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[ADwD Spoilers] Well That Was Disappointing


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I finished it yesterday after only getting to spend hours at a time reading. It's been some 17 hours and I've talked some things out with MC and he and I definitely disagree on some of what's happened: our interpretation of events, our feelings on it, our hopes going forward. One thing we do agree, overall, is a level of dissatisfaction. Now, being dissatisfied doesn't mean I hated it. I didn't. There were some 'Fuck yeah!' moments, namely Jonas Slynt. I did keep reading it, but I wasn't super excited to see what was happening next like in Kings or Swords. Much like Feast, I kept waiting for the big payoff at the end but walked away with a feeling of 'Really? THAT's it?' At least from Feast, in my mind, I walked away excited about Dorne and Quentyn's mission and hoping that something_really_bad was coming for Cersei.

And uh, uh?

Rockroi nailed it on the head in his review. The tension and buildup and then…nada. I honestly felt like Jon had died there for a few moments as I began the next chapter but then I drifted all the way back to the prologue and got worried he'll warg into Ghost. I'd rather he be dead. But really, he's not. And I'm not sure I can ever trust anyone to be dead again, until I read it. Like Quentyn. Cause I was certain he survived.

Words are Wind

We have almost a 1000 pages and a lot of the time it felt like wind. Examples include the prologue where hey, Jon might be a warg! So when he's jumped 900 pages later, there's an out to his death. Quentyn's entire storyline, as it turns out, was to release the dragons and let us all know that having blood of the dragon wasn't enough to 1) not burn and 2) tame and fly them. Ok, thanks.

All that teasing, things left unsaid and cliffhangers. When Bran was in the weirwood at Winterfell and we were oh_so_close to getting to the bottom of Jon's parents…I laughed. Really. Good on ya, George! I thought. We'll get to it eventually. But then more and more and more. We can lean more in the direction of Tywin not being Tyrion's father now, right? And his not getting the flux means something, right? Ashara Dayne was pregnant and miscarried? Can we believe than any baby from that timeframe actually died? They were all smuggled out, weren't they? And has been pointed out, that font of knowledge Selmy could have enlightened Dany on some very important things but ah, we'll get to that in book six? Brienne? How'd you get here? If you're going to introduce more questions, shouldn't you at least answer some as well? If you're going to introduce a new cavalcade of side characters, shouldn't you wrap up some of the old ones, just a teensy bit? There's a thread on retconning that I've not read yet, but how much has there been to just make any of this work? I spent far too much time thinking about traps and making predictions instead of just reading it for what it is. Much of that is on me, trying to be clever, but some of that is how this story is unfolding and that feeling that you can't trust anything that you've read because it might all change or a lord's lord's exiled wife's sister's cousin who once read a story about the Doom or knew the Starks or had tea with an Other might show up pages later to do..something..nothing..distract.

Look, I don't want things just handed to me as a reader. And I certainly don't want a 5 page outline of how this entire thing plays out. But the writing here, stylistically and organizationally was different. There was a reach exceeding grasp that was desperately trying to pull it all in again and some things fell through fingers, hopefully to be picked up again in book six. For me, the repetitive phrasing and words (MC who was ahead of me all book pointed out that George really took a liking to feeding people neeps) was an example of reading something by someone who really struggled. We know he did but it felt like at some point someone somewhere said 'Put down your pencil and hand your paper forward. Time's up'. And that's what we got.

Having said that, I liked and loved:

Reek/Theon's chapters were my favourite and they really gave you a two-for one deal in what was happening to him AND the north.

Jon's dealing with Jonas Slynt. It was never directly referenced, but I'm glad that Stark/Slynt story came full circle. In fact, Jon's dealing with everything pleased me. He's smart, he makes the tough and unpopular decisions and he understands that years of history and tradition will not defeat the approaching enemy.

People knowing that Bran and Rickon are out there.

The wildlings.

Cersei's march of shame (though her parts and Jaime's felt like they should have been in Feast).

Frey pies.

I greatly disliked:

Um, the Bravosi banker was somehow able to make it through all that snow to get to Stannis? Really? It was a nice plot device to deliver Theon and Jeyne I suppose, but still. Really.

I really greatly, wholly, fully disliked and raged in the moments after:

When did Varys start moving the pieces on the board instead of just whispering strategy into the player's ears? Above all else, the invisible hand physically touching the cyvasse board really pissed me off.

The rest kinda left me meh. And with questions like, so was Bran always destined to this? Or was it when the direwolves came and he broke his back? What does Dany's miscarrying mean? She was miscarrying, wasn't she? Who the fuck is Jon Connington? No really. What's the importance of the grayscale, now that you have two named characters on Westeros with it. Do you realize how many characters are traveling with or come in contact with red priests? Is that important?

Mostly, I'm just pissy that it'll be another X number of years before we get any closer to resolution on any arc. And I think that's perfectly ok to say. Part of me thinks that it might have been better to wait longer to get something a bit tighter, but most of me knows that it would have resulted in some level of dissatisfaction no matter what. And there's no way this will conclude in seven books. But I am interested in seeing how it all plays out and if it meets up with how I think it will/should end. I remain hopeful.

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There is another group, I believe, that are most likely disappointed by Book 5. Those would be the HBO executives hoping for a continued series through more than 2 or 3 seasons.

I think that Book 1 made for a superb first season of a gritty fantasy TV show. As the series has gone on, popular characters have changed drastically, and mostly have taken a tragic arc, rather than a triumphant one. I got a lot of non-book readers hooked on the series, but if I sit 'em all down and tell them a lot of major plot arcs, they'll be angry, put-off, or confused.

I am not re-opening the silly argument that TV viewers are dumber than readers or want simpler story-telling or anything like that. I just don't think the continuing plot of ASOIAF lends itself to a weekly TV show.

Another wrench in the engine is the greater use of mystical elements in the books. Lots more dragons, now mammoths, elephants, boat-sized turtles, greyscale monkey men, and creepy fire magic. Also, all the stuff in Slaver's Bay will be harder to film than the medieval feel of Westeros. 800 foot pyramids, huge purple hair, and fanciful architecture in general.

I think some executive in Hollywood was sweating the entire time he read ADWD, and labored to sketch out very early plans to overlap AFFC stuff with ADWD stuff, keep his viewers not-furious, and still have a realistic budget.

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