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Old 09-06-2013, 09:54 PM   #63
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I'll start by saying I haven't yet read Dance with Dragons, but do intend to at some I'm in the process of re-reading ASOIAF. Much like Legate, I find myself enjoying it more on the re-read. Not that I actually didn't like it when I first read it, but just being able to focus more and seeing the bigger picture helps immensely with all the characters and winding crisscrossing stories. (more on this in a bit)

Originally Posted by Kuru
Yes, Catelyn was as stupid as a bucket of dead fish...
This makes me wonder if Rickon's chapters (assuming he's still alive...somewhere?) will solely consist of "My mother is a fish" statements?

But seriously, I agree about Cat (and I put Lysa here as well). All the petty squabbles that plague the houses of Westeros I can tie back to the Tully sisters. Either with Cat's stupendously wrong assumptions or Lysa just being flat out crazy

Originally Posted by Legate
Heck, GRRM even doesn't have any ring, any Dark Lord, any hope, and any Gandalf, so what exactly is there that is a "rip-off"?
Well some might argue Melisandre is Martin's Gandalf. Some supernatural figure who serves a "Lord of Light."...prone to uncloaking and creating followers to place their hopes in her supernatural Authority entity. More to the point of the thread though...

I happen to like both stories (and their authors), and much like the Star Wars vs. Star Trek fandoms, I don't understand why someone can't reasonably enjoy both of them? It gets annoying. I mean the Tolkien fandom seems to want to say Martin is a wannabe hack, who only seeks to write gratuitous sex and violence and pass it off as a "darker/realistic" fantasy. And the Martin fandom thinks Tolkien is old and irrelevant. That somehow you need to be "gritty" and "darker" to have a good story with compelling characters. Both assumptions, I think are quite false.

My reasons for being captivated in Tolkien's world are probably the same reasons for others on the forum. The world he created, with it's histories, landscapes, races, languages and cultures are so rich and deep it's just remarkable. It is plot-driven, and even if a lot of the criticism with Tolkien "slow, descriptive parts are boring." I actually think the pacing is great for a book (trying to turn it into a movie, creates pacing problems but that's for a different discussion in a different forum).

ASOIAF is almost completely character driven. And so it's how I understand when Kit, Firefoot, or others say they don't like it because they don't care about any of the characters. It's not that Tolkien doesn't create multi-faceted characters, but on a hero/villain scale (at least when talking about LOTR) it's pretty clear. There are grayish characters, but you basically know where each one stands in the struggle of the "Free Middle-earth" against Sauron. There is no moral ambiguity. What is right is right (Gandalf - Free Will) and what is evil is evil (Sauron - seeking to dominate free will).

Good intentioned characters may stumble and make some ultimately evil decisions that lead to their falling. But in the end, you know where Boromir's morals stands...duty, honor, pride, for Gondor and his people (as well as his own pride which allowed the ring to weasel its way into his head). Much the same can be said to Denethor, only his own obsession with holding onto his seat of power led him to distrust all his friends and allies. He hated no one more than Sauron, but his own pride and despair led him to also not trust the aid of those who were needed to defeat Sauron. Gollum, the greatest thing happens, the destruction of the Ring due to Gollum's treachery. But Gollum's evil intentions in the matter doesn't suddenly make him a morally good characters because a good action resulted from bad intentions. He's a sympathetic character, no doubt. I've thought of Gollum the same was as Gandalf telling Frodo back in Bag End "It's a sad story." But again, there's nothing ambigious about Gollum's morals.

I won't beat on about all the various complex, fascinatingly ambigious ASOIAF characters. My feelings are the same as what Jaime Lannister said to Catelyn Stark about oaths. It's a simple speech about oaths, but it did marvels in developing Jaime's character, as well as serving the "wow. So completely true!" realization for me. I can only paraphrase, because unlike LOTR, I haven't read ASOIAF that many times to basically know where to find whatever quote I'm looking for...but the basic point Jaime makes is he's had to make so many oaths to his father, family, to one king, to other kings, to duty, honor...etc...what does one do when those oaths conflict? Even the great honorable Ned couldn't possibly keep all the oaths he made to this person or that person. Jaime and Cat's talk was absolutely one of my favorite parts in ASOIAF.

I enjoy all the petty politics in the series, and the constant personal struggles the characters go through to establish their power or cement it. Because I think, the Houses are so consumed in their own petty power struggles, they aren't realizing how useless and fruitless their victories of (if they've achieved anything at all). They're unable to see the largest threat isn't this king or that king, but a horde of cold zombies and zombie-bears to the North and Dany with her dragons freeing everyone across the sea.

I was watching the HBO series in conjunction with reading the books and I think that was a big reason that led to my appreciation of Martin's books. Because the TV series plays well to the strengths of the book (nearly flawless casting that captures all the complex and fascinating characters..which definitely drive the books) while also downplaying the flaws of the books. (Many of which I think have rightfully been talked about here. I'll just add if it wasn't for the TV-series and the actresses playing Sansa and Dany delivering much better and more likeable performances for their characters, I probably would not have gotten through Game of Thrones...and thus wouldn't have gotten through the entire series. The constant "stallion who mounts the word/moon of my life" was mind numbingly annoying. The TV series went away from much of that and the actresses playing Sansa and Dany did well. Once getting through Thrones both Sansa and Dany endure some pretty serious stuff that ultimately changes their characters, I think for the better...or at least for making them better characters in the story).

So, watching the series and the near perfect casting choices, while also reading the books and finding out more about all these "power" players, I think led me to appreciate ASOIAF more because I was captivated by all the characters, and their petty power struggles now. I'll sort of go with what Nog was saying when pointing out some of the characters like Stannis or Tywin.

I think Tolkien often got criticized for all of his characters being "black and white" "good or evil." In some ways I see where those characters were coming from...I mean if you're an orc, you're evil and you're stuck as being evil. There's no getting around they were created as cannon fodder to fill the armies of dark lords. Now I would argue that this isn't an entirely fair criticism because there are countless examples where Tolkien's "heroes" aren't being very good heroes at all...and his villains can strike up sympathy with a reader.

In a similar way, I think Martin gets criticized for "oh the only reason his characters seem more realistic is because they're all so vile, disgusting, and have no qualms about slaughtering 100 babies if it cements more power for them. I can see the truth to the argument with Martin, but it's also not an entirely fair criticism. I need to stop at some point, but I'll just use Tywin as an example...He is the despicable patriarch of probably the most sordid family imaginable, but his dominating presense straight up demands respect from everyone else in the room. He's a pragmatist and the most successful (and arguably the best) Hand to the King of Westeros for decades. (Alright...I also sort of found a new bro-love for Charles Dance...Tywin's scenes with Arya in Season 3 were cinematic gold. And that's stuff that didn't even happen in the books. ...)
I used to be for flip-flopping. Now I'm against it.

Fenris Penguin

Last edited by Boromir88; 09-06-2013 at 10:00 PM.
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