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A Dance With Dragons
July 22, 2011 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Fifteen years after the publication of A Game of Thrones, the first volume in George R. R. Martin's [website] [blog] epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and six years after the publication of the fourth volume in the series, the fifth volume, A Dance With Dragons, was finally released on July 12, 2011 to critical and commercial success.

Recently, the saga was adapted for television on HBO [Previously: 1, 2, 3, more]. The first season of the televised series, which corresponds roughly to the events of the first book, has concluded, and garnered thirteen Emmy award nominations, including a supporting actor nod for Peter Dinklage as fan-favorite Tyrion Lannister.

The detailed world, expansive cast, and enduring mysteries of the book series have nurtured a rabid online fan base, primarily found at the dedicated fan sites Westeros, home of unofficial but immensely popular forums and a wiki, and The Tower of the Hand, which uses filtering technology to minimize spoilers for the uninitiated.
posted by The Confessor (238 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
I bought my copy at a midnight sale at Pulp Fiction in Vancouver, a fantastic independent bookshop. They had donuts and scotch, and not a few of the thirty or so people who showed up were in costume. Much more fun than I expected. I still haven't opened it, though, since I only started the series a couple months ago, and am still on the fourth book.
posted by fatbird at 12:27 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thank you for making this post. I had never heard of this at all until I saw the HBO show, and I loved it and I picked up the books and they are like crack on paper.

97% of the way through my Kindle edition of the first 4 books. I can't wait to start the 5th.

Then I will be all caught up, and super irritated like the rest of you.
posted by kbanas at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The audiobooks read by Roy Dotrice are fantastic too.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also thought it would be really cool if someone took all the maps and concept art and so on and made a semi-accurate recreation of Westeros in Minecraft. Maybe on the Aporkalypse server. Soooo... um, someone, get on that.
posted by kbanas at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2011


So great that old Mr. Sandkings is still at it.
posted by escabeche at 12:32 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


As this looks like a general GOT post, I'll quickly link to overthinking it's game of thrones coverage, which has been wonderful throughout. I think mefi's will enjoy them, especially the excellent post on fascism.

As an aside, does anyone really believe there is going to be an "ending" to this series in only two more books, because I don't. Many of the story lines are no where near developed enough (especially considering certain characters have been moving at a snails pace for the last 5 books).
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:32 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dreamsongs (have only read v1) is awesome too. His short stories really stick with you!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:33 PM on July 22, 2011


Is this something I would need to have a TV to know about?

kidding, kidding!
posted by mwhybark at 12:36 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not getting into the series until Martin has actually finished writing it; he's quite old and I'd be royally pissed if he kicked the bucket before wrapping it up nicely.
posted by Renoroc at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2011


As an aside, does anyone really believe there is going to be an "ending" to this series in only two more books, because I don't. Many of the story lines are no where near developed enough (especially considering certain characters have been moving at a snails pace for the last 5 books).

I was reading an interview with GRRM - I think it was on io9 - because he's at the big Comic Con out in San Diego, and part of what he talked about was how the books started very small - with everyone together in the same spot - and slowly everything got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger - and that at some point it would start to collapse back in on itself as things approached conclusion - and, yeah, I'm not seeing that yet. I also recall reading something on io9 a couple weeks ago that suggested ultimately that it might be an 8 book series.

I have faith that he has a satisfying conclusion in mind. I have faith that when he started out he knew where he was going and how he was going to get there.

I just hope he gets there.
posted by kbanas at 12:38 PM on July 22, 2011


[Just to remind everyone: a) we are not going to enforce any sort of spoiler policy here. b) ROT13 tends to get flagged to hell and back and will be treated accordingly. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 12:39 PM on July 22, 2011


It's true! I saw it in my local bookstore.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2011


I should have learned, really. Waiting for the Dark Tower books nearly killed me.

The Wastelands came out in 1991 and Wizard and Glass didn't come out until 1997. Stupid artists and their craft. Why can't they dance faster for me?
posted by kbanas at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


b) ROT13 tends to get flagged to hell and back and will be treated accordingly

What does that mean? Does that mean don't use ROT13? It seems like a pretty sensible thing to do?
posted by kbanas at 12:42 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


part of what he talked about was how the books started very small - with everyone together in the same spot - and slowly everything got bigger

How interesting because I am on the 3rd book and feeling slightly frustrated that many of the characters (not naming names) are on a journey that never ends. I realize that if the journey ended there wouldn't be much plot, yet I still find it slightly exasperating that each time the end is in sight a new obstacle appears.

One thing I would like is a map of the individual journeys.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:43 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does that mean? Does that mean don't use ROT13? It seems like a pretty sensible thing to do?

It means that this is a topic we've covered extensively in MetaTalk and while you're welcome to use ROT13 to encode small bits of spoiler text, if it gets to the point that people are conversing back and forth in ROT13 and it's affecting other people's ability to follow the thread, we'll probably suggest you head over to MetaCooler and just remind you that those comments might be deleted if they turn into the bulk of the thread. MetaTalk is your option if you need to have a metadiscussion about this.
posted by jessamyn at 12:44 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metacooler link.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:45 PM on July 22, 2011


MetaTalk is your option if you need to have a metadiscussion about this.

I don't need to have a "metadiscussion" about it, I just didn't know what "will be treated accordingly" was supposed to imply, and I was asking for clarification.

Thank you for your clarification.
posted by kbanas at 12:46 PM on July 22, 2011


If he's got three books to go, then at the pace he's been writing, that's about twenty years work. Martin is only 63. He could finish.

I bet the new one doesn't have any kind of "Previously" chapter, though, does it? If he's going to take six years between books, I wish he'd do something like that. I can't even remember what I was doing six years ago, much less what Sansa Stark is doing...
posted by steambadger at 12:46 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


ROT13 made a little sense on Usenet because any decent newsreader would ROT13 the post you were currently reading with the press of a single keystroke. With a web browser you either have to cut and paste into another website or install third party plugins. It interrupts the reader experience in a very real way.

With regard to Martin's series, nothing I've read so far in ADwD has changed my opinion that we will never see the end of the story. The first three books were the best of their kind since Tolkien and nothing that happens can change that, but it is still sad that Martin has found himself lost in the wilderness.

On the other hand, a limited edition set of the ASoIaF books (letter version) sold on Ebay for ten thousand dollars the other day. I own such a set. So, hey, at least there's that.
posted by Justinian at 12:47 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet the new one doesn't have any kind of "Previously" chapter, though, does it? If he's going to take six years between books, I wish he'd do something like that. I can't even remember what I was doing six years ago, much less what Sansa Stark is doing...

One of the things I like about the Tower of the Hand website is that there's a link in the corner that says "Books and Chapters" and it will give you a little one/two paragraph summary of every chapter of every book. Even though I've just read the books, I still revisit it from time to time, as the books are awfully dense.
posted by kbanas at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2011


I didn't think I needed to re-read the previous books but my memory of Clash and Storm is clearly minimal because I couldn't even remember who Reek is. I was all like, whaaaaaa?
posted by Justinian at 12:50 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


With regard to Martin's series, nothing I've read so far in ADwD has changed my opinion that we will never see the end of the story. The first three books were the best of their kind since Tolkien and nothing that happens can change that, but it is still sad that Martin has found himself lost in the wilderness.

He's lost in the wilderness? Have you read the 5th book? I thought the first 4 were fantastic. I mean, I'm not done with the 4th yet, but I'm almost there. Maybe another hundred pages. I got no hint of being lost anywhere. Maybe the 5th book gives credence to that idea, but all the reviews I've seen have been overwhelmingly positive.

I mean, if a guy says, "Look, I've written 5,000 pages of this stuff, I know where it's going, I know what I'm doing, I have a plan," then why do you think we'll never see the end?
posted by kbanas at 12:51 PM on July 22, 2011


I also recall reading something on io9 a couple weeks ago that suggested ultimately that it might be an 8 book series.

Indeed.

I remember seeing that headline in my RSS reader and feeling this weird mix of schadenfreude as well as genuine sympathy pangs for people (like my wife) who have already started on the series. Schadenfreudeschaden?

Anyway, the major multi-series epic that I'm worried about is The Art of Computer Programming. I'm going to be seriously pissed if I don't find out how (or if) that one algorithm ends!
posted by kmz at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the things I like about the Tower of the Hand website is that there's a link in the corner that says "Books and Chapters"...

Cool. Thanks for the tip.
posted by steambadger at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2011


Just finished Feast For Crows. I'm really glad I stuck with the books - I almost put down GoT, since I don't usually like Big Fantasy Series, and I started to think, "what am I getting into here, this looks really complicated with dozens of major characters", but I kept going and quickly became hooked.

I haven't seen the series Season 1. I'd like to! I looked into the DVD release - it turns out that, HBO does DVD releases, for their series, a month before the beginning of new seasons. Maybe they stream it somewhere, but I did not find that either. That's some nice police work, Lou! You'd think that they would quickly give people a legal way to pay for and view the content digitally, in order to reduce incentive to just torrent it.
posted by thelonius at 12:55 PM on July 22, 2011


I bought my copy at a midnight sale at Pulp Fiction in Vancouver, a fantastic independent bookshop.

Very slight derail, but jeebus this a great store.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:56 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the things I like about the Tower of the Hand website is that there's a link in the corner that says "Books and Chapters" and it will give you a little one/two paragraph summary of every chapter of every book. Even though I've just read the books, I still revisit it from time to time, as the books are awfully dense.

Oh good, I need that. I'm nearly done with the fifth book, and I've figured out that everything that I thought had happened in the fourth actually happened in the third (not that it matters much, since the fourth and fifth books are happening nearly simultaneously).

The fifth book-so far-was good, and not what I was expecting to be about at all . . which is impressive, considering the amount of time I've spent thinking about it. Though about page 600-700 my interest started to flag and I started wondering what all those other characters were up to.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2011


A Dance with Dragons blows. Despite all of the characters' attempts to accomplish things, GRRM successfully prevents them from doing so. Two entire story arcs contained in ADWD could have been reduced to a few paragraphs at the end of the book. The whole thing could have been condensed to 300 pages and doing the same thing to AFFC would have resulted in one meaningful volume, although even in that case nothing would have happened and the plot wouldn't have advanced in any meaningful way.
posted by sciurus at 12:59 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I got no hint of being lost anywhere.

The publication history of the 4th and 5th books aren't a hint, they are proof positive. Martin couldn't even publish a whole book, he had to awkwardly split one in half and publish the first half as filler supposed to tide fans over for a year. That year lasted 72 months.

I mean, if a guy says, "Look, I've written 5,000 pages of this stuff, I know where it's going, I know what I'm doing, I have a plan," then why do you think we'll never see the end?
1. 	A Game of Thrones 	August 1996
2. 	A Clash of Kings 	        November 1998
3. 	A Storm of Swords 	August 2000
4. 	A Feast for Crows 	        October 2005
5. 	A Dance w/ Dragons     July 2011
Martin isn't going to finish.
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on July 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 6, eh?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on July 22, 2011


A Dance with Dragons blows. Despite all of the characters' attempts to accomplish things, GRRM successfully prevents them from doing so. Two entire story arcs contained in ADWD could have been reduced to a few paragraphs at the end of the book. The whole thing could have been condensed to 300 pages and doing the same thing to AFFC would have resulted in one meaningful volume, although even in that case nothing would have happened and the plot wouldn't have advanced in any meaningful way.

I understand where this is coming from, but I think it's too strong. I felt like a couple of the plots moved a lot in ADWD. I would agree that some of that movement only came at the end of what seemed like an awful lot of pointless circling(Daenarys, I'm looking at you), but I think the pieces got moved a little closer to where they need to be.

What I did not understand or need was the insertion of new characters into ADWD(especially one, highly spoilery individual), who just look like they're going to give him MORE work to do to find an end. Also, there was one character who was introduced into ADWD did NOTHING, and then exited the scene, in a way that was completely infuriating (if you've read it, you probably know who I mean).
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:04 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say it quite like sciurus but he is mostly correct. AFfC and ADwD should have been one book with half of the page count of each cut out.
posted by Justinian at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2011


Here's something I've been thinking of. George R. R. Martin. Is this a joke pen name, riffing on J. R. R. Tolkien?
posted by JHarris at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2011


I think he'll finish it, and I'm a pessimist. I don't think I could handle not knowing what happens.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 1:06 PM on July 22, 2011


The fifth book-so far-was good, and not what I was expecting to be about at all . . which is impressive, considering the amount of time I've spent thinking about it. Though about page 600-700 my interest started to flag and I started wondering what all those other characters were up to.

I actually liked Book 4 quite a bit because it didn't have the standard lead characters. I was getting a bit bored with those guys.

Martin isn't going to finish.

I have to agree here. I don't think he really knows where he's going or how to get there or even cares that much. He's just expanding the world at this point.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:06 PM on July 22, 2011


Is this a joke pen name

No. He had a career as a SF short story writer starting in the late 70's, then as a screenwriter for the new Twilight Zone and other programs, before starting the series.
posted by thelonius at 1:08 PM on July 22, 2011


"[Just to remind everyone: a) we are not going to enforce any sort of spoiler policy here. b) ROT13 tends to get flagged to hell and back and will be treated accordingly. ]"

Wow, sorry for trying to make a joke. Didn't realize that was verboten!
posted by Eideteker at 1:08 PM on July 22, 2011


Here's something I've been thinking of. George R. R. Martin. Is this a joke pen name, riffing on J. R. R. Tolkien?

Eh? His name is George Raymond Richard Martin. He's been writing SF for 35 years.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 PM on July 22, 2011


One of the things that strikes me in the recent books is, there'll be a major turning point for a character, and then you realize it's been building for hundreds of pages. Do you always plan these huge events and then find ways to build up to them, or do you sometimes write a character's journey and then realize that it's been leading to a huge turning point?

All the major things have been planned since the beginning, since the early 90s, the major deaths and the general direction of things. Obviously, the details and the minor things have been things that I've discovered along the way, part of the fun of writing the books is making these discoveries along the journey. But the general structure of the books has been in my head all along.

It's always a tightrope, writing — you do have to set things up. You don't want them to come out of nowhere, out of left field. You do want to foreshadow them. But you don't want the developments to seem predictable. If everybody knows what's coming two books before it comes, then it loses all its impact. That's the tough part. There's no easy answer to that. You just do what you can.
-GRRM

I have faith. I don't know. Maybe because I'm new to all this, but I think he knows and I believe he will get there. I guess we'll see.
posted by kbanas at 1:09 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I bet Tad Williams has a picture of Martin's face taped over his dartboard.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:10 PM on July 22, 2011


I think he'll finish it, and I'm a pessimist. I don't think I could handle not knowing what happens.

HBO has bet big sums of money on their show. He* will finish the series. They'll keep him on life support until that last book is written.

*Time Warner, HBO and affiliate companies.
posted by JimmyJames at 1:11 PM on July 22, 2011


On page 325 of the hardcover version of ADWD there's a Monty Python & the Holy Grail reference.
posted by sciurus at 1:12 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


HBO doesn't need Martin to finish. They have excellent writers and will finish it themselves if they have to do so.

Martin has said he doesn't have time even to start the next book until 2012. 2012! Just to begin!
posted by Justinian at 1:12 PM on July 22, 2011


All the major things have been planned since the beginning...

I don't believe him. The scars from Battlestar Galatica have never healed properly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:13 PM on July 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


One of the major problems, and this isn't just with GRRM, is that nobody edits the big names. And everybody needs editing, even the big names. This is just across the board. GRRM. Rowling. Anne McCaffrey's last few were terrible and Todd never should have been published at all except he took over his mom's work and changed his last name to match. Even outside of specfic--Lilian Jackson Braun was *beloved*, but the last few Cat Who books were a travesty.

I do believe he has a general idea where it's going. But there's nobody riding on him to make sure he's doing all of this in a tight and timely manner instead of just wandering around for a couple decades until he gets there, and he could use that. In the absence of that, as with any author of series fiction, there is unfortunately the very real possibility that he could have to stop writing before it's done. And if all of the ways everything ties up is just all in his head... well, it'll be stuck there.

For as much as books cost, now, I really wish they'd subject them all to much more rigorous work before publication. I think a lot of authors are, these days, just giving us barely-revised second drafts, while a lot of people are struggling very hard to break into the business at all and are getting nitpicked for every possible imperfection.
posted by gracedissolved at 1:13 PM on July 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


On page 325 of the hardcover version of ADWD there's a Monty Python & the Holy Grail reference.

Yeah, that was...strange.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:13 PM on July 22, 2011


Yeah, I don't think it's a coincidnence that the fifth book managed to come out the same year Game of Thrones appeared on HBO.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:14 PM on July 22, 2011


Maybe because I'm new to all this

That's probably part of it.

Remember that those of us who started reading in 1996 went 11 years between Dany, Tyrion, or Jon chapters. 11 years. AFfC is an interregnum. The great majority of the book by page count is brand new viewpoints from characters we had zero investment in. Brienne is fine and all but... half the book? Really?
posted by Justinian at 1:16 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't believe him.

I do believe him. I just think he can't figure out how to get there from here. I mean, he basically admitted as much with all his comments on his so-called "Meereneese knot".
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on July 22, 2011


All the major things have been planned since the beginning...

I don't believe him.


I do. This most recent book in particular read like he was finishing setting up an intricate pattern of dominoes. (I'd agree that a skip in the timeline and some summary would serve, but maybe HBO wouldn't be so happy with having to recast the child actors if there was a jump?)

The only problem is the wait to see them all knocked down -- there's a few big confrontations brewing that probably would have served ADWD's structure better if he could have fit them into this one as a climax.
posted by rewil at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2011


Remember that those of us who started reading in 1996 went 11 years between Dany, Tyrion, or Jon chapters. 11 years. AFfC is an interregnum. The great majority of the book by page count is brand new viewpoints from characters we had zero investment in.

I guess that's part of the difference in just downing it all in one gulp. Like, I can see finally getting my hands on a Feast for Crows and going, "EURON GREYJOY? WHAT THE COCK IS THIS SHIT?!" And then maybe killing someone.

But as it is, I got to ingest it as one big book, essentially, and so I was more of a, "Oh, wow, now this is an interesting development!" kind of mind frame.

Rfcrpvnyyl jura V yrnearq ur jnf nsgre gur qentbaf.
posted by kbanas at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


If his problem really was the Meereenese knot, it's not too crazy to believe that he might return to something closer to the pace of the first three books. If not, well, he told HBO how it ends.

I really liked Dance, I thought there was a bunch of stuff that clearly needed more than a few paragraphs of summary. The Reek chapters were some of the best in the series.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:21 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'd think that they would quickly give people a legal way to pay for and view the content digitally, in order to reduce incentive to just torrent it.

Yeah, you'd think that, wouldn't you? A friend of mine (not me at all, no sirree) broke a longstanding personal rule about illegal downloading in order to watch Game of Thrones. Had there been any way to pay for it, short of subscribing to HBO, he would have done so. HBO misses out on gazillions of dollars they could get from people like my friend, who either give up in frustration or turn to the torrents. It's annoying, and it's bad business.
posted by steambadger at 1:21 PM on July 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Martin has stated that there was supposed to be a five year gap at some point so the characters could age up. Feast/Dance are that gap, as far as I can tell. There is no way everything was exactly planned out, unless a lot that was planned out was going to be really glossed over or he just decided the ages don't matter. (I don't think they really do)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2011


It's annoying, and it's bad business.

Oh, absolutely. And they released that fucking "HBO to Go" thing or whatever it's called, but you can't use it unless you have an HBO subscription. I think it's awful. Especially because they create some of the best content on TV (or adapt some of the best content out there for TV).

I would have paid for each and every episode if I had the option, but I don't, short of subscribing to HBO.
posted by kbanas at 1:23 PM on July 22, 2011


I think HBO GO is a clear signal that they want to do online only subscriptions. In the era of Netflix and Hulu it just makes sense. I think they are being held back by the cable companies in some way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:24 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I bet Tad Williams has a picture of Martin's face taped over his dartboard.

FYI: "A Game of Thrones" came out eight years before Williams started his "Shadowmarch" series; so if there are going to be pictures on dartboards...
posted by steambadger at 1:25 PM on July 22, 2011


On page 325 of the hardcover version of ADWD there's a Monty Python & the Holy Grail reference.

Yeah, that was...strange.


In AGoT there were three barbarian warriors named Lharys, Kurleket and Mohor. In an interview, George hinted that one day we might see Kurleket Joh or Tschemp.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:27 PM on July 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


I bet Tad Williams has a picture of Martin's face taped over his dartboard.
Funnily enough, I've heard that they get on famously. Tad's even hosting an evening with George R R Martin next week.
posted by Paragon at 1:28 PM on July 22, 2011


Dance taught me that the Sony Reader store doesn't list books until they are released. Or at least that one. I will probably find a different epub vendor by the next book.

This wasn't my favorite book in the series, but I really enjoyed the scenes with a character I'd quite loathed before. On the other hand, I wish a dragon or three would sit on some people I've followed for too long.
posted by dragonplayer at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2011


I guess that's part of the difference in just downing it all in one gulp. Like, I can see finally getting my hands on a Feast for Crows and going, "EURON GREYJOY? WHAT THE COCK IS THIS SHIT?!" And then maybe killing someone.

You know, I read the first four in one go, and that was still my reaction to the sudden inclusion of all the Dornish characters in AFFC.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]




I suppose this is their marketing strategy with their hit shows: use them to sell the HBO brand and increase subscriptions. I recall them doing the same thing with Deadwood - Season 1 DVDs a month before Season 2

posted by thelonius at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2011


Dorne! That's what happened in A Feast For Crows! . . . and explains why I promptly forgot all about it.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:35 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


ADWD more than made up for AFFC, IMO.

The important thing about the journeys taken by the major characters in ADWD was that they emerged as wiser people at the end of their journeys. Without giving any spoilers away, they all had major events happen that made them reevaluate some of their choices. Far from going nowhere, the major chapter characters ended up in places mentally where they are poised to be creatures of action.

I'd compare it (somewhat) to Hamlet. After five acts of contemplating stuff, he realizes very late in the play that "the readiness is all" and resolves to act instead of think. I suspect that we're going to see decisive action from the characters in question in the next couple of volumes.

I also felt that I could see how Martin was starting to bring the strings back together here. I see the ending(s) on the horizon - or at least potential endings.

Regarding strange references to the real world, in the RPG version of GOT, I recall there being a character with a name that sounded like two members of The Clash smashed together - something like Topper Simonen or something.

Dorne! That's what happened in A Feast For Crows!

I argue that those storylines pay off somewhat in ADWD and look to pay off significantly more in the next book or two. I hated them at the time.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:36 PM on July 22, 2011


Martin desperately needs an editor. He has the same disease as JK Rowling does, wanting to cram every bit and idea into a single book. Dance with Dragons is entertaining and entirely too bloated. Get on with it. (I'd say Stephenson has the same disease as well but I wasn't able to even finish most of his recent books, so maybe I missed why they are so long and windy.)
posted by Nelson at 1:38 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


FYI: "A Game of Thrones" came out eight years before Williams started his "Shadowmarch" series; so if there are going to be pictures on dartboards...

And Tad Williams started Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn in 1988. MST is a sort of proto-Martin, though there are many dissimilarities.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]




Dorne! That's what happened in A Feast For Crows! . . . and explains why I promptly forgot all about it.

But I thought it was important! I mean, it kind of started with the Red Viper from Storm of Swords, but I thought it carried nicely into Feast for Crows. The whole thing about Arianne and Viserys, for example, I thought was very interesting, as well as the idea of trying to setup Myrcella as queen.
posted by kbanas at 1:40 PM on July 22, 2011


Like, I can see finally getting my hands on a Feast for Crows and going, "EURON GREYJOY? WHAT THE COCK IS THIS SHIT?!" And then maybe killing someone.

Exactly! It was five years and then like... Brienne of Tarth? Euron Damphair?? Arianne Martell?!?! What the fuck!? WHAT THE FUCK!?!
posted by Justinian at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


This series has devolved into 90% stories about characters I don't care about (doing things I already knew about from references in the previous book), 2% stories about the interesting characters, and 8% descriptions of romantic-sounding-but-totally-inedible food.

I'm so over this series.
posted by jph at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem wasn't the inclusion of new characters and storylines, it was that those inclusions were not in addition to the characters and storylines we had grown to care about, they were instead of them. Consider how much continuity in viewpoints there is between books 1 and 2, and between books 2 and 3. There is almost none between 3 and 4.
posted by Justinian at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


8% descriptions of romantic-sounding-but-totally-inedible food

Lots of fish rolled in nuts, I notice.
posted by kbanas at 1:42 PM on July 22, 2011


If you weren't craving some puppy meat by the end you and I must have been reading a different book.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:46 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you weren't craving some puppy meat by the end you and I must have been reading a different book.

I actually kind of like how the food descriptions mirror the changing circumstances of the characters (and the seasons). The first book is all delicious sounding banquets with twelve courses, but by the most recent book it's all "Guys! We've got RAW HORSE MEAT!"
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


SPOILERS


Somewhat disappointed in the book. It was repetitive and not a lot happened. Some of the best characters were treated to...more travelling.

Also Dany spends way too much time mooning over dudes and it's old and NO ONE CARES ABOUT JON'S MINOR ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS and I can't believe there was NO BATTLE OF THE ANYWHERE ARGGH
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2011


And Tad Williams started Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn in 1988. MST is a sort of proto-Martin, though there are many dissimilarities.

I loved Memory, Sorrow and Thorn... but I've been three times unable to get past A Game of Thrones and I can't figure out why. Something about the way he writes it drives me nuts.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:49 PM on July 22, 2011


Oh, absolutely. And they released that fucking "HBO to Go" thing or whatever it's called, but you can't use it unless you have an HBO subscription.

I have a subscription to HBO and I can't use HBO GO. Thanks Time-Warner cable! So far I'm digging ADWD (about 1/4 in) the Griff/Young Griff thing is an interesting development. Oh and the whole Reek thing...
posted by MikeMc at 1:51 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's annoying, and it's bad business.

I'm thinking the folks at HBO know what is and is not good business (for them) better than random internet opining. The thing people are overlooking is that HBO needs subscriptions far more than they need people paying a marginal amount to watch one or two of their series'. Paying them to watch Game of Thrones would be great and all but it wouldn't pay their bills. They need subscriptions. If allowing only people who subscribe to HBO to watch GoT means 1 extra person subscribes to HBO for every 9 who pirate it, that's obviously better for them than if 5 of those people pay to download GoT while only 5 pirate it.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on July 22, 2011


"You know, I read the first four in one go, and that was still my reaction to the sudden inclusion of all the Dornish characters in AFFC."

What a worthless bunch of page count padding that was. All that time spent on characters in Dorne just to introduce another suitor for Dany? Was there something else that I missed?
posted by MikeMc at 1:56 PM on July 22, 2011


The backstory about the Martell's plotting with Viserys was interesting. I'm just not sure it was a few hundred pages of interesting.
posted by Justinian at 1:59 PM on July 22, 2011



What a worthless bunch of page count padding that was. All that time spent on characters in Dorne just to introduce another suitor for Dany? Was there something else that I missed?


I think maybe you're thinking of the Iron Men? Who in the Dorne-plot was a suitor for Dany?

(It's entirely possible I missed it.)
posted by kbanas at 2:01 PM on July 22, 2011


Quentyn Martell, and he doesn't even succeed.
posted by polyhedron at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2011


Quentyn Martell, and he doesn't even succeed.

Oh, right! Right. Right.

Does he truly not succeed? I got the impression that he was going to win her, and was heading for her with sellswords and such, but that beyond that it was not discussed. I figured it would be something we would see in the 5th book.
posted by kbanas at 2:05 PM on July 22, 2011


A lot of people don't like the Quentyn arc, but I thought it was a hoot. I loved that the whole time I was reading his scheme I'm thinking "This is an impossibly dumb idea. There's only one way this ends." And it totally ends that way! It's an anti-twist!
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:06 PM on July 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, right! Right. Right.

Does he truly not succeed? I got the impression that he was going to win her, and was heading for her with sellswords and such, but that beyond that it was not discussed. I figured it would be something we would see in the 5th book.


I think you've stumbled into the "Here there be spoilers" section of the map.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:06 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


With regard to Martin's series, nothing I've read so far in ADwD has changed my opinion that we will never see the end of the story. The first three books were the best of their kind since Tolkien and nothing that happens can change that, but it is still sad that Martin has found himself lost in the wilderness.

You're dead right, and what Meereenese knot was he talking about exactly? Nothing actually happened in Meereen. Just people sort of trying to get there, and failing, mostly.

In my fantasy ASOIAF series, AFFC & ADWD never happened, and the first chapter of book 4 is Daenerys dropping fucking dragonfire on Westeros, thinking to herself "jiminy jillickers, ruling Meereen was a quagmire... good thing I went back to conquering the fuck out of everything" Then she flies to the Wall and marries Jon Snow.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:09 PM on July 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


Oh, crap! I'm out!
posted by kbanas at 2:12 PM on July 22, 2011


I've enjoyed all the books to varying degrees -- A Clash of Kings was my favorite so far, while A Storm of Swords was my least favorite. I'd agree that there are parts that drag for us, the readers. However, Martin's work seems to be a labor of love, and I don't think that the good parts would be so good if he wasn't given free reign to set everything up and otherwise explore his own world. In other words, I support him following his muse.
posted by Edgewise at 2:13 PM on July 22, 2011


and I don't think that the good parts would be so good if he wasn't given free reign to set everything up and otherwise explore his own world.

He's free to write as much as he wants; he doesn't have to include it all in the actual book.
posted by Justinian at 2:17 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you've never read the books, but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:20 PM on July 22, 2011




If you've never read the books, but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?


I wouldn't bother, the quality starts out okay, but depreciates rapidly, and exponentially. You may as well enjoy book one rather than skipping to bitter fan phase.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:23 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you've never read the books, but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?

Probably yeah, but I would recommend reading the first book first because it's pretty damn well written, even if you know what happens.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:24 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you've never read the books,but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?

Probably not entirely optimal, but I think so.
posted by kbanas at 2:24 PM on July 22, 2011


The Wastelands came out in 1991 and Wizard and Glass didn't come out until 1997. Stupid artists and their craft. Why can't they dance faster for me?
posted by kbanas at 8:41 PM on July 22


If you think that's bad ... I'm still waiting on book five of War Against The Chtorr.

Book four was released in 1993 (itself ten years after the first book, in '83). 18 years I've been waiting for book five.... and after that, there's still books six and seven to wait for(!).

And David Gerrold is 67.
posted by kaemaril at 2:25 PM on July 22, 2011


If you've never read the books, but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?

I read book one years ago, and then picked them up starting with book two recently without too much trouble. The real problem is keeping track of the minor characters, but that remains a problem.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:26 PM on July 22, 2011


A few observations, light on spoilers, now that the thread's large enough that there's no chance I'll end up over-moderating or derailing it:

1. "Reek, Reek, rhymes with"... damn it, Martin, why did to have to make me start feeling sad for that bastard?

2. My own analysis of some of what is revealed in ADwD (obviously, huge spoilers within).

3. Overall, I found ADwD lived up to the high standards I expect from Martin, with the exception of Daenerys and the so-called Meereen knot. The futility of this whole scenario reminded me unsettlingly of Egwene's books-long sojourn in the Aiel Waste in the Wheel of Time series.
posted by The Confessor at 2:29 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you think that's bad ... I'm still waiting on book five of War Against The Chtorr.

Me too, though I long ago gave up hope. If you can believe it, I first became interested in those books when I ran across a GURPS sourcebook for roleplaying in that setting.
posted by Edgewise at 2:29 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think skipping the first book because you've seen the TV show would be entirely sub-optimal. Like skipping Fellowship because you've seen the movie.
posted by Justinian at 2:30 PM on July 22, 2011


If you've never read the books, but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?

Yes, you definitely can, but I don't look at the first book as something to get past, if you know what I mean.
posted by Edgewise at 2:31 PM on July 22, 2011


Don't skip the first book. It's amazing.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 2:32 PM on July 22, 2011


Brandon the Blatcher

There are some peripheral characters in the AGoT book that are never introduced or go unnamed in the series, including the "Blackfish" Tully, and certain of Robb's sworn lords, who all seemed to have been reduced to the character of Greatjon Umber for the series. I highly suggest reading the AGoT book before proceeding with the rest of the series.
posted by The Confessor at 2:34 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fact, I'd say absolutely read the first book, probably read the second, and then let the TV series take over from there if there still is one. But, again, the third book is, I think, the first time I have actually hurled a book across the room and then walked over to pick it up so I could throw it back the other way. I kind of want to reread them again just to see if I'm inspired to the same level of rage.
posted by Errant at 2:46 PM on July 22, 2011


SPOILERY

I found ADwD lived up to the high standards I expect from Martin, with the exception of Daenerys and the so-called Meereen knot.

I saw this as evidence that she wasn't yet qualified to run a city. its one thing to swoop into Westeros, Dragons blazing. Its quite another thing to rule it once you've won it. What she has learning in Meereen is that governing sometimes involves compromising your personal values in exchange for stability - and that even then, things might not work out the way you'd like them to.

Presumably, once she gets to Westeros, and assuming she wins back the crown, she'll be somebody with a certain amount of experience at politics as opposed to some violet eyed girl with a couple of hungry dragons.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:54 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


What she has learning in Meereen is that governing sometimes involves compromising your personal values in exchange for stability - and that even then, things might not work out the way you'd like them to.

Exactly the lesson which Ned Stark rejected.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've figured out that everything that I thought had happened in the fourth actually happened in the third

I'm pretty sure he mentions that in a foreword, but perhaps only in reprints (perhaps after other readers expressed confusion/complaint.)

If you've never read the books,but did watch the HBO series, can one just jump into the second book without being lost?

Probably not entirely optimal, but I think so.


I think you would miss a lot of important details, but that's the fun thing about the book. Nobody even knows what the important details that we've spotted or missed are yet.

Also, the first book is the best, and the ending is great. Don't skip it.

the third book is, I think, the first time I have actually hurled a book across the room and then walked over to pick it up so I could throw it back the other way

I've said this before, in one of the other threads, but the series (so far - 80% through FoC) seems fit for emotional masochists. Lots of characters are built up solely to be abused and killed/maimed, etc. Take Brienne of Tarth, one of my favorite characters of all the books so far. Consider her ending. I was certainly prepared for it, but c'mon, man. Throw a bone of happy news more than once a book.

I didn't like Book 3 either--I think it's the worst of the first 4, but I quite enjoyed Book 4. I think SoS suffered from being a threequel as well as overplayed characters advancing too slowly.

My biggest complaint about the series (1-4) is that there's not enough development in the first halves of the books. Everything builds up to a decent climax, but it takes too long.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2011


The real problem is keeping track of the minor characters, but that remains a problem.

Only the Freys. Really. And maybe the Kettleblacks. Fuck all those guys.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exactly the lesson which Ned Stark rejected.

Precisely - and that's another thing I like about ADWD - there's a whole lot of looking back and making connections to AGOT.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:07 PM on July 22, 2011


I gave up after book two way back when and I will never, ever read these books again, but I really liked The Hedge Knight and wish Martin would just spend his time writing short story collections set at different points in this world. Alas.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:10 PM on July 22, 2011


I've figured out that everything that I thought had happened in the fourth actually happened in the third

I'm pretty sure he mentions that in a foreword, but perhaps only in reprints (perhaps after other readers expressed confusion/complaint.)


Book five doesn't have a forward-just a reminder that this book is happening simultaneously with the fourth book (which is why I kept on being surprised in ADwD-I'd forgotten that all of those events would have already happened)
posted by dinty_moore at 3:15 PM on July 22, 2011


GRRM has frequently acknowledged that Tad Williams's "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" showed him that something like "Game of Thrones" was possible.
posted by scrump at 3:16 PM on July 22, 2011


Take Brienne of Tarth, one of my favorite characters of all the books so far. Consider her ending. I was certainly prepared for it, but c'mon, man.

I have not yet gotten to the bits of ADwD which occur after AFfC, so this is not a spoiler:

I would be extremely surprised if Brienne of Tarth does not reappear. I'm 96% certain she is alive.
posted by Justinian at 3:16 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, the major multi-series epic that I'm worried about is The Art of Computer Programming. I'm going to be seriously pissed if I don't find out how (or if) that one algorithm ends!

I'm afraid I have some bad news.
posted by No-sword at 3:24 PM on July 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm afraid I have some bad news.

Of course, in the real world, the answer to "will this algorithm halt?" is always "yes".
posted by kenko at 3:31 PM on July 22, 2011




And Tad Williams started Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn in 1988. MST is a sort of proto-Martin, though there are many dissimilarities.

Hmm. When I first read AGOT, I wasn't overwhelmed by the similarities to MST, which I had read some years earlier. It's possible the leaky vessel I laughingly call my memory was asleep at the switch, though.

I'm thinking the folks at HBO know what is and is not good business (for them) better than random internet opining.

That's possible. I believe that back when I had cable, I once subscribed to HBO just so I could watch The Sopranos; maybe there are still a lot of people doing that. But the business plan of the cable companies is rapidly becoming insupportable. I get all my TV from Netflix and Hulu these days, and so do a bunch of other folks.
posted by steambadger at 4:34 PM on July 22, 2011


Martin has said he doesn't have time even to start the next book until 2012. 2012! Just to begin!

I don't understand, what the heck is preventing him from working on book 6. All the conventions he has to attend? (Better not be another Wild Cards compilation.) I was hoping the momentum from finishing this book and the success of the TV show would get his creative juices going again, but a start date of 2012 suggests that he really just isn't that interested in writing these books anymore. Hasn't the Meereenese knot now been untied since You-Know-Who is now in a position to meet You-Know-Whom?
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:47 PM on July 22, 2011


I agree in general. But I think HBO will switch to alternate delivery systems when it becomes economically sensible for them to do so. It clearly isn't yet.
posted by Justinian at 4:48 PM on July 22, 2011


But the business plan of the cable companies is rapidly becoming insupportable. I get all my TV from Netflix and Hulu these days, and so do a bunch of other folks.

Cable will be around for quite some time yet, the thing about Hulu and Netflix is that they don't create any content. When Hulu starts creating shows like AGOT, The Sopranos or even Eastbound and Down then it'll be on.
posted by MikeMc at 4:50 PM on July 22, 2011


Not reading this thread until I finish the book. Simply commenting so I can find it again.

La la la, I can't hear you *fingers in ears*
posted by arcticseal at 4:57 PM on July 22, 2011


We're in for a long wait.

For the TV show, anything that happens in the books is a spoiler.

Martin will wait until the show is beyond the material the next book will cover to publish it.

Or until the show is canceled.
posted by jamjam at 5:08 PM on July 22, 2011


You're dead right, and what Meereenese knot was he talking about exactly? Nothing actually happened in Meereen. Just people sort of trying to get there, and failing, mostly.

That's the knot. The right people have to get there (or not) in the right order, with believable journey times. (I think that was one reason for the five-year gap that he's since abandoned.)

I found ADWD disappointing but I realize that, like Feast, it's the mid-game of the series. I think (hope) that we'll start to see the endgame develop in the next book.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2011


I think (hope) that we'll start to see the endgame develop in the next book.

I'd put the odds on seeing the next book at 50/50. The one after that 10%.
posted by Justinian at 5:32 PM on July 22, 2011


On page 325 of the hardcover version of ADWD there's a Monty Python & the Holy Grail reference.

Context (or even a straight up cite)?
The page numbers in the electronic version are...interesting.
posted by madajb at 5:36 PM on July 22, 2011


I had the feeling he'd lost the plot in Feast of Crows, and that was definitely confirmed in Dance of Dragons. Hopefully he'll be able to get it back.

I'm interested in how he wraps it up, but I really don't want to read another 700 pages of not-a-damn-thing-happening. Here's hoping it's back to the action in the next one.

I'm also not going to bitch too much about how long it takes. I've not even written a short story, let alone thousands of pages of fairly intricate novel.
posted by madajb at 5:40 PM on July 22, 2011


On page 325 of the hardcover version of ADWD there's a Monty Python & the Holy Grail reference.

Context (or even a straight up cite)?
The page numbers in the electronic version are...interesting.


I googled this and found out that he writes "...fart in your general direction..."

Reading ADWD it strikes me that these books aren't anything like Lord of the Rings, but are much closer to Conan the Barbarian stories of Robert E. Howard.

I'm enjoying the book, and like them overall quite a bit, but it is murky stuff to wade through. I agree that his work would be better with an editor, but he's raking in cash and doing his own thing. What I find really irritating about the books is that not only are there 1,000 major and minor characters, but each of these has nick names, sometimes several nicknames. I also think he's writing these things pretty much off the cuff, and has no clear idea how it ends. Ah well, I'll read 'em all anyway.

(Actually, what really bothers me is the fact that the wildlings north of the wall eat vegetables, and he made a point of saying the giant eats ONLY veggies... Where and how the hell are these vegetables growing in a frozen wasteland?)
posted by jeff-o-matic at 5:46 PM on July 22, 2011


I eat frozen vegetables all the time. They keep better.
posted by jsturgill at 5:48 PM on July 22, 2011


Yeah, the fucking nicknames drive me to rage. RAGE! I thought there were like 12 people out ranging in the first book. Oh actually it's just 3. Then they all get killed pretty much ASAP so the nicknames were massively pointless and confusing. Why, GRRM, why.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:49 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moar liek Bloatnan.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:00 PM on July 22, 2011


Reading ADWD it strikes me that these books aren't anything like Lord of the Rings, but are much closer to Conan the Barbarian stories of Robert E. Howard.


Really? But Howard's Conan are almost never multi-character; he only wrote a one full Conan novel; the stories were propelled almost entirely by Conan and there was rarely any "world-ending" stuff; there was almost no complex politics; they were not written with any continuity in mind, and they were published almost non-stop. Certainly, they are both brutish and nasty, but only one is short.

Didn't read Feast For Crows - vowed not to read any more until (if) he finishes, after the stupid parts of Storm of Swords (the "lord's kiss"? Really? Yay, just want fantasy needs, more teenaged, badly written gratuitious sex. Come on, there's Clan of the Cave Bear for that. Isn't that enough? Isn't it??)
posted by smoke at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2011


smoke: All good points. I would never claim that ASOIAF is exactly like Conan stories, but there are more similarities (to me) between the two versus LotR. And ASOIAF is constantly compared to LotR in the press.

Almost every page of ASOIAF is gratuitous one way or another, but that's what I read 'em for, I guess. Not good literature, but great storytelling. I admit there's parts of these books where I just sort of glazed over and lost track of what the hell was going on... and didn't care. I'm not an obsessive fan I guess, but it's awesome entertainment.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:19 PM on July 22, 2011


And ASOIAF is constantly compared to LotR in the press.


That's definitely true, and I can see how you'd disagree with that in a Tolkien vs Howard comparison. Soopid press can only think of one popular fantasy writer.
posted by smoke at 6:22 PM on July 22, 2011


I haven't yet started a A Dance with Dragons, so I'm afraid to read anything above. I just popped in so I wouldn't lose a valuable opportunity to do this:

BUTTERBUMPS!
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:26 PM on July 22, 2011


The "exoticism" of Howard's Conan stories is also rampant in ASOIAF. Nomadic Mongol-like tribes, slave cities with pyramids and elephants, etc.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:30 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Soopid press can only think has only heard of one popular fantasy writer.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:34 PM on July 22, 2011


"The "exoticism" of Howard's Conan stories is also rampant in ASOIAF. Nomadic Mongol-like tribes, slave cities with pyramids and elephants, etc."

So...maybe ASoIaF could be called "High Pulp"?
posted by MikeMc at 6:40 PM on July 22, 2011


Soopid press can only think has only heard of one popular fantasy writer.

Nah. You can expect them to reference Rowling and Lewis when appropriate (eg, in reviews of The Magicians.) Tolkien is a fair world-spanning tale spinner to use as a touchstone for discussing ASOIAF. Howard is a fair choice, but not (IMHO) as good of one.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:40 PM on July 22, 2011


(the "lord's kiss"? Really? Yay, just want fantasy needs, more teenaged, badly written gratuitious sex. Come on, there's Clan of the Cave Bear for that. Isn't that enough? Isn't it??)

On the plus side, he seems a whole lot less obsessed with virginity this go round.
posted by madajb at 6:42 PM on July 22, 2011


nuncle
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:44 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I googled this and found out that he writes "...fart in your general direction..."

Hah!
posted by madajb at 6:47 PM on July 22, 2011


On the plus side, he seems a whole lot less obsessed with virginity this go round.

I always thought the obsession with virginity was spot on, since the society he's modelling himself on(medieval Europe) was, in fact, obsessed with virginity.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:48 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed AFFC very much...... me: book mainliner, read all 4 old books in the last 6 weeks....perhaps I liked it with the joy of the young literary athlete, breaking the tape? cue "A Chariot Of Fire"!

I actually found that the middle part of book 2 was the worst slog. I actually almost had to get out my graph paper, to keep reading. YMMV.
posted by thelonius at 6:54 PM on July 22, 2011


I'm sorry, but I'm not going to read this thread until it is closed.
posted by about_time at 7:20 PM on July 22, 2011


I'm sorry, but I'm not going to read this thread until it is closed.

They'll never close it...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:21 PM on July 22, 2011


I quickly skimmed cause I'm nearly done with the third book and don't want spoilers, but Damn it feels good to be a Lannister. (via Valkyryn if you didn't catch it the other day.)
posted by nile_red at 7:22 PM on July 22, 2011


Heh. I've been listening to the series (by the redoubtable Roy Dotrice - he's pretty good at voices, not as good as Nigel Planer or Stephen Briggs, but his female voices are pretty awful) and a huge downside is that I have no idea how any of the names/places are spelled.

Dawnish men? Crap - DORNE-ishmen.

Upthread: Euron Greyjoy. Who the hell is he? Eu., Eur.. Oh... Aaron Greyjoy. And "hover." Every audiobook I've heard the word it had been pronounced hOver ("O" as in Hodor) and every time I've heard the word in person it has been huv-er.

--

I rather regret in retrospect getting into the series (before it has been completed - I thought that I learned my lesson from WoT, which I gave up on midway through); the HBO mini was fantastic, the first book and most of the second were also fantastic. Fantastic enough to buy into a few characters but most of them die, some of them get ignored, and a whole lot of other characters are introduced.

One of the very few good things that introducing POV Martells is the backstory (Arianne/Visarys), but, really - GRRM needs a bloody bloody minded editor, and maybe a gambling addiction or something to drain his coffers and motivate him to write the next book.

--

ASoFaI is very character driven; I'd not be surprised if a lot of MA or even PhD theses are written comparing modern serial fantastic fiction with Russian classics like War and Peace.

Hmm, has War and Peace ever gotten a high-budget serial treatment?
posted by porpoise at 8:39 PM on July 22, 2011


Brandon Blatcher, you cannot possibly hate Cersei enough if you just start from the TV show and read the second book. The show makes her far more sympathetic, especially the little tale of her and Robert losing a son,which never happened in the book. Plus you really need a better sense of characters like Little Finger and Jorah Mormont than the show gives you.

Okay, now I have not-spoilery comments and spoilery cooments.

Not-Spoilery:

What the hell does a seven pointed star look like? I'm picturiing basically a square or diamond and a triangle. also, I'd love to see a good facsimile of the flayed man sigil.

Dragons grow up way too slowly.

Also, if you are given a cool pet like a direwolf or a dragon, don't take it for granted or ignore its growls or chain it up, moron.

SPOILERY!!!!

Reek breaks my heart. I want to mother him. And I didn't think I could hate anyone more than Joffrey and Cersei, but the Freys and Ramsey prove how wrong I was.

Jon Snow! Reserving judgment on this storyline. Arya? Storyline seems irrelevant. Love Dolorous Ed, get rid of Penny.

I'm a bit confused how Cersei knew about 'Strong' and got him to be her champion. Also puzzled about Margery still. She might be a lesbian but why drink the moon tea?

Triarchs and three-headed dragons, are they related? We have (maybe) Jon Snow, Dany and Grif.
posted by misha at 8:58 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What the hell does a seven pointed star look like?"

This, I can help with.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:55 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I just got home from performing the score during a showing of Fellowship of the Ring, and it hit me during the performance: I am losing interest in ASOIAF because I don't think Martin actually understands what makes epics... epic. It isn't length, and it isn't the number of random characters you shoehorn in or conjure from thin air. It isn't creating a new world where one didn't exist. And it isn't writing funny poetry to stick alongside your prose.

In LotR, there's a very clearly defined goal. There are very clearly defined sides. And the struggle between those sides - while meandering - is pretty straightforward. You never WANT Sauron to win. I mean, if for no other reason than you can't bear to hear Frodo complain anymore, you want things to work out for him.

A Song of Ice and Fire was first described to me by a friend as "everyone somehow manages at some point to be the worst person in the world" - and I've found that to be pretty largely true. Even the handful of decent characters aren't likable or without their own problems. It is realistic in it's refusal to be so black and white.

But I want black and white in my fantasy epics. I want to know that good will vanquish evil and prevail. I want a happy ending.

I don't even know who to root for! I am so bored of trying to figure out who is the least evil that I would welcome the Doom at this point just to not have to care anymore.
posted by jph at 10:35 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always thought the obsession with virginity was spot on, since the society he's modelling himself on(medieval Europe) was, in fact, obsessed with virginity.

No doubt, but they probably had more than one word for it!

It's like that "Rains of Castamere" song. Yeah, we get it, it's the Billboard hit of the decade, but seriously, quit dropping it into every chapter.

Maybe it's because I read the books in the space of a week or so, but seriously, an editor could catch some of the more repetitive character elements.
posted by madajb at 12:13 AM on July 23, 2011


A Game of Thrones August 1996

Whoa! That's where I remember that name from. I thought that title seemed familiar. I remember seeing that book on my Dad's nightstand. When I was in high school.

Christ, I don't know whether this makes me feel really old or really young.
posted by ryanrs at 1:03 AM on July 23, 2011


On reflection, I think it makes the rest of you guys seem really old. Your favorite band is my Dad's favorite band.
posted by ryanrs at 1:05 AM on July 23, 2011


I think it means your Dad is awesome.
posted by flaterik at 1:08 AM on July 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but 16 year olds usually don't notice it.
posted by ryanrs at 1:10 AM on July 23, 2011


The first three books were the best of their kind since Tolkien and nothing that happens can change that, but it is still sad that Martin has found himself lost in the wilderness.

Absolutely spot on. I believe he took a crucial, critical misstep in Book 3 (I'm sure we all know the event I am referring to). After that, the plot seemed to lose all of its momentum. And any sympathy from myself, as a reader. Because it was immediately clear that it was going to take thousands and thousands more pages to even begin to bring about a conclusion. I would not be surprised if this was the reason behind the much, much longer time between the books after #3. He just had no idea where to go, and what infuriates me even more is that he ended up writing two more books in which basically nothing happens. SO, instead of making forward progression on any of the remaining story arcs, he goes off on wild tangents, starting new plot threads that meander around for a while and never seem to deliver much of anything.

He should have just wrapped up the central plotlines in the third book, and maybe written a fourth book as an epilogue to tie up the loose ends and put some icing on the cake. I have read all of book 4 and am making headway on book 5, and I highly doubt this series can be successfully concluded in the next decade or two considering his present direction.
posted by sophist at 1:57 AM on July 23, 2011


I watched "Game of Thrones", which was well done... but, really, it's a guaranteed exercise in frustration. At worst, they'll release another few series, but leave the story unfinished. At best, you'll wait a Potteresque period of time for it to end, jonesing majorly along the way, only to find that all your favorite characters have died. Gah.

Realistically, I don't see the HBO series attracting a larger audience next season, which is problematic. It was good, but you can't expect to kill off the biggest stars and still have an enduring show. I give HBO about 4-5 years tops, which simply won't be enough time. Perhaps if they started filming multiple books at a time... which, given how good they are at killing off their cast, that might not be too hard to do.

As for the books, I will wait until the series is done. It simply doesn't make much sense to read them beforehand.
posted by markkraft at 2:11 AM on July 23, 2011


‎(Clearly, Shakespeare would've done so much better if he had padded Macbeth, added in a few thousand pages worth of sequels, a whole bunch of extra characters -- all of whom also die -- and dragged it out another decade or so.)
posted by markkraft at 2:14 AM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


...it isn't the number of random characters you shoehorn in or conjure from thin air.

Tom Bombaldi?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:53 AM on July 23, 2011


But I want black and white in my fantasy epics. I want to know that good will vanquish evil and prevail. I want a happy ending.

Well, it's not as if there's a shortage of fantasy books following this path (or Tolkien copycats/novelised D&D campaigns). Personally speaking, I liked ASOIAF exactly because it focused on politics, had plenty of gray characters and didn't mind killing off people you identified with. I'm slightly wary of the supernatural elements, but it remains to be seen how Martin will use them (hopefully not as a deus ex).
posted by ersatz at 5:43 AM on July 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


(I'm sure we all know the event I am referring to)

I think you're good dropping spoilers this far into a thread like this.

I also like the emphasis on politics, which is why I wish he'd write something manageable and not go for the EPIC FANTASY.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:10 AM on July 23, 2011


(I'm sure we all know the event I am referring to)

I think you're good dropping spoilers this far into a thread like this.


I'm curious as well.
posted by madajb at 7:48 AM on July 23, 2011


The Red Wedding?
posted by porpoise at 8:24 AM on July 23, 2011


"Tom Bombaldi?"

Did you read the Italian edition of LOtR?
posted by MikeMc at 8:31 AM on July 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


SPOILERS

Yeah GRRM uses supernatural stuff in one of the most annoying ways possible. To kill people, and then...bring them back to life. :(
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:45 AM on July 23, 2011


Long story short, this series has jumped the kraken.
posted by jph at 8:57 AM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Tom Bombaldi?"

Did you read the Italian edition of LOtR?


That'll teach me to post right after I wake up.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2011


40 minutes of the Comic-Con panel. (I know what I will be doing in between deletions today.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:09 AM on July 23, 2011


"That'll teach me to post right after I wake up."

I think I like your version better, it adds a little flair if you say it out loud in a stereotypical Italian accent.
posted by MikeMc at 9:17 AM on July 23, 2011


Anyone going to see GRRM in Redwood City next week? There could be drinking before or after if enough mefites are going.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:39 AM on July 23, 2011


Yes, I was referring to the Red Wedding. While it was obvious after Eddard died that this wasn't going to be a story where the good guys always won, I think that killing off Robb really limited his options. Likewise, the Jon Snow / Maynce Raider arc he was building at the Wall seems to have fallen apart. Why spend thousands and thousands of pages building up characters and plotlines that you are just going to kill off or abandon?
posted by sophist at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2011


But if Robb's still alive, then Sansa isn't nearly as important, and that whole plotline goes to hell. And Arya (and presumably Rickon) level up when he dies as well. It also opens the way for further temptation of Jon, and I am in no way convinced that he isn't still a key player in the rule of the North.

There is incredible potential here - I am not going to try to argue that it couldn't have been pared down to make a better reading experience, but I think narratively Martin still knows exactly where he's going. (And I dunno that editing is the issue - in a series this complex, how do you tell the guy who knows how all the threads tie back together which ones he needs to remove? I think it could be done, but not by editorial fiat.)

I have to admit I am just waiting for Arya and Nymeria's reunion and subsequent asskicking of everyone and everything in their way. (Shut up, it's totally gonna happen.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:22 AM on July 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never got the idea that Robb was going to be involved in the endgame, any more than Ned or Quentyn were. They're heroic but tragic figures-Robb is too young to be a contender, Ned's too noble, and Quentyn's convinced he's in a different story where he's the hero.

What I like about this is how this is about the Starks vs. the Lannisters, but neither of the sides look like they're going to be a substantial winner-they're more likely to spend so much of their energy weakening each other that someone else will rise and take over. There are seeds of that happening already-all of book five isn't about people flocking to any of the remaining five kings . . . it's about people trying to assert their own claim, or running to Danaerys.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS

But if Robb's still alive, then Sansa isn't nearly as important, and that whole plotline goes to hell. And Arya (and presumably Rickon) level up when he dies as well. It also opens the way for further temptation of Jon, and I am in no way convinced that he isn't still a key player in the rule of the North.

Yeah, I think that was the point of the first chapter this time around. Wargs are apparently really hard to kill off completely.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:34 AM on July 23, 2011


I would never claim that ASOIAF is exactly like Conan stories, but there are more similarities (to me) between the two versus LotR. And ASOIAF is constantly compared to LotR in the press.

I still don't see it. Conan is prototypical Swords&Sorcery. ASOIAF is epic fantasy. They're extremely distinct genres. Compare Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to LOTR.
posted by Justinian at 1:13 PM on July 23, 2011


Haven't read the books, probably won't. (I love SF but not run of the mill quasi-medieval genre fantasy and can't abide fat-volumed open-ended fantasy series.) Having said that, I was disappointed to learn that the world in GoT wasn't really an inverted sphere with a bronze orrery for a sun. That actually would have been cool.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:49 PM on July 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


That actually would have been cool.

I agree ... and the cause of the variable length Long Winters and Long Summers are a result of the artificial sun running out of batteries/glitching up for random amounts of time. And instead of 10 thousand years of being stuck in late medieval technology*, it has been a dark age for the last several thousand years and vastly incomprehensible technologies lie forgotten deep in the orrery and like the Maesters have been hinting at, a lot of "history" is just stuff made up long after the fact.

Huh. I'd be surprised if there wasn't fan fiction set in the Ringworld universe pretty much using that premise.

* Given that there are established banks (ie., Iron bank of Braavos) and the idea being so good Cersei wants to start her own, all with proto-fiat currency that Littlefinger has already been running, I'm surprised that the technology hasn't been constantly advancing, and there are hints that there used to be better tech that's now lost. It's a bit disappointing that technology levels haven't really been explored by GRRM when so much has been spent on history, politics, protocol, stirrings in young people's loins, and that stupid obsession with lemon cakes.

the young rope-rider - Yeah GRRM uses supernatural stuff in one of the most annoying ways possible.

Yeah, I agree with jph about the whole Kraken, jumped, thing. However, ZOMBIE CATELYN STARK.
posted by porpoise at 7:39 PM on July 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a bit disappointing that technology levels haven't really been explored by GRRM

I suspect that the years-long winters serve as a pretty effective cap on civilization - famine, war, and occasional frozen zombie invasions probably shake things up enough to retard progres.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2011


Okay, so the best criticism of the book I have read so far is from the Westeros forums, suggesting a new title for A Dance With Dragons:

Traveling and Administrative Duties: the Book.

Heh.
posted by misha at 7:58 PM on July 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


That's a funny criticism. But I don't think it's entirely fair. I'm only part-way through DwD, though.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:53 AM on July 25, 2011


Also: an encyclopedia of the grotesquely corpulent and their resulting moral failings.
posted by felix at 7:23 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


sophist: I believe he took a crucial, critical misstep--

That was planned from the very beginning. It's based on an assassination from Scottish history, known as the Black Dinner. (I could only find a children's version of the story on the Internet.)

There's several instances of foreshadowing in the second book. It's in one of Daenerys's visions in the House of the Undying. More subtly, when Arya is at Harrenhal, Roose Bolton's squire is a boy named Elmar Frey, who boasts that he's betrothed to a princess. (That's Arya, although neither of them have any idea.) In a later chapter, he tells her that the Freys have been betrayed, and he can no longer marry his princess.

jph: But I want black and white in my fantasy epics. I want to know that good will vanquish evil and prevail. I want a happy ending.

Interesting. Orwell talks about this:
[In England] our traditions and our past security have given us a sentimental belief that it all comes right in the end and the thing you most fear never really happens. Nourished for hundreds of years on a literature in which Right invariably triumphs in the last chapter, we believe half-instinctively that evil always defeats itself in the long run. Pacifism, for instance, is founded largely on this belief. Don't resist evil, and it will somehow destroy itself. But why should it? What evidence is there that it does? And what instance is there of a modern industrialized state collapsing unless conquered from the outside by military force?
Martin is definitely attempting something more ambitious here than a story of good vs. evil. I'd describe it as a historical novel with fantasy elements, based on the Wars of the Roses. And historical novels are based on history. There's plenty of historical examples of promising leaders whose lives are cut short by defeat or assassination. Even in American politics, think of the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy.

What happened in the historical Wars of the Roses? The Yorks and the Lancasters killed each other off over the course of 25 years, leaving a "Welsh gentleman named Henry Tudor" (Trevelyan, A History of England) to return from exile in France, defeat the unpopular Richard III, and claim the throne.

When Martin started the series, he was reacting against the constraints of working in television, so I'm not surprised that the series is as gigantic and sprawling as it is. But the enormous size and scope of the series have a couple of advantages. He can build up a character, spending lots of time on them, even if he knows that eventually they're going to die. (Valar morghulis, right?) You can feel the tragedy of it, you don't just dismiss them as a spear-carrier. And he can continue the story, because of the number of major characters.

I know that reading the series as Martin is writing it, as opposed to after the series is complete, demands a huge amount of patience (as well as faith that he'll finish it!). But I have no doubt he knows where the story is going.

By the way, I think Martin's ability to show both sides of a conflict and get you to sympathize with both (as in the lead-up to the Battle of the Blackwater) is one of his great strengths. Louis Halle, The Cold War as History (1967):
In trying to understand a great conflict like the Cold War one should, in any case, rise above the dust of the battlefield to take a compassionate view of the exceedingly human beings on both sides.

... If you put a scorpion and a tarantula together in a bottle the objective of their own self-preservation will impell them to fight each other to the death. For the moment, at least, no understanding between them is possible. If either stopped fighting he would immediately be killed. From the point of view of each, the basic situation is that the other is trying to kill him. There is "a terrible knot almost beyond the ingenuity of [the actors] to untie." ... The situation is tragic. The proper attitude for the observer, therefore, is one of sympathy for both parties.

In the Cold War various historical circumstances (which I shall describe) put Russia in the role of challenger--superficially, at least, in the role of aggressor. But the historical circumstances, themselves, had an ineluctable quality that left the Russians little choice but to move as they did. Moving as they did, they compelled the United States and its allies to move in response. And so the Cold War was joined.

This is not fundamentally a case of the wicked against the virtuous. Fundamentally, it is like the case of the scorpion and the tarantula in the bottle, and we may properly feel sorry for both parties, caught, as they are, in a situation of irreducible dilemma.
posted by russilwvong at 7:44 AM on July 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


Wow, russilwvong, I think you may have just convinced me to give the series another chance...when it's done, of course.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:24 AM on July 25, 2011


Traveling and Administrative Duties: the Book.

Somewhere in Book 2, I accepted the fact that the main thrust of the books was going to be courtly diplomacy as opposed to exciting battles, kick-ass dragons, and Others. That's helped me enjoy them much more.

The start of ADWD is just a tease, I know. It's all going to be courtly diplomacy.

Hmm, has War and Peace ever gotten a high-budget serial treatment?

Oh my, yes. With Sir Anthony Hopkins as Pierre.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:38 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


40 minutes of the Comic-Con panel.

I am pretty epically revolted by Jason Momoa's casual and earnest comment about raping beautiful women, negl.

posted by elizardbits at 9:27 AM on July 25, 2011


Game of Thrones panel reaction to Jason Momoa's "rape beautiful women" comment.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:09 AM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


(and boy, I would have never picked out Lena Hedley. Is that Lena Hedley?)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:10 AM on July 25, 2011


Well, to be fair, he seemed to realize it was a horrible idea as soon as the words came out of his mouth. But yeah, dude lost some serious points there. With everyone, apparently, which actually makes me sort of happy.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:34 PM on July 25, 2011


Earlier, he had spoken about how incredibly hard it was to film the scene with Emilia Clark, too. He seems to want to be bigger-than-life, and he happily just becomes the character for the fans (like responding to a fan with the my moon and stars remark), sometimes with disastrous results, like that remark.

I get the feeling he isn't big on reading up and researching his roles, though, which saddens me.
posted by misha at 2:35 PM on July 25, 2011


ADwD has the same problem as AFfC: it's all setup. The only advantage ADwD has is that it is setup for the characters most of us actually give a shit about. But it has been another 6 years. Maybe a book or two of pieces moving around before the big payoff isn't a big deal when it is a year between volumes. When it is 6 years that's pretty much the death knell of pacing.

So now we've gotten two books with virtually nothing but setup in 11 years. I'm starting to have trouble remembering why I cared about these people.
posted by Justinian at 3:57 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I dunno how you maintain the negativity. I was big in the anti-GRRM stuff before but the TV series and Dance just made me really, really happy.

Maybe I'll get bitter again in a few months...but there is another season of the show right around the corner.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:17 PM on July 25, 2011


The TV series was great but it is a completely separate thing.
posted by Justinian at 4:27 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean more in the "He's taking too long" sense of why do I care anymore rather than the too much setup not enough payoff part of it. It soothes the torture of the wait.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:29 PM on July 25, 2011


Not for me. Season 1 retold a story I've known for 15 years.
posted by Justinian at 4:44 PM on July 25, 2011


I dunno, maybe I don't have as strong an imagination as you but the high quality production really brought the story to life for me in a way I didn't get just from the books. I mentioned over on Metacooler the scene in Dance where Theon hears Bran whispering in the wind from the Weirwood. Having the image of Bran in the show being told by Osha to listen to the wind in the same spot where Theon was later standing had more impact than simply reading the same scene.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:48 PM on July 25, 2011


Boy is ADwD uneven. For what it is worth, I think the Theon at Winterfell stuff is among the strongest in the series. This is the kind of writing I expect. Stuff is happening! Emotions are being stirred which has been sadly lacking elsewhere, unless you count boredom as an emotion. There are hidden bits that a casual enough read might miss! (Frey pies, hee.) Character development! Plot advancement! Wonderful!

Now compare to Tyrion being on a boring-ass boat ride. Then when you think something might happen and he gets captured... holy shit it's a boring-ass boat ride on a different fucking boat.

It makes me want to cry to compare the non-Tyrion, Danaerys, or Jon chapters with the Tyrion, Danaerys, and Jon chapters. They're (some of) the central characters in the story and their chapters are pure filler which can't compare to the rest of the story. I really think Martin made a grievous error writing the first few books on the assumption there would be a 5 year gap and then changing his mind because the way he is shoe-horning the plot to make it work now really shows, as it did with Cersei in the previous book.

Reading the Theon chapters makes me want to cry for what we should have had.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


The first boat ride was pretty strong, nice Heart of Darkness vibe, the only problem was that he never met Kurtznerys.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Book 4 and 5 should have been one book, regardless of length. If you're gonna make it two, you have to combine all the characters in both books. The end of FoC was stupid, imo ("Wait, wait, that's not the end!")

Actually I have a question about the end of FoC. I'll SPOILER it.

POSSIBLE SPOILER FOR FEAST OF CROWS

The guy in the final sentence who introduces himself to Samwell as Pate is actually Jagen H'gar (also the alchemist in the introduction to FoC), right?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:45 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who is also Syrio.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:54 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading the Theon chapters makes me want to cry

You could have stopped right there.

Also, maybe I'm an idiot, but something I didn't get until my second read through is that Ramsay has flayed Theon's uhh... weirwood.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:54 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh and since we've brought up the fan favorite (super unlikely) idea that Syrio is Jaqen... who thinks Arya's "apprenticeship" will be in Oldtown? That would be lovely.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:58 PM on July 26, 2011


Book 4 and 5 should have been one book, regardless of length

Yeah, the rationale for they way they were published was that it would be better to provide the complete story for half the characters in each book than it would be to do half the story for all the characters. Except we didn't get the complete story for the characters! We got partial stories! Bah.
posted by Justinian at 5:06 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, maybe I'm an idiot, but something I didn't get until my second read through is that Ramsay has flayed Theon's uhh... weirwood.

Yeah, there were a couple references that made this clear. My assumption is that Ramsay flayed some or all of the skin off and the pain caused Theon to beg for amputation, as with his fingers.
posted by Justinian at 5:26 PM on July 26, 2011


The references were somewhat contradictory, you could make a case that he was only mentally castrated...but GRRM wouldn't be that nice.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:10 PM on July 26, 2011


The guy in the final sentence who introduces himself to Samwell as Pate is actually Jagen H'gar (also the alchemist in the introduction to FoC), right?


Who is also Syrio.


Wait, what?
posted by MikeMc at 6:15 PM on July 26, 2011


Heh, Syrio is alive is a common (wishful thinking) theory since both in the book and in the TV version (GRRM wrote this episode) his final fate is decided off screen.

Jaqen appears in the dungeon very recently before Yoren takes him out, so the theory is that Syrio doesn't die, he just surrenders or whatever and ends up in the dungeon, changing his face.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:34 PM on July 26, 2011


The references were somewhat contradictory

How so? Two that stick out in my mind are an early reference where Reek is thinking about how Ramsay took his fingers, toes, and "the other thing" or the like, plus him starting to say "but I have no..." when he thinks Ramsay wants him to have sex with fake Arya.
posted by Justinian at 9:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not gonna look up the exact quotes, but the contradictory part is that Ramsey brings it up in the first place with fake Arya and that Theon says something along the line of "I dare not" when thinking about fucking one of the six wildling women, not "I cannot".
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:00 PM on July 26, 2011


Late to the party..

I want to say that the lack of a clear black/white good/evil demarcation is one of my favorite things about this series.
In the first book I hated the Lannisters. Now, not so much. It's easy, especially in the first book, to view Cersei as an evil incestuous bitch and Jaime as an evil murderous bastard but as you read more their characters really flesh out.

I don't like Cersei, but GRRM really explains how she got to be who she is. She wants to rule, she wants power, she wants to be strong, she's always wanted these things.. but because she's female there's no appropriate expression for this desire, despite the fact that she's born to a powerful family. She can only rule vicariously first through her husband, then through her sons.. because she's barred from the throne. She can only kill vicariously, through Jaime and her minions.. because she's barred from the sword. The only real bargaining chip she has that her father, husband, or some other man in her life cannot take away from her is her beauty. As a character she's like a study of female sexual capital.

The murkiness is what makes it good. Having the villains of the piece as POV characters and exploring their motivations humanizes them and adds weight to the tragedy. Also, you can see the story turning. It looks like the tragedy is over and triumph is around the corner. After all that time humanizing the original villains they've now mostly either been killed or swept aside, replaced by unambiguously terrible forces. The Boltons, The Freys, the ruling class of Slaver's Bay, The Others.
posted by TheKM at 10:18 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm probably one of the few readers who really likes Cersei. Cersei and Brienne are my two favorite characters, I think. Chaotic Evil and Lawful Good types fascinate me, and Brienne is about as Lawful Good as it gets.

Re: Syrio as still alive (but not Jaqen), one further twist that I didn't realize until very late in Feast of Crows is that Meryn Trant (who I believe is the one who squares off with Syrio) is considered a horrible fighter. When Cersei is planning Margaery's downfall, she plans to leave the two worst fighters--Boros Blount and Meryn Trant--as the only Kingsguard (Queensguard) available to fight for her in a trial.

so the theory is that Syrio doesn't die, he just surrenders

On the other hand, in the TV show, there is an audible scream from Syrio as Arya runs to indicate that he is dead or injured. I'm not sure if there's a scream in the book or not, but if "the first sword of Bravos does not run," I doubt he surrenders either.

I see there's no need for spoiler warnings this far down.

ZOMBIE ROBB IS THE HIGH SEPTON!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:39 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my mind's eye, Cersei is a blonde version of Morena Baccarin.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2011


If Syrio were Jaqen H'gar, then wouldn't he have "come out" when he needed Arya to release him from the cart in the burning barn?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:59 AM on July 27, 2011


I don't buy Syrio ~ Jaqen; wasn't there an allusion to Syrio (Water Dancer master) being one of the reasons why the Dothraki fear water/sea as well as him being the "1st sword of Braavos?" That would suggest a fairly high-profile past - unless Syrio at King's Landing isn't the actual Syrio (but Jagen in disguise) whereas Jaqen feels like he's been a "working man" since he became faceless, moving on from job to job.

I never disliked Jaime (and he won me over with the Brienne arc; same goes for Sandor Clegane and Arya; wow, I really hoped that they'd go and kick ass together a la Kick Ass with Nick Cage and Chloe Moretz, but c'est la morte, like other people wanted Arya and Nymeria to hook up again) and although Cersei deserves disdain, I was totally sympathetic to her from the get-go. Especially in ADwD where she gets all paranoid and flips out. Once her background story got out, she became my second most sympathetic character since she is one of the most helpless characters (aside from helpless = death) in the series.

The Theon/Reek arc in ADwd was gold and almost makes up for the Denarys arc in books 4 and 5. I liked her story from 1-3 where she's learning lessons about growing up, but then she gets... whiney and self absorbed and totally reverts back into a stupid over privileged teen who makes bad decisions after bad decisions and just feels sorry for herself over the fallout(s).

As for Theon's, heh, weirwood I originally thought that it was removed, but later passages suggested otherwise. I'm leaning towards that it was cut off (but flayed? I dunno) and Theon doesn't want to dwell on it.

--

The series has been fun, and I've been gobbling it down via audiobooks* during monster imaging/data-analysis sessions, but I rather regret starting the series before it was finished. The first three books were ~90% solid, the last 2 books were about 60% and dropping. For me, barring a super tight well edited ending for books 6 and 7 and the series, ASoFaI just got itself kicked into WoT territory. Thing is though, I still care about quite a few characters whereas in WoT I gave up on everyone after book 5 or so.

*Did GRRM really reuse a chapter or two from AFoC to start ADwD?! For the first hour or so I thought that I had loaded the wrong files on my media player.
posted by porpoise at 8:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I reason I like Jaime is, while he's fortunate in health, ability, money, and family and is deservedly arrogant, he's been one of the more mature characters and even begins to gain wisdom by the time he's making entries into the White Book. Contrasted with the repetetive GRRM mantra "a man grown" or a "woman flowered," just because you're old enough to fuck like a wildling doesn't mean you're an adult in society.

But hell, the wildlings have a more sane view regarding sexuality as well as much greater gender equality than anywhere South of the wall.

One thing that baffles me is - are there no sexually transmitted infections in.. does the world where ASoFaI is set have a name? Was the Mad King crazy because of congenital syphilis? Is "bad bowels" the euphemism for a STI fatality? Why hasn't Tyrion's dick fallen off before book one?

"Maester, my weirwood has this new chancre on it."

"Soak it in boiled wine, drop a pinch of maggots on it, then pack it in mouldy bread. You'll be right as rain after we leach you tomorrow. You know, on that spot"

posted by porpoise at 8:55 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


You guys should read R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy. The things you like about Martin are there, and Barker's prose isn't as repetitive or cliched.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:07 PM on July 27, 2011


Interesting. I would rate Martin as a considerably better writer than Bakker.
posted by Justinian at 12:27 AM on July 28, 2011


Reading the Theon chapters makes me want to cry for what we should have had.

QFT.
posted by futz at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2011


Interesting. I would rate Martin as a considerably better writer than Bakker.

Funny. I find Martin's characters excessively cartoony. Different strokes.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:21 PM on July 28, 2011


To elaborate a bit, I read an awful lot of fantasy prior to (and, honestly, afterward as well) picking up Martin back in, oh, 1999 I guess. While I definitely did and do appreciate Martin's more strictly historical grounding for his fantasy compared to much of what had come before and definitely do not find his writing without merit at all (at the time, after reading A Game of Thrones, I proclaimed his work "the best fantasy I have ever read"), eventually his characters began to wear on me. They just seemed like "more of the same," in terms of fantasy archetypes I had encountered before, and I lost interest. Bakker's characters, on the other hand, seem qualitatively different to me, in general (although the Dune influence is undeniable).
posted by adamdschneider at 12:28 PM on July 28, 2011


For what it's worth, which is not much, I also rather think that if he knew "exactly where he is going," it would not take 6 years to get a book out the door.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:35 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think he knew the destination, just not the route.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:48 PM on July 28, 2011


I dunno if jscalzi's wordcount comparison has made the rounds here yet, but I thought it was pretty remarkable to look at the raw wordcount of ADWD compared to the output of an author who strikes me as moderately prolific.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:54 PM on July 28, 2011


Define destination. An overall sense of where his world would end up at the end and who would be in charge? Sure, I have no trouble believing that. Any idea who was going to be around and what would happen to them in the meantime? I have a very hard time believing that.

I would not call having a general sense of where things would end up knowing "exactly where he is going". I would call having a set of detailed notes on character arcs/main events, etc. knowing "exactly where he is going," and I can't see having that and taking 6 years to put out a book.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:56 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, but — some of you are about to say. To which I say, yes but what?

Yes, but — he should have written less? Scalzi got six stories out of that word count. Martin got a fraction of one. People seem to love just more, more, more, and I used to be in that camp, but one of the best fantasies I've ever read was Black Blossom, which clocks in at 44,000 words (I asked the author).
posted by adamdschneider at 1:01 PM on July 28, 2011


It's a style choice, I guess. I have always liked the broad-picture style, where you get probably more pieces of the world than you actually need to get to the end of the story, but it definitely works better when you come at it with the work completed.

The other way to do that is to write a million discrete stories in the same universe that add up to the same huge picture, and I like those too, but they generally strike me as being less complex and interesting. So, short version, I'm just as happy that Martin uses as many words as he likes - I'd just like to have them all at once please.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:07 PM on July 28, 2011


I actually read them because they're long. Also on my bookshelf--Trollope.

The problem with length is that in this last book he has gotten really repetitive. It's like those shows where they have 10 minutes of content that they edit to fill 20+ minutes. Recaps after every commercial break with the same footage over and over...

The problem isn't the length itself. It's the length - content ratio.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:12 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I too love a good, long book. I shivered with excitement when I opened the Amazon box and saw how big ADWD was. I also got sad with each passing page because they brought me closer to the end.

I liked AFFC the first time I read it and even more on the re-read, so I know I am out of the mainstream on that one. I also think a LOT happens in the books and I am not sure why people say nothing happens. These are clearly the middle books of a saga.

the wildlings have a more sane view regarding sexuality as well as much greater gender equality than anywhere South of the wall

I disagree. Not saying south of the wall is sane, but the wildlings kidnap non-wildling girls and rape them with the intent to impregnate, with the assumption that if the girls don't want it they will successfully fight the rapists off. Just because GRRM doesn't use the word rape to describe it doesn't mean it's not rape. There's good reason the Night's Watch hates them and people fear them, it's not all just prejudice.

I'd say the Dornish are the least crazy and least rape-y with regard to gender equality and sexuality.

ADWD SPOILERS

I will tell you what I really didn't like about ADWD: Dany. Along with Tyrion, she used to be my favorite character. I don't have a problem with Dany getting a huge lesson in maturity and humility by failing in Meereen, but I wish she didn't have to abandon her dragons for much of the book. I also can't stand the Daario character or the way she blew off Quentyn Martell (who could still have been a valuable ally if not a love interest), but I understand she had to learn some lessons. It was just very painful to read, especially since Meereen and that whole region kind of suck.

I also hate Victarion although his chapters were much more readable this time around. But burning those girls alive, throwing the boys in the sea, slitting the throat of the maester (his hostage if I recall correctly), combined with the fact that he beat his pregnant wife to death - argh. And now he seems to have built up quite the fanbase which makes me look askance at people in general.
posted by Danila at 1:39 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed the Victarion chapters because they were exciting and action packed. I know he is a totally evil prick but he did it with style so it was fun to read.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:43 PM on July 28, 2011


I am a terrible person because I admit I laughed a bit at the line when Tyrion and Penny are performing during the re-opening of the fighting pits? The one that went something like "Don't worry, we're going to release the lions soon!". That was both horrifying and hilarious.
posted by Justinian at 1:51 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS

Danila: I also can't stand the Daario character or the way she blew off Quentyn Martell (who could still have been a valuable ally if not a love interest)....

An interesting comparison of Daario to Essex:
Actually, I thought the whole Dany-Daario cringeworthy scenario was taken almost directly from the great Elizabeth the First's squick-inducing infatuation with Robert, Earl of Essex. True, Elizabeth was in her 50s and Essex in his early 20s, but the WTF factor is the same--Essex was above all, flamboyant. A cocky, cheeky smart-ass and Elizabeth was taken with him beyond all reason. Over the years, she alternatively showered absurd (and undeserved) rights and gifts on him to the fury of her parliament, then imprisoned him, set him free, showered him with luxuries, back and forth. She finally gave him command, wholly undeserved, of her army sent to subdue Ireland. While there, instead of crushing the rebellious Irish forces, he sat down and made treaty with them, totally on his own word and without any such authorization from the Queen. Elizabeth was enraged, but by then Essex was so popular with the common people for his flamboyance, that he thought himself above censure. He mounted a campaign to overthrow Elizabeth and take the throne. She quickly crushed him and then had him beheaded, though it is said she mourned for him all her life.

Hopefully, Dany will eventually do the same to Daario.
I'm guessing Quentyn Martell was based on Francis, Duke of Anjou, one of Elizabeth's last suitors. (She called him her frog, after a frog-shaped earring he gave her.) He died at 29, though not from dragonfire.
posted by russilwvong at 5:17 PM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hopefully, Dany will eventually do the same to Daario.

I kind of figured Daario was used as trebuchet ammo by the Yunkai.
posted by the_artificer at 7:21 PM on July 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good point--although we haven't seen the body yet.

One thing I like about Martin is that he belongs to the "Why couldn't Gandalf just stay dead?" school of thought.

SPOILERS

There's been a couple exceptions: the wights beyond the Wall, Beric Dondarrion, Catelyn Stark. None of them make revivification look very attractive--Beric and Catelyn may not be as dead as the wights, but they're still more dead than alive, like something out of The Monkey's Paw.
Lady Stoneheart lowered her hood and unwound the grey wool scarf from her face. Her hair was dry and brittle, white as bone. Her brow was mottled green and grey, spotted with the brown blooms of decay. The flesh of her face clung in ragged strips from her eyes down to her jaw. Some of the rips were crusted with dried blood, but others gaped open to reveal the skull beneath.

Her face, Brienne thought. Her face was so strong and handsome, her skin so smooth and soft. "Lady Catelyn?" Tears filled her eyes. "They said ... they said that you were dead."

"She is," said Thoros of Myr.
posted by russilwvong at 3:46 PM on July 30, 2011


I too was a little disappointed by Dany's treatment (by GRRM) in Dance. The infatuation with Daario was one thing -- it's clear that Dany's predisposed to cocky roughneck dudes -- but the marriage was something else altogether. If there is a theme to this novel (and I'm not really convinced there is; it feels more like a grab bag of half-finished stories shuffled together at random than a single, cohesive narrative), it seems to be duty vs. personal will...but the more painful choice isn't necessarily the right one. Dany seems to think that marrying that slaver douchebag is the right choice because...um...I'm not really sure why, since it only makes sense if she wants to stay in Meereen, which sucks, and that only makes sense to Dany. Frankly, I think Dany's the victim of an idiot plot (I won't link to TV Tropes since we all know where that leads, but you get the idea) just as sure as anyone in a horror movie who has ever gone into the basement when all sense and reason tells you not to go into the fucking basement. And Dany is just not that dumb. Would she be unstoppable if she had a motherfucker on her side who wasn't dumb in the slightest...i.e., Tyrion? Yeah. But she's always done pretty well for herself to this point. So I really wasn't feeling this part of the book at all.

But on the other hand, I love so much of the rest of it. Really, Arya was okay, and you can bore me senseless with endlessly repeated phrases and 500-word descriptions of food if in the same book you rescue my favorite character from a terrible fate. Hell, just coming back to the cliffhangers from Feast period thrilled me to no end, because I figured we were on the hook for those until who knows when. Only...no Sansa? No Sam? Bonus.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:22 PM on July 30, 2011


The end of Dany's arc really depressed me. 12 years and Dany ends up right back where she started? Come the fuck on. I wanted to punch Martin in the face. Tyrion is still after all this time not hooked up with Dany and her people? Come the fuck on part 2.

Jon's story actually went somewhere. It took a hell of a long time to get there but at least something happened. Quentyn's story was just that; a complete story. I don't think we needed him as a viewpoint character and he served to bloat up the book. But at least his story went somewhere. Same with Griff and Young Griff.

Tyrion and Dany are just spinning wheels. Seriously. It's time for Martin to shit or get off the pot.
posted by Justinian at 3:28 PM on July 31, 2011


I think the word that sums up my feelings about ADwD is frustration. If it were all just boring and terrible I could give up on the series and have a little wake for it in my head. But some of the book, Theon's chapters in particular, were wonderful. Really good stuff. There wasn't a lot of Arya but what we saw was pretty good. Same with Jaime. In fact, everything but the big 3 characters was good and only Jon's story actually advanced the plot much at all. As I said, Tyrion and Dany were just spinning wheels.

I simply can't feel like the book we got was worth a 12 year wait. It was... okay. Mostly.
posted by Justinian at 3:33 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quentin Martell was BORING.

TV Cersei totally killed that baby because it wasn't Jaime's.
posted by bq at 10:31 AM on August 10, 2011


Just finished book 5. Overall, I liked it, but there is too much spinning of wheels until we start to see the threads coming back to Westeros. I'd like to see Victarion arrive in Meereen only to find Danerys has flown over to Westeros..."sorry, please leave a message".
I'm curious how he's going to close it all out in 2 books and in less than 15 years.
posted by arcticseal at 1:17 AM on August 13, 2011


The main problem I have with the killing off of characters is that it totally destroys a re-read AND anticipation for further novels. When I do a reread, for example, about all of Robb's war planning, I don't give a shit because I know he's toast. This ends up being the case for quite a few characters, and so, one wonders as one reads new novels, whether one is wasting time and effort investing in caring about these characters if they're just going to get killed in a bit.

One could argue that caring about the STORY is what should be cared about, and I'd agree if the chapters weren't all character-based POVs.
posted by sciurus at 5:04 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stolen Scripts
posted by homunculus at 11:21 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


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