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thenedstark

Critics of ASOIAF

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Read above. The Others are invincible and they have the advantage of Winter.

How can we possibly believe this if we know they've been defeated at least once in the past?

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You're making a lot of assumptions about the Others, considering the fact that we know next to nothing about them.

We see their weapons cut through plate armour.

We see that they are stronger, better and faster than normal men.

We see that regular swords have no effect on Wights and others.

Obsidian is rare and fire impossible to make during Winter reliably.

Winter=Starvation. Poor communication. Instant win for the Others. Every death enhances their numbers.

They have destroyed the Wildlings north of the wall already and we saw them wipe out the Nightswatch rangers, some of the best fighters in the series led by Jeor on what should have been an unassailable position.

They would have walked over any realm in the world except possibly Old Valyria with ease. We have seen more than enough to know this. They are portrayed as an unstoppable force driving all before them to flee south.

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How can we possibly believe this if we know they've been defeated at least once in the past?

By a Dungeons and Dragons group with a dues ex machina sword if we believe the stories of Last Hero n AA?

Again, doesn't matter what state realm is in if Jon or Bran can sort things out on their own.

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By a Dungeons and Dragons group with a dues ex machina sword if we believe the stories of Last Hero n AA?

And as I said, how do we know the story of the Last Hero or Azor Ahai is literal and not allegorical?

Again, doesn't matter what state realm is in if Jon or Bran can sort things out on their own.

Who said they can? Who is to say they wouldn't need tremendous help or support to sort things out?

These are the answers we don't have, but these are the answers you're pretending you already have, and are making judgements about what matters and what doesn't in the overarching narrative from a perspective based at the end of the series when we're not even 100% sure of how many books are left in the series.

Step back and look at the general arrogance of the position you've taken here; you're saying the author has fucked up the focus and the pacing on a story he knows the ending to, and you don't.

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There is going to be another Long Night and the Others are going to sweep south. Many characters like Aemon and the Reeds have said this. they have been commiting genocide on the wildlings as attested by every wildling character encountered.

Again, its a poor joke that take 20 years to tell if shock, the Others aren't going to invade.

I fail to see how it matters which set of fools is in charge come winter or if the realm is divided into different colours. Invading during the War of Five Kings would be much the same as an invasion now. BAD. Hence, a poinsoned chalice.

The Others are an invincible force. Limitless numbers, soldiers immune to basic weaponry, the huge advantage of winter, no logistical problems as dead don't need to eat, weapons that can cut through armor like paper. It does not matter whether Tywin Lannister is in charge of a united realm or if Tommen holds a disunited realm. Everyone is DEAD regardless. A single ruler wouldn't even be able to use armies or coordinate resistance anyway. Even at full strength, the Others would have cut through the Westerosi armies like paper. It doesn't matter that the war has them even weaker. Thats assuming they could even be mustered due to Winter. It doesn't matter who holds the poisoned chalice since the threat doesn't require the realm to be weakened at all for the Others to win easily. They could have invaded with Rhaegar as King during a golden age and still had the same impact; especially due to Winter.

Are you then suggesting that the books end with the Others taking over and the second long night coming and everyone dies, the end? Because GRRM has said the ending is bittersweet, suggesting that some characters at least have a happy ending. So that means there will be a world for them to live in. So even though the Others will invade, the people still have a chance. It may be dragons, it may be fire magic, or blood magic, or Jon Snow, but they will be stopped eventually. So the relationships between the Houses, are quite important.

It's like reading a country's history. You can't say ''Oh I don't care to read about the Princes in the Tower, the were killed by Richard III anyway" that's not how history works! Fantasy is like reading a fictional country's history, there are things that people then thought would work, but that in hindsight we know never would. That doesn't mean we dismiss them and stop caring about them.

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Most of the sidetrack narratives could be labelled as "filler", however I do think that the narrative has great literary quality, connects well with the whole and has it's function and purpose. Except for Quentin Martell's arc, that is... I'm still trying to find it's narrative purpose. :-/

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Most of the sidetrack narratives could be labelled as "filler", however I do think that the narrative has great literary quality, connects well with the whole and has it's function and purpose. Except for Quentin Martell's arc, that is... I'm still trying to find it's narrative purpose. :-/

Dany and Dorne will not be allies, as a result.

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Dany and Dorne will not be allies, as a result.

Could have easily ended up happening because Aegon arrives in Westeros first and Dorne is unaware of Dany or unwilling to wait. Marrying Aegon suits their goals and a rift with Aegon explains why Dany would end up fighting them.

The only reason for Q is that it might make the Martells look stupid if they end up blaming Dany for Q's death as they have been shown in a very sympathetic light overall.

But an alliance in of itself with Aegon over Dany could have easily happened without Arriane, Arys, Areo or Quentyns povs. Their nephew comes home, they support him, Dany doesn't like this. Embellishing this simple set of events and motivations is an over indulgence in filler.

@dam999-

Winter is too much of a game changer. That is what makes them invincible. Hunger and the cold will win even if their numberless army and space marine snow elves could be matched by fire n (incredibly rare) obsidian. So, unless Jon or Dany is like Rand from Wheel of Time and weakens winter where-ever they are I don't see how this can be dealt with (plus that would be silly).

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@dam999-

Winter is too much of a game changer. That is what makes them invincible. Hunger and the cold will win even if their numberless army and space marine snow elves could be matched by fire n (incredibly rare) obsidian.

You keep saying they're invincible, but you keep ignoring the point the Others have previously been defeated during a long winter under circumstances we aren't fully sure of.

Anybody with an 0 for 1 win record is supremely defeatable.

So, unless Jon or Dany is like Rand from Wheel of Time and weakens winter where-ever they are I don't see how this can be dealt with (plus that would be silly).

The crucial element. You cannot imagine a scenario, but you are not writing ASOIAF, are you?

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Dany and Dorne will not be allies, as a result.

That is the end result, yes, but it seems to me that all of Quentin POV chapters could be completely streamlined and we wouldn't have missed much....

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Which reflects the lack of plot movement in the series. We still have the big threat looming over everything, waiting for it to invade with no incling provided as to how it might be defeated. That just goes to show how little effort he has put into the supernatural arc despite ostensibly being more than 2/3 done with only two books to go. I remember rolling my eyes when playing Mass Effect 3 and out of nowhere they say they have the Prothian deathstar. A similar thing popping up in ASOIAF without any foreshadowing would be bad.

"How do we deal with winter?" "Oh, well if you sacrifice several thousand people it will drop for a bit as you made Rhollor happy". :( rolls eyes.

But really, without a magical solution to end winter the Others cannot be stopped or even physically fought beyond hiding in castles. You cannot fight during winter. It was already ridiculous for Martin to have Stannis army even survive what it endured in ADWD. Thats supposedly autumn snows. So, by all rights, true winter should be much, much worse.

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That is the end result, yes, but it seems to me that all of Quentin POV chapters could be completely streamlined and we wouldn't have missed much....

There's also the Tattered Prince.

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There's also the Tattered Prince.

The two other Sellsword companies with Daario and Brown Ben was too few was it?

Obviously we need more treacherous scum to stab Dany in the back at a later date. Really, Dany should just kill every sellsword on sight. Too much trouble if they're guaranteed to betray you.

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Which reflects the lack of plot movement in the series. We still have the big threat looming over everything, waiting for it to invade with no incling provided as to how it might be defeated. That just goes to show how little effort he has put into the supernatural arc despite ostensibly being more than 2/3 done with only two books to go. I remember rolling my eyes when playing Mass Effect 3 and out of nowhere they say they have the Prothian deathstar. A similar thing popping up in ASOIAF without any foreshadowing would be bad.

You mean the Crucible? That wasn't Prothean, rather it was a colloborative effort of the remnants of every single civilization the Reapers had harvested up to that point. The series had also already established the Protheans had a secret science base on Mars they had used to monitor humanity, so it wasn't terribly unsupported by the series Shephard would find the Crucible data on Mars.

The problems with Mass Effect 3 mostly came toward the end of the game, specifically in that it failed to resolve itself well.

"How do we deal with winter?" "Oh, well if you sacrifice several thousand people it will drop for a bit as you made Rhollor happy". :( rolls eyes.

Are you saying that's how you'd end the threat of the Others?

But really, without a magical solution to end winter the Others cannot be stopped or even physically fought beyond hiding in castles. You cannot fight during winter. It was already ridiculous for Martin to have Stannis army even survive what it endured in ADWD. Thats supposedly autumn snows. So, by all rights, true winter should be much, much worse.

The Night's Watch is an insitution based around the notion an ordinary man can stop the supernatural given the right rools.

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I doubt its that simple to completely win. But, as a means of preventing winter making the movement of armies impossible and freezing to death. A brief reprieve for a few hundred square miles in exchange for blood sacrifice. Otherwise all these armies will be useless with 200ft snowdrift and arctic conditions. Theres also the issue of food and supplying them. Impossible during winter. its just the easiest explanation to imagine with what we know. Fire magic can affect the weather as shown by Mel n Moq using it to spur the wind on.

I wasn't bothered with ME ending once the extended cut came out. Control ending is just :drool: . Things like control and synthesis are built up throughout the game n hinted at. But the presence of the "press button and win" deathstar was so jarring when its introduced.

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I thought it was an interesting review of asoiaf... I agreed with some , disagreed with others... I did like his mentioning Glen Cook's Black Company.. a good read, one of my all-time favorites.

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There's also the Tattered Prince.

Indeed, but as I said, streamlined not completely removed :-)

Regardless, "dance" is still a great book.

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OP-

Martin actually quoted or paraphrased a section of that I think. The bit about him having the one line about "meanwhile factions fight for power in Westeros" being turned into the whole story. its one of the topics on this forum.

I totally agree with what that reviewer says. The actual plot has been incredibly underdeveloped for the sake of soap opera politics which dominates the story whilst he drags his feet with Dany/Jon. Filler is the word of the day.

I would add however that the Game of Thrones in the South is beginning to become more about Dany. Three of the major players intend to marry Dany and see her on the throne with them in one capacity or another. The Dornish, Euron and Aegon. Aegons presence also brings the Targaryens and factions perceptions of them much more into focus than before. So its only really in the Vale that doesn't involve Dany. Whilst at the Riverlands and at Kings Landing that things have stagnated into irrelevance. However, this is too little, too late and the lack of Danys physical presence just makes this more filler until she actually arrives in the final book. However martin wants to focus on the two bit players and what they do beforehand so he wants to go indepth and drag that out.

But, most readers love the political conflicts. If they're not to your taste, fair enough, but there's no reason why the rest of us shouldn't enjoy them.

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Martin could have finished the whole thing in one book, if it was just Westeros vs a malign supernatural entity. But, I think most of us would have found the story much less interesting if that was the case/

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There are plenty of fantasy authors who claim to be doing something different with the genre. Ironically, they often write the most predictable books of all, as evidenced by Goodkind andPaolini. Though I'm not sure why they protest so much--predictability is rarely a death sentence in genre fantasy.

The archetypal story of the hero, the villain, the great love, and a world to be saved never seems to get old--and there's nothing wrong with this story when it's told well. At the best, it's exciting, exotic, and builds to a fulfilling climax. At the worst, it's just a bloodless rehash, and the worse are more common by far.

Perhaps it was this wealth of predictable, cliche romances that drove Martin to aim for something 'different'. Unfortunately, being different isn't something you can choose to do, you have to come by it naturally. Sure, Moorcock wrote Elric to be the anti-Conan, but at some point, he had to stretch out and find a core for his series that was more than simply 'this is not Conan'--and he did.

In similar gesture, Martin rejects the moralistic romance of the genre, tearing the guts out of epic fantasy: the fantastical, the romantic ideals, the heroism, and with them, the moral purpose. Fine, so he took out the rollicking fun and the social message; what did he replace them with?

Like the post-Moore comics of the eighties and nineties, fantasy has borne witness to a backlash against the moral hero, and then a backlash against the grim antihero who succeeded him. After all, if all Martin wanted was grim and gritty antiheroes, he didn't have to reject the staples of fantasy, he could have gone to its roots: Howard, Leiber, or Poul Anderson.

Like many authors who try to develop realism, Martin forgets that 'Truth is stranger than Fiction'. The real world is full of strangeness: unbelievable events, coincidences, and odd characters. When authors remove these elements in an attempt to make their world seem realistic, they end up with a fiction duller than reality; after all, unexpected details are the heart of verisimilitude.

When Chekhov and Peake removed the easy thrill of romance from their stories, they replaced it with strange and exciting characters. They wrote things strange enough to seem true. Compared with these authors, Martin's world comes off as dull and gray. Instead of innovating new, radically different elements, he merely removes familiar staples, and any world defined by lack is going to end up feeling rather thin.

However despite trying inject the book with history and realism, he does not reject the melodramatic characterization of his fantasy forefathers, as evidenced by his brooding bastard antihero protagonist (with pet albino wolf). Apparently, his idea of 'grim realism' is similar to 'Draco in Leather Pants'. This causes a central conflict in the story's tone, rather like putting the cast of a soap opera into an existentialist German film.

He also puts in lots of sex and rape and misogyny, which isn't necessarily bad, if handled well. I think books should have sex in them, and shouldn't shy away from any uncomfortable, unpleasant reality of life. The problem is when people who are not comfortable with their own sexuality start writing about it, which seems to be the problem of every mainstream fantasy author.

If an author writing some sex and lets the pen get away from him, his own lack of fulfillment starts leaking into the scene. It's not about the characters anymore, now it's just the author cybering with me about his favorite fetish. I don't want to buy a book just to get lost in someone's squicky fetish. If I cyber with a fat, bearded stranger, I expect to be paid for it.

I know a lot of fans probably get into it more than I do (like how plenty of WOW players enjoy making their female night elf hunters hump each other), but reading Goodkind, Jordan, and Martin, can be like seeing a Playboy at your uncle's house where all the pages are wrinkled. That's not to say there isn't servicable pop fantasy sex out there--there is, and it's written by women.

Though I didn't save any choice examples from this book, I did come across an article which mentioned this quote, from a later book in the series:

"When she went to the stables, she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest . . ."

I can imagine the process, as Martin sits, hands hovering over the keyboard, trying to get inside his character's head:

"Okay, I'm a woman. How do I see and feel the world differently? My cultural role is defined by childbirth. In the process of marriage, I can be bought and sold by my own--Oh, hey! Look at that, I've got tits! Man, look at those things go. *whooshing mammary sound effects* Okay, time to write."

Yet we don't get any descriptions of variously-sized dongs swinging within the confines of absurdly-detailed clothing. We do get a set of giant manboobs--which, as an overweight, elderly man, I assume Martin has some personal experience with--but not until book five, and even then, it's not the dude being hyperaware of his own, secretly moving under his clothes--they're just there to gross out a dwarf. Not really a balanced depiction.

The books are also well known for featuring sudden, apparently pointless deaths, which some suggest is a sign of realism. But, of course, nothing is pointless in fiction, because the author must deliberately decide what to include. Sure, in real life, people will often suddenly die before finishing their life's work (authors of doorstop fantasy series do it all the time), but there's a reason we don't tend to tell stories of people who die unexpectedly in the middle of thing: they are usually boring and pointless. They build up for a while and eventually, lead nowhere.

Novelists often write in isolation, and so it's easy to forget the rule to which playwrights adhere: your story is always a fiction, and any time you ignore that fact and treat it as if it were real, you are working against your own writing. The writing that seems to most natural is never effortless, it is carefully and painstakingly constructed to feel natural.

People are often told in entry-level creative writing classes to 'listen to how real people talk, and write like that', which is terrible advice. A transcript of spoken conversation is often so full of repetition, half-thoughts, and non-specific words ('stuff', 'thing') as to be incomprehensible--especially without all of the cues of pattern, tone, and body language. Written communication works very differently, so making dialogue feel like speech is an artificial process. It's the same with sudden character deaths: treat them like a history, and your plot will become just as choppy and hard to follow.

But then, I'm not sure Martin's deaths are truly unpredictable. As in an action film, they are usually a plot convenience: kill off a villain, and you don't have to worry about wrapping up his personal arc. You don't have to defeat him psychologically--the finality of his death is the great equalizer. Plus now you don't have to do the hard work of demonstrating that the hero was morally right: he's the only option left.

Likewise, in Martin's book, death ties up loose threads--namely, plot threads. Often, this is the only ending we get to his plot arcs, which makes them rather predictable: any time a character could get enough influence to make things better, he will die. Any character who poses a threat to the continuing chaos which drives the plot will first be built up, and then killed off.

Like all authors, Martin begins by producing plot arcs that grow and change, providing tension and goals for his characters. Normally, when such arcs come to a close, the author must use all the force of his skill to deal with themes and answer questions, providing a satisfying conclusion to a promising idea that his readers have watched grow.

Or you could just kill off the character central to the conflict and bury the plot arc with him. That way, you never have to worry about closure, you can just hook your readers by crafting a new arc from the chaos caused by the dissolution of the previous build. Start to make the reader believe that things might get better, to believe in a character, then wave your arms in distraction, then yell and point, 'look at that terrible thing, over there!', and hope your audience becomes so caught up in worrying about this new problem that they forget that the old one was never actually resolved.

By chaining these false endings together, you can create a perpetual state of tension which never requires solution, and so, the author will never have to do the hard work of finishing what they started. If an author is lucky, they die before reaching the Final Conclusion the readership is always clamoring for, and will never have to worry about meeting the collective expectation which the years of deferral have built up. It's easy to idolize Kurt Cobain, because you never had to see him bald and old and crazy like David Lee Roth.

Unlucky authors live to write the Final Book, which will break the spell of continual tension and expectation that kept their readers enthralled. Since the plot has not been tightening into a larger, intertwined conclusion (in fact, it's probably been spiraling out of control), the author must wrap things up conveniently and suddenly, leaving fans confused and upset. And, having thrown out the grand moral story of fantasy, Martin cannot even end on the dazzling trick of the vaguely-spiritual transgressive Death Event on which the great majority of fantasy books rely for a handy tacked-on climax.

The drawback is that, even if a conclusion gets stuck on at the end, the story fundamentally leads nowhere--it winds back and forth without resolving psychological or tonal arcs. But then, doesn't that sound more like real life? Martin tore out the moralistic heart and magic of fantasy, and in doing so, rejected the notion of grandly realized conclusions. Perhaps we shouldn't compare him to other writers of romance, but to grandly realized Histories.

He asks us to believe in his intrigue, his grimness, and his amoral world of war, power, and death. In short, he is asking us to compare him not to the false Europe of Arthur, Robin Hood, and Orlando, but to the real Europe of plagues, power struggles, religious wars, witch hunts, and roving companies of soldiery forever ravaging the countryside.

Unfortunately, he doesn't compare very well to them, either. His intrigue is not as interesting as Cicero's, Machiavelli's, Enguerrand de Coucy's--or even Sallust's, who was practically writing fiction, anyways. Some might suggest it unfair to compare a piece of fiction to a true history, but those are the same histories that lent Howard, Leiber, and Moorcock their touches of verisimilitude. Martin might have taken a lesson from them and drawn inspiration from further afield: even Tolkien had his Eddas.

More than anything, this book felt like a serial melodrama. It is a story of the hardships of an ensemble cast who we are meant to watch over and sympathize with, being drawn chiefly by emotional appeals (the hope that things will 'get better' in this dark place, 'tragic' deaths), even though these appeals often conflict with the realism, and in the end, there is no grander story to unify the whole. The 'grittiness' is just Martin replacing the standard fantasy theme of 'glory' with one of 'hardship', and despite flipping this switch switch, it's still just an emotional appeal. 'Heroes always win' is just as boring and predictable as 'heroes always lose'.

It's been suggested that I didn't read enough of Martin to judge him, but if the first four hundred pages aren't good, I don't expect the next thousand will be different. If you combine the three Del Ray collections of Conan The Barbarian stories, you get 1,263 pages (including introductions, end notes, and variant scripts). If you take Martin's first two books in this series, you get 1,504 pages. Already, less than halfway through the series, he's written more than Howard's entire Conan output, and all I can do is ask myself: why does he need that extra length?

Some authors use it to their advantage, but for most, it's just sprawling, undifferentiated bloat. Melodrama can be successful, as evidenced by the endless 'variations on a theme' of Soap Operas, Pro Wrestling, Lost, and mainstream superhero comics. Plenty of people enjoy it, but it's neither revolutionary nor realistic.

Some have tried to defend this book by saying "at least Martin isn't as bad as all the drivel that gets published in genre fantasy", but saying "he's better than dreck" is really not very high praise. Others have intimated that I must not like fantasy at all, pointing to my low-star reviews of Martin, Wolfe, Jordan, and Goodkind, but it is precisely because I am passionate about fantasy that I fall heavily on these authors.

A lover of fine wines winces the more when he is given a corked bottle of vinegar, a ballet enthusiast's love of dance would not leave him breathless at a high school competition, and likewise, having learned to appreciate Epics, Histories, the Matter of Europe, Fairy Tales, and their modern offspring, the fantasy genre, I find Martin woefully lacking.

There's plenty of grim fantasy and intrigue out there, from its roots in epic poetry to the Thousand and One Nights to the early fantasies of Eddison, Dunsany, Morris, Macdonald, Haggard, and Kipling. Then there are more modern authors: Poul Anderson, Moorecock, Susanna Clarke, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Mervyn Peake, China Mieville, Phillip Pullman, Howard, Lovecraft, and Leiber.

There seems to be a sense that Martin's work is somehow revolutionary, that it represents a 'new direction' for fantasy, but all I see is a reversion. Sure, he's different than Jordan, Goodkind, and their ilk, because they took equal parts Tolkien and Howard, the pseudo-medieval high-magic world from the first and the blood-and-guts heroism from the second. Martin, on the other hand, has more closely followed Tolkien's lead than any other modern high fantasy author.

Tolkien wanted to make his story 'real'--not 'realistic', by using the various dramatic techniques of literature--but actually real, by trying to create all the detail of a pretend world behind the story. He was so obsessed with it that over a span of twenty years, he released The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and in the twenty years after that, filled his shed with a bunch of notesthat his son has been trying unsuccessfully to make a book from ever since.

And that's the same thing Martin's trying to do: cover a bland story with a litany of details drawn from real life, but which don't contribute meaningfully to his characters, plot, or tone. So, if Martin is good because he is different, then it stands to reason that he's not very good, because he's not really very different. He may seem different if all someone has read is Tolkien and the authors who ape his style, but that's just one small corner of a very expansive genre. Anyone who thinks Tolkien is the 'father of fantasy' doesn't know enough of genre to judge.

So, if Martin neither an homage nor an original, I'm not sure what's left. In his attempt to set himself apart, he tore out the joyful heart of fantasy, but failed replace it with anything worthwhile. There is no revolutionary voice here, and there is nothing in Martin's book that has not been done better by other authors.

However, there is one thing Martin has done that no other author has been able to do: kill the longrunning High Fantasy series. That's right, according to some friends of mine in publishing (and some amusingly on-the-nose remarks by Caleb Carr), Martin's inability to deliver a book on time and awful relationship with his publisher means that literary agents are no longer accepting manuscripts for high fantasy series. So it turns out that Martin is so bad at structuring that he actually pre-emptively ruined books by other authors (while at the same time gutting his own sub genre). Perhaps it is true what they say about silver linings . . .

Though I declined to finish this book, I'll leave you with a caution compiled from various respectable people on this site who did continue on with the series:

"If you need some kind of closure, avoid this series. No arcs will ever be completed, nothing will ever really change. They keep saying 'Winter is Coming', but it's not. As the series goes on, there will be more and more characters and diverging plotlines to keep track of, many of them apparently completely unrelated to each other. If you enjoy a grim, really long soap opera with lots of deaths and constant unresolved tension, pick up the series--otherwise, maybe check out the show.

What do you guys think of Keely's review?

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1459299

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