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Targaryen Peas

How is it fantasy?

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When the ending is the death of this same fantasy. 

I always thought that ASOIAF/GoT had less fantasy than any other fantasy novel. After all, we only have some dragons (3), some white-blueish zombies and a weird raven. I'm not forgetting the faceless or fire god thing. But objectively, at the end of the story, what value do they hold? 

 

So is it really a fantasy, just because it has some of the points I listed above? 

To me the ending can be cut into 2 parts: 

The fantastic: Daenerys, Jon(came back to life), the red priests and the people they brought back from the dead(who are now all dead, except for Jon, but he got some plot armor), NK/WW

The real world: Bran(even though he is the raven, he definitely represents the death of fantasy) and the rest.

 

I don't know for you people, but I lost interest in projecting myself into the world of ASOIAF after this ending, because the big lines will be the same in the books. Death of fantasy. 

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8 hours ago, Targaryen Peas said:

When the ending is the death of this same fantasy. 

I always thought that ASOIAF/GoT had less fantasy than any other fantasy novel. After all, we only have some dragons (3), some white-blueish zombies and a weird raven. I'm not forgetting the faceless or fire god thing. But objectively, at the end of the story, what value do they hold? 

 

So is it really a fantasy, just because it has some of the points I listed above? 

To me the ending can be cut into 2 parts: 

The fantastic: Daenerys, Jon(came back to life), the red priests and the people they brought back from the dead(who are now all dead, except for Jon, but he got some plot armor), NK/WW

The real world: Bran(even though he is the raven, he definitely represents the death of fantasy) and the rest.

 

I don't know for you people, but I lost interest in projecting myself into the world of ASOIAF after this ending, because the big lines will be the same in the books. Death of fantasy. 

Nah, the fantasy in Westeros might be dead (it has been for a long time) but  the fantasy in Essos and Sothoryos is as alive as ever.

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Yeah so? Honestly the traditional fantasy elements are the weakest parts of the story. Magic is like a spice it should enhance the story not overpower it.

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13 hours ago, The Baelish Mockingbird said:

Nah, the fantasy in Westeros might be dead (it has been for a long time) but  the fantasy in Essos and Sothoryos is as alive as ever.

But we don't have much stories there. Unless I didn't read a particular book? 

 

13 hours ago, Lord Lannister said:

Yeah so? Honestly the traditional fantasy elements are the weakest parts of the story. Magic is like a spice it should enhance the story not overpower it.

The story is full of prophecies and allusion to a time full of magic (Valyria etc) and to me that sold the universe. Why should fantasy not have a bigger role in the story? 

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The show obviously plays down the Fantasy elements relative to GRRM's books. But in the early books there is very little magic too. The Fantasy elements grow as the series evolves. D&D don't seem to care about that aspect of the story, though, if they even read the books.

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Fantasy:

the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things.

 

We're talking about a world that still has at least one dragon and 2 direwolves, a wall made of ice that does not melt, people who have the ability to change faces, and a few other things.  Sure COTF, giants, and the warlocks of Qarth are gone; but elements are still there

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@Winter prince

 

I know that this is overly simplistic, but consider a fantasy story centered around the efforts to protect a mythical kingdom from an evil dragon. There might be other supernatural elements in the story that further strengthens its fantasy credentials (as there are in ASOIAF) but if the story ends with the hero killing the magical, firebreathing dragon would you level the same complaint? Maybe. I wouldn't. I think that the show's unwillingness or inability to seamlessly incorporate the supernatural elements into the story led them to largely avoid the pursuit. There is a certain fool's honor to that. We could debate if it is worse to do something poorly but to do it because the story template says to or to avoid it so as to not weigh down other elements of the story to the point that they sink.

Personally, I always thought the way seasons (especially Winter) are handled was the true beating heart of fantasy for these novels. I was/am PISSED that they couldn't spend 5 seconds on a raven from the Citadel addressing how the defeat of the WWs affected the seasonal pattern as those two things definitely seem to be linked (GRRM might have said it more plainly or with more convincing directness but I can't recall it at the moment.) For me, it was super cool, novel, and really united the world in a way that supernatural elements rarely do. Most fantasy stuff is localized (a wizard in that cave to the east, a dragon in the hills to the North etc.) by its nature so that it can impact the story. I admit that I might be a bit blinded in this conversation due to my love for that part of the story (which became painful given that D&D couldn't be bothered to address the resolution of a phrase which will always be the famous quote from the series (Winter is Coming, of course).

It wouldn't have taken much time at all and the lack of resolution leaves the show-world feeling unfinished and kind of like fool's gold in retrospect. We spend all this time talking about the coming of winter, the bastion of Westerosi knowledge tracks and relays information on the seasons. Hell, they breed and keep White Ravens EXCLUSIVELY to announce the changing of the seasons. The link between winter and WWs doesn't warrant a rehash because everyone who cares enough to post here understands it. So what happened? Do we have regular cycles again? What will the White Ravens workers union do in response to having their responsibilities quadrupled? What will the Starks have as their house words now? "Winter is Coming...in exactly 24 days" or maybe the less brief "Yea, sorry about all that gloomy Winter talk but technically our old words are even more accurate now in case and way more usable." Or perhaps the more show canon centered "You are my Queen"

There are TONS of other problems in the wold with the lack of explanation beyond the sillier ones. No one has ever experienced usual seasonal cycles in Westeros. There's probably something scribbled somewhere in the Citadel about it, but how useful is that really when basic rules regarding survival and food are going to have to be almost entirely reinvented? If the long cycles ended, did Winterfell and the North just basically become exponentially more powerful? More arable land in general, easier to survive, more desirable as a living place, more consistent and predictable farming patterns with less of an uneven impact than the multiple year variety leading to a boom in agriculture for the North that was previously prevented by the need to handle resource hoarding/production with an uncertain end date- which is years in Westeros as opposed to weeks/month for conventional Winters that run long. Or does it greatly diminish the power of Winterfell itself which was kind of the safe space during winter (Winter town, said to be 4/5ths empty in Spring and Summer and overflowing during winter? You don't need to go huddle together in a castle for survival with conventional winters, so the purpose of the town in general, the castle as a structure, and the Starks as stewards of the people of the North becomes obsolete. I think the ability to trade more freely and farm MUCH more productively makes it a net win.

But none of that is the point as I had no expectation that those questions would be answered explicitly, mostly because it is such a large and world-defining element of fantasy for Westeros that thinking about how ridiculous it is would overlook the nature of Fantasy. (But for real, think about how insane and impossible their winter would be, even in terms of the ability to survive, build culture or even build buildings.) What I do rightfully expect is for the fate of the WWs to lead to explicit exposition regarding the future of the seasons in Westeros. Otherwise, it isn't really a fantasy element but the product of the weirdest physics ever. The fact that they had time for Sam to plop "A Song of Ice and Fire" but not have a surprised Maester even say "it seems conditions have improved, which is very strange according to our records" is absurd. (And it would likely improve even if it didn't go away entirely as proximity to the WWs --> increased winterness) The answer, of course, is that they didn't care about the supernatural elements and even if they did, they don't know how to handle it. But this isn't something complex or challenging like the WW backstory, literally 10 seconds of screen time could have addressed this. Instead, we just see less snow north of the wall than in King's Landing? Wot?? 

But to come full circle, I don't agree with your assessment but that's entirely fine. GRRM himself has often said that some of the genre divisions are absolutely meaningless. You can't really have an invalid opinion about a genre should be if the genre doesn't even know what it should be itself. I also disagree that dragons are the most seen form of magic in the show. The infrastructure for teleportation travel is clearly still growing as it is now the most popular form of transportation. If that isn't magic then I dunno what to tell you (I'm obviously being exceptionally sarcastic and hate to indicate sarcasm but you never know online).

 

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Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law: " Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Fantastical elements need not consist of  stereotypical fairytale creatures. They can consist of anything that varies from mundane reality. If our show creators had really wanted to subvert expectation, they could have thrown everything at the "What's the deep connection between magic and weather patterns in this world?" question rather than going for the cheaper (and to me far less interesting) "Is Character X a rational actor or a nutcase?" question.

Excellent post, @Demetri.

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Posted (edited)

I might have over simplified but I agree with your - long and great - post @Demetri

In the show, fantasy is limited to some creatures (dragons and zombies) and some families (the Targaryen are the only mystic/fantastic family I can remember). But by giving an end to these elements, there is no more "magic" in the world. It is merely and soleny just some medieval world. 

And that must be because there's no adaptation of all that mythology in the show, for example, the link between the WW and the seasons, as you said.

But my take was on how the ending destroy that fantasy in westeros. Because if the books end like this. Then what is there left? If the WW are totally defeated ( and thus, their relation to the world, in the season cycles etc), the mythical creatures gone too, the families that have deep bonds with it. Then what is left? 

So can we call something "fantastic" if its purpose or moral of the story is the abolition of this same fantasy? 

In a childish way to say it "Why would I want to play in such a world, if after all, it is just some dark medieval world?" Because in Westeros + 1000years, the tales of the characters will only be myths.

Edited by Targaryen Peas

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Like mammoths and aurochs, dire wolves are not the magical creatures of fantasy but rather historical creatures from the real world that here have been extinct since the last ice age or so. When the ice receded, they died out.  (Although Martin's are bigger, being the size of a small pony instead of being only 25% larger than grey wolves on average as ours were.)

Several other types of creatures in A Song of Ice and Fire are likely just fanciful names for real creatures from our own world. 

In contrast, fire wyrms and dragons are completely magical creatures, the stuff of fantasy. So are the Others.

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6 hours ago, Demetri said:

@Winter prince

 

 

But to come full circle, I don't agree with your assessment but that's entirely fine. GRRM himself has often said that some of the genre divisions are absolutely meaningless. You can't really have an invalid opinion about a genre should be if the genre doesn't even know what it should be itself. I also disagree that dragons are the most seen form of magic in the show. The infrastructure for teleportation travel is clearly still growing as it is now the most popular form of transportation. If that isn't magic then I dunno what to tell you (I'm obviously being exceptionally sarcastic and hate to indicate sarcasm but you never know online).

 

I appreciate your sarcasm, and thorough explanation of your position. I even agree with some of your points and think the book can flesh those out much more. I fear your average watcher probably didnt realize the seasons were abnormal

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58 minutes ago, Winter prince said:

I appreciate your sarcasm, and thorough explanation of your position. I even agree with some of your points and think the book can flesh those out much more. I fear your average watcher probably didnt realize the seasons were abnormal

From my personal interactions, many did finally turn on the show. But you're still completely right at the essence of your point which suggests blind loyalty to the show product. This was made painfully clear to me when no one understood why 8x03 was the point of no return for me and even love and optimism couldn't make me unsee the mutilated corpse of GOT that HBO ritualistically trotted out for the remaining Sundays. I had major problems with the show well before 8x03, but I was very forgiving due to medium differences and convinced myself that it could be redeemed. In retrospect, I should have realized that if your boldest hope for the future of a show is that it could, maybe somehow, be redeemed through the ending that you're probably screwed. 8x03 was the point at which I could not lie to myself regarding what the total product would look like. 

But I think for some pure show fans it was 8x04 (which always seemed like a weird one to cause someone to lose their religion over) but after 8x05 it was open season. It became the critical version of the Purge and everyone took their swing. Some combination of the product and the removal of GOT's previously untouchable aura made it okay to *GASP* think critically about the quality of the product. Sometime after 8x03, the types of conversation I had about the show changed when speaking to the average person. It was no longer a contextually derived discussion of theories and events, but a pile on replete with all the memes a heart could desire. 

As a sidenote: I've noticed that even the show fans (perhaps especially?) have developed a kind of post-coital emptiness and torpor going into the finale. Some of my show-only fans even noted this independently, saying it felt like the air was sucked out of the room before the finale and that the usual deluge of gold stars seemed to have disappeared. I'm not running a survey or anything, but my experience discussing the show with show-only fans actually improved towards the end. But that's compared to having people call me silly or pretentious or whatnot for thinking that 8x03 was the show demonstrating that all that remains are more broken promises to pile on that pile of garbage. I got a few, "welp, I see what you means" not a week later. The week after that they were shitposting with the finest GOT fans in the realm. They were misled and didn't have the additional wealth of material that we did and thus were more completely and more easily misled. But I've seen enough to have hope that dissatisfaction is more widespread than I thought was ever possible.

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On 5/22/2019 at 2:27 PM, Lord Lannister said:

Yeah so? Honestly the traditional fantasy elements are the weakest parts of the story. Magic is like a spice it should enhance the story not overpower it.

I disagree, the rising nature of the magic in ASOIAF is what makes the story unique IMO. Where LOTR we have magic dying, in ASOIAF it is the opposite and magic seems to be on the rise.

The show had a good opportunity to incorporate several of the magical elements of the book such as glass candles, the stark's connections to their wolves, Dany's dragon dreams, Dorne's magic which has been hinted in the book, Marwyn the Mage etc. The list goes on. Them removing magic from the story is what ultimately led to the anti-climatic war against the others.

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4 hours ago, Queen‍‍‍‍‍‍ Alysanne‍‍™ said:

To the OP: 

I disagree that the books will end with the death of fantasy. It's D and D that seem to dislike the fantasy elements of the books. In the books, it is the opposite and magic seems to be on the rise rather than it dying out.

I meant that if the ending is the same, and by the same we all understand the big storylines (because the books are so different from the show right now) then, isn't it a way to kill fantasy, as it was done in the show? 
We also have 2 big books coming, about 3000 pages, so it'll have time to die. 

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4 hours ago, Queen‍‍‍‍‍‍ Alysanne‍‍™ said:

To the OP: 

I disagree that the books will end with the death of fantasy. It's D and D that seem to dislike the fantasy elements of the books. In the books, it is the opposite and magic seems to be on the rise rather than it dying out.

That's what has been happening so far, but it's possible that magic will be diminished again at the end. If the Others are gone the seasons should be fixed. The Wall will probably be gone. And maybe the dragons. That could be part of what makes the ending bittersweet.

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5 hours ago, Queen‍‍‍‍‍‍ Alysanne‍‍™ said:

To the OP: 

I disagree that the books will end with the death of fantasy. It's D and D that seem to dislike the fantasy elements of the books. In the books, it is the opposite and magic seems to be on the rise rather than it dying out.

That will depend. Magic seems to be connected to dragons, and if dragons are killed, the world might well end up without any magic at all.

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12 minutes ago, Targaryen Peas said:

I meant that if the ending is the same, and by the same we all understand the big storylines (because the books are so different from the show right now) then, isn't it a way to kill fantasy, as it was done in the show? 
We also have 2 big books coming, about 3000 pages, so it'll have time to die. 

This is an interesting question. I would answer it this way. Let's say a fictional universe contains explicit supernatural or magical elements. Over the course of the narrative, these elements dwindle away & erode to nothing because of events & actions in-universe. Let's assume that cause and effect are well demonstrated, and the atrophy of magic is logical & consistent with the given explanation. This, to me, is still a fantasy world, because it's been shown that magic & the supernatural can exist in that world, if the right conditions are met.

It's also interesting to consider the same process reversed. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels began as textbook examples of fantastic fiction. Later novels introduced science-fictional elements - a postulated science & technology - to explain the origins of Pernese culture. I've haven't followed any of the literature to know how this affects anyone's thinking about genre categories. I'd be inclined, though, to say that those early novels can still validly be called fantasy novels, even though the fantastical elements were created (as we later learned :) ) through traditional science-fictional means.

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1 hour ago, Gendelsdottir said:

It's also interesting to consider the same process reversed. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels began as textbook examples of fantastic fiction. Later novels introduced science-fictional elements - a postulated science & technology - to explain the origins of Pernese culture. I've haven't followed any of the literature to know how this affects anyone's thinking about genre categories. I'd be inclined, though, to say that those early novels can still validly be called fantasy novels, even though the fantastical elements were created (as we later learned :) ) through traditional science-fictional means.

Interesting way to explain it (never heard about these novels, so I will try and read them!) 

I tend to agree, I just can't see the point of creating a whole fantastic world, only to say "the only way for people to live here, is to kill the magical elements".

To me, it doesn't serve the genre.  

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