A Song of Ice and Fire: Philosophising

Having started watching the latest (fourth) season of A Game of Thrones, the television series sometimes-closely and sometimes-loosely based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series[1], it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the day of the mighty, uppity bookworm is coming to an end.

[1] You know, just in case you were living under a rock for the past three years.

We used to have a usenet fan community that was heavily into reading these books, and we even had a re-read “CHapter Of the Week” review and discussion thing going. It was teeming with debate and activity once upon a time, and we had wikis for the links to the first few books’-worth of CHOWs.


We can still be fairly certain that his sister had a baby, and he promised her to keep her secret. Something had to happen to that baby.

Incinerated by a dragon twenty years later?

*not very hopeful*

Wouldn’t be the first.

But the point is (and most of the dumber Jon Snow Thaerists seem to be ignoring this element of the thing), lost princes can suddenly show up out of nowhere and be conveniently retcon-explained with a backstory nobody ever suspected, *five books in*. Martin is essentially telling us, “your thaeries are adorable, but I’m telling this story and if I want to make you all look like muppets, it’s just this easy, watch … in fact, I’m going to type this next paragraph, explaining how Arya is actually Rhaegar’s daughter from Wylla, using my penis. Just a heads-up, because as a result of this move there will be a lot of numbers scattered through the first draft on account of my gut overhanging my genitals.”

Endquote.


An excerpt from some of my finer moments of critique. Actually written in May 2012, so pretty recent in the scheme of things. Usenet isn’t dead, it’s just sleeping through the long summer. And when television finally kills the paperback star, the newsgroups will rise again.

Anyway, the point of all this is, Martin’s TV series has diverged from the books, and due to the necessities of putting out seasons once a year in a competitive and fickle market, his TV series is going to overtake the books. Guaranteed. It’s already started to happen, we just haven’t noticed so much because of the already-happening divergences. But it’s only going to get worse.

Because in a competitive book market, even if Martin writes the whole series tomorrow, that’s going to be – what, two more books? So they’re going to have to release them once a year for maximum market penetration. So, 2015 and 2016[2]. The series will most likely be done by then. Its popularity will wane because TV viewers only have the attention-span for five or six seasons, max. After that, it’s just going to be the fans of the books still watching anyway, and that’s not going to be good enough. So they’ll want to bring it to a close before the pop culture mass psyche collectively goes “oh look, shiny” and turns to look at something else.

[2] They might release them every six months if he gets them finished that fast. For the sake of the story, I hope he doesn’t even try.

And he’s probably not going to write one book a year anyway, let alone one every six months, let alone tomorrow, so that’s a moot point.

Forever Alayne. I made this joke first.

Just in case the TV show doesn’t diverge from the books completely, I want it on record that I was the first person to make this joke.

Now, this means a couple of things for the readers of the book series.

First, it means that they[3] will fall off their irritating little “I know what’s going to happen next” pedestals. The characters are different, the plotlines are different, there are whole new characters and the existing ones are doing different things. Being literate was, for about the first three seasons of this show, something to be proud of, something that provided a tangible benefit and a sense of superiority. Sorry, but now the show’s got a life of its own and the books are out of the picture, literacy is once again the domain of nerds and nobody watching the TV show cares anymore. Again. Might as well just go back to being bitter, cliquish and aloof. So, that’s one thing for the readers to be worried about but in my opinion it’s pretty minor. It’s been happening to us for years, we’ll bounce back.

[3] Oh alright, we. Although I consider myself long since resigned to the books and the TV show being two distinct GRRM creations, and nothing to get upset or smug about.

Second, and more worrying, is the fact that once the TV series overtakes the books or diverges from them enough, and then reaches a conclusion, the book series will stop mattering to anyone. Think about it.

What’s going to be the point? Either Martin writes out the last couple of seasons of the A Game of Thrones TV series in book form, after the fact, in which case only the die-hard fans are going to care. Or he’s going to complete the divergence and write a different final couple of instalments for the book series altogether, so there really are two stories. In which case, again, only the die-hard fans are going to care.

I don’t know, it just seems like a really difficult situation to salvage to me. But he’s making a steady paycheque from reprints of The Wit and Motherfucking Wisdom of Tyrion Goddamn Lannister, so more power to him. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the “world of” books and other stuff are going to be like, and how he’s planning on reconciling the two stories, if at all. It’ll be interesting.

Parlay? Same guy. I was also the first one to make this joke. I googled it.

I was also the first one to make this joke. I googled it.

So, anyway. That’s what I was thinking about this morning.

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25 Responses to A Song of Ice and Fire: Philosophising

  1. Brkn Wntr says:

    I thought I had a comment. I don’t, just sad agreement. Also, once the show officially divorces its parent books (due to happen sometime in the next few weeks) it will be interesting to see how wide it’s viewing audience will remain. Final thought, what if it diverges so far, that he just gives up writing all together? Just ends with ” and then Jon Sno……… Fuck TV”

    • stchucky says:

      It seems like that’s the way it’s going to go. Heck, for all I know he’s at death’s door. A few years back there was some concern because Martin finally married his long-time partner, and it looked like he was getting his affairs in order and making sure things would be taken care of.

      Telling the Song of Ice and Fire story in quick-and-done TV format would seem to satisfy that requirement too. He can get the series done, or close to, and then retire / fall in glorious battle and leave the books unfinished but the tale essentially complete.

      That’s one way out of the dilemma. I hope there’s another.

  2. dreameling says:

    And it’s just not about divergence [1]. It’s also about the TV show spoiling the books. For example, the latest aired episode as of writing this (4×04, “Oathkeeper”) contained a pretty big spoiler about the Others (or the White Walkers) at the very end. Sure, we’ve already seen way more of the Others in the TV show than in the books, but the TV show hasn’t really given us anything spoilery about who they are or where they come from (unless you count the TV show’s weirdo wrinkly pale ice ghoul interpretation of how they look a spoiler).

    [1] Although I’m betting the TV show will follow Martin’s basic master plan all the way to the end.

    So, do I continue watching the TV show, or do I wait until all the books are out? I’d rather get the story from the books first, but the TV show is pretty damn fine…

    Anyways, good post, good points.

    Btw., as to that CHOW excerpt of yours, which is arguably lacking context, are you arguing that Jon Snow is in fact not the secret love child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen? This was so strongly hinted at way back in AGOT that it’s hard to imagine Martin having (had) anything else in mind. (But since it’s now such a big and popular theory, Martin could retcon it, sure. [2])

    [2] Which would be very annoying and a pretty dick move, especially since I picked up on that the first time I read AGOT in the late 90s and I would so love to be right about it! (Yes, it’s all about me and my need for intellectual validation.)

    • dreameling says:

      PS. By “spoiling the books” I of course mean the TV show revealing major stuff not covered by the published books.

    • stchucky says:

      Okay, but you started it. Just remember, discussing these books – at ludicrous length – is a hobby of mine.

      Some people juggle geese.

      As is probably already apparent, I’ve had this discussion many, many times. I am yet to carry it out, however, without insulting my co-conversationalist, so I’ll try it that way.

      Not because of who you are (although that’s totally part of it), and not because I’m ten years older and I have grey in my beard and life’s too short to be a jerk. Just because it’s a novelty.

      And it’s just not about divergence [1]. It’s also about the TV show spoiling the books. For example, the latest aired episode as of writing this (4×04, “Oathkeeper”) contained a pretty big spoiler about the Others (or the White Walkers) at the very end. Sure, we’ve already seen way more of the Others in the TV show than in the books, but the TV show hasn’t really given us anything spoilery about who they are or where they come from (unless you count the TV show’s weirdo wrinkly pale ice ghoul interpretation of how they look a spoiler).

      Right. I assume you mean this Night King thing (I’ve only seen the first three episodes but don’t care much about spoilers, in case anyone failed to pick that up from the blog post) that turns a baby into an Other?

      Sure, but we all knew this was basically what happened. This is what Craster was supplying to the Others. The main spoiler in this case, in my opinion (and as you say) is the visual element of it. Now we get to see it, and the specific process of it, before it was described up-close in the books. So if it’s different in the books, it’s going to be a discordance, and if it’s the same in the book, it’s going to be a disappointment because most of us will be unable to unsee that shit. It’ll just be Martin describing something we all already saw on TV.

      So, do I continue watching the TV show, or do I wait until all the books are out? I’d rather get the story from the books first, but the TV show is pretty damn fine…

      Well, exactly. I’m not about to quit watching the show. I think most fans hardcore enough to do that wouldn’t have started to watch the show in the first place. But I don’t know. I’m sure there are levels to this, and it all depends on what we’re going to end up with, and there’s no way to really predict that.

      I suspect that what we’re going to end up with is a decent but increasingly-disappointing TV series, but one that will hopefully have some sort of conclusion rather than just not getting renewed. Its ending will probably be rushed and lame and fanboys will cry because a) it’s over and b) it’s nothing like the way it looked like the books were going to end. Not to mention that, since it ended before the books, it becomes the official canonical ending, ushering in a decade or so of Arguing On The Internet about whether or not the TV show was canon. Meanwhile, if he lives long enough, Martin will release a half-hearted final two or three books long after the TV series ends, probably at three- or four-year intervals, and the fanboys will cry because a) it still wasn’t what they’d wanted and b) they’d waited so long there was no way Martin could fulfill their expectations. Or he’ll die and the book series will die with him, or be ghost-written to general fanboy wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      Depressing, no? This I foretell, just call me Mirri Maz Hatboy.

      Btw., as to that CHOW excerpt of yours, which is arguably lacking context, are you arguing that Jon Snow is in fact not the secret love child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen?

      Oh boy, here we go.

      No, I’m not arguing that he’s not (although I have, and the google archives are still there so you knock yourself out if you want to go there[1]). I’m not arguing anything anymore. In fact, I’m 95% sure that he is. And the remaining 5% only exists because this series (unlike the majority of Martin’s work) seems to be going out of its way to buck convention and overturn tropes, predictions and expectations.

      [1] I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you don’t.

      What I am saying, though, is that I think that whole plotline and “twist” is boring, stupid, clichéd and obvious. So it’s not really an argument, it’s just my opinion. I can offer justifying context for said opinion, and you can offer counterpoints. But by this stage it’s not going to change my opinion, and I think we all have better things to do with our time than to bother with it. So this can be considered just FYI. Like I say, because you started it.

      This was so strongly hinted at way back in AGOT that it’s hard to imagine Martin having (had) anything else in mind. (But since it’s now such a big and popular theory, Martin could retcon it, sure. [2]

      And this is where I run into trouble getting out of this without insulting someone. I’m in no way saying that just because I find the Jon Targaryen Theory (or “Thaery”, as we call it), aka. R(haegar)+L(yanna)=J(on) to be hackneyed and dull, doesn’t mean I think that someone who figured it out and likes the idea is in some way inferior. It just means we have different tastes in what we like in a story. This is justification for why I don’t like the idea, not for why the idea is wrong or why anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot.

      Yeah, I figured it out. The tourney rose growing in a wall of ice. The “promise me, Ned.” The difficulty reconciling Robert’s Rhaegar-the-rapist story with pretty much everyone else’s recollections of Rhaegar. All of that. It adds up to a Lost Prince of Destiny trope that just doesn’t grab my *falls asleep mid-sentence*

      Sorry, nodded off. Yeah, mysterious past and possible Lost Prince. Love that storyline.

      Actually, Martin did a lot more with that trope in A Dance with Dragons than he’s done anywhere else in the series, and to excellent effect. One Lost Prince burned alive mid-destiny, another (as far as my fading recollection goes) in Varys’s hands and ready to stand in for Daenerys if needs be. This (as my quote in the blog post says) should be a warning sign to readers that Martin’s not going to hold our hands and let us get away with believing in the Prophecy Santa Claus.

      Shit, wasn’t the Stallion That Will Mount The World enough to convince us of this? Any prophecy can turn out to have been misinterpreted.

      Readers bitched about that whole plotline with the wannabe dragonrider. Mrs. Hatboy and I laughed.

      But yeah, I have my share of problems with the R+L=J Theory. Chief among them being that it doesn’t matter anymore. Jon is sworn to the Night’s Watch. Sure, there’s wriggle-room in the oath for the Wall to come down and all the monsters of the North to be wiped out forever, freeing Jon to be one of the Heads of the Dragon and some sort of comrade to Daenerys, although technically if he was Rhaegar’s son (this applies if he’s a bastard and applies doubly if he was legitimised before Rhaegar’s death) he’d be her rival and have more right to the Iron Throne than she does. So one of them will have to kill the other. Assuming for a moment Jon hasn’t just warged into Snow permanently, or may somehow warg into Drogon or something. A lot of very cool things can happen, but Jon turning out to be Daenerys’s mystery illegitimate half-stepnephew (and I’m not even joking about that connection, for all it sounds like something out of Spaceballs) is beyond surplus to requirements.

      But either way, that’s not going to happen. “Now my watch begins. It will not end until I’m dead.” Jon is out of the race (unless his “death” fulfills that fine-print too and he can now leave, but I think he takes his oath a bit more seriously than that, after so much effort and angst). He’s in a good position to help Melisandre and/or Daenerys to kill the Others, but again – surplus.

      And don’t even get me started on the issues this theory causes with Ned Stark’s character. Leaving aside the completely un-Ned lying and misleading and rumour-harbouring, and probable cover-up murders and all sorts of other shit once you get deeper into what had to have happened at the Tower of Joy and with the various people around Ned in the months leading up to it (Ned needs to have been close with the rumoured mother, and she needs to have been pregnant, in the nine months before Jon’s apparent birth, what happened to those rumoured mothers [there’s at least three different versions] and, more importantly, those babies?) … leaving all that aside, he finds Lyanna in her childbirth bed, promises to look after the boy … and then as soon as he gets a job in the big city, he sends the kid to the Wall?

      This is not a safe place. Even if Ned doesn’t believe his family words or any of the winter myths, the Wall is hideously dangerous. Sending Jon there effectively erases any birthright he ever would have had. The Wall is, at best, a life sentence in a frozen gulag. With no identity or legacy. Benjen Stark seemed to be the only pellet of decency in the whole place, and even he was like “are you out of your Starkin’ mind?” when he heard Jon wanted to go there. This is how Ned keeps his promise to his dying sister? By sending her teenage child to a place that, if he ever leaves, means his execution?

      The first scene in the entire series, indeed, is Ned cutting the heads off some Night’s Watchmen who had really good reasons to run away. If Jon had decided to do the same, forget about Ned failing to keep his promise to Lyanna. He would have been the one swinging the sword.

      But yeah, leaving aside that whole iceberg, of which this was just the tip. I don’t like the idea because it’s boring. Too heavily laid-on, too clichéd, just not interesting. A let-down for an otherwise trope-slapper of a story. And keep in mind, all this said, I am still 95% sure R+L=J. I just don’t have to like it. I’d be happy with the “twist” if R+L=J and Jon dies. That would work.

      [2] Which would be very annoying and a pretty dick move, especially since I picked up on that the first time I read AGOT in the late 90s and I would so love to be right about it! (Yes, it’s all about me and my need for intellectual validation.)

      Well, the important thing is that you admit this self-deprecatingly. It has proven a major stumbling block for many people I have debated with, who seemed more interested in the author fulfilling their expectations (and getting butthurt and shouting when he or she failed) than in the author actually telling his or her story.

      Present company excepted, I’m sure.

      Seriously though, oh boy have I ever argued out the “waah, my pet theory turned out to be wrong, the author must have seen me predicting it and so changed his story just to make me wrong, what a dick” issue. And yes, I phrase this in as ludicrously personal a fashion as possible, quite intentionally.

      This, as you’ve probably noticed, is also where I fail to express my opinion without being offensive. I totally understand the betrayal and disappointment, and I sympathise. If you want to accuse the author of such, that’s fine. There’ll probably be no evidence either way. It was a cool idea and the author let you down.

      Don’t worry about it. 95% certainty I’m going to be the one disappointed here. I just promise I won’t blame the author for changing the story. Although I will probably be sad and scornful. And in the 5% chance I happen to be vindicated in my predictions and my faith in the author and the story, you can be sure I’m not going to have a very high opinion of anyone who says I was only right because the author changed his mind after seeing other readers predicting his plot.

      Guess we’ll see.

      Hope that was everything you hoped for and more, and not offensive directly. I’m really not planning on opening this whole topic again for a while.

      • dreameling says:

        Holy. Mother. Of. Dragons.

        BRB

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, that … got pretty long there, didn’t it.

      • dreameling says:

        Sorry. Had to record my initial response separately. It’s all good, though. I knew you were very much into ASOIAF, and I was peripherally aware of the Usenet group (since you’ve mentioned it here before), but I never realized just how into ASOIAF you were. I totally should’ve. But I never… Screw you, man. Why? Because I’ve traditionally thought of myself as a fairly geeky person and well-versed in geeklore, and I still do to an extent, but, between you and Blanket, you consistently make me feel like a baby geek. Dude, seriously.

        Okay, but you started it. Just remember, discussing these books – at ludicrous length – is a hobby of mine.

        No shit.

        Respect.

        As is probably already apparent, I’ve had this discussion many, many times. I am yet to carry it out, however, without insulting my co-conversationalist, so I’ll try it that way.

        I did not feel insulted, so I’m thinking you succeeded.

        Right. I assume you mean this Night King thing (I’ve only seen the first three episodes but don’t care much about spoilers, in case anyone failed to pick that up from the blog post) that turns a baby into an Other?

        Yes.

        Sure, but we all knew this was basically what happened.

        We did? How?!? Did I actually miss this in the books somewhere? (It’s totally possible, apparently.) Some Old Nan’s tale that covertly explained this? Honestly, that scene in the TV show was a spoiler to me. But if it’s already in the books, and I just missed it, then shame on me.

        The main spoiler in this case, in my opinion (and as you say) is the visual element of it. Now we get to see it, and the specific process of it, before it was described up-close in the books. So if it’s different in the books, it’s going to be a discordance, and if it’s the same in the book, it’s going to be a disappointment because most of us will be unable to unsee that shit. It’ll just be Martin describing something we all already saw on TV.

        Indeed. Personally, I’d rather have the Others look different in the books. Not sure I still quite dig the undead-like appearance of the TV show Others. The mysterious camouflage-armored pale things in the books remain (or at least were) cooler.

        Depressing, no? This I foretell, just call me Mirri Maz Hatboy.

        Extremely. Your prediction seems quite plausible, sadly.

        However, it would certainly be something novel. An original work of in-progress prose fiction that is effectively superseded by its filmic adaptation. We haven’t see that before, have we?

        Oh boy, here we go.

        Yeah. I should’ve totally seen this coming.

        No, I’m not arguing that he’s not (although I have, and the google archives are still there so you knock yourself out if you want to go there[1]). I’m not arguing anything anymore. In fact, I’m 95% sure that he is. And the remaining 5% only exists because this series (unlike the majority of Martin’s work) seems to be going out of its way to buck convention and overturn tropes, predictions and expectations.

        [1] I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you don’t.

        What I am saying, though, is that I think that whole plotline and “twist” is boring, stupid, clichéd and obvious. So it’s not really an argument, it’s just my opinion. I can offer justifying context for said opinion, and you can offer counterpoints. But by this stage it’s not going to change my opinion, and I think we all have better things with our time than to bother with it. So this can be considered just FYI. Like I say, because you started it.

        Here’s the thing. I’m stupidly proud of the fact that I got the hint early on in AGOT, because a) for some reason most people I’ve discussed the Jon Targaryen Theory with totally missed it, and b) I discovered ASOAIF pretty early on (relatively speaking) and knew it was gonna make a huge mark in the fantasy fiction landscape, and the series is ginormous now, so I feel a silly (meaning completely unjustified and laughably egotistic) sense of “ownership”. “I called it first, bitches!”

        Beyond occasionally wondering what the point of the Jon Targaryen twist would be and how it would actually play out, I don’t think I’ve ever really considered how interesting or important it is. I just like that I caught it. Makes me feel smart. (The sweet irony of missing the Night King revelation in the books, if it’s indeed there already and was therefore not spoiled by the TV show, is not lost on me, man. Indeed, between you and Blanket making me a baby geek, and Aaron’s math problem I failed the other week (while my wife aced it) and now this ASOIAF stuff, I am not feeling particularly smart or knowledgeable right now. Need to find dumb people to interact with.)

        I don’t object to the Lost Prince of Destiny trope in principle, but I’m probably leaning towards your position of not caring all that much, all things considered. Jon Targaryen intrigued me in AGOT, but Martin hasn’t really done anything with it since then, so it’s kinda meh right now. (Hah. Seems I called it “a central epistemological gap in the narrative” in my master’s thesis, which is publicly available in HELDA, so it’s on record for all time. Sweet.)

        I still wanna see what Martin does with it, though.

        But yeah, I have my share of problems with the R+L=J Theory. Chief among them being that it doesn’t matter anymore.

        Unless Martin manages to pull off some incredibly ingenious twist to end all twists. I guess we’ll see.

        And don’t even get me started on the issues this theory causes with Ned Stark’s character.

        I always thought it made perfect sense precisely because Ned is not the kind of person who would cheat his wife or even betrothed. Then again, that was pretty much my only parameter for explaining Ned’s role in the theory. But you make some really good points against paremeters I’ve never even thought about. (I’m not gonna reply to them now, since I’d pretty much have to reread the entire series first. Plus and also, you’ve clearly made these points enough times already for your liking. Like you said, FYI.)

        It has proven a major stumbling block for many people I have debated with, who seemed more interested in the author fulfilling their expectations (and getting butthurt and shouting when he or she failed) than in the author actually telling his or her story.

        Present company excepted, I’m sure.

        No, there’s definitely a little bit of that in my readerly relationship with Martin as well. No point in denying it. But, in the final analysis, Martin is not my bitch, he’s nobody’s bitch, no author is, so it’s all good. (I really should start properly writing my own stuff, so I wouldn’t have to feel possessive of other people’s stuff sometimes. I’m thinking the “waah, my pet theory turned out to be wrong” type of butthurt responses are more common with fannish wanna-be-writers than regular audiences who just want to be entertained.)

        For the record, though, I don’t think I’m quite as excited about the series these days as I was early on, mainly because the series has been dragging along for so long and I’ve read so much other good and even better stuff in the mean time. (No, this is totally not a hipster thing where I’m no longer into Martin because he’s now popular and cool. I’m still very much into Martin. His among the best of modern fantasy. ADWD was one of the better reads for me last year.)

        Hope that was everything you hoped for and more, and not offensive directly. I’m really not planning on opening this whole topic again for a while.

        ‘Twas a really good read. Kinda actually makes me want to start ASOIAF from the beginning.

      • stchucky says:

        I totally should’ve. But I never… Screw you, man. Why? Because I’ve traditionally thought of myself as a fairly geeky person and well-versed in geeklore, and I still do to an extent, but, between you and Blanket, you consistently make me feel like a baby geek. Dude, seriously.

        Sorry about that. Like I said, it has never really been my intent to make people feel this way. And I’m not that über a nerd. Just … yeah, this is my hobby. I met Mrs. Hatboy on a usenet newsgroup.

        I did not feel insulted, so I’m thinking you succeeded.

        Excellent!

        We did? How?!? Did I actually miss this in the books somewhere? (It’s totally possible, apparently.) Some Old Nan’s tale that covertly explained this? Honestly, that scene in the TV show was a spoiler to me. But if it’s already in the books, and I just missed it, then shame on me.

        To be honest, since I came so late to the series (well, late ’90s and early ’00s), this may have just been theorised to death. But the basic idea was that Craster had a deal with the Others. He sacrificed his boy children to them, and kept the girls. The boy children, it was generally understood, became Others. There’d be no point turning them into wights, and if the Others were eating them it wouldn’t exactly sustain many of them.

        But like I said, it was never really seen in the books, so the TV show is a spoiler in that sense.

        And yeah, I agree that the sparkly-crystalline-pretty Other-look was more what I had in mind. And I can still separate that out when I read the books (as long as Martin doesn’t double-back and start using TV descriptions), so that’s cool.

        However, it would certainly be something novel. An original work of in-progress prose fiction that is effectively superseded by its filmic adaptation. We haven’t see that before, have we?

        Absolutely. Will be very interesting. As my esteemed colleague Brkn here says, this is all going to come to a head in the next few episodes of the TV show.

        Here’s the thing. I’m stupidly proud of the fact that I got the hint early on in AGOT, because a) for some reason most people I’ve discussed the Jon Targaryen Theory with totally missed it, and b) I discovered ASOAIF pretty early on (relatively speaking) and knew it was gonna make a huge mark in the fantasy fiction landscape, and the series is ginormous now, so I feel a silly (meaning completely unjustified and laughably egotistic) sense of “ownership”. “I called it first, bitches!”

        Well, exactly. You liked it before it was cool. I can dig.

        I came well ahead of the TV show, but ASoIaF was still pretty big when I jumped on the bandwagon. The GRRM newsgroup branched off from Robert Jordan’s (in the same way that Jordan branched off from rec.arts.sf.written back in the day) when there was just too much tangential discussion of his stuff, so it needed a place of its own.

        I went along to keep the group going, even though I hadn’t read the books. I agreed to make dumb posts and jokes and comments and start arguments, but I quickly realised that this wasn’t necessary, and it would be much more useful for me to read the books.

        Those CHOWs are really good. Pity the full concordance, and other wikis, are probably lost by now.

        Jon Targaryen intrigued me in AGOT, but Martin hasn’t really done anything with it since then, so it’s kinda meh right now.

        Exactly, but by the way – respect for figuring it out in book one. I guess I was unimpressed right from the start about the “mysterious parentage” thing, so I was against it in that way. But a lot of the clues came later on.

        And Martin was dropping false leads and all sorts of shit (like the Lord of Sweetsister’s anecdote) right through.

        All in all though, I think your point above is dead on. It might have mattered back when everyone involved was alive. With every book, the number of people to whom Jon’s lineage is even remotely relevant just dwindles away. Not least of which is Jon himself. But Daenerys might care, and the Baratheon-Lannisters might care, but I don’t know. It’s a short list.

        Unless Martin manages to pull off some incredibly ingenious twist to end all twists. I guess we’ll see.

        Again, quite agreed.

        (I’m not gonna reply to them now, since I’d pretty much have to reread the entire series first. Plus and also, you’ve clearly made these points enough times already for your liking. Like you said, FYI.)

        And again, very good call.

        For the record, though, I don’t think I’m quite as excited about the series these days as I was early on, mainly because the series has been dragging along for so long and I’ve read so much other good and even better stuff in the mean time. (No, this is totally not a hipster thing where I’m no longer into Martin because he’s now popular and cool. I’m still very much into Martin. His among the best of modern fantasy. ADWD was one of the better reads for me last year.)

        I concur. I’ll always remember ADwD as “the one I read in hospital after my surgery in 2011”. And I will buy the next book as soon as it comes out, and race Mrs. Hatboy to get it read (we used to sit together and read Jordan’s books simultaneously, but she’s a faster reader than I am so now we just have separate bookmarks [or she conspires to hospitalise me so she can read in peace]). I still like it, despite the jaded depression of the reader-fanbase and the pesky bandwagoneering of the TV-fanbase.

        Like you say, this is a new and unique issue for a massive high fantasy series.

        And – with the dubious exception of the Lord of the Rings films – one of the few cases where I actually share a story like this with my parents. Who literally have no clue about fantasy. My dad keeps complaining when the wights and dragons and witchcraft come in. I tell him to go and watch The Tudors instead.

      • dreameling says:

        Sorry about that. Like I said, it has never really been my intent to make people feel this way.

        I meant it in the best possible and bro-loving way. There’s always a bigger fish, and it’s good to be occasionally reminded about that fact.

        And I’m not that über a nerd.

        For some reason, that reminds me of a mutual friend of ours insisting that he’s “not really a hardcore gamer”. 🙂

        Nothing wrong with being an über nerd over one or two or a few things.

        To be honest, since I came so late to the series (well, late ’90s and early ’00s), this may have just been theorised to death. But the basic idea was that Craster had a deal with the Others. He sacrificed his boy children to them, and kept the girls. The boy children, it was generally understood, became Others. There’d be no point turning them into wights, and if the Others were eating them it wouldn’t exactly sustain many of them.

        Oh, I totally missed that in the books. Sure, I wondered what the Others were doing with the male babies, but I never got that.

        If you started reading the books in the late 90s, then you’ve been reading them about as long as I have (I think I read the first one in 1998 or 1999, it was published in 1996). I consider the late 90s early. I was never on Usenet, nor did I follow any genre blogs or have any fandom access back then, but it seems to me the books became a big thing within genre fiction by about 2000, their impact on other fantasy writers started to surface in the early 2000s (more and more dark and grim and gritty stuff), and then the series really truly exploded into the mainstream with HBO in 2011. Again, late 90s is really early. Since we’re counting.

        Well, exactly. You liked it before it was cool. I can dig.

        Why is it that something like that can make a person stupidly proud of themselves? Seems silly.

        All in all though, I think your point above is dead on. It might have mattered back when everyone involved was alive. With every book, the number of people to whom Jon’s lineage is even remotely relevant just dwindles away. Not least of which is Jon himself. But Daenerys might care, and the Baratheon-Lannisters might care, but I don’t know. It’s a short list.

        To be fair, I think that was originally your point, but I’m happy to take credit for it. (To me the Jon Targaryen thread is a bit meh right now mostly because Martin hasn’t advanced it for ages.) Anyways, considering that so many of those involved or interested in Jon’s lineage are now dead, it does seem like a Jon Targaryen would have little in-story impact and the twist would therefore seem to be narratively meaningless. However, does it really matter who knows or does not know if there’s some sort of magical or fantastical Targaryen blood element to it, if it’s not just about who inherits or is entitled to what?

        (we used to sit together and read Jordan’s books simultaneously, but she’s a faster reader than I am so now we just have separate bookmarks [or she conspires to hospitalise me so she can read in peace])

        Impressive. I could not imagine reading anything in tandem. Reading is such a private and personal activity that another person reading the same physical page at the same time would just be stressful distraction. Even if that other person was my wife. (Plus she’s also a faster reader than me anyways.)

        I still like it, despite the jaded depression of the reader-fanbase and the pesky bandwagoneering of the TV-fanbase.

        Me too. Could Martin have cut out stuff? Sure. Would AFFC and ADWD work better if split chronologically rather by location and character? Maybe. But I still like both. (ADWD was the better one, though, since Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys are the most interesting storylines for me.)

        And – with the dubious exception of the Lord of the Rings films – one of the few cases where I actually share a story like this with my parents. Who literally have no clue about fantasy. My dad keeps complaining when the wights and dragons and witchcraft come in. I tell him to go and watch The Tudors instead.

        Impressive. My parents follow absolutely nothing even remotely related to genre fantasy. They’ve never understood that stuff. “It’s not real.” Well, neither is James Bond or Scarlett O’Hara, but I guess it doesn’t matter if the story is set on Earth (past or present). Pfft.

      • stchucky says:

        And I’m not that über a nerd.

        For some reason, that reminds me of a mutual friend of ours insisting that he’s “not really a hardcore gamer”. 🙂

        Ohh, zing.

        If you started reading the books in the late 90s, then you’ve been reading them about as long as I have (I think I read the first one in 1998 or 1999, it was published in 1996). I consider the late 90s early.

        Yeah, in that case I’ll have to go with early ’00s. I was well and truly here in Finland by that time, but we still got online with a dial-up modem, downloaded our messages, disconnected (so others could use the phone) to type up answers, and then dialled back in to post our responses. So it would have been early ’00s, yeah.

        And I was hitting Usenet through Google groups as of some of my early projects at our delightful mutual employer, and that’s when I remember most of the big GRRM arguments to have taken place for me. So 2005-2009, I’d say was alt.fan.grrm’s heyday. Of course, I’d well and truly read the books by then.

        However, does it really matter who knows or does not know if there’s some sort of magical or fantastical Targaryen blood element to it, if it’s not just about who inherits or is entitled to what?

        Exactly. There was some idea that the blood would be needed in order for Jon to ride one of the dragons (the favoured fan theory being that there will be three characters to ride a dragon each, Daenerys on one and probably Jon on the second). But then, fan favourite for the third head was Tyrion, ever since he mooned over dragon stories and the skulls, and his story-arc led him inevitably to Daenerys … but unless Tywin gets his wish (posthumously, natch) and Tyrion really was the illegitimate spawn of Joanna and, oh I don’t know let’s say Maester Aemon just for laughs, there’s no Targaryen blood there.

        Impressive. My parents follow absolutely nothing even remotely related to genre fantasy. They’ve never understood that stuff. “It’s not real.” Well, neither is James Bond or Scarlett O’Hara, but I guess it doesn’t matter if the story is set on Earth (past or present). Pfft.

        I know, right? My dad sneers and snoots as soon as dragons show up.

        “This is a fantasy story, dad, not a history channel re-enactment. It’s like Lord of the Rings.”
        “There wasn’t any dragons or magic in Lord of the Rings.”
        “Oh come on, seriously?”

        No, he really did say that. But my dad has such a deep and abiding love of the New Zealand countryside, it’s entirely likely he sees literally nothing else in those films.

      • dreameling says:

        Exactly. There was some idea that the blood would be needed in order for Jon to ride one of the dragons (the favoured fan theory being that there will be three characters to ride a dragon each, Daenerys on one and probably Jon on the second). But then, fan favourite for the third head was Tyrion, ever since he mooned over dragon stories and the skulls, and his story-arc led him inevitably to Daenerys … but unless Tywin gets his wish (posthumously, natch) and Tyrion really was the illegitimate spawn of Joanna and, oh I don’t know let’s say Maester Aemon just for laughs, there’s no Targaryen blood there.

        The three-headed dragon stuff is starting to come back to me (with some help from Google). Yeah, the Tyrion speculations I kinda remember, and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him as the third head. It would just be so appropriate for the character, from a sympathetic reader’s perspective. But, indeed, no Targaryen blood in sight, and it’s more likely Martin’s gonna kick the poor guy in the nuts some more rather than grant him any kind of vindication or victory.

        I know, right?

        Indeed. Parents, man.

        I wonder how obsolete and rigid we will seem to our 30-something children?

        “This is a fantasy story, dad, not a history channel re-enactment. It’s like Lord of the Rings.”
        “There wasn’t any dragons or magic in Lord of the Rings.”
        “Oh come on, seriously?”

        At least you got to experience an exchange like that. 🙂

        But my dad has such a deep and abiding love of the New Zealand countryside, it’s entirely likely he sees literally nothing else in those films.

        And here I thought that Aussies and Kiwis were like Americans and Canadians, or Swedes and Finns. Another ethnic stereotype destroyed!

      • stchucky says:

        *facepalm*

        I somehow managed to reply to your comment by editing your existing comment, so now all that’s left is the stuff I was replying to. Shit man, I’m really sorry. And now WordPress won’t let me into the editing history to see if I can get the original comment back. Let me have a dig in my Gmail.

        Yeesh. Okay, fixed from the notification e-mail.

      • stchucky says:

        I wonder how obsolete and rigid we will seem to our 30-something children?

        As I like to philosophise, as long as humanity is still improving, we’ll look quite-to-extremely obsolete and rigid.

        And here I thought that Aussies and Kiwis were like Americans and Canadians, or Swedes and Finns. Another ethnic stereotype destroyed!

        Oh, most of them are. My dad’s just a freak. Loves the place.

      • dreameling says:

        LOL

        Man, I wish I had a nice meme pic handy.

        (You know, this is probably the first time ever in my online discussion history that a post / message / reply of mine has been moderated like that, unwittingly or otherwise. I feel so violated! And honored.)

        Oh, most of them are. My dad’s just a freak. Loves the place.

        Them. Interesting.

        You’re in a very confusing and precarious position, it seems. You’re an Aussie, yet you do not live in Australia. You live in Finland, yet you’re not natively Finnish. Sir, where exactly do you stand in relation to these crucial, national-identity-defining sibling rivalries, hmmm?

      • stchucky says:

        (You know, this is probably the first time ever in my online discussion history that a post / message / reply of mine has been moderated like that, unwittingly or otherwise. I feel so violated! And honored.)

        I don’t even know how it could have happened by accident, I would have had to click “edit” instead of “reply” (admittedly the links are close together), then somehow delete the whole text and then add back in the blockquoted stuff I wanted to reply to. I guess I must have done that, ctrl+a and delete and then paste back in from the … where? When you hit “edit”, the existing post vanishes into the editing window. That’s what “edit” means! It’s not like “reply”, where the post you’re replying to stays there for you to copy-paste from.

        It just makes no sense.

        Oh, most of them are. My dad’s just a freak. Loves the place.

        Them. Interesting.

        You’re in a very confusing and precarious position, it seems. You’re an Aussie, yet you do not live in Australia. You live in Finland, yet you’re not natively Finnish. Sir, where exactly do you stand in relation to these crucial, national-identity-defining sibling rivalries, hmmm?

        I have nothing against Australia. Some of my best friends are Australian.

        Long story short, Australia is where a lot of my favourite people happen to be from and it’s a nice enough place, but I don’t want to go back there and I don’t like where its policies and general cultural trends are leading it. But it’s difficult not to follow the USA when you’ve accidentally got your cock zipped up in the USA’s fly. And, uh, the USA is walking backwards. And … stay with me, just keep that visual in your head…

      • dreameling says:

        I have nothing against Australia. Some of my best friends are Australian.

        Long story short, Australia is where a lot of my favourite people happen to be from and it’s a nice enough place, but I don’t want to go back there and I don’t like where its policies and general cultural trends are leading it. But it’s difficult not to follow the USA when you’ve accidentally got your cock zipped up in the USA’s fly. And, uh, the USA is walking backwards. And … stay with me, just keep that visual in your head…

        Actually, I was not-at-all-seriously feeling out your alignment along the Aussie vs. Kiwi, Swede vs. Finn rivalry axes, but the above works too.

        Thanks for the mental image, btw.

      • stchucky says:

        Meh. None of my best friends or family are New Zealanders. And living there for a year in 1991 wasn’t much fun.

  3. Brkn Wntr says:

    I have never tried to read the comments section of a blog and had it crash my phone before, Jesus.

    More to follow when I can get to a full size computer and my excel sheet plotline graphs.

  4. How in the world did I miss this blog entry? I save your connected story ones for when I’m less busy, but I always read the individual ones like this, that stand alone! Hmm.

    Was that hardcore gamer zing about me? LOL

    Interesting discussion to which I, largely, have nothing to add. However, I’m surprised this bit of information didn’t filter its way to you: the TV series is now progressing at 1/2 book per season. You can see this for the past 3 seasons, book 1 was season 1, but now after season 4 we are only halfway through book 3. So, he’s got almost as long to write the next book as he’s taken already. And that will buy him *2* more years at least.

    I think he’s gonna be all right. In fact, with the expansiveness of the plots and characters in the later books, they could easily turn it into 3 seasons per book if they wanted to.

    I’m not worried about the material running out. And I don’t think they’ve diverged THAT much. I still know everything, just about, that’s going to happen before it does happen. You must be speaking of really narrow events.

    -Aaron

    • stchucky says:

      Interesting stuff. I haven’t finished watching season 4 yet, but I understand it takes in the trial, the Clegane/Martell duel, and Tyrion’s escape from prison (although that hasn’t aired yet?). That was pretty much the closing act of book 3, wasn’t it?

      Or was it just that nothing that happened after that was important because that was such an amazing scene?

      But you’re right, there is a lot of extra material to fill out episodes, without making them too boring (I hope). It’s just that in some cases, that extra material has started showing us stuff that hadn’t appeared in the books yet.

      • Awesome, we appear to be both right. I have been confused about the plot of book 3, thinking the duel was in the middle (and zombie Cat at the end), but both are at/near the end. HOWEVER, the red wedding etc. from season 3 of the TV show is ALSO from book 3. So yes, we’re done with book 3 now, but also yes, it’s 1/2 book per season now. Starting with season 3 they switched to this.

        So Martin has 1 less year than I said previously, but still a fair bit of time. Assuming he gets off his duff.

      • stchucky says:

        Nice! This actually gives me a little more optimism than I had. I think the books vs. the TV show will still run into trouble, but at least we may be able to cling onto our vast booky smugness a little while longer.

        Of course, this is all for naught if Martin doesn’t write a new book for another five years.

  5. dreameling says:

    Was that hardcore gamer zing about me? LOL

    Sir, you’re welcome. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Stoneheart | Hatboy's Hatstand

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