Ben X

A Song Of Ice And Fire

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There's been some talk about this series in the "Books, books, books..." thread already, but I think they deserve their own thread.

I don't read much hard fantasy, so I was worried when I started on these that they'd be a real slog. I was surprised to find them to be an easy, entertaining read, that I'm quickly getting addicted to in that "stay up all night/miss your bus stop to keep reading" kind of way. It's very fast-paced and has a satisfying pattern of set-up then pay-off. Book 2 slowed right down for the first quarter, though. I suppose I need to expect the books to build to a climax then defuse at the start of the next one in order to start building again.

I'd be interested to hear others' opinions. I'm halfway through Clash Of Kings (book 2), and haven't watched the tv series, so be careful with your spoilers, please!

One specific thing I'm wondering about is the chapter in Game Of Thrones (book 1) where

Arya overhears the two men discussing their schemings.

I assume

the two men were Varys and Illyrio (although a friend of mine who gets easily confused by these things told me that in the tv series it's Varys and Littlefinger), but it hasn't really paid off or told me anything other than those two were planning around the possibility of Viserys attacking with Drogo's men.

I'm just wondering if I'm supposed to have already gleaned anything more from that, and if it's still an open thread (I'm assuming it will become more relevant as

Dany's attempts to regain the Iron Throne continue

).

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It's true; this series is very much for people who do not typically enjoy fantasy. I find most fantasy rather boring. But this was the first book in years to grab me like that, slowly getting better until, on page 300 or so, it took over my life and ceased all productivity until I finished it. This series is excellent, and I found mysielf being completely immersed in it.

Characters grow and plots continually twist and turn while always remaining addictive. It has its flaws - the prose is a bit clunky, and a lot of characters are initially not very well-defined, their fleshing-out saved for later volumes post-Game - but I still highly recommend it.

It's pretty dark and can be depressing, though.

I love that these books usually have a second layer of things going on that are never explicitly spelled-out. You can figure-out who Jon Snow's mother is, for example, by the time you finish the (I'm going to add letters so you can't guess which number I'm spelling)

tralalala third wooo

book.

Ben, your friend is wrong; it is, as you said,

Varys and Ilyrio

, though that it's one of those things that Martin hasn't explained and expects you to be able to figure out on your own. He does things like that sometimes, as necessitated by the POV chapter structure of the books.

You should be able to watch the first season, but don't delve into season two until you've finished A Storm of Swords. Trust me on this.

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Ben's description of these books has really made me want to delve in!

Kroms, what's the overall enjoyment level of the series? Does it start off well, then get less gripping as it goes along? If so, how much less gripping? I'm guessing all the books aren't quite equal? (I'm just trying to brace myself if I read them, so I don't get my heart broken if the end later parts of the series are disappointing.)

Also, how depressing? Depressing in a Requiem for A Dream way? Or in a "the bad guys have won and my favourite character is dead" kind of a way?

Thanks!

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I think the books hold up pretty consistently in terms of exciting goings-on. As far as being depressing, though,

let's just say you shouldn't get too attached to any characters

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I really, really wanted to like these books. I love the TV show and generally have a positive attitude towards fantasy, but I could just not get through the first book. I think a lot of my problem was I tried to read the books after watching the first two seasons of the show, and that really clouded my ability to appreciate the books. The same thing happened when I tried to read LOTR after seeing the movies; I kept mixing up Jackson's version with what I was reading. Lesson learned, always read the book first.

I remember reading somewhere that GRR Martin didn't want his series to have a disappointing ending like 'Lost,' did. Are any of the people who have read the books worried that the series is headed in that direction? Or do you have faith that Martin knows exactly where he's going and what he needs to do to get there?

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I remember reading somewhere that GRR Martin didn't want his series to have a disappointing ending like 'Lost,' did. Are any of the people who have read the books worried that the series is headed in that direction? Or do you have faith that Martin knows exactly where he's going and what he needs to do to get there?

I think I read somewhere that he has a basic outline of what will happen, but the road there is less defined. I worry less about a Lost ending than a Robert Jordan situation; where the plot become so bogged down by a billion characters and endless minutia that the series expands glacially to a ridiculous length, and then the author dies before ever wrapping it up.

I think it's fair to say the pace of the series has overall slumped a bit since the first book. While the latest book may have been better in terms of pacing, it also took him like 6 years. He says it'll take two more books to finish (I think that will probably creep up to a 3 - 4 range) and at 6 years a pop, it doesn't look too good.

So yeah, GRR Martin, write like the wind.

EDIT: Oh, and I heard he told the HBO showrunners his plans for the end as part of his contract. So at least you'll have some closure.

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I don't think a Robert Jordan situation is likely to happen. He's fiiiiiiine, it's not like he's a obese, old.....

...godspeed , my friend, godspeed.

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Mostly for my own satisfaction, here's a list of all seven books. Martin has planned for an ending, but the last two remain unwritten/unpublished.

  • A Game of Thrones
  • A Clash of Kings
  • A Storm of Swords (published in two parts as Steel and Snow and Blood and Gold)
  • A Feast for Crows (occurs at the same time as A Dance with Dragons, below)
  • A Dance with Dragons (see above) (published in two parts as Dreams and Dust and After the Feast in some places)
  • The Winds of Winter (not yet published)
  • A Dream of Spring (not yet published)

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EDIT: Oh, and I heard he told the HBO showrunners his plans for the end as part of his contract. So at least you'll have some closure.

Which reminds me of another thing: how has the TV show has affected the way he's writing the books?

I know the fifth book was mostly done by the time the TV show became super popular, but he's writing the last two in this entirely different situation. The show has already made random characters more popular than they were in the books (in an interview Martin he said that the TV show has made Bronn a whole lot more popular than he ever was, as an example), and it'll be interesting to see if there will be more obvious effects on his writing process for the last two books.

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That's weird, because I actually like Bronn in the books quite more than in the TV show.

Also: Tyrion and Arya FO LIEF. They are the best characters. (I have just started A Storm of Swords, NO SPOILERS)

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  • A Feast for Crows (occurs at the same time as A Dance with Dragons, below)
  • A Dance with Dragons (see above)

Spoiler! :(

(in an interview Martin he said that the TV show has made Bronn a whole lot more popular than he ever was, as an example)

That's funny, I love Bronn already and he's barely done anything!

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Also: Tyrion and Arya FO LIEF. They are the best characters. (I have just started A Storm of Swords, NO SPOILERS)

Spoiler that they last that long :(

(Maybe starting this thread wasn't a good idea on my part...)

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I don't think that's a spoiler, really -- all it's saying is that the two books occur concurrently. Not the content within them.

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Yeah, it spoiled that set-up! I would have enjoyed the gradual realisation as I started Dance With Dragons!

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I suspect that's a joke spoiler, but I don't dare check..!

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Kroms, what's the overall enjoyment level of the series? Does it start off well, then get less gripping as it goes along? If so, how much less gripping? I'm guessing all the books aren't quite equal? (I'm just trying to brace myself if I read them, so I don't get my heart broken if the end later parts of the series are disappointing.)

I think their quality varies but within limits, in the sense they all go from A- to A+ quality (in my opinion, books 1, 2, 4 being A, 3 being A+, 5 being A- because it takes time to get going).

Also, how depressing? Depressing in a Requiem for A Dream way? Or in a "the bad guys have won and my favourite character is dead" kind of a way?

Thanks!

It's depressing in the same way that The Wire is depressing; not the social issues (although there's parallels to the real world), but the way you feel about characters having bad things happening to them. Do you remember how you felt at the end of season three of The Wire? Like that. A few months on, I haven't started season four yet, but I understand that feeling that horrified pain was part of what it made the show so good. ASOIAF is like that.

That's funny, I love Bronn already and he's barely done anything!

I love those pairings in ASOIAF. The

Tyrion/Bronn

shenanigans in Clash are a good example of that.

Which reminds me of another thing: how has the TV show has affected the way he's writing the books?

In very minor ways. Ros will have a cameo appearance in book six, and apparently

Osha

will be given a slightly larger role to play.

The show and book are different, even down to character motivations. It's generally the same "path", but all the details are changed.

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A Storm of Swords (published in two parts as Steel and Snow and Blood and Gold)

Only in British paperback. Dance suffered the same fate. In America and hardcover, it's one volume.

Or do you have faith that Martin knows exactly where he's going and what he needs to do to get there?

We know. The three released excerpts from book six - plus a lot of foreshadowing - give a pretty good indication as to how this will happen. In fact, everything ties together in the first two chapters of book six.

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The show and book are different, even down to character motivations. It's generally the same "path", but all the details are changed.

I can't think of any other author who wrote their series while it was simultaneously being adapted. Even if they're following different paths, there's no way that the show's influence isn't creeping its way into Martins creative process. I imagine he's just constantly writing scenes and thinking: "Man, it'll be sweet to see Dinklage do this!"

Whatever influence the TV show is having on his writing, I'm sure Martin is happy with the influence it's having on his sales:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/08/09/women-on-the-rise-among-the-worlds-top-earnings-authors/

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Yeah, it spoiled that set-up! I would have enjoyed the gradual realisation as I started Dance With Dragons!

It's not really a spoiler. From what I read, the book that Martin wrote was too long to publish, even for him, so the publishers suggested he split it in two. Instead of halving the story, he just took some character's stories and put them in one book, and then put the other character's stories in the other. It's not some big reveal that they occur concurrently. In fact, a lot of people really struggled with the fourth book because all their favourite characters were missing (they were in the fifth book).

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Also, I envy anyone reading A Storm of Swords for the first time. That book is something.

That's me!

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This whole set is great. I think I've read them twice, and was considering a 3rd after talking to someone who has started the first book fir the first time about 2 weeks ago. It made me all excited about them all over again. So yeh, they are high quality, for anyone that was wondering. I know that's a fairly wooly and generic 'great', with no specific examples ('cos of potential spoilers), but am kind of hoping that I'm considering a 3rd read through is enough :)

Am a bit worried that MArtin will croak before he finished the series. :getmecoat

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