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thenedstark

Critics of ASOIAF

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.Hope you nor anyone else won't mind me saying, but I'm really glad that nothing in GRRM's work resembles anything from Rowling's. The world wasn't in some desperate need for fantasy books for kids and young adults when GRRM started his saga, but it did lack a high-literature work of art that isn't afraid to inspire human imagination with supernatural elements.

Thank you so much for the bolded part! That is exactly what Martin's work means to me, and to inspire my imagination is no easy task!

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"Even if they are part of a series they should work as books on their own."

Who says they don't and who says they have to?

Well, I say they don't, as in, my personal opinion. But common sense, logic, and the actual definition of a book says, that a book is a book, as in encompassing everything from the main title to the very last period, and that information is what should be used to judge said book, everything else is additional.

Hope you nor anyone else won't mind me saying, but I'm really glad that nothing in GRRM's work resembles anything from Rowling's. The world wasn't in some desperate need for fantasy books for kids and young adults when GRRM started his saga, but it did lack a high-literature work of art that isn't afraid to inspire human imagination with supernatural elements.

Well, Rowling never gave us a book without an ending or cheap cliffhangers so...

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Well, I say they don't, as in, my personal opinion. But common sense, logic, and the actual definition of a book says, that a book is a book, as in encompassing everything from the main title to the very last period, and that information is what should be used to judge said book, everything else is additional.

Well now, tut tut, I think maybe you should avoid these epic fantasy sagas as they don't seem to agree with you. ;)

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I find it hard to understand the moaning. Perhaps it's just the fact that those of us who came late to the story read all five books back to back and enjoyed them all.

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I agree with this so much. It really gets in my nerves when people justify the mediocrity of Feast and Dance saying that they're only setting up the table for the delicious main plate that Winds is going to be. Even if they are part of a series they should work as books on their own. A book cannot be measured by the next volume of the series, it either is a good book or it isn't.

There's an example in this very series that speaks the opposite: A Clash of Kings. It is great as a standalone, but the full value of it may be only appreciated in hindsight. How are we to understand all the importance of Arya's escape from Roose's troops, before we find out who Roose really is in ASOS? How are we to understand and appreciate Roose's memorable discussion with Freys in Arya's last chapter in ACOK, without all the knowledge we get only in later books? Or look at Dontos, as yet another example - his role in the higher order of things is much more meaningful after ASOS, but there was some groundwork that had to be undertaken in ACOK. Not to mention Theon's ACOK arc and fake deaths of Bran and Rickon: while reading ACOK, probably nobody can predict those are going to cause the end of the dynastic war.

I honestly laugh when people say we can't judge Feast and Dance until the series is done and we see how much they set up to the story. Really? Why do I have to wait god knows how many years to say those books were not on par with the first three? And even if Winds ends up being awesome, Feast and Dance are still mediocre.

ASOS did came reasonably fast after ACOK, and it did help, of course. Just imagine if TWOW was about to come out in a month or two: I have a feeling people wouldn't be so annoyed by ADWD any more. So, years in waiting can't help but make an impact on a reception of a books that are in the middle of a series (not to mention that the series itself is an addictive read, which only makes the wait more torturous). But, if we disregard that for the moment, would you care to explain why do you find AFFC and ADWD mediocre?

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ACOK ends on plenty of cliff-hangers (which seem to infuriate people who want the series completed yesterday).

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There's an example in this very series that speaks the opposite: A Clash of Kings. It is great as a standalone, but the full value of it may be only appreciated in hindsight. How are we to understand all the importance of Arya's escape from Roose's troops, before we find out who Roose really is in ASOS? How are we to understand and appreciate Roose's memorable discussion with Freys in Arya's last chapter in ACOK, without all the knowledge we get only in later books? Or look at Dontos, as yet another example - his role in the higher order of things is much more meaningful after ASOS, but there was some groundwork that had to be undertaken in ACOK. Not to mention Theon's ACOK arc and fake deaths of Bran and Rickon: while reading ACOK, probably nobody can predict those are going to cause the end of the dynastic war.

ASOS did came reasonably fast after ACOK, and it did help, of course. Just imagine if TWOW was about to come out in a month or two: I have a feeling people wouldn't be so annoyed by ADWD any more. So, years in waiting can't help but make an impact on a reception of a books that are in the middle of a series (not to mention that the series itself is an addictive read, which only makes the wait more torturous). But, if we disregard that for the moment, would you care to explain why do you find AFFC and ADWD mediocre?

Just to be clear, I'm arguing that the 1st 3 books (and I'm going to include Feast here as well, actually) work as books on their own, while Dance do not. I'm not talking about the period of time between books, just the level of closure of character arcs in those books.

I feel Dance ended in a bunch of cliffhangers that were never resolved and that it built towards conclusions that were ultimately not achieved. In my opinion, that's not a satisfying book because it isn't even a whole book. Regarding Feast, I have to admit that it has grown on me during re-reads (the Cersei chapters are nothing short of a masterpice, as long as we ignore Maggy the contrived plot device), and it does have a certain amount of closure to most of its arcs, but still it feels more disconnected and inferior than the 1st three. But I have to admit, that it actually kind of works on its own.

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2,000 pages, half a million words and 11 years. 'Just' setting up? Really?

My objection to the last 2 novels is not so much that they haven't really taken the narrative anywhere but that by adding all these new points of view and plot lines they've made the story much HARDER to finish.

It could well be that GRRM's 'gardening' approach to writing has served him well in the past, but a monumental megastructure needs some architecture behind it. I'm sure that even the hanging gardens of Babylon were built primarily by architects before they hauled in the soil and and the people in straw hats to plant and weed.

He should at the very least have done what J.K. Rowling did with the Harry Potter series - write the ending first, and put it in a brown manila envelope. That way TWoW and ADoS could work toward a known endpoint. He seems to be writing what programmers call 'spaghetti code.' That works with small programs but becomes impossible to debug or maintain on any larger project. (In writing, it shouldn't even be tried with anything longer than a novella.)

Definetly

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Thank you so much for the bolded part! That is exactly what Martin's work means to me, and to inspire my imagination is no easy task!

You're more than welcome. Honestly, the one thing that puzzles me to no end, is the fact that even here, on this site that is supposed to be the gathering place for the most devoted fans of the series, only a fragment of visitors actually thinks that ASOIAF is a high-literature. In a hypothetical debate with literary snobs like that Keely guy from Goodreads, all they'd have to do is to point to any number of posters here, who basically agree with them. Like, ASOIAF is paraliterature, and some happen to enjoy it more than others do, but, at the end of the day, there aren't some big rewards that wait for readers of this saga. Now, I partially understand why a literary snob would think like that. Or why someone who disliked ASOIAF for a reason other than snobbery would think that way. But, when someone who visits this site and posts on it on a daily basis thinks like that, it's very odd, I'd say. I, for one, would never obsess over something I don't find challenging and rewarding in thematic and intellectual sense, no matter how entertaining it was.

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It seems to me that other than AGOT, none of the other books had a coherent structure in terms of having a beginning, a middle and an end. Robb's arc for instance is set up in AGOT, it reaches its mid point at the end of ACOK and ends at about two thirds of ASOS, with the book still going on for about 500 pages after that. Catelyn jumps between two or three or more arcs. Bran's arc is interrupted mid ASOS and it resumes in ADWD. Balon dies in mid ASOS off screen and the iron born have played an integral part in the story. Meanwhile in the first half of ASOS pretty much nothing happens in King's Landing until Joffrey's wedding. Brienne's and Jamie's story arc begun in ACOK and is still ongoing.

There are plenty of story arcs so far that have had a conclusion; they just don't conform to the book format. I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with that.

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ACOK ends on plenty of cliff-hangers (which seem to infuriate people who want the series completed yesterday).

They may be considered cliffhangers, but if you pay attention, those cliffhangers ocurred after the characters have already completed their arcs:

-Arya escapes from Harrenhal, but her killing of the guard marks her change and her completion of a circle

-Theon is caught by Ramsey, after he witnessed what he accomplished by trying to take power by force and when he was actually considering surrender

-Tyrion finds that after everything he did to save the city, he is still an outcast

-Sansa finds out she still has a small hope to leave KL after she chose to stay

- Bran learns to cope with his condition as a crippled after he survived the massacre of Winterfell

- Jon severs his connection to the Night's Watch

- Dany gets back on track after being distracted by the illusion of ruling

I would say the only cliffhangers are Davos' and Cat's storylines. But do you see my point? The arcs end after the characters have done something, not in the middle of the story as in Dance.

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Isn't this line somewhat self-contradicting? If new plot-lines were added and the story is harder to finish because of them, then the narrative definitely progressed. Don't get me wrong, I realize you didn't strictly said that narrative didn't progress, but it is a complaint that can be heard quite often, and the first part of your sentence does seem somewhat in agreement with that notion.

Your main complaint, however, is among the precious few I find legit. Yes, AFFC and ADWD do introduce a legion of new plot-lines and POVs. I happen to like that, but I do understand why some readers don't. That complaint is, therefore, in the legit department. But, complaints that there wasn't enough plot progression in AFFC and ADWD I really can't take seriously, because those complainers actually think of just one plot-line. A reader doesn't have to like plot progression in AFFC and ADWD, of course, but denying it's existence is something else entirely.

Hope you nor anyone else won't mind me saying, but I'm really glad that nothing in GRRM's work resembles anything from Rowling's. The world wasn't in some desperate need for fantasy books for kids and young adults when GRRM started his saga, but it did lack a high-literature work of art that isn't afraid to inspire human imagination with supernatural elements.

"If new plot-lines were added and the story is harder to finish because of them, then the narrative definitely progressed."

Not in the sense of 'moved toward the (or maybe 'a') conclusion.' And I'm not saying that I don't like some of the new plot lines introduced. I'm VERY intrigued by the goings-on at the Citadel with Sam, 'Alleras,' and 'Pate' (aka the Alchemist? , Jaqen?) but you would find it hard to argue that introducing that intrigue (or the new subplot involving Marwyn) moves the story forward toward a conclusion. Anyway we won't know how successful those ideas are going to be until "Winds of Winter" is published.

I really liked the Harry Potter books up to the end of the fifth book, but really didn't like "Half-Blood Prince" very much at all. Ironically its weaknesses were excused by many fans by arguing that it was "just setting up for the last epic book." I don't think that the final was strong enough to make up for the 'set-up' frankly.

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The 'game' is the reason why Dany is banished. The 'game' is what drives pretty much everyone and their actions. The 'game' is the reason why characters are dying.

And without the 'game', what do you have? A story about the impending doom of the ultimate evil. Yeah... why have the game when you have such an original idea like that?

The fact that you can't see where this is going is probably a good thing.

Because Martin is writing a story about the impending doom. However he has put off even introducing them as a threat beyond the one time they show up at the Fist of the First Men. In Wheel of Time you don't get the last Battle till the final book or even see many trollocs but they are still a present force that influences the plot and events to a huge degree; sometimes more subtly. In ASOIAF the Others have been imminently waiting to attack now for five novels and twenty years.... There needs to be a point to the game beyond musical chairs for the poisoned chalice. Society will end once the Others invade and Winter fully covers the land. It doesn't matter who sits the Iron Throne when the apocalypse comes so why bother investing so much time into an irrelevant detail. There cannot be a resolution to the Game of Thrones as long as the Others are hanging like an axeman over it. The Game of Thrones is interesting but ultimately not important with regard to the plot and has frankly gotton repetitive with another multi faction war starting after the Five Kings; despite the fact that he has yet to put the two principal factors into the plot (Dany+Others).

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Just to be clear, I'm arguing that the 1st 3 books (and I'm going to include Feast here as well, actually) work as books on their own, while Dance do not. I'm not talking about the period of time between books, just the level of closure of character arcs in those books.

I feel Dance ended in a bunch of cliffhangers that were never resolved and that it built towards conclusions that were ultimately not achieved. In my opinion, that's not a satisfying book because it isn't even a whole book. Regarding Feast, I have to admit that it has grown on me during re-reads (the Cersei chapters are nothing short of a masterpice, as long as we ignore Maggy the contrived plot device), and it does have a certain amount of closure to most of its arcs, but still it feels more disconnected and inferior than the 1st three. But I have to admit, that it actually kind of works on its own.

Well, that many cliffhangers is a challenge. Hard to argue that. It was a comforting to find out it wasn't Martin's idea, but of his publisher, to end the novel somewhat abruptly. But, even before that was revealed, I enjoyed ADWD infinitely, because of it's numerous accomplishments. For example, when you look at frequent threads about the greatest lines in the series, majority of the stuff people post actually comes from ADWD. While the overall structure of that book may be problematic to an extent, it's chapters are often structured to a perfection. Also, after all he's done in previous books, I have an enormous faith in Martin's storytelling ability. He's yet to prove me wrong when trusting him without reservation.

Last but not least, ADWD can even work as a standalone. There is a theme that unites almost everything there: the revolution. We have one that is violent and coming from outside (The Slaver's Bay), we have one that is peaceful and coming from inside (Jon letting the wildlings through The Wall), we have one that is coming from the inside but is also a violent one (Boltons overtaking The North from the Starks), and we have loads of 'revolutions' in individuals (Theon, Tyrion, Cersei...) As a philosophic and thematic piece, ADWD is possibly the strongest entry in the series.

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You're more than welcome. Honestly, the one thing that puzzles me to no end, is the fact that even here, on this site that is supposed to be the gathering place for the most devoted fans of the series, only a fragment of visitors actually thinks that ASOIAF is a high-literature. In a hypothetical debate with literary snobs like that Keely guy from Goodreads, all they'd have to do is to point to any number of posters here, who basically agree with them. Like, ASOIAF is paraliterature, and some happen to enjoy it more than others do, but, at the end of the day, there aren't some big rewards that wait for readers of this saga. Now, I partially understand why a literary snob would think like that. Or why someone who disliked ASOIAF for a reason other than snobbery would think that way. But, when someone who visits this site and posts on it on a daily basis thinks like that, it's very odd, I'd say. I, for one, would never obsess over something I don't find challenging and rewarding in thematic and intellectual sense, no matter how entertaining it was.

I'm not feeling alluded by your post or anything, but I'd like to comment on it. I don't even know what "high literature" is supposed to be, other than a concept made up by the academy of snobs like the ignorant and unprofessional reviewer of Goodreads you just mentioned. I personally happen to think the 1st three books of asoiaf are damn great literature, among the very best things I've read. Feast I enjoyed it a little less, and Dance a lot less.

But the thing that caught my eye about your post is that you seem to think that in order to comment on this site is necessary to think asoiaf is somehow flawless. I love asoiaf, but I'm still going to comment on some of its problems. If you think its perfect then good for you, but every single thing I love be it a book, a show, a movie or anything is flawed, and I'm going to comment on those flaws just as I comment on its virtues. You see, I am perfectly capable of simoultanously obssesing over something while at the same time noting what I don't like about it.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago someone posted a topic about how most of the characters from Essos are depicted as dicks or something like that. I commented that the people from Slaver's Bay seemed to me very one-dimensional, and others commented on that too. But what surprised me was that there were 2 or 3 posters saying things like "this topic is incendiary, it should be closed down" or "you are being too harsh on grrm". So, what I mean is, if in this site we are only allowed to go "omg, asoiaf is so awesome!" all day long like robots, then what's the point of having so many smart and analitical people on the board if they all run to the hills as soon as someone points out something they don't like.

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Because Martin is writing a story about the impending doom. However he has put off even introducing them as a threat beyond the one time they show up at the Fist of the First Men. In Wheel of Time you don't get the last Battle till the final book or even see many trollocs but they are still a present force that influences the plot and events to a huge degree; sometimes more subtly. In ASOIAF the Others have been imminently waiting to attack now for five novels and twenty years.... There needs to be a point to the game beyond musical chairs for the poisoned chalice. Society will end once the Others invade and Winter fully covers the land. It doesn't matter who sits the Iron Throne when the apocalypse comes so why bother investing so much time into an irrelevant detail. There cannot be a resolution to the Game of Thrones as long as the Others are hanging like an axeman over it. The Game of Thrones is interesting but ultimately not important with regard to the plot and has frankly gotton repetitive with another multi faction war starting after the Five Kings; despite the fact that he has yet to put the two principal factors into the plot (Dany+Others).

GRRM said that? This story is solely about the impending doom? Because I've always believed the books were mostly about the intrigue of middle aged politics set in a world with magic. If all you're getting out of it is an impending clash of Dany+Others I think you're missing a good chunk of the story and the very real possibility that what you think is happening is not actually happening. You're presuming to know the end when the end has not been written. What if in the end the Others never do attack, or they aren't what we think they are, or that it's the dragon's that are the ultimate evil and the Others are here to fight them? There are lots of ways for this to end that don't fall into the fantasy trope you are expecting.

And please don't bring in the wheel of time into this... hundreds of pages were used to describe clothing, hair, and general appearance. There were at least 5 books that weren't even worth reading and the ending was written by someone else.

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*snip*

I think he was referring to people that presume to know the end already and think that 4/5ths of what has been written is worthless to get to that end, IMO. You can obsess over it and acknowledge it's imperfections. It's why we have so many characters, chapters, and entire books that we love and hate. If it wasn't flawed somewhat we'd have nothing to discuss :)

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Crows and Dragons are still worse. Why does everyone keep assuming that Dany is gonna turn into a villain and the Others are the goodguys. Twenty years is long to time to make a bad joke. There is no foreshadowing to suggest the others are good, we see them commit genocide and every character we have met attests to them being bad. Danys dragons are shown as no more evil or violent than the Starks direwolves. It is major speculation and would require a quantum shift in the final 2 books for that sort of change to happen. Nothing in the 5 books suggests anything other than that the Others will invade and bring the apocalypse. A good writer would foreshadow things like the Others being good. Dany has yet to even meet a rhollor worshipper. It is reasonable to assume that the Others will invade and start the War for Dawn because we've been told this for five books. You are the one making major speculation that things might change abruptly as Martin finally starts talking about these things.

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You seem to somewhat misunderstood my post, which is probably my fault. Sorry for that, and allow me to explain myself a little better. I wasn't thinking of you, nor anyone else who criticize the novels with a sincere and honest take on it. I was alluding to those who go like this: "Let's not pretend ASOIAF is high-literature". If I recall correctly, you never stated anything to that effect, in this nor in any other debate you and I were in, so it applies to you in no way.

Of course I don't think GRRM is beyond reproach or critique. If I thought otherwise, I surely wouldn't debate with you or anyone else who criticizes this or that from the series. I myself have some issues with ASOIAF - rather insignificant, compared to everything that the series rewarded me with, but some issues are there. And you're right, the site would be extremely boring if we'd all think the same. (There's a quote, I think it's Einstein's, but I'm not sure: "Where everyone thinks the same, nobody thinks anything". I memorized the quote, but not who said it. If anyone can help me with a source, I'd be grateful.) I just make a distinction between, for example, your criticism, and the criticism of guys like Keely. And what puzzles me is how many 'Keelies' there are on this site. That's all I wanted to say.

ETA:

I think he was referring to people that presume to know the end already and think that 4/5ths of what has been written is worthless to get to that end, IMO. You can obsess over it and acknowledge it's imperfections. It's why we have so many characters, chapters, and entire books that we love and hate. If it wasn't flawed somewhat we'd have nothing to discuss :)

Thanks for reminding me of those smart-asses who feel the series should only serve the conclusion they imagined and nothing else. I was thinking of snobs first and foremost, but those guys you brought up also deserve to be mentioned.

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