Monday Night

Game of Thrones update: partway through the third book I started to worry that George Martin had settled into a recursive storytelling pattern of the sort that Wheel Of Time fans know and hate. I’m not worried about that anymore. In other news, for reasons that a few of you can guess Walder Frey (the eldest) is no longer my favorite character in all of literature. Now I find myself hoping with all of my being that HBO will bankroll a spin-off show that features Pyp, Grenn and Dolorous Edd*.

Also, Max. Too.

el otro sunset 6

(*) “Band of Breathers“, maybe.

57 replies
  1. 1
    delphi_ote says:

    Despite your reason for changing your mind, I still think Walder is one of the greatest characters of all time. That moment just knocks the wind out of you!

  2. 2
    Lurking Canadian says:

    If you ask me, the stupid kid had it coming to him, for trying to “do the right thing” in Westeros. I wasn’t even surprised when it happened.

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    I would have never guessed that Walder was selling CDOs.

    Oops, guess I should have warned of spoilers.

  4. 4
    Fred says:

    Hey ADL or whoever who got all excited about the last manufactured controversy out of Faux. Watch and learn. This is me. Or an exact copy of my thoughts, attitude and body language at a minimum. Do you see any hint of racism here?

    You can easily interchange the words “Trump” with “black rapper in the white house”. Same argument.

  5. 5
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    Obama’s a monster

  6. 6
    delphi_ote says:

    In spite of the evidence, I refuse to believe you have the cognitive capacity to type, Fred.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    @Fred: I love you, you god damned spoof. And I don’t care who’s running you.

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    You know whose performance I am loving- Michel Muller as the French King in the Borgias. He’s just great.

  9. 9
    minus says:

    Never posted here before Tim, but I’m too curious to keep myself away. What was it in the beginning of the book that struck you as recursive? I would have thought that the simple fact of who we follow in the novel’s first POV chapter would have dismissed any concerns about repetitive storytelling, but perhaps you’re referring to something specific in Wheel of Time with which I’m just not familiar.

  10. 10
    SIA says:

    Max has the most deliciously demented expression in his photos.

    Re Game of Thrones, sounds like it’s worth it? I’ve been recording it but haven’t dived in yet.

  11. 11
    Foxhunter says:

    Hi Tim. Looking at some of your other photos of ‘Max’ on your flickr account, I noticed what looked like an e collar.

    If that is indeed an e collar, how is that working out for you?

    Love the sharpness and contrast on the more recent photos. Good work!

  12. 12
    SIA says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): Z.O.M.G. What did he DO to her?

  13. 13
    Gozer says:

    I don’t watch Game of Thrones…or any fantasy type stuff either.

    But anyways…MAX!

  14. 14
    Small Paul says:

    “Walder Frey (the eldest) is no longer my favorite character in all of literature”

    Yea, when I read that originally I was like this guy obviously didn’t read Storm Of Swords yet.

    If you think about it, though, Walder Frey probably made the right decision. He both gained Lannister favor and recovered from Robb’s “insult”. The Freys are in a better positon..for now. It’s hard-living in Westeros.

    –although I won’t lie; I wanted to throw the book out the window when I first read The Red Wedding.

  15. 15
    nalbars says:

    I am sorry to tell you that book 4 is quite bad. It was very disappointing because books 2&3 are unbelievably good. 4 is so bad as to remove any faith that Martin still has any heart in the story at all. I am hoping that with the return to the wall and the near north book 5 rights this sinking ship. He is pretty much lost in the weeds, and needs to get the kids grown up and the story moving along.


  16. 16
    nalbars says:

    No Paul, he made the wrong decision.

    The river men are going to tear his castle down around his ears, and tie his family to stakes. And that is how they get in, via the river.


  17. 17
    Dogsbody says:

    a recursive storytelling pattern of the sort that Wheel Of Time fans know and hate.

    I hear that. I got to the end of book 6 and realised that I just didn’t give a shit anymore.

  18. 18
    Montysano says:

    So Ted Nugent goes on Huckabee’s show. The interview is 10 minutes of dog whistle and Murkin exceptionalism. Then, Huck straps on a bass and they play“Cat Scratch Fever”.

    I’m confused. I’ve completely lost the narrative. I honestly have no fucking idea what they’re even talking about any more. But The Nuge does seem like the perfect manifestation of whatever it is.

  19. 19
    Wil says:

    a recursive storytelling pattern of the sort that Wheel Of Time fans know and hate.

    Can you elaborate on this? I love(d) the Martin books for the most part…one of them got a little overlong, but still.

    I tried once to get into the Wheel of Time saga and just couldn’t do it. Sixty pages in and it seems like nothing was happening at all….and I’ve always had a grudge against Jordan for writing one of the worst Conan books ever.

    So what’s the “recursive storytelling pattern” that WOT fans know and hate so much?

  20. 20
    PeakVT says:

    @minus: I’m not sure what Tim is referring to, but to me in books 3 and 4 GRRM fell into the pattern of ending chapters with Shocking Cliffhangers! that made me feel like I was reading 8 or 10 different books in turn. IOW, he seemed to be on the verge of losing control of his material. In WOT that definitely happened, as each sub-plot wandered off on its own and ceased moving the larger story forward.

  21. 21
    Geoduck says:

    Another way Frey’s doomed himself is that from this point forward no one, even his new supposed allies, will ever trust him; he’s proven how completely worthless his word is.

    Will be interesting to see if the books ever do get finished.

  22. 22
    Shinobi says:

    I need a cigarette. Jon Stewart, the things you do to me.

  23. 23
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @John Cole:

    You know whose performance I am loving- Michel Muller as the French King in the Borgias. He’s just great.

    Seriously, he’s been fantastic and I love the (historically correct) depiction of the French as bloodthirsty badasses. I’m still trying to get over their arguably offensive butchery of the Cem Sultan story, but my urge to kill is fading.

  24. 24
    General Stuck says:

    Max rawks!!

    And so does that little camera. I don’t no how I am ever going to afford one, but ain’t buyin’ anything other than bare necessities till I can. Around 600 bucks if I remember right..

    OH. and did I mention max rawks!! Regal

  25. 25
    Walker says:

    The “recursive storytelling reference” is that Jordan was always opening up new storylines without resolving the old ones. So you kept going down the rabbit hole with no indication of when you were going to come out.

    Jordan finally turned the ship around in book 12. But by then a lot of people had quit. And Jordan died (though Sanderson is okay).

  26. 26
    Scott P. says:

    I thought A Feast for Crows was really good — as good as any of the other books.

  27. 27
    Dave C says:


    Sorry, just had to say that.

  28. 28
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    recursive storytelling pattern of the sort that Wheel Of Time fans know and hate

    ahh, the wheel of cheese and time.
    i had forgotten.

  29. 29
    SectarianSofa says:

    “a recursive storytelling pattern”

    Can someone expand on this a bit? So when I write my epic fantasy novel series, I don’t do whatever this is (at least to the evidently annoying extent done there). (And no, haven’t read Wheel of Twine. Tried the first book, got a little way in and lost it, and forgot to try again.)

  30. 30
    RandyH says:

    What a beautiful dog.

  31. 31
    Bnut says:

    @Shinobi: I needed a smoke after that fucking.

  32. 32
    Comrade Luke says:

    I’m really impressed with the quality photos you’re getting with the EP-1. I assume you recommend it? :)

  33. 33
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Is Max always so happy? He is such a gorgeous boy.

  34. 34
    electricgrendel says:

    ******SPOILERS!! OH MY GOD! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS BELOW!!************

    I am convinced that the only reason there are so many Frey is so that when Arya becomes an assassin she can kill every last one of them. Nymeria is even wondering around the riverlands, suspiciously close to the Frey stronghold.

  35. 35
    The Other Chuck says:

    My girlfriend really loves Game of Thrones on HBO, and her favorite character is … Ned Stark.

    I don’t have the heart to tell her.

  36. 36
    Yutsano says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Obligatory PUPPEH!! And such a gawjuss boy too.

  37. 37
    moe99 says:

    Tyrion, Arya and Daenarys are still my favorite characters, bar none. Sunday night left me gasping, it was so good. Martin can take his characters and develop them. They can change for the better and for the worse, Amazing. But I plan to haunt him if it’s not finished before I die. I started this series before 2000, and it’s not done yet? What a travesty.

  38. 38
    Wil says:

    Tyrion, Ned Stark, John Snow, and Catelyn. So many good characters to choose from, and I haven’t even read the books in years so I’m probably forgetting some good ones.

    Arya should have been killed off two books ago. Sadly, it appears Martin really likes this character so we are stuck with her.

  39. 39
    DPirate says:

    He named someone Pip, and he changed the spelling?

    muahahahhaha So sad…

  40. 40
    Nate Dawg says:

    It’s a nice day for a…red wedding…yah.

    A Storm of Swords is definitely the best of the books…so far.

    A Feast for Crows is quite dull in comparison, but still much much better when compared to, well, the whole genre.

    I think he did get lost in the weeds, and when I re-read AFFC, I always skip the stupid Brienne chapters. My god, literally nothing of importance happens in them.

    I have no earthly idea why he pushed her into a prominent PoV character. I hope she dies. Quickly, with little fanfare, and no grave to even piss on. Yes, she sucks that much. Then he can give her PoV to Catelyn, who should have really interesting thoughts right about now, eh?

  41. 41
    Neil Morse says:

    True confession: I have always loathed Sansa, to the point where I will point and laugh whenever some new calamity befalls her. Arya, on the other hand, is one of my favorite characters in the series.

    *SPOILER* Did anyone else cheer when Jaime threw the letter away? I’m hoping for a big-ass plate of comeuppance for a character who deserves it.

  42. 42
    Tim F. says:

    About recursiveness: Midway through book three I started to feel a lot of deja vu with some of the perspective characters. Aria would get close to her goal and then change hands to some other sordid representation of common life during medieval wartime and Sansa will go on acting as a foil for Martin to editorialize about the stark contrasts between Arthurian chivalry tales and the sad reality. Tyrion will get punished for trying to do the right thing, Bran will get frustrated because he wants to walk and can’t, Catelyn will brood and Joff will be a mostly irrelevant git. By the end of book three most of that got sorted out.

    @Foxhunter: The e-collar works fairly well. You absolutely have to tailor your approach to the dog – someone I know used it too soon/too often on a sensitive dog, and now it’s afraid to go outside. Max is almost immune to physical correction (the squirt bottle with tap water works like a charm) so for him it’s more of a small pinch that reminds him to pay attention to what I’m saying. That does not guarantee that he’ll listen, but with time he’s getting better at it.

    @Comrade Luke: The Pen series can take great photos, but it really is not for everyone. In exchange for a tiny package you have to settle for the focusing performance of a point-and-shoot and a minimal control layout. You also need to keep the kit zoom in a drawer and buy some primes. In my opinion the essential kit is the Panasonic 20mm, a cheap and sharp manual 50mm 1.8, and then whatever specialized glass you need (e.g., wide/macro/long/tilt/shift/whatever). The Panasonic 45-200 zoom is shockingly good for its price, but that only makes it pretty good on an objective scale. The system will never capture sports action or birds on the wing and it’s better if you do not expect it to.

  43. 43
    Arakasi says:

    Before long, Martin is going to start bringing to the front the true heir to the throne of Westros.

    Hodor, of course.

  44. 44
    Hodor says:


  45. 45
    rumpole says:

    I tried a few of the wheel of time books. Crap. The same story over, and over, and over, and the first one wasn’t that good. I have tried a book called “The Name of the Wind” by an author named Rothfuss, and really liked it. Have ordered the second. Much more my speed. I’ll wait on Game of Thrones until the first season is over.

  46. 46
    Dennis says:

    A Storm of Swords was a good book. It would have been a great book if it was 300 pages shorter. There’s a ton of bloat in the first half of the book.

    A Feast for Crows on the other hand is crap. Recursive plotlines of the type Tim warns about abound, to the point where I now refer to pointless subplots in long fantasy series as “Iron Islands.” I have hope for A Dance with Dragons, because it deals with the characters and plots that are more important, but we’ll see.

  47. 47
    Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac says:

    I guess you could see some of the storytelling as recursive, if you’re only focusing on the main characters, like Arya for example. From book 2-3 Arya is just constantly getting pulled around by bigger groups and other events, but each event is a fairly awesome premise and miniature story.

    *minor spoilers*

    The Soup event, Gendry, Hot Pie, Lem, Sandor’s fire duel, the attack on the black brother caravan headed to the wall, Arya’s three wishes are all some of my favorite parts of the story, even if they are just couched within Arya’s narrative of escaping/being caught again.

    Also, Jon’s chapter after the Red Wedding made me tear up a little.

  48. 48
    Crashman says:

    @Dennis: I am so incredibly uninterested in any of the Iron Islands story. Unfortunately, from what I heard, Dance of Dragons will feature Asha Greyjoy as a major POV character. Yawn.

  49. 49
    Tim F. says:

    @Arakasi: Martin should definitely give Hodor some perspective chapters.

    BTW, since a critter that has been opened to a skinwalker can be used by any skinwalker, does that mean that Hodor is fair game if they run into a gifted wildling? Or Summer?

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac: Agreed. Storm of Swords is packed with Oh Shit! moments. Weasel soup is one of them, and Lysa’s last flight, and the Red Wedding of course (IMO Robb asked for it, but it is still a move that the Freys will regret). The greatest are the two big farewells at the end of the book: Arya closing Sandor’s storyline and the best father-son moment since Vader cut off Luke’s hand.

  50. 50
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    @rumpole: I really wanted to like The Name of the Wind, but it felt too much like I was reading “Jimmy the Hand Goes to Hogwarts.” But every once in a while, Patrick Rothfuss turns a phrase where you pause and think, “Motherfucker can write!” I think Name is pretty much the finest example of the world’s oldest fantasy trope: How the Boy Becomes the (Wizard) Man.

  51. 51
    Bob says:

    Books 4 and 5 of Martin were supposed to be originally one book, but got split into two due to ridiculous amounts of writing. Sadly, he split all the interesting characters into book 5. I stopped reading Book 4 midway through and decided to wait for book 5 to come out.
    5 years later…

    WoT is almost done though for those of us who are basically in the “I want to see how it ends” camp and have fallen victim to the sunk costs fallacy.
    It’s a shame that Sanderson is a better writer than Jordan was. The new books are really well written.

    Robin Hobb’s Farseer books are worth a whirl if you like well written fantasy. Much better than the nightmare of Randian S&M porn that is the Wizard’s First Rule series.

  52. 52
    moe99 says:

    Look guys, the only other writer close to being Martin’s equal these days is Joe Abercrombie. If you haven’t read The Blade Itself, go out now and buy it. Slightly below are Greg Keyes, Daniel Abraham (The Dragon’s Path), and Patrick Rothfuss, who’s been mentioned. But seriously, read Abercrombie. Logan Nine Fingers is a great character.

  53. 53
    nalbars says:

    Bob, another thumbs up from me on the Farseer trilogy. Two trilogies actually. It’s better than Ice and Fire.

    Jon Snow is the heir. Daenarys falls in love with him (that is how she fulfills the prophecy of being betrayed by love). And …. They are brother and sister.

    Martin has said that one character he will never do POV is Howland Reed, the king of the river men. That is because he is the only person still living that knows the truth about Jon Snow. He was best friends with Ned, and right about now is pretty pissed.

  54. 54
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    “A Storm of Swords was a good book. It would have been a great book if it was 300 pages shorter. There’s a ton of bloat in the first half of the book.”

    Nothing like the bloat in Steven Eriksen’s Malazan books.
    What a friggin’ slog. Gave up after Book 3, when I realized I couldn’t remember what all of the different characters were doing and the obscure plot points to indicate who was screwing over who. The mix of Black-Company type grunt-level perspectives and superpowerful bad-ass elder magical guys doesn’t work either. The Malazan books can’t decide if they’re Glen Cook’s Black Company series, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, or Roger Zelzany’s Amber series.

  55. 55
    DFH no.6 says:

    I don’t get all the hatin’ on A Feast for Crows. I’m with Scott P. at 26 – I thought it as good as any of the other books.

    I very much enjoy the expansiveness of the whole story, along with all the myriad subplots and the cast of thousands.

    That includes the Iron Islands and Dorne subplots and characters, and even Brienne’s subplot (I’d say she’s key to Jaime’s transformation) though I do get why some find them unnecessary/uninteresting/whatever. I, however, have enjoyed every chapter of all 4 books so far (even on my second reading, which I finished just prior to the start of the HBO series).

    I’ve read quite a bit of this genre going back to my school days in the 60s, along with related genres like hard sci-fi and whatever you want to call the stuff Harlan Ellison and his ilk write (he prefers “speculative fiction”, IIRC). Martin’s Ice and Fire is head and shoulders above most, IMAO.

  56. 56
    Tom Hilton says:

    @The Other Chuck: My girlfriend is in the middle of the audiobook of GoT (we’re also watching the series), and she’s well aware by this time that anyone can die. But she did say that of all the characters, the one she’s pretty sure will get through the whole of ASoIaF alive is…yeah, you guessed it…

    Really had to bite my tongue…

    @Neil Morse: Fuck YEAH!

    @DFH no.6: I didn’t think it was quite as good as the other three (but damn, what a high standard that is!), but I did like it much better the second time I read it. And I don’t see subplots spinning out of control at all; everything he introduces eventually gets tied back in to the primary plot(s), and if it hasn’t been yet I’m reasonably sure that it will be.

  57. 57
    JR says:

    So long as we’re talking swords and sorcery fiction, Steve Brust rules!

    And the book he wrote with Emma Bull (IIRC) set in Chicago also rules…

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