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Tristan

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Well if it generates that kind of strong opinion I guess I'll have to have a look and see what all the fuss is about.

 

I am downloading now and will report back after I have digested the first series.

 

Thanks peeps.

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No fancy stats, I'll show editing.

 

The books are not great. They're popular, certainly, but so was Fifty Shades of Grey. They're full of great ideas that Martin threw together. His actual writing is atrocious. The plot is often directionless, he adds so many characters and POVs that everything gets bogged down and nothing of substance happens. He spends way too much time describing feasts and people's heraldry. Seriously, if you check Wikipedia there are entire character histories for people that are only mentioned in bits and pieces throughout the books, who you never meet! Some are even dead, and not even important to the plot, but he still spends pages upon pages writing bits of information about them. Aside from the main characters that were there from the beginning, all the characters in the books are repetitive in their nature and in how he uses them, and they become boring and uninteresting.

 

To give you an idea of how bad it's gotten, consider that the series was originally supposed to be a trilogy. The first book was supposed to wrap up the Westeros civil war, the second book was to conclude Danaerys' invasion, the third book to deal with the White Walkers. It's book five and the civil war STILL isn't over, and it's because Martin became enamored with coming up with these cool little ideas for his world that he HAD to add in. He actually pays for people, assistants, to track and remember all of the separate bits of information he's put in the books because he can't remember them and contradicts himself in his manuscripts, which is part of the reason why it took him FIVE YEARS to write the last book, when he already had half of it written because it was supposed to all be in the previous book.

 

The whole appeal of his plot is shock value. Shocking events, shocking behavious, shocking language, shocking relationships. The rest of the appeal is supposed to be an interesting and intricate world. The shockingness can be good, and he'd done it well at times, but when that's all he does it eventually gets to the point where it isn't shocking anymore and it becomes expected. He's used up all of the shock value after book three. As for the world, he does have cool ideas - lots of them in fact - but as a writer he over-writes it to the point where they're not interesting anymore, and they become annoying in that they keep interrupting the plot. It's like he spends half the time trying to write a story, and the other half trying to write something like the Silmarilion - not a story, but a history of the world he created and all its peoples and places. There comes a point where you don't spell everything out for the reader, and you let them figure things out as they read. He is guilty of numerous info dumps that jarr the reader out of the flow of his prose.

 

Going back to the characters, the fact that he's taken so long to get to his original key plot points (supposed to be over 3 books, not 7+) has meant that for his main characters, what he intended to be their main roles have had to be stretched out. Some of them have been caught in limbo. Bran has basically spent five books waiting around or walking to get to the point where he finally gets to where he needs to be at the right time. Sansa has been passively observing events and learning the craft intrigue without doing anything of note. Arya spent most of the first few books being taken by one group to another all over Westeros, seemingly just so Martin could show us more people and groups doing shocking things, and I swear Danaerys' plotlines for the books so far he's invented on the go as he delayed and delayed what her main role is: to invade Westeros.

 

If he had managed to keep the series to 3-5 books, it MIGHT have been great. I want to love the books and I want to think they're great, but he ruined them with all the random and, in the grand scheme of things, utterly useless things he just had to add to the books.

 

Tolkien also paid people and had charts and maps to keep track of his shit. What's your point? A lot of shit is going on and his fanbase is mostly nerds. They notice obscure errors and he doesn't want to get busted by some sweatpants-wearing, cheeto-eating dweeb at Comic-Con.

 

Other than the Dany chapters in Book 2 and parts of Book 4, I was unable to put the books down. I read Storm of Swords in two straight days. If you don't find it interesting or captivating, you are likely in the minority. All the reviews I have read, and all the people I talk to can't put the books down.

 

Yes it is hard to keep track of all the characters and places, but that's why he's created the glossaries and the maps to help keep track of it. These books aren't for dumb people. One review I read summarized it as "Fantasy reading for intelligent people." That's how I feel about it.

 

It has taken five years because a few years ago he got involved with creating the show. What would be more important to you - finishing your book or making millions of dollars by brigning that same series to life on television and reaching a much larger fanbase knowing that you can simply finish the books later?

 

Lastly, I think you need to give Martin more credit. He is also lacing the book with lots of subtle symbolism that they are doing a great job of capturing in the show. Have you noticed that the direwolf is killed by a stag at the beginning of the series/books? And then later on they show Tywin carving a stag apart? I love those subtle references.

 

In short. I think both the books and the show rock.

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Let me make something clear, before I go on: I do LIKE the books, and the show. I just don't think they're "great".

 

My point is that Martin tries to cram too much into the books now. Tolkien, at least, had two things going for him: first, he didn't try and cram as much stuff into the books. That's why he had so many notes left over that so many books have been released using them. Second, he is the founder of modern fantasy literature. He was also a brilliant scholar in the field of linguistics and comparative mythology, specifically Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse. Would you not say, however, that the Lord of the Rings is incredibly dry? Has agonizingly long passages describing every hill they climb over? Martin is worse, because Tolkien's ideas were original and new. Martin's are full of cliche and tropes, and his prose is behind that of Tolkien's.

And everyone I talk to says the opposite, that the series is getting worse the further it goes.

 

"Fantasy reading for intelligent people?" Absolute twaddle. I am an avid a fantasy reader as you'll find, and I consider the series about in the middle range of fluff and "thought provoking". Books/series I would rank ahead of Game of Thrones in terms of "intelligence": Sword of Truth, Malazan Book of the Fallen, The First Law trilogy, The Broken Empire trilogy, The Long Price Quartet, Left Hand of God trilogy, anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, Stormdancer, MIstborn, Stormlight Archive, the Gallow trilogy, Moontide Quartet. There are others I can say are probably on par with Game of Thrones.

 

And no, I don't need to give Martin more credit. Having the direwolf killed by a stag isn't subtle. When you associate certain houses with animals and symbols like that, their use in such a manner is fairly blunt.

 

The funny part is, as far as books go I'm very easy to please. I've read over 60 books this year, half of them fantasy, and I don't critique them as much as I do Martin's. And in fact, like I said before I still like his books. But the editor in me cannot let things go. And there's a reason why I say the books are better as a show: First, Martin's history is with writing scripts and for television, and it's fairly obvious that he wrote the books with a show/movie adaptation in mind - and as an aside, that's a pet peeve of mine, because it seems like a lot of books do that these days - which makes it worse as a book. Second, the massive amount of characters, the sex and betrayal, the large scope of the world with all kinds of different places and people, all of those are hallmarks of good shows, of Breaking Bad or The Sopranos ilk.

But as a singular, overarching book series, I'm sorry it just doesn't work well enough for it to be "great". What greatness it has comes from its popular appeal, and I cannot deny that both the books and the show are incredibly popular. But the popularity of the books CAME from the show, it only ever had the usual fantasy-fan-underground popularity before the show captured its greatness, and drove people to the books. The greatness of the books does not come from the inherent quality of the writing.

 

Lastly, I realize there is a great deal of subjectivity here, and in fact one could argue that popularity should be the true mark of greatness. If so many people like it, perhaps its for a reason. The only thing that holds me back in regards to that is the popularity of things like Fifty Shades of Grey.

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Let me make something clear, before I go on: I do LIKE the books, and the show. I just don't think they're "great".

 

My point is that Martin tries to cram too much into the books now. Tolkien, at least, had two things going for him: first, he didn't try and cram as much stuff into the books. That's why he had so many notes left over that so many books have been released using them. Second, he is the founder of modern fantasy literature. He was also a brilliant scholar in the field of linguistics and comparative mythology, specifically Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse. Would you not say, however, that the Lord of the Rings is incredibly dry? Has agonizingly long passages describing every hill they climb over? Martin is worse, because Tolkien's ideas were original and new. Martin's are full of cliche and tropes, and his prose is behind that of Tolkien's.

 

And everyone I talk to says the opposite, that the series is getting worse the further it goes.

 

"Fantasy reading for intelligent people?" Absolute twaddle. I am an avid a fantasy reader as you'll find, and I consider the series about in the middle range of fluff and "thought provoking". Books/series I would rank ahead of Game of Thrones in terms of "intelligence": Sword of Truth, Malazan Book of the Fallen, The First Law trilogy, The Broken Empire trilogy, The Long Price Quartet, Left Hand of God trilogy, anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, Stormdancer, MIstborn, Stormlight Archive, the Gallow trilogy, Moontide Quartet. There are others I can say are probably on par with Game of Thrones.

 

And no, I don't need to give Martin more credit. Having the direwolf killed by a stag isn't subtle. When you associate certain houses with animals and symbols like that, their use in such a manner is fairly blunt.

 

The funny part is, as far as books go I'm very easy to please. I've read over 60 books this year, half of them fantasy, and I don't critique them as much as I do Martin's. And in fact, like I said before I still like his books. But the editor in me cannot let things go. And there's a reason why I say the books are better as a show: First, Martin's history is with writing scripts and for television, and it's fairly obvious that he wrote the books with a show/movie adaptation in mind - and as an aside, that's a pet peeve of mine, because it seems like a lot of books do that these days - which makes it worse as a book. Second, the massive amount of characters, the sex and betrayal, the large scope of the world with all kinds of different places and people, all of those are hallmarks of good shows, of Breaking Bad or The Sopranos ilk.

 

But as a singular, overarching book series, I'm sorry it just doesn't work well enough for it to be "great". What greatness it has comes from its popular appeal, and I cannot deny that both the books and the show are incredibly popular. But the popularity of the books CAME from the show, it only ever had the usual fantasy-fan-underground popularity before the show captured its greatness, and drove people to the books. The greatness of the books does not come from the inherent quality of the writing.

 

Lastly, I realize there is a great deal of subjectivity here, and in fact one could argue that popularity should be the true mark of greatness. If so many people like it, perhaps its for a reason. The only thing that holds me back in regards to that is the popularity of things like Fifty Shades of Grey.

 

They're great.

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Who let you out of the old folks home? Someone get him his pills!

*takes pills*

 

They're still great.

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Gwyn, it sounds like you dislike Game of Thrones for the same reason that other people hate the Leafs. You think the books are unjustifiably popular.

 

IMHO - originality means nothing when it comes to art. People will always say that you're copying someone else. Jimmy Page is considered one of the greatest and most innovative guitarists in rock history. But he is also guilty of "stealing" a lot of his licks from Blues guitarists. Also - name a song/artist that came out in the last 5-10 years that anyone would put in the top 20 artists of all time. Name a movie in that same timespan that would be in the top 20 of all time. People will always defend the "original" artist, even if the people that follow do it better.

 

Besides. It's simply a compliment to Tolkien that others have adopted similar writing styles/subjects. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

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Gwyn, it sounds like you dislike Game of Thrones for the same reason that other people hate the Leafs. You think the books are unjustifiably popular.

 

IMHO - originality means nothing when it comes to art. People will always say that you're copying someone else. Jimmy Page is considered one of the greatest and most innovative guitarists in rock history. But he is also guilty of "stealing" a lot of his licks from Blues guitarists. Also - name a song/artist that came out in the last 5-10 years that anyone would put in the top 20 artists of all time. Name a movie in that same timespan that would be in the top 20 of all time. People will always defend the "original" artist, even if the people that follow do it better.

 

Besides. It's simply a compliment to Tolkien that others have adopted similar writing styles/subjects. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

 

+1 for the Jimmy Page reference.

 

Love him. Would suck his axe for hours.

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Jimmy Page is also a fantasy nut ;)

 

Don't they have like 3-4 songs that directly reference LoTR.

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Ramble On and Battle for Evermore definitely reference it.

 

Immigrant Song talks about Viking lore.

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Gwyn, it sounds like you dislike Game of Thrones for the same reason that other people hate the Leafs. You think the books are unjustifiably popular.

 

Except that I've already said, a few times now I think, that I LIKE Game of Thrones. I just don't think it's great. :P

 

Popularity has nothing to do with it. I even said that the fact that they're popular is an actual mark of their greatness.

 

Truth to tell, the reasons why I don't think Game of Thrones is great is because his books have become more about the world and less about the plot and the characters. My favourite genre is fantasy and sci fi because they have so much more creativity involved than a typical fantasy book. You have to create your own world, magic system, and have them both make some kind of sense. There are other authors who have big fantasy series (without the popular appeal of Game of Thrones, but actually more regard among strictly fantasy fans) that I think are guilty of making the same mistake: spending too much time trying to show off their world, and less time on actual plot and characters: Robert Jordan, Steven Erikson are two that come to mind. I like those books as much, more actually, than I like Game of Thrones.

 

But there are other fantasy books/series that have politics, betrayal, large scale worlds and wars, with a dark/grim tone with 'realistic' characters that do bad things or have bad things happen: Joe Abercrombie, David Hair, and Mark Lawrence three examples. Everything people say makes Game of Thrones good is in those books, but I think they're much better written. They're not bloated, they're not choppy, they don't have overlong passages describing aspects of the world or its history or whatever, and they have much more interesting characters.

 

Seriously, if you like Game of Thrones pick up Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. The main character is fucking nuts, but he's fascinating and still sympathetic. One review I read put it best: He's the kind of guy you'd love to sit, share a drink, and just chat with... even if you knew there's a good chance you'd be killed afterwards.

 

 

IMHO - originality means nothing when it comes to art. People will always say that you're copying someone else. Jimmy Page is considered one of the greatest and most innovative guitarists in rock history. But he is also guilty of "stealing" a lot of his licks from Blues guitarists. Also - name a song/artist that came out in the last 5-10 years that anyone would put in the top 20 artists of all time. Name a movie in that same timespan that would be in the top 20 of all time. People will always defend the "original" artist, even if the people that follow do it better.

Besides. It's simply a compliment to Tolkien that others have adopted similar writing styles/subjects. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

 

 

Originality usually means nothing because it's pretty much impossible for anything to be original nowadays. Everything's been done, the most you can do is take something that's been done and maybe add a slight twist to it.

 

But Tolkien was original, he founded an entire genre in literature. I'm not saying that because Martin wasn't original, that's why the books aren't great. I'm saying that, really, Tolkien and Martin's books are pretty similar, and one of the factors that makes Lord of the Rings great that Game of Thrones can't claim is that originality. To give an example, I have a couple of friends who only in the past few years watched the original Star Wars movies. To them, the movies are either mediocre or even awful, and its precisely because what made Star Wars so good was the originality to them has been done and redone so many times by other movies, shows and books since then.

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My great aunt, dame professor Helen Gardner taught Tolkien English sat university

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Too bad she didn't teach it to you. ;)

The English language and all languages evolve, that's why don't talk like Shakespeare still, now go shag you wife before Leroy does A better job of it :P

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Everyone should watch Stephen Merchant's "Hello Ladies".

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Family Guy killed off Brian.

 

Although I'm sure they'll bring him back at some point.

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Family Guy killed off Brian.

 

Although I'm sure they'll bring him back at some point.

 

I was so fucking pissed off when I heard that! The new dog the Griffins got sucks!

 

RIP Brian.

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Family Guy jumped the shark a long time ago

 

I feel the same way about fancy stats. :P

Edited by Dylan E

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