Dempsie interviewed in Liverpool Echo

One of the newest cast members, Joe Dempsie, was recently interviewed by the Liverpool Echo. In the interview he talks quite a bit about Game of Thrones, in addition to Skins and his ties to Liverpool. Here is an excerpt:

Joe, who still has family living in Crosby and south Liverpool, admitted to being nervous. He said: “The fans are rabid waiting for this and they know exactly how they want their characters to look. Gendry is described as being tall and muscled, with thick black hair. I am hoping I can live up to two of those because I am only 5ft 8in! I am not really a gym person, but this has certainly got me going more often.”

Joe … will also star with The Wire’s Aiden Gilen and 300’s Lena Heady. He said: “I hope to learn a lot from them, not only in acting terms but in how to act off camera. I am also looking forward to being part of something which is already so popular and so many people love.”

Also, The Liverpool Echo reporter, Gary Stewart, is a fan of the books and a WiC reader. He contacted me with some additional info that he wasn’t able to put into his article, but that might be of interest to Game of Thrones fans.

  • Joe seemed really nice but admitted he hadn’t read the books. He said he just started reading AGOT but said fantasy wasn’t really his thing (even though he’d been in Merlin).
  • Having said that he is looking forward to the series as HBO don’t make bad TV.
  • He said he originally went for the role of Jon Snow last year but didn’t get it and was asked back to try out for Gendry.
  • He said his audition for the role was the scene were he’s talking to Arya about getting rid of dead wood (Hot Pie I think?) and he described Gendry as ‘not sophisticated but also not stupid’.
  • He got his scripts in mid-August and he only has scripts were he has lines.
  • He’s due to start filming in mid September.
  • He also said he has previously met Lena Headey when he spent a month in LA last year and said she and her husband were really nice to him.

Winter Is Coming: A big thank you to Gary for providing us with the additional info! Some good stuff and another little piece of the filming puzzle. It’s also nice to see some of the new cast members getting some press. Dempsie sounds like he’s got a good idea of the character, despite not having read the books yet. I’d be interested to hear what he thinks of the book, if he finishes it, because I’ve known lots of people who aren’t necessarily into fantasy that still fall in love with the series.


  • Well, that is more than interesting.
    Thank you WiC and Gary :)

    I am just wondering how many of the actors cast for the S1, have auditioned for the main pilot roles?

    As far as I recall: Conan Stevens (Drogo), Eugene Simon (Joff) and now Dempsie (Jon Snow).
    IMHO, there are more, but we do not know it.

  • I have to admit I’m glad he was not cast as Jon. I wouldn’t be able to see him in the role. But it’s always nice to have the cast talk about GoT and be excited about working on it.

  • Annika,

    For me, it’s much cooler that various members of the media are fans of the books. It means the show will get a fair shake (at least from them) and won’t be shoved aside as simple “fantasy” fare.

    If they end up panning it, it’ll be on the merit (or lack thereof) of the show itself, not from anything preconceived.

    Great post, Roar! And thanks, Gary!

  • About Yea High,

    Oh, I definitely agree! But for me it’s always disappointing to hear when cast members are lackluster towards the projects they’re in, especially when I’m really excited for them myself. It’s the worst when cast members badmouth projects.

    But all the media coverage and excitement from members of the media is fantastic. Each news bit has me even more stoked for the show. :)

  • I like his honesty about the source material (not his cup of tea) but I always prefer honesty to waffle and fluff.

    Nice to get some background on this Guy as I haven’t watched Skins or Merlin

    Thanks WiC, HMR and of Course Gary!

  • Actually, it’s BETTER if someone haven’t read the books yet. If you have a vision in your mind and script goes in other direction then you can’t pull it off and eventually it turns into crap. It’s all about script, baby.

  • I know where he’s coming from. I don’t read much fantasy either. As I’m reading reviews of ASoIaF on, for example, so many people note how even the so-called “good fantasy” is full of archetypal characters where none of the good guys die, or if they do, they can be revived through magic. The way Beric and Thoros turn that convention on its ear is pretty satisfying.

    I would get *so* bored reading those kinds of tales. I was drawn to the realism and grit of this series. HBO’s decision to greenlight a pilot (knowing the sorts of characters their past shows have been populated with) and the advice of a surprisingly high number of friends about how good they were is what got me reading.

    Though, now that he knows and appreciates Martin’s world, I do hope he eventually gets round to the books.

  • I like that he’s not full of shit (or at least, he doesn’t seem to be). Haha. I could kind of see him as Jon, actually, though I’m sure he’ll do a great job as Gendry.

  • Hehe confession time. I’ve only read one or two other fantasy books when I was very young, before dropping them as I found them very shallow and ‘feel-good’-y. It took another fifteen years to read another, and you guessed it, it was AGoT. What attracted me was the idea of ‘imaginary Middle Ages’ and the promise of grittiness and realism. Now, as a History doctoral student, I do not exactly find ASOIAF altogether realistic, but I keep in mind it is imaginary history and it works quite well in resembling reality.

    Will I read another fantasy book after ASOIAF? I doubt it, unless the genre gets its act together and becomes more realistic. I don’t mind imagination – I’m a big fan of fantastical books like Lovecraft, Borges or Meyrink, but somehow as wild as their imagination gets it never loses a grip with reality (which most fantasy books unfortunately do).

    As for poor Dempsie, I hope people will be merciful with him. I remember many not liking him for not looking buff enough, now with his confession of not having read the books (yet) the poor guy may get massacred. Are we ready for another ‘how dare he not have read the books?’ outcry.

  • Crystal Sky,

    You might try some of Tad Williams’s stuff. I actually read him before GRRM, and I heard that it was reading one of Tad’s series that convinced Martin that one could write more realistic, adult fantasy.

  • Steve Westenra: You might try some of Tad Williams’s stuff. I actually read him before GRRM, and I heard that it was reading one of Tad’s series that convinced Martin that one could write more realistic, adult fantasy.

    I’m not so sure about that actually :\ I read the first book of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, and except a few pretty excellent parts, I didn’t find it very original or realistic at all. Especially the characters came off as being overwritten. For the first 100 or so pages I actually felt almost like I was reading a David Eddings book; and that’s probably not a good thing :P

  • Actually, I believe the deadwood includes all three of them – Lommy, Hot Pie, and Weasel (the little girl). I’d love to see the reading he gave…

  • I wasn’t sure about Joe when I first read he had been cast, but I try to keep an open mind about cast members until I’ve seen them act. I’ve never seen Skins, but I did watch a few clips from Merlin and I thought Joe did a great job. Even though he’s not what I had always imagined for Gendry, I think he can do a fine job in the role. I think it’s funny that, so far, there have been several cast members that have noted the “rabid fan base” = D I think we’re making them nervous…? Hopefully not *too* nervous ~_^

  • K.J Parker has some pretty realistic books though. Abercrombie has realistic violence, but magic is definitely there. Maybe you should give Sci-Fi a try (without the freaky aliens ^^) Stephenson’s “Anathem” (pretty intricate) or “The Entire and the Rose” by Kay Kenyon (very realistic characters). I liked “Pump Six and Other Stories” by Paolo Bacigalupi, but I’m not sure if that’s the place to start really; although his vision for the future seemed scary real while I read it.

  • …I’ve known lots of people who aren’t necessarily into fantasy that still fall in love with the series.
    Exactly my thoughts. Genre preferences are a shortcut to choose a higher percentage of books which you will turn out to like, but not a predictor. Heuristic, not equation.

    @Zack: The Heroic Sacrifice is a pretty archetypal narrative event :P

  • Wow! Nice article and extra info! And quite a good interview too.

    Something tells me he’s been reading WiC…

    One bit particularly caught my attention

    But that will change from next year when he takes on the role of Gendry, a young blacksmith who could unite or destroy the fictional “seven kingdoms”.

    it’s a bit spoilerish, but it might give hope to Dempsie’s fans that despite his very small part in season 1, he will become more important later.

    Anyway, I like his take on the project, the fans anticipation, his role… even the fact that he’s trying to read the book despite his personal aversion towards the genre.

    and good to hear he’s trying to muscle up! :)

    BTW, this website was brought up last week and has a video of his performance on Merlin, for those who are interested.

  • Those looking for other good “adult” fantasy should check out R. Scott Bakker’s The Prince of Nothing. The only series I’d put on equal standing with ASOIAF at the moment in terms of quality, and it certainly pulls no punches.

  • blood,

    I have to disagree with that. The Prince of Nothing is pretty gritty, true, and the world is very complex and original, but I don’t think the characters even approach the quality of ASOIAF’s characters. Kellhus in particular I found to be unbelievably overpowered and one-dimensional, and Esme I found to be the stereotypical ‘hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold.’ The sorceror and the barbarian (Cnaius?) (forgive me, but I can’t remember the names – it’s been a while) were the only truly interesting characters in the entire thing.

  • Thank you for the great extra tidbits, Gary.

    I am going to wait and see Joe as Gendry before passing judgment. I’m sure he will do a great job. I do like him better for Gendry than Jon Snow. It’s great the casting directors are calling back actors that tried out for other roles. I bet some of the actresses that tried out for Daenerys will be asked back to read for Margaery in S2.

  • Very interesting…

    I’m glad he was honest about his interest in the material, though I have to say I wish his comment about hitting the gym more seemed a little more enthusiastic… I’m definitely not buying ‘blacksmith’ with his current build, but I’m confident it will work out.

    Also good to know that he only has the script of the scenes where he has lines, the secrecy is definitely a good thing!

  • @Zack: The Heroic Sacrifice is a pretty archetypal narrative event     

    I’m not sure if you are thinking of Ned’s death here, but I felt I had to say this. Perhaps I’m masochistically looking for a bashing today, but I’ve found Ned’s character to be the most unrealistic of ASOIAF thus far. Or perhaps unrealistic is not the right word for it – there may have been nobles out of touch with reality historically, but they wouldn’t have survived for very long (especially in times of strife). What I find unrealistic is that Ned might have lived as long as he did with his lofty ideals, naive short-sightedness and zero political sense.

    That being said, there had to be some good reason for civil war, and what better excuse than the sacrifice of a noble lamb?

  • rtm1981,

    Thanks, I have read some sci-fi stuff, but I was referring specifically to the fantasy genre, which has been long caught in the paradigm of wizards, fairies, princes and warlocks. That may not be a problem per se, because some of Andersen’s fairy tales can be brilliant while still employing fairies and princes. It is more of how the subject is treated – completely escapist.

  • Nymeria,

    I watched the video and was encouraged by it, thanks Nymeria for posting it. Dempsie is better in live action than in still photos, his boyish charm comes through and he has excellent facial bone structure. I think he will do fine as our Gendry. As for trying to read the books, that can be daunting for someone who has other things to do and is not drawn to the genre. If he wants to know more about Westeros and Gendry’s place in it, he might try the audio books and listen when in the car or whenever. Don’t know how Dempsie approaches a role, if he needs a lot of back story or just relies on the script and direction.

    Anyway I am a rabid fan who is willing to give the kid a chance.

  • blood,

    I tried Bakker couldn’t get into it

    if you like GRRM you should try JOE ABERCROMBIE his work isn’t quite as intricate as Martin but its just as much fun…

  • Crystal Sky,

    If you recall, up until he heads south, Ned has spent the majority of his adult life either fighting in a war with those loyal to him or his best friend Robert or North at Winterfell, isolated from most politics and surrounded mostly by those loyal to him and his house. Thus he has not given anyone provocation or motivation in his time in the North to move against him, especially when doing so would be moving against a friend of the king and expending resources in order to reach and breach Winterfell.

    As for his naive short-sightedness and zero political sense, I personally don’t perceive Ned as naive. He is often faced with the option of either making the moral decision or doing what is in his own best interest. He acknowledges many times throughout the book that the decisions he makes are dangerous, and could cost him. Investigating the previous hands death is dangerous, but also pertains to him personally. Many in his particular position would have initially looked into it. Once he sees foul play, he decides rather than letting it go (the politically smart thing) to do the right thing and seek out the murderer, despite the dangers. When deciding weather to confront Cersei, he has the choice of acting in secret and essentially trying to stab her in the back politically or offering her the chance to seek some kind of small redemption or escape from her perceived crimes. He doesn’t do this because he thinks there is no risk to himself or his house by confronting the queen, but because he thinks it is the moral thing to do.

    Also, it is not until he loses favor with the king and drops his office (again because he cannot allow himself to be responsible or endorsing of assassination) that anyone directly moves against him. Ned after giving up his position, orders his house to prepare in secret to leave because he knows what kind of danger he is in. He simply doesn’t get out fast enough.

    The only true naivety I can see in Ned is in not accepting that Robert is no longer the best friend he could once depend upon and remember, which is understandable. If I were to see my best friend I have spent years knowing after being separated for many years, and they had changed into a lesser person I could no longer trust and no longer knew, I would have a hard time accepting it and adjusting as well, especially if I just moved, took a job, and put myself and my family in harms way for this person. Furthermore, one of the main reasons he sacrifices himself because it is his best chance and the most he can do under the given cercumstances to keep the rest of his family safe, a motive many can understand I am sure.

  • Btw, I am not bashing you, I can see how you would form such conclusions. I am simply making my case for Ned, and arguing my perception since he is my favorite character.

  • ogbebaba: blood,
    I tried Bakker couldn’t get into it
    if you like GRRM you should try JOE ABERCROMBIE his work isn’t quite as intricate as Martin but its just as much fun…    

    I’m reading Abercrombie right this minute! Good stuff so far.

    I also love Robin Hobb and Steven Erikson.

  • @WiC, I’m looking at your twitters on the right side of this page, but it seems a certain photo is removed by Paul McAnearney. HBO censorship?

  • I read the whole Scott Bakker trilogy, but was mostly annoyed by it. I really hoped everyone would get killed of at the end, especially Kellhus. That’s probably a bad sign right?

    Now reading Erikson, and Abercrombie is next on the list. I loved Gardens of the Moon, but Deadhouse Gates is pushing my limits with the Chain of Dogs storyline, another Exodus story with no fun characters in it… (just like the Prince of Nothing)

  • The Prince of nothing triology is fantastic! Though not for everyone. The first book of the follow up-triology The Aspect emperor is awesome too.

  • The closest thing I’ve seen to Martin as far as gritty and realistic fantasy is Robin Hobb’s Farseer books. There are a lot of issues, and it oesn’t have a lot of visceral violence, but the characters are all INCREDIBLY flawed, the world is fairly crapsack, and it has that same slow ramp up to magic. The biggest problem here is that the main romance is foolish, and the main villain is HILARIOUSLY stupid. But it’s the closest I’ve seen that’s hit the same pleasure centres.

    For FEMALE Martin fans, I’ve never met a female Martin fan that didn’t enjoy Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey. This one doesn’t have the gritty realism of ASOIAF, and it loves its melodrama, but the characters are flawed and well written, it’s more about politics than quests or battles, the history is a lot of fun, and the magic is intererestingly handled … If what draws you to ASOIAF is the complex politics and big flawed characters, Kushiel is great, if it’s the gritty realism, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.

  • For some reason, I find reading Erikson’s work like trying to wade thigh-deep in thick mud…
    Abercrombie, however, has cynical realism , good knowledge of human nature, and some hilarious moments that are even funnier because they seem out of place.
    It’s just been announced on FB today, that the proofs for his next book are being sent out, so yay for the end of this year …

  • Oh and Tad Williams — my viewpoint on Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, a set that I had a love/hate relationship with, is that Williams was trying to write the most utterly typical fantasy story ever in a literary way. So essentially every single element of Fantasy Classic 101 is present, but it’s written with beautiful narrative and attention to detail and some cunning deconstructions of those tropes along the way.

    I liked the idea in theory, but his devotion to the tropes ended up undermining a lot of the story for me. Not to spoil it, but there was no way that the person who ended up on the throne at the end should have done so if not to obey the most basic and beloved trope of pulp quest fantasy, and that was just one example of how problematic the model ended up.

    I enjoyed the series because nobody writes an awesome metaphor like Tad Williams, and I personally care about the style at least as much as the content, but yes.

  • Yup, Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy is one of my all time favorites.

    Realistic medieval setting, bastard protagonist, and (minor spoilers) something similar to the Stark direwolf bond.

  • Rose,

    I have seen a few ASOIAF fans who dislike the Kushiel books, but they tend to be either:

    A. The ones who hate all the female characters in ASOIAF anyway, or,

    B. The ones who read ASOIAF despite the sex and violence, and the Kushiel books make them clutch their pearls, so to speak.

    However, I agree that they’re great books. The first trilogy, Phedre’s books, are the best, but Imriel’s Trilogy and Moirin’s trilogy-in-progress have quality stories as well.

  • I’d just like to add that gritty doesn’t always equal good (not that anyone on here has said that explicitly but…). A find there’s a lot of stuff out there now that tries to be gritty and realistic, but ultimately fails and ends up looking contrived. I think more than grittiness, it’s the necessity for something to have a sense of realism and continuity within what would otherwise be an unrealistic setting (unrealistic referring to fantastic and sci-fi literature). It’s the same with TV shows; there’s a hell of a lot of crap that gets added nowadays to otherwise intelligent programming that’s stuck in their just to sensationalize it, or to make it seem “adult.” I find the complexity of the ideas behind a book, movie or television show a much better indication of its quality and adult-ness.

  • SJGIM,

    I’m not trying to be moderator, but man, your entire post up there belongs in spoiler text.
    (for some reason twitter sign in isn’t working for me again).

  • SJGIM, thanks for taking the time to write up a thoughtful defense of Ned. A fellow fan and I were talking about this rigidly honor-bound character just last night.

    The whole thing boiled down to this: If he had known the consequences of his choices, would he have acted differently? Answer: No.

  • About other fantasy series:

    Knurk, I understand about Deadhouse Gates. But without spoilers, some characters I grew to see as sympathetic (very much so) include Bult, Coltaine, and Duiker. Special mention for Nil & Nether for being so special. This book ends up being an epic of epic epicness. But the rest of the series drops off in quality after book 3 IMO.

    Rose, why limit your Jacqueline Carey to FEMALE fans? (in all caps even?) I haven’t read Carey’s books, but I know what they’re about. The Kushiel books I do hope to read someday.

    Tad Williams: I read Memory, Sorrow & Thorn at a younger age, and loved them. A fine series, but no, not the same manner of beast as ASOIAF.

    – Alan Moore’s Promethea. Absolutely sublime exploration of myth, magic, and the human spirit.
    – Guy Gavriel Kay, especially Tigana.
    – Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion

  • And how could I forget!!

    Gene Wolfe’s Books of the New Sun. A few fantasy tropes around the edges of a thoroughly original & enthralling vision. Contains a few tips of the hat to Borges and similar fantasists.

  • Great post WiC, and thanks to Gary for the extra tid-bits. I’ve been surfing around youtube watching Dempsie’s clips and interviews, and I’m starting to like this guy. “Not sophisticated but not stupid” is right on the money.

    A friend had been trying to get me to read the Kushiel’s books, but I’m hesitant. Mostly because she won’t read Asoiaf.

  • Lex,

    When I read The Blade Itself, I actually got chills when the Bloody Nine first puts in an appearance. Never happened before from reading a book.

  • blackear: Lex,
    When I read The Blade Itself, I actually got chills when the Bloody Nine first puts in an appearance. Never happened before from reading a book.    

    I’m only 100 pages in, but I’ve really liked Logen from page 1.

    As for Tad Williams’ “Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn” series… it feels a bit dated, and I enjoyed it when I was younger (before reading some darker/grittier stuff)… but the cool thing about it is that it was one of GRRM’s main inspirations for ASOIAF. There are even two characters briefly named in ASOIAF that are a direct homage to MS&T (Josua and Elias).

  • Fixed some people’s comments. Remember to use the spoiler tags, folks. And don’t forget to preview your comment before posting!

  • Ned could survive a long time with his political “naivety” because of his setting. He was lord of a region that his family had ruled for thousands of years. That, combined with his reputation as a good and honest man, made him essentially an unquestioned leader. You don’t have to have any talent for scheming if no one is seriously trying to unseat you. The only potential threat was a rebel lord raising an army against him, which he could just deal with militarily thanks to his strong leadership position among his other people.

    P.S. Lover Bakker

  • pualo,

    I think speaking about Ned in past tense is even a spoiler, but that’s me. But hey, we even have poster who’s name is Lord Ned’s Head.

  • I’ve posted the opinion before, that fiction works when it strikes true to the way the world works. Sci-fi often gets into the physics of it, describing worlds that help explain ours through their differences and exaggerations. Fantasy, where magic is involved, derails itself. But Fantasy can still drive to the heart of people, and the social fabric of a world is just as important to understanding how our world works. GRRM has such great insight into people and their motivations, and that’s why I love it. Tad Williams and Robin Hobb can’t touch him imho. If you want to feel for characters as much as you do with GRRM, I’d suggest reading The Rigante or Troy series by the dear departed David Gemmell. His worlds are less realised, but that’s not the point. He can paint a character in a few sentences. It’s like the difference between the epic TV series I always saw in my head reading GRRM, and the rivetting campfire stories I feel I’m hearing when I read Gemmell. My 2 cents worth. Open fire.

  • dizzy_34,

    Sorry about that. I pressed send on the second comment and then cringed as I realized I hadn’t spoilered and couldn’t edit my post.

    Thank you. Like I said, he is one of my favorite characters. I honestly thought up until the point that he was actually beheaded that he was supposed to be the main protagonist, and that was my initial selling point of the series to other readers how this honor bound character was faced with a manipulating court of intrigue with lots of morally gray characters etc… I was all ready for the focus to shift to the wall and the Others become the main antagonists when he was banished to the wall, making it more of a medieval horror series. The story turned out to have even better twists and turns than I expected, but that was the initial direction I expected it to go.

  • @Crystal Sky:

    I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular; I was replying to Zack’s comment, whose phrasing appeared to conflate two disparate trope-groups (intentionally or unintentionally). As always, my own stance with regard to archetypes and narrative traditions is that the primary consideration is the execution, not the fact of archetypicality.

  • Will a 5’8” actor be able to pass for Gendry?

    Gendry as teenager is already a large man, clearly similar to the young Robert (who Ned remembers as Godlike). Brienne mistakes Gendry for Renly, who may not have been as large as Robert but is not so small (Loras is too small to fit in Renly’s armour).

  • SJGIM:

    I agree that Ned was apparently not challenged as a ruler in the North, and I’m assuming it has something to do with his military capacity, which is described positively in the books. We see Robb being challenged by Greatjon because he has not earned the trust of his vassals as a military leader yet. Apparently in the North the quality of leadership was primarily measured in military strategy rather than politics.

    My comments about Ned were based on his behaviour toward the end of AGoT. I understand that his honour pushed him toward offering Cersei a chance to flee. But here is where he is losing me. It was fairly obvious that someone with such high stakes as Cersei (e.g. his son next in line to be king, the prospect of being hunted for the rest of her life, the entire Lannister clan behind her etc) would not run so easily. Here Ned underestimates her badly, which shows that he is a rather poor judge of character. Telling someone I know all your dark secrets and letting him loose is dangerous and naive, especially since he knew very well that she had plotted to murder Jon Arryn for the same reason. So she was not one to go down without a fight! Ned should have spent a bit of time thinking about other possible consequences than that of Cersei obeying his command: wouldn’t threatening a person of such power cause that person to react and threaten his own kin? wouldn’t he force her to take drastic measures? If anything, he should have thought about the consequences of his own actions on his own family, and Robert as well. Then he gets another chance to strike, when dying Robert names him Regent – but again he acts belatedly, mainly pushed by Littlefinger (who betrays him because he finds Ned too inflexible). Finally, I generally think Ned is rather blinded by his concept of honour. I understand he feels the need to tell Robert the truth, but this is a volatile country where peace is not easily kept, and the Lannisters are a powerful and threatening clan. If he chose to close his eyes, wouldn’t that have preserved the peace in the realm? And shouldn’t he have thought of the thousands of innocent people that would die just because he felt compelled to tell Robert Joffrey was not his son? I think he’s facing the typical conundrum: should I do something right by me or right by other innocents around me? I’m just afraid he didn’t even think about consequences though. His PoVs don’t suggest it. It was only at the end that he got some sense and thought of his daughters, but it was too late.

    Sorry for the length of the black. I suppose such analyses belong in a spoiler discussion forum…

  • Phoenix_torn: A friend had been trying to get me to read the Kushiel’s books, but I’m hesitant.Mostly because she won’t read Asoiaf.    

    I strongly recommend that you splurge and get them in audiobook form. The reader is so incredible that it doubles the experience of consuming this amazing trilogy.

  • Lior: Will a 5’8” actor be able to pass for Gendry?    

    I just don’t think it really matters. Sure, he’s depicted as being thick and muscular in the books, but I’m just unconvinced that somehow I’m not going to buy in to his characters motivations and emotions because he’s 20 pounds too light.

  • The Prince of Nothing is pretty different in style to ASOIAF and definitely a harder read so I can see how there are people who don’t like it. GRRMs writing is more approachable and instantly engaging whereas Bakker goes of on philosophical tangents and his characters are, while no less complex, not as interesting in an immediate and obvious way. To me though that does not make Bakker less good overall, just different. It does highlight GRRMs mastery of his craft.

    I also like Steven Erikson a lot. Deadhouse Gates is a good book but not easy to follow on the first read. Best book in the Malazan series IMO is Memories of Ice.

  • Nymeria: this website was brought up last week and has a video of his performance on Merlin, for those who are interested.    

    I took a look at that video and found it very reassuring. He “films” better than he “photographs” if that makes sense.

  • As for Joe’s not being that tall, it’s HBO and there are tons of tricks to make Gendry look taller. They can play with camera angles and give him boots that would add a few inches to his height.

  • Yup, given that Mark Addy isn’t tall, Joe isn’t tall, and Renly isn’t tall, I’m gonna make the guess that “Baratheons are tall” is gonna end up a non starter.

    Now, on the book recommendations. My standards are The Black Company by Glen Cook, all 4 compilations of the 10 books, and The Complete Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny, which is also a compilation of 10 books. Who ever recommended Stephenson’s Anathem to a historical fiction buff…He’s got two much better items that are also not science fiction and are in fact historical fiction that might be better suited: The Baroque Cycle series, and seminal work, Cryptonomicon.

    I hate Robin Hobb’s books with a passion that most can only feel towards Goodkin’s Sword of Truth series. This puts me in a vast minority.

  • Brad Shelton: About other fantasy series:Knurk, I understand about Deadhouse Gates. But without spoilers, some characters I grew to see as sympathetic (very much so) include Bult, Coltaine, and Duiker. Special mention for Nil & Nether for being so special. This book ends up being an epic of epic epicness. But the rest of the series drops off in quality after book 3 IMO.Rose, why limit your Jacqueline Carey to FEMALE fans? (in all caps even?) I haven’t read Carey’s books, but I know what they’re about. The Kushiel books I do hope to read someday.Tad Williams: I read Memory, Sorrow & Thorn at a younger age, and loved them. A fine series, but no, not the same manner of beast as ASOIAF.Recommendations:
    – Alan Moore’s Promethea. Absolutely sublime exploration of myth, magic, and the human spirit.
    – Guy Gavriel Kay, especially Tigana.
    – Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion    

    Oh, I’m definitely not saying that men can’t or wouldn’t enjoy Kushiel. One of my male friends loves them more than half my female. But I think that it’s clear the books were written with women in mind — they follow a lot of the basic tenants of classic feminist literature, and the female characters are strong and admirable while the males are obviously tailored mostly to being attractive to women (I love Joscelin so much I could die, but I’ll defend this opinion to the death!) I don’t think that Kushiel isn’t suited for men, I just think that women are way more likely to fall in love with it, and thus my recommendation is stronger. We’re the target audience.

    Feel free to disagree, of course :)

  • Critical Geek,

    I agree that Neal Stephensons Baroque Cycle trilogy and Cryptonomicon are much more suited for someone who loves history, but there is an intriguing character, Enoch Root, who turns up in all four books and may or may not be the same person. The people in Cryptonomicon are the decendants of the folks in the Baroque Cycle. Anathem is good too, but entirely different. I think it would make a good feature film.

  • lol, I love this website.

    “You should read X if you like GRRM.”
    “Actually, I felt X didn’t have worlds as fully realized, try reading Y.”
    “Hitting oneself in the face with a frying pan would be preferable to reading Y, trust me!”


    I’m now half convinced I’m going to end up reading three mediocre series before I stumble upon another one that can truly rival Martin, since it seems that that’s what all this back-and-forth means the rest of you have had to do, at any rate. hehe

    Though I have to say that FlayedandDisplayed makes a hell of a case for Gemmell, at least as far as pinpointing what it is that he succeeds at that I consider to be one of GRRMs standout achievements with ASoIaF. And so I’m surprised that his name isn’t popping up more from anyone else.

  • SJGIM,

    I understand the point you are trying to make, but politically Ned probably has more enemies than most men in the Seven Kingdoms. The Greyjoys hate him for helping Robert to quell them. If events at the Tower of Joy are what they seem then I am sure they Daynes may have some hard feelings towards the Starks. Cersei is obviously jealous of him having Robert’s ear and Jaime definately sees him as a rival and also someone that judges him. He is probably number two on the Targaryen’s most wanted list. Even Stannis has reason to be jealous of him beacuse he has always had Robert’s love.

    Ned isn’t naive. Militarily it is well documented that he is a strong strategist.He’s just out of his element in KL. In the North a man’s word is his bond. Eddard isn’t used to the underhanded double dealing in KL and his morals serve as a huge obstacle which makes it even harder for him to cope than most players of the game.

  • My two fave others series would be the Joe Abercrombie books and Baby GRRM’s (Partick Rothsfuss) Kingkiller Chronicles. The Name of the Wind (the first book is the closest effort to matching GRRM that I have read. The book is quite different in scope (one main character), but Rothsfuss is a pimpdaddy wordsmith and paints his tale with the patience and skill of a true maestro.
    In contrast Joe’s books feature some of the best characters ever to meet the page. The Bloody Nine is kind of like the love child of a three way between Conan, the Incredible Hulk AND Bruce Banner. Sand Dan Glokta could give Tyrion a run for his money in both the interesting character and self-loathing schemer categories. Don’t even get me started on Bayaz. Its not the world-spanning epic that ASoIaF is, but its one hell of a raucous tale!

  • A quick word on Joe’s size.Perhaps since Gendry and Arya a supposed to have a little bit of chemistry that the casting department felt a hulked up Gendry might seem more than a little inapropriate in those scenes. Joe doesn’t look buff, but he also doesn’t look scrawny. I think the difference might be subtle enough to give it a pass.

  • To those of you not involved in this discussion I apologize for the length, and I appreciate the book recommendations, I now have many more good books to add to my “to read list.” I have not read most of these.

    Crystal Sky,

    “and there was no honor in threatening children, and yet, if Cerscei elected to fight rather than flee, he might well have need of Renly’s 100 swords, and more besides.” This is later, but proves that he does in fact consider the possibility of Cerscei retaliating. Keep in mind though that at the time he confronts her (if I remember correctly), Jaime is fled from kings landing, Robert is well, and Ned is aware there is little love or trust between Robert and Cerscei, and Robert would believe him over her, especially with proof. Once she is exposed, her ability to move against him is also greatly diminished. Ned is a character that has already been shown to be unbending in his views of justice and morality. The question is not for him which will be the safest choice, or even the choice that will result in the fewest lives lost, but which is the morally right and just choice. He recognizes that it may come to a fight, and taking hostages will ensure more stability in the kingdom as Renly suggests during Roberts death, but tells Renly none the less, “but I will not dishonor his last hours on this earth by shedding blood in his halls and dragging frightened children from their beds”. He is a man with a ridged sense of honor that is no stranger to war, to him dieing or losing honorably is better than living safely in dishonor. He is fully prepared to accept his banishment to the wall until his children are brought into the fued.

    “I generally think Ned is rather blinded by his concept of honour.”
    I never claimed that Ned is without flaws. His concept of honor, as he has been told many times before and is all to well aware is a great handicap in playing the game of thrones, and dealing with the political intrigue of kings landing. That is part of why he initially wants to turn down the position of Hand. He says many times that he has no taste for political games.

    Lord Ned’s Head: SJGIM,
    In the North a man’s word is his bond. Eddard isn’t used to the underhanded double dealing in KL and his morals serve as a huge obstacle which makes it even harder for him to cope than most players of the game.    

    I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. That being said, his stubborn adherence to his code of honor, even when doing so endangers himself and yes, those around him, is to me part of what makes him such a great character. It is, after all, why Robert chose him as hand in the 1st place. It is the fact that, despite not being blinded by his honor and knowing that consequences may result from his actions, he still remains true to his moral code that makes him such a great character.

    “I understand he feels the need to tell Robert the truth… the Lannisters are a powerful and threatening clan. If he chose to close his eyes, wouldn’t that have preserved the peace in the realm?”
    If Cerscei is exposed and executed, the Lannisters can hardly retalliate for the king’s justice. The Lannisters would have to overthrow Robert and claim the crown themselves. Even if the Lannisters win, they would almost certainly then be faced with a war between the north and south, and many other houses besides (does this sound familiar to anyone?) Tywin is not rash, there is a reason he chose to sit out most of the war 15 years prior. I don’t think he would outright challenge Robert, and Ned probably thought the same. I realize that this is a hypothetical argument and could easily be contested.

    As for the consequences for his family, he is already preparing to send his daughters back North, if I recall, where they and the rest of his family will have loyal swords and lands, as well as many harsh miles separating them from his enemies.
    I admit that he does not truly grasp how dishonorable the Lannisters can be. I don’t believe he thinks them capable of killing or harming his daughters to get to him until he is threatened with it at his “trial”. The custom is to take nobility as hostages, and I think up until the end this is the worst that he fears.

    Lord Ned’s Head,

    I was not saying he did not have enemies, but he does have Theon as a ward/ hostage preventing the Greyjoys from doing anything rash, and in Winterfell Ned is surrounded by ally lands, harsh winter climates, and loyal men that make Winterfell relatively safe at the start of the book. In addition, it seems he has since the war bowed out gracefully and remained quietly at Winterfell minding his own buisiness. Therefore, while there may be those that dislike the Starks, his keeping to himself, defense, and the reasons I listed in the previous post make moving against him dangerous and not worth the risk, effort, or cost involved to do so. As for the Targaryens, they are but two children banished overseas in Ned’s eyes, as seen in his arguments not to send an assasin after Danny.

    Both of you have strong valid points, and we are simply debating personal concepts of the characters at this point and engaging in conjecture.

  • Brad Shelton,

    Damn dude… quality drops off? You need to read at least to 6 to see all the ins and outs tied through the books which make Erikson so awesome :D The Trull story line is amazingly well designed.

  • Mongerel:.
    The whole thing boiled down to this: If he had known the consequences of his choices, would he have acted differently? Answer: No.    

    I disagree- if you limit this to the consequences for him, maybe he would do the same. But given what it means for his family, and all of westeros- no, I don’t think he would. His mistake was to assume that Cersei would put protecting her children above all else and flee, whereas, while she is a very protective mother, it’s not enough for her that her children live- she, and they, have to be in power. And she doesn’t want to let Robert win. Had Ned understood Cersei better, I doubt he would have taken the risk- he’s too honourable to hurt her children, but she’ll hurt his. He is still a parent, would he really consider warning Cersei as more important than his childrens’ lives? Sacrificing himself is one thing, putting them in danger quite another. I think he would have waited until his daughters were out of King’s Landing, had Cersei’s children taken somewhere safe (it’s not their fault who their father is) and then exposed Cersei, so the risk would only be to him.

  • pualo,

    Being the king’s best friend kind of discourages attacks from outsiders as well. We all know how long Ned lasts without the protection of Robert’s crown.

  • I love Stephen Donaldson ‘ Chronicles of Thomas Convenant ‘…didn’t like ‘The Prince of Nothing ‘ at all…Erikson series went to shit after book three…gotta read ‘the Black Company’…people have mentioned it alot here

  • Coltaine777: I love Stephen Donaldson ‘ Chronicles of Thomas Convenant ‘…didn’t like ‘The Prince of Nothing ‘ at all…Erikson series went to shit after book three…gotta read ‘the Black Company’…people have mentioned it alot here    

    Erikson’s series did not “go to shit” after Book 3. It got a little wordier, perhaps, but “shit”? I’ve read up to Book 7, and enjoyed every one. My favourites, in fact, have been Book 5 and Book 6.

    Book 3, on the other hand, took me the longest time to get through (with some RIDICULOUSLY irrelevant subplots like the necromancers and the Mhybe).

  • I have to agree on reading Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and The Black Company by Cook – both exceptional series. The Black Company is a bit difficult to come by these days, but with Donaldson now writing ‘The Last Chronicles…’, the entire set is available pretty much anywhere. In both sets, the character development is, as far as I’m concerned, at least as good as in ASOIAF, if not better in some cases, and the story lines are very good as well…

  • Damryn of Dorne,

    Damn dude… quality drops off? You need to read at least to 6 to see all the ins and outs tied through the books which make Erikson so awesome :D The Trull story line is amazingly well designed.

    Yeah, I know, I know. I have a lot of love for Erikson, but I have to call em like I see em. Books 4 & 5 were just too much of a slog for me to hang in there for the later payoff.

    I had the typical burn out experience. Loved books 1 – 3 to pieces. Heartily dug into 4. I was enjoying 5, then put it down halfway through and haven’t picked it up again. On my previous read through Malazan, I made it into book 6, but stalled there. I’m sure I’ll come back to them sometime.

  • Aoede: @Crystal Sky:I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular; I was replying to Zack’s comment, whose phrasing appeared to conflate two disparate trope-groups (intentionally or unintentionally). As always, my own stance with regard to archetypes and narrative traditions is that the primary consideration is the execution, not the fact of archetypicality.    

    Missed this at first, sorry. It’s worth coming back to.

    I’m certainly not going to read any old crap just because it’s gritty or dark or its characters are difficult to pin down or written in tones of grey rather than black and white, by any means…well, I might hear about those traits and pick it up, expecting to like it. But they aren’t a guarantee that I will. Execution *is* key. I was merely speaking my preferences, that I’m going to feel natural inclination toward more complex stories with characters that a) don’t feel predictable and b) seem rooted in a believable world with relatable motivations. I hadn’t predicted Ned’s ultimate fate, despite that, as you say, the Heroic Sacrifice is a common theme.

    Fantasy writers needing to rely excessively on cliche, to me, is probably a sign they aren’t very good. But I’m perfectly aware I’m speaking with inexperience and ignorance with the genre, and it is entirely likely that somewhere there is some great writer able to work magic within a more conventional fantasy framework, and I wouldn’t be opposed to discovering him/her.

    Hopefully there’s logic in what I’ve said…sometimes I get kind of muddled. Apologies. Hodor! :)

  • Brad Shelton,

    Dang, a lot of different opinions on those books! I’m halfway through Deadhouse Gates and it gets much better since my last post, but reading all your comments makes me scared. Seems a lot of people let the books go midway through the series. Looks like my personal opinion that writers should not write more than 5 books in 1 series (you heard that right) is getting more favours.

  • I consider The Malazan Book of the Fallen to be one of very few stories that is close to as well written as aSoIaF.

    I do like Tad Williams as well, though his stuff is much more like conventional fantasy, just with better realised characters. The writing is as good as anything else out there, but at times (M,S&T especially) it can seem Eddingsesque. The Shadowmarch series is excellent, by the way, and the final volume will probably be released within a realistic timeframe :P

    For Scifi that’s both gritty and entertaining, check out Peter F Hamilton. His Commonwealth Saga and Night’s Dawn trilogy are brilliantly written and epic in scale. The standalone novel Fallen Dragon is great too. For something darker and more confusing (but still awesome), have a look at Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series. Though the later books aren’t as hard scifi as the earlier ones, they’re all great reading.

  • OMG!! I am really so, so excited for Joe!! As well as a big ASOIAF fan, I’m also a big Skins fan. Joe was one of the best actors in Skins (most of the actors in that series are amateurs and were in their first roles ever) and now I’m highly motivated to see his other works as well. I have to be honest he’s not who I imagine when I think of Gendry, but I hope he’ll do a great job with this. I really cannot wait now!

  • Lex,

    I stand by my opinion of the series…I use to love Erikson( name)…but the series became bogged down…disjointed…unravelled…I gave up though I will say Sorry/apsalor…Karsa Orlong…sgt helian…and the Tlan Imass are memorable characters…just very disappointed with how things went with the series

  • GaR, I am getting the first book in that series now as well. I’ll see how I get into it. Thanks!

    Related question, are any of these series you’re all talking about the type where it needs to be experienced in audiobook form? I could use some great audiobooks.

    (I have been meaning to pick up GRRM’s audiobooks as well)

  • I didn’t have a good experience with Erikson. It had its moments, and it might be to some peoples’ tastes, but it shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as Martin.

  • Zack,

    If you don’t need it to be scifi/fantasy a good audiobook is The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich. Her writing has been called “lyrical” and lends itself to being read aloud. Its the story of Father Damien Modeste who served the Ojibwe people for a half century, however he has been keeping a secret the whole time. HE is really a woman. this is not a spoiler however because the reader knows this info from the start. The story is sad and lol funny and miracles do happen. I always thought it would make a good movie, but the Catholic church may find it a bit irreverent.

  • Just wanted to note that The Black Company series has been reprinted in it’s entirety as of february of this year in 4 multi book compilation volumes:
    Chronicle of the Black Company: containing The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose.
    The Books of the South: containing Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, and The Silver Spike.
    The Return of the Black Company: containing Bleak Seasons and She is the Darkness
    The Many Deaths of the Black Company: containing Water Sleeps and Soldiers Live.
    on sale now on amazon! (and other fine bookstores)

  • Critical Geek,

    Good to know, thanks. I was looking for those books once and gave up. I wanted to read it, because it’s supposed to have been one of the major inspirations for the best computer game of all time, Myth: the Fallen Lords.

  • Vellyr,

    Speaking of sentences, I was just reading a review of Brandon Sanderson’s new book, and it mentioned GRRM as an example right next to David freaking Eddings. Uggh.

  • Well, if one were comparing authors with great characterizations, those two belong in the same sentence. Plot? Mystery? Twists? Convention? not so much.

  • Coltaine777,

    Interestingly, I feel the opposite way. I feel that the series started out disjointed and unravelled (with three different storylines on three different continents), but ever since Book 6 he’s finally tying all those separate strands together.

    I’m not saying the later books are better, but at least things are coming together.

  • I’m frankly surprised by some of the anti-MBotF/Erikson comments. As a huge fan of Martin and ASoIaF, the MBotF has easily been the best thing that I’ve read since finishing the last Martin book. I’ll admit that it took me a little while to get into Gardens of the Moon, but once I did I breezed through the series and some of the later books have probably been my favorites (though Deadhouse Gates was excellent and had a lot of memorable reading).

    It’s definitely different than ASoIaF and some of the plotlines are more enjoyable than others, but while reading it I got the impression that there was something for everyone, so to speak. I don’t really agree that it shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as ASoIaF. I do think they’re just too different to form much of a direct comparison though.

  • Funny thing; I used to read Erikson and I remember loving the books. They were kind of hard to get going. The story and my brain needed a little time to snap into place. I think I got halfway through book four and I never picked it up again.

    The weird thing is; I did love the first three books but for the life of me I cant remember anything from them. No characters, nothing.
    I wonder why.

    This is not the case with my other favourites apart fron GRRM, namely Robin Hobb and Stephen Donaldson….the latter coming head to head with GRRM in being the greatest author of the genre.

    GRRM, RH and SD all three have very original stories and they all paint very vivid and deep psychological portraits.
    For me that is what counts if Im to buy the fictional world. I have to believe in the people living in it.

    I have left behind tons of authors who no longer can do that for me as my mind have both matured and taken punches over the years. Janny Wurts, Raymond E Feist, Robert Jordan are all good authors but they havent kept up with me.

    I used to love Tad Williams but I think the same goes there though Im not sure. I will let you know next time I pick up ‘the dragonbone chair’

    Thats my two cents of it all.

  • Blink,

    Hey, bit of an off-the-wall question, but I recently started trying to read Gardens of the Moon and was wondering if you could tell me something. I have the edition with the long introduction, which really impressed me and excited me to read the book but I’m reading it, a hundred pages in, and I just do not care one iota what happens to any of the characters. I don’t feel as though their personalities are differentiated enough to warrant having so many, and I find myself not really caring when one dies.
    I really want to like this series, and I really want to believe that it gets better. It usually doesn’t take me this long to finish something or get far in it. What I wanted to ask is if (assuming you remember that far back in the series) the characters get any more…involved I guess? Any different? Is there more variety later on?
    Thanks so much. If the question is too strange, feel free to ignore it. ;p

  • Another author that I enjoy, although not so gritty, is Raymond Feist – the Riftwar saga – it works well because while there are central characters and a base storyline, it is split up into a series of trilogies, each somewhat self-contained. And for a short read, his first book – Faery Tale, although I have to say that while I enjoyed it (admittedly, many many many years ago), it IS a single volume, without the possibility of depth of character that we find with the lengthy series.
    As for the comments on Eddings – yes, his books are relatively juvenile, but the characters aren’t too bad, and I found that I did really enjoy the story lines of the series i read (two, based on the same characters – The Belgariad and The Mallorean). He has other series, but I’ve never bothered – I did enjoy the ones I read, but not enough to make me rush out to consume the others…

  • …side note… I had previously posed as Mike (about Donaldson and Cook), not remembering that there was already someone who had been posting with that name. although my name is Michael, I am referred to as Mickey where I work, so I’ll stick with that I guess…

  • Great post on Dempsie WiC, thanks and keep going. Work and college has kept me busy for last couple of weeks so I have to play catchup on reading all the comments.
    Concerning favorite fantasy authors, Donaldson as Thomas Covenant was the 3rd fantasy series I read (14 yrs old), Tolkien’s LOTR (10 yrs old), Burroughs John Carter series (12 yrs old), and if you think fantasy was my first love of reading, nope, Great Expectations holds that title at 8 yrs. of age along with Count of Monte Cristo, and I am talking the full unedited versions not some short condensed one for young readers. Anyway to continue, Tad Williams (Dragonbone, Shadow), Robin Hobb (Farseer, Son), McIntosh (Quickening, major warging at end, wonder if something similar occurs with Bran), there are two other series I enjoyed but have one of those annoying blocks atm.
    On another note was planning a between term UK visit and was googling Magheramorne quarry, and the map directions guided you to a Park in Bangor, N.I., wonder if thats HBO’s doing.

  • Tysnow: On another note was planning a between term UK visit and was googling Magheramorne quarry, and the map directions guided you to a Park in Bangor, N.I., wonder if thats HBO’s doing.    

    Well a report on Twitter tells us they are filming something in a field in that area today…

  • Looking at this specific picture of him, my one concern is that he’s not burly enough.

    Smiths have very well-built upper bodies.

  • This thread has been great for book suggestions… I’ve been looking for some GOOD fantasy/sci-fi and sadly I have not read many of the books that have been mentioned. Thanks guys!

    I may be crazy, but I am really enjoying the ‘Acacia’ series by David Anthony Durham. I don’t read a ton of fantasy so I don’t know how it stacks up against some of the other authors mentioned, but I would compare the style somewhat to GRRM. Good characterization, real danger for even favorite characters, some atypical plot lines and just solid writing. IMO at least.

    Also I agree with an earlier post about Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun. Excellent!

  • I think the reason we have such a difference of opinion of the books/authors mentioned is that many of us have stated that we were not hard core sci-fi/fantasy fans. That’s why we can love ASoI&F so much because the fantasy elements are more subtle and more realistic. I will read nearly anything I can get my hands on if it’s GOOD. What constitutes GOOD is subjective. I have a hard time with 2 dimentional formulaic novels of any genre. I find I avoid the Mystery catagory in book stores and Romance too. I can’t do bodice rippers.
    I would certainly read a good mystery, or romance if I knew of one that is GOOD. I will read Sci-fi/fantasy too if it’s good.

  • Omitted Is Me,

    I haven’t read any of his fantasy novels yet, but I went through an Ancient Carthage-obsessed phase last year and read his book, Pride of Carthage. I remember enjoying it, but feeling like it felt like a first novel. Some of the characters struck a cord with me, but there needed to be a bit more character interaction and dialogue in order for me to care more about the whole cast.
    I was curious to know about his fantasy writing. Now that I hear it’s good I’ll have to check it out. (:

  • Steve Westenra,

    No problem! I think that was one of my initial problems with the book as well. IIRC, Gardens was written a number of years before it was published and before any of the other books and there are a lot of differences between it and later books (it was originally intended as a movie script or something along those lines I think? I’m a bit fuzzy on the details).

    The beginning is especially difficult (almost everyone I’ve recommended the book to has trouble getting into it) because it sort of just throws you into the thick of things and introduces a ton of characters without any background and without a ton of detail other than names. Things do become much clearer!

  • c0venant,

    Stephen Donaldson?

    It’s amazing how a dude who is clearly a really great writer, consistently writes the most boring, depressing stories. I got as far as the first book of the Last Chronicles and realised I hated everything that had happened in those seven books. I made a similar realisation after bashing my head against the first eight or so Sword of Truth books (though for different reasons; Donaldson is a much better writer than Goodkind).

    My favourite characters are the ones with literally no personality.

    The Chronicles are all just really well written crap, in my opinion.

  • I am currently reading the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. I Just finished the second book and it is really good. Although it does have a more magical element then ASOIAF the characters remind me alot of Martins, and the portail of medevil urban life is very realistic. Just to give you a quick idea of what the first book is about, a street urchine tries to become the apprentice of an assassin after watching is best friend get raped and the girl he likes get maimed

  • I remember reading the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant in high school 30 years ago and enjoying them – they seemed to be a green vision as opposed to Tolkien’s sepia epic, but the main character is so inaccessible in all his books, which is why so many people I knew couldn’t get through them. Having read Martin now, trying to get into Donaldson’s 3rd cycle of it just doesn’t work for me. I think one of my biggest beefs with Covenant is that the only characters who laugh in those books are the giants, and it seems to be genetic for them. I also found the world building sloppy, since he simply steals the languages from India.

    Now while it isn’t great writing, but a great story, and one that’s so visual I would LOVE to see it on the small screen, with a good effects budget and what a bunch of HBO script writers could do for it, is Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles. If Tolkien was sepia and Covenant green, then the Saga of the Exiles is technicolor.

  • Steve Westenra,

    I would say that is still an issue with his fantasy novels… a little heavy on the world-building/exposition, and a little light on the dialogue. The plot-lines are solid though, especially continuing into the second volume, and overall it’s just well-done I think. Definitely sucked me in right away, I hope you enjoy it if you get around to it^^.

  • A few that have not been mentioned are China Miéville (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council) and Michael Moorcock. They both write stuff quite far outside the normal fantasy conventions, even if they started writing in very different times.

    Miéville’s books take place in a world more fantastic and far more original than most fantasy writers taking their ques off Tolkien have managed to put together (and I include worlds created by writers I actually like in this), and Moorcock with his Eternal Champion series, weird trippy novellas and short stories with some novels sprinkled here and there. You are probably most familiar with Elric of Melniboné who is one of the Champions. All collected in the Tale of the Eternal Champion omnibuses.

  • The thing you’ll miss from ASoIaF when reading MBotF is the mystery, the forshadowing, and the twists. Everything said so far about Gardens of the Moon is true. He tosses you in the deep end without a flotation device, but his world is interesting, his characters, once you finally read enough about each one to get a grip on them, are also interesting, and his action and plotting is solid and fun. It’s just that anything you might be unsure about (other than remembering who’s who and which plotline you are currently on) gets resolved rather quickly and the next challenge is brought about.

    I’m a bit partial to Hell’s Gate and Hell Hath No Fury by Linda Evans and David Weber. That, the Dresden Files, and anything that Neil Stephenson writes are my current must buys.

  • So glad he has a part in this show. He was one of the very best parts of the first two seasons of Skins. Which is a WONDERFUL show. Cannot wait to see him as Gendry !

  • world_dancer: Looking at this specific picture of him, my one concern is that he’s not burly enough.
    Smiths have very well-built upper bodies.    

    No, they don’t. It’s just a stereotype in movies and books and whatnot.