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Your Opinions 5: Is GRRM a "bad writer?"


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6 hours ago, Werthead said:

Of course, he also thought they'd make the show go for 10 seasons and take 3 seasons to cover AFFC and ADWD faithfully, which very much never happened.

I don't think is was ever a realistic possibility. Something like Brienne wandering around in the Riverlands for 3 seasons wouldn't make good for television. That arc isn't universally popular even among book fans.

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1 minute ago, SeanF said:

Daenerys had killed people, prior to Kings Landing.  If you're arguing for pure pacifism, then yes, she can be condemned (as can every other character). But,  I don't think that's a reasonable standard in this setting.  Jaime commanded a large part of the Lannister army that brutalised the peasants in the Riverlands.  Daenerys brutalised Eastern slavers.  I think the latter is more justifiable than the former.

The Tarlys betrayed the Tyrells.  They sacked their castle, killed their former comrades in arms, and sided with the murderer of their liege lord and his family.  And, forced their liege lady to drink poison.  If Daenerys could not save her allies, she sure as hell ought to avenge them.  Even in the modern world, Randyll and Dickon would have gone before a firing squad.

Jaime’s worst act was to attempt to kill an innocent child to prevent the deaths of his children and sister. Danny’s was to indiscriminately crucify 163 members of a class because some had crucified previously slaves. If we believe the only source we have on the latter, Hizdahr, many of those crucified had nothing to do with the act they were killed to avenge. You tell me which of these seems more ‘form’ for someone capable of burning a city for reasons. 
 

Jaime’s campaign in the RL was defeating the forces E of the Golden Tooth and besieging Riverrun. We hear nothing of him having anything to do with the Mountain’s campaigns to the east. That said, I wouldn’t put it past him, nor would I put it past Dany to follow through on her threat to offer no quarter to Yunkai, ie kill…everyone. Again, which one has ‘form’?

And Dany didn’t burn the Tarlys to avenge anyone, she burned them out of anger for refusing to bend the knee. Who else in these stories has done a similar thing, and what kind of people are they? Why did Robb consider the murder of his captives such a black mark against his honour? 
 

As for the Tarly-Tyrell-Lannister loyalty triangle, that is the feudal dilemma everyone in a feudal order faces when their overlords go to war; either way they betray some oath. If they had stayed with the Tyrells they would have been betraying the Lannisters, whom they had also given oaths to…and I guess would deserve burning to death?

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6 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I don't think is was ever a realistic possibility. Something like Brienne wandering around in the Riverlands for 3 seasons wouldn't make good television. That arc isn't universally popular even among book fans.

I definitely think the show would have benefited from more seasons and that would not require staying any more faithful to every book plot line than the first half dozen shows did. That said the show became more uneven and focused on the visual after they came off the written word; film students would probably consider Baelor the best show in the entire series. We also got the Dirty Dozen of the Dead/Flashgendry, but I’m thinking stuff like the latter had more to do with their decision to rush everything, and so though I think the character writing would still be less consistent than the book based seasons, I think we’d have all been closer to satisfied.

Another thing we have to face about the show…and that GRRM now faces about the books…is that so many factions developed around so many characters that any ending is going to bitterly disappoint a ton of fans who had primarily invested in one or two characters. So some of the backlash was inevitable, and we saw it even in pockets earlier in the show when favourite characters fell by the wayside. And obviously the further we get along the stronger those loyalties become, therefore so too the backlashes. But imo the single greatest sin of the later seasons was rushing, and more seasons mitigates that. 

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23 minutes ago, James Arryn said:

Jaime’s worst act was to attempt to kill an innocent child to prevent the deaths of his children and sister. Danny’s was to indiscriminately crucify 163 members of a class because some had crucified previously slaves. If we believe the only source we have on the latter, Hizdahr, many of those crucified had nothing to do with the act they were killed to avenge. You tell me which of these seems more ‘form’ for someone capable of burning a city for reasons. 
 

Jaime’s campaign in the RL was defeating the forces E of the Golden Tooth and besieging Riverrun. We hear nothing of him having anything to do with the Mountain’s campaigns to the east. That said, I wouldn’t put it past him, nor would I put it past Dany to follow through on her threat to offer no quarter to Yunkai, ie kill…everyone. Again, which one has ‘form’?

And Dany didn’t burn the Tarlys to avenge anyone, she burned them out of anger for refusing to bend the knee. Who else in these stories has done a similar thing, and what kind of people are they? Why did Robb consider the murder of his captives such a black mark against his honour? 
 

As for the Tarly-Tyrell-Lannister loyalty triangle, that is the feudal dilemma everyone in a feudal order faces when their overlords go to war; either way they betray some oath. If they had stayed with the Tyrells they would have been betraying the Lannisters, whom they had also given oaths to…and I guess would deserve burning to death?

Hizzie claimed that his dad was a kind slave owner, (and we only have Hizzie’s word for it) to which I’d reply “fuck that!”.  There’s no such thing as a kind slave owner in a society where people are crucified, castrated, raped, bought and sold at the whim by their owners.  He championed that society.  The slave owners practised at an institutional level, what Ramsay Bolton practised at an individual level.

His slaves might have had quite a different view of the man.  And he is the only one of the masters who (allegedly) opposed child crucifixion.

Jaime was his father’s second in command.  He can’t evade responsibility for the actions of Lannister soldiers.

When Aegon I and Robert Baratheon defeated their opponents, they were given the same choice as the Tarlys.  Bend the knee, take the Black, or die.  Robb acted as he did because Karstark was a mutineer, making his king a liar in the eyes of the world.  The Tarlys played by Big Boys’ Rules, and they lost.

Edited by SeanF
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14 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I don't think is was ever a realistic possibility. Something like Brienne wandering around in the Riverlands for 3 seasons wouldn't make good television. That arc isn't universally popular even among book fans.

Brienne is only 8 out of 119 chapters.  They could have done the North pretty much as is, introducing FArya as someone who accompanied the Starks to KL.  Tyrion and Dany can be done with some modification, as can Cersei.  Arya and Sansa could be fleshed out.  Three seasons for Feast and Dance is doable.  Of course, they would have run out of material eventually in any event, just not so quickly.

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4 minutes ago, Nevets said:

Brienne is only 8 out of 119 chapters.  They could have done the North pretty much as is, introducing FArya as someone who accompanied the Starks to KL.  Tyrion and Dany can be done with some modification, as can Cersei.  Arya and Sansa could be fleshed out.  Three seasons for Feast and Dance is doable.  Of course, they would have run out of material eventually in any event, just not so quickly.

The problem with Feast and Dance is that the plot is pretty much stagnant, which doesn't translate well onto the screen. Dany's and Sansa's arcs have tons of inner monologue, and I don't know how Arya's story can be fleshed out without giving her more assassination missions, which would quickly become repetitive. In fact, it's quite repetitive even in the books, IMO.

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14 minutes ago, SeanF said:

1) Hizzie claimed that his dad was a kind slave owner, (and we only have Hizzie’s word for it) to which I’d reply “fuck that!”.  There’s no such thing as a kind slave owner in a society where people are crucified, castrated, raped, bought and sold at the whim by their owners.  He championed that society.  The slave owners practised at an institutional level, what Ramsay Bolton practised at an individual level.

2) His slaves might have had quite a different view of the man.  And he is the only one of the masters who (allegedly) opposed child crucifixion.

3) Jaime was his father’s second in command.  He can’t evade responsibility for the actions of Lannister soldiers.

4) When Aegon I and Robert Baratheon defeated their opponents, they were given the same choice as the Tarlys.  Bend the knee, take the black, or die.

1) Everyone makes their moral decisions, but deciding that every human connected to slavery deserves a horrible death is, I think, one of those quandaries George wants us to explore. Do the children also pay that price? If not, what age is the cut off? What of the children of slave owners who only ever knew of one kind of society? Etc. 
 

2) He is the only one we hear of by name, but then he is the only one whose son Dany discusses it with. But okay, if Hizzie, heh, is telling the truth, did he deserve what Dany did? I think one of the things GRRM is trying to show us is that sophomoric black and white answers to questions like this just lead to more situations where questions like this arise. Suppose Hizdahr instead killed Dany to avenge his father…would he be in the right? Herotodus…

3) Well, nothing is black and white, again, but military courts would historically disagree with you here. Who gives what orders where and when matters. Or, if not, again we’re back to those black and whites…do all Westerlanders now deserve death? 
 

4) Exactly. Do you still think that George is telling us conquering or Conquering is a good thing? Or is he telling us that great conquerors are, by definition, great murderers? And to split hairs, you are forgetting anger. Dany was angry when she killed the Tarlys, and no one mentioned taking the black as an option. Robert was angry whenever the Targaryens were mentioned and no option but death was ever offered to them. Aegon was angry when he had entire Dornish towns burned to the ground because of the decisions of their leaders. Do you think George offers those scenarios as suggestions, or warnings? 
 

And…Robb/Karstark?

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5 minutes ago, James Arryn said:

1) Everyone makes their moral decisions, but deciding that every human connected to slavery deserves a horrible death is, I think, one of those quandaries George wants us to explore. Do the children also pay that price? If not, what age is the cut off? What of the children of slave owners who only ever knew of one kind of society? Etc. 
 

2) He is the only one we hear of by name, but then he is the only one whose son Dany discusses it with. But okay, if Hizzie, heh, is telling the truth, did he deserve what Dany did? I think one of the things GRRM is trying to show us is that sophomoric black and white answers to questions like this just lead to more situations where questions like this arise. Suppose Hizdahr instead killed Dany to avenge his father…would he be in the right? Herotodus…

3) Well, nothing is black and white, again, but military courts would historically disagree with you here. Who gives what orders where and when matters. Or, if not, again we’re back to those black and whites…do all Westerlanders now deserve death? 
 

4) Exactly. Do you still think that George is telling us conquering or Conquering is a good thing? Or is he telling us that great conquerors are, by definition, great murderers? And to split hairs, you are forgetting anger. Dany was angry when she killed the Tarlys, and no one mentioned taking the black as an option. Robert was angry whenever the Targaryens were mentioned and no option but death was ever offered to them. Aegon was angry when he had entire Dornish towns burned to the ground because of the decisions of their leaders. Do you think George offers those scenarios as suggestions, or warnings? 
 

And…Robb/Karstark?

Neither women nor children (nor freedmen) were nailed up.  We know that in real life servile wars, absolutely horrific deaths were inflicted on slave owners and their families, (much worse than in the show or books) but I expect very few of us would be thinking, did the slave owners of Haiti or Sicily really deserve to suffer?

Nothing in the books or show suggests that we should mourn for people like Walder Frey or his spawn, or Meryn Trant, or Ramsay Bolton or Baelish or Joffrey.  I see no reason to mourn Ghiscari masters who acted similarly, but on a bigger scale.  

The doctrine of command responsibility certainly holds senior officers responsible for the actions of their soldiers.

Daenerys was angry, but she gave the Tarlys the option to retain their lands, in return for fealty.  When Randyll refused, Tyrion offered him the Black, which he declined.  No leader would have offered more leniency than that.

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3 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Neither women nor children (nor freedmen) were nailed up.  We know that in real life servile wars, absolutely horrific deaths were inflicted on slave owners and their families, (much worse than in the show or books) but I expect very few of us would be thinking, did the slave owners of Haiti or Sicily really deserve to suffer?

Nothing in the books or show suggests that we should mourn for people like Walder Frey or his spawn, or Meryn Trant, or Ramsay Bolton or Baelish or Joffrey.  I see no reason to mourn Ghiscari masters who acted similarly, but on a bigger scale.  

The doctrine of command responsibility certainly holds senior officers responsible for the actions of their soldiers.

Daenerys was angry, but she gave the Tarlys the option to retain their lands, in return for fealty.  When Randyll refused, Tyrion offered him the Black, which he declined.  No leader would have offered more leniency than that.

Look, you’ve twice now skipped my question about Robb and the Karstarks which obviously directly contradicts your last statement…unless the Lannister captives had become Stark supporters or NW men that I’ve missed? 
 

As for your interpretation of military justice, in that no army at war has ever gone any period without committing some kind of crime, you are saying every commander in history is criminally responsible? And this isn’t me being argumentative, as a ~ qualified pacifist I’m pretty on board with the idea, but your prior comments re:Dany make me think that you fall into the vast majority for whom this axiom’s application will depend largely on who the perpetrators/victims are, which brings me all the way back to my initial statement on this subject about how our sympathies come to dictate our judgments. 

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6 minutes ago, James Arryn said:


 

As for your interpretation of military justice, in that no army at war has ever gone any period without committing some kind of crime, you are saying every commander in history is criminally responsible? And this isn’t me being argumentative, as a ~ qualified pacifist I’m pretty on board with the idea, but your prior comments re:Dany make me think that you fall into the vast majority for whom this axiom’s application will depend largely on who the perpetrators/victims are, which brings me all the way back to my initial statement on this subject about how our sympathies come to dictate our judgments. 

Well then you have Tywin Lannister shifting blame on the issue; the first time it gets discussed with Tyrion after the Vale Tribesmen cause trouble he says that a soldier's fault lies with their commander, while to Oberyn he says he isn't responsible for Elia Martell's rape and murder by Gregor Clegane because he didn't personally order it.

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1 minute ago, James Arryn said:

Look, you’ve twice now skipped my question about Robb and the Karstarks which obviously directly contradicts your last statement…unless the Lannister captives had become Stark supporters or NW men that I’ve missed? 
 

As for your interpretation of military justice, in that no army at war has ever gone any period without committing some kind of crime, you are saying every commander in history is criminally responsible? And this isn’t me being argumentative, as a ~ qualified pacifist I’m pretty on board with the idea, but your prior comments re:Dany make me think that you fall into the vast majority for whom this axiom’s application will depend largely on who the perpetrators/victims are, which brings me all the way back to my initial statement on this subject about how our sympathies come to dictate our judgments. 

I answered your point about Robb and Karstark.  Karstark was a mutineer, who made his king a liar in the eyes of the world.  He had no business killing two people that his king had chosen to keep captive, as well as two members of his own army.  Any Commander would have executed Karstark for such indiscipline.

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Just now, SeanF said:

I answered your point about Robb and Karstark.  Karstark was a mutineer, who made his king a liar in the eyes of the world.  He had no business killing two people that his king had chosen to keep captive, as well as two members of his own army.  Any Commander would have executed Karstark for such indiscipline.

Sorry, you are missing my point here. I’m not asking about whether it was wrong to kill Karstark, I’m asking why it was wrong for Karstark to kill captives, and why killing captives was such a blight on Robb’s honour. And obviously Robb offered those captives an opinion besides bending the knee, NW or death, right? 

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3 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

Well then you have Tywin Lannister shifting blame on the issue; the first time it gets discussed with Tyrion he says that a soldier's fault lies with their commander, while to Oberyn he says he isn't responsible for Elia Martell's rape and murder by Gregor Clegane because he didn't personally order it.

Absolutely. If we are willing to do it for characters we read about, I imagine the characters themselves will be even more motivated to be highly subjective. 

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Just now, James Arryn said:

Sorry, you are missing my point here. I’m not asking about whether it was wrong to kill Karstark, I’m asking why it was wrong for Karstark to kill captives, and why killing captives was such a blight on Robb’s honour. And obviously Robb offered those captives an opinion besides bending the knee, NW or death, right? 

It was wrong because it was a breach of military discipline.  It was entirely Robb’s decision to execute them or keep them as prisoners, not Karstark’s.

As to why he kept them prisoner, they could be traded for other captives (and Karstark was putting such captives in danger).  They held no lands in districts that Robb wished to conquer, so bending the knee was not an issue.  

Take Jaime, for example.  He was not spared on humanitarian grounds.  He was spared because the Lannisters held Sansa. Otherwise, he’d have been put to death, once his father and Tyrion had made clear they would make no concessions for his release.

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9 minutes ago, SeanF said:

It was wrong because it was a breach of military discipline.  It was entirely Robb’s decision to execute them or keep them as prisoners, not Karstark’s.

As to why he kept them prisoner, they could be traded for other captives (and Karstark was putting such captives in danger).  They held no lands in districts that Robb wished to conquer, so bending the knee was not an issue.  

Take Jaime, for example.  He was not spared on humanitarian grounds.  He was spared because the Lannisters held Sansa. Otherwise, he’d have been put to death, once his father and Tyrion had made clear they would make no concessions for his release.

No, again, Robb did not see it primarily as a slight against his authority or negotiation leverage, but against his honour. He pragmatically saw the need to execute Karstark for both, but his outrage was expressed over his honour, so I ask again what is dishonourable about killing captives if killing captives isn’t considered dishonourable?. 
 

But let’s take this bigger picture, let’s go back to the earliest ref you mention. What, besides dragonmight, gave Aegon the right to burn thousands on the field of fire for defending their homeland? What moral right did he have to give them only the alternatives you mention? Conventions of war are not only applied by the victors on the defeated, they are largely written by them in the first place. Historical example, did you know that aerial bombardment of civilian areas was considered THE war crime of the 20th century….right up until we/the winners did it. And kept on doing it. At which point it morphed into the unfortunate cost of war. 
 

And if you think about it, in what world is using unusual field weapons (gas) against opposing combatants considered a greater crime than bombing defenceless civilians in their beds? In literally no other circumstance does an action against soldiers go down as a worse crime than a similar action against civilians. But ‘we’ won, largely using aerial bombardment, and therefore what had been Picasso’s Outrage Against The World became normalized (by the outrageous) and yet the gas thing stayed as a war crime. And if unusual weapons somehow touch us as unspeakable, what was dropped on Hiroshima/Nagasaki? And getting beyond the fact that the ‘saving lives’ bs was only post -applied as the rationale for nukes, if the Germans had thought they could win WWI early by virtue of gas weapons, would that not also excuse their usage?

 

See, this is why I am so quick to point out when people excuse actions by virtue of sympathies, and this is also why GRRM (who often makes the same points I just used above) uses our sympathies for characters to boil our moral codes like frogs. 

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35 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

Speaking of which, I do wonder whether Tyrion's speech about Bran having the best story was a D&D creation or if it came directly from GRRM.

At the time it struck me as pure D&D, but then I have come to realize that HOW George writes often fills in a lot of cracks in WHAT George writes…the leaked summary of his original outline made that painfully clear…so who knows? 

Edited by James Arryn
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22 minutes ago, James Arryn said:

No, again, Robb did not see it primarily as a slight against his authority or negotiation leverage, but against his honour. He pragmatically saw the need to execute Karstark for both, but his outrage was expressed over his honour, so I ask again what is dishonourable about killing captives if killing captives isn’t considered dishonourable?. 
 

But let’s take this bigger picture, let’s go back to the earliest ref you mention. What, besides dragonmight, gave Aegon the right to burn thousands on the field of fire for defending their homeland? What moral right did he have to give them only the alternatives you mention? Conventions of war are not only applied by the victors on the defeated, they are largely written by them in the first place. Historical example, did you know that aerial bombardment of civilian areas was considered THE war crime of the 20th century….right up until we/the winners did it. And kept on doing it. At which point it morphed into the unfortunate cost of war. 
 

And if you think about it, in what world is using unusual field weapons (gas) against opposing combatants considered a greater crime than bombing defenceless civilians in their beds? In literally no other circumstance does an action against soldiers go down as a worse crime than a similar action against civilians. But ‘we’ won, largely using aerial bombardment, and therefore what had been Picasso’s Outrage Against The World became normalized (by the outrageous) and yet the gas thing stayed as a war crime. And if unusual weapons somehow touch us as unspeakable, what was dropped on Hiroshima/Nagasaki? And getting beyond the fact that the ‘saving lives’ bs was only post -applied as the rationale for nukes, if the Germans had thought they could win WWI early by virtue of gas weapons, would that not also excuse their usage?

 

See, this is why I am so quick to point out when people excuse actions by virtue of sympathies, and this is also why GRRM (who often makes the same points I just used above) uses our sympathies for characters to boil our moral codes like frogs. 

Killing captives is not dishonourable per se.  When people surrender at discretion, it is entirely for their captors to decide whether they live or die.  No one thought any the worse of Prince Daeron for executing the garrison of Bitterbridge, nor of Tywin for refusing any surrender from the Reynes.. If they surrender upon terms, then it is dishonourable to violate those terms. And, you overlook the fact that Karstark murdered Robb's own soldiers to get at the captives.

As to your point about aerial bombing, I'm afraid that the only sensible response is "tough."  One does what is necessary to win.  People like Sherman, Wellington, Zhukov, Le May, and Harris were not very nice, but by any measure, they were necessary to win their respective wars.

Pacifism is a luxury that only people in liberal democracies can afford.

Edited by SeanF
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27 minutes ago, James Arryn said:

 

See, this is why I am so quick to point out when people excuse actions by virtue of sympathies, and this is also why GRRM (who often makes the same points I just used above) uses our sympathies for characters to boil our moral codes like frogs. 

GRRM has us boil our moral codes like frogs in general.

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2 hours ago, James Arryn said:

Sorry, you are missing my point here. I’m not asking about whether it was wrong to kill Karstark, I’m asking why it was wrong for Karstark to kill captives, and why killing captives was such a blight on Robb’s honour. And obviously Robb offered those captives an opinion besides bending the knee, NW or death, right? 

Not that I think the issue of the Tarlys in S7 is comparable to Karstark killing children, but the point you make is right. We are biased, not only me or SeanF, but you too. We are all. 

Wars happen. Ideally, they shouldn't but yet here we are. I doubt the Tarlys would ever abandon their liege lords, the Tyrells, or even if they were left without one, they'd choose anyone over a Targaryen from our story, assuming they would have a choice. But what happened to the Tarlys in S7 may very well hapen to others in the books. In Daenerys' case, the Tarlys are useful if they bend the knee or are out of the picture. One has to be achieved, of course it would've been better for her is she didn't have to 'deal' with them. In Robb's case, the two Lannister children were useful in one way only: As captives, holding value in a supposed bargain.  While Daenerys eliminated a danger to his own faction, Karstark created one for his and his liege's faction.

The two weren't the same because the children were bargaining material, meanwhile Randyll Tarly was the bargainer on the other side of the table, speaking for himself and doing as he wishes.

At the end of the day, you have to look at what benefits you, and makes you win. Once you win, you can justify yourself, of course, or condemn anyone else you want.

Edit: Sadly, this is how it works.

Edited by Daeron the Daring
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