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Can you recommend any book series where the characters are as amazing as ASOIAF?

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7 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Yeah that’s a.     Nicer way to say what’s I was thinking. Still a bit stuck on the whole fool as dwarf thing,

Granted, I've only read the first three books of the Realm of the Elderlings so far   but I can't see much correlation between the characters of Tyrion and the Fool. Casually equating fool with dwarf seems like somewhat lazy stereotyping.

I was worried I might have been a bit mean (as a recovering book snob myself). I think well-reasoned criticism is fine but it's never okay to make someone feel small for liking a book series - especially when they are posting on a site dedicated to the series and were probably hoping for friendly encouragement.

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I have become critical and severely dissappointed with the series in books 4 and 5 but my comment further above was not meant as dismissal. The first 3 books are very good, no question for me about that. It's just that the world building is not  remarkable at all. (Same goes for Tad Williams and Abercrombie whose worlds are probably even more clicheed and for what I have read of Hobb's (first two books only.) as well. But this is not why I became disappointed, I think it has a lot of advantages sticking to the mostly standard tropes. 

One major disappointment in retrospective, however, was the realization that there was a book that did the odd seasons far better and in a scientifically plausible fashion, namely "Helliconia". But again, the main failure of GRRM is NOT that somebody did it before and better but that we have to hear "winter is coming" for four long books until it becomes a little relevant, but still not quite.

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I know I say this every time the argument comes up, but I strongly disagree that "good worldbuilding" = "original ideas."  For me it's much more about internal consistency, depth, breadth, history, etc.  The idea that the story starts well before page 1...ASoIaF has a lot of groundwork laid out to ensure that everything works, with the various Houses and their motivations which are influenced by events going back centuries.

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On 1/18/2019 at 10:35 AM, Zorral said:

:agree:

My own favorite impatient question about the series is: Why doesn't  Sam lose weight during his prolonged deprivations and exertions?

 

Obviously because Dharma was making regular supply drops throughout the land...

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7 hours ago, End of Disc One said:

I know I say this every time the argument comes up, but I strongly disagree that "good worldbuilding" = "original ideas."  For me it's much more about internal consistency, depth, breadth, history, etc.  The idea that the story starts well before page 1...ASoIaF has a lot of groundwork laid out to ensure that everything works, with the various Houses and their motivations which are influenced by events going back centuries.

Yeah, I can't at all agree that the series has poor world-building.  It may not be wholly original, but the world he's built is incredibly deep and well-realized.  As I wrote above, there is a sense of actual history in the series that very few others I've read (and I've read a lot) have managed.  There are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of characters, all with unique motivations and interweaving pasts.  All the little slights of the past end up mattering.  History has a tendency to repeat itself.  

The idea that Martin sucks at world-building is just ridiculous to me, as people have spent thousands of hours deconstructing his world trying to find all the little secrets he's layered in.  For fuck's sake, this entire goddamn site exists for that purpose.

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10 hours ago, Jo498 said:

however, was the realization that there was a book that did the odd seasons far better and in a scientifically plausible fashion, namely "Helliconia".


I mean, though, why do the seasons need to be scientifically plausible in aSoIaF? It's fantasy. This argument has come up before and I always find it weird.


On the world-building overall- sure, it's completely unoriginal and it's not always as logical as Martin would like it to be but when it comes down to it it feels right - GRRM has the knack of making it feel like he's filled in more details than he actually has (and he has filled in quite a lot). I certainly disagree with briantw's position that it's way better than most fantasy authors but I agree that it is a world that feels lived in, and like it has a history to it.

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3 minutes ago, polishgenius said:


I mean, though, why do the seasons need to be scientifically plausible in aSoIaF? It's fantasy. This argument has come up before and I always find it weird.
 

Yeah, giants and demon shadow babies aren't scientifically plausible either, yet people aren't bitching about those.

Much can be explained away by magic.

Edited by briantw

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On 1/18/2019 at 8:33 PM, Wall Flower said:

Yeah, I feel that if someone is going to be as condescending as I found Zorral's post (even at my advanced age), it might pay to get facts right. It's ok to love ASOIAF when you're young and ignorant. Really could have phrased that better.

 

Exactly this...

Edited by Mwm

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14 hours ago, polishgenius said:

I mean, though, why do the seasons need to be scientifically plausible in aSoIaF? It's fantasy. This argument has come up before and I always find it weird.


On the world-building overall- sure, it's completely unoriginal and it's not always as logical as Martin would like it to be but when it comes down to it it feels right - GRRM has the knack of making it feel like he's filled in more details than he actually has (and he has filled in quite a lot). I certainly disagree with briantw's position that it's way better than most fantasy authors but I agree that it is a world that feels lived in, and like it has a history to it.

The point is not the plausibility although for me it would be a point for good world building.  (Like magic being somewhat integrated into the world although I don't like it either if magic appears like from an RPG rule book.)

The severe fault is that the odd season have not shaped the world at all. (Whereas Helliconia shows how such a world could look like.) And that within the narrative so far it is the opposite of "Chekhov's gun" because everybody has been quoting "winter is coming" since the first page (or at least the first real chapter with the Starks riding to the execution) of the first book and it has been utterly irrelevant for the first 2000 pages or so.

As for the rest of the world building, as I said (maybe not clearly enough) for me it is mostly well done and good enough but not particularly remarkable. (And this feature is basically shared by other successful books like Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and First Law, I'd say.) Essos clearly feels like a shallow hodgepodge of tropes without too much thought having gone into it and I don't find Westeros particularly "deep" either as most of the history going back more than about a generation is fairly sketchy. Overall I find it more "broad" than deep. There are lots of people, lots of families, even more coats of arms but they are all culturally very similar, even the supposed "outsiders" like Dorne or the Northerners.

Marquis/Pet leech had this scheme where he evaluated books/series by their relative focus on world/characters/plots/ideas. I found this often illuminating.

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On 1/18/2019 at 4:35 PM, Zorral said:

:agree:

There is nothing wrong with the OP loving GRRM's books.  It's really nice to love things, particularly when we are very young, and haven't got the history of sf/f and fiction and literature and history etc. that those of us who have lived a lot longer possess.

That is magnificently condescending.

Some of us have been reading SFF for 30+ years, written a history of the genre and have forgotten more about the genre than others on this forum will ever know, but can still say that ASoIaF is certainly among the upper tier of the genre for its character focus, dialogue and thematic development. It's just cool and edgy to hate on it now since it became enormously successful.

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Why are there dragons?  Because Pern and every other woman at sf/f cons is carrying a stuffed dragon on her head.

 

Because there weren't any dragons in the original outline, but Phyllis Eisenstein urged George to put them in.

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Because Robin Hobb does dragons and is in her own way as popular as Anne McCaffrey -- and Hobb had the first dwarf character, the Fool whom readers loved, whose first appearance in a 1990's series long before publishing a series that centered him -- and human - animal shifting too

 

George started writing A Game of Thrones in 1991. Robin Hobb started writing Assassin's Apprentice in 1994. So if George was taking his ideas from Hobb, it was through the medium of time travel.

Also, the Fool is not a dwarf. Have you read Hobb's series?

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However, not knowing what to do with all of it when he threw it in, he just kept going and going and getting further and further away from any resolution.  Just for starters: What is the point of Winter and the zombies? 

 

A WMD set off 8,000 years ago which has come back to blight the world again and needs to be dealt with. However, I do not anticipate them being a major force in the series denouement because that would be going against one of the core themes of the series, that the worst monsters are people.

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My own favorite impatient question about the series is: Why doesn't  Sam lose weight during his prolonged deprivations and exertions?

 

He does. Maybe not as much as he should have, but it is noted in the later books that he has lost weight.

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World building? Characterization?  Not much and quite incoherent as well. 

 

The worldbuilding in ASoIaF has suffered serious retconning, because George wasn't interested in it and put in place a fairly loose framework originally which he realised later on had to be far firmer and more detailed to support the narrative. This has led to problems, although no particularly fatal ones.

Characterisation is a ridiculous criticism to level against the series. George's gift is creating well-realised, fully-fleshed out, three-dimensional characters in a very short space of time and having them act in accordance with their own motivations in a consistent and logical manner. Very few other authors full stop, let alone in the fantasy genre, manage to do the same thing.

 

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The severe fault is that the odd season have not shaped the world at all. (Whereas Helliconia shows how such a world could look like.) And that within the narrative so far it is the opposite of "Chekhov's gun" because everybody has been quoting "winter is coming" since the first page (or at least the first real chapter with the Starks riding to the execution) of the first book and it has been utterly irrelevant for the first 2000 pages or so.

 

In evolutionary terms, the odd seasons have only been around for a blink of an eye (8,000 years, but possibly only 4,000), so evolutionary processes have not really started adapting, whilst Helliconia has had 8 million years to adapt to the capture of the Batalix system by Freyr.

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On 1/20/2019 at 3:29 PM, Werthead said:

In evolutionary terms, the odd seasons have only been around for a blink of an eye (8,000 years, but possibly only 4,000), so evolutionary processes have not really started adapting, whilst Helliconia has had 8 million years to adapt to the capture of the Batalix system by Freyr.

Well, to be fair, in Fire & Blood, the fictional author of the book (don't recall his name off-hand) mentions that they aren't sure if the weather pattern was always the way it is at the time of his writing.  He says it is theorized based on the stars in the sky that, at some point in history, seasons were consistent.  However, there is no proof.

Obviously, knowing what we know as readers of the series, and thus access to a much broader viewpoint than this character, along with how seasons work on our planet, we assume that something threw the seasons out of whack.  But we lack the proof just the same as the fictional man writing Fire & Blood.

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On 1/7/2019 at 3:41 AM, Mwm said:

I’ve read somewhere along the lines of four hundred books and have yet to come across characters as interesting as ASOIAF...

In answer to your request, Mwm: 

 

I found the characters in Daniel Abraham's 'Dagger and Coin' pentalogy to be extremely interesting. Like Martin, each chapter is written from a different point of view. And the series is finished as well, so you won't be left waiting for any sequels. 

Further to this, Jay Kristoff's 'Nevernight' trilogy is exceptionally well-written and engaging and utilises a colourful, and day I say even "baroque" style of prose. It's great stuff. 

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I have to chime in here and be Doctor Caustic. Jay Kristoff is one of the worst writers I’ve ever read and takes cultural appropriation and omg I saw it in an anime and turns it up to 11. I’d rather read a Goodking novel.

 

Danial Abraham is fuckkng great though.

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1 hour ago, Darth Richard II said:

I have to chime in here and be Doctor Caustic. Jay Kristoff is one of the worst writers I’ve ever read and takes cultural appropriation and omg I saw it in an anime and turns it up to 11. I’d rather read a Goodking novel.

Totally fare, DC. De gustibus non disputandum est, y'know? It's not your jam, it's not your jam. That's cool. I personally dug the hell out of the Nevernight books. Like what ya like, I say. I'll never judge ya. 

But yeah - Abraham is way rad. Dagger & Coin is an absolute delight. 

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I also really liked Abraham's Long Price Quartet.   

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Hi, I would strongly suggest ''The Saxons Stories'' by Bernard Cornwell, the books are amazing and I think that the series is very good too! They are similar at least (more than Game of Thrones is similar to 'A song of ice and fire'... :) )

Another series of books that I love is Patrick O'Brian's 'Aubrey and Maturin', but maybe you should be interested in sailing and stuff like that. 

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Not fantasy, but Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin books feature characters that are absolutely amazeballs.

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