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    Default What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Most of the time I have heard nothing but praise for the above series. However there have been some instances of criticism. Since I enjoy hearing critiques and the playground is a place full of fairly intelligent, well-read people I have decided to ask my question here.

    What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Here's a rant I posted in a thread on this site more than a year ago. It was in a thread concerning the series, rather than just talking about the books.

    Here begins the rant:
    Before I say anything further, I need to come clean about where I'm coming from with regard to the book series. I really really disliked GRRM's writing when I first read it, still do. Lest people think I'm trolling, here's a defense I previously wrote on just that subject, trying to justify my opinions, which I freely admit is what they are (spoilered for length, and very minor later book/season spoilers):
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    1) His pacing is ATROCIOUS. Each of his books drags out far longer than they need to in order to convey the same plot. Individual scenes drag on at a snail's pace, bogged down by tedious internal monologue that often does little to build on the characters he's already created. How many scenes do we really need with Jaime spending a paragraph chafing at being referred to as "Kingslayer"?

    2) His writing is predictable. I think that with the possible exception of two or three events (over the course of four books), every one of the "twists" that happen every so often was predicted long before it actually happened. For example, there's a key scene in the third book, when Daenerys wants to purchase something, but doesn't have adequate money and does something "unexpected". I put the book down, stated what was going to happen, resumed reading, and whenever the next chapter with her came around, it happened precisely as I had said. Even the Red Wedding wasn't a surprise. Maybe I've just become inured to these sorts of things.

    3) Most of the characters are surprisingly static or have developed in ways that make me not want to bother reading their chapters. In what ways has Arya developed over time? She's a character that's got excellent potential to be interesting, but he seems to have spent 3 books just being the victim of circumstance (in the fourth she doesn't really do anything). Something very similar could be said of Sansa, but she actually has some slight development in the third and fourth books. While I have come to enjoy Jaime's chapters (wangst aside), Cersei's have become a chore to get through. I fail to see how any of the kings changed as characters over time, each constantly governed by a single set of immovable characteristics: Robert is a drunken boor, Joffery is a spiteful prick, Stannis is stern and adheres to the rules, Robb is capable but inexperienced. They're secondary characters, yes, but their importance really means they ought to have had more development (with the allowable exception of Robb).

    4) His use of pseudo-medieval language is not only inconsistent, but comes across to me as poorly done. It doesn't really serve to keep the setting particularly immersive, but makes it seems like he's trying quite hard and failing to do so. I see this a serious literary failing on his part.

    5) This is probably the most petty of my complaints, but there's something about his writing style that drives me crazy, aside from the phrasing. I think that the editor really should have stepped in at some point and slashed the hell out of his descriptions of every rock, tree, sword, and tertiary character that we'll never see again (and maybe hear about once more). Each and every thing has a paragraph of description behind it, as if he's afraid that we might imagine something in his world incorrectly, so he tells us exactly how he wants it to be. Some of this is fine, and required, but the level and frequency of description really goes far beyond that point.

    However, given that I've likely given people plenty of ground to disagree, here are some nice things that I'll say about GRRM to perhaps soften some of the potential rage:
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    1) When I say that I think he's not a great writer that doesn't mean I think he can't tell a good story, or else nothing good could come out of his work and this TV show wouldn't exist. I enjoy the meta-plot that GRRM is going after, as it's quite an interesting story with some truly unique details. It's unfortunate that those unique bits are shunted to the side as often as they are.

    2) He does know how to write some good characters. Best character: Tyrion, a bright spot every time we come across him, always awesome. He develops and changes over time, and does so in a way that the audience's opinion of him is likely to shift along the way. Cersei is similar, but not in an enjoyable fashion. But yeah, real credit for the Tyrion chapters.

    3) The man knows how to build a world. I complain about his description of everything imaginable, as well as his tendency to describe events in history, no matter how tangentially related to the plot (hint: in every case it's him foreshadowing, *wink wink*), but that means that his world is incredibly well-fleshed out in a way that few authors since Tolkien have even attempted to do. I like that feeling of a full backstory, but I don't care for it being shoved in my face so often so that he can prove that's what he's doing.


    ((Here I talked about the show for a while, but I raise points about how they compare to the books and what I don't like about those. Spoilering since it's tangential to the subject of the books.))
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    This show, on the other hand, does a number of things so very right that I can't help but love it much more than I did the books.

    First and foremost, the transition to a visual medium did WONDERS for the pacing. Gone are the tedious and and unnecessary descriptions of trivial objects (I swear if I had a dollar for each use of "lobstered", I'd have enough to pay rent) or people, they are shown and that's done. Tolkein himself would have cried for mercy at the original, but that complaint becomes an absolute non-issue. The scenes they've chosen to cut and to create are expertly chosen and do the best job possible of advancing the story in a timely manner. The scene between just Robert and Cersei (in 5?) was really the best example of this.

    Second, aging the characters by several years solves one of my gripes with the original story: children acting much older than they should, even in a time/place when they're expected to grow up faster. I understand that part of the overall point was that children become adults quicker when they are forced and expected to, even more so when the world is as rough as it is there. However, aging all the children by 2-3 years solves much of the unbelievability, while keeping most of the message intact. I think the biggest beneficiary has been Daenerys, though moving her to a less of a jail-bait age was clearly on their minds.

    Third, since one of my big gripes was about how easy it was to see what was coming in the books, I'm surprised at how much less that's the case here. They're doing a much better job of leading me to believe things can go more than one way. This is almost about to be covered by the show, but still:
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    To me, I read Ned and Robert as doomed characters from the very beginning. From their first scenes I knew both of them were going to die before the book was through. Ned surprisingly made it as far as about the 3/4 mark. This was particularly unfortunate, since Ned turned out to be a more interesting character than I first thought. Either way, in both cases, I knew early on not to become really invested in either one of them since they were so very clearly not going to make it.
    But that's not an issue in the series, since they did a much better job of not broadcasting "This person is doomed" messages on all channels.

    Finally, I can't rave about their casting choices enough. Almost each and every member of the cast are picture perfect for their roles. Particular standouts are Ned (after accounting for the universal aging), Robert, and TYRION. Now when I think of those characters, there's no one else I can put in those roles. Someone said on Twitter recently that they should just save time and give Peter Dinklage the Emmy, and I agree. He's that good. Even characters with few lines and secondary characters are well-chosen: Khal Drogo (who makes me excited for Conan), Tywin Lannister (his previous Lord Vetinari experience can't hurt), and Bronn (the rogue was instantly likable, just from the first few moments he was shown/talked). The people making this show really get what it takes to make a show work, but nowhere is it more apparent than here.

    End of previous rant.

    Also, a number of people are unhappy with the speed at which the books are being released. I can see how fans would be frustrated by this and might complain about it. I personally like to remind people about what Neil Gaiman said about this, "George R.R. Martin is not your b****" (scroll down to his response to a letter for the quote).

    Another problem that some people take issue with how very dark the world and story is. This is a legitimate issue of taste, and there's not really much that can be said in rebuttal to it, aside from the fact that with regard to most of the fans: it's a feature, not a bug.

    Edit: Note that the original rant was written before Book 5 was released, which both addressed some concerns and continued many nagging issues.
    Last edited by Sinfonian; 2012-09-27 at 10:03 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Sinfonian hits the nail right on the head. Especially in pacing. Mother of god does it get bad. I mean the whole Jon/Ygritte thing took up way too much time and page space while the big fights and battles happening at the same time took up way too little.

    Under no circumstances should a sex scene with no plot importance take up as many words as a big fight where dozens to hundreds of people get killed. It happens, but it shouldn't.

    As well, things *are* predictable in Martin-Land. I mean once you adjust the cliche's the genre expects a bit there isn't all that much that isn't blatantly visible.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    In the books? Mostly pacing.

    In the TV series? An excess of unnecessary sexposition scenes. "I need infodump, I'll make it more enjoyable with some sex" gets tired pretty soon. Specially when the base material has its considerable ammount of intimate scenes, there's not really much need to add certain scenes in Littlefinger's Pleasure House and Ros, Westeros Favourite Pro.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I found myself getting incredibly impatient waiting for Tyrion, to the point that I was glossing over things. Many of his characters feel like chess pieces he sets out on the board just to have specific plot events occur. Some are so grandiose they verge on parody, or are simply repetitive and annoying. Tyrion however, feels like the Fool from King Lear, clever, unpredictable, and cathartic.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?
    That it's loooong, and I don't see the end of it.
    I like ASOIAF, I really do. But good books should have an end, and this is becoming a soap opera.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I love the books and disagree with a lot of what was said, also about the show (in my opinion a decent mess, similar to my opinion of Dollhouse), but my personal gripe is Daenerys, AKA the Fanservice Queen. David Wong made the point better than I ever could in an article of his, which I can't find.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    My biggest issues with the series are that there are WAY too many characters to keep track of, especially since he's constantly killing them off and adding new ones. And he has killed off most of the characters that I thought were interesting. I'm pretty much reading the series for Jon, Arya, and Daenerys at this point. I also hated the way he split A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. There was hardly anything I was interested in in A Feast for Crows, and I almost gave up on the series there. I feel like the books are too long a lot of the time as well
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    He needs a much, much better editor. One who has the courage to walk up to a best-selling author and tell him "George? I think half of this book serves little purpose and should be cut."
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I'm going to be unoriginal and agree that its his pacing. 'Feast for Crows' the last book I read seemed to drag in many places and involved a section that basically involved the characters going around in a big plot circle and ending up right back where they started.
    The first few books didn't seem to suffer as much but the problem got worse as the books progressed ( and as they got more popular I suspect )
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    He needs a much, much better editor. One who has the courage to walk up to a best-selling author and tell him "George? I think half of this book serves little purpose and should be cut."
    This would go a very long way toward improving the quality of the books. Concisely put.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    My biggest issue is too many different point-of-view characters later on. Robert Jordan suffered from the same problem as he got into the middle of his fantasy epic as well.

    I think editors give too much leeway to successful fantasy writers.

    I'll weigh in a little regarding the Jon/Yrgitte vs. battle scenes. I thought the point of this storyline wasn't to describe their lovemaking, but rather to explore Jon's internal struggle of breaking his vows for "the greater good." In addition, there was also the temptation for Jon to switch sides. Finally, it gives us a perspective from those who live north of the wall. After this segment (and others like it), those north of the wall are humanized and we can sympathize to why they want to invade the North.

    Battle scenes, on the other hand, can end up clunky. A small segment from one character's point of view is often all that is necessary. Personally, I always think the build-up to battle and its aftermath are more interesting than the battle itself.
    Last edited by snoopy13a; 2012-09-28 at 01:25 PM.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I would say the biggest problem is also the biggest strength: how vague the non-pov characters' intentions/actions are; having read some of the westeros.org forums, people can argue completely different points (such as Samwell's development/heroic potential/even if he's still waay fat or not, or Stannis and his good-evil stance), and both points are valid because of how little fact is actually written - it is up to the reader to create much of each character, and the reader's mentality can flavour the characters pretty far either way.

    Also, how hard it is to keep track of the who/where/why/alliegences & history and individual plotlines during the first read through!!

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    In the first three books the problems were so minor as to not be noticed for me. Book 4 was utter garbage. Seriously just read the Arya chapters and I'm pretty sure you're good to go. Everything else is just worthless exposition about unlikable characters.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    For people who want to read and enjoy reading these books are a godsend. I can immerse myself in these solid and expansive works of fiction for at least three satisfying weeks where as I can pound through an unsatisfying 500 page Forgotten Realms pulp in an afternoon.

    So far ASOIAF is shaping up to be an eight book series and it has nothing of the book bloat found in Jordan's Wheel of Fire series. The whole arc plot of magic slowly returning to the land with the return of the dragons is interesting and Martin is able to skillfully contrast a world where the non-mystic is slowly supplanted by the mystic. The books go from a fairly straightforward period political thriller to emerging low fantasy that likely ends in a high fantasy setting. The problems I find with the television adaption is that the sexual encounters are played up more in what appears to be blatant pandering to draw new fans into the series. IMO this has changed Dannerys from an empowered female character into more of a tool to depict sexual imagery.

    I am very pleased that there is finally a fantasy show that is drawing new viewers into the genre and helping to legitimize fantasy into a money making genre. Unfortunately before the Lord of the Ring Movies it seems there was a long drought for fantasy productions. Hopefully there will be more fantasy movies in the future and maybe a series or two on Syfy.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    This may have been mainly with DwD but he has a habit of getting bored with plot arcs and suddenly switching them, rather than letting them move forward to a conclusion. He introduces a new character, or PoV, wraps them in a deep, well thought out backstory, builds their arc for a few chapters, and then they die or vanish.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Mmm, it may not be fair but by the point I left off, I had the sneaking suspicion that by the end of the series the gritty and intruiging action of the first book or so would be entirely supplanted by the adventures of Daenerys and the surviving Stark children as they bring magic back to the blasted crater of a setting, by which point they would practically be the only people left, with the possible exception of Tyrion.

    I'm not convinced that's really likely, but when so many tough, cunning, or generally significant characters die off and Bran is still kicking (metaphorically speaking), sometimes a mind gets unfairly suspicious.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    He kills to many Starks! Seriously though, I really enjoy the books. In my opinion they are a collection of some of the greatest stories I've read. I can see why people feel that there are some issues, particularly the pacing. But this is the kind of story that is largely political in nature and has a lot of the 'hurry up and wait' feel to it.

    The thing I like least is how crappy the average people have it in the series. I mean the slaves, westerosi civilians, and wildlings are all constantly getting crapped on. I would like to see things improve for them a little! I do like that we get to see Jaime transform himself (slowly) and I can only hope that some terrible things happen to the Freys, Boltens, and Cercei.

    Sinfonian, I think that you should just stop reading them if you dislike like them this much. At lot of your complaints feel a little nitpickey to me, like his use of 'pseudo-medieval' language, it's his world and that's how they talk there. I'm a little surprised that you're able to see all the plot twists coming a mile away, because I was very surprised for most of them, including Ned and the Red Wedding. If you would be so kind could you PM me with who you think Jon Snow's parents are?

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunter_Rose View Post
    IMO this has changed Dannerys from an empowered female character into more of a tool to depict sexual imagery.
    Danaerys was always a tool to depict sexual imagery. She's Martin's dragon-girl. A friend of mine once told me that Sues can't exist in a vacuum, and so they need colorful settings and environments and characters and events around them to make them interesting. I think this fits Danaerys to a T.

    On the whole subject of women being sexual objects in the books, really, all the women in SoIaF think with their chests. This is why the only good female characters are Arya and Brienne, neither of which having breasts, due to being too young and flat chested, respectively. I can only hope Arya follows suit as she ages.
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    Sinfonian, I think that you should just stop reading them if you dislike like them this much. At lot of your complaints feel a little nitpickey to me, like his use of 'pseudo-medieval' language, it's his world and that's how they talk there. I'm a little surprised that you're able to see all the plot twists coming a mile away, because I was very surprised for most of them, including Ned and the Red Wedding. If you would be so kind could you PM me with who you think Jon Snow's parents are?
    Sent the PM as requested, with justification and textual reference.

    As for why I don't stop reading, I did say that I really like the meta-plot. I still love Tyrion and most anything he's involved with. Especially not going to quit now that many of the more interesting aspects are taking prevalence, i.e. winter has come. And finally, there's a time-sunk issue. I've made it this far, and even if I don't like the writing style, I want to see how it turns out.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgondantess View Post
    Danaerys was always a tool to depict sexual imagery. She's Martin's dragon-girl. A friend of mine once told me that Sues can't exist in a vacuum, and so they need colorful settings and environments and characters and events around them to make them interesting. I think this fits Danaerys to a T.

    On the whole subject of women being sexual objects in the books, really, all the women in SoIaF think with their chests. This is why the only good female characters are Arya and Brienne, neither of which having breasts, due to being too young and flat chested, respectively. I can only hope Arya follows suit as she ages.
    I'd disagree with that one actually, Catelyn thinks (or doesn't) with her womb. And I think what keeps Dany from being a Sue is because she very obviously makes horrible decisions that screw everything up.

    Anyway this series is my personal current favorite. But earlier I tried to point out some flaws as I saw them.

    Some flaws with the series.
    Some people do not like the potential for mortality and the shifting in main characters. Fatigue I believe someone called it, in needing to form new relationships and watch them fall every book.

    Time: GRRM writes slooow. I think he's down to 1 book every 4-5 years. I respect the guys need to do his own thing, but waiting that long for the next installment means inevitably details are forgotten and the big picture becomes muddled.

    Book 4 and on: The series is, in my opinion, really broken down into 2 parts. The first part is books 1-3, which is about a big war and politics that start the ball rolling. That bit is done. Book 4-5 and in all likelihood 6 are in exploring what the big turmoil actually did. Characters interact more with the peasantry and see just how much and how little was accomplished and the build up of an epic conclusion has to start all the way back at 1. Now personally, I still find it interesting because I enjoy how Martin shows the effects of past events, but it's pacing is slower, definitely slower.

    Teasing style of writing: Martin has a habit of building up to something terrifying, cool, and amazing and then cutting the chapter completely. Sometimes it is resolved between chapters in a weird way. It can be effective, but it's a bit overused. Then other times he builds up to say a hugely defining battle that will determine the fates of about 4 major characters and then the book ends. And as I already said, 4-5 years for the next one. The suspense can be literally painful.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    In the first three books the problems were so minor as to not be noticed for me. Book 4 was utter garbage. Seriously just read the Arya chapters and I'm pretty sure you're good to go. Everything else is just worthless exposition about unlikable characters.
    See now funny thing I used to feel this way somewhat... and then I read book 5 and saw him waste all the nominal "good/favorite" characters. I was glad to see Jaime and Brienne get a chapter because everyone else was wasting my time.

    Very very very obvious that Martin failed as a writer with the book. It took forever because he totally lost where he was going and never recovered so the final product after five years was totally lackluster.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Why was anyone surprised about what happened to Ned? Couldn't you see that coming from the firs time he opened his mouth?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    I want more mwa-ha-haaa and much less boo-hoo-hoo.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    That depends... Were you reading the book or watching the show the first time he opened his mouth?

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    I DID... Ya know what? It's not nearly as hard as 9 was...

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    Sinfonian's Avatar

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSummoner View Post
    That depends... Were you reading the book or watching the show the first time he opened his mouth?

    Sean Bean is a walking spoiler.
    Sad, but true.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfonian View Post
    As for why I don't stop reading, I did say that I really like the meta-plot. I still love Tyrion and most anything he's involved with. Especially not going to quit now that many of the more interesting aspects are taking prevalence, i.e. winter has come. And finally, there's a time-sunk issue. I've made it this far, and even if I don't like the writing style, I want to see how it turns out.
    Thank you for sending the PM and I completely agree with your assertation. For a really cool visual of the tower of joy scene, click here. I'm with you in anticipation of the rest of the story. I think it will be really interesting to see how exactly GRRM is able to finish this thing. I also agree that he's suffering from a bit of story bloat and slow pacing, but I really enjoy the detailed writing. I like hearing about characters coat of arms, Rhaegar's back story, how the Golden Company was formed, etc etc. I'd be interested to hear how everyone liked the Barristan Selmy POV chapters.

    Why was anyone surprised about what happened to Ned? Couldn't you see that coming from the first time he opened his mouth?
    Honestly, no. I was fully prepared for Ned to be the protagonist for the entire series. My entire novel reading/movie watching career has prepared me for that as well. I think there were a couple of places he obviously made mistakes in his role as Hand...

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    He didn't bring enough guardsmen first of all. Also, when he confronted Cercei instead of arresting her, and when he trusted Littlefinger/didn't accept Renly's offer to combine forces.


    ...but despite all of that I was still holding on to hope that he would pull through. I would also agree that the women in this series are portrayed in a unfavorable light. My favorite characters are Arya, Jon, Daenerys (except most of her ADwD's decisions), Jamie, Tyrion, Barristan Selmy, and Jon Connington (he's a pretty interesting character IMO).
    Last edited by INDYSTAR188; 2012-09-30 at 10:15 PM.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I started with the books, but I think once my mind leapt to "honourable man in a pit of snakes", the conclusion was pretty clear.
    "The Drowned Man is not a God. He is from the North, and the North is too cold for gods."

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    I want more mwa-ha-haaa and much less boo-hoo-hoo.

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    HalflingWizardGirl

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I just ran into a huge, huge problem. So, I'm finally getting around to reading A Dance with Dragons. Anyway, there's a Dany chapter, and it reads like any other Dany chapter. Suddenly, the problem erupts: Martin writes, "[s]he [Dany] nibbled whilst she listened."

    Whilst? No true-blooded 'mericun should use "whilst." We say "while," over in these here parts
    Last edited by snoopy13a; 2012-09-30 at 10:50 PM.

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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I started with the books, but I think once my mind leapt to "honourable man in a pit of snakes", the conclusion was pretty clear.
    His failure was crystal clear. His death, was less obvious... it wasn't part of Tywin's plans, for example. An honourable man can be captured and used as an hostage and a leverage, and I was expecting something similar.
    Do I contradict myself?
    Very well then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes. (W.Whitman)


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    Great analysis KA. I second all things you said
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    Default Re: What are the problems with the "A song of ice and fire" series?

    I love this series, and it's among my favorites, but I'll definitely agree with the general complaint of "pacing". Not so much in the first three books, but in the last two. It's kinda obvious he doesn't know what to do with the characters (he has basically admitted as much) and instead got hung up on showing the aftereffects of the first three books ... which misses the reason why I, and many people I know, love the series: the characters. I don't agree that most of them are static throughout the books, but I will agree that this was true for the last two. Just some spoilered thoughts on characters in books 4 and 5 (warning, definitely spoilers, DO NOT READ if you haven't read the books in question):

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    Jaime began his journey to a semi-redemption in book 3; in the last couple of books, the only things he's done of note are taking Riverrun by relying on his reputation, and burning Cersei's letter. He's not moving forward on his path of redemption, he's just decided "I won't be such a ****" and we see that, shocker, he's not as much of a ****.

    Cersei got power, and as would be obvious to anyone who read the first three books, she failed miserably at keeping it due to her arrogance, paranoia and compulsive need for control. I enjoyed her chapters in AFFC, but only the first time, and really only for cathartic reasons. On subsequent readthroughs my reaction was basically, "Yeah, I coulda told you that would happen."

    Tyrion spends his time getting drunk and stumbling around the edges of the Targaryen plots; he's moving across the world, but he's not changing, he's not really discovering new things about himself. It's all just "I killed my father and I hate myself, but I still want to regain power at someone's side." Clever quip, expository dialogue, cue being whisked away to another part of the world. Still fun to read about, but it doesn't feel like he has much in the way of agency.

    Arya ... come on. She's in training to be an assassin, we get it. We don't need every chapter to just be Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, etc. etc. At this point it's completely divorced from the rest of the plot (even her brief incursion into Sam's is completely unnecessary) and, again, does not move her forward at all, because while she's learning new techniques she is staying essentially the same character she was at the end of 3. She's not subsuming herself to the Many-Faced God, she's still seeking vengeance and still a Stark, she's just better at hiding it now.

    Dany is perhaps the only character that I see actually changing, but ... my god, is her storyline frustrating. I feel like she regressed, not moved forward. She regressed to childish infatuations (okay, "adult" infatuations, blech, but still amazingly stupid) and forgot that her power derives from dragons. "Oh hey, my dragons killed a kid due to not being trained, so we should totally throw them in a pit for them to go feral and crazy instead of figuring out a way to TRAIN THEM." And then she wonders why she can't do anything she really wants to.

    Jon is the only one that I saw actually moving forward based on what he learned ... and the ending to that particular arc actually did not surprise me, except in how stupidly it was done by the Night's Watch.

    By the way, I still think Aegon feels like a total ***-pull and time waster.


    Long story somewhat shorter, the past two books are not really moving forward in a meaningful way. Yes, it's interesting to see the aftereffects of the first three books, but this is still a series that is moving forward in time, with a ticking clock that is counting down faster and faster, yet we waste time on simply visiting new locales and moving people across the board without seeing them actually change.
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