Another thread

Some HBO-themed noodling about pop culture.

True Blood: Has there been a worse event in vampire history than Sookie Stackhouse? Try to count how many ancient or very rare people-ish things have died because of her in some way. The woman is genocide on two legs. I will not list her full body count or even the most notable ones for spoiler reasons and because my keyboard might not take the strain, but it includes an awful lot of very significant characters in the supernatural world and even general world history*. If your every single storyline involves people a lot more important than you dying, maybe you are the problem.

Game of Thrones: I dig how G.R.R. Martin only implies key elements of the story and even buries some things so deeply in indirect allusions that a normal person like me needs to dive into obsessive discussion boards to understand why some characters do what they do. At this point I feel pretty good about the parts of the story that Martin wants us to know or infer at this point, except for one thing. It involves second season spoilers so I will toss it below the fold.

SPOILERS AVERT YOUR EYES!!

In season 2 Arya meets a super assassin named Jacquen who nicely murders some people for her and then walks off into the sunset. The guy stands out from most snakebit GoT characters as having almost no weakness: he is patient, pragmatic, intelligent, magically gifted, resourceful and clearly a prime physical specimen. TVTropes calls a character like him The Ace. OK so far, but Arya meets him on a prisoner convoy. The books set up his company as expensive but unstoppable murder outfit that can pull off any ludicrous job if you have the cash. So what I can’t figure out is who was the guy after, and how was he caught? King Robert is the obvious candidate, but it seems like someone caught trying to kill a king would face worse than hard labor. In particular anyone who knew what he is would be crazy to send him to the Night’s Watch, where a disguise master would not have too hard a time escaping. You would expect to see him back in King’s landing in about a week. Except you wouldn’t see him because he can change his face. All explanations welcome.

(*) Seriously, Sookie is involved in the death of every vampire over a thousand years, and things look pretty grim for that guy. The current apocalyptic vampire zombie plague storyline happened because of events that trace directly back to Sookie. To wit: Russell kidnaps Bill to find out why Bill was stalking Sookie, Eric found Russell while looking for Bill, Eric kills Russell’s rent boy to settle a grudge, Russell goes apeshit on national TV in the greatest single scene in TV history (WE. ARE. NOT. YOUR. EQUALS.), then tastes Sookie’s blood and commits even more atrocities because something to do with fairy blood, inspiring the LA governor to go apeshit and make the plague.






169 replies
  1. 1
    Aji says:

    I take it you haven’t read Martin’s books?

    SPOILER

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    Jaqen H’gar will not reappear until a brief, nearly unrecognizeable manifestation in Book 5, and even then, you still won’t know who or what he’s after or why. Martin writes with a long view, which is to say, these books were always conceived as a long-term story global story from the very beginning. Some plotlnes (and subplots, and even just miscellaneous detail) don’t become clear until much, much later – and even then, with two books left to be published, I wouldn’t really call those appearances “clear.” Let’s just say that they add pieces to the overall puzzle.

  2. 2
    aimai says:

    @Aji: I think you ascribe to RR Martin supernatural plotting ability which he just doesn’t have. Much as I loved the first four books and his incredible way with characters he clearly doesn’t have the “tie it up” gene at all. He’s like Mr. Aimai’s children’s stories–he can add (characters, plots) but he can’t put that damned equals sign in and sum the total.

  3. 3
    geg6 says:

    I couldn’t stomach True Blood after the second season. I enjoyed the books so much and the show just didn’t stand up. I tend to read a lot of very “serious” non-fiction most of the time, so things like the Sookie Stackhouse series or the Harry Potter or Hunger Games books are what I read to decompress. I much prefer the books. I’m sure the show has completely fucked up the whole fairy thing.

  4. 4
    Tim F. says:

    @aimai: You have to acknowledge that Martin is also pretty good at subtracting. If he stops adding characters the seventh book could end with nobody left but Jon, Danaerys and Tyrion.

  5. 5
    Aji says:

    @aimai: Nope. Know the man. His wife is a dear friend.

    ETA: My point being that I know more than a bit from her the genesis of the stories and his approach. And whatever you think of the “tie-it-up gene” or not (have you read any of his other stuff?), he does do global plotting over the long term.

  6. 6
    TriassicSands says:

    @geg6:

    I don’t have a TV, so I watched a DVD set of the first season of True Blood — recommended by a now (joking) ex-friend. There are lots of television shows that I haven’t liked, but rarely, have I hated a show as much as True Blood. It didn’t help that I’ve never cared much for vampire tales, but this was a show I really loathed. The responsible parties clearly never learned how effective a little subtlety can be.

  7. 7
    PST says:

    I’ve never read the books or seen the television series, but given the constraints of the problem, my best guess as to why Jacquen is in the prisoner convoy is that it must be the place he wants to be.

  8. 8
    donovong says:

    I just wish Mr. Martin would hurry up with the goddam books already, I need a fix! I didn’t read the first book until June 1 of last year, and read the whole series within 10 days. Moar now please!

  9. 9
    Pengie says:

    @Tim F.: I figured that Jaqen H’gar was in prison for something else and the trip up to the wall was a way to quietly get out of the city. That plan went south when Ned was executed and the Lannisters started hunting for Robert’s bastards, but he was already committed at that point.

    Whoever he was after probably ended up dead with nobody the wiser.

  10. 10
    Aji says:

    @donovong: Stop. Do you want him to kill another Stark?

  11. 11
    JGabriel says:

    @Tim F.:

    If he stops adding characters the seventh book could end with nobody left but Jon, Danaerys and Tyrion.

    SPOILER

    Tim, it doesn’t sound like you’ve gotten to the end of the fifth book yet.

  12. 12
    Paul in KY says:

    Just want to throw my Game of Thrones ‘winner in the end’ theory out there (so when it happens, y’all will marvel at my prediction):

    When all is said & done, and the wars are over, the King of Westeros will be: Peter Baelish. He is the Stalin character in these books. While all the others run around smiting here & there, he works in the shadows & uses his connections & burocratic skill to cut their legs out. This is what Stalin did, he got on both the Politburo & Orgburo & out manuvered his not-so-sneaky opposition.

  13. 13
    donovong says:

    @Aji: Depends. Will it get me the book faster? If so, then Sansa is toast as far as I care!

  14. 14
    ericblair says:

    @Aji:

    Some plotlnes (and subplots, and even just miscellaneous detail) don’t become clear until much, much later – and even then, with two books left to be published, I wouldn’t really call those appearances “clear.”

    If he gets the two books written before he keels over. The guy’s no spring chicken and doesn’t strike me as a real fitness fanatic, so I’m wondering if the old ticker is going to hold out. I think he’s just screwing with his fans at this point.

  15. 15
    Kylroy says:

    @aimai: Seriously seconded. I feel like the whole series is unsure where it’s going, and that bodes poorly. Knowing where your conclusion is often elevates an otherwise uneven series (Babylon 5), and generally at worst backs you into a predictable corner (Harry Potter). In contrast, long – running series that did not have a planned ending often go off a cliff (Lost, Battlestar Galactica) and are considered fortunate if the ending just makes sense (Breaking Bad).

  16. 16
    donovong says:

    @Kylroy: Seriously? You must not have read the books and really should. We have a long ways to go yet, my friend. There is simply no comparison to the other series you mentioned.

  17. 17
    Aji says:

    @donovong: Between you and me, Sansa could be toast for all I care, anyway. She annoys me. Arya, OTOH, better stick around for a while.

    @ericblair: I think that’s repulsive.

  18. 18
    steve says:

    I’ve heard speculation that he is Arya’s old “dance instructor” who died (or not) off screen. So mostly he is there and was “caught” because he wanted to be so that he could continue to guide her.

  19. 19
    steve says:

    @Kylroy: He is going to pull a Robert Jordan on us and die before there is any reoslution. Then someone will have to go in and write a semi-official ending to give the fans closure.

  20. 20
    Tim F. says:

    @JGabriel: Of course I have read it.

    As I keep telling people, Jon gets perforated about twenty feet from a powerful priestess whose god can raise the (recent) dead and who keeps seeing his face in the fire when she asks about her savior. Martin does not drop savior-of-the-world foreshadowing as heavily as he did the Jon-in-Melisandre’s-fire business without paying it off later.

    She never resurrected anyone herself, but it may not have occurred to her to ask. Regardless I betcha ten bucks she does.

  21. 21

    I don’t get HBO, and have rarely had it in the past. I usually watch HBO shows later on DVD.

  22. 22
    David Hunt says:

    @Paul in KY: No I think not. I think Baelsih is going to have his downfall engineered by “Alaynne Stone,” probably in a fashion similar to how Catlyn Stark took Tyrion Lannister prisoner in the first book for extra dramatic effect.

  23. 23
    Trabb's Boy says:

    @Paul in KY: Then Sansa stabs him in his sleep and takes over everything, with Tyrion as her hand and Arya as Captain of the Guard. Jon Snow and Danaerys destroy each other, as Ice and Fire tend to do.

  24. 24
    Aji says:

    @steve: Oh, for fuck’s sake. Could people stop speculating ghoulishly on the death of my friend’s husband? Particularly with no grounds for it whatsoever?

  25. 25
    jon says:

    I refuse to watch Downton Abbey until I hear they’re all dead.

  26. 26
    David Hunt says:

    @Tim F.: He could also manage to pull off what Varamyr Sixskins tried to do and end up inside, say, Ghost until he manages to move into another human. I’ve heard that theory put forward as to how he’d survive. Personally I think that your idea is more likely and is the one that I arrived at myself. Either could conveniently release Jon from his service to the Night’s Watch, as you serve until your death…

  27. 27

    @jon:

    I which case, they’d be ripping off Cougarton Abbey. ;)

  28. 28
    Kiko says:

    I have not read the books. However, nothing seems weird about Jacquen being in that cage. He was caught, yes, but for all I know, it was just so he could avoid revealing himself and escape later. Maybe he already killed his target and got caught for something else and the prisoner wagon happened to be going in the direction he wanted so he decided to bide his time before escaping. Maybe he saw value in being able to observe what was going on in the camp. Maybe it amused him. I can think of many reasons off the top of my head. I think it is obvious no one knew he was a shape shifting master assassin, and he wanted to keep it that way.

  29. 29
    Tommy says:

    @TriassicSands: See I liked the first season. Kind of I don’t know, loved the idea that Vamps had True Blood. Then the show just went downhill IMHO. Campy and not sure it wanted to be campy. So bad it might at times be good.

  30. 30
    Skipjack says:

    GOT: I do have a theory of how Jaqen was in the cart. I think it would be great but I don’t know if Martin really wanted to come up with an explanation for it. My theory is that Jaqen H’ghar was arrested because of a case of mistaken identity.

    If you read the books (spoilers follow) you know that people often go to the House of Black and White to give up their own lives. Some people have their faces taken (I forget at the moment if they are the same). I think that Jaqen took the face of a man wanted for a crime that would get him sent to the Wall. I think it would be hilarious if he had the face of a prisoner of conscience.

    As for how he could be in the cage or why without escaping, the books made it plain that the cage was enough to keep him trapped. However the show made him into a ninja, so it is hard to imagine him going quietly in the first place. He must have not realized his predicament and I think suddenly a troop of goldcloaks showing up and surrounding him should be good enough to take him alive.

    As for whether Martin knows what he’s doing and where he’s going, I’m surprised anyone thinks he doesn’t. He has been driving toward an endgame which he has hinted at in every book, it’s clearly the middlegame that has been giving him trouble. It seems like he used the 4th/5th book overlap experiment to try to re-orient and clear up the storylines. I think this made for some thankless reading, but I don’t think he was treading water. And like someone said if any character really has nothing to do anymore then they can be killed or written out.

  31. 31
    Tommy says:

    @donovong: I clearly can’t even follow all the ideas here about Game of Thrones. I got all the books for a steal as a New Years thing in the Google Play Store. I guess I need to read them.

  32. 32

    @jon: That may be an improvement compared to the recycled story lines of this season and the last. My reviews for episode 1 and episode 2

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    Couple of true oddities coming up later this week on TCM. All times Eastern.

    Saturday, Jan. 18, 4:15 a.m. – These Are the Damned – Grim, grim, grim (yet ultimately earnestly trenchant) social science fiction from the Cold war era. Stay with it after the shaky first 15 minutes and you’ll likely be hooked.

    Sunday, Jan. 19, 2:00 a.m. – Skidoo – The only excuse for this complete mess from (of all people) Otto Preminger is if he ingested all the LSD shown/used/mentioned within the film, at once. An easy baker’s dozen of Big Names, but everyone (including Groucho Marx as God) is out of his or her element.

  34. 34
    kindness says:

    Anyone here watch FX’s Justified? Yesterday was this season’s second show and again I am so thankful for decent stuff on the boob tube. Awful lot of killing in the last two episodes though. Not gratuitous or GOT level but lotta blood spilled. Still a great plot & show though.

  35. 35

    @NotMax:

    We have “These Are the Damned” on DVD, but I haven’t watched it yet. British film critic Kim Newman highly recommended it in his book “Apocalypse Movies,” plus it costars Oliver Reed in a relatively early role.

    Another movie for Reed fans to keep an eye out for: “I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘Is Name.” It may not turn up on TCM anytime soon, though, because it has one of the first depictions of cunnilingus in a mainstream movie. Dumb ending, but otherwise interesting.

  36. 36
    Morzer says:

    @Aji:

    Maybe you should not be in such a hurry to proclaim your special snowflake status, if you can’t deal with the rough, tough world of the internet. Martin’s managed to annoy a lot of fans by his obsessive merchandising of tacky add-ons and apparent inability to sit his ass down at the desk and GFTOWI. Plenty of people on his very own web site have speculated about just how far he’s going to get before obesity gives him that final kiss. Valar morghulis and all that Tolkien-wannabe jazz. When you next see the man, you might also tell him that the brothel scenes on TV are badly done and gratuitous and his sex scenes in the books are even less convincing.

  37. 37

    @Morzer:

    Ahi’s not complaining about people who have problems with the books. She’s complaining about people predicting the imminent death of someone she knows personally.

    Literary criticism is one thing, but saying the guy is totally going to keel over at any minute is not exactly within the realm of literary criticism.

  38. 38
    Aji says:

    @Morzer: Maybe you should not be in such a hurry to pile on with dickishness over the ghoulish speculation about someone’s death.

    And if you don’t like HBO’s rendering, why not tell HBO and Benioff and Weiss, since they’re the ones with control over that.

  39. 39

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): How did your bitey kitteh do at the vets?

  40. 40
    Aji says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): THIS. Criticize the literary value all you want – I honestly don’t care, because different strokes and all that – but ferchrissake, the death shit is way over the line.

  41. 41

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    She was just fine, the little snot. Apparently she’s only bitey at home. But she does have a heart murmur that didn’t go away with adulthood, so she needs to see a kitty cardiologist. :-(

  42. 42
    elmo says:

    @Aji:

    Yeah, that has to suck for you, but try to think of it this way – he’s created something so lasting, and so vitally important to so many people, that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who’ve never met George who feel personally invested in his health and success. I’ve done a little writing, a little worldbuilding, and I think if many many many people were so invested in my made-up worlds that they were worried about my health, I’d be so damn tickled I’d fake a heart attack on Twitter, just to mess with people.
    :-)
    Me, I am on the flip side, in a way – I got my Dad started on the books many years ago, when he was 75 and in decent health. When his health started to fail a few years later, and it was in the long gap between book 3 and book 4, he got very cross with me. He was very upset that he had started this series, gotten invested in it, and wouldn’t be around to see it through.

  43. 43
    estamm says:

    The Sookie body count I like is the number of times we see her body. Ahhhh sookie sookie.

  44. 44
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    It may not turn up on TCM anytime soon, though, because it has one of the first depictions of cunnilingus in a mainstream movie.

    Ya never know. TCM is partial to having theme nights.

  45. 45
    DFH no.6 says:

    At the end of a Song of Ice and Fire I expect Fire (represented by a resurrected Jon in service to Melisandre’s god of fire, R’hllor, along with Dany and her dragons) to prevail over Ice (the Others – called “White Walkers” in the HBO show, along with their “zombie” wights) as it seems happened eight thousand years earlier in their history.

    Bran and the Children of the Forest are somehow involved in an important way at the end, too (though in what capacity and on whose side – maybe neither – is pretty murky to me right now).

    Arya’s still standing at the end, too, I think.

    Anyone and everyone else? Who knows (maybe not even GRRM just yet).

    Or maybe it ends as GRRM once said: with “snow blowing across the graves”. I think he was kidding.

    Hands down best “fantasy” genre story ever (I’ve read just about all of them).

    Flawed, certainly (what work of man isn’t?) but still the best, IMHO.

    Damn I hope he lives long enough to finish it (he’s said he won’t do a Robert Jordan and let anyone else finish if he doesn’t). It’s not like he hasn’t addressed this issue himself.

  46. 46
    Aji says:

    @elmo: Oh, believe me, I fully appreciate what he’s done. Like I said above, I honestly don’t care about people saying they don’t like his books, because his stuff definitely is not for everyone. That’s a nonissue. But when people start joking and speculating in such assholish ways about the death of someone who is dear to someone dear to me, I get a little pissed.

  47. 47
    Carnacki says:

    I think most vampires would prefer death by Sookie than to be undead but sparkly. /Twilight

  48. 48
    geg6 says:

    @Tommy:

    So bad it might at times be good.

    That’s how I saw the first two seasons. They didn’t follow the plots of the books, but I was willing to cut them slack. But the characters don’t act the way they do in the books and the third season made me say enough. The only reason I enjoyed the books was the characters. The plots were just silly stuff so you could see the evolution of the human world and supernatural world coming together. Or not, as it were.

    Not a Game of Thrones fan, though. Boring, IMHO. I felt the same way about Breaking Bad. Don’t understand the fuss over either. Couldn’t make it through more than a couple of episodes of either. And those couple were a slog.

    But then, I’m a Downton fan. I’ll take a Jane Austen-like take on the early 20thC over thugs any day.

  49. 49
    geg6 says:

    @Carnacki:

    So, so true.

  50. 50
    kindness says:

    GOT – Winter is coming, don’t you see? The White Walkers will come from the north as Daenerys & the dragons come from the south/west. Joffrey gets tossed overboard by grandpa Tywin because he is useless baggage. The Starks will continue to be important but only peripherally to tie the storylines together.

    Martin knows what he wants but is a tad more bumbling getting there than Tolkien was. In the end the White Walkers will be defeated by the combined group of everyone because otherwise it’s all over. At this point though, the series has outpaced the books and made some of it’s own storyline calls that don’t follow the books at all. Since Martin only writes a book every 3 years or so, that will only widen.

    @Morzer: This is HBO. There is no such thing as a gratuitous sex scene. The T & A is a feature, not a bug.

  51. 51
    millekat says:

    Well, since we are doing spoilers here I thought I would ask the one that has been nagging at me: Why doesn’t Tywin recognize Arya when he puts her to work as his cup-bearer? If he knew, she would be a valuable hostage, and it just seems out of character for him not to be curious at all–especially since she lied to him once and is in an easily penetrable disguise.

    I don’t get HBO so I am forced to wait till the disc come out.

    Speaking of hostages…I kept head shaking about how it is that Catelyn Stark sends her most valuable prisoner, Jaime, accompanied only by one knight, Brienne of Tarth.I mean, wtf? I don’t care how splendid a warrior Brienne is, she is still only one and (as we see)is at the mercy of any bunch of brigands with superior numbers. Furthermore–well,I may have missed something –but how does she know the Lannisters are even prepared to trade Jaime, and how does she plan on enforcing it if they renege?

    I realize this is speaking ill of the dead, but I would like to know how that happened.:~)

  52. 52
    Violet says:

    Since technically this is an open thread, this cracked me up.

    A Tennessee man accidentally shot himself in the chin Sunday night while taking off a pair of pants, the Johnson City Press reported.

    Carter County Sheriff’s Deputy David Caldwell told the newspaper he was dispatched to the Elizabethton, Tenn. home of William Rood, where he arrived to find the man bleeding from the mouth and nose. Rood was then transported to a local hospital.

    Rood said a .25 caliber Baretta pistol in the right front pocket of his pants discharged when he placed the pants on a dresser after taking them off, according to Caldwell.

  53. 53
    Justin says:

    Since we’re open spoilering it, I want to share a dread fear of mine about the whole series, to wit: The climax of the seventh book involves Danaerys saving Westeros, at the last minute, from an overwhelming invasion of The Others, by flying in on a dragon and melting them all. Martin has been soooooo good about overturning expectations and either subverting traditional plotlines or just avoiding them, that I’m hopeful that such an obvious endpoint isn’t the goal. But that possible climax was set up a long time ago and I’m scared it’s written into the DNA of the books.

    Then again, it’s said that the big gap in the publishing schedule came from Martin having to replot everything after the second book because he overhauled the saga’s timeline, so he’s clearly not averse to major surgery.

    I used to torture a friend who was watching the series by asking him to guess how many Starks were still alive at the end of Book Five. C’mon, guess. Write it down and see how you do.

  54. 54
    elspi says:

    @kindness:
    “Joffrey gets tossed overboard by grandpa Tywin because he is useless baggage.”

    A swing and a miss.

  55. 55
    Justin says:

    Why doesn’t Tywin recognize Arya when he puts her to work as his cup-bearer?

    It’s not clear from the books or the show that he ever met Arya as Ned Stark’s daughter.

  56. 56
    Kylroy says:

    @Aji: Yeah, the way people are phrasing it here is awfully over the top and cavalier, and it comes across as picking on him for being overweight.

    But given his pace of writing, it doesn’t seems unreasonable to say that it will take him another decade to wrap things up. And I don’t think it’s off base to wonder if a 65 year old man will make it another decade – especially since fantasy fans dealt with this *exact same* situation with Robert Jordan, who ended up having to pass the final writing duties on to another author.

    If he manages to complete the story and do so I a satisfying fashion, I’ll be thrilled. I just don’t think that’s where the smart money lies.

  57. 57
    Justin says:

    @geg6:

    That’s how I saw the first two seasons. They didn’t follow the plots of the books, but I was willing to cut them slack. But the characters don’t act the way they do in the books and the third season made me say enough.

    You know that Martin works closely with the series, adjusting the TV’s plotline to work within each season while keeping to the overall story arc, right? And that he actually writes one episode per season, usually a big one–he wrote the battle of Kind’s Landing episode in season two. He says he’s extremely happy with how the series is working and is totally understanding of the compromises they make to keep it workable.

  58. 58
    Big R says:

    @Justin: It really depends on what counts as alive. And what counts as a Stark.

  59. 59
    Michael says:

    @Tim F.: Mild mild spoiler, but we actually learn a decent amount about his order later on, and with that knowledge, it seems in retrospect that getting caught might very well have been part of his plan (either getting where he needed to go or getting out of where he was). We don’t actually know that he was caught doing what he actually set out to do; he might very well have gotten away with it (whatever “it” was) and been captured and sent to the Night’s Watch on some other pretense. Hard to say.

  60. 60
    Big R says:

    @Justin: I think geg is talking about True Blood.

  61. 61
    Aji says:

    I think everyone here is going to be very surprised, frankly, as to book production.

    I also think a lot of people need to revisit their personal biases about what constitutes “old.” Because 64 ain’t it, especially these days. [Disclosure: Wings is the same age; he turns 65 this year. Despite (well-controlled) diabetes, his health stats are better than most men 20+ years younger.]

  62. 62
    Cassidy says:

    @Aji: People have been worried about the deaths of authors writing long series for a long time. There are lots of things to get worked up about. This isn’t one of them. Martin will die, as we all do. He may or may not be done with his series. I hope he gets the chance to get to his endgame and avoid churning out the unreadable pile of shit the Dark Tower became.

  63. 63
    feebog says:

    A couple of things to remember about the books and Martin’s writing method;

    The series was originally intended to be a trilogy. When it became apparent that was not going to work, Martin extended it to five, and now to seven books.

    Martin writes each chapter separately, and not necessarily serially. One of the problems is that some of the chapters do not easily fall into a timeline.

    Martin has said when asked how the saga ends that “everybody dies”. Suck on that for a while.

  64. 64
    Aji says:

    @Cassidy: Did you miss the fact that this is personal to me?

    My point is the ghoulishness of it. I’m sick of it. And I really don’t need to see it here, with people telling me I’m somehow in the wrong for being fed up with such sick behavior.

    You know, I get that a lot of people think that becomes someone is famous, they’re fair game on every front. You know what? Even famous people have others who love them very much. Taking such obvious pleasure in speculating about someone’s death, particularly someone not named Dick Cheney? Not progressive, nor anything to be proud of. I do admit to having a hard time summoning any sympathy where Cheney’s concerned.

  65. 65
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Aji: I second that request. It’s tasteless and rather unsettling.

    @ you know who you are: Can we skip that please? It’s really uncalled for, and also creepy. And it’s unkind given Aji’s friendship with his wife.

  66. 66
    Aji says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): Thank you.

    I’m mostly kind of a loner IRL, but there are about a half-dozen people in this world, besides Wings, for whom I would walk through fire. Parris (his wife) is one.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Aji:

    I do admit to having a hard time summoning any sympathy where Cheney’s concerned.

    “All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

    — Clarence Darrow

  68. 68
    Aji says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: So are you saying it wouldn’t be wrong of me, someday, to read Cheney’s with “great satisfaction?” :-D

  69. 69
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Aji: My point exactly.

  70. 70
    Cassidy says:

    @Aji: It’s always personal to somebody. Everyone has friends and family. I myself don’t speculate in it as I don’t read the books. I think your attributing “ghoulishness” to selfishness, which is really kind of a compliment: his fans are so invested in the books, they want a proper ending and not a haphazard POS from a different author.

  71. 71
    Shinobi (@shinobi42) says:

    I read the first Game of Thrones book not long after it came out and knew that I had no interest in his writing after he killed the dog in the first book. His prose and plots are not so fascinating that I want to read thousands of pages so characters I love can die. Because they will die.

    Right now I’m re watching Veronica Mars before the movie comes out. It just came on Amaazon Prime. My partner was all “Ugh you’re watching that? I’m not watching that.” And then he ended up watching one episode with me just to be nice. And now he’s like 5 episodes ahead of me. If you haven’t watched this show, you should at least give it an episode or two. It’s good, and explores serious themes, despite the setting.

    I’m also watching Justified, almost entirely because my friend said the words “Timothy Oliphant made my uterus pregnant.”

    Additionally, does anyone know where I can watch Season 4 of Archer? I just want to catch up!

  72. 72
    Aji says:

    @Cassidy: Well, it won’t be from a different author, regardless. That, as I understand it, has been taken care of.

  73. 73
    Cassidy says:

    @Aji: That’s good. I hope he gets to finish it. With some of his fandom, I’d have been tempted to say “nope, suck it.”

  74. 74
    Pete Butler says:

    There’s nothing in the books to either confirm or deny this, but a popular fan theory:

    Jaqen H’gar is actually Syrio Forel. Syrio’s fate was left ambiguous; he was still alive when Arya last saw him, but perched on the precipice of an unwinnable fight. Dude was armed with a broken stick; it’s possible they took him alive, then tossed him in the dungeons in case somebody wanted to torture something worth knowing out of him. King’s Landing doesn’t seem to have the most meticulous criminal justice bureaucracy under the best of circumstances, and House Lannister’s destruction of House Stark threw everything into chaos. When it was time to clear out the dungeons for some Night’s Watch recruits, hey, here’s some dude who says his name is Jaqen. What’s he doing down there? Pfft, who cares, probably had it coming. And whatever happened to that Syrio guy? Eh, probably got executed or something, whatever.

  75. 75
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    When all is said & done, and the wars are over, the King of Westeros will be: Peter Baelish. He is the Stalin character in these books.

    No, Baelish will be get screwed over by Varys in a way that will exploit Baelish’s own hubris and failings. Baelish is a frickin’ amateur compared to Varys.

  76. 76
    millekat says:

    “It’s not clear from the books or the show that he ever met Arya as Ned Stark’s daughter”

    It just seems strange to me. The man is an over-the-top control freak.

    Yet he “hires” some unknown woman from the prisoner pool, asks where she’s from (she lies) and that’s about it as far as screening. Doesn’t cross his mind that she might be an enemy who wants to poison his wine?

    I tried the theory that he has some sort of fetish for cute cross-dresser. But no evidence of that, either.

  77. 77
    millekat says:

    “It’s not clear from the books or the show that he ever met Arya as Ned Stark’s daughter”

    It just seems strange to me. The man is an over-the-top control freak.

    Yet he “hires” some unknown woman from the prisoner pool, asks where she’s from (she lies) and that’s about it as far as screening. Doesn’t cross his mind that she might be an enemy who wants to poison his wine?

    I tried the theory that he has some sort of fetish for cute cross-dresser. But no evidence of that, either.

  78. 78
    joel hanes says:

    @donovong:

    Every time you ask “Where’s the next book?”,
    GRRM kills another Stark.

  79. 79
    Tim F. says:

    @PST: You know, that only occurred to me while I was writing the post. But it is a very good point. I only doubt it because he would have died in that convoy if Arya had not been in a fortuitous place and made a very capricious decision not to let him die. You think he would have hedged a way to get out of that prison wagon if things got too hot around it. It suggests a pretty elaborate three wall bank shot by Jacquen.

  80. 80
    kindness says:

    Is it proper to ask others not to speculate about some public person’s fate?

    Well, yes and no. Yes in that a little consideration, or asking for some is never in poor taste. Demanding it however is in poor taste. We’re talking about a public person, not your children. People here and all through the web say hideous things about others. That is part of the ‘car crash appeal’. You HAVE to slow down and look, no matter how ugly.

    My sympathies to those who are hurt by such a laise faire attitude but really now, we’re talking a censorship of sorts. As we all know trying to define the actual boundaries of good taste is a manifest cluster fuck. We can agree on generalities mostly but the specifics is herding cats territory.

  81. 81
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    My point is the ghoulishness of it. I’m sick of it. And I really don’t need to see it here, with people telling me I’m somehow in the wrong for being fed up with such sick behavior.

    It’s also the *ingratitude*. Does anyone feel pissed off at R.E. Howard or H.P. Lovecraft for dying young? Or just gratitude that they built awesome geek toy worlds, and characters (in the case of R.E. Howard)?

    GRRM doesn’t owe you, the reader, anything. Feel grateful instead that he created great characters, intricate plots that subvert Tolkienesque* cliches in the genre, and a fascinating world.

    * Not that Tolkien is responsible for what were new ideas in his work (Tolkien’s work is more modern and innovative than it seems) becoming cliches in your standard Extruded Fantasy Product.

  82. 82
    Aji says:

    @Cassidy: LOL – yeah, I would, too. Part of the reason this upsets me so much is that he unfortunately has his own personal army of disgruntled . . . what would you call them? Not fans, I don’t think. But they troll him mercilessly. And while I have absolutely no doubt that he can take it, I know how painful it is for his loved ones to see the constant nasty, vicious, anticipatory speculation about when he’s going to die. Some of it’s gotten really ugly and kind of stalker-ish, and it’s really out of bounds.

    People should criticize the literary merits all they like. Go off on the series all they like – hell, I’ve got numerous complaints about the HBO adaptation myself. Plenty of fodder in all of that, heaven knows, or maybe I mean The Seven know. But the weight/health/death prediction stuff is way over the line, and I really detest seeing it show up here. That’s not fandom, it’s something else, and it’s very, very ugly.

  83. 83
    Kylroy says:

    @Shinobi (@shinobi42): Similar to my experience with the show. I thought killing Ned was a great dramatic moment – then I looked to see where that plot line went, and it meandered to nowhere as all his heirs were brutally dispatched and/or dispossessed.

    That was also when I learned that the broad outlines of the story were taken from England’s War of the Roses, and I immediately flashed to the quote: “The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.” I can totally accept people doing things and acting the way they do in the book – doesn’t mean I want to read about them.

  84. 84
    J R in WV says:

    In the books, Sookie only kills a couple of people (using the term loosely) when they attack her. Well, thinking back, a few more than a couple over all, but only 1 or 2 in a given book.

    I enjoyed the books a lot, the vamps mostly had personalities, and the ones that didn’t were remarkable for the horrific past they had endured.

    Game of Thrones, which I watched a couple of episodes of just the other day, seems to be a culture with lots of violence built in. So it isn’t (or shouldn’t) be too surprising when someone get his hand cut off or whatever.

    I don’t think the sex scenes are that remarkable in a medieval-type culture like this one. Some are better than others, but they all have some plot going on, as opposed to being just for the shock value. If for no other reason than to establish the medieval nature of the culture.

    I was glad to see the dragon come into his own, even as a young little guy (compared to a dragon big enough to ride on, say) able to flame the bad guy, and his whole castle if needed. Some of the bad guys in the series really need killing, and when they get whacked I am inappropriately (for a pacifist kind of hippy) pleased by the way they get their comeuppance.

    Of course, they usually don’t perceive that their grim fate is the result of their grim life choices, but you can’t have everything.

    The magic seems to be coming to the fore in the 3rd season, which is as far as I’ve gotten to view. I guess there was obviously bad magic early on, but there seems to be more of a balance between the black magic and the pale grey magic (can’t hardly call it white in this context) in the few shows I’ve watched lately.

    Sure beats broadcast TV! I don’t know how CBS is going to compete with HBO etc going forward, when the cable channels can go so much further with sex and violence than broadcast channels.

  85. 85
    Aji says:

    @kindness: Oh, FFS. It’s not censorship. I’m not the government. It’s asking for common decency, which is notably absent in certain comments here, about someone married to someone I love very much. The fact that he’s a public figure does not mean that people cannot be criticized harshly for behaving like dicks.

  86. 86
    DFH no.6 says:

    @joel hanes:

    Every time you ask “Where’s the next book?”,
    GRRM kills another Stark.

    OK, that made me chuckle. Thanks.

  87. 87
    Seanly says:

    I read the first 2 or 3 books of GoT then got a few chapters into the next one before just giving up. Just never resonated with me. After my experience with the never-ending Wheel of Time series (gave up around book 8 or 9?), I am much quicker to pull the eject cord.

    While I can appreciate a long arc, I appreciate a story that goes somewhere & tells a tale worth hearing. Rambling on & on and having the same thing happen again & again is not genius story telling (directed more at WoT than GoT). My favorite author is Gene Wolfe & he can be very incomprehensible, but at least his stories come to an end.

    I might watch GoT when it comes to Netflix or Amazon Video for free. HBO is too terrible to pay $12 a month for (when I travel for work, I check the little dog-eared programming guide & there is never, ever anything worth watching on HBO when I have it available).

  88. 88
    Kylroy says:

    @kindness: Yeah, when I join a comment thread on Balloon Juice about a well-known public figure, I don’t expect to have to talk the way I would around that person or their friends. It’s like a bunch of people on a sports forum speculating about Peyton Manning’s health and future career, and being told “He’s a dear personal friend, and I wish you wouldn’t say such hurtful things.”

    That said, yeah, there are a lot of people who seem to be ready to, as was mentioned earlier, read his obituary with glee. And nobody deserves that scorn based on their *written fiction*.

  89. 89
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): From another view we could all keel over any second… so, yes, it’s ghoulish to speculate about anybody and Mr. Martin in particular.

  90. 90
    Tim F. says:

    @millekat: Tywin never met Arya before, but Littlefinger had. I love that scene in the TV series.

  91. 91
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Since we’re open spoilering it, I want to share a dread fear of mine about the whole series, to wit: The climax of the seventh book involves Danaerys saving Westeros, at the last minute, from an overwhelming invasion of The Others, by flying in on a dragon and melting them all. Martin has been soooooo good about overturning expectations and either subverting traditional plotlines or just avoiding them, that I’m hopeful that such an obvious endpoint isn’t the goal. But that possible climax was set up a long time ago and I’m scared it’s written into the DNA of the books.

    [spoiler alert]

    Who knows? I thought the Dorne prince who went to woo Danaerys was going to at least get to first base, but instead he fails spectacularly. Who knows – it might turn out that the Others are sorta-kinda undead good guys against the nutball Red priests and priestesses. Or the whole Others/Rhyllor conflict is orange/blue morality and the best thing is for both sides to lose, and D. has to slit the throats of her dragons (her proxy children) to kill off the ice/fire cycle.

  92. 92
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Well, since we are doing spoilers here I thought I would ask the one that has been nagging at me: Why doesn’t Tywin recognize Arya when he puts her to work as his cup-bearer?

    ‘Cos she’s dressed as a boy, with cut-hair. and he’d only have seen her when she was much younger – maybe three or four?. Also, as third or fourth eldest kid and the second daughter, the only value to someone like Tywin of her is marriageability to a Lannister nephew or cousin.

    In the book, it’s Roose Bolton who takes her as a cupbearer, and that’s a lot more of a stretch of credulity, as Bolton would be expected to have visited Winterfell regularly.

  93. 93
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kindness:

    My sympathies to those who are hurt by such a laise faire attitude but really now, we’re talking a censorship of sorts.

    Oh, FFS. Common decency is now “censorship”? You sound like a conservative whining about how “political correctness” is stopping him from using the n-word.

    Aji made a reasonable request for this specific thread. To try and argue that it’s, like, totally freedom of speech to continue being a dick is assholish in and of itself.

  94. 94
    TheRza says:

    Basically good bet is that he was Syrio:

    Most likely employed by Varys to keep an eye on Ned. In his disguise he grew attached to Arya, which is why he stood his ground rather than escape, which caused him to be captured. He then got smuggled out into the Night’s watch caravan where he escaped, and then proceeded to reappear later in the series most likely at the behest of Varys.

    ***********************************************************
    POSSIBLE SPOILER THEORY:
    ****************************
    Varys hates magic and is backing other players. The Bravoosi hate dragons. Jaqen is later seen breaking into the Citadel. Varys will have Jaqen kill the dragons so that his King can claim the Iron Throne forever.

  95. 95
    Tim C. says:

    So what’s people’s take on Jon’s parentage?
    SPOILERS FROM BOOKS
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I’m totally with the theory that Jon is not Ned’s but Lyanna’s and Rhegar’s love child. Explains the Stark heritage and Ned’s total stonewalling about who the mother is. Also the only character left (Howland Reed) who knows what happened in the tower where Lyanna died seems to be oddly absent from anything in the story. We know that Ned will in fact lie when the cause is sufficient (To save Sansa and Arya in book 1). This sets up Jon as the central hero, having both Stark (ice) and Tygarian (fire) lineage.

    My prediction is that Jon and Dynaries meet, marry and rule the seven kingoms. And yes Jon is “dead” at the end of book five but seriously…. there at least two solid ways he could return that have already been set up and come on, he could get the nickname “Dragonwolf” How cool is that?

  96. 96
    merl says:

    @Tim F.: Nope, Jon was killed at the Wall

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Kylroy:

    That was also when I learned that the broad outlines of the story were taken from England’s War of the Roses, and I immediately flashed to the quote: “The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.”

    Weirdly, I’ve been reading a bit about the Wars of the Roses lately (at least the final act, with Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII) and it doesn’t seem all that similar. There are way more random massacres in Martin’s world than ever happened in the Wars of the Roses. I actually think he’s adding in some stuff from the European wars over the Reformation — that was when you got some really blatant “soldiers busting in and murdering everyone in sight” stuff.

  98. 98
    Tim C. says:

    @merl:
    Mostly dead, not all the way dead.
    Princess Bride FTW!

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tim C.:

    I’ve kind of suspected that from the beginning, really. Why else have the big mystery over who Jon’s mother was?

  100. 100
    ericblair says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    Who knows – it might turn out that the Others are sorta-kinda undead good guys against the nutball Red priests and priestesses. Or the whole Others/Rhyllor conflict is orange/blue morality and the best thing is for both sides to lose, and D. has to slit the throats of her dragons (her proxy children) to kill off the ice/fire cycle.

    If the series is loosely coupled on the real War of the Roses, perhaps the Others are like the Black Death, which is an external apolitical threat that weakened the nobility and changed the course in unpredictable ways. Worth a school paper, anyway.

    I doubt the dragons will fly in as Dei ex Machina (grammar?) at the last minute; this isn’t how Martin’s been writing the plot, and would expect them to be dragged into the politics as knights/bishops/whatever in the game.

  101. 101
    Pete Butler says:

    @Tim C.: Jon’s parentage: Abso-freakin’-lutely. If you re-read Ned’s passages with that theory in mind, they practically beat you over the head with it. Nobody seems to know how, precisely, Lyanna died; and it’s bloody odd that, with a full-scale rebellion on, two of the biggest bad-asses in the Kingsguard were assigned to protect the dead prince’s fuckbuddy with their lives.

  102. 102
    Mjaum says:

    @joel hanes:

    Man, that’s a lot of Starks…

  103. 103
    feebog says:

    @merl:

    Nope, Jon was killed at the Wall

    No, Jon was stabbed in the back at the end of book 5. Whether or not GRRM brings him back is what has me waiting for book 6. I loved the first three books, thought “A Feast for Crows” was a hot mess, but book 5 more then made up for it and got things back on track. Martin is going to have to hurry it up a little bit, the show is outpacing the books.

  104. 104
    Cassidy says:

    @Aji: I hear ya. When I hear someone say “I hope he finishes the series before he dies”, I always hear the context of “please let me finish this amazing series”. Once you get into the age and weight thing, it’s a little gross.

  105. 105
    David Hunt says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    TV Series: I doubt that Tywin had EVER seen Arya prior to his arrival at Harrenhall. I think Arya had never left the North prior to that and I’ll eat my socks if Tywin had ever guested at Winterfel, at least since her birth. Remember the Tywin is the one that gave the order for Rheagar Targaryan’s wife and infant children to be murdered as a show of loyalty to the new king, Robert. This act was one of the two big reasons that Ned Stark left royal politics behind and went back North to stay. The only time I can see Ned Stark tolerating Tywin Lannister under his roof, would have been when they were putting down the Greyjoy rebellion and Arya would have been an infant at the oldest.

    Books: You’re right that Bolton’s a little more problematic, but it’s entirely believable to me that he hadn’t seen Arya in years if ever. The Boltons and the Starks have had a contentious relationship at best for a long time. They were the great rivals of the Kings of Winter when the North was its own Kingdom and have rebelled on occasion.

    More importantly, although it’s been over a year since I read the book, I think Arya was benefiting from the effective invisibility of servants in Westerosi society. Nobles are surrounded by servants all the time, and some of them treat them like furniture. I suspect that Bolton never gave the origins of the nobody, common-born girl serving him a moment’s thought. He needed a servant and just picked a girl to do the job.

  106. 106
    Tim C. says:

    @Pete Butler:
    And if it’s anything else that turns out to be the case, there better be first-viewing-of-Sixth-Sense level obviousness in hindsight or Martin is just cheating.

  107. 107
    greennotGreen says:

    Has there been a worse event in vampire history than Sookie Stackhouse?

    Buffy.

    SATSQ

  108. 108
    David Hunt says:

    @Tim C.:

    Well, there are other candidates for who Jon’s mother could be that are doled out through the books, but I think those are just there for there to be other candidates. They never rose to anywhere near the way that Ned’s chapters are practically shouting that Jon is Lyanna’s son. And if I can pick up on that as easily as I did, Martin was effectively shouting it.

  109. 109
    steve says:

    @Aji:

    I certainly would not be happy if Mr. Martin died and I am not rooting for it. I think it is a perfectly reasonable fear given the similarities to Robert Jordan: older author and lots of time between books in a long, epic storyline that seems to expand in desired scope over time. And I think the conversation was perfectly acceptable. But if it upsets you I won’t discuss it.

  110. 110

    I appreciate your spoiler-sensitivity, because honestly I’ll admit that the statute of limitations on Season 2 has run out. Just cause I haven’t managed to watch past S2E1 doesn’t mean I am entitled to a cone of silence. So, thanks again.

  111. 111
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Tim C.: Exactly.

    Jon is Rhaegar’s and Lyanna’s son, for sure. Targaryen and Stark.

    And thus Dany’s nephew.

    I see them together at the very end, but married? I don’t know.

    I thought that would be the case once..

    Yes, Targaryen rulers often married brother and sister (like some Pharoahs) and that would make a tidy plot point, but I’m not so sure now.

  112. 112
    Sherparick says:

    @Tim F.: Are you sure about Jon Stark? (Spoiler Alert – Need to read to the end of book V).

  113. 113
    kindness says:

    @Aji:

    Oh, FFS. It’s not censorship. I’m not the government. It’s asking for common decency,

    @Mnemosyne: Oh, FFS. Common decency

    Shit if I didn’t know better, and I don’t, I’d think we had a sock puppet thingy here.

  114. 114
    Cassidy says:

    @kindness: Or multiple people saying don’t be a douche.

  115. 115
    Gopher2b says:

    @donovong:

    You read 7000 pages in 10 days?

  116. 116
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Mnemosyne: I read recently (I don’t remember where) that in the view of some historians, there really were not “Wars of the Roses”. There were some battles, and there were some claimants fighting over the throne, but the participants went to extraordinary lengths (by medieval standards) not to lay waste the countryside; primarily because the whole point of the war was to be able to rule the countryside and there wasn’t much point ruling over a wasteland.

    All of which stands in stark contrast to the absolute wreckage the War of Five Kings makes of (especially) the Riverlands, which as you say, is more like the Thirty Years War than anything else.

  117. 117
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lurking Canadian: War of the Roses as in dynastic struggle in a medieval society that turned out to be stunning deadly to the contending families.

  118. 118
    daveNYC says:

    @Kylroy: With glee? More like with rage enough to dig up the body and run a few thousand volts through it in the hopes that it’d be jolted back into writing the end of the story.

    Readership got jerked around with the Wheel of Time series, what with Jordan slaughtering acres of trees describing peoples’ clothes and servicing his spanking fetish, only to die with two (or more like four, given his habits) books remaining. Nobody wants to see this happen here, especially since it’s a much better series overall. Rumors that Martin handed over his long term plot notes to HBO and the fact that the last two books were extra meandery aren’t doing much to soothe the jitters.

    Nobody is running a dead pool, they’re worried that his possible death would fuck up a really great series. Take it as a rather morbid complement.

  119. 119
    Cynthia Dudley says:

    @Tim F.: Don’t count on that.

  120. 120
    Goblue72 says:

    @Kylroy: either that or he just likes writing about schlongs.

  121. 121
    Sherparick says:

    @Tim F.: Also Martin in several talks has been rather coy about Jon’s fate and certainly implies whether Jon has just been severely wounded, or is jumped into Ghost, or brought back from the dead by Melisandre (or by Bran), Jon will be around.@DFH no.6: Somehow, I don’t think this story ends with a conventional “happy ending.” Remember, “if you think this ends well, you have not been paying attention.” I think we are looking at a MacBeth or King Lear type ending. I expect all the chief protagonists to be dead, but that some lesser figures will be putting things back together, although scarred and saddened. Or perhaps it it ends with Ice Cube GoT Earth with the White Walkers fading to oblivion since their are no more potential victims to torment.

  122. 122
    Shinobi (@shinobi42) says:

    @Kylroy: Joss Whedon, George R. R. Martin, and Steven Moffat walk into a bar, everyone you’ve ever loved dies.

  123. 123
    Kylroy says:

    @daveNYC: Yeah, and the counterpoint to that rage as articulated by Neil Gaiman:

    http://journal.neilgaiman.com/.....s.html?m=1

    To which my counterpoint is, that’s why I never read Wheel of Time and will not read SoIaF until and unless it’s done. Also why I love Terry Pratchett and Jim Butcher.

  124. 124
    Cynthia Dudley says:

    While I love the idea that Jon is some lost Targaryen even though he is a warg, Book V clearly references Eddard Stark paying for an escape with sex with a woman near the Three Sisters.

  125. 125
    IowaOldLady says:

    I loved the GoT books until the most recent one, where I lost track of the plot. When I saw that GRRM was adding more characters and threads, I nearly wept.

    Tyrion will be standing at the end. He and Arya are GRRM’s favorite characters.

  126. 126
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kindness:

    No sock puppets, just re-emphasizing Aji’s point that you seem to be insisting on being a dick for the sake of being a dick.

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    True, but a big part of that was (ironically) infant mortality. Richard III’s son didn’t die through treachery or murder, he died of (probable) appendicitis. There would have been three sons of Edward IV, but one (George) died in infancy. Henry VII’s heir, Arthur, died as a teenager. Etc.

    To me, if GoT is supposed to be set in a medieval-like time, the thing missing is the deaths from infection and disease that took out big chunks of the aristocracy and commoners.

  128. 128
    Shinobi (@shinobi42) says:

    @Kylroy: I pretty much like to read only stand alone novels or things that are trilogies.

    As you can imagine this is a nearly impossible limitation on what I read since pretty much everything is now an 8 book series. I don’t really like serials in books, like the Dresden Files, I just want my stories to end, and then I want to move on to a new story with new characters. I do occasionally get sucked into a longer series much to my consternation. (The Kate Daniels Series by Illona Andrews, stupid, grr) But I usually get to a point where I decide to stop reading, I’d say book 5.

    Which is why I re at least 2 Neal Stephenson books a year. Gotta fill the time somehow.

  129. 129
    feebog says:

    @Shinobi (@shinobi42):

    I pretty much like to read only stand alone novels or things that are trilogies.

    I am in the middle of Dan Simmons’ “Abominable”. Not at all what I was expecting after “The Terror”. If you like novels built on historical fact, check out both novels.

  130. 130
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Oh no, fantasy series isn’t realistic. The Yorkists didn’t have dragons either. Margaret of Anjou could arguably be considered a dragon lady on the Lancastrian side.

  131. 131
    Trollhattan says:

    @geg6:

    Agreed, True Blood’s first two seasons intrigued me as well-crafted southern gothic, avec vampires and the time-jump to Bill’s 19th century past. And then, every fvcking other character suddenly belonged to some new mythical group–seriously, guys, a pack of wolfmen?–to the point I think the entire state of Louisiana had maybe three humans, total? Can’t get myself to care about any of the characters at this point, with the possible exception of Lafayette. Am expecting the final season to introduce Batman, Lex Luthor and the Teletubbies.

  132. 132
    YellowJournalism says:

    @greennotGreen: I would say Twilight takes the cake. Sparkly vampires who can’t be killed by pretty much anything. Who spend their later years in Hoquiam and Forks, WA?

  133. 133
    Sherparick says:

    @Lurking Canadian: GoT is part of it is the War of Roses, part of it is the Hundred Years War and struggles between all the different branches of Plantagenet and Valois for the thrones of England, France, and Burgundy, and part “The Nibelung” with the Dothrrakai filling the role of “the Huns.” In the Hundred Years War there was lots of “laying waste” the countryside. You are right about the War of Roses, but also because although York’s base of power was the North and Lancaster the West, the rival families farm holdings were pretty much spread all over England.

    Actually, you see a lot, including something like the “Red Redding” in the “The Ring” sagas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Nibelungen

    Arya = Kreimheld? The tropes of Sword and Sorcery Fantasy has not run to tragedy for most part. But the source material for Tolkein (Beowulf, Nibelung, etc.) certainly did. Martin seems to enjoy taking us back in that direction.

  134. 134
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Not to mention that you would probably piss fiction readers off by writing, And then he died of plague. The End.

  135. 135
    Anton Sirius says:

    @kindness:

    Shit if I didn’t know better, and I don’t, I’d think we had a sock puppet thingy here.

    Odd way to make a confession, but OK, Whose sock puppet are you?

  136. 136
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Shinobi (@shinobi42): The only Stark left alive by the end will be Tony.

  137. 137
    Mayur says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, they do have much better medicine in Westeros than in medieval Europe. That’s one of the fantasy elements in the series.

    I actually wouldn’t be disappointed with an ending in which Daenerys returns to Westeros with the dragons, Tyrion, and Jon and drives back the Others. I think that such an ending only gets “predictable” by the fifth book (the HBO series gets to the foreshadowing earlier) and there is the disposition of numerous major and minor characters to worry about, including no doubt some enormous influence on how the story goes (Bran, Arya) even if it comes down to dragonfire vs. Others.

  138. 138
    TG Chicago says:

    The post said Season Two spoilers. I go just a couple comments down, and Tim F. is announcing who lives and who dies in subsequent books. Without any spoiler warning. Fuck.

  139. 139
    Tim F. says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: I think the Others represent a dying gift from a very pissed off contingent of those forest elves who carved the weirwood trees. Lots of foreshadowing about those guys and the pointy end of the big shaft they got from the First Men.

  140. 140
    mellowjohn says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” –Mark Twain

  141. 141
    David Hunt says:

    @Cynthia Dudley: That’s a story that someone heard about Ned and is repeating. They weren’t there. And I don’t recall the story as the it being payment but just Ned and the fisherman’s daughter doing the nasty.

    We never hear these stories from characters that were actually there. It’s always at least a couple of iterations down the line, like a game of Telephone. I can think of four women that have been brought up as possible mothers to Jon Snow in the books. IMO, that woman is by far the weakest candidate.

  142. 142
    NCSteve says:

    @Aji: Increasingly, I’m convinced Martin’s real agenda is a long term plot to leave millions of devoted fans anguished and frustrated by drawing them into following a tale with a scope so great and a time horizon so lengthy that he cannot possibly finish before he dies.

  143. 143
    kindness says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No sock puppets, just re-emphasizing Aji’s point that you seem to be insisting on being a dick for the sake of being a dick.

    With all due respect I wasn’t involved in the dickishness. I never implied ill on anyone. If you read what I wrote I merely suggested that public figures don’t get a free pass on the intertubes. I said that

    a little consideration, or asking for some is never in poor taste. Demanding it however is in poor taste. We’re talking about a public person, not your children.

    So, get over it. I am not your enemy. But a hearty fuck you too.

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kindness:

    You realize that you’re just proving over and over again that you’re mad about being called out as a dick, right?

    You have free speech to be a dick. I have equal free speech to point out that you’re being a dick.

    Being informed that you’re being a dick is not “censorship.” Nut up.

  145. 145
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Mayur:And now we’re digging into some of the flaws in this – to me – still best fantasy series yet.

    I agree with Mnemosyne that the lack of medieval-style/level of death and degradation due to disease is a glaring one (where is this “better medicine in Westeros” at all described? The Maesters? Like the one per significant castle it appears Westeros has would suffice?).

    As big – I think bigger – is the eight thousand years of continual civilization at a more or less medieval level. 12th century-ish (Europe) swords and armor and castles for eight thousand years?

    A thousand years since the last outbreak of Others would have been more than sufficient, and much more believable (yes, I know, fantasy, but it still needs to follow believable rules on how its world works).

    Eight thousand years is way too much of a stretch, and not at all necessary for the story.

    Ok, quibble off.

    There really has to be some grand climax between, you know, Ice and Fire, and it really should involve Jon, Dany and the dragons, at the least.

    Whether or not that’s a Tolkienesque “happy ending” (Jon and Dany ride off triumphantly on the dragons and rule benevolently, say) is a whole other question.

  146. 146
    OmerosPeanut says:

    @steve: This one’s been pretty thoroughly debunked before, even by Martin himself.

  147. 147
    James E. Powell says:

    @Pete Butler:

    There’s nothing in the books to either confirm or deny this, but a popular fan theory: Jaqen H’gar is actually Syrio Forel.

    Can’t see this because I don’t see Syrio abandoning Arya,merely leaving her a coin and secret password. If that’s Syrio, he frees her and gets her to her mother or brother before the Red Wedding.

  148. 148
    James E. Powell says:

    @millekat:

    It just seems strange to me. The man is an over-the-top control freak. Yet he “hires” some unknown woman from the prisoner pool, asks where she’s from (she lies) and that’s about it as far as screening.

    That scene does not take place in the books; they combined & switched some characters. That sequence has a different, lesser noble.

    Also, based on the reading of the history from Robert’s Rebellion to the events at the beginning of this book, it seems as though no one has seen any of the Starks in many years. Winterfell is a-way-up-north. Tywin Lannister probably hasn’t seen any Starks since before Arya was born.

  149. 149
    irmaladuce says:

    ” If your every single storyline involves people a lot more important than you dying, maybe you are the problem.”

    My mom used to say the same thing about the Murder She Wrote Lady.

  150. 150
    Tim C. says:

    @James E. Powell:
    This

    The north is very much a backwater and is in many ways isolated from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. Not totally of course, but the Starks have by tradition been focused on the north rather than the dealings of the Southron lords. Even after the Tygarians came in and forced the last King in the North to bend the knee, they pretty much left the place alone as the Starks stayed out of the general mess of alliances and politics of the south. Until the Ayres the inbred or whoever started killing people all over including Ned’s father and brother.

  151. 151
    Lordwhorfin says:

    @Lurking Canadian: Also the memory of the civil war between Stephen and Matilda in the 1140s and 1150s was certainly historical (being 300 years in the past) but not forgotten by prominent or minor persons of the day in 1450-it was so terrible that the legend of its awfulness may have played a role in restraining York and Lancaster from general sacking and burning. Yes, also 30-years war, which was even worse because you had cannon, sappers, and mercenaries EVERYWHERE. Bad news.

  152. 152
    mclaren says:

    I predict the “greatest single scene in TV history” will be the Republican presidential nominee’s acceptance speech in 2016.

    Except instead of “vampires,” the Republican presidential nominee will say “entrepreneurs.”

    Does that help you decide America? Do not turn off the camera! You’ve seen how quickly I can kill. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Russell Edgington and I have been an entrepreneur for nearly three-thousand years. Now, the American Business Round Table wishes to perpetuate the idea that we are just like you. I suppose in a few small ways we are. We’re narcissists. We care only about getting what we want no matter what the cost just like you. Global warming, perpetual war, toxic waste, child labor, torture, genocide, That’s a small price to pay for your SUVs and your flat screen TVs, your blood diamonds, your designer jeans, your absurd garish McMansions! Futile symbols of permanence to quell your quivering, spineless souls. But no, in the end we are nothing like you. We are immortal. Because we drink the true blood. Blood that is living, organic and human. And that is the truce the Business Round Table wishes to conceal from you because let’s face it eating people is a tough sale these days so they put on their friendly faces to pass their beloved capital gains tax cuts but make no mistake. Mine is the true face of the entrepreneur! Why would we seek equal rights? You are not our equals. We will eat you after we eat your children. Now time for the weather. Tiffany?

  153. 153
    mclaren says:

    @DFH no.6:

    As big – I think bigger – is the eight thousand years of continual civilization at a more or less medieval level. 12th century-ish (Europe) swords and armor and castles for eight thousand years?

    In the world of Game of Thrones, the Republicans won big and then had a purge and wiped out the Democrats.

  154. 154
    mclaren says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    There are way more random massacres in Martin’s world than ever happened were recorded by the victors in the Wars of the Roses.

    There. Fixed that for ya.

    Read histories of the American war in the Phillipines in U.S. history books — do you read anything about the waterboarding torture American soldiers used routinely on Filipino children?

    Gee, no, you don’t…

    Or read histories of the Vietnam war in U.S. history texbooks. See anything there about the way Army grunts used to wire up suspected VC’s genitals to field telephones and crank ’em up until the suspected VC’s convulsed and eventually died? How about the Phoenix Program? Or the mass assassination programs in Cambodia by U.S. army rangers?

    Nope, nothing there.

    Wowie zowie. What a co-inky-dink.

    Meanwhile, you’ll hear plenty in U.S. history books about those terrible awful horrible Japanese, who did things like torture prisoners to death and mass-murder civilians. And those horrible awful Nazis, who did the same things. Of course, you won’t hear much about General Curtis LeMay, who planned and supervised the mass firebombings of Japanese civilians, killing more women and children in Japan in a single night on many of the raids than died in either of the atomic bombings.

    America remains curiously blameless in the history books conveniently written by Americans. Future historians will doubtless ogle with doe eyes, like the gullible dupe Mnemosyne, and utter the moon-faced proclamation, “America seems not to have engaged in the atrocities of its opponents when it went to war.”

    Meanwhile, back here on planet earth:

    The scale of abuses in the Philippines remains unknowable, but, as early as March, rhetoric like Root’s was being undercut by further revelations from the islands. When Major Littleton Waller, of the Marines, appeared before a court-martial in Manila that month, unprecedented public attention fell on the brutal extremities of U.S. combat, specifically on the island of Samar in late 1901. In the wake of a surprise attack by Filipino revolutionaries on American troops in the town of Balangiga, which had killed forty-eight of seventy-four members of an American Army company, Waller and his forces were deployed on a search-and-destroy mission across the island. During an ill-fated march into the island’s uncharted interior, Waller had become lost, feverish, and paranoid. Believing that Filipino guides and carriers in the service of his marines were guilty of treachery, he ordered eleven of them summarily shot. During his court-martial, Waller testified that he had been under orders from the volatile, aging Brigadier General Jacob Smith (“Hell-Roaring Jake,” to his comrades) to transform the island into a “howling wilderness,” to “kill and burn” to the greatest degree possible—“The more you kill and burn, the better it will please me”—and to shoot anyone “capable of bearing arms.” According to Waller, when he asked Smith what this last stipulation meant in practical terms, Smith had clarified that he thought that ten-year-old Filipino boys were capable of bearing arms. (In light of those orders, Waller was acquitted.)

    Source: “The Water Cure: debating torture and counterinsurgency — a century ago,” The New Yorker, 25 February 2008.

  155. 155
    Hob says:

    @Aji: There’s apparently a government mandate requiring all Internet users to post essentially the same “hey, maybe GRRM will have a heart attack” message at some point in their lives. Oddly, they always think they’re the first one to come up with this and they never think it’s at all rude.

  156. 156
    Hob says:

    @Mnemosyne: Oh sure, he’s thrown in elements of wars from lots of parts of the world and lots of periods of history— I don’t think he’s ever said the series was closely based on the Wars of the Roses. And the country it takes place in is roughly the size of South America, not the size of England, so there’s room for lots of massacres.

  157. 157
    Hob says:

    @Mnemosyne: About non-violent causes of death— the series is actually full of mentions of disease of all kinds. It becomes a major plot element in the 5th book, as a random epidemic is interfering with war plans in one area and another one is about to break out elsewhere; before that point there was a lot of smaller-scale stuff that was just character backstory, so not surprisingly it didn’t make it into the show. Although, to be fair, in book 1 we did have a Genghis Khan analogue who was set up as a super-formidable antagonist and then died because of a small infected cut.

    There’s a nice bit in one of the prequel novellas (set about 100 years earlier) where people keep casually referring to various family members/lords/etc. having died “in the spring”, which everyone understands to mean “due to last spring’s humungous plague.”

  158. 158
    Justin says:

    @DFH no.6:

    As big – I think bigger – is the eight thousand years of continual civilization at a more or less medieval level. 12th century-ish (Europe) swords and armor and castles for eight thousand years?

    There’s a gesture at a couple explanations: first, they have magic and gods who are actually present. The Old Gods actually spoke to people in those groves; the Seven don’t show up much on a personal level, but their church is strong, and then you have cultists like Melisandra actually doing shit. You also have dragons who required spells to control them. This would tend to retard technological innovation. Second, the long winters (like, a decade long) have a tendency to reset everything. Most of the time you’re just storing up food to survive it, and then trying not to starve to death, and people frequently did so there was a generational knock-back effect.

    That’s a pretty weak explanation, though.

    Eight thousand years is way too much of a stretch, and not at all necessary for the story.

    The obvious problem to me is that, after eight-thousand years, every bit of metal in Westeros would have been mined out, every granite mountain carved into blocks, every tree cut down, every farmland barren and every lake fished out. Westeros would have been picked over as if locusts had been invented there, especially if you have to survive periodically shitty decades.

  159. 159
    Paul in KY says:

    @David Hunt: We’ll see. Good idea on what might happen to him.

  160. 160
    Paul in KY says:

    @Trabb’s Boy: That’ll work!

  161. 161
    Paul in KY says:

    @Aji: It’s not our fault that you happen to personally know the man. That’s what happens when you know a ‘public figure’.

    I think he needs to lose some weight & stop smoking cigs.

  162. 162
    Paul in KY says:

    @millekat: I’m not sure he had ever met her before. She was up in North till recently, he was at Castle Rock…

  163. 163
    Paul in KY says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: We shall see!

  164. 164
    Paul in KY says:

    @kindness: I agree. Aji neds to get her big girl panties on & tough it up.

  165. 165
    Paul in KY says:

    @Sherparick: That’s why I think Baelish in the end triumphs. Not a ‘good ending’ that.

  166. 166
    Paul in KY says:

    @mclaren: I guess if gunpowder had never been invented, you might stay at that level (IMO).

  167. 167
    steve says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Like that time that I was playing Civ III and the continent I was on had no saltpeter and sometime around 2050 a bunch of stealth fighter jets showed up to take over my country and I only had medieval knights to fight them off.

  168. 168
    Justin says:

    @Paul in KY: I might be wrong, but I thought that the Chinese had gunpowder and sufficiently advanced metalworking that they could have had an age of firearms five hundred years before Europe started, but for various reasons didn’t. Likewise, the Japanese quickly adopted firearms upon their introduction by the Dutch, and then rejected them and avoided their use for four hundred years.

  169. 169
    Paul in KY says:

    @Justin: I think you are right here. If they had pursued more of the ramifications of moving heavy stuff thru explosives & directing that movement, they could have had guns way before we ever did.

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