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Prince Yourwetdream Aeryn

Does GRRM hate heroism or avoid it? (Jon and Quentyn comparison)

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On 9/30/2018 at 12:22 PM, Prince Yourwetdream Aeryn said:

Why does Jon get chance to live while Quentyn is burned to death? Does GRRM think that heroism should be attributed to characters who gets more magical noble blood?

Heroes are sometimes judged based on a tiny snapshot picture of their lives.  GRRM wants to give us more information.  A turncoat like Theon can be remembered as a hero if he defeats the Great Other.  An ex-slaver like Jorah too can be remembered as a hero if he uncovers the identity of the Harpy.  It will be up to each fan to decide who is a hero to them.  

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I've never heard anyone who considered Quentyn Martell a hero. He was a fool. Lucky he wasn't food. 

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15 hours ago, dmfn said:

I've never heard anyone who considered Quentyn Martell a hero. He was a fool.

Well, you've got to admit Quentyn was foolishly brave. Plus, what alternatives did he have at that point? Quentyn rolled the dice, took the grand chance - and paid for it.

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I don't think GRRM hates or avoids heroism. I just think he takes he spaghetti western approach to it where the "heroes" are in the eye of the beholder. The Man With No Name certainly wouldn't be your typical hero, but he shows compassion at times you wouldn't expect that humanizes him. Many ASoIaF characters show the same aspect. Sometimes it just comes down to who you are rooting for.

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1 hour ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I'd sum up Martin's idea of heroism as rebelling against injustice.

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/the-meaning-of-courage-j-r-r-tolkien-vs-george-r-r-martin/

No, the books aren't nihilistic.

Thank you for sharing this very interesting article.  I can agree with many of the article's opinions.  There is bravery in taking a moral stance even if the situation is hopeless and the person is powerless.  But defining bravery in that term is rather limiting.  A stance that results in improving the situation is much better in my opinion.  Taking a moral stance might be brave in itself but you know it is subject to the person's opinion at the time.  A child who believes with all of his heart that his parents are wrong and he correct decides to stand up to them.  Is that child a hero?  He's brave but that does not make him a hero.  Because he lacks the experience and made the wrong choice.  Though he thought it was the moral choice at the time.  He later thinks back on that choice during his adult years and regrets.  The problem with taking a stance and defying authority is the person's frame of mind, maturity, knowledge,  and experience.  You mentioned Sansa.  I've no doubt what was going through her mind when she revealed her father's secret escape plans to Cersei.  She thought it was the right thing to do because she disagreed with her father.  She thought she was entitled to marry a prince.  She had courage that day to defy her father.  But I can promise you, it was not a heroic act.  Defining a hero is not easy.  Victarion is brave but he is not a hero in my eyes.  He can start singing a different song and maybe he becomes one later on.  He is not for now.  

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Guest

He's not writing about heroes:

Quote

“Men are still capable of great heroism. But I don’t necessarily think there are heroes. That’s something that’s very much in my books: I believe in great characters, because I think we are great characters. We’re all capable of doing great things, and of doing bad things. We have the angels and the demons inside of us, and our lives are a succession of choices.”

-GRRM, Rolling Stone Interview, 2014

And even though I think they're hacks, D&D did say something about the story that I thought was interesting:.

Quote

"It’s one of those great conflicts that makes us love the books and this saga. Ultimately, it’s not just about good versus evil. It’s about people with good intentions coming into conflict with each other because they have very different views of the world.”

- David Benioff, S05E10, “Mother’s Mercy” Inside the Episode on Jon’s death

I think the human vs. zombies war isnt the main conflict of the series. It's people with good intentions - Tyrion, Dany, and the Starks - making what they feel is the best choice in a series of worse choices. As a result they'll fight each other (to the death?) because they have different views on how to carry that out.

Edited by Guest

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23 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

I'd sum up Martin's idea of heroism as rebelling against injustice.

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/the-meaning-of-courage-j-r-r-tolkien-vs-george-r-r-martin/

No, the books aren't nihilistic.

There are bits of this kind of view but there are truths as well.  What the story preaches most of all is to look deeper into people's actions.  Frey pies caused a lot of Stark sympathizers to pump their fist but it really is appalling.  Wayman Manderly became worse than Walder and Roose.  He violated two taboos.  Likewise, while it may seem like a good thing to break your vows to sneak your sister away from her husband, it really is not when you look at the balance scale.  The cost to do this is too high and too many people will suffer in order to get this done.  

The story is less about heroes and villains than it is about the internal conflict inside the main view point characters.  There is what they most want to do weighed against what they should do.  Picture a balance scale.  Martin shows his nihilistic side when Wayman, Jon, Jaime, and Sansa chose to do what they wanted instead of what they should have done.  The books will become nihilistic if this pattern continues.  

 

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GRRM doesn't hate heroes.  He's just out to show that heroism is hard, and that epic fantasy often glosses over that.  The heroes win because they're supposed to.  He's trying to inject some kind of realism, albeit in the context of a series with dragons and ice zombies.

Quentyn's story, for example, is meant to undercut the traditional heroic narrative.  Dany herself points out the absurdity of it, the all-too-self-awareness of calling yourself "Frog" when you're a prince in disguise.  Quentyn embarks on his journey not understanding that his privileged position in Dorne does not mean he's immune to hardship abroad, and moreover, he doesn't want any of this.  He wants to stay home, marry the Yronwood girl whose name I forget, and just be normal.  When he gets to Meereen, he expects to succeed because it's never occurred to any of them that he might not.

Aegon is an even bigger deconstruction.  He's the trope-y hero, the one who learns what it's like to live a harder life.... and yet, he's never actually challenged, either.  He's raised knowing his destiny.  He's surrounding by love and support and relatively little danger, and he bursts into the story with an army waiting for him and a confused kingdom waiting for just his kind of savior.  

Compare that to Jon.  He's a hero who has had to earn it.  Yes, he had a loving relationship with this half siblings and "father," but Cat makes it clear he's not welcome and Winterfell is pretty obviously not a place that is friendly to him; he's treated like an acknowledged bastard, but a bastard nonetheless.  Then he has to deal with the oncoming ice zombie apocalypse, with the difficulty of running a major military organization, with overcoming centuries of prejudice against the wildlings, with betraying oaths and the woman he loved and making hard choices.  With losing his entire family and his home.  Or Dany, who was sold into slavery, serially raped, and then left to her own devices.  Who has become a target for every con artist and assassin in Essos because of her dragons, dealt with scorn and betrayal from even those closest to her.  Who has had to sacrifice and compromise on all her ideals in the name of a peace her enemies never intended to keep.  Heroism has been difficult for Jon and Dany, and their eventual sacrifice to save the world is going to reflect the fact that they've struggled with themselves and with whether or not the people they are saving are even worth that sacrifice.  They'll be heroes because they choose to be, not because they're born to be a savior figure.  Their choices inform who they become.

And mind you, it's not like the villains are in great shape here.  Tywin died on the crapper.  Cersei is in prison and her regime is crumbling. The Freys are being slowly wiped out, down to the very last member of the family.  Ramsay is almost certainly going to kill Roose before being offed himself.  Littlefinger is clearly being set up to be beaten at his own game by his protege Sansa.  For all the "bad guys," the story we're getting is that treachery and double dealing yields rewards in the short term, but leads to a fatal erosion in trust and standing in the long term.  Tywin, Walder, and Roose's actions at the Red Wedding have fundamentally destabilized Westeros in a way that previous wars and successions didn't.  Their respective worldviews are going to lead to disaster.  Tywin is killed by the son he scorned, and isn't even mourned by the children he "loved," or basically anyone else.  Walder may preach family first, but his selfishness and inability to keep it in his pants have all of his descendants being hunted down and killed by enemies both external and internal.  Roose's eye for the main chance and utter nihilism is going to lead to the extinction of his own House, a fact he pretty much openly admits!

The villains of the story are absolutely in the process of getting their comeuppance.  And the heroes are still in the process of earning that heroism.  The ones in between, the well-meaning but doomed antagonists, are there to show that having a magic bloodline or presenting yourself with all the storybook qualities of a hero means jack shit without struggle.

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On 9/30/2018 at 6:22 PM, Prince Yourwetdream Aeryn said:

Why does Jon get chance to live while Quentyn is burned to death? Does GRRM think that heroism should be attributed to characters who gets more magical noble blood?

You might as well ask: why does Frodo live while Gollum plunges into a pool of lava?

Stories have main characters and side characters. That's the reason.

We know from GRRM's outline that Jon has always been planned to be one of the five main characters. Whereas Quentyn isn't even mentioned in the outline. Thus Quentyn clearly is a side character with a limited function in the story. Likely the function of screwing up Dany's Dorne connections and maybe also to show us that taming a dragon isn't at all easy and likely to go wrong. Once these functions were fulfilled there was no reason for the story to keep him around. That's all there is to it. Nothing to do with magical or noble blood or the lack thereof.

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On 9/30/2018 at 12:22 PM, Prince Yourwetdream Aeryn said:

Why does Jon get chance to live while Quentyn is burned to death? Does GRRM think that heroism should be attributed to characters who gets more magical noble blood?

They both chose badly.  Jon chose to serve the lesser good instead of the greater good.  Going after his sister when weighed against the safety of the wall was a foolish decision.  This is an example of love causing destruction.  Easily one of the worst decisions in all of the novels.  Quentyn wanted to impress his father so badly and that led him to steal the dragons.  Both these young men have much in common with Theon and Ramsay.  They want to belong to a family.  They are willing to betray their duties and oaths for their loved ones.  And they both got what they deserved.  One got slow cooked and the other got stabbed by his own men.  Both should be dead and they should remain dead.  Preston Jacobs at youtube thinks Quentyn is still alive.  Most of the book readers think Jon is alive.  Me, I prefer them both dead.  It gives closure to their story lines.  

On 10/3/2018 at 8:39 PM, The Marquis de Leech said:

I'd sum up Martin's idea of heroism as rebelling against injustice.

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/the-meaning-of-courage-j-r-r-tolkien-vs-george-r-r-martin/

No, the books aren't nihilistic.

I won't label Mr. Martin but his story is rather bleak.  I agree with some of the arguments in that article.

Theon had a hero's moment even though most of his life has been everything except heroic.  Jaime is a complete shithead in life but he had one hero's moment when he saved the city from wildfire.  Though I might argue that he should have saved his king too.   Bowen Marsh is a hero because he stopped Jon from leading a destructive wildling raid against Roose Bolton.  

I have trouble seeing Samwell and Sansa as heroes.  Enduring is not enough to make one a hero.  They have to do something to benefit other people to be considered heroic.  

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On 10/4/2018 at 7:57 PM, Bowen 747 said:

There are bits of this kind of view but there are truths as well.  What the story preaches most of all is to look deeper into people's actions.  Frey pies caused a lot of Stark sympathizers to pump their fist but it really is appalling.  Wayman Manderly became worse than Walder and Roose.  He violated two taboos.  Likewise, while it may seem like a good thing to break your vows to sneak your sister away from her husband, it really is not when you look at the balance scale.  The cost to do this is too high and too many people will suffer in order to get this done.  

The story is less about heroes and villains than it is about the internal conflict inside the main view point characters.  There is what they most want to do weighed against what they should do.  Picture a balance scale.  Martin shows his nihilistic side when Wayman, Jon, Jaime, and Sansa chose to do what they wanted instead of what they should have done.  The books will become nihilistic if this pattern continues.  

 

I agree with the underlined.  

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On 9/30/2018 at 11:22 AM, Prince Yourwetdream Aeryn said:

Why does Jon get chance to live while Quentyn is burned to death? Does GRRM think that heroism should be attributed to characters who gets more magical noble blood?

I think GRRM is trying to convey that heroes are human. They are subject to chance and luck just like anyone else. Quentyn took a risk and it backfired. Jon probably just got lucky.

All heroes throughout history have had flaws. It's the chroniclers of history that make them sound larger than life.

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Heroism is subjective.

ASOIAF is all about perspective. Characters who are "heroes" to one person can be the enemy of others. 

So I don't think he's avoiding it at all, merely not giving a single hero vs villain approach, which is why the story is so appealing and unpredictable. If we only got chapters from the Starks and Jon for example, nobody would root for any other character. We'd only see Jaime and Theon as villains, not the conflicted souls that they are. 

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55 minutes ago, Mat92 said:

Heroism is subjective.

ASOIAF is all about perspective. Characters who are "heroes" to one person can be the enemy of others. 

So I don't think he's avoiding it at all, merely not giving a single hero vs villain approach, which is why the story is so appealing and unpredictable. If we only got chapters from the Starks and Jon for example, nobody would root for any other character. We'd only see Jaime and Theon as villains, not the conflicted souls that they are. 

I don’t know, we still have a bunch of definite villains in the story. Look at Gregor Clegane and Ramsay Bolton. 

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17 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

I don’t know, we still have a bunch of definite villains in the story. Look at Gregor Clegane and Ramsay Bolton. 

For sure, I'm not saying that these 2 are anything less than horrible people who have done horrific things. But if we had chapters from their perspectives with their inner monologues we might feel differently. I'm not saying it's likely, nor would I be very interested in reading a Gregor chapter (certainly less so now) but who knows.

I would tend to agree with you though, they definitely lean towards outright villain than conflicted soul from what we know of them currently.  

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23 hours ago, Mat92 said:

Heroism is subjective.

ASOIAF is all about perspective. Characters who are "heroes" to one person can be the enemy of others. 

So I don't think he's avoiding it at all, merely not giving a single hero vs villain approach, which is why the story is so appealing and unpredictable. If we only got chapters from the Starks and Jon for example, nobody would root for any other character. We'd only see Jaime and Theon as villains, not the conflicted souls that they are. 

The way the story is told does bias the reader towards the point of view character.  I wish we had a point of view chapter on Bowen Marsh.  I am sure he will get a lot less of the blame from the reader(s).

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3 hours ago, Bowen 747 said:

The way the story is told does bias the reader towards the point of view character.  I wish we had a point of view chapter on Bowen Marsh.  I am sure he will get a lot less of the blame from the reader(s).

Bowen’s an idiot. Leaving the wildlings on the other side of the Wall makes them easy targets for the White Walkers to kill them and turn them into wights and wights will attack anyone they see (just ask Jeor Mormont about that). Wildlings are easier to deal with than wights and White Walkers since they can be reasoned with to some extent. 

Edited by Angel Eyes

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