“THIS ONE WAS A BITCH”
THUS BEGINS MARTIN’S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS SECTION AT END OF A FEAST FOR CROWS, THE FOURTH BOOK IN HIS SONG OF ICE AND FIRE FANTASY SERIES. AND YES, G.R.R. MARTIN, YOU RIGHT. NOTHING SO OBVIOUSLY CLEAR AS FACT THAT THIS BOOK = A BITCH FOR YOU WRITE. HULK BET YOU HAD FUCK-ALL TIME DRUDGING THROUGH IT. AND IT CLEARLY JUST AS AGONIZING CHORE FOR YOU AS IT WAS FOR YOUR READERS TO READ. YOU KNOW WHAT? HULK ACTUALLY HAPPY YOU MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT YOU HATED WRITING THIS BOOK AND IT NOT SOME MERE INSANITY OF MISPLACED PRIDE WITH WHICH YOU DECIDED RELEASE IT.
HULK JUST WANT CONVEY SOMETHING VERY SIMPLE: IF A FEAST FOR CROWS NOT ONLY ONE OF “WORST” BOOKS HULK EVER READ, IT MOST DEFINITELY THE LEAST SATISFYING.
TWO QUICK MATTERS OF PREFACE:
1) THE “HULK READ A BOOK!” TITLE ABOVE RATHER MISLEADING. HULK READS LOTS OF BOOKS. HULK NOT ONE OF THOSE MOVIES GUYS WHO NO READ. SINGULARITY SEEM LIKE STRANGE WAY TO APPROACH ANY ART.
2) HULK FIRST PICKED UP SERIES SOME YEARS AGO, BACK WHEN HULK HEARD IT BEING DEVELOPED BY H.B.O. HULK THOUGHT THAT GOOD ENOUGH DISTINCTION SO HULK BOUGHT THE FIRST 3 BOOKS. HULK ENJOYED THE FIRST BOOK A GAME OF THRONES VERY MUCH. FOR ONE, IT HAD MASSIVE BALLS. AND WHILE THINGS FLYING OFF HANDLE HULK THOUGHT IT SET UP WHAT HULK ASSUMED WOULD BE GREAT OVER-ARCHING STORY. THEN CAME A CLASH OF KINGS AND HULK FOUND IT BE RELENTLESSLY DOUR AND AIMLESS. RATHER THAN HEAD OFF INTO MEAT OF OVERARCHING CONFLICTS, THE STORY SHIFTED TO THE MINUTIAE WITH MIDDLING RESULTS. LUCKILY, THE ENDING OF THAT BOOK MORE OR LESS OKAY SO HULK KEPT READING. BUT IN THE FIRST HALF A STORM OF SWORDS MARTIN JUST TROTTED OUT MORE OF SAME AIMLESSNESS AND AT ONE POINT HULK TOSSED BOOK ACROSS ROOM IN ANGER AND STOPPED READING IT (NOT AT WHAT YOU PROBABLY THINK THOUGH. HULK EXPLAIN LATER) … A YEAR-PLUS LATER, RIGHT AFTER HULK WATCHED THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE FULLY-REALIZED “GAME OF THRONES” SERIES HULK SAID, “DAMMIT, THIS REALLY GOOD. HULK SHOULD REVISIT THE BOOKS SO HULK KNOW WHERE THIS GOING.” IN MANNER THAT TRULY FITTING, HULK STOPPED READING EXACTLY 8 PAGES BEFORE SWORDS REALLY STARTED COOKING. THE SECOND HALF OF SWORDS FILLED WITH TRULY BIG, BOLD, GREAT + BATSHIT STUFF. SO HULK IN FULL-TILT AGAIN AT THAT POINT.
AND THEN A FEAST FOR CROWS HAPPEN.(1)
LET HULK FOCUS ON THE GOOD FIRST.
ON PURE STYLISTIC LEVEL, HULK THINK CROWS ON PAR WITH REST OF SERIES. IT NOT LIKE G.R.R. MARTIN A TERRIBLE WRITER. HE JUST NOT THAT GREAT.(2), HE HAVE PASSABLE SENSE OF LYRICISM AND CANDOR. WHEN HE NOT SIMPLY LISTING BUNCH OF HEDGE KNIGHTS AND THEIR COMPLETE GENEALOGIES, HE MANAGE PROVIDE HOST OF RICH, TEXTURED, OR WONDERFULLY HATE-ABLE CHARACTERS. AND ASIDE FROM SOME TRULY AWFUL HANGUPS INVOLVING SEXUALITY AND REPETITIVENESS (HULK GET TO THOSE LATER), MARTIN’S INTENTIONS FOR CHARACTERIZATION AND MOOD COME ACROSS PRETTY FREAKING CLEAR.
MARTIN EVEN MANAGE CREATE A FULLY-IMMERSIVE WORLD IN WESTEROS. IT NOT EXACTLY A “FUN” WORLD LIKE STAR WARS/HARRY POTTER/LOTR. INSTEAD IT REFLECT THE LIKELY TRUTH OF MIDDLE-AGES-HORRIBLENESS AND HOW IT MUST HAVE SUCKED FOR JUST ABOUT EVERYONE. UNLIKE MOST FANTASY, THERE NO GOOD OR EVIL. JUST LOTS OF FOLKS ACTING SELFISHLY OR OUTRIGHT AMORALLY. EVEN THE POLITICS TEND TOWARDS SHADES OF GRAY, IF NOT SLIGHTLY WIRE-ESQUE. AND WHEN GOOD, IT GREAT. FOR EXAMPLE, HULK’S FAVORITE THEMATIC POINT IN CROWS HAD DO WITH THE RAVAGING NATURE OF WAR. ONCE THEIR SOLDIERS SCATTERED, IT TURNS OUT THE NOBLE AIM OF THE STARKS ONLY ENDED IN DEVASTATION AND HORROR FOR COUNTRYSIDE. SO OFTEN THE CALL TO WAR PAINTED AS HEROIC THING, BUT HERE IT BECAME MORE EVIDENT THAT STARKS UPROOTED AND RUINED THOUSANDS OF LIVES IN NAME OF A VALID, BUT-ULTIMATELY-JUST-PERSONAL GRUDGE. MARTIN ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THE COST OF JUSTICE. WHICH RATHER POIGNANT AND UN-FANTASY-LIKE.
MEANING THE WORLD OF SONG OF ICE AND FIRE MORE INTERESTED IN BEING “REAL” THAN MOST STANDARD FANTASY. IT REALLY TRYING BE LIKE OUR WORLD, THEY JUST GOT DRAGONS AND SHIT.(3) AND EVEN IF HULK THINK MARTIN’S EXECUTION IN SERIES = CONSISTENTLY MIDDLING, AND HE TEND SLAM THESE POIGNANT THEMATICS OVER HEAD WITH FORCE OF SLEDGE HAMMER, THERE STILL ONE OTHER THING THAT G.R.R. MARTIN HAVE IN SPADES:
MARTIN PERHAPS WORK BEST AS NARRATIVE DAREDEVIL. HIS HUGE RISKS PRETTY WELL-KNOWN AT THIS POINT AND THEY JUSTIFIABLY LAUDED/HATED. HULK SURMISE THAT THE RISKS IN THRONES WORK BEST BECAUSE THAT BOOK SET UP FAIRLY STANDARD NARRATIVE AND WHEN EVERYTHING GO TO SHIT, IT TRULY RESONATE BECAUSE IT BOTH NEW AND UNEXPECTED. BUT THEN THE OTHER BOOKS COME ALONG AND MARTIN NOT AFRAID GO DEEPER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE AND TORTURE/KILL OFF MORE BELOVED CHARACTERS IN UNCEREMONIOUS WAYS.
AT WORST, THIS COME OFF AS PURE SADISM, A WRITER WHO CAN ONLY DELIGHT IN TORTURING THE READER. HULK ARGUE THAT IT MORE LIKELY HE JUST A WRITER WHO MISTAKE SURPRISE AND SHOCK FOR ACTUAL GRAVITAS AND SIGNIFICANCE, SOMEONE WHOSE ONLY WAY TO EMOTIONALLY RESONATE WITH YOU TO PISS YOU OFF EVERY 40 PAGES OR SO. BUT AT BEST, MARTIN UNDERPIN THESE MOMENTS WITH THE SLIGHTEST TRAPPINGS OF HOPE. BUTH THOSE PRETTY RARE. HULK MOST CONSOLED THROUGH THE META-REALIZATION THAT THERE ACTUALLY A WRITER OUT THERE MORE THAN WILLING TO BE BOLD; TO TRY AND ARTICULATE THE RANDOMNESS AND CHAOS OF NATURAL LIFE AND BRING IT INTO GENRE WRITING RATHER THAN MODERN FICTION. IT A BOLD AIM. BUT THE TRUTH THAT HULK NOT REALLY SURE… G.R.R. MARTIN SEEM ALTERNATE BETWEEN THESE TWO ENDS OF SPECTRUM AND OFTEN APPEAR BE DOING BOTH AT ONCE.
BUT EVEN HULK CAN DISTINGUISH THAT A FEAST FOR CROWS THE LEAST DARING BOOK HULK EVER READ.
THERE TRULY NOT ONE SINGLE NARRATIVE “RISK” MARTIN SO FAMOUS FOR. NOW, HULK NOT SAYING HULK INNATELY REQUIRE THESE RISKY-RISKS TAKE PLACE, AS IF HULK SOME READER TAKING THIS IN ON PURE OCD LEVEL. IT JUST THAT WITHOUT THESE RISKS, MARTIN NOT REALLY HAVE NARRATIVE BACKBONE FALL BACK ON. FACED WITH THE COMPLETE ABSENCE OF SHOCK, HULK REALIZED MARTIN HAVE PISS POOR-CONCEPT OF DRAMA (BUT AGAIN, MORE ON THAT LATER).
ACTUALLY, KNOW WHAT? IF HULK TALKING ABOUT BOOK ON META LEVEL, THEN HULK COULD ARGUE CROWS THE MOST DARING OF ALL FOUR BOOKS; IN THAT MARTIN RELEASE OF BOOK WHERE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF INTEREST HAPPEN OVER 1000 PAGES AND THE BEST CHARACTERS ALL REMOVED. BETTER YET, IT WEAKLY IMPLY THE NARRATIVE MOVING TOWARD BIG CHANGES AND CLIMACTIC ACTION, BUT THEN PROMPTLY END BOOK ON SERIES OF EMPTY THREATS AND FUCK-ALL GESTURES… SO YEAH… IN THAT WAY THE BOOK SUPER DARING.
DOES CROWS TRULY WASTE ALL THAT TIME ON POINTLESS NARRATIVE?
IT TOTALLY DOES.
CONCEPTUALLY, CROWS JUST GO WITH EVERY WRONG INSTINCT POSSIBLE. IT SORT OF AMAZING.
SO LET HULK DELVE:
… AND OH YEAH, BEWARE THE SUPER-DUPER-SPOILERS:
FOR STARTERS, WHERE DID HULK LAST LEAVE SOME AWESOME CHARACTERS AT END OF SWORDS? DANEYRS = NOW IN CHARGE OF MINI-EMPIRE ACROSS THE SEA AND SHE TOTALLY A BADASS. TYRION = JUST KILLED HIS DADDY AND TOTALLY A BADASS. JON SNOW = NOW BEING PUT IN CHARGE OF WALL AND TOTALLY A BADASS. CATELYN = REVEALED TO BE STILL ALIVE AND HANGING FREYS WITH THE LORD OF LIGHT AND NOW TOTALLY A BADASS ZOMBIE. STANNIS = NOW A KING WHO SAVED THE WALL AND WANTS TO MAKE JON SNOW LORD OF WINTERFELL AND TOTALLY A BADASS. DAVOS = NOW AT ODDS WITH MELISSANDRE AND STANNIS, YET STILL SOMEWHAT A BADASS.
AFTER ALL THAT, HULK COULD NO WAIT READ CROWS.
EXCEPT THAT ALMOST ALL THOSE CHARACTERS NOT IN THE BOOK WHATSOEVER.
IN FACT, THEY BARELY EVEN MENTIONED BY OTHERS. AND IF ONE OR TWO DO APPEAR IN BOOK, IT ONLY FOR LIKE TWO SECONDS. AND OH YEAH, IN THE WORST CASE, ONE APPARENTLY KILLED OFF.
SO WHAT HULK TREATED TO INSTEAD? HULK GET CERSEI, JAIMIE, BRIENNE, AND SAMWELL…GOOD GOD. ..MARTIN REALLY IS A SADIST. AND WAIT TIL YOU SEE HOW LITTLE FOCUS ARYA AND SANSA GET WHEN COMPARED TO THE THESE FUCKERS. THEY EVEN GET WAY LESS TIME THEN WHOLE BUNCH OF NEW ASSHAT CHARACTERS.
LOOK. HULK MAYBE BELIEVE THERE SOME VERSION OF THIS STORY THAT SUCCEED IN ITS AIM AND HANDLE THE DIRECTION OF THESE CHARACTERS. HULK TRULY DO. HULK NOT REACTING OUT OF SOME O.C.D. SPASM HERE. THE PROBLEM THAT WHAT IN MARTIN TRYING ACCOMPLISH, HE DO PISS POOR JOB OF. MARTIN’S APPROACH TO STRUCTURING THIS NOVEL = DEEPLY PROBLEMATIC.
TO HIGHLIGHT, HULK GOING SUMMARIZE THE ENTIRE PLOTS OF EACH CHARACTER AND LOOK AT CHAPTER/PAGE COUNTS INVOLVED TELLING THE STORIES. NOW, THIS NOT IMPLY PAGE COUNTS SOME MAGIC INDICATOR OF WASTE, HULK JUST TRYING SHOW EXACTLY WHERE MARTIN’S FOCUS WAS WHILE WRITING:
CERSEI – THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN HER SWAN SONG. WHEN STORY STARTED HULK SOMEWHAT INTERESTED BECAUSE SHE FINALLY GIVEN THE POWER SHE ALWAYS CRAVED. AND MARTIN MAKE IT CLEAR EARLY ON JUST HOW PROBLEMATIC THIS GOING TO BE. THE LARGER PROBLEM = CERSEI STILL A CHARACTER THAT MARTIN HAVE NO INTEREST IN MAKING SOMETHING OTHER THAN CRAZY-PSYCHO-BITCH. THERE LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE GOING ON WITH HER ON CHARACTER LEVEL. CERSEI SIMPLY IS. SO NATURALLY, IN THE BOOK THIS HORRIBLY STAGNANT CHARACTER GET RECORD-SETTING 10 CHAPTERS OF SINGULAR FOCUS AND RECORD-SETTING 207 PAGES OF PLOT LINE. WHAT COULD DESERVE SO MUCH ATTENTION? NOT MUCH. THE FOLLOWING ALL THAT CERSEI DO IN BOOK: SHE HIRE “YES MEN” AS ADVISERS, SHE HAVE COMPLETELY ABSURD THROWAWAY LESBIAN AFFAIR, SHE SIT AROUND THINKING ABOUT HOW SHE NOT LIKE THE INFLUENCE OF TOMMENS NEW OLDER BRIDE, SHE SCHEME IN HER MIND TO TAKE THEM DOWN BY ARMING THE HIGH SEPTONS, AND THEN THE HIGH SEPTONS ULTIMATELY ARRESTING HER FOR TREASON… NOW… THIS SOUND LIKE DECENT-IF-SORT-OF-OBVIOUS ARC, FOR SURE. THE SPECIFICS FINE… BUT IT ABSOLUTELY COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED IN 4 CHAPTERS OVER ABOUT 70 PAGES. INSTEAD, THERE HAVE BE ABOUT 100 PAGES OF CERSEI JUST THINKING PEOPLE ARE ASSHOLES. OVER + OVER + OVER AGAIN. HULK REALLY JUST WANTED HER TO SHUT UP. AND THEN THERE WERE LIKE 90 TIMES PRINCESS MARGEARY DO SOMETHING THAT MAKE YOU THINK CERSEI GONNA BLOW GASKET AND INTERVENE, BUT THEN CERSEI DO NOTHING. SHE JUST THINK OF SOMETHING BAD TO SAY IN HER HEAD. HULK UNDERSTAND HOW THIS TRYING SHOW THAT CERSEI BEING CAUTIOUS FOR CHANGE AND WAITING FOR FOR BIG MOVE, BUT AFTER DOING THAT 40 TIMES, HERE HULK’S QUESTION… HOW THE FUCK IS THAT DRAMA? GUESS WHAT? IT NOT! AND THIS WHOLE PLOT LINE THAT TAKE UP 1/4 OF THE BOOK! AND THE BIG CLIFFHANGER = CERSEI WRITING LETTER TO JAIME PLEADING FOR HELP… THAT IT.
JAIME – A CHARACTER THAT GROWING INCREASINGLY LIKABLE/INCREASINGLY HONORABLE GET 7 CHAPTERS AND 140 PAGES AND DO NOTHING BUT: GET BITCHED AT BY CERSEI, GO ON WALK ACROSS COUNTRYSIDE, OBSESSES OVER HOW CERSEI CHEATED ON HIM, STAY WITH RELATIVES AND LISTEN TO THEM BITCHING, THEN FINALLY GETS TO GOAL OF THE SIEGE OF RIVERRUN! ONLY INSTEAD OF DOING ANYTHING BIG, HE JUST NEGOTIATE PEACE. THE TRUTH = THAT HULK LIKE JAIME SEEM BE FINDING HIS SOUL. BUT THERE JUST SUCH NAKED OBVIOUSNESS ABOUT WHOLE THING. AND HIS MOVE TOWARD INACTION WORSENED BY THE FACT THAT THE BOOK NOTHING BUT INACTION. THERE NO POIGNANCY. AND THE BIG CLIFFHANGER = JAIME HAVING NO INTEREST IN ANSWERING CERSEI’S PLEA AND THROWING AWAY LETTER… A NICE GESTURE, BUT STILL, JUST A GESTURE. THERE NO BIG CONFLICT IN ANY OF JAIME’S ARC. IT A MAN BECOMING INCREASINGLY BORED AND ANNOYED BY HIS ROLE. SO GUESS WHAT THE READER EXPERIENCE?
BRIENNE – SHE PROBABLY THE MOST LIKABLE CHARACTER, BUT THAT NOT EXACTLY MEAN SHE INTERESTING. SHE OFTEN NOTHING BUT BLIND FAITH AND NAIVETY. AND SO THE BOOK TAKE 8 CHAPTERS AND 164 PAGES OF BRIENNE WANDERING AROUND ON AIMLESS QUEST THROUGH THE FIELDS NORTH OF KINGS LANDING, ASKING THE SAME EXACT QUESTION: “HAVE YOU SEEN A MAIDEN OF TEN AND THREE WITH AUBURN HAIR?” SHE ASK THAT QUESTION AT LEAST 4 MILLION TIMES (GIVE OR TAKE). ASIDE FROM THAT, BRIENNE MEET A WHOLE BUNCH OF FALSE LEADS, TAKE ON A FEW BORING TRAVELERS, AND HAVE A COUPLE SKIRMISHES WITH CHARACTERS HULK LITERALLY FORGOT EXISTED. BUT THE BIG CLIFFHANGER = DRAMA! CONFLICT! FINALLY! BRIENNE BROUGHT TO LADY CATELYN, THE VERY PERSON THE READER BEEN WANTING TO FOLLOW UP WITH FOR 1000 PAGES. AND CATELYN WHO NOW ASSUME BRIENNE A TRAITOR! THIS THE EXACT KIND OF STUFF MARTIN DO WELL. SO RIGHT WHEN THEY ABOUT TO STRING UP BRIENNE AND HANG HER SHE MANAGE SAY ONE WORD JUST BEFORE IT HAPPEN. END STORYLINE… OKAY… NOW THIS ENDING NOT ACTUALLY AN ACTION. IT THE THREAT OF ACTION. WHICH MEAN THIS GESTURE WOULD BE INTERESTING IF HULK THOUGHT THIS REALLY THE END OF BRIENNE… BUT IT JUST SO NAKEDLY A FAKE-OUT. EVERYONE KNOW SHE ABOUT SAY “ARYA” OR “SANSA” AND LADY CATELYN WILL NOT HANG HER TO LEARN WHAT SHE KNOW ABOUT HER DAUGHTERS. BUT HERE THE THING: EVEN IF HULK WRONG AND THAT THE ACTUALLY THE END OF BRIENNE, THE ALL RESONANCE STILL LOST. MARTIN TELEGRAPHED THE FEINT SO BADLY THAT HULK NOT EMOTIONALLY INVESTED EVEN IF IT HER LAST MOMENT. IT COMPLETELY COLLAPSE IN ON SELF. WHICH MEAN HULK LITERALLY NOT CARE WHAT HAPPEN NEXT WITH CHARACTER HULK LIKE VERY MUCH… HURRAY.
SANSA – SANSA, AN ACTUAL STARK, MEANWHILE GET JUST 3 CHAPTERS AND 73 PAGES. REALLY, SHE BARELY IN IT. THE BIGGER PROBLEM THAT HER STORYLINE JUST AS UNINTERESTING AS THE OTHERS. SANSA MOSTLY SIT AROUND TAKING CARE OF SICKLY BOY ROBERT. THEN SANSA ACTUALLY GETS PRETTY NEAT THING REVEALED TO HER BY LITTLEFINGER AT END… THE ONLY THING IS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN LOT NICER SEE LITTLEFINGER’S SCHEME AT PLAY AND NOT SIMPLY RECAPPED TO US IN FOUR PAGE MONOLOGUE. EVER HEAR “SHOW DON’T TELL?” MARTIN FUCKING LOVES TO JUST TELL. AND EVEN THEN IT NOT EVEN AN ACTION, JUST A PLAN. ABOUT AS WORTHWHILE DRAMATICALLY AS THE EMPTY GESTURES. OF COURSE, THE BIGGER PROBLEM OF HANDLING SANSA IN SUCH ECONOMIC FASHION THAT IT MAKE YOU WONDER WHY THE FUCK THE OTHER OTHER CHARACTERS COULDN’T HAVE ENJOYED THE SAME ECONOMY.
ARYA – NOW… THIS ONE COULD HAVE BEEN PRETTY NEAT, BUT IT ONLY ENDED UP BEING MERE INTRODUCTION. ARYA JUST GET 3 CHAPTERS AND JUST 58 PAGES (THE LOWEST TOTAL ANY CHARACTER GET IN ANY BOOK) TO TELL HER TALE. AND THAT SUCKS BECAUSE ARYA NOW IN BRAVOS AND SHE BEGIN LEARNING THE WAYS OF THE ONE WITH MANY FACES. AND WHAT LITTLE THERE = TOTALLY FANTASTIC. IT A RESONANT, EMOTIONAL, DARK, AND HAUNTING PLOT-LINE…. SO OF COURSE MARTIN BARELY GIVE IT ANY ATTENTION. THE WORST OFFENSE THAT HULK ACTUALLY FORGOT WHAT HAPPENED AT END OF HER PLOT BECAUSE IT HAPPENED SO MUCH EARLIER IN BOOK THEN THE REST OF STORY’S “CLIMAXES”… BOO.
SAMWELL – UGH. SAM. AT BEGINNING HE SENT BY JON TO OLDTOWN BECOME A MAESTER. HULK SORT OF GET ON BOARD WITH THAT IDEA AND HULK EXCITED FINALLY BE PULLED INTO THAT WORLD, ESPECIALLY AFTER THE TEASE AT BEGINNING WHICH INSINUATE SOME MAJOR INTRIGUE GOING ON THERE… BUT SAM’S JOURNEY TAKES 5 CHAPTERS AND 87 PAGES AND IT BARELY GET THERE. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT THING THAT HAPPEN ALONG THE WAY = AEMON DIES. AND SAM MAYBE HAD SEX WITH A GILLY. IT SORT OF GLOSSED OVER. FOR THE MOST PART SAM JUST FUTZES AROUND AND FEELS HELPLESS. AGAIN, HULK LIKE HIS CHARACTER, BUT DRAMATIZING FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE JUST SO ENDLESSLY ANNOYING. AND WITH SAM, MARTIN CONTINUALLY USE ONE OF HIS WORST DRAMATIC CONVENTIONS OF HAVING SAM AT NEW/DIFFERENT PLACE THAT RECOUNTING HOW HE GOT THERE. THIS CAN BE FINE, BUT OFTEN IT SAP THE ENERGY OF NARRATIVE RIGHT OUT. ANYCRAP, SAM EVENTUALLY GET TO OLDTOWN AND THE BIG ENDING GESTURE OF HIS STORY? THE ONE THAT CAPPING OFF THIS LONG-ASS JOURNEY? THE SAME GESTURE THAT SUPPOSEDLY WORTHY ENOUGH TO BE THE ENDING GESTURE/CLIFFHANGER FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK? SAM MEET A TINY CHARACTER WHO DIED FOR SOME REASON IN THE OPENING TEASE. A CHARACTER WE NO CARE ABOUT. AND THE READER STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT HAVE DO WITH ANYTHING WHATSOEVER OR WHAT IT EVEN IMPLYING… UGH… FUCKING GARBAGE.
THE DORNISH FOLK! – NOW THIS WHERE THE NEW BOOK TAKE LEFT TURN AND INTRODUCE LOTS NEW CHARACTERS. ONLY INSTEAD OF GETTING ONE CHARACTER TO FOLLOW AND GET TO LIKE, THERE A ROTATION OF “ONE-OFFS” THAT ALL HAVE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON STORY. ON SURFACE THIS SEEM LIKE INTERESTING IDEA. SOME CHARACTERS COULD HAVE DIFFERENT KNOWLEDGE OF EVENTS AND HOW THINGS PIECING TOGETHER. IT SEEM LIKE GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR INTRIGUE… EXCEPT IT USED FOR SHIT. HULK CAN LITERALLY THINK OF NO ADVANTAGE GAINED BY HOW MARTIN USES THIS DEVICE IN CROWS. NONE. THE WHOLE DORNISH PLOT-LINE INVOLVE THE VARIOUS FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE RED VIPER WANTING TO GO TO WAR AND THEN THE CURRENT PRINCE JUST PREVENTING THEM. AT FIRST HE JUST SEEMS LIKE WUSS, BUT AFTER 4 CHAPTERS AND 85 FUCKING PAGES IT JUST REVEALED THAT THE PRINCE ALREADY HAVE MASTERPLAN WITH DANY ACROSS THE SEA… MAYBE… IT ACTUALLY NOT ALL THAT FUCKING CLEAR. THE POINT IS IT NOTHING BUT MORE INACTION.
THE FUCKING IRON ISLANDS GANG – QUICK! WANTED TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE IRON ISLANDS? EVERY PERSON WHO LIVED THERE? THEIR TRADITIONS? EVER HEARD OF A KINGSMOOT? WELL YOU IN LUCK! AND BY THE WAY, THERE’S NO THEON, WHO THE ONLY ACTUAL MEMBER OF THIS CREW IT BE NICE REVISIT AND FIND OUT WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED WITH HIM…. BOO… BUT REALLY THE PROBLEM WITH THIS WHOLE IRON ISLANDS THING THAT WE EVENTUALLY INTRODUCED TO WHAT ASSUMED TO BE MAJOR CHARACTER: THE CROW’S EYE. HIS STORY ABOUT GOING TO VALYRIA = ALLURING AS FUCK, AND HE EVEN REVEALED TO HAVE THIS GAME CHANGING WEAPON AT HIS DISPOSAL (WOW, THESE MAGIC GIANT HORNS PRETTY POWERFUL HUH? REMEMBER THE ONE THAT CAN TAKE DOWN THE WALL? BET YOU DIDNT REMEMBER IT CAUSE IT NOT EVEN MENTIONED IN THIS BOOK). THIS NEW IRON ISLANDS RULER IMPLIED THAT HE CAN BE THE GUY WHO CAN TAKE DOWN DANY’S DRAGONS! CRAZY! THAT PRETTY INTERESTING… SO PARDON HULK BUT WHY SPEND 5 CHAPTERS AND 96 PAGES AND NOT REALLY KNOW ANYTHING SUBSTANTIAL ABOUT THIS FUCKER. OH HULK COULD TELL YOU ALL ABOUT AERON, OR ASHA, OR VICTARION, OR THE LIBRARIAN OR WHOEVER ELSE THE FUCK. WE GET SPEND HOURS WITH THEM FOR SOME REASON. BUT THE ACTUAL INTERESTING GUY WHO FULL OF INTRIGUE? BEST KEEP HIM ON THE PERIPHERAL. AND HOW DOES HIS STORY ROUND OUT? OH YEAH. MARTIN NEVER MENTIONS THEM OR THEIR STORYLINE FOR THE LAST 1/3 OF THE BOOK. SERIOUSLY, ALL THE IRON ISLANDS CHARACTERS STOP BEING MENTIONED ON PAGE 633. IT SO FAR FROM END THAT HULK FORGOT ABOUT YET ANOTHER CLIFFHANGER. AND HULK MEAN, WHY DEAL WITH THAT STORY, WHEN YOU CAN HAVE BRIENNE WANDER A BIT MORE?
SO THAT = A FEAST OF CROWS IN ALL IT GLORY.
HULK WORRY THAT WHAT HULK JUST DESCRIBED SEEM LIKE A LOT. BUT TRULY IT NOT. IT THE PLOT FOR WHAT HULK ESTIMATE TO BE A 400 PAGE BOOK THAT STILL FEEL ORGANIC… IN FACT, HULK MORE OR LESS COVERED EVERY SINGLE PLOT POINT IN FEW HUNDRED WORDS… SO OVER 1000 PAGES OF IT = FUCKING TEDIUM. BORING. REPETITIVE. MIND-NUMBING. TEDIUM.
TO HIGHLIGHT JUST HOW THIS SO, HULK WANT THINK ABOUT THE POSSIBLE SEASON OF TV BASED ON THIS BOOK (THAT NOT GOING HAPPEN, IT WILL BE TIED WITH DRAGONS, BUT STILL, HEAR HULK OUT). WHAT PARTICULARLY TELLING THAT THERE JUST SO LITTLE ACTION TO DRAMATIZE. HULK NOT TALKING ABOUT “ACTION SCENES” BUT EVEN JUST CONFRONTATIONS AND CONFLICT. EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENING IN BOOK HAPPENING ON OBSERVATIONAL LEVEL. THERE LIKE 4 ACTUAL EVENTS OF CONFLICT. MAYBE IT GET SOME MILEAGE OUT OF CERSEI’S POLITICAL DECISIONS, BUT FOR MOST PART THOSE EQUALLY REPETITIVE. THERE LITERALLY NOTHING TO USE IN TERMS OF DRAMA. AND EVEN IF THE TV SHOW USE A DANCE WITH DRAGONS THEY STILL GOING HAVE DIVIDE MATERIAL UP OVER TWO SEASONS (AT LEAST THAT THE PLAN) SO THEY ONLY HAVE HALF MATERIAL FROM EACH TO GO WITH… AND GIVEN HOW LITTLE THERE ALREADY IS, HULK JUST NO SEE HOW IT POSSIBLE. IF THE NEW BOOK ANYTHING LIKE THIS LAST ONE, IT WOULD MEAN THERE LIKELY ONLY 1 SEASON OF MATERIAL TO GET OUT OF 2,500 FREAKING PAGES. THIS TV-ADAPTING THING MATTER TO HULK BECAUSE IT REFLECT JUST HOW MUCH THIS BOOK = A NON-STORY.
ULTIMATELY, IT JUST MAKE CROWS THE MOST UN-CONSCIENTIOUSLY UNSATISFYING AND MAYBE THE “WORST” BOOK HULK EVER READ. OH SURE, STUFF LIKE TWILIGHT FAR MORE INSIPID.(4) BUT HULK NEVER READ A BOOK THAT SO AMAZINGLY FORGET ITS CORE IDENTITY AND MISSION. HULK GET ALL OF MARTIN’S INCLINATIONS, BUT IT JUST SEEM LIKE THE COMPLETE MISUNDERSTANDING OF WHY PEOPLE READING THE BOOK. THE TANGENTS AND REALISM OF ROAD TRAVEL = THE WINDOW DRESSING THAT HELP ONE ENJOY THE OBJECTIVE, NOT THE OBJECTIVE ITSELF. THIS LIKE IF J.K. ROWLING WROTE A VOLUME OF HARRY POTTER THAT JUST THE CAMPING.
WHAT COULD TRULY POSSESSED GEORGE R.R. MARTIN TO WRITE THE BOOK LIKE THIS?
IT POSSIBLY JUST ONE TERRIBLE DECISION. MARTIN APPARENTLY GOT MOST WAY THROUGH WRITING CROWS BUT HE THOUGHT IT TOO LONG… SO HE JUST, YA KNOW, TOOK OUT ALL BEST CHARACTERS AND EITHER NO EDIT THE OTHERS OR STUFF THEM FULL OF EVERY DETAILED WHIM. IT LIKE MARTIN HAVE SOME SECRET REQUIREMENT THAT THESE FUCKERS BE OVER 1000 PAGES. AGAIN, THIS EXACT STORY COULD HAVE BEEN 400 PAGE BOOK AND EVEN THEN IT STILL NOT VERY INTERESTING. AND NO TELL HULK PAGE COUNT NO MATTER. ECONOMY HELP DRIVE STORY AS WELL AS CHARACTERIZATION. IT NO ACCIDENT THAT THE BEST BOOK IN SERIES, A GAME OF THRONES, ONLY 694 PAGES. IT HAVE MUCH, MUCH BETTER PACING.
BUT REALLY THE DECISION TO STRUCTURE BOOK LIKE THIS GO BACK TO WHAT HULK CONSIDER HIS BIGGEST PROBLEM:
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN WRITE LIKE AN ANT WALKS.
HEAR HULK OUT: THIS NOT TO IMPLY HIS WRITING JUST SLOW (WHICH IT IS), BUT INSTEAD THAT MARTIN SEEMS TO TREAD SLOWLY AND DELIBERATELY THROUGH EVERY WORD HE WRITING WITHOUT GIVING SINGLE THOUGHT TO PACING, ARC, BEATS, ETC. THIS NOT TO IMPLY HE UNAWARE OF THEM. BUT HE DEVISE A POINT A AND POINT B AND THEN JUST TAKE THESE LONG, STEADY STEPS, ONE AFTER ANOTHER TOWARD CONNECTING THEM. THE NARRATIVE FOR EACH CHARACTER JUST A STRAIGHT LINE, WHICH DESCRIBING EVERY LITTLE BIT OF NEEDLESS DETAIL ALONG WAY (EVEN WHEN THE DETAILS INTERESTING, THEY NEVER TRANSCENDENT… AND MOST OF THE DETAILS NOT THAT INTERESTING). NOT ONLY THE PROCESS = TEDIOUS, IT CAUSE THE NOVELS BE DISTINCTLY “A-DRAMATIC.” LOOK, HULK LIKE AN ORGANIC FLESHED-OUT NOVEL AS MUCH ANYONE. GIVE HULK JOYCE, FAULKNER, PYNCHON, OR DFW ANYTIME. (5) BUT THOSE VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF BOOKS WITH VERY DIFFERENT SORTS OF AIMS. THE VERBOSE NATURE OF THE DETAILS WITHIN THEM SPEAK TO LARGER THEMATIC POINTS. AND THE LARGER POINT OFTEN SEEM ESCAPE MARTIN.
MARTIN TRULY SHOWCASES A DISTINCT LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS. HE SEEM IN CONTROL OF THE WRITING AND CHARACTERIZATION, BUT IT LIKE THE ACTUAL STORY VOMITTED FROM HIS ID, PAGE BY PAGE. PERHAPS HE KNOW THE ENDGAMES FOR CHARACTERS. BUT FOR LONG STRETCHES IT JUST SEEM LIKE THERE NOT EVEN SLIGHTEST INKLING OF PLAN OR DEVELOPMENT. THE CHARACTERS SIMPLY ARE AND RARELY CHANGE. THE STORY HAPPENS AROUND THEM.
AND THE VOMITING ID NOWHERE MORE OBVIOUS THEN THE LUDICROUS SEXUAL HANG-UPS ON DISPLAY THROUGHOUT THE SERIES. HULK KNOW SOME WRITERS BORDER ON MASTURBATORY, BUT THIS THE ABSOLUTE PINNACLE OF MASTURBATORY WRITING. HULK WOULD BET LIFE SAVINGS THAT GEORGE RR. MARTIN TOTALLY JERKED IT TO VAST MAJORITY OF HIS SEX SCENES. THEY THAT ABSURD. THE LANGUAGE USED LIKE NOTHING ELSE IN THE BOOKS. THE NARRATIVE WILL ABSOLUTELY STOP FOR FULL-ON PAGES SO THAT WE CAN HAVE LURID DESCRIPTIONS OF WOMEN’S BODIES (SORRY STRAIGHT LADIES, MARTIN NOT INTERESTED IN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY OGLING). THE TRUTH INESCAPABLE: GEORGE R.R.R MARTIN TOTALLY MASTURBATES TO OWN WRITING.
YEAH, TOTALLY GROSS.
IN THRONES IT ALL SEEMED INNOCENT ENOUGH. WE GOT A MARRIED COUPLE AND FEW OTHER BITS. AT FIRST THE THREATS OF RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE WORK EXACTLY AS INTENDED (TO MAKE READER FEEL VULNERABLE AND SCARED) AND THEN AT ONE POINT IT JUST ERUPT INTO MARTIN’S DISTURBING SEXUAL ID. MARTIN GO FULL PAST IMPLYING THAT RAPE A FACT OF LIFE IN THESE DAYS, AND INSTEAD IT BORDER ON MANIACAL INSISTENCE. THE WHOLE “PEOPLE = HORRIBLE” HYPOTHESIS LOST ALL NARRATIVE EFFECT. MARTIN PROVED IT. AND ULTIMATELY IT JUST MAKE HULK FEEL EITHER TIRED AND UNSEEMLY. THE WORST REACTION HULK CAN HAVE = TO READ SOME HORRIBLE STUFF AND JUST SHRUG. BUT THAT WHAT MARTIN DO. THERE NO HINT OF META-UNDERSTANDING TO VIOLENCE AND SEX . THIS NOT A CLOCKWORK ORANGE TREATMENT. IT A COMPULSION.
FRANKLY, THE CONSENSUAL SEX NOT ANY BETTER. SWORDS HAVE ONE INCREDIBLE MOMENT WHERE MARTIN WRITE HIS PAINFULLY-OBVIOUS REDHEAD FANTASY WITH JON AND YIGRITTE. IT FILLED WITH ALL THIS MODERN VERNACULAR AND INANITY THAT IT MADE HULK HURL THE BOOK ACROSS ROOM IN DISGUST. HULK NOT EXAGGERATING WHATSOEVER WHEN HULK SAY IT READ LIKE A HIGH SCHOOLER’S SLASH FIC PORN.
AND CROWS HAVE THE DISTINCTION OF INTRODUCING READER TO MARTIN’S SWEET NIPPLE FETISH! AND THANKFULLY, THE COLOR, SIZE, AND PROXIMITY OF EVERY NIPPLE IN THE BOOK ACCOUNTED FOR IN EARNEST. HULK ESTIMATE A HEALTHY 50 PAGES DEVOTED TO NIPPLES AND THE VARIOUS THINGS PEOPLE WANT TO DO WITH NIPPLES. AND FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT INTERESTED IN THIS STRAIGHT-UP SEXUALITY SHIT, NO WORRY! THERE PLENTY OF SUDDEN AND STRANGE S+M BITS WITH IN-DEPTH DETAIL ABOUT HOW WOMEN TORTURED AND THEIR NIPPLES CUT OR BITTEN OFF. IT FUN FOR ALL!
OKAY, HERE THE THING ABOUT MARTIN’S CREEPY-ASS SEXUAL HANGUPS: IN BOOK FORM THEY INSUFFERABLE. BUT ON TV, THE SEXUALIZATION PRESENTED THROUGH THIRD PARTIES. WE NOT GOING DIRECTLY INTO SOME WEIRD GUYS HEAD, WE JUST GETTING SEX PRESENTED BY HOST OF ACTORS AND WHOLE SERIES OF DECISION MAKERS, ETC. NOW HULK KNOW THERE SERIOUS AND OFTEN UNSEEMLY SEXUAL POWER-POLITICS THAT GO INTO ON-SCREEN NUDITY (AND FOR SURE AND HULK NOT DISCOUNTING THEM), BUT HULK JUST TRYING TO POINT OUT THAT THERE A MORE DEMOCRATIC AND LESS-ICKY SENSIBILITY TO IT ON TV. THE SEX “EXIST” IN A WAY THAT VIEWER SEEMLY WATCH.(6) WHEN READING, HOWEVER, THE READER COMPLICIT IN CONSTRUCTING THE SCENES FROM MARTIN’S FUCKED UP IMAGINATION. HULK KNOW THIS ALL SORT OF MACLUEN-ESQUE, BUT IT PARAMOUNT. THE NUDITY ABSOLUTELY GRATUITOUS ON THE SHOW, BUT RARELY IT FEEL OUTRIGHT PORNOGRAPHIC. MEANWHILE, MARTIN’S BOOKS = ABSOLUTELY PORNOGRAPHIC.
WHICH BRINGS HULK TO A DECLARATION OF INTENSE SACRILEGE:
THE TV SHOW = WAY BETTER THAN THE BOOKS.
IT TRUE. AND NOT JUST BECAUSE OF THE SEXUALITY. ALL THROUGHOUT FIRST THREE BOOKS HULK JUST KEPT SAYING TO HULKSELF: “THIS WILL WORK REALLY WELL ON TV!” AND IT DID. ALL THE BEATS OF THRONES CAME OFF LIKE GANGBUSTERS. BETTER YET, ALL THE NARRATIVE PROBLEMS OF BOOKS DRIFT AWAY AND WE LEFT WITH THE GREAT CHARACTERS, A GREAT ENVIRONMENT, AND SOME GREAT OVER-ARCHING CONFLICTS. THE AMAZING ACTORS PROVIDED THE CHARACTERS WITH A SUBTLE, ROUNDED NATURE THAT MARTIN NEVER COULD. THE FAT GOT TRIMMED. THE PACE FOCUSED. THE THEMATICS RAMMED HOME. THE SHOW FEEL BALANCED IN WAY THE BOOKS NEVER EVEN COME CLOSE ACHIEVING. YES, IT ALL STEM FROM MARTIN’S DELIGHTFULLY MESSED-UP ID AND HULK THANKFUL FOR BOTH HIM AND HIS VISION, BUT THE SHOW GET FILTERED THROUGH MANY TALENTED FOLKS TILL IT APPROXIMATED INTO SOMETHING BETTER.
AND IF HULK BEING SUPER HONEST, HULK THINK THE LOVE OF THE BOOKS MISGUIDED IN GENERAL. HULK KNOW THIS MIGHT BE UNPOPULAR OPINION OR MAKE HULK SOUND LIKE A FUDDY-DUDDY. THE FANS OF SERIES REALLY DEVOTED AND HULK UNDERSTAND THE DEVOTION. THEY VALUE THE PROPERTY BECAUSE IT DO THINGS FEW OTHER THINGS EVEN TRY TO DO. BUT HULK JUST BEING HONEST ABOUT OPINIONS AND ONLY THINGS GOOD COME FROM HONESTY. SO HERE GOES:
HULK THINK THE FIRST BOOK = A GREAT STORY AND THE SECOND HALF OF THE THIRD = THE PERFECT KIND OF NUTS. BUT HULK THINK THE GOODWILL OF ENTIRE SERIES TRULY INDEBTED TO BRUTAL, DEEPLY RESONANT MOMENT WHERE THEY KILLED OFF NED STARK. HULK TALKED ABOUT THE SHOCK OF THAT INITIAL READ AND HOW ELECTRIFYING IT FELT. SO FROM THAT POINT ON, READING THE BOOKS = TRYING RECAPTURE WHAT MAKE THAT SINGULAR MOMENT SO GOOD. ONLY THIS A FALSE AIM. THE REASON FOR THIS TWO-FOLD: 1) BECAUSE WE SUBCONSCIOUSLY CRAVE “THE SHOCK” THE READER CAN NO LONGER EXPERIENCE IT IN SAME WAY AS ONCE DID. THIS AMPLIFIED BY 2) MARTIN NOT REALLY HAVING MUCH ELSE TO DRAW BACK ON WHICH CAN ACHIEVE SAME LEVEL OF RESONANCE. HE NO WRITE BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS. HE NO WRITE CATHARTIC MOMENTS. TIME AND TIME AGAIN, MARTIN COME AT YOU WITH THE SAME EXACT TACTICS OF DOURNESS, DEATH, AND SHOCK. ONLY NOW THEY LESS AND LESS EFFECTIVE . HECK, IN NEXT BOOK, ANY CHARACTER COULD DIE FOR ANY REASON AND IT NO SURPRISE HULK WHATSOEVER. FUCK, DANY COULD GET HIT BY A BUS.
WHAT IT MEAN THAT THE READER PARTICIPATE IN THESE NOVELS LIKE A DRUG ADDICT.
HULK KNOW THIS SOUND LIKE HYPERBOLE. BUT IT TRUE. HULK GOT THE “FIRST HIGH” AT NED STARK’S DECAPITATION AND NOW BEEN CHASING THAT HIGH WITH DIMINISHING RETURNS EVERY TIME. THAT EXACTLY WHAT IT MEAN TO BE DRUG ADDICT. BUT HULK KEEP DOING IT NO MATTER HOW ENRAGING AND AWFUL BECAUSE, FOR BETTER OR WORSE, HULK SIMPLY IN AT THIS POINT. HULK JUST ADDICTED AS ALL THE OTHER DEVOTED READERS.
EVEN IF CROWS FEEL LIKE A “BOTTOMING OUT” MOMENT.
SO, IF EXCUSE, HULK HAVE PREPARE HULK-SELF FOR OBLIGATION OF A DANCE WITH DRAGONS IN FEW DAYS.
…HERE’S HOPING SOMETHING HAPPEN IN IT.
(1) – HULK READ IT IN ABOUT 5 DAYS. THAT SEEM A LITTLE EXTREME FOR 1000 PAGE BOOK, BUT IT JUST THAT THOSE DAYS COMPRISED TWO CROSS COUNTRY FLIGHTS AND FREAKING TON OF DOWN TIME. SO JUST KNOW HULK NOT TRYING IMPLY IT “ELECTRIFYING-CAN-NO-PUT-IT-DOWN-READ!” NOT AT ALL. HULK WOULD HAVE BARELY SLOGGED THROUGH IT IN DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES.
(2) – HULK REALIZE STATEMENTS LIKE THIS CAN BE OFF-PUTTING. IT NOT MEANT LIKE THAT. THE GOOD WRITER/BAD WRITER ARGUMENT TEND BE MOST BIZARRE ONE. LIKE HULK ARGUE J.K. ROWLING NOT A “GREAT WRITER” BUT SHE MAYBE ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE IN THE WORLD. WHEREAS, HULK THINK UPDIKE ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS IN WORLD, BUT HULK THINK HE TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE. MEANWHILE, MARTIN JUST SOMEWHERE IN MIDDLE WITH BOTH. BACK TO EXPLAINING WHY…
(3) SOMETIMES MARTIN’S DESIRE BE LIKE REAL LIFE, YET SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT COME OFF KIND OF HILARIOUS. HE FILL THE BOOKS WITH SUPER-SPECIFIC MODERN PROPER NOUNS AND THEN THROW IN THE OCCASIONAL CHANGE UP: “MILK OF THE POPPY”, “HE’S BUT FOUR-AND-TEN”, “GOOSE PRICKLES,” ETC. THE FUNNIEST PART ABOUT THESE THAT MARTIN BECOME OBSESSED WITH THE SAYING FOR LIKE A GOOD 200 PAGES AND THEN FORGET ABOUT THEM COMPLETELY. “GOOSE PRICKLES” WAS USED IN THE FIRST BOOK LIKE 90 TIMES AND NOT MENTIONED SINCE. IN CROWS, EVERYONE SUDDENLY EAGER SAY HOW OLD THEY ARE “I’M FOUR-AND-FORTY YEARS!” WHEN HULK SERIOUSLY CAN NO REMEMBER THE CONVENTION EVEN BEING USED BEFORE (IT MIGHT HAVE). THE POINT THAT MARTIN ALWAYS HAVE THESE LAZY, TEMPORARY LANGUAGE OBSESSIONS WHEN TRYING TO FANTASY SHIT UP.
(4) – HULK ACTUALLY GOT 2/3 THE WAY THROUGH IT. BUT THIS WAS LONG BEFORE IT WAS “TWILIGHT” AND JUST SOME BOOK SOME TEENAGERS READING… WHAT?… SERIOUSLY?… SHUT UP! HULK LIKE STAY UP ON YOUNG-ADULT FICTION BECAUSE IT FUCKING IMPORTANT, THAT’S WHY!
(5) – HULK WOULD ACTUALLY LOVED TO SEE ANY OF THOSE GUYS TRY WRITE THEIR VERSION OF FANTASY BOOK.
(6) – THIS GET INTO ISSUES OF VOYEURISM, BUT THAT ANOTHER CONVERSATION.
24 thoughts on “HULK READ A BOOK! EXACTLY WHY “A FEAST FOR CROWS” A TERRIBLE WASTE OF 1000 PAGES”
I don’t know Martin’s work, but from your descriptions it reminds me a lot of Death Note. The first time the puppets stab each other, you’re shocked; the second, you’re electrified; the third, the only response is dread of the fourth — a weary, embarrassed dread. The repetition is ghoulish. There’s something too human and yet too zombielike about it, like when Bub answers the phone in Day of the Dead.
Death Note was similarly adapted in a way that smoothed out the authors’ idiosyncratic nastiness, enriched the characters with skilled acting, and made the series better. But that adaption couldn’t save the last arcs. It made them faster, but now you’ve just got fast zombies.
(This calls out for some kind of remark on adapting manga to anime vs. the presumably much more radical task of adapting books to television, but I don’t know enough about manga, anime, books, or television to proceed .)
Thanks for your blog. It’s getting better and better.
IT FUNNY. HULK NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT MANGA/ANIME EITHER. ALL HULK’S FORAYS INTO SEEM NOT GO SO WELL. EXCEPT AKIRA BUT HULK A LOT YOUNGER FOR THAT ONE. HULK WILL LOOK INTO THIS ONE AND THANK KINDLY FOR COMMENT.
Hey Hulk, I’ve read your blog from the start but this is the first time I’ve commented.
I last read the Ice and Fire books a good two years ago, and I remember feeling the same way about Feast for Crows; it was overlong and overdull, and suffered from a curse which seems to afflict a lot of so-called ‘epic’ fantasy – padding. Fantasy writers seem to confuse ‘epic’ with ‘long,’ and if they don’t have enough plot to make a book long, they try to stretch it out anyway. This, of course, is anathema to good writing.
I’d like to ask, have you read the First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie? They’re fantasy books which are similar to Martin in tone, but I’d say they’re even more daring than Martin is, better-paced (by which I mean, they actually have a pace), and, to cap it off, only about 400-500 pages long each! I’d be interested to see your opinion of them, if you ever have the time/inclination.
Thanks for the great blog!
HULK SAY FEEL FREE COMMENT MORE OFTEN! THIS GREAT. HULK HAPPILY TAKE YOU UP ON RECOMMENDATION TOO. WILL CHECK OUT FOR SURE.
I heartily recommend AGAINST the First law trilogy. Like Martin he confuses doing something different with doing something well.
Abercrombie believes that if you have characters learning and growing and changing and then at the very end they go back to their oiriginal A$$hole selves who haven’t learned anything, that makes for original storytelling. While I realize this is a familiar trope, especially in fantasy stories, just reversing it does not make for brilliant writing. To have over 1200 pages of a story, and then have people revert to form in the last 50 is not “shocking” or “amazing,”, just lazy and stupid
While I haven’t read any of the Games of Thrones books (yet), I have read a lot of Martin’s other books and short stories. I have to say, he does love to use killing a main character as a shocker.
I like to think that maybe another option as to why he wrote an entire book devoted to beating new characters into your brain is he’s looking for a champion? Someone he can give a strong voice to, make the new hero and then behead.
While 1000+ pages seems like a lot of overkill, I’ve always been a fan of being forced to know someone and then seeing them die in the bigger picture. In stories. Not real life.
I read YA fiction too, don’t worry.
Anyway, I declined to read these books when all of my friends discovered them in 2006 because I didn’t want to get Wheel of Timed. (I never got into WoT myself, but I still know That Way Lies Madness.) Then I declined to read them again when the TV show was announced, and continued not to read them while the show ran. I did catch a few episodes, but I couldn’t really get into it because a) totally gratuitous nudity, and b) CARCETTI WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
Then my bff sent me this interview snippet:
>>And then there are some things that are just don’t square with history. In some sense I’m trying to respond to that. [For example] the arranged marriage, which you see constantly in the historical fiction and television show, almost always when there’s an arranged marriage, the girl doesn’t want it and rejects it and she runs off with the stable boy instead. This never fucking happened. It just didn’t.
“This never fucking happened.”
In a series of books about goddamned dragons.
(And then he talks about rape.)
I’m hardly insensible to the truly shit conditions that everybody who wasn’t a landed dude lived under during the Middle Ages, but seriously? If an author is going to be so incredibly derisive of one kind of fantasy in such an incredibly sexist way, I confess myself less than interested in what fantasies he is willing to entertain.
Wow, an almost spot on review of this series! I love it! I know GRRM masterbates to his own writing, it gave me the creeps when I was reading his “intimate” sceens too. Everyones comments on how he is the greatest thing since sliced bread and it leaves me to wonder if they have actually read anything good before. I will not contine looking for any kind of redemption in ADWD. The torture of Brienne and Arya after all the rest was quite enough for me. If this sadist could bring himself to reward virtue just once, instead of raping, pillaging,maiming, killing or ..eating the face off!!,of anyone who remotely smacks of good I might be able to stomach this hack. Can you imagine the worms that crawl through his dreams? Not to mention the fact he has obviously grown board with his own material and is filling pages with “fluff” between twisted sceens of torture or weird pornography in order to fill his page count. Perhaps he will get too board to finish this farce. I suppose in a perfect world he would be treated and helped to get better instead of being signed by HBO for untold millions. It reminds me of something…
I think I can hear Nero playing a violin…….
HULK LAUGH. GREAT COMMENT. IT REALLY SPEAK TO HULK’S THING ABOUT HOW INCESSANT MARTIN IS WITH THE “HORRIBLE THINGS HAPPEN!’ ANGLE. IT GONE BEYOND DRAMA OR MERELY PRESENTING THE BOOK’S REALITY AND SETTING. WE KNOW THE HORROR = AN EVER-PRESENT THREAT. WE KNOW ALL THE CHARACTERS FOCUSING ON THE MINUTIAE OF THEIR OWN BULLSHIT WHILE TERRIBLE THREATS LOOM. BUT MARTIN ABSOLUTELY FIXATED ON THEM. IT THE ONLY THING HE CAN DO.
I hope that you review A Dance with Dragons.
Your review captures a lot of my feelings on A Feast for Crows, and somewhat of the series, but not completely. I still like the series probably more than you do.
I read the last books a year or two ago, but I couldn’t stomach reading the same 4000 pages again for this new 1000 page epic, especially remembering how drawn out AFfC was.
ADwD reminds me of it intensely, especially through the first half at least, but then at the end it picks up again and then it falls on it’s face for the sake of cliff hangers. I am intensely disappointed in the ending and in the author as I have heard it said he will not start on the next book until 2012.
However, he does a lot of good writing work on the pathos and terrible mental anguish of a torture victim in this book, which is probably the best part of it. The rest of it is somewhat lack luster.
At least he admits that this one was 3 bitches.
ps: I like your blog a lot 😀
1) I remain unconvinced of the vomiting-id Hulk critical theory mechanism, but I have less proof with Martin than with Meyer. I also have way less interest in delving around online to find that proof, given that yeah, the vast majority of his sex scenes are indeed creepy as hell.
2) I agree completely with all of your other points re: AFFC.
You know, I had always planned on re-reading the first 4 books before reading Dragons (have only read them each once). There’s so much I’ve forgotten, and I even enjoyed AFFC the first time around (I read it back-to-back with the previous book so the effect of missing out on great characters was not as strong).
However this post may have convinced me to skip the re-reads. It’s a tough call. Would you consider re-reading in this case to be “time wasted”? One-hundred hours that I could have spent playing Fallout 3, watching all of Woody Allen’s films, watching David Lynch’s “Rabbits” 150 times, etc…
I think I disagree with you about the series since GoT trying hard to re-create the Eddard moment. I am cognizant of and have disdain for works that I feel are constantly escalating the plot to be as shocking as possible, and where the majority of the appeal of the work comes from that aspect. This is the case with Breaking Bad, The Shield and Oz for example (contrast with Sopranos, The Wire or Mad Men which rarely feel the need to speed up the pace or make exciting things happen for the sake of it). ASoIaF never set my radar off in that regard. We’ll see how I feel going forward.
To start, there is actually a reason why Martin decided to structure the book this way, and like it’s hinted at in the afterword it’s not something he set out to do.
His initial plan was for the 4th book to take place 5 years after the end of Storm of Swords, he felt he had written himself into a bit of hole in regards to how young some of the kids still and the way Storm mostly wraps up the War of Five Kings, it’s a natural break point for there to be a gap so the dominos can get set up all over again.
But Martin couldn’t do it. He spent something like 2 years writing that book before scrapping it and starting over. Of course that just created a bunch of new problems, because he had to not only create a bunch of new plot threads to cover things that would have ostensibly happened offscreen in the intervening time, he now also had to reshuffle the timelines in order to keep everything on track for his endgame. Then that book became so huge and unwieldy that he was forced to split in half. That really hurts the Iron Islands and Dorne plot lines in particular, because both of those really are just cut in half and get some actual payoff in the next book.
Now all that said, I’m actually going to defend this book. You raise some valid points about about his writing quirks which I can’t and won’t bother to deny (the way he fixates on certain phrases both incidental and thematic to the point where they lose all relevance he is absolutely guilty of.). The sex thing, I simply don’t get the same squickyess that you do. I’m not sure if it’s just growing up in the Internet Age that has desensitized me to that stuff but the whole “Martin getting off on his own sex scenes” argument seems just a liiiitle distasteful in an otherwise well thought out piece. That scene in the 3rd book is one that always gets brought up, but that chapter is also written from the POV of a teenage boy with his very first girlfriend, maybe it’s an instance of Martin getting “too real” but it’s also literally the last moment of happiness they have together. The other one that gets mentioned is the Cersei lesbian scene, which just confuses the hell out of me because Cersei herself is so bored and disinterested in what’s going on to the point of hilarity that it instantly defuses any real potential for titillation.
The Jaime and Brienne chapters are where the book really shines for me, not just because of the interesting thematic stuff he gets into which you acknowledge above, but because those are the places where I did find both the badass moments and brief glimmers of beauty that you were missing. For me, personally, Jaime upholding his promise to a dead woman who despised him and ending the siege of Riverrun bloodlessly is his single most badass moment in the series, event more so than jumping into the bear pit. And the moment on The Quiet Isle, where the monk talks to Brienne about redemption and the rarity of true 2nd chances as the bandaged gravedigger works in the background (who is clearly Sandor, though Martin has enough restraint to never blantantly acknowledge it), that is for me at least, a perfect example of Martin writing a beautiful moment.
I’m typing this on my phone or I’d go into even more depth, but I will say that I found Feast immensely more rewarding on a reread, and the Dorne and Iron Islands stuff comes off way better through the mirror of having read Dance. Of course I also liked both Storm and Clash considerably more than GoT, so we may have to agree to disagree!
Thank God someone took the time to explain what would be his side of thing (not being facetious). I was just going to sum it up in a few sentences: “Storm of Swords was where he paid off most of the interesting storylines (ref: Tyrion) and he’s has a good idea where the whole the ends in what should have been book 6. But that means book 4 (now 4+5) becomes mostly a book to move around the pieces to set up the finale and that’s why A Feast for Crows is spinning the wheels while ever so slightly nudging the characters along. He was never going to build on the heights that was Storm of Swords because it was his midpoint and after that it was back to setting up the dominoes.”
Hey Hulk. I have no idea if you’ll ever read this, coming as it is a year afterwards, but I just stumbled across this review.
I usually find you to be FRIGHTENINGLY on point in your writings. Like, I read your piece about the Hero’s Journey and I want to yell, “He’s saying what everyone’s thinking!” Or what I’m thinking, anyway. But on this, I have to diverge rather sharply from you.
Don’t get me wrong: I would not disagree that AFFC is a massively bloated and aimless book, and the decision to chop it and ADWD into two novels just so he could have something to throw to the wolves was a staggeringly bad one. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as what you’re saying–having read it just a few months before this piece was written, I didn’t have to wait as long to read ADWD as most others did and so saw it as part of the continuum of the larger story, so the momentum was a lot stronger…at least, I thought so. But I can’t exactly quibble with your points about how it could have been pared down and had its focus shifted.
What I have to take issue with is this:
“HULK THINK THE FIRST BOOK = A GREAT STORY AND THE SECOND HALF OF THE THIRD = THE PERFECT KIND OF NUTS. BUT HULK THINK THE GOODWILL OF ENTIRE SERIES TRULY INDEBTED TO BRUTAL, DEEPLY RESONANT MOMENT WHERE THEY KILLED OFF NED STARK. HULK TALKED ABOUT THE SHOCK OF THAT INITIAL READ AND HOW ELECTRIFYING IT FELT. SO FROM THAT POINT ON, READING THE BOOKS = TRYING RECAPTURE WHAT MAKE THAT SINGULAR MOMENT SO GOOD. ONLY THIS A FALSE AIM. THE REASON FOR THIS TWO-FOLD: 1) BECAUSE WE SUBCONSCIOUSLY CRAVE “THE SHOCK” THE READER CAN NO LONGER EXPERIENCE IT IN SAME WAY AS ONCE DID. THIS AMPLIFIED BY 2) MARTIN NOT REALLY HAVING MUCH ELSE TO DRAW BACK ON WHICH CAN ACHIEVE SAME LEVEL OF RESONANCE. HE NO WRITE BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS. HE NO WRITE CATHARTIC MOMENTS. TIME AND TIME AGAIN, MARTIN COME AT YOU WITH THE SAME EXACT TACTICS OF DOURNESS, DEATH, AND SHOCK. ONLY NOW THEY LESS AND LESS EFFECTIVE . HECK, IN NEXT BOOK, ANY CHARACTER COULD DIE FOR ANY REASON AND IT NO SURPRISE HULK WHATSOEVER. FUCK, DANY COULD GET HIT BY A BUS.”
Followed by the cod-psychoanalysis of the book’s fans, which, I’ll be honest, was a little irksome, but whatever.
I think reducing the books to a couple of shocking moments is doing them a HUGE disservice. Look, I know you’re a Hollywood guy. You’re all about narrative leanness and structure. And that’s good, but the thing is, I’ve always felt that these ideas are emphasized too much in modern storytelling precisely because we’re such a movie-oriented culture these days. You even mention Joyce and Pynchon in your article, but then use them to dismiss Martin, which I really don’t think is fair (who can compete with those guys?) But while rambling aimlessly is rarely a good thing in any medium, literature often has other goals than providing a high-powered plot.
It comes down to the godfather of this particular subgenre: JRR Tolkien. Now, this is a writer with whom I’ve had HUGE problems in the past, and they tend to tie in with his emphasis of detail and world building over character and even plot. But…I won’t deny that Tolkien’s achievements in world building are rather stunning, and that had he coupled them to a less problematic story (I don’t want to get into a huge thing about Tolkien here, but I’d argue that LOTR has almost every problem, narrative-wise, that you identify with AFFC) I would have far less to complain about.
And this is why I like Martin: not only does he marry the world-building to a much more satisfying and complex story, he does it in a FAR more relevant way, by *showing how history impacts the present*. This is a HUGE part of the books, and it’s why so much of the supposedly rambling storyline can be forgiven, at least in my view (not all of it, of course, but a lot of it). With Tolkien, plunging into his appendices and whatnot feels like homework. I actually like The Silmarillion, but long stretches of that are almost impossible not to glaze over, because it’s so academic and dry–deliberately so. Tolkien’s not writing a human story, he’s writing an academic journal about stuff that he made up. It’s rather astonishing in its way, and it can draw you in to an extent through sheer effort, but it’s not something that captivates you in the conventional narrative sense.
But with Martin, I found myself dying to learn more not just of Robert’s Rebellion (which after all was essentially the backstory of the existing characters) but also stuff like the Targaryen invasion, the history of the Faith of the Seven, or the Time of Heroes and the War for the Dawn–because these things are obviously crucial to the story being told now. “The dead hand of history” (metaphorically represented by the White Walkers, I’d argue) is a huge aspect of the books, and the potential for the characters to maybe, possibly, escape it is one of the more unremarked themes. I honestly don’t think it’s a coincidence that even if Dany conquers Westeros she’ll be without children, thus ending the Targaryen’s reign, and necessitating her legacy being more ideological (which is why the stuff in Meereen and whatnot isn’t time-wasting or wheel-spinning; Dany’s trying to find a new way to rule that might help bring something closer to social justice to a country mired in medieval thinking). Likewise the (I’m guessing) impending end of the Night’s Watch or the brewing clash between the Maesters and magic, or the various religions. Some of this is touched on in AFFC, making the book more relevant than I think you’re giving it credit for. Again, not going to argue there isn’t some wheel-spinning here, but to boil down Cersei’s chapters to “she makes a bunch of bad decisions and lets religious fanatics take over” is, I think, glossing over some of the importance of the world-building and thematic stuff that Martin’s laying down.
In essence, I think because Martin writes such a compelling, page-turning plot in a genre that, until “A Game of Thrones” was published, was known for a surfeit or narrative momentum, you seem to be latching onto it as the ONLY thing Martin brings to the table, when I’d argue that there’s a whole thematic level that you’re ignoring. And AFFC is part of this just as much as the others are, which redeems it somewhat in my eyes.
Really, though, it comes down to reducing these novels to a series of shocks when I believe they have a lot more to offer than even some of the books you have specifically outlined as being superior–particularly the Harry Potter novels, which I think suffer from most of the sins you attribute to Martin (even dourness–no, Potter’s world isn’t as bleak as Westeros, but these are supposed to be kid’s novels!) with far fewer redeeming features.
Finally, I think that you’re wrong to slam Martin for using the same “shocking death tactics” over and over again. I think this is something Martin has actually calibrated very carefully. Yes, we believe anyone CAN die, which is something you rarely get in an adventure story, and which Martin has carefully built up. But, I’m sorry, “Dany could get hit by a bus” is misunderstanding the story rather badly. Of course Dany’s not going to get hit by a bus. Martin wants you to feel like that could happen, but the Big Shocking Deaths have so far fit very nicely into a narrative structure that’s obvious looking back on it. He’s killing people off so that you don’t get too comfortable, but he just as obviously has plans for how the story can continue without them, plans that seem obvious in retrospect.
(BIG HONKIN’ SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY)
Robb’s and Ned’s death may have felt like horrible setbacks, but in retrospect you can see how they mesh nicely with the story. Whereas Dany or Tyrion dying…that’s not going to happen, because they haven’t fulfilled their narrative function yet. Even putting aside how popular the characters are, Dany getting hit by a bus in the next book would render five books worth of subplots pointless (weeeellll…OK, after ADWD, there *IS* an argument to be made that Dany’s dragons could carry on without her, with her having served the purpose of raising them and setting them loose on Westeros. But even that proves my point, because she had to get to that point in the narrative.) To use the obvious example post-ADWD: part of the reason I think Martin killed Ned and Robb was so that we’d now believe that Jon Snow is dead. But…he isn’t. Story logic wouldn’t allow it, and it’s not hard to see the mechanics of how he can survive, or come back, or whatever. In that sense, I think Martin is nicely playing with our expectations.
…I don’t really have anywhere else to go with this. Love your stuff, just wanted to take issue with an article that I think is unfair to Martin.
I think it’s been pointed out too that his world is almost cartoonishly dark, dour, grim, and depressing.
Sure, in real life, the medieval world was pretty lousy (it was made worse due to a Western historical perspective informed by the Renaissance and Enlightenment that obviously had biases), especially by modern standards. Still, the amount of rape, murder, and comically off-the-charts destruction present in these books and this world paints the very image of a world that couldn’t sustain the kind of shit that goes on for more than a few decades. I’d say within a generation or two, a real society would collapse due the misery that Westeros has undergone on a yearly basis. I realize this is a fictional fantasy world but when your selling point is “OMG LOOK HOW REAL EVERYTHING IS” it had better walk the walk.
And it don’t walk.
I think it’s worth noting that George Martin has repeatedly talked about how he intentionally makes everything in his world bigger and more extreme than actual history. What the merits and demerits of this approach are is up for debate, but given that it IS his approach, I don’t think it is accurate to accuse him of making ‘”OMG LOOK HOW REAL EVERYTHING IS”‘ his selling point.
Martin draws on history for inspiration, and his novels overturn and/or criticize some of the more unrealistic or overly nostalgic conventions of the fantasy genre. His audience has responded to this by labeling his work realistic, in what I believe to be a good example of what HULK might call latching onto tangible details (apologies, HULK, if I have totally misconstrued what you mean when you talk about those). I certainly wouldn’t call his books realistic; like you said everything is way off the scale in his world. But I think that his fans have generated the expectation that his world will be realistic by chattering relentlessly about “the gritty realism” of Martin’s work as if it were his novels’ primary virtue, when in fact it was simply the easiest attribute for them to latch onto when describing why they thought the novels were good.
I think I liked this book much more than most but I do agree that there were problems with it and you illustrated those perfectly. I had the luxury of reading all five books from May-August so I didn’t have to suffer through the wait times which I’m sure made a big difference.
I do think the TV show handles some character moments much better than the book does (I felt the same way about the LOTR movies). Take Blackwater…for epic scale of battle the book has it all over the show. For character beats? The TV show killed it. Tyrion’s under his breath “I’ll lead the charge” surprising even himself, Cersei drunken auntie routine and seeing the burning Blackwater through the Hound’s eyes all made for much more emotional moments than were depicted in the book.
Holy shit, Hulk you my favorite author. You summed up Feast for Crows in a wayi wished GRRM would have.
I have a theory: the author of Game of Thrones has been kidnapped and someday – when book 97 comes out “A Cacophony of Canes” he will return. Of course at that point – after all the remaining characters have been killed and then raised 6 or 7 times – the final epilogue will be -“and then the Doom of Westeros erupted and all the lands were covered in water”
Meanwhile, the review is remarkably soft on the post GoT spawn that RR brought forth. Inhopes of understanding what the attraction is, I have read many reviews of these works(I cant say I read the books as much as suffered through them having learned the trick on how to read them – essentially skip the first 3/4ths of each chapter to stave off the boredom from the endless repetition of the kind of er, prose exemplified below) and no one apprises the unsuspecting reader that 80% of the each chapter is : “putrescent puss oozed from the bloody stump” or “the stench of the maggot filled corpses induced the onlookers into retching volumes and volumes of vomit…” and of course the piece de resistance for the literary critic – vast discourse revolving around the conjugation and declension of the vulgar term for defecating and fecal matter. Seriously – RR must have had some serious potty training problems.
From what I can tell – the entire attraction of this – errr – let us use a different vulgarity for RR’s favorite metaphor – how about ? “Martin” – the entire attraction of this Martin is that the author throws out a copious quantity of Martin and readers of the 1st book are essentially writing their own story (Jon is actually the twin of Danerys or Littledinger is actually Greenfish or whatever theory catches their fancy) from that point forward.
I have a memory that a fellow named Hobbes pithily said, “life is brutish, nasty and short.” We now have what 4000 pages of saying the same thing.
Long time reader, first time poster – I have to say I’ve found your posts spot on and educational in the past, but completely disagree with you here. Why? You’re reviewing a book by movie criteria. The irony being that GRRM went back to books specifically because of his frustration with the limitations of screenwriting – which if I’ve read between the lines of your posts correctly, is pretty much the same job that you do now.
I’m on my first reread now, and I am swapping between AFFC and ADWD in a roughly chronological fashion, since it is clearly one narrative. I think reviewing AFFC in isolation as you have is understandable, but ultimately self-defeating. He clearly said in the end note that it was one half of the story and explained his reasons for doing that – purely logistical. There will be no TV series based on this book, only the larger plot. The other thing with his choice of language is that he is semiotically pre-empting everything that happens, but in a way that you only notice on the reread, so it’s one of a very few fantasy series I’ve ever read that is constructed to this level of detail. Absolutely loving it.
I’ve just begun to read A Feast for Crows and am finding it difficult for some of the reasons expressed by you and others. However, I am having a different issue. I don’t know if it is just me, or if anyone else has had this problem. I found your blog while trying to see if I’m the only person who feels this way. To me the book reads as though it is by a different writer. The sentences don’t flow in the same way as previously; they seem shorter and simpler. To me, it reads like a romance novel. I noticed in the front of the book that Mr. Martin has written with other people and wondered if this could be a collaboration, although that is not indicated.
At any rate, do you think the sentences somehow sound different?
Everytime I try to read the book this thought comes to me and I can’t get beyond it. I look forward to someone else’s opinion.
What are people talking about? This book was golden, an improvement over the others, I felt. All parts of the book were equally interesting. Previously, I sometimes felt as if I was just waiting to get back to the Wall, or Tyrion, or the East. Westeros was an afterthought it seemed. In contrast, this book showed me Westeros more than any of the others; I was completely immersed in it.
All the character arcs were compelling and interesting. Each showed me a sliver of a wonderfully realized world, and shaped the character into something stronger and more worldly. Sansa? Grew from a girl into a woman. Brienne? Found nothing, but discovered herself. Jaimie? A profound story of redemption and courage. Sam? Got laid. And yeah, maybe I could’ve done with more Arya. And maybe there could’ve been less Cersei.
BUT, the overarching Westrosi plot of this book was the downfall of the Lannisters, just as Swords and Kings focused on the collapse of the Starks. So while it was frustrating to view the plot through the warped, overwhelmingly negative viewpoint of Cersei, the payoff of Cersei having to answer for her treatment of others, especially Jaimie, was incredible.
I can see why people felt bored with this book. The overarching, epic scope of the previous books was abandoned in favor of consolidating the plot and tying story-lines together. I greatly appreciated this. Before the books had seemed jumbled and disjoint, many different stories running in parallel; the struggles in Westeros ironically peripheral to the Wall and the East. Now, thanks to this book, I can see how the series fits together more clearly.
*My One Complaint: I really would’ve liked to see the Cersei and Margery trial decided by combat, with Jaimie championing Margery (and winning). Not only would this have emphasized Jaimie and Cersei’s distance, it would have provided a logical resolution to Jaimie’s struggle with the loss of his sword hand. This may never happen though, because the drive behind the new Jaimie is that he has to be something more than a fighter.