitical security, America first policy, oil-driven strategy (if you're cynical) or whatever you want to call it, this was never about making the lives of the Iraqis any better.  They were meant to be grateful to see the back of Saddam and be a collateral benefit but thanks to the Sunni-Shia politics and the interference of both Syria and Iran who were determined that Iraq would not become a US client state, they became collateral damage.  Dany is all about making the lives of the local people better.  Unlike imperialists or state actors, it's her main concern.

    20 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    There, you could argue, that George is talking about the importance of an effective reconstruction. Which is essentially what I am talking about: after a leader deposes an unjust system, how do they stabilize that system? It's a timeless political question, one that George is clearly discussing.

    This is exactly the issue any regime change gives rise to as @SeanF said.  The argument that Dany should not do anything unless she is certain she can make people's lives better is a strange critique: no one can know the future.  You may not be making that critique directly but the idea that as a "White saviour" she does not know enough to try and fix things and in any case who is she to try tends that way.

    She leaves Astapor with a local council to govern it (hardly a sign of the colonial system you claim she is on the way to creating) but without any army or police it suffers first a coup then a conquest and it ends in disaster.  What moral is GRRM giving us?  Leave well alone so the local slavers can carry on castrating thousands of children and having them murder thousands of newborns to complete their training until someone else has a foolproof solution?  I think not.  That would never happen.  It's too hard, leave it to someone else, is not the way.  It's up to Dany.  It's a shame that people only seem to see her skin tone, which then leads to her thoughts and attitudes being "polluted" in their view by real world issues.  He is showing us that change has to be fought for, that it can be bloody and that there will be setbacks and challenges.  It's why she sets up in Meereen (before, er, going on a dragon trip to the Dothraki Sea). 

    The major theme of his work (title of first novel ofc being A Game of Thrones) is how those in power wield that power: the pressure between desire and duty, right and responsibility.  Dany is on that journey, with an unexpected discovery on a trip to Astapor snowballing into upheaval in Slaver's Bay and likely all of the old Valyrian area of influence and Essos.  It's quite possible that Volantis will rise up on it's own, inspired by her example, rather than being "liberated" by her neo-colonial saviour-like appearance and that she'll never set foot there.  She's more Spartacus than Louis XIV.

  13. 19 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

    In addition, the lemon tree is not the only inconsistency, just the most obvious. For instance, Braavos is a city built of stone, not wood, it smells of fish not flowers, how can stone blocks be torn from the walls of Dragonstone when it’s not made of blocks (but fused stone), and there were no Usurper’s knives before the wine merchant.

    Its not that we can’t come up with an explanation for any one discrepancy, but rather that the number of discrepancies gives weight to the idea that there is an underlying misconception. 

    The working harbour and street slums of Braavos will be a very different experience to the mansions and gardens of the mighty.  That's true of every city and there's no reason to exempt Braavos.  Fused stone so stone blocks fused together: if not stone blocks then what?  Fleeing because they feared, or Viserys feared, assassins is a perfectly understandable course of action even if there were no assassins stalking them and Viserys was wrong.

    Lemongate can point to inconsistencies but what it doesn't do is propose a credible identity for Dany being other than who she is portrayed to be.  I know GRRM likes a rug pull but the idea that Dany is Jane Doe, impersonator from Flea Bottom, who just happened to hatch three dragon eggs, is a subversion of her character and identity that seems a step too far.

  14. 21 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    In the real world or in the book?

    This is a book forum to discuss the books.  I'm pretty sure you can't have missed that.  The discussion is about a "literary trope", so as you waded in to allege terrorist states I'm keen to hear what series or novels you have in mind.

    21 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    in the book, Dany shows up with a nuclear threat and lofty ambitions to depose objectively horrendous leaders and then a massive terrorist group attempts to fill the power vacuum.

    So you are projecting the Iraq war and rise of ISIS onto Slaver's Bay.  That's a rather crude, even facile, comparison. 

  15. On 2/28/2023 at 9:56 PM, Mourning Star said:

    Dany’s old guardian’s sickness is described as “the smell of sickness clung to him day and night, a hot, moist, sickly sweet odor” in contrast to Aemon’s time sick in Braavos where they can’t keep him warm.

    The cycle of the seasons is irregular in Planetos but we are now in Autumn so Braavos is colder than it would be in Summer.  The climate is not fixed all "year" round and the seasonal swings are greater the further north you go.

    It's entirely possible that Dany spent a few summer years in Braavos and that Willem Darry, who died of a wasting sickness in a hot Summer, presented very differently to Aemon, who died of extreme old age in a dank Autumn.

    The author changing his mind between Tyrosh and Braavos is the most likely cause of the discrepancy / inconsistency theories.

  16. 7 hours ago, GZ Bloodraven said:

    she's definitely a critique on the white savior trope in that most white saviors are colonizers with nukes claiming to want to abolish slavery and then creating terrorist states.

    Care to give an example?

  17. On 3/11/2023 at 8:55 PM, Nevets said:

    I myself am not even sure exactly what a trope is or how it differs from traditional storytelling techniques or simply common practices.

    And much of what I mentioned is either subverted or necessary.  The hidden prince is hidden not only from the characters, but from most readers as well.  The highborn maiden is tired of being marriage bait and is forging her own path.  Which might be a trope itself, though if so, then practically anything is.

    And things like characters from the elite are necessary for a story about political maneuvering and the struggle for power.  And if you are modelling your setting on medieval Europe, feudalism is probably a requirement.  Plus, it helps add conflict.

    The fact is, there's only so many stories you can tell.  It's how you tell them that matters.

    Yeah, I remember reading the Mary Sue / Gary Stu discussions on this forum with regards to Dany / Jon a few years ago and thinking both how tenuous and misplaced it was but also how "tropes" is so vague that it really just says to the reader if you recognise this as a writing technique, character development or plot arc that is similar to anything you have read before then it's a trope.  People occasionally pop up to say that ASOIAF is inspired by / a rip off of fantasy series "X" precisely because of these similarities and "tropes".

    At best all I could see was standard writing techniques that are common to story telling coupled with some fantasy genre-specific elements (heroes and villains, magic and monsters, princes and peasants) woven by the author into the story he wanted to tell.

    He certainly plays with these ideas but without them you don't really have a story of any kind.  GRRM's two characteristics for me are

    1) his praise for Faulkner and comment about the human heart in conflict being the only thing worth writing about which gives us his signature themes of love vs duty, honour vs obligation, explored in detail in the situations characters find themselves in; and

    2) the gotcha moment or rug pull, which is all about setting up an expectation and then subverting it and which he most notably referenced by saying in interview that he set Ned up to look like he would save Robert / The Kingdom so he knew he had to kill him and that he then set Robb up to look like he would avenge Ned so he knew he had to kill him too.

    Often you think you know where the story or a character is going only to find you were wrong.  How well it's done and where it leads to is what matters, not whether we can stick a label on the plot or the story as a way of criticising or diminishing the writing which seems what the OP is fishing for.

  18. On 3/12/2023 at 3:11 AM, Alester Florent said:

    I mean I think you have a point but this is a very difficult area generally.

    The trope isn't really about skin colour; it's about cultural imperialism. Character A (from civilised, "correct" background, usually the same as the author's) goes to Foreign Place B and is horrified to discover that B does all sorts of things differently to A. They teach B the error of their ways, and this is good and necessary. This may involve A adopting some of the culture of B in the process but never any of the questionable parts.

    The problems A has with B might be moral (human sacrifice, cannibalism, slavery) or practical (they are doomed unless they listen to what A has to tell them). But the principle is the same: A is right and B is at best a noble savage awaiting enlightenment, at worst a degenerate who needs to be exterminated.

    This trope is common not just because of the desire of a given writer to espouse the supremacy of their own culture, but because if you're having characters of different cultures interacting, in order for there to be a plot there needs to be some sort of clash of values and one of those value-sets is going to win. Otherwise all you have is a guidebook entry. And usually authors instinctively side with the character whose values most closely resemble their own (and their readers') so A tends to prevail over B. Now, it's common for this to be muddied somehow, so that, say, B is shown to be superior in some ways to A, and you might find that A ends up deciding to remain with B rather than return to their own people, but fundamentally the crisis of the story will be resolved by A in a way which wouldn't have happened if they weren't there. They are, for the purposes of the story, the "Saviour".

    (The only real alternative, I think, is for A to accept that actually B is superior in every way and just bow to their inherent betterness. Note that when this type of story is written, it tends to be someone from culture-group B writing it, and really just represents an inversion of the standard trope template. See for instance the (bad) movie The Great Wall).

    Now, the actual culture of A and B doesn't really matter and it's a pretty standard trope wherever you have one people who consider themselves the pinnacle of civilisation encountering other people who they think are more backward. A doesn't have to be white. I am not sufficiently familiar with world literature to be able to call up numerous examples, but I am certain that examples exist where A is Chinese, Persian, Indian, Arabic... and probably Mayan or Inca in various lost stories from those cultures, and so on. The reason we talk about "white saviours" though because (a) "white" is considered the dominant group in the US, and US cultural influence is pervasive, and (b) because the overwhelming majority of published stories in any format have been produced in the last 200 years when domination of world affairs and associated colonialism has been by Europeans or European successor states.

    But this is fantasy, you cry! Well, yes. But that doesn't necessarily exempt it from the trope. Fantasy is often used intentionally as allegory: you don't really need any training in criticism to spot the message in a film like Avatar even though that takes place on a magic planet with blue people billions of miles away or whatever. And fantasy often takes a lot of its inspiration from the real world. Slaver's Bay specifically, and Essos in general, have been criticised for using generally orientalist tropes to depict the people living there. We get a sense of exoticism from them: they are not of our culture, but there's also a kind of specific exoticism about it. In the way that Westeros is obviously European in inspiration (and principally British at that) Slaver's Bay feels Middle Eastern and the Dothraki feel like steppe nomads. (And of course, Yi Ti feels Chinese, not that we ever go there).

    This kind of thing can be present even if not intended. I don't believe, for instance, that George Lucas intended for The Phantom Menace to be racist, but it just so happened that the tropes he was drawing on to depict Watto corresponded so neatly with offensive stereotypes that what he basically gave us was a flying Shylock caricature. In the same way, I don't believe GRRM meant for Slaver's Bay (or Essos in general) to be orientalist, but it is, because what he's done is borrow a whole load of inspiration from a bunch of different middle eastern cultures (and pop-culture versions of said cultures) and mixed it up in a big pot until what comes out is not always obviously any one specific thing from those cultures but is still very obviously of those cultures.

    And into that somewhat dubious setting marches Dany, our viewpoint character and protagonist, who is the whitiest whitey who ever whited, with a skin colour that matches GRRM's, and espousing values which we can unhesitatingly agree with because they're our own but which are anathema to the setting's inhabitants. And she tears down the institutions of which she disapproves of (and we cheer her on, because we disapprove of them too!) and becomes a figure of adoration and near-worship.

    If this were the other way round, and a (still white, American) GRRM had written a brown-skinned Daznarys zo Tarkarzyn coming to Westeros and busting up their evil slaving cartels, there would be much less criticism on this subject - although some might feel that the intentional aversion/subversion was rather too heavy-handed. But what he's actually written, at least in the first three books of the series, is pretty textbook white-saviour stuff and in the race-hyperconscious era of the 2020s, that engenders comment.

    The practical question of what can be done about it, though, is not easy to answer. There are increasing calls for writers to "stay in their lane", i.e. not write about anything outside their immediate cultures or experiences at all, because of concerns about appropriation (or straightforward offence). At the same time, lack of diversity, especially visual diversity on screen, is bemoaned even where such diversity is setting-inappropriate (see for instance, Bridgerton, and really HotD too). I don't know how one can square that circle, and I find the "stay in your lane" advice to be culturally damaging in any event (surely art is meant to be exploratory and challenging rather than confining?) It is probably impossible for an author like GRRM to win. But he could do better. I do think ADwD was a step in the right direction there from where we were in ASoS (notwithstanding that I found the Meereen plot interminable) and I would hope that when we finally leave Essos (hopefully soon in TWoW!) the problem will recede along with that setting. We'll see.

    I enjoyed this post and your discussion with @SeanF.  However, I don't agree that you can really compartmentalize real life and literary "white saviour" tropes: both are intended as criticisms, whether you want to tear down a statue or call for a work to be boycotted.  It's precisely because the last time I heard the white saviour trope mentioned was in connection to calls by indigenous groups for Avatar: The Way of Water to be boycotted that I responded to this thread in the way I did.  The OP may not have been advocating censorship but this is where this leads.

    The author has created Dany as an open-minded cosmopolitan, character, who moves seamlessly from culture to culture and whose empathy for the suffering of the downtrodden is repeatedly emphasised.  The idea that her actions and mindset are "problematic" because of skin colour (and therefore the author's mindset too), that she should only interact with "her own" people in a meaningful way, or that the author should only have the various fictional peoples of his world interact meaningfully with culturally / racially aligned groups or, worse, that he should only write about "his own" people, baffles and saddens me. 

    The fact that you can point to all of ASOIAF, Avatar and Star Wars as "problematic" shows just how much of an issue this form of soft pressure to self-censorship along with the open calls for boycotts is.  None of these authors / directors are doing anything other than trying to create enjoyable and compelling stories and the idea of fantasy is to embody imagination and escapism, free from real life pressures and political dramas.  The stories and characters aren't intended as allegories (except in rare instances) but they do, of course, spring from the authors' imagination and there is nothing else to shape their worlds, cultures and histories, other than the examples of our own. 

    GRRM has, for me, done a good job of making the Valyrian area of influence hard to pin down racially or culturally in terms of making real world comparison and this is entirely intentional but as some of the people are "non-white" and Dany is "white", here we are, which is a shame.

  19. 5 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

    Umm... but the trope is about the appearence, you know. Dany coming from a long line of racial supremacist inbreds who were also slavers makes it even more so. Like, the "white saviour" who is most likely from a country that formerly had slavery and the slaves were not melanine disadvantaged people but melanine advantaged ones and the "whire saviour" is now saving melanine advantaged people.

    The appearance only matters if you make it matter.  She sees a problem that horrifies her and tries to fix it.  Should we judge her for "coming from a long line of racial supremacist inbreds who were also slavers" when that has no relevance for her character and world view?  I don't think we should hold their birth or ancestry against anyone.  I don't see that it matters what might have been done centuries ago in Valyria and how this relates to how she is written on page or how you perceive the character.  The point is she has been raised to think as a princess and a ruler and now she has dragons to back that up.  Is her arc only acceptable if she has a certain pigmentation?

  20. I think she just tackles injustice where she finds it.  She got dragons so she has some levers.  Her objective is to go to Westeros ("home") but in the mean time she adapts to Dothraki culture, wears Qartheen gowns and her "floppy ears" in Meereen.  I doubt she gives racial background a thought and I don't think we should give her racial background any thought either.  See her character, not her appearance, as that's the part that matters.

  21. 20 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

    Four remained and one of them Ghost could no longer sense, Summer, because he was on the Other side of the wall.

    I read it this way too. In context

    A Dance with Dragons - Jon I

    Far off, he could hear his packmates calling to him, like to like. They were hunting too. A wild rain lashed down upon his black brother as he tore at the flesh of an enormous goat, washing the blood from his side where the goat's long horn had raked him. In another place, his little sister lifted her head to sing to the moon, and a hundred small grey cousins broke off their hunt to sing with her. The hills were warmer where they were, and full of food. Many a night his sister's pack gorged on the flesh of sheep and cows and horses, the prey of men, and sometimes even on the flesh of man himself.
    "Snow," the moon called down again, cackling. The white wolf padded along the man trail beneath the icy cliff. The taste of blood was on his tongue, and his ears rang to the song of the hundred cousins. Once they had been six, five whimpering blind in the snow beside their dead mother, sucking cool milk from her hard dead nipples whilst he crawled off alone. Four remained … and one the white wolf could no longer sense.
    He hears his packmates calling but he only sees Shaggy and Nymeria, not Summer.  He remembers they were six but now are four and he can no longer sense one of those, the brother he knows is alive but cannot see: Summer.
    I'm not sure how much that clears up cross-wall magical communication but that's my 2c :D
  22. 21 hours ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

    What purpose did Beric serve? I think he has already served multiple purposes. As a living myth, he inspired the people of the Riverlands, and provided readers some of the most heartening content in a pretty damn bleak series. As a sentient fire-animated wight, he gave us some insight into the nature of fire magic and resurrection, which may be relevant in the future. 

    Beric's progressively diminishing self with every resurrection served a plot function that culminated in the rise of Lady Stoneheart: who was raised after several days of putrefaction. If early Beric represented a dream of justice, LSH represents the dream turned rotten and sour. Justice has turned into vengeance.

    I agree with all of this.  Beric passed the gift of fire on to unCat

    A Feast for Crows - Brienne VIII

    Her face, Brienne thought. Her face was so strong and handsome, her skin so smooth and soft. "Lady Catelyn?" Tears filled her eyes. "They said . . . they said that you were dead."
    "She is," said Thoros of Myr. "The Freys slashed her throat from ear to ear. When we found her by the river she was three days dead. Harwin begged me to give her the kiss of life, but it had been too long. I would not do it, so Lord Beric put his lips to hers instead, and the flame of life passed from him to her. And . . . she rose. May the Lord of Light protect us. She rose."
    There is no sign or mention of Beric.  LSH is now the boss.  "The flame of life passed from him" is poetic and vague but seems  to say he sacrificed himself and transferred whatever "flame" of life he had to her.
    LSH is much darker but fortunately there is an exemplary knight somewhere in the neighbourhood who always tries to do the right thing yet lacks a real purpose and who would make a suitable replacement for Beric.  I can hope, right? :)
  23. 4 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

    Ned doesn't question Joff's parentage openly until after Cersei has made it clear she's not paying any attention to the legalities. Turning up with men is not unusual in this kind of situation, especially if trouble is expected.

    Technically this is correct but it's not the real issue.  Cersei has admitted the paternity of her children to Ned so Ned has only one purpose in turning up - to remove Joffrey - and the only way for her to prevent that is to remove Ned's legitimacy.  There is no circumstance here in which she is going to pay attention to the legalities.

    The issue therefore is for the KG: obey the living King and his mother, the Dowager Queen, or obey the Hand appointed by the old king as Regent, whose first act is to declare that Joffrey is not king and order him and the rest of the royal family taken into custody.  With the information they have, wrong though it may be, it's not a hard call for the KG to ignore Ned's orders and see him arrested as a traitor.  This expressly ignores Robert's last orders because to obey them blindly would be seem to defeat the purpose of Robert's intent - to see his son and heir (cough, cough), safely protected during his minority.  They clearly think this is what their vow entails.

    If Ned had laid out his proofs and persuaded them of the legitimacy of Stannis as King, Barristan at least would have seen it as his duty to follow Ned and support Stannis.  But Ned does not have the luxury of time or the opportunity to canvass any of them privately.  And Trant and Blount at least would likely follow Cersei and Joffrey regardless.

  24. 10 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

    An underage King doesn't have power to appoint his own regent, or any other council members, though. Cersei's move was absolutely a coup, but Ned didn't have the muscle to enforce the legalities.

    Technically this is correct.  But Joffrey is 14, rather than an infant so the choice for Barristan is whether to listen to the Dead King's last wishes or to the Live King and his mother, the Dowager Queen.  The idea of ignoring Joffrey until he reaches his majority in four years is fraught with problems.  History is littered with disputed successions and power struggles between factions during minorities.  Ned of course simplifies things by declaring that Joffrey is not King which immediately makes Barristan's duty clear to him, at least until he gets his pink slip....

    But as to the coup:

    10 hours ago, Alester Florent said:

    Nevertheless Barry was still right, by the principles of the KG, not to intervene, because his job is to protect Joffrey, and to a lesser extent Cersei's person (as queen) not Ned or Ned's legal rights , and his role, and that of all the KG when a fight breaks out, is to ensure the King's safety above all else.

    His duty is to protect the King and Ned has turned up with guardsmen, declared that the King is not the King and ordered Cersei and Joffrey to be taken into custody.  For all the KG, #1 is protecting King Joffrey, #2 is dealing with Ned's apparent coup.  Ofc LF has that in hand but Barristan's duty is not to Ned's commands empowered by Robert's authority when those orders seem to be an attack on the royal family.  This is what I meant in my earlier post about KG not acting robotically to obey the King's last orders when to do so is counter to the purpose of protecting the royal family.  Ned of course did not write down Robert's words verbatim, substituting "heir" for "son" so he is not fulfilling Robert's wishes which tangles things further but for the KG it seems clear enough: Ned is using Robert's will to launch a coup.  It seems obvious in this case that the King's last words should be ignored in order to protect the new King.

    If Ned had acted differently it would be interesting to see how the KG acted with Ned waving around Robert's will and Joffrey and Cersei in clear opposition to this.

  25. 5 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

    No, I don’t think that’s true, at least not necessarily true.  The Kingsguards swore to protect and serve King Aerys until their death, their service to the King they swore to does not necessarily end with the King’s death.   So if Aerys gave them a command, or commanded them to follow someone else’s command (say Rhaegar) then they were duty bound to see try and see the command through until that task was over.  Even if the ones who originally gave the commands had died.

    If their last command had been go fight at the Battle of the Trident, after that battle was over, they wouldn’t have had any further orders to see through.  As was the case of Ser Barristan.

    But if their command was something they could still accomplish even if Aerys and Rhaegar had died, then they should have seen it through until they accomplished it or died trying.  Or perhaps in the case of Arthur allowing himself to be killed once he realized he couldn’t accomplish it without violating more fundamental vows.

    Ser Willem Darry acted to protect the royal family.  But as the Kingsguards pointed out to Eddard, he wasn’t a Kingsguard.

    And when the King dies, they are bound to serve his heir, who is of course now the new king.  "Le Roi est mort, Vive le Roi" after all.  So whatever Aerys's orders, say to return Lyanna and any child to The Red Keep or hold them in confinement, they will interpret their duty now as being to Rhaegar's children and Lyanna's child who they may view as their King.  It's not disrespecting or disobeying Aerys's wishes, but their duty is now to another Liege. 

    Cf Ned reading out Robert's will or last orders and Cersei tearing it up.

    A Game of Thrones - Eddard XIV

    The eunuch carried the letter to Cersei. The queen glanced at the words. "Protector of the Realm," she read. "Is this meant to be your shield, my lord? A piece of paper?" She ripped the letter in half, ripped the halves in quarters, and let the pieces flutter to the floor.
    "Those were the king's words," Ser Barristan said, shocked.
    "We have a new king now," Cersei Lannister replied.

    Barristan may not like Cerei's conduct but Joffrey is King and names Cersei his regent.  Barristan absolutely would have served him and Cersei as regent whatever Robert's last orders, but he was dismissed.  All the other KG ignore Robert's last wishes because the King they serve is in front of them giving orders.

    In the absence of a Regent the KG at The Tower of Joy act as they think best reflects their duty.  There is a big question mark over whether they were really obeying Rhaegar over Aerys in any case, prior to either man's death.  Ironically, Darry was the more effective as he got both Dany and Viserys to safety.


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