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Kyll.Ing.

Untangling Meereenese knots, Gordian style

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By now, I guess most of you have noticed how ASoIaF has built up a considerable number of plot lines, and that the difficulty of bringing a satisfactory ending to them is making progress on the series frustratingly slow. So... how about taking a few shortcuts?

For me, the moment when I realized this series wasn't messing around came with the sudden beheading of Ned Stark. Until then, he had been the apparent protagonist of the series, and after his best friend - the king - died, he got himself into trouble with the successors to the throne. You all know that story. How would Eddard get out of that sticky situation? In two pieces, it turned out. Readers and show viewers (I was among the latter, but picked up the books shortly after finishing the first season) were expecting to follow Ned and his struggles for several more seasons. Instead, he was unceremoniously killed off. Likewise, Joffrey is built up as a major antagonist, but dies mid-action, mid-chapter, mid-book. Robb Stark never got to conquer back his ancestral lands, or raise a child, or avenge his father. The series has a history of abruptly ending character arcs contrary to all reader expectations, and instead plays on the aftermath of their sudden ends.

And then it got me thinking: Can the same be done to entire plot lines? Can entire arcs be aborted as quickly as Ned's, invalidating all fan theories on their fates, but instead exploring what the consequences of the sudden abort would be?

So for a fun little exercise, imagine GRRM phoned you, his most loyal fan, and asked you to reduce the number of plot lines in the series as quickly and cleanly as possible. Find ways to simply end character arcs without hundreds of pages of fuss. Defy some expectations, create interesting aftermaths. 

 

Myself, the first thing I would do would be to make the Others disappear without ever being heard from again. Right now, Jon Snow and the Night's Watch have a bit of a Cassandra role, being the only people aware of a greater threat to Westeros while everybody else is squabbling and in-fighting. For once, it would be interesting to see a Cassandra being plain wrong. Have them sit there on the edge of the world, paranoid, eyes toward a desolate North fearing a foe that will never come, and which never existed in the first place. Fantasy stories about external threats coming from abroad to destroy everything are a dime a dozen. The strong suit of ASoIaF is showing the in-fighting between humans, and people's constant struggle for a piece of the pie. Stick to that, leave out the Dark Evil Forces of Darkness and Evil plotline. Another strong suit of the series is showing first-hand how details are embellished to the unrecognizable as a story is passed from person to person. Have that include the tale of the Long Night and the Others. UnJon could sit on the wall until he's frozen into it, muttering "they will come, they will come" while everybody else minds their own business and the saga is concluded as a tale of the human soul fighting itself, or however that old GRRM quote goes.

Another: Have Cersei trust her prophecy so blindly that something unrelated kills her instead. Imagine her in the Red Keep, smug in the knowledge she's gotten her little brothers out of the way, her children still alive, any younger and more beautiful queens safely locked away, things going well all things considered, except that her wine flagons run empty much sooner than she'd like. Overall, she's got the prophecy well figured out, seeing no reason to worry unless a little brother pops by to strangle her. One morning, she leaves her chamber, ready to go down for her daily stint of ruling Westeros, when she suddenly stumbles down a staircase in a drunken stupour. The last thought that runs through her head is "Wait, what about the prophec-" before it smashes against the floor. And such ended the rule of Cersei, first of her name, and it turns out Maggy the Frog was a hack who made one lucky guess with regards to the fate of Melara Hetherspoon. Who was the valonqar or the younger, more beautiful queen? Nobody, it was all irrelevant.

 

So, how would you conclude complex storylines in a page and a half? It's okay to be anticlimactic, a good writer can get really enjoyable reads out of a sudden anticlimax. I've got a few more ideas, but for now I'd like others to give their takes. Go ahead, cut the knots!

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Well, it would make the series a lot shorter if the whole Aegon is fake theory is just plain wrong. Since it is a storyline that is entirely in people's imaginations at this point, we wouldn't even miss it.

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A couple of suggestions,though probably not what you're looking for:

Have the Others attack now.  No more Northern political bullshit to read through.  Also, Sansa and Arya would likely rush to help their brother and their homeland, which would shorten the stories in the Vale and Bravos, which are essentially detours and distractions.

Have the Volantene fleet crush Dany's allies in Meereen.  They have to leave, and everybody has to head for Westeros.  That short-circuits the whole Slaver's Bay story, which has gone on way too long.

Kill Jaime.  Yes, I like him too, but I think his story is at its end, and we could use a shocking death.  Having Cersei die suddenly would be useful as well.   Though you probably don't want to do both.

Aegon dies early on.  I've always thought of him as a red herring, so I certainly wouldn't miss him.

Essentially, he needs to close out as many stories as he can, and start focusing on the principal characters, instead of side plots that don't really matter (or shouldn't matter) in the grand scheme.

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7 hours ago, SuperMario said:

Dany stays in Essos. Frankly, I would be fine with that, at this point.

This even makes lots of sense. Daenerys has never set foot in Westeros (lemon trees nonwithstanding), she doesn't know anybody who lives there, has no knowledge of its political intrigues and allegiations, and likewise nobody there knows her except by word of mouth. Meanwhile, half of Essos cheers her on as a liberator, she has conquered several cities and learned their local customs. Essos is where she has spent her life, where she has built a reputation, and where she is adored. Why would she drag an army of foreign mercenaries to conquer Westeros, where she knows nothing and nobody, just because her father happened to be a bigwig there (nevermind the fact that he was pretty universally hated)? Let her realize where she has built her base, and where she has great support. Daenerys could give up her claim on the Seven Kingdoms, she'll never manage to hold it or learn its ways, while the Free Cities and all land between them are halfway hers already.

Edited by Kyll.Ing.

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On 8/27/2018 at 4:39 PM, SuperMario said:

Dany stays in Essos. Frankly, I would be fine with that, at this point.

That's the perfect solution for me as well. Dany stays in Essos and Westeros doesn't get saved. The few survivors who manage to survive the Others flee to her and that's it, there's no fighting Climate Change with steel, bravery and good intentions.

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Here's how to tie up loose ends in Winds of Winter:

Aegon meets a grisly end in Storm's End because Stannis and Melisandre forgot to tie up their ghostbabies, and ghostbabies get bored when they can't go 'a killin'. Most of the Golden Company sinks to the bottom of the ocean in those dang winter storms, while the rest get smashed by the Stormlanders.

Quentyn Martell isn't actually dead; the body belonged to someone else, which he in fact used to feed and tame a dragon. He then uses said dragon to fly over to Daenerys and fast travel her slow ass to Westeros. She's greeted with open arms in Dorne and together they lay waste to the southern half of Westeros. The rest of Essos is left scratching their butts, wondering what the fuck happened? Oh, yeah, Tyrion tames another dragon and flies his ass out of that plot-sucking shithole too.

Bran downloads the Cliff Note's version of the history of Westeros while his companions build a bunch of dogsleds. Bran then wargs into, like 40 direwolves at once and they mush on back to the Wall, trampling any wights or Others that get in their way. Hodor makes his way to Mole's Town, gets really excited at the door to the brothel, and it suddenly dawns on everyone that he's been talking about a Ho Door this whole time and just really needed to get laid. Meanwhile, Melisandre resurrects Jon, Bran tells Jon his real name is Gandalf Targaryen, and the entire North loses their shit.

Stannis shuts the hell up about his awesome claim to the Iron Throne, because Gandalf Targaryen's claim is so much better and he's come back from the dead, so they team up, re-take Winterfell, conscript freakin' everybody into the Night's Watch, and finally manage to man those dang towers along the Wall.

Daenerys continues her rampage North, accidentally burns King's Landing to the ground (oops, Cersei, shouldn't have left all that wildfire lying about!). Meanwhile, Cersei narrowly escapes and starts heading back to Casterly Rock when oops, Tyrion shows up on a dragon and accidentally lands on her. Squish. Killed by the valonqar.

Jamie and Brienne are forced to fight to the death. Brienne obviously wins because Jaime sucks left handed. Karma's a bitch Jamie, and Bran remembers thanks to the tree. Lady Stoneheart takes her group of merry men on North to besiege the Twins, but Daenerys just flies the fuck over those towers. There's NO WAY she's going to consent to marry one of Walder Frey's sons just to cross. Drogon drops a giant flaming turd on Walder's Solar, and the rest of the Freys let Daenery's ground forces through unmolested.

Everyone who's anyone now marches North to help Gandalf Targaryen battle the Others. The battle's hard, a lot of important POV characters and dragons die because quite frankly, we don't need half a hundred POVs of the same thing. It all ends in a duel between the Night King and Gandalf Targaryen, who gets helped by Brienne, Bran and his mom, Daenerys, and Barristan the Bold, and they kill him.

Daenerys marries Gandalf Targaryen...oh yeah, Quentyn dies of something - probably spear to the face or bloody flux, and they jointly rule Westeros from the Twins, getting mightily rich off the toll booth Walder had erected there. They have lots of babies and live happily ever after. The End.

 

 

 

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Gordian knots are "untangled" by swords: Build up a huge battle for some more time, then, as it takes place, let most characters we know in Meeren die, except only Dany and Tyrion who escape by flying the dragons towards Westeros. Maybe give the third dragon to Euron who controls it by that horn. There you are, no more worries about Meeren; Dany and dragons in Westeros.

Edited by Umber Jack

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On ‎8‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 12:11 PM, Kyll.Ing. said:

So, how would you conclude complex storylines in a page and a half?

 

 

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Just thought of another one. End Arya's next chapter with: "...and then, Arya Stark became no one."

Let that be the last we ever hear from her. Plotline concluded!

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12 hours ago, Kyll.Ing. said:

Just thought of another one. End Arya's next chapter with: "...and then, Arya Stark became no one."

Let that be the last we ever hear from her. Plotline concluded!

You're assuming she becomes No One? Why?

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On 8/31/2018 at 4:41 PM, Talking Hodor said:

Here's how to tie up loose ends in Winds of Winter:

Aegon meets a grisly end in Storm's End because Stannis and Melisandre forgot to tie up their ghostbabies, and ghostbabies get bored when they can't go 'a killin'. Most of the Golden Company sinks to the bottom of the ocean in those dang winter storms, while the rest get smashed by the Stormlanders.

Quentyn Martell isn't actually dead; the body belonged to someone else, which he in fact used to feed and tame a dragon. He then uses said dragon to fly over to Daenerys and fast travel her slow ass to Westeros. She's greeted with open arms in Dorne and together they lay waste to the southern half of Westeros. The rest of Essos is left scratching their butts, wondering what the fuck happened? Oh, yeah, Tyrion tames another dragon and flies his ass out of that plot-sucking shithole too.

Bran downloads the Cliff Note's version of the history of Westeros while his companions build a bunch of dogsleds. Bran then wargs into, like 40 direwolves at once and they mush on back to the Wall, trampling any wights or Others that get in their way. Hodor makes his way to Mole's Town, gets really excited at the door to the brothel, and it suddenly dawns on everyone that he's been talking about a Ho Door this whole time and just really needed to get laid. Meanwhile, Melisandre resurrects Jon, Bran tells Jon his real name is Gandalf Targaryen, and the entire North loses their shit.

Stannis shuts the hell up about his awesome claim to the Iron Throne, because Gandalf Targaryen's claim is so much better and he's come back from the dead, so they team up, re-take Winterfell, conscript freakin' everybody into the Night's Watch, and finally manage to man those dang towers along the Wall.

Daenerys continues her rampage North, accidentally burns King's Landing to the ground (oops, Cersei, shouldn't have left all that wildfire lying about!). Meanwhile, Cersei narrowly escapes and starts heading back to Casterly Rock when oops, Tyrion shows up on a dragon and accidentally lands on her. Squish. Killed by the valonqar.

Jamie and Brienne are forced to fight to the death. Brienne obviously wins because Jaime sucks left handed. Karma's a bitch Jamie, and Bran remembers thanks to the tree. Lady Stoneheart takes her group of merry men on North to besiege the Twins, but Daenerys just flies the fuck over those towers. There's NO WAY she's going to consent to marry one of Walder Frey's sons just to cross. Drogon drops a giant flaming turd on Walder's Solar, and the rest of the Freys let Daenery's ground forces through unmolested.

Everyone who's anyone now marches North to help Gandalf Targaryen battle the Others. The battle's hard, a lot of important POV characters and dragons die because quite frankly, we don't need half a hundred POVs of the same thing. It all ends in a duel between the Night King and Gandalf Targaryen, who gets helped by Brienne, Bran and his mom, Daenerys, and Barristan the Bold, and they kill him.

Daenerys marries Gandalf Targaryen...oh yeah, Quentyn dies of something - probably spear to the face or bloody flux, and they jointly rule Westeros from the Twins, getting mightily rich off the toll booth Walder had erected there. They have lots of babies and live happily ever after. The End.

And we will never hear about Aragorn's tax policy again. :bowdown:

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On 10/8/2018 at 11:06 AM, a black swan said:

You're assuming she becomes No One? Why?

Because that would be the quickest and easiest way to conclude her story arc without outright killing her. I mean, sure she could botch up her next hit and be slain by her target's bodyguard or something instead, but that would be quite unoriginal given the spirit of this thread. It's all about getting people out of the story to free up the author's attention, and killing them is a little too easy and gets repetitive in the long run.

Here's another knot to cut, by the way: Just don't mention Doran or his court ever again. Pretend there never were POVs in Dorne. See if anybody notices their absence.  

Edited by Kyll.Ing.

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Dany needs to make her way to Westeros pronto. I would have Dany arrive back with her new Dothraki possie and Drogon to find after the battle of Slaver's Bay that the vast majority of the citizens have perished from the bloody flux. In effect, give her the same reason to leave for Westeros then that Luke Skywalker had to leave Tattooine when his aunt and uncle died; no reason to stay. If she comes back and there is nobody to rule or protect, she is off the hook for her responsibilities. This can happen at the beginning of Winds and have her arrive on the shores of Westeros at the end of the book. No character arc, just make her the dramatic entrance at the end.

As much as I hate to admit it, Cersei needs to pull a Michael Corleone and wipe out her enemies in KL in one fell swoop. It doesn't have to be the same way things went in the show, but the effect NEEDS to be the same.

Aegon needs to take out and end a few characters and then get snuffed out himself. Perhaps as he is ascending the steps to the Iron Throne itself. Perhaps his best use could be to eliminate other dangling plotlines.

 

 

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Easy: Dany drinks a bevvie wi' drogon, an' when she comes tuh toon the war is owor.

...Wait, you said "Gordian", not "Geordie"?

Edited by Umber Jack

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In a one-page letter sent by Varys to Illyrio, we discover Darkstar steals Dawn then assassinates all sand snakes (except Sarella), Arianne, Doran and anyone else with a claim to Dorne, makes himself Prince, proposes to Cersei, travels to KL, murders Cersei, waits for Aegon, murders Aegon and JonCon, then settles back on the Iron Throne as the reader's personal editor and axe-man, ready to execute anyone who dares to bore, overly aggravate, or be basically useless

 

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2 hours ago, Lady Barbrey said:

In a one-page letter sent by Varys to Illyrio, we discover Darkstar steals Dawn then assassinates all sand snakes (except Sarella), Arianne, Doran and anyone else with a claim to Dorne, makes himself Prince, proposes to Cersei, travels to KL, murders Cersei, waits for Aegon, murders Aegon and JonCon, then settles back on the Iron Throne as the reader's personal editor and axe-man, ready to execute anyone who dares to bore, overly aggravate, or be basically useless

 

That's one clever ploy to get rid of the axe himself! I mean, if there is one character I don't really expect to get much story other than a quick demise paired with some sort of tangential twist or plot reveal, it has to be Darkstar. In before we find out that he's Jon Snow's spare twin and he'll warg straight into him right after the Ides of Marsh...

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3 hours ago, The Coconut God said:

That's one clever ploy to get rid of the axe himself! I mean, if there is one character I don't really expect to get much story other than a quick demise paired with some sort of tangential twist or plot reveal, it has to be Darkstar. In before we find out that he's Jon Snow's spare twin and he'll warg straight into him right after the Ides of Marsh...

I wanted to give the most dangerous man in the kingdom a purpose to keep him busy

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There is a unnaturally cold and sudden winter throughout the world, others and wrights start popping up everywhere, lot of nice character deaths streamlining the plot lines , POVs must start coming together to fight against ice (others) with fire (life).

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