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The Regret of Killing Characters

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On 10/4/2018 at 4:21 PM, Jabar of House Titan said:

You really, really believe that the 5-year-gap was that necessary?

 

Yes, IMHO  the scrapping of it was the main reason for the "Meerenese Knot" and GRRM's current difficulties with TWoW. Too many things have to be accelerated in a more or less contrived manner to move all the main players to where they need to be and justify a bevy of young teenagers and children being able to pull off epic world-saving moves in a grim and consequence-laden  world like ASoIaF, that is singularly unsuitable for something like this.

 

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I think a big, across-the-board time jump of 1 year (2 years max) was kind of necessary. But 5? That's a very long time, especially for time-sensitive things such as the Others and the wildlings.

It would have been ideal if GRRM had been able to introduce several-months to a year gaps into the narrative throughout, like he initially planned to - for instance, Robb gathering troops and marching them south should have taken very much longer, realistically. Heck, Tywin gathering and training his troops should have taken months rather than a couple of weeks! But he was unable to introduce "breathing pauses" into his writing, for some reason. Yet the young protagonists _really_ needed to be 5 years older than they were after the ending of ASoS for things to unfold organically, IMHO.

As to the wildlings and the Others? Boom - an unseasonably warm Autumn. That and Stannis at the Wall  would have held the wildlings nicely and the Others had every reason to induce complacency in their opponents after their gambit to use Mance's army to break through the Wall failed. They are thinking creatures - they have waited for thousands of years, they could have waited for 5 more for their opportunity.

 

On 10/4/2018 at 5:00 PM, Trefayne said:

 Five years gives Tommen the chance to become a young, but competent ruler under Kevan's guidance, severely curtailing Cersei's influence over the story and having her and Jaime's plotlines just peter out.

What?! A 13-year-old under regency a "competent" ruler? Sorry, not everybody is a wunderkind - and Tommen was very much signposted as normal. Nor would Kevan have been in position to curtail Cersei, if she had been more like her earlier self, minus the Joffrey blind-spot. She would have kept Tommen firmly under her thumb. It would have made sense for her to unravel gradually, as she had to deal with numerous difficulties and as consummation of  Tommen's marriage became imminent, with the attendant rise of Margaery's status and influence. Heck, the volume after the 5-year-gap could have started with Kevan's death of natural causes and Cersei having to operate without his moderating influence for the first time. 

 

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Tywin would never had let the High Sparrow or the Faith Militant exist, let alone allow what happened to his daughter to stand.

Obviously, this stuff would have only happened after his death. Whether he could have done anything about the growing influence of the sparrows in the country regions would have very much depended on what else he had to deal with during the gap. For instance, an unseasonably warm Autumn could have caused a drought over the significant parts of Westeros, epidemics were always a danger, etc. - and all such disasters could have been used by sparrow preachers as signs of divine displeasure with the Lannister regime - as seen in "The Sworn Sword".

Additionally, Tywin was not perfect - his arrogance could have blinded him to the danger, and Cersei's ineptitude after his death might have allowed them to seize power, ditto.

Or it could have happened very differently - maybe not sparrows at all, but just a very ambitious and fanatical High Septon, with dreams of grandeur. It would have made sense to align Tommen's regime with the Faith more, given Stannis's R'llorism, Robb's Old Gods worship and doubtful status of Dany's faith, which could have been easily spun into worship of foreign gods as well.
I could imagine Euron holding back with Tywin still around and Asha or Victarion ruling the Ironborn in the interim, just to be ousted by him once Tywin was dead.

But Stannis is a problem in such a scenario, because Bolton would have had all the support he needed to destroy him. Unless he had to fight the Ironborn and deal with an epidemic? Maybe? If Victarion had succeeded Balon, he would have likely continued his brother's policies, but Asha wouldn't have.

 

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The Balon angle has merit, although I was always of the mind that the Ironborn were introduced as more of a threat at that point because GRRM needed something to occupy time (and pages) until he got the main players into position in what he felt was a believable time frame sans five year gap.

No, Euron was depicted as a significant future danger in ACoK when we first got a close look at the Greyjoys. He was always supposed to be a major threat, but the rest of the narrative just didn't move quickly enough, so after Balon's death in AcoK(!) he had to be stalled in various ways.

Given that Tywin's death is an important character development milestone for Tyrion, I think that it was Balon's far too early death that was a significant mis-step that derailed much of the plot progression.

The 5-year-gap could have still been salvaged by letting Tywin survive, though, even at the cost of weakening Tyrion's character arc, somewhat - GRRM is just over-fond of great, impactful scenes and cliff-hangers.

 

Edited by Maia

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I read Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and Coin series earlier this year and that series really manages to pull off the passing of long stretches of time between and within chapters in a way that ASOIAF as a whole could probably have benefitted from, as you say. Martin even manages himself from time to time, most notably when Dany travels from Pentos to the Dothraki Sea. I definitely feel you are correct that this would have greatly improved the narrative had he been able to implement it

eta, whoops, response to @Maia

Edited by HelenaExMachina

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On 10/6/2018 at 9:24 AM, HelenaExMachina said:

I read Daniel Abraham’s Dagger and Coin series earlier this year and that series really manages to pull off the passing of long stretches of time between and within chapters in a way that ASOIAF as a whole could probably have benefitted from, as you say. Martin even manages himself from time to time, most notably when Dany travels from Pentos to the Dothraki Sea. I definitely feel you are correct that this would have greatly improved the narrative had he been able to implement it

eta, whoops, response to @Maia

I think this is also another part of the reason why The Winds of Winter is taking so long. GRRM hasn't really stuck to a rock-solid timeline. The Winds of Winter has a lot of time-sensitive movements and convergences going on that would be a little tricky to manage if he had one. But he doesn't. Because remember: Cersei's trial was stated to be 7 days from Kevan's last chapter. And I can't remember when Margaery's trial is going to happen; most likely before Cersei. So what? 3 days?

Of course, it's not set in stone and it can be feasibly pushed back for a bit given that two powerful politicians had just been murdered in the Westeros version of the White House. But still. Then, Aegon and Euron have to fight and win their respective battles within that 7-10 day window when the Red Keep is at its most vulnerable. With Storm's End and Oldtown, Aegon and Euron will have too much of a foothold to be easily stopped, much less removed.

Meanwhile, in the North, it might take Stannis two weeks to find out that Jon has been assassinated and react accordingly - halfway across the world - it might take Daenerys two weeks just to get to Vaes Dothrak. We don't even know for sure when exactly Jon received the Pink Letter? Because to me, it seems like a time skip had happened in order for him to get it and that we're having to go back in time in Winds to find out what actually did happen.

That's tough....because the stories of Samwell, Arianne, Cersei, Aeron are going to be moving so fast whilst the stories of Daenerys and Stannis are going to be moving slow - largely because of the vastness of the North and the Dothraki Sea. Not to mention that the stories of Sansa and Bran have gone more or less nowhere in forever; all they seem to be doing is marking time.

If GRRM had been more disciplined in his timeline management within the story (not the actual writing), A Dance with Dragons would come out earlier as there would not have been any kind of Meereenese Knot to begin with. Tyrion, Victarion, Moqorro and Quentyn would have all been able to get to Meereen on time around the same time. And had everyone made it there and everyone started scheming and fighting once she left the city, A Dance with Dragons would have had a much more satisfying conclusion.

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I’d guess it has to be someone he killed off within Winds and then wrote a ton of content following it, so it’s probably impossible to guess.

Hardly anyone died in Feast/Dance to begin with and if he hasn’t figured out how to move on from character deaths he made 18+ years ago then god help us. 

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On 9/21/2018 at 7:07 PM, Greg B said:

Jon, possibly. Upon re-reading that last "Jon" chapter, Martin realizes there's no plausible way that Wun-Wun and the wildlings don't just go ahead and kill every MFer in Castle Black born south of the wall after Jon's murder.

Alternatively, one of R or L. Keeping one of them alive would have cleaned the mess up quite neatly.

I agree with you 100% I think it's Jon. Almost any other character you can figure out a way to work around, or add a new character in to explain something that needs to be explained. 

Besides the wildling thing. Jon has to stay dead for a while in the next book IMO, to not make it seem like a cheap ploy to kill him in Dance. GRRM is running out of time to finish this series in 2 books and Jon has a lot to do, without adding on coming back from the dead.

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On 10/4/2018 at 1:48 PM, Maia said:

When I think about whose deaths likely made it unfeasible for Martin to implement the (much needed, IMHO) 5-year-gap in a manner satisfying to him, I come back to one of Tywin Lannister or Balon Greyjoy. Either of them surviving would have made 5 years of "stasis" believable. IIRC, he scrapped it because he felt that certain events in ASoS would have elicited immediate responses from the other players.

And of the 2, Balon is the more likely, because his being alive would have neatly solved the problem of the Ironborn not doing much over that time-span _and_ of Stannis remaining unquashed at the Wall for that long, because the Ironborn fighting the northmen during the long Autumn would have resulted in a delicate balance of power that would have prevented the Boltons from eradicating Stannis.

[snip]

Balon is an excellent suggestion!

I always found Stannis sitting around in the North for 5 years twiddling his thumbs the most difficult thing to explain during a 5-year gap. The conflict between him and the Boltons was just too obvious to ignore for so long. But your Balon angle would alleviate that problem.

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I have the feeling that the "regrets" GRRM is having, refers to current work (i.e. TWOW). Any regrets he had in the past for killing a character prematurely was already solved, more or less successfully (like Darkstar taking part of Ned Dayne role because the later is too young without the 5 year gap). So, who could it be?

- Aemon might have been killed prematurely before telling us some important tidbits, but I think he needed to die before reaching Oldtown to make the whole Sam plot there meaningful.

- Balon, no, otherwise the whole ironborn plot doesn't happen and problems cascade down to the North plot including the fate of Robb Stark.

- Arys Oakheart PoV wasn't necessary except to explain his own death. Everything else can be told by Hotah or Arianne. GRRM can make Balon Swann PoV if necessary

- Oberyn. No, otherwise the whole Dorne plot doesn't happen and his victory will have consequences for Tyrion arc and Tywin fate.

- Kevan's death was necessary to undermine Tommen regime

- Jon's death was spelled out from Book 1, it is a very long build-up.

- Quentyn's death was also spelled out from his first chapter and his function is mostly thematic not for the plot, except putting Dorne and Dany at odds.

- Any character that was killed during TWOW can be "revived" during a rewrite

I'm with @bent branchand @Ibbison from Ibben speculations regarding Pycelle. Guy knew too much and keeping him a bit longer might have been useful for the KL plot. 

It occurs to me that it might well be some character killed before the start of the series, for example during Robert's rebellion who might tell us some important info of those events. 

Edited by rotting sea cow

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I think we can safely deduce that whichever character this is is one whose role can't be easily taken on by another character. I don't think it's someone like Tywin, Balon, Robb, Ned, or Oberyn, because their deaths specifically kicked off major plot threads that are still important at this point in the series. Someone like Kevan is a bit of a wildcard: his position as the last stable Lannister in King's Landing can't be replaced, but we're also told point-blank that that's the reason why he was killed. Aemon would certainly fit the bill, but like others have pointed out, whatever knowledge that he had could probably be conveyed through Sam and the other maesters at the citadel. 

Pycelle could be a good bet, since he was basically the oldest person left in the Red Keep, and had extensive first-hand knowledge of the past few decades in King's Landing. I can't really think of anyone else who would share that knowledge.

Craster is a possibility, but he could probably be replaced by one of the wildlings. 

Arys is a possibility, although I think Daemon Sand could probably take on whatever role GRRM has planned for him. 

Quentyn is another good guess, although I was under the impression that him being dead would be more important for the Dornish plot going forward than him being alive was. 

As of now, Pycelle's my best guess, but it could really be anyone at this point. 

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Ser Patrek of King's Mountain. There's no one on the Wall to fill the seat of  class A scumbag he left empty with his death.

 

To be honest though, I think it's Beric. His death wasn't necessary to advance the plot and he could have done much and more had he "lived".

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The one name that i did not see mentioned was Stannis. As much as i would hate to see him dead at the hands of the Boltons. It was stated in the pink letter that he had been defeated. I have no idea whether or not he is dead, but if he is that would leave a whole lot of unfinished business up North in my opinion.

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On 10/16/2018 at 3:27 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

I think we can safely deduce that whichever character this is is one whose role can't be easily taken on by another character. I don't think it's someone like Tywin, Balon, Robb, Ned, or Oberyn, because their deaths specifically kicked off major plot threads that are still important at this point in the series. Someone like Kevan is a bit of a wildcard: his position as the last stable Lannister in King's Landing can't be replaced, but we're also told point-blank that that's the reason why he was killed. Aemon would certainly fit the bill, but like others have pointed out, whatever knowledge that he had could probably be conveyed through Sam and the other maesters at the citadel. 

Pycelle could be a good bet, since he was basically the oldest person left in the Red Keep, and had extensive first-hand knowledge of the past few decades in King's Landing. I can't really think of anyone else who would share that knowledge.

Craster is a possibility, but he could probably be replaced by one of the wildlings. 

Arys is a possibility, although I think Daemon Sand could probably take on whatever role GRRM has planned for him. 

Quentyn is another good guess, although I was under the impression that him being dead would be more important for the Dornish plot going forward than him being alive was. 

As of now, Pycelle's my best guess, but it could really be anyone at this point. 

I would argue that even though it was planned, he could still have hit a snag down the road. I am leaning more towards Balon and a remaining five year gap issue. The first three novels were written with that gap in mind. Don’t get me wrong-I think he had to scrap it. Oberyn’s death most certainly would provoke a Dornish response, not to mention the Others all of a sudden going dormant would have been strange.  But I think it altered the plot some.

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I doubt that it has to do with any information from before the series starts.  He can always create a means of discovering that information, either through a new character or a document discovery.  It is also not somebody whose death is not confirmed, like Stannis, Jon, or Beric.  They can always be brought back if necessary.

So I think it is somebody who has information they got during the series that nobody else has, or a character who would have been a potential antagonist or ally to a major characters

Janos Slynt is an intriguing possibility.  Had he lived, he could have been a formidable antagonist to Jon and cause all sorts of problems with regards to fighting the Others and whatever else Jon has in mind.

Another possibility is Oberyn.  Had he lived, he could have caused a great deal of trouble for the Lannisters, Cersei in particular.  Martin might regret that death considering it hasn't had that major of an effect yet.

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On 10/22/2018 at 7:00 AM, Impbread said:

The one name that i did not see mentioned was Stannis. As much as i would hate to see him dead at the hands of the Boltons. It was stated in the pink letter that he had been defeated. I have no idea whether or not he is dead, but if he is that would leave a whole lot of unfinished business up North in my opinion.

I don't see how it could be Stannis. Tormund and Jon believe that at least some parts of the Pink Letter have to be true, but Stannis being dead can easily be a lie or something that Ramsay, if he indeed was the one who wrote it, believes is true.

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Enjoying the ideas here and wondering if we even understand the premise of Martin's statement.   I read here on the forum, not from anything I saw him say, that he hit a wall with Tyrion in TWOW--along the lines that Tyrion became very dark or had some dark experience that he had trouble imagining his clever imp going through.    Garden writing indeed.   If this is true combined with ideas about the myrenese knot and culling POVs, it's clear that ASOAIF does take on a life entirely it's own in Martin's processes.   He is by no means a stupid man and likely thinks his plots through until some inspiration strikes and his story changes.   Just this evening I listened to some facebook interview where answered fan questions and he actually mentioned writing a character that he already killed off 3 books ago.   It's possible this is what he means, the statement going to the value he places on Elio and Linda for their encyclopedic knowledge of this story.   Still, his statement me got to wondering if this was something he actually experienced and who would that character have been.  I'm thinking some minor character who was forgettable.   I thought Jory was great, but I can't see anything only he could bring to the table.   I can,however, see where he would have been convenient to keep alive--in the black cells, on a merchant ship, hiding out in the Riverlands--the possibilities are endless and he would have been fun and useful, but hardly necessary.   

Among our dead I think Thistle would have been very interesting with stories about her companion.   Deaths like Jeor, Aemon and Ned were essential to forward the story.    Their secrets go with them.  Someone like Kevan was too good to be permitted to continue--his death was necessary for Cersei to rise from the ashes.   With Pycell's death Cersei really and truly has no honest Lannister allies--it's just she and Taena against the world.   Beric served to give Cat 2.0 a bit of explanation.  The Frey hangings all go to her motivation.   Nimble Dick could have live out the series with Brienne and it would be good.   I bet he misses that guy like we do.   Handy sense of humor.    I reckon if we are looking ahead to a character not yet known to be dead the likely candidates will be Pod or Hyle Hunt.    Poor Brienne just doesn't get a break.   Ever. 

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14 hours ago, AlienCarnivore said:

I don't see how it could be Stannis. Tormund and Jon believe that at least some parts of the Pink Letter have to be true, but Stannis being dead can easily be a lie or something that Ramsay, if he indeed was the one who wrote it, believes is true.

I am not sure that he is dead, but if he is I was just adding him to the list of people George might have killed off and now wishes he did not. The more i think about it the less likely it seems that he is dead. It feels like he does have some plot armor for the time being. 

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On 10/22/2018 at 7:00 AM, Impbread said:

The one name that i did not see mentioned was Stannis. As much as i would hate to see him dead at the hands of the Boltons. It was stated in the pink letter that he had been defeated. I have no idea whether or not he is dead, but if he is that would leave a whole lot of unfinished business up North in my opinion.

Stannis is a good suggestion.

Personally, I think that either Littlefinger or Mance Rayder is the one who wrote the Pink Letter. Littlefinger would have written it to send Jon in a downwards spiral and further destabilize the north; Mance would have written it as a hidden message within a message that invited Jon to bring the wildlings, Melisandre and however many Night's Watchmen he could down to Winterfell ASAP.

 

But I digress.

On 11/1/2018 at 11:18 PM, Curled Finger said:

Enjoying the ideas here and wondering if we even understand the premise of Martin's statement.   I read here on the forum, not from anything I saw him say, that he hit a wall with Tyrion in TWOW -- along the lines that Tyrion became very dark or had some dark experience that he had trouble imagining his clever imp going through. Garden writing indeed.

Yeah; I'm beginning to think that Martin is not struggling with the actual book but rather writing one or two particular characters.

Tyrion is an interesting one. I would think he'd be stuck on Sansa, Arya or Samwell...

But yeah; because (imo) Martin squandered the opportunity to push Tyrion a little further to the dark side in the last bit of Dance, he has to do a lot more in Winds. The Tyrion sample chapter where he has a man killed and orders someone to see if the the dead man's breastplate will be able to fit him was very good though so I'm more than confident he'll be able to do it.

On 11/1/2018 at 11:18 PM, Curled Finger said:

Just this evening I listened to some facebook interview where answered fan questions and he actually mentioned writing a character that he already killed off 3 books ago.

Oh.

He's talking about Robb. Martin has always wished he had written Robb Stark chapters in A Clash of Kings that would have detailed his campaign in the West, his fateful encounter with the Westerlings and the Spicers, his military genius, his perspective on Renly's death, Stannis' defeat and his aunt's indifference.

I don't blame him; it would have made things very interesting. I would love to read an "director's cut" version of Clash and Storm with Robb Stark POV chapters added in.

At the same time, it's still pretty sad that Martin is re-writing parts of the old books. But hey....if it gives him inspiration then by all means. It makes sense: I have a feeling that Jaime, Cersei and Lady Stoneheart+TBwoB are going deep within the Westerlands and maybe Martin writing Robb chapters that fit within Clash helps him create the environment therein.

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9 hours ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Stannis is a good suggestion.

Personally, I think that either Littlefinger or Mance Rayder is the one who wrote the Pink Letter. Littlefinger would have written it to send Jon in a downwards spiral and further destabilize the north; Mance would have written it as a hidden message within a message that invited Jon to bring the wildlings, Melisandre and however many Night's Watchmen he could down to Winterfell ASAP.

 

But I digress.

Yeah; I'm beginning to think that Martin is not struggling with the actual book but rather writing one or two particular characters.

Tyrion is an interesting one. I would think he'd be stuck on Sansa, Arya or Samwell...

But yeah; because (imo) Martin squandered the opportunity to push Tyrion a little further to the dark side in the last bit of Dance, he has to do a lot more in Winds. The Tyrion sample chapter where he has a man killed and orders someone to see if the the dead man's breastplate will be able to fit him was very good though so I'm more than confident he'll be able to do it.

Oh.

He's talking about Robb. Martin has always wished he had written Robb Stark chapters in A Clash of Kings that would have detailed his campaign in the West, his fateful encounter with the Westerlings and the Spicers, his military genius, his perspective on Renly's death, Stannis' defeat and his aunt's indifference.

I don't blame him; it would have made things very interesting. I would love to read an "director's cut" version of Clash and Storm with Robb Stark POV chapters added in.

At the same time, it's still pretty sad that Martin is re-writing parts of the old books. But hey....if it gives him inspiration then by all means. It makes sense: I have a feeling that Jaime, Cersei and Lady Stoneheart+TBwoB are going deep within the Westerlands and maybe Martin writing Robb chapters that fit within Clash helps him create the environment therein.

Robb?  Brilliant.   I'm relistening to ASOS and thinking about the events before these characters and thinking it would be very good to have had just a little more of Robb's actual plans.  He was certainly a big hook in the other medium.   With you on the director's cut--that would be great.   

I don't know that he's rewriting anything so much as finding corners and who knows what else is going on?   Still I can see where a character like Tyrion becoming uncharming or mean or stupid or weak would be a major problem.   Can't imagine any of the stuff we've already read was particularly easy to unpack.  

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