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A Game of Thrones

Challange POPSugar Reading Current read A Game of Thrones Book chalange Reading list 2017 January 2017 2017

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#1 abandonallguilt

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 09:57 AM

[Admin edit: I know there are threads for the author (which is obviously mainly about the books) but I thought a fresh GofT thread would be a good idea, so with the poster's permission, I've moved it here. Michelle]

 

Hiya!

 

I began my challenge on January 1st and decided to start with the much talked about Game of Thrones series. The prompt I am trying to complete is 'First book in a series I haven't read before'.

To be honest, I began watching the series and my heart wasn't in it very much so I judged the books based on the show. I was so wrong.

Never Judge a Book By It's Movie - J.W Eagan

I began reading the first book on January 1st, 2017 & I was hooked before I even finished the prologue. The writing was spot on, the characters were outlined in so much detail and the intensity of how much I fell in love with the world of Westeros and the Free Cities was unreal!

The first couple of chapters in which each character is outlined with so much detail has me already hating Cersei of House Baratheon (Lannister - let's be real she's evil) and loving Catelyn of House Stark. I adore Jon Snow and the dire wolves - I mean can I adopt one please? I know that I am so late on the Game of Thrones bandwagon but it has definitely gained a new fangirl.

 

In short, I am absolutely hooked by Game of Thrones and I am considering giving the show another shot now that I have a new found love for the series.

I am aiming to finish this book by the end of the weekend and therefore finish my first challenge for POPSUGAR's 2017 reading challenge. 51 more to go!!

The weather in UK is muggy and rainy and horrible but it's the perfect weather to cuddle up to the fireplace with a good book. I've definitely found my book....what's your current read? Comment below.

 

Speed reading lovelies.

xoxo

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Edited by Michelle, 08 January 2017 - 12:42 PM.


#2 Autumn

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 10:10 AM

I have never seen the show but I have been debating giving the books a go for a while now because I've heard such good things about them.  I nearly bought the boxset on Amazon during their Black Friday deals (as I think it was 6 books for about £22 but I kept putting it off because I just wasn't sure about them or whether they would be for me.



#3 abandonallguilt

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 11:06 AM

Hi Avid Reader, thanks for replying. 

I was in the same boat as you. I wasn't sure if the books would be for me. However, I absolutely loved Lord of the Rings and books like that. I thought with that much hype I might as well give it a chance. If there is one thing I've learned from reading the first Game of Thrones book is that don't judge a book by its show, movie, or hype. Yes, the craze behind the books are accurate and it had me hooked from the beginning page and I would recommend them to anyone. 

However, I took a chance on the box set as well on Boxing Day and am so glad I did. 

 

The writing keeps you captivated, the way that George R.R. Martin has depicted each character and given them so much detail it allows you to picture what is happening as you are reading. I always judge my books by if I can imagine what I am reading - it makes the worlds seem real to me - an escape from the real world into the fiction. 

 

I would say if you are still hesitant - order the first book - you can pick it up from Amazon using the following link 

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) for £4.00 and give it a chance. If you don't like it you would've at least tried it and if you do then you enter a whole new world of love, deception, kings battling kings, incest, defiance and politics in a world that has no concept of loyalty. It is mind blowing. 

 

Hope this helps. 

Abandon All Guilt. 



#4 Autumn

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 11:13 AM

I was in the same boat as you. I wasn't sure if the books would be for me. However, I absolutely loved Lord of the Rings and books like that. I thought with that much hype I might as well give it a chance. If there is one thing I've learned from reading the first Game of Thrones book is that don't judge a book by its show, movie, or hype. Yes, the craze behind the books are accurate and it had me hooked from the beginning page and I would recommend them to anyone. 

 

I haven't actually read the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I have read The Hobbit though and really struggled through it.

 

I may try and pick up a copy of the first book in the Game of Thrones series at some point and see how I get on with it but don't think it will be a priority for me as the more I think about it the more I feel it's just not for me.



#5 Angury

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 12:24 PM

I'm glad you're enjoying the series. I agree, Martin is a good writer and that makes it so much easier to delve into the world of Westeros and really enter into the characters lives.

I too am a Fantasy fan and A Song of Ice and Fire is one of my favourite series. It offers an emotional depth into the characters that I haven't found with other fantasy books. It breaks down the boundary between good and evil and shows people as they really are - complex and damaged creatures.

The harsh realities painted in the series are also (I feel) a refreshing break from the other, more fairytale-esque worlds that are sometimes found in the Fantasy genre.

I find it interesting that you hate Cersei Lannister so much - I too was not a big fan of her, but now she is one of my favourite characters. I look forward to hearing how (and if) your thoughts on her change throughout the series.

Hope you enjoy this miserable Sunday afternoon with your book. :)

Edited by Angury, 08 January 2017 - 12:25 PM.


#6 Madeleine

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 02:07 PM

Glad you're a Game of Thrones convert, yes I agree there's a lot more character development then there usually is in fantasy (or a lot of other genres come to think of it) and if you do continue with the series I think you might find that your loyalties may change.  It's worth watching the show now, but you might think it feels very rushed, compared to the books, but that's inevitable given the short time allotted to a TV programme.



#7 MrCat

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Posted 09 January 2017 - 12:28 PM

I finished the first two books shortly before the TV show started and saw only the first season of it when it came out. I was not very impressed by the book to be honest. Maybe I was expecting something different, maybe I was not shocked at all by anything it it... I don't know. Whatever it was, it made loose my interest in GRRM and his overhyped books. People tell me that the first book is kind of like a prelude to the actual story but if an author fails to impress me after 700 pages, then that author does not deserve my attention. 

 

The TV show was decent enough but I never got very involved it in. Not a fan of cheap sex and killing characters just for the sake of it. 



#8 Angury

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Posted 09 January 2017 - 08:21 PM

I was not very impressed by the book to be honest.


How come?

Was there something that you expected from the series that you felt it did not deliver?

What makes a good fantasy series in your opinion?

Apologies if my post sounds more like an an English examination that anything else, I am just curious.

Edited by Angury, 09 January 2017 - 08:22 PM.


#9 MrCat

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Posted 09 January 2017 - 09:34 PM

How come?

Was there something that you expected from the series that you felt it did not deliver?

What makes a good fantasy series in your opinion?

Apologies if my post sounds more like an an English examination that anything else, I am just curious.

 

Well for one thing I thought It would be actually fantasy. You know, dragons and orcs and wizards and stuff. And yes some of these things do come into the story at some point as far as I know but I will not bother reading more than 1000 pages of your book just on the promise that they will show up eventually. 

 

I grew up playing and I still play roleplaying video games and D&D so naturally most elements that we associate with fantasy are very well known to me. GRRM's novels were not fantasy, at least not in the traditional sense. I kept waiting for the bloody walkers and dragons to appear but no. All I got were mostly boring characters with boring writing and boring story. 

 

The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien in general makes up what I consider to be good fantasy. Or maybe, Ursula Le Guin with her atypical characters and stories. Or maybe even good old myths from every religion ever (after all, Tolkien took a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology). The Eragon books were kind of meh for my taste but I'd still consider them to be "more fantasy" than GRRM's work.  Add Harry Potter to the list too and Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy too.  Or maybe Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy. Now of course the writing and stories in these books are more or less good, depending on personal criterias, but as far as ticking all the right boxes for a fantasy novel, they are all above what I have read by GRRM. 

 

Seeing how I could not get into him, I tried reading his works for something else. Characters, story or writing. But it was all in vain. The writing is all over the place and mostly tiresome with endless non-important descriptions of non-important locations. Yeah I really need to know how a certain room is arranged because.. you know... that's what makes a book good...? Characters are ok, some of them but most are not. And given the fact that GRRM tends to "unexpectedly" kill off many of them is really a kick in the reader's nuts (pardon my French). Oh give you this character, now invest emotionally into him just so I can murder him for no reason later. It's ok when authors do this if it;s well made and not done very often but when you become famous just based on this fact, then your charm is going to fade very fast. Kind of like complaining to Gordon Ramsay about the food and expecting NOT to be yelled at. It;s funny when he goes into a berserk rage at first but after a while it's just pathetic and predictable. 



#10 Angury

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 02:05 PM

Well for one thing I thought It would be actually fantasy. You know, dragons and orcs and wizards and stuff. And yes some of these things do come into the story at some point as far as I know but I will not bother reading more than 1000 pages of your book just on the promise that they will show up eventually.


I suppose this boils down to what you consider Fantasy. I think there are various sub-genres, and the Fantasy that you refer to is akin to Tolkien's legacy. For example, the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite 'fantasy' series - but I don't think dragons or orcs feature much within it. To me though, that is still fantasy.

But yes, I can see why, if you are a lover of Tolkien then A Song of Ice and Fire may not appeal to you.
 
 
 

The writing is all over the place and mostly tiresome with endless non-important descriptions of non-important locations. Yeah I really need to know how a certain room is arranged because.. you know... that's what makes a book good...?


For me.. yes. This is one of the things that makes a Fantasy series good (for me). One of the attractions of the Fantasy genre is the ability to fully immerse yourself within another world, and this is prompted by the writers ability to paint a picture within our heads. These types of rich descriptions that go into detail about the feeling of sunlight on ones arms or the smell of the marketplace are what opens the doors to this new world. Without these details I would feel left behind as a reader - as if I wasn't experiencing this world fully.

And given the fact that GRRM tends to "unexpectedly" kill off many of them is really a kick in the reader's nuts (pardon my French). Oh give you this character, now invest emotionally into him just so I can murder him for no reason later. It's ok when authors do this if it;s well made and not done very often but when you become famous just based on this fact, then your charm is going to fade very fast. Kind of like complaining to Gordon Ramsay about the food and expecting NOT to be yelled at. It;s funny when he goes into a berserk rage at first but after a while it's just pathetic and predictable.


I think what has led Martin to be famous over this trait of killing off characters is that it reflects real life. It is a very common theme to read a book with the knowledge that all the heroes will survive to the end and the bad guys will fail. As a reader there is no sense of danger - in a way you already know the ending.
I find that Martin is very good at conveying the complexity of human life - that people do die, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes in traumatic circumstances - not everyone who is good lives until they are one hundred and everyone who is evil die in a big pot of fire and ash. And in a world as harsh as Westeros, I think this type of violence and death reflects the reality of the world that the characters live in. It also highlights the brutality of war, and the consequences of the human vices - jealousy, hatred and envy. I often find that Fantasy writers glaze over this fact - they paint war as a sword fight between two people, resulting in one victor and a happily ever after. We don't get to see the aftermath - the blood and guts, the human loss, the families that are torn apart and the generations that are destroyed in the process.

I do appreciate why you may not enjoy the series (although I feel Martin is a better writer than most Fantasy authors who I have read), but I think that Martin shines a more realistic light over the genre of Fantasy - he has let go of the concept of black and white, of good and evil. I think he has made Fantasy more human.

#11 Madeleine

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 02:56 PM

I agree with you Augury - admittedly some of the descriptions do go on a bit, and I do tend to skim read all the lists of sigils and ships etc, but overall I think that one of the reasons the books do appeal to many people (and I think that includes people who don't normally read fantasy) is that it's not just fantasy, but almost more like historical fiction, and that characters aren't black or white (excuse the cliched term) and do get killed off, although there usually is a reason, maybe not immediately obvious, and most of the bad ones do eventually seem to get their come-uppance.  I don't read much fantasy as it tends to be so derivative, but Thrones does at least  do something a bit different to the usual good vs evil theme.  And I do think there are a lot of strong characters, although some take time to develop, and I like the way in which readers' opinions tend to change as more is revealed about a character.  Each to their own of course.


Edited by Madeleine, 10 January 2017 - 02:57 PM.


#12 MrCat

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 10:50 PM

Sry Angury, I am really bad with using quotes around here so I will just make a simple reply. 

 

I was not referring to the details per-se but rather the way they are written and if they have any relevance at all. Tolkien is also plagued by this kind of writing sometimes, as is Charles Dickens or Frank Herbert or J.K.Rowling. But the matter in which they do it is different and I'd say superior to GRRM.

 

I admit that Tolkien does tend to go overboard with his narrative, especially near the end where you think everything is settled but Surprise! 200 more pages to go but it all has a point. He basically created a world from zero, with kingdoms, races, cities, gods, an entire mythology, history and language. I'd say that you really do need descriptions and long narratives to unfold these to the reader. GRRM's universe pales by comparison so I do not see the need for his narrative. Also, the actual usefulness of his descriptions is not that big. Certain characters do not move around much so filling the pages with useless details around their surroundings and actions is just a waste. 

 

Immersion is needed in every fiction book but it tells a lot about the author's value if he manages to do it in 200 pages or 2000. 

 

As to your last paragraph, this is where I am in opposite thinking. The point of fantasy is to be as far away as possible from real life. That's why the author makes a new world in the first place. The moment you place ordinary things in your fantasy book, that books stops being part of the genre. Now of course you could take inspiration from real life, or put out a message from the real world through the fantasy idea, I mean Tolkien did exactly that with LOTR, and you can see this in many examples, like... the Japanese version of Godzilla but the complexity of human life can be put forth in many other ways, mediums and genres and I don't feel the need to see them explained in my *go away real world* novel. 

 

People often seem fixed on the idea that in fantasy (and in most movies and books where there is a conflict) everything is black and white and most of them come with the argument that GRRM paints a grey/dark world but the same can be said about many many other books, from LOTR, to Paradise Lost or even To Kill a Mockingbird. 

 

If there is one good thing I could say about his work is that some of the characters are quite good. Tyrion, Jon Snow and Arya come to mind, as well as Denerys. They are outcasts and often seem to thread that grey line that people keep talking about but for the rest... Yeah yeah we know, Geoffrey's a dick and Ned Stark was the good guy. 



#13 Madeleine

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 12:12 PM

Actually I think GRRM has created a whole new world with the land of Westeros, which has it's own languages and traditions (I'm sure there are books/websites available for Dothraki etc).



#14 chesilbeach

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:10 PM

George R R Martin thinks book six may be out this year ... http://www.telegraph...nter-will-year/... sounds like no-one should hold their breath though! :D

#15 Angury

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:58 PM

I admit that Tolkien does tend to go overboard with his narrative, especially near the end where you think everything is settled but Surprise! 200 more pages to go but it all has a point. He basically created a world from zero, with kingdoms, races, cities, gods, an entire mythology, history and language. I'd say that you really do need descriptions and long narratives to unfold these to the reader. GRRM's universe pales by comparison so I do not see the need for his narrative.


Do you mean GRRM's universe pales in comparison in terms of the scale of the world, or the writing, or the background (or something else)?

I guess it boils down to what you look for in a fantasy series.
 

Also, the actual usefulness of his descriptions is not that big. Certain characters do not move around much so filling the pages with useless details around their surroundings and actions is just a waste.


By move around, do you mean moving around physically? Certainly I agree that many characters stay in the same locations over several chapters, if not several books, and some people have become frustrated with

Spoiler


but I wouldn't say this is a big issue. Much of the battle goes on in the characters heads, and that's where the story really develops. A plot line isn't necessarily continued through the wars (although it has been at times), but within the dialogues between the characters and the ongoing schemes behind peoples backs. The story is much more than a couple of wars and battles upon a field - it is a story about the wars between generations and their families, the rich and the poor. It goes far, far deeper.
 

Immersion is needed in every fiction book but it tells a lot about the author's value if he manages to do it in 200 pages or 2000.


Finally something we can agree on.. :P
 

As to your last paragraph, this is where I am in opposite thinking. The point of fantasy is to be as far away as possible from real life. That's why the author makes a new world in the first place. The moment you place ordinary things in your fantasy book, that books stops being part of the genre. Now of course you could take inspiration from real life, or put out a message from the real world through the fantasy idea, I mean Tolkien did exactly that with LOTR, and you can see this in many examples, like... the Japanese version of Godzilla but the complexity of human life can be put forth in many other ways, mediums and genres and I don't feel the need to see them explained in my *go away real world* novel.


.. and another thing that we don't.

I agree that one of the big attractions of Fantasy is the escapism that it offers. However, I would argue that integrating new worlds with the world of the reader is where Fantasy books become successful. This doesn't necessarily have to be the real world that we live and breathe and call Earth, but the worlds inside our minds.

Let me give you an example. The Harry Potter series used to be one of my all-time favourite series as a child. This was in part because of the imagination that it offered to my teenage mind. But it was also because when I started reading the books I was the same age as Harry. I grew up with him and his friends. Yes, it was about wishing you had been invited to Hogwarts and that you could buy Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, but it was also about things like having too much homework to do after class, having that one teacher who seemed to hate you, having arguments with your friends, developing a crush and then being embarrassed by it. It was these little connections with my own, internal world that not only made the Hogwarts real to me, but also gave me hope and comfort.

I think if a Fantasy series is completely disconnected from reality, then it would be un-relatable to the reader, and for me, it would feel like a pointless read.
 

People often seem fixed on the idea that in fantasy (and in most movies and books where there is a conflict) everything is black and white and most of them come with the argument that GRRM paints a grey/dark world but the same can be said about many many other books, from LOTR, to Paradise Lost or even To Kill a Mockingbird.


Out of interest, where do you find the grey areas in LOTR?

#16 MrCat

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 01:28 PM

I'd say that it pales in terms of universe, scale, writing, background, you name it.  But most importantly, originality. Now, I understand that Tolkien himself wasn't original in the first place since he took a lot if inspiration from different mythologies but they way he mixed them in order to give life to his world is unprecedented. He is the grandpa of "generic fantasy" for a reason. 

 

Whenever someone tells me about GRRM's characters, the complexity, the difference in generations, the families  etc I always point out Tolstoy's War and Peace. Not that is a book with worthwhile and complex characters. 

 

As for grey areas in LOTR, well I will just put a spoil tag in case you have not read all of Tolkien's works. Also, like I said before, I have not read all of GRRM's books so might be missing some important stuff from this work.

 

Spoiler

 

edit: I might add to this post later. 

 

edit nr 2: Speaking of Tolkien and Martin: 

 


Edited by MrCat, 12 January 2017 - 01:29 PM.


#17 Angury

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 05:39 PM

Whenever someone tells me about GRRM's characters, the complexity, the difference in generations, the families  etc I always point out Tolstoy's War and Peace. Not that is a book with worthwhile and complex characters.


Well sure, you could always point to a bigger and better book. Personally, I feel most books pale in comparison to Proust's In Search of Lost Time. But my point is, in the genre of Fantasy, I feel Martin has built a new path for the genre. I often feel that Fantasy gets the reputation of being a 'children's genre' or one that is aimed for holidays and weekends i.e. not 'real' writing, not something that you can learn from. I think Martin has helped to push away from this stereotype, and introduce the idea that Fantasy can be just as psychologically complex as some of the greatest works of literature.
 
 

Spoiler


I was a bit confused by what you said here - are you saying that there is no definite good and evil in LOTR? Because I would strongly disagree - I feel like that is one of the things that really lets the series down, that all it really is is an overgeneralisation of good and evil with nothing in between.

 

Spoiler


But isn't that the point of the series - that ultimately the quest for power and glory will not get you what you want? That the story will not end when a king (or queen) sits on the Iron Throne, because ultimately it is just a vicious circle where one person overthrows another, fuelled by the greed of humanity. Contrast this to LOTR, where once the ring is destroyed and Frodo et al skip happily along to the Grey Havens, there is no further story. No lesson has been learnt.
 

Spoiler


Spoiler

 
 

Spoiler

 
Sure, I appreciate that this is also why I enjoy Fantasy so much - there is an abundance of cultures, kingdoms and regions within the lands of the genre. But I do not think this is lacking within Martin's universe.
Every house in the series is different. It has its own history, its own culture, its own practices and beliefs, its own people filled with their own prejudices, its own food, clothing etc.

I think the world Martin has created is just as rich and complex as any other series within Fantasy, but it also offers some lessons which many of us find difficult to swallow. To me, it is about how damaged we are as human beings, how much of our lives are taken over by emotions of passion, love, greed and hatred, and how ultimately we are all capable of doing horrible, horrible things no matter how much we like to look in the mirror and see a saint looking back.

Edited by Angury, 12 January 2017 - 05:45 PM.


#18 MrCat

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 10:56 PM

I'm not sure fantasy was childish. I mean the people that say this probably though the same about comic book heroes until they saw The Dark Knight. But for a story to be "for grown ups" it does not have to be mature. And I certainly don't think that if a work suddenly has boobs and violence it becomes mature. Sadly that is what GRRM has given us and it will be the standard for "mature" fantasy. Just like Deadpool became the standard for 18+ rated super hero movies. A novel can be mature in themes, story and characters. On the contrary, I;d say that throwing tits in the reader's face actually makes a book more childish. 
 
About the LOTR part, yes I am saying that there is no absolute evil in Tolkien's universe. I guess you could argue that Melkor is Satan himself since he turned to darkness and forged the One Ring but that's really going back to the roots of Tolkien's universe.  As far as LOTR is concerned, I think the characters were corrupted by the Ring and could have been influenced by it. I mean even Gandalf has more sense than to wear it and he's the wisest of the primordial spirits. He's not your random wizard from Harry Potter. I find Tolkien's themes actually to be more mature since they deal with deeper issues like trust, kindness, corruption, greed etc. I understand why GRRM gets the praise for this since he can more or less present the same themes in a more... mainstream way. The corruption of power isn't very explicit in LOTR and it;s certainly not as well explained as through GRRM's violence and revenge, but like I said I feel that Tolkien's way of showing things goes deeper than that. 

(Admin Edit: A Game of Thrones spoiler; for book 1 of the A Song of Ice and Fire series).
Spoiler

Edited by Athena, 13 January 2017 - 06:17 AM.
Sorry, I had to add spoiler tags.


#19 Angury

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 07:30 AM

I'm not sure fantasy was childish.


No, I don't think Fantasy is childish either, I just think that is the perception that many people get. I do think there is a perceived hierarchy in literature, as there is in most works of art.
 

And I certainly don't think that if a work suddenly has boobs and violence it becomes mature. Sadly that is what GRRM has given us and it will be the standard for "mature" fantasy.


I don't think this is GRRM's fault. Most of the sexual scenes are in the TV series itself - I didn't find the books to be overly explicit. I thought they had a good level of harsh reality without going overboard and making it seem like a dystopia. Nor did I think it went completely the other way and made it a land of fairies (which I did sometimes find with LOTR).
 

I understand why GRRM gets the praise for this since he can more or less present the same themes in a more... mainstream way.


I'm not sure if incest, rape and slaughter is mainstream. I do appreciate that as Tolkien's work has been around far longer there has been time for stereotypes to develop which may have corroded the underlying message of his work, and as someone who read his series after watching the films, perhaps my perspective has been shaded - in fact, I know it has. I do accept that, and I wish I was able to view LOTR in the way that a lot of Fantasy fans do.
 

(Admin Edit: A Game of Thrones spoiler; for book 1 of the A Song of Ice and Fire series).

Spoiler


Spoiler


I do not think there is any good or evil in Martin's universe, nor indeed do I think there is such as a thing in real life. In LOTR for example, Mordor and all its servants were just painted with one brush - they were all evil. No other perspective was given - that maybe from their point of view what they were doing made sense to them, that they weren't doing bad things but just trying to survive, that their motivations and actions were no different from our heroes.

Indeed, I do not think that in A Song of Ice and Fire there are any heroes. Sure, in the first few books we get the sense that Arya Stark and Daenerys are goodies and the Lannisters are all evil, but this is turned on its head in the next few books, and as a reader you are constantly on the edge of your seat because you genuinely don't have a clue what is going to happen next.

Edited by Angury, 17 January 2017 - 03:24 PM.


#20 Madeleine

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 11:21 AM

Exactly Augury - you need to read further into ASOIF to see how the characters develop, especially Jaime, although I agree that Daenerys is a bit of a stunted character, but Tyrion's character has some unexpected twists as well, as the characters constantly change as the books go on.







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