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Old July 7 2013, 01:32 PM   #1696
DalekJim
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Brienne's first few chapters are way too slow but they pick up a lot in the second half of A Feast For Crows. The Quiet Isle chapter is absolutely beautiful. I thing Aeron Damphair got too much page-time, but I thought he was a good character and unjustly hated by fans. Victarion was awesome, and Euron was fucking awesome. Aemon's slow demise best evokes the feel of the book in my mind. It's very drawn out, slow and saddening. I like books like that.

A Dance With Dragons is good but it lacks the strong atmosphere of A Feast For Crows. I know Martin felt like he was giving the audience what they wanted with huge amounts of Tyrion and Dany in the next book to compensate but really, Alayne's chapters in the previous book kick them in to the dust.
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Old July 7 2013, 01:41 PM   #1697
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

"Egg, I dreamed I was old." Breaks my heart whenever I think of it.

In terms of atmosphere, I think the only real successes in Dance are the later Theon and Asha chapters, when winter has set in and both Stannis' camp and Winterfell are closed off, paranoid, and riven by internal conflicts. Gorgeous stuff, really, and one reason I'm looking forward to what winter will do to the tone of the southern plotline in the remaining books.
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Old July 7 2013, 01:51 PM   #1698
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

For all my bitching about ADWD, I rate the Theon plot in Book 5 as among the VERY best material in ASOIAF. Probably above anything in Book 1, actually.

I loved Theon in A Clash of Kings a lot because it was refreshing having a POV character that was such a dick (He's WAY softer in the show!), but I never felt much sympathy for him as he made a long series of mistakes, never learning and was doomed from the start. In A Dance With Dragons his plot completely broke my heart. "My name is Reek. It rhymes with freak." I also found Ramsay hilarious. I love it when he has a go at Theon for eating rats legally owned by Roose.

Really like the guy playing Ramsay in the show, even if he's nothing like the one I imagine or read.
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Old July 7 2013, 03:33 PM   #1699
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

One of the main things about how many people reacted to AFFC is that it came in the middle of a decade-long wait. If it had come out two years after ASOS, and with a timely followup a few years alter, I don't think some people would have been as disappointed (the same factors apply to many parts of ADWD). As well, AFFC dumped two whole new sets of POVs into the story when people really wanted more information on preexisting main characters who were omitted. I read them at the same time, so that really didn't apply to me. AFFC is the superior book, to me; there's far less fat.

Nonetheless, this is one area where the TV show could actually improve it, because there's more than enough material there for a really strong season (with a bit of spillover into the preceding and succeeding years).
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Old July 7 2013, 06:09 PM   #1700
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Also, part of the reason the Tyrion chapters became harder to read in ADWD was because it was becoming more and more clear that Tyrion wasn't that likeable anymore. And in fact, he may have never been that likable on his own to begin with.

A large part of Tyrion's appeal (aside from the hilarious lines he got) was that all the characters around him were such 1-D asshats (Cersei, Joffrey, Pycelle, etc) that we enjoyed him being the one character who regularly humiliated and opposed them and could get away with it. His nasty behavior to them was welcomed and appreciated.

In ADWD he's no longer around them, and the folks he's nastier to are more likable and/or have done nothing to gain the audiences' contempt. So you begin to realize that this is probably how he'd come off in real life and it's not so likable anymore since he see him being equally a jerk to normal folks.
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Old July 7 2013, 06:28 PM   #1701
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

I don't mind if a character is nice or not, doesn't affect how fond I am of them at all. I love Ramsay, Joffrey and Roose despite them being monstrous human beings seemingly without empathy. The characters in Abrams' Star Trek are all heroes, yet I wish they'd all die in a horrific fire .

I don't mind a character being "unlikeable" at all. Not sure when it became a problem really. Macbeth and Othello are hardly likeable in the traditional sense.

Tyrion's ADWD chapters are weak because they're padded fat that dominates the book. Sometimes GRRM tunnels way too far in to a narrative dead-end. I love this series in large part because of the "filler" that isn't essential to the main plot, but I'd prefer more interesting filler. Tyrion's chapters weren't awful, they're well written enough. There's just too little story to justify that much time being devoted to a minor plotline.

The first 3 books have such strong structural elements. The last 2 feel weirdly random in pacing and structure, which is in stark contrast to something like Lord of the Rings which I think is perfectly structured. People on Westeros always bring up the behind the scenes story of the Meereenese knot, or the abandoned 5 year gap but.. they're terrible non-excuses. Just because a book has to be the transition book doesn't mean it has to be padded out with lesser material. The middle part of a trilogy is frequently the most praised. The second act shouldn't be when the pacing dies.

To use an example everybody knows, The Empire Strikes Back is the transition film with no real beginning or end. Yet, it doesn't just spend an hour meticulously showing Luke travel to Dagobah in order to fill runtime. The storytellers actually came up with interesting stuff to happen, despite the characters being put in place for the next movie.

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Old July 7 2013, 11:50 PM   #1702
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

I don't know. I think ASOS is the best book so far, but I really don't get a lot of the criticism aimed at AFFC and ADWD. If there hadn't been such a real world gap in their releases I, like previous posters, don't think there would have been as much complaining. They ARE paced different, but that's not bad. They have different goals in mind. I think they are all about worldbuilding, especially ADWD. We see MUCH more of that area of the world than we ever have before and much of it needs setup. I for one found it fascinating.

I also find it interesting when people complain about so much time being spent on "unimportant" or "minor" plotlines. We have not seen how this story ends. It hasn't been written yet. As such, we have NO idea whatsoever what may turn out to be important and what may not. I think such judgements have to wait until the saga is concluded. Hell, the whole concept of the ring seems kind of superfluous in The Hobbit, but we couldn't have The Lord of the Rings without it.

And I REALLY don't get the criticism that "nothing happens" in AFFC. There's a lot of stuff going on there.
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Old July 8 2013, 01:21 AM   #1703
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

On my two re-reads of the first four books, AFFC was always much harder to read. I thought it was slow and kinda uneventful when I read the first time, but it only got worse on the re-reads. If I'll ever re-read this book again, I'll probably skip Brienne and Dorne chapters altogether. I fucking hate Dorne and every single useless character in this part of the story. Brienne's chapters show that war is hell, but we already know this from Arya's chapters in ACOK and ASOS. It's telling the same damn thing for the third time. We also know that Brienne's quest is entirely pointless because Sansa is in Eyrie, so all of her chapters exist to basically just make her suffer and get disfigured and executed (sort of) in the end. All we learn from her chapters is that Sandor is probably alive.

I really liked ADWD chapters that were set in Westeros, except Dorne and Jon Conninghton. All the Essos chapters just kill whatever momentum the book develops. There's Quentyn, the single most pointless character in the books, even more than that idiot Kingsguard from AFFC. Aegon exists only because Martin has no idea how to bring Daenerys to Westeros, so Aegon does what Daenerys should've done a long time ago. I guess it's much easier to invent a new character (or "resurrect" in Aegon's and Connighton's case) than untie the Meereenese knot. And then there are Tyrion's chapters where he either admires the local flora and fauna or gets abused. And finally, Daenerys - 12 or so chapters of her being a stupid teen, destroying any development she had in previous books. Her last chapter is so disgusting I'd like to "unread" it, if it were possible.
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Old July 8 2013, 01:32 AM   #1704
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

You didn't even like the Doran twist at the end of AFFC?
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Old July 8 2013, 04:26 AM   #1705
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

It's not that Martin can't figure out HOW to get Dany to Westeros, it's that (most likely) he realized that the dragons he gave her are too much of a game-breaker and would make it too easy to conquer Westeros with. He has to keep her away to keep the series from ending too fast.
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Old July 8 2013, 04:59 AM   #1706
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

I don't mind AFFC but I do find large parts of it oddly forgettable, something I can't say about any of the other books. There are some fantastic parts of AFFC, the prologue, the Cersei chapters, and the Arya chapters immediately spring to mind. But the Dorne chapters and the Iron Isle chapters left me cold. I much more enjoyed the Victarion chapters in ADFD.
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Old July 8 2013, 05:06 AM   #1707
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Double post. See below.
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Old July 8 2013, 05:11 AM   #1708
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Brendan Moody wrote: View Post
Quentyn isn't pointless. One can debate whether he's worth POV chapters, but his role in the narrative is vital in a couple different ways.

Aegon has been foreshadowed since A Clash of Kings; he's not a last-minute invention or a response to the Meereenese Knot or any of the other structural problems with the third, fourth, and fifth books. Daenerys is taking forever to get to Westeros for the same reason Sansa spends all of Clash and most of Storm getting abused and feeling awful about it: because the rest of the narrative bloated around characters who weren't supposed to do much until later in the story.
Another bloodbath that wipes out half the bloated cast would be very nice at this point.
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Old July 8 2013, 05:21 AM   #1709
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Quentyn isn't pointless. We can debate whether he's worth four POV chapters, but his role in the narrative is vital in a couple different respects.

Aegon has been foreshadowed since A Clash of Kings; he's not a last-minute invention or a response to the structural issues in books three, four, and five. Daenerys is taking forever to get to Westeros for the same reason it took Sansa forever to do anything but get abused and cry about it, or Arya forever to do anything but get abused and seethe over it: because the narrative bloat around other characters turned one book's worth of near-stasis into two or three.

I know most people love A Storm of Swords, but I think structurally speaking it's as flawed as the two later books, and is easily the worst in the series for coincidence and contrivance in service to the plot. A fast-paced ending doesn't make up for Arya and early Jaime chapters that are much worse than the Brienne stuff from Feast for telling us things we already know about the horrors of war, or Davos chapters that amount to him sitting in a cell and being told the plot. It's usually suggested that the problem with the series was Martin abandoning the five-year gap, but the bigger mistake was inventing it in the first place when he restructured the series while writing A Clash of Kings. If book three had ended where the first book in the original plan for a trilogy did, with the Red Wedding, it would have been easier to move some of the setup elements from Feast and Dance alongside the eventful stuff from the last three hundred pages of Storm; it's all basically simultaneous anyway. Storm wouldn't be as much a fan favorite in that case, but the series as a whole would probably be a lot less messy.
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Old July 8 2013, 05:30 AM   #1710
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Re: A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones Spoiler-Filled Discussion

Since when has he ever said the Red Wedding was originally meant to be the climax of the first book? I started reading these books 12 years ago and I've never heard that. As I recall, the original plan for a trilogy would have had the events of books 2 and 3 as one book, and everything that followed as the last. While writing, book 2 got too big so he split it into ACoK and ASoS, which necessitated splitting the final book into 2 also, then while writing book 4(of 5 at the time) he dropped the gap and it became 7.
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