A Song of Ice and Fire (some spoilers inside, watch for SPOILER warnings)

instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
edited May 2012 in Less Rokk More Talk
I know we have some fantasy literature fans on this forum, so I thought I'd open a discussion for this series, by George R.R. Martin. I just started reading it last week, coincidentally, because I had no idea about the upcoming television series, airing sometime later this month.

Anyone read it? I'm fairly new to the fantasy genre, only having really read Lord of the Rings (rereading it now, I'm older and find I appreciate it more than my first read a few years ago), and Stephen Kings Dark Tower series (which isn't exactly traditional fantasy). I decided to go for an acclaimed work, and found its apparent "realistic fantasy" style interesting, and figured it would be a great contrast to what I've read. I'm only about 100 pages in, but it's great so far.

And of course, the TV series. I'm currently undecided on whether I want to catch it when it airs, or wait until I finish the first book. I heard that each season will be about one book, so I should be fine watching the first few episodes if I'm over halfway through the book by then.

Comments

  • CrazyIvanCrazyIvan Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    It's by far and away my favorite fantasy series of all time, and that's saying a lot. I've read more fantasy novels that I care to admit, and I truly think that Martin brings the best of all worlds to the table.

    The only nitpick that I have is basically the same as Lex's. While I understand that putting together novels as complex and twisted as Martin's takes a long time to get right, it's absolutely unforgivable that it's taken him so frickin' long to get to the next book. ESPECIALLY since book 4 has little or no coverage of the "main" characters. Sorry if that's a bit of a spoiler... it's still a good book, but for those that haven't gotten that far, just know that book 4 focuses mainly on "everyone else".

    I have also been watching the HBO series like a hawk, and I must say that the recent 14 minute clip was simply awesome. Just... perfect. I really think the show creators and writers have nailed this one, and I couldn't be more excited for the series to start up. The only thing that kinda' ticks me off is that I don't have cable, and therefore don't have HBO. And with HBO's archaic battle against any and all digital streaming of their network, I'll be left having to... errr... find the shows through other means.
  • edited April 2011
    CrazyIvan;4357501 said:
    The only nitpick that I have is basically the same as Lex's. While I understand that putting together novels as complex and twisted as Martin's takes a long time to get right, it's absolutely unforgivable that it's taken him so frickin' long to get to the next book.

    Especially when an author like Steven Erikson (who holds my personal 'favorite fantasy series of all time' title, currently reading his latest), whose books and setting are even more complex than Martin's, manages to actually finish a mammoth 10-book series in twelve years, a period in which Martin has written what, three books?

    One thing that I've noticed while reading the author's notes in Martin's Dreamsongs short story retrospective is that the man, as a writer, could be accused of having some form of ADD: almost every story is supposed to part of a bigger cycle that never came to be. Martin's simply too easily distracted by shiny new projects to stick to any long-term series. If A Song of Ice and Fire hadn't become as popular as it has, I doubt it would have ever been finished, but right now Martin's pretty much stuck with it, and I wonder if he regrets that sometimes. He's much more a short story author at heart than someone for multi-volume epics.

    I have to admit I personally really liked book 4, though, but that's because I really enjoy the politics of Westeros and the insights we got into the Iron Islands and Dorne. I don't enjoy the Daenerys storyline quite as much, but I hope book 5 will change that.

    Also, for those who are into board games which require a LOT of strategy, planning and brainpower and who have at least 3 friends to play with, the A Game of Thrones boardgame by Fantasy Flight Games is well worth picking up. It's in my top 3 favorite boardgames.
  • SayburrSayburr The Always Informative Rock Band Forum Guru
    edited April 2011
    Loved the books to this series. AND, Martin has announced a release date for the next book on his web site. JULY 12! The best thing about the series is it is unpredictable. I have read many, many fantasy novels in my lifetime and most are pretty predictable. I remember Eargon. There was a lot of hype about it, but it read just as you would expect a fantasy novel to read… but, A Song of Fire and Ice is one where you just can’t assume anything…well, except the death of the first king since the title is “game of thrones”… but, once that happened it just amazed me the number of plots and plot twists.

    The Daenerys storyline is also not one of my favorites, but I do like what she did when building up her army. I didn’t expect that until Martin foreshadowed it a little too much. I an actually looking forward to she how she grows in the next book.

    Steven Erikson’s is the next series I plan on starting. Right now the entire series can be purchased from Science Fiction Book Club for about $104. Just trying to talk myself into hitting that submit button.
  • edited April 2011
    Sayburr;4358434 said:
    Steven Erikson’s is the next series I plan on starting. Right now the entire series can be purchased from Science Fiction Book Club for about $104. Just trying to talk myself into hitting that submit button.

    I could try to talk you into it as well, but I think I've already sung his praises more than enough on here.
    If you have the cash to spare, though, do pick up Ian Esselmont's books as well. He's the co-creator of the Malazan setting and some of the plot lines and characters from Erikson's books actually carry on (or have smaller appearances) in Esselmont's books. I haven't read his latest yet, but I strongly, strongly recommend reading Esselmont's Return of the Crimson Guard before Erikson's Toll the Hounds (one of the later books).

    And Eragon is just plain awful. Derivative dreck expressed in purple prose that makes it seem like Paolini uses a thesaurus to 'fancy up' every other word. I've read other bad fantasy before (Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind come to mind), but Paolini is in his own layer of awful that he only shares with a (fortunately) select group of writers like Dan Brown.
  • CrazyIvanCrazyIvan Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    I actually enjoy the Daenerys storyline. At least, I enjoy thinking about where the series is headed. BIG TIME SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

    Those that haven't read the books in their entirety should turn away.

    All gone?


    Okay, I personally think that the real story of the series is not who takes over control of the Seven Kingdoms, but who will rise to face the wildlings and Others from the North after the wall fails. The throne is just a red herring. I predict that Dany will lead the attack on her dragons with Bran and Tyrion as the other two riders. Martin has just made way to big of a deal of Tyrion's special saddle and Bran's carrier to not lead somewhere. Plus, I think Jon is actually the true heir to the throne as he is Rhaegar's rape child from Lyana that Ned just raised as his own, and will lead the fight on the ground. I'm sure Jamie and Brianne will figure in somewhere, and I'm sure both will die fighting (just to piss of the readers).

    At least, those are my predictions in a nutshell.

    PS Is there any way to change font color? 'Cause I would prefer to make the above paragraph "highlight to read".
  • SayburrSayburr The Always Informative Rock Band Forum Guru
    edited April 2011
    Der_Lex;4358437 said:
    I strongly, strongly recommend reading Esselmont's Return of the Crimson Guard before Erikson's Toll the Hounds (one of the later books).
    OK, I will keep that in mind. His books are not in the SFBC, so I will have to get them from somewhere else... I only buy hardbacks... yeah, I am anal like that, but I usually only buy books I plan to read more than one time.
  • edited April 2011
    Amazon has all of Esslemont's books in hardback.



    Also, Ivan, I don't think there's a font color change anymore. But I'd say your prediction is pretty good.

    MORE SPOILERS:

    I think it's fair to say Jon and Dany will end up ruling together. But the Targaryen dragon has three heads, so i wonder who'll be the third.
  • CrazyIvanCrazyIvan Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    Ah well... I'll just start my posts with the spoiler warning.

    So... SPOILERS


    I definitely think the series is leading towards Jon and Dany ruling, and I go back and forth all the time about the third "head". Sometimes I think Jamie, other times I think Tyrion, and still other times I wonder if it will be someone from the islands (Aeron perhaps)?

    The other question that I continue to ponder on is the fate of the Clegane brothers. I seriously doubt the Hound is actually dead, but where is he? Will he redeem some semblance of honor by the end? And what is Qyburn doing with Gregor?
  • edited April 2011
    The first 15 minutes of episode one are up on HBO.com. And they're awesome.
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    Ah, I thought this thread was buried.
    CJHobbes;4356840 said:
    A couple of my friends are huge fans of the series. Martin's new novel is due out in June, I believe it'll be #5. As for myself, I think I've started reading Game of Thrones about 6 times now. Each time I get about 150 pages in, then put it down for a few months. There's so much happening and so many characters, I forget who's who and what's what and have to start all over.

    I understand; I occasionally get characters mixed up, what with all the royal Houses, and it's very easy for me to forget who is related to whom. I just got past the "incident" with Bran, and I feel like I should know full well who pushed him.

    Without giving anything away, what can I expect from the series as I get farther? Right now, I'm really interested in the plot with the Direwolves, Jon is my favorite character, and I'm enjoying the politics. Also, is it correct that Martin is known for giving no one a "character shield"?

    I believe I mentioned this in the OP, but I'm very new to the Fantasy genre. Just Lord of the Rings under my belt, really, though I've gotten tons of recommendations backed up, and decided to try Martin from all that I had heard.
  • edited April 2011
    All characters can die, at any given time, no matter how important they are (or seem).

    The direwolves are important, but are more of a subplot, to be honest, or even a metaphor of sorts. There's a lot more politics and bloodshed along the way, though, as well as the mystical/magical aspects of the world making themselves known a bit more (although it never reaches Wheel of Time/Harry Potter or even Tolkien-like levels).
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    Yes, I'd say the wolves are the most "mystical" thing in the story so far, and the The Others, who I've only seen in the prologue.

    I imagine the majority of the first book will be spent developing characters. As of now I'm most interested in Jon and Arya, and of course very curious whether Bran will live... I was starting to like the kid.

    I was a bit hesitant about starting a series that isn't finished, to be honest. I usually try to wait for a series to finish, but from what I've heard, Martin's as bad as Stephen King was with the Dark Tower series. They sound like books well worth reading multiple times, though, so I won't mind rereading them all each time a new book is released.

    Non-Martin related, how is The Wheel of Time? I've heard from some that the series is a classic to be put up there with Tolkien, and others who say they're just popcorn fantasy (same thing I've heard about Terry Goodkind).
  • edited April 2011
    Truth be told, Wheel of Time is somewhere in between those two. It's not exactly popcorn fantasy a la Goodkind, Feist or Eddings, but the books don't have the depth of those by Martin, Erikson, Pratchett or Tolkien either. It's also very uneven. The first four or five books are great, and then the series starts to drag on a bit until, harsh but true, Brandon Sanderson took over after Robert Jordan's death. Books 12 and 13 are some of the best in the series, and have left me looking forward to the last book. All in all, I do consider it worth reading, though.

    If you're looking for a fantasy series that's quite good, not too long (four books) and that's actually finished, I recommend picking up Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books.
  • CrazyIvanCrazyIvan Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    instantdeath999;4359009 said:
    Ah, I thought this thread was buried.



    I understand; I occasionally get characters mixed up, what with all the royal Houses, and it's very easy for me to forget who is related to whom. I just got past the "incident" with Bran, and I feel like I should know full well who pushed him.
    The complexity of names and families only grows more convoluted over time, so be prepared to get lost from time to time. Martin drops names like you are supposed to remember who they are, even if it's been a couple thousand pages since they were last mentioned. I can't recommend enough the family trees in the back of the books. I've had friends read the entire book and only afterwards found out that there is a breakdown of all the families and their members in the back. Very, very useful, as well as the maps.
  • SayburrSayburr The Always Informative Rock Band Forum Guru
    edited April 2011
    Der_Lex;4359052 said:
    If you're looking for a fantasy series that's quite good, not too long (four books) and that's actually finished, I recommend picking up Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books.
    I would also recommend Brent Week's Night Angel series.

    As far as A Song of Ice and Fire, I did have some trouble keeping up with all the characters. There are bunches of them. Wow, it is so hard to write about the books and not spoil anything.

    Let me just say that, as pages flip by, some of the ways you feel about characters may change based on things that happen in the narrative. That is one of the reasons I enjoyed these books so much because the characters actually grow and change based on what is happening in the story.

    Seeing compassion when not expected and cruelty from someone unexpected is great because no matter what you think might happen it is convoluted and muddied, and thus, the unexpected happens.
    Der_Lex;4359014 said:
    The direwolves are important, but are more of a subplot, to be honest, or even a metaphor of sorts.
    There is a lot of foreshadowing going on with the direwolves. I think they will eventually become a very important link in the story.
  • edited April 2011
    I never had too much trouble with the amount of characters in A Song of Ice and Fire, to be honest. Jordan, Tolkien and Erikson are a lot worse in terms of having a huge cast. Erikson is nice enough to include a dramatis personae in each book, though, for easy reference.

    And yes, the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are wonderfully gray and rich. For example, while reading book one I never expected to grow to like Jaime Lannister as much as I do now. His sister, however...
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    I actually have a few Tad Williams books on my wishlist on amazon, have heard great things. I'm currently judging quite a few books, though... 6, I believe, though some of them, like Great Expectations, I take a short break after every few chapters. Dickens is a great writer, but not exactly one that will keep you on the edge of your seat :mad:
    Sayburr;4359705 said:


    Seeing compassion when not expected and cruelty from someone unexpected is great because no matter what you think might happen it is convoluted and muddied, and thus, the unexpected happens.



    I see what you mean; I was under the impression that Catelyn was a kind person, until she said those awful things to Jon. I'm not sure I would have had the strength to not respond to her.
  • SayburrSayburr The Always Informative Rock Band Forum Guru
    edited April 2011
    instantdeath999;4360732 said:
    I see what you mean; I was under the impression that Catelyn was a kind person, until she said those awful things to Jon. I'm not sure I would have had the strength to not respond to her.
    Yep, that is what I really loved about the books. The characters are not set in stone, where "this is a good person" and "this one is a bad guy" and "this one is a fool"... the characters have a lot of depth.

    I need to break those books back out now that a release date has been set for the fifth book. I need to re-read them so I can remember what in the world is going on.

    I wonder how hard it would be to read Feast and Dragons at the same time so I can see what is happening in the world in the same time-line since both books take place at the same time.
  • CrazyIvanCrazyIvan Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    There are at least 3 or 4 characters that you will swear you love/hate forever that will completely switch 180 degrees by the time you finish up book 4 (or 5, if you are still reading in July). Martin has an amazing ability to delve into the greyness of characters and find sources of redemption or evil in the most unexpected ways. My list of favorite and least favorite characters had literally swapped places by the end of book 4. It's amazing and one of Martin's true talents as a writer.

    Oh,and I know it's been mentioned before, but it needs to reiterated that no character is sacred, especially from death. A certain death in book 3 almost made me vow not to read any further I was so pissed (the "Red Wedding" for those in the know). Another of Martin's talents... keeping you on your toes.
  • SayburrSayburr The Always Informative Rock Band Forum Guru
    edited April 2011
    Yeah, I was very surprised by the "Red Wedding". Yep, gotta read these books again, I had almost forgotten about that... hell, it has been over five years since I read the last book afterall.
  • edited April 2011
    What's interesting about the Red Wedding is that Dany has an almost literal vision of it in the previous book. It's something you can only make sense of on a second readthrough, though, the first time around it seems like a lot of weird symbolism.
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    The same way you know a character is well written when you truly care about the character, when a character is so despicable that you want to enter the book itself to have the pleasure of killing him... that's a well written character.

    Three guesses who I'm talking about? "Prince" Joffrey.
  • CrazyIvanCrazyIvan Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    instantdeath999;4369892 said:
    The same way you know a character is well written when you truly care about the character, when a character is so despicable that you want to enter the book itself to have the pleasure of killing him... that's a well written character.

    Three guesses who I'm talking about? "Prince" Joffrey.
    Amen. I've never wanted to throttle a fictional character nearly as much as I did with Joffrey. He's not a "love to hate" character... just plain ol' "hate to hate".
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    Yes, I'm not sure redemption is possible for Joffrey, he has to die in the most humiliating fashion possible XD

    Anyone watch the premiere? I enjoyed it, it's going to be fun to read enough to stay ahead of the TV series (a down side to reading tons of books at the same time, takes forever to finish them). Followed it very well, though I wasn't aware there was going to be so much nudity (though I should have guessed, considering the content of the story), since I let my young brother watch. It's not like it's going to mentally scar him, though, and there's always the "turn your head away" maneuver :)
  • SayburrSayburr The Always Informative Rock Band Forum Guru
    edited April 2011
    Nudity on HBO? I am shocked!

    I have not gotten to see the show, I really doubt I will get to see it this week either because I am working on building the 30x36 garage behind the house. Lots of work! But, I do look forward to seeing it.
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    Sayburr;4370955 said:
    Nudity on HBO? I am shocked!

    I have not gotten to see the show, I really doubt I will get to see it this week either because I am working on building the 30x36 garage behind the house. Lots of work! But, I do look forward to seeing it.
    Ah, I forgot to mention that up until last week, I haven't watched cable TV in close to five years :). Just got cable in my room. I of course knew the name HBO, but it was just as meaningless as all the other TV acronyms. Call me naive, but I was still under the impression that certain things weren't allowed to be shown or said on television XD

    I was also surprised at the lack of commercial breaks.
  • CycoMiko138CycoMiko138 Rising Star
    edited April 2011
    I ordered HBO just for this show and if the first episode is any indication, I won't be disappointed. Being a huge fan of the novels, I do wish that they would've spent a little more time on some of the characters and their relationships (and the direwolves!), if only just to give newcomers the chance to get more attached to them. That's really my only gripe, though. The plot has been accelerated a bit compared to the book, too, but I'm still impressed with how much was crammed into a single hour. It's a good start so far - I already can't wait for next Sunday!
  • edited April 2011
    I was impressed by it as well. Gorgeous visuals, faithful to the book despite the accelerated pace, and absolutely fantastic casting... my wife was amazed at how every character seemed to look exactly how she had imagined them while reading the books. My only gripes so far are the lack of Theon Greyjoy (kind of understandable since there are a lot of characters already, but since he and his House play such an important role in later books, it's odd that he didn't at least get introduced), and that Viserys seems very toned down compared to the book, but hopefully they just decided to start him off a little bit more 'normal' and build that up a bit more.
  • instantdeath999instantdeath999 Washed Up
    edited April 2011
    Yeah, my only complaint is really they didn't spend as much time with the direwolves (and is it just me, or are they too cute? Doesn't look like they could rip a mans throat out yet). Seemed like they didn't spend as much time with Jon as they did in the book, but I imagine they'll save that for later, though I personally pictured him beardless (isn't he supposed to be 14?). Speaking of which, I believe Bran is two years older in the series than the book, so I guess that would make Jon 16. I'm guessing they just did that for the actors sake.

    Viserys did get toned down, didn't he? I would "introduce" all the characters I knew to my brother, who is interested in the series, but on a reading level is still at the Eragon/Percy Jackson level. For Viserys, from what I know about him, all I can really say is that he's a "sick freak" :). However, to make that point, all they needed was that one line, about how he would gladly allow all 40,000 men to **** his sister if need be. No reference to "freeing the dragon", though (or was it "waking" the dragon?)
  • edited April 2011
    He did tell Daenerys that she didn't want to 'wake the dragon' by going against his wishes. It did lose a bit of its bite without him being actually physically abusive when he said it, as he was in the book.

    And yes, all of the younger characters have been aged a few years (although I'm not sure about Rickon). In part for the actors' sake, and in part because they had to make Daenerys of modern legal age for obvious reasons. You can't get away with quite as much on TV or in the movies as you can in a book.

    Also, the premiere had over 4 million viewers, and HBO has already picked up the series for a second season. Good times.
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