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


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12 minutes ago, sifth said:

Anyone else find the lack of technological advancement in GRRM's world to be rather interesting. I never thought about this much, when I was reading the main series, but now that we have history books dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years, I find it rather odd how little science has advanced in GRRM's world.

I think the simplest answer is that science wasn't necessary when magic existed. Valyria and Dragonstone were built by magic, and supposedly the Wall too.

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Just now, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I think the simples answer is that science wasn't necessary when magic existed. Valyria and Dragonstone were built by magic, and supposedly the Wall too.

Yea, but magic doesn't seem like a wild spread thing in GRRM's world, if anything most people don't believe in it, heck most don't believe it was ever real. Like let's look at medical science for example and how little it's advanced in GRRM's world, over the 300 years Westeros was founded. Basically if you don't have a Maester, you're screwed and even then, you'll only get very basic medical care, compared to that of our modern world.

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12 minutes ago, Ran said:

The history that we know of has progressed from bronze age to something approximating the late Middle Ages. That took something like 4600 of our years. Throw in the existence of magic as something that took up time and resources and provided benefits, and throw in the wonky seasons and their negative effects on development, and it's not so strange that the development of science is where it's at, especially given that it's unclear whether the timeline given by Luwin in AGoT is fully accurate as George has thrown out contrary views and evidence. 

 

You mean those wonky seasons, that are mostly ignored in the history books. There's an exception here and there, but for the most part no major event in those books is ever effected by a long winter or an insanely hot summer.

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2 minutes ago, sifth said:

You mean those wonky seasons, that are mostly ignored in the history books. There's an exception here and there, but for the most part no major event in those books is every effected by a long winter or an insanely hot summer.

The books are all broad-strokes of history, and the penchant of bad winters leading to serious problems in the North, at least, is noted to cause problems several times. In fact, the winter following the Dance was pretty damned bad. 

We don't know just how bad the Long Night ultimately was, but it may well have been very bad indeed and could have led to a population crash. Regardless, we only have our own history to compare to. While Europeans were forging cannons and building ships that could circumnavigate the globe, the Mesoamericans didn't even have the wheel.

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2 minutes ago, Ran said:

The books are all broad-strokes of history, and the penchant of bad winters leading to serious problems in the North, at least, is noted to cause problems several times. In fact, the winter following the Dance was pretty damned bad.

Yea, but you'll notice how a major war or conflict is never put on hold or ended completely because of a bad winter. The wonky seasons are just conveniently forgotten about, whenever a major conflict happens in the history books

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Just now, sifth said:

Yea, but you'll notice how a major war or conflicted is never put on hold or ended completely because of a bad winter. The wonky seasons are just conveniently forgotten about, whenever a major conflict happens in the history books

Again, broad strokes of history. The only long-term major event covered in the history books is the Conquest, the Dornish Wars, and the Dance, and the winter does in fact play a part in the latter two at least (Lord Tyrell marched on Hellholt believing that the season, and the weather, was about to turn after two years of fall, for example; and the coming of winter played a role in the delay of the Northmen joining the fight in force) .

We've no idea, for example, what the history of the Valyrian and Rhoynish wars are in any detail, so who knows what effect the seasons had on them. 

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8 minutes ago, Ran said:

Again, broad strokes of history. The only long-term major event covered in the history books is the Conquest, the Dornish Wars, and the Dance, and the winter does in fact play a part in the latter two at least (Lord Tyrell marched on Hellholt believing that the season, and the weather, was about to turn after two years of fall, for example; and the coming of winter played a role in the delay of the Northmen joining the fight in force) .

We've no idea, for example, what the history of the Valyrian and Rhoynish wars are in any detail, so who knows what effect the seasons had on them. 

Yea, but that brutal winter, in The Dance of the Dragon, seems to conveniently only effect The North. Given the way GRRM likes to portray winter as the worst thing ever, I find it very strange that it never effects any of the major areas on the map, that aren't the North. That seems to be my biggest issue to be honest, winter seems to mostly have no effect on the continent in the history books, aside from the land the Starks and Night Watch come from.

Also I'm still beyond confused if the long seasons happen in Essos and other places on the map. They never really seem to be talked about.

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44 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I mean, you have to walk before you can run. It's hard for a story to be emotionally resonant if it doesn't make sense. Granted, this isn't a big problem for ASOIAF, as GRRM is good at masking the shortcomings, but once you notice them they can take you out of the story.

The show’s increasing disregard for logistics excited ridicule.

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It isn't the subject anymore but, about the parentaging thing, it was never in Ned's plans to send his children to the capital. He didn't raise them for King's Landing intrigues but for the relatively simple life of the North, for which they received a good education. Robb and Sansa would definitely marry some Stark vassal, have a bunch of kids. The younger ones could follow a different path, the cavalry, the nightswatch, whatever. When Robert made Ned his Hand, he couldn't reset the kids' heads and brusquely push information about their new lives without scaring them off. And even though Ned and Catelyn were raised in South, they weren't raised in King's Landing. They don't lived at court.

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Here’s a writing question: how well do you think GRRM handles ruling arcs?

There are a million jokes out there about Aragorn’s tax policy. Needless to say, George set himself up for a bit of scrutiny regarding how he depicts the intricacies of ruling. Tyrion’s time as Hand in ACOK (which carried into his tenure as Master of Coin in ASOS) is one of my favorite plots, but Jon’s time as Lord Commander was underwhelming, and Meereen is arguably one of the weakest plots in the books. Jaime’s time as LC of the Kingsguard was well-done, but more so for the personal development instead of the interpersonal.

And then there’s Cersei. Cersei in AFFC is perhaps the most entertaining plot in the series, but it does border on cartoonish when you consider just how incompetent and delusional she was.

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6 hours ago, butterweedstrover said:

Honestly, these technical issues about scale, timing, world-building don't bother me. 

Story's are about emotional resonance, these mathematical discrepancies hold too much sway due to Tolkien.  

In the case of technical issues, GRRM raises technical issues (Aragorn's tax policy again), but raises just as many questions.

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1 hour ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Here’s a writing question: how well do you think GRRM handles ruling arcs?

There are a million jokes out there about Aragorn’s tax policy. Needless to say, George set himself up for a bit of scrutiny regarding how he depicts the intricacies of ruling. Tyrion’s time as Hand in ACOK (which carried into his tenure as Master of Coin in ASOS) is one of my favorite plots, but Jon’s time as Lord Commander was underwhelming, and Meereen is arguably one of the weakest plots in the books. Jaime’s time as LC of the Kingsguard was well-done, but more so for the personal development instead of the interpersonal.

And then there’s Cersei. Cersei in AFFC is perhaps the most entertaining plot in the series, but it does border on cartoonish when you consider just how incompetent and delusional she was.

In think Martin does very well, each of these ruling arcs serve their purposes.

Between them, Tyrion is best able to rule by his intelligence and certain experience;  his loose tongue and sarcasm make him fun to read and his location in the center of King's Landing government at the height of the War of the Five Kings piques the reader's obvious interest. And the Lannisters must win at this point of the story. Of course, not all is rosy, Tyrion has made many enemies as Hand and it comes back to haunt him in his judgment for Joffrey's death.

Jon and Daenerys are inexperienced teenagers in power situations.

Jon is on the Wall having to deal with the threat of the Others approaching, Stannis charging him for men and castles, wildlings on the other side in danger of becoming wights, his men on his side who disagree (with some reason) of his decisions.  He tries to put his feelings for his sister aside, but Melisandre offers him hope of save her.

Daenerys is trying to rule a city that hates her and change an ancient slave system. She tries her best to control her violent impulses and seek peace through diplomacy in a place full of people she doesn't trust, with a culture she doesn't identity with and never feels at home. She doesn't control her dragons, she doesn't control her crush on Darius.

Jon does what he believes is right for the nightswatch, but in the end decides to go save his sister from Ramsay and is killed by his men. Daenerys gets the peace she wanted so much, but she doesn't like it and when the opportunity arises she leaves with Drogon.

Both characters exemplify very well the idea that ruling should be uncomfortable. And I think reading these arcs be also uncomfortable is part of the experience.

Cersei is crazy and evil, it's delicious to see her fall.

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1 hour ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Here’s a writing question: how well do you think GRRM handles ruling arcs?

There are a million jokes out there about Aragorn’s tax policy. Needless to say, George set himself up for a bit of scrutiny regarding how he depicts the intricacies of ruling. Tyrion’s time as Hand in ACOK (which carried into his tenure as Master of Coin in ASOS) is one of my favorite plots, but Jon’s time as Lord Commander was underwhelming, and Meereen is arguably one of the weakest plots in the books. Jaime’s time as LC of the Kingsguard was well-done, but more so for the personal development instead of the interpersonal.

And then there’s Cersei. Cersei in AFFC is perhaps the most entertaining plot in the series, but it does border on cartoonish when you consider just how incompetent and delusional she was.

Would Cersei have been better served with a POV chapter earlier? By AFFC, she's arguably on the back foot for most of it; Joffrey and Tywin are dead by the end of ASOS and Tyrion escaped, so she's going out the window.

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1 hour ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Here’s a writing question: how well do you think GRRM handles ruling arcs?

There are a million jokes out there about Aragorn’s tax policy. Needless to say, George set himself up for a bit of scrutiny regarding how he depicts the intricacies of ruling. Tyrion’s time as Hand in ACOK (which carried into his tenure as Master of Coin in ASOS) is one of my favorite plots, but Jon’s time as Lord Commander was underwhelming, and Meereen is arguably one of the weakest plots in the books. Jaime’s time as LC of the Kingsguard was well-done, but more so for the personal development instead of the interpersonal.

And then there’s Cersei. Cersei in AFFC is perhaps the most entertaining plot in the series, but it does border on cartoonish when you consider just how incompetent and delusional she was.

I agree, mostly.  Actually, I thought Jon was pretty good as LC on the whole, yet for plot reasons, he is strangely oblivious to mounting opposition, and sends his friends away.  Dany can see through Illyrio right away, and is pretty shrewd in books 1 to 3, but can’t see through the Green Grace, can’t answer Xaro’s bullshit defence of slavery, and becomes wedded to a peace policy that cannot possibly succeed (the peace is unjust, and insincere, for we know, even if Dany does not, that a huge invasion fleet is on its way.)

Dany, as her character had been established, would have brought sword and fire to Yunkai, the moment she learned they had reverted to slaving.

Edited by SeanF
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11 minutes ago, Odej said:

In think Martin does very well, each of these ruling arcs serve their purposes.

Between them, Tyrion is best able to rule by his intelligence and certain experience;  his loose tongue and sarcasm make him fun to read and his location in the center of King's Landing government at the height of the War of the Five Kings piques the reader's obvious interest. And the Lannisters must win at this point of the story. Of course, not all is rosy, Tyrion has made many enemies as Hand and it comes back to haunt him in his judgment for Joffrey's death.

Jon and Daenerys are inexperienced teenagers in power situations.

Jon is on the Wall having to deal with the threat of the Others approaching, Stannis charging him for men and castles, wildlings on the other side in danger of becoming wights, his men on his side who disagree (with some reason) of his decisions.  He tries to put his feelings for his sister aside, but Melisandre offers him hope of save her.

Daenerys is trying to rule a city that hates her and change an ancient slave system. She tries her best to control her violent impulses and seek peace through diplomacy in a place full of people she doesn't trust, with a culture she doesn't identity with and never feels at home. She doesn't control her dragons, she doesn't control her crush on Darius.

Jon does what he believes is right for the nightswatch, but in the end decides to go save his sister from Ramsay and is killed by his men. Daenerys gets the peace she wanted so much, but she doesn't like it and when the opportunity arises she leaves with Drogon.

Both characters exemplify very well the idea that ruling should be uncomfortable. And I think reading these arcs be also uncomfortable is part of the experience.

Cersei is crazy and evil, it's delicious to see her fall.

Yea, but Jon constantly isolating himself from his supporters and surrounding himself with people who can't fully be trusted, still bothers me. Keep in mind Bowen Marsh was on the verge of supporting Janos Slynth. That's not the type of man, I keep close to me as a trusted ally. While all of Jon's actual friends and ally's he isolates himself from and sends them away from him, to do lesser jobs in other places.

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25 minutes ago, sifth said:

Yea, but Jon constantly isolating himself from his supporters and surrounding himself with people who can't fully be trusted, still bothers me. Keep in mind Bowen Marsh was on the verge of supporting Janos Slynth. That's not the type of man, I keep close to me as a trusted ally. While all of Jon's actual friends and ally's he isolates himself from and sends them away from him, to do lesser jobs in other places.

As I said, Jon did what he believed was right, just like Ned, but if were clever moves that is other question.

27 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Dany, as her character had been established, would have brought sword and fire to Yunkai, the moment she learned they had reverted to slaving.

She brought sword and fire to Astapor and didn't end up very well. The whole point of her rule in Meereen is she is to trying to prove to herself that she can rule a place without leaving a trail of destruction behind. Burning and pillaging is very easy, ruling is something else.

And Dany didn't see through Illyrio Mopatis, she would have gone straight to him if Ser Jorah hadn't convinced her to change her route and get her own army.

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20 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I agree, mostly.  Actually, I thought Jon was pretty good as LC on the whole, yet for plot reasons, he is strangely oblivious to mounting opposition, and sends his friends away.  Dany can see through Illyrio right away, and is pretty shrewd in books 1 to 3, but can’t see through the Green Grace, can’t answer Xaro’s bullshit defence of slavery, and becomes wedded to a peace policy that cannot possibly succeed (the peace is unjust, and insincere, for we know, even if Dany does not, that a huge invasion fleet is on its way.)

Dany, as her character had been established, would have brought sword and fire to Yunkai, the moment she learned they had reverted to slaving.

One of the most interesting things I ever saw someone say about Dany is that she underestimates older women (mainly Mirri and the Green Grace). That had never occurred to me.

 

One of the problems with the criticisms of Tyrion’s ruling arc is that it’s undermined by the addition of Maggy’s prophecy. A lot of people try to say that Tyrion alienated too many people, mainly Cersei, in ACOK, which is why everyone turned against him in ASOS. Once the prophecy was revealed, it became clear that no matter how well Tyrion treated Cersei, she was always going to hate him and try to remove him. Then there are people like Meryn and Pycelle. Sure, Tyrion antagonized them, but there was no way they would have ever supported him over Cersei and Tywin. If anything, it’s just another example of George (probably unintentionally) endorsing punishment over mercy. The only way that Tyrion could have prevented those two from siding with Cersei over him would have been to kill them when he was Hand.

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30 minutes ago, Odej said:

As I said, Jon did what he believed was right, just like Ned, but if were clever moves that is other question.

She brought sword and fire to Astapor and didn't end up very well. The whole point of her rule in Meereen is she is to trying to prove to herself that she can rule a place without leaving a trail of destruction behind. Burning and pillaging is very easy, ruling is something else.

And Dany didn't see through Illyrio Mopatis, she would have gone straight to him if Ser Jorah hadn't convinced her to change her route and get her own army.

It was not the use of violence against the Good Masters of Astapor and the Wise Masters of Yunkai, that was the problem.  It was (a) not leaving a garrison to support the ruling council at Astapor and (b) allowing the Yunkish lords time to recruit an army to sack Astapor and bring plague to Meereen.

Her mistake was to think she could achieve peace with people who wished to keep four fifths of the population as chattels.  Ruling involves the use of extreme violence when needful.  Jaehaerys I cut the entrails out of rebels, and burnt the Dornish fleet to the waterline, and he is Martin’s ideal ruler.  In this world, a good ruler is Aegon I, Theon Stark, or Jaehaerys I, rather than Aenys I or Tytos Lannister.

As far back as her first chapter, she commented internally, there was no one Illyrio would not sell.

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17 minutes ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

One of the most interesting things I ever saw someone say about Dany is that she underestimates older women (mainly Mirri and the Green Grace). That had never occurred to me.

 

One of the problems with the criticisms of Tyrion’s ruling arc is that it’s undermined by the addition of Maggy’s prophecy. A lot of people try to say that Tyrion alienated too many people, mainly Cersei, in ACOK, which is why everyone turned against him in ASOS. Once the prophecy was revealed, it became clear that no matter how well Tyrion treated Cersei, she was always going to hate him and try to remove him. Then there are people like Meryn and Pycelle. Sure, Tyrion antagonized them, but there was no way they would have ever supported him over Cersei and Tywin. If anything, it’s just another example of George (probably unintentionally) endorsing punishment over mercy. The only way that Tyrion could have prevented those two from siding with Cersei over him would have been to kill them when he was Hand.

Tyrion was a very competent Hand, and he lost out because everyone was fawning over Joffrey and Tywin.

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28 minutes ago, SeanF said:

It was not the use of violence against the Good Masters of Astapor and the Wise Masters of Yunkai, that was the problem.  It was (a) not leaving a garrison to support the ruling council at Astapor and (b) allowing the Yunkish lords time to recruit an army to sack Astapor and bring plague to Meereen.

Her mistake was to think she could achieve peace with people who wished to keep four faiths of the population as chattels.  Ruling involves the use of extreme violence when needful.  Jaehaerys I cut the entrails out of rebels, and burnt the Dornish fleet to the waterline, and he is Martin’s ideal ruler.

 

I am not against Daenerys making use of violence, but using violence only which was mainly what she did in Astapor since, as you mentioned, she failed to leave any support for the council she left to rule the city.

28 minutes ago, SeanF said:

As far back as her first chapter, she commented internally, there was no one Illyrio would not sell.

And that's what I find curious. The innocent thirteen-year-old girl knew this and yet, later, after all she had been through with the Dothraki and in Quarth, she believed there was nothing suspicious about Illyrio sending for her after she had hatched three dragons. There's still a dreamy girl in her it really should be. She's only sixteen now.

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