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Heresy 208 Winter is Coming

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6 hours ago, SirArthur said:

He can set up Dany's invasion from all perspectives including answers to the most important themes. But the actually invasion is then up to the reader. As I said, he has left stories open in the past. And the Dany story would be the best defined story in the book, best established to be left open. 

Ah, there's a difference here between character arcs and mysteries. Yes, its possible in theory that this might all end with Danerys muttering "next year in Westeros" and then getting distracted again by tax policy, although I really don't see it happening. As its been pointed out above the whole business of tarrying in the desert sands, otherwise known as the Meereenese Knot, had nothing to do with plot development and everything to do with stretching the story by five years so that all of the children could grow up a bit.

The central mysteries of the story will not be answered in Essos but in Westeros. Who were Jon Snow's parents and why does it matter? Where is Bran really headed under the ground and in the darkness? Where do the Green Men really fit in? What's in the Winterfell crypts and most important of all, what's the Stark connection to Winter and who are the Others and what do they really want? These questions must be answered and must be answered in the North of Westeros, at Winterfell and on the Wall. And when they have been, moving the endgame to Essos is pointless.

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25 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

And when they have been, moving the endgame to Essos is pointless.

The legendary "endgame" is a concept I highly disagree with. Within the series there is no ever lasting way to "win" the game of thrones, Outside it is a a term for a classical climax. A reader's expectation from genre comparison. While at the same time ignoring the genre. Narnia has no "endgame", Dune shows that there is no "end" and so on. Also there is no agenda in Westeros the factions fight for. The closest we come to an agenda is the slave question. The Targaryen-Blackfire wars are agenda driven, the current wars are simple power plays. No higher concept, no end victory a concept can achieve. 

If you want to see an "endgame" and not the end of a character arc (which usually results in the death), you need a reason for the fighting. Like a religious war. It's almost as if Arya (as an example) has to die, for an endgame to take part. Else she can hop around decades and spreading her justice through the lands. And that aint no endgame for Arya then. This is the literal question about Aragorn's tax policy. A question asked AFTER the endgame of LotR.

Edited by SirArthur

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And that's exactly why I don't see any point in shifting away from Westeros and the Song of Ice and Fire to fight some pointless battle in Essos

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18 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

Plot elements and character development from AFFC and ADwD are meaningful and will pay off in the future.

I do not disagree with this; in fact, it is for this very reason that I believe Westeros remains relevant until the end, and will eventually become the center of the plotlines that have been introduced in Essos.

In addition to the unresolved Westerosi plotlines that have been present from the beginning,  AFFC and ADWD introduced new Westerosi ideas: the conspiracy of the grey sheep at the Citadel, the Sparrow uprising, Dorne, Euron (whose stated goals center around Westeros), FrankenGregor, Davos going to Skagos, Littlefinger's plan to make Sansa the queen of Westeros, etc.

Why am I to imagine all of these plotlines being resolved or swept aside in TWOW, but to find the same premise unthinkable as relates to the plotlines of Essos?

___

I'm of the opinion that the ideas being introduced in Essos fall into two categories:
-Elements that will collide in the Battle of Meereen
-Elements that will eventually intrude upon Westeros

So, in that sense, I do agree that the things being introduced in AFFC and ADWD are meaningful, but we disagree as to where they're heading. For example, Braavos is getting some elaboration through Arya's POV, and I think that relates to Westeros--the Faceless Men infiltrating the Citadel, the history between the dragonlords and the Faceless Men, Arya's eventual return to Westeros, and the Iron Bank looking to collect on Westerosi debts.

Similarly, I believe we'll see Volantis intrude upon Westeros with Benerro aligning with Dany, and that the Fiery Hand will be a part of Dany's motley crew, along with the Dothraki, the Unsullied, etc.
 

18 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

How do you reconcile your idea that Dany needs to arrive to Westeros for the endgame of the series with all the plot points being set up for her in ADwD and her character becoming increasingly more dedicated to her current subjects?

A significant factor of Dany's ADWD arc is her juggling her personal desires vs. her sense of noblesse oblige, as well as her growing frustration as she attempts to play the political game and meet people halfway, as she attempts to be a patient and considerate ruler. IMO, her dedication to her subjects is not wavering, but her dedication to her methods might be wearing thin, and I believe Quaithe is actively pushing Dany toward a different path at the end of ADWD:

Quote

You are the blood of the dragon. The whispering was growing fainter, as if Ser Jorah were falling farther behind. Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words.

"Fire and Blood," Daenerys told the swaying grass.

Keeping in mind that Quaithe also appeared to Dany directly after Dany has her dream in ASOS where she is slaying Robert's army (armored in ice) at the Trident on dragon back, I'm inclined to read Quaithe's motives in the most straightforward terms: she wants Dany to confront the army of ice; Dany wants to cultivate, but she was made to destroy.

It seems all but certain that the next step for Dany is that she will become the Khal of Khals to the Dothraki, and cease her attempts to make peace with aristocrats and slavers.

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13 hours ago, JNR said:

It's an interesting discussion, but if it's to be had, I think it should be had in the context of the fantasy genre as it existed when GRRM designed and began ASOIAF -- not as it exists now, more than a quarter century later.  

When I refer to ASOIAF as traditional in a storytelling sense, I mean that the broadest plotlines are exactly what they appear to be: the struggle for the Iron Throne, Dany's invasion of Westeros, and the eventual failure of the Wall and the invasion of the Others. 

In other words, I don't think he'll do some crazy subversive thing where Dany dies before ever coming home, or where the Battle for the Dawn is a catastrophic failure, and the story shifts to humanity trying to find its way in a post-apocalyptic world; in theory, I think those are stories that could be told well, and would be a less traditional route for GRRM to go, but I don't think that's what's happening.

Similarly, when it comes to elements like knighthood and aristocracy, I think GRRM's take is often as lacking in nuance as the chivalric romances that he might seek to subvert. On this front, GRRM might surprise me, and follow through on the revolutionary potential of characters like Dany, or movements like the Sparrow uprising, but my suspicion is that GRRM's comfort level is in cynically observing what is wrong with institutions only to have them redeemed by those characters that represent the "good" version of flawed institutions; eg, Jamie and Brienne will redeem knighthood, Tyrion and the "good" Starks will redeem aristocracy.
 

13 hours ago, JNR said:

In 1991, when he wrote the first chapter, Wheel of Time was the leading fantasy series.  If that series is traditional, ASOIAF is... something else.

Well, I haven't read Wheel of Time (edit: beyond the first book), so I couldn't say to what extent ASOIAF breaks with its traditions, but I do think ASOIAF is more similar than dissimilar to two of its fantasy contemporaries: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and the Farseer books.

Furthermore, I'm not really comparing GRRM to what was popular, but to his inspirations: Zelazny, Vance, and Wolfe most overtly (and, granted, moreso on the Sci Fi front), but works such as Gormenghast as well.

On that front, I think ASOIAF is less bold, less experimental than many of the pioneers of genre fiction; IMO, the second half of Amber (granted, far weaker than the first half), Lord of LightGormenghast, and the Cugel books are all more bold than ASOIAF. Even pulp like the Black Company series is more subversive than ASOIAF.

To be clear, I do not mean this as some kind of insult toward ASOIAF, where traditional means "bad" and experimental means "good," only that I think GRRM is attempting to tell a highly satisfying story that mostly aligns with literary tradition, rather than entering uncharted territory.

Edited by Matthew.

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1 hour ago, SirArthur said:

The legendary "endgame" is a concept I highly disagree with. Within the series there is no ever lasting way to "win" the game of thrones, Outside it is a a term for a classical climax. A reader's expectation from genre comparison. While at the same time ignoring the genre. Narnia has no "endgame", Dune shows that there is no "end" and so on. Also there is no agenda in Westeros the factions fight for. The closest we come to an agenda is the slave question. The Targaryen-Blackfire wars are agenda driven, the current wars are simple power plays. No higher concept, no end victory a concept can achieve. 

If you want to see an "endgame" and not the end of a character arc (which usually results in the death), you need a reason for the fighting. Like a religious war. It's almost as if Arya (as an example) has to die, for an endgame to take part. Else she can hop around decades and spreading her justice through the lands. And that aint no endgame for Arya then. This is the literal question about Aragorn's tax policy. A question asked AFTER the endgame of LotR.

GRRM said at the end of the series we'd find out why the seasons are off.  Imo that has more to do with the end game than who ever sits on a throne.

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

The central mysteries of the story will not be answered in Essos but in Westeros. Who were Jon Snow's parents and why does it matter?

Who Jon's parents are was discussed way to much.   I don't think we've said much about why it matters.  Rheagar and Lyanna (or whoever else) provides an interesting back story and details about Jon, and we can see some of their personality in him.  If this were just a side note, it adds richness and depth to his story. 

But we've seen a lot from GRRM that this is something more than a side story of character background.  Why is this matter?  I don't think we'll see something lame, like a magic sword only the king's son can pull from a stone.  There has to be more to it than backstory. 

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9 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

What I'm trying to say is that maybe you are taking actual plot and character development for filler and stagnation because it doesn't align with your expectations of where the story will go.

It's not about my expectations, but GRRM's, as clearly established in multiple interviews and his summary of the series. 

GRRM is simply a much higher authority than you, me, or all fans worldwide combined.  Sorry.

11 hours ago, Black Crow said:

In the 1993 synopsis for example Jon's parentage appears no big deal beyond getting him inside Arya's knickers.

This only follows if you know the contents of the redacted section. Do you?

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1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

When I refer to ASOIAF as traditional in a storytelling sense, I mean that the broadest plotlines are exactly what they appear to be: the struggle for the Iron Throne, Dany's invasion of Westeros, and the eventual failure of the Wall and the invasion of the Others. 

In other words, I don't think he'll do some crazy subversive thing where Dany dies before ever coming home, or where the Battle for the Dawn is a catastrophic failure, and the story shifts to humanity trying to find its way in a post-apocalyptic world; in theory, I think those are stories that could be told well, and would be a less traditional route for GRRM to go, but I don't think that's what's happening.

On all this we agree.  He believes in extensive, painstaking setup and he's not going to pull such a radical shift out of his ass at the last minute.

1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

my suspicion is that GRRM's comfort level is in cynically observing what is wrong with institutions only to have them redeemed by those characters that represent the "good" version of flawed institutions; eg, Jamie and Brienne will redeem knighthood

I agree he often defaults to cynicism -- the words of House Martin are surely "Life is not a song."  However, Jaime is not really "good" in the same sense as Brienne (at least, nobody reading the first two books would likely find him so) and Brienne is not a knight.  I think on these topics GRRM is willing to acknowledge both human failure and weakness as well as human idealism and the capacity (however rare...) to change for the better.   He is striving for something more closely resembling Middle Ages society, as he understands it to have been, than Robert Jordan or Tolkien did.

1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

Well, I haven't read Wheel of Time (edit: beyond the first book), so I couldn't say to what extent ASOIAF breaks with its traditions, but I do think ASOIAF is more similar than dissimilar to two of its fantasy contemporaries: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and the Farseer books.

Furthermore, I'm not really comparing GRRM to what was popular, but to his inspirations: Zelazny, Vance, and Wolfe most overtly (and, granted, moreso on the Sci Fi front), but works such as Gormenghast as well.

Re Jordan, I'll just use this example: it has a Dark Lord, and in that sense, is very typical of Tolkien-ish epic fantasy of that era.

If you ask yourself what happens to LOTR without Sauron... and then consider that we have no Dark Lord in ASOIAF and likely never will... you'll see why I credit GRRM as an innovator.  His story is just structurally not conceived or built that way.

However, there are certainly other fantasy series that were just not intended for the Tolkien audience, and in citing Zelazny's Amber books you really chose well, that are clearly much more innovative yet than ASOIAF, so I have to agree with you there.  

In fact, I think on this topic we're not really far apart at all.

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On 4/18/2018 at 0:21 PM, JNR said:

Right.

However, this is definitely confirmed as real and written by GRRM:

This still certainly seems to be the idea (though many of the details have evolved, like the number of books in the series, sigh).  Note his emphasis on the Seven Kingdoms.

Of course he could change his mind, but the concept that the Seven Kingdoms are the primary stage appears irrevocably baked into the narrative to me. 

There are also major narrative problem with any alternative.  For instance, the Popsicles are far, far too slow; in a million and a half words so far, they have yet even to make it as far south as the Wall.  Unless they all become meth addicts/track stars, they aren't going to conquer Westeros, build ice ships (a thing they show no sign of having developed), and then sail to Essos inside the next two books.

And then there's this: We have never heard, in any myths or legends in any book, that the Popsicles made it to Essos in the original Long Night.  It seems a certain matter that they were stopped in Westeros and very likely will be again, though not easily.


Yeah, as far as I am concerned, it wasn't written by GRRM, and even GRRM himself said that in his 93 outline he was "making shit up." I am at the point that if it isn't from that horses mouth, and most preferably in print, then I am skeptical. He can have his plans, but we all see they change.

On 4/18/2018 at 1:42 PM, Matthew. said:

If I'm not mistaken, it's a blurb that first showed up on the German Amazon site. I personally find it highly dubious, and don't think it should be cited as though it is coming from the author; there seems a fair possibility that it was someone's attempt at speculative fan fiction for their placeholder blurb, and is about as reliable as the placeholder release date that was also attached.

That said, it does remind me of the jacket blurbs for aCoK and aSoS; both have this slightly off quality to them, as though they were created from old synopses that GRRM had sent his publishers before the books were finalized. They're not inaccurate, per se, but some of the things they emphasize, and the way they portray the story (and the intent of the novels) is...I don't know, just strange to me.

Thank you. Now that you mention it, I do seem to remember some discussion about it coming from a German site.

On 4/18/2018 at 2:13 PM, LynnS said:

This seems like the track that D&D have followed so far.

Hmmm, that they are following old blurbs written by someone else is not shocking. They once said they were inspired by spaghetti western movies when directing some episodes. I have not seen but maybe six clips from the show this past season. I watched a few (super disppointing) Arya clips, and then a few weeks ago a good friend sent me two other clips, and.... a wight in a box??? :lol:

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3 minutes ago, JNR said:

Re Jordan, I'll just use this example: it has a Dark Lord, and in that sense, is very typical of Tolkien-ish epic fantasy of that era.

If you ask yourself what happens to LOTR without Sauron... and then consider that we have no Dark Lord in ASOIAF and likely never will... you'll see why I credit GRRM as an innovator.  His story is just structurally not conceived or built that way.

However, there are certainly other fantasy series that were just not intended for the Tolkien audience, and in citing Zelazny's Amber books you really chose well, that are clearly much more innovative yet than ASOIAF, so I have to agree with you there.  

In fact, I think on this topic we're not really far apart at all.

To the dark lord point, I am not so sure that we will never get a "dark lord" in ASOIAF. I think we will, and they are being set up now and about to act, and this will not look like the typical dark lord/orc- the trope GRRM says he wants to undo.

I know I drudge on about GRRM's older stories a lot, maybe too much in some opinions, but for an author that supposedly does not like good-vs-evil and dark lords, he sure does like to write them, such as: Saagael, Simon Kress, Damon Julian, the mother and mothership duo in Nightflyers, House Harmon in The Skin Trade, Cyrain of Lilith and Ash, what's his face in Dying of the Light that GRRM said was partial inspiration for the Hound, In the Lost Lands (but this is more grey-black). I could go on but I am sure no one wants me to :lol:.

What seems to be a more consistent theme is to be careful what you wish for because the grumpkins will get you in the end depending on the choice you've made. His characters seem to be the sum of their choices. Not a mind blowing concept, but for the amazing author GRRM is, literature and storytelling does have certain boundaries (even for the George).

But I could be wrong :dunno:

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3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

As its been pointed out above the whole business of tarrying in the desert sands, otherwise known as the Meereenese Knot, had nothing to do with plot development and everything to do with stretching the story by five years so that all of the children could grow up a bit.

I'm not sure how much the removal of the five years gap affected the plot in Meereen. Last year I had another discussion on this theme and I found a summary of Dany's first pre-split AFFC chapter which looks like it was written with a gap in mind, or at least can give the impression that it skips all the events from ADwD, because it ends with the scene with Drogon in the fighting pit. However, if you look at it more closely, you will see that all the set up for the ADwD arcs is there:

- The Sons of the Harpy (at that time the Sons of Ghis) are introduced as opponents to Dany's rule.

- It introduces Raznak and Skahaz, the shave pates and the brazen beasts, as well as the plot with the murdered Unsullied guards.

- Hizdar is introduced as a prospective husband for Dany.

- It mentions Barristan training knights.

- It establishes that the Yunkai'i hired sellsword companies and are at that time waging war against Cleos the Butcher King.

- The dragons are still free and they stealing sheep which Dany is reimbursing.

The major difference is that there is no attempt on her life and she doesn't fly off with Drogon. In this version, him feeding on Barsena is probably the reason why he is chased away and the other dragons are imprisoned.

So even early on in the development of Feast and Dance, George was planning to have a big arc in Meereen for Dany. It's not something he came up with to cover the missing five years.

3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

The central mysteries of the story will not be answered in Essos but in Westeros. Who were Jon Snow's parents and why does it matter? Where is Bran really headed under the ground and in the darkness? Where do the Green Men really fit in? What's in the Winterfell crypts and most important of all, what's the Stark connection to Winter and who are the Others and what do they really want? These questions must be answered and must be answered in the North of Westeros, at Winterfell and on the Wall. And when they have been, moving the endgame to Essos is pointless.

Personally, I don't want all the mysteries to be answered and all prophecies to play out verbatim. I want more hints and maybe a few answers, but overall there should be some things left for the fanbase to discuss after the series is over.

I don't want R+L=J to matter to the plot. It's cool for the reader to know it, but if the characters find out it would do more to detract from their arcs than add to them. I don't want Winterfell to play out like a giant McGuffin where you have to stick a Stark in it for something to happen.

I want things to be hinted at, to be uncertain and imperfect. If Sam blows that potential Horn of Winter he has, I don't a cut to the Wall falling and then back to Sam dramatically saying "Oh my Gods, what have I done?!". I want people to match the timelines and make theories, I want alternative theories to exist, like Melisandre or Bran being responsible, or the Others doing it on their own. I want Cersei to die before Myrcella, because I want the prophecy to be flawed (a sword slash in the face being perceived as death) and blind her.

Ultimately, the "endgame" (by which I mean the final large arcs of the series) should be about characters and maybe geopolitical entities. About the transformations they suffer, and maybe the mark they leave on history. A climax that is all about revealing some hidden magic is almost always going to be unsatisfying, because it can be literally anything the author wants.

2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I do not disagree with this; in fact, it is for this very reason that I believe Westeros remains relevant until the end, and will eventually become the center of the plotlines that have been introduced in Essos.

In addition to the unresolved Westerosi plotlines that have been present from the beginning,  AFFC and ADWD introduced new Westerosi ideas: the conspiracy of the grey sheep at the Citadel, the Sparrow uprising, Dorne, Euron (whose stated goals center around Westeros), FrankenGregor, Davos going to Skagos, Littlefinger's plan to make Sansa the queen of Westeros, etc.

Why am I to imagine all of these plotlines being resolved or swept aside in TWOW, but to find the same premise unthinkable as relates to the plotlines of Essos?

The things you mentioned can be rolled over into larger plotlines far easier than the stuff in Essos.

The conspiracy at the Citadel plays into Braavos's conflict with Dany via the information Jaquen retrieves from there, and/or into Euron learning how to control his stolen dragon.

The Sparrow uprising plays into Aegon's fight for the throne, and also into (preview chapter spoiler):

 

Cersei's alliance with Euron, since he seems to be into torturing and sacrificing priests, a perfect foil for the Sparrows.

Dorne plays into Aegon's war as well, and indirectly into whatever happens in Norvos between Dany and Mellario Martell.

Davos recovering Rickon no doubt serves to bring him into Jon's camp, which means he will be a PoV for the battle at White Harbor.

Euron specifically stated that Westeros is dying and he wants to feast on its corpse. His role preying on refugee ships, with or without Cersei's blessing (she is exactly the kind of queen who would support this), with or without a dragon, seems to fit perfectly.

FrankenGregor is merely foreshadowing that the dead will soon be walking in the South. The Others might gain control over him as they get close to King's Landing and use him for a surprise attack, or he will simply go out of control and kill Tommen.

Littlefinger's plans with Sansa will play out one way or another, but unless she's thrown at Aegon, I see no plot where she contends for the title of queen. Either way, nothing about her arc precludes a potential fall of Westeros.

2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

A significant factor of Dany's ADWD arc is her juggling her personal desires vs. her sense of noblesse oblige, as well as her growing frustration as she attempts to play the political game and meet people halfway, as she attempts to be a patient and considerate ruler. IMO, her dedication to her subjects is not wavering, but her dedication to her methods might be wearing thin, and I believe Quaithe is actively pushing Dany toward a different path at the end of ADWD:

I agree with the bolded part. Her revelation in her final ADwD chapter is about abandoning diplomacy and imposing her will by force. I don't think she will abandon her freedmen to go seek glory elsewhere. Like I said, from her perspective, Westeros isn't going anywhere. She wants to end slavery, no compromises, and that means every city on the continent that still uses slaves must be made to bow to her.

That's in line with her development throughout the series, with the secondary plot points that have been set up, and in line with the nature of the Dothraki. Allowing slavery to continue after she kicked and yelled about it for so long would be a major moral defeat for her, and you don't follow up a decision to be more forceful and decisive with a major defeat unless it's a comedy.

Edited by The Coconut God

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38 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:


Yeah, as far as I am concerned, it wasn't written by GRRM, and even GRRM himself said that in his 93 outline he was "making shit up." I am at the point that if it isn't from that horses mouth, and most preferably in print, then I am skeptical. He can have his plans, but we all see they change.

Thank you. Now that you mention it, I do seem to remember some discussion about it coming from a German site.

Hmmm, that they are following old blurbs written by someone else is not shocking. They once said they were inspired by spaghetti western movies when directing some episodes. I have not seen but maybe six clips from the show this past season. I watched a few (super disppointing) Arya clips, and then a few weeks ago a good friend sent me two other clips, and.... a wight in a box??? :lol:

Spaghetti Westerns!  They're the best!  (I made spaghetti for dinner tonight - yum)

 

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52 minutes ago, JNR said:

It's not about my expectations, but GRRM's, as clearly established in multiple interviews and his summary of the series. 

GRRM is simply a much higher authority than you, me, or all fans worldwide combined.  Sorry.

George has no obligation to follow that summary, he wrote it because he had to give publishers the illusion that he knew what he was doing. It's not a promise to the fans because they were never meant to see it. He probably never even kept a copy of it in his home.

It is extremely clear even from the first three books that the series outgrew that outline by a lot. Major characters like Tywin, Theon, Stannis, Cersei and Littlefinger and entire kingdoms and city-states like the Iron Isles, the Vale, the Reach, Dorne, Braavos and Pentos aren't there at all. If the story could grow to add all of these, why is it hard to imagine that Essos might matter as well?

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1 hour ago, The Fattest Leech said:

To the dark lord point, I am not so sure that we will never get a "dark lord" in ASOIAF. I think we will, and they are being set up now and about to act, and this will not look like the typical dark lord/orc- the trope GRRM says he wants to undo.

I know I drudge on about GRRM's older stories a lot, maybe too much in some opinions, but for an author that supposedly does not like good-vs-evil and dark lords, he sure does like to write them, such as: Saagael, Simon Kress, Damon Julian, the mother and mothership duo in Nightflyers, House Harmon in The Skin Trade, Cyrain of Lilith and Ash, what's his face in Dying of the Light that GRRM said was partial inspiration for the Hound, In the Lost Lands (but this is more grey-black). I could go on but I am sure no one wants me to :lol:.

I agree. Every time this whole "GRRM doesn't do dark lords" premise comes up, my immediate thought is "hasn't anyone here ever read Fevre Dream?"
 

2 hours ago, JNR said:

I agree he often defaults to cynicism -- the words of House Martin are surely "Life is not a song."  However, Jaime is not really "good" in the same sense as Brienne (at least, nobody reading the first two books would likely find him so) and Brienne is not a knight.  I think on these topics GRRM is willing to acknowledge both human failure and weakness as well as human idealism and the capacity (however rare...) to change for the better.   He is striving for something more closely resembling Middle Ages society, as he understands it to have been, than Robert Jordan or Tolkien did.

I tend to read Brienne, Jamie, Sandor, and Gregor as all fitting together under a thematic umbrella. I could certainly be wrong about where GRRM is going with the institution of knighthood, as the difference between being a good knight and being a good person is fundamental to Jamie's arc.

For example, implicit in Jamie's memories is the notion that "paragons" such as Arthur Dayne might have stood by while Aerys burned down King's Landing. This is taken to its extreme with Robert Strong, who could be seen as being the perfect Kingsguard, unfailingly loyal and fearless; however, beneath the sterling white armor there is a literal monster.

In any case, I was comparing GRRM's medieval world more to Arthurian literature than I was to Tolkien, and I think GRRM runs a little too far in the opposite direction in his point of view--too modern, too cynical. In particular, I think the shortcoming here is that GRRM has trouble adopting the point of view of a pious character that is anything other than hypocritical, delusional, or malignantly zealous (eg, Mel), so I don't think he fully captures the complicated relationship between piety and knighthood as it existed in reality.

An observation that I read elsewhere on GRRM's cynicism is that it is easy for him to envision a Westeros that is populated by career sociopaths, yet characters that are ethical, humanist, and strongly motivated to perform acts of great good (all without being naive) almost seems like the stuff of fairy tales.

Edited by Matthew.

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1 hour ago, The Coconut God said:

The things you mentioned can be rolled over into larger plotlines far easier than the stuff in Essos.

On this we'll have to agree to disagree, as the plotlines of Essos are being experienced through the eyes of Westerosi characters, most of whom intend to someday return to Westeros.

To be clear, I'm not trying to argue that your point of view is impossible, or even implausible, just that your expectations of how easily the Westerosi plotlines could be wrapped up cuts the opposite way as well: death wraps things up in a neat bow, and a lot of what is happening out east can be wrapped up by Dany embracing "Fire and Blood," and then heading westward with a mixture of Dothraki, freed slaves, and R'hllorist believers.

Furthermore, keep in mind that, for Dany, the people of Westeros are her people; Dany is the Breaker of Chains, and she commands fire made flesh--she is uniquely well suited to confront the Other army that is enslaving the dead in Westeros, and I don't think she's going to ignore the threat, even if she didn't already intend to reclaim the Iron Throne.

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52 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

To be clear, I'm not trying to argue that your point of view is impossible, or even implausible, just that your expectations of how easily the Westerosi plotlines could be wrapped up cuts the opposite way as well: death wraps things up in a neat bow, and a lot of what is happening out east can be wrapped up by Dany embracing "Fire and Blood," and then heading westward with a mixture of Dothraki, freed slaves, and R'hllorist believers.

I'm happy with plausible. Like I said before, I think the story can go in any number of directions and still work, and even though I believe the text fully supports an exodus to Essos, I'm aware that doesn't mean George had this in mind when he wrote it. But I'll argue for it because I like it, and because I feel it's not talked about enough for how plausible it is.

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6 hours ago, JNR said:

He believes in extensive, painstaking setup and he's not going to pull such a radical shift out of his ass at the last minute.

A belated observation, but it also brings to mind GRRM's criticisms of the Lost finale, which I think does reveal GRRM's philosophy as a writer; I haven't seen Lost, but I'm given the impression that it was polarizing because people spent years developing theories that never paid off, because the show either chose anticlimaxes, or just left stuff purposely ambiguous and unaswered. Given what I've seen of Lindelof's other work, I'm going to assume the latter.

In that sense, GRRM, both as a writer and a reader/viewer, believes in payoff; that's not a guarantee that it will satisfy every reader, but he certainly has something in mind, and I'm inclined to believe that the Others, the dragons, and the broken seasons will all come together in climactic fashion. 
 

3 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

Like I said before, I think the story can go in any number of directions and still work, and even though I believe the text fully supports an exodus to Essos, I'm aware that doesn't mean George had this in mind when he wrote it. But I'll argue for it because I like it, and because I feel it's not talked about enough for how plausible it is.

Well...the bolded is really the heart of the matter, and why people are going to feel just as strongly in opposing your theory.

Interpretation is not a dispassionate and unbiased act--in creating theories, people are subconsciously inclined toward answers that they find exciting and satisfying. You're not too likely to see an essay length theory post that begins with "I've solved the mystery of the return of the Others, and the answer is really disappointing."

To be frank, "what if the Others aren't the center of the final arc, and the action shifts to Essos" is a point of view that is incompatible with an awful lot of the theories in which people feel most invested, so it's probably going to be difficult to launch a robust discussion on that front; heck, even though I can see where you're coming from, I quite selfishly hope that you're wrong--I like my theories as well. :dunno:

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9 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

To the dark lord point, I am not so sure that we will never get a "dark lord" in ASOIAF. I think we will, and they are being set up now and about to act, and this will not look like the typical dark lord/orc- the trope GRRM says he wants to undo.

Well, that's exactly what he means by "Dark Lord," though: a single entity who personally controls the forces of darkness, as Sauron controls the orcs, in order to take over the world.  

The Wheel of Time example would be the Dark One.  The Belgariad example would be Kal Torak.  The Terry Goodkind version would be Darken Rahl (heh), and then of course the Dark Lord in HP is called... "the Dark Lord," aka Voldemort.

There's no instance of such a creature in ASOIAF.   The nearest approximation, certainly never verified as existing, would be the abstract concept of the Great Other as referenced by red priests Melisandre and Moqorro.  

Are they right?  Well, maybe, but if so, the Great Other can't be a dark lord who will shortly appear in ASOIAF. 

Because that entity is (per Moqorro) a god, and GRRM told us explicitly that we aren't going to be seeing any gods in these books, any more than we already have.  

9 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

George has no obligation to follow that summary

It's not just the summary.  He's explicitly told the world why he parked Dany in Meereen in numerous interviews, including multiple post-ADWD interviews.

He parked her there, starting in ASOS, to give her time to "grow up," he said.  

It's the same reason he originally intended to do the five-year gap, he said.  

Because he originally considered her, and other young characters, too young to do... the impressive things they're gonna do.

It wasn't because he intends for her to hang out in Essos... a thing Dany clearly doesn't need to grow up to do, because GRRM's had her hanging out in Essos since book one.   (Maybe you should read some of these interviews in which he spells it all out; I linked one on the previous page.)

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8 hours ago, Matthew. said:

For example, implicit in Jamie's memories is the notion that "paragons" such as Arthur Dayne might have stood by while Aerys burned down King's Landing. This is taken to its extreme with Robert Strong, who could be seen as being the perfect Kingsguard, unfailingly loyal and fearless; however, beneath the sterling white armor there is a literal monster.

Well, I think almost all of GRRM's characters, including Dayne, are grey by design, albeit not in ways that are instantly obvious to the reader.  They look not-grey; we find out more; we understand them better.

Jaime, for instance.  Here we have a guy who stood by as his king burned Rickard Stark alive and did nothing, yet was obviously extremely disturbed by it, to the point his LC needed to chastise him for reacting that way.

He's a guy who threw a small child out a window, intending to murder him... but who also jumps into a pit with a bear to defend a woman who isn't his sister or arguably even really even his friend, using one hand and one stump.  (I consider this the turning point in his road to redemption, which he explicitly discusses as a new option in his mind, re the White Book, later.)

However, I do agree with you that GRRM slants cynical, which is why I suggested the house words for him that I did.  The Mountain and Ramsay don't have much in the way of positive traits or known behavior, and this is why IMO.

Edited by JNR

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