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What are your feelings towards ASOIAF

  1. Postive, more or less

    3 vote(s)
    30.0%
  2. Negative, more or less

    3 vote(s)
    30.0%
  3. Neutral/Mixed

    4 vote(s)
    40.0%
  1. Oldmanofthemountain

    Oldmanofthemountain Member

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    Thoughts on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Oldmanofthemountain, May 4, 2021.

    In terms of quality and content, what are your thoughts towards ASOIAF, if any? If so, what aspects of the novels have lead to your opinion about them?
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I liked the first couple quite a bit. I thought they started to drag after that and never read the most recent entry in the series. I’ve decided not to go back and revisit the books unless and until Martin finishes them, and even then I may not read them if the publisher doesn’t set an editor to work on them.
     
  3. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    I echo @Steerpike ’s sentiments.

    The first couple of books drew me in. Well enough that got me reading through the rest of the series.

    However the end books fall short - and that’s not just because the series is still incomplete. I think I felt the same way about Harry Potter and the Hunger Games too. A promise is established at the start but the authors fall short of sticking to it and delivering on those promises as the series continues. The suspense part is always wonderful, nevertheless, and keeps you on your toes the whole way through.
    Btw: I rated “positive”.
     
  4. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    This is because of me, isn't it? Oh God, it is. ;)

    In all seriousness, I'd be willing to read some excerpts you think are of astonishing quality from ASoIaF.
     
  5. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Contributor Contributor

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    The thing is, it's easy to tear down something that's popular just because it's become popular. But there is a reason it's popular.
    Is Georgie boy the best at painting a picture in our heads or immersing us in a scene? Nope.
    Is he the best at dialogue? Nope.
    Is he/his editor the best at cutting out the fat from his books? Nope.

    No writer excels at everything. Martin's strengths come in plot structure, characterization, and world-building.
    Tyrion Lannister is a fabulous character concept, brought to fruition. The same can be said of many of the strong, varying cast.
    The pacing and placement of the reveals is top-notch. And GoT wouldn't be half as popular as it is if the world he built wasn't a character unto itself.

    So, in short - asking for excerpts with some authors to prove how amazing they are is a waste of time because some authors best talents can't be highlighted in an extract.
     
  6. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm not sure it's up to you to say whether my request is a waste of time. I'm not particularly interested in Martin's characters--I find all of them unlikeable judging by the TV show and what I've read of the first book--so I asked about the prose instead. Anyway, I'm not sure I even agree that one can divide writing into sections like you've done. Can one have good characters but bad prose? I'm tempted to say they're all integrated. Doesn't character shine through good prose?
     
    Lazaares, jannert and Le Panda Du Mal like this.
  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Those are my sentiments exactly. In fact, GRR Martin is an excellent writer. I've read some of his short stories, published before this saga began—in fact I have a collection of them and they are really well done. I was also very impressed by the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire Saga, but began to be less impressed as the series rolled on. I read the second, the third, and was partway through the fourth book when I quit.

    Not only was I scunnered to realise how many MORE books were in the offing before the resolution would come—which meant that none of the constant cliffhangers were going to resolve the story—but his habit of killing off too many characters I'd become invested in became wearisome indeed. It's my understanding that the written series STILL isn't finished. Around about book 8, or wherever it is now.

    To be honest, it played out like a TV soap opera ...a neverendum, where characters come and go, without a lot of reason, apparently. Despite it being well-written from a prose standpoint and creating some very interesting characters, I dropped off the branch. I was never moved to watch the TV series.

    Does anybody else but me get the impression that Martin has totally lost interest in his own creation? Which is fine. That happens. However, I have also lost interest. I think he bit off more than he could chew, and failed to get a solid grip on the plot before he lost control of it. He should maybe stick to short story writing. He really is good at that.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think I had any problems with his prose OR his character development. In fact, as I said above, I think he's a very good writer. My problem is with the neverendum aspect of this saga. Which ...sorry, @Steve Rivers ...comes down to what I believe is a very poor plot structure. (I also think it's why he's been unable to finish the series himself, and why there have been an increasing number of years between volumes. He doesn't know for sure where it's going either. And now he's stuck having to reconcile his own ending with what the TV show produced. I don't envy his task, really.)

    The Saga starts strongly, with a keen focus on who will end up with the Throne after the truly shocking death of Eddard—an excellent touch, as the sense of jeopardy is very high after that—but then it begins to meander all over the place, introducing new elements, new characters, killing characters off, new scenarios ...till it's all a bit of a dog's breakfast. Deaths seem to come as cliffhangers or 'oh no' moments, rather than as integral parts of the plot advancement. In a couple of instances, dead characters actually have to be brought back ...which means now the supernatural has to enter into the picture. I thought one of the story's initial strengths was that the supernatural wasn't a factor ...then suddenly it is. And things get even more out of control.

    Each little subplot/vignette/personal story works within itself to a degree, but they ultimately don't link together very well, in my opinion. The saga really does behave like a soap opera. LOTS of people love soap operas—they are very popular—but that's not necessarily an indicator of quality. But eventually, even fans of soaps can lose track of all the characters. What the characters did 'before' doesn't seem to matter, including who fathered who, who married who, etc. We kinda expect more solid structure to a story we read, even if it does trail on over more that two or three books. At least I do.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
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  9. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    I passed on the first book when I started reading it and didn't get back into the hype until I started watching the series from season 5. The book just didn't ... grab me, to say. A lot of the elements and tropes were vaguely familiar from other fantasy worlds and none of the characters really stuck out to me. I wouldn't specifically call ASOIAF a bad book / series, but it definitely wasn't / isn't for me.
     
  10. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

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    IIRC, he set out to write the ASoIaF books in order to completely upend the usual tropes of fantasy, right? Like, WhAt If ThE bAd GuYs WoN? But in my opinion he ends up not really subverting them so much as just inverting them--and to me, the inverse of some shopworn tropes is really not any more interesting than the original shopworn tropes.

    It's kinda been hard for me to get past that initial objection, and as a result I don't have much in the way of thoughts on his prose style. It seems fine, although I wouldn't call it brilliant. He does seem to go for a lot of what I would call cheap thrills and overdone pathos, but maybe the cultural influence of the TV show (which was probably even worse on that count) is coloring my estimation there.

    A final half-baked comment is that all of this is making me want to read some of his other work, perhaps to give him more of a chance. He as an author almost gets conflated with ASoIaF, and people forget he was already a best-selling author before he wrote those. Didn't he write the Alvin Maker books, maybe I should try those.

    ETA: nope, Alvin Maker was Orson Scott Card.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    @Robert Musil try the Sandkings short story collection.
     
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  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I read the story The Sand Kings, it's included in the massive tome The Weird. I enjoyed it quite a bit. No gratuitous sex scenes written as if by a horny adolescent.
     
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  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I believe it was originally published on its own, then later included in a collection of the same name some time in the 80s. I remember the collection being pretty good but it has been a while since I read it.
     
  14. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah, basically this for me too.
     
  15. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not so certain his plot sttuctures for this series are anything too strong. Martin tends to utilize the exact same cycles over and over. He builds likeable characters over long periods only to brutally kill them in egregious ways. Then he does what I always think is a writing sin, he negates the power if death by bringing so many people back. I read through the whole series so far and it just gets tiresome. Endless cliffhangars, and you can basically predict the plot by determining what's the worst that can happen. It'll probably happen. There are some things I like about him, especially world-building in a political structure sense, but the meandering plot that negates its own powerful moments is what made me really tired of it.
     
  16. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Assertive Neophyte Contributor

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    Imo he does that to reinforce one of central themes of the series. Littlefinger explains to Sansa that virtuous people (her father, for instance) are poor players of "the game of thrones." Qualities like mercy and honor, while often present in the story's more likable characters, are dangerous vulnerabilities among the movers and shakers of Westeros.
     
  17. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My problem is less with the killing of main players than it is with the consistent cycles that just lose value the longer you read.
     

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