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


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Tywin under minding Tyrion's involvement in the Battle of the Blackwater, made me out right hate the character. He was always a bad person, but the fact that he undermined all of Tyrion's hard work as Hand and his son nearly getting himself killed to defend the city, really showed you just how much of a piece of crap the man is. People always compared Tywin and Kevan as being very similar, but Kevan really comes off as a pretty decent person, when compared to his brother, IMO

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12 hours ago, Jaenara Belarys said:

 

Unrealistic stuff and bad worldbuilding break the suspension of disbelief. Just look at The Last Jedi, and the Star Wars sequel trilogy as a whole. If the universe can be bent to fit the needs of the characters, it is not a good universe. 

I agree to some extent, and I think Martin should have absconded from numbers and details all together and allow people to fill in the details themselves. Some of the worse writing comes when he is listing basic grains like barley, etc. being imported rather than just say "food aplenty" or something. 

BUT, settings exists to serve the story. Distances, populations, and food supply are used to build atmosphere, texture, and pacing. Gormenghast for example is an isolated castle but no one asks where they find their supply of brandy. There are only so many details an author can think about and I would rather the author not sacrifice a good scene or coincidence because of logistical difficulties. 

Edited by butterweedstrover
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11 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

And also the consequences of not obeying common sense. Take the Nirnaeth Arnoediad where the House of Hador brings their entire fighting force; they're all slaughtered with only one survivor, leaving their lands to be taken and their people enslaved.

 

11 hours ago, SeanF said:

Worldbuilding is not the be all and end all, but in any fictional military history, logistics matter, and unrealistic logistics do spoil the story.  Tolkien was very good at logistics, showing his background as a soldier.

Both these issues can be resolved by not quantifying these details. Using vague gestures with poetic merit serves the story just as well and doesn't limit the plot based off of needing to stay consistent with preexisting details.  

Saying for example the army was vast and another was "a quaint and boutique force that had a decorative substance." 

The quote I used is unique and somewhat poetic, sets the mood and atmosphere, AND establishes differences in scale, but it does not get bogged down in technical detail.

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11 hours 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.

Lots of great stories are nonsensical if we overthink the details. The point is I think that Martin should have not quantified anything and used vague allusions to scale like "massive" or "small." 

Getting bogged down in details can take up precious word count and restrict the story to the need to be consistent with preestablished facts. Atmosphere and narrative are more important deciders in terms of how long it should take for a character to go from A to B or how large a building is, etc. 

My problem with Martin's buildings isn't their unrealistic scale, it is that we don't feel the scale in how Characters interact with the world. Like the iron throne, no one is described as squinting to see the king sit on his throne, nor is the King every showed to spend energy climbing the huge thing. So while we can technically calculate the size of a thousand+ swords many readers did not know imagine the scope of the iron throne until Martin told them. 

Numbers aren't the best way to describe things because they are mathematically and logically resonant, but have less power to emotionally influence the readers (like give them a sense of the sublime, etc.). 

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13 minutes ago, butterweedstrover said:

 

Both these issues can be resolved by not quantifying these details. Using vague gestures with poetic merit serves the story just as well and doesn't limit the plot based off of needing to stay consistent with preexisting details.  

Saying for example the army was vast and another was "a quaint and boutique force that had a decorative substance." 

The quote I used is unique and somewhat poetic, sets the mood and atmosphere, AND establishes differences in scale, but it does not get bogged down in technical detail.

I suppose it depends on the reader, but one of the things I love about KJ Parker is the attention he pays to the details of how things are made, and how they work. You really do get an idea of how to plan a campaign or stand a siege.

It may not matter much in other forms of fiction, but I think it does with military fiction.

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12 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I suppose it depends on the reader, but one of the things I love about KJ Parker is the attention he pays to the details of how things are made, and how they work. You really do get an idea of how to plan a campaign or stand a siege.

Sure, yeah. If its important to your story then focus on those details. 

But focusing on details for the sake of being 'realistic' is kind of dumb. Like I'm sure KJ Parker doesn't have a super specific scientifically detailed solar cycle or sewage system. Focus on what matters to the story, not extraneous details. 

ASOIAF isn't shouldn't waste time with military logistics since its really just a soap opera about different nobles. Stuff like food supplies, militaries, etc. are just texture that shouldn't get bogged down with actual numbers. 

Edited by butterweedstrover
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14 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

dislike Trump but I'm currently watching day 4 of the investigation and it seems like lots of people in our universe like Trump despite his clear cut atrociousness. 

That's not a good argument to be made when talking about fictional characters.

 

 

14 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

Writer has him execute an innocent mentally unstable person in our first meeting. I definitely do not see him as a paragon of virtue. (Brienne and Davos are the goody two shoes)

Writer has him execute a deserter. He doesn't have him as a mind reader.

 

14 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

None of Cats business

He still informs Cat.

 

 

14 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

No, he got into that position because in Westeros the options are extremely limited so it's either Roose or Greatjon, who would have totally decimated half of the northern army the first day. (Probably Tyrion too though)

No, it's not either Roose or Greatjon. It could be Glover or any of his other bannermen he knew he could trust. Not the one bannermen he shouldn't.

 

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32 minutes ago, frenin said:

That's not a good argument to be made when talking about fictional characters.

I was distracted yesterday, but the overall message is the same, I don't care what our universe thinks, they're wrong sometimes 

33 minutes ago, frenin said:

Writer has him execute a deserter. He doesn't have him as a mind reader.

But we know better, besides Jon saw he was mentally unstable and Eddard seemed to agree. Later he yells at his wife, kills Lady, keeps his daughters in jeopardy, etc. 

Dude, I know you like Eddard, but the author clearly didn't make him a paragon of virtue

36 minutes ago, frenin said:

He still informs Cat.

Except he didn't, right, that's the reason for this discussion?

38 minutes ago, frenin said:

No, it's not either Roose or Greatjon. It could be Glover or any of his other bannermen he knew he could trust.

Tyrion tells Young Griff that a king shouldn't trust anyone.

39 minutes ago, frenin said:

Not the one bannermen he shouldn't.

What's the alternative with Glover? Ramsay doesn't conquer the north? Walder doesn't murder everyone?

How does the fact that Roose is second in command affect his betrayal?

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9 hours 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.

Making it through Dany's Meereen arc was so tiring that I missed that the Green Grace is female. :wacko:

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On 6/20/2022 at 10:46 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

I think they made Sansa petulant and dumb, I just don’t agree with the notion that she was trying to usurp Jon.

I guess we’re supposed to assume she was essentially LF2, overtly helping but meantime surreptitiously arranging the deck chairs for their sinking ship while she rises…which ultimately she did. I don’t really remember it like that but my memories of the last couple seasons are patchy. I disagree with the most oft-cited specific criticism of D&D, ie Dany ‘suddenly’ going MQ when she had literally been talking about burning cities and massacres almost since she first got power, but I wholeheartedly agree with the macro complaints about everything being rushed AF and all the many manifestations of that (including Dany and topically Sansa evolving from naive selfish teen to Mentat kind of overnight…again the 5 year gap thing arises) once they got off GM’s material. 
 

Tangeant: but that said I really disagree with the general principal that they can’t write. Some of the very best scenes were their own; Tywin’s introduction has a definite case as maybe the best written scene in the entire series, not a wasted word, and it’s not alone. 
 

Having heard they rushed the end of the series mainly because they were tired of it kills me. It might be them taking the brunt of the blame for a whole bunch of people who were getting restless, not sure, but that’s…ugh. 

Edited by James Arryn
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On 6/20/2022 at 4:58 PM, The Lord of the Crossing said:

There are better world builders in the fantasy realm. Nobody does nihilism better though.

Eh, the Black Company got so nihilistic I can’t remember more than a detail or two, it’s like an open competition for who cares less. 

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10 hours ago, sifth said:

Tywin under minding Tyrion's involvement in the Battle of the Blackwater, made me out right hate the character. He was always a bad person, but the fact that he undermined all of Tyrion's hard work as Hand and his son nearly getting himself killed to defend the city, really showed you just how much of a piece of crap the man is. People always compared Tywin and Kevan as being very similar, but Kevan really comes off as a pretty decent person, when compared to his brother, IMO

I think part of it was his ongoing shit with Tyrion, but I think we’re meant to assume that another part of it was that he already had irons in the fire re: Bolton/Westerling/Frey and needed to both have and be seen to have complete control in KL after his losses in the field to pull those off. 

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On 6/20/2022 at 2:09 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

It’s supposed to indicate that women aren’t very interesting to Loras. He takes his knighthood seriously and he’s attracted to men. Women are just kind of background noise.

Which presumes that any interest someone has in someone else is grounded in attraction, rather an odd development for someone coming from a QOT lead court. I think, to be fair, it’s more about him concentrating on the joust…he’s a young Jaime, remember, and tuning out everything else. It’s also his first time in KL, so probably a lot of things are just background noise. 

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On 6/20/2022 at 2:21 PM, Daeron the Daring said:

And people don't even realize it. Sansa was villainous, Bran evil, and Arya an arsehole. In S8. And I used to love them all (in the show).

Not sure I’d call Bran evil; just supremely indifferent. I think evil might become apparent if we explored the ~ theocracy the 6K were going to become, but I don’t think we saw it on screen. 

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On 6/21/2022 at 7:06 AM, Hugorfonics said:

 

1) Nah, Wyman.

2) Like Ashara? The stories of Brandon Stark? The regifting by Benjin? There's lots Cats in the dark about.

3) I don't see the correlation, Roose murdered Robb with his own hand, not with half of Robbs army

1) I think we are supposed to see WH as the rising power (in the glacial pace of ASOIAF, because I think they were rising back during the Dance too) and the Boltons as the primary threat in the established/traditional sense, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly bi-polar. Religion might always be a ceiling for the Manderlys. 
 

2) That’s all fruit of the poisoned tree…well, Benjen included if In Deep Geek’s take is ~ accurate. It’s all related to Jon and his conception. 
 

3) You can make an argument that his campaign south of the neck was more or less destroyed at Duskendale and the RW was just mopping up the remnants of a rebellion. 

Edited by James Arryn
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21 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

I would have expected a bit more variation by region with the Faith. For example, given the influx of Rhoynar culture in Dorne, would practices be different there than in the rest of Westeros?

We do see the Rhoynar religion in the…can’t remember their label, children of the something? Like most anything Dornish since Oberon died, it’s not too fleshed out. 

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21 hours ago, Ran said:

I don't think character ages have anything to do with the hold up. George has never indicated it's a problem with the progress of the story. 

Seems like a head canon thing. As with this "Jon Snow sequel = Season 9". If it were "Season 9", Benioff and Weiss would be involved, so... yeah, no.

There’s a Jon Snow sequel??!?

2 immediate thoughts:

1) Oh, god, no. 
2) I’ll almost certainly watch it. 
 

Beginning to see that we readers might fit a lot of the criteria for addicts and/or co-dependancy. 

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19 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

Some locations flummox me a bit; for example, during Robert's Rebellion, how was Ned able to move the Northern army into the Riverlands without incurring a toll from Walder Frey? Of course you could ask the other way with why Robb had to pay a toll via marriage when Ned didn't have to (unless Howland's wife is a Frey for all we know).

And then there's the Battle of the Trident. Ned was halfway through the Riverlands at this point or less, while the Westerlands were on the other side of Westeros; how did he not intercept Tywin at any point where he would have had less time to mobilize after the Battle of the Trident?

Re: Frey, he didn’t have to cross, he could just come down the eastern bank. Lacking that leverage, Walder might even have not bothered if Ned did prefer to cross. 

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

Not sure I’d call Bran evil; just supremely indifferent. I think evil might become apparent if we explored the ~ theocracy the 6K were going to become, but I don’t think we saw it on screen. 

At the end of the show, I'd see Bran as like one of Lovecraft's deities.  Not actively malicious to humanity, simply indifferent to human suffering in pursuit of its goals.  Assuming that there was any meaning to Bran at all.   Everything had become so random by the end, that almost any interpretation of events is possible. 

Was it meant to be a completely cynical and nihilistic ending, depicting the new generation of arseholes taking over from the older generation of arseholes, under the rule of a creepy deity?

Edited by SeanF
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19 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.  

As I am evidently offering my opinion on ~ every post, I would like to clarify your meaning here: are you saying that GRRM’s critiques of Tolkien along these lines are what heightened their significance for us?

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