Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Moderators: Jason, Toothy, Tonyblack

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:15 pm

raisindot wrote:
stripy_tie wrote: Lord knows how long we'll be waiting for the next one though and i'm beginning to wonder if he'll live long enough to finish the series.


Yeah, if you've ever seen photos of Martin you gotta wonder how much sand is left in his time dial. :?
I seen him at the Worldcon in Reno this year he looked OK and he is going to be a GOH at Eastercon in London next year which I attending.
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
User avatar
Who's Wee Dug
Member
 
Posts: 14781
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Stirlingshire, Scotland

Postby Quatermass » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:34 pm

At the moment, I don't know whether I will read beyond A Game of Thrones. It all depends. The whole sequelitis thing did occur with Dune's sequels.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5638
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Postby raisindot » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:20 pm

MoonJewel wrote:From what I've read online, Martin wasn't really happy with book 4 since he felt he had to rush to get it out. After that, he decided to take his time so he'll be happier with the outcome. Thus the really long wait between books 4 and 5, and the improved quality of book 5.


In his notes at the end of Book 4, he admitted that he had written enough for two books, but didn't want to put out 2,000 page book. So, he essentially split it in half. Book 4 covers the fate of a certain set of characters, and Book 5 covers the other main characters not in Book 4 taking place during the same timeframe. He then adds additional chapters at the end of Book 5 to try to unify the plot strands, and (as far as I'm concerned) only partially succeeds. Much of Book 5 is just a long slog, with too much attention paid to certain characters and too little paid to others.
raisindot
Member
 
Posts: 3207
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:28 pm
Location: Boston, MA USA

Postby Quatermass » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:56 pm

Welp, I've just finished A Game of Thrones. Thanks for putting me onto it, raisindot.

I did a review on another BBS, which I have copied over to here:

Book 8...

REVIEW: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin


My prior acquaintance with George RR Martin's work was with the Wild Cards series, the superhero anthologies which he edited and contributed stories to. While the worldbuilding of the Wild Cards universe was impressive, his work didn't quite stand out. And yet, now I hear of his famous fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. I was told that it was on a par with Dune, better, even, than that paragon of science fiction. I considered this a challenge to try a book that may be better than Dune, and as I usually shun fantasy, it was another type of challenge. But is the first book of the series, A Game of Thrones, any good? Or was it about to collapse under its own substantial weight?

Lord Eddard Stark of the North is one of the most honourable men in the land of Westeron with a large family. But when King Robert Baratheon and his queen Catelyn Lannister pays a visit, he makes Eddard his Hand. Eddard wants to refuse, but when he learns of the suspicious circumstances behind his predecessor's death, he takes it on. Meanwhile, his son Bran falls from a tower after seeing something he shouldn't, and an assassin is sent to finish him off. Eddard's bastard son, Jon Snow, decides to join the Brotherhood of the Night Watch, the first and only defence on the Wall to the far North, where grisly happenings have been occurring. And across the sea to the East, the last surviving relatives of the cruel, incestuous dynasty that Baratheon overthrew with the help of the Starks and the Lannisters are making their first steps towards a comeback. But while the arrogant Viserys Targaryen believes that he will finally be able to win back his crown before long, his more sane sister Daenerys, married to a barbarian chieftan, is beginning a journey that will make her the true heir to the Targaryen dynasty, though loss will plague her. As Eddard Stark tries to serve his king, he begins to realise that he is in a game of thrones, a game which if he loses, he will forfeit his life...

To summarise A Game of Thrones easily is an impossible task. The damn book is so rich in culture, relationships, and setting that you half-expect it to collapse under its own weight. But while the excess of characters and story may be alienating to many readers, it still not only manages to work, but it is indeed an excellent piece of storytelling. The novel itself could be split into three major plots, with all sorts of minor plots going on all at the same time. To keep a track of them all is something of an intellectual exercise, but not only is it rewarding, but the story itself is almost never dull. There is nice snappy dialogue, ranging from the Shakespearean-style speeches you'd expect from such fantasy, to more cruder language. This is also a world of moral ambiguity, a welcome change from the more stronger morals of Tolkinesque fantasy or the humour of Discworld.

There are no less than nine viewpoint characters, each having chapters to themselves. Many of the Starks are given prime viewpoints, and it is through their eyes that we see the main events unfold. Through the bastard Jon Snow, we see events on the Wall, and how he grows. And through the viewpoint of Daenerys, the last daughter of an incestuous and brutal regime, she is given sympathy and more. And while the characters may not be all sympathetic, even those that we should have sympathy for (I have to admit to being annoyed with Catelyn over her treatment of Jon Snow, and her sister is a stupid bitch, to be frank), they are all interesting enough so that I am engrossed as well as repulsed.

There aren't really any faults I can find with A Game of Thrones. Besides my opinion of the Tully sisters mentioned above, I feel that it is somewhat too long, though Martin makes sure that every page counts. And so much is left on a cliffhanger, making me strongly consider getting the next book in the series, A Clash of Kings.

A Game of Thrones is pretty damn perfect. I can't really find much fault with it, save minor niggles. It thus becomes the seventh book in these book reading blogs to gain a perfect 10/10, joining two Doctor Who books, The Shining, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a volume of Monster, and the Discworld novel I Shall Wear Midnight. Congratulations.



10/10

First words: "We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.

Last words: (Not included due to spoilers)


Now, keep in mind that, as mentioned, this is only one of seven books (out of over 200) that have gotten a perfect score from me since I started keeping scores. :)
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5638
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Postby pip » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:01 pm

My rating for the book would be fairly close as well. Its a fantastic read and has a lot of depth to it without being over complicated.
:D
'There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.'
Ray Bradbury (RIP)
User avatar
pip
Member
 
Posts: 9385
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:20 am
Location: KILDARE

Postby raisindot » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:23 pm

Nice review, Q.

I agree with just about all you said. Everything was quite fresh in Game of Thrones and you can catch Martin's excitement at trying to out-Tolkien Tolkien while adding a whole layer of grittiness and realism.

Many years ago I once wrote a script for a fantasy movie (came close to being optioned, but never was) where a group of fantasy-novel characters find themselves in our world (and losing all of their powers and generally end up being little more than medevial people traveling in a iphone world).

Anyway, the movie starts with the good guys involved in a last-ditch battle against the evil wizard. Right at the climax, the rank and file soldiers stop fighting because they haven't been paid in months and they accuse their leader (the usual bone-headed blond-haired here type) of spending their pension benefits on weapons and spells.

The evil wizard then uses a holograph sell trying to convince the soldiers to quit the good guys' army and join his, as he guarantees them their full retirement benefits, free medical care (including magical restoration of hacked off limps), a month's vacation and pensions for their widows. It's not quite Pythonesque, but my thoughts on how these kinds of people would really act in such a world--their concerns would be as petty and selfish as our own.

Martin comes close to approximating this idea in Game of Thrones.
raisindot
Member
 
Posts: 3207
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:28 pm
Location: Boston, MA USA

Postby Quatermass » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:03 pm

Martin doesn't come close to Tolkien in the mythopoeic stakes, but he certainly surpasses Tolkien in entertainment. Tolkien's writing style is drier than Martin's. :)
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5638
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Postby raisindot » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:57 pm

Quatermass wrote:Tolkien's writing style is drier than Martin's. :)


You're being charitable. Tolkien's writing style is almost as wooden as his characters and dialogue. No wonder the most memorable characters are the ents.

[Ducking to hide from a Jannoprojectile]
raisindot
Member
 
Posts: 3207
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:28 pm
Location: Boston, MA USA

Re:

Postby Antiq » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:31 pm

raisindot wrote:
Quatermass wrote:Tolkien's writing style is drier than Martin's. :)


You're being charitable. Tolkien's writing style is almost as wooden as his characters and dialogue. No wonder the most memorable characters are the ents.

[Ducking to hide from a Jannoprojectile]

Gasp! I don't think I could even compare the two, except for the RR in their names :lol:
I enjoy Martin very much, he really bounces along, but I deeply love Tolkien. I guess I like that kind of writing. I loved The Silmarillion, which could be considered really wooden :lol:
Carpe Jugulum
User avatar
Antiq
Member
 
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:46 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:38 am

Haven't been in here for ages so the time to defend Tolks is long since passed by really. :lol:

I had a go at reading Game of Thrones twice with a big gap in between giving up and then getting back into it and the 2nd go was still a long time ago. The reason I gave up at first was really because it was someone else's library book and had to go back as it was on order, but I'd sort of got into a 'oh it's another Lord of the Rings clone but not quite as classy' and I didn't like it going off and leaving Jon Snow up an ice-gum tree so to speak when his nobler rellies went south (not realising that he'd come back into it and not caring to find out too much by flicking forward a bit). So when I got it from the library again myself a year of so later I did get into it more solidly and enjoyed it thoroughly. I think that must have been when it was still near the start of the series and I gave up going to the library not long afterwards so I never looked at the sequels.

Absolutely lurved the TV series so it's definitely on the get the rest list now but, as with Pterry these days, I'm not in a real tear to get the others immediately this instant (not least 'cos I'm borassic just now having spent 400 Euros in Ireland on some silly book or other :roll: ).

But back to comparisons with the Prof. They're pointless. Even for Pterry. Tolkien's Arda is Classic Fantasy Literature and it's earned those initial caps so you can't really compare contemporary authors work because a) They've read Tolkien too; b) it influenced their own work, even if it was negatively and c) it's of a different era and so it's almost incomparable now.

Imagine what Tolkien would have done if CGI had been around when he was a kid. Imagine what he could have developed in the story of the creation of the orcs if genetic science had been accessible in his lifetime - he died 5 years before the 1st IVF baby was born. What if he'd served in WW2 instead of WW1 when there was still an Empire and dark colonial faces are as rare as rocking-horse shite in downtown Oxford? He lived in a different world practically and even into his later years he was part of an ascetic time-bubble and mired in middle-class academia so his world was almost alien in comparison with Pterry and his self-sufficient IT-wizard's lair and the whole of cyberspace to roam through. It was something for him to even use a typewriter or a dictaphone and part of the reason his son Christopher is still making a living out his notes and drafts is because about 75% of it or more was handwritten - some of it on the back of fag packets and Inland Revenue tax demands...

So he didn't have the experience and knowledge that writers today have. He didn't even have the same vocabulary FFS :lol: And of course he made his own up because what he really loved was language and the rarer and more archaic the better. Did you know that Black Speech - the language of Sauron and the Orcs is based on Gothic and Varangian? Dead languages that Attila the Hun would have heard and spoken as he was sacking Rome. His Elven languages are more famously based on Celtic variants, but also Finnish in particular and also some Anglo-Saxon. He was and still is the finest ever translator of Beowulf from the original texts because he spoke and understood the language and context and had such a good grasp of the nuance and mindset of the Skaldic poetry. Like Pterry the man was a frigging genius, just not in the same way.

So no George Martin isn't as 'good' as Tolkien at writing a Lord of the Rings style novel. It's been done. He is very good at writing a book that nods at Tolkien and brings other things into the equation that Tolkien might have as well but wouldn't handle as well. Like incest for instance - tons of that in The Silmarillion but you'd blink and miss it half the time. I won't get onto the Sil as we'll be here all night but it's simply not a novel, more a collection of loose outlines if not a semi-readable reference 'history' book. But his myth building skills are rightly legendary and it provides structure and even language for the classic fantasy genre from Discworld to Arrakis to Pern and back through Narnia (him and Lewis bounced ideas of each other all the time) - his influence is pervasive and has set the benchmark for fantasy for the last half century so without him there might not have been a Discworld as we know it because Middle Earth is in the background as a role model if nothing else.

Writers anyway stand on the shoulders of Giants. He borrowed from mythology and earlier fantasy writers like George MacDonald who was a particular hero of both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. So from that PoV it's all post-modern and everyone borrows off every else. Some people who are ladies but sound like guys even make a good career of obviously borrowing heavily from here there and any old Ardawhere :lol:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10572
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Re: Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Postby Quatermass » Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:58 am

Quick reply to your summation, JVQ. I agree that Tolkien put more depth into his story, if only because he worked on building the world of Middle Earth and its history ever since at least the First World War. But I tend to judge books on their entertainment properties first, and their intellectual properties second. If it were the other way around, I would rate Atlas Shrugged more highly, though only up to, say, Twilight levels.

I am also aware of the work that Tolkien put into synthesising his languages, even if I am not aware of all of the sources. It's an impressive effort.

I also agree that Tolkien is what TV Tropes would call the Trope Codifier of high fantasy. He is the one who spawned all these works emulating, if not the mythopoeic effort he put into it, then aspects of his fantasy world.

But I fully disagree that we cannot compare other works to Tolkien. Tolkien, by dint of being the Trope Codifier, has become a yardstick. Comparisons are not only inevitable, but in fact, in many cases, are necessary.

Agreed on the 'it's all post-modern' remark, though. :lol: At last, someone else sees it!
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5638
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Postby Quatermass » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:28 am

Hey, something's just occurred to me. I read in plenty of places that it was Joffrey who ordered that Bran Stark be killed whilst overhearing the king mention that Bran should be put out of his misery, and while I read A Game of Thrones at a fair trot, I don't think I would have missed such a revelation. Is that in A Game of Thrones, or is it in a later book in the series? :?
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5638
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Postby Sjoerd3000 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:25 am

It's in a later book ;)
A poster outside one shop urged people to Dig For Victory, as if it were some kind of turnip.
User avatar
Sjoerd3000
Member
 
Posts: 8797
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:23 pm
Location: Groningen, The Netherlands

Re: Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Postby Quatermass » Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:05 pm

Sjoerd3000 wrote:It's in a later book ;)


Ah, because I got the feeling it was left up in the air, and Tyrion, for all his faults, certainly didn't seem like the sort to want Bran dead. But I got the feeling that I may have missed something while reading A Game of Thrones.

I may start A Clash of Kings soon.
I've lived for over 2000 years, and not all of them were good ones. I've made many mistakes. And it's about time I did something about that.

-The Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who: Deep Breath
User avatar
Quatermass
Member
 
Posts: 5638
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:58 am

Re: Anyone read Martin's Dance with Dragons yet?

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:37 pm

Quatermass wrote:But I fully disagree that we cannot compare other works to Tolkien. Tolkien, by dint of being the Trope Codifier, has become a yardstick. Comparisons are not only inevitable, but in fact, in many cases, are necessary.

Hmmm - afraid I don't do Tropes really so I'll not get too hyper over that. ;) It's a yardstick that really can only be compared on a level playing field with its own contemporaries and work that went before it because of the contextual factors and by that I mean the 'zeitgeist' of its niche era that include language and social standards?

Take Dickens (not a fan but undoubtedly a great and prolific author). So a similarly successful 'niche' author to him would be Trollope perhaps? Or a similar earlier novelist would be Henry Fielding (Tom Jones) whom Dickens greatly admired. There's enough in common with those 3 even though they're not entirely contemporary because they all wrote successfully in their lifetimes and they all made social commentary in their books that are gradually becoming more and more divorced from the modern world. Does that make better sense?

OK - now apply the argument to a modern author who writes along those lines and I'm not going to be picky about this aside from them having to be successful and prolific and maybe slightly satirical. So the 3 contenders are Harold Robbins, Stephen King and Tom Sharpe (not quite so prolific, but very satirical). How do they compare to Dickens? Hard isn't it! :D

The yardstick precept I grant you willingly, but the rest is much less cut and dried to apply because Tolkien's out there as a model and someone like Pterry will take facets of Middle Earth and re-work them in a totally different manner, because of all the feeders that he's factored into his own highly esoteric world that is a masterpiece of creation in it's own right. The Game of Thrones universe had fairly broad similarities to Middle Earth, but it doesn't fall too far away from the apple tree in terms of traditional features like dragons as an obvious for instance. Instead it approaches from a more grittily 'real' side of things that's owes far more to modern times than Tolkien's did to his (in that it's more connected to mythological roots) and making an obvious analogy with GoT's political environment evokes the less altruistic military atrocities and mores of Vietnam, or Cambodia, or Somalia say, in fixing its evil colours to the mast.

One last comparison to illustrate the difference between comparative yardsticking and something more like derivative or associative comparison? The Belgariad is my chosen patsy. Now I actually do like David (and Leigh) Eddings and both the Belgariad and the Mallorean series, but boy is that universe a lightweight in the fantasy stakes! :) They work as fantasy without really being at all original conceptually by dint of the charm of the writing - mainly the dialogue which is engaging and often very funny, rather than being that iconic or ground-breaking in terms of world-building. So if Tolkien is Bram Stoker's Dracula then Eddings is Josh Whedon's Buffy? :laughing-rolling:

I guess I'm approaching it by how much an author will 'piggyback' perhaps? Or whether they use a step ladder or some more unique way to climb up onto the shoulder of their Giant? :P There are different ways to do it but some of them don't try too hard and that's why they don't measure up to the yardstick too well. ;)

I think George Martin is a yardstick in the making perhaps. :D Pterry has probably made it to yardstick status already because his edifice, whilst nodding a fair bit to Tolkien as a source, is entirely different in approach and concept whilst still having a broad appeal which is down to his own niche era's philosophical and social issues and how they play out in the stories. He's the Modern to Tolkien's Ancient perhaps? :lol:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10572
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

PreviousNext

Return to Non-Discworld books

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron