A Song of Ice and Fire


Anyone else here read George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series? “A Game of Thrones”, “A Clash of Kings”, and “A Storm of Swords” have been released so far, with “A Feast for Crows” coming out next, IIRC.

I find it to be superior “pulp-fantasy” reading, and IMHO a grittier evolution of the genre, mainly due to Martin’s consistent internal logic and ruthlessness with his characters. In Martin’s world, it doesn’t matter if you’re a “good guy” or a “bad guy”; if you plan and act intelligently, and prepare for the right contingencies, your plans will likely succeed. If you act foolishly or stupidly, your plans will likely fail, often drastically. No exceptions to this rule are made for being “noble” or “heroic”. In fact, almost every character of whom he writes, with a few exceptions in each direction, hovers comfortably in that gray-shaded moral area.

I think I find it so engaging a series because, finally, I can read books where the “bad guys” can win and the “good guys” lose, because the bad guys had the master plan and acted more intelligently. I’m sick of novels where the villains enact a brilliant master plan and then the heroes win because of some stupid contrivance, just because they’re “the good guys”. In the Martin universe, a stupidly foolish “good guy” is surely a dead good guy.

In summary, I highly recommend George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. Good stuff.

  • Balut

People Who Post Spoilery Spoilers - Fuck You

Yeah, it’s an excellent series. I’ve read the first two and I’m waiting for the fourth to come out so I can read another two in succession.


Yup, it rocks. I just wish the books weren’t so big, I am starting to forget what happened in the first book!


O.K. That does it. After I am finished with Thomas Covenant I am moving to Martin.


Your description has won me over.

I love Covenant because he is an extremely reluctant anti-hero with people dying all around him. I remember reading elsewhere that Martin did not fall in love with his characters so much that he could not kill them off anywhere in his books. I like the often picked at Stephen King for much the same reasons. He kills folks off when it is time for them to go.

I seem to have an unhealthy fixation on death. I must mention that common thread in all of my favorite readings to my therapist next week.

I am going back to the suddenly depressing “Everything Else” forums to pass out free Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac. Who’s comin’ with me.


One sentence. “Keep your erect nipples out of my high fantasy”
I really didn’t buy his battle scenes. Was very annoying. I just realized that I’ve stopped in the middle of the last three fantasy series that I’ve tried to start reading. First Martin’s Song, then Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders, then Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars. Guess I’m sticking with Katharine Kerr at the moment.


Heh, thanks, I always try to spread the gritty joy of Martin’s works to others, especially the poor misguided souls that think Jordan’s Wheel of Neverending Sequels…err Wheel of Time is the height of modern fantasy literature.

  • Balut


Where did you stop in A Song of Ice and Fire? IMO, it gets better as it goes along, especially some of the events in Book 3, which have some really stunningly unexpected scenes.

  • Balut


I think I just didn’t bother buying the book that came after Clash of Kings.


Ah, okay. Book 3, A Storm of Swords, IMO, is better than book 2, A Clash of Kings.

A few cool characters introduced, a few really big plot developments, and a few more characters brutally slaughtered.

  • Balut


I’ve read the first two and a half books. I put down the third one about halfway through, finding it a bit boring (Oh God, ANOTHER Arya chapter!). Deciding instead to celebrate the LOTR movie by reading through the trilogy for the first time since high school. My roommate told me that it really picks up right after the spot where I stopped. Naturally.

I’ll probably pick it up again when the fourth one comes out. Then just read them both.

I knew a guy that liked “The Wheel of Drivel” series. He loaned me the first one, telling me how much better they were then The Lord of the Rings. I read a couple of chapters and gave it back to him. Then I punched him in the mouth.


LOL, can I use this for a .sig?

As far as boring Arya chapters, I personally found the Sansa chapters the most wearying, as she is the epitome of the simpering, helpless damsel in distress. Just annoying. At least Arya learned to kick some ass from Syrio Forel, and dealt with a character as cool as Jaqen H’ghar. Hell, even The Hound, Sandor Clegane, is an interesting character that Arya hangs with.

  • Balut


I agree with you there, Sansa’s chapters are the least fun to read. Tho I am sure the feeling perfectly emulates what it would be like to know her in person. What a damned brat.


Actually, I enjoy the Wheel of Time, which gets better as it goes along, IMO. There are a lot of interwoven plot points and Jordan keeps up with them very well. Unfortunately, for those wanting to start the series, the first book is the weakest one, and very derivative of previous fantasy works.


Ah, see, that’s where we differ. IMO, the Wheel of Time gets progressively worse as it goes along - Jordan continually adds new plot threads and new characters while resolving few, if any, of his existing plot threads. Little, if anything, happened in A Crown of Swords or The Path of Daggers, and although something “big” did happen at the end of Winter’s Heart, it seems to take Jordan 1500 pages to pass the equivalent of 1 day’s worth of progress in his world.

I can’t picture the WoT series getting resolved in any sort of satisfactory manner - he just has so many characters and individual arcs and plot threads to deal with, coupled with a serious lack of willingness to “whittle down” his enormous cast. Entire plot threads are conveniently dropped from his books now, as a result - where earlier books in the serious could jump chapters to each of the three original protagonists, his later books might involve only one of the main characters and force people to wait another 2-3 years to even see the rest of a plot thread he developed 4 books ago.

IMHO, Jordan was too ambitious and too sloppy with his handling of the WoT - now he’s writing it as a soap opera, where it runs continuously but nothing significant ever happens. But at least he’s still making money hand-over-fist on the fans that don’t realize that, eh?

  • Balut


All right Balut, you’ve convinced me. I guess I’ll start Storm again after I’m finished with “If Chins Could Kill”, an autobiography by Bruce Campbell. Normally, I don’t read biographes, but this one’s amusing to say the least.

You’re right, though, about Sansa being the worst character (How could I have ever forgotten her?). Still, it got to the point where if I had to read another inane episode about Hot Pie I was just going to chuck that book into the fireplace (which would have pissed off my roommate, since it’s his copy). With all the characters Martin has killed, you’d think he could bump off that little bastard. Maybe if hasn’t done it by the end of Swords, I’ll send him an e-mail suggesting it for the next book.


I do see your points, balut. Jordan may be in over his head. But I still enjoy all that weaving in the novels. You know who is really running a series into the ground? Terry Goodkind. That is a guy who doesn’t know how to write. He spends more time than anyone on pure, pointless descriptions. Do you ever wonder why so many fantasy novelists in particular think that adjectives and general descriptions are so important? It’s a sign of really bad writing, and I agree that Jordan is as guilty of it as many others. Still, I like the characters in WoT and I think the plot moves along quite well. I do, as you suggested, sometimes question whether or not Jordan knows where he is headed.


Just saw that a collectible card game based on Martin’s series is coming out.


“If Chins Could Kill” is a good read. Very cool seeing just how far they’ve come since their days of super-8 in high school. Hell, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man passed the $400 million mark. Oh, and Bruce Campbell is still super-cool.

  • Balut


Oooh!! Too bad I’m not into CCG’s anymore (after a bad addiction to M:tG in Freshman year college), but that might be worth getting just to see artists’ renderings of the characters and locations of A Song of Ice and Fire. I’d especially want to see how Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne, is portrayed, as well as others like Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of Morning, and Jaqen H’ghar.

Any idea what stores would have these cards, and when? Would they be in hobby shops, or maybe also bookstores and computer/video game stores?

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I’ve seen Goodkind’s series in bookstores and read some of the synopses off the back/inside covers of the books. Never felt like reading them because Goodkind seems pretty derivative of Jordan, and from what some friends who have read Goodkind have said, this is true.

I do feel that there’s a really good story lying at the heart of WoT, I just think that Jordan has to spend more time “trimming the fat” and work on a leaner, more manageable story and character structure. Until he starts to show some progress towards that I won’t really change my currently low opinion of his works. His books as is are like really really bloated spaghetti code, to use a bad coding metaphor.

  • Balut