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The Marquis de Leech

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Another excellent piece, though I must quibble somewhat when you say "Denethor is an old-school Númenorean; Théoden is obviously not of Númenorean extraction." Theoden's mother was of Numenorean descent. :) 

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I am not sure I find "heteronormativity" worth any discussion. But I agree that Jon-Ygritte as well as Sam-Ginny are painfully clicheed. I only read the first of Mary Stewart's "Merlin" books but these apparently have the concept that Merlin's magical gifts bring sexual dysfunction (not only sterility which I find an interesting idea, in the Witcher series Witchers and Sorceresses are sterile but they can perform very well) and there is a rather painful scene where the young Merlin becomes aware of this fact.

Maybe I am quoting out of context but I don't see a lot of sense in the claim that "heroes embrace a heteronormative model of male sexuality from which the villains are excluded". We don't know enough about the Others but I don't see how other SoIaF villains like Tywin Lannister, the Mountain, Ramsay (polymorphous sadist, but mainly hetero), Littlefinger etc. are in anyway excluded from this model of sexuality.

Morgoth seems hetero enough to lust for Luthien but in the case of Nazgul, Saruman and Sauron it seems that they are/have become sufficiently inhuman (of course the last two were not human to begin with but Maia apparently can mate with humans, see Melian-Thingol) that any sexual desire (except maybe gleeful exultation in one's own power or in sadistic acts on prisoners) is not really applicable. But it does not seem to be the case ( that their nonheteronormativity (namely asexuality which probably holds for the Others, too) contributes to their villainhood. As it could if we counted Varys as a villain but by now he seems one of the less evil guys.

Edited by Jo498

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3 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

In both Tolkien and Martin, the past civilisations were more technologically advanced and politically powerful than the current civilisations, but it would be hard to argue that they were better.

Numenor, even before Sauron corrupted At-Pharazon, had become very brutal towards the "lesser" men of Middle Earth;  Valyria combined the worst aspects of the Roman Republic of the First Century BC with the worst aspects of Numenor (enslavement on a huge scale, genocide of the Rhoynish people, and human sacrifice to fuel their magic).

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I have not read all the shorter novellas but in my impression the superiority of the Valyrians mainly rests on dragon magic (and maybe valyrian steel but this seems to have been rare also in the past). We don't know if some things having been developed in that research center of the Maesters might be technologically more advanced, there is not only military tech, although this tech is decisive in the Westeros scenario.

And so far we are also missing a perspective that more powerful does not equal better... after all this is gritty Hobbesian-Machiavellian realpolitik, not some tree-hugging idealist or catholic pipedreams. ;)

 

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11 minutes ago, Jo498 said:

I have not read all the shorter novellas but in my impression the superiority of the Valyrians mainly rests on dragon magic (and maybe valyrian steel but this seems to have been rare also in the past). We don't know if some things having been developed in that research center of the Maesters might be technologically more advanced, there is not only military tech, although this tech is decisive in the Westeros scenario.

And so far we are also missing a perspective that more powerful does not equal better... after all this is gritty Hobbesian-Machiavellian realpolitik, not some tree-hugging idealist or catholic pipedreams. ;)

 

I imagine that in Valyria magic and technology went hand in hand. 

In truth, parts of Westeros do seem quite advanced technologically (say, like Western Europe in 1400). The  castles owned by the Great Houses  have hot and cold running water, privies, decent sewerage and so on, and places like Oldtown and Lannisport are very prosperous.

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8 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

Sounds like Tracker, in his dismissal of Denethor as "mad", has fixated upon "movie Denethor" as opposed to "book Denethor".  In the book, as he finally gives in to despair, at the very end of Denethor's story, yes, he does go mad.  Mad from despair and because he sees the loss of his world coupled with (his imagined) loss of his son.  He does not appear mad until the very end of his story.  

As such his misgivings about a "return of the King" are not a product of his "madness" they are a product of his natural reticence to surrender his own power.  

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13 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Sounds like Tracker, in his dismissal of Denethor as "mad", has fixated upon "movie Denethor" as opposed to "book Denethor".  In the book, as he finally gives in to despair, at the very end of Denethor's story, yes, he does go mad.  Mad from despair and because he sees the loss of his world coupled with (his imagined) loss of his son.  He does not appear mad until the very end of his story.  

As such his misgivings about a "return of the King" are not a product of his "madness" they are a product of his natural reticence to surrender his own power.  

Movie Denethor was a travesty.

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3 hours ago, SeanF said:

I imagine that in Valyria magic and technology went hand in hand. 

In truth, parts of Westeros do seem quite advanced technologically (say, like Western Europe in 1400). The  castles owned by the Great Houses  have hot and cold running water, privies, decent sewerage and so on, and places like Oldtown and Lannisport are very prosperous.

Yes. While we don't know much about Valyria, whatever remains of their influence in Essos does not seem to have contributed to a higher tech level. It is hard to tell from the mix of orientalist and other tropes that constitutes Essos and the Free Cities seem to be on a similar level (1400 Venice or Florence instead of 1400 Britain) and Slaver's Bay rather more primitive. So while the dragon-magic heritage of the Targaryens is important for the story, the general technological level is not, I think.

In any case whereas in LotR there are several hints that e.g. the Palantiri or some buildings are beyond the current technological abilities, I do not remember that something similar is mentioned in ASoIaF. The current smiths can work Valyrian steel good enough, it is just that the raw material is rare or not available anymore. I think the relation of Numenor to lat 3rd age ME and Valyria to Westeros+Essos at the time of ASoIaF have some similarities (and both to Atlantis, obviously) but neither is all that important for the points about status quo or the restitution of a golden age long past. In Westeros such a restitution would be to go back to the separate Kingdoms, not to the Targaryen dynasty.

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On 14/01/2017 at 0:06 AM, Hereward said:

Another excellent piece, though I must quibble somewhat when you say "Denethor is an old-school Númenorean; Théoden is obviously not of Númenorean extraction." Theoden's mother was of Numenorean descent. :) 

Touche. :)

I now wonder whether Book Theoden may have been dark haired in his youth (he's white haired by the time of LOTR), given his mother. Not that Tolkien seems to hold to real-world genetics very closely.

Edit - Unfinished Tales explicitly suggests that Eomer inherited his height from his grandmother Morwen, and that some of the descendents of Thengel had darker hair. Whether Theoden is a candidate, I don't know - though given that Eowyn and Eomer have fair hair, we don't have too many other options. Not least because both Eomer and Eowyn end up marrying dark-haired Gondorians too, so it becomes harder to test the influence purely derived from Morwen.

Edited by Roose Boltons Pet Leech

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In Tolkien-related matters, has anyone seen the short fan-film The Hunt for Gollum? I've just seen it on youtube (it *is* a fan-film, not a commercial thing), and I think it's brilliant. Apparently done on a £3000 budget too.

(Apologies if this is old news. It is seven years old now, but I've only stumbled across it now).

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1 hour ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

In Tolkien-related matters, has anyone seen the short fan-film The Hunt for Gollum? I've just seen it on youtube (it *is* a fan-film, not a commercial thing), and I think it's brilliant. Apparently done on a £3000 budget too.

(Apologies if this is old news. It is seven years old now, but I've only stumbled across it now).

I'll look it up.

When I read LOTR for the first time, I remember being horrified by the mental image of Gollum slipping into houses to carry off babies to eat.

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12 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

In Tolkien-related matters, has anyone seen the short fan-film The Hunt for Gollum? I've just seen it on youtube (it *is* a fan-film, not a commercial thing), and I think it's brilliant. Apparently done on a £3000 budget too.

(Apologies if this is old news. It is seven years old now, but I've only stumbled across it now).

I have yes, thought it was pretty good really. There is another I think concerning Aragorn's parents. I seem to recall that wasn't as good though

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Am rereading LoTR for the first time in over a decade. Used to reread them once every year or so. What I'm enjoying ATM is all the Shire stuff, the mildly Austen tone regarding norms and Sackville Bagginses, had forgotten the wry subtlety. 

And even more reminded that the hobbits are the humans of the story.

Edited by James Arryn

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1 hour ago, James Arryn said:

Am rereading LoTR for the first time in over a decade. Used to reread them once every year or so. What I'm enjoying ATM is all the Shire stuff, the mildly Austen tone regarding norms and Sackville Bagginses, had forgotten the wry subtlety. 

The Sackville-Bagginses are Tolkien's piss-take of the middle-class. Otho is explicitly a lawyer in the drafts, while Lobelia's social climbing could slot into an episode of Keeping Up Appearances. 

Even the name: the Sackvilles are like the Bagginses, but have that Frenchified -ville thing, pretentious bunch that they are. Meawhile, they call their child Lotho as an amalgamation of their own names (in a manner that accidentally evokes loathsome). In one of Tolkien's letters, Otho aspired to be head of the Baggins family, as well as head of the Sackville-Baggins family; if Bilbo had never returned, he'd have called himself Otho Baggins-Sackville-Baggins.

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4 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I have yes, thought it was pretty good really. There is another I think concerning Aragorn's parents. I seem to recall that wasn't as good though

It's called Born of Hope (also on youtube). I checked it out today. It's decent, especially for a fan-film, but it's indeed not as good as The Hunt for Gollum. Too much melodrama and a bit too long.

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Of course, Bilbo is a landowner but only gentry in the context of his father marrying up via money.

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