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 A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)

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Calwyn
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PostSubject: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:29 pm

That's it, I've had enough of this series.

It has to be the most depressing series of novels I have ever read. So many of the good characters are killed by treachery, while the evil ones die only piecemeal, and only the insiginificant ones.

It's always one step forward, three steps back. Arya's captured and captured again by so many people and never makes it to her mother or family and safety. Catelyn loses husband, father, and children to treachery. Sansa is freed from marrying Joffrey, only to be married to Tyrion, then saved... but wait, she's really just been captured by Littlefinger who is as bad or worse than Joffrey. Jon's doing well with the Black Cloaks, but then he has to sell his honour out to survive, his lover is killed indirectly by his hand, though he at least is saved by Stannis and made king of Winterfell and Commander of the Wall (which is only possible because the old Commander had been murdered).

I mean really. What he's writing isn't realistic, it's the opposite of other stories that are unrealistically happy. It's unrealistically depressing.

And I'm more frustrated by the many story lines than I was with the Wheel of Time. At least Jordan would continue with a given storyline for a few chapters if his scene or plot development lasted longer than a chapter. Martin jumps all over the place, and in trying to maintain a linear timeline he skips certain events or scenes. When he finally returns to that storyline after leaving a cliffhanger, he off hand refers to what had happened in a page or two of a flashback or recollection by the character.

It's frustrating beyond my tolerance.

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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:07 pm

Poor Calwyn. Smile

I can fully see where you are coming from and can intellectually grasp your frustrations, but personally, I likes it. Evil Plot

Sure people you like die, sure it's not like other books. Though I do wonder if it in fact is realistic. Wouldn't this be what life is like in a war torn area? (europe?)

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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:12 pm

Not to this extent Razz

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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:30 am

I really enjoy this series, and tbh the "unrealistically depressing" events are what make-up the crucible which is forging the heroes of the day. You don't enjoy Jon's story? You don't think Jon's limited experience is enhanced by even the pain of losing (he thinks) his entire family? Arya. The best child character in any series ever. That's right, I said it. You don't think Arya isn't going to come back in a few years and kill EVERYBODY? lol

I think you are being unjustly critical of the series. Plenty of other series have just as much, if not more death. The difference here perhaps is that Martin has made the death more real to us as the reader because we know the deceased, often we've even been inside their heads. An example of peer literature with as much death would perhaps be Rothfuss "The Name of the Wind" (and if you haven't read this you need to RIGHT NOW, it's as good if not better than WFR as a series starter) In the beginning, the main character's whole family, whole world is destroyed. The irony, pain, and logistic position this puts the main character in is what forges him into the brain-bendingly interesting character that be becomes. It is one of the best "becoming" stories I've ever read. Far better than Richard's "Oh yay - I'm a wizard now - my powers work instinctively - LOL" Kvothe has to literally study to attain his powers... Shocking, and boring as that is...

I'm a little off topic now, but I'll leave you with this observation. If you choose to finish out the series, and I suggest you do, know that in some of the coming books the events of one book coincide with the events of later ones. SO you get to read the POV of two or more diff characters experiencing the same events or at least experiencing their own POV while events you've already read about are also transpiring. It's an interesting literary device, even if it's not as successful to you, as it is to me.

Now the jerk-comment, cause I'm the best at them. Not being able to "handle" a POV dying is a weakness as a reader. It's lack of respect in an author (for you) that forces them to allow 90+% of their characters to live (Wheel of Time anyone?), and that when they kill someone, they might even be a main character, but never a POV. I personally wish more books and movies had more death of main characters. The "point" is served just as well if not better by a protagonist striving and ultimately NOT succeeding. I'm not saying everything needs to be pessimistic, but it does make you a weak reader for not being able to handle it. And pushing the genre towards care-bear, power-ranger drama by crying when your POV dies make me sad personally.

You know I love you Cally - just keep reading! (but actually, read "The Name of the Wind" first - It's the best new fantasy novel written in the last 10 years - it's 2x as good as Martin or Goodkind (especially books 7-35), I promise.) http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/books.asp
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:23 pm

Memnoch wrote:
You don't enjoy Jon's story? You don't think Jon's limited experience is enhanced by even the pain of losing (he thinks) his entire family? You don't think Arya isn't going to come back in a few years and kill EVERYBODY? lol

I never said I didn't like their stories or their characters. If you remembered from my posts about A Game of Thrones, Jon and Arya are two of my favorite characters.

I in fact find most of the characters to be quite interesting. What I don't like is that Martin kills so many of them off and HOW he kills them off. See back to my comments on Ned's death in my Game of Thrones thread. I saw the death coming, I saw its purpose even before it happened. I appreciated that even as a main character, and a POV main character at that, his death had a good role to play when it came to other main characters like Robb, or Catelyn, or any of his other children. I disliked the manner of his death, if you recall. I thought it could have been done better and still been 'realistic'.

The death of Robb... I just don't see what purpose it serves at all. Its doubly frustrating because of Ned's death; I saw that as a primary moment in the development of Robb. It thrust his oldest yet still young son into a great deal of responsibility. He fought against great odds, and won. He was Ned in the flesh: the same kind fo honour and personality, which were greatly admirable. It would have made for a great plot device to have Robb learn to use his honour without allowing it to lead to his downfall as his father did. And... it didn't. He didn't learn anything, and his honour got him killed.

After his death, I ask myself... now what? What purpose does his death serve? It will allow Joffrey to gloat over Sansa that much more, which was already untolerable. But what character really develops from this, the way Robb developed from the death of his father? Rickon's too young, Bran's off behind the Wall learning to be a 'Greenseer', Jon's at the Wall doing his sworn duty to defend it and the Seven Kingdoms from the Others and the Wildings, and I'm already assuming he'll be the next Lord Commander of the Wall. There is no one, not one Stark, who is ready to take over as heir to Winterfell, let alone the North Kingdom, and continue the fight in his place. Who will fight for Winterfell? Who will defend and avenge the honour of the Starks and Winterfell? It's not Arya, she's going off to train as an assassin and gets blind in the process. It's not Sansa, she gets spirited off by Littlefinger for his little games.

Now I use in contrast the character of Jaime. I actually greatly enjoy the direction Martin is going with him. At first the character to be reviled, perhaps most of all (I had him second behind only Cersei), once Brienne starts talking to him and he becomes a POV, you learn of his complicated history. You learn that the perception others had of him that you in turn grasped of his apparent lack of honour or decency were wrong. Totally wrong. In fact, the only real thing I could have fautled him for now that I have the whole picture is that he was having an incestuous relationship with his sister. He had a great amount of goodness and honour, until everyone around him started thinking he was a monster with no honour and he allowed that to get to him. Now he's starting to get it all back, and is trying to live an honourable life. I assume that Martin will continue down the road until Jaime essentially acquits himself completely.

Now tell me, how could that have happened or still happen if Jaime has his throat cut on the bridge into King's Landing? (An event that would be perfectly in line with Martin's other deaths). It can't.

Going back to the depressing aspect of other storylines where the characters are still alive... I don't care if Arya or Jon or any of the surviving Starks/'good guys' comes back and 'kills them all' out of vengeance for their slain family and friends. What I wanted was the existing characters to overcome perils and treachery on their journeys, like my example of Jaime, not die unceremoniously part way through it, like Robb.

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I think you are being unjustly critical of the series.

I think you're being unjustly critical of me. I'm telling you my opinion about the book, which is entirely subjective. So you telling me that my opinion is unjust or wrong is just... well, unjust and wrong Razz

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Plenty of other series have just as much, if not more death. The difference here perhaps is that Martin has made the death more real to us as the reader because we know the deceased, often we've even been inside their heads.

I only know of one series that matches it, and I came to dislike it and never ended up finishing it either.

And I don't read stories for 'realistic deaths'. I read stories for the lives and journies of the characters. I've read other books and series where other main or sub-main characters die and I've been fine with it. It's the nature of their deaths, how they functioned in the plot, and 'what the point(s) was' that matter. Not 'how realistic' it was or wasn't.

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Not being able to "handle" a POV dying is a weakness as a reader.

'weakness of a reader'? 'Disrespect of an author'? Really?

I'm not touching that with a 20-foot pole.

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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:39 pm

I enjoy this series, but I have to agree with Calwyn. The deaths are too random, with no apparent purpose. I say "apparent" because I think there IS one, but if I'm right it basically means that the first two or three books are 95% irrelevant. It's as if Martin doesn't understand that the development and advancement of the characters is what many of us read books for. Something else I've noticed: Most of the people killed casually are the heroic people, the good guys. The bad guys either go on living, or their deaths are described in a fair bit of detail.

Quote :
Not being able to "handle" a POV dying is a weakness as a reader.
To a very limited extent, I'll agree with you. The death of a POV character is a useful tool in writing--it hightens the suspense, because no one is bullet-proof. Imagine if Mr. Goodkind had killed off Zedd two books in, or Kahlan in Temple of the Winds, or something like that. It sends a stark message to the readers that NO ONE is safe. This story is going to hit HARD.

Contrast that with Martin's casual slaughter of his best characters. What point does it serve? We're no longer surprised by the deaths--we know that no one is safe. The fact that predominantly good guys are dying this way shows a certain contempt for virtue (though, to be fair, this series isn't over yet and we cannot make such judgements absent the full series). At minimum it shows that the characters do not matter. They're irrelevant, and can be treated as such.

I've always beleived that a good book is one where you take something away with you after you've read it, and a great one sticks with you long after you've forgotten what the book was about. The Lord of the Rings re-introduced the concept of an epic fantasy to the world (and shoved it down the critics' throats, forcing them to accept fantasy as a genera). Mr. Goodkind's works present what are, essentially, anti-fallacies--tools of logic we can (and which many of us DO) apply to our every-day lives. Even drivel such as The Enchanted Forest Chronicles provides something to take away (I sought out a woman like Cimorine to marry, though I did it unconciously). What can we take away from SoIaF? Nothing. I know as much about combat in that era as Martin did, so even the "realistic" aspects don't offer me anything. And since nearly every character that upheld any value other than power for power's sake is dead or incapacitated, we're left watching the petty squables of pampered nobility destroy their world.

Quote :
And pushing the genre towards care-bear, power-ranger drama by crying when your POV dies make me sad personally.
This is, quite frankly, a shallow and petty attack on a straw man. Ned Stark had to die. I agree with Calwyn there. From the beginning you could see that he had to die. And having him as a POV was vital to the story--it let you see WHY he was dying, and why he was right. Killing off nearly every other character with even a shred of honor? That's a bit much. (And no, I'm not including Jaimie here--he's learning, and he had his reasons for what he did in the past, but he's still a monster in the process of becoming human.) As for this driving the genera towards care-bear and power-ranger drama, if the author is so incompetant that he can't figure out how to move the story forward without slaughtering his only honorable people, that's a weakness of the author. No one would argue that WFR pulled any punches, yet Richard lived.

The thing is, once you've killed off everyone the reader can relate to (ie, everyone who the reader finds even slightly GOOD), you've got no story left. Or, rather, not one worth telling. As I said before, it's just a bunch of petty nobles too self-centered to realize that they're killing themselves, and too evil to care that they're killing everyone else. I've got better things to do with my time than to read about petty back-stabbing and stupidity.

In short, killing off characters to drive the story forward, or to drive a point home, is a briliant literary move. Martin is not doing that, however. He's simply kiling people off, left and right. And once you've killed off your characters, what do you have left to drive the story?
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:40 pm

@ Calwyn: I have a 30 foot pole...

@ Dinwar (and a little Calwyn): I agree with the major stance you took,
and as usual blankly accept your criticism of my argumentative style
with a shrug; but I disagree with the the assertion that Martin killed off
all the best characters or all the characters the reader can relate to.

1) That's subjective

2) For me personally, all of my favorite character lived... and not only that (SPOILERS OMG) Death is only the beginning... some people don't stay dead. hint hint, wink wink. I think it is definitely one of the strengths of this genre that you can kill major characters, and while I certainly accept your personal opinions that the death of X or Y, or even X + Y struck you badly either because you liked said character(s) or as Dinwar put, simply too many characters died... in a fantasy series like this, where you have numerous characters, you can afford to lose a few. (Though as stated, I conceed maybe "too" many were "lost")

I still think the story is compelling, and all my personal favorites persevere... so I still say get over it. Or read "The Name of the Wind". It's seriously great.

PS: It's also worth nothing that the focus of the arc of this series likely mainly has to do with:

a) Dany's return to the mainland with Dragons

b) The coming of "Winter" from the north.

SO if you are bored with the inner-workings of nobles, relief is in sight - and I will tease you a little by saying that some of the subsequent passages regarding religious military and political groups that come up in future books have "interesting" parallels to "European" history, and I can;t wait ti find out what Martin "has to say" about such subjects.

I won't dissemble and say Martin has anything on Goodkind in terms of any kind of philosophy - but Goodkind SHOULD have had more characters die for realism. It's a reflection of the reader though. The loss of Warren, while certainly upsetting - was about as "fringe" as a major character gets.
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:00 pm

You misunderstand me. I stated in the begining that I enjoy the series--and unless you've read Martin's unpublished notes, you can't spoil anything for me. Wink I'm not saying, and have never said, "Don't read this series". I've merely pointed out that there are a number of problems with this series.

How, specifically, is it a strength to kill off your main characters? Not just one or two--most half-way decent writers do that (on or off screen). I'm asking how it's a strength to kill off so many characters that you have to start adding new ones just to keep your story moving (which Martin is doing).

Like I said, if I'm right about where Martin is going it means that 95% of the first three books is irrelevant to the story--it's all setting, it's all fluff. That's not good writing, that's misunderstanding what your own series is. Poe's advice on short stories comes to mind.

I'll grant you that "best" is subjective. Which is why I used the terms "good" and "honorable". You won't see too many people here arguing that those are subjective terms, and I seriously doubt you'll see many people who disagree with my assessment (maybe Stannis, or whatever his name is; but after that, I doubt it). And either way, you can't argue that Martin has killed off most of his main characters (and the majority of them permanently). Those he hasn't killed off he's either incapacitated or imprissoned, or are so vile that nuking their entire kingdom would be an acceptable option for dealing with them (I present the Greyjoys and Lannisters as evidence).

As for the dead who return.....Yeah, let's just not go there.
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:04 pm

I thought Kevan Lannister made a good showing of himself recently... though "too little, too late" comes to mind.

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"Like I said, if I'm right about where Martin is going it means that 95%
of the first three books is irrelevant to the story--it's all setting,
it's all fluff. That's not good writing, that's misunderstanding what
your own series is. Poe's advice on short stories comes to mind."

OK, ok... you win! Geez
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:03 pm

Memnoch wrote:
@ Calwyn: I have a 30 foot pole...

Good for you, I'm still not going there.

Quote :
@ Dinwar (and a little Calwyn): I agree with the major stance you took,
and as usual blankly accept your criticism of my argumentative style
with a shrug; but I disagree with the the assertion that Martin killed off
all the best characters or all the characters the reader can relate to.

I'll start by asking what you mean by 'best': do you mean as in the most virtuous, or your favorite? Personally I didn't say he killed off ALL the best characters in either sense. But he's killed off or corrupted a lot of them. Ned and Robert are dead, Robb's dead, Catelyn seems no longer human, Renly's dead, Mormont's dead (though he's a minor character).

Then there's the characters still alive that are just getting shit-canned. Sansa's been naught but a plaything for everyone else's political games: first Robert and her father's, then Cersei and Joffrey's where she was abused and beaten, then Tywin's, now Littlefinger's.

Arya has first been caught in King's Landing, then rescued by Yoren, then Yoren was killed and she was captured by Gregor, then taken to Harrenhal, then she helped her brother's allies capture the castle from within... only to find she was still held there as a prisoner/servant, then she escaped and tried to make for Riverrun... only to get captured again, but then she finds out that amog her captors is someone she knows from Winterfell... only to find out he views her as a hostage, then she's captured by Sandor, but then she finds out he means to take her straight to her mother and brother... only for them both to be killed, then Sandor tries to take her somewhere safe... only for him to be killed, so she goes to the Faceless Men to learn to be an assassin so she can avenger her family... only to wind up blind after being poisoned.

Dany's storyline only really became interesting and important during this book here, though it's still frustrating because her ultimate importance has been to invade and reclaim Westeros... and after three books (and I'm told it doesnt happen in the fourth either) she STILL hasn't done it yet.

Bran's storyline has potential, but so far... like Dany, his hasn't reached its potential yet.

Catelyn was very depressing... every POV half of the chapter was taken up by her brooding emo-style. I can see where Sansa got her annoyingness from Wink

Jon's the one character and storyline I enjoy. It helps that he hasn't been killed off Razz

Quote :
1) That's subjective

Of course, I've already said myself that this is my subjective opinion, which is why I don't appreciate being told that holding my opinion makes me a weak reader or something. Razz

Quote :
2) For me personally, all of my favorite character lived... and not only that (SPOILERS OMG) Death is only the beginning... some people don't stay dead. hint hint, wink wink.

I already know that Catelyn gets ressurected a la the Thunder Lord or whatever his name is. But I also know that afterwards she becomes bat-shit-wacko, so much so that she blames Brienne in part for all her misfortune and tries to hang her, which just makes her more depressing.
Quote :


I think it is definitely one of the strengths of this genre that you can kill major characters, and while I certainly accept your personal opinions that the death of X or Y, or even X + Y struck you badly either because you liked said character(s) or as Dinwar put, simply too many characters died... in a fantasy series like this, where you have numerous characters, you can afford to lose a few. (Though as stated, I conceed maybe "too" many were "lost")

I will give you the fact that because this series doesn't have a bona fide protagonist over all other characters, but a series of them, killing one or a few off doesn't outright kill the story as it might in another. However, you missed the part in my post where I said that it's not just that "my favorite" characters died or that too many died, it's HOW they died, or what purpose their deaths seemingly serve in the ultimate plot that I dislike. See previous post for more about that.

Quote :
I still think the story is compelling, and all my personal favorites persevere... so I still say get over it. Or read "The Name of the Wind". It's seriously great.

I think the story's compelling as well, and a lot of my favorite characters still live as well, and I never said otherwise.

Quote :
I won't dissemble and say Martin has anything on Goodkind in terms of any kind of philosophy - but Goodkind SHOULD have had more characters die for realism.

No, he shouldn't. Or rather, he shouldn't have killed off more characters just for the sake of making it more 'real'. First of all, we're talking about a fictional story, in a fantasy setting to boot. 'Realism' doesn't matter as much as it would in, say, a historical fiction or 'based on a true story' novel. Second of all, killing off a character in a story like this should serve a purpose. It shouldn't be done just to make it seem real, it should be done to help develop the living characters and the plot line(s). Thats where I get upset with Martin in some places. A lot of the stuff he does doesn't seem to have any great purpose, or any purpose at all. I'm still trying to figure out what purpose Theon and the Ironmen serve. The best I can think of is to simply add to the chaos in Westeros... but there were already, what, four other factions struggling for control? Adding a fifth just doesn't really do anything. It's like adding a teaspoon of water into a pot already holding 10 cups.

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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:53 pm

Quote :
but Goodkind SHOULD have had more characters die for realism.
Two issues with this quote. First, Goodkind killed off a huge number of people. Remember Phantom? Second, Goodkind wasn't going for realism, but rather romanticism. A completely different type of literature, and (obviously) one that's not suited to everyone. Complaining that a romantic writer didn't do enough for realism is something akin to saying that a painter doesn't use chissles properly.

Honestly, I think a lot of the problem stems from just that difference between the authors. Goodkind's novels are character-driven, while Martin is more of a world-builder. Both perfectly legitemate fantasy styles (some of the first fantasy novels fell into those categories), but viewing one through the lens of the other criteria is only going to give you a headach. Martin is creating a facinating world, and his characters help flesh out that world, but the plot is secondary. Goodkind's world was never fleshed out to the extent Martin's is, despite many more books--but his characters and plot are more developed. Six of one, half-dozen of the other. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:10 pm

Thats actually an interesting perspective Dinwar, because I would have thought Martin's series to be character driven in that his story lines follow the personal quests of various characters, and his caste is diverse and compelling all over.

But you're right in saying that he is also a world builder. And in fact, I could say the same thing about the characters in Robert Jordan's series, but I consider that to be more of a world builder series than character driven. There are many other similarities between ASoIaF and WoT as well, so perhaps my beef with both is how they use/develop their characters in their plot lines.

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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:31 pm

The way Martin deals with his characters is revealing of a world-building mentality. Why did Jon go beyond the Wall? An equally moving scene could be made without him spending time with the Watch's foes--a wound while hunting, and a woman taking him in, for instance. But Martin used the opportunity to show the culture and the world north of the Wall. Half the crap that happens to Danny could be removed and not significantly affect her storyline (let alone the major storyline)--it's all to show the world. Arya could have been captured any number of times during the march, or the march could have been dealt with far more efficiently--but it let the reader see the world. And the characters don't seem to matterr. Martin sets some up to be great heros, and cuts them down without a second thought. The people aren't important. What they show of the world, is. Though I should stress that by "world" I'm not merely talking geographic--the religions, and the magic, and the politics, are all part of world-building.
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:52 am

I only just recently found this series (within th elast 6 months). Read through it in a couple weeks.

It took about half of the first book to get used to Martin's style of jumping from scene to scene with each chapter - but once I was used to that, I was able to settle in and enjoy the story.

Having only read it once, I couldn't tell you much in the way of detail - but ...

I enjoyed seeing "heros" being mentally broken or killed, villians getting stronger, etc.. etc.. etc..

During the first 2 books, everything I was expecting to happen didn't - and what I began to fear might happen would. I found all of that to be very refreshing. I think if Martin had played the same old game of heores winning, villians losing and only the odd random death, it would have made for a much more bland and lifeless story.

For the last books, Every time a person started to make any "gains" I would begin fearing for them - I "knew" that Martin was going to ruin thier life somehow, and I just had to find out how.

While this series may be a stretch from "realistic", I think it's much closer to what could have happened than the typical fantasy book. Villians being defeated and Heroes continually triumphing is fine if you are reading simply to find a "perfect" world to escape to - Martin gives us a world that, while it allows Heroes to exist, it makes one question whether or not they would want to be there "in" the story. Suddenly our Real World doesnt' look quite so bad.

Overall, after a single read through the series, I'd give each book a rating of about 8.5 out of 10 and the series as an entity a 9/10. This series will be the next I buy to have on my shelves as part of my personal library.
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PostSubject: Re: A Storm of Swords (Full Spoilers)   Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:38 pm

Well I ended up picking the book up again and finished it, but let me just add some things when I respond.

I'm not some guy that wants or expects the good guys to win all the time without having to experience any kind of mental or physical pain. Part of the adventure should require them to show great resilience in overcoming the pain they suffer while never giving up.

To use a familiar example to us all, my favourite books in the SoT series were Stone of Tears and Faith of the Fallen. They were my favourite because the main characters (Richard and Kahlan, namely) faced such adversity while under emotional duress (being forcefully seperated from each other). Twice Richard was taken away against his will into a hostile place, surrounded by enemies. He swallowed his anger and pride and by doing so set himself up as a model for his supposed enemies to admire, respect, and eventually befriend.

Now I'm going to apply this to the SoIaF story lines, and you'll see why I like certain characters/storylines and not others:

Jon is a character that's had to, and so far has, overcome a lot. As a bastard he lived with overt hostility from Catelyn, and the social pressures of being a bastard. At the wall he found himself, at the beginning, hated by almost everyone there and was miserable to find out there wasn't nearly as much glory there as he thought there would be. Yet a quick pep talk by the one-armed blacksmith (forget his name) humbled him and he swallowed his anger and pride and began doing things the right way. And lo and behold, he began winning people over to him. It continued through all the books: he was made the Lord Commander's steward, sent on a dangerous scouting mission, chosen as the one to survive, forced into a tough situation as a supposed-wildling where he actually developed feelings for Ygritte, faced a hard choice between duty and freedom/love, and bravely remained at the wall to defend it with not the best defenders against all odds. By the end of this book here, he had won the respect of so many people that they voted HIM Lord Commander.

Tyrion is another character like that. He built himself up to be the most powerful and influential man in King's Landing... until he was knocked out in the battle and his father and sister undid everything. He similarly had to overcome the revulsion many people had for his physical appearance, and the hostility and resentment from his own sister and father. Where Jon has, to this point, seemingly overcome everything (to this point), Tyrion now apparently has even more to overcome after suffering more setbacks. He slew his own father in revenge, and now is on the run.

Jaime is another one. In the first two books you're led to believe he's this great evil man, until you start getting his POV. Then you realize that he's the way he is BECAUSE people always treated him like that. While with Brienne, he starts looking back and within himself, and starts turning himself around. He still has to overcome a lot, but he's doing a darn good job of it so far.

Finally, Dany has become more interesting as she's become more relevant. She's had to overcome the treatment from her brother, her status almost as a wife-slave, and then the loss of her husband and his army, on top of the betrayal of those closest to her this book.

Those are the storylines I read when I picked the book up again.

In contrast, I completely skipped through Arya, Sansa, and Bran's storylines after Robb's death. They don't seem to be overcoming anything. Arya's being taken all over the place, and I agree with Dinwar that she seems to be used exclusively to show the world without having her character developed at all. Sansa's taking everything that's thrown her way passively, repeating the same words she's always been trained to say no matter who holds her, and crying her fear and shame out at night. She's yet to overcome anything, or even try to. Bran MIGHT overcome his problems and do something, but he too seems to be a character used to show the world, specifically magic.

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