PopCult Open Thread: Endgame of Thrones

I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, mostly because as I got older I decided to give up on the concept of ‘keeping up’ with Intensely Popular Fantasy Sagas that didn’t pique my interests but would take great swaths of time & attention. (Haven’t read or watched the Harry Potter series, either.) But you can’t pay attention to social media — well, any media — and not pick out some of the general outlines. Couple concepts I thought were interesting:

Alyssa Rosenberg, in the Washington Post“What would a feminist ending for ‘Game of Thrones’ actually look like?”

[A]s the final two episodes of the long-running fantasy series approach, debates about the show’s gender politics and a host of assorted questions are heating up with all the force of dragonfire. What is the line between depicting sexism and endorsing it? Should the characters be judged by the norms of the fictional world in which they reside or our own? And perhaps most of all, what would a feminist ending for the series actually look like?…

And a long twitter thread on the difference between the written and filmed stories (click on any of the tweets below to read the whole thing)…

116 replies
  1. 1

    ‘Pantsing’, or the ‘gardener’ approach as Martin describes it, is why I stopped watching during the third season. I cannot invest in huge, emotional events in a story if they’re random. If someone I have been made to care about is going to be tortured or murdered, I want it to have a purpose, to go somewhere. Ultimately, the Red Wedding happened because Martin was tired of that subplot and wanted the characters off the board so he could chase something new.

  2. 2
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Pretty amazing how the writers of these hit series like Star Wars, Harry Potter and GoT don’t know shit according to their fans.

  3. 3

    Obviously when writing a single-volume story, a pantser goes back and shores up the story to make some semblance of sense after they figure out the plot. And vice-versa for writers who don’t have the characters nailed down until the end. But now I’m wondering how a pantser is supposed to go about writing a multi-volume epic in the first place. Scalzi seems to be doing okay with the Interdependency series so far, though Old Man’s War, ah… lacks focus.

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: many writers are bad, to be fair.

  4. 4

    @Major Major Major Major:

    now I’m wondering how a pantser is supposed to go about writing a multi-volume epic

    Don’t look at me. I’m the most ‘planner’ author I know. I refused to turn Supervillain into a series without figuring out exactly how many books there would be and what the ending was first.

  5. 5

    Well, time for Detective Pikachu.

  6. 6
    Mike J says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Plot is overrated. Plenty of good books that just don’t have any. The brothers Green have recently discussed it on their podcast. John never plots, and his books tend to sort of go all over the place but the characters are great. Hank has one book that feels tightly plotted. It was a fun read, but he said he spent tons of time just trying to figure out how the characters got from A to B.

  7. 7
    Walker says:

    The Silvermint thread is dead on. This is what happened with the Wheel of Time as well. I know a lot of people wish that Jordan lived to finish that series. But I believe the handing that series to Sanderson — one of the most rigorous plotters around — after Jordan’s death is the only reason it mostly stuck the landing.

  8. 8
    Walker says:

    @Mike J:

    Plot is overrated. Plenty of good books that just don’t have any.

    This is a specific genre, known as literary. It does not work for all genres.

  9. 9

    @Mike J: as a reader, my only real requirement for plot is internal coherence.

  10. 10
    Jay says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    According to the opening credits on Deadpool, the Writers are the Real Hero’s.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    Veep finale was quite good.

  12. 12
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Of course, but these show are on to something as indicated by their popularity. I mean I can’t watch GoT because I find the characters dreadfully simplistic and transparent, but it’s obvious GOT works for a lot people. You ask me the shows real appeal is the audience are living vicariously threw the characters, so it’s the characters and what they do that matters more than the plot.

  13. 13
    EthylEster says:

    I stopped watching during the second season because there was too much violent sex.
    So I’m thinking there couldn’t be a feminist ending….for me.

  14. 14

    @Major Major Major Major:

    But now I’m wondering how a pantser is supposed to go about writing a multi-volume epic in the first place.

    They could always write the whole epic, or at least a substantial draft of the completed work so that they’re just revising, before releasing the first volume. That’s what Tolkien did with LotR. Of course that’s also a major reason why it took close to 20 years between The Hobbit and LotR.

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    In 2008, David Benioff — one of the “showrunners” for GoT — published a terrific novel called “City of Thieves”, supposedly based on the experiences of his Russian-born grandparents during the WW2 Siege of Leningrad. Never understood why HBO never turned it into a movie or miniseries.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    I couldn’t get into either the books or the series.

  17. 17
    Amir Khalid says:

    Anne Laurie, it very important to read the Harry Potter series. Not just for itself, but to understand its influence on political activism by young people who grew up reading it.
    As for the value of plotting, it depends on the kind of story the writer is trying to tell. If there are a lot of waypoints that must be reached, plotting is obligatory. Otherwise, not so much.

  18. 18
    PJ says:

    @Walker: Picaresque novels typically have, at best, a loose plot (protagonist wanders around, has interesting encounters, ends up somewhere else (or back where they started)), and, by modern convention, most of these would not be considered “literary” (i.e., they are not novels of manners, “the way we live today”, etc., and tend to be more novels of ideas, which seems to be verboten in the literary world).

  19. 19
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid: JK Rowling has said that once she had the shell of her idea she also knew where the plot was going to go from the beginning to the end. At least in a shell form. It’s the way she gets us there that sucks us in.

  20. 20
    Emma says:

    From what I have heard/read from my GOT-mad friends, everyone seems to be writing their own book and superimposing it on the show. A hundred million fanfics, all competing to be the One True Ending. Well, as I’ve said before, the “realistic” fantasy genre is not exactly a garden of spring blooms. This one, if it is true that it was based loosely on the War of the Roses, even less than most. Most of those folks would have been furious to be called “unpleasant.” They went for “murderous” right off the blocks. And a large majority of them met very unpleasant ends.

  21. 21
    JR says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: Harry Potter is brilliant, it’s just the Rowling needs to let sleeping dogs lie.

  22. 22
    Emma says:

    @JR: Why? It’s her world. We’re just guests.

  23. 23
    Baud says:


    everyone seems to be writing their own book and superimposing it on the show. 

    Reminds me of Democrats on the Internet.

  24. 24


    It’s her world. We’re just guests.

    I don’t think that’s really true, though. An author may create a world, but they inevitably share it with their audience. Once they’ve done that, the world is no longer solely theirs to do with as they please, or at least they have to worry about severe backlash if they start changing things willy nilly.

  25. 25
    Jay says:

    “This suggests that Facebook is at least aware of the broader ecosystem in which these individuals operate, and took that into consideration when it banned some of the most active collaborators. Yet by leaving pages like Summit News untouched for a week — until it was brought to the company’s attention — Facebook is sending a message that it will allow banned content on its platform as long as the brand is disguised just well enough to avoid coming under scrutiny and creating more controversy for the already embattled tech giant. If recent history is any indication, that message will be heard loud and clear by bad actors, who will take it as permission to keep exploiting the loopholes that exist in within Facebook’s policies.

    Facebook’s current approach is little more than a band aid — a temporary fix to stop the bleeding without treating the underlying cause. Stemming the flow of disinformation and extremism online will require an approach that targets the network in which these influencers thrive. It won’t be a one-step solution. Social media companies must start implementing proactive policies that get ahead of the problem, rather than waiting to take action until it becomes too big to ignore.”


  26. 26
    piratedan says:

    well, maybe next time HBO will select a work that’s more or less completed already, it’s not as if there aren’t a few works to pick from that could easily make bank for multiple years, Zelazny’s Amber series or Cook’s Black Company series would seem to be in this wheelhouse of dark noir/fantasy that HBO has tapped into. I’m sure that there’s others that folks would be happy to suggest as well, unless this is exactly what they’re hoping for, enough of a fan base that were already passionate about the series and hopes that Martin would finally bring it home but allowing others to put their own spin on it and still have compelling characters and story lines that were compelling in and of themselves…

  27. 27
    Cacti says:

    GoT fans remind me of Wilmer fans in the sense that both groups think they’re a lot more numerous than they actually are.

    In reality, the latest GoT episode set a US record for the series with approximately 17.8 million viewers. That won’t even crack the top 10 for most watched television program in 2019.

    Harry Potter, LOTR, and Star Wars have true nerd armies backing their products.

  28. 28
    Eural Joiner says:

    Zelazny’s Amber series

    Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time – “Jack of Shadows” is one of my all time favorites and I even got to meet the man once, when I was a teenager at a very small comic convention back in the day. I remember my mom (who took us) spent awhile talking parenting with Fred Saberhagen in the hotel lounge while my friends and I played Dungeons and Dragons. Good times, good times :)

  29. 29
    MattF says:

    It’s worth noting that many of these stories are versions of classic mythological narratives. For example, in the ‘resurrection myth’, the protagonist dies and is reborn as the ‘chosen one’. There are always oracular predictions before the death, the protagonist generally has a stigma or scar of some sort, there is always a mentor who teaches the protagonist what he or she needs to know. It’s not a coincidence that the Harry Potter story has all these features, as does the first part of ‘The Matrix’ movie trilogy. We tell each other these stories over and over again.

  30. 30
    emma says:

    @Roger Moore: I find that incomprehensible. The author has a story in her head. Is she now to ditch the story every time a reader or group of readers decide they want it to go a different way?

  31. 31
    Cacti says:


    Well, there are only seven basic plots in literature.

  32. 32
    Jay says:

    “A former Mississauga, Ont., mayoral candidate, charged two years ago with a hate crime, displayed “horrific” behaviour when he made “hateful Islamophobic” comments against Paramount Fine Foods owner Mohamad Fakih, a judge has ruled.

    In a decision released Monday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded $2.5 million in damages to Fakih and Paramount, a chain of Middle Eastern restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area, for defamation over a series of videos and online posts made by Johnston, some on his website Freedom Report, starting in July 2017.”


  33. 33
    narya says:

    I don’t have HBO, so have maybe seen two or three episodes of the whole series (while traveling/in a hotel room)–but have read all of the books. Based on the reactions I’ve seen on the intertubes to the HBO series, it sounds like the analysis is correct: the earlier stuff was straight out of the books (more or less), but the later stuff hadn’t been fully realized by GRRM. I’ll be interested to see if (a) he finally finishes the books and (b) they tell the same story as the HBO series. There’s room for differences–e.g., I think that Peter Jackson’s LOTR is A telling of those stories, but I disagree profoundly with some of what he did in the telling. (yes, I am part of the LOTR nerd army, as you can tell by my nym, even though I don’t speak Elvish.)

  34. 34
    moonbat says:

    @Emma: Agreed. The main attraction of writing for a lot of people is that you are the creator of the universe with no limits except your own talents on what you can do. Others are welcome along for the ride, but they don’t “own” the story — unless they buy the book, of course. ;)

    I read a lot of fanfic, and some if it is entertaining, but I don’t kid myself that an author of one of the “how it should have gone” stories knows better than the original author. If you’re so damn brilliant, write your own universe instead of piggybacking on someone else’s.

  35. 35
    Jay says:


    Once an author has written a book, and it has achieved some popularity, some consitency needs be maintained in prequels and sequels to keep the fan base.

    One can over time turn a hero/heroine into a villain, but you have to show your work.

    If you start off with say, a series of science fiction, you can’t abruptly switch the series to science fantasy, with out offending fans.

  36. 36
    Plato says:

    @Emma: @moonbat:

    ‘Critics’ couldn’t write for shit and hence their whines. Controlled creativity is an oxymoron.

  37. 37
    Belafon says:

    @Mike J: A long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is good and doesn’t really have a plot.

  38. 38
    Princess says:

    The problem with GoT is not “plotters vs pantsers.”

    It’s that writers for television are trained to constantly raise tension, to get you to tune in next week, next season. They aren’t rewarded for finishing things off and winding up plot lines in a coherent way. It has nothing to do with GoT — people are upset about the exact same thing every time a series ends. And guess what, GRR Martin got his training as a writer for television. Which is why he will never finish the series. He doesn’t know how.

  39. 39
    RSA says:


    I couldn’t get into either the books or the series.

    I read the books, but they weren’t to my taste, and since I don’t watch TV, I’ve never seen the series. So I have two different ways of being insufferable about GoT. :-)

  40. 40
    TenguPhule says:

    Pentagon officials are considering a new request for military assistance along the southern border, a defense official said Monday, after the Department of Homeland Security asked for help housing and caring for thousands of migrants.

    The latest DHS request, first reported over the weekend by journalists accompanying acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan on a trip to the border, comes as lawmakers voice frustration about the Pentagon’s expanding role in President Trump’s border policies, including the effort to curtail a surge in migrant crossings.

    A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a proposal that has not yet been approved, said the request asks the Defense Department to provide or construct shelter for at least 5,000 migrants and to provide “wraparound services,” including food and other care.

    Because corruption is never one big step, but a long trail of little ones.

  41. 41
    TenguPhule says:


    I couldn’t get into either the books or the series.

    That’s because the most likable characters die horribly in both versions.

  42. 42


    I find that incomprehensible. The author has a story in her head. Is she now to ditch the story every time a reader or group of readers decide they want it to go a different way?

    No, but at some point the story is told and released into the wild. When that happens, it is no longer the sole province of the author; the audience has a say. If she wants to include details in the story, she needs to include those details in the story. If there’s a reason she couldn’t include backstory stuff in with the original story, she either needs to keep a lid on it or tell a new story that gives an excuse to release that backstory information.

  43. 43
    TenguPhule says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Pretty amazing how the writers of these hit series like Star Wars, Harry Potter and GoT don’t know shit according to their fans.

    To be fair, Star Wars expanded universe became a mess of too many authors competing to be the one true successor.

    And then Disney made it worse by deciding that the reboot meant doing exactly what the original did, only GOT style.

    Harry Potter became a case of the author losing control of the story and introducing too many powers into a universe with an utter lack of common sense.

  44. 44
    John S. says:


    Yes. Joseph Campbell wrote a whole series of books about this.

  45. 45
    AM in NC says:

    @Mike in NC: Love that novel. So much humor in such horrific circumstances. And it would make a great movie!

  46. 46
    PJ says:

    @Roger Moore: Actually, authors have the right (copyright) to do as they please with their creations. There may be a backlash – Conan Doyle got a ton of shit for killing off Sherlock Holmes – but if the author needs the fans’ dollars, he or she can always bring Sherlock back to life.

  47. 47
    moonbat says:

    @Roger Moore: What? The audience has a say whether they like it or don’t, read it or don’t, buy it or don’t. That’s about it.

    Or what PJ just said.

  48. 48
    NotMax says:

    Never seen nor read GoT. Never seen nor read Potter. Read LotR a long, long time ago and refuse to see the movies as don’t want them in whole or in part overwriting or altering the still present intricately detailed picture saga created in my head upon reading.

    Will never be made (technically-wise too horrendously costly to produce) yet would look forward to seeing, though with multiple fingers and toes crossed, a big budget series (films or TV) adapted from John Varley’s Gaea trilogy.

  49. 49
    Searcher says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    But now I’m wondering how a pantser is supposed to go about writing a multi-volume epic in the first place.

    There’s two basic methods you’ll see in the wild.

    Either the pantser writes a bunch of random, loosely connected adventures until they stumble on a way to tie them all together in an epic finale that retroactively makes what were originally random events into a nefarious plot, or they start with hints of a grand epic, plot randomly through successive volumes building up the stakes and complexity of the world and plots, and then start spending years and decades between volumes trying to figure out how to bring it all together but just end up upping the stakes while bringing the arch no closer to completion and getting more irritable about fans questioning their direction until they finally die without completing the work.

  50. 50
    Jay says:

    “Christopher Hasson, the Coast Guard officer accused of planning white supremacist terror attacks and targeting prominent figures in the government the media, will remain behind bars ahead of his trial, a federal judge in Maryland ruled on Monday. This decision overturned a magistrate judge’s prior ruling that would have let Hasson out.

    While prosecutors have laid out in extensive detail Hasson’s alleged plots, he does not face any terrorism charges. He is facing drug and firearm charges.”


  51. 51
    Emerald says:

    Anne, you really must read Harry Potter. Yeah, they’re written for kids but I’ve never met an adult who didn’t appreciated them at least as much as the kids so. Fantastic imagination, and the creation of a whole world that completely convinces. The movies really do capture the books, but read the books. They are captivating.

    As to GoT: I know how it should end, which means that I’m gonna be wrong. It should end with the death of magic. Both Targareans die (I think Arya kills Dany—she came to kill an evil queen, it’s just that the identity of the queen has changed) and so does Drogon. No more Targareans, no more dragons. Maybe first Dany burns down Bran’s tree and he loses his seer abilities (I wrote this on Twitter under a different nym). Sansa rules Westeros from the north, because there is no more Iron Throne. She’s the only character in the thing with ruler chops anyway. I’m a bit distracted by the fact that Jon has indeed returned from the dead, and somebody referred to that event in the episode last night, so maybe they really will do something with the resurrected hero meme. He hasn’t been much of a hero, however. At all.

    Anyhoo, I want Sansa as the queen, because she’s a wimminz and she’s the only one in the whole freaking series who actually could do the job.

  52. 52
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @Eural Joiner:

    Fred Saberhagen

    Which reminds me that Empire of the East would be a fun TV series.

  53. 53
    ChuckInAustin says:

    @Mike in NC: OMG! I read (and loved) ‘City of Thieves’ years ago. I had no idea is was by Benioff.

  54. 54
    Jay says:

    “Fox News likes to tout the “hard news” side of its operation, setting up a false distinction between its right-wing prime-time hosts and the members of its news team as a defense against those who flag the propaganda, lies, conspiracy theories, and bigotry that pervade the network. But a Media Matters investigation found that the “news side” isn’t as inoculated as the network claims. We looked at Fox News and Fox Business programming for the first four months of 2019, and we documented examples of the “news” division spreading misinformation on air every single day between January 1 and April 30.”


  55. 55


    It’s that writers for television are trained to constantly raise tension, to get you to tune in next week, next season. They aren’t rewarded for finishing things off and winding up plot lines in a coherent way. It has nothing to do with GoT — people are upset about the exact same thing every time a series ends. And guess what, GRR Martin got his training as a writer for television. Which is why he will never finish the series. He doesn’t know how.

    This is not so true as it used to be. One of the huge changes in TV in the past 20 years or so is the switch from pure episodic storytelling, in which each 1 hour or 30 minute episode is a largely self-contained story, to one of long-form storytelling in which stories progress over a full season or even several seasons*. Part of the way modern TV tries to hook people to tune in to the next episode and the next season is by promising that the show is going somewhere; there will be a climax and a conclusion rather than just an endless string of disconnected stories.

    One of the problems is that not all screenwriters have adapted. A lot of them are still more comfortable writing individual episodes that have no broader implications. And some of them think it’s enough to give hints of a bigger story without actually having one fleshed out. They can keep stringing an audience along for years, but without some higher-level plan, the audience just winds up frustrated because the hints wind up being incoherent. This was something that really pissed me off about The X-Files, and I think it wound up frustrating viewers of Lost. The writers wanted to hook viewers with the feeling that there was a bigger story, but they never bothered to figure out what it was well enough to make it coherent.

    *My impression is that the driving force behind this is a change in the economics of TV. Most shows are at most barely profitable in their first run. They depend on re-selling the series afterward to make their profits. Until relatively recently, the main source of that revenue was from syndication. In syndication, the episodes could be shown in more or less random order, so they had to be able to stand alone as stories. Over time, though, the big revenue has shifted more and more to sales of box sets and on-line streaming, which both allows and encourages people to see the shows as multi-episode stories. I think home recording (VCR and now DVR) played a role, too.

  56. 56
    Emma says:

    @Jay: Well, if you can do it without violating the internal structure of the story, I’d be willing. BTW, the switch from science to fantasy worlds have been done before.

  57. 57
    Sab says:

    I always thought Game of Thrones would end with the white walkers winning, so I am quite happy with any alternative, though I do wish Sansa in particular well.

  58. 58
    JR says:

    There’s this from the best HBO show, which also happened to falter in its last season.

  59. 59


    As to GoT: I know how it should end

    Bob wakes up and tells Emily about the strange dream he had?

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    I gave up on “Game of Thrones” when they decided to torture random NPCs by feeding them to starving rats for no reason, but one of my writer friends shared this article from Bustle that explains fairly well why a lot of women are uncomfortable with Daenerys’s sudden swing into villainy:


  61. 61

    I posted this earlier, but I’ll say again that I blogged about pantsing vs plotting today. I actually drafted this post weeks ago and scheduled it to go live today. It’s a coincidence that GoT made it sort of relevant.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, people who keep repeating that GRRM based “Game of Thrones” on the War of the Roses doesn’t know much about the War of the Roses, IMO. I’m not an expert, but it only bears the vaguest resemblance.

    The big thing that GRRM leaves out is how many of the events of the War of the Roses were sparked by random deaths from disease. Everything in his book has to be motivated, so he can’t have the 40-year-old king die of typhoid after only 10 years on the throne even though that’s exactly what happened to Edward IV.

  63. 63

    @Mike in NC: I liked that book. I didn’t make the connection to GoT until just now

  64. 64
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: She’s rightfully angry but she reacts in a way that she can’t afford to if she wants to hold on to what she has conquered. And she’s been telegraphing who she is from the beginning, as someone pointed out in a former thread.
    After the whole Arya KILLED THE NIGHT KING, AAAAIEEE!! I went through YouTube clips to learn more about her. Does anyone realize that girl was raised to be a priestess, if not an avatar, of death from the first? I think a lot of the characters may be the same?

  65. 65
    Kraux Pas says:

    Question for the balloon juice brain trust:

    I’ve been working on a mission statement for a new website I’ve been creating. However I also want a longer document fleshing out my goals and vision for the site. I was hoping someone could tell me what such a document might be called so that I may better research how to write one.

  66. 66
    Emma says:

    @Mnemosyne: Fantasy takes kernels from history and fleshes them out, as you know. Happenstance is terrible in fiction. It can’t happen. Life is not so kind.

  67. 67
    eemom says:

    What does pantsing mean? Writing by the seat of the pants?

    Not a GoT’er, only dabbled in Harry Potter when my kids were little, and could never get into LotR, or really any kind of fantasy, so I am seriously lost here.

    @Roger Moore:

    No, but at some point the story is told and released into the wild. When that happens, it is no longer the sole province of the author; the audience has a say.

    heh heh. That’s what the Kathy Bates character in Misery thought.

  68. 68


    the creation of a whole world that completely convinces.

    This is funny, and in a twisted way it is the true display of Rowling’s genius, because the world is pathetically badly written. It’s a cosplay Halloween world, where if you substitute ‘Space’ for ‘Wizard’ you will start to realize how superficial and tropey it is. And yet, you don’t notice, because you’re so wrapped up in the story. This probably sounds like criticism to a non-writer, but it’s not. You don’t have to have a deep, real world, if that’s not the point. The point of the Harry Potter series is adventure, and she delivers that so solidly that all other considerations cease to even exist.

    I love the books. I have reread them many times. Every time I notice more of what she gets away with. Ron in particular is a gigantic asshole and a terrible person, and his relationship with Hermione baffles me. They share no values and he does not respect her. Their relationship is literally so bad that she freaks out with joy whenever he does anything she approves of at all. And yet, Hermione is head over heels with passion for the louse. Alas, that is very realistic.

  69. 69

    @eemom: That’s exactly what pantsing means. The writer starts with small kernel and lets the story grow from there. I admire people who can do that. It would paralyze me with fear.

    I read Misery for the first time recently. Holy cow. That was scary.

  70. 70
    Searcher says:


    Happenstance is terrible in fiction.

    The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.

  71. 71
    Emma says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Rowling has admitted that she should have split them up. To me, the thing that sticks in my craw is the Redemption of Snape. For Christ’s sake, he was an bastard to Harry. Where does a grown man, a teacher, get off victimizing a pupil because the kid’s father was mean to him? And the way he acts towards other students like Hermione or poor Neville? Good man my tochis. But I take your meaning. No matter what the flaws, it’s a wonderful story.

  72. 72
    Connor Cochran says:


    And guess what, GRR Martin got his training as a writer for television. Which is why he will never finish the series. He doesn’t know how.

    George didn’t start writing for television until 1987. He sold his first short story in 1970, when he was 21. By the time he got his chance to script some OUTER LIMITS episodes in the mid-’80s he’d already written and sold 42 pieces of short fiction and five novels, and won three Hugo Awards and two Nebula Awards.

  73. 73
    Darkrose says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I’m a combination of both pantser and plotter. My stories are very character-driven, but I write outlines and have a definite plan for how I’m going to get to my ending. Usually that lasts for two chapters, at which point I get A Better Idea, and then ooh, shiny! and it’s on to something else.

    This is directly correlated with my ADD, and is also why I’m the Queen of the WIP.

  74. 74
    Emma says:

    @Searcher: If I were through the middle of a five volume story and it ended with the hero dying because he went swimming and caught pneumonia, the Wheel would get seriously broken.

  75. 75
    Darkrose says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s not a direct parallel, obviously. He conflates things and changes events, plus magic and dragons. But it was definitely inspired by that conflict.

    Telesilla and I were just discussing one of the big things Martin missed, namely that despite everything, England survived the War of the Roses because of what was then the proto-middle class. While the nobles were off killing each other, someone had to make sure that the wool was still being produced and exported, and that goods were being exchanged for services and that the economy still functioned regardless of who claimed the throne at any given time. “War of the Roses, but with dragons” would have been much more interesting if there’d been a wool merchant POV character and maybe 100% less of say, Theon Grayjoy. Maybe have Arya, Sansa, Danaerys, and another female character who was the daughter of a middle-class family…but then Martin would have to actually write women other than Arya who aren’t crazy, rape victims, or crazy rape victims.

  76. 76
    Feathers says:

    @Mnemosyne: I picked up the first book back in the 90s based on the War of the Roses but with magic recommend. I loved it, but didn’t read the second book, because it was still in hardcover, and I wanted to wait for the series to be finished, to avoid the frustration of waiting for the sequels. It was supposed to be a trilogy at that point. Ha!

    On thing lost in the commentary is that Martin conceived of the series and came up with the rough outline for what we saw last night in 1991. Curiously enough, J.K. Rowling had the idea for the Harry Potter series in 1990. So these two works which are now being judged as if they are contemporary works, are actually nearly thirty years old. I know that this is not supposed to matter, but it does in so many ways, Yes, I remember 1990-1991 well.

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    Spoilers ahead, obviously

    Should the characters be judged by the norms of the fictional world in which they reside or our own?

    Well yeah. Mostly. I’ve been reading about people disappointed with this episode because they expected (demanded) that the characters they liked to have heroic arcs in which they were redeemed. So, for example, they expected Jaime to kill Cersei or to be killed by someone, maybe Arya, before Cersei met a suitably gruesome fate.

    Other people expected Dany to be the hero, even if she didn’t end up on the throne, because we have spent so much time with her and she has mostly tried to do the good thing as ruler.

    And oddly enough, there are fans who expected Westerosi to end up as a proto democracy because, well, democracy is the best.

    But I noted in a previous thread that the story has become the tragedy of Dany when she decided to gratuitously burn the city. And this makes the saga more richly unpredictable because I cannot see the final episode ending with sweetness and light.

    I am not sure what a “feminist” version of the story would be. Is it that some readers would want the story to end with a wise, powerful woman on the throne and everyone living happily ever after?

  78. 78
    Sab says:

    @Darkrose: That’s really interesting, because one of Martin’ s criticisms of Lord of the Rings was “what was Arogorn’s tax policy? What do we do with baby orcs?”

    One of the things I liked best about Game of Thrones is that Martin does place his characters in a real world where there is an economy, and crops have to be planted and harvested, and things have to be sold in markets.

    I never understood the hobbits economy. What did Bilbo do with the gold he brought back? Invest it in their stock market? Invest in tulips? Bury it in the back garden?

  79. 79
    Jay says:


    Snape hated Harry because:

    – James tormented him in school,
    – “stole” his one true love, Lilly,
    – broke his friendship with Lilly,
    – “stole” the life he wanted to have,
    – had Harry,
    – and the Dark Side he embraced to fill the void, not only did he have to choose between the Dark Side, and Saving Lilly, his choice resulted in not only the breaking of the Dark Side, but the death of Lilly.

    Then, Harry Potter, James’s son, becomes The Boy Who Lived.

    In the beginning, Harry constantly reminds him of James.

    Later on, he learns that Harry, his last reminder of Lilly, has to die, so the Dark Lord can die.

    He’s also an asshole. He doesn’t have affectionate relationships with anyone, since Lilly.

  80. 80
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Darkrose:What about Catelyn Stark, the Tyrell women, the Sand Snakes, and Brienne of Tarth?

  81. 81
    Emma says:

    @Jay: I don’t care. A grown adult is not a good person if he acts out his hostility towards another person on a child. It is not the act of a good human being to dump his rage on a child.

  82. 82
    Jay says:


    The Hobbit Economy is built around 3 things,

    – pipeweed
    – First Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, Dinner, Supper,…
    – ale

    As Bilbo was an unpublished writer and socialite, and neither grew nor toiled, he spent his gold on “see above”,

  83. 83
    Emma says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Lyanna Mormont, first of her name, Lady of Bear Island, and the toughest bitch in the valley.

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jay: Lots of heroic people are assholes. I would bet that the percentage matched that of assholes within society as a whole.

  85. 85
    Searcher says:

    @Jay: You forgot elevensies and nuncheon.

  86. 86
    Feathers says:

    @Darkrose: Thinking about this episode, it struck me how alone Dany is. It struck me in season seven that it was completely unrealistic to have Dany return to Westeros and Dragonstone without any old Targaryen retainers rushing to return to her side. Her brother’s nanny, her mother’s ladies maid? As I classic film buff, I’ve watched so many films (and read novels) with White Russian exiles, that the lack of a Westerosi equivalent seems very strange. But I think that is one of the things lost in sprawling novels. There just aren’t minor characters adding this sort of depth.

    BTW if you are looking for historical fiction with textiles, I’d highly recommend Nicola Griffith’s Hild. It is set it Saxon England, and although set in the royal household, it deals with how the textile production of the high born (and other) ladies was important in sustaining the families, both economically and through making the families clothes to wear.

  87. 87
    Jay says:


    Snapes story is a redemption arc,
    Hope and promise,
    The Fall,
    The long road back to redemption,

    It’s a novel, not the California couple who kept their kids chained up, beaten and starving.

    From the Philosopher’s Stone onwards, he protects Harry, and the others, later he even grows affectionate to Harry, but only with Dumbledore, because his “deep cover” as a Double Agent cannot be exposed to protect Dumbledore’s plan.

    He even tries and manages to save Malfoy’s soul.

    He’s a twisted up man who only shares his love when he is dying.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:


    It’s not a direct parallel, obviously. He conflates things and changes events, plus magic and dragons. But it was definitely inspired by that conflict.

    GOT is in part inspired by the War of the Roses, but that is obviously not its only inspiration, nor is it meant to be a glossy or allegory on actual history.

    And one of the inspirations for the High Sparrow is likely Girolamo Savonarola, but I would never watch the show or read the novel looking for a treatise about 15th century religion.

  89. 89
    Jay says:


    Yup, my choice to be Queen, if she’s still alive.

  90. 90
    Jay says:


    I don’t think there were any survivors. Following the death of The Mad King, there was a bit of a slaughter.

  91. 91
    Sab says:

    @Feathers: Dany has nobody long term that she can or ever has trusted. She is only 24. She has built her inner circle gradually since her early adolescence, and they are all dead. Childhood as fugitive. Awful brother dead. Dothraki husband dead. Betraying handmaid dead (of course Dany killed her.) Mormont, loyal retainer dead. Two dragons dead. Mithrandei dead. Jon Snow probably trustworthy but she can’t know that. If I was sitting on a firebreathing dragon I’m not sure I would have behaved better. I probably would have flapped off somewhere safer.

  92. 92
    Emma says:

    @Jay: nope. dead. died killing a giant. dammit.

  93. 93
    Sab says:

    @Jay: That doesn’t seem like a well balanced economy. Also, gardeners puttering for wages in other peoples gadens that seem to grow nothing but ornamental flowers and neat hedges.

  94. 94
    Emma says:

    @Jay: From the little you manage to see of Malfoy in the epilogue he’s still the constipated little brat he used to be. Oh well. I guess we’re on different sides of the Snape divide.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Emma: Mea culpa for missing her.

  96. 96
    NotMax says:


    Made a fortune crafting the gold into souvenir rings.


  97. 97
    Jay says:


    Oh well. It would be her.

  98. 98
    Brachiator says:


    This is funny, and in a twisted way it is the true display of Rowling’s genius, because the world is pathetically badly written. It’s a cosplay Halloween world, where if you substitute ‘Space’ for ‘Wizard’ you will start to realize how superficial and tropey it is. And yet, you don’t notice, because you’re so wrapped up in the story. This probably sounds like criticism to a non-writer, but it’s not. You don’t have to have a deep, real world, if that’s not the point. The point of the Harry Potter series is adventure, and she delivers that so solidly that all other considerations cease to even exist.

    Also, it’s a series primarily for children and youth. Not that adults can’t enjoy the novels, but they clearly bowled kids over.

    I think I recall reading that the official gate keepers of children’s literature initially did not think much of the books. But kids fell for them quickly and soon the novels became an essential part of the society of kids.

    I also recall that because of the arcane rules of the publishing industry, the US version of the novels were supposed to be released after the UK version, but kids said to hell with that and got their parents to order directly from the Amazon UK site. And soon simultaneous publication became the norm.

    A bit of wandering off tangent, but I wholeheartedly agree with your well stated point here. The novels are a fun, rousing adventure. And kids grew up with the characters and folded them into their own lives.

  99. 99
    Sab says:

    @NotMax: Your cynicism apalls me.


  100. 100
    Jay says:


    Large amounts of pipeweed to be grown, dried, trimmed, packaged and shipped off to Colorado and other parts, legal and illegal,

    Tons of food to be grown, made, sold and served,

    A bit of hunting and gathering,

    Ales to be brewed and served,

    Tradesmen and Mailmen,

    Bilbo, Frodo, Pippen and Merry are all from wealth and live the lives of the idle rich.

    Sam’s a Gardener, Rosie’s a Barmaid,

    Seems sustainable until Saroman and Wormtongue arrive and start breaking stuff.

  101. 101
    Jinchi says:


    Ultimately, the Red Wedding happened because Martin was tired of that subplot

    I disagree. Martin does wander, but the Red wedding was a play on historical events and underscored several themes, particularly the protection of guest rite, that was mentioned repeatedly. Rob Stark was never the fundamental character and he was undoubtedly going to be killed off, if only to ultimately clear the way for John Snow. Snow, along with Arya, Tyrion and Danaerys were they keystone characters about whom the whole story revolved.

  102. 102
    Sab says:

    Anybody seen White Queen or White Princess on Starz? I liked both. Margaret Tudor was scarily admirable.

    I was hopeful about Spanish Princess, but had to turn it off in disgust. Feminism is fine, but some men are also tough.

    I had a major issue with Henry VII as a handwringing wimp. Every one hates a bean-counter, but he didn’t get where he was without nerves of steel.

    Accountant side of me being offended. He won his throne on several battlefields.

  103. 103
    Jay says:


    I see big chunks of my Dad in Snape. My Dad in his last years, was not the man I knew and feared into my late 20’s.

  104. 104
    Jay says:


    And one ring to rule them all,……

  105. 105
    Sab says:

    @Jay: My Dad is not the man I feared as a child or adolescent. Dementia does that to you.

    He used to scare me and enrage me.

    Now he is just a sad sweet old man.

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Sab: Unlike Edward IV and even Richard III, Henry VII was not renowned as a soldier. He had very good soldiers on his side though – as well as the skill to get several of Richard’s best commanders and the forces to switch sides at Bosworth. After he was king securing power and rebuilding the Crown’s finances were his primary challenges. That actually called for an accountant’s talents. Henry VIII had money when he became king.

  107. 107
    Sab says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I still don’t believe he was a handwringing wimp. Not all accountant types are, and my back gets up when they are presented as such. Henry VII rise to power required a lot of courage, perseverence, and a difficult mother. Also good bean-counting.

    Poor or inattentive bean-counting was his son’s huge weakness.

  108. 108
    Sab says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: So compare Henry II in “Becket” (sniveling wimp) to Henry II in “Lion in Winter”. Same king, same actor, completely different character. Both can’t be accurate.

  109. 109
    satby says:

    Tl:dr, just finished season 4 of Lucifer. 😰 Sure hope there’s a season 5.

  110. 110
    Jay says:


    It took years, but I helped my Dad get over his anger, bitterness and resentment of the hand he was dealt and the hand he built.

    A 15 year program of greeting him with a hug and saying goodbye with a hug, finally got him to lean in.

    Having grandkids, and being required to babysit from time to time,

    Checking his impulses in real time,…..

    Bringing him back into the family that remained,…

    When we realized he wasn’t taking care of himself, we moved him in.

    Because of a power outage, at work, came home early one day. There’s Dad, napping on the couch. Dog’s, which to him, belonged on a chain in the yard, napping, one in front of his legs, one behind. Cat’s, which he hated, curled up on top.

    The first 60 years of my Dad’s life wern’t filled with love, kindness, good food, pets and support. His last 20 were.

    I can still see my Dad in my memory. Early morning light, the deep green of the yard, sitting in one of those stupid folding aluminum chairs from the ‘70’s, under the deck awning, potted plants in bloom, having his morning cigar and instant coffee. A dog on each side of him, patiently waiting for him to pay the peanut butter toast tax, the cat’s grazing on the lawn, checking in from time to time to make sure they hadn’t gone far.

    T and I in the kitchen, making real coffee and a real breakfast, calling them all in when it was ready.

    Different man.

    Sorry about your Dad’s dementia.

  111. 111
    L85NJGT says:

    This sort of TV and film production is very much collective and studio driven, and it certainly is not all about the script. A great editor (Marcia Lucas) made a mess of a script into the original Star Wars movie. Without knowing the dynamics of the producers, studio and crew it is hard to draw judgement.

  112. 112
    Emma says:

    @Sab: At Bosworth he stayed safe in the back and it was John De Vere who won the battle for him. Richard charged him directly but he could not reach him. John Rous, who hated Richard like poison, said of him “though small in body and feeble of limb, he bore himself like a gallant knight and acted with distinction as his own champion until his last breath.” Nobody ever said that of Henry.

  113. 113
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Sab: Henry FitzEmpress? The guy who became king at about 19, married the most glamorous and notorious woman in Europe, and pretty much controlled most of France? And, whatever the play says, Becket was a Norman not a Saxon. If I had to hazard a guess nearly 1000 years later, I would say that the Henry of the “Lion in Winter” was closer to the mark.

  114. 114
    Mnemosyne says:


    I doubt that GRRM would claim it’s directly based on the War of the Roses, but it makes me a little bonkers when his online fanboys (not anyone here!) insist that it is when they clearly know jack shit about the actual history.


    Henry VII was a schemer who managed to turn that talent to diplomacy and building up the treasury. Definitely not a wimp. There are some historians who think that he considered marrying Catherine of Aragon himself after Arthur died once he became a widower.

  115. 115
    JML says:

    When Martin first conceived of A Song of Ice and Fire, his plan was to write something unfilmable, because of his experiences in Hollywood (both writing scripts and having adaptations of his other work rejected), and part of his inspiration was the War of the Roses for a very complex, sprawling and overlapping narrative. He wasn’t expecting HBO to happen either.

    And now we’re seeing some of the problems with using that kind of source material a) when the source material has run out before completion, and b) the showrunners intentionally truncate their own ability to flesh out their conclusion. (HBO would have given them 10 episodes per season, but D&D insisted on cutting down the last two seasons to 13 total instead of 20.) The reduction in episodes sure feels like a mistake now. The other issue is the showrunners strength may have been in adapting the material, not creating it. They may have needed to see the full design to get all the character beats (mostly) right, to make an intelligent road map. Their skills were best served in paring down and consolidating the source material into a more direct and coherent narrative designed for visual viewing.

    It doesn’t matter how many times the producers claim they’ve sown all the seeds for Dany’s heel turn last episode, because they didn’t give time for those seeds to mature and be important enough and convincing enough to fans to buy it. Shout all you want, “We planned it! We told you it was coming!”, but if fans aren’t buying it then you did it wrong.

  116. 116
    lethargytartare says:


    but if fans aren’t buying it then you did it wrong.

    plenty of fans in my circles are buying it. She’s essentially killed anyone who opposed her throughout the series, and the only way you could have been surprised by the supposed “turn” is if you ignored Missandei’s last words.

    Danaerys sure didn’t

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