New David & Dan interview
By Winter Is Coming on in Press.

A new interview with David Benioff and Dan Weiss from the TCA press tour has been posted over at AdWeek. In it, David & Dan reveal that they were initially sent these books to do as feature films. Upon reading them, they quickly realized doing so would be impossible and “an act of vandalism” so they decided to pursue HBO. In the interview, they also talk about the overall theme of the story and try to shut down a “gate” before it even begins.


162 Comments

  1. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Yes yes, Westeros is a continent. The Seven Kingdoms plus the land beyond the wall. Seven or eight? Originally seven kingdoms that were conquered. Crownlands seem to be a separate administrative territorry now :) The Iron Isles have had an independece streak, but are nominally part of The North.

    Amirite?

    D&D: geeks, we love you.

  2. Eggplant
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Well that was much more pleasant to watch than the MTV interviews.

    I can’t wait for fantasy to get “blown apart” by GoT!

  3. Rocksteady
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Haha, yes definitely better than the MTV interviews. what was with those anyways. 1 min long? its like they sat them down. “talk for 1 minute” …..”ok see ya later!!”

    Either way…i still watched all of them….more than once…LOL!

    this is awesome though. even though these interviews are hyper redundant now. i still relish every second!!!!!

  4. Abyss
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Here is the youtube-link for those how need it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0KTbroHZ4k&feature=feedu

  5. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Eggplant,
    Rocksteady,

    I thought the MTV interviews were good. They have been cut from much longer interviews that will be posted when the series is closer to airing, that is why they are so short. I’m really anxious to see the full interviews because Kara Wagner is a big fan of the books so we should get some good questions.

    The Access Hollywood interviews, OTOH, those were pretty terrible.

  6. Quiet Wolf
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    Acttually, the Iron Isles are part of the Riverlands at the time of The Conquest but they are a separated Kingdom now! Some of the Targaryens let then Choose Who will rule then or something. Well..all this part of background History is really confused.

  7. Abyss
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Abyss,

    …WHO need it:

  8. Feeblegenius
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Martin already blew apart the fantasy genre so it’s great to hear that all D&D need do is follow his lead. Not “all”, but you get my meaning. What GoT does for fantasy will be = or > than what Sopranos did for mob shows, The Wire for cop shows and Deadwood for westerns…I can feel it!

  9. reedgirl
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Brilliant interview, a pleasure to watch. Such elegant nerds.

  10. Austin Clegane
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Hey gang, will someone please explain the whole “gate” reference when referring to the show?

    I only kind of understand

  11. Milly
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I just saw this article linked to on twitter:
    http://www.digitalspy.com/ustv/news/a300096/mckee-excited-by-game-of-thrones-role.html
    Our Doreah is very happy!

    OT, I love these guys. I have no qualms so far about the series, actually. All of these ‘gates’ are just… I dunno.

    I really need to post more often. I’ve been lurking for a year or so and I’ve only posted like 3 times as of this one…

  12. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Austin Clegane,

    It refers, I think, to various “gates” that we’ve had on this blog. So, anything a substantial (or insubstantial, in some cases) group of people have had a problem with, however fleetingly.
    There was “eyebrow-gate,” for instance, which refers to people complaining about the fact that the Targaryen eyebrows don’t always match their wigs. There was also “chair-gate.”

  13. Brude
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Quiet Wolf: Hear Me Roar,
    Acttually, the Iron Isles are part of the Riverlands at the time of The Conquest but they are a separated Kingdom now! Some of the Targaryens let then Choose Who will rule then or something. Well..all this part of background History is really confused.    

    In truth, it was the other way around. The Riverlands were part of the Iron Islands little empire. They had conquered it. Harren The Black was an Iron Born king who raised Harrenhall.

  14. Elaine
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Austin Clegane,

    Attaching “-gate” to another word to name a scandal or brouhaha comes from the Watergate scandals during Nixon’s presidency.

    So we have Throne-gate and eyebrow-gate, etc :D

  15. Adam Whitehead
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    To clear this up, the term ‘Seven Kingdoms’ refers to the seven nations that Aegon the Conqueror set out to dominate:

    1. The Kingdom of the North
    2. The Kingdom of the Vale
    3. The Kingdom of the Rock
    4. The Kingdom of the Reach
    5. The Storm Kingdom
    6. The Kingdom of the Iron Islands and Riverlands
    7. The Kingdom of Dorne

    However, Aegon failed to conquer Dorne (the Dornish, learning from the Field of Fire, adopted guerrilla tactics and eventually forced Aegon to retreat). He also split the Iron Islands and Riverlands into two separate administrative regions, so at that point the Seven Kingdoms dropped Dorne from the count.

    When Dorne joined the kingdom peacefully, the Iron Islands seem to have been quietly dropped from the count and replaced with Dorne. One explanation is that the other seven kingdoms are part of Westeros proper whilst the Iron Islands are offshore isles. Mostly it’s because the mainlanders don’t like the ironborn very much.

    The Iron Islands are still considered their own region and are not seen as part of the Riverlands, Westerlands or the North. Added with the Crownlands, it means that the nation called ‘the Seven Kingdoms’ actually consists of nine administrative regions.

    The Lands-beyond-the-Wall are part of the continent of Westeros but are not counted as part of the Seven Kingdoms. The Seven Kingdoms’ northern border is counted as the Wall and do not claim the lands beyond.

    The Stepstones are counted as part of the continent of Essos, due to them being constantly fought over by Essosi powers such as Lys and Myr. Ibben is also counted as part of Essos, as it has colony-states on Essos’s barren north coast. The Summer Islands are an interesting question, as they seem to be located south-west of Westeros in the Summer Sea, and Westeros may be the nearest landmass to them (though it’s possibly Sothoryos extends that far west as well), though again they are their own sovereign state.

  16. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Mostly it’s because the mainlanders don’t like the ironborn very much.

    And vice versa. ;p

  17. Aule
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    If one of the seven kingdoms is Dorne, why does the king’s official title mention: “kingo of the seven kingdoms and the Roynahr (spelling?)”. Why would they mention the Roynahr separately from the seven kingdoms if they are the people who settled in Dorne after the Valyrian invasion of their lands in the east?

  18. PremRack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Aule: no, it doesn’t. The official tittle is “King of Andals, Rhoynars and the First Men”

  19. Adam Whitehead
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    That’s an interesting topic. From what we’ve seen, the Andals and the First Men are mentioned in the TV series version of Robert’s titles, but the Rhoynar are not. Simplification so as not to overwhelm the viewer? We know Dorne’s still in it (Tyrion mentions it in the breakfast scene reported from the TCA), but they’re likely minimizing references to it until it comes more into play later.

  20. Aule
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    PremRack,

    Oh, thanks :)

  21. Herr Fick
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Adam Whitehead: That’s an interesting topic. From what we’ve seen, the Andals and the First Men are mentioned in the TV series version of Robert’s titles, but the Rhoynar are not. Simplification so as not to overwhelm the viewer? We know Dorne’s still in it (Tyrion mentions it in the breakfast scene reported from the TCA), but they’re likely minimizing references to it until it comes more into play later.    

    A change I cannot understand and find strange since the first time we encountered it (in the original pilot’s leaked script, I believe).
    Mainly, because Arya’s choice of name for her direwolf either has to be explained in some interesting way (“She was the warrior-queen of the Rhoynar [who led her people to Dorne and married the heir of house Martell]” for example) or cannot be explained at all . I don’t believe that they would insert some deviating explanation just in order to take out ‘confusin’ references to the Rhoynar or Dorne in season one. That would be unnecessary and stupid. As it would be to have the Rhoynar left out of the royal title in the first season, only to put them back there in later seasons.
    Additionally, the royal title sounds far better metrically when it is “King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men”, but that is (to some extent) my personal taste.
    In my opinion, they should have used the full title with its reference to the Rhoynar – they are one of Westeros’ most interesting cultural features (apparent in the Dornish tolerance of bi- as well as homosexuality and in their inclusion of women in matters of inheritance, politics and war).

  22. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Herr Fick,

    Nymeria’s name explanation will likely be a single line, along the lines of “She was a warrior queen.” That is all that will be needed. No specifics.

    Later seasons can easily introduce the backstory of the Rhoynar and Dorne, with the caveat that it is simply assumed that they are implied in the original title of the King of the Andals and First Men. The casual viewer should have no problem accepting that they are part of the kingdom even if they are descended from the Rhoynar.

    As a side note, I personally think that the title sounds more natural without the Rhoynar in there, but I do think it comes down to personal preference.

  23. Adam Whitehead
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    New report on the TCA from Ty Franck, GRRM’s assistant:

    http://bram452.livejournal.com/83792.html

    Interesting that Franck picked up some interest for his book (presumably his debut SF novel, written with Daniel Abraham, LEVIATHAN WAKES, out in a couple of months).

  24. Winter Is Coming
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Adam Whitehead,

    Yeah, him and Daniel were having breakfast only one table over from GRRM, FaB and me. Got to meet Daniel, although having never read any of his books, didn’t really have anything to say other than “Nice to meet you.” Ty had an ARC of his book there that he showed us, the cover art looks really sweet without any text over it. When we left they were meeting with some guy in a suit, who I figured at the time was a Hollywood type looking into buying the rights. Seems like that was the case.

  25. Mavis
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    WIC, you have to give Abraham a shot. He is awesome. Just read his short story in Songs of Love and Death. He loves to turn the tables on you (even while he hinted exactly what is coming).

  26. KG
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Looks like they’re getting a little tired of whiny fans.

    Good for them!

  27. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    KG,

    Aren’t we all.

  28. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    If we do have a ‘gate’ post, I hope we can vote whether they represent a deal breaker, a disappointment or a triviality. It’s hard to sense the scale of these issues since I think a great many readers roll their eyes when they read some of the diatribes over minutae that paint the walls of this site.

    What have we had so far? in no particular order…
    Eyebrow Gate – Targaryen eyebrows
    Armor Gate – the spread of design influences beyond medieval europe, and the lack of white in the Kingsguard armor.
    Toga gate – Peasant dress in King’s Landing and the whole mediterranean feel of it
    Chair Gate – over the detailing of the Hand’s chair
    Wig gate – ‘shockingly obvious’ wigs
    Boob gate – Amelia’s too curvy to play Daenerys
    Kohl gate – :) Drogo’s eye makeup
    Horse gate – lack of uniformity and appropriateness in the horses of the Dothraki
    Dog gate my direwolf – to CG or not CG
    Rivet gate – machined rivets holding a book together in a detailed publicity shot
    Steel gate – Valyrian steel not looking as cool? magical? awesome? as some would like

    I’ve probably forgotten some, and not all of these achieved the same stir.

    There have also been several off topic and venomous threads – such as the recent politics one, and the desire of some to diarise GRRM’s time and control his diet.

  29. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I cannot fathom this series as feature films. I suppose LotR and Harry Potter exemplify the truth that such an endeavor is not impossible…but this series seems so much more….well, layered, nuanced, complex…as well as a hell of a lot more vulgar and bloody than either of those others. Vandalism is basically what one would have to call a 3 hour PG-13 AGoT. HBO was one of the only ways to do this justice; though Showtime could have been a fine choice as well, it’s still second best.

  30. Prometheus
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Adam Whitehead,

    former swimsuit model who may play a elf in the hobbit was at the signing?
    name?

  31. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    FlayedandDisplayed: Toga gate – Peasant dress in King’s Landing and the whole mediterranean feel of it

    That’s the only one that really baffles me. I’m not crazy about the dogs or Tyrion’s handsomeness, but the choices for both are pretty practical, I’ve got to admit.

    KL is just weird IMO. I mean, maybe it’s nothing–after all, GRRM has yet to describe a KL deep into winter. Maybe he’d always planned on relatively light snowfall there due to its southern location. But how it looks to me in all the shots so far with the architecture and etc is basically that it was designed as a place that more or less *never* sees snow, which was more how I pictured Dorne rather than KL. Shrug.

  32. Grinbomb
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Zack: I cannot fathom this series as feature films. I suppose LotR and Harry Potter exemplify the truth that such an endeavor is not impossible…but this series seems so much more….well, layered, nuanced, complex…as well as a hell of a lot more vulgar and bloody than either of those others. Vandalism is basically what one would have to call a 3 hour PG-13 AGoT. HBO was one of the only ways to do this justice; though Showtime could have been a fine choice as well, it’s still second best.    

    I’ve never read Harry Potter, but LOTR was well done IMO. However LOTR is really one book that is often sold in three parts, and as GRRM has pointed out himself SoS by itself is longer than LOTR, and that’s just one book. So yes the entire story of ASoIaF is much much bigger than LOTR

  33. Rocksteady
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Grinbomb,

    Let alone that ASoIaF is crap tons better than LotR LOL. I’m prolly against the grain here but i fell asleep many times trying to make it through those books….. where as i couldn’t put down ASoIaF. I don’t think its possible for me to make it through the movies again either. just SOOOO long. LOL. I’m gonna be happy for 1 hour installments of ASoIaF.

  34. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Prometheus,

    I saw a message from her on Twitter or Facebook, about how she’d gone to the signing with GRRM in Pasadena, but looking through my browsing history and Twitter I can’t seem to find it again (argh!). Anyway, she’d been in the “speedy sleep ad” for Sports Illustrated, and her first or last name began with an H, I’m pretty sure of.

  35. McSherrie
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Grinbomb,

    OT, but LotR was seven books often packaged (now) as three. ;)

    I do, however, agree that GoT has too dense a plot to survive being made into movies. What saved HP and LotR that problem is that they are far more deep in atmosphere – something that film can handle in a much shorter amount of time.

  36. mimi
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Rocksteady: Grinbomb, Let alone that ASoIaF is crap tons better than LotR LOL. I’m prolly against the grain here but i fell asleep many times trying to make it through those books….. where as i couldn’t put down ASoIaF. I don’t think its possible for me to make it through the movies again either. just SOOOO long. LOL. I’m gonna be happy for 1 hour installments of ASoIaF.  Quote  Reply

    THIS!!!!!!!

  37. clemintine
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Rocksteady: Let alone that ASoIaF is crap tons better than LotR LOL. I’m prolly against the grain here but i fell asleep many times trying to make it through those books….. where as i couldn’t put down ASoIaF.

    Haha. Me too. Would it be sacrilege as a diehard fantasy fan to say that I liked the LotR movies better than the books?

  38. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Johan Sporre,

    He is actually probably referring to Ti Mikkel who he hung out with at the signing.

    But I’m not 100% sure!

  39. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    McSherrie,

    Originally LotR was one book and it was only divided because the publisher didn’t think it would sell otherwise. I’ve only read it as a single volume and my current leather bound edition with bible thin pages is fantastic to read. I hope there will be something like that released for ASoIaF as well, although it would be terribly expensive with 7 such books.

    As for comparing the two I enjoy ASoIaF a bit more than LotR but they are not really the same at all. Tolkien wrote mythology while Martin rather writes something closer to historical fiction. I’d put them about equal when everything is considered.

  40. Oddmott
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Good lord, April 17th cannot come soon enough! I try not to get too worked up over these things, because I’m usually disappointed by almost any novel adaptations… but something tells me this is going to be incredibly welldone, without any significant disappointments.

  41. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard,

    Ditto on this– they’re both incredibly different styles of novels, and so comparing them in such a way is quite difficult. I enjoyed both, but for entirely separate reasons.
    They’re mostly compared because they’re both incredibly lengthy epics set in a fantasy world (and also because they’ve been brought to/are being brought to the screen). If it was another popular fantasy series being made into a television show, I imagine we’d be seeing exactly the same comparisons, simply because non-fantasy fans don’t know of much besides Lord of the Rings.

  42. Mormegil
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard: Originally LotR was one book and it was only divided because the publisher didn’t think it would sell otherwise.

    That one book is still split into 6 books by JRRT himself though.

    I presume McSherrie counts the Appendix as a 7th book (which it has been published as).

  43. Grinbomb
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Rocksteady: Grinbomb,
    Let alone that ASoIaF is crap tons better than LotR LOL.I’m prolly against the grain here but i fell asleep many times trying to make it through those books…..where as i couldn’t put down ASoIaF.I don’t think its possible for me to make it through the movies again either.just SOOOO long.LOL. I’m gonna be happy for 1 hour installments of ASoIaF.    

    I have to say I’m the same way. I tried reading them when I was about 13 or 14 and got about a third of the way through ‘The Two Towers’ before I set them aside to gather dust on my bookshelf for the last 12 years, which is kind of funny since I’ve read ‘The Hobbit’ about three times and loved it.

    I’m really not much of a huge fantasy fan though. The only other thing I’ve read in the gene that I liked is The Wheel of Time, I’m I’m starting to care for it less and less. I tried reading Sword of Truth and got to book 9 before giving up. I think the statement that ASoIaF is Fantasy for people who don’t like Fantasy is pretty accurate; which is why I have hope for it doing so well as a TV series.

  44. Bard of Awen
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    FlayedandDisplayed,

    You know, the funny thing is… having come here and lurked on this site for a number of months now, I find the arguments and the whining remarkably civil for most part. Certainly, there’s a lot of passion for the series on this board, but I’ve seen so much worse. We probably all have, eh?

    In any event, I thought D&D seemed more bemused than annoyed in this particular interview. Give them a few more seasons (fingers crossed). Then, I’m absolutely sure they’ll be sick of us.

    As far as George’s eating habits go, I only have one major concern: he prefers New York style pizza over Chicago style pizza. That’s a clear sign of madness. ;)

  45. Dennai
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Rocksteady: LotR (…) i fell asleep many times trying to make it through those books

    Mimi: THIS!!!!!!!

    Grinbomb: I set them aside to gather dust on my bookshelf for the last 12 years

    clemintine: I liked the LotR movies better than the books

    I don’t know where this wave of heresy comes from, but it’s time to raise some good old fashioned stakes and pile up firewood.

  46. userj
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Grinbomb,

    Grinbomb:
    I have to say I’m the same way. I tried reading them when I was about 13 or 14 and got about a third of the way through ‘The Two Towers’ before I set them aside to gather dust on my bookshelf for the last 12 years

    HAHA Yes I did exactly the same thing. I got to halfway through the endless pages of orc-chasing before I gave up.

    Then, I saw the first movie, LOVED it, and picked the books back up. Found them much more compelling reading after that (really once everyone gets to Rohan, things pick up). :)

  47. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Bard of Awen,

    I’ve got a lot of time for Neil Gaiman, and I loved his George Martin is not your bitch blog.

    As to pizza differences I’ve not experienced either. They put eggs on pizza here.

    The books and the coming show have turned me into a fanboy and an avid reader of this site, which is something I’ve not done before. I have no basis for comparison with other bloggy places. Perhaps I saw some of what they’re like during the recent Tea incident. I guess we all need to remember that we’re here reading and commenting because we’re all so invested in this series.

  48. mimi
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Dennai: I don’t know where this wave of heresy comes from, but it’s time to raise some good old fashioned stakes and pile up firewood.  Quote  Reply

    Could NOT get through the torture of reading the LoTR books. Could not watch the movies.*yawn*.
    :running away:

    But I LUV ASoIaF!!! Am I forgiven?………pwease?…..

  49. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Kind of stayed in hiding about my dislike for the LotR books. Wasn’t sure that would fly in these parts. I liked the movies a great deal, but only managed to read The Hobbit. The actual LotR trilogy was not for me.

  50. Lex
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read LOTR 8 times. Best book ever.

  51. Phoenix_torn
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    FlayedandDisplayed: If we do have a ‘gate’ post, I hope we can vote whether they represent a deal breaker, a disappointment or a triviality. It’s hard to sense the scale of these issues since I think a great many readers roll their eyes when they read some of the diatribes over minutae that paint the walls of this site.What have we had so far? in no particular order…Eyebrow Gate – Targaryen eyebrowsArmor Gate – the spread of design influences beyond medieval europe, and the lack of white in the Kingsguard armor.Toga gate – Peasant dress in King’s Landing and the whole mediterranean feel of itChair Gate – over the detailing of the Hand’s chairWig gate – ‘shockingly obvious’ wigsBoob gate – Amelia’s too curvy to play DaenerysKohl gate – Drogo’s eye makeupHorse gate – lack of uniformity and appropriateness in the horses of the DothrakiDog gate my direwolf – to CG or not CGRivet gate – machined rivets holding a book together in a detailed publicity shotSteel gate – Valyrian steel not looking as cool? magical? awesome? as some would likeI’ve probably forgotten some, and not all of these achieved the same stir.There have also been several off topic and venomous threads – such as the recent politics one, and the desire of some to diarise GRRM’s time and control his diet.  Quote  Reply

    Don’t forget:
    the original purple skirt “Costume-gate”
    and
    The “is it a direwolf, isn’t it a direwolf” wall carving from the set photos “wolf-gate”
    and of course
    the greenscreen “wheelhouse-gate”

  52. DB
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Zack,
    WhAT??!?1

    You dislike books that you didn’t read? You must be about 14.

    And you like the movies? The books are what everything is measured against, as the movies are in their genre.

  53. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    DB: Zack,
    WhAT??!?1You dislike books that you didn’t read? You must be about 14.And you like the movies? The books are what everything is measured against, as the movies are in their genre.    

    I assume you’ve never turned off a movie halfway through, thinking ‘this is crap.’ No, you always sit until the end of a movie, no matter how little enjoyment you may be deriving. I’m sure.

    I’m sorry. I don’t have time to waste reading stuff that I don’t enjoy for the sake of being able to say, “I made it the whole way through.”

  54. Phoenix_torn
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    DB,

    I’m actually with Zack on this one. I read the Hobbit and the first two LoTRs books but got stuck on Return of the King and never went back to it. I have the greatest respect for Tolkien’s world building and the craftmanship of the books but they just aren’t enjoyable for me to read. (I’m going to have to hide now from some of my friends for speaking these feelings out loud)

  55. Zack
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Phoenix_torn,

    Thank you. :) But let me rephrase that last post to avoid the implication that I’m calling those books ‘crap.’ They’re clearly expertly written. Just, not my style at all. I could tell from The Hobbit that I wasn’t feeling Tolkien’s prose. He seems to get a kick out of repeatedly sticking in multipage ‘songs’ that only served to annoy me. My friends lament about how the movies “action-up” the books and cut out the Tom Bombadil songs, but…that helped me enjoy them.

  56. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Loved The Hobbit, loved Lord of the Rings.

    Loved the Lord of the Rings movies even better than the books. Very satisfying. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring fights tooth and nail in my consciousness with Fight Club, Star Wars, and The Godfather Part II for title of greatest movie of all time.

    Hate anything with the name “Shannara” on it because of Lord of the Rings.

    A Song of Ice and Fire
    is the best series I’ve ever read, hands down. And it’s not done yet. That’s a plus as far as expectations are concerned.

    I haven’t finished reading it though, technically, since it’s not completed. So does it count? So I think I agree with Zack. If I can love something without having read it to the end, he can hate something without having finished it.

  57. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I do reserve the right to hate ASoIaF if the series ends with Jon Snow being left alone on a mountaintop, the only surviving person remaining in the world, and he is then killed by a now-sentient Longclaw, who is actually a god.

    Not that that’s a bad ending. That’s actually a pretty cool ending. But not right for ASoIaF, that’s what I’m saying.

  58. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Fire And Blood,

    Has a bit of a Lovecraftian air to it….

  59. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    I was going for Moorcockian, but sure, Lovecraftian would work too.

    (Open the gates, o’ ye of the FaB loves Moor… cock jokes.) (Because I want to relive high school.)

  60. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Fire And Blood,

    Moorcockian is such a fantastic adjective that I fully endorse its usage in this context (and all other, future contexts).

    And yes, now that you’ve pointed it out I can see that as well, although I’ve only read three of Moorcocks books (collected in one, so it didn’t feel like as many as it sounds).
    In my defense, I’ve also been on a huge Nyarlathotepian kick lately (another great adjective to add to the pile, with the joint quality of making me sound more pompous and erudite than I probably actually am).

  61. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Aw, damn.
    My comment is in WiC limbo (AKA “Awaiting moderation”).

  62. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    mimi,

    Could NOT get through the torture of reading the LoTR books. Could not watch the movies.*yawn*.
    :running away:

    But I LUV ASoIaF!!! Am I forgiven?………pwease?…..

    Hmm, let’s talk it over dinner. Please, get in my chamber and put yourself comfortable. Yes, down the spiral stairs. Just follow my assistant, the guy with the shiny sharp things hanging from his belt. Don’t let his hood scare you, he’s a little shy. I’ll join you in a minute.

    Zack: Kind of stayed in hiding about my dislike for the LotR books.

    Phoenix_torn: I’m actually with Zack on this one.

    Oh, more guest to join us! Please, go down that set of stairs. Be careful, it’s quite dark. More intimate like that, isn’t it? What a lovely party we are gonna have!

  63. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Fire And Blood,

    Hate anything with the name “Shannara” on it because of Lord of the Rings.

    I remember in my sweet teens, when I was bright-eyed and hopeful and with money in my pocket from my first wage in my part-time job, being in the book shop looking for some fantasy book to read, with only Tolkien and Dragonlance as reading experience in the genre. I saw a full shelf with “Shannara” books and thought: “This guy must be good with so much work published”. So I got The Sword of Shannara, and read it…
    Coudn’t believe I paid hard-earned money for such a blatant Lord of the rings rip off.
    I think my daylight dreams of games of pain and death started that day. My doctor agrees.
    But I grew up out of those petty thoughts. I keep no resentment towards Terry Brooks. In fact I want to handle him an invitation for this lovely party we’re having right now. I’m sure Mimi and the others will welcome the company.

  64. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    Fixed. I think it’s a fair thing to say that Winter does not like any sort of cock, much less Moorcock.

    (He does not abide roosters. At all. I’m just sayin’.)

  65. Fire And Blood
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Dennai,

    Is this party gonna be at HmR’s place again? Because he had issues about the blood last time.

  66. Howland Reed
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    These guys inspire a lot of confidence. I have a lot of faith in them. George chose the right foster parents for his baby.

  67. paulgude
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    Fire And Blood,

    Speaking of Moorcock, I still want to see an HBO treatment of the Cornelius Chronicles.

  68. paulgude
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Howland Reed,

    I completely agree. I have a lot of confidence in them.

  69. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Fire And Blood,

    Yeah, you’re right, I just remembered the H-part wrong. Here’s the page I saw: http://www.timikkel.com/news/

  70. Peeter Talvistu
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    An epic picture of Maisie and Arya on GRRM’s blog! :)

  71. clemintine
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    Grinbomb: I’m really not much of a huge fantasy fan though. The only other thing I’ve read in the gene that I liked is The Wheel of Time, I’m I’m starting to care for it less and less. I tried reading Sword of Truth and got to book 9 before giving up. I think the statement that ASoIaF is Fantasy for people who don’t like Fantasy is pretty accurate; which is why I have hope for it doing so well as a TV series. GrinbombQuote

    You have been reading the wrong fantasy! The Wheel of Time is long and ponderous and boring. Robert Jordan had an even worse sense of pacing than Tolkein. And as for Sword of Truth, well, they’re just unredeemable garbage sprouted from a narcissist who claims to “not write fantasy”, but deep philosophies. There are lots of good fantasy authors who write in shades of grey, and some of them are better at prose that Martin, in my humble opinion (not to insult the great GRRM, who is still one of my favourites, and no one can match his dialogue). Try Robin Hobb, or Nalo Hopkinson, or Mary Gentle or… It’s out there.

  72. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Fire And Blood,

    Is this party gonna be at HmR’s place again? Because he had issues about the blood last time.

    Nah, it’s my place. Good solid stone, no noise ever comes out, perfect for parties.
    A little damp maybe, but then again, it’s quite an old place. I got it from a Spanish guy who said it was some family heirloom. What was his name… Torquesanta, Torquemanta… something like that.
    And don’t worry about the blood stains. Somewhat they suit the decoration.

  73. mimi
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Dennai: Fire And Blood, Nah, it’s my place. Good solid stone, no noise ever comes out, perfect for parties.A little damp maybe, but then again, it’s quite an old place. I got it from a Spanish guy who said it was some family heirloom. What was his name… Torquesanta, Torquemanta… something like that.And don’t worry about the blood stains. Somewhat they suit the decoration.  Quote  Reply

    ummmmmmmmm…..this party sounds….different. Bet Goodkind will be there, yes?

    Really though- isn’t it nice that GoT has a variety of fans?

    Got over fantasy 20 years ago except for Robin Hobb and Donaldson (early). Now I mostly read science fiction. One does not have to be a die-hard fantasy fan to enjoy GRRM books.

  74. Samantha Hirst
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Lol. I’m amused. I went to pick up the paper this morning, and having a quick flick through, I find an article on GoT. In my local newspaper. It’s nothing ground-breaking, and no exclusive interview or anything, but I was just a.) quite amused that it made the local paper and b.) bemused that it has taken them so long to use the ‘local girl in HBO drama’ slant. Are they that behind the times? Ah well.

  75. Herr Fick
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Mormegil:
    That one book is still split into 6 books by JRRT himselfthough. I presumeMcSherrie counts the Appendix as a 7th book (which it has been published as).    

    The Lord of the Rings is one novel. It was conceived as one novel, written as one novel and has since been published as one novel frequently by several publishers. Tolkien’s division into “books” is just an addition to his division into chapters.

  76. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Dennai,

    I haven’t read any of the Shannara books, but Wheel of Time struck me as something much akin to what you describe. Admittedly, I’ve only read the first, but it was jaw-droppingly dull and didn’t even seem to be trying not to be an obvious ripoff of LOTR.
    The characters were bland and the writing was fairly weak. It was overwrought with chapters of going from random bum**** town to random bum**** town, in a way that made it seem as though the author just needed a couple hundred pages to waste and didn’t know how to do it (some fleshing out of the characters might have been a good start).

    Wow, uh, I did not intend that to be quite so cruel. It wasn’t the WORST thing I’ve read, but it was certainly derivative and didn’t bring anything seemingly new or exciting to the table to spice up its derivation. I’ve always been surprised at how popular the series is, but I guess, like a lot of its type of novels, if people start reading them when they’re younger, it’s harder to pick up on that kind of thing. I, for one, was a HUGE Dragonlance fan during my early teens. Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to think I wouldn’t enjoy them as much now, but I consider it likely. All the same, I have a soft spot for them in my heart and remember them fondly because I loved them so much at the time.

  77. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    If you’ve only read the first WoT, you haven’t really read WoT. The first one was intentionally close to Tolkien’s design – Jordan felt readers were more comfortable with that template – then the books go off on their own angle from there. The scope expands quickly after the first book, and the story only really gets in rhythm in the 3rd book.

    Understandable if the style is not your cup of tea – to each his own – but judging WoT based on Eye of the World is like judging ASOIAF based on Feast. The books are not indicative of the quality of the full work (not that AFFC was bad, just not as immersive and exciting as the others – and lacking in certain best-in-genre characters).

  78. FlayedandDisplayed
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    OhDanyBoy,

    I read a fair hunk of the Wheel of Time series, and whilst Robert Jordan isn’t the only author to trot some pretty tired fantasy tropes around, the thing that really got my goat was his writing of the relationships between men, particularly Rand, and women. YEESH.

  79. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    mimi,

    Got over fantasy 20 years ago except for Robin Hobb and Donaldson (early). Now I mostly read science fiction. One does not have to be a die-hard fantasy fan to enjoy GRRM books

    Seriously now, I don’t grudge anyone for not enjoying the fantasy genre. Genres by definition are not open to everyone.

    And I know LOTR is not an easy reading. I just find it incredibly rewarding if you manage to get yourself in the flow, but I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

  80. Black Lion
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    What have we had so far? in no particular order…
    Eyebrow Gate – Targaryen eyebrows
    Armor Gate – the spread of design influences beyond medieval europe, and the lack of white in the Kingsguard armor.
    Toga gate – Peasant dress in King’s Landing and the whole mediterranean feel of it
    Chair Gate – over the detailing of the Hand’s chair
    Wig gate – ‘shockingly obvious’ wigs
    Boob gate – Amelia’s too curvy to play Daenerys
    Kohl gate – Drogo’s eye makeup
    Horse gate – lack of uniformity and appropriateness in the horses of the Dothraki
    Dog gate my direwolf – to CG or not CG
    Rivet gate – machined rivets holding a book together in a detailed publicity shot
    Steel gate – Valyrian steel not looking as cool? magical? awesome? as some would like

    Maybe you guys don’t know but over there http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/47205-more-impressions-on-game-of-thrones/ there is a Catelyn-gate stirring. And this one might actually be kinda big and prevalent once the series airs. BTW there is also a small bald-gate as Syrio has, unlike in the novels, curly hair ;)

  81. Alexander Dubrovsky
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra: Dennai,I haven’t read any of the Shannara books, but Wheel of Time struck me as something much akin to what you describe. Admittedly, I’ve only read the first, but it was jaw-droppingly dull and didn’t even seem to be trying not to be an obvious ripoff of LOTR.The characters were bland and the writing was fairly weak. It was overwrought with chapters of going from random bum**** town to random bum**** town, in a way that made it seem as though the author just needed a couple hundred pages to waste and didn’t know how to do it (some fleshing out of the characters might have been a good start).Wow, uh, I did not intend that to be quite so cruel. It wasn’t the WORST thing I’ve read, but it was certainly derivative and didn’t bring anything seemingly new or exciting to the table to spice up its derivation. I’ve always been surprised at how popular the series is, but I guess, like a lot of its type of novels, if people start reading them when they’re younger, it’s harder to pick up on that kind of thing. I, for one, was a HUGE Dragonlance fan during my early teens. Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to think I wouldn’t enjoy them as much now, but I consider it likely. All the same, I have a soft spot for them in my heart and remember them fondly because I loved them so much at the time.    

    This is exactly how I felt while reading Eye of the World – it was an incredibly dull LOTR rip-off. I managed to finish it but stopped reading the series somewhere in the middle of the second book. It was even worse than the first … And I LOVE LOTR, Hobbit and Silmarillion.

  82. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    I haven’t read any of the Shannara books, but Wheel of Time struck me as something much akin to what you describe.

    I haven’t read WOT. I’ll do it sometime in the future very probably, but I didn’t want to commit myself to such a lengthy saga when I still had many different pending books in my bookself to go through.
    Anyway, I doubt very much the Eye of the World and The Sword of Shannara were akin when the time came to “borrow” Tolkien. I was not talking about influences and tropes. Remember, I was coming from Dragonlance with the whole bunch of heroes of different races travelling along a fantastical world fighting with sword and magic a Dark Lord (Lady in this case) bent to enslave the Free People with her hordes of humanoid minions.

    What I was talking is that Terry Brook basically made a “remake” of Lord of the Rings, telling the same story in a very compressed and painting-by-numbers way. If you watch Eragon, you’ll realise right away that basically is Star Wars: A New Hope in a Middle Earth-ish land. Well, even so, I didn’t get the rip off feeling as strongly watching that movie as I felt it reading the first book of Shannara. If I started to draw the paralelism for characters, plot lines and events between that book and The Lord of the Rings your jaw would draw open in disbelief.

  83. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Dennai,

    Did you read Eragon, or just watch the movie? Because it is my opinion that it was the worst adaptation of a book to film I have ever seen. Not contributing to your conversation on rip-offs, just wanted to say, I’ve read the book(s), and they are much better than the movie.

  84. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Black Lion,

    I wouldn’t call that a gate, more like a proper concern. Premature and maybe unfounded concern, mind you, but importantly enough to merit more than a gate calling. The way I see it, a gate is a passionate discussion about details, the baldness of Syrio for example. This Catelyn thing is a discussion about a change in the nature of the character, something that I find legit book fans feel strongly about.

    But as I said, I think it is too premature to create any controversy about this. All the material we’ve seen is out of context.

    More close to a gate is this

    Talk about reaching conclusions taking the things out of context.

  85. OhDanyBoy
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    FlayedandDisplayed,

    A lot of people feel this way. Didn’t bother me personally – but I hear that complaint a lot. As I said, to each his (or her) own.

  86. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Dennai,

    Ok, as I feared, epic fail. Let’s go the amateurish way:

    http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/47362-evil-sansa/

  87. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I am now reading the third book in the third cronicle of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson.

    Back in the days I was a complete lunatic for fantasy. I read everything. Even Eddings.
    You name it, I read it.

    Then a funny thing happened. Living my life I encountered love, death, drugs, depression, problems, darkness, work and that slowly tempered my heart, soul and mind in a process of maturity.

    My sense for language developed together with my knowledge of life.

    Even though still a child at heart I had to leave fantasy behind. The psychology behind the characters, the language and the plots were more often than not as shallow as Dick Cheneys soul.

    Only a handful of authors could acompany me into the adulthood of a 30+ male; GRRM, Stephen Donaldson and Robin Hobb.

    And then Tolkien, for giving me the gift of Fantasy as a teen with all that comes with it. Rolaplaying and virginity and heart.

  88. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Dennai,

    Fair enough. To an extent that’s what I meant as well though (though I’m not sure I said it outright). A lot of the early plodding in The Eye of the World felt like it was a very direct copy of the early travels of the hobbits in Fellowship of the Ring, with similar journeys to spooky deserted cities later on (reminiscent of the Ring Wraiths). It did actually feel like the author was trying to retell Lord of the Rings, but with shallow characters whose relationships with one another (as FlayedandDisplayed said) were extremely shallow and unrealistic feeling. The book even began with a big party in the small-time town where the hero was from.

    OhDanyBoy,

    Good to know. Perhaps I’ll give it another shot then, as I am always looking for decent fantasy to read.
    One thing I should note is that, though I do feel that (in this case) the book’s use of trope was part of what dragged it down, this isn’t always the case. There are fantasy series which I have loved and which have also used vaguely similar ideas. For me, it’s in whether of not the writer is either doing something new with those tropes or is bringing such deft storytelling and characterization to the table that it doesn’t matter. I didn’t get either from The Eye of the World.
    Robert Jordan was definitely not the worst I have read, and technically speaking, his writing wasn’t awful. I just didn’t feel like it had any passion or life. His characters felt like husks that were plodding along simply for the sake of him wanting to write a story, even if it wasn’t very good.
    Also, I’m not sure that thinking your potential readers aren’t “ready” for something different is a good enough reason to write 500 pages of derivation. Granted, perhaps he wanted to lure them in with the first book, only to blow their minds with later ones, but to me it feels as though that’s underestimating the intelligence of fantasy readers.
    Anyway, if the series does get better then I will be happy to be proven wrong concerning the rest of the books. I’d really like to find something I can sink my teeth into.

  89. Dennai
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    OhDanyBoy,

    Only watched the movie, but however the book is better overall, probably the similarities with Star Wars remain the same.

  90. Amir Mishali
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    OhDanyBoy,
    Dennai,

    Well, OhDanyBoy is right to an extent. The book is better. I actually managed to finish the book. I stopped watching the film 15 minutes into it because it was simply horrible.

    The book, however, is still very bad. Juvenile, shallow and cliched.

    A series I haven’t seen anyone mentioning in this context is the Amber series which for me, alongside LOTR and ASOIAF is one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read.

  91. Meg
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Amir Mishali,

    Just wanted to jump into the discussion since Zelazny was mentioned. Amber is easily one of my top 3 favorite books of all time. It was the first novel I read where the main character risks it all and ends up losing. At 14, I was bowled over by Amber, especially reading it right after LOTR (what a contrast!). I consider Viriconium and Gormenghast to be about the same quality.

    I’m a well-read fantasy/SF fan, but I have no interest in reading authors in the classic sense of the genre (Goodkind, Eddings, Brooks, Jordan, Hobb, ect). One ring and one quest was enough for me.

  92. Rocksteady
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Haha. now…i loved the WOT books……until when the entire 1000 page books turned into about 1 hour of time and nothing happened when books like 9-12 came out.

    however…the new ones with Brandon Sanderson….AWESOME!!!!

    i will, however, never read them again LOL. but for those interested in refreshing their memories before reading the newly published ones.

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/02/wheel-of-time-re-read-index

  93. Amir Mishali
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Meg,

    I put Gomerghast on my to-read list, thanks. It looks promising.

    What did you like about Viriconium, as I see it has very mixed reviews?

  94. Martin
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The only other ‘fantasy’ series that I have read recently (by that I mean within the last 10 years) and enjoyed – was Hobb’s the ‘Liveship Traders Trilogy’. I found it less mannered than most fantasy, and with more original ideas. Still has it’s cliched moments – but less than most in the genre.

    I really enjoyed Donaldson’s Chronicles (the first 3) when I read it as a teenager – but on an attempt to re-read it a few years back, I found it somewhat clunky and couldn’t finish Lord Foul’s bane.

    His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman was another great series – somewhat ‘fantastical’ without being fantasy.

    ASoIF stands out for me as the best ‘fantasy’ series I’ve read (including Tolkien), although there are other authors (in other genres) that I probably prefer overall.

  95. Meg
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Amir Mishali,

    The Pastel City is all you need to read. Viriconium is a collection of stories about the same city (Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergis followed a similar style), and the Pastel City is the first. Here is one of my favorite reviews:

    “Harrison has a twisted view of the nature of Myth, and our human place within it. Is myth the noble reenactment of eternal truths, or some dim puppets bleating about a darkened stage in black ignorance? The reader can feel the characters struggling against mythic fate, reluctant Gilgameshes who would much rather be doing something else. All that remains to do is a shambling, pathetic dance in the ruins, a bashing about with weird weapons no one any longer understands, waiting out the nighttime of Earth from which there will be no morning.”

  96. Amir Mishali
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Another great fantasy series is Gaiman’s The Sandman, if you can take your fantasy in comics form. This is an amazing exploration of myth, dreams, creativity, life and death. The series has its highs and lows, but mostly it is gripping and thought provoking.

  97. digtastik
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Since getting into Martin’s books, I’ve really struggled to read other fantasy works without directly comparing them and being down right disappointed. Recently I started reading Stephen Erikson’s Malazan series. It’s got quite a few more fantasy elements than SoIaF, but I’ve greatly enjoyed what I’ve read thus far and intend to read the entire run. It’s another story with a huge cast and numerous overlapping POVs and storylines, but for any fan of Martin’s works this should not prove a problem.

  98. Petter Kristian Vikestad
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Because of the buzz about this show, ASOIAF is coming out in Norwegian for the first time! Some of the translations is going to be terrible to say the least, but anyhow, they are looking for talented people to draw or paint the front of the book cover. I have no talents drawing myself, but if anyone gifted from Norway is lurking, go for it! How about a wolf and a lion fighting to the death, or someone cloaked sitting on the Iron Throne? 1. March is the deadline.

  99. OldGran
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Does anyone remember a book about a river planet or afterworld where the people would fall into the river and pop up someplace further down stream. There were hot air balloons and these mechanical mushrooms that provided food. I read that book over 20 years ago, but I never finished it. At the time I was working and going to school and I had a husband and 4 kids, dogs etc at home. Then during the Christmas season I returned the book to my co-worker because I had no time to read and I’d had her book for so long. I never found out what was going on. I think they were supposed to get to the end of the river to find out who/what was operating this place.

  100. Amir Mishali
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    OldGran,

    You are talking about this:

    riverworld

  101. saluk
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Meg,

    Did you read Hobb? While there are sort of quests, it’s more about interesting, developed characters coming to a head. Very similar to GoT actually, in the sense of the quest being “protect our world from the evil that’s coming back”, but many characters either ignore it or use it to their advantage. I wouldn’t link her with the other authors you mentioned.

    Grinbomb,

    I’m surprised you made it through 9 books. I actually read the entire series and consider myself somewhat of a fan, but it’s definitely a guilty pleasure :) There are huge problems with that series that have nothing to do with the fantasy genre.

  102. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Meg,

    Gormenghast is pure genius. I love those books.
    I know some people don’t like his work, but I’m also a huge fan Tad Williams. Otherland, in particular is fantastic. I do like Neil Gaiman, but I’ve found a lot of his recent stuff to be hit or miss.

    I bought Gardens of the Moon, but I’m stuck about a hundred pages in. After it’s fantastic foreward I really wanted to love the series, but the characters just felt like names on a page and not people. Does it get better soon? I’ve heard some people say you have to read a couple of the books before you get into it, but if that’s the case, I don’t think I can slog through 800 or more pages to get to the good stuff.

  103. Skyweir
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Petter Kristian Vikestad,

    The title is the worst translation ever…
    Their translator must be completely useless. You can’t make a title with too sets of subtitles and expect to be taken seriously.
    Especially since the correct translation of A Game of Thrones clearly is “Tronespill” or something similar. No wonder translated fantasy sells badly in Norway.

  104. Alan
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Tolkien actually isn’t a very good writer in my opinion. His characters lack depth, and his style isn’t to my liking. That said, he was incredibly imaginative and I love the depth of his worldbuilding. As cliche as 90% of fantasy writers are today, Tolkien was original. I love Lord of the Rings, but it’s got flaws.

    WOT wasn’t bad early; Jordan was a skilled writer. But it is essentially a coming of age story, and if you extend that past too long, you lose your way. Harry Potter is probably the best written coming of age fantasy I’ve read — it’s a young adults story, but it’s just really well done.

    I used to love fantasy, but so much is repetitive. I loved Jordan and Eddings and Feist when I first read them, but it’s the same story with different adjectives.

    Authors I do really like left in the general genre: Martin, China Meiville (though the last couple have been so-so, The Scar may be my favorite single fantasy book ever), Neil Gaimun, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.

    I’m reading through the Malazan series and I get why people like it, but to me there’s like three good books out of nine of writing. Just a lot of repetitive action. That’s something that Martin has not yet done to me — the sense that I’m reading the same story repeated (and Eddings used to REVEL in that — it was a plot point that he was recycling plot points and themes! It’s not clever!)

    There’s a couple of other books I’ve enjoyed recently — Brandon Sanderson’s stuff is lighter but entertaining, liked the first Patrick Rothfuss in the same way and the Lies of Locke Lamora. But the writing isn’t on Martin or Meiville’s level, IMO.

  105. Luke-WarmHands
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    David Farland’s Runelords Series is actually pretty good. It slumps in the middle, but comes back better.

  106. Lex
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    1. Tolkien
    2. GRRM
    3. Robin Hobb (Farseer/Tawny Man trilogies)
    4. Steven Erikson (hugely entertaining & frustrating)
    5. Joe Abercrombie (all GRRM fans should check him out)

    Other good authors: Robert Jordan (until after Book 5…), Guy Gavriel Kay (most works except Fionavar), R. Scott Bakker, Tad Williams.

  107. ethelred
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I just read Robin Hobb’s stuff fairly recently. I found the Assassin trilogy quite good and there were a lot of really interesting ideas in the Liveship Traders trilogy (and it dealt well with some difficult and delicate subjects such as sexual abuse). I’d rank that one as very good, too.

    But, man, the Tawny Man trilogy was just absolutely terrible. The series was a pointless trainwreck in every way imaginable and it’s really turned me off on reading more of her work. I’m genuinely shocked at how bad and amateurish it is.

  108. OldGran
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Amir Mishali,

    Yes! Philip Jose Farmer! I could not remember who wrote that book. I knew it had River in the title. That was one weird book, not one I would have chosen for myself, but I’ve never forgotten it either. I need to see if I can get it from the library.

  109. TPFKA Thoros of Myr
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Skyweir,
    it would be tempting to go with “Kongsemnene” as the title of the second volume, to be all classical.
    (For the non-norwegians here, “Kongsemnene /the pretenders” is a the title of an historical play by Henrik Ibsen, from the medieval Norwegian civil war period, (1120-1240) which imho was as bloody as ASOIAF)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pretenders_(play)

    to be followed by

  110. clemintine
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra: I bought Gardens of the Moon, but I’m stuck about a hundred pages in. After it’s fantastic foreward I really wanted to love the series, but the characters just felt like names on a page and not people. Does it get better soon? I’ve heard some people say you have to read a couple of the books before you get into it, but if that’s the case, I don’t think I can slog through 800 or more pages to get to the good stuff.

    I gave up after page 200 or so. Both Erikson and Martin dump you in the middle of everything, with a gazillion characters thrown at you and backstory left, right and centre. The difference between them is that with Martin I gave a damn. Even though I was confused as hell with what was going on in GoT on my first read, and didn’t really find my feet until half way through, I cared about his characters. The world was alive and breathing, the characters complex and real and I could relate to them. So even if I was confused and couldn’t keep track of everything, it didn’t matter because I was enjoying the ride anyways. With Erikson I felt like I was going through some sort of epic grocery list. Seriously, if you have to read a couple of doorstoppers to “get into it”, that’s just crap writing. Give an author like GRRM, or Robin Hobb or Nalo Hopkinson a page, and their characters come to life. It shouldn’t take 4000 pages for the story to get good.

  111. McSherrie
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I would like to second Lex’s mention of Tad Williams – Tailchaser’s Song is still one of my go-to books when I’m sick and forced to stay in bed. (Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword is another, but that goes back to childhood.)

    CJ Cherryh is another author that I think deserves to be mentioned here. She is best known for her sci-fi, of course, but when she turns her mind to fantasy she does a remarkable job.

  112. Jake
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    Keep reading. Gardens of the Moon gets better in the second half of the book.

    One thing I’ll say about the Malazan books: If you’re looking for another Martin, this isn’t it. The only similarities between the Malazan series and ASOIAF is the sheer number of characters being juggled, and the way fantasy tropes are turned on their head.

    While ASOIAF is rich in character development, Malazan is more like reading a history of the most epic fantasy world, loaded with power and imagery and the coolest über-characters that you could possibly ever imagine. I’ve never seen world-building on the scale of the Malazan series.

    ASOIAF and the Malazan novels are the two best fantasy series’ that I’ve ever read.

    And one added bonus is that Steven Erikson has actually completed Malazan, so by sticking with this series you’re actually guaranteed a conclusion.

  113. Lex
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Why does this site keep crashing? This is my third attempt at writing this post.

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    GoTM is the most difficult book in the series, and most people enjoy Book 2 a lot more. The books are highly entertaining, but they’re also the most confusing and frustrating books I’ve ever read. Three storylines take place on 3 different continents, and don’t start coming together until Book 7! And the problem you mentioned with the characters never fully goes away (they always feel slightly distant/unrealistic). It’s one of Erikson’s biggest flaws. His biggest strenghts are probably world building and fight/action/battle sequences.

    I’m glad I read the books, but I don’t know if I’d have to energy to start over. They are a lot thicker than they need to be (often just build up for the first 50-75%, then pure craziness for the final 25%).

  114. userj
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The problem with WoT isn’t that it’s a LotR clone, it’s that it’s a freaking DUNE clone. The Aiel ARE the Fremen, the Aes Sedai ARE the Bene Hesserit, Rand IS the freaking Kwitzatch Haderach, etc etc.

    I read WoT in middle school and loved it at the time. Now I can’t stand to read a page of it. Not only is it a bad clone of Dune set in a fantasy world, but it has terrible characterization, it’s incredibly sexist, and the romantic relationships feel like they are between 6th graders. I almost can’t believe RJ ever got laid reading what he thinks about men and women. Well I guess millions of dollars must help with that.

  115. rorschach-
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    ethelred,

    Unfortunately I have to agree. I’m so sad to admit that one of my favourite single-POV writer has taken a dive for worse. I loved Robin Hobbs Assassin trilogy, Fitz was really interesting character and other characters were quite deep as well or at least as deep as single-POV book can. Liveship Traders were also really good, had some bit clichéd moments but nothing that would ruin my read. Tawny man started to seem bit used but Fitz would again draw my attention for days. And in the end there were lots of manly tears. Soldiers son had Nevare and his… accident. I think the first book was really good, filled with good themes and philosophy, but other 2 felt bit imposed with nature vs. technology and all those shamanistic vibes.

    Even after this rant, I have to still say that Robin Hobb is exeptional writer. I know that people either love her or hate her. Worth a try in any case.

    Also latest in my fantasy read have been Joe Abercrombies The Blade Itself and Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. Both also worth a try.

  116. Knurk
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    It’s simple, when you started with GRRM fantasy is ruined for you. I first tried Bakker, read all three but it was horrible. Then Abraham, thought it was one boring story (first book). I started the Malazan books, loved the first 2, but somehow book 3 was so difficult to come through. Then I started Abercrombie, I’m going to finish book 1 eventually but the characters annoy the hell out of me (as did the character of Bakker), especially that donkey-ass Jezal (it’s too unbelievable that people are just that one-dimensional). After book 1 of Abercrombie I’m starting Master & Commander, that must be good right?

    On my to do list to give fantasy another chance are Rothfuss, Donaldson and the Dresden-files. But that’s going to take a while I guess…

  117. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Alan,

    Mythology isn’t really known for character depth in general and that was what he was writing so that particular aspect was pretty much to be expected from Tolkien’s works in my view. Whether any given individual likes that or not is of course a different matter.

  118. McSherrie
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Knurk: On my to do list to give fantasy another chance are Rothfuss, Donaldson and the Dresden-files. But that’s going to take a while I guess…    

    Dresden Files are great reads, as are Jim Butcher’s other series. I’m not sold on his wife as a writer yet, but I’m willing to give her time.

  119. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I respect Tolkien and the work he put into LotR, and I loved the books when I ream the first time when I was around 12 years old, but when I tried to read them again 10 years ago I couldn’t stand the incredibly slow going and the shallow characters.

    WoT has a special place in my heart. I started reading them when I was 15 years of age and held them as the best fantasy I’d read for a long time. I’ve probably read the first 4 books 5-6 times and (still) absolutely love some passages (for example Perrin in the Two Rivers and Rand in Rhuidean in book 4 are tear-jerkingly great). However, then came books 8, 9 and 10. After that I started reading ASoIaF :)
    Jordan’s last book (Knife of Dreams) was a great comeback though. Too bad he didn’t get to finish it but Brandon does a good job of tying it together, although I feel it is kind of rushed (and with too many mistakes) and I’d have liked the same level of detail that Jordan kept in Knife of Dreams.

    As for Malazan I really started liking it by the second book (Deadhouse Gates) and thought that the rumour about a film of that refugee-passage was a great idea. For some reason I stopped reading after book 4 though (at about this time I didn’t read that much overall).

    Other that I (have) read and really like(d):
    J V Jones “Sword of Shadows” for characters that I really love and incredible suspense.
    Jim Butcher’s “Codex Alera” for a kick-ass main character and for being adventurous and enjoyable.
    Elizabeth Moon’s “Deed of Paksenarrion” for the character that I’ve felt for the most in all my reading.

  120. Ax0r
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    rorschach-:
    Unfortunately I have to agree. I’m so sad to admit that one of my favourite single-POV writer has taken a dive for worse. I loved Robin Hobbs Assassin trilogy, Fitz was really interesting character and other characters were quite deep as well or at least as deep as single-POV book can. Liveship Traders were also really good, had some bit clichéd moments but nothing that would ruin my read. Tawny man started to seem bit used but Fitz would again draw my attention for days. And in the end there were lots of manly tears. Soldiers son had Nevare and his… accident. I think the first book was really good, filled with good themes and philosophy, but other 2 felt bit imposed with nature vs. technology and all those shamanistic vibes.Even after this rant, I have to still say that Robin Hobb is exeptional writer. I know that people either love her or hate her.

    I’ll agree that the latter half of Soldier’s Son was a bit weak. Not terrible, not even bad, but just average. Because her writing is usually so excellent, average comes off as bad.
    I HIGHLY recommend her newest trilogy, the Rain Wild Chronicles (2 of 3 books so far published). Picks up where liveship traders left off, with a different cast of characters. It’s a little on the predictable side, but boy, is it a page-turner. Really great characters that jump off the page, and a burning desire to see what happens next.

    I Second someone’s suggestion of Tad Williams’ Otherland – fantastic series of books, really imaginative

    I must be the only person here who actually liked Sword of Truth – sure, it’s got “invulnerable” characters, with some repetitive emotional arcs, but I just love it. Faith of the Fallen is one of my favourite fantasy books of all time. It’s also really clever that Goodkind manages to wrap the series up by bringing the whole thing full circle – I doubt he planned that from the beginning, but it comes out like it was.

    For some more lowbrow fantasy – I recently read a trilogy called the Quickening by Fiona McIntosh – she’s an Australian lass who gets some mentoring from Robin Hobb. Her writing style could use some work, but the premise of the books was pretty imaginative. The biggest problem I had with her was that her world seemed small. Characters could literally walk across a country in less than a week. Made the whole thing feel a little ridiculous.

    For young-adult fantasy (which can be good if you want to turn your brain off), I highly recommend the Bartimaeus trilogy (which I think is now a quadrilogy, though I haven’t read number 4), by Jonathon Stroud. Imagine a world much like ours, except that countries win wars, and scientists invent technology and leaders make great decisions not because of things those people do, but because those people summon demons to do those things for them. Add in that most of it is written from the perspective of one of those demons… yeah, it’s awesome.

  121. Alan
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Tywin’s Bastard,

    No disagreement. Perhaps it’s more politic to say that that style isn’t one I generally pursue. Either way, I still love the books; they are just missing an element, and one I consider very important.

  122. GaR
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    My top 3 fantasy series are:

    A Song of Ice and Fire. Oddly enough.

    Shadowmarch, by Tad Williams. Excellent story, and his finest work to date.

    Malazan Book of the Fallen, by Steven Erikson. Yeah, it’s hard to get into and insanely complex and sprawling. But it’s the most epic thing I’ve read.

  123. Alan
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    As for Tad Williams, I’ve tried twice to get through Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and couldn’t, but really liked his Otherland.

    One of favorites in a similar vein to a lot of the writers listed here is Neal Stephenson. He hasn’t done any straight fantasy, but has done some loose historical fiction and fantastical science fiction as well as a little straighter sf. Anathem is one of my favorite books of the last ten years, I think.

  124. Tywin's Bastard
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Alan,

    I didn’t mean to say that you said anything wrong, I don’t disagree with that the book has flaws that people can find off-putting. While I still hold Tolkien in high esteem I certainly enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire more these days.

  125. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Knurk,

    Have you tried Paul Kearney? Been having the same problems, damn you George :P

  126. GaR
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Alan,

    Weird. I found Otherland really boring. The last two books just drag. In any case, I found Shadowmarch to be better than either Otherland or MS&T.

    I just read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and really enjoyed it. The ending was a bit abrupt, but other than that it was excellent. A mate is lending me the Baroque Cycle and I can’t wait to get stuck into it.

  127. Knurk
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    Oh man, no more recommendations please haha. Imagine if I did listen you, which book should I read?

  128. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Knurk,

    Well, I’m just reading his Monarchies of God (the recent two volume omnibus edition), and it ranks high on my list. I read many of the same works you did trying to find sth after ASoIaF. So far, Kearney has convinced me to read his Macht trilogy as well.

  129. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for reminding me of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I think I will have to go down in the basement and look through my boxes of books.

    Im a bit surprised that Donaldsons isnt mentioned more than he is with his dark and very original fantasy. Not to forget that he uses words in such a wonderful way. Sometimes he makes me repeat sentences for myself just to taste them. Also the characters are just as confused as one self would be in that situation. They constantly change their minds about everything and just about anything can happen. I really love the character, Thomas. He is my absolute favourite among antiheroes.

  130. Czarnian
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Awaiting moderation again? There was no “c0ck” in there this time. Which words are to be avoided?

  131. Alan
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    I liked the first two Shadowmarches then promptly forgot about (he was still writing). I liked it but I have to admit talking to Gods is a giant ugh for me. I know it’s fantasy, but it just kills things for me. I may pick it up again.

    The Baroque Cycle was very good, even if I do think Book 1 is the best.

  132. Jake
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    Since two of your favorites are my favorites, I’ll have to take a look at Shadowmarch.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  133. GaR
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Alan,

    I prefer for deities to remain offstage as well, personally. But at least Williams’ gods aren’t like Eddings’…

  134. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    That was also my experience. I’m usually pretty willing to be dumped in the middle of things, as long as the characters are intriguing. I just remember the POV jumping around a lot from paragraph to paragraph with few discernible differences between those doing the thinking/talking. Someone died at some point and I didn’t care at all yet had the impression that I was supposed to…just a bit of a mess.
    There were TWO characters who I liked, who were very strange and I think they were in the prologue.

    Jake,

    Lex,

    Hmmm. It’s a tricky thing. I fully believe you that they get better, on the one hand, but on the other, characterization is a big thing for me. Battle sequences are great, but only if I care about who’s doing the fighting.

    I will reiterate my love of Tad Williams. I’ve only read the first volume of his most recent series (Shadowmarch) because I wanted to wait until he’d released them all. Once I can afford the last one I will be reading them to pieces, I’m sure.

    Several people have mentioned the Dresden Files, so I felt I should comment on them a bit, as I’ve actually read most of them.
    They’re fun and light, and I genuinely enjoyed the first few. The writing isn’t brilliant and he continuously makes the same grammatical mistakes in each succeeding book, which nags at me more than a little. At first I rather liked the style and the characters, but increasingly Harry began to get on my nerves and the choices Butcher seemed to be making with his characters and plotlines were going in evermore predictable directions.
    One of my major complaints with the series was that though the author would attempt to introduce new elements to the story in order to mix things up, somehow the novels still ended up feeling same-y, and despite some pretty life altering events, the characters haven’t developed very much at all. I own the next few books, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to reading them.
    That said, they were a lot of fun to begin with, so I wouldn’t turn someone away from them.

    A QUESTION: I asked some people on Westeros recently, but I’ll ask here as well, as more opinions wouldn’t hurt. Recently a girl I met recommended this series to me by an author called Anne Bishop. It’s called The Black Jewels. Even though she’s gushed about it and claims Anne Bishop is a genius writer, I’m more than a little skeptical. I’ve read some of the reviews on Amazon. Quite a few people really seem to like it, but the negative comments also appear to be written by intelligent, thoughtful readers.
    Any thoughts? Opinions?

  135. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    The first response was meant to be for Clementine. ;p

  136. The Dragon Demands
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    There are 9 “administrative regions” within the kingdom/empire collectively known as “The Seven Kingdoms”. The continent “Westeros” is composed of “the Seven Kingdoms”, and then everything north of The Wall.

    Beyond the Wall are the Wildings, remaining First Men that got driven north (unlike the Starks who are First Men but stayed south of the Wall) in the borderline-habitable forests immediately north of the wall. The Others come from the truly arctic regions beyond that which have never been explored.

    At any rate, the “Seven Kingdoms” used to actually be “Seven Kingdoms” as separate sovereign nations.

    The “Eighth Kingdom” would be the Riverlands, but they were a border region and never independent in their own right; they just changed hands to whichever one of the other Seven happened to be more powerful in a given century.

    At the time of Aegon the Conqueror’s invasion 300 years before the books, the Iron Islands controlled the Riverlands. This mini-empire built by the Iron Islands resulted in them building the big castle Harrenhall in the Riverlands (which is actually so ostentatious, so huge, that it is actually difficult to fully man and no one really wants it).

    When Aegon invaded, he split up the Iron Islands and Riverlands into two separate administrative units. “The Riverlands” are not particularly “Ironborn” in culture, they are indeed their own “cultural grouping”, but sort of a blend of all the others….they’re a border region that changed hands all the time and as a result isn’t really part of one of the other seven.

    ***This situation with the Riverlands was going on for thousands of years before Aegon showed up***

    When Aegon invaded, he smashed the Ironborn forces at Harrenhall, and took Storm’s End through a long siege and treachery (Storm’s End has never truly fallen to a dedicated invader). The last and biggest unified attempt to stop Aegon was the combined Lannister-Tyrell army which marched against him at the Field of Fire, where the dragons turned the tide for Aegon. At this point the Starks in the North were marching to fight Aegon, but on hearing of the loss at the Field of Fire, realized the war was truly lost and surrendered without further bloodshed.

    Dorne, in the south, which is mostly deserts and mountains and culturally Rhoynish, realized that the trick was to avoid directly fighting Aegon (and his dragons) but to save their forces for guerrilla warfare, to bleed Aegon’s armies. Not only did this make Aegon leave, it was a strategy that successfully kept Dorne independent for 200 years….eventually they got incorporated through marriage-alliance.

    So during that first 200 year period….maybe the Targaryen kings called the Riverlands the “Seventh Kingdom” to make themselves feel better, but the name “The Seven Kingdoms” had been used for *literally thousands of years* to include Dorne. This might get complicated if there are other prequels.

    But for the past 100 years, Dorne has been back to being “Kingdom #7″ with the Riverlands at “Kingdom #8″, though they were never a real independent Kingdom.

    The ninth “area” was never a kingdom OR cultural grouping: the Crownlands around Kings’s Landing. They are the newest region by far….the others have been around for millennia (even the Riverlands) but the Crownlands are *only 300 years old*.

    The Crownlands were formed from pieces of the Vale, Riverlands, and Stormlands. Apparently, this was always a sparsely populated backwater of forests and such, with no real sizable population or cultural identity beforehand. It was, indeed, largely made by the Targaryens, who wanted a new imperial capital city. So its “King’s Landing, and the countryside that supports it”. In some ways the core part of the Crownlands yet separate in many ways is the Targaryen homeland, the island-outpost of Dragonstone. Culturally important but really not sizable enough to raise large forces.

    And of course, everything gets pulled every which way by the time of “A Dance With Dragons” when we’ve got 4 major factions:

    1 – Joffrey and the Lannisters controlling King’s Landing, the Westerlands, large chunks of the Riverlands, eventually allying with the Tyrells.
    2 – the Starks of the North and their Riverlands allies.
    3 – the Baratheons of Storm’s End and Dragonstone.
    4 – the Iron Islands and bits of the west coast they’ve carved out.
    5 – Dorne and the Vale haven’t committed their forces to the war at all.

    Of course, it seems that Dorne’s strategy this *entire* time was to orchestrate a Targaryen Restoration with Daenerys II. Arguably, it seems this is what Baelish is trying to orchestrate, therefore the Vale would *also* be on Daenerys II’s side.

    And of course, we’ve got all of this wrecked by the fact that there are actually *ten* subdivisions, if one counts “the Gift” to the Night’s Watch, which is technically not part of the North. Then again, it isn’t really part of the “Seven Kingdoms” — the Targaryens respected that it was extra-legal and apolitical, religious in nature, and simply left it alone (indeed, patronizing it from time to time). But the Gift is in the far north, a tiny sliver of the North which as we know has such low population and agriculture that it equals the South in size but is dwarfed in population.

    So in the midst of all these factions we’ve got Bastard Jon Snow and his loyal army of thieves and whores.

  137. ethelred
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    rorschach-,

    My issues with Tawny Man go pretty deep. The trilogy never really accomplishes much of anything and the few major plot points it introduces are just sort of summarily dropped, plus the direction several characters go is… ridiculous to me.

    I mean, starting with the first book, there’s just absolutely no substance. Boy gets kidnapped, we spend a lot of time traveling, we take the boy on a brief segue, then we go back and one guy gets his arm cut off. The end. There is absolutely no conflict between Point A and Point B, and what’s more, the Point B conflict is pretty weak tea. It’s really not an auspicious start to a trilogy that just manages to go even further downhill.

    The plot meandered lazily and uselessly, when there was a plot at all. The characters were inane and the moral message juvenile and offensive. I mentioned before that I think Hobb’s handling of some difficult subjects in Liveship Traders was really pretty deft — subjects like the role of women in society and rape and sexual assault. These are tough things to do well in a book. She did them well. But then her handling of homosexuality in Tawny Man is awful. I mean, I am pretty positive most fantasy societies are pretty anti-gay. They’re not very enlightened in general. But in Tawny Man, Hobb cover it as something different: there is this absolute revulsion that is completely CENTRAL to the book. It isn’t just a bad element of the society. It is quite literally the primary plot arc in Golden Fool. I would say about 60% of the book is focused on Fitz’s need to express his complete disgust over his totally abnormal best friend, Fitz fielding jibes from others about the sickening nature of his best friend, and then finally the fallout from this revulsion, which results in a completely strained remainder of the book where the reader deals with pages of pages of interaction easily summed up by “I hate you,” “yeah well you’re a dick,” “fine, don’t talk to me,” and “oh yeah, well don’t even LOOK at me.” And why? To what end? Is this toward some higher end? Obviously Fool and Fitz aren’t going to lead some sort of sexual liberation revolution that enlightens the society’s views. It’s just gratuitous hate. So we spend an entire book, the primary central storyline of which is how revolting the very thought of gays is, for no reason. It’s not really very enjoyable, it’s not using fantasy to develop and deliver an empowering or clever and emotional allegorical message, it’s just fairly dehumanizing especially given that other authors (such as, for instance, George Martin) have managed to have retrograde backwater societies where homosexual characters are viewed as weird and deviant by members of the public at large AND YET they’re still also depicted as human and involved in real and loving relationships.

    Do I expect all fantasy novels to cover it so well? No, but if they can’t, I’d rather it just be left out entirely. It’s the same thing with racism, which is a common theme in a lot of fantasy literature and where authors have the opportunity to express powerful messages through veiled allegory. If you can use the silliness of fantasy racism to deliver a real world message, that’s great. If you want to use an entire book to justify and validate racism vis a vis total disgust and hate which is never once humanized in any way, I just don’t find that interesting or compelling reading.

    That’s one problem. But the actual plotting of the whole trilogy is very problematic. As I said, the frayed relationship between two major characters because of the obsession with buggery is literally the only thing of note that takes place in Book 2, and Book 1 is about a pretty pointless journey that doesn’t result in much noteworthy character development. That really only leaves Book 3 to do the heavy lifting of the story Hobb came up with. And it doesn’t work very well, in part because the first book is completely disconnected from the rest of the trilogy and in part because the second is just so dull.

    The Outislanders do not have an especially interesting society, but there are some elements that are potentially interesting. They’re never developed. The relationship between Dutiful and the Narcheska is never developed, nor are there any attempts at reconciling a fallout from her deceptions (which continued far past the point of intelligence). The Assassin trilogy and (even moreso) Liveship Traders had some really neat political threads. While not on the level of A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s definitely a prominent theme in these trilogies and there’s worthwhile stuff there. But all of that, too, is stripped away in Tawny Man. Occasionally there are halfhearted attempts to inject some political intrigue (the visit from the Bingtown delegation, for instance, could’ve yielded some great storytelling, but absolutely nothing was done with it beyond its introduction).

    Plus supposedly major plot threads were introduced only to be wrapped up offscreen with five sentences, and plot threads and character arcs that were seemingly resolved suddenly come back to be the prominent and dominant theme of the book. I think that’s the worst part. Probably about between 20-30% of the ending was spent going back to a plot and character arc that I felt was thoroughly resolved and never should have been reopened. It’s so unfortunate. As soon as Molly is reintroduced, Thick and Nettle (two pretty interesting characters that had seen substantial character development) just have their character development dropped completely. They’re finished. The whole Piebald thing is made out to be this massively integral element of the story, but in book 3, we’re told, “oh, never mind, it was just taken care of somewhere else. All done.” Fitz suddenly proclaims himself king (because Kettricken the woman comes to the sudden realization that she Just Can’t Cut It), and Chade opposes him and it’s set up as a new big character arc… only for it to never be mentioned again because it’s more important to talk about Molly.

    The idea of a happily ever after lifetime spent with Molly and her horrifying insipid children is painful to me. The whole thing was just way too Mary Sue-ish for my stomach to tolerate. It reminded me of Twilight. This bland, utterly personality-devoid and uncompelling woman is (grotesquely) courted by a famous, dashing, handsome, allegedly intelligent, strong, mystical, kingly man for two hundred pages despite her ability to offer him nothing at all: no similar interests, no intelligent conversation, no uncommon hotness, no power, no emotional bond. Reading through Robin Hobb’s or Stephanie Meyer’s high school or midlife wish fulfillment doesn’t make for good reading for me.

    We just have to take it on her word that he does love her and of course he would; why wouldn’t he? she’s the author! And we’re told that of course he does even when he’s given many choices of much more interesting and personable woman who can offer him something in return, whether money or titles or similar interests or intelligent conversation. And we have to take it on her faith that when he showed the normal and natural signs of human growth and emotional development — you know, when he recognized that they had never really had anything that deep and strong except for a child’s familiarity and lust, and an acceptance that he had to move on and she had to move on — that this was actually an abnormal character flaw brought about by Forging and once it was fixed in him magically he went back to the way he was before, in his utter adoration of this empty vapor of a woman.

    A big part of the problem is that, it seems, Hobb didn’t even have enough story developed for a trilogy but she insisted on writing three books anyway. That’s why there’s so much empty space in the Tawny Man books taken up by absolutely nothing happening and no character development or interaction worth a damn. And then 2/3rds of the way through that, she dropped what story she HAD been writing and developing to go back to her Molly fanfic.

    So, yeah, I kind of hated the Tawny Man trilogy and it burned away an enormous amount of the esteem Hobb had built up with me through reading the Assassin and Liveship Trader trilogies. It was just so poorly written. It was the work of an amateur. That doesn’t want to make me read more of her work.

  138. Zack
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard from a few friends that Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera is quite good, and am thinking of putting it next on my reading list. I see Johan Sporre has mentioned it, but that’s the mention in the thread so far. Hmm…

    maybe I should start with The Dresden Files? I’ll be honest, outside of ASoIaF I haven’t read…well, any fantasy, really. Before I got hooked on this series, I tended to read Stephen King, or autobiographies, or spy fiction, or graphic novels. What I like about ASoIaF is the moral ambiguity, the characters that are not generally easily recognizable archetypes. I like all the conventional tropes shifted enough to make them fresh.

    Anyone else have experience with Butcher to have an idea if his series might supply what I’m looking for?

  139. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Zack,

    What little I’ve heard about the Codex Alera has been fairly dismissive. I haven’t read it myself, so it would be unfair for me to say it’s good or bad on the basis of having read The Dresden Files.
    I do know that, though there are some questionably moral characters in The Dresden Files, they’re still done in a very traditional sort of way. It certainly doesn’t have the subtlety or depth of characterization that ASoIaF has. Someone once referred to The Dresden Files as Twilight for men. I wouldn’t be as harsh as that– I enjoyed it, afterall, but it is definitely fluffy, easy reading.

    In terms of something a bit more like GRRM, I would try out any of Tad Williams’s series. I know there are some fans on here who DON’T like his stuff though, so he’s certainly not for everyone.

  140. Zack
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    I appreciate the tip! I’ve just bought Shadowmarch (Vol 1 only, to start) on my Kindle. It seems all but impossible to find an author besides GRRM universally loved among this site’s users, so it’s probably best if I just start here and not worry too much.

  141. Lex
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Zack,

    Tad Williams’ other series, “Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn” was one of GRRM’s inspirations when writing ASOIAF.

    Also, I’d highly recommend sffworld.com for good fantasy recommendations.

  142. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Lex,

    Yes!

    Interestingly (or not, maybe), I read Memory, Sorrow and Thorn before ASoIaF, and kind of like what’s happened to a lot of people after reading GRRMs books, it made me unable to get into a lot of weaker fantasies after the fact.
    It was because of my frustration with the lack of strong, interesting fantasy novels that a colleague recommended ASoIaF to me.

  143. Hear Me Roar
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Lex,

    And, of course, The Wertzone ;) I know I do.

  144. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    Zack,

    While I like the characters in Codex Alera I wouldn’t say they are especially morally ambigous. There are some misconceptions in that world that gets turned around, but mostly I read it because I think it’s a really good fluffy series.

  145. Alan
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    GaR: Alan,
    I prefer for deities to remain offstage as well, personally.But at least Williams’ gods aren’t like Eddings’…    

    No doubt. I just don’t know why you’d want to a) throw away one of the most interesting (to me) parts of the human condition — not knowing these things b) create the “superhero” issue of how I’m supposed to believe this random soldier is important and can play with this god (yes, I’m looking at you, Steven Erikson. Apparently grenades are the great equalizer. What?) and c) basically force the sausage making out into the open (kind of a different look at one). Reading a book with heavy god interaction is like reliving the midichloriates scene from Phantom Menace over and over and over…

    There’s several comments on the Dresden Files. Yes, it’s a fluffier than Martin, and no, for a 10 book series or whatever it is so far, there’s less character development than a truly character driven series. But the advantages it has, over, say a Wheel of Time, is twofold: it’s not a coming of age story — Dresden is an adult with adult concerns and so there’s no real end to the character arc; and because it’s written as detective novels, it works like a tv show — books have a contained plot arc with some overarching ones. If anything is going to be fluff and span 10 books, this is it. I guess I just contrast it to WoT where it felt like Jordan was just making crap up (much like I felt about Lost).

    But Harry is a classic hero and a very good guy. Some of the side characters are a bit more shade of grey.

  146. fangrrrl
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Both The Dresden Files and Codex Alera are great fantasy series, but very different from each other and nothing like ASoIaF. Still I’d very much recommend both. The Dresden Files is one of the really great Urban Fantasy series (without too much romancy fluff). There’s suspense, horror elements and lots of humor – it’s basically a hard boiled geek fantasy series. Codex Alera is more of the conventional High Fantasy kind, even though it’s sort of based on Roman times. Initially I was very sceptic about it, I didn’t think that Jim Butcher could both do Urban Fantasy and “traditional” fantasy. Boy was I wrong. I love the Codex Alera Books so much, I even named my cat Tavi (even though she’s female, I love this character just way to much to not choose that name) :-) The series has a lot of adventure aspects (especially its protagonist Tavi), but also a lot of politics and horror elements (wolf-men and sort of zombie-making insects). The last book felt a little rushed, though, one could tell that the author wrote more than one book a year (btw, the last Dresden Files book was pretty bad imho).
    Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams is a great series, too. A must read!

  147. McSherrie
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Just as a note, the Codex Alera was based on a bet that Butcher couldn’t combine the concepts of Ancient Rome and Pokeman into a single storyline. He managed to do so (almost) seamlessly. It’s not a serious read by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a fun ride.

  148. Johan Sporre
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    fangrrrl,
    Tavi is indeed a great name and a great character :)
    The concept of the Vord are about the most scary creatures I’ve seen.

    McSherrie,
    Not being at all acquaintanced with Pokemon, but I guess the concept and workings of the elements were drawn from Pokemon? I really liked the Roman aspect at least (“people building such structures by hand? Don’t be ridiculous!”).

  149. McSherrie
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Johan Sporre,

    Exactly. The furies and their “manifest forms” were the Pokemon aspect of the story. One of my favorite bits was Tavi working as an archaeologist with Magnus. The fact that many of the things he learned from that short period of time return in later books in a more “traditional” fashion – ie sans furies – increased my enjoyment of the series and added an interesting twist.

  150. Zack
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Lex: Zack,
    Tad Williams’ other series, “Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn” was one of GRRM’s inspirations when writing ASOIAF.Also, I’d highly recommend sffworld.com for good fantasy recommendations.    

    Bookmarked. Sounds like maybe I picked the wrong series to start with. I’ll get Memory, Sorrow and Thorn as well.

  151. Samantha Hirst
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, the only Tad Williams book I have ever read is War of the Flowers; I’m beginning to think I might have to spend my Waterstones points on buying his other works. Which would people recommend first, the ‘Shadow, Memory & Thorn’ series or the ‘Shadowthorn’ series?

  152. Samantha Hirst
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I meant Memory, Sorrow & Thorn………jeez. I think I’m just going to go back to bed until my brain decides life is worth living again. lol

  153. GaR
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Alan,

    In Shadowmarch the gods have very little to do with what happens in the mortal world. They’re sleeping, after all, and the only time a god even really gets out of Crooked’s trap is right at the end, and he doesn’t last long.

    Sure there’s the likes of Jikuyin and Lady Porcupine, a demigod and almost-demigod, respectively. But they’re merely extremely kick-arse and not really god-like.

    So while I don’t like gods being involved, in Shadowmarch they’re much less involved, for the most part, than most of the characters think.

    Samantha Hirst,

    Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is an excellent fantasy epic, but personally I think Shadowmarch surpasses it. Either one is well worth reading.

    War of the Flowers is good, but it’s definitely not on the same scale as Tad’s properly epic stuff.

  154. Steve Hugh Westenra
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Samantha Hirst,

    I like Memory, Sorrow and Thorn better than Shadowmarch as of the first volume of Shadowmarch (keeping in mind that I haven’t read anything past the first one of those, and I’m told that they get better and better as they go on).
    My favourite series by Tad Williams is his science fiction series, Otherland. It’s all awesome though. I never start a Tad Williams novel worried that I won’t like it.

    Johan Sporre,

    Tavi is a real name! It’s welsh. (:

  155. Alan
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    GaR,

    GaR, I do know what you mean, re: Shadowmarch, but it’s mostly just a personal thing I have… it’s the kickass element that actually turns me off over time. Massive differences between abilities of characters creates dynamics in which the next new character is always even more badass, and leaves you wondering how this other character is even still surviving. It creates massive dissonance for me, but not only that, it makes the characters less interesting.

    It’s not really a slash at Tad Williams, who is an excellent writer and more realistic than most.

  156. Croccifixio
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    First fantasy i read was the Sword of Truth series by Goodkind. I loked it a lot at that time since i did not know any better. Now, in hindsight, i did not liked the way the story unfold and keep thinking how would it be if martin wrote the series kahlan would suffer just like pia did at the hands of jagang

    to be fair though i like his 6th book, the Faith of the Falen and consider it as one of my favorites

    next series was Jordan’s Wheel of Time, after the 7th book i have this feeling that he is milking his fans and i almost quit the series because of Crossroads of Twilight. Man, an entire book that is mostly just the other characters reaction on what happened in the 9th book. it was very bad. say what you want about sanderson, at least he is moving the plot without Jordan’s mandatory 200+ pages just describing some character’s dress, the way they talk and how women view men as stupid.

    edding’s books wasnt that great but it was entertaining. kind of redundant plots but i enjoyed it since it did not pretend to be grand.

    martin’s books kind of ruined fantasy for me. almost every book series i tried i compare it to his books. yes, a lot of his fans are angry because the 5th book is still not out. but i would gladly forgive him if the book turns out to be great, full of hints, foreshadowing just like what he did with the other books.

    Malazan Book of the Fallen is good. the first book is hard to read the first time around because he throws you in the middle of a military campaign. but i loved that he has this big vision of his world with a great history of the races in it. and just like martin, i like it that he kills his characters and he dwells in tradegy. The chain of dogs event is something that really hit me hard.

  157. Samantha Hirst
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    GaR,

    Croccifixio,

    Thanks for replying guys, though you haven’t solved my dilemma at all. Guess it’s a trip to the library then – pull out the first books of both series, and then use my Waterstones points to buy the series I prefer, and then start saving again for the next series. Sounds like a plan…XD

  158. Mormegil
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    ethelred,

    The Tawny Man trilogy must have made very little impact on me as I can’t recall half the characters you mention.

    It’s certainly the weakest of her works though I wasn’t all that impressed with the Soldier Son Trilogy either.

    The problem with a lot of Fantasy (Sci Fi too) series (especially if they are set in the same world) is is that each sucessive book and/or series is worse than the previous one.

    Eddings is a prime example, The Belgariad whilst not the greatest series ever written is still an enjoyable read, then things are just repeated in the Mallorean. The Sparhawk stories while having a different and quite interesting setting are full of characters who are repeats of his Belgariad characters and again the 2nd series not being as good as the first.

    Raymond Fiest is another, the first few books set in Midkemia were pretty decent but then after he started putting out novelisations of video game plots each new series set there was worse than the last.

  159. Mirax
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    I actually love the Black Jewel’s works by Anne Bishop. I’m at work, so I can’t really write a post that I feel would do them justice, but they definitely have my vote. They are a bit darker fantasy, in that they deal with all kinds of abuse, and I think the way those abuses are reflected in the characters is very believable and brilliant. I’ve never had a problem falling into the stories while reading (if that makes sense). IMO, they aren’t as gritty as ASOIAF, but the world is definitely not supposed to be our own, and I think it all comes together quite nicely. Personally, I’m always a little surprised that they aren’t mentioned more on sites like this.

  160. Fat Sword of Doom
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    What the bloody is up with that girl with the thick black eyebrowse ey? I can’t stand looking at her every passing day, can I? They shoulda kept Tamzin Merchant for that role, isn’t it? Codsfukenwallop innit?

  161. Ugg insoles
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    the chanel is the ultimate goal to all the women Coach factory stores Nevertheless when the first when Michael Jordan

  162. drwf31
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Steve Hugh Westenra,

    Ha! I’ve called The Dresden Files “Twilight for Men” myself a few times and I love it.


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